foot injury

Adios Carlos Moya – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Baby Steps

Well, the bad news is that the USTA isn’t putting a roof on any of their courts…yet. The good news is that they have approved a more than $300 million budget to begin making a string of much-needed upgrades to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The first change to be made is the immediate construction of a mini-stadium that will be adjacent to the hospitality area. It is expected to be ready to go no later than the 2012 US Open and may even be given the green light for the 2011 championships. The bigger change, however, which isn’t slated to begin for another six to eight years, will be tearing down the beloved Louis Armstrong and Grandstand stadiums to create two new stadiums. When all is said and done, approximately 3,000 – 5,000 seats will be added between the two new Armstrong and Grandstand courts. And while neither stadium will have a roof, they will at least be “roof ready.” Of course the USTA has still not yet listed a solution to the no-roof over Ashe issue, but this latest bit of news is encouraging that they are moving in the right direction.

Adiós Amigo

It wasn’t a shocker, but it did become official. On Wednesday, Carlos Moya, the first Spaniard to reach the number one ranking since the Open Era rankings began in 1973, announced that he is retiring from the game. The 1998 Roland Garros champion stated he was forced to arrive at this decision due to a niggling foot injury that doctors have been unable to agree on how best to heal. It’s unfortunate that the retirement did not go as Moya had planned, which was to have the opportunity to say his good-byes at some of the grandest venues in the game, but with a Slam, the number one ranking, and a Davis Cup title to his name, he should have no regrets.

Plethora of Proposals

With so many other thrilling storylines as the season nears its close, the possibility that the French Open might be forced to leave its current Parisian venue was put on the backburner. It’s come back as one of the top stories this week, however, with the news that the city of Paris has presented the FFT with a plan to build a new (albeit small) stadium across the street from the current site. This new court would replace the current Court 1, affectionately known as the “Bullring,” which is slated to be torn down. The proposal will be competing with three additional proposals from other Paris suburbs. In the end, fans and players will want what’s ultimately best for the second Grand Slam event of the year, but it would be hard to see it move from its current historic venue.

Notes from Paris

The season may be nearing its conclusion, but there’s still plenty of good tennis left to be played in the final week if the Paris Masters was any indication. With Rafael Nadal the only name in the top five who didn’t play, the field in Paris was plenty strong. The semifinals were thrilling to the end, and included home crowd favorite Gael Monfils saving five match points against Roger Federer to reach the final where he eventually lost to the big-hitting Swede, Robin Soderling. It will be interesting to see if the win spills over as Soderling competes in London this coming week. No doubt the players could use a longer off season (and we may just hear about that next week), but hats off to the players for still delivering a quality product after a long year.

Now That’s Determination

The next time someone complains about ticket prices, just think of Gayus Tambunan. The Indonesian tax official not only shelled out over $40,000 in order to walk out of prison to watch the WTA’s Bali event, but he donned a wig when he did it. It was one of the quirkier stories of the week, and definitely one of the more amusing anecdotes. Tambunan stated his reasoning behind going to see the Bali event was due to stress at being detained and the need for a vacation to deal with that stress. Still, it would be nice to think he brought a new meaning to the phrase “for love of the game.”

Clijsters Sidelined, Baltacha out of Commonwealth Games but Mirza Boost for Organisers

*Current Queen of the US Open Kim Clijsters has been forced to pull out of next month’s China Open with an infected foot. The Belgian star recently had a mole removed from the base of the foot but the wound has become infected. “I’m very sorry to have to cancel,” said the 27-year-old. “The wound on my sole is healing really bad – playing tennis is not possible.” Serena Williams has already announced that her foot injury sustained when stepping on broken glass in Munich earlier this year will also keep her out of the competition. She hopes to return for Moscow.

*Scotland’s Elena Baltacha has pulled out of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi with a chronic liver condition linked to her immune system. “After a lot of thought and discussion, I have taken the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the Games,” the 27-year-old told BBC Sport. “Conditions in Delhi are such that going there would pose too high a risk to my health. I am incredibly disappointed because I was really excited about playing for Scotland but I will be cheering on Team Scotland with all my heart, in particular my fellow tennis players. I am very, very sad that I won’t get to play alongside them.”

*Under fire Commonwealth Games bosses will undoubtedly be buoyed by the news that top Indian star Sania Mirza will be staying at the much-maligned Players’ Village, contrary to recent rumours. Her father, Imran, told PTI News: “She will check in to the Village with the rest of the team.”

*Despite losing his first comeback match since his wrist surgery Juan Martin del Potro seemed very pleased with the condition he is in. He, perhaps surprisingly, lost to the Belgian Olivier Rochus in Bangkok on Tuesday but his wrist seemed to be near full strength according to the Argentine. “The most important thing for today is my wrist,” said the 2009 US Open winner, “and it’s perfect. I hope to play five or six more tournaments between now and the end of the season. It was a great moment for me being with the fans on centre court playing a match again. I felt very happy. I lost today but I have good things to take for the future.” For the full interview check out the ATP World Tour website.

*There is no movement this week within the Top 20 of the South African Airways ATP World Rankings released on Monday (September 27th). Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela leaps 14 places to No. 39 while Belgium’s Xavier Mallisse climbs five to No. 50. Spain’s Pablo Andujar jumps 28 places to No. 77 after losing the Bucharest final to Chela and Somdev Devvarman jumps 17 to enter the Top 100.

*This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings finally bring good news for troubled Russian star Dinara Safina who has climbed ten slots to No. 49 this week while Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic climbs two to No. 50. Another Russian, Alia Kudryavtseva, sees a massive rise from No. 82 to No. 57 and Elena Vesnina does likewise from No. 72 to No. 58.

*Gilles Simon’s title at Metz last week was his first since becoming a father during the US Open. “Thanks to my fiancée for being here,” he said. “She was worried that I would be distracted – I think I’ve given the best response today.”

*Spanish pinup Fernando Verdasco is known to be a fan of martial arts and has been learning some local specialties while playing at the PTT Thailand Open this week. He took part in some Muay Thai alongside 2008 Olympic Gold Medallist Somjit Jongjorhor on stage in Bangkok and former ATP pro Paradorn Srichapan also joined in. “I would love to learn more Thai boxing,” said Verdasco. “I’ve always loved martial arts so maybe when I stop playing tennis I can learn some more. It was a lot of fun to learn some of the moves today.”

*Top seed Rafa Nadal has also been experiencing local culture while competing at the PTT Thailand Open this week. He took part in Thailand’s ‘A Million Trees For The King’ project by planting a tree in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Afterwards he partook in some local pastimes with friends. “I did a lot of things,” said the reigning Wimbledon, French and US Open Champion who took part in a religious ceremony with Buddhist monks on the beach over the weekend. “I was with friends. I was on the beach, very nice beach. We did water sports, we went to golf one time, we went [go-carting] another time. So we did a lot of things. We went there, having fun in Hua Hin and enjoying a lot.”

*Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev is set to miss up to four months after undergoing elbow surgery today (September 30th). It is a problem which has dogged him since January and that has seen him drop from a career-high No. 46 to No. 97. Robby Ginepri will also be missing from the tour for the rest of the season after also undergoing elbow surgery on an injury suffered in a biking accident. Ginepri reached the fourth round at Roland Garros this year before falling to Novak Djokovic.

*29-year-old Frenchman Thierry Ascione has announced his retirement from professional tennis following the conclusion of play in Metz last week. “Right before and right after the match it was really emotional,” he said. “I had a beautiful career. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to be a champion. To be one, I think I would have needed a different personality but I don’t regret anything. I had the best times and through tennis I met my best friends.”

*London fashion week has just finished for 2010 and tennis got near the catwalks with Andy Murray and Serena Williams in attendance along with actress Sarah Jessica Parker and photographer Mario Testino to see Burberry unveil its latest collection. “I’m looking forward to seeing the clothes,” said British No. 1 Murray. “I like Burberry so it should be fun.” “This is my first fashion show in Europe,” added fashionista Serena. “I like Burberry, I always do the ones in New York so it was definitely something I wanted to come and do. I can’t believe I’m here I’m so excited.”

Tennis People: US Open seedings announced, Del Potro and Serena out, Nalbandian very much in

*The seedings have been announced for the US Open next week and this is where the realisation the final Slam of the year is upon us really sets in. On the men’s side the top seeds are as you would expect. The top ten reads, in order: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Davydenko, Berdych, Verdasco, Roddick, Ferrer. Cypriot fans’ favourite Marcos Baghdatis finds himself seeded 16th and could be an outside bet on going far in the tournament. John Isner, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey fly the home flag at 18, 19 and 20 while David Nalbandian (31) and Lleyton Hewitt (32) round off the seeds.

*The women’s side throws in a few more surprises as there are a few stars missing through injury. Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will be celebrating her top seeding in Serena Williams’ absence and China’s Li Na (8) will have a few eyes on her following her heroics in Australia on the hard courts. 14th seed Maria Sharapova can never be overlooked in these events and emphatic Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at 20 will be looking to cause some Melanie Oudin-sized shockwaves in 2010. Zheng Jie (21), Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (22), Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic (26) and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi (31) are also worthy outsiders.

*The Juan Martin Del Potro injury saga has reached a disappointing conclusion for his fans as he has announced that his persistent wrist injury will prevent him from defending his US Open title this year. The Argentine has been missing since the Aussie Open and underwent surgery in May. “I’m so sorry for my fans, sponsors and the people who care about me,” he said. “But I have only started practising in the last two weeks and unfortunately I cannot compete at the top level yet.” The news follows the pulling out of World No. 1 women’s player Serena Williams who has failed to recover from the foot injury she sustained stepping on broken glass in Munich in July. “It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open. My doctors have advised against my playing,” she said. Serena has set next month’s Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, beginning September 26, as her likely return date.

*David Nalbandian has spoken of his delight at securing a seeding for the US Open next week. “I think expectations are good because the goal we set for this year was to finish in the top 30 and in a few tournaments I’ve pretty much done that,” he told ESPN Desportes. “After getting a seed at the U.S. Open, you aspire to more.”

*Ahead of the Davis Cup World Group relegation playoff between Ecuador and Romania in September, Ecuadorian coach Raul Viver has highlighted Nicolas Lapentti as the key man in the tie. Viver believes that victory over Romania could help to persuade Lapentti to postpone his retirement for a further year. “If we win against Romania I can see Nicolas Lapentti staying one more year,” said Viver. “For the team, it would be good to have him more years because I think the younger players can learn a lot from him. Nicolas is a great team player, a natural leader, and he increases the level of motivation for the rest of the players. In Davis Cup, he always plays his best level, physically and mentally. He demonstrated that last year against Brazil, winning both his singles matches and the doubles match.” For the full interview on Ecuador’s prospects visit the ITF website.

*Top South African player Kevin Anderson has announced he is ready to end his self-imposed two-year ban from Davis Cup play. With such an important match against Germany next month for a place in the World Group stage Anderson’s announcement is a well-timed boost for SA tennis fans. Speaking in a conference call last Thursday Anderson said: “I needed time to work on my game but I’m back in the top 100 now (in the ATP rankings) and I’ve grown a lot as a player over the last two years. I’m glad to be back in the team and I’m looking forward to the tie in Germany.” For full build up visit South African sporting website Sport24.co.za.

*Lleyton Hewitt and coach Nathan Healy have parted ways after this year’s tournament in Washington. Hewitt’s manager David Drysdale says it is down to Healy wishing to spend more time with his family and being unable to constantly travel.

*Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova has been reflecting on her career recently and giving thanks for the fact she has remained relatively injury-free. Recently passing the $7m mark for prize money she still harbours hopes of returning to the Top 10 despite a career-record 3-10 in tournament finals, and only one Grand Slam semifinal appearances in 38 attempts. “Knock on wood , I wonder when I will get to that stage but I remember when Ai Sugiyama and other players said you wait till you get to certain age…but I don’t feel that way yet,” she said of her good health. To read about her thoughts on recent results visit the TennisReporters website.

*Sam Querrey has spoken of his delight as his family went in to partnership with the City of Las Vegas to run the Darling Tennis Center. Querrey won his first professional tournament, the Tennis Channel Open, on the site in 2008 and spoke of his pride at what his family could bring to the people of LA. However, he has been quick to play down talk of him being a “white knight” or saviour to the site. “It’s an awesome place,” Querrey said. “I think there’s so much potential here, and I learned to play tennis as a kid (in Las Vegas), so I wanted to help.” For the full interview visit the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s website.

*James Blake’s 6-0, 6-1 victory over Pere Riba at New Haven on Monday in 35 minutes was the fastest completed match of 2010.

*Twitter is currently awash with tennis gossiping as players begin descending on New York for the US Open. Close friends Caroline Wozniacki and Viktoria Azarenka both seem pleased with their hotel choices while Azarenka is also delighted to have stumbled across £160 in a jacket pocket left there since Wimbledon. What is it with women and multiple jackets? Sabine Lisicki has been getting her sweat on in the gym while Brit teenage sensation Laura Robson is voicing her frustration at rain-delayed matches.

*This week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings see Andy Roddick climb back in to the top 10 at No. 9 in good timing before the US Open begins. Juan Martin Del Potro is now ranked at No. 10 as his injury woes continue. Another American, Mardy Fish, leaps 15 places to No. 21 in the world while the Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela slips back in to the top 50. Taylor Dent leaps 13 places to No. 70 and Donald Young sees himself ranked at No. 100 in what is a great week for the USA ahead of their home slam.

*Two returning female stars have achieved their comeback’s highest rankings this week in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. Kimiko Date Krum sees herself at No. 50, her highest placing since her retirement back in 1996 (she returned to the tour in 2008). The 39-year-old is the oldest player in the Top 50 since Billie Jean King in March 1982, aged 40. Kim Clijsters is the world No. 3, her highest slot since August 2006. Li Na is at a career-high No. 8 after becoming the first Chinese player to break the Top 10 back in February while Elena Dementieva slips from No. 8 to No. 13.

*Former world No. 8 John Alexander has been elected in to Australia’s parliament after winning the New South Wales seat of Bennelong. Alexander, 59, won 7 singles and 28 doubles titles during his career and has spent many years since his retirement commentating for Australian Channel Seven. “I think for the moment I’ll concentrate on this job, I won’t do anything that will detract from my efforts to represent the people of Bennelong. I’m 100 per cent committed,” he said.

Serena to Miss Big Tournaments, Cincinnati Shapes up, Ivanovic Refused Montreal Wildcard

*Following on from last week’s news that Serena Williams’ foot injury would lead her to miss the entire WTT 2010 season it is now confirmed she will also miss the WTA events in Montreal, Istanbul and Cincinnati. She sustained the injury stepping on broken glass while at a restaurant. She said: “I’m so upset I won’t be able to play in the upcoming events because of this foot surgery. Thank you for all of your support. I can’t wait to get back on the courts.”

*Despite Serena’s absence the field on both the men’s and women’s side at Cincinnati looks fantastic. Rafa Nadal, defending champ Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and John Isner are set to line up for the men. Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova lead the field for the women.

*Ana Ivanovic’s decline continues as she has been refused a wildcard entry in to Montreal next month meaning she will have to play the qualifying tournament. Recent results, including a first-round loss at Wimbledon, have seen her slip outside the Top 60 and this means she misses the cut-offs for the main draw both here and in Cincinnati. Ivanovic, who won her first title in Montreal in 2006, has lost out to local-born Stephanie Dubois as the organiser’s choice for the final wildcard slot, reports The Globe and Mail. “The [tournament’s] thinking is that Dubois, from nearby Laval, is as much of a draw in Montreal as Ivanovic,” says the paper.

*Gail Monfils has been missing from Hamburg this week with the ankle injury he suffered during the Stuttgart final on Sunday. “[M]y ankle is still painful so I’m not gonna play,” he said via Twitter. David Ferrer is also missing with a shoulder injury.

*Having been sidelined since Indian Wells with an ankle injury Sabine Lisicki was all set to return this week at Portoroz but it hasn’t happened. “It’s another bump in the road and I have to stay strong and keep working hard to improve my stability in the ankle so that I can play soon on the tour without risks,” she told her new website.

*Swedish star Robin Soderling really seemed peeved at his loss to Nicolas Almagro in the Bastad final. He refused to acknowledge both the umpire and Almagro after the match which didn’t go unnoticed. Soderling received a warning for smashing his racquet following his dropping of the first set and a points penalty for a similar offence later on. “I bounced the racquet and caught it twice,” Soderling told the Swedish press. “If you’re supposed to give warnings and point penalties for such things, it would be 10 warnings in every match.” According to his Twitter page, he has gone fishing to recover. Hopefully that calms him down a bit.

*Argentinean Eduardo Schwank has entered the top 50 of the South African Airways ATP World Rankings this week following the publishing of the new rankings (18/07/10). Jeremy Chardy’s continued injury absence sees him plummet 23 places to No. 73 while Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver climbs 11 to No. 77.

*In the Sony Ericsson WTA Rankings (18/07/10), Justine Henin (12) and Flavia Penetta (13) switch places in the only movement in the Top 28. Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak enters the top 50 while Sybille Bammer drops from No. 48 to No. 70. Lucie Hradecka (CZE, No. 92), Jill Craybas (USA, No. 97) and Ksenia Pervak (RUS, No. 99) all enter the Top 100. Another Czech star, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, is now ranked a career-high 39 after her appearance in the Prague final. Not bad for a player ranked at No. 127 this time last year.

*By winning on the red clay of Italy last week in Palermo, Kaia Kanepi has become Estonia’s first WTA Tour Champion.

*Czech tennis players Radek Stepanek and Nicole Vaidisova married last Saturday at the famed St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Stepanek, 29, has missed most of the season with health problems while Vaidisova, 21, recently retired after losing her form.