Jesse Levine

State of the Union

by James A. Crabtree

What a disappointment the American men currently are.

For a country that is so rich in tennis history it is heart breaking to see a power house such as the United States limp through the season.

True, some players have been playing well. Sam Querrey has displayed a mild resurgence, James Blake is attempting one last hurrah, Jack Sock could well be a diamond in the rough and Mardy Fish is back at Indian Wells but hasn’t played since the 2012 U.S. Open. Outside of the top 100 Tim Smyczek looks to be a hustling player making waves. The players hanging in the bottom half of the top 100 such as Brian Baker and Michael Russell, are those with heart whilst the majority of the new batch, thus far, are all hype.

The real disappointment lies with the supposed new generation of stars. Granted, they do all talk a good game, profess their commitment to hard work and assure us that they are just that one big win from joining the elite. At this point none look like worthy candidates to propel the stars and stripes forward during the teenage years of this decade and for the most part lack true grit.

Ryan Harrison is still only twenty years old, and players tend to show their potential at around twenty two these days. Impressively Harrison has the skills to battle with the elite, just not the temperament to outclass anybody notable so far.

In 2011 Donald Young reached a career high ranking of 38, the fourth round of the U.S. Open and made the final of a 250 event in Thailand. The John McEnroe prophecies were starting to ring true until 2012, when Young pressed the self-destruct button and lost seventeen matches in a row. 2013 hasn’t been so bad, but Young is way off in the rankings.

Back in the early eighties many players from the eastern bloc looked to defect their homeland for the American dream. These days the reverse is happening. After some financial disputes with the USTA, Russian born Alex Bogolmov Jnr decided he was more Russian than American in 2012. Jesse Levine is another with eyes on being part of a Davis Cup team, having aligned with Canada, the country of his birth. Reportedly both players still live in Florida.

None of the current crop look poised to make a leap.

For those who can remember, rewind ten years prior and it was a much different story.

Pete Sampras was sailing off into the distance after his fourteenth slam. Andre Agassi had recently collected his fourth Australian title, and Andy Roddick was only months away from cracking the big time.

In many people’s eyes Roddick didn’t win enough, mainly because he failed to win a second slam. It must be remembered that his second chance was always going to be a lot tougher thanks to a certain Mr Federer who spoilt many careers. Now with the oft-criticised Roddick gone, and enjoying retirement, the torch as America’s best player hasn’t been passed onto a worthy candidate.

Now before the stomach acid of the Isner fans starts churning let’s remember that big John does very little outside of the U.S. or Davis Cup duties and has been looking rather out of sorts this year. Is it too soon to count him out?

And when was the U.S. this unsubstantial? Certainly not twenty years ago when the Americans were surely the majority in any draw.

So what has happened in the years since? Is the college system watered down, do the Academies need a revamp, is American tennis stuck in the past or just stuck in a lull?

As much as champions are formed at the grass root level, the formative years are spent idolising a hero. Naturally, an idol a young player can relate to will only help to cultivate progression.

With so many tournaments stateside, roughly 18% of the total tour, it is bad for tennis to have a weak America. And with so few American contenders a sense of complacent mediocrity can set in quickly.

What to Watch in the ATP This Week: Previews of Dubai, Acapulco, and Delray Beach

One of the strongest  ATP 500 tournaments on the calendar, Dubai follows its Premier women’s event by hosting six of the top ten men in the first significant outdoor hard-court tournament since the Australian Open.  This tournament claims pride of place in our weekly preview, although events in Acapulco and Delray Beach also feature key storylines that relate to what we can expect at Indian Wells.

Dubai:  A three-time champion at this event, world #1 Djokovic did not bring his best tennis to the Persian Gulf last year in the wake of a draining Australian Open.  The medium-paced hard court showcases his game splendidly, though, so he might bounce back in 2013 with a less exhausting Melbourne marathon behind him and a comfortable quarter ahead of him.  Not since his first meeting with Troicki has he lost to his compatriot, and rarely in the current twelve-match winning streak has the other Serb seriously troubled him.  That said, Djokovic did drop a set when they met here in 2010.  Also unlikely to threaten him on a hard court is the seventh-seeded Seppi, while Lukas Rosol does lurk but so far remains a one-upset man.

While three qualifiers form a soft center to the second quarter, its edges might feature some intrigue.  Seeking to avoid a third straight first-round loss here, former semifinalist Baghdatis faces a tall task in Del Potro, but he has won their last two clashes.  That battle of flat groundstrokes and inspired shot-making should offer some of the first round’s best entertainment.  Of lesser note is the encounter between the eighth-seeded Youzhny and rising Slovene Blaz Kavcic.  How much does the aging Russian with the graceful one-handed backhand have left?

Like the second half overall, the third quarter looks stronger than the two above it.  Top-eight threats Tsonga and Berdych bookend it, the former of whom faces a stern test in compatriot Michael Llodra.  Neither of those Frenchmen will relish the relatively slow courts here, nor will potential second-round opponent Tursunov.  A smart wildcard choice after his astonishing charge to the Marseille weekend as a qualifier, he ranks among the draw’s most notable dark horses.  Two comfortable rounds await Berdych, who excelled in Marseille as well as Tsonga and Tursunov.  Not known for his consistency, the Czech has maintained some of his steadiest tennis to date over the last several months, and he should fare better against Tsonga on an outdoor hard court than on the fast indoor court where he lost to him on Sunday.

After the hubbub last year when the tournament declined to offer Malek Jaziri a wildcard, the organizers may have smirked a bit when, having received that privilege this year, the Tunisian has landed adjacent to Federer.  More worthy of Swiss steel, surely, is the resurgent Tomic in a sequel to an Australian Open encounter closer than the score showed.  Never a man to doubt his own chances, the brash Aussie will feel confident of toppling whoever emerges from the Tipsarevic-Davydenko opener.  Although that match could present a battle of crisp two-handed backhands, both men have struggled this year and would enter a meeting with Tomic at a significant height disadvantage.  Realistically, however, only one man will come out of this quarter.

Final:  Djokovic vs. Federer

Acapulco:  Of the four top-ten men not participating in Dubai, two lend their illustrious presence to the clay 500 tournament in Mexico.  The end of the South American February swing, Acapulco usually offers an opportunity for top-seeded David Ferrer to bolster his rankings points.  While the presence of Nadal at the base of the draw will complicate his quest, the man who displaced Rafa as the top-ranked Spaniard brings momentum from winning Buenos Aires and faces no significant clay threats in his quarter.  Starting against left-handed compatriot Albert Ramos, Ferrer might face flaky Frenchman Benoit Paire in the quarterfinals, but another Spaniard in Pablo Andujar looms just as large.  Outside Nadal, the top seed has enjoyed plenty of success against his countrymen.

The last victim of Ferrer in Buenos Aires, Wawrinka faces a much more intriguing series of tests to secure a rematch in the semifinals.  Opening against Fabio Fognini of the famous eyebrows and unpredictable temperament, he might encounter the returning Nalbandian afterwards.  A finalist in the first tournament of his return, Sao Paulo, Nalbandian took a set from Ferrer at his home tournament last week before his stamina waned.  The fifth-seeded Jurgen Melzer has struggled this year outside a run to the Zagreb final on an indoor hard court, so Colombian clay threat Santiago Giraldo might seem a plausible dark horse to reach the quarterfinals.

Denied by Wawrinka in Buenos Aires, Almagro still looks to steady himself after that strange combination of breakthrough and breakdown that he endured in Melbourne.  His draw looks comfortable in its early stages, featuring nobody more dangerous than the long-faded Tommy Robredo.  In the quarterfinals, Almagro could meet one of three players who have recorded a strong result each during the South American clay season:  Vina del Mar champion Zeballos, Sao Paulo semifinalist Simone Bolelli, or Vina del Mar semifinalist Carlos Berlocq.  But Zeballos has not won a match since that stunning upset over Nadal, while Berlocq should struggle to match Almagro hold for hold despite winning a set from Nadal in Sao Paulo.

The easiest pre-semifinal route of all would seem to belong to the man who needs it least, or is it most?  Far from bulletproof in his two-week swing through Vina del Mar and Sao Paulo, Nadal managed to scrape out results that looked stronger on paper than on television.  He cannot face anyone of note in his first two matches, however, and the week-long respite may have freshened his body and spirits.  The heavy left-handed groundstrokes of sixth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci might pose a threat in view of the Zeballos result.  All the same, the Brazilian has accomplished nothing during this month’s clay tournaments so far and probably lacks the belief to threaten Nadal.

Final:  Ferrer vs. Nadal

Delray Beach:  In his last tournament before Indian Wells, where he defends finals points, top-seeded John Isner desperately needs to halt a slide that has seen him lose 10 of his last 17 matches.  Although a semifinal at San Jose hinted at a resurgence, he dropped a lackluster straight-setter in Memphis, where the indoor hard courts should have suited his massive serve just as well.  Fortunate to receive a modest first-round opponent in Jesse Levine, Isner then could meet Memphis semifinalist Marinko Matosevic.  The Aussie upset similarly powerful American giant Querrey last week and the talented Dolgopolov, so he brings much more momentum into this match than the top seed.  Before he succumbed to injury, Kevin Anderson enjoyed an excellent January by reaching the Sydney final and the second week of the Australian Open, the first South African to do so in a decade.  He could match Isner serve for serve, or more likely surpass him if his pre-injury form revives.

Quite a contrast to Isner’s week in Memphis was the breakthrough delivered by Jack Sock, who upset second-seeded Raonic in the most significant victory of his career.  Sock received a reward in a wildcard here, although he may not fancy a second-round rematch with the man who finally stopped him last week, Feliciano Lopez.  The American will have gained experience in facing a serve-volleyer in an opener against Aussie Matthew Ebden, which could stand him in good stead against Lopez.  And a third straight could loom in the quarterfinals if Karlovic can solve former champion Nishikori.  Suggesting otherwise is the recent form of both men, for Nishikori has produced generally solid results so far in a 2013 where Karlovic’s age and nagging injuries finally may have caught up with him.

A semifinalist in San Jose and gone early in Memphis, like Isner, third-seeded Sam Querrey inhabits a section filled with his compatriots.  That quirk of fate seems auspicious for him in view of his preference for straightforward opponents who allow him baseline rhythm and lack impressive retturns.  Surely able to overpower battered veterans Russell and Blake, he may need to raise his motivation a notch for the ever-impassioned Ryan Harrison.  That youngster has accomplished even less than Querrey lately, though, and a recent illness may have dulled his energies.  The other seed in this section, Xavier Malisse, retired last week in Memphis.

Also withdrawing from Memphis was San Jose runner-up Tommy Haas, who holds the second seed here but faces an intimidating opener against Igor Sijsling.  The Dutchman suddenly has burst into relevance after reaching the Australian Open doubles final, upsetting Tsonga at his home tournament in Rotterdam, and nearly toppling the top-seeded Cilic in Memphis.  If Haas can weather Sijsling’s impressive serve, he must slow the surge of Denis Istomin’s second straight sold February.  Ever an enigma and ever an entertainer, the fifth-seeded Dolgopolov rounds out this quarter and shares Tommy’s predicament of a dangerous first-round opponent.  As his 2011 victory over Nadal proved, Ivan Dodig can trouble anyone on the occasions when his high-risk game explodes rather than implodes.

Final:  Nishikori vs. Querrey

Australian Open in Photos: Vekic, Watson, Robredo and more

Our esteemed tennis photographer is currently at Melbourne Park and will be providing daily tennis galleries from the 2013 Australian Open. Make sure to check back each day for a new gallery and don’t miss the fun from down under!

January 15, 2013 — Our Tennis Grandstand photographer is back and today’s featured gallery includes Heather Watson, Donna Vekic, Tommy Robredo, Jesse Levine, Garbine Muguruza, Christina McHale, Olivia Rogowska and Josselin Ouanna.

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The US Open comeback kings into the second round

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

On Tuesday it was only the second day of the US Open main draw action in New York, but yesterday served up some fantastic round one matches which entertained for hours and thrilled the audience.

The three five set matches involving Juan ‘Pico’ Mónaco vs Guillermo García-Lopez, Fabio Fognini vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Jesse Levine may not have featured the infamous rivalries between the top guys that we have been so accustomed to seeing, but last night at Flushing Meadows, audiences both at home and on site were treated to matches worthy of that caliber.

The matches that took place between the players mentioned above showed the spirit and the fight of a toe-to-toe match reminiscent of the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
On Grandstand Argentine and No.10 seed Juan Mónaco had an extremely tough first round opponent against Spain’s Guillermo García-Lopez who proved to be more than a handful for Mónaco. The Argentine took the advantage quickly as he led by two sets and 4-1 up in the third, but García-Lopez had other plans – he was not giving up that easily.

In a match that was played with as many highs and lows as a roller coaster and with such determined grit from both players, you would not have thought it was a first round match, the way the players fought and with such heart, you would have been forgiven for being fooled into thinking it was a Grand Slam final and they were fighting for the trophy, not a place in the second round.

Mónaco and García-Lopez fought against their nerves and against each other as it clearly meant so much to them to win. They ventured into the all-important fifth set tiebreak, after Mónaco broke back twice in the set from the brink of defeat and stopped the Spaniard from serving out the match. With a Davis Cup atmosphere on the tennis court and football style chants heavily in the favour of the Argentine with ‘Olé, olé, olé, olé, Pi-co, Pi-co,’ the match was there for the taking and it all boiled down to who could hold their nerve and the realization suddenly dawned that one of them was going to win… but also that one was going to lose and it would be a painful loss.

The joy and jubilation belonged to Guillermo García-Lopez after playing a very solid tiebreak, releasing his heavily weighted forehand continuously and used his well placed serve to give him the upper hand. After his 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-6(3) victory a very relieved and emotional García-Lopez sat in his chair with a tear in his eye, whilst Mónaco visibly annoyed and understandably upset quickly exited the court.

Up next for García-Lopez is Fabio Fognini of Italy who was also involved in an epic five-set encounter against Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France. The Italian will be equally as tired going into his second round match against the Spaniard as he too was on court for nearly four hours with his 3-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 comeback victory against the Frenchman and will be relieved of the day off to recover from that match.

It was during the key moments that Fognini was able to withstand the pressure and contained his fraught emotions to claw his way back into the match. As match point dawned on the Italian, the atmosphere around the court was raucous with expectation and disbelief with what Fognini was about to achieve. The Italian was clearly delighted with the turnaround of the match, but visibly tired too, as he and his weary legs exited the court knowing that he had finally booked his place into the second round.

Alexandr Dolgopolov found himself caught up in a difficult opening round against home country hopeful, Jesse Levine on court 17. The first two sets did not go as planned for the Ukrainian who played some loose service games which proved to be costly as he was suddenly staring at defeat after losing the first two sets.

At the start of the third set, Dolgopolov was quickly broken again and found himself 0-4 down and two games away from packing up his belongings and leaving New York. As Levine became tight, Dolgopolov began his revival and battled his way back into the match. Despite facing a heavily partisan crowd, Dolgopolov kept his composure to break back and take the third set 6-4 and stamped his authority in the fourth set by taking it 6-1.

Eyebrows were raised at his comeback and it was evident that Levine was disappointed with the renaissance that Dolgopolov was bringing to the court. Eventually the Ukrainian won 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 and he will now play Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.

There was so much entertainment and drama in one evening and we are still only in the early stages of the tournament, but it shows that for all of these players, it does not matter whether it is the first round or the final, they will fight for the win – yesterday they were the comeback kings. Their matches may not have been pretty, but a win is a win and they will be happy to take it all the same and improve ready for their next battles.

After the matches feelings of being emotionally, mentally and physically drained were evident – and that was just me! I don’t know how the players do it!

The Secret Behind Bobby Reynolds’ Win Streak

The chances that Jesse Levine gets his racquet back are looking slim.

After an inauspicious start in Brisbane, losing in the first round of qualifiers, Bobby Reynolds asked Levine for one of his racquets.

Since then, Reynolds has gone undefeated, winning five matches in a row at the Sydney International, including an upset over second seed John Isner. The victory was his first top-20 win in nearly seven years.

“Luckily [Levine] was nice enough to give me one of his racquets in Brisbane because the ones I brought down here didn’t fare so well and I didn’t really like it after I played a couple matches with them,” said Reynolds in an interview with the ATP. “He was nice enough to give me one racquet and that’s been getting me through the last five matches.”

The world No. 126 also joked that he may owe his friend Levine some money after his successful run in Sydney.

“He told me that I own him 20 percent,” said Reynolds with a laugh. “But I told him the more the tournament goes on the less likely he’ll get his racquet back or the 20 percent.”

With the win over Isner, Reynolds is in his first ATP quarterfinal since 2008. However, the victory also means that he will miss out on the Australian Open as he was set to play in the qualifiers that began this week.

“It was kind of a tough decision for me to play it out because I was in the qualies at the Australian Open,” said the 29-year-old Reynolds. “[But] I’m glad that I stuck with it here and gave it my all and I hope to build on this for the rest of the year.”

After progressing through the qualifying draw, Reynolds faces fellow qualifier Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday for an unexpected spot in the semifinals.

Regardless of the outcome, Reynolds may want to start stocking up on Levine’s racquets.

 

 

Mondays With Bob Greene: Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today

STARS

Wimbledon (First Week)

Lleyton Hewitt beat fifth-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-5 7-5

Sabine Lisicki beat fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 7-5

Melanie Oudin beat sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (8) 7-5 6-2

Ivo Karlovic beat ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5)

Gisela Dulko beat 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-2 3-6 6-4

Jesse Levine beat 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin 6-2 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-4

SAYING

“It is the best place to be when you are a pro tennis player and I savor every blade of it. I’ve had that crown for several years and I want to make it mine again.” – Defending champion Venus Williams.

“I come here every year expecting myself to win.” – Alex Bogdanovic, whose career record at Wimbledon is now 0-8, the second worst in tournament history only to Joe Hackett of Ireland, who went 0-9.

“Losses are tough. More here than at any other tournament. But, you know, it puts some perspective into your life.” – Maria Sharapova, after her second-round loss to Gisela Dulko.

“If I can win with only one shot, I don’t know, I’m a genius.” – Ivo Karlovic, responding to criticism that he has a one-dimensional game with his huge serve.

“Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today.” – Michelle Larcher de Brito, who made headlines at the French Open for her on-court screeching.

“I think some people are just too noisy. For me it’s extra effort to do it, so I’d rather not do it.” – Ai Sugiyama, about players who screech on court during play.

“Everyone is from Russia. Sometimes I think I’m from Russia, too. I feel, like, you know, OK, all these new ‘Ovas.’ I don’t know anyone. I don’t really recognize anyone. … I think my name must be Williamsova.” – Serena Williams, noting the number of top women players from Russia.

“I need to get out of my brain and start from a new page.” – Marat Safin, after losing in the first round in his 10th and final Wimbledon.

“I’ve never met Serena. I haven’t even walked past her, like ever, almost. I’ve seen her, but she always has tons of security guards around her all the time, at least four or five people. But Venus, she walks around with, maybe, one person, that’s it.” – 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, who upset Jelena Jankovic.

“Women’s tennis is more speedy and more powerful. It’s tough, very tough … but I enjoy the challenge.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who retired from the women’s tour in 1996, only returning last year.

“I remember the first time I played on grass, I think I just wanted to dive. That was the highlight, I guess, trying to dive. I don’t remember if I did or not, but when you’re growing up, you see all the players diving, and you think, I want a part of that. So that’s the first thing you want when you’re little.” – Venus Williams, remembering his first match at Wimbledon in 1997.

“Sometimes people need more respect for their opponents. When (Novak) Djokovic lost in the second round last year, (people were surprised, but) it was Marat Safin he was up against – and he can play a bit of tennis! And then Safin lost in the first round here (to Jesse Levine), so it shows that you should always have respect.” – Roger Federer.

“We should have a tiebreak at six-all in the fifth like in the US Open. All the Grand Slams should have this. That’s my personal opinion. When you’ve played so much tennis… it’s really draining.” – Tommy Haas, whose match against Marin Cilic was halted by darkness at 6-6 in the fifth set. Haas completed his 7-5 7-5 1-6 6-7 (3) 10-8 win the next day.

“I don’t think a lot of them would last five sets.” — Lleyton Hewitt, when asked about women playing best-of-five-set matches at the Grand Slam tournaments.

“I always said maybe if I was a guy I would play cricket.” – Sania Mirza, India’s top female tennis player.

STREAK STARTER

Not only is Venus Williams seeking her third straight Wimbledon women’s singles title and sixth of her career, the American has won 29 consecutive sets dating back to a third-round match against Akiko Morigami in 2007. That’s the last time Williams has dropped a set as she beat her Japanese opponent 6-2 3-6 7-5. Morigami actually led 5-3 in the final set. “That was an intense match and she was playing so well,” Venus recalled. “She played low ground strokes. I just remember playing very aggressive from 3-5, just returning aggressively. When the chips are down, I start to force the issue even more. Usually it works. You live and learn. I attribute it to that match.” If she wins, Williams would become the first woman to win three straight Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf in 1993. She also would pull to within one title of Graf’s total of seven and within three of record-holder Martina Navratilova.

SPECIAL MESSAGE

Queen Elizabeth sent a message of congratulations to Andy Murray for becoming the first Briton to won the Queen’s grass court tournament in London since Bunny Austin in 1938. The last time the monarch visited Wimbledon was in 1977, where she presented the trophy to Virginia Wade after the Briton won the women’s singles title in the Queen’s Jubilee year. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth has no official engagements on the day of this year’s Wimbledon men’s final. Murray is trying to become the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon.

SLIPPERY CONDITIONS

Michael Llodra was knocked out of Wimbledon by being, well, almost knocked out. In his second-round match against Tommy Haas, the Frenchman was sprinting towards a drop shot when he was unable to stop and slammed into the umpire’s chair before collapsing on top of ball girl. Llodra quickly stood up and helped the startled girl back to her feet. After asking if she was OK, Llodra hugged her and returned to the baseline to resume the match. When the game was completed, Llodra clutched his side and asked for a trainer as he hobbled back to his chair. Following a medical timeout, Llodra played another game before being worked on by the trainer again. He attempted one more serve before retiring from the match.

SAYONARA

Two veteran players returning to Wimbledon found their stay to be short ones. Kimiko Date Krumm, a 38-year-old who last played Wimbledon in 1996, fell to Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 6-3 6-1. The Japanese player made her Wimbledon debut in 1989, a year before Wozniacki was born, and reached the semifinals in 1996. Jelena Dokic, who made her career breakthrough at Wimbledon in 1999, lost to German qualifier Tatjana Malek 3-6 7-5 6-2. Dokic, playing Wimbledon for the first time after a five-year absence, complained of feeling dizzy at the end of the second set and had her blood pressure taken at courtside.

SMASHING TIME

Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was bombarded out of this year’s Championships. Ivo Karlovic slammed 46 aces to upset the Frenchman 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5). The ATP tour leader in aces in 2009, Karlovic hit a modern-era record 55 aces in a loss at the French Open last month. While he is best known for upsetting 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in Wimbledon’s first round the following year, Karlovic had lost his opening matches at the All England Club from 2005 to 2008.

SLOWED

Ivan Ljubicic never made it to his first-round match at the All-England Club. The former world number three player from Croatia withdrew from Wimbledon with an ankle injury on the opening day of the tournament and was replaced in the draw by Danai Udomchoke of Thailand. The week before Wimbledon, Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer.

STARRING

There’s a new star in Lindsay Davenport’s house. The three-time Grand Slam tournament winner has given birth to her second child, a girl named Lauren Andrus Davenport Leach. Lindsay and her husband Jon Leach have a 2-year-old son, Jagger. The 33-year-old Davenport won the 1998 US Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open singles titles. She pulled out of this year’s Australian Open when she learned she was pregnant. At the time, Davenport said she would be putting tennis on hold “for the foreseeable future.”

SIGNED UP

Tommy Haas will be seeking his third title when he begins play at the 2009 LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group. Haas is one of six players committed to the California tournament who are seeded in the draw at Wimbledon. “Tommy is a fan favorite, a great addition to our already strong field, and has played LA more than anyone else in the field,” said tournament director Bob Kramer. The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open will be held July 27-August 2 at the LA Tennis center on the campus of UCLA. Haas won the Los Angeles title in 2004 and again in 2005. Others already in the field include 2007 champion Radek Stepanek, Marat Safin, Mardy Fish, Fernando Gonzalez, Dmitry Tursunov, Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey.

STILL TOP TICKET

Don’t look now, but the All England Club is not going through a recession. While the rest of the world grapples with the global financial downturn, Wimbled has sold more tickets than ever. “It seems people are saying, `Forget about the recession. Let’s go to Wimbledon and have some fun,” said All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins. “People are sitting down and trying to decide what to spend their hard-earned money on. The good news for Wimbledon is, they seem to be spending it here.” The first day’s attendance was 42,811, an increase of nearly 3,500 from the previous opening day record set in 2001. While organizers will not release figures for pre-tournament ticket requests, they say they have received about 20 percent more than last year. The All England Club recently sold out 2,500 Centre Court seats in five-year blocks for USD $45,600 each.

SWITCHING BETS

No wrongdoing is suspected, but tennis wants to look into the betting pattern on a first-round Wimbledon match. When a TV commentator remarked that one of the players was injured, more than six times as many wagers as normal were placed on the match between Wayne Odesnik of the United States and Jurgen Melzer of Austria. The British bookmaker Betfair alerted tennis corruption investigators about the unusual betting pattern, but company spokesman Mark Davies said it did not suspect any wrongdoing. Melzer’s odds shortened significantly after a TV announced mentioned that Odesnik had a thigh injury. Betfair received about USD $980,000 in wagers on the match, while the average for a first-round Wimbledon match is less than USD $163,000. Melzer won 6-1 6-4 6-2.

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

Braunschweig: www.nordlb-open.org/

Cuneo: www.countrycuneo.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Serena Williams blog: http://www.serenawilliams.com/blog(underscore)message(underscore)detail.php?msg=93

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

ATP

$150,000 Nord/LP Open, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

$100,000 Trofeo Regione Piemonte, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA

$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$500,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass

$100,000 Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, clay

WTA

$220,000 GDF Suez Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$220,000 Collector Swedish Open Women, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Biarritz, Biarritz, France, clay

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

Czech Republic vs. Argentina at Ostrava, Czech Republic

Croatia vs. United States at Porec, Croatia

Israel vs. Russia at Tel Aviv, Israel

Spain vs. Germany at Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain

Americas Zone Group 1 Playoff

Peru vs. Canada at Lima, Peru

Americas Zone Group 2 Second Round

Venezuela vs. Mexico at Maracaibo, Venezuela

Dominican Republic vs. Paraguay at San Francisco de Marcons, Provincia Duarte, Dominican Republic

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Playoff

Thailand vs. Kazakhstan at Nonthaburi, Thailand

Korea vs. China at Chun-cheon City, Korea

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 2 Second Round

Philippines vs. Pakistan at Manila, Philippines

New Zealand vs. Indonesia at Hamilton, New Zealand

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Playoffs

Belarus vs. FYR Macedonia at Minsk, Belarus

Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Second Round

Slovenia vs. Lithuania at Otocec, Slovenia

Latvia vs. Bulgaria at Plovdiv, Latvia

Mondays With Bob Greene: I hope the Williams sisters don’t come

STARS

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (2) 6-2 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Italy, for a record fourth time

Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany

Gaston Gardio beat Frederico Gil 6-2 1-6 6-3 to win the Tunis Open in Tunis, Tunisia

Benjamin Becker beat Simon Stadler 7-5 6-3 to win the Aegean Tennis Cup in Rhodes, Greece

Anabel Medina Garrigues beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 6-1 to win the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Merriam in Fez, Morocco

Anastasia Eastover beat Eva Trinova to win the Soweto Women’s Open in Johannesburg, South Africa, 6-2 6-2

Maria-Elena Camerin beat Zuzana Ondraskova 6-1 6-2 to win the Open GDF Suez in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

SAYING

“Winning in Rome is a big title. I now have 15 Masters Series in my career, so that’s a lot, and I’m very happy for that.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning the Rome Masters.

“The few times people asked me to help in past, no one listened to a word I said.” – John McEnroe, talking of advice he gave to Boris Becker, Sergi Bruguera and Mark Philippoussis.

“I’d love to snap my fingers and magically turn it around and be playing better, but I don’t have those powers. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how I’m going turn it around.” – James Blake, who has lost both of his clay court matches this year.

“I wasn’t going to leave my sister. We look forward to playing high school tennis and (playing on the boys team) was our only option.” – Karli Timko, who with her sister Tanya won a Pennsylvania regional boys doubles title and qualified for the state tournament.

“It’s purely a sports event. Politics has nothing to do with it.” Mohamed Kharchafi, manager of the Royal Tennis Club in Fez, Morocco, where Israeli Shahar Peer competed in the Grand Prix SAR tournament.

“The conditions were terrible. At each point my shoes would pick up so much clay that it was like ice skating. There was no grip at all. He fell. I fell too.” – Tommy Robredo, after beating Marat Safin in a rain-delayed first-round match at Rome.

“I hope the Williams sisters don’t come. If they do come, we’ll try to beat them. It’s not impossible on clay. (Flavia) Pennetta has already beaten Venus more than once.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italian Fed Cup captain on his team playing the United States in the final.

“I would love to play in the final. Serena and I would both love to play. We talked about it and we just have to stay healthy. I really hope we can both play. It will be great for the US.” – Venus Williams.

“I haven’t lost early for a long time. I knew it was going to happen some time.” – Andy Murray, after losing his opening match at the Italian Open to Juan Monaco.

“It’s a bit like a red rag to a bull, risk wise, in my opinion, yet the ITF have showed a lack of protection and concern for the safety of the players.” – Lleyton Hewitt, commenting on the International Tennis Federation’s decision not to move the India-Australia Davis Cup tie to a neutral venue.

“I didn’t have any more desire to compete. I had been thinking about it for several months and in Thailand I realized that it was a struggle for me to travel.” – Guillermo Coria, announcing his retirement from tennis at the age of 27.

SENOR CHAMPION

Rafael Nadal won his record fourth Italian Open when he defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (2) 6-2. It as Nadal’s third clay-court title in three weeks, a span that has seen him drop just one set. The Spaniard will be seeking a record fifth consecutive title at Roland Garros, which would break a tie with Bjorn Borg. The loss also knocked Djokovic out of the number three spot in the world rankings. He will be surpassed on May 11 by Andy Murray.

SUFFERING

Fernando Gonzalez won’t be able to defend his title at the BMW Open in Munich, Germany. The Chilean has pulled out of the tournament because of an ankle injury. Marin Cilic of Croatia, ranked 15th in the world, is now the highest ranked player in the tournament. Lleyton Hewitt of Australia of received a wild card entry into the clay-court event.

SAD HISTORY

Jelena Dokic says she was physically abused by her father early in her career. Now 26 years old, Dokic said she fled from her family in 2002 to escape the abuse. “I’ve been through a lot worse than anybody on the tour. I can say that with confidence,” Dokic told Sport&Style Magazine. “When you go through stuff like that, playing a tennis match is pretty easy thing to do.” Dokic said she went through years of mental turmoil after packing her bags and fleeing what she called “the situation.” She credited her boyfriend, Tin Bikic, for helping her recover.

STARRING ROLES

Now that she’s no longer playing tennis, Justin Henin has embraced the public life. She is appearing in the hit French soap opera Plus Belle La Vie, where she plays herself. The former world number one player also has an entire show to herself, “De twaalf werken van Justine Henin,” which is Flemish for “The Twelve Labors of Love of Justine Henin.” Two other retired players have recently appeared on television. Jennifer Capriati had a spot on ABC’s “The Superstars,” while Martina Hingis appeared on the British TV network’s “Beat the Star.”

STERLING, NOT SO

When qualifier Juan Monaco walked off the court a 1-6 6-3 7-5 winner, it was only the fourth loss of the year for Andy Murray. Murray’s other losses this year came against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, twice, and to Fernando Verdasco.

SHAHAR WELCOME

There was no problem this time for Shahar Peer. The Israeli played in a clay-court tournament in Fez, Morocco, without incident. It was the first time she has played in an Arab country since she was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates so she could compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships in February. Dubai authorities cited security fears to justify their decision. Peer beat Aravane Rezai, a French citizen of Iranian descent, in her first-round match before falling to Lucie Hradecka 6-4 6-1.

SMASHING PERFORMANCE

Weather and his poor play almost got the best of Novak Djokovic. Beginning the defense of his Italian Open title, Djokovic wasn’t able to get on the court for his second-round match until 10:30 p.m. because of rain disrupting play throughout the day. Then he dropped serve twice in the first set against Spaniard Albert Montanes. Still, the Serbian right-hander rallied to send the set into a tiebreak. When he made an error in the tiebreak, he threw his racquet to the ground and snapped it in two. That seemed to solve his frustration and Djokovic went on to defeat Montanes 7-6 (5) 6-0. Before his match, Djokovic delighted the Rome crowd by staging an impression of Italian entertainer Fiorello, walking onto the court wearing a gray wig.

SISTER POWER

Move over Serena and Venus. Sisters Karli and Tayla Timko won the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area boys doubles tennis championships by defeating Tin Chu and Drew Gallatin 6-2 6-1 in the final. The sisters, from Chartiers-Houston High School in Houston, Pennsylvania, won the Pennsylvania state girls doubles title a year ago. But when their high school dropped its girls tennis program, the Timkos joined the boys team. By winning the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League doubles crown, they qualified to compete in the state boys championships later this month. Their father is Mike Timko, who quarterbacks West Virginia University in the 1980s. Their mother is Shari Retton Timko, the sister of 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton.

SHOWING UP?

Italy is hoping the Williams sisters decide to skip the Fed Cup final November 7-8. Venus and Serena say they want to play in the title match. The best-of-five series will be staged on slow red clay courts in an effort to combat the Americans’ superior firepower. “We’re definitely going to play on clay – very slow clay – and if possible, outdoors,” Italian Fed Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti said. “First we need to determine if we can play outdoors, then we’ll choose the most uncomfortable setting possible. Uncomfortable in the sense that it suits us and not the Americans.” Italy defeated Russia 4-1 and the United States edged the Czech Republic 3-2 to advance to the final.

STILL MISSING

Maria Sharapova’s disappearance from the WTA Tour will continue for at least two more weeks. The former top-ranked player pulled out of this week’s Italian Open as well as a tournament in Madrid, Spain, next week. Because of a shoulder injury, Sharapova has not played a singles match since last August although she played doubles in a tournament in Indian Wells, California, in March.

STANDING TALL

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Any Murray played exhibition matches before the Internazionali BNL d’Italia began, helping to raise funds for FedeLuz, a leukemia foundation established in the memory of former player Federico Luzzi, who died of the disease last year at the age of 28. Others competing in the exhibition included Marat Safin, Tommy Robredo, Potito Starace, Andreas Seppi, Simone Bolelli and Filippo Volandri.

SAYS BYE-BYE

Guillermo Coria says he has lost motivation so is retiring from tennis. The 27-year-old Argentine had been ranked as high as number three in the world. Coria won nine singles titles and was runner-up to Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros in 2004. In 2001, he served a seven-month ban after testing positive for nandrolone. He currently is 672 in the world rankings.

SET FOR PARIS

For the second year in a row, the US Tennis Association is holding a tournament in Boca Raton to award two French Open wild cards. John Isner won the men’s event by beating Jesse Levine. Grabbing a spot in the women’s draw, where play beings May 24, was 18-year-old Lauren Embree of Marco Island, Florida. Embree beat Nicole Gibbs 6-4 7-6 (2) to earn a wild card for Roland Garros.

SEES THE LIGHT

Jelena Jankovic believes a change in her fitness regime cost her the number one ranking. “I did a lot of fitness work in the off-season and that was the problem,” the Serbian right-hander said. “I was one of the fastest players on the tour, but (after the fitness work) I started feeling very heavy. I felt so slow, my whole game broke down. Then the confidence falls.” After losing in the fourth round at the Australian Open, Jankovic suffered early losses at Indian Wells, California, and Miami, Florida, before she finally won her first title of the year, the Andalucia Tennis Championships in Marbella, Spain. “I feel I am coming back into form,” Jankovic said. “I am not doing any more experiments. My goal now is finding my game again and winning Grand Slams.”

SWIFT VICTORY

Anabel Medina Garrigues had no problem capturing the ninth title of her career and make up for last year. The Spaniard crushed Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 6-1, winning the first 10 games of the match on her way to victory in the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, a clay court tournament in Fez, Morocco. In the opening set, Makarova, who was playing in her first career final, won just nine points and double-faulted on set point. Last year, Medina Garrigues reached the final at Fez, only to lose to Gisela Dulko. Makarova finally won her first WTA Tour title when she joined with Alisa Klevbanova to edge Sorana Cirstea and Maria Kirilenko 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak) in the doubles final. It was also Klevbanova’s first Tour title of any kind.

SPONSOR

Sony Ericsson will continue its sponsorship of the men’s and women’s tennis tournament through 2011. That’s one more year than the sponsorship originally was to run. The telecommunication industry “is changing rapidly so we don’t know what we are going to do from 2010 onwards,” said Aldo Liguori, who oversees the London-based company’s a global communications. The tournament, which began life as the Lipton International Tennis Championships, is a men’s and women’s event with USD $4.5 million in prize money for each, one of the most lucrative on both tours. This year’s winners were Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka. Sony Ericsson also is the main sponsor for the women’s tour. “We will certainly be requesting more for the same amount of money,” Liguori said of the WTA Tour sponsorship, which expires at the end of next year.

SALE PRICE

Lleyton Hewitt and wife Bec have decided to formally advertise their waterfront property which is up for sale. “The reason Lleyton is selling this property is that it simply no longer suits his family’s needs and it’s just going to be chewing up interest, so it’s just a logical thing for him to do,” said real estate agent Steve von der Borch. The five-bedroom home features a sweeping stairway, large hall with an internal water feature, indoor pool, spa, sauna and an indoor barbecue. Hewitt, who paid $3.2 million for the home in 2003, is asking between $2.95 and $3.24 for the West Lakes mansion.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Rome: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (5) 6-3

Stuttgart: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova beat Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta 5-7 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Tunis: Brian Dabul and Leonardo Mayer beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 7-6 (6)

Fez: Alisa Klevbanova and Ekaterina Makarova beat Sorana Cirstea and Maria Kirilenko 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Rhodes: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Rajeev Ram and Bobby Reynolds 6-3 6-3

Johannesburg: Naomi Cavaday and Lesya Tsurenko beat Kristina Kucova and Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Cagnes-sur-Mer: Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier beat Erica Krauth and Anna Tatishvili 6-4 6-3

SITES TO SURF

Rome: www.internazionalibnlditalia.it/1/default.asp

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/

International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$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

WTA

$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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

$110,000 Bordeaux Challenger, Bordeaux, France, clay

WTA

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

A New Indian Number 1 And Kendrick Continues to Sizzle

Just a year ago, Somdev Devarman was graduating from the University of Virginia and was claiming his second NCAA Championship. Now, still in his virgin year on the ATP Tour, Somdev finds himself the number 1 ranked player in Indian and is this weeks number 201 on the ATP Rankings.

Last week in Nashville, Deverman took out super talented and feisty, Jesse Levine.  A convincing 7-6, 6-2 win showed that Somdev will certainly be a force to reckon with no matter who he plays.  Using a “never miss a ball” type of strategy, the chilly Indian, can give guys on the other side of the net fits.

Winning his second Challenger in as many weeks was Robert Kendrick.  Robert continues to roll and show the country that he is the best on the Challenger circuit this year and is now the 8th ranked American.  “Kendo” finally took out Deverman, 7-5 , 6-2 .  This was his first win against the NCAA Champ in 3 tries.  One more week in Illinois and Kendrick will be training for the Australian Open in January.

I am looking forward to working with a long time client and friend in Orlando.  Some time on the bike and on the golf course will keep Robert fresh and body healthy.  I plan on a solid strength training program which will incorporate a lot of cable machines and dumbells. The goal will be to get the big guy to crank out a dozen pullups in a row by the time January 1 comes along,  Due to persistant knee problems, Robert will have to the agility training on level grass, and incorporate massage and stretching in his everyday routine.  Kendrick has a very live arm and a tenacious fighting spirit that is a privledge to be around.

My First Blog For TennisGrandstand

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog here at TennisGrandstand.com.  I’d like to talk about a couple different items this week and that is the American Challenger Circuit and Off Season training for College Tennis.

Firstly, I’d like to point out that American Robert Kendrick continues to show week in and week out that he is knocking on the door of joining some of the other elite Americans in the top 50.  With a 1 and 1 dismantling of extremely talented Donald Young, in the Louisville, KT, $50,000 Challenger, Robert jumped to 91 in the ATP Race and should secure a spot in the main draw of the Australian Open.

Other Americans looking to make a run in the upcoming Fall Challengers are Amer Delic, Jesse Levine, Donald Young, Michael Russell and Bobby Reynolds.  New comer to the “hot players to watch” group is Brendan Evans who is in Europe, trying to test his big serve and aggressive game in the indoor circuit.

As the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Men’s Tennis Team at George Washington University, I have been having the boys put in some solid work over the last 10 days. The goal is to lay a good foundation of power, strength, agility, flexibility, and endurance over the next couple of months.  Luckily I have Alex Parr, one of the head trainers at GW watching over the boys and implementing the workouts that I generate using www.pegasustrainer.com .  I am having a blast with these boys and am looking forward to the spring season.

Paul Pisani has trained many of the top American tennis players today; including Ginepri, Delic, Harkleroad, and Kendrick.  Currently he is the Strength Coach for the GW University and has worked with Pepperdine and Princeton and owns and operates Tennis Fitness Solutions.