Globe and mail

Kim Clijsters On the Mend – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Parting Ways – The Globe and Mail reported earlier this week that the doubles pairing of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic will be calling it a day on their partnership at the end of this year. Though Zimonjic initiated the change, Nestor admitted he had been contemplating of doing the same, so the two will be parting amicably. They’ve also lined up some stellar partners for 2011. Zimonjic will be playing with Llodra, the tricky Frenchman with a great set of hands who has also seen a rise in his singles play due to his prowess in the forecourt. Nestor will be joining forces with “The Beast,” Max Mirnyi, who with his height and big frame always poses a challenging proposition. Both new duos should shake up the doubles arena next season.

On the Mend – It’s music to the ears of all WTA officials and the Doha tournament director. Kim Clijsters posted on her Twitter account that she is no longer feeling pain in her foot, though there is still a small cut. This is of course no guarantee that the Belgian will be competing in the season-ending championships, but her encouraging news that she might be able to make the final event of the year is welcome news indeed. With nearly half of the WTA’s top 20 players either officially out or assumed out for the remainder of the year, the WTA is in desperate need of another top star to find a way to cross the finish line. And with the field becoming more and more diluted with each passing week, if Clijsters is able to compete in the final event of the year, it could be easy pickings, providing her a strong platform from which to spring into next year.

Fitness Race – Much like last year, Andy Roddick finds himself in a race against the clock to try and finish the year on a high instead of on the sidelines. Having straineed his groin last week in Japan, the American tried to give it a go in Shanghai, only to aggravate the injury further. His retirement from injury all happened a year to the day that Roddick suffered a season-ending injury at the same tournament in 2009. Things look more optimistic for Roddick this time around, however, who feels he has a decent chance of competing in Basel and perhaps still earning a spot in the elite ATP World Tour Championships. Those pulling for American tennis success will particularly be hoping for a speedy recovery, as Roddick needs the points to attempt to finish in the top 10 for the ninth consecutive year (he currently stands at 11).

Bigger than Sport – Their partnership has been well-documented, and it is continuing to pay dividends. The Indian-Pakistani partnership of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi won the Peace and Sport Image of the Year Award in one of the feel-good stories of the week. Their courage and willingness to set aside their differences is admirable, and it is great to see it transcending the sport. Hopefully their actions, and the actions of other players, (such as Serb Novak Djokovic and Croat Ivan Ljubicic exchanging shirts at the end of a match) will teach others to put aside their prejudices.

Dropping like Flies – One of the biggest stories of the week has been the number of top WTA players who have already called it a season in order to prep for 2011. Granted, some have been freak injuries, but it has to leave some scratching their heads. After working out a “roadmap” to shorten the season, it seems the number of dropouts is an even bigger problem than in years past. No doubt the shortened season is a much-needed improvement, but the number of injuries and early exits would seem to also suggest that it’s time to start taking a look at what other factors are contributing to the WTA woes. Advancements in equipment and the predominant style of play, this “big babe tennis” as Mary Carillo has dubbed it, may be more of a culprit than some realize, and the situation needs to be rectified. After all, the WTA Championships should be won by the best of the best, not simply the last woman left standing.

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.

Roger Federer Book Author Rene Stauffer Comments on Federer’s US Open Victory

NEW YORK, N.Y., September 10, 2008 – The following is a question and answer session with Rene Stauffer, the author of the book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com), on Roger Federer’s victory at the 2008 US Open. Playing on the 39th anniversary of Rod Laver winning his second Grand Slam and on the sixth anniversary of Pete Sampras’ fifth US Open title and his 14th and final major title, Federer continued his assault on tennis history by winning the US Open for a fifth straight year, defeating Andy Murray of Britain 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in Monday’s men’s singles final. While winning his 13th major singles title, Federer becomes the first man to win five straight U.S. men’s singles titles since American Bill Tilden won six straight titles from 1920 to 1925. Federer is now just one major singles title shy of tying Pete Sampras for the most major men’s singles titles with 14.

QUESTION: With this victory, can you say that “Roger is back?”

RENE STAUFFER: Absolutely, although he was never really gone. A lot of fans and media people tend to over react and read too much into single tournaments or results. He had spoiled everybody by winning so many major tournaments over the last four years – and that’s why the reactions (to his losses at major tournaments) this year were so strong. But Roger’s career is defined by Grand Slam tournaments more than ever, and he continued his run this year. He stands at 18 Grand Slam tournament semifinals in a row and was part of 13 of the last 14 major finals – even though he had a case of mono in early 2008, which shattered his whole preparation and made what was already a tough year with the Olympics even more difficult.

QUESTION: Does Roger feed off of a lot of the talk of people writing him off, saying that he is no longer the top man in tennis?

RENE STAUFFER: Maybe a little more than he is ready to acknowledge. It was a bitter learning experience for him this year to realize how fast people tend to switch opinions, how changeable sport fans can be, how little respect he got from some media and certain people. But he is too proud to let this bother him, and he tried with success to stay positive and in the best possible frame of mind to give himself more chances. He really showed his mental strength in the last few months.

QUESTION: Just how rattled was Roger after losing at Wimbledon and losing his No. 1 ranking and how satisfying is this win at the US Open?

RENE STAUFFER: Since he realized that the Wimbledon final made tennis history and lifted tennis to a new popularity, he digested the defeat much better than expected. Right after the final, he had said in interviews with the Swiss press that he was devastated and that it could not get any worse than that. However, he realized that Rafael Nadal deserved the No. 1 ranking much more, but Roger gave the right answers, since in his first tournament as No. 2, he won his fifth U.S. Open.

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QUESTION: How important was winning the Olympic doubles gold medal for his confidence coming into the US Open?

RENE STAUFFER: That was the key to this title. The gold medal gave him back the inspiration and motivation, the confidence and the joy of playing tennis. He said after beating Murray that winning the doubles in Beijing put him on a cloud and that he refused to come down in New York.

QUESTION: Roger now has 13 major men’s singles titles and is alone in second place all-time – one shy of Pete Sampras’s record of 14. Do you think Roger will break Sampras’ record and if so, where will he do it?

RENE STAUFFER: I am convinced that he will break it. I would not be surprised if it happened 2009, but would not be worried for him if not. As Sampras said, every year with a Grand Slam tournament title is a good year. And Roger has four chances every year, so the odds are looking good, since he only turned 27. When Pete won his 13th major title, he was almost 29.

Stauffer is an esteemed Swiss tennis journalist who has covered Federer since the budding tennis champion was a 15-year-old. The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection chronicles Federer’s life as tempermental junior player, through his early struggles on the ATP Tour and his break-through win at Wimbledon in 2003 and through all of his major tournament titles. The book also focuses on his values, how he has been marketed, his relationship with the media as well as his numerous charitable pursuits.

Published by New Chapter Press, the book has met with many positive reviews from the international media. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “excellent” while Britain’s Daily Telegraph called it “an intimate and insightful portrait.” Wrote Tennis.com of the book; “It’s accessible and sketches out his career development very logically. At the same time, it throws in enough about his personality and the rest of his life to flesh out the tale without turning it into it a flabby puff-piece.”

The Roger Federer Story is not an authorized book by the Federer family, but has been well-received by his inner circle. The five-time Wimbledon champ’s mother, Lynette Federer, uses the book as an encyclopedia on her son’s career. “It’s useful for me, because I often am asked about things and I don’t know for sure without checking,” she told Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger. “Now, I will always know where I can look them up.”

Stauffer is one of the world’s leading tennis journalists and the highly-respected tennis correspondent for Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger and Sonntags-Zeitung. A sports writer since 1981, Stauffer worked for the Swiss newspapers Blick and Sport, before joining Tages-Anzeiger in 1993. After first writing about Federer in 1996, Stauffer has traveled the world covering Federer and his many triumphs.

“When I first saw Roger Federer play tennis when he was a 15-year-old, I didn’t think that I would even write his name in my newspaper, let alone a book about him,” said Stauffer, who opens the book with his “Encounter with a 15-year-old” chapter when on Sept. 11, 1996, he first came upon Federer at the World Youth Cup tennis event in Zurich. “I am very happy I wrote this book, since a lot of readers told me that they find it very entertaining and educational about Roger and his career.”

New Chapter Press (www.newchapterpressmedia.com) is also the publisher of The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli. New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books founded in 1987.