Jeanne Moutossamy-Ashe

Mondays With Bob Greene: I Still Have 21 Spots To Go

STARS

Marin Cilic beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 to win the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, Connecticut.

Caroline Wozniacki beat Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven

Lucie Safarova won the Forest Hills Classic in New York City by beating Peng Shuai 6-4 6-2

SAYINGS

“There is always a little buzz, even in the middle of the points. That’s the main difference between this tournament and others. It’s good for the crowd to get into. It’s different to Wimbledon, which is very quiet. Here it is the opposite – it’s much louder. It’s good and it’s a different feeling to play. I love coming here.” – Britain’s Andy Murray on playing the US Open.

“I want to dedicate my victory today to all the victims and all the families of the victims in the flight in Madrid and send them all of my support and everything of me that I can help for them. It is my hometown, and when this thing happened I felt so bad.” – Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, playing in the Pilot Pen Tennis but thinking of the Spanair jetliner crash in Madrid, Spain, that killed 153 people.

“I was injured at the beginning of the year and haven’t had my best results, but this week has helped me regain my confidence in time for the US Open.” – Lucie Safarova, who won the Forest Hills Classic.

“I am having fun. I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing for a big crowd. You know, when you’re in the finals, you don’t have anything to lose. You can just win.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning the Pilot Pen women’s singles.

“This was a very important week for me. I don’t think I could have asked for a better week before the U.S. Open.” – Daniela Hantuchova, who is coming off an injury, after losing in both singles and doubles at the Pilot Pen.

“I would love to become number one in the world and win Grand Slams. I think everyone practicing this hard, you know, putting such an effort in it wants to become number one in the world. But there’s only one number one. You know, I still have 21 spots to go. And hopefully after this tournament I have a little bit less.” – Caroline Wozniacki.

“This is my eleventh final and I’ve only won twice. It’s starting to really sting, nine times losing. I’ve got a lot of runner-up trophies in my office in my house. These are the ones I need to get.” – Mardy Fish, after losing the Pilot Pen final.

“I had never faced a serve like that before. I needed to return better, and I didn’t.” – John Isner, the 6-foot-9 (205 cm) American, after losing to 6-foot-10 (208 cm) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the Pilot Pen.

“I am looking forward to playing again in January in my home country and using that as a springboard to compete at my best again on the world stage for at least a couple of more years.” – Lleyton Hewitt, who has undergone hip surgery and will miss the rest of 2008.

“It’s very disappointing for me to miss the U.S. Open. I’ve always done well in this tournament.” – Sania Mirza, who pulled out of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament with a right wrist injury.

“We’ve had a great year so far and look forward to finishing the season in Doha and defending our Championships title.” – Cara Black, after she and Liezel Huber became the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.

“I have nothing more to say to this man. We spoke to him last year, trying to understand why he is doing these things, but it is impossible, it’s a waste of time.” – Rafael Nadal, talking last spring about Etienne de Villiers, who is stepping down as head of the ATP.

“I understand how much the Olympics means to many people. But for me, as a professional tennis player, it is just a tournament.” -Li Na, who made Chinese history by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams and reaching the semifinals at the Beijing Games.

SOARING SPANIARD

If Rafael Nadal wins his third straight Grand Slam tournament, he would take home the biggest paycheck in tennis. Nadal clinched the 2008 Olympus US Open Series men’s title, and that would result in a USD $1 million bonus should he win the US Open. Add that to the winner’s purse at the two-week event and Nadal could increase his bank account by USD $2.5 million. Roger Federer won the Open Series title and the US Open last year, pocketing a record USD $2.4 million. Dinara Safina won the women’s Open Series and could also earn a USD $1 million bonus should she win the US Open women’s singles.

STAR-STUDDED NIGHT

A parade of past winners will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium when the US Open’s Opening Night Ceremony celebrates the 40th anniversary of open tennis, including Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabrielle Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas and Mats Wilander. Virginia Wade, winner of the first U.S. Open in 1968, will be on hand, while the men’s champion, the late Arthur Ashe, will be represented by his widow, Jeanne Moutossamy-Ashe, and daughter, Camera Ashe. Other past champions on hand will include Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick.

STANDING DOWN

The man from Disney, Etienne de Villiers, is stepping down as executive chairman and president of the ATP, the governing body of men’s professional tennis, when his contract expires at the end of the 2008 season. De Villiers has served as ATP executive chairman since June 2005. A native of South Africa, de Villiers had come under heavy criticism from the game’s top players, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. In March at the Sony Ericsson Open, every top 20 player signed a letter to the ATP Board of Directors demanding that de Villiers’ contract not be renewed until other candidates were interviewed for the position. An executive at Disney, de Villiers was hired by the ATP with a mandate to make change. He did that while also making enemies. The ATP recently won a court case but spent millions on its defense.

SURGERY

Hip surgery will keep Lleyton Hewitt from playing in this year’s U.S. Open. The 2001 winner at New York’s Flushing Meadows, Hewitt said in a statement published on his web site that he is frustrated at not being able to play but had exhausted every possibility besides surgery. He also will miss Australia’s Davis Cup World Group playoff in Chile later in September. His last tournament was the Beijing Olympics where he lost in the second round to Rafael Nadal.

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STEPS DOWN

Leander Paes has stepped down as captain of India’s Davis Cup team. A Davis Cup regular for 17 years, Paes has been named to the Indian team that will play Romania in a World Group playoff September 19, with the winner remaining in the World Group. Sumant Misra has been named non-playing captain for the tie in Bucharest, Romania, with Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj on the squad. In an uneasy partnership, Paes and Bhupathi reached the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics before losing to eventual gold medalist Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Once one of the world’s top doubles teams, Paes and Bhupathi split, and Bhupathi and his teammates tried unsuccessfully in February to have Paes removed as Davis Cup captain.

SANIA OUT

A right wrist injury means India’s Sania Mirza will miss the US Open. Mirza had surgery on her wrist in April, keeping her off the WTA Tour for some time. The injury flared up during her first-round match at the Beijing Olympics, and after tests, she was advised to rest for three weeks. In 2005, Mirza had her best US Open, reaching the fourth round.

SKIPPING FLUSHING

Stefan Koubek of Austria has pulled out of this year’s US Open. Ranked 105th in the world, Koubek has not played since being routed by Robin Soderling 6-0 6-1 at the Sony Ericsson Masters in Miami in March.

STILL EFFECTIVE

Ivan Ljubicic is the newest member of the ATP Player Council. The 29-year-old Ljubicic was elected to the vacant position of European Player Board Representative and will fulfill the existing term that ends in December 2009. Ljubicic served as vice president and president of the ATP Player Council in 2006-07.

SO TIRED

Having won his last four tournaments, Juan Martin del Potro said he was tired and withdrew from the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut. The 19-year-old Argentine won titles at Stuttgart, Germany; Kitzbuhel, Austria; Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C., moving up to number 17 in the world rankings.

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SPARKLING NIGHT

The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball will be held in New York City on Friday, September 5, the last Friday of the US Open. The special night will honor Billie Jean King, Michael Chang, Mark McCormack and Eugene L. Scott along with others. Chang, McCormack and Scott were inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this summer. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the third annual Eugene L. Scott Award to King. The award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world.

SONY ERICSSON QUALIFIERS

Cara Black and Liezel Huber are the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, to be played in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. Black and Huber have teamed up so far this year to win seven WTA Tour titles, giving them 19 career doubles titles as a team. The top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete at the Championships.

STREAKING

Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki continued her winning ways in New Haven, Connecticut, capturing the Pilot Pen by knocking off top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the final. It was Wozniacki’s second title of her career, both coming this month. The 18-year-old had never even been in a WTA Tour final until this month, winning her first crown in Stockholm, Sweden, before reaching the third round at the Beijing Olympics where she lost to eventual gold-medalist Elena Dementieva. Her run at New Haven included victories over third-seeded Marion Bartoli, seventh-seeded Alize Cornet and eighth-seeded Dominka Cibulkova.

STOPPED

Two tournaments scheduled to be held in the nation of Georgia have been canceled due to the current political situation. The International Tennis Federation called off a USD $10,000 event to be held at Tbilisi, beginning September 15, and a USD $25,000 tournament scheduled to be held in Batumi, beginning September 22.

SUCCESS

Marin Cilic is finally a champion on the ATP circuit. The 19-year-old from Croatia beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 at the Pilot Penn in New Haven, Connecticut, a US Open tuneup tournament. Cilic, playing in a final for the first time in his pro career, broke Fish five times, including three times in the third set. Cilic joines Ivo Karlovic as the only Croats to win ATP titles this year.

STADIUM EXHIBITION

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present a gallery exhibition at the 2008 US Open entitled “Home Court: The Family Draw.” The exhibition will be on view at the US Open Gallery in Louis Armstrong Stadium during the two weeks of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The exhibit provides an inspiring look at the relationship of tennis and family and features stories of many remarkable families.

SCOTLAND YARD

The four governing bodies of tennis have hired a former Scotland Yard detective to run the sport’s new integrity unit. Besides hiring Jeff Rees, the WTA and ATP tours, the International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slam Committee adopted an anti-corruption code to ensure the same set of penalties apply across the professional ranks. Rees, who previously worked for the International Cricket Council’s security unit, was part of an independent panel that issued a report in May saying 45 matches merited further investigation because of irregular betting patterns.

SHOWING OFF

Players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour aren’t the only ones taking it off for the camera. Some of the ATP players are shedding their sports gear for more natural attire in a new calendar. Among those showing off their “muscles” are Fernando Verdaso, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Haas, Juan Monaco, Paradorn Srichaphan and Dmitry Tursonov.

SPORTING CHANCE

Paraguayan javelin thrower Leryn Franco finished 51st overall in a field of 52 competitors at the Beijing Olympics, but nobody seemed to care. The 26-year-old part-time model and bikini contestant was competing in her second Olympics: She placed 42nd overall at the 2004 Athens Games. It is reported that she is dating Novak Djokovic, who in January became the first player from Serbia to win a Grand Slam tournament and the youngest player in the Open era to have reached all four Grand Slam semifinals. Franco and Djokovic were seen walking hand-in-hand at the Olympic village in Beijing.

SO RELAXING

One day after he resigned as president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf was playing tennis on the court at his home and relaxing with family and friends. “He was in a good mood, very relaxed,” said Tariq Azim, who was among 30 supporters who gathered at Musharraf’s house outside the capital, Islamabad. “We used to meet him there in the past, but with no official duties, he was completely different.”

SAD NEWS

Harry Marmion, the 43rd president of the United States Tennis Association, is dead. Marmion, foremost an educator, served as president of St. Xavier College in Chicago and of Southampton College of Long Island University. He also was vice president for academic affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. But he was best known as the USTA president when Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, was opened in 1997. Upon his retirement from the presidency, he was credited with playing an integral role in electing Judy Levering as the first female president of the USTA.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

New Haven men: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 7-5 6-2

New Haven women: Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond beat Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu 4-6 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

US Open: www.usopen.org

ATP: www.atptennis.com

WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA TOUR

U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (first week)

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (second week)