*Patrick McEnroe will step down as US Davis Cup Captain later this month after a decade in the hotseat. With the US facing an important playoff against Columbia to stay in the top tier of the competition this will not help the players with their preparations. “It’s with a heavy heart I’m resigning as Davis Cup captain,” said McEnroe. “But it’s a decision I felt was best. Davis Cup is a significant time commitment and this decision will allow me to focus more energy on my family and to the US Tennis Association’s player development programme.” McEnroe captained the US to Davis Cup victory in 2007 but things have not gone so smoothly recently. Four-time Grand Slam winner Jim Courier has already voiced interest in taking over the role.
*The Davis Cup team selections for this month’s matchups have been announced. Play will take place between September 17-19 in the World Group semifinals where France take on Argentina and Serbia face the Czech Republic. Gael Monfils will be France’s main dangerman with injury robbing them of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and he will be backed up by Richard Gasquet, Michael Llodra and Gilles Simon. Argentina will be relying on Juan Monaco, the in-form David Nalbandian and doubles outfit Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos for victory. In the other big semifinal, Novak Djokovic will lead the Serbian charge with the help of Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic. Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Jan Hajek and Ivo Minar will play for the Czech Republic. The squads for the World Group Playoff matches have also been named and they can be viewed at the ITF website.
*The wind has been rustling some feathers at Flushing Meadows this week and the players have been waxing lyrical about the conditions in their post match interviews. “The talent to play in the wind, I don’t have yet,” bemoaned Gael Monfils after Novak Djokovic (with Aeolus and Njord) blasted him away on Ashe. “He can play really well in the wind,” said Robin Soderling of his conqueror Roger Federer. “He moves well. He’s always in the right place.” Just like in all other conditions then. But R-Fed was a bit more blasé about the whole wind situation. “I’ve been practicing my serve a whole lot, for my whole career,” the five-time US Open Champ said. “If I can’t serve in the wind, I’ve got a problem, you know?” But not everybody was looking for excuses. After crashing out to Vera Zvonereva Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi was looking closer to home: “I can’t blame the wind for everything, I didn’t play well,” said the world No. 32.
*Venus Williams’ run at this year’s Open has seen her edge towards yet another record. She has now appeared in ten US Open quaterfinals which ties her with Lindsay Davenport at fourth on the all-time leaders list. The top three are Chris Evert (19), Martina Navratilova (14) and Steffi Graf (12). Unfortunately age is very much against her efforts to surpass the likes of Navratilova and Evert.
*Stanislas Wawrinka’s coach Peter Lundgren has expressed his delight at his new protégé reaching his first Grand Slam quarter final this week in NY. The former Roger Federer and Marat Safin coach told Tages Anzeiger following the Murray win: “When you work with someone and he implements what you tell him and gets results right away, it’s a wonderful feeling. He is much more aggressive, serving better… Before he played too far back. There he’s also strong and defends well, but you won’t win any matches against top players.”
*Marcos Baghdatis has quit Davis Cup play with Cyprus to concentrate on regaining his place in the Top 10 singles rankings. He has starred for his country almost single handed for a long stretch, winning 54 of his 67 matches. Injuries have destroyed the last few years of his career after reaching No. 8 in 2006 but he has returned to the top 20 this year.
*Andy Murray doesn’t seem too confident right now about winning a Grand Slam. Following his US Open fourth round exit to Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka a despondent Murray said: “I have no idea of whether I’ll win a Grand Slam or not. You know, I want to but if I never win one, then what? If I give 100%, try my best, physically work as hard as I can, practice as much as I can, then that’s all I can do.” The 23-year-old gives a candid and honest assessment of his match which can be seen in full here.
*The American men have been attacking tournament organisers in force at the US Open as they believe not enough of them are placed on Ashe Stadium. They believe the big-name foreign stars are preferred to home-grown talent. “I haven’t played on that court in two years. Man, is it different from playing on Louis Armstrong and Grandstand,” said Mardy Fish. “There’s not hardly any wind outside, and it’s windy in there, really windy. For him [Novak Djokovic, Fish’s conquerer] to play every match in there and sort of get used to that, I think certainly helped him. Doesn’t mean that if I play [Arnaud] Clement out there that I win today by any means,” added Fish, who was bested in straight sets by Djokovic after a five-setter in round three against the Frenchman Clement. “But it took me a while to get used to it.” After losing in the third round to Mikhail Youzhny, John Isner added: “I didn’t hit a ball on that court, no practice or anything prior to this match. Same with my opponent, Mikhail,” said Isner. “But without a doubt, had I been a little bit more comfortable on that court it probably would have helped, but it was the same for both of us. He handled it better.” Then Sam Querrey added to the criticism after losing to Stanislas Wawrinka: “Not a huge fan of the scheduling this week,” Querrey said. “We have a lot of Americans here. None of us play on center court. If you go to the French Open, they have [Richard] Gasquet, [Julien] Benneteau, [Gael] Monfils, they’re on center court every day.” Something for the money men to think about next year if they want a home-grown winner to appease the fans again.
*The world was brought in to perspective by one player this week among the madness that combines to bring us the US Open. Talking about events in his native Pakistan, doubles specialist Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi said ahead of the mixed doubles final: “The only motivation I have for these two weeks is to get these titles for the people back home. I’m trying to send some positive news back home with the floods and everything.” A fitting message.
*Proud dad Srdjan Djokovic has been sporting a t-shirt baring his son’s face this week. But what does Novak think? “I would never wear the shirt. Me, personally, never. My father, I understand… He’s a proud father. What can I say? I’m just happy to see them supporting me. I don’t know where he got this fancy shirt. To be honest, it was somewhere in Belgrade. I cannot say it. He’s my father. If he wants to wear this shirt, he can wear this shirt.”
Caroline Wozniacki beat Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-4 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Fernando Verdasco beat Sam Querrey 6-4 7-6 (6) to win the Pilot Pen men’s singles in New Haven
Tatjana Malek won the EmblemHealth Bronx Open, beating Kristina Barrois 6-1 6-4 in The Bronx, New York, USA
“Now it’s my time. It’s my turn to win some tournaments. I just feel I’ve had a great year. I’m so happy that it’s my name coming up a lot of times now.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after successfully defending her Pilot Pen Tennis women’s singles championship.
“I never got a chance to go back there to defend my title in 2006 because I was injured with my left wrist and then pregnant in 2007. So while this does feel like a new beginning, I am looking forward to walking through those gates again for the first time in four years.” – Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open in her last appearance at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
“I am number three in the world, and the number three in the world should have a chance to win, no?” – Rafael Nadal, on his chances to win the US Open.
“I have to take it as a positive that I will have more time to get ready for the Open. It’s been a really busy summer for me so I’ll just take advantage of these (early losses) and keep training and preparing for the Open.” – Venus Williams, talking about early exits from her last two tournaments.
“I’m recharged. I know I can play and move well and compete with the top players as good as I was, if not better. The US Open is my main goal.” – Jelena Jankovic.
“With every tournament I feel physically I’m getting better and getting a good sense of the court, but it’s still a work in progress. I’d like to forget I was gone for a long time but you have to put things in perspective.” – Maria Sharapova, noting her chances of winning the US Open this year are slim.
“This year I equaled my best result in Australia (last 16), did two rounds better than I ever did at the French (quarterfinals) and got further than I have done at Wimbledon (semifinals). So now the slam is the last thing I need to do. I believe that I can do it.” – Andy Murray, saying he’s one of the favorites to win the US Open.
“Andy’s not under the radar anymore and that’s probably a good thing. Now that the expectations are there I think he’s ready to handle it. He is definitely one of the six guys capable of winning.” – Brad Gilbert, speaking about Andy Roddick.
“One of the important things he has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since (Jimmy) Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it.” – John McEnroe, talking about Roger Federer.
“I’ve never had a normal life, so I don’t know what a normal life means.” – Fabrice Santoro, who, playing in his 20th season on tour, will retire after the US Open.
“I just look to be prepared for the Open. This is my first important thing for me is to just get there and be prepared for a fight.” – Flavia Pennetta.
“I think I’ve learned, especially in the last year, that it’s a lot simpler than I realized, playing professional tennis. There are no secrets. You got to do what you do well and you have to bring that to the table every day.” – Rajeev Ram, who won his first ATP Tour title earlier this summer…
“I don’t think I am going to do anything special because it is my last Grand Slam. I am not planning it. But you never know what can happen. I know I am not going to win, there is no chance. So we will just see.” – Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion who will retire at the end of this year.
“For the next year or so I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. I just want to stay healthy and enjoy my tennis.” – Katarina Srebotnik, whose US Open appearance is her first tournament in 10 months because of injuries.
“She was just playing with me like a pussy cat, one corner to other corner. In the second set I started to be more aggressive and I started serving a lot better.” – Elena Vesnina, after her three-set semifinal win over Amelie Mauresmo in New Haven.
“I elected to go with disaster control and the high powder-puff. Everyone asks did you bounce it. I just threw it over the catcher.” – Andy Roddick, talking about throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game.
“I contemplated things like whether I would be able to accept myself for not being on the level that I was in my teens, twenties, and when I was 25; whether I would be able to accept losing, moreover be able to accept a losing streak. I did spend a lot of time contemplating about this. Yet, after I made my decision to be back on court again and challenge myself, I haven’t really thought about it.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who returned to the WTA Tour after a 12-year retirement.
“It makes for something special. You sit in the players’ lounge and you wait. It doesn’t rain so often here so I don’t think they should change anything.” – Dinara Safina, saying she thinks something might be lost if a roof is installed over Arthur Ashe Stadium and there were no rain delays to sit though.
“I’ve peeked at the draw and seen where some of the qualifying spots are. I’d love to play a Federer or Nadal or a Roddick. We’ll see. I just want to play in there.” – Michael Yani, who at age 28 qualified for his first US Open, pointing at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Twice Andre Agassi closed out the US Open by winning the men’s singles. This year, he is the headliner on opening day, being honored for “giving back.” In 1994, the year he won his first US Open title, Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation, which is dedicated to transforming public education in Las Vegas, Nevada. As part of the Opening Night celebration, the USTA is recognizing the 40th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder as a network of community tennis organizations seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education. Besides Agassi, others honored on opening night include Mia Hamm, David Robinson and Doug Flutie.
Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” will be published in November. The eight-time Grand Slam singles champion writes about his start in tennis, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields.
SAM THE MAN
There could be a USD one million dollar payday in Sam Querrey’s future. By winning the US Open Series, the American has a chance to earn a bonus of between USD $15,000 and $1 million, according to how he finishes in the US Open. Querrey reached the final of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, before falling to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-6 (8).
The US Open wants players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter. Signs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center warn that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules. The signs say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches and warns about using Twitter away from the court, saying information about players, weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event could be determined as the passing of “inside information.” The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.
Because of tropical storm Denney, the semifinals of the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, were moved indoors. After waiting in vain most of Friday for the steady rain to cease, the women’s semis were switched from a 13,000-seat stadium to an indoor college court where only 300 fans were able to be squeezed into the building and leaned over a balcony that overlooked the court or stood on adjacent courts. There, Caroline Wozniacki beat Flavia Pennetta and Elena Vesnina downed Amelie Mauresmo. The men’s semis followed suit Saturday morning, with Sam Querrey stopping Jose Acasuso and Fernando Verdasco defeating Igor Andreev. Both finals were played outdoors late Saturday as the storm finally subsided and the hard courts were dried.
SITTING IT OUT
Dominika Cibulkova won’t be able to match her French Open performance at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The semifinalist at Roland Garros pulled out of the US Open because of a rib injury. Her withdrawal allowed Alberta Brianti of Italy to move into the main draw, while Agnes Szavay becomes the number 32 seeded player.
SORE BUT THERE
Several players are nursing injuries as they begin their US Open run. Marion Bartoli retired from her match at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, because of a left thigh strain. A hand injury forced Agnieszka Radwanska to retire before the third set of her match in New Haven. And Nikolay Davydenko needed a doctor to look at his right wrist midway through his quarterfinal final loss to Sam Querrey in the Pilot Pen men’s singles. Davydenko said his wrist became sore from the force of Querrey’s serves hitting his racquet. Sabine Lisicki, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, will play in the US Open.
India’s Sania Mirza received acupuncture treatment on her right wrist before heading to New York and the US Open. The 22-year-old underwent wrist surgery in April 2008, but the problem flared up again at the Beijing Olympics, forcing her to miss the last year’s US Open. She had reached the semifinals of a challenger event in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she again felt pain in her right wrist. So she flew home to Hyderabad, India, to get treatment. “I’m much better now, but not absolutely pain-free,” she said.
Katarina Srebotnik is making her comeback at the US Open. She was ranked as high as number 20 in the world in singles and number four in doubles, and had posted victories over Serena Williams at Roland Garros and Svetlana Kuznetsova at the US Open a year ago. But pain in her Achilles tendon and a shoulder injury forced her off the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for 10 months. It’s called the luck of the draw, and for Srebotnik it’s bad luck. Her first-round opponent will be 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.
Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic has denied deliberating taking a banned substance. The 25-year-old tested positive for a derivative of the banned stimulant pseudo ephedrine following a Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Argentina in July. “I have never consciously taken a banned substance,” said Minar, who is ranked 66th in the world. “This is why I rejected the accusation of doping in my reaction sent to the ITF.” Minar cited an injury when he withdrew from this year’s US Open.
SERENA, THE AUTHOR
Serena Williams says she is telling all in her autobiography, “Queen of the Court,” which is going on sale during the US Open. Serena says it was important for her to give an honest account of her life because she has not been as open as she should have been since the shooting death of her sister, Yetunde Price. She said that while she told the press injuries kept her from playing, she was also beset by depression because of a delayed reaction to Tunde’s death. Serena says three things got her out of her depression: seeing a therapist, going to Africa where she began a school, and winning the 2007 Australian Open over Maria Sharapova. “It opened up a lot of doors I left closed to the public and to myself,” Serena said of writing the book.
SENSITIVITY COURSE ALUMNI
Brydan Klein promises to be on his best behavior after completing a racial sensitivity course. The former Australian Open junior champion was banned for six months and fined USD $10,000 by the ATP after making a racial slur against a black South African player during a tournament in England in June. The 19-year-old Klein has a history of clashes with officials, having been suspended from the Australian Institute of Sport for repeated on-court misbehavior. Ranked 223rd in the world, Klein said he has apologized to fellow player Raven Klaasen for the slur. He also said he cannot afford to slip up again. “I’m definitely on my last warning,” he said. “This has been a step back for me and it hasn’t been a nice experience.”
John McEnroe has always been a big man in New York City, but this is ridiculous. A 100-foot high by 35-foot wide (30.48m by 15.24m) banner of McEnroe hangs on the side of Madison Square Garden promoting prostate cancer screening guidelines. McEnroe’s father was diagnosed with the illness in 2006 but is now doing well. Now 50 years old, the younger McEnroe says he knows many men his age are reluctant to get screened for cancer for the same reason they don’t like to ask for directions: they may view it as a sign of weakness.
Billie Jean King and actor Alec Baldwin will be the spokespeople for the expanded environmental initiatives at the National Tennis Center named in her honor. The two will join the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in encouraging US Open fans and others to help preserve the environment. Expanded 2009 initiatives will include a site-wide recycling effort placing more than 500 recycling receptacles across the 42 acres of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There also will be on sale an exclusive organic t-shirt designed by two-time US Open champion Venus Williams.
Venus Williams has been named to the first Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine. Selecting “20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts,” the magazine picked Venus Williams as “The Power of Female Strength.” Noting her Grand Slam and Olympics medals as well as her voice in the lobbying effort to win equal prize money for female players, the magazine said: “Both on and off the court, Venus Williams embodies a perfect marriage of power and grace. In the singular artistry of her play, we see that beauty and brawn aren’t mutually exclusive.”
The US Open logo – a flaming tennis ball – accounts for about 42 percent of all sales at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Sarah Cummins, the USTA’s managing director for merchandising, told Bloomberg News that clothing, hats and other gear bearing the US Open logo brought in almost USD $14 million during the two-week tournament last year.
When James Blake debuts his new Fila line of clothes at the US Open, he will be thinking about his father. The logo on Blake’s new clothing is “TR,” and the line is called Thomas Reynolds, the first and middle names of his late father, who died in 2004. Fila will help capture the lessons instilled in James by his father through print ads and through hang tags on the line. While Blake will be wearing the clothes on a tennis court, there are plans for the Thomas Reynolds brand to be on golf, fitness and leisurewear as well. “I wanted to be part of something that wouldn’t necessarily have to always be tied to me and be more about the spirit that father embodied,” Blake said.
Following her third hip surgery, Jamea Jackson is retiring from the women’s tour and will become assistant tennis coach at Oklahoma State University. The 22-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, will also be a student at OSU. Jackson was a member of the United States Fed Cup team.
STANDING FOR OFFICE
John Alexander’s new game is politics. The former tennis player and commentator has joined the Liberal Party and is running for a seat in the Australian parliament. Alexander is an advocate for preventive health and believes the decline of public tennis courts and other facilities in Australia has contributed to childhood obesity and health problems. He said he joined the Liberal Party at the invitation of a friend, who told him he would be more effective in securing change by trying to be part of a government. Ranked as high as eighth in the world, Alexander was the youngest player to represent Australia in Davis Cup. He played Davis Cup from 1968 to 1980 and has been captain of Australia’s Fed Cup team.
The US National Championships, known since 1968 as the US Open Tennis Championships, is the second oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments and is the only one to have been played each year since its inception in 1881. This is the 129th version of America’s premier tennis event and has been played on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard court. The tournament has been held on hard court at Flushing Meadows since moving from Forest Hills in 1978. The only major sporting event in the United States older than the US Open is the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875.
New Haven (men): Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 6-4 7-6 (3)
New Haven (women): Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Iveta Benesova and Lucie Hradecka 6-2 7-5
The Bronx: Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Vania King beat Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-0, 6-3
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
Kim Clijsters: www.kimclijsters.be/
Roger Federer: www.rogerfederer.com/en/index.cfm
Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com/nada/en/home
Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com/
Venus Williams: www.venuswilliams.com/
Andy Roddick: www.andyroddick.com
Andre Agassi Foundation: www.agassiopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA
US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
US Open (second week), New York, New York, USA, hard
$120,000 Genoa Open Challenger, Genoa, Italy, clay
Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-5 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Elena Dementieva beat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada
Pat Cash successfully defended his International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup singles title, defeating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA
“It’s been a wonderful summer.” – Roger Federer, winning his first tournament title after the birth of his twin daughters.
“The closest I was going to get to the first-place trophy is now.” – Novak Djokovic, while standing five feet (1.5m) from the crystal bowl that Roger Federer collected by winning the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.
“I returned poorly and served poorly. Against Roger, if you do both of those things, it’s going to be very difficult.” – Andy Murray, after his semifinal loss to Roger Federer in Cincinnati.
“It’s only a number. I hope to be ready in the future to come back to number two or to be in the top position. Number three is a very good number, too.” – Rafael Nadal, who is now ranked number three in the world.
“When you have so many important points and every point is so tough, you have to give 100 percent. It really kills your brain more than physical.” – Alisa Kleybanova, after outlasting Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (6) 7-6 (7) 6-2 in Toronto.
“It’s tough to think about the winner’s circle because you have to take it one match at a time.” – Maria Sharapova, who has returned to the WTA Tour following a nine-month layoff.
“It’s big because it was against Venus.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, after upsetting Venus Williams in an opening round match at Toronto.
“It’s my brain. I know exactly what I have to do, but if I’m not using my brain, I’m not doing the things my coach is telling me.” – Dinara Safina, after losing her second-round match at Toronto.
“It’s difficult to push yourself to play relaxed, even though you know this is the end. But still, you are a player deep inside, so it comes out in important moments, and you want to win no matter what.” – Marat Safin, after winning his first-round match in Cincinnati.
“I’m actually having a competition with myself to see how many errors and double-faults I can make and still win the match in two sets.” – Maria Sharapova, after winning her second-round match in Toronto.
“I’ve already missed a Masters’ event this year when I got married, so I guess that wasn’t an option here unless I wanted to pay everyone off.” – Andy Roddick, on why he played in Cincinnati despite playing the two weeks prior.
“You just try to first get the ball back.” – Roger Federer, when asked the secret of playing winning tennis.
“Depending on the draw, my pick at this point is (Andy) Murray or (Andy) Roddick.” – John McEnroe, forecasting the winner of this year’s US Open men’s singles.
“I think there could be a battle for the number one in the world. That’s what everybody hopes for. This year the tour is very tough and it’s tight at the top. Hopefully that’s what we’ll get to see.” – Andy Murray, on the battle looming at the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships.
“My overhead cost has gone down considerably.” – Brian Wood, a promoter for a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, after replacing Andre Agassi and Marat Safin with Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.
SETTING THE TABLE?
Elena Dementieva put herself in good company by beating Maria Sharapova and winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada. The fourth-seeded Dementieva captured her third title of the year and during the week won her 50th match of the season, something only Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki had done in 2009. The Russian hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last three Toronto winners – Justine Henin in 2003, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Henin again in 2007. They went on to win the US Open. The gold-medalist at the Beijing Olympics, Dementieva has never won a Grand Slam tournament.
SET FOR US OPEN
Despite not winning a tournament, Rafael Nadal says he’s ready for the US Open. Nadal had not played since suffering an injury at Roland Garros this spring until the past two weeks, in Montreal and Cincinnati. “These two weeks, winning three matches here and two matches (in Montreal), winning five matches and playing seven matches in total, it’s enough matches I think,” said the Spaniard, who has seen his ranking drop from number one in the world to number three during his absence from the court. “We will see how I am physically to play the five-set matches,” he said. “I know when I am playing well I can play at this level. But you only can win against these top players when you are playing your best tennis.”
Serena Williams is the second player to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be played October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion joins Dinara Safina to have clinched spots in the eight-player field. By winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Australian Open, Serena became the first professional female athlete to surpass USD $23 million in career earnings. She moved past Lindsay Davenport as the all-time prize money leader on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Davenport has earned USD $22,144,735. And because she and her sister Venus Williams have won three doubles titles this year – the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA – the sisters currently rank second in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships Doubles Standings.
Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held November 22-29 in London. The Scot joins Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the first three singles players to qualify for the elite eight-man event. By winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, Murray moved up to a career-high number two in the world behind Federer. That snapped the four-year domination of Federer and Nadal at the top of the men’s game. The 22-year-old Murray is the first ATP player to record 50 match wins this year and has won five titles in 2009: Montreal, Doha, Rotterdam, Miami and Queen’s Club in London, where he became the first British champion since Henry “Bunny” Austin in 1938.
Pat Cash loves grass court tennis. The 1987 Wimbledon champion successfully defended his singles title on the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, beating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was Cash’s second career victory in the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for players age 30 and over. Courier, once ranked number one in the world, is still seeking his first professional title on grass.
SHARING A TEAM
If only the Miami Dolphins were as well-known on the football field as their owners. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams are believed to be acquiring a stake in the National Football League team. Musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony recently bought small shared of the team, while owner Stephen Ross forged a partnership with singer Jimmy Buffett.
Juan Martin del Potro is paying the price for his success. The sixth-ranked Argentine pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters because of fatigue. Del Potro reached the final of the Montreal Masters one week after winning the tournament in Washington, DC. He played 24 sets in two weeks. Winning seven matches at the US Open would take between 21 and 35 sets over a two-week period.
Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic won’t be around when the year’s final Grand Slam tournament gets underway in New York’s Flushing Meadow at the end of this month. Muller withdrew from the US Open because of a knee injury. He is best known for upsetting Andy Roddick in the opening round of the US Open in 2005 when he went on to reach the quarterfinals. Muller’s spot in this year’s tournament will be taken by Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. An injury also has sidelined Minar. With his withdrawal, Rajeev Ram moves into the main draw.
SQUANDERING MATCH POINTS
Brothers Bob and Mike Bryan led 9-4 in the match tiebreak before Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic rallied to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters doubles in Cincinnati. In all, Nestor and Zimonjic saved eight match points before prevailing over the top-seeded and defending champions 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13. Nestor and Zimonjic won six straight points but failed to convert their first match at 10-9. They were successful on their second match point, improving their record to 44-10 as a team this year and collecting their eighth title of 2009. Both teams have already clinched spots in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held in London in November.
Instead of Andre Agassi and Marat Safin, spectators at a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, will instead be watching Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. When only 1,100 tickets had been sold for the 6,000-seat Asheville Civic Center, promoter Brian Wood decided to replace Agassi and Safin. He also dropped the ticket price from a high of USD $200 to a top price of USD $25. The promoter said tickets purchased for the Agassi-Safin match will be refunded. This wasn’t the first change in the program. Originally Safin was to play Novak Djokovic on August 6. When the date was changed to August 28, Djokovic was replaced by Agassi. “We could have canceled altogether or moved forward on a much lower scale, and that’s what we did,” Woods said. “The guys coming are still world class players who play at an extremely high level.”
John McEnroe is covering the airwaves as tightly as he did the court in his playing days. This year Johnny Mac will join the ESPN broadcasting team for its coverage of the US Open. The broadcast will have its own brand of family ties. John will work with his younger brother Patrick, who has been a mainstay at ESPN since 1995. He also will team with ESPN’s Mary Carillo. The two won the French Open mixed doubles in 1977.
Taylor Dent leads a group of five Americans who have been given wild cards into the main draw of the US Open men’s singles. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said they have also issued wild cards to Devon Britton, Chase Buchanan, Jesse Levine and Ryan Sweeting, along with Australian Chris Guccione and a player to be named by the French Tennis Association. Dent had climbed as high as 21 in the world before undergoing three back surgeries and missing two years on the tour.
Nine men have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open qualifying tournament, which will be held August 25-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Receiving wild card berths into the qualifying are Americans Lester Cook, Alexander Domijan, Ryan Harrison, Scoville Jenkins, Ryan Lipman, Tim Smyczek, Blake Strode and Michael Venus, along with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Australian Alicia Molik is returning to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Once ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik hasn’t played since losing in the opening round in both singles and doubles at the Beijing Olympics. Molik has asked for a wild card into the US Open where she plans on playing only doubles with American Meghann Shaughnessy. Her future plans call for her playing singles in a low-level International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Darwin, Australia, in September. Molik won four of her five WTA titles in a six-month period in 2004-05 before a middle-ear condition affected her vision and balance, forcing her off the tour in April 2005. An elbow injury followed, leading to her announcing her retirement earlier this year.
Although he hasn’t played on the ATP Tour since March 2007, Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan says he has not retired from tennis. “I’m not going to quit,” he said. “I just want to be back when I’m really ready.” Srichaphan underwent operations on his wrist in Los Angeles in 2007 and in Bangkok, Thailand, this year. He originally had planned to return to play last year, and then postponed it until the Thailand Open this September. But now he says he may not play in a tournament until 2010.
SITE TO SEE
Tennis Canada is considering combining both ATP and WTA events into one tournament the same week and playing it in both Toronto and Montreal at the same time. Under that plan, each city would stage one-half of the men’s main draw and one half of the women’s main draw. Montreal and Toronto would each stage a final, meaning one of the men’s and one of the women’s finalists would switch cities, making the one-hour trip by private jet. Currently the tournaments are run on consecutive weeks with the men’s and women’s events alternating annually between Montreal and Toronto. This year the ATP tournament was held in Montreal a week ago and won by Andy Murray. Elena Dementieva captured the women’s title in Toronto on Sunday. But the ATP and WTA are pushing for more combined tournaments, a trend that resulted in the creative suggestion by Tennis Canada.
David Shoemaker is the new president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The 36-year-old Shoemaker previously was the Tour’s chief operating officer, general counsel and head of the Asia-Pacific region. The native of Ottawa, Canada, succeeds Stacey Allaster, who was recently appointed the tour’s chairman and CEO. In his new job, Shoemaker will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and business affairs of the tour, tournament and player relations, strategic expansion of the sport in key growth markets; international television and digital media rights distribution, and the tour’s year-end Championships.
The ATP also has a new executive. Laurent Delanney has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer, Europe, and will be based in the tour’s European headquarters in Monte Carlo, Monaco. A former agent who managed a number of top players, including Yannick Noah, Delanney joined the ATP’s European office in 1994, serving most recently as senior vice president, ATP Properties, the business arm of the ATP. The 49-year-old Delanney began his career with ProServ, a sports management and marketing agency, and at one time was marketing and publication operations manager for Club Med in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
SHOW AND TELL
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s gallery exhibition at this year’s US Open will be titled “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement.” The exhibit chronicles the accomplishment of the calendar-year Grand Slam as 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s 1969 singles Grand Slam and the 25th anniversary of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver’s 1984 doubles Grand Slam. Among the many stars featured in the exhibit are Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Smith Court, Steffi Graf, Maria Bueno, Martina Hingis and Stefan Edberg. The exhibition will be on view from August 29 through September 13 in the US Open Gallery.
The telling of the 2008 epic Wimbledon final between eventual winner Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer earned New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy a first-place award from the United States Tennis Writers’ Association. The three-judge panel called Bondy’s story “a masterful, compelling account of the greatest match, told with vivid quotes and observations, a deft touch, and a grand sense of tennis history.” Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Joyce of RealClearSports.com and Paul Fein, whose work was published by TennisOne.com and Sportstar, each were double winners. The awards will be presented during the USTWA’s annual meeting at the US Open.
Cincinnati: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13 (match tiebreak)
Toronto: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 2-6 7-5 11-9 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/
New York: www.usopen.org
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard
Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-2 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell in Barcelona, Spain
Ivo Minar won the Bulgarian Open in Sofia, Bulgaria, beating Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3
Jim Courier beat Jimmy Arias 6-4 6-2 to win The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships in Grand Cayman
World Group Semifinals
Italy beat Russia 4-1 at Castellaneta Marina, Italy
United States beat Czech Republic 3-2 at Brno, Czech Republic
World Group Playoffs
Serbia beat Spain 4-0 (doubles abandoned due to rain); France beat Slovak Republic 3-2; Germany beat China 3-2; Ukraine beat Argentina 5-0
World Group II Playoffs
Belgium beat Canada 3-2; Estonia beat Israel 3-2; Poland beat Japan 3-2; Australia beat Switzerland 3-1 (doubles abandoned due to bad light)
“The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing.” – Geoff Pollard, Tennis Australia president, announcing Australia’s Davis Cup will not go to India for its scheduled Davis Cup match.
“I think it’s irresponsible for the ITF to expect us as players to go there and put ourselves on the line in a very, very difficult predicament with the way their social system’s running.” – Todd Woodbridge, who played in an Australian-record 32 ties before he retired.
“It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety. “John Fitzgerald, Australia’s Davis Cup captain.
“By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie. India is declared the winner and will advance to the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, scheduled for 18-20 September.” – The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a statement.
“I never imagined anything like this. To win again here in Barcelona, in my home club and at such an important tournament is incredible.” – Rafael Nadal, following his fifth straight Barcelona title.
“Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year. He has a great rhythm right from the start and it’s very difficult to beat him.” – David Ferrer, after losing to Nadal in the Barcelona Open final.
“Once you’ve won a big tournament, you are more relaxed in tight situations.” – Sabine Lisicki, who won The Family Circle Cup tournament, explaining her Fed Cup victory over China’s Zheng Jie.
“You’ve got to expect things to be tough. I didn’t go into either of these matches thinking it was going to be easy.” – Samantha Stosur, who won both of her singles matches as Australia beat Switzerland in their Fed Cup World Group II playoff.
“It’s amazing to be back in the final. It’s a dream and I am very happy to be part of the dream.” – Francesca Schiavone, who won both of her singles matches as Italy beat Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals.
“It’s unimaginable. What they’ve done is extraordinary. These girls will go down in the history of Italian tennis.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italy’s Fed Cup captain.
“It’s special because I won. It’s not fun to be in final number 100 and lose because it’s a special day. Winning a title is always a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, a winner in his 100th career doubles final.
“It was a battle. Once I turned it on, got some confidence and started playing aggressively, things went in my favor.” – Jim Courier, after beating Jimmy Arias to win a senior event in Grand Cayman.
“We don’t want to see night time tennis and we hope and believe that that the matches would finish in day time hours. But if they don’t finish, we will close (the roof) and finish them.” – Ian Ritchie, All England Club chief executive, refusing to rule out night-time play at Wimbledon.
“It’s always nice to win after being out for so long, but I’m hardly at a level where I can be happy. Tennis is bad business for me, but being away from it is even worse.” – Gaston Gaudio, a former French Open champion who won his first ATP level match in two years.
India was declared the winner of next month’s Davis Cup tie when Tennis Australia refused to play in Chennai, India. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said any decision to sanction Australia will be made in due course. Under Davis Cup rules, Australia could be banned from the competition for 12 months and face a substantial fine. Claiming there was an “unacceptable level of risk” in going to Chennai, Tennis Australia appealed for a change of venue. But the ITF said Chennai was approved by the Davis Cup Committee following a positive report from security consultants. Australia then said it would not send a team, thus forfeiting the match. “The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision of Tennis Australia to default its upcoming Davis Cup tie against India,” the ITF said in a statement on the Davis Cup website. In 1987, India forfeited the Davis Cup final when it refused to travel to Sweden because of that country’s policy of allowing South Africans to play tennis in Sweden. Concerns about security on the Indian subcontinent increased after the Sri Lanka cricket team was attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, last month. Last November, terror attacks in Mumbai, India, blamed on Islamic terrorists, killed 166 and injured 304 and forced an international cricket tournament to be moved to South Africa.
Now that Wimbledon’s Centre Court has lights, can night matches be far behind. The new retractable roof will be in operation when the tournament is played this summer, guaranteeing play on the show court regardless of the weather. Although the roof is translucent, allowing sufficient light for play in most conditions, 120 lights have been installed so play can continue when it is dark outside. All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie says there are no planned night sessions at Wimbledon, like at the US Open and Australian Open, but he refused to rule out all night play. “Wimbledon is a daytime, outdoor event and preference is always to play outdoors, and if we can we will prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible,” Ritchie said. “But we need to provide consistent playing conditions for the players, which is why if a match starts with it shut it will finish with it shut.”
STERLING, NOT SO
Wimbledon has increased the prize money for this year’s tournament, but don’t tell the players that. Each of the men’s and women’s champions will receive 13.3 percent more this year than last. But that’s in British pounds. The pound’s weak exchange rate translates to an actual reduction in prize money if it’s counted in US dollars. All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the tournament was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates. “Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.” The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year’s prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro.
When Gaston Gaudio beat Diego Junqueira 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the first round at the Barcelona Open, it was his first time he had won a match in nearly two years. The former French Open champion won the Barcelona Open seven years ago. He had to rally from a break down in the final set against Junqueira for his first victory at the ATP level since the 2007 French Open – 23 months ago.
Alexa Glatch couldn’t have done any better in her dreams. Playing in her first Fed Cup, the 19-year-old Glatch won both of her singles matches as the seemingly overmatched United States surprised the Czech Republic and gained a spot in the final against Italy. “This has been unbelievable,” Glatch said after she beat Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-1 to level the best-of-five-match competition at 2-2. Liezel Huber then teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to down Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-1 and send the Americans into the final. Glatch, ranked 114th in the world, said her two Fed Cup wins were “definitely the most important” of her career. “I played well overall,” she said. “I really don’t know how I’m doing it.” The Americans played without the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.
David Nalbandian may need surgery on his right hip. The Argentine star pulled out of the Barcelona Open, complaining of hip pain and allowing eventual winner Rafael Nadal to advance into the semifinals on a walkover. Nalbandian’s doctor in Europe, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, told an Argentine newspaper that the tennis star would receive three or four days of treatment, including physical therapy and medication, before a decision on whether he will undergo surgery is made.
Russia has five of the top 10 players in the world, but only two showed up to play Fed Cup against Italy. And that wasn’t enough. The Italians shocked Russia 4-1 as Francesca Schiavone won both her singles matches. That puts Italy in the Fed Cup final for the third time in four years. The Russians won four of the last five Fed Cup titles. Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked ninth in the world, gave Russia it’s only point, winning her singles match against Flavia Pennetta. Nadia Petrova, ranked 10th in the world, played only doubles, while missing from the competition were top-ranked Dinara Safina, third-ranked Elena Dementieva and sixth-ranked Vera Zvonareva. The latter missed the tie because of an ankle ligament injury. Instead, 22-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and 28-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova played for Russia – and lost.
SEEKING NUMBER FIVE
Andy Roddick will be going for his fifth Queen’s Club crown when the Wimbledon warm-up tournament is held in London in June. The American won the grass-court title from 2003-05 and again in 2007. Among others in this year’s field are defending champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Irving Glick, the US Open tournament doctor for more than 25 years, is dead at the age of 92. Glick ran the medical department at the US Open until 1991 and served as the International Tennis Federation’s medical representative to the Olympic Games in South Korea in 1988 and Spain in 1992. Glick chaired the US Tennis Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in 1989 and helped develop the tennis anti-doping program years before establishing the current World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees doping control in all Olympic sports. He also was a founding member of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Medical Committee, which established medical and eligibility guidelines for international wheelchair tennis.
Davis Cup teams from Pacific Oceania and Sri Lanka will compete in Asia/Oceania Zone Group II play next year following round-robin matches in Aleppo, Syria, last week. Relegated from Group III to Group IV for next year were Singapore and Tajikistan. In Group IV play, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Bangladesh won promotion to Group III for next year.
IBM has extended its sponsorship of Wimbledon for another five years. The All England Club announced the extension and said it also has signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia. “In this climate it’s a vote of confidence in Wimbledon,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. IBM advises on and helps implement new technologies at the lone grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
Barcelona: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 7-6 (9)
Sofia: Dominik Hrbaty and David Skoch beat James Auckland and Peter Luczak 6-2 6-4
SITES TO SURF
Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/
International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,500,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$125,000 Tunis Open, Tunis, Tunisia, clay
$110,000 Aegean Tennis Cup, Rhodes, Greece, hard
$700,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Pix, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$220,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fez, Morocco, clay
$100,000 Open GDF Suez, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, clay
$100,000 Soweto Women’s Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard
(April 28-May 3)
Europe/Asia Group III-A, at Istanbul, Turkey: Estonia, Greece, Botswana, Iceland, Luxembourg, Rwanda, Turkey
Europe/Asia Group IV, at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$580,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay
$580,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$580,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay
$100,000 Israel Open, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard
$2,000,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay
Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m going to Shanghai really to represent France and all my family and my friends.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat David Nalbandian 6-3 4-6 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, France
Nadia Petrova won the Bell Challenge, beating Bethanie Mattek 4-6 6-4 6-1 in Quebec City, Canada
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won the Ritro Slovak Open in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, beating Michaella Krajicek 6-3 6-1
David Koellerer beat Pau Capdeville 6-4 6-3 to win the Bancolombia Open 2008 in Cali, Colombia
Ivo Minar beat Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-1 2-0 retired to win the Flea Market Cup Busan Challenger in Busan, Korea
“I’m going to go (to Shanghai) really to represent France and all my family and my friends. That’s it. I’m going to represent everyone and I’m going to give my best.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after winning the Paris Masters and qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China.
“I didn’t play bad, but I didn’t play like the other days.” – David Nalbandian, after losing to Tsonga in the final at Paris and a chance to qualify for the Tennis Masters Cup.
“If I feel like I want to continue to play, I will. If not, it will be over. For the moment, I just need to rest.” – Marat Safin, former world number one player on whether or not he will retire from tennis.
“Now I have a long journey ahead of me to Doha, but it’ll definitely be worth it. And then it’ll be really nice to put the racquets aside for a few weeks.” – Nadia Petrova, after winning the Bell Challenge.
“I saw him in the locker room five minutes before my match and he told me he had a pain in the back. I said, maybe we are both going to be going home tonight.” – Rafael Nadal, talking about Roger Federer after both withdrew from the Paris Masters with injuries.
“It wasn’t going to do me any good to play patty-cake back and forth with him. I’m not as quick as he is and I’m not as consistent as he is. It actually made for a pretty simple game plan.” – Andy Roddick, after his victory over Gilles Simon in Paris.
“I think with this calendar it’s very difficult to play a lot of years in a row. I think the ATP and everybody have to think about these things happening at the end of the season.” – Rafael Nadal, on the injuries to him and Federer.
“For him, it can’t all be serious. Off the court he is just a kid.” – Agent Tony Godsick, talking about his client, Roger Federer.
“We have now accomplished all that we set out to do at the USTA. The best time to move on is when the business is at an all-time high and a solid foundation has been built for the future.” – Arlen Kantarian, who is quitting at the end of the year as the USTA’s CEO for professional tennis.
The world’s top two players turned up injured on the same day. First, second-ranked Roger Federer pulled out of his quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Masters with back pain. Then top-seeded Rafael Nadal dropped the first set before retiring from his match against Nikolay Davydenko with a knee injury. By his standards, Federer has had a down year, winning his fifth straight US Open title but losing in the final at both the French Open and Wimbledon, and also losing his world number one ranking. This is the first time since 2003 that Federer has gone the entire season without a Masters Series trophy, and his four titles this year are his fewest since 2002. Nadal, who had a trainer work on his right knee and thigh before he retired, said he had never had this kind of injury before.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was instrumental in completing the field for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina earned a spot in the elite field when Tsonga beat American James Blake in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Masters. Then Tsonga clinched the final berth for himself when he beat David Nalbandian in the final in Paris. Earlier in the week, American Andy Roddick secured a spot in the Shanghai tournament by beating France’s Gilles Simon in a third-round match. Completing the singles field for the November 9-16 tournament are Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Swiss Roger Federer, Serb Novak Djokovic, Briton Andy Murray and Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko.
The final two teams to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar, are Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs, along with Katherina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama. Previously qualified for the four-team field were Cara Black and Liezel Huber as well as Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual. The Peschke-Stubbs duo is making its second consecutive appearance as a team at the season finale.[ad#adify-300×250]
Arlen Kantarian is leaving his post as the US Tennis Association’s chief executive officer for professional tennis. A former National Football League executive, Kantarian joined the USTA in March 2000 and is credited with turning the year’s final Grand Slam tournament into an entertainment spectacular. During his tenure, the US Open revenues jumped 80 percent as the tournament set annual records for attendance and revenue. He is credited with developing the instant replay and challenge format, moving the women’s final to Saturday night and securing television deals to boost the tournament’s profile and income.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will pay tribute to Jane Brown Grimes at a dinner in New York City in December. Grimes began a two-year stint as president of the United States Tennis Association in January 2007 and has been a member of the USTA Board for Directors for the past seven years. She represents the United States on the International Tennis Federation Fed Cup and Grand Slam Committees. She served as the Hall of Fame’s president and chief executive officer from 1991 until 2000, overseeing a major reconstruction of the historic buildings and grounds of the Hall of Fame’s headquarters in Newport, Rhode Island.
Aleksandra Wozniak’s bid to become the first Canadian to reach the final of the Bell Challenge women’s tournament ended when she fell to American Bethanie Mattek in the semifinals at Quebec City. A native of Blaineville, Quebec, the 21-year-old Wozniak won a tournament in Stanford, Connecticut, just before the US open, making her the first Canadian in 20 years to win a WTA title. Mattek fell in the title match to top-seeded Nadia Petrova.
When the United States plays Switzerland in the opening round of Davis Cup next year, the Americans will be facing Roger Federer again. The last time Federer played a first-round Davis Cup tie was in 2004, when he led the Swiss to victory over Romania. The United States and Switzerland have met only twice in Davis Cup play, with the countries splitting their two meetings. The Americans won the 1992 final at Fort Worth, Texas. The last time they played, Federer had a hand in all three points as the Swiss beat the United States in Basel, Switzerland, in a first-round match in 2001.
STEP IN STEP
Serena Williams and James Blake will team up for the Hopman Cup in January. Serena and Mardy Fish won the mixed teams title a year ago, the second time Williams has won the event. Blake also has won the Hopman Cup twice, joining with Serena in 2003 and with Lindsay Davenport in 2004. Tournament director Pal McNamee said the Americans will be the top-seeded team. Others who are scheduled to be in the field include Dinara Safina and her brother Marat Safin – if he decides to continue his career, Germans Sabine Lisicki and Nicolas Kiefer, and the Slovak duo of Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty.
The season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships will be shown in the United States on the Tennis Channel and ESPN2. More than 30 live hours are planned from the prestigious women’s event being held this week in Doha, Qatar, almost all of which will be telecast in high definition. Combined with taped segments, the networks plan to televise close to 70 hours of high definition match coverage during the six-day tournament that features the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams.
History was made at a USD $10,000 International Tennis Federation women’s tournament in Vila Real De Santo Antonio, Portugal, when two Moroccan Fed Cup teammates met in the final. It was the first all-Moroccan singles final on the ITF Women’s Circuit. Nadia Lalami, playing in her first career singles final, won the tournament when Lamia Essaadi retired from the match while trailing 2-1 in the opening set. Lalami also teamed up with her regular Fed Cup doubles partner Fatima El Allami to win the doubles. Prior to 2008, Bahia Mouhtassine was the only Moroccan woman to win a singles title, and she finished her career with eleven singles titles. This year, however, has been a banner one for Moroccan women’s tennis as Essaadi won a tournament in July and El Allami won a title in August.
Marat Safin is not sure he wants to continue playing tennis. After the 28-year-old Russian suffered a first-round loss at the Paris Masters, he said: “I need to enjoy my life without tennis. I will see if I continue.” Safin won the US Open in 2000 and was ranked number one in the world. He also won the Australian Open in 2005, the last of his 15 titles. Many times he has self-destructed in matches, and his latest defeat was no exception. After losing the opening set, Safin began the second set with four double faults. His career has been hampered by his volatile temper and, more recently, injuries.
SERVING THE GAME
Harold Mitchell is one of four new directors on the Tennis Australia board. The others are former Fed Cup player Janet Young, Stephen Healy and Graeme Holloway. Mitchell is a media buyer. Tennis Australia president Geoff Pollard was re-elected to the job he has held since 1989.
Paris: Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett beat Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie 6-2 6-2
Quebec City: Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King beat Jill Craybas and Tamarine Tanasugarn 7-6 (3) 6-4
Cali: Daniel Koellerer and Boris Pashanski beat Diego Junqueira and Peter Luczak 6-7 (4) 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Bratislava: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Monica Niculescu 7-6 (1) 6-1
Busan: Rik De Voest and Ashley Fisher beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2 2-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,450,000 Sony Ericsson Championships, Doha, Qatar, hard
$100,000 ITF women’s event, Krakow, Poland, hard
$106,500 Tatra Banka Open, Bratislava, Slovakia, hard
Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise, Surprise, Arizona
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,700,000 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, China, carpet
$125,000 PEOPLEnet Cup, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard
Roger Federer won the Davidoff Swiss Indoors, beating David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 in Basel, Switzerland
Andy Murray beat Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1 to win the St. Petersburg Open in St. Petersburg, Russia
Robin Soderling won the Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon by beating Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-1 in Lyon, France
Ana Ivanovic beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 to win the Generali Ladies Linz in Linz, Austria
Elena Dementieva stopped Carolina Wozniacki 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4) to win the FORTIS Championships in Luxembourg
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Julie Coin 6-4 6-3 to win the Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne in Poitiers, France
Hyung-Taik Lee won the Samsung Securities Cup Challenger in Seoul, Korea, by beating Ivo Minar 6-4 6-0
Jim Courier beat Thomas Enqvist 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Champions tiebreak) to win the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas
“There was a bit of disappointment but I gave a good fight for almost five years, so I’m proud of that, and I think Rafa deserves it this year because he’s played consistently well.” – Roger Federer, admitting he’s disappointed about not finishing the year as the number one player.
“This season has been hard, long and punishing. I will be very happy when I lose in Bercy.” – Richard Gasquet, after losing in Lyon, France, and talking about this week’s tournament in Paris.
“To see him give up mentally beforehand is quite simply abnormal. It is disrespectful vis-à-vis the public who he is counting on supporting him at Bercy. Naturally we are annoyed.” – Patrice Dominguez, national technical director of the French Tennis Federation, referring to Gasquet’s comment.
“This year has been a very positive year for me and I am looking forward to continued success in Doha.” – Venus Williams, after qualifying for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha.
“It has been awhile since I last played and it feels wonderful to be one of the best eight players of the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season.” – Vera Zvonareva, who qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships.
“You could never forecast that he was going to miss that shot. If he lets it bounce, he could hit it with the butt cap and make it and I wouldn’t be there. That was as improbable as it gets, but that’s why we play sports. The whacky happens.” – Jim Courier, after Thomas Enqvist shanked an easy overhead on match point.
“I think I was just too casual. It’s what you tell an amateur when you play the pro-ams with them, that sometimes they do those mistakes. They take their eye off the ball. I think I did that.” – Thomas Enqvist.
“For the first set and a half we were completely outplayed. At 4-3 down in the second set Bopanna double-faulted at 40-40, and after that the momentum shifted our way.” – Travis Parrott, after teaming with Filip Polasek to win the doubles at St. Petersburg, Russia.
“I’m really disappointed with how I played today. I had no concentration at any stage of the match. Maybe today I finally paid for all of the traveling and the many matches I’ve played over the last several weeks.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Ana Ivanovic in the title match of the Generali Ladies Linz.
“Rafael Nadal has donated the racquet he used to win the 2008 Wimbledon final, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi both donated tennis racquets, while Roger Federer gave us the shirt off his own back.” – Lleyton Hewitt, on items donated to help raise money for a charity, Cure Our Kids.
SET FOR DOHA
The final two spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships have been clinched by Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams. The women’s tour will wind up with world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. It will be the third time Venus Williams will compete in the season-ending event, but her first since 2002. Others in the field include Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
SIGN OF RESPECT
The new tennis center in Brisbane, Australia, has been named for two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter. The 5,500-seat Rafter Arena will open in January for the Brisbane International men’s and women’s hard court championships. The tournament is a warm-up for the Australian Open, which is held in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic, Marcos Baghdatis and Ana Ivanovic are confirmed for the event, the first international tennis tournament to be played in Brisbane since 1994.
When Robin Soderling captured his second Lyon trophy, he became the first Swedish player to win an ATP title in almost three years. The last Swede to capture a tournament on the men’s tour was Thomas Johansson at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. The victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau will move Soderling into the top 20 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time. At Lyon, Soderling beat two top-ten players, Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon.
Roger Federer won his third straight Davidoff Swiss Indoors crown in his native Basel, Switzerland. He also has been runner-up twice in his nine appearances in Basel. And his 57th career title moves Federer into a tie with Ilie Nastase on the ATP list. He is now three titles behind Andre Agassi. Basel was Federer’s fourth title of 2008, highlighted by his fifth consecutive US Open win. This one came over David Nalbandian, the 2002 Swiss Indoors winner and the tournament’s number two seed. It was the first time since 1993 that the two top seeds have reached the final at Basel.
Andy Murray needed only 56 minutes to successfully defend his St. Petersburg Open title by defeating qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1. It was the shortest final on the ATP tour this year, and the second fewest games in a title match since Mikhail Youzhny crushed Rafael Nadal 6-0 6-1 at the Chennai Open in January. Now ranked fourth in the world, Murray becomes the first British player to win consecutive titles since Mark Cox did it in March 1975. The Scott has won five titles this year, second only to the eight captured by Nadal. Murray is on a 12-match winning streak and has won 18 of his last 19 matches since losing in the first round of the Beijing Olympics to Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun.
For the second straight year, Nikolay Davydenko made a brief appearance at the St. Petersburg Open. This time he injured his left wrist during a first-round victory over Chris Guccione, and then pulled out of the tournament. “I was able to finish the match, but today I felt a lot of pain and I just can’t play,” Davydenko said. Last year, the Russian was fined USD $2,000 by the ATP for not trying hard enough during his loss to qualifier Marin Cilic in a second-round match. The fine was overturned on appeal. Davydenko’s victory over Guccione was his 50th match win of the season, the fourth straight year he has won at least 50 matches.[ad#adify-300×250]
STAYING ON TOP
Despite what happens the rest of the way, Jelena Jankovic will end the season as the number one player in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. Jankovic has a commanding points lead over Dinara Safina and will remain in the top spot regardless of the outcome of the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. She secured the year-ending ranking by winning 12 straight matches en route to three consecutive titles in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow. She lost in the US Open final and reached the semifinals of two other Grand Slam tournaments.
Holding match point at 9-8 in the Champions tiebreaker, Jim Courier sent a high defensive lob that just made it over the net in the final of the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas. But Thomas Enqvist, standing right on top of the net, elected not to let the ball bounce and shanked the overhead straight down off the frame of his racquet, giving Courier his sixth career Outback Champions Series title, 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Championships tiebreak). “I think I was too casual,” Enqvist said, while Courier said the missed overhead was “one of the nuttiest match points I’ve ever been a part of.”
Four top players will lead a five-day tennis “fantasy camp” on Maui, Hawaii, in November. Lindsay Davenport, Tom Gullikson, Robby Ginepri and Corina Morariu will participate in the four days of instruction and free play. Gullikson is the former US Davis Cup captain and Olympic coach, while Davenport was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles. She is one of only four women – joining Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert – to have been the year-ending number one at least four times. Ginepri is one of the top five American players currently on the ATP tour, while Morariu was ranked number one in the world in doubles before being diagnosed with leukemia. She made a complete recovery and was named Comeback Player of the Year on the WTA Tour. The “fantasy camp” is for adult tennis players ranging in skill from recreational to tournament-level.
Hall of Famer Michael Chang and women’s tennis pro Amber Liu are now husband and wife. Matthew Cronin reports the pair was married at Lake Hills Community Church in Laguna Hills, California, with the reception and dinner taking place at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California. Among those in attendance were Chang’s brother and coach, Carl; his cousin James Wan, who plays for Stanford University; John Austin, Anne Yelsey, Dick Gould, Lele Forood, Eliot Teltscher and Peanut Louis.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships will have some people in the seats, if ticket sales are any indication. According to tournament officials, more than 95 percent of the premium seats have been sold for the season-ending event that features the world’s top eight women’s singles players and top four doubles teams. The Championships will be held November 4-9 at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar.
Lleyton Hewitt and his wife Bec have begun a month-long fundraising auction with proceeds going to Cure Our Kids, an organization which supports children with cancer and their families at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, Australia. The auction includes items donated by the Hewitts as well as from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff, among others.
A former top-100 player from Italy, Federico Luzzi, is dead at the age of 28. Luzzi died at a hospital in Arezzo, Italy, of leukemia. He was hospitalized after retiring a few days earlier from an Italian league match, citing a high fever. He reached a career-high ranking of number 92 in 2002 before a shoulder injury plagued him the rest of his career. In February, Luzzi was suspended for 200 days and fined USD $50,000 by the ATP for betting on tennis. In 2001, he beat Ville Liukko of Finland 14-12 in the fifth set to complete a 4-hour, 35-minute victory, the longest Davis Cup match ever played by an Italian.
Bill Rusick, an All-American college player and later tennis coach and co-owner of a tennis club, has died at the age of 51. Rusick led Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to two national championships and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. He coached at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and served as club pro and co-owner at St. Clair Tennis Club. He suffered from pancreatic cancer.
Basel: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3
St. Petersburg: Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek beat Rohan Bopanna and Max Mirnyi 3-6 7-6 (4) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Lyon: Michael Llodra and Andy Ram beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 6-3 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Seoul: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana 7-5 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Linz: Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama beat Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4 7-5
Luxembourg: Sorana Cirstea and Marina Erakovic beat Vera Dushevina and Mariya Koryttseva 2-6 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Poitiers: Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-4
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 BNP Paribas Masters, Paris, France, carpet
$125,000 Seguros Bolivar Open, Cali, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Busan Open Challenger, Busan, South Korea, hard
$175,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Quebec, hard
$100,000 Ritro Slovak Open, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,450,000 Sony Ericsson Championships, Doha, Qatar, hard
$100,000 ITF women’s event, Krakow, Poland, hard
$106,500 Tatra Banka Open, Bratislava, Slovakia, hard
Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise, Surprise, Arizona
Nikolay Davydenko was involved in a very interesting match against Ivo Minar in the Estoril Open round of 16.
Clay court season is now upon us and there is no-one in better form than Davydenko who’s superior movement and baseline play ensures he as no trouble in adjusting to the dirt.
He got the job done here surprisingly in three sets 26 62 64 against the world number 72 and I felt that in 90 percent of the match he played well but in the other 10 percent he was a bit shaky.
In the first set he was dominated by the hard hitting and serving of Minar and only won a pathetic 5 out of 21 points when receiving. When serving the Russian number one only won 50% of points which is another very poor statistic. A very ‘off’ set.
But predictably Minar was never going to be able to keep up this domination and Davydenko raised his game and played some excellent tennis from the back of the court in the second set as he began to take control of the match.
He then breezed into a 4-1 lead in the third set, a double break of serve and it looked as if he would cruise into the next round. However Davydenko completely lost his way in the next three games, being broken twice by the plucky Minar and it was back to 4-4.
The Russian no longer had the ability to hit a first serve in the games he was broken and I think he showed a certain degree of mental weakness here when in such a commanding lead. This should not be happening to the number four player in the world.
Fortunately for Davydenko he is such a skilled player off the ground that he broke Minar in the next game and then had a much smoother service game to move in to the quarter finals.
I find it weird how he seemed to switch on and off in this match and this wasn’t a brilliant performance however a world class player has the ability to win even when not playing his or her best and Davydenko certainly used that skill here.
He appeared to have particular problems on his second serve today with only 9 out of 28 points won and also 4 double faults.
This match displayed a slight dip in form however he still played some very good shots against Minar, who kept fighting even when two breaks down and nearly came back from the most unlikely situation.
Despite this below par performance I think Davydenko could advance into the final where he will surely play Federer who has no player of any note in his half. A potential tricky semi final against Giles Simon awaits the Russian however on his current match winning form he can defeat anyone. If the ideal final takes place between the number one and two seed, Davydenko has the momentum to win his second title this year.