Internazionali di Bergamo

Mondays With Bob Greene: Perhaps Tennis

STARS

Marion Bartoli beat Li Na 6-4 6-3 to win the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico

Lukas Rosol beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 4-6 7-6 (3) to win the Internazionali di Bergamo in Bergamo, Italy

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina beat Netherlands 5-0 at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Czech Republic beat France 3-2 at Ostrava, Czech Republic

United States beat. Switzerland 4-1 at Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Croatia beat Chile 5-0 at Porec, Croatia

Israel beat Sweden 3-2 at Malmo, Sweden

Russia beat Romania 4-1 at Sibiu, Romania

Germany beat Austria 3-2 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Spain beat Serbia 4-1 at Benidorm, Spain

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Colombia beat Uruguay 5-0, Ecuador beat Canada 3-2

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Mexico beat Jamaica 5-0, Venezuela beat Netherlands Antilles 4-1, Dominican Republic beat Guatemala 5-0, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia beat Thailand 3-2, India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2, Japan beat China 5-0, Uzbekistan beat Korea 4-1

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines beat Hong Kong China 4-1, Pakistan beat Oman 4-1, Indonesia beat Kuwait 3-2, New Zealand beat Malaysia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

South Africa beat Macedonia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Italy beat Slovak Republic 4-1, Ukraine beat Great Britain 4-1, Belgium beat Poland 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Lithuania beat Georgia 3-2, Slovenia beat Egypt 5-0, Latvia beat Moldova 5-0, Bulgaria beat Hungary 3-2, Finland beat Denmark 3-2, Monaco beat Montenegro 5-0, Ireland beat Algeria 4-1, Cyprus beat Portugal 3-2

SAYING

“Perhaps tennis.” – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested after telling Barack Obama he couldn’t compete with the American president in basketball. “I hear you’ve got a game,” Obama replied.

“I want to play the best possible but it couldn’t be today. I couldn’t break his rhythm on this surface.” – Novak Djokovic, playing on clay for the first time since Roland Garros and losing to David Ferrer in the opening Davis Cup match between Serbia and Spain.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I think it maybe can open the door for other countries to make a stupid decision like this one. I think it’s going to be very bad to play without a crowd.” – Israel’s Andy Ram, about the decision to play the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie in an empty stadium.

“We are here to play tennis. We are not here to talk about politics or to talk about terror.” -Harel Levy, another member of Israel’s four-man Davis Cup team.

“When you play Davis Cup on home turf you want a full house, and we think it’s too bad that there won’t be.” – Thomas Johansson, Swedish Davis Cupper.

“Yesterday’s doubles poured a lot of power and confidence into my veins.” – Radek Stepanek, who beat Gilles Simon to clinch the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup victory over France.

“It’s probably the worst experience of my life right now ever playing a tennis match. I had two match points in the tiebreak, I had the match in my hands. I wanted to win so badly and that’s why it hurts so much.” – Frank Dancevic, who could have given Canada a victory over Ecuador if he had won.

“Billie Jean King has done so much for the game. She’s really a true legend in the sport. I think this is a really great tribute to her.” – Jelena Jankovic, who participated in a four-player “Tennis Night in America” exhibition in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Following the attack in Pakistan on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) canceled a junior tennis tournament scheduled for this month in Karachi, Pakistan. Most of the players signed up for the amateur tournament were between the ages of 13 and 18 and came from Pakistan, but others were from the region, including Thailand, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Luca Santilli, the ITF manager of junior tennis, said the attack that killed six police officers and injured seven Sri Lankan players was not the only factor in postponing the tournament.

STADIUM SLAMMERS

Police fought with demonstrators outside the stadium where the Sweden and Israel were playing Davis Cup. Dozens of anti-Israeli protestors tried to storm the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall in Malmo, Sweden, after about 7,000 people gathered at a downtown square to hear speeches condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. The players found out about the melee after Sweden’s Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt beat Israel’s Andy Ram and Amir Hadad. Ram, who earlier in the week called the decision by Malmo officials to bar the public from the Davis Cup competition “stupid,” praised police after the demonstration. “We knew there were going to be a few thousand people screaming out there,” Ram said. “Inside here we didn’t feel anything. The police did a good job.” Israel advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. It was the second time a Davis Cup series was played without fans in Sweden. In 1975, two years after a military coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet, Sweden played Chile in an empty stadium in Bastad.

STRONG WINDS

Defending champion Spain’s first-round World Group Davis Cup tie against Serbia was pushed back a day because of strong winds that damaged the stadium in Benidorm, Spain. Gusts up to 60 miles per hour (90 kph) blew off some of the rows of the stands and affected the stability of the 16,000-seat temporary stadium, according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) referee Soren Frienel. When the winds died down, it was Spain that roared, beating Serbia 4-1.

SHAHAR AFTERMATH

Organizers of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships say they will appeal the USD $300,000 fine imposed on them by the WTA Tour after Israeli Shahar Peer was barred from playing in the women’s tournament. Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the tournament sponsors, say they are will challenge the WTA Tour’s threat to withdraw the sanction of the tournament if all players are not allowed entry into the United Arab Emigrates in the future. Colm McLoughlin, managing director of DDF, said that despite the differences, “In my opinion there is no danger that the tournament will be pulled.”

SECOND TO NICKY

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes won their doubles match against Chinese Taipei, defeating Yang Tsung-Hua and Yi Chu-Huan 6-4 7-6 (0) 6-7 (2) 6-2. It was the Indian duo’s 23rd consecutive doubles victory in Davis Cup play, extending their record streak. Paes has posted 36 doubles victories, second in Davis Cup history only to Nicola “Nicky” Pietrangeli of Italy, who was on the winning doubles team 42 times.

STANDING TALL

When twins Bob and Mike Bryan beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Yves Allegro, they became the winningest United States Davis Cup team in history, increasing their record to 15-2. The pair moved past the pairings of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who finished with a 14-1 mark, as well as Wilmer Allison and John Van Ryn who posted a 14-2 record by the time they played their last Davis Cup matches in 1936. “We’re just plugging away,” Bob Bryan said. “I truly didn’t know that we were playing for the record at all. It’s great to look at when you retire. When you’re in the heat of the moment, still in the battle, you just want to keep trying to get better and look for ways to improve.”

STAR POWER

Women’s tennis returned to New York’s Madison Square Garden after a nine-year absence with what is turning into the usual suspects in a title match: Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus 6-4 6-3 after both won one-set matches against Serbia’s top two players, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Venus and Serena have won the last three Grand Slam tournament titles between them. The crowd of 12,026 was clearly on hand to see the Williams sisters, and many of the fans filed out after Serena won the first set of the championship. Before the final, former President Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan and race car driver Janet Guthrie participated in a tribute to Billie Jean King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973. “She has probably done more than any other woman in the world to empower women and educate men,” Clinton said.

SAVING MONEY

In a measure to battle the effects of the global economic crisis, the ATP is returning around USD $3 million in fees to tournaments around the world. “In these difficult times the ATP has decided to give the tournaments a reduction in tournament fees to help them financially,” a spokesman for the ATP said. The spokesman said the fee reductions would come from ATP resources and would not affect the prize money awarded by the tournaments. A spokesman for the WTA said the women’s tour would not be making similar reductions as it was in a healthy position financially.

SWINGING AWAY

Andre Agassi is returning to competitive tournament tennis with his old gang. Agassi will participate in the Outback Champions Series event at Surprise, Arizona, in October. The Outback Champions tour is for players 30 years old and older. Agassi, who will soon turn 39, won eight major singles titles before retiring after the 2006 US Open.

SPONSOR FOR DAVIS CUP

Telefonica has become the official telecommunications sponsor of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The multi-year agreement began with last week’s opening round of Davis Cup as eight World Group ties and 26 Zone Group ties were played in 34 nations. The Spanish company will provide telecommunications expertise at Davis Cup ties around the world and advise the ITF and its member nations on new ways to develop their internet properties. “In a world where technology is one of the true growth areas, we are delighted that Telefonica and its brands have joined Davis Cup,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

STUNNED

Anna Kournikova says her recent trip to Haiti was “completely and devastatingly humbling.” Kournikova went to Haiti as part of an awareness-raising mission organized by PSI, a leading global health organization. “What shocked me about Haiti, where 70 percent of the population lives on less than (USD) $2 a day, was just the complete lack of basic human needs, and the amazing amount of disease and sickness that is so prevalent with the population,” Kournikova wrote in her blog. “It was so difficult to see those conditions with my own eyes.”

SUPPORTING A CAUSE

Several top players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have pitched in to help raise funds to rebuild areas in Australia that were affected by the recent bush fires. Players from around the world have sent messages of support and donated signed equipment, clothing and money toward aiding the fund-raising. Australian tennis stars Casey Dellacqua, Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs were joined by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Ai Sugiyama and Serena Williams, all of whom donated items that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Tennis Bushfire Relief Appeal. “Tennis is part and parcel of community life throughout Australia and the sport has a role to play in aiding the recovery of these fire-ravaged communities,” Geoff Pollard, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) vice president and president of Tennis Australia, and Tennis Victoria President David Stobart said in a statement.

SHARAPOVA RETURNS?

Maria Sharapova will play doubles only at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, according to TennisReporters.net. The web site says Sharapova’s right shoulder still gets fatigued after playing two-out-of-three-set matches for several days in a row and her doctors don’t think it’s a good idea for her to play singles in the next two weeks. The three-time Grand Slam tournament champion hasn’t played since the Canadian Open last August and underwent shoulder surgery in October. She hasn’t played doubles since 2005. At Indian Wells, she will play with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina.

SERGEI’S THE MAN

The name was familiar when Ukraine’s Davis Cup doubles team bested Great Britain. But Sergei Bubka Jr. decided not to following in his father’s footsteps and instead he took up tennis. The younger Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-4 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 and Ukraine went on to down Great Britain 4-1 in their Europe/Africa Group 1 zonal tie. The elder Bubka was a pole-vaulting great, won an Olympic gold medal and set world records almost every time he competed. But his 22-year-old son has played most of his tennis on the Challenger level and is ranked 269th in the world.

STILL LISTED

Lindsay Davenport is having a bit of problem getting rid of her house in the prestigious Emerald Bay neighborhood in Laguna Beach, California. The tennis star was asking USD $6,395,000 for her home, but the listing expired without any takers. The five-bedroom house was on the market for 183 days.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Monterrey: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Iveta Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova 6-3 6-4

Bergamo: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Chris Haggard and Pavel Vizner 7-6 (6) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

Rio Champions Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico