Fernando Meligeni

PHILIPPOUSSIS STICKS WITH FEDERER TO WIN AT WIMBLEDON

When Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon title in 2003, Mark Philippoussis was the man he beat in the final to break through and win his first of a now record 16 major singles title. Despite a shaky performance in the first round against Alejandro Falla on Monday, Federer is still the pick of Philippoussis to win a seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday, July 4. Philippoussis, who currently is the top-ranked player on the Champions Series tennis circuit, blogs his thoughts about Federer and his match with Falla as well as thoughts about the women’s draw and his pick of Venus Williams to win the women’s singles title at SW19. The blog can be read here: http://www.championsseriestennis.com/player_blog.php?id=47

Philippoussis defeated John McEnroe 6-3, 4-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie-Breaker) last month to win his first career Champions Series singles title at the $150,000 Staples Champions Cup in Boston. The win for Philippoussis also vaulted him into the No. 1 Champions Series ranking after reaching the singles final in the circuit’s opening event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he lost to Fernando Meligeni.

Philippoussis will join McEnroe, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Mikael Pernfors, Wayne Ferreira, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias at the $150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz., to be played October 20-24 at the Surprise Recreation Campus Tennis and Racquet Complex. For more information on the Champions Series, go to www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

SAFIN, CHAMPIONS SERIES TENNIS A HIT IN RIO

The 2010 Champions Series tennis circuit started Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Marat Safin made his tour debut only 17 weeks after last playing on the ATP World Tour.

Safin said his appearance on the champion’s circuit so soon after leaving the main tour was “almost comical.” Perhaps even more startling is the fact that he lost in the first round of the eight-man Rio event Friday night to Wayne Ferreira.

The loss shows two things – Safin has probably played very little tennis since November when he played his final ATP event at the Paris Indoors and the guys on the Champions Series circuit can really still play. Safin just turned 30 years old while his conqueror, Ferreira, is eight years older, but showed he is still in great shape and playing fine tennis. There is prize money on the line in each match on the Champions Series and Ferreria earned him at least another extra $10,000 for his win. Ferreira went on to finish third in the event and pocketed $25,000.

Fernando Meligeni of Brazil was the surprise tournament winner, boosted by the local fan support. He defeated Mark Philippoussis in the championship match to win his first Champions Series title and $60,000.

Here are some photos of the event provided by tournament organizers.

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SAFIN ARRIVES IN RIO

Marat Safin will make his debut on the Champions Series tennis circuit Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Safin, who retired from the ATP World Tour last fall, opens against Wayne Ferreira in the eight-player event.

Safin, who turned 30 in February, is the favorite to win the event, titled the Banco Cruzeiro do Sul Rio Champions Cup. Also competing in the eight-player, single-knock out event are Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Mark Philippoussis, Cedric Pioline, Mikael Pernfors and Fernando Meligeni. The event will feature $150,000 in total prize money, with the singles champion earning $60,000. Tickets can be purchased by calling 5521-3005-4023 or by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

The full schedule of play is as follows;

Friday 12th March: Starting at 6 pm
Quarterfinal #1 – Fernando Meligeni vs. Mikael Pernfors
Quarterfinal #2 – Mark Philippoussis vs. Cedric Pioline
Quarterfinal #3 – Marat Safin vs. Wayne Ferreira
Quarterfinal #4 – Jim Courier vs. Mats Wilander

Saturday 13th March: Starting at 6 pm
Men’s Doubles Match
Semifinal #1 – Winner of Safin/Ferreira vs. Meligini/Pernfors
Semifinal #2 – Winner of Philippoussis/Pioline vs. Courier/Wilander

Sunday 14th March: Starting at 11 am
3rd Place Match
Championship Final

Safin became the first Russian to win the U.S. Open in 2000 when he shocked Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the men’s singles final. Safin rode the momentum of winning his first major singles title to earn the No. 1 ranking later that year and rank in the top spot for a total of nine weeks during his career. He reached the final of the Australian Open in 2002 and again in 2004, losing to Thomas Johansson and Roger Federer, respectively, but broke through to win his second major title in Australia in 2005, defeating Lleyton Hewitt in the final. Safin, who also reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2002 and at Wimbledon in 2008, won 15 career singles titles and guided Russia to Davis Cup titles in 2002 and 2006. Safin turned 30 years old on January 27 and concluded his ATP World Tour career last fall.

The Rio Champions Cup is part of the global Champions Series tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. To be eligible to compete, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team.

Each event features $150,000 in prize money – with the tournament champion earning $60,000 – and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1. Each tournament champion earns 800 ranking points.

Here are other photos from the event’s Facebook page of Courier and Wilander also arriving.

The full 2010 Champions Series schedule of tournaments will be announced in the near future. The first tournament in the United States – the Staples Champions Cup – will be held April 29-May 2 in Boston, Mass., and will feature Bjorn Borg playing in his first tournament in the U.S. in 10 years.

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Mondays With Bob Greene: Federer has the potential to win at Paris and at any site in the world

STARS

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Julien Benneteau 3-6 7-6 (1) 6-3 to win the Interwetten Austrian Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria

Aravane Rezai beat Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (2) 6-1 to win the Internationaux de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France

Alexandra Dulgheru beat Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-0 to win the Warsaw Open in Warsaw, Poland

Serbia won the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, defeating Germany in Dusseldorf, Germany

Thomas Enqvist beat Fernando Meligeni 7-6(3) 6-3 to win the AOC Grand Champions Brazil in Sao Paulo, Brazil

SAYING
“I know what I have to do, but that doesn’t make it easy.” – Roger Federer, when asked if he could win the French Open.

“Federer has the potential to win at Paris and at any site in the world. He’s showed that throughout his career. But Paris begins with the first round, not the final.” – Rafael Nadal.

“If I continue playing like I’ve been playing for the past three weeks, I have a very good chance (of winning the tournament). I’m really looking forward to it.” – Dinara Safina, on her chances at Roland Garros.

“Any win on the clay is a great win. I know the Americans don’t do well over here, so it’s good to get us on the board.” – Robert Kendrick, after his five-set, first-day win over Daniel Brands.

“To play him on any surface, he’s so dangerous. (He served) a lot of unreturnables.” – Lleyton Hewitt, after surviving a French Open -record 55 aces struck by Ivo Karlovic to win his first-round match.

“I think it is going to be huge and this is respect because Djokovic was not here. And I think we showed that we are a big tennis nation also if Novak is not here with us.” – Janko Tipsarevic, after he teamed with Viktor Troicki and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic to lead Serbia to the ARAG ATP World Team Championship title.

“A very, very poor match – probably my worst match in the last two years.” – Jelena Dokic, after losing to Romanian qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru in the first round of the Warsaw Open.

“I have no expectations for the French Open. This is not a time in my career to have expectations.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing a quarterfinal match in her first singles tournament since undergoing shoulder surgery.

“It’s incredible. I’m so happy to win my first title in France.” – Aravane Rezai, the first Frenchwoman to win the Internationaux de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France, in the tournament’s 23-year history.

“I didn’t expect to win. I don’t know what happened that I was playing so well. .. I had to use every drop of energy I had to win.” – Alexandra Dulgheru, after winning her first WTA Tour title, the Warsaw Open.

“I think it’s my best moment in my career. I played in my first ATP World Tour final and I won.” – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, after winning the Austrian Open.

SETS RECORD FOR ACES

Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 55 aces yet still lost his first-round Roland Garros match to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (1) 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4) 6-4 6-3. The tallest man on the ATP Tour at 6-foot-10 (2.08m), Karlovic shared the previous record of 51 aces with Joachim Johansson. The ATP began keeping records on aces in1991. However, Bud Collins, the Hall of Fame tennis journalist and broadcaster, in his book The Bud Collins History of Tennis, lists American Ed Kauder as the holder of the most aces struck in a match. Kauder fired 59 aces in a 6-2 3-6 9-11 10-8 6-0 first-round loss to Ham Richardson at the US Championships (now US Open) in 1955. According to Collins, Karlovic’s 55 aces stands as the second-most all-time and the most aces in a match at Roland Garros.

SET FOR LONDON

Rafael Nadal is the first player to clinch a spot in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals to be held in London. Nadal is the reigning Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champion. He will be joined by seven other player sin the November 22-29 event. Despite qualifying for the year-ending event in each of the past four years, Nadal has twice withdrawn from the competition because of injury and has never reached the final. Last year he missed the finale in Shanghai because of tendinitis in his knee. He lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals in 2006 and 2007.

SURPRISE

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Alexandra Dulgheru won the Warsaw Open. She rallied from 7-5 4-2 down to win her opening round in qualifying, then won two more matches just to get to the main draw. Ranked 201st in the world, Dulgheru included among her victims Daniela Hantuchova before she beat Alona Bondarenko in her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final. Dulgheru won the title match in two hours, 52 minutes – exactly the same time it took her to beat Lenka Wienerova in the first round of qualifying.

STOPPED

John Isner’s French Open ended before it began. Isner won a wild card into Roland Garros by winning the USTA wild card tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. But he had to pull out of the French Open because of mononucleosis.

Russia’s Dimitry Tursunov and Croatia’s Mario Ancic are also missing this year’s clay court Grand Slam tournament. Tursunov withdrew because of a heel injury, while Ancic pulled out because of a lack of fitness.

SHARAPOVA BACK

Maria Sharapova played singles in a tournament for the first time in nearly 10 months, reaching the quarterfinals before being stopped by Alona Bondarenko. The three-time Grand Slam tournament winner needed nine match points in her opening match before finally downing Tathiana Garbin in three sets at the Warsaw Open. She beat Darya Kustova in the second round before falling to the eight-seeded Bondarenko. The Russian had surgery for a torn rotator cuff last year and missed the US and Australian Opens as well as the Beijing Olympics. She briefly returned to tournament tennis in March, playing and losing a doubles match in Indian Wells, California. “In these nine months the only thing I’ve accomplished is probably a good pasta carbonara,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s not my specialty. My specialty is to go out and compete and win Grand Slams.” Sharapova has already next month’s Edgbaston Classic in Birmingham, England, a grass-court warm-up for Wimbledon.

STRICKEN

Japan’s Kei Nishikori has an injured right elbow, forcing him to pull out of the French Open. Nishikori has not played since losing in the opening round at Indian Wells, California, in March. Last year Nishikori became the first Japanese man since 1937 to reach the fourth round of the US Open, and he was later honored as the ATP’s newcomer of the year for 2008. He was ranked as high as number 56, but currently is ranked 117th in the world.

STEFFI AND ANDRE, AGAIN

Their act was so good at Wimbledon, Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf will play another exhibition match – this time at Roland Garros on Saturday, June 6. Sponsored by Longines and in honor of the tenth anniversary of the couple’s 1999 singles championship victories, Agassi and Graf will play on Court 7 with ten young players from around the world.

STEAMED

Lleyton Hewitt is upset over the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) decision to fine Australia USD $10,000 because of the country’s refusal to play a Davis Cup zonal tie in India. Tennis Australia (TA) had asked the ITF to move the Asia/Oceania Zone tie out of Chennai, India, but when the request was denied, the Australians refused to play, forfeiting the round. “The way the ITF went about it was a disgrace in the first place,” said Hewitt. “Australia Davis Cup is pretty disappointed about the way they’ve gone about it.” Under ITF rules, Australia could have been suspended for a year. India feels the ITF has been too lenient with Australia and is seeking a review of the punishment.

STUPIDITY

Jelena Dokic’s father is facing up to eight years in prison after threatening the Australian ambassador in Belgrade, Serbia. Damir Dokic was charged with “endangering security” of the ambassador and unlawful possession of weapons. He was arrested after reportedly saying he would blow up Ambassador Clair Birgin’s car if she did not stop negative articles about him from being published in the Australian mea. Searching his house in northern Serbia, police found rifles and hand grenades.

SINGERS WANTED

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is seeking youngsters to perform at this year’s US Open. The children – 12 years of age and younger as of September 13, 2009 – will be singing “America the Beautiful” before the night sessions at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

STRAIGHT IN

Taylor Dent has been granted a wildcard for the Pilot Pen Tennis to be held August 21-29 at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven, Connecticut. Dent will join fellow American Mardy Fish and Spaniard Tommy Robredo as players already committed to the US Open hard court warm-up event. Dent has reached a career-high ranking of 21st in the world before undergoing back surgery. When that surgery proved to be unsuccessful, he had spinal fusion surgery and has slowly worked his way back onto the ATP tour.

SUSPENSION SHORTENED

Poland’s Radwanska sisters -Agnieszka and Urzula – along with Daniela Hantuchova have lent their support to Habitat for Humanity and their latest building project in Warsaw, Poland. Due to be completed this September, the Warsaw project will provide new homes and a better future for six families. The three WTA Tour stars joined in with the construction on the latest installment of the “women-only” construction program which is designed to recruit, train and empower women. Besides their financial support, the Radwanska sister gave their match play racquets to Habitat for Humanity Poland for an auction.

STAGE FOR UPSETS

The infamous Court Two at Wimbledon, dubbed the graveyard of champions, will be replaced in time for the 2011 grass-court championships. “The new court (Three), containing enhanced spectator amenities, will be built on the site of old Court Two,” All England Club officials said. The work will start immediately after this year’s tournament and will be completed by May 2011. Several Wimbledon champions were upset on the old Court Two, including Pete Sampras in his last visit to Wimbledon in 2002. A new Court Two will be used for the first time when the Grand Slam tournament begins next month, while the retractable roof over Centre Court will also makes its debut.

SPONSORSHIP GONE

The Australian Open has lost nearly USD $10 million in sponsorship, thanks to the current world-wide financial crisis. Garnier, part of the L’Oreal Group, has become the second major backer to pull out of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. GE Money recently decided against extending its three-year arrangement. Garnier said the beauty products company has recently advised Tennis Australia of its decision not to continue as a sponsor in 2010. A much smaller arrangement between the Australian Open and MasterCard is also over as the sponsorship market continues to tighten locally and internationally.

STANDING TALL

Vera Zvonareva has been named a “Promoter of Gender Equality” as part of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s partnership with UNESCO. Zvonareva joins fellow tennis stars Venus Williams, Tatiana Golovin and Zheng Jie as Promoters of General Equality for the program as well as WTA Tour founder Billie Jean King. Zvonareva had her best year in 2008. The 24-year-old enrolled in the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007 where she is studying for a post-graduate degree in International Relations and Economics.

STRODE ARTHUR ASHE WINNER

The top men’s player on the University of Arkansas’ team, senior Blake Strode, has been named the national recipient of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship. Strode beat out nominees from Harvard, Georgia, Toledo, Rice, New Mexico and Pepperdine for the national honor.

SIGNS UP

Alex Bogomolov is the new Touring Professional in Residence for the Napeague Tennis Club in the Hamptons area of Long Island, New York. At one time ranked in the top 100 in the world, Bogomolov will serve as the club’s resident ATP Touring Pro and will be available to Napeague Tennis Club members for private lessons, clinics, and other club events throughout the summer.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Warsaw: Raquel Kops-Jones and Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Yan Zi and Zheng Jie 6-1 6-1

Strasbourg: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Claire Feuerstein and Stephanie Foretz 6-0 6-1

Kitzbuhel: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Andrei Pavel and Horla Tecau 6-7 (9) 6-2 10-7 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Paris: www.rolandgarros.com/index.html

Prostejov: www.czech-open.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay (first week)

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay (second week)

ATP

$170,000 UniCredit Czech Open, Prostejov, Czech Republic, clay

McEnroe Tops Courier To Win Outback Champions Series Title In Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, March 15 – John McEnroe is proving that he is getting better with age. The 50-year-old three-time Wimbledon champion completed a perfect week of tennis Sunday by defeating Jim Courier 6-2, 6-3 to win the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup at the HSBC Arena. The title was McEnroe’s third career tournament victory on the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. With his win, McEnroe also earned 800 ranking points to take over the No. 1 ranking on the Outback Champions Series from Pete Sampras while pocketing $54,000 in prize money.

“They talk about the age, but nowadays in the U.S., 50 is the new 40,” said McEnroe of his half-century status. “We find ways to be in better physical shape and I was feeling good today. 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.”

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, jumped on Courier early, breaking him in the second game of the match, while breaking the two-time French and Australian Open champion again in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2. In the second set, McEnroe was unable to capitalize on break point chances on Courier’s serve in the second and fourth games of the set, but secured the lethal break in the eighth game before serving out the match.

“The tennis ball doesn’t see the age. It’s zen,” said Courier of McEnroe, who is 12 years his senior. “I don’t think I have ever seen anyone over 50 play like John. I didn’t play bad today. John was just marvelous. He played some unbelievable tennis today. This court here is faster than a grass court and it suits his game. I can also play well on a hard court. I was serving well, but John was fantastic.”

Prior to the championship match, McEnroe defeated Mikael Pernfors, Jimmy Arias and Jaime Oncins in round-robin play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday respectively without dropping a set. Last month, he began the 2009 Outback Champions Series by reaching the final of the Champions Cup Boston, where he lost to Sampras. Courier, who earned 600 ranking points and $28,000 in prize money with the runner-up showing, was appearing in his 11th career Outback Champions Series final and was seeking his eighth career OCS title.

McEnroe, who said he specifically chose to play in the Rio Champions Cup to have another opportunity to visit Brazil, said he was very touched by Rio and the Brazilian people during his stay.

“I appreciated a lot coming to Rio and experiencing another culture,” said McEnroe. “People say that we Americans live for work and that the Brazilians work to live. If we can have a mix of that, would be perfect. It is touching to see how the people here, who struggle, have so little and still have the joy for life. I respect it a lot.”

In Sunday’s third-place match, Pat Cash of Australia defeated Jimmy Arias of the United States 7-5, 6-3.

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

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

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

Round Robin Standings
Group Maracana
John McEnroe 3-0
Jimmy Arias 2-1
Jaime Oncins 1-2
Mikael Pernfors 0-3

Group Corovado
Jim Courier 2-1
Pat Cash 2-1
Fernando Meligeni 1-2
Mark Philippoussis 1-2

Results From Thursday – March 12
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 4-6, 6-3, 10-4(Champions Tie-Break)
Jim Courier, United States, def. Pat Cash, Australia, 6-0, 7-6 (5)
John McEnroe, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-2, 6-4

Results From Friday – March 13
Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, def. Mark Philippoussis, Australia, 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker)
Jaime Oncins, Brazil, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 7-5, 6-1
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Mark Philippoussis, Australia, 7-6 (3), 6-1
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-4, 6-1
Jim Courier, United States, def. Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 (Champions Tie-Break)

Results From Saturday – March 14
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-4, 6-4
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, 6-3, 6-4
Mark Philippoussis, Australia, def. Jim Courier, United States,6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 10-8 (Champions Tie-Break)
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 7-6 (5), 6-3

Sunday – March 15
Championship Match
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jim Courier, United States, 6-2, 6-3
Third Place Match
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 7-5, 6-3

McEnroe and Courier Advance To Outback Champions Series Final in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, March 14 – John McEnroe will face Jim Courier in an All-American final at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup as both players emerged Saturday as the winners of each respective round-robin group. McEnroe advanced to the Sunday final by defeating Brazil’s Jaime Oncins 7-6 (5), 6-3 to post a perfect 3-0 record in the “Maracana” Group. Courier, however, was defeated Saturday by Mark Philippoussis of Australia 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker), but advanced to the final by winning a head-to-head tie-break with Pat Cash, who also posted 2-1 round-robin record in the “Corovado” Group, but lost to Courier on Thursday. The Rio Champions Cup is the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players 30 and over.

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, advanced into his third straight Outback Champions Series tournament final with his victory Saturday. Last month, he reached the final of the Champions Cup Boston – the opening event of the season – where he lost to Pete Sampras in the final. In his final Outback Champions Series of the 2008 season last October, McEnroe won the title in Surprise, Ariz., defeating Todd Martin in the final.

Against Oncins, McEnroe displayed the same serve and volley finesse that he exhibited in his first two round-robin match victories against Mikael Pernfors and Jimmy Arias, but for the first time during his trip to Rio, he also exhibited his famed temper. The three-time Wimbledon champion received two code violations in the first set and another early in the second set before finding his balance and closing out the straight-set victory.

“The match was only this close because of the chair umpire,” said McEnroe after the victory. “If it wasn’t for the chair umpire, it would have been much easier.”

The Courier and Philippousis match was a showcase of holding serve as neither player lost serve in the match. Philippousis emerged victorious by the narrow 11-9 score in the Champions Tie-breaker, played in lieu of a third set.

Courier said after the loss that he is not only hungry to win the title in Rio, but avenging his loss to McEnroe earlier this year in Boston in a match marred by Courier suffering a back injury in the later stages of the first set.

“I am out for revenge in the final,” said Courier. “My back stopped me in Boston (against McEnroe) but I’ll be ready to take him out this time.”

Cash and Arias will play in the third-place match that precedes Sunday’s McEnroe-Courier championship final. Arias moved into the third place match by defeating Pernfors 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to finish with a 2-1 round-robin record. Cash advanced by defeating Fernando Meligeni of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 to also finish 2-1.

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

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

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

Round Robin Standings
Group Maracana
John McEnroe 3-0
Jimmy Arias 2-1
Jaime Oncins 1-2
Mikael Pernfors 0-3

Group Corovado
Jim Courier 2-1
Pat Cash 2-1
Fernando Meligeni 1-2
Mark Philippoussis 1-2

Results From Thursday – March 12
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 4-6, 6-3, 10-4
(Champions Tie-Break)
Jim Courier, United States, def. Pat Cash, Australia, 6-0, 7-6 (5)
John McEnroe, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-2, 6-4

Results From Friday – March 13
Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, def. Mark Philippoussis, Australia, 6-4, 3-6,
11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker)
Jaime Oncins, Brazil, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 7-5, 6-1
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Mark Philippoussis, Australia, 7-6 (3), 6-1
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-4, 6-1
Jim Courier, United States, def. Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 (Champions Tie-Break)

Results From Saturday
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-4, 6-4
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Fernando Meligeni, Brazil, 6-3, 6-4
Mark Philippoussis, Australia, def. Jim Courier, United States,6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 10-8
John McEnroe, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 7-6 (5), 6-3

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

Courier And McEnroe Stay Undefeated In Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, March 13 – Jim Courier and John McEnroe each took one step closer to setting up an All-American final at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup with round-robin match victories Friday at the HSBC Arena. Courier edged the scrappy Brazilian Fernando Meligeni 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 (Champions Tie-Breaker) to post a 2-0 round-robin record, while McEnroe easily defeated fellow American Jimmy Arias 6-4, 6-1 to also go 2-0. The Rio Champions Cup is the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players 30 and over.

Both Courier and McEnroe will advance to Sunday’s championship match by each winning their final round-robin matches on Saturday – Courier against Mark Philippoussis and McEnroe against Jaime Oncins.

Courier, who finished as the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series in 2006 and 2008, overcame losing the first set to Meligeni to stave off the upset bid from the former French Open semifinalist. After winning the second set, Courier jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the 10-point Champions Tie-Breaker, played in lieu of a third-set. Meligeni quickly won the next three points to square the score at 3-3. Both players won their service points until Meligeni went up a mini-break at 7-6. Courier, however, clamped down and won the final four points of the match to close out the victory.

“Fernando played very well,” said Courier. “It was only one or two points difference between us.”

McEnroe said he felt more comfortable with the fast courts of the HSBC Arena against Arias than his win over Mikael Pernfors on Thursday.

“I felt better than yesterday,” said McEnroe. “I moved better and felt the ball better too. Tomorrow it can be even better.”

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, has said that he is scaling back his play on the champions circuit, but that he was particularly drawn to Rio and Rio Champions Cup.

“I am playing fewer and fewer events,” he said. “I wanted to come to Rio, to Brazil, because I hadn’t come here in a long time. But for me it is better to play one or two day events and play guys like (Bjorn) Borg, (Pete) Sampras or even Guga (Gustavo Kuerten). I would love to play Guga, as long as it is not on clay. That would motivate me. If this is happening I don’t know, probably not, but we have to dream.”

When asked in the post-match press conference if he would be interested in coaching the “coach-less” five-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer,
McEnroe said, “I would love to give him some advice and help. I wouldn’t do all the traveling, but I would love to help him.”

Also registering wins on Friday include Pat Cash, who beat fellow Australian and former coaching pupil Philippoussis 7-6 (3), 6-1 and Oncins, who defeated Pernfors 7-5, 6-1. Due to a travel delay, both Philippoussis and Meligeni had to play both their first and second round robin matches Friday, with Meligeni defeating Philippousis 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 (Champions Tie-Break) in the opening match on Friday.

Round-robin play concludes Saturday with the championship match and third-place matches scheduled for Sunday.

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

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

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

McEnroe Stars In Soccer And Tennis In Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, March 12 – Fifty-year-old John McEnroe, inspired by a morning visit to Rio’s famed Maracana soccer stadium, defeated Mikael Pernfors of Sweden 6-2, 6-4 in his opening round-robin match Thursday at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup. Also registering round-robin wins Thursday were Jim Courier, who defeated Pat Cash of Australia 6-0, 7-6 (5) and Jimmy Arias, who came back to defeat Brazil’s Jaime Oncins 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break). The Rio Champions Cup is the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players 30 and over.

McEnroe, playing in his first tournament since turning 50 years old on February 16, spent the morning with Courier, Cash, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni and 1994 Brazilian World Cup soccer star Bebeto touring, kicking soccer balls and posing for pictures in the famed Brazilian soccer stadium.

“I will be able to tell my kids that I came to Maracanã, on the field, because Maracanã means to soccer, what Wimbledon means to tennis,” said McEnroe. “I had played soccer before in other stadiums, but nothing compares to Maracanã.”

A soccer fan, McEnroe, before leaving the Stadium, asked Bebeto to take a picture with him, as a souvenir. Said McEnroe, “It is an honor to be here with Bebeto, with a guy who has won the soccer World Cup.”

On the tennis courts, Courier jumped on Cash early and held on to win a second-set tie-break on the fast, indoor hard court of the HSBC Arena. Courier’s win avenged his loss to the 1987 Wimbledon champion in the final of the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. last August.

“In a tournament like this where you have to win four matches, you have to start well,” said Courier. “It is an advantage to win the first match, and that is what I did. I started playing very, very well, but Cash raised his level of play in the second set. He started serving better and it got tough.”

Arias came back from a set and a break down to defeat Oncins in a Champions Tie-break.

Round-robin play continues Friday and Saturday with the championship match and third-place matches scheduled for Sunday.

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

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

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

Round Robin Standings
Group Maracana
John McEnroe 1-0
Jimmy Arias 1-0
Mikael Pernfors 0-1
Jaime Oncins 0-1

Group Corovado
Jim Courier 1-0
Pat Cash 0-1
Mark Philippoussis 0-0
Fernando Meligeni 0-0

Results From Thursday – March 12
Jimmy Arias, United States, def. Jaime Oncins, Brazil, 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 (Champions Tie-Break)
Jim Courier, United States, def. Pat Cash, Australia, 6-0, 7-6 (5)
John McEnroe, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, 6-2, 6-4

Remaining Event Schedule
Starting at 4:30 pm
Philippoussis vs. Meligeni
Pernfors vs. Oncins
Philippoussis vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Arias
Courier vs. Meligeni

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

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

Mondays With Bob Greene: I played unbelievable tennis against Novak

STARS

Andy Roddick won the China Open by beating Dudi Sela 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 in Beijing, China

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 6-4 to win the Thailand Open in Bangkok, Thailand

Jelena Jankovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win the China open women’s singles in Beijing

Maria Kirilenko defeated Samantha Stosur to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea, 2-6 6-1 6-4

Alberto Martin beat Julian Reister 6-2 6-0 to win the ATP Challenger Trophy 2008 in Trnava, Slovakia

John McEnroe won the Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg, beating Henri Leconte 6-1 6-4

Jim Courier beat Todd Martin 6-2 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Citadel Group Championships at The Palisades in Charlotte, North Carolina

SAYINGS

“I’ve been dreaming about this, so I’m very happy. I played unbelievable tennis against Novak. It’s one of the great moments of my life.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Thailand Open, his first ATP singles title.

“I lost to a great player. Bravo to Jo and his team for his first ATP title. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again often in the future.” – Novak Djokovic.

“This feels really good. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve won one of these events, so many that I can’t even remember the last one I won.” – John McEnroe, after beating Henri Leconte to win the Vivium Victory Challenge.

“At first I couldn’t believe it. I thought that maybe they were joking or something. Me, playing with all these great players like Borg, McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Henri Leconte, is incredible. When I started to play tennis, Borg was my idol, so this is the most fantastic thing for me.” – Johny Goudenbour, who was given a wild card to play in a BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Luxembourg.

“If I was more consistent I think I would be ranked higher, maybe Top 10 or Top 15. But I have time to improve. I’m only 21 and I’ll get more experience in the time to come.” – Maria Kirilenko, after winning her third singles title of the year.

“Svetlana beat me two times this year. I was really motivated to get a win against her, and winning in two sets is very satisfying.” – Jelena Jankovic, after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the China Open.

“I’m disappointed. I wasn’t moving the ball or doing the right things on the court. I love playing here, so it was disappointing to not play well in the final.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“This was a good win for me. It was in China and in front of my home crowd. There were lots of fans supporting me, which gave me even more motivation.” – Zheng Jie, after upsetting Ana Ivanovic in the China Open.

“I was defending a lot. It was like running a marathon out there. She was really aggressive and was dominating a lot. I didn’t even realize how much I was running out there.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Zheng Jie.

“I had a lot of pressure on me during those years and I was too young for it. … This time, win or lose, I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’m going to have more fun. And I think this will be good for Japanese tennis too.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, on her returning to tennis after a 12-year hiatus following her retirement.

“I didn’t feel comfortable on court. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. The other guy was better than me.” – Marat Safin, after suffering a 6-4 7-6 first-round loss to Philipp Petzschner at the Thailand Open.

“Roger (Federer) has said he wants to put the Davis Cup into his calendar, but he wants to see all the details first. He will do anything possible to be there.” – Swiss Tennis spokeswoman Sandra Perez on whether Federer will play in a first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States.

“I will have to digest this one and make sure I go back on the right track for the next few tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo, a former world number one who has lost her last two first-round matches.

“People tend to think athletes have a glamorous life, traveling all the time to international destinations and staying at five-star hotels. But in reality it is not all that great. We do go through some difficult moments in our careers, with struggles, intrigues and fights, like in any other job.” – Fernando Meligeni, who has written a book about his 14-year career as a professional tennis player.

“As an American player it meant a lot to me to break the record. It’s nice to have the opportunity to play so many great pro circuit events in this country. I’ve played most of the pro circuit events held in the US and have met a lot of wonderful people, and have a lot of good memories from the different tournaments.” – Julie Ditty, after becoming the new record-holder of the most career USTA Pro Circuit titles.

SERVING WITH THE STARS

Johny Goudenbour’s day job is with the local tourist board in Luxembourg. But he lived a dream this past week at the Vivium Victory Challenge, a stop on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Goudenbour was Luxembourg’s highest ranked tennis player for six consecutive years in the 1980s, and he reached a career high world ranking of 304. Now 45 years old, Goudenbour still plays inter-club level tennis in neighboring Germany, but his main job these days is putting together cultural films promoting his home town. He was surprised when he received a telephone call offering him a wild card into the seniors tournament being played in Luxembourg. Goudenbour upset both Carl-Uwe Steeb and Cedric Pioline before losing to Henri Leconte 6-2 7-5.

SECURITY CONCERNS

With tennis tournaments scheduled for the country in November, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has expressed its concern to Pakistan about security. A Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) offical said the ITF did not call for cancellation of the events, but asked for details on security arrangements in view of travel advisories issued by the United States, European and other countries. A record number of players from Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Romania, Kazakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and India have entered the first tournament, which will be held in Islamabad.

SUING ATP?

His lawyer says Nikolay Davydenko is considering suing the ATP to get the men’s tennis organization to pay the Russian’s legal costs following a 13-month gambling inquiry that found no evidence that he did anything wrong. Attorney Frank Immenga said Davydenko wants the ATP to issue a more positive press statement and “maybe apologize,” according to the Bloomberg news agency. Davydenko also is considering taking action against Betfair Ltd., the British gambling site, for making public details of its probe into a Davydenko match.

STILL TOUGH

Andy Roddick says the game of tennis in the United States is in good health despite no American man winning a Grand Slam title in five years. Roddick was the last American man to win a major, the US Open in 2003. But the former world number one notes that the United States has three players in the top 25 and two in the top ten. Plus, he points out that the US won the Davis Cup in 2007 and the fact that the brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the world’s top-ranked doubles team. “If you compare us with other countries, we’re very, very strong,” Roddick said.

SINO STAR

Zheng Jie is proving her Wimbledon showing was no surprise. The right-hander upset second-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-4 at the China Open in a quarterfinal baseline slugfest that lasted six minutes short of three hours. It was Zheng’s second straight win over her Serbian opponent in as many 2008 meetings. She beat Ivanovic at Wimbledon to become the first Chinese player to topple a reigning world number one. It also was her first Top 10 win. In the Beijing tournament, she also beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, giving Zheng her second and third career wins over players ranked in the Top 10.

SPORTS HALL INDUCTEE

Billie Jean King is in yet another hall of fame. The tennis great is one of four athletes elected to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). Others included in the 2009 class are baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry, football tight end Dave Casper and quarterback Craig Morton. The four will be inducted at a banquet March 9 in San Francisco.

SELECTED

Two-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver has been elected a Life Trustee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Nine new members have been elected to the Hall’s board of directors: Douglas Fonte, Lucy Garvin, Elizabeth Jeffett, Ted Leonsis , Andrew McElwee Jr., David Westin, Allen Brill, David Tyree and Nancy von Auersperg. Returning to the board are Robert Downey, Steve Lessing and Sue Ann Weinberg.

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SKIPPING OUT

Simone Bolelli has been banned by the Italian Tennis Federation from national team events for skipping the country’s Davis Cup matches with Latvia. Bolelli, ranked 45th in the world, chose instead to play tour events in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Tokyo, Japan. Bolelli said he told Italian Davis Cup captain Corrado Barrazzutti well in advance of the international team competition that he preferred to work on his fast-court game in Asia.

SWISS START

For the second time in nine years, the United States could face a Roger Federer-led Switzerland team when the two countries meet in a first-round Davis Cup match next year. The last time they faced each other, Federer won three points to lead Switzerland to victory in 2001. Spain and Argentina, this year’s finalists, will begin next year’s play at home, Argentina facing the Netherlands and Spain playing host to Serbia. In other World Group first-round matches, France will be at the Czech Republic, Chile at Croatia, Israel travels to Sweden and Austria goes to Germany.

SHRIVER CHARITY CLASSIC

US Open champion Serena Williams and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva will face each other at the 23rd annual Pam Shriver Charity Tennis Classic in November. Williams is ranked number one in the world, while Dementieva is ranked number four. They will meet in a “Battle of Olympic Gold Medal Champions.” Williams teamed with her sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation.

SAYING IT ALL

Former ATP star Fernando Meligeni has turned author. His book – “Aqui Tem! Vitórias e Memórias de Fernando Meligeni com Andre Kfouri” – was released last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The book was written by Meligeni and Andre Kfouri, a well-known sports journalist in Brazil who currently is working for ESPN. Ranked as high as 25th in the world, Meligeni was a French Open semifinalist in 1999. He said he wrote the book to unveil some funny and stressful behind-the-scenes moments of his 14-year career on the tour.

SETS RECORD

Julie Ditty is the new record-holder for most career USTA Pro Circuit championships. The 29-year-old swept the singles and doubles titles at a recent ITF Women’s Circuit event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earning her 31st and 32nd career USTA Pro Circuit titles, the most of any player, man or woman. On the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the 29-year-old Ditty’s best result came last November when she reached the semifinals of an event and broke into the Top 100 for the first time. The previous record of 30 titles was held jointly by Paul Goldstein and Nana Smith.

SIXTH SENSE ACADEMY

Justine Henin and Carlos Rodrigez have opened a tennis academy in Florida. The superstar player, who was ranked number one in the world when she retired from the sport earlier this year, and her coach opened their second 6th Sense Tennis Academy, this one in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, located 30 miles northwest of Orlando. Their first academy was opened in Belgium almost a year ago.

SUCCESSFUL PAIR

When Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins won the doubles at China Open, it was their first title as a team. The 32-year-old Huss had won two other doubles crowns, including Wimbledon in 2005 with Wesley Moodie. Hutchins, nine years younger than his partner, won his first title in just his second ATP final. But Hutchins has done well in Beijing, having reached the semifinals last year when he was teamed with Eric Butorac. Huss and Hutchins became partners in Valencia, Spain, in April where they lost in the first round. Prior to winning in Beijing, their best result had been reaching the third round at Roland Garros.

SHARAPOVA OUT FOR YEAR

Because of her lingering shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova has decided to stop playing tournaments until next year. She is currently in Arizona where she is rehabilitating her shoulder. The injury has kept her from practicing the past several weeks, but she hopes to return to practice soon. She has decided to skip tournaments in Asia, Europe and the season-ending Championships. Sharapova won the Australian Open in January along with two other singles titles and has been ranked number one in the world this year.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Beijing: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Wozniacki beat Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan 6-1 6-3

Bangkok: Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei beat Vera Dushevina and Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-0

Beijing: Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins beat Ashley Fisher and Bobby Reynolds 7-5 6-4

Bangkok: Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 6-4 7-6 (4)

Trnava: David Zkoch and Igor Zelenay beat Daniel Koellerer and Michael Mertinak 6-3 6-1

SITES TO SURF

Tokyo: www.jta-tennis.or.jp/aigopen/e/

Stuttgart: www.porsche-tennis.de

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Eindhoven: www.afastennisclassics.nl

Mons: http://www.ethiastrophy.be

Vienna: www.ba-ca-tennistrophy.at

Stockholm: www.stockholmopen.se

Moscow: www.kremlincup.ru

Henin: www.6senstennisacademie.com.

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard

WTA TOUR

$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard

$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

SENIORS

AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,000,000 ATP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet

$800,000 IF Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard

$755,000 Bank Austria TennisTrophy, Vienna, Austria, hard

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet

SENIORS

BlackRock Tour of Champions, Budapest, Hungary, carpet

The Journeyman: In The Thick of the Summer

Mark Keil, director/producer of “The Journeymen” along with Geoff Grant and tennis coach at Shrewsbury Health and Racquet Club writes about his experiences in the heat of the summer worldwide tour.

The tour event in Kitzbuhel, Austria is in a beautiful setting in a ski resort town.  It’s a great place to practice your serve due to the altitude.  If you can get it in consistently there, you will have an easy time at sea level to increase your serving percentage.

I played with the Netherland’s Sander Groen one year, and we beat Bjorn Borg’s conquerer in his comeback attempt in Monte Carlo, the Spaniard Jordi Arrese.  He played with his fellow countryman Alex Lopez-Moron. We went down to the tough Espana combo of Jordi Burillo and Tomas Carbonell 6-1, 7-5. The event held in Stuttgart at TC Weisenhoff, close to Zuffenhausen where the Porsche factory is located, is a calm tournament. The player’s restaurant overlooks the city, and is a nice view to take in before your match.

I played with the All-American out of Tennessee and US Open mixed doubles champion Shelby Cannon there once. Shelby has very unorthodox lefty strokes, but his return was awesome.  He turned me onto the band Pearl Jam, and they became my favorite of all time. He was known that if his partner is not playing well to yell out, “Just win it yourself!” after he would hit a nice shot. We went down to the tall skinny Joern Renzenbrink, who reminded me of Colonel Klink, and his German partner David Prinosil.

In 1997, I teamed up with Jaime Oncins of Brazil and we lost first round to Alberto Berasategui and Alberto Martin. On yet my last visit, Fernando Meligeni and I had a win over Sebastien Fitz and Martin Sinner in a close battle, before succumbing to David Adams and Pavel Vizner. I blame my losses there to the winding road leading up to the venue, that could make you a bit car sick.

Back on the hardcourts, the tourney that is held this week is the RCA event in Indianapolis.  Back in the day, it was voted the tournament of the year by the players. The tournament director was Mark Miles, who went on to become the innovative CEO of the ATP Tour. The player gifts were great, the player’s lounge was full of games, and it provided much welcome relief to the intense heat of the midwest of the US. I played with my favorite partner of all time, Peter Nyborg, currently a national coach of Kuwait, was an affable Swede who hailed from Trollhatten, home of the Saab.  He liked the player’s lounge so much he slept there one night. We played well and locked up wins over Nicklas Kulti and Brett Steven, Dan Kronauge and Chris Woodruff, Brian MacPhie and Sandon Stolle, before losing in the semis to Todd Martin and Scott Davis. Davis is the funniest tennis player I ever met, and he use to have a tattoo of his girlfriend’s name on his bicep.  Martin was no nonsense. Davis would make fun of your strokes. Back on the clay in Umag, Croatia, the scene was serene.

The slow clay courts really helped your overall game, and playing with Marcos-Aurelio Gorriz was solid. A private in the Spanish tennis armada, the lefty never missed.  We took out Daniel Orsanic and Aki Rahunen 6-2, 6-3. Rahnasto, a Fin, once learned German in a few weeks during a junior tour. We lost to Belgium’s finest Filip DeWulf and his weird but nice partner Tom Van Houdt.

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