International Tennis Hall of Fame

Lleyton Hewitt Beats Tommy Haas To Win Debut Invesco Series QQQ Event In Newport

Lleyton Hewitt made a triumphant debut on the Invesco Series QQQ circuit Sunday winning his debut event at the International Tennis Hall of Fame by defeating Tommy Haas 7-6(2) in the one-set championship match.

Hewitt, the Australian Davis Cup captain and still active on the ATP World Tour, handed Haas his first-ever loss on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30 in the final. Haas made his Invesco Series debut earlier this year in Charleston, S.C. where he won the title beating Andy Roddick in the final. Haas also won the title at the Kohala Coast in Hawaii, defeating John McEnroe in the title match.

Haas took the early lead against Hewitt, breaking serve for 2-0, before Hewitt bounced back to reeled off five consecutive games, buoyed by his amazing return of serve. With Hewitt serving for the match at 5-3, Haas was able to break back with the help of some incredible passing shots to eventually force the deciding tiebreaker. In the tie-breaker, Hewitt proved to be relentless getting off to an early mini-break and never looked back.

“This is the first time I’ve played on the Invesco Series and it was really fun,” said Hewitt. “The conditions were a bit tough as we had to wait out the rain for most of the day but I played well when we got out there and had a great time doing it”.

Due to threatening weather Sunday in Newport, the Invesco Series QQQ matches were delayed to be played after the 12:30 pm ATP singles final, instead of before, as originally scheduled. Hewitt defeated James Blake 6-3 in the first semifinal match, while Haas followed by beating U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier 6-3.

Despite the loss, the 40-year-old Haas remains on top of the Invesco Series QQQ rankings earning 200 ranking points to increase his ranking point total to 1,000. Philippoussis, who won the last Invesco Series QQQ event in May in Toronto, remains in second with 500 points. By winning 400 points with the title, Hewitt, age 37, moves into a tie with the 59-year-old McEnroe for third place in the rankings.

The Invesco Series QQQ continues on August 19 at the ATP World Tour’s Winston-Salem Open in Winston-Salem, N.C. featuring Blake, Roddick, Ginepri, and Michael Chang. The remaining schedule, with player fields, is as follows

The remaining 2018 Invesco Series QQQ schedule is as follows:

• August 19: Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest University) – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Michael Chang, and Robby Ginepri
• August 23, 24: New Haven, CT (Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale) – John McEnroe, Tommy Haas, James Blake and Todd Martin
• October 4: St. Louis, MO (Chaifetz Arena) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, and Mark Philippoussis
• October 6: Houston, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Jim Courier
• October 21: Los Angeles, CA (Sherwood Country Club) – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Tommy Haas, and Mardy Fish
• December 6: Orlando, FL (USTA National Campus) – Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish

2018 Invesco Series QQQ Results

April 7: Charleston, SC (Family Circle Tennis Center) F: Tommy Haas def. Andy Roddick 6-1; SF: Tommy Haas def. Michael Chang 6-2; Andy Roddick def. Mark Philippoussis 6-3

May 5, 6: Kohala Coast, HI (Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows) F: Tommy Haas def. John McEnroe 7-5 SF: Tommy Haas def. Mardy Fish 6-3, John McEnroe def.Jim Courier 6-3

May 17: Toronto, ON (Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre) F: Mark Philippoussis d. John McEnroe 7-5, SF: Mark Philippoussis d. James Blake 7-6 (5); John McEnroe d. Jim Courier 6-2.

July 22: Newport, RI (International Tennis Hall of Fame) F: Lleyton Hewitt d. Tommy Haas 7-6(2) SF: Lleyton Hewitt d. James Blake 6-3; Tommy Haas d. Jim Courier 6-3

Each Invesco Series QQQ event features special VIP experiences, including hit-with-the-pros opportunities and special back-stage access. All ticket, experience and event information can be found at

In 2017, the year-long points championship was decided in the final match of the season when Andy Roddick defeated James Blake in the Los Angeles final at the Sherwood Country Club. Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion and world No. 1, won four Invesco Series QQQ titles in all in 2017, winning in Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Lincoln, Neb., and Los Angeles. Blake, the former world No. 4 and former U.S. Davis Cup star, won series titles in Charleston, S.C., Winston-Salem, N.C. and in Lynchburg, Va.

In 2016, Mark Philippoussis won the Series points title with 1600 points and tournament titles in Memphis, Tulsa, Newport, Winston-Salem and New Haven. Roddick finished in second place, also earning 1600 points but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Philippoussis 5-2, while winning titles in Charleston, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Orlando. Blake finished in third place with 1100 points and tournament titles in
Chicago, Portland and Brooklyn.

In 2015, Roddick won the Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Invesco Series QQQ tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based 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 Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world. For more information, please log on to or InvescoSeries.comor follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989,
is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The
company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please

Invesco Ltd. is an independent investment management firm dedicated to delivering an investment experience that helps people get more out of life. NYSE: IVZ;, Invesco Distributors, Inc. is the US distributor for Invesco Ltd. and is a wholly owned, indirect subsidiary of Invesco Ltd.

Michael Stich, Helena Sukova Elected To International Tennis Hall of Fame

Germany’s Michael Stich, a Wimbledon champion and former world No. 2, and Czech tennis legend Helena Sukova, a 14-time major champion in doubles and mixed doubles, have been elected to receive tennis’ ultimate honor this year-induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

On Thursday evening, a celebratory announcement of the Class of 2018 will take place on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open, when other Hall of Famers and tennis legends will gather on court to celebrate Stich and Sukova’s election into the Hall of Fame.

Stich and Sukova will be officially inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 21, during Hall of Fame Weekend in Newport, Rhode Island.

In becoming Hall of Famers, Stich and Sukova join an elite group of just over 250 individuals hailing from 23 nations who have received the honor, which recognizes their careers as being among the most accomplished and impactful in the history of tennis.

Both Sukova and Stich will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the Player Category. This is not a year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame’s other two categories – Contributor and Wheelchair.

“I’m very pleased to congratulate and welcome Michael and Helena in to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Michael’s laser focus and the versatility in his game made him a Wimbledon champion, and today, those skills and accomplishments make him a Hall of Famer. Helena put up outstanding results at all four Slams, the Olympics, and in WTA competition for nearly two decades,” stated Hall of Famer Stan Smith, who also serves as president of the Hall of Fame. “Being elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame ensures that their careers and accomplishments will forever be distinguished as being among the greatest in our sport’s history. It’s a well-deserved honor for Helena and Michael, and we look forward to celebrating with them in Newport in July.

“It’s quite an honor to become part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I’m humbled to be included among this elite group of tennis athletes, many of whom I so greatly admired and was inspired by throughout my career,” commented Stich.

“Tennis has a storied history in the Czech Republic, and that history certainly played an important role in my tennis upbringing and my approach to the game. I grew up in a tennis family and being in awe of the accomplishments of legends like my mother, Vera, as well as Jan Kodes and Martina Navratilova. It was truly my joy and privilege to compete for my country, on the WTA tour, and among the greatest tennis players in the world. Today, I’m incredibly honored to be selected for the Hall of Fame, where the sport’s greatest in history are honored,” remarked Sukova.

Michael Stich, Germany

Germany’s Michael Stich was a versatile player with a full arsenal of skills that enabled him to achieve a ranking of world No. 2.

The highlight of Stich’s Hall of Fame career came in 1991 when he won the Wimbledon title, skillfully battling past two past champions and grass court stars in Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. A year later, he partnered with John McEnroe to win the doubles title at Wimbledon in a 5 hour match that spanned two days. Stich made two more finals appearances at Grand Slam tournaments-at the US Open in 1994 and the French Open in 1996.

A skilled player at both the baseline and the net, Stich was successful on all surfaces throughout his career. In 1991 and 1993, he won professional tournaments on all four surfaces.

Stich appeared in 31 finals and won 18 career singles titles, including particularly momentous victories at season-ending events. In the 1992 Grand Slam Cup, Stich defeated Stefan Edberg, Richard Krajicek, Pete Sampras, and Michael Chang to win the title. A year later, he closed the season with wins over Michael Chang, Jim Courier, and Pete Sampras to capture the ATP World Championship title.

Stich was an accomplished representative of Germany throughout his career. At the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he partnered with Boris Becker to win the Gold Medal in doubles. In 1993 Davis Cup final, he won all three points versus Australia to win the title for Germany.

Today, Stich is the Tournament Director for the German Open, an ATP 500 event in Hamburg. In 1994 he created the Michael Stich Foundation, a robust charity focused on programs aimed at HIV and AIDS awareness, as well as helping children in need.

Helena Sukova, Czech Republic

Helena Sukova, of the Czech Republic, was the world No. 1 ranked doubles player for 68 weeks and she won 14 Grand Slam tournament titles in women’s doubles and mixed doubles over the course of her career. Sukova also had a noteworthy singles career, achieving a career high of world No. 4 and reaching the final two times each at the Australian Open and the US Open. In all, she won 69 doubles titles and 10 singles titles.

Sukova achieved a career Grand Slam in women’s doubles, winning four titles at Wimbledon, two at the US Open, and one each at the Australian Open and the French Open. She partnered with her younger brother Cyril Suk III to win three mixed doubles titles at Grand Slam tournaments (2 Wimbledons, 1 French).

Hailing from a prominent Czech tennis family, Sukova thrived in the sport from an early age. Her mother, Vera, was the 1962 Wimbledon finalist, and her father Cyril Suk II was the head of the Czech Tennis Federation. Sukova was just 16 years old when she first cracked the WTA top-75 for the first time. Bolstered by a big forehand, a well-developed all-around game, and tremendous consistency, Sukova built a successful career that spanned nearly three decades, winning titles in her teens, 20’s, and 30’s.

Throughout her career, Sukova complemented the major titles with moments of extraordinary brilliance in which her tenacity as a competitor was undeniable. At the 1984 Australian Open, after losing the first set in a semifinal match versus Martina Navratilova, Sukova powered back to win the match, snapping Navratilova’s record-setting 74-match winning streak in the process.

Another career highlight was the 1993 US Open, when Sukova won an incredible 17 matches over the two weeks. She partnered with Todd Woodbridge to win the mixed doubles title, and with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to upset defending champions Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva for the women’s doubles title. In singles that year, Sukova battled past Martina Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to book her spot in the final, where she fell to Steffi Graf.

Sukova was an outstanding representative for her country, as an integral part of the Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic Fed Cup teams for 13 years. She was a playing member of four championship teams (1983, 1984, 1985, 1988). Additionally, she won two Silver Medals at the Olympic Games, partnered with Jana Novotna (1988 and 1996).

Sukova retired in 1998, and has stayed highly active in sports administration in the Czech Republic. She earned a doctoral degree as a psychologist at Palacky University.

Class of 2018 Induction Ceremony

The Class of 2018 will be officially inducted on July 21, during Hall of Fame Weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony will go on sale on March 5. In addition, the class will be celebrated in a tribute exhibit in the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which will open in June and be displayed for one year.

For additional information, please visit

About the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a non-profit institution that preserves and promotes the history of tennis and celebrates its champions, thereby serving as a vital partner in the growth of tennis globally. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a seven-acre property that features an extensive museum that showcases the history of the sport and honors the 247 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility; and a rare Court Tennis facility. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame and its programs, visit

Philippoussis Beats Safin To Win PowerShares Series Title In Newport

Mark Philippoussis won his third PowerShares Series of the year Sunday beating Marat Safin 6-4 in the one-set championship match to win the PowerShares Legends Newport title at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

The win was the third in as many events for Philippoussis this year on the North American tennis circuit for champion tennis players over age 30. By earning 400 ranking points, Philippoussis moved passed Andy Roddick into the top position in the PowerShares Series rankings. Through six events on the 12-event PowerShares Series in 2016, Philippoussis has 1200 points to Roddick’s 1000 points, while James Blake ranks No. 3 with 700 points.

The win from Philippoussis came 10 years and one day when he won his 11th and final ATP singles title when he won the 2006 Hall of Fame Championships on the very same grass court as his PowerShares Series title Sunday.

Philippoussis was able to use his powerful serve and frequent trips to the net to beat both Andy Roddick in the semifinals and Safin in the final. Against Safin, he broke Safin’s serve for a 2-0 lead with a falling down backhand overhead winner on break point. Nicknamed “Scud” for his powerful serve, Philippoussis even knocked Safin to the ground with a 127 mph ace to hold serve for a 5-3 lead, before serving out the title two games later.

In April, Philippoussis won PowerShares Series titles on back-to-back nights indoors in Tulsa and Memphis, beating Jim Courier in both finals. Philippoussis has now won seven career PowerShares Series singles titles in his career. Safin, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame the previous day, was playing in his first PowerShares Series event since 2010.

To advance to the final, Safin beat James Blake 7-6(2) while Philippoussis beat Roddick 6-4.

On Saturday, Safin was officially inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, alongside Justine Henin, Yvon Petra and Margaret Scriven.

Each PowerShares Series event features two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match and, for the second straight year, players make their own line calls with assistance of electronic line-calling.

The event marked the return of PowerShares Series tennis to Newport after the International Tennis Hall of Fame hosted events in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The remaining 2016 PowerShares Series schedule with player fields are listed below and ticket, schedule and player information can be found at;


August 21 – Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest University) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

August 25, 26 – New Haven  (Yale University) – Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, James Blake, Mardy Fish

October 27 – Los Angeles (Sherwood Tennis Club) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

November 4 – Portland, Oregon (Moda Center) –  Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Mardy Fish

December 1 – Orlando (Amway Arena) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

December 3 – New York (Barclays Center) – Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake


In 2015, Andy Roddick won the PowerShares Series points title in his second year of competing on the series with 1,600 points. Roddick won a record eight events Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. Blake finished second in the points rankings with 1,200 points, winning events in Boston and Cincinnati. Mark Philippoussis finished in third with 1,100 points, winning titles in Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the nine-year history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte.


InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based 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 Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to or or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit


Invesco PowerShares Capital Management LLC is leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its lineup of more than 140 domestic and international exchange-traded funds, which seek to outperform traditional benchmark indexes while providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. With franchise assets of nearly $100 billion as of October 2, 2015, PowerShares ETFs trade on both US stock exchanges. For more information, please visit us at or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.


PowerShares QQQ™, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on the NASDAQ-100 Index®, is one of the largest and most traded ETFs in the world. Under most circumstances, QQQ will consist of all of the stocks in the index which includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market based on market capitalization

Titanic Survivor’s Journey To The U.S. Singles Final 100 Years Ago

There was a lot different about the US Open 100 years ago than it is today. For starters, it was not called the U.S. Open, but the “Nationals” in the era before tennis was professional. It was also held on grass courts in the quiet, quaint confines of the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island, the modern-day home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But the 1913 U.S. Nationals in Newport was the scene of the unfolding of what some call the greatest story in the history of the sport.

A year earlier in 1912, Dick Williams was en route to the United States from Europe to enroll in Harvard when he survived the sinking of the Titanic in incredible fashion, enduring the night in the frigid North Atlantic water while hanging onto a collapsed lifeboat. Seventeen months later, fresh off leading the U.S. Davis Cup team to victory against Britain, Williams reached the final of the modern-day US Open. Williams played U.S. Davis Cup teammate Maurice McLoughlin in the U.S. singles final on August 26, 1913 – 100 years to the day of the start of the 2013 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows.

Lindsay Gibbs narrates the singles-final run of Williams 100 years ago in her book TITANIC: THE TENNIS STORY ($12.95, New Chapter Press, available here: in this book excerpt.


Nevertheless, later that month, just a few days off the boat, he went into the 1913 Nationals at Newport … believing that it was his year and that he could earn that trophy. He knew what he was doing this year. Nothing was a surprise to him. He was a stronger player, more used to his public profile and a better man than he had been a year ago. He could close his eyes and see himself holding that trophy. He could feel the waves of closure flowing through his body, making everything worth it.

He had a close match against Gustave Touchard in the second round that almost cost him an early exit from the tournament, but just like in the Davis Cup match against Dixon, he was able to dig deep and take the fifth set 7-5. It didn’t hurt that when Touchard was serving at 4-3, 40-30 in the final set he was called for a foot fault, after which, rattled, he double faulted and then really blew his stack. Still, for Dick a victory was a victory. He was sure he could carry the momentum to win the title.

Aside from a close four-setter in the fourth round against William Johnston, the Californian with the big Western topspin forehand, Dick had an easy time after Touchard, making it all the way to the final, where of course his new friend and teammate Maurice McLoughlin waited for him. Mac was trying to win the title for the second year in a row and continue his run as the best player in the country. For Dick, the championship had special symbolic value. He yearned to finish the journey he started sixteen months earlier when he boarded the Titanic with his father.

After having played against each other almost every day for the past three months, both players knew each others’ game as well as their own. Dick was able to handle the forceful serves of his Davis Cup teammate like no one else and often dictated play off his own racket. After losing a hard-fought first set 6-4, Dick continued his aggressive play and was able to steal the second set 7-5 – becoming the first player to secure a set from Mac at the tournament. The tennis was some of the most dazzling play that the Newport fans had ever seen. After some tense play early in the third set, the match was up for grabs. As the crowd grew louder and louder after every point and they started to move in between points, leaning on the edge of their seats to see every shot, Dick started to struggle. He tried to focus in, to block the world out with his tennis like he had been doing for the past year and a half, but it wasn’t working. The clapping began to sound like the ship breaking into two. Cheers sounded like cries. The memories he was trying so hard to block out came crashing down on him at one of the worst times possible. Mac took control of the match mid-way through the third set and eased to a four-set victory 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. “The California Comet” had another trophy for his shelf and Dick had to wait another year for another chance.

Federer Calls Out Nadal; The Week’s Notable Winners– The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Notable Wins

The results may have been lost in the anticipation of Indian Wells, but last weekend saw some noteworthy victories on the ATP World Tour.  Kevin Anderson broke hearts after saving match points against Roddick before dismissing Isner and ultimately winning the Delray Beach title over Australian qualifier Matosevic.  Anderson hasn’t done enough to warrant being considered a dark horse at any of the bigger events, but the 6’8” South African has proven more than capable of playing the spoiler.  Meanwhile, David Ferrer added to his case for being considered an outside chance to take the title at Roland Garros or any of the lead-up Masters 1000 events by securing his third consecutive title in Acapulco with his victory over Verdasco.  He certainly has the game and tenacity to give anyone trouble, but as always, it’s questionable whether he has the mental fortitude to play his best when it really counts.  A player who has exhibited plenty of mental fortitude over the years if Federer.  He continued his good run of form, defeating Andy Murray in the final of Dubai to show he has more than enough game left to win another major or two.  Hopefully these results will translate into a growing mental confidence, because while Djokovic, Murray , and especially Nadal will always pose a potential problem to him, his biggest hurdle seems to be between the ears.

Notable Loss

It’s not every day a losing finalist garners much attention, but Andy Murray deserves it after his run to the Dubai final last week.  In his quarterfinal match against Berdych, he squandered multiple match points and got down a break point before clawing his way across the finish line.  Then in the semifinals, after blowing Djokovic away the first set and a half, he found himself in a position to serve it out, only to be broken and see Djokovic level things at 5-5.  It appeared to be shades of the Australian Open semis all over again. This time, however, Murray held his composure and broke the Serb to still seal the deal in two sets.  Though he fell shy against Federer, there’s little doubt that this tournament marks a turning point in his career.  He’s keeping his temper relatively in check, and he’s bouncing back from the lows in matches much quicker.  Whether or not he’s capable of managing this at a Slam remains to be seen, but his performance in Dubai could move some back towards once again asking the question “when,” not “if” Andy Murray will win a major.

Calling Out

Roger Federer is getting more vocal, and his latest complaint is that time violations are not enforced properly.  Personally, I’m in agreement with Federer.  It’s up to the chair umpires to use their best judgment, as there will be occasions where an excessive amount of time is warranted.  But when excessive time is taken merely as a mind trick against an opponent or a stall tactic to gather wits before a big point, it needs to stop.  The same goes for those who have long rituals between points, especially if it holds up an opponent’s serve.  But what is most interesting about Federer’s comments is that he chose to single out Nadal.  It would have been preferable for Federer to leave out names, but it’s still not on par with Nadal’s comments about Federer back in January.  Federer is, after all, stating a fact.  Nadal has been the highest profile offender of this rule for a number of years, but for all intents and purposes, Djokovic is right there with him.  Given Federer’s history with Djokovic, it’s surprising he wouldn’t name him, too.  Then again, perhaps it’s Federer laying the groundwork for should he meet Nadal in the semis of Indian Wells, hinting that Rafa should pick up the pace or be prepared for Federer to ask the chair umpire to work on him.   And maybe, just maybe, their rivalry is no longer the love fest it once was.

Off into the Sunset

Shortly after Fernando Gonzalez calls it a career, Croat Ivan Ljubicic will be doing the same after the Monte Carlo Masters.  Often referred to as “a poor man’s Federer,” Ljubicic was always fun to watch and a dangerous floater at any event.  His presence on the circuit will be greatly missed, but it sounds like he won’t be straying too far from the game.  We all look forward to what he’ll bring to the table as he looks to serve the sport in other ways.

Rightful Place

Chalk another one up for Brazil, as the South American nation is set to see another one of its own enter the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, a three-time winner of Roland Garros who shocked many when he won the Tennis Masters event in Lisbon to finish 2000 as the No. 1 ranked player in the world, will take his place among the legends this coming July.  He’s a deserving addition, and congratulation to him for this honor.

(Photo via AP)

Novak Djokovic Wins Big; Questionable Rafael Nadal Skit — The Friday Five

by Maud Watson

Trend Continues

In a field that contained among others the fastest man in the world, an international soccer star, and a 7’0” German NBA power forward, it was Novak Djokovic who took home the top honor as he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.   The award represented hard-earned recognition for the outstanding season he had in 2011, and it also marked the sixth time in eight years that the prestigious award went to a male tennis player.  Djokovic’s win has brought more favorable press to the sport, and with the men’s game in particular looking stronger than ever, this can only be great for the future of tennis.  Well done to the current No. 1, and with his title in Australia, it may not be too premature to suggest he’s building a case to repeat for the award in 2013.

Poor Judgment

Between an epic Aussie Open final, growing buzz about the Olympics, and that ever popular topic of “grunting” in women’s tennis, Yannick Noah’s unfounded accusatory remarks regarding alleged Spanish doping were all but forgotten.  At least they were, until French television channel Canal+ aired an episode of Les Guignols (The Puppets) featuring a life-size puppet Nadal relieving himself into his gas tank, which allowed him to break speed limits before finally being stopped by cops.  A message then appeared on screen that all but blatantly stated Spanish athletes only succeed in sports because they cheat.  The skit is clearly coming out now, because Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has been handed a two-year ban and stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for doping.  Les Guignols is also a satirical program, so ordinarily such an episode might have been begrudgingly laughed off by Spaniards.  But in the wake of Noah’s comments, the Spanish Tennis Federation, whose logo also appeared in the skit, is taking legal action.  Subsequent similar-themed skits have also prompted the government of Spain to look into taking legal action.  Ironically, the ones who might be the worse for wear in all of this are the French sporting organizations and athletes, such as the French Tennis Federation and French players, who hopefully won’t be left where they were after Noah’s remarks – holding the bag and offering apologies.

A Total Farce

Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see some of the game’s top stars sign up for Davis and Fed Cup duty, and it’s not because they’re feeling a strong patriotic calling.  It’s 2012, and it’s an Olympic year.  It really is a joke watching players suddenly become available, which is why the ITF should either look at abolishing the requirements altogether, or maybe the Olympics should return to just being for amateurs.  After all, it’s not as though these tennis players don’t already compete at the highest levels of international competition week in and week out, with their successes indirectly benefiting their home countries.  A change to the current system would also help alleviate potential politics from being played.  Sure, there isn’t much grumbling when Federer or Murray answer their country’s call, as they’re from nations that most likely won’t be in a position to field a full Olympic roster.  But then there are countries like the United States where talk of including both Williams Sisters on the Olympic team has already sparked talk of a potentially ugly situation if what some consider a more deserving candidate gets left off the roster.  The Olympic qualification system is flawed no matter how you slice it, and the ITF should revisit it along with the Davis and Fed Cup formats.

Bypassed Again

No official announcement has been made, but news that well-known tennis coach Nick Bollettieri won’t be among the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 has spread fast.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the Hall of Fame’s classification system.  It’s possible to recognize contributors without putting them on the same plane as players, and the Masters Category should only be used for those whose careers coincided with the “Americans only” induction rule that wasn’t abolished until 1975 (if a player’s career achievements aren’t good enough to get them inducted within 20 years of retirement, why are they suddenly sufficient 21+ years later?).  But all that aside, under the Hall of Fame’s current system, it seems ludicrous to not have Bollettieri as part of the mix.  Then again, there have been plenty of other questionable inductions in the past (Chang getting the nod the same year Bruguera and Stich did not comes to mind), so Bollettieri shouldn’t be too broken up about it.  People know what he’s contributed, even if the Hall of Fame voters fail to recognize it.

Tragic Story

Former Spanish tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario may have just one-upped Andre Agassi when it comes to shocking book revelations.  News broke that the former No. 1 is estranged from her family, that she is basically broke, and is accusing her parents of mismanaging her funds.  It paints a very different picture from the loving family we saw when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame almost five years ago.  There are two sides to every story, and it appears that these revelations may only get uglier.  Hopefully they will be able to reconcile their differences, not only because it would be a shame to see anything serve as a deterrent to Arantxa and her brothers continuing to serve the sport, but most importantly because given the state of her father’s health, it’s what that family needs most.

‘Rafa Slam’ Dream Over, Agassi in Hall of Fame and new Women’s Record

‘Rafa Slam’ in Tatters:

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal saw his chances of lifting his fourth straight Grand Slam crushed as his left hamstring and a ferocious David Ferrer combined to end the 24-year-old’s dreams at the quarterfinal stage of the Australian Open. It almost echoed the scenes from last year’s Championships where Nadal retired at the same stage whilst trailing Andy Murray due to a damaged knee. “This is a difficult day for me,” said Nadal post-match. “For respect to the winner and to a friend, I prefer to talk about the match. Today I can’t do more than what I did; he played at a very high level. I don’t have to tell you what I felt on the court, but it is obvious I did not feel at my best. I had a problem with the match at the very beginning and after that, the match was almost over.” The 28-year-old Ferrer, who did exceptionally well to concentrate among all the drama, added: “This is one big victory for me, but it’s not like a victory really. He was playing with injury and I had luck. But I played my game.”

Agassi to Join International Tennis Hall of Fame:

The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, has announced that Andre Agassi will be inducted in the ‘Recent Player’ category for 2011. The announcement was made at his Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas. The 40-year-old is one of the most well-liked athletes in world sport and held the No. 1 ranking in tennis for 101 weeks. He won 60 career titles including four Australian Opens and two French Opens as well as one French Open and one Wimbledon title. He won a then record of 17 ATP Masters Events (now Rafa Nadal has 18) and also won the year-ending Championships in 1990. He has two Davis Cup wins to his name as well as an Olympic Gold medal from Atlanta. He is a true American legend and a passionate, if at times enigmatic, ambassador for tennis, and his wife is former tennis star and 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Steffi Graf. “During his 20-year career Andre Agassi recorded some of the most incredible achievements in tennis,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser. “The energy and excitement that he personally brought to the game inspired generations of players. Today, he continues to inspire people around the world as a dedicated philanthropist, and, therefore, it was only appropriate that we share this news at the school where so many young people benefit from his generosity. Andre is a true champion of the game, and we are delighted to honour him for his contributions and achievements with induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.” Agassi was understandably delighted with the accolade: “I’m truly honoured to be recognized alongside the greatest players of tennis,” he said. “My tennis career afforded me the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives and it was truly special to share this exciting moment with the students of Agassi Prep.” Further inductees will be named at a later date.

Schiavone wins marathon tie:

Italian Francesca Schiavone overcame the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 in the longest ever women’s match at a Grand Slam. The mammoth encounter lasted four hours and 44 minutes which beat the previous record of four hours and 19 minutes set by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Regina Kulikova at Melbourne Park last year. “It is a fantastic moment for me,” said sixth seed Schiavone of her round of 16 victory. “It is one of the most emotional moments of my life. I just told myself to keep going, do it with the heart and go for it. When you’re in a situation like this, every point is like a match point. You have to keep going. You know that physically you’re tired. Mentally just keep going.” Two-time Aussie Open quarterfinalist Kuznetsova said that it got to the point where she didn’t know what the score was anymore or who was meant to be serving.

Wozniacki Lies to Hopping Mad Journalists:

World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was forced to apologise to journalists after lying about how she obtained a large scratch on her shin following her fourth round victory over Anastasija Sevastova. She told journalists that a baby kangaroo had lashed out at her while walking through a park rather than that she had slipped on her treadmill because “the story sounded better.” Several news organisations then led with the story. “I’m sorry,” the 20-year-old told reporters, including Bloomberg. “I really didn’t mean to. I promise if I make a joke like this, I’ll make sure to clarify it before I leave. I didn’t think that it was going to spin this way. I heard that to get the story pulled back again was quite a bit of work. So I just thought I would come back and apologize.” This came three days after the Dane had rattled off a series of elaborate answers to what she called “predictable questions” when she heard that some journalists found her media appearances boring. The full kangaroo transcript can be read on The Ticker at

Dolgopolov At Home with the Stars:

He may have been bettered by world No. 5 Andy Murray in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal but nothing should be forgotten about Alexander Dolgopolov’s mesmerising five set thriller with the Swedish star Robin Soderling in the previous round. The match lasted only two hours and 46 minutes despite going the distance and Dolgopolov was understandably delighted with his performance. “The first set I was struggling, and a break down in the second,” he said after the match. “I came back somehow and started to play better and better with every set. I’m really happy I’m through to the quarter-final. But [it] is going to be like a completely different match. I need to forget about this match and go into the next round. I mean, it’s a good run, and you can make it even better.” The Ukrainian, who says his ambition is to be world No. 1, also revealed an interesting upbringing that has helped ground him on the professional circuit. His father, Oleksandr, is a former pro who has also coached the French Open finalist Andrei Medvedev. Whilst travelling around with his dad he often mixed with the pros and regularly mixed with the likes of Thomas Muster and Marc Rosset. “I met pretty much all the players,” he recalled. “When there’s a kid on tour, all the players try to play with him. I had a nice time.”

Multi-Lingual Federer in it for the Long Haul:

Roger Federer is well known as an accommodating star that always has time for talking to the media. Just as well really, for the 16-time Grand Slam Champion has to participate in press conferences to accommodate journalists fluent in only one of the four languages he speaks. That means when he is finished in English he has to repeat the same press conference again in Swiss, German and then French. Federer joked after his victory over compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka: “Sometimes I wish I never told anybody I learned French.” He then added that he was proud to have learnt another language which lets him connect to different people. He said it’s all part of “what I have to do in the tennis world.” He went on to say: “…it comes at a cost, sure, but I don’t mind it. I try to have fun with it. I have almost, I don’t want to say characters, but I have different humour in all the different languages, which is kind of fun for me, too. Getting to know myself through different languages is actually quite interesting for me.”

Clijsters Ticks Off Woodbridge:

It was all in jest but there was no denying the uncomfortable stance of Aussie legend Todd Woodbridge as Kim Clijsters’ chided the former doubles star on-court for texting a fellow pro stating he believed her to be pregnant with child number two. For the full extent of Todd’s embarrassment, check out the video over at the Los Angeles Times website.

Nole Need for Warning:

Novak Djokovic says he didn’t deserve the coaching violation he received during his fourth round victory over Nicolas Almagro as he believes it was just a knee-jerk reaction from his frustrated coach over a missed forehand. “I missed a forehand and then I turn to my coach—you always make as a player an eye contact with your team,” Djokovic told ESPN. “There was not any intention of me asking for advice from my coach. Okay, maybe he did show me some signals of how I should hit my forehand—it was more out of frustration. Maybe the umpire was right to give me a code violation for that but I think it was wrong because he should have told me, he should have given me a pre-warning…’Listen, your coach is giving you signals that he shouldn’t do, it’s against the rules.’ I would say, ‘Yeah, sure, next time he does it you give me a warning. But not right away, it wasn’t the right time.”

Zvonereva Blocks Out Home Troubles:

It may have seemed a million miles away from sunny Melbourne but the suspected suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport last weekend would undoubtedly been a cause of concern for the Russian stars competing at the Aussie Open. No. 2 seed Vera Zvonereva sported a black ribbon in memory of those killed in the attacks during her quarterfinal victory over Petra Kvitova and was asked how she was coping.  “You’re calling back home and making sure everyone is okay, the people that you know. You know, I just tried to put it away. It happened. It is terrible. But, you know, you try to move on.”

Another Record for R-Fed:

The 2011 Aussie Open has seen Roger Federer draw level with Jimmy Connors’ record of reaching 27-straight Grand Slam quaterfinals. The 16-time Grand Slam Champion will probably not have very high odds on him making that record his own, injury permitting, at Roland Garros later this year.

Playing Through the Pain:

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco has announced that he played his entire Aussie Open campaign with a fractured bone in his ankle. He said he plans to speak to his doctor about whether: “…to keep playing or stop to take time off for the bone.” He also said that surgery is “the last option.”

New Direction for Dinara:

Fallen Russian star Dinara Safina has parted with her coach Gaston Etlis following her humiliation at the hands of Kim Clijsters in Melbourne. “[F]ollowing the Australian Open, my coach and I mutually decided to part ways,” the 24-year-old wrote on her official website. “I will keep you posted when I decide on a new coach.”

King for a Day:

Vania King has been named as Venus Williams’ replacement for the USA’s upcoming Fed Cup quarterfinal against Belgium. Captain Mary Jo Fernandez has named King, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Melanie Oudin and Liezel Huber as her team.

Acasuso Is In:

Organisers of the Copa Claro have announced that the Argentine Jose Acasuso has received the first wildcard in to the tournament to be held at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club between February 12-20. The 28-year-old is a two-time finalist having lost to Gustavo Kuertan in 2001 and David Nalbandian in 2008. It will be his first tournament in a year having been suffering with a left knee injury since the 2010 Movistar Open in Chile.

Is Venus A Fading Star?:

Stephanie Myles of Postmedia News has written a very interesting article about whether Venus still has the dominating presence she so-thrived on for much of her career when she dominated the sport with younger sister Serena. While Serena is still a vastly feared opponent Venus’ increasingly injury-threatened calendar has seen her play less and less over recent years, having not played at all since September before the Open. It can be viewed over at the Montreal Gazette website. Alternatively, head over to the Fox Sports site for Matt Cronin’s view on the subject.

Rafa Limps on in GOAT Race:

It was such a sad sight to see Rafa Nadal struggling to play against compatriot David Ferrer in Melbourne. And falling at the quarterfinal stage means he gains himself only 50 points in the race between him and Roger Federer to see who has the better year. With R-Fed still going in the semis he is yet to score and is all set to move further ahead of his rival in next week’s column.

Roger: 230 Rafa: 130

Wimbledon Survivors Recognized in New “Bud Collins History of Tennis” Book

NEW YORK – Bud Collins, the man who many call the walking encyclopedia of tennis, has released a second edition of his famous tennis encyclopedia and record book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.

The 816-page second-edition volume – the most authoritative compilation of records, biographies and information on the sport of tennis – is dedicated to John Isner, Nicolas Mahut and chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, the three “survivors” from the record-breaking longest match of all-time at 2010 Wimbledon, won by Isner 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68 in 11 hours, five minutes, featuring a record 113 aces from Isner.

“Has the Isner – Mahut match ended yet? You can find out in this book!” quipped Collins.

Collins, the Hall of Fame tennis journalist, broadcaster and personality, is the longtime columnist for the Boston Globe and a 1994 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. He is covering the U.S. Championships for a 56th time in 2010. He will be signing books at the US Open Bookstore during the duration of the 2010 US Open. Readers can also order the book HERE:

THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press) is the ultimate compilation of historical tennis information, including year-by-year recaps of every tennis season, biographical sketches of every major tennis personality, as well as stats, records, and championship rolls for all the major events. The author’s personal relationships with major tennis stars offer insights into the world of professional tennis found nowhere else.

Among those endorsing THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS include the two women who hold the Wimbledon record for most total titles – Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King – who both won 20 Wimbledon titles in their careers. Said Navratilova, “If you know nothing about tennis, this book is for you. And if you know everything about tennis—Hah!—Bud knows more, so this book is for you too!” Said King, “We can’t move forward if we don’t understand and appreciate our past. This book not only provides us with accurate reporting of the rich tennis history, it keeps us current on the progress of the sport today.” Also endorsing the book is author, commentator and Sports Illustrated contributor Frank Deford, who stated,“No tennis encyclopedia could be written by anyone but Bud Collins because Bud Collins is the walking tennis encyclopedia—the game’s barefoot professor. The only thing missing about the sport from his new edition is a section about Bud himself. But everything else is there—and it’s easy to open and use for the whole family.” Said Dick Enberg of CBS Sports and ESPN, “Did you ever see an encyclopedia walking? That’s Bud Collins (who sometimes runs, too). Plunge into his book and swim joyfully through the history of tennis. It’s all here.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of “The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection” ( by Rene Stauffer, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey with Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes and Petr Kolar, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda, “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook” by Eric Rabinowitz and “Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse” by Jack McDermott, among others. More information can be found at

French Davis Cup Celebrations, New ITHF inductees and Serena to Miss WTT Season

*French Davis Cup captain Guy Forget was full of praise for his players following their shock win over Spain in the Davis Cup quaterfinals last weekend. Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau defeated Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez in the doubles rubber to give France an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie. The win is the country’s first victory over Spain since 1923. “It’s magical,” he told France 3 television. “They pulled for each other. I hope it’s just the start of a long story for that squad. They were just great and I hope they will play with the same faith in September.” You can see the full interview and Davis Cup roundup at the BBC Tennis website.

*The 2010 Induction Ceremony took place at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum during the finals weekend of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships and inductees Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, the notorious ‘Woodies,’ have been speaking of their delight at the honour of entering the prestigious Hall of Fame. “This is an amazing day for the Woodies,” said Woodforde, during the rain-swept ceremony. “I don’t know if any of us said we’re just going to be doubles players. We just excelled on the doubles court a little more than we did on the singles. As much as we would have loved to win more in the singles titles, we did in doubles.” The pair amassed an incredible 11 major doubles Championships and 61 doubles titles in all, a record only equaled by the Bryan brothers recently, with a lifetime record of 508-137. “I think we won our fourth tournament we played together,” added Woodbridge. “It was close on average to every fourth tournament we won the next 10 years. That’s pretty good business. I figured if I could team up with Mark we’d do well together. We did better than well, we did bloody great.”

*On the women’s side of the game, the legendary doubles team of Gigi Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva were also inducted this weekend. They won 14 doubles Grand Slams together and ended up the year’s best team on four occasions (1993-95, 1997). “I don’t think as an athlete you ever make that a goal, it just sort of happens,” beamed Fernandez. “It’s a proud moment for me and my family and it’s also a proud moment for 4 million Puerto Ricans that are proud to have Puerto Rico represented in the Tennis Hall of Fame.”

*There is little movement in the Top 50 this week in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings but Mardy Fish’s first grass tournament win in Newport has seen him leap 30 places to No. 49 in the world. Recent good performances for The Czech Jan Hajek (11 places, No. 83), Argentine Brian Dabul (14, No. 91) and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain (16, No. 94) have seen them all rise considerably. Britain’s Richard Bloomfield jumped 260 spots to No. 292 in the world following his Newport finals appearance.

*In the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings Venus Williams reclaims the No. 3 slot from Caroline Wozniacki while Arevane Rezai enters the Top 20 following her win in Bastad last week. Spain’s Arantxa Parra Santonja jumps from No. 52 to No. 46 and Simona Halep (Romania, No. 96) and Pauline Parmentier (France, No. 97) enter the Top 100.

*Serena Williams is set to miss the entire World Team Tennis season with a foot injury, reports the Washington Post. She was meant to team up with sister Venus for the Washington Kastles this year but the injury has put paid to those plans. “I’m very disappointed that I won’t be able to play in the WTT matches this season,” Williams said in an official statement. “It is always such a fun experience and I love interacting with the fans in the cities that I don’t often have the opportunity to play in during the rest of the year.”

*Briton Richard Bloomfield is the latest pro to blast the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) following his incredible run to the semifinals of last week’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, RI. The 27-year-old has jumped 260 places to 292 in the world and was quick to criticise Britain’s governing body for their lack of support afterwards. “I think it needs a real shake-up,” he said before revealing the only contact he’d had from the LTA following his run was from current Davis Cup captain Leon Smith. “I got a text off Leon and that was about it. Leon is Davis Cup captain so he’s obliged to do stuff like that.” He also went on to slam the current funding policy from the LTA: “They keep on changing it,” he said. “Just have a good solid system where everybody knows if you win this tournament you get a certain amount, if you don’t then you don’t get anything. Then you know where you stand, whereas at the moment it’s a little bit up and down what you get.”

*British Davis Cup captain Leon Smith praised the spirit of his young team after their 5-0 whitewash of Turkey saved them from relegation to the bottom tier of Davis Cup play. He was also quick to reinforce the point that world No. 4 Andy Murray was welcome to return to Davis Cup play whenever he so wishes. “When he wants to come back of course we’ll love that because he’s one of the world’s best players and any team would love to have Andy Murray in it,” he said. “We’re all friends with [him], we’ve all got close relationships with him, and that positivity is something that we enjoy.”

*Czech female star Iveta Benesova spoke of her relief following her first win in two months in her home tournament the ECM Prague Open this week. The No. 68 in the world was not long ago her country’s leading lady but since winning her second WTA title at Fes in May she has won only two matches. “I am happy to win like this,” said Benesova. “It wasn’t a simple match, I really had to fight. I know I have talent but I need to work harder. I want to be ranked in the 20s again.” You can see how the rest of the Czech hopefuls got on at the WTA site.

*French newspaper L’Equipe is reporting that Richard Gasquet will return from his current back/rib injury at Gstaad in two weeks’ time.

*Sweden may continue their trend of bringing former stars out of retirement for Davis Cup play if current injuries and losses of form continue. This time Thomas Johansson is the former player talking of a cameo. “It’s tempting, but I don’t know if my body can go five sets,” he said. “[But I am] training hard.”

*Spaniard Rafa Nadal was left in floods of tears following his country’s victory over The Netherlands in Sunday’s FIFA World Cup Final and even led the celebrations alongside the Spanish team and the Spanish Royal Family on the team’s return to Madrid. Nadal had been at the match in South Africa and in the changing room after the game even took his trademark “bite” out of the golden trophy. “I cried like a baby,” he told Spanish newspaper Marca. “We have to celebrate for a whole year, because this is unbelievable. It is very difficult to repeat this.”

Blooming in to Life Once Again

All we have been hearing over recent months is negativity surrounding British tennis.

Tales of rotten apples in the barrel, failed youngsters, squandered millions and a country lost in a downward spiral of tennis faux pas which shows no signs of halting but for the increasingly confident performances of lone star Andy Murray.

Yet this week at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, a name nobody but the staunchest statisticians of British tennis will have been following is making a name for himself in the heat and humidity of east-coast America.

Current world No. 557 Richard Bloomfield will today (Friday) face young American Ryan Harrison in the last quarterfinal with the opportunity to face either American number 5 seed Mardy Fish (remember him from Queens?) or the Canadian Frank Dancevic in the semifinals.

Hang on, a Brit in the semifinals of a tournament other than Andy Murray? Continual sob-story Alex Bogdanovic failed to reach even the main draw here, going down in the final round of qualifying. So just who is this guy?

Richard Bloomfield was born April 27, 1983 in the small village of Alpington, just outside the beautiful Norfolk city of Norwich. He won the British Junior Tennis Championships in 2001, defeating that man Bogdanovic in the final, and picked up the equivalent title in doubles with Ken Skupski, now one half of the promising Flemski partnership alongside Colin Fleming.

He began playing on the senior tour that year and his first full ATP Tournament was the 2003 Wimbledon Championships where he gained a wildcard before losing to Anthony Dupuis in the first round.

In 2006 he reached round two of Wimbledon with a win over Carlos Berlocq which was investigated by authorities over strange betting patterns but no wrong-doing was ever discovered. That year he also reached the semifinals of the ATP Challenger Event at Rennes where he lost to rising French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

2007 saw him reach his first ATP Challenger final in Wrexham, Wales, where he lost to Michal Prysiezny which saw him rise to a career-high 176 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. He then partnered Jonathan Marray to the third round of the 2007 Wimbledon doubles Championships.

His ranking fell considerably over the next couple of years until he qualified for the 2009 Open 13 where he agonisingly lost 6-7, 6-7 to the Italian Simon Bolelli in the first round. Back injuries hampered him and his ranking fell further but then he surprisingly qualified for this year’s Hall of Fame Championships where he is beginning to make a name for himself again.

In reaching the quaterfinals he has recorded his first wins on the ATP Tour since that 2006 Wimbledon Championships and at 27 this will be a welcome boost for a man whose confidence must have been looking at rock bottom.

And hasn’t he done well. He is yet to drop a set. A 7-6 (1), 6-1 first-round win over Belgian Christophe Rochus, brother of Olivier, set up a second-round clash with second seed and world No. 56 Santiago Giraldo which nobody would have expected him to come out of. But this might just be his week. He won 6-3, 7-6 (5) and now marches in to this quarterfinal with Harrison with a renewed vigour and swagger he won’t have been feeling for a long while.

It is high time we had something positive to shout about for Britain and it’s always great to see somebody who looked down and out have a moment in the sun (literally as the temperature gauges out there are showing). If he overcomes Harrison and then Fish/Dancevic then he will be in his first final since 2007, and his first ever on the full ATP Tour. There either Olivier Rochus will be looking to avenge the slaying of his brother Christophe or Argentine Brian Dabul will be looking to put his own name up in lights.

So march on Richard, your country is firmly behind you!