Jeremy Bates

Monitoring pre-Wimbledon sentiment about British Tennis

It’s that time of year when many Brits start to become interested in tennis.

But, thanks to the success of Andy Murray, Elena Baltacha and James Ward at the pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournaments, some of us are dusting off our rackets and heading down to the local rec’s courts a little earlier than normal.

It’s interesting to look at how these successes (Ward’s victories were particularly unexpected) have affected sentiment surrounding the phrase ‘British Tennis’.

The phrase has traditionally attracted many negative connotations. Years of heavy investment has led to years of under-achievement. No British man has won Wimbledon since 1936 when champion Fred Perry won in long trousers, wielding a wooden racket.

For the period June 9th to June 15th 2011, social media monitoring tool Brandwatch collected 576 mentions of the phrase across news and social networking sites; it is a sign of how successful the period was that only three per cent of them were negative.

Brits are still hedging their bets though – burned by years of false dawns (remember John Lloyd, Buster Mottram, Jeremy Bates and Tim Henman all falling short at Wimbledon) only five per cent of the mentions were positive!

Mentions of British tennis peaked on Friday June 10th with 88 being collected by Brandwatch. This was the afternoon when Brit newcomer James Ward (ranked 216th in the world) beat defending champion Sam Querrey in the Queen’s Club quarter-finals.

Duanne Jackson on Facebook said what many of us were saying: “Watching a British tennis player that isn’t Murray, Henman or Rusedski. Shocked!”

Better was to come a few hours later in the day when Facebook messages such as “Two British tennis players into the semi-finals of a tournament: isn’t this a sign of the apocalypse?” started clogging up the networks.

On Saturday, 11th June, armchair tennis fans were still trying to figure out their new tennis hero. Was he a baseliner or a serve and volleyer? Single handed or double-handed on the backhand wing? And more importantly who did he look like? Lisa Jane Riley on Twitter commented: “Do you not think he looks a little like a thin Alex Reid (the cage fighter ex-partner of Jordan)?”

Later in the afternoon, he was looking a little less like a winner but he still posted a highly-respectable performance during a 6-3, 7-6 defeat against world number 17 (and Muhammad Ali-look-alike) Jo Wilfried Tsonga.

Murray kept the British flag flying with a demolition job on his nemesis Andy Roddick in the other semi-final and fellow Scot Elena Baltacha reached the Ladies final at the Eastbourne event.

This might explain why The Scotsman was one of the top ten sites mentioning British Tennis during the week studied.

Both players would go on to win their final but mentions of “British tennis” had already peaked the day before: quarter-final day received 88 mentions and semi-final day just 60.

Finals day on June 12th received even fewer mentions; just 57. Perhaps understandable given that Murray’s final was washed out by rain. It was good to see Ms Baltacha receive the lion’s share of the mentions as she won an Eastbourne final which was switched indoors.

Murray’s moment in the sun finally came on Monday June 13th as he played a couple of between-the-leg shots to win his rain-delayed final on a day when British tennis received 65 mentions.

There were several cynical social networkers who pointed out that the win might not be such a good omen for British tennis: people who win rain-delayed Queen’s tournaments are often eliminated early when Wimbledon begins (the springy-haired John McEnroe in 1979 springs to mind).

Mentions of British tennis continued to climb on the Tuesday and the Wednesday as Britain continued to bask in the success of Mr Murray and the Wimbledon qualifying tournament got underway in overcast Roehampton.

Conclusion

So why did mentions of “British tennis” peak on quarter-final day, rather than on finals day when Murray triumphed at Queens?

This might be down to the James Ward effect – his unexpected victories surprisingly might seem to offer more hope for the overall future of British tennis than Murray’s victories do.

We already know how good Murray is but the thought of another Brit breaching the top 50 might suggest a pattern of British success whereas Murray’s position near the top of the tennis summit is just isolated success.

In a way, Murray’s success is the exception to the rule of British tennis – Brits are expected to lose – but Ward might be challenging this rule.

Roll on Wimbledon!

Author: Dominick Soar

Brandwatch is a Social Media Monitoring Tool that measures online buzz and sentiment.

Tennis In The Commonwealth – Murray and Robson To Play For GB In Hopman Cup

By Leigh Sanders

Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.

Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.

The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.

This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.

This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.

In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.

Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.

Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.

In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.

Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.

More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.

Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.

Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.

Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.

Pioline topples Sampras at last and meets Rusedski in final

Cedric Pioline recorded an historic win against Pete Sampras on Saturday afternoon to reach the final of the BlackRock Masters Tennis. The Frenchman had never previously beaten Sampras in nine attempts, but he produced some explosive tennis to topple the American 7-6(7), 7-6(5).

“This is a great feeling,” said Pioline. “I tried to hold my serve and today I was reading his serve pretty good as well. It was a close match in the end and it’s so great to finally shake Pete’s hand as a winner.”

After the match Sampras paid tribute to his opponent.

“It was a dog fight today,” he said. “I was really impressed with Cedric and he was returning better today than he used to way back when. I had my chance there in the first but I took my foot off the pedal serving for the set and he produced some great shots.” It was competitive and I wanted to win so I’m disappointed I didn’t make the final, but at least the crowd enjoyed it.”

Despite his defeat today, Sampras has enjoyed his long-awaited return to London, a place that holds so many special memories for the seven time Wimbledon Champion.

“I had a great time this week and I’ve been really impressed with the tournament,” he said. “It’s nice to be back in London and seeing the British people was fun for me. I’ve got some good memories coming here and just driving around the streets makes me think about my titles and my wins. It’s a shame I couldn’t win another one here at the Albert Hall.”

Pioline will now take on Greg Rusedski in Sunday’s final, and the Frenchman is expecting another tough battle.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult match again because he’s in good shape,” he said. “He has a big serve so I will need to return well again. To win the tournament would be something special and I’d love to leave London as a winner with the cup in my hand.”

In the final match of the day at the Royal Albert Hall Jeremy Bates put in a sensational performance to beat John McEnroe 6-4, 6-7(4), 11-9 (Champions’ Tie Break).

SAMPRAS TO RETURN TO WIMBLEDON WHEN TIME IS RIGHT

For Pete Sampras the All England Lawn Tennis Club is a special place, and one he has not revisited since his retirement from professional tennis more than six years ago. He had been considering a return to SW19 during his stay in London this week for the BlackRock Masters Tennis but the seven-time Wimbledon Champion decided to leave it a little longer before taking a trip down the most emotional of memory lanes.

“I decided not to go,” he said. “I hear there’s a lot of construction going on and I wanted to go at a time when all the courts are up. That way I’ll have a chance to properly reminisce and maybe even walk on to Centre Court again.”

Despite almost a decade of glittering success at the All England Club, Sampras’ most recent memory of SW19 came back in 2002 when the American suffered a  painful second round loss at the hands of the unseeded swiss George Bastl on Court Two. He retired later that year after winning the US Open and has not returned to the UK since.

“I decided that it’s probably better to go while the event is going on, and also I’d like to take my kids over to check it out as well and they’re not here this week. I’m going to go back one day. It’s just a matter of when.”

The event is being covered by ITV4 in the UK, and matches are also being streamed live on the ITV website, ITV.com. Click here to access the live stream http://www.itv.com/sport/tennis/default.html.

ITV4 TRANSMISSION TIMES

Sunday                                  13.00 – 17:00

RESULTS – Saturday 6th December

Cedric Pioline d. Pete Sampras 7-6(7), 7-6(5)

Jeremy Bates d. John McEnroe 6-4, 6-7(4), 11-9 (Champions’ Tie Break)

FINAL GROUP STANDINGS

GROUP A

Matches won/lost (sets)

Cedric Pioline                                                    3-0 (6-0)

Pete Sampras                                                    2-1 (4-2)

Jeremy Bates                                                     1-2 (2-5)

John McEnroe                                                                      0-3 (1-6).

Greg Rusedski                                                    3-0 (6-2)

Stefan Edberg                                                    2-1 (5-2)

Guy Forget                                                         1-2 (3-5)

Pat Cash                                                                                0-3 (2-6).

ORDER OF PLAY (subject to change)

Sunday

1          Singles Final                  Cedric Pioline vs. Greg Rusedski

2          Doubles Final                   Bahrami/Fleming vs. McNamara/Woodforde

3          Doubles                          Bates/Murray vs. Black/Jarryd

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At September 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.259 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,800 employees in 22 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

The BlackRock Masters Tennis: http://www.theblackrockmasters.com

BlackRock Tour of Champions: http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

Sampras beats Bates to set up winner-take-all Pioline showdown

Pete Sampras set up a mouth watering winner-take-all clash with Cedric Pioline on Saturday after battling to victory over former British number one Jeremy Bates at the BlackRock Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday.

In a match that lasted just over an hour, Sampras was pushed to a second set tie break before eventually triumphing 6-3, 7-6(3) against an opponent nine years his senior. After the match, Sampras admitted he hadn’t been expecting to be pushed as hard as he was.

“The match was much tougher than I thought it would be,” he said. “I think on this court Jeremy’s pretty effective and he was serving and volleying well, particularly in the second set. I felt like I played pretty well, a little spotty at times but I’ve got to give him credit because he played really well.”

Sampras will now play Cedric Pioline on Saturday afternoon in a match that will decide which of the two men is to progress to Sunday’s final. Pioline has lost all nine of his previous meetings with Sampras, including the two most painful losses of his career in the 1993 US Open and 1997 Wimbledon finals.

“We’ve played in two Major finals before. He’s a talented guy and he’s going to be very tough to break out there because the court’s playing really quick,” said Sampras. “He’s got a good serve and he’s pretty eager to beat me so we’ll see what happens.”

The winner will take on Greg Rusedski in the final. The British player defeated Pat Cash 4-6, 7-5, 10-3 (Champions’ Tie-Break).

The event is being covered by ITV4 in the UK, and matches are also being streamed live on the ITV website, ITV.com. Click here to access the live stream http://www.itv.com/sport/tennis/default.html.

ITV4 TRANSMISSION TIMES

Saturday                                12.30 – 17.00 (19.30 Match on Red Button and also on the ITV.com website) Sunday                                  13.00 – 17:00

For tickets to the BlackRock Masters Tennis, or for further information, please call the box office on: +44 (0) 208 233 5882, or visit the official website.

Corporate Hospitality packages are also available. For more information, please call: +44 (0) 208 233 5854.

RESULTS – Friday 5th December
Stefan Edberg d. Guy Forget 1-6, 7-6(1), 10-6 (Champions’ Tie Break) Pete Sampras d. Jeremy Bates 6-3, 7-6(3)

LATEST GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets) Cedric Pioline                                                    2-0 (4-0) Pete Sampras                                                    2-0 (4-0) Jeremy Bates                                                     0-2 (0-4) John McEnroe               0-2 (0-4).
Greg Rusedski                                                    3-0 (6-2) Stefan Edberg                                                    2-1 (5-2) Guy Forget                                                         1-2 (3-5) Pat Cash                        0-3 (2-6).

ORDER OF PLAY (subject to change)

Saturday afternoon

Starting at 1pm
1          Singles RR      Pioline v Sampras  LIVE ITV4            2          Doubles Forget and Leconte v Black and Murray LIVE ITV4   3       Doubles Bahrami and Bates v Gullikson and McNamara LIVE ITV4

Saturday evening

Starting at 7.30pm
1          Singles RR      Bates v McEnroe                                2          Doubles           TBC                                        3          Doubles           TBC

Sunday
1          Singles Final                  LIVE   TBC                                        2          Doubles Final
LIVE   TBC                                        3          Doubles                                   LIVE   TBC

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At September 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.259 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,800 employees in 22 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

The BlackRock Masters Tennis: http://www.theblackrockmasters.com BlackRock Tour of Champions: http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

Win over McEnroe gives Pioline chance for Sampras revenge

Cedric Pioline will have the chance for revenge against Pete Sampras after ending John McEnroe’s hopes of a fifth BlackRock Masters Tennis title at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Pioline, 39, put in an impressive display of serving to record a 6-3, 6-4 victory over McEnroe in front of a packed crowd of nearly 4000 fans. The Frenchman took just one hour and 15 minutes to beat his American opponent 6-3, 6-4 and now moves into first position in Group B. On Saturday, he will face Sampras, the man he lost to in the 1993 US Open final and the 1997 Wimbledon final. If Pioline wins, Sampras will be going home empty-handed.
“Those two Grand Slam finals belong to the past but of course I wish I could have won at least one of them,” said Pioline. “It’s going to be fun because I haven’t played against Pete for eight or ten years and if I win it will be revenge for me.
“The way Pete’s serving and the way he’s hitting the ball, he probably could be in the top 20 or top 30 in the world today. But I’m playing good and I’m serving good so I think I have a good chance too and if I win I’ll be in Sunday’s final which would be special for me.”
McEnroe, who is ten year’s Pioline’s senior, showed clear signs of frustration throughout a match in which his opponent dominated with his thunderous serve, hitting 12 aces in total. Pioline went ahead early in the first set, breaking early on to lead 4-1 and serving out the set in impressive fashion. The second set was a tighter affair, with McEnroe managing to stay level until 3-3 when his opponent produced a scorching backhand winner to take a 4-3 lead. The break of serve proved to be decisive and from that point the Frenchman never looked back. He fittingly clinched the match with an ace down the centre line, at which point McEnroe held up his hands in surrender.
“It was one of those days when you hit the ball and everything goes in so that’s a great feeling for me,” said Pioline.
“I served very well and I felt good moving side to side. John’s always in good shape and I think he was playing very good tennis but today I was just a little bit better.”
Pioline will now play Pete Sampras on Saturday afternoon in a match that will decide who will top Group A and progress to Sunday’s final. The two men met nine times during their ATP Tour careers and Pioline is yet to notch up a victory against the 14 time Grand Slam champion Sampras. The Frenchman will have more than a place in the final to play for on Saturday as he will also be seeking revenge against the man who denied him his two best chances of Grand Slam success, beating him in both the 1993 US Open and 1997 Wimbledon finals.

In the first match of Thursday’s afternoon session last year’s BlackRock Masters runner up Guy Forget toppled Pat Cash 6-4, 4-6, 10-2 (Champions’ Tie Break) to move to second place in Group B.
The event is being covered by ITV4 in the UK, and matches are also being streamed live on the ITV website, ITV.com. Click here to access the live stream http://www.itv.com/sport/tennis/default.html.

ITV4 TRANSMISSION TIMES

Friday                                     18:00 – 21:30 Saturday                                12.30 – 17.00 (19.30 Match on Red Button) Sunday                                  13.00 – 17:00

For tickets to the BlackRock Masters Tennis, or for further information, please call the box office on: +44 (0) 208 233 5882, or visit the official website.

Corporate Hospitality packages are also available. For more information, please call: +44 (0) 208 233 5854.

RESULTS – Thursday 4th December
Guy Forget d. Pat Cash 6-4, 4-6, 10-2 (Champions’ Tie Break) Cedric Pioline d. John McEnroe 6-3, 6-4

LATEST GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets) Cedric Pioline                                                    2-0 (4-0) Pete Sampras                                                    1-0 (2-0) Jeremy Bates                                                     0-1 (0-2 John McEnroe               0-2 (0-4).
Greg Rusedski                                                    2-0 (4-1) Guy Forget                                                         1-1 (2-3) Stefan Edberg                                                    0-1 (1-2) Pat Cash                        0-2 (1-4).

ORDER OF PLAY (subject to change)

Friday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Edberg v Forget                                  2          Single              Bates v Sampras                                  3          Doubles           Bahrami/Pioline v McNamara/Murray

Friday evening

1          Singles RR      Cash v Rusedski                                 2          Doubles           Jarryd/Wilkinson v Black/Murray                   3          Doubles           Gullikson/Leconte v Fleming/Woodforde

Saturday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Pioline v Sampras                    2          Doubles          TBC                                        3          Doubles          TBC

Saturday evening

1          Singles RR      Bates v McEnroe                                2          Doubles           TBC                                        3          Doubles           TBC

Sunday

1          Singles Final                  LIVE   TBC                                        2          Doubles Final
LIVE   TBC                                        3          Doubles                                   LIVE   TBC

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At September 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.259 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,800 employees in 22 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

The BlackRock Masters Tennis: http://www.theblackrockmasters.com
BlackRock Tour of Champions:

http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

Sampras beats ‘best ever’ McEnroe on London return

Pete Sampras received a rapturous, hero’s welcome in his first appearance on English soil in six years as he defeated John McEnroe 6-3, 6-4 at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London.

In the opinion of Sampras, McEnroe played the best tennis he has ever produced against the seven-time Wimbledon champion, but it still wasn’t enough to slay the younger of the two Americans at the Royal Albert Hall.

McEnroe forced 0-40 on Sampras’s opening service game, but he couldn’t quite convert his only real opportunity on the Sampras serve.

After that, some of the rallies and reflexes were breathtaking for men supposedly past their peak.

Both players served and volleyed throughout, and a packed crowd in the Royal Albert Hall savoured every moment. So did the players.

“Talking to a few of the guys about playing here they told me there were great crowds and that the arena was phenomenal and it really was,” said Sampras.

“To be retired for six years and still be able to play in front of good crowds like this is an honour. It was a fun night of tennis, it really was.”

And he had some generous words for McEnroe.

“To be 49 and to be able to serve and volley and be effective and still have the hands and the movement is incredible. Forty nine is not young in tennis so more credit to him for keeping himself fit. I know he does a lot of off court training and it’s paid off. I’m really impressed.”

So was McEnroe.

“This is the twelfth year I’ve played and I don’t know if there’s a lot of matches I’ve played better than this and I lost,” said McEnroe. “I was a little unlucky in some of the games, like the two service games and when I had 0-40 in the first game. It’s sort of like being thrown out to the wolves to play Pete in my first match but it’s just good to be part of it even though I lost.”

Sampras said he might use his day off on Thursday to visit Wimbledon. He hasn’t been back to the scene of his greatest triumphs since he lost to George Bastl in 2002.

Elsewhere, Greg Rusedski scraped past Stefan Edberg 7-6(7) 5-7,10-6 (Champions’ Tie Break), and Cedric Pioline defeated Jeremy Bates 6-3, 6-4.

MURRAY DREAM COMES TRUE

Growing up, Jamie Murray dreamt of trading groundstrokes with the great Pete Sampras. On Wednesday in London, his dream came true.

Needing a practice partner with a swinging, left-handed delivery ahead of his clash with John McEnroe, Sampras asked Murray, who is here to play in the doubles event.

The pair laughed and joked together, and for Murray, it was a special experience.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Murray. “I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated as hard in my life on a tennis court but it’s got to be done against Pete.  The first ball he fed in was about 120 mph. It was a lot of fun and he still hits the ball as sweet as a nut and he was caning it from the back of the court right the way through. But I enjoyed it and I never thought or expected that I’d get the chance to do it in my life.”

The event is being covered by ITV4 in the UK, and matches are also being streamed live on the ITV website, ITV.com. Click here to access the live stream http://www.itv.com/sport/tennis/default.html.

ITV4 TRANSMISSION TIMES

Thursday                               18:00 – 22:00

Friday                                     18:00 – 21:30

Saturday                                12.30 – 17.00 (19.30 Match on Red Button)

Sunday                                  13.00 – 17:00

For tickets to the BlackRock Masters Tennis, or for further information, please call the box office on: +44 (0) 208 233 5882, or visit the official website.

Corporate Hospitality packages are also available. For more information, please call: +44 (0) 208 233 5854 , e-mail:[email protected] or click here.

RESULTS – Wednesday 3rd December

Cedric Pioline d. Jeremy Bates 6-3, 6-4

Greg Rusedski d. Stefan Edberg 7-6(7) 5-7,10-6 (Champions’ Tie Break)

Pete Sampras d. John McEnroe 6-3, 6-4

ORDER OF PLAY (subject to change)

Thursday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Cash v Forget

2          Doubles           Bahrami/Bates v McNamara/Wilkinson

3          Doubles           Fleming/Woodforde v Jarryd/Leconte

Thursday evening

1          Singles RR      McEnroe v Pioline

2          Doubles           Rusedski/Wilkinson v McNamara/Woodforde

3          Doubles           Black/Leconte v Bahrami/Gullikso

Friday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Edberg v Forget

2          Single              Bates v Sampras

3          Doubles           Bahrami/Pioline v McNamara/Murray

Friday evening

1          Singles RR      Cash v Rusedski

2          Doubles           Jarryd/Wilkinson v Black/Murray

3          Doubles           Gullikson/Leconte v Fleming/Woodforde

Saturday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Pioline v Sampras

2          Doubles          TBC

3          Doubles          TBC

Saturday evening

1          Singles RR      Bates v McEnroe

2          Doubles           TBC

3          Doubles           TBC

Sunday

1          Singles Final                  LIVE   TBC

2          Doubles Final                          LIVE   TBC

3          Doubles                                   LIVE   TBC

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At September 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.259 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,800 employees in 22 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

The BlackRock Masters Tennis: http://www.theblackrockmasters.com

BlackRock Tour of Champions: http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

Sampras back in London at last

Pete Sampras arrived in London for the BlackRock Masters Tennis today and caught up with old friends, adversaries and members of the media.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion will take on John McEnroe in a mouth-watering debut match at the event on Wednesday, and he can’t wait to get started.

“I still want to win,” said Sampras.

“It’s still competitive. We all have a lot of pride in playing well and winning. It’s not like I need to come here and ‘have’ to win the event like when I was in my mid-20s when it was a question of ‘all or nothing’. But that said, people want to see me play well and all the guys play well so we all do take a lot of pride in doing what we used to do. For me, I still want to win and I still want to play good tennis.”

It completes the circle for Sampras, who has not set foot in England since his last Wimbledon in 2002.

“I said during my career that I would never play senior’s tennis,” he admitted.

“But you should never say never and I didn’t know how retirement was going to be. It’s tricky. Every athlete will tell you that when they stop at a pretty young age, trying to find different ways to keep yourself fulfilled is difficult and some people have to come out of retirement to do that. The schedule provided by playing here keeps me in shape and makes me a better father and husband. When you’re not doing much throughout your day I can lose my patience and start to think ‘what am I doing with my life’. But I’ve got years to figure it out and retirement is still a work in progress for me. There’s no book on it. But I’m still enjoying playing a little tennis.”

He is looking forward to the prospect of taking on McEnroe, Cedric Pioline and Jeremy Bates in Group A this week, and possibly Stefan Edberg or Greg Rusedski in the final, but Sampras has no regrets about calling it a day when he did. After winning the US Open in 2002 he took his time to make his decision, before ultimately declaring his 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi in the final as his last match.

“I was done, I really was,” said Sampras.

“Those last couple of years took a lot out of me. Not winning an event and then winning that last US Open, that was the last fuel I had in my tank. I gave it some time, I gave it six to eight months to really make sure I was done. Then, once Wimbledon came and went the year after I won the Open I knew it was time for me to move on. And I wasn’t going to play for the money or the limelight or to wave goodbye. I play to win. Once that day came where I was 100% done and I wasn’t willing to do the work, it was time for me to call it a career. Watching Wimbledon the year after made me realise that I didn’t have it in my heart to be there, and that’s when I knew that it was for real and I was feeling the emotion of not wanting to play anymore. So that was sort of my epiphany. I was waiting for that something to happen and once it didn’t happen it was time for me to move. I will say in the last couple of years I’ve missed it more than I did when I first retired. I definitely miss that Centre Court. But it’s a brutal sport and it took a lot out of me so I needed a few years to decompress and take a deep breath. To get to the point where I’d like to play again and play in a few of these events is pretty fun for me.”

The event is being covered by ITV4 in the UK, and matches are also being streamed live on the ITV website, ITV.com. Click here to access the live stream http://www.itv.com/sport/tennis/default.html.

On Tuesday, Greg Rusedski got off to a winning start with 6-3, 7-6 win over Guy Forget.

ITV4 TRANSMISSION TIMES

Wednesday                          18:00 – 19:00 (19.30 Match on Red button)

Thursday                               18:00 – 22:00

Friday                                     18:00 – 21:30

Saturday                                12.30 – 17.00 (19.30 Match on Red Button)

Sunday                                  13.00 – 17:00

For tickets to the BlackRock Masters Tennis, or for further information, please call the box office on: +44 (0) 208 233 5882, or visit the official website.

Corporate Hospitality packages are also available. For more information, please call: +44 (0) 208 233 5854.

RESULTS – Tuesday 2nd December

Greg Rusedski d. Guy Forget 6-3, 7-6

Stefan Edberg d. Pat Cash 6-4, 6-3

ORDER OF PLAY (subject to change)

Wednesday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Bates v Pioline

2          Singles RR      Edberg v Rusedski

3          Doubles           Bahrami/Wilkinson v Gullikson/McNamara

Wednesday evening

1          Singles RR      McEnroe v Sampras

2          Doubles           Leconte/Woodforde v Jarryd/Murray

3          Doubles           Gullikson/McNamara v Black/Fleming

Thursday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Cash v Forget

2          Doubles           Bahrami/Bates v McNamara/Wilkinson

3          Doubles           Fleming/Woodforde v Jarryd/Leconte

Thursday evening

1          Singles RR      McEnroe v Pioline

2          Doubles           Rusedski/Wilkinson v McNamara/Woodforde

3          Doubles           Black/Leconte v Bahrami/Gullikso

Friday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Edberg v Forget

2          Single              Bates v Sampras

3          Doubles           Bahrami/Pioline v McNamara/Murray

Friday evening

1          Singles RR      Cash v Rusedski

2          Doubles           Jarryd/Wilkinson v Black/Murray

3          Doubles           Gullikson/Leconte v Fleming/Woodforde

Saturday afternoon

1          Singles RR      Pioline v Sampras

2          Doubles          TBC

3          Doubles          TBC

Saturday evening

1          Singles RR      Bates v McEnroe

2          Doubles           TBC

3          Doubles           TBC

Sunday

1          Singles Final                  LIVE   TBC

2          Doubles Final                          LIVE   TBC

3          Doubles                                   LIVE   TBC

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At September 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.259 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,800 employees in 22 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

The BlackRock Masters Tennis: http://www.theblackrockmasters.com

BlackRock Tour of Champions: http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

Mondays With Bob Greene: The Second Week of Wimbledon

STARS

Wimbledon

Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7

Women’s Singles: Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 7-5 6-4

Men’s Doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (12) 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-3

Women’s Doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2

Mixed Doubles: Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur beat Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5 6-4

Boys Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3

Girls Singles: Laura Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1

Boys Doubles: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua beat Matt Reid and Bernard Tomic 6-4 2-6 12-10

Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Isabella Holland and Sally Peers 6-3 1-6 6-2

Ladies Invitational Doubles: Jana Novotna and Kathy Rinaldi beat Martina Navratilova and Helena Sukova 7-5 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles: Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer beat Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, walkover

Senior Gentlemen’s Doubles: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Wheelchair Masters: Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink beat Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-7 (6) 6-1 6-3

Other Tournaments

Ivan Navarro defeated Dick Norman 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-6 (10) to capture the 2008 Open Diputacion in Pozoblanco, Spain

Luis Horna won the BSI Challenger Lugano, defeating Nicolas Devilder 7-6 (1) 6-1 in Lugano, Switzerland

Fabio Fognini beat Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-1 to win the Sporting Challenger 08 in Turin, Italy

Tathiana Garbin won the Cuneo 2008 ITF event in Cuneo, Italy, beating Sorana-Mihaela Cristea 6-3 6-1

SAYINGS

“I am very, very happy. For me it is a dream to play on this court. I had a lot of chances to win, but he always fight unbelievable.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating five-time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles.

“It’s tough, it’s tough, it hurts. Rafa really served well at the end. I missed so many opportunities. I paid the price in the end.” – Roger Federer.

“My first job is big sister. I take that job very seriously.” – Venus Williams, talking about family ties after beating sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.

“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win.” – Serena Williams, noting she and her sister Venus have won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women’s singles titles.

“I’m definitely more in tune with my sister’s feelings because one of us has to win and one has to lose. Of course the celebration isn’t as exciting because my sister has just lost.” – Venus Williams.

“They’re serving bombs.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, referring to the big-serving games of both Williams sisters.

“His forehand was ridiculous. He hits the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult to get any rhythm. I felt rushed on every point.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.

“To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place.” – Marat Safin.

“His forehand is incredible. The speed and spin is incredible, and the pop in his serve, there’s a life to it.” – John McEnroe, admitting he was stunned by the power of Rafael Nadal after he practiced with the Spaniard.

“It’s not over ’til the blonde lady screams.” – Mary Carillo on Elena Dementieva’s shrieking during her semifinal loss to Venus Williams.

“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.” – Jelena Jankovic, complaining about having to play on Court 18, where she lost.

“My husband warms up with me every time. He’s a good hitting partner, but maybe he needs to practice the serve more and serve like Serena. Then next time I will return much better.” – Zheng Jie, after Serena Williams fired 14 aces in her semifinal victory over the Chinese player.

“We have always aimed for singles gold, but Zheng Jie’s results have further bolstered our confidence in the Chinese tennis team.” – Xie Miqing, spokeswoman for the Chinese Tennis Federation, after Zheng reached the Wimbledon semifinals.

“I thought I was going to be sick when I walked onto court because there were so many people watching. In the second set I went a bit mad but got it back together and managed to win.” – Laura Robson, who became the first British player since 1984 to win the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles.

“It was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player. It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, after receiving an ITF Place in the Beijing Olympics tennis event.

“He is a wonderful role model for our young Canadiens, and I am so proud of his remarkable accomplishment today. His victory is an exclamation point on a Hall of a Fame career.” – Michael S. Downey, president and chief executive of Tennis Canada, talking about Daniel Nestor.

SPANISH KING

When Rafael Nadal unleashed a final ferocious forehand to end an epic battle, he became the first person since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to sweep both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. His 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 victory also stopped Roger Federer’s bid for a record sixth straight Wimbledon men’s singles title. The defeat snapped Federer’s 40 straight match streak at the All England Club and a record 65-match streak on grass. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, two years before the Open Era began. And at 4 hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history.

SONG FOR ZHENG

The biggest surprise at this year’s Wimbledon was China’s Zheng Jie. She became the first female wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and joined Monica Seles as the second at any Grand Slam tournament. Zheng beat three ranked players, including top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the reigning French Open champion. Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals was the only player to take a set off Zheng, and the Chinese righthander retaliated by winning the third set 6-1. Zheng wasn’t a complete surprise as she was ranked number 27 in the world in singles before she injured her ankle in 2007 and underwent surgery, ending her season. She won the gold at the Asian Games in 2006, beating Sania Mirza, and teamed with Yan Zi to win the doubles at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon the same year, her doubles ranking being as high as number three in the world.

SUN RISING IN EAST

Could the tennis power axis be shifting to the East – the Far East, that is? China’s Zheng Jie shocked the tennis world by knocking off top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Agnes Szavay and No. 18 Nicole Vaidisova on her way to the semifinals. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand eliminated the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic. Another Thai, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, reached the Girls’ singles final, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua captured the boys’ doubles title, winning the decisive third set 12-10. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama was a quarterfinalist in the mixed doubles. Earlier this year 18-year-old Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event in almost 16 years when he upset James Black in the final of Delray Beach, Florida. And the center of the tennis world next month will be the Beijing Olympics.

SET FOR BEIJING

Nicolas Massu of Chile will be able to defend his gold medals in singles and doubles now that he has been added to the field of the Beijing Olympics tennis event. The ITF awarded places in the field to 12 players – six men and six women – who did not meet the direct acceptance requirements. Massu won both the singles and doubles at the Athens Games four years ago. Other ITF Places in the men’s singles went to Kevin Anderson, South Africa; Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden; Kei Nishikori, Japan; Max Mirnyi, Belarus; and Sun Peng, China. Given ITF Places in the women’s singles were Maria Koryttseva, Ukraine; Chan Yung-Jan, Taiwan; Ayumi Morita, Japan; Nuria Llagostera-Vives, Spain; Alicia Molik, Australia; and Selima Sfar, Tunisia.

SEE YOU IN BEIJING

Eighteen of the top 20 men and seven of the top ten women are scheduled to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For both men and women, this is the strongest field to compete in the Olympics since tennis returned as a full medal sport in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Out of the top players, the only ones deciding to stay home are Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet and Anna Chakvetadze. Fernando Verdasco and Marion Bartoli are both ineligible to compete. The Olympic tennis event will be played from Sunday, August 10, through Sunday, August 17, at the new Olympic Tennis Center in Beijing.

SUMMERTIME READING

More than 40 of the top tennis players took part in the ITF’s official tennis Olympic book, “Journey to Beijing – Tennis.” The 140-page publication features a series of photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. The pictures are accompanied by interviews with the players. The pictures were taken in Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, the Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Check out Serena Williams as an ice skater.

SURE ABOUT RETIRING?

Justine Henin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to tennis. The 26-year-old Belgian announced her retirement 10 days before the start of the French Open in May. At the time, she was ranked number one in the world. Henin, who is establishing a tennis academy in Belgium, said, “I can never say for sure that I’ll never be back because I hate to say never. But for me, and the people who know me, they know that when I do something, I do it 200 percent, and when I decide it’s over, it’s over and I go to the next step.”

SANDRA’S BACK

Austrian doubles player Sandra Klemenschits will return to the WTA Tour this month following her battle with abdominal cancer, the same illness that caused the death in April of her twin sister Daniela. Organizers of the Gastein Ladies awarded Klemenschits a wild card for their July 14-20 tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria. She will team up with Germany’s Marlene Weingaertner, who is making her comeback after a two-year retirement from competitive tennis. Sandra and Daniela Klemenschits played doubles on Austria’s Fed Cup team and won 23 titles on the ITF women’s circuit before both were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer.

STRONG PARTNERS

Jonas Bjorkman was on the losing side in his final Wimbledon’s men’s doubles championship match. He and Kevin Ullyett lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Swede’s last appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before he retires at the end f the season. Bjorkman’s partners in his winning 51 doubles titles – including eight at Grand Slam events – include Todd Woodbridge, John McEnroe, Pat Rafter and Roger Federer.

SETS RECORDS

When Daniel Nestor teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship, he became the first Canadian to win a title at the All England Club. Nestor also completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to championships he won with Mark Knowles at the Australian Open in 2002, the U.S. Open in 2004 and the French Open in 2007. And he became just the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, joining Andre Agassi, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

SISTERLY SUCCESS

After facing each other in the women’s singles final, sisters Venus and Serena Williams teamed up to win their third Wimbledon women’s doubles championship and seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2. The sisters last won the doubles at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena beat Venus in the singles final. This year, Venus beat Serena for her fifth Wimbledon singles crown.

SINGLES WINNER

When Laura Robson beat third-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1, she became the first British player to win the Wimbledon girls singles since Annabel Croft in 1984. Because of the interest in the 14-year-old’s match, the girls’ singles final was played in the 11,000-seat No. 1 court. She is the youngest girls’ champion at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis won in 1994 at the age of 13. When she was handed the trophy by Ann Jones, one of the British women to have won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles, Robson said she hopes she will be granted a wild card into the main draw of next year’s Championships.

STAYING HOME

Marcos Baghdatis has decided not play Davis Cup for Cyprus against Portugal later this month. Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, said he is pulling out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie because of other commitments, but said he was not be quitting the team indefinitely.

SAY WHAT?

The top-seeded brother team of Bob and Mike Bryan never lost serve during this year’s Wimbledon, yet they didn’t win the title. The American twins lost in the men’s doubles semifinals to the team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9). Bob Bryan did win a Wimbledon title, teaming with Samantha Stosur to capture the mixed doubles. Mike Bryan was on the losing side of the net with Katarina Srebotnik.

SEEING IT ON TV

The battle between sisters Venus and Serena Williams drew the highest preliminary United States television ratings in three years for a Wimbledon women’s final. NBC said viewership was up 21 percent from last years’ meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli and the best rating since 2005 when Venus beat Lindsay Davenport.

SPONSORSHIP

Ricoh, a global leader in digital office solutions, has extended its role as the Official Office Solutions Provider of the ATP for three additional years. The company will also sponsor the official ATP MatchFacts, distributed after every ATP Tour match and sponsorship of Hawkeye graphics at a number of ATP Masters Series events in Europe.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Cordoba: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat James Cerretani and Dick Norman 6-4 6-3

Lugano: Ramirez Junaid and Philipp Marx beat Mariano Hood and Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (7) 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Turin: Carlos Berlocq and Frederico Gil beat Tomas Cibulec and Jaroslav Levinsky 6-4 6-3

Cuneo: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Olga Savchuk and Marina Shamayko 6-1 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Newport: www.tennisfame.com

Gstaad: www.swissopengstaad.com

Palermo: www.countrytimeclub.it

Budapest: www.gazdefrancegrandprix.com

Stuttgart: www.mercedescup.de

Bastad: www.tennisfame.com

Istanbul: www.tedclub.org.tr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com

Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at

Scheveningen: www.siemens-open.nl

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$100,000 Siemens Open, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay

WTA TOUR

$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay

SENIORS

Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$890,000 Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay

$525,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, hard

$525,000 Dutch Open Tennis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, clay

$525,000 ATP Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

WTA

$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay

SENIORS

Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard

DAVIS CUP

(July 18-20)

Americas Zone

Group III: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hard

Group IV: Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, US Virgin Island at Honduras

Europe/Africa Zone

Group II Playoffs: Luxembourg vs. Finland at Hanko, Finland, clay; Hungary vs. Greece at Thessaloniki, Greece, clay

Group II Second Round: Denmark vs. South Africa at Johannesburg, South Africa, hard; Algeria vs. Monaco at Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay