french open champion

Will Huber and Raymond Notch a Season for the Ages?

It’s as if winning streaks are a prerequisite if you’re going to be at the top of the rankings. Novak Djokovic won dozens of matches in a row last year, and in 2012, Victoria Azarenka is unbeaten.

In  women’s doubles, the world’s number-one pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond is racking up the victories. The Americans are in the semifinals at this week’s tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., bringing their winning streak in ’12 to 15.

And it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
Granted, the veterans’ start to the season didn’t give any indication of where they would be at now. They lost in the finals of their first tournament in Sydney to Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke. Then, Huber and Raymond went on to the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, and fell in the quarterfinals to Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina in a controversial match.
Since that loss, though, Huber and Raymond have been on a tear: They won the Paris Indoors and the tournaments in Doha and Dubai. Between those three events, they were only pushed to a match tiebreak four times out of 12 matches.
But probably the most impressive result they had over those tournament wins was in the finals in Dubai: There, they won a rematch of sorts against Mirza and Vesnina, 6-2, 6-1.
If Mirza and Vesnina are among their chief rivals and they’re dismissing them so easily, what does that say about the year Huber and Raymond are capable of having in 2012?
Plenty.
After Indian Wells, it’s off to Miami for another tournament on hard courts, the pair’s best surface. Then, the clay-court season gets into full swing. There are teams that will definitely challenge the two with doubles on the dirt relying more on ball-striking than playing the classic serve-and-volley style displayed by Huber and Raymond.
However, neither one of them is strangers to having success on clay: Raymond’s a former French Open champion and Huber has made the finals of the season’s second Slam. Both of them have won numerous titles on the surface with different partners over the years.
Weather that storm then it’s off to the brief grass-court season, which includes what some consider the game’s biggest prize, Wimbledon. Not many players in the field will have the grass-court pedigree of the American pair as both of them have won at the All-England Club in the past, too.
This being an Olympic year, they would have to be considered among the favorites for a Gold medal—provided they’re selected to represent the U.S., which isn’t a given, despite what they’ve accomplished. But if they aren’t chosen for the team, then that gives them the chance to get an early start on the summer hard-court swing. It’s obvious the defending U.S. Open champions are at their best when on the concrete and have proven they can get through the unique challenges the last Major of the year provides.
The fall indoor season sees Huber and Raymond back playing in conditions similar to where their 2012 winning streak first started. And with the year-end championship only requiring two matches won to be named the victor, a title at the season finale would be a proper way to cap off 2012.
While the season is still early, the possibility is there for Huber and Raymond to find their names in the record books among some of the game’s all-time greats. Djokovic and Azarenka have made it look easy at times on the singles front, why can’t two players get it done?

Wozniacki’s new boyfriend, Serena Williams uses protected ranking, Dulko gets married – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Righting the Ship

Last weekend saw two ATP stars move towards getting their game’s back on track and hopefully gaining confidence going into the summer season. Robin Soderling played some stellar tennis against a competitive field to take the title in his home country, defeating David Ferrer, on clay, in the final – which is no easy feat. The big-hitting Swede should take heart from this win going into the summer hard court swing, where his heavy groundstrokes should see him stage a successful summer campaign. Stuttgart victor Juan Carlos Ferrero took a very different path to his first title of 2011. The field there fell apart, but it didn’t make his win any less impressive. Playing in just his third tournament back since a lengthy layoff from wrist and knee surgeries, the former French Open champion showed glimpses of the form that took him to the No. 1 ranking, and certainly played above his then-current ranking of 85. The win gave him a much needed boost in the standings, and though he lost early in Hamburg, he will still undoubtedly take plenty of positives from Stuttgart regarding where his game is and where it can still go.

Sighs of Relief

There were probably many sighs of relief throughout the WTA when earlier this week it was announced that Serena Williams would be using her protected No. 1 ranking to enter the US Open. After sitting out more than six months with various health issues, Serena has the option to use the protected ranking for up to eight tournaments including one major. There had been some speculation as to whether Williams would instead take a wildcard that the USTA would have undoubtedly offered had the American asked, but Williams has wisely chosen to use the protected ranking. It will provide her a far better opportunity to play her way into the draw, and while the American is probably going to have to play more tennis than she is accustomed to doing in order to get the ranking up, the odds of her not having a sufficiently high enough ranking to gain direct entry into the 2012 Australian Open are slim to none (and even if on the odd chance that she’s still outside of the top 105 come 2012, it would be utterly shocking if Australian Open organizers didn’t provide her with a wildcard). You can bet that the rest of the top seeds are also happy with Serena’s decision, as none of them wanted to see her on the other side of the net in the early rounds.

New “It” Couple?

The rumor mill is abuzz with the possibility that current World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is more than just a close friend of newest golf sensation Rory McIlroy. A source posted pictures of the two sharing dinner and a kiss last week in London. With the skyrocketing popularity of the young golfer and Wozniacki already touted as one of the glam gals of the WTA, they are set to become one of the sporting world’s newest hot couples. Perhaps a McIlroy sighting in Wozniacki’s box in the near future along with the inevitable press conference questions to follow will confirm the rumors.

Common Sense

After throwing out statements over the last 12 months stating that he was contemplating a return to the ATP World Tour, Mark Philippoussis has now confirmed that he is no longer harboring such ambitions. The Australian says that he is enjoying life on the seniors’ tour, as well as getting in some surfing on the side. It has to be said that much of the trouble in his life has been self-inflicted, but it’s nice to see that Philippoussis has made a smart decision that will hopefully pay dividends and start bringing him more stability in his life.

Off the Market

Gisela Dulko, who finished as the No. 1 doubles player in 2010 with partner Flavia Pennetta and was subsequently named Argentina’s Sportswoman of the Year, may be breaking several male hearts next week. According to Spanish press, the Argentine is set to marry Real Madrid player Fernando Gago next Tuesday in her home country. But even if she is officially off the market, she’ll still, as they say, “put butts in the seats.”

Rafael Nadal starts clay – grass adaptation

The World No.1 Rafael Nadal arrived in London in his own unique, but now customary way – as the French Open champion, via the Eurostar from Paris, and just in time to practise on the best grass courts in the world at the AEGON Championships.

At 7pm, he walked into The Queen’s Club with a big smile on his face. In the locker-room, player after player congratulated him on his success at Roland Garros. And then it was time to take to the grass for the first time in 2011.

As he fizzed forehands and backhands over the net, it was difficult to believe that he had just come through a 3 hour, 40 minute final in Paris just a day earlier. The contrast in the way he hit the ball was significant. Groundstrokes that previously looped high over the net and bounced over the heads of his opponents were now being whipped from just above the turf and clearing the net by inches.

“All my career I have loved trying to adapt to this surface,” said Nadal, afterwards. “At the beginning it is tough. The first day is not easy and I did not play very well but I spent more than an hour and a half on the grass and that’s the most important thing. I love to be here in London at Queen’s, and I’m going to try my best.”

Elsewhere, to read about Andy Murray’s first major grass-court practice session, and defending champion Sam Querrey’s first round triumph, click here: http://www.lta.org.uk/fans-major-events/AEGON-British-Tennis-Series/AEGON-Championships/News/2011/Defending-champion-Sam-Querrey-safely-through-to-second-round/

The AEGON Championships will be broadcast live, every day from 6th-12th June, on BBC Television and Eurosport.

For results, draws and the order of play for Tuesday, please go to the official AEGON Championships website: http://www.aegonchampionships.com

Ana Ivanovic is a Dance Machine

So anyone else got teary eyed when they looked at the WTA rankings to find Ana Ivanovic back in the top 20? I would like to say “Atta girl” but somehow I managed to set off a real tearjerker speech in my head. I would love to write it down and share it with you dear readers but alas, the best I can do is a tribute to that wonderful epiphany. Since a photo is a thousand words I will upload 25 photos but that is not even close to the amount of words I had in my head.

Last month at the Australian Open Ana was very open about her personal life. She told that breaking up with golfer Adam Scott was one of the reasons for her downfall on the WTA rankings. Which is totally understandable. I mean who hasn’t had his life turned upside down after a break up?

“It’s tough,” the 2008 French Open champion said. “I think it’s better not to mix professional life and personal life, although that’s hard.

“If you’re happy in your private life that will affect your tennis and that will help you, actually.

“While you want to pursue your career 100 per cent, I think it is very hard to give 100 per cent in something else.”

She still believes she can win another major but that is what I have been saying for years now.  And even though she got her form back in the latter part of 2010 and despite the early loss this year at the Australian Open, I believe that she can come back and the take the world by storm starting with a spot in the top 20.

But next to being a true  winner, Ana also has dance moves. Not just dance moves but THE moves:

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And I really did miss that big smile at press conferences:

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What makes a TV interview complete? Right…

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Ofcourse where would today’s tennis star be if she didn’t participate in the charity events?

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But seriously all these photos, they still do not even come close to that tearjerker speech but I am thinking these videos do:

Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko and Vera Zvonareva arrive in Pattaya, Thailand:

And here is Ana Ivanovic at the Kids Day for the Australian Open 2011. Enjoy!!

Moya Retires, Soderling Takes Paris and ATP Finals Take Shape

*Former French Open Champion Carlos Moya has become the latest star to announce their retirement, this time due to persistent foot injuries. “It’s not how I dreamt of ending,” said the former world No. 1 and Australian Open finalist. He also helped Spain win the Davis Cup in 2004 but recently things haven’t been so rosy. “I wanted to say goodbye at one of the big tournaments, the Grand Slams, but that dream wasn’t to be. I am still young for life but for sport, I am already knocking on a bit.”

*Sweden’s Robin Soderling is understandably beaming after picking up his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Paris last week but he was also praising of the man whose dream ended one step too short in the final for the second year running. Home favourite Gael Monfils tasted finals defeat for the second year running having lost to Novak Djokovic in 2009. “I know it’s difficult to lose two finals in a row in this city but Monfils played incredible tennis this week,” said the 26-year-old Soderling. “Of course, winning matches against a lot of good players this week gives me a lot of confidence. Playing in any Masters, when you play the top players of the world, every match can be a Grand Slam final. I think you need to believe in yourself and I think that can make a big change. I’m feeling really good right now.” Soderling is now at a career-high No. 4 in the world.

*The groups have been decided for the ATP World Tour Finals in London starting this weekend. Group A in the singles sees world No. 1 Rafa Nadal paired with Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick. Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Andy Murray and David Ferrer will contest Group B. In the doubles, the defending Champions the Bryan brothers contest Group A with Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes, Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski and Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner. Group B consists of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach, Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi and Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman.

*Pakistan’s Prime Minister has announced that Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has been appointed as United Nations Development Project (UNDP) National Goodwill Ambassador. His first task is to help obtain global funds to go towards the victims of the devastating floods across the country which affected twenty million people. “I am honoured to become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP in Pakistan,” says Qureshi. “I have been very fortunate in life to pursue my passion for tennis. It is important for me to help people who lost everything because of the floods to get back on their feet.” Full reaction can be seen at the ATP website.

*Roger Federer has targeted a strong finish to the year with victory at the ATP Tour Finals, a competition he has an enviable record of 29-7 at. Federer faced questions about the current state of his mind after squandering five match points during his semi final defeat to Gael Monfils in Paris but the world No. 2 is confident of his chances in London. “I think I have good chances maybe in London for winning,” declared the sixteen-time Grand Slam winner. “I feel good physically. In a way it is a relief that I was able to finish the tournament [in Paris-Bercy] in good physical health. I’m fresh mentally, too. This is the most important thing. Victories are important, but when you’re not fit and when you’re injured, it’s bad.  So I think I’m going to recover quite fast after that loss. I feel good. I’m playing well. It was not a bad match [against Monfils]. I’m happy with my performance. Clearly with a victory I would have had big chances of winning the tournament. This is not the case, so now I have to look at the future. I’m going to prepare for London.” The full interview can be seen at the ATP site.

*Czech star Tomas Berdych has said that it was the increased burden of expectation following his Wimbledon finals appearance this year which contributed to his average results over the past few months. “In the past, I entered many matches in the position of a mere challenger, but after Wimbledon, everything changed,” he told the Prague Post. “My opponents became the challengers and were keen on taking the scalp of a top-10 player. Every game was much more difficult for me… [in London] I’ll try to pick up my game and to prove that I did not qualify by accident.”

*The Bryan brothers have announced that they will return to Houston in 2011 to defend their back to back US Men’s Clay Court Championships doubles titles.

*Li Na has taken Gold for China at the Asia Games, defeating Taiwan’s Chan Yung Jan 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

*Venus Williams has said she hopes to be fit in time for the Australian Open. The 30-year-old has been nursing yet another knee injury since her US Open defeat to Kim Clijsters but told AOL Fanbase: “I’m gearing up for Australia. Playing professional tennis is very intense. You have to be as close to 100 percent as possible. So I’m aiming to be 100 percent by January.”

*In the South African Airways ATP World Rankings Robin Soderling has benefitted from his Paris Masters victory by becoming the new world No. 4 at the expense of Andy Murray. Jurgen Melzer, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic, Nicolas Almagro, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and Marcos Baghdatis all climb within the Top 20. Russian Nikolay Davydenko drops 11 places to No. 22 while Michael Llodra jumps 11 to No. 23. The Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov enters the Top 50 and Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, Germany’s Dustin Brown and Brazil’s Marcos Daniel enter the Top 100.

*The Bondarenko sisters have announced that they will immediately cease representing Ukraine in Fed Cup play. Kateryna has described the move as a “mutual decision” between themselves and Ukrainian tennis authorities. The door has been left open for a future return.

*Tennis Hall of Famer Dennis Ralston has been talking to The Desert Sun about his life since the amputation of his foot back in June due to infection. It’s a touching story, which can be read on their website. “The situation was bleak, not knowing if I would work again,” Ralston said. “I still don’t know, but I hope I still can.”

*After her engagement to lawyer Andreas Bieri broke down back in April, Martina Hingis has announced that she is “…not single anymore.” She is said to be dating fellow horse-riding enthusiast Thibault Hutin.

Schiavone Wins Worst Match of the Day: 2010 US Open Opening Day

Francesca Schiavone, the No. 6 seed and reigning French Open champion, defeated Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes in the WORST MATCH OF THE DAY of Day One at the 2010 US Open.

Schiavone won each set in 29 minutes in the opening match on the Grandstand court. If you waited on line for the bathroom or had trouble getting your Amex Radio, you probably missed this match (which would be good!)

Morita hit 17 unforced errors, which is nearly a set in itself and hit six winners. Schiavone hit an impressive 28 winners.

“It was a good match, because I was really fast when I hit the ball,” said Schiavone. “She couldn’t hit so easy the ball, but she is good…Maybe the score, you say, 6-1, 6-love, but nothing is easy. I played very good points. Sometimes we went to deuce.”

Schiavone may face American teenager Melanie Oudin in the third round.

STOSUR SURGES AT ROLAND GARROS

By Blair Henley

A surging Sam Stosur took out four-time French Open champion and No. 22 seed Justine Henin 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Monday, snapping the Belgian’s streak of 24 straight matches won at Roland Garros.

“My nerves were simply not strong enough today,” Henin explained. “I felt very nervous, very upset, which is normally not the way I am. Maybe today I was feeling some nervous fatigue. Maybe that nervous fatigue prevented me from seeing things in a calmer way.”

After a slow start, 26-year-old Stosur used her heavy groundstrokes to keep her opponent stuck scrambling behind the baseline, and in the third set, Henin’s picturesque backhand was nowhere to be found. She dumped three into the net in the final game.

Stosur, seeded seventh, squandered her first match point with a nervous double fault, but took advantage of a short, bouncing overhead on her second try.

“I just tried to shake it off and tried to have a laugh at myself, not worry about it and get the next one in,” Stosur said of the double fault.

It was so gloomy at Roland Garros Monday that the 26-year-old Australian was forced to remove her signature sunglasses, allowing fans to see the emotion in her eyes as she sealed one of the biggest wins of her career.

“I knew what I had to do,” Stosur said. “I kept going for it and I believed in myself.”

Stosur had more clay court wins this season than anyone else on tour coming into the French Open and she made it to the semifinals here last year, but her win over Henin still was still unexpected. The Australian lost to her earlier this month in Stuttgart.

The Aussie was known primarily as a doubles specialist before she decided to focus on her singles a couple of years ago. She has previously held the No. 1 ranking in doubles, but she entered the singles Top 10 for the first time just months ago.

Serena Williams easily beat No. 18 seed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-2 to become the last American standing in the singles draws. She will take on Stosur in the quarterfinals.

It’s safe to say Peer doesn’t like playing the Williams sisters. She has now lost 5 times each to both Serena and Venus.

Tuesday No. 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki will take on No. 17 Francesca Schiavone, No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva will play No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

FEDERER, NADAL ARE ROLLING AT ROLAND GARROS

As the second week of the 2010 French Open begins, fans can take a closer look at who is likely to be playing for the title next weekend.

Rafael Nadal, the king of clay and the four-time French Open champion, is the huge favorite in the French Open tennis betting.

Roger Federer, the defending champion, wants nothing more than to beat Nadal in the final and prove that he can beat the Spanish lefty on his favorite surface and continue to cement his case for being the greatest player of all time. He needs only to reach the semifinals to hold on to his No. 1 ranking for a 286th week and equal the all-time record set by Pete Sampras.

Among the outside dark horse picks are Robin Soderling, who shocked Nadal last year in the round of 16, Nadal’s only loss to date at the French Open. He will next play Federer in the quarterfinals in a re-match of last year’s final won by Federer. Soderling decisively beat Marin Cilic of Croatia in straight sets. Cilic was a trendy pick to potentially knock off Federer, so this result certainly shows the type of form that Soderling is in. Wouldn’t it be interesting that Soderling play the spoiler two years in a row at Roland Garros? Last year, ending Nadal’s streak of 31 straight Roland Garros match wins and this year, preventing Federer from equaling the ATP World Tour “weeks-ranked-No. 1-record.”

Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 3, is a dark horse choice of some to potentially snag the title as he has is not a player intimidated of Nadal on clay. The two could face-off in the semifinals. Besides Federer and Nadal, Djokovic has won a major title (the 2008 Australian Open) and has played in a Grand Slam final on one other occasion at the 2007 U.S. Open, losing to Federer.

Another player to watch is Tomas Berdych, who beat No. 4 seed Andy Murray, the Australian Open finalist earlier this year, in the round of 16 Sunday. Berdych, who beat Roger Federer en route to the final of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami earlier this year, is looking to take advantage of the 40th anniversary of his countryman Jan Kodes’ win at the 1970 French Open and become the first Czech to win at Roland Garros since Ivan Lendl’s last of three titles in 1987.

Roland Garros is one of the biggest opportunities for the tennis players to move up in the rankings and earn a place among the best in the world, especially if the players are clay-court specialists. However, surprises can happen as two Spanish clay-court monsters, David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, were both upset – Ferrer losing to Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Ferrero to American Robby Ginepri. However, Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Nicolas Almagro, are continuing to fly the Spanish flag along with Nadal.

Ginepri is the next opponent for Djokovic and Berdych will face Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.

For the full French Open draws, go to www.RolandGarros.com.

Molik, Heather Watson Aspiring For Greater Heights: Tennis in the Commonwealth

By Leigh Sanders

*Former world No. 8, Australia’s Alicia Molik, reached the final of the Cliffs Esperance Tennis International Pro Tour event before finally being derailed by top seed Olivia Rogowska. It was her fourth pro tour final since coming out of retirement in September. In the men’s final, Aussie Matt Ebden overcame John Millman 6-3, 6-4.

*British tennis starlet Heather Watson of Guernsey was eliminated in the first round of the singles at the Tevlin Challenger Event at the Rexall Centre in Toronto. She was defeated by1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson 2-6, 4-6. In the doubles, Watson and partner Julia Boserup lost to the Canadian duo Gabriela Dobrowski and Rebecca Marino. Despite her early exit in Toronto, Watson has made the final three in the running for the 2009 BBC Young Sport’s Personality of the Year award. The acclaimed accolade honours sportsmen and women who achieve sporting heroics in the calendar year and the Young Personality award goes to up and coming stars of the future. The US Open junior girls champion faces stiff competition from world driving champion Tom Daly and double world youth sprint gold medallist Jodie Williams. Andy Murray picked up the award in 2004.

*The prestigious Queens Club in England was celebrating a coup this week after US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro committed himself to the pre-Wimbledon tournament until 2012 in a bid to improve his grass court game for Wimbledon. Andy Murray picked up his first grass-court title by winning at Queens this summer before losing a heartbreaking semifinal at Wimbledon to American Andy Roddick.

*French Open Champion and WTA No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova has confirmed she will begin her 2010 season at the Medibank International Sydney, Australia, following Serena Williams, defending champion Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in doing so. On the men’s side, home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils and Marcos Bagdhatis are already confirmed. The event takes place at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre from Sunday 10 to Saturday 16 January 2010.

*While over in Brisbane, Australia, Nadia Petrova has added her name to an already impressive cast at the Brisbane International warming themselves up for the 2010 Australian Open. The world No. 20 in singles and 16 in doubles joins Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokic in what should be a tasty event. On the men’s side, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, James Blake and Giles Simon have pencilled in the event for their early 2010 schedule.

*This week’s ATP World Tour singles rankings saw no movement in the world’s Top 40 players. Australia’s Peter Luczak climbs a place to 78 while compatriot Carsten Ball does the same to 137 and Chris Guccione in 139. India’s Somdev Devvarman drops two to 124 and Frank Dancevic of Canada drops 12 to 144.

*In the ATP doubles rankings, all the Commonwealth players in the Top 10 were safe as there was no movement. However, Australia’s Ashley Fisher climbed two places to 41 and his compatriot Carsten Ball dropped four to 61 and Chris Guccione dropped one to 67. Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi climbed up one to 59 and Jeff Coetzee of South Africa dropped a place to 69.

*British Paralympic Champion Peter Norfolk took the world No. 1 slot by regaining his quad singles title at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. He beat the American world No. 1 David Wagner 6-2, 7-5 in the final to leapfrog him in the rankings. Norfolk had already beaten Wagner in the pool stage as well as Paralympic silver medallist Johan Andersson.

* Canadian duo Maureen Drake and Marianne Jodoin defeated compatriots Sharon Fichman and American Mashona Washington after world No. 97 Fichman was forced to retire when 3-2 up in the first set. It is the third year in a row an all-Canadian team has triumphed at the event.

*British women’s’ No. 2 Elena Baltacha has bounced back from injury to glide through the first round of the $75k event in Toyota, Japan. She beat the Japanese player Misaki Doi 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1 and will face Korea’s So-Jung Kim in the next round. Meanwhile, at the €106.5k ATP Challenger Event in Helsinki, Finland, Alex Bogdanovic saw first round defeat after going down 6-7(0), 4-6 to Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli.

*Slovak-born Jarmila Groth has been granted Australian citizenship following a ceremony at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Up to now, she has been unable to represent her adopted homeland other than in the four Grand Slam events but she is now cleared to play Fed Cup and play under the Australian flag in all other events on the WTA Tour. Earlier this year, she married fellow tennis pro Sam Groth and reached a career-high No. 57 on the WTA rankings. She has formerly represented Slovakia in the Fed Cup in 2003 and her best tour result to date is a semifinal at the Japan Open in 2008.

*The well-loved British tennis commentator Max Robertson has sadly passed away aged 94 on his home island of Guernsey. After serving in World War II he joined the BBC in 1946 and his post-war tennis commentaries live long in the memory of those who were guided through the action by Robertson. As well as tennis, he was the first reporter at the 1948 Winter Olympics in Switzerland as well as gaining fame away from sport on BBC’s famed investigative journalist program ‘Panorama’ and the antiques programme ‘Going for a Song.’ He was also an accomplished author and poet.

*Tennis Canada has announced that the recently retired Frederic Niemayer has been added to their coaching team to coach hot Canadian prospect Milos Raonic. In another coup for the organization, an announcement has been made that the Tennis Matters benefactors Mike and Nicole Tevlin have made a second $500,000 pledge. A new event named the Tevlin Open will now be held in their honour.

Henin Official Comeback Announcement Expected Soon

Former world No. 1 Justine Henin is expected to officially announce her comeback very soon. Belgian TV station RTBF is reporting that a press conference is expected in the next few days. Belgian newspaper De Standaard is reporting that Henin has recently ordered 14 new tennis racquets fit to her competitive requirements. Henin’s staff and representatives have been silent and have not commented on her comeback status. The four-time French Open champion, who decided to retire from tennis 16 months ago, will play two exhibition matches in Charleroi, Belgium and Dubai at the end of 2009.

Henin was signed on to appear in theaters with a play called “Arrête de pleurer Pénélope!” between October 24 and December 20, but canceled last August. Her cancellation fed rumors that she is working behind the scenes to make a return to the tennis courts, like fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open on Sunday.

Justine Henin won seven Grand Slam tournaments in her career and won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in women’s singles.

Clijsters has said in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that she would welcome Henin’s comeback. The 2009 winner of the US Open said that she isn’t afraid of Henin making a comeback and would welcome her back to the tour.