home advantage

Nadal to Play Queens, Davis Cup Semifinal Debrief, del Potro Back

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will warm up for the 2011 Wimbledon Championships by returning to Queens Club. Nadal played at the 2010 Aegon Championships where he lost to compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the quarterfinal stage. “I love playing at Queen’s Club because it is a traditional club,” he said. “Every time I have played there I have felt very welcome because of the British people and their support, and because of the tournament organisers who are so good at their job. After the French Open, it is very important for me to feel the grass under my feet as soon as possible. I tried my best in every match this year (at The Queen’s Club) and was disappointed that I could not win the tournament, but I reached the quarter-finals and it definitely helped me to feel ready for Wimbledon.” Nadal has reached the final at Wimbledon every time he has preceded it by playing at Queens.

*Both Serbia and France have understandably expressed their delight at reaching the final of the 2010 Davis Cup. But it is perhaps the Serbs, in their first final, who are looking forward to the occasion more. “This was a fairytale end to the tie, I have to thank the crowd for their fantastic support because they brought us back from the dead,” said Janko Tipsarevic, whose win over Radek Stepanek handed the young country victory over the Czech Republic. “Finally, it was my turn to shine for the national team after the others, mostly [Novak] Djokovic, proved to be instrumental so many times. I am glad I saved my best tennis for the national team in a match of this magnitude. I had to finish it in three sets today because I was getting tired towards the end and Stepanek was getting back into the match.” France coach Guy Forget was also delighted at his team’s achievements but is wary of the threat posed by the Djokovic-led Serbs. “We’ve been lucky enough to just play at home so far,” said Forget, after Serbia were given home advantage. “The final was already very hard and now it will be even harder because Djokovic and Tipsarevic are very talented. They will probably have 20,000 people behind them. It will be tough. Novak is in great form at the moment after his final at the US Open. Whenever they needed him, he responded. When he plays for his country, he surpasses himself every time. There’s also Tipsarevic, who saved his team against the Czech Republic. But we beat the Australians at their place a few years ago [in the final in 2001], so why not repeat the feat?”

*The injury nightmare looks like it’s finally over. According to his Twitter page, Juan Martin del Potro will finally return to the courts in Bangkok next week at the PTT Thailand Open. “I am extremely happy to tell you: I WILL PLAY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!” exclaimed the man who has not featured since the Australian Open back in January. “Will be in the BANGKOK tournament next Monday. Thanks so much for everything!” Also on the draw will be new US Open Champion Rafa Nadal and French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer.

*David Nalbandian has denied any friction between himself and Argentine Davis Cup captain Tito Vasquez following their annihilation at the hands of France in last weekend’s Davis Cup semifinal. After losing the opening singles rubber to Gael Monfils it was reported that Nalbandian was unhappy that he was not selected as the top singles player which would have meant facing Michael Llodra instead. That task befell Juan Monaco. “It was a valid decision” he said. “It was all uncertain [who would play singles for France]… we did not know what would happen. Tito decided like this, sometimes can be good and other times not. If you want to win the Davis Cup, you have to beat Monfils Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.”

*As previously reported by Tennis People, Pakistani US Open men’s and mixed doubles finalist Aisam-Ul-Haq Quareshi has been awarded for his humanitarian work in a ceremony in Lahore last week. The doubles specialist has won worldwide praise for promoting harmony between his own country and India and has recently been raising money for the flood victims left homeless by recent events in Pakistan. “All my life I’ve tried to do something to make my country and my parents proud,” he said. “It’s been a long, tough journey. I want to thank my relatives, friends and family for being with me through my ups and downs. One should never give up on dreams.”

*The 2010 edition may not have reached its conclusion yet but the draw has already been made for Davis Cup play throughout 2011. India and Kazakhstan (for the first time ever) can look forward to World Group play and what will the likes of Italy and Switzerland have to overcome to re-enter the prestigious section? Head over to the ITF Website to check out the full draws.

*Chilean Fernando Gonzalez faces a long injury layoff after he announced he will undergo hip and possibly knee surgery next month. The world No. 44, his lowest ranking since 2002, was forced to retire from his first round US Open match against Ivan Dodig and could be out for eight or nine months which would place his return, possibly, at midway through the European clay-court season.

*It’s always quiet in the rankings at this stage of the season but there are a couple of significant changes in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. American No. 1 Andy Roddick has re-entered the Top 10 at the expense of Spain’s David Ferrer. Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas has leapt 17 spots to No. 70 while Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq (No. 98) and the Russian Igor Andreev (No. 99) are in to the Top 100.

*Two women in particular are celebrating in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week. Jarmila Groth picked up her first tour title in Guangzhou last week which sees her at a career-high No. 41. 19-year-old Tamira Paszek won in Quebec City and she has leapt from No. 151 to No. 92.

*Interested in the whole ‘interfering parent’ row surrounding young tennis prodigies? American tennis writer Greg Couch had an interesting run-in with the parents of 21-year-old Donald Young at the US Open regarding comments former US Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe had made in his recent book about dealing with them. It opens up a huge can of worms on the lack of communication and name calling that sometimes goes on between the coach and the parent. It’s an excellent read. Check it out at the Fanhouse website.

*One story that really caught my eye this week was that of Iraqi tennis hopeful Zainab Khadim Alwan. She used to skip school as a youngster to watch Venus and Serena Williams playing in the hope that she could one day emulate them. Losing both legs in a rocket blast four years ago, a lot of youngsters would give up on the dream there and then. Not Alwan. Now she hopes to star on the wheelchair tennis circuit. “I choose tennis because it’s a difficult game,” she said. “I wanted to prove despite losing my legs, I haven’t lost my mind.” “Tennis relieved Zainab’s suffering,” said her father, Khadim Alwan Jassim. This touching tale can be read at the News Sports Today website.

*Former Andy Murray coach Miles Maclagan has returned to work quickly as the coach of the German world No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

*Brit teenage star Laura Robson has announced that her and coach Martijn Bok will part ways at the end of the season. It is believed Bok did not wish to increase travelling commitments as Laura looked to push on further with her WTA tour next year.

*Bob Bryan is the latest tennis star to get engaged this week. He proposed to girlfriend Michelle Alvarez on Tuesday. “Just got engaged… at Pfeifer Falls in Big Sur, CA,” he posted on his Twitter account. She replied: “So happy to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing person. We’re engaged!” Awwwwwwwww!

*Indian star Mahesh Bhupathi has also got engaged to former Miss Universe Lara Dutta this week. Bhupathi divorced his former wife of six years earlier this year.