Fabrice Santoro

FEDERER DEBUTS, GORAN PUKES, GILBERT IS UGLY, GUGA SAYS GOODBYE

May 25 is chock full of historic – and interesting – happenings in tennis history. Here’s a list as it appears in the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com)

1999 – Ranked No. 111 in the world, 17-year-old Roger Federer plays in his first main draw match at a major tournament at the French Open, losing to two-time reigning U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. Writes Rene Stauffer in the book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection, “He (Roger) jumped out to win the first set against the world’s No. 3-ranked player who then was at the peak of his career. However, the sun came out and the conditions became warmer and faster. The clay courts dried out and balls moved much faster through the court. The Australian’s attacking serve-and-volley style seemed to run on automatic and he won in four sets. ‘The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,’ the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote during the tournament. Rafter shared the same opinion. “The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.’”

2004 – Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement finish play in the longest-recorded match in tennis history in the first round of the French Open as Santoro edges Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14 in 6 hours, 33 minutes. The match is played over two days and is suspended from the previous day with the two playing for 4:38 the previous day – stopping at 5-5 in the fifth-set – and for 1:55 the second day. Santoro saves two match points during the marathon – one on each day. The first match point comes with Santoro serving at 4-5 in the fifth set on day one and the second comes at 13-14 on the second day. Says Santoro, “I came very close to defeat, it’s a miracle. I tried to stay relaxed on the important points and if it looked that way, then I did a good job because I was very tense.” Santoro and Clement break the previous record – curiously held by two women in a straight-set best-of-three match – held by Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner, who played for 6 hours, 31 minutes in the first round of the WTA event in Richmond, Va., in 1984, Nelson-Dunbar winning 6-4, 7-6 (13-11). Says Clement of establishing the new record, “”I don’t care. What do I get? A medal? There may be an even longer match tomorrow. I don’t play tennis to spend as much time possible on court.”

1976 – Adriano Panatta saves an astonishing 11 match points in defeating Kim Warwick of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in the first round of the Italian Championships. The result becomes even more significant when Panatta goes on to win the title, defeating Guillermo Vilas in the final.

1958 – In one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of the French Championships, Robert Haillet of France beats 1950 French champion Budge Patty, 5-7; 7-5, 10-8, 4-6, 7-5 in the fourth round after Patty serves at 5-0, 40-0 in the fifth set and holds four match points.

1993 – Three-time French Open champion Ivan Lendl experiences one of the worst losses of his career, losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (2) to No. 297th ranked qualifier Stephane Huet of France in the first round of the French Open. The match marks the first ATP level match victory for Huet, against Lendl’s 1,027 match victories. It was also Huet’s first Grand Slam match against Lendl’s 51 Grand Slam events.

1993 – Brad Gilbert wins his first match at the French Open in six years, registering a two-day 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 10-8 first-round victory over fellow American Bryan Shelton. Gilbert and Shelton share 87 unforced errors in the three-hour-and-52-minute match. Says Gilbert, the author of the book Winning Ugly after the match, “It was a chapter out of my book…Unequivocally ugly.”

1928 – George Lott defeats China’s Paul Kong 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 in the Davis Cup second round in Kansas City, Mo., to become the first U.S. Davis Cup player to win a match without losing a game. Lott would register another triple-bagel in Davis Cup play in 1930 against Mexico’s Ignacio de la Borbolla. Frank Parker is the only other American to win a Davis Cup match without losing a game, turning the trick in 1946 against Felicismo Ampon of the Philippines.

1993 – Goran Ivanisevic overcomes throwing up on court in the first set to defeat Franco Davin of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open.

2005 – No. 2 seed Andy Roddick is eliminated in the second round of the French Open, blowing a two-sets-to-love lead in his 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 8-6 loss to Argentina’s Jose Acasuso.

2008 – Three-time French Open singles champion and former world No. 1 Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten bids goodbye to tennis, playing the final singles match of his career losing to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round at Roland Garros. Kuerten plays the match wearing the canary yellow and blue outfit he wore when he won the first of three French titles in 1997, but due to the wear and tear at this ailing hip, the 31-year-old was unable to compete at the same level that saw him rise to the world’s No. 1 ranking in 2000. Says Kuerten following the match, “I think I’m very satisfied, especially with the memories that are going to stick with me from this match. I thought I played much better than I expected, and there wasn’t a single shot I didn’t make. I played forehand, backhands, serve, drop shots, volley. I did everything I think I was able to do in the past, just not with the same frequency. But at least I had the feeling to do it once more.”

YOUZHNY BEATS GASQUET IN NO. 5 LONGEST AUSSIE OPEN MEN’S SINGLES MATCH

In the longest match of the 2010 Australian Open far (4 hours, 53 minutes), Mikhail Youzhny ousted Richard Gasquet 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4, trailing 0:3 in the fourth and 2:4 in the fifth set. The Russian also saved double match point on serve at 5:6 in the fourth set. What’s more interesting, Gasquet, playing on the same Margaret Court Arena, lost last year despite 2-0 lead in sets and match point up (to Fernando Gonzalez). Youzhny beat Gasquet in five sets also four years in Davis Cup in a match that lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes. According to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com), the match was the fifth longest men’s match ever at the Australian Open. The list of top six are as follows;

* 5 hours, 14 minutes Rafael Nadal d. Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4, SF, 2009

* 5 hours, 11 minutes Boris Becker d. Omar Camporese, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12, 3rd rd., 1991

* 4 hours, 59 minutes Andy Roddick d. Younes El Aynaoui, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19, QF, 2003. The fifth set took 2:23, Roddick saved MP in 10th game of the fifth with inside-out forehand

* 4 hours, 59 minutes Pete Sampras def. Tim Mayotte, 7-6, 6-7, 4-6, 7-5, 12-10, 1st rd, 1990

* 4 hours, 53 minutes Mikail Youzhny def. Richard Gasquet 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4, 1st rd, 2010

* 4 hours, 51 minutes Yannick Noah def. Roger Smith 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 16-14, 1st rd, 1988

Federico Gil retired against David Ferrer of Spain, trailing 0-6, 0-6, 0-2 (allegedly suffering a left knee injury). In the Open Era, there have been three triple bagels at Roland Garros, one at both Wimbledon and Us Open but it has never happened at the Australian Open.

Fabrice Santoro came back out of retirement only to become the first player in the Open Era to participate in the major tournaments in four different decades (Santoro debuted at Roland Garros in 1989). It was 70th Grand Slam in Santoro’s career, which is also a record. (Andre Agassi is No. 2 with 61).

Ivo Karlovic established last year an amazing record of 78 aces in a five-set loss to Radek Stepanek. Giant Ivo, avenged that defeat, beating Stepanek 2-6 ,7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 on Monday, serving this time “only” 34 aces, and converting his only break point of the final set in the 10th game.

Seven players won their first matches in a major so far at the 2010 Australian Open: Stephane Robert, Ivan Sergeyev, Illya Marchenko, Ivan Dodig, Santiago Giraldo, Louk Sorensen and Lukas Lacko. Four of them (the Ukrainians: Sergeyev and Marchenko and Sorensen and Dodig) are playing first match in a Grand Slam event.

PEER POLITICS, HENIN AND THE MAGICIAN: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Political Pandemonium – Once again, there was an ugly scene at the WTA Auckland event, as protesters against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians voiced their discontent during Israeli Shahar Peer’s matches. All credit to Peer, however, who managed to block it all out and reach the semifinals before losing to Yanina Wickmayer. Another positive bit of news for Peer is that the WTA has received, in writing, assurances from the UAE that she will be granted a visa to compete in Dubai. For those who remember, Peer was denied the visa in 2009, and the WTA was forced to impose a $300,000 fine on the Dubai event. While things are still far from perfect, it’s nice to see that sometimes sports can rise above politics.

She’s Ba-ack! – The moment tennis fans around the world have been waiting for has arrived as Justine Henin made her official return to tournament tennis at the Brisbane event this week.  With the exception of her quarterfinal match in which she was forced to show her true grit and determination to grind out a third set tiebreak win, Henin has crushed the competition en route to the final, including a dominating performance over former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals.  She now faces the current comeback queen and fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters in the final.  Looks the WTA season has started with a bang!

History Beckons – No, Fabrice Santoro hasn’t caught the contagious comeback bug.  He is merely unable to resist the opportunity to etch his name into the record books.  The Frenchman affectionately known as “the magician,” who retired at the 2009 Paris Masters event, has changed his mind and opted to play the 2010 Australian Open.  By playing at the opening Major of the season, Santoro will become the first player to have competed at the Grand Slam events over the course of four different decades.  It’s a great achievement, and I’m sure fans will appreciate the chance to see this crafty player take to the courts as he makes his final curtain call.

Suck It Up – That’s essentially what the ITF will be saying to those players who find themselves wilting under hot conditions or over the course of long matches in all ITF events, which includes the four Slams. I for one was thrilled to read that the ITF was taking a stand on this issue, as it’s been long overdue.  It about time those players who put in the time during the off season are allowed to start reaping the benefits of their hard work instead of having to watch a physically weak opponent break the momentum of a match to receive a massage for cramps, and in some cases, unjustly squeak out the win.  Now, if we could just get the governing bodies to start enforcing the time rule in between points we’d be in business.

Murray Out Of Davis Cup – Once again, Andy Murray has disappointed the people of Great Britain by stating he will not be representing his country in the upcoming tie with Lithuania.  It has to be disappointing for a nation that at one time was one of the top dogs in the tennis world.  That said, it is hard to fault Murray when Roger Federer also appears reluctant to represent Switzerland against Spain in early March, with his reason being a scheduling conflict with the regular tour season.  This is just another blaring example that shows the ITF needs to do something to change the format of the Davis Cup competition, or else blockbuster matchups such as Switzerland vs. Spain are going to continue to go bust in a hurry.

The Friday Five: Agassi Should Not Be Left Off The Hook

By Maud Watson

The Agassi Admission – The big story this week was Andre Agassi’s shocking admission that he not only used crystal meth back in 1997, but that he lied to the ATP about it in order to avoid punishment.  While many are justly questioning the ATP’s actions, I think it’s wrong how many are praising Agassi for his honesty and easily letting him off the hook.  First, it doesn’t matter that it was a recreational drug vs. a performance-enhancing drug, and if there’s any doubt, see the examples of Martina Hingis and Richard Gasquet.  Second, the timing of Agassi’s announcement leaves much to be desired. Over the last two years, tennis has been rocked by gambling and drug scandals. Agassi has kept quiet for 12 years. Why he couldn’t wait until things had settled down more before making his admission is beyond me…but oh that’s right. He has a new book coming out, and making such an admission is a great way to drum up publicity to increase book sales. Maybe if Agassi had confessed during his “second career,” at a time when he still could have been given a meaningful punishment for his actions and given the ATP a chance to redeem themselves for their prior actions, I might not be questioning the sincerity of his confession now. In closing, I think it’s wrong that Agassi got away with crystal meth use in 1997, but it’s even more wrong that he can profit from it now while the ATP is left holding the bag. Hopefully the ATP will use this as an incentive to do what they should have done 12 years ago and punish Agassi, irrespective of his star power.(Watch the Agassi video on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m28SCG9B8T1990 )

Do You Believe in Magic? – It looks like Frenchman Fabrice Santoro does. The player affectionately known as “the magician,” has admitted that he is now considering the possibility of competing in the 2010 Australian Open. The reason for his potential change of heart came when a reporter informed him that by competing in Melbourne, Santoro would become the first player to compete in a Grand Slam tournament across four decades. Now that’s some feat!

The British are Coming! – Taking a page out of the books of Novak Djokovic and Marat Safin, both of whom played the Hopman Cup before winning the Australian Open, Andy Murray has announced that he will also be making the trip to Perth to use the event as his Australian Open tune-up. He’ll be partnering with junior sensation Laura Robson, who will be looking to use the event as a chance to test her game against some of the WTA’s best. It’s a golden opportunity for both, and it’s a positive sign for British tennis that it can now field a team at this mixed event.

A Downward Spiral – After pulling out the WTA Tour Championships, it was revealed that the severity of Dinara Safina’s injury may force her to miss the Australian Open. This is just salt in the wound for a player who has helplessly watched the wheels fall off her game ever since Wimbledon. I personally feel for Safina who appears to have cracked under the unjust pressure put upon her by the critics claiming she never deserved the No. 1 ranking due to her lack of a major title. It doesn’t seem right that a player can support the tour by consistently playing the big tournaments and then be criticized for reaping the points she justly earned. Fingers crossed she can put all of this negativity behind her, get healthy, and start fresh in 2010.

Serena Wins the War – All year long there have been many battles for the No. 1 ranking, and in the end, it is Serena Williams who will take the top honor for 2009.  The deal was sealed Wednesday at the WTA Tour Championships when Dinara Safina was forced to retire from her opening match and withdraw from the tournament with a back injury. The No. 1 ranking is the icing on the cake for Serena who also added another two majors to her storybook career.

78 Aces! Ivo Karlovic Breaks Record

Ivo Karlovic of Croatia smashed the all-time match ace record Friday, firing an incredible 78 aces – 19 more than the previous record – in his epic five-set marathon loss to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the opening match of the Croatia vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup semifinal in Porec, Croatia.

Karlovic’s 78 aces in his 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14 loss to Stepanek broke the previous record set by American Ed Kauder, who hit 59 aces in his first-round loss to countryman Ham Richardson at the 1955 U.S. Championships.

The five-hour, 59-minute match spanned 82 games and gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Croatia. Karlovic held a total of five match points in the epic, failing to convert for his country.

After exchanging early service breaks in the first set, Karlovic and Stepanek each held serve for 78 consecutive games on the indoor clay surface.

“We were not able to break each other,” Stepanek said. “The match was going crazy.”

Kauder, incidentally, is the step-father of famed U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. Following Kauder’s 59 aces in 1955, according to the authoritative book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) by tennis historian Bud Collins, the most number of aces in a match are as follows;

Aces In A Match

Men

59 Ed Kauder (lost to Ham Richardson, 1st. rd., US Championships, 1955)

55 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7(1), 6-7(4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 1st round 2009 French Open)

54 Gary Muller (d. Peter Lundgren Wimbledon qualifying, Roehampton, 1993)

51 Joachim Johansson (lost to Andre Agassi, Australian Open, 4th rd., 2005)

51 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Daniele Bracciali, Wimbledon, 1st rd., 2005)

Also according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, the distinction of the longest match of all-time in terms of time goes to Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement, who during the 2004 French Open played for six hours, 33 minutes (played over two days due to a match suspension due to darkness). Santoro won the first round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14.

The longest match of all-time in terms of games played goes to Roger Taylor of Great Britain and Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, who played 126 games in the 1966 King’s Cup in Warsaw, Poland – Taylor winning 27-29, 31-29, 6-4.

The following are the lists of longest matches in time and games in the history of tennis, according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.

Longest Matches — Time

Men’s Singles

6:33 Fabrice Santoro d. Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14, 2004 French Open first round

6:22 John McEnroe d. Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6, 5th rubber, Davis Cup Quarterfinal, St. Louis, Mo, 1982

6:20 Boris Becker d. John McEnroe 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2, Davis Cup, Qualifying Round, Hartford, 1987

Women’s Singles

6:31 Vicki Nelson Dunbar d. Jean Hepner, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), 1984, Richmond, Va., first round (tie-break alone lasted 1 hour and 47 minutes, one point lasted 29 minutes, a rally of 643 strokes)

4:07 Virginie Buisson d. Noelle Van Lottum 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, 1995 French Open first round

3:55 Kerry Melville Reid d. Pam Teeguarden 7-6 (7), 4-6, 16-14, 1972 French Open third round

Men’s Doubles

6:20 Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, 2003 Davis Cup semifinals 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17, 2002 Davis Cup Semifinal, Moscow

Longest Matches — Games

Men’s Singles

126 games Roger Taylor of Great Britain d. Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, 27-29, 31-29, 6-4; Kings Cup match, Warsaw, 1966

Women’s Singles

62 games Kathy Blake of the United States d. Elena Subirats of Mexico 12-10, 6-8, 14-12, first round, Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966

Men’s Doubles

147 games Dick Leach and Dick Dell d. Len Schloss and Tom Mozur, 3-6, 49-47, 22-20, second round, Newport (R.I.), Casino Invitation, 1967

Women’s Doubles

81 games Nancy Richey and Carole Graebner, d. Carol Hanks and Justina Bricka, 31-33, 6-1, 6-4, semifinal, Eastern Grass Champion­ships, South Orange, N.J., 1964

Mixed Doubles

77 games Brenda Schultz and Michiel Schapers d. Andrea Temesvari and Tom Njissen, 6-3, 5-7, 29-27, Wimbledon, mixed doubles, first round, 1991

Other “Century” (100 Game) Matches

Men’s Singles

112 games Pancho Gonzalez d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, Wimbledon, 1969

107 games Dick Knight d. Mike Sprengelmeyer, 32-30, 3-6, 19-17; qualify­ing, Southampton (N.Y.), 1967

100 games F.D. Robbins d. Dick Dell, 22-20, 9-7, 6-8, 8-10, 6-4; first round, U.S. Open, 1969

100 games Harry Fritz d. Jorge Andrew, 16-14, 11-9, 9-11, 4-6, 11-9; America Zone Davis Cup, Canada at Venezuela, 1982

Men’s Doubles

144 games Bobby Wilson and Mark Cox d. Ron Holmberg and Charlie Pasarell, 26-24, 17-19, 30-28; QF, US Indoor, Salisbury, MD, 1968

135 games Ted Schroeder and Bob Falkenburg d. Pancho Gonzalez and Hugh Stewart, 36-34, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 19-17; Final, Southern Cali­fornia, Los Angeles, 1949

122 games Stan Smith and Erik van Dillen d. Jaime Fillol and Patricio Cor­nejo, 7-9, 37-39, 8-6, 6-1, 6-3; Davis Cup USA vs. Chile, Amer­ica Zone match, Little Rock Ark., 1973

106 games Len Schloss and Tom Mozur d. Chris Bovett and Butch Seewa­gen, 7-5, 48-46; 2nd rd., Southampton, NY, 1967

105 games Cliff Drysdale and Ray Moore d. Roy Emerson and Ron Barnes, 29-31, 8-6, 3-6, 8-6, 6-2; QF, US Doubles, Boston, 1967

105 games Jim Orborne and Bill Bowrey d. Terry Addison and Ray Keldie, 3-6, 43-41, 7-5; Pennsylvania Grass, Phildelphia, SF, 1969

105 games Joaquin Loyo-Mayo and Marcelo Lara d. Manolo Santana and Luis Garcia, 10-12, 24-22, 11-9, 3-6, 6-2; 3rd rd., US Doubles, Boston, 1966

102 games Don White and Bob Galloway d. Hugh Sweeney and Lamar Roemer, 6-4, 17-15, 4-6, 18-20, 7-5; 1st rd, US Doubles, Bos­ton, 1964

100 games Cliff Sutter and Gene McAuliff d. Frank Shields and George Lott; 12-14, 14-12, 25-23; SF, Buffalo Indoor, 1934

100 games Bob Lutz and Joaquin Loyo-Mayo d. Bill Bond and Dick Leach; 19-17, 33-31; QF, Phoenix,1969

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m Recharged

STARS

Caroline Wozniacki beat Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-4 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Fernando Verdasco beat Sam Querrey 6-4 7-6 (6) to win the Pilot Pen men’s singles in New Haven

Tatjana Malek won the EmblemHealth Bronx Open, beating Kristina Barrois 6-1 6-4 in The Bronx, New York, USA

SAYING

“Now it’s my time. It’s my turn to win some tournaments. I just feel I’ve had a great year. I’m so happy that it’s my name coming up a lot of times now.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after successfully defending her Pilot Pen Tennis women’s singles championship.

“I never got a chance to go back there to defend my title in 2006 because I was injured with my left wrist and then pregnant in 2007. So while this does feel like a new beginning, I am looking forward to walking through those gates again for the first time in four years.” – Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open in her last appearance at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.

“I am number three in the world, and the number three in the world should have a chance to win, no?” – Rafael Nadal, on his chances to win the US Open.

“I have to take it as a positive that I will have more time to get ready for the Open. It’s been a really busy summer for me so I’ll just take advantage of these (early losses) and keep training and preparing for the Open.” – Venus Williams, talking about early exits from her last two tournaments.

“I’m recharged. I know I can play and move well and compete with the top players as good as I was, if not better. The US Open is my main goal.” – Jelena Jankovic.

“With every tournament I feel physically I’m getting better and getting a good sense of the court, but it’s still a work in progress. I’d like to forget I was gone for a long time but you have to put things in perspective.” – Maria Sharapova, noting her chances of winning the US Open this year are slim.

“This year I equaled my best result in Australia (last 16), did two rounds better than I ever did at the French (quarterfinals) and got further than I have done at Wimbledon (semifinals). So now the slam is the last thing I need to do. I believe that I can do it.” – Andy Murray, saying he’s one of the favorites to win the US Open.

“Andy’s not under the radar anymore and that’s probably a good thing. Now that the expectations are there I think he’s ready to handle it. He is definitely one of the six guys capable of winning.” – Brad Gilbert, speaking about Andy Roddick.

“One of the important things he has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since (Jimmy) Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it.” – John McEnroe, talking about Roger Federer.

“I’ve never had a normal life, so I don’t know what a normal life means.” – Fabrice Santoro, who, playing in his 20th season on tour, will retire after the US Open.

“I just look to be prepared for the Open. This is my first important thing for me is to just get there and be prepared for a fight.” – Flavia Pennetta.

“I think I’ve learned, especially in the last year, that it’s a lot simpler than I realized, playing professional tennis. There are no secrets. You got to do what you do well and you have to bring that to the table every day.” – Rajeev Ram, who won his first ATP Tour title earlier this summer…

“I don’t think I am going to do anything special because it is my last Grand Slam. I am not planning it. But you never know what can happen. I know I am not going to win, there is no chance. So we will just see.” – Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion who will retire at the end of this year.

“For the next year or so I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. I just want to stay healthy and enjoy my tennis.” – Katarina Srebotnik, whose US Open appearance is her first tournament in 10 months because of injuries.

“She was just playing with me like a pussy cat, one corner to other corner. In the second set I started to be more aggressive and I started serving a lot better.” – Elena Vesnina, after her three-set semifinal win over Amelie Mauresmo in New Haven.

“I elected to go with disaster control and the high powder-puff. Everyone asks did you bounce it. I just threw it over the catcher.” – Andy Roddick, talking about throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game.

“I contemplated things like whether I would be able to accept myself for not being on the level that I was in my teens, twenties, and when I was 25; whether I would be able to accept losing, moreover be able to accept a losing streak. I did spend a lot of time contemplating about this. Yet, after I made my decision to be back on court again and challenge myself, I haven’t really thought about it.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who returned to the WTA Tour after a 12-year retirement.

“It makes for something special. You sit in the players’ lounge and you wait. It doesn’t rain so often here so I don’t think they should change anything.” – Dinara Safina, saying she thinks something might be lost if a roof is installed over Arthur Ashe Stadium and there were no rain delays to sit though.

“I’ve peeked at the draw and seen where some of the qualifying spots are. I’d love to play a Federer or Nadal or a Roddick. We’ll see. I just want to play in there.” – Michael Yani, who at age 28 qualified for his first US Open, pointing at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

S’WONDERFUL

Twice Andre Agassi closed out the US Open by winning the men’s singles. This year, he is the headliner on opening day, being honored for “giving back.” In 1994, the year he won his first US Open title, Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation, which is dedicated to transforming public education in Las Vegas, Nevada. As part of the Opening Night celebration, the USTA is recognizing the 40th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder as a network of community tennis organizations seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education. Besides Agassi, others honored on opening night include Mia Hamm, David Robinson and Doug Flutie.

Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” will be published in November. The eight-time Grand Slam singles champion writes about his start in tennis, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields.

SAM THE MAN

There could be a USD one million dollar payday in Sam Querrey’s future. By winning the US Open Series, the American has a chance to earn a bonus of between USD $15,000 and $1 million, according to how he finishes in the US Open. Querrey reached the final of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, before falling to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-6 (8).

SHHHHH!!

The US Open wants players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter. Signs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center warn that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules. The signs say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches and warns about using Twitter away from the court, saying information about players, weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event could be determined as the passing of “inside information.” The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.

SEMFINAL SWITCH

Because of tropical storm Denney, the semifinals of the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, were moved indoors. After waiting in vain most of Friday for the steady rain to cease, the women’s semis were switched from a 13,000-seat stadium to an indoor college court where only 300 fans were able to be squeezed into the building and leaned over a balcony that overlooked the court or stood on adjacent courts. There, Caroline Wozniacki beat Flavia Pennetta and Elena Vesnina downed Amelie Mauresmo. The men’s semis followed suit Saturday morning, with Sam Querrey stopping Jose Acasuso and Fernando Verdasco defeating Igor Andreev. Both finals were played outdoors late Saturday as the storm finally subsided and the hard courts were dried.

SITTING IT OUT

Dominika Cibulkova won’t be able to match her French Open performance at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The semifinalist at Roland Garros pulled out of the US Open because of a rib injury. Her withdrawal allowed Alberta Brianti of Italy to move into the main draw, while Agnes Szavay becomes the number 32 seeded player.

SORE BUT THERE

Several players are nursing injuries as they begin their US Open run. Marion Bartoli retired from her match at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, because of a left thigh strain. A hand injury forced Agnieszka Radwanska to retire before the third set of her match in New Haven. And Nikolay Davydenko needed a doctor to look at his right wrist midway through his quarterfinal final loss to Sam Querrey in the Pilot Pen men’s singles. Davydenko said his wrist became sore from the force of Querrey’s serves hitting his racquet. Sabine Lisicki, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, will play in the US Open.

India’s Sania Mirza received acupuncture treatment on her right wrist before heading to New York and the US Open. The 22-year-old underwent wrist surgery in April 2008, but the problem flared up again at the Beijing Olympics, forcing her to miss the last year’s US Open. She had reached the semifinals of a challenger event in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she again felt pain in her right wrist. So she flew home to Hyderabad, India, to get treatment. “I’m much better now, but not absolutely pain-free,” she said.

STARTING OVER

Katarina Srebotnik is making her comeback at the US Open. She was ranked as high as number 20 in the world in singles and number four in doubles, and had posted victories over Serena Williams at Roland Garros and Svetlana Kuznetsova at the US Open a year ago. But pain in her Achilles tendon and a shoulder injury forced her off the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for 10 months. It’s called the luck of the draw, and for Srebotnik it’s bad luck. Her first-round opponent will be 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE?

Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic has denied deliberating taking a banned substance. The 25-year-old tested positive for a derivative of the banned stimulant pseudo ephedrine following a Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Argentina in July. “I have never consciously taken a banned substance,” said Minar, who is ranked 66th in the world. “This is why I rejected the accusation of doping in my reaction sent to the ITF.” Minar cited an injury when he withdrew from this year’s US Open.

SERENA, THE AUTHOR

Serena Williams says she is telling all in her autobiography, “Queen of the Court,” which is going on sale during the US Open. Serena says it was important for her to give an honest account of her life because she has not been as open as she should have been since the shooting death of her sister, Yetunde Price. She said that while she told the press injuries kept her from playing, she was also beset by depression because of a delayed reaction to Tunde’s death. Serena says three things got her out of her depression: seeing a therapist, going to Africa where she began a school, and winning the 2007 Australian Open over Maria Sharapova. “It opened up a lot of doors I left closed to the public and to myself,” Serena said of writing the book.

SENSITIVITY COURSE ALUMNI

Brydan Klein promises to be on his best behavior after completing a racial sensitivity course. The former Australian Open junior champion was banned for six months and fined USD $10,000 by the ATP after making a racial slur against a black South African player during a tournament in England in June. The 19-year-old Klein has a history of clashes with officials, having been suspended from the Australian Institute of Sport for repeated on-court misbehavior. Ranked 223rd in the world, Klein said he has apologized to fellow player Raven Klaasen for the slur. He also said he cannot afford to slip up again. “I’m definitely on my last warning,” he said. “This has been a step back for me and it hasn’t been a nice experience.”

STANDING TALL

John McEnroe has always been a big man in New York City, but this is ridiculous. A 100-foot high by 35-foot wide (30.48m by 15.24m) banner of McEnroe hangs on the side of Madison Square Garden promoting prostate cancer screening guidelines. McEnroe’s father was diagnosed with the illness in 2006 but is now doing well. Now 50 years old, the younger McEnroe says he knows many men his age are reluctant to get screened for cancer for the same reason they don’t like to ask for directions: they may view it as a sign of weakness.

SPOKESPEOPLE

Billie Jean King and actor Alec Baldwin will be the spokespeople for the expanded environmental initiatives at the National Tennis Center named in her honor. The two will join the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in encouraging US Open fans and others to help preserve the environment. Expanded 2009 initiatives will include a site-wide recycling effort placing more than 500 recycling receptacles across the 42 acres of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There also will be on sale an exclusive organic t-shirt designed by two-time US Open champion Venus Williams.

STRONG VENUS

Venus Williams has been named to the first Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine. Selecting “20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts,” the magazine picked Venus Williams as “The Power of Female Strength.” Noting her Grand Slam and Olympics medals as well as her voice in the lobbying effort to win equal prize money for female players, the magazine said: “Both on and off the court, Venus Williams embodies a perfect marriage of power and grace. In the singular artistry of her play, we see that beauty and brawn aren’t mutually exclusive.”

SUCCESS

The US Open logo – a flaming tennis ball – accounts for about 42 percent of all sales at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Sarah Cummins, the USTA’s managing director for merchandising, told Bloomberg News that clothing, hats and other gear bearing the US Open logo brought in almost USD $14 million during the two-week tournament last year.

SPIRITED CLOTHES

When James Blake debuts his new Fila line of clothes at the US Open, he will be thinking about his father. The logo on Blake’s new clothing is “TR,” and the line is called Thomas Reynolds, the first and middle names of his late father, who died in 2004. Fila will help capture the lessons instilled in James by his father through print ads and through hang tags on the line. While Blake will be wearing the clothes on a tennis court, there are plans for the Thomas Reynolds brand to be on golf, fitness and leisurewear as well. “I wanted to be part of something that wouldn’t necessarily have to always be tied to me and be more about the spirit that father embodied,” Blake said.

STEPPING DOWN

Following her third hip surgery, Jamea Jackson is retiring from the women’s tour and will become assistant tennis coach at Oklahoma State University. The 22-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, will also be a student at OSU. Jackson was a member of the United States Fed Cup team.

STANDING FOR OFFICE

John Alexander’s new game is politics. The former tennis player and commentator has joined the Liberal Party and is running for a seat in the Australian parliament. Alexander is an advocate for preventive health and believes the decline of public tennis courts and other facilities in Australia has contributed to childhood obesity and health problems. He said he joined the Liberal Party at the invitation of a friend, who told him he would be more effective in securing change by trying to be part of a government. Ranked as high as eighth in the world, Alexander was the youngest player to represent Australia in Davis Cup. He played Davis Cup from 1968 to 1980 and has been captain of Australia’s Fed Cup team.

STEADY SHOW

The US National Championships, known since 1968 as the US Open Tennis Championships, is the second oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments and is the only one to have been played each year since its inception in 1881. This is the 129th version of America’s premier tennis event and has been played on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard court. The tournament has been held on hard court at Flushing Meadows since moving from Forest Hills in 1978. The only major sporting event in the United States older than the US Open is the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

New Haven (men): Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 6-4 7-6 (3)

New Haven (women): Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Iveta Benesova and Lucie Hradecka 6-2 7-5

The Bronx: Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Vania King beat Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-0, 6-3

SITES TO SURF

US Open: www.usopen.org

Kim Clijsters: www.kimclijsters.be/

Roger Federer: www.rogerfederer.com/en/index.cfm

Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com/nada/en/home

Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com/

Venus Williams: www.venuswilliams.com/

Andy Roddick: www.andyroddick.com

Andre Agassi Foundation: www.agassiopen.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

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

ATP

$120,000 Genoa Open Challenger, Genoa, Italy, clay

Federer Opens with NCAA Champ Devin Britton

The 2009 US Open draws have been made! Roger Federer opens with Devin Britton, a wild card entry and the NCAA Champion from Ole Miss, in the first round. Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic are in Federer’s half of the draw and could face off in the quarterfinals, while Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are in the bottom half of the draw.

Djokovic opens with Ivan Ljubicic. Roddick opens with Bjorn Phau of Germany and could play Dmitry Tursunov of Russia in the second round and John Isner in the third round.

In the bottom half, Rafael Nadal takes on Richard Gasquet of France, coming back from his drug suspension. Nadal could face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. Del Potro could face Marat Safin in the second round. Murray faces Ernests Gulbis in the first round and could face Ivo Karlovic in the third round.

Fabrice Santoro, in his final major tournament appearance, faces Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. USTA National Junior Champion and Ohio State student Chase Buchanan plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bottom half.

“The bottom half is completely loaded” said Patrick McEnroe on ESPNews broadcast of the draw.

The full men’s draw is available at www.usopen.org.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today

STARS

Wimbledon (First Week)

Lleyton Hewitt beat fifth-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-5 7-5

Sabine Lisicki beat fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 7-5

Melanie Oudin beat sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (8) 7-5 6-2

Ivo Karlovic beat ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5)

Gisela Dulko beat 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-2 3-6 6-4

Jesse Levine beat 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin 6-2 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-4

SAYING

“It is the best place to be when you are a pro tennis player and I savor every blade of it. I’ve had that crown for several years and I want to make it mine again.” – Defending champion Venus Williams.

“I come here every year expecting myself to win.” – Alex Bogdanovic, whose career record at Wimbledon is now 0-8, the second worst in tournament history only to Joe Hackett of Ireland, who went 0-9.

“Losses are tough. More here than at any other tournament. But, you know, it puts some perspective into your life.” – Maria Sharapova, after her second-round loss to Gisela Dulko.

“If I can win with only one shot, I don’t know, I’m a genius.” – Ivo Karlovic, responding to criticism that he has a one-dimensional game with his huge serve.

“Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today.” – Michelle Larcher de Brito, who made headlines at the French Open for her on-court screeching.

“I think some people are just too noisy. For me it’s extra effort to do it, so I’d rather not do it.” – Ai Sugiyama, about players who screech on court during play.

“Everyone is from Russia. Sometimes I think I’m from Russia, too. I feel, like, you know, OK, all these new ‘Ovas.’ I don’t know anyone. I don’t really recognize anyone. … I think my name must be Williamsova.” – Serena Williams, noting the number of top women players from Russia.

“I need to get out of my brain and start from a new page.” – Marat Safin, after losing in the first round in his 10th and final Wimbledon.

“I’ve never met Serena. I haven’t even walked past her, like ever, almost. I’ve seen her, but she always has tons of security guards around her all the time, at least four or five people. But Venus, she walks around with, maybe, one person, that’s it.” – 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, who upset Jelena Jankovic.

“Women’s tennis is more speedy and more powerful. It’s tough, very tough … but I enjoy the challenge.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who retired from the women’s tour in 1996, only returning last year.

“I remember the first time I played on grass, I think I just wanted to dive. That was the highlight, I guess, trying to dive. I don’t remember if I did or not, but when you’re growing up, you see all the players diving, and you think, I want a part of that. So that’s the first thing you want when you’re little.” – Venus Williams, remembering his first match at Wimbledon in 1997.

“Sometimes people need more respect for their opponents. When (Novak) Djokovic lost in the second round last year, (people were surprised, but) it was Marat Safin he was up against – and he can play a bit of tennis! And then Safin lost in the first round here (to Jesse Levine), so it shows that you should always have respect.” – Roger Federer.

“We should have a tiebreak at six-all in the fifth like in the US Open. All the Grand Slams should have this. That’s my personal opinion. When you’ve played so much tennis… it’s really draining.” – Tommy Haas, whose match against Marin Cilic was halted by darkness at 6-6 in the fifth set. Haas completed his 7-5 7-5 1-6 6-7 (3) 10-8 win the next day.

“I don’t think a lot of them would last five sets.” — Lleyton Hewitt, when asked about women playing best-of-five-set matches at the Grand Slam tournaments.

“I always said maybe if I was a guy I would play cricket.” – Sania Mirza, India’s top female tennis player.

STREAK STARTER

Not only is Venus Williams seeking her third straight Wimbledon women’s singles title and sixth of her career, the American has won 29 consecutive sets dating back to a third-round match against Akiko Morigami in 2007. That’s the last time Williams has dropped a set as she beat her Japanese opponent 6-2 3-6 7-5. Morigami actually led 5-3 in the final set. “That was an intense match and she was playing so well,” Venus recalled. “She played low ground strokes. I just remember playing very aggressive from 3-5, just returning aggressively. When the chips are down, I start to force the issue even more. Usually it works. You live and learn. I attribute it to that match.” If she wins, Williams would become the first woman to win three straight Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf in 1993. She also would pull to within one title of Graf’s total of seven and within three of record-holder Martina Navratilova.

SPECIAL MESSAGE

Queen Elizabeth sent a message of congratulations to Andy Murray for becoming the first Briton to won the Queen’s grass court tournament in London since Bunny Austin in 1938. The last time the monarch visited Wimbledon was in 1977, where she presented the trophy to Virginia Wade after the Briton won the women’s singles title in the Queen’s Jubilee year. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth has no official engagements on the day of this year’s Wimbledon men’s final. Murray is trying to become the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon.

SLIPPERY CONDITIONS

Michael Llodra was knocked out of Wimbledon by being, well, almost knocked out. In his second-round match against Tommy Haas, the Frenchman was sprinting towards a drop shot when he was unable to stop and slammed into the umpire’s chair before collapsing on top of ball girl. Llodra quickly stood up and helped the startled girl back to her feet. After asking if she was OK, Llodra hugged her and returned to the baseline to resume the match. When the game was completed, Llodra clutched his side and asked for a trainer as he hobbled back to his chair. Following a medical timeout, Llodra played another game before being worked on by the trainer again. He attempted one more serve before retiring from the match.

SAYONARA

Two veteran players returning to Wimbledon found their stay to be short ones. Kimiko Date Krumm, a 38-year-old who last played Wimbledon in 1996, fell to Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 6-3 6-1. The Japanese player made her Wimbledon debut in 1989, a year before Wozniacki was born, and reached the semifinals in 1996. Jelena Dokic, who made her career breakthrough at Wimbledon in 1999, lost to German qualifier Tatjana Malek 3-6 7-5 6-2. Dokic, playing Wimbledon for the first time after a five-year absence, complained of feeling dizzy at the end of the second set and had her blood pressure taken at courtside.

SMASHING TIME

Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was bombarded out of this year’s Championships. Ivo Karlovic slammed 46 aces to upset the Frenchman 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5). The ATP tour leader in aces in 2009, Karlovic hit a modern-era record 55 aces in a loss at the French Open last month. While he is best known for upsetting 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in Wimbledon’s first round the following year, Karlovic had lost his opening matches at the All England Club from 2005 to 2008.

SLOWED

Ivan Ljubicic never made it to his first-round match at the All-England Club. The former world number three player from Croatia withdrew from Wimbledon with an ankle injury on the opening day of the tournament and was replaced in the draw by Danai Udomchoke of Thailand. The week before Wimbledon, Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer.

STARRING

There’s a new star in Lindsay Davenport’s house. The three-time Grand Slam tournament winner has given birth to her second child, a girl named Lauren Andrus Davenport Leach. Lindsay and her husband Jon Leach have a 2-year-old son, Jagger. The 33-year-old Davenport won the 1998 US Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open singles titles. She pulled out of this year’s Australian Open when she learned she was pregnant. At the time, Davenport said she would be putting tennis on hold “for the foreseeable future.”

SIGNED UP

Tommy Haas will be seeking his third title when he begins play at the 2009 LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group. Haas is one of six players committed to the California tournament who are seeded in the draw at Wimbledon. “Tommy is a fan favorite, a great addition to our already strong field, and has played LA more than anyone else in the field,” said tournament director Bob Kramer. The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open will be held July 27-August 2 at the LA Tennis center on the campus of UCLA. Haas won the Los Angeles title in 2004 and again in 2005. Others already in the field include 2007 champion Radek Stepanek, Marat Safin, Mardy Fish, Fernando Gonzalez, Dmitry Tursunov, Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey.

STILL TOP TICKET

Don’t look now, but the All England Club is not going through a recession. While the rest of the world grapples with the global financial downturn, Wimbled has sold more tickets than ever. “It seems people are saying, `Forget about the recession. Let’s go to Wimbledon and have some fun,” said All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins. “People are sitting down and trying to decide what to spend their hard-earned money on. The good news for Wimbledon is, they seem to be spending it here.” The first day’s attendance was 42,811, an increase of nearly 3,500 from the previous opening day record set in 2001. While organizers will not release figures for pre-tournament ticket requests, they say they have received about 20 percent more than last year. The All England Club recently sold out 2,500 Centre Court seats in five-year blocks for USD $45,600 each.

SWITCHING BETS

No wrongdoing is suspected, but tennis wants to look into the betting pattern on a first-round Wimbledon match. When a TV commentator remarked that one of the players was injured, more than six times as many wagers as normal were placed on the match between Wayne Odesnik of the United States and Jurgen Melzer of Austria. The British bookmaker Betfair alerted tennis corruption investigators about the unusual betting pattern, but company spokesman Mark Davies said it did not suspect any wrongdoing. Melzer’s odds shortened significantly after a TV announced mentioned that Odesnik had a thigh injury. Betfair received about USD $980,000 in wagers on the match, while the average for a first-round Wimbledon match is less than USD $163,000. Melzer won 6-1 6-4 6-2.

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

Braunschweig: www.nordlb-open.org/

Cuneo: www.countrycuneo.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Serena Williams blog: http://www.serenawilliams.com/blog(underscore)message(underscore)detail.php?msg=93

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

ATP

$150,000 Nord/LP Open, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

$100,000 Trofeo Regione Piemonte, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA

$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$500,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass

$100,000 Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, clay

WTA

$220,000 GDF Suez Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$220,000 Collector Swedish Open Women, Bastad, Sweden, clay

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

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

Czech Republic vs. Argentina at Ostrava, Czech Republic

Croatia vs. United States at Porec, Croatia

Israel vs. Russia at Tel Aviv, Israel

Spain vs. Germany at Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain

Americas Zone Group 1 Playoff

Peru vs. Canada at Lima, Peru

Americas Zone Group 2 Second Round

Venezuela vs. Mexico at Maracaibo, Venezuela

Dominican Republic vs. Paraguay at San Francisco de Marcons, Provincia Duarte, Dominican Republic

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Playoff

Thailand vs. Kazakhstan at Nonthaburi, Thailand

Korea vs. China at Chun-cheon City, Korea

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 2 Second Round

Philippines vs. Pakistan at Manila, Philippines

New Zealand vs. Indonesia at Hamilton, New Zealand

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Playoffs

Belarus vs. FYR Macedonia at Minsk, Belarus

Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Second Round

Slovenia vs. Lithuania at Otocec, Slovenia

Latvia vs. Bulgaria at Plovdiv, Latvia

Mondays With Bob Greene: For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game

STARS

Caroline Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano 7-6 (5) 7-5 to win the AEGON International women’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain

Dmitry Tursunov beat Frank Dancovic 6-3 7-6 (5) to win the AEGON International men’s singles in Eastbourne

Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to successfully defend her Ordina Open women’s crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Benjamin Becker beat Raemon Sluiter 7-5 6-3 to win the Ordina Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch

SAYING

“When I start a tournament like Wimbledon, it is to try to win, and my feeling right now is I’m not ready to play to win.” – Rafael Nadal, withdrawing from Wimbledon and becoming only the fourth man in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title.

“I love playing here.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, after winning her second straight Ordina Open singles title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

“That loss exhausted me mentally. I am still trying to recover.” – Novak Djokovic, on his three-set, four-hour loss to Rafael Nadal in Madrid, Spain, in mid-May.

“No girl likes to be compared to another. Ultimately, what we have in common is that we play tennis. I feel flattered that people like the way I look, but it doesn’t help you win points.” – Ana Ivanovic, who is constantly being compared to Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova.

“For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game. It’s always good to see him play and win and we are going to see so much more of Federer in the future, he is going to win more grand slam tournaments.” – Bjorn Borg, picking Federer to win Wimbledon this year.

“The body of work is phenomenal and now he has got that French Open and I think he can just go on and sip Margaritas for the rest of his life.” – Martina Navratilova, on Roger Federer winning in Paris.

“I can play on grass. I just need time.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing a first-round match at Eastbourne.

“It’s my first title on grass so that means a lot to me. I wish I could have closed it off a little bit earlier but it doesn’t matter how I won, so that is the main thing and I am happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning at Eastbourne.

“I am definitely going to try to come out, unless I am going to be on crutches. Even then I will try to come out.” – Dmitry Tursunov, on whether his ankle injury will prevent him from playing Wimbledon.

“On this surface, everything is opposite. For me, it’s too much to change in three days.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, losing her first match on grass after winning the French Open, a clay court tournament.

“It’s been a very surprising week for us because before this tournament we had only won four matches in our whole career on grass. So we’ve managed to double that this week.” – Marcin Matkowski, after teaming with Mariusz Fyrstenberg to win the men’s doubles at Eastbourne.

“We managed to beat the number one seeds and French Open champions in the first round, and then we played better and better as the week progressed.” – Mariusz Fyrstenberg.

“It’s Ralph Lauren, it has a bit of a tuxedo feel but it’s flattering. I’m having a good time with it.” – Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, about the outfit she wore to a pre-Wimbledon player party.

STAYING HOME

Because of his aching knees, Rafael Nadal became just the fourth player in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title. Nadal announced his withdrawal after playing two exhibition matches on grass. He lost both, the first to Lleyton Hewitt, the second to Stanislas Wawrinka. “I didn’t feel terrible, but not close to my best,” the Spaniard said. “I’m just not 100 percent. I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I just don’t feel ready.” Nadal joins John Newcombe (1972), Stan Smith (1973) and Goran Ivanisevic (2002) as the only players who did not defend their Wimbledon titles in the Open Era; in 1973, Smith joined a player’s boycott against the tennis establishment. Nadal has complained about his knees since a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. “It’s not chronic,” Nadal said of his knee problems. “I can recover, for sure.”

Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled out of Wimbledon because of a wrist injury. A week earlier, he had pulled out of his scheduled match against Steve Darcis at Queen’s Club.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a knee injury. An Australian Open finalist in 2006, Baghdatis was carried off the court on a stretcher for the second time in nine months after injuring his knee during a match at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He also was carried off the court on a stretcher last fall at the Open de Moselle in Metz, France, when he hurt his back.


SPOT ON TOP OPEN?

Roger Federer could reclaim the number one ranking by winning his sixth Wimbledon title. The Swiss star held the top spot in the rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks until Rafael Nadal pushed him down to number two last August. Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of his injured knees. But anything short of a sixth Wimbledon title won’t be enough for Federer, who could actually be passed in the rankings by Andy Murray. If he became the first Brit to win the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray would move up to number two in the rankings behind Nadal, but no higher.

SICK CALL

Ivan Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro dropped his racquet and ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he then applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer. Ljubicic had won the first set 6-3 but was 2-4 down when he fell.

Marion Bartoli is still in the Wimbledon women’s singles despite suffering a leg injury in the semifinals at the AEGON International tournament in Eastbourne. Bartoli had lost the first set to Virginie Razzano when she asked for a trainer. Her thigh was treated and strapped, but, after losing the first game of the second set to love, she retired from the match.

SLUITER HISTORY

Although he lost the title match, Raemon Sluiter made history by becoming the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final. Ranked number 866 in the world, Sluiter gained entry into the grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, via a wild card. It was the fourth final for the Dutchman in his career, all coming on his home soil. And when he fell to Germany’s Benjamin Becker 7-5 6-3, Sluiter still was left seeking his first ATP World Tour title. Becker was only the second qualifier to reach a final this season and the first qualifier to win the Ordina Open.

SAFINA SLAYER

There’s something about Tamarine Tanasugarn when she plays the Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Just ask top-ranked Dinara Safina. Tanasugarn upset Safina for the second straight year at the grass-court warm-up to Wimbledon. A year ago the veteran Thai player beat Safina in the final. This year, the 32-year-old Tanasugarn stopped Safina in the semis 7-5 7-5 before beating 19-year-old Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to retain her championship.

SPORTS RADIO

Aces, a one-hour radio show dedicated to tennis, has begun broadcasting in Toronto, Canada, and on the Internet just in time for Wimbledon. Listeners in t4he Toronto area can tune into FAN 590 AM on the radio, while tennis fans around the world can listen online at www.fan590.com. Rogie Lajoie and Olympic tennis broadcaster Michael Cvitkovic will host Aces, which began by interviewing 10-time Grand Slam tournament singles champion Serena Williams, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour president Stacey Allaster and Toronto Globe and Mail tennis columnist Tom Tebbutt. Aces is currently scheduled for broadcast August 6 and 13.

STARS SHINE IN LONDON

The Ralph Lauren presents the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Player Party brought out the stars, and not just the tennis variety. Among the players in attendance at the Kensington Roof Gardens were Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Anne Keothavong, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Alize Cornet, Anna Chakvetadze, Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki and Gisela Dulko. Besides the host, Sir Richard Branson, other celebrities in attendance included Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame, as well as Branson’s son, Sam Branson. There was even a royal presence, with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, attending with her two daughters, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

SWINGING AWAY

Three former champions, including two-time defending king Fabrice Santoro, will compete in this year’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Also in the field will be Robby Ginepri, the 2003 winner, and 2002 champion Taylor Dent. The ATP World Tour event is the only professional grass-court tournament played in the United States and begins the day after the Wimbledon men’s final.

SENIOR CHAMPIONS

Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, three former champions of the LA Tennis Open, will play in featured legends matches at the 83rd annual Los Angeles tournament that begins July 27. Edberg won a gold medal during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on the same UCLA courts that now stage the LA Tennis Open. He also won the tournament in 1990. Chang captured titles in 1996 and 2000, while Courier won in 1997.

SLUR

Brydan Klein of Australia has been fined USD $13,920 and suspended by Tennis Australia for using a racial slur against his South African opponent, Raven Klaasan, during their qualifying match at the AEGON International in Eastbourne, Great Britain. The ATP tour said in a statement that the 19-year-old Klein has been given the maximum penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and added that it is carrying out a fuller investigation which could result in an additional penalty for aggravated behavior. Tennis Australia said it has suspended Klein from the Australian Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program and could impose further sanctions after an investigation. Klein, the 2007 Australian Open junior champion, called Klaasan a “kaffir” and spat in the direction of Klaasan’s coach and another South African player. Use of the term “kaffir” is illegal in South Africa and is regarded as a gross racial insult, especially to black South Africans. Klassen is one of South Africa’s few black players and has represented his country in Davis Cup. Klein beat Klassen 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) before losing in the second round of the main draw to Janko Tipsarevic.

SWITCH

Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledons. Now he’s trying to pick the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for the second straight year. A year ago, Borg picked Rafael Nadal to win the grass-court major, which the Spaniard did. This year, Borg is picking Roger Federer. And he did it before Nadal withdrew from the tournament. “Coming into Wimbledon I think he is relieved in a way that he won Paris, because that was one of his main ambitions, goals to try and win Paris,” said Borg. “So coming into Wimbledon he feels very confident, he has equaled (Pete) Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams.”

SEEKING HEAVIER PENALTY

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is considering an appeal from India, which is seeking a heavier penalty against Australia for forfeiting last month’s Davis Cup competition. The ITF said the appeal from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will be discussed at a board meeting on July 15. Australia was fined USD $10,000 after refusing to travel to Chennai, India, for the zonal tie for safety reasons, but the ITF’s Davis Cup Committee decided not to ban Australia from the 2010 competition. India also wants the ITF to rule that the next two ties between the two nations should be played in India. Security for sports teams in the sub-continent had been questioned after the Sri Lanka cricket team’s bus was ambushed in Lahore, Pakistan, in March. That followed militant attacks in Mumbai, India, last November that killed 166 people.

SITTING PRETTY

The global credit crunch hasn’t affected Wimbledon. The 2,500 Centre Court debentures that were offered last month were snapped up at USD $43,830 each. Each debenture holder will receive one Centre Court ticket for every day of the two-week long Championships from 2011 through 2015. “We were heavily over-subscribed,” said All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie. “We were very pleasantly delighted with the response. With a new roof over Centre Court, play is guaranteed there regardless of the weather.

START ANEW

It is a tournament Amelie Mauresmo would just as soon forget. The former Wimbledon champion squandered five set points in each tiebreak as she lost a quarterfinal match to Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8) 7-6 (13) at the Eastbourne International. “It was a very cruel match,” said Mauresmo, who received a warning from the umpire when she vented her frustration by hitting a ball high over a line of trees and into the street. “This one wasn’t for me, I guess.”

SET FOR WIMBLEDON

Could it be that Andy Murray is hoping his clothes will help him duplicate Fred Perry’s success at Wimbledon? Murray will play in a retro outfit at this year’s grass court Grand Slam tournament. The new clothes were designed specifically for Wimbledon by clothing maker Fred Perry. The company said the clothes were inspired by the shirts that Perry designed for clients and friends such as John F. Kennedy and Billie Jean King. Perry, who died in 1995, was the last Briton to win at Wimbledon, capturing three consecutive titles in 1934-36 and completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in 1935. A week ago, Murray became the first Briton to win the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938.

SURFACE CLAY

It is no surprise that Italy has decided to play November’s Fed Cup final against the United States on clay courts in Reggio Calabria, a city on the southern tip of Italy’s boot-shaped outline. The outdoor event will be held at the Rocco Polimeni club on November 7-8. Even on clay, the Americans are favorites since both Venus and Serena Williams said they hope to play in the final after missing the previous rounds.

SKIPPING DAVIS CUP

When Russia takes on Israel in a Davis Cup quarterfinal next month, Russia’s top player, Nikolay Davydenko, will be missing. Russian team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said he had allowed Davydenko to skip Russia’s first two ties in this year’s competition. The top-ranked Russians will still have Marat Safin, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny for the July 10-12 encounter in Tel Aviv, Israel.

SUCKER-PUNCHED

A 20-year-old UCLA tennis player was in a coma after being punched following a country music concert in Dallas, Texas, USA. Jeffrey Fleming was attending a Rascal Flatts concert with friends when a man hit him. Fleming’s family says he was sucker-punched as he was about to catch a taxi after the concert. The blow knocked Fleming to the ground where his head hit the concrete pavement. The attacker and others ran away.

SOONERS COACH

The new men’s tennis coach at the University of Oklahoma is Andy Roddick’s brother. John Roddick was hired to take over the Sooners team that had been coached for the past 22 years by John Lockwood. Athletic director Joe Castiglione says Roddick has the ability to recruit top players and a reputation for being able to develop them. For the past seven years he has been operating a performance boarding academy for tennis players in Austin, Texas. John also helped coach his brother Andy, who is still ranked in the top 10 in the world.

SPONSOR

The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA, has a new sponsor. The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has reached an agreement with the Southern California Tennis Association to become the presenting sponsor of the ATP World Tour 250 and Olympus US Open Series men’s event. French Open semifinalist Fernando Gonzalez leads a group of early entrants to the 28-player field. Also entering the tournament are Tommy Hass, Radek Stapanek, Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. In addition, a special exhibition match will pit Pete Sampras against Safin in a rematch of the 2000 US Open won by the Russian.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Eastbourne (women): Akgul Amanmuradova and Ai Sugiyama beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 6-4 6-3

Eastbourne (men): Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 6-4 6-4

s-Hertogenbosch (men): Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (3) 6-7 (8) 10-5 (match tiebreak)

s-Hertogenbosch (women): Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta beat Michaella Krajicek and Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 5-7 13-11 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

Cuneo: www.countrycuneo.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

The Championships (first week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

WTA

$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay

Mondays with Bob Greene: Five Straight for Rafa

STARS

Rafael Nadal won his fifth straight Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title, beating Novak Djokovic 6-3 2-6 61 in Monte Carlo

Sabine Lisicki won the Family Circle Cup, beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Roberta Vinci beat Maria Kirilenko 6-0 6-4 to win the Barcelona Ladies Open in Barcelona, Spain

Fabrice Santoro beat Rik De Voest 7-5 6-4 to win the Soweto Men’s Open in Johannesburg, South Africa

Felix Mantilla beat Albert Costa 6-4 6-1 to win the ATP Champions Cup in Barcelona, Spain

SAYING

“Everyone can improve in every surface, no? No one is perfect. Sure, I can improve. I always work to improve because when you feel you can’t improve, is difficult to wake up and go on court and practice.” – Rafael Nadal  after winning his fifth straight Monte Carlo Rolex Masters.

“She’s just a great champion. I still can’t really believe I won. … But beating Venus Williams here was just awesome.” – Sabine Lisicki, who beat Venus Williams early in the week and went on to win the Family Circle Cup.

“I wasn’t expecting that.” – Venus Williams, after losing to Sabine Lisicki at the Family Circle Cup.

“He did a good job today. He kept the ball in play.” – Roger Federer, after losing to Stanislas Wawrinka at Monte Carlo.

“I am a bit embarrassed to celebrate it.” – Stanislas Wawrinka, on his victory over Roger Federer.

“The competition is pretty tough. You have to be ready from the first round, especially playing the first tournament on clay courts. You really have to be patient and take some time before you really feel the surface.” – Elena Dementieva, noting that second-seeded Venus Williams, third-seeded Vera Zvonareva and fourth-seeded Nadia Petrova were all eliminated from the Family Circle Cup on the same day.

“If you want to get married in private, you have to go to Switzerland. They don’t actually care over there. They actually want to give you peace and privacy. That’s why I love being a Swiss and living in Switzerland.” – Roger Federer, on his marriage to long-time girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec.

“Obviously our rankings both aren’t in the top 10 anymore, so you’re not getting the protection of not playing each other early on. But, yeah, he’s obviously still a class player when he’s on.” – Lleyton Hewitt, after losing to Marat Safin in a battle of former world number ones.

“It’s nice that I know him, and he’s supporting me out here, coming to watch me play.” – Alexander Stevenson, acknowledging that her father, basketball great Julius Erving, saw her play tennis for the first time as she lost her first-round match at the Family Circle Cup.

“I had a lead and then the whole thing was, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m actually beating someone who’s 13 in the world,’ and that got in my head a little bit.” – American qualifier Melanie Oudin, after losing to third-seeded Marion Bartoli at the Family Circle Cup.

“Our personalities match. We work a lot off the court together and we really understand each other’s game. We know each other’s strengths and know how to work as a team.” – Nadia Petrova, after teaming with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to win the Family Circle Cup doubles.

“When I got my illness, I felt like I was retired and that it was finished. But then they gave me the possibility to come here and to play on the ATP Champions Tour and I thought, ‘Why not?’ It’s always nice to play your sport while having fun.” – Felix Mantilla, who has recovered from skin cancer and resumed playing, winning the Barcelona, Spain, stop on the ATP Champions Tour.

SHOCKER I

Roger Federer teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to give Switzerland a gold medal in the doubles at the Beijing Olympics last summer. In Monte Carlo, it was Wawrinka who showed Federer the exit in their third-round match. Federer struggled throughout the match, facing 14 break points. The world number two, Federer entered the Monte Carlo Masters on a wild card after getting married the weekend before the tournament.

SHOCKER II

Venus Williams was a heavy favorite to win her Family Circle Cup third-round match against little-known Sabine Lisicki. Instead, the German right-hander shocked the tournament’s number-two seed 6-4 7-6 (5) in her remarkable run to her first WTA Tour title. “I wasn’t expecting that and, you know, I’ll try to come back next year and win,” Williams said. “I made a few errors at the wrong time, and she played some great shots.”

SWEET WEEK

Sabine Lisicki first gained notice when she pulled off the biggest victory over her career by upsetting Venus Williams early in the tournament. She capped her fantasy run by beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 to become the lowest-ranked player ever to win the Family Circle Cup, her first WTA Tour title. The German right-hander proved her surprise win was no fluke, knocking off Elena Vesnina in the quarterfinals, sixth-seeded Marion Bartoli in the semis and fifth-seeded Wozniacki in the final, closing out the victory on her sixth match point. Against Wozniacki, Lisicki rallied from behind in both sets.

STILL CHAMPION

It’s becoming a habit. Rafael Nadal won his fifth straight Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, this year beating third-seeded Novak Djokovic in the final and running his winning streak to 27 matches at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament. The Spaniard becomes the first player to win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament five consecutive years, and joins Roger Federer with 14 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, second only to the 17 won by Andre Agassi. Nadal also is the first world number one player to win at Monte Carlo since Ivan Lendl in 1988.

SUPERB FINALIST

Roberta Vinci has only reached two finals in her WTA Tour career. But she’s perfect once she gets there, capturing her second career title at the Barcelona Ladies Open. Her only other title match appearance came in Bogota, Colombia, in 2007, which she also won. “It’s such a great feeling to win again,” Vinci said. “It has been a long time since I played well.” Both of Vinci’s titles have come on red clay.

SPECIAL SWINGER

The only player to win two Grand Slams – winning the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US singles championships in the same calendar year – Rod Laver is being honored again. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHFM) will honor Laver with a special presentation on Center Court during ceremonies for the Class of 2009 inductees into the Hall of Fame. In addition, the left-hander from Australia will be named a Life Trustee of the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine. “Rod Laver is arguably the best tennis player ever to swing a racquet,” said Christopher Clouser, chairman of the ITHFM. “And beyond being a great champion of tennis, he is a great person and ambassador of tennis who continues to give back to our sport.” Laver won the Grand Slam in 1962 as an amateur, then again in 1969, one year after the Open Era began, allowing professionals to compete. In 2001, the Australian Open stadium in Melbourne was named “The Rod Laver Arena.”

SPORTS AWARDS NOMINEES

Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic have been nominated for the 10th Laureus World Sports Awards. Williams, who won her fifth Wimbledon title last summer, has been nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award. Ivanovic, the French Open winner in 2008, and countryman Djokovic, the 2008 Australian Open champion, have been nominated in the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year category.

STADIUM TOPPER?

The US Tennis Association (USTA) is looking into the possibility of putting a roof over Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium, site of the US Open. The stadium, which opened in 1997, seats 22,500, making it one of the largest outdoor tennis stadiums in the world. Spokesman Chris Wittmeier said the USTA is interested in whether new lightweight materials and engineering techniques could be used to make a retractable roof to prevent championship tennis events from being rained out. The stadium was not initially designed to accommodate a roof. The Australian Open’s main stadium has a retractable roof, and a roof was also added to Wimbledon for this year’s tournament. Wittmeier knocked down speculation that the New York Islanders would move their National Hockey League franchise to Arthur Ashe Stadium if a roof was installed. “It’s not even on our wish list,” Wittmeier said. “The way that Arthur Ashe is engineered and configured, it wouldn’t work for hockey.”

SAYING “I DO, TOO”

One week after Roger Federer got married, Andy Roddick walked down the aisle. The 2003 US Open champion married Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker at Roddick’s home in Austin, Texas. Elton John sang at a reception held at a country club following the ceremony. Among those attending the wedding were Billie Jean King, James Blake, Mardy Fish and Patrick McEnroe. Federer married longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in a small ceremony in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland.

STRUCK DOWN

An ankle injury knocked third-seeded Vera Zvonareva out of the Family Circle Cup singles. On serve with Virginie Razzano in the opening set, Zvonareva fell in the third game while chasing down a ball along the baseline. She cried out in pain and lay on the court for about five minutes, clutching her right ankle. She was helped to her chair where a trainer wrapped her ankle and applied ice to the injury. The Russian then was taken off the court on a golf cart.

SPONSOR SLIP

Maria Sharapova, who hasn’t played singles since last summer, has lost one of her endorsement deals. A spokesman for PepsiCo Inc. said there was no particular reason for the split other than the two-year contract has ended. Sharapova had been the first tennis player to represent PepsiCo’s Gatorade sports drink and Tropicana fruit juice brands worldwide. Since winning Wimbledon in 2004, Sharapova has become the highest-paid female athlete in the world. Sports Illustrated reported the Russian right-hander earns close to USD $22 million a year. She took over the world number one ranking when Justine Henin retired, but has since dropped to number 53 in the world after missing the Beijing Olympics, the US Open and the Australian Open. She has undergone shoulder surgery. Serena Williams endorses Gatorade in the United States.

SEEKING COMEBACK

Carlos Moya is not going to let surgery keep him down. The former world number one is planning on returning to the ATP Tour once he recovers from his pelvic bone surgery.  “They have told me that the recuperation period will be between four or five months,” said the 32-year-old Moya, who won the French Open in 1998. “I think that to come back after the US Open (in September) it’s best to accept the situation in a relaxed way and have more guarantees for next year.”

SENIOR SITE

The ATP Champions Tour has launched its own official website, www.atpchampionstour.com. The site has a new interactive FanZone where fans can send questions to their favorite player, access exclusive video and audio, and test their knowledge of the Champions. Another section explains how players are eligible to play on the ATP Champions Tour.

STEPPING DOWN I

Alfred Tesar is ending his eight-year reign as captain of Austria’s Fed Cup team. In its first match under Tesar in 2002, Austria upset the United States and reached the World Group semifinals, which they did again in 2004. But Austria was relegated to the Europe/Africa Zone last year. “Alfred Tesar and the Fed Cup team achieved outstanding successes,” Austrian Tennis Federation general secretary Peter Teuschl said. “But after eight years … it’s time for a new start.”

STEPPING DOWN II

Carl Maes has resigned as head of women’s tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). Maes is a native of Belgium who made his reputation coaching Kim Clijsters from her time in the juniors until she was on the cusp of her Grand Slam tournament successes.

SAYS NO TO MEDIA

Australian sports organizations, including Tennis Australia, is trying to restrict reporting of their events, a move that Australian media group News Ltd. says would be an assault on free speech. Australia’s leading sporting bodies have told a Senate inquiry that the advent of online “news” reporting is affecting their revenue streams and could limit their ability to support grassroots participation. Cricket Australia, the Australian Football League and Tennis Australia are among the administrators who appeared before the Australian Senate inquiry calling for the government to create laws or regulations to put limits on what media organizations can publish, from their events, on the Internet. David Tomlin, associate general counsel of The Associated Press, told the inquiry that sports leagues and organizers were entering the publishing arena with their own web sites and digital deals and competing for advertising and other revenue.

SICHUAN HELP

Zheng Jie returned to her home in Sichuan Province for the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that killed nearly 69,000 people. Last year, Zheng Jie donated her Wimbledon prize money to the earthquake victims. This year she spoke to students at the Hong Bai School in Shifang, Sichuan Province, and also held a tennis clinic. Zheng and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour donated racquets and balls to the students, while two sponsors, Anta and Mercedes Benz, also made donations to the children.

SOUTH AFRICAN CAPTAIN

Former top player Greer Stevens has been named captain of South Africa’s Fed Cup team. South Africa will participate in the Euro/Africa Group II competition being held in Antalya, Turkey. “Our team is in the building stages,” said Stevens, who is now married and goes by the name of Leo-Smith. Besides South Africa, other nations participating in Turkey will be Georgia, Portugal, Turkey, Latvia and Morocco.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Monte Carlo: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 6-1

Charleston: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova beat Liga Dekmeijere and Patty Schnyder 6-7 (5) 6-2 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Barcelona: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Sorana Cirstea and Andreja Klepac 3-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Johannesburg: George Bastl and Chris Guccione beat Michail Elgin and Alexandre Kudryavtsev 6-2 4-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Barcelona: www.barcelonaopenbancosabadell.com/

Sofia: www.bgtennis.bg/

Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com

Estonian Tennis Federation: www.tennis.ee/

Polish Tennis Federation: www.pzt.pl/

Belgium Tennis Federation: www.sport.be/fedcup/2009/belcan/fr/

Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/

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

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

Tunis: www.tct.org.tn

Rhodes: www.atcrhodes.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$2,645,000 Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain, clay

$112,000 Bulgarian Open, Sofia, Bulgaria, clay

FED CUP

(April 25-26)

World Group Semifinals

Italy vs. Russia at Castellaneta Marina, Italy, clay

Czech Republic vs. United States at Brno, Czech Republic, hard

World Group Playoffs

Spain vs. Serbia at Lleida, Spain, clay; France vs. Slovak Republic at Limoges, France, clay; Germany vs. China at Frankfurt, Germany, clay; Argentina vs. Ukraine at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, clay

World Group II Playoffs

Belgium vs. Canada at Hasselt, Belgium, clay; Estonia vs. Israel at Tallinn, Estonia, hard; Poland vs. Japan at Gdynia, Poland, clay; Australia vs. Switzerland at Victoria, Australia, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

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

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

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

WTA

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

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

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

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