John Lloyd

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.

NEWS, VIEWS AND GOSSIP FROM QUEEN’S CLUB

LONDON – As I walked from Barons Court tube station, feeling the buzz of excitement, I was pleased to dodge the long train of tennis fans snaking their way around Queen’s Club for ground passes and head straight for the dizzy heights of the media gazebo. I was immediately distracted by a dashing familiar stranger directly in front of me – former Wimbledon champion, Pat Cash. It never fails to amaze me how many famous faces you will see mingling with the public at both Queen’s and Wimbledon. That’s what I love about these tournaments.

While waiting for my press pass, BBC Commentator and Andy Murray’s former coach, Mark Petchey surprisingly needed to give his name to the girl behind the counter. Two famous commentators spotted and I hadn’t even entered the grounds yet.

I was led to the media centre directly behind centre court, shown where the press seats were situated and was greeted by the lovely Sue Barker, ex Davis Cup Captain, John Lloyd, commentator John Inverdale and former British No. 1, Annabel Croft congregating in the bar area – how surreal!

I found my way through the maze of stairs and corridors to the press seats to watch the first match on centre – Britain’s wild card entry, Jamie Baker versus Denis Istomin. Baker, ranked No. 254 in the ATP World Tour rankings failed to get any sort of grip on the match or the slippery grass surface as he lost 6-1, 6-4, falling no less than three times on his backside, repeatedly chastising his shoes for letting him down. In the post match press conference, he looked a little forlorn as he mentioned the difficulty of “stepping up to the level of the player” he was up against. It remained to be seen whether Brits, James Ward and Alex Bogdanovic would fare any better.

During the second set of Baker’s match, I couldn’t help but notice a tanned and gorgeous Novak Djokovic strolling nonchalantly to the practice courts beneath us – knowing how close you can get to the players practicing, I rejected the nonchalance and nearly broke my leg rushing down the several flights of stairs in heels to get a prime position to watch my favorite player’s tomfoolery on the beautiful grass.

He didn’t fail to disappoint with his series of jokes, trick shots and a well timed shirt change! I wished I’d brought my tennis gear and trainers, as I have a feeling he could have sneaked me on court for a quick rally or two – well, maybe in my dreams!

After the Djoker sadly left the practice courts, I wandered back to the press seats to see if Britain’s James Ward could fare any better. He was against stiff opposition in the form of American Robby Ginepri, who looked a little incongruous in his colored shorts and shirt on the grass. Ward put up a decent display and should have had a convincing 5-2 lead in the second set if he’d held his serve after breaking the American in the sixth game, but instead he allowed Ginepri to come back and secure a 6-3, 7-5 victory. Ward spoke of his relationship with the new British Davis Cup Captain, Leon Smith in the post match press conference, revealing, “I’ve been in contact with Leon the whole time I was in America. I was away for seven weeks. E-mails, text messages, BBM, everything. Since I’ve been back, he’s been to see me practice a lot, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

A fellow journalist told me the Murray brothers were training on an outside court in preparation for their doubles match later that evening, so I nipped out of the media centre to watch Britain’s top hopeful. When I arrived I barely recognized his brother Jamie, who appeared to have had an argument with his hairdresser, as he was sporting a pretty horrific crew cut fit for the army. Apparently Andy commented on Twitter, saying he hoped Jamie had kept the receipt – who said he doesn’t have a sense of humour?

Team Murray were on good form as they practiced varying volley to ground stroke drills to a heaving crowd. A Spanish coach tried to get them off the court early – on home turf – adios! French maestro, Richard Gasquet was due on Centre court so I left the Murrays to it and headed back once again up the stairs to the press seats – who said being a reporter wasn’t hard work?

Eleventh seed, Gasquet faced Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who turned out to be no push over in a 6-3, 6-3 victory for the Frenchman, whose glorious backhand was really a sight to be seen first-hand. Gasquet often needed a translator to answer journalist’s questions, but revealed he believes the French have had such a great tradition on grass due to “good technique” and the talent needed to succeed on grass rather than clay.  No one could ever say he lacks talent, but it remains to be seen if he will ever weave his way like a cobra to the top ten again – his highest ranking was No. 7, but is now placed at No. 45.

Britain’s No. 2, Alex Bogdanovic was up next after getting through the qualifying rounds to play Bulgarian former Wimbledon junior champion, Grigor Dimitriv, currently ranked 360 in the ATP World rankings. Bogdanovic looked comfortable in front of his home crowd winning the first set convincingly 6-4, but lost the second 6-3. Rain stopped play at 2-1 in the third. If Bogdanovic loses the third, then Murray will be the only Britain left in the tournament – a situation he is very familiar with.

For the past eight years, a first round defeat at Wimbledon for Alex Bogdanovic following wild card entry has been as predictable as rain stopping play, but he still must have been a little bemused that he had been left out of the All England Club’s first batch of wild cards along with being denied one for the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club this week. He has also stubbornly refused to rejoin the Davis Cup fold following his miserable performances in the past. I really do hope that tomorrow brings some much needed luck for Alex and sunshine instead of rain for my second day reporting for www.TennisGrandstand.com Watch this space for more news, views and gossip from London.

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter.   She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

HOPMAN CUP AND DAVIS CUP HAPPENINGS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

Andy Murray has ended weeks of speculation by confirming he has pulled out of Great Britain’s Davis Cup match against Lithuania in March as they begin life in the competition’s third tier. Murray claimed that he would prefer to concentrate on his efforts to lift more Masters Event trophies and break his Grand Slam duck.

Captain John Lloyd will now look to give his other players valuable experience and hopes that talents like Dan Evans and the doubles team of Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski will be enough to lift Britain back in to the Davis Cup’s second tier where Murray can then step back in alongside an improved crop of British talent.

It has now been over a decade since a British player other than Murray, Tim Henman, or Greg Rusedski won a live Davis Cup rubber.

“You’ve got to do what is right for your tennis. That period of the year just before Indian Wells and Miami is very important for me,” Murray said.

“I’ve got a lot of ranking points to defend. I think it’s the right decision.”

*Britain’s first match at the Hopman Cup since 1992 ended in a 2-1 victory over Kazakhstan after Andy Murray and Laura Robson combined to defeat Andrey Golubev and Yaroslava Shvedova despite the losers fighting to 10-12 in the final set. Murray had beaten Golubev 6-2, 6-2 in his singles rubber while Robson lost to Shvedova. They followed this up with an identical result against Germany. Murray won and Robson lost their respective singles rubbers before they combined to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber and Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-2. They face Russia tomorrow (Friday) in the final group match.

*Australia’s opening Hopman Cup Group A encounter didn’t go to plan. The top seeds were shocked by Romania as 19-year-old Sorana Cirstea overcame world No. 13 Samantha Stosur 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt defeated Victor Hanescu in their singles rubber but the Romanians triumphed in the mixed doubles.

*There was more Aussie disappointment at the Brisbane International where three top players suffered first round defeats. Jelena Dokic went down 5-7, 6-1, 3-6 to former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic while in the men’s draw 2009 Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick won his first match since suffering the knee injury which kept him out of the ATP World Tour Finals last September. He defeated Aussie Peter Luczak 7-6(5), 6-2 before knocking out compatriot Carsten Ball in round two. Matt Ebden caused a stir by knocking out Jurgen Melzer before going down to Richard Gasquet of France and John Millman is also out. This means there are no Commonwealth players in the men’s quarterfinals. Kazakhstan’s Sesil Karatantcheva overcame upcoming Aussie star Casey Dellacqua in the women’s draw and her reward is a second round matchup with the returning Justine Henin. In her first Tour event since returning to tennis Alicia Molik notched a win, defeating Ekaterina Makarova of Russia before losing to 2009 US Open winner Kim Clijsters in round two. Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak also lost in round two to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

*In the doubles at Brisbane, top seeded Leander Paes of India leads the Commonwealth charge after he and partner Lukas Dlouhy overcame Sam Querrey and Australia’s Carsten Ball in round one. A tremendous battle of the home-grown players saw Ashley Fisher/Stephen Huss defeat the wild cards Kaden Hensel/Bernard Tomic 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 while another Aussie pair, Peter Luczak and Joseph Sirianni, crashed out to Frenchman Michael Llodra and Andy Ram of Israel. Aussie doubles specialist Jordan Kerr and Britain’s Ross Hutchings as well as Aussie Paul Hanley and partner Thomaz Belluci (Brazil) are also out. The two Rodionovas, Anastasia of Australia and Russia’s Arina, are through to the semi finals of the women’s draw where they face Melinda Czink and Arantxa Parra Santonja.

*The Aircel Chennai Open, India, kicked off on Sunday evening with the hugely popular Kingfisher Fashion show which featured local stars Rohan Bopanna and Somdev Devvarman among others.

*On court at Chennai, Great Britain’s James Ward went down in the opening round to Spain’s Marcel Granollers while India’s Rohan Bopanna lost to Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka. Qualifier Prakash Amritraj, son of Indian legend Vijay Amritraj, lost to the USA’s Michael Russell while Somdev Devvarman upset Rainer Schuettler before losing to Janko Tipsarevic in round two.

*In the doubles at Chennai, Indian wild cards Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh are through to the second round of the doubles after overcoming Rik de Voest of South Africa and American Scott Lipsky 6-2, 7-5. Other victors included Brits Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski and South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee who overcame Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and partner Igor Kunitsyn with the help of Rogier Wassen. India’s Yuki Bhambri is also through.

*Jeremy Chardy, David Ferrer and India’s Somdev Devvarman have all put their names in to the hat for the 2010 South African Open in Johannesburg.

*British No. 1 Elena Baltacha has qualified for the first round of the Auckland Classic after defeating Canada’s Stephanie Dubois 6-3, 6-1 in the final of the qualifying draw. Baltacha then lost in the opening round to Romania’s Ioana Raluca Olaru. India’s Sania Mirza and wild card New Zealander Marina Erakovic are also out ending Commonwealth interest in the singles draw. In the doubles, South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is the last Commonwealth woman standing as her and partner Laura Granville of the USA prepare to face Vladimira Uhlirova and Renata Voracova in the semi finals.

Brits Play Historic Match, Big Day For McEnroes

Tennis history was made – well, sort of – last week when British players Chris Eaton and James Ward played in the longest recorded match of all time. Eaton and Ward battled for 6 hours, 43 minutes in a play-off challenge match set up by the Lawn Tennis Association and British Davis Cup captain John Lloyd to determine who would represent Great Britain against Ukraine in this week’s Davis Cup Euro-African Zone Group One match. Eaton, ranked No. 390 in the world, won the epic match 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 2-6, 21-19 indoors at the LTA’s Roehampton headquarters. Since the match is not an officially “sanctioned” match, one cannot really classify this as the longest of all time.

The Eaton-Ward match lasted 10 minutes longer than Fabrice Santoro’s 6 hour, 33 minute win over fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement in the first round of the 2004 French Open. The official time of the Eaton-Ward match was confirmed by Michael Morrissey of the Lawn Tennis Association. Morrissey, in an email to me, reported that the match began at 10:47 am and finished at 5:30 pm. Eaton was actually not named to the initial four-man British team (Andy Murray, Ross Hutchins, Josh Goodall and Ward getting the nod), but will travel to Glasgow with the team and could be added to the team since Murray pulled out of the series due to a virus. The 21-year-old Eaton made his debut at Wimbledon last year by advancing through qualifying and then beating Serbia’s Boris Pashanski in the first round, earning him headlines around Britain.

Meanwhile in New York, nearly a foot of snow fell Monday as the BNP Paribas Showdown tennis exhibition at Madison Square Garden featuring Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic took place. The snowy conditions harkened back memories of another snowy night in Manhattan with big time tennis being held at The Garden, when on December 26, 1947, Jack Kramer and Bobby Riggs entertained 15,114 fans who braved a blizzard in 1947 to watch Kramer in his pro debut. The following is the excerpt from my book “On This Day In Tennis History” ($19.95, www.tennishistorybook.com) that details that 1947 event.

December 26, 1947 – Jack Kramer makes his pro debut at Madison Square Garden against Bobby Riggs as a blizzard hits New York. With taxis, buses, commuter trains and private cars stalled and subways limping, 15,114 fans come to the arena on Eighth Avenue and 50th street. Riggs spoils the debut of Kramer, winning 6-2, 10-8, 4-6, 6-4. Writes Lincoln Werden of the New York Times, “The former amateur king pin piled up error after error throughout and indications that he lacked complete poise and control brought an occasional reassuring cry from the fans ‘Come On Jackie.'”

Today, March 3, is a big day for the McEnroe family as the following additional excerpt from “On This Day In Tennis History” details;

March 3

1991 – Brothers John and Patrick McEnroe play in the singles final of the Volvo Championships in Chicago, with No. 19th-ranked John defeating younger brother and No. 51-ranked Patrick 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to win his 77th and what would be his final ATP singles title. Says the 32-year-old John following the match, “I have incredibly mixed emotions right now…every emotion you can imagine was there, from worrying how he’s doing, to worrying that he might beat you.” The final was the third ATP men’s singles final involving brothers. Gene Mayer beat Sandy Mayer at Stockholm in 1981 and Emilio Sanchez beat Javier Sanchez at Madrid in 1987.

1980 – John McEnroe becomes the No. 1 ranked player in the world for the first time, unseating Bjorn Borg. In all, McEnroe ranks No. 1 in the world in singles for a total of 170 weeks during his career.

2007 – Roger Federer wins his 41st straight match, tying Bjorn Borg for the fourth-longest streak in the history of men’s tennis, defeating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-4, 6-3 to win the Dubai Open for a fourth time. “It’s nice to be playing against the history books,” Federer says after the match. “I never thought I would ever do such a thing.”

1993 – Taking a 23-minute commute via private jet from his home in Las Vegas to Indian Wells, Calif., Andre Agassi is defeated in the second round of the Newsweek Champion Cup by reigning Olympic champion Marc Rosset 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

1992 – Michael Chang comes back from 1-5 down in the third set to defeat Martin Jaite of Argentina 0-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) in the first round of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

2007 – Belgium’s Justine Henin defeats Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-2 to win the Qatar Open in Doha. Henin’s win completes a “Gulf Double” – also winning the title in the Persian Gulf city of Dubai the week earlier. Says Kuznetsova on losing her 14th match in 15 meetings with Henin, “Maybe I have a mental block when I play Justine. She is just too tough mentally and I need to learn this from her.”

2008 – World No. 1 Roger Federer is dismissed in the first round of the Dubai Open in the United Arab Emirates, losing to Great Britain’s Andy Murray 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4. Murray, who beat Federer in the first round of Cincinnati in 2006, moves to a 2-1 record in three career meetings with the world No. 1. Murray does not face a break point during the match.

1935 – Mal Anderson, one of the most underrated Australian tennis championships who won the 1957 U.S. men’s singles title as an unseeded player, is born in Burnside, Australia. Anderson was also an Australian and U.S. singles finalist in 1958 and helped Australia win the Davis Cup in 1957. After turning professional in 1959, Anderson re-emerged on the top of the tennis scene after in advent of the Open era and reached the Australian singles final again in 1972. A year later, at age 38, he won the Australian doubles and joined forces with Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe to bring the Davis Cup back to Australia.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Thanks to your Royal Highness for coming

STARS

Venus Williams beat Vera Zvonareva 6-7 (5) 6-0 6-2 to win the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha Qatar

Anne Keothavong won the Salwator Cup in Krakow, Poland, beating Monica Niculescu 7-6 (4) 4-6 6-3

Jan Hernych beat Stephane Bohli 6-2 6-4 to win the Tatra Banka Open in Bratislava, Slovakia

John McEnroe won the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Arizona, by beating Todd Martin 3-6 7-6 (3) 11-9 (Champions tiebreaker)

SAYINGS

“Thanks to your Royal Highness for coming. Wow!” – Venus Williams, after being presented the Sony Ericsson Championships trophy by the first lady of Qatar, Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned.

“Venus is very powerful. She came up with some great serves when she needed. It was tough on me.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing the final at Doha, Qatar.

“I just don’t like the ring of it. It sounds a bit awkward to me. It is a challenge to get back to number one.” – Roger Federer, on being ranked number two in the world.

“I didn’t even look like a top-eight player today. Maybe top 600 in the juniors.” – Serena Williams, after losing 5-7 6-1 6-0 to sister Venus in a round-robin match at the Sony Ericsson Championships.

“Competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level of the game on these last events.” – Rafael Nadal, writing on his web site about his right knee injury.

“Being a professional tennis player is about a lot more than just hitting tennis balls and winning matches. The off-court side of things is also very important, and it’s essential that we as athletes do what we can to promote the sport.” – Ana Ivanovic, after winning the ACES award.

“It’s the first time I’ve got the chance to play against top 10 players five matches in a row. And I was able to come up with four wins, so, of course it’s a good week.” – Vera Zvonareva.

“It’s really a tough format here, just because there are four teams and the way the draw is. It’s really hard to just come out and be ready to play like in the semifinals. So we were just really happy with our performance.” – Cara Black, who teamed with Liezel Huber to win the doubles at the Sony Ericsson Championships.

“I haven’t thought too much about next year yet, but I have high and wonderful hopes for it, and at the appropriate time I’ll start working hard again.” – Venus Williams, after winning the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.

“I thought this may have been the best I played all year and I think a lot of that had to do with the crowds. I was able to feed off of their energy all week.” – John McEnroe, who won a seniors tournament in Surprise, Arizona.

“Sometimes I really enjoy playing not at home. I don’t think about any pressure.” – Nikolay Davydenko, on why he won his opening match at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

“When you play against (Rafael) Nadal, (Roger) Federer or (Novak) Djokovic, you have just one chance or two. I had a break point. I didn’t get it.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after losing to Djokovic in his opening Tennis Masters Cup match.

“I can’t play singles competitively any more, but like to play doubles up to three times a week, although sometimes injuries do not permit that frequency.” – Michael Henderson, who at age 76 is still playing and winning matches.

SHACKLED

Tendinitis in his right knee caused world number one Rafael Nadal to pull out of the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. It is hoped that a week of rest and treatment will mean Nadal will be able to lead Spain in the Davis Cup final against Argentina later this month. The injury forced Nadal to retire from his Paris Masters quarterfinal against Nikolay Davydenko. Nadal blamed the injury on the busy tennis calendar, saying it took its toll on his body. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, a Spanish Tennis Federation doctor, said Nadal was being treated with anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and ice packs.

STRICKENED

US Open champion Serena Williams and French Open winner Ana Ivanovic both withdrew from the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha with injuries. Williams suffered from a pulled stomach muscle while Ivanovic had a virus. Serena beat Dinara Safina in her first round-robin match, then suffered a strange 5-7 6-1 6-0 loss to her sister Venus. Serena said she only felt the problem develop after she returned to her hotel. Ivanovic played two round-robin matches, losing both. Nadia Petrova replaced Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska replaced Ivanovic in the eight-player competition.

SCOTT AGREES

The WTA Tour is changing next year’s rules to reinstate byes in two big tournaments. Several players complained that they were being asked to play two high-intensity events in a row with no opportunity to rest between tournaments. WTA CEO Larry Scott said the problem came because twice in the year there are two big tournaments played in consecutive weeks: Rome being followed by Madrid and, in the fall, Tokyo followed by Beijing. The four players reaching the semifinals at Rome and Tokyo will get first-round byes in the following events. Scott said adjustments also were made to allow players to participate in at least two of the following tournaments: Paris Indoors, Charleston, Stuttgart, Stanford and Los Angeles.

SEPARATED

Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and his fiancée of three months have separated. The 40-year-old Becker and Sandy Meyer-Woelden, who is 16 years younger, became engaged in August. She is the daughter of Becker’s former manager, Axel Meyer-Woelden. Becker has been divorced from Barbara Becker for seven years. They have two children. He also has a daughter with London-based model Angela Ermakova.

SAYS NO WAY

Andy Roddick said he was only joking when he said he would give a tennis lesson in the nude. That offer brought a USD $11,200 bid from a woman at a charity auction earlier this year. “First and foremost, I am not going to be playing naked tennis,” Roddick said. “It was said in jest and the lady who bid was really cool afterwards.” The offer from Roddick was auctioned off to help Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser.

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SERBIAN WINNER

Ana Ivanovic is the 2008 winner of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour ACES Award. The award is given to the player who consistently goes above and beyond to promote women’s tennis to fans, media, in the community and beyond. The French Open champion said her most enjoyable off-the-court activities this year were playing doubles with amateur players in Tokyo and participating in a photo shoot by the WTA Tour players in Dubai. Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, said: “Ana is not only an incredible athlete and champion, but also a player who has earned the respect and admiration of fans, media and sponsors by continuously giving back. Throughout the 2008 season, Ana has given of herself selflessly and been a true ambassador in promoting our sport.”

STEP ASIDE

Formula One auto racing is moving its 2009 date in Shanghai to make room for a Tennis Masters tournament. The 2009 Chinese Grand Prix will be run in April, following the Australian Grand Prix on March 29 and the Malaysian Grand Prix on April 5. The Chinese Grand Prix had previously been run in Shanghai in October. But with the new tennis calendar set for next year, the ATP tournament will be held in Shanghai October 12 to 18.

SURPRISE

John McEnroe saved three match points and finally beat Todd Martin in a wild final to win the $150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Arizona, in suburban Phoenix. After losing to Martin in three previous finals on the Outback Champions Series tour, the 49-year-old McEnroe outlasted Martin 3-6 7-6 (3) 11-9 (Champions tiebreaker) to win his second career title on the tennis circuit for champion players over the age of 30. Martin served for the match and led 6-3 6-5 40-0 before McEnroe rallied for the victory.

SHAHAR SWITCH

Israel’s top women’s player, Shahar Peer, has got a new coach. Peer is now working with Pablo Giacopelli, a Peruvian-born British citizen. She will begin her training with Giacopelli in South Africa, accompanied by her physical trainer, Muli Epstein. According to published reports in Israel, Peer will train for two weeks at high altitude in the Johannesburg area, followed by two weeks in the Durban area. She will compete in the Israeli Championships in December.

SPOTLIGHTED

Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association has honored Dennis and Doris Lloyd with the LTA’s meritorious service award. The two met during World War II and have been members of Westcliff Hardcourts tennis club for 62 years. As a player, Dennis Lloyd won numerous titles and was district doubles champion six times with partner Howard Stone. Dennis became a coach and helped develop many players, including his own children. Attending the ceremony was two of their sons, David and Tony, and their daughter Ann, who was a strong club player. Their third son is John Lloyd. David Lloyd is a former Davis Cup captain.

SENIOR TENNIS

It will be “old home week,” with the emphasis on old, when the Grand Slam Winners Classic is held in the Sarasota, Florida, area next month. The competition will help raise money and awareness for The Wellness Community, a national not-for-profit organization that offers free education, support and hope for patients diagnosed with cancer. Among those scheduled to participate in the tennis are Eddie Dibbs, Fred Stolle, Virginia Wade, Hana Mandlikova, Johan Kriek, Owen Davidson, Robbie Seguso, Ken Flach and Kathy Rinaldi.

SERVING STILL

Billie Jean King has been appointed a Global Mentor for Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She was named to the post at a ceremony in Doha, Qatar, during the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season-ending championships. As part of the appointment, the Billie Jean King Leadership Internship program will be set up to give young women experience in the sports industry through internships at the Women’s Sports Foundation and then job placement opportunities in the sports business. Besides winning 12 Grand Slam singles titles between 1966 an 1975, King has been a vocal advocate against sexism in sports. She also founded the WTA Tour and the Women’s Sports Foundation.

SWEDISH SADNESS

The man who coached Bjorn Borg for 12 years and captained Sweden to its first Davis Cup title has died. Lennart Bergelin was 83 when he died from heart failure at a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. As a player, Bergelin won nine Swedish singles titles between 1945 and 1955, and captured the French Open doubles in 1948. But he was more famous for coaching Borg from 1971 to 1983, helping him win eleven Grand Slam tournament titles. Bergelin coached the Swedish Davis Cup team from 1971 through 1976, giving a 15-year-old Borg his Davis Cup debut in 1972 against New Zealand’s Onny Parun. Borg won the match.

STARTING THE HALL

The three new inductees into the Nevada Tennis Hall of Fame includes Andre Agassi’s father, Mike. Also being inducted later this month are community leader Ann Rockwell and twins Catrina and Christian Thompson. Mike Agassi gave free lessons to the children in his neighborhood, including his son Andre. “What Mike Agassi has doe for the world of tennis is immeasurable, his kindness is limitless and this is our community’s chance to thank and recognize him,” said Ryan Wolfington, executive director of USTA-Nevada. Rockwell played on the United States Wightman Cup team and won the USPTA National Championships in singles and doubles. The Thompson twins were junior standouts and, while at Notre Dame, were ranked number one in doubles by the NCAA.

STILL PLAYING

With a combined age of 156, Michael Henderson and Tony Bennett are doubles partners who are still playing winning tennis. Bennett won the British Veterans’ grass court over-80 doubles title at Wimbledon with another partner in the summer. Henderson, the younger of the two at 76, played in the Wimbledon Junior doubles in 1949. He was set to return 50 years later after qualifying for the 70-year-old singles, but pulled so many muscles in the qualifier he couldn’t play in the event.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Doha: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 6-1 7-5

Krakow: Angelique Kerber and Urzula Radwanska beat Olga Brozda and Sandra Zaniewska 6-3 6-2

Bratislava: Frantisek Cermak and Lukasz Kubot beat Phillipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 6-4 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Shanghai: www.masters-cup.com/1/home/

Dnepropetrovsk: www.peoplenetcup.com

Odense: www.nordeadanishopen.dk/

Helsinki: www.ippopen.net

Macao: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com/3/events/2008/macao.asp

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$3,700,000 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, China, carpet

$125,000 PEOPLEnet Cup, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

DAVIS CUP

(Final)

(Nov. 21-23)

Argentina vs. Spain at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, hard

ATP

$125,000 IPP Open, Helsinki, Finland, hard

WOMEN’S TOUR

$100,000 Nordea Danish Open, Odense, Denmark, carpet

SENIORS

Blackrock Tour of Champions, Macao, China