By Leigh Sanders
The following is Leigh Sanders’ weekly look at tennis headlines in “The Commonwealth” or the traditional tennis powerhouses that were former members of the British Empire, most notably Australia, South Africa, India, Canada and, of course, Great Britain.
The final line-up for the ATP World Tour Finals in London continues to take shape with only three places remaining for the elite eight-man tournament. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro have already qualified and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took his third title of the season by winning the Japan Open on Sunday to move a step closer to being there. Andy Roddick looks set to be there also, providing the injury that has forced him to withdraw from the Shanghai Masters isn’t serious, but the final two places are fiercely being fought over. Any two of Tsonga, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, Gilles Simon, Robin Soderling and Fernando Gonzalez could qualify depending on results between now and then. The tournament will be held at London’s O2 Arena from Sunday 22 to Sunday 29 November 2009.
Britain’s Ross Hutchins missed out on the second doubles title of his career at the Japan Open in Tokyo when, paired with Australia’s Jordan Kerr, they lost the final to Austrian pair Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowle 6-2, 5-7, 10-8.
Australian star Lleyton Hewitt is out of the Shanghai Masters after losing to eleventh seed Gael Monfils of France, coached by Hewitt’s former mentor Roger Rasheed. After taking the first set Hewitt went down 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Hewitt did, though, climb three places to 23rd in this week’s ATP rankings, published October 12th. Compatriot Peter Luczak also climbed two places to 64th this week while another Australian, Chris Guccione, also jumped two places to 107th.
Canadian Daniel Nestor remained top of the doubles rankings (October 12) although he is tied on 10,760 points with Serbia’s Nenad Zimonjic. He has played two tournaments less, however, which gives him the top berth. Australia’s Jordan Kerr climbs three places to 32nd following his finals appearance at the Japan Open but his compatriot Paul Hanley drops a place as a result to 34th. Another Australian, Stephen Huss, dropped twelve places to 46th.
Former world number one on the women’s side Justine Henin has been granted a wildcard for the 2010 Australian Open following her announcement she was returning to the professional tour. Will she repeat Kim Clijsters’ successful return to this year’s US Open? Her first competitive tournament will be the Brisbane International, which begins January 3, 2010.
Novak Djokovic will overtake Britain’s Andy Murray in the ATP rankings on October 19 following his 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) win over Croatia’s Marin Cilic in the final of the China Open on Sunday.
Australian Samantha Stosur is through to the second round of the HP Open in Osaka, Japan. She is looking to improve on recent results that have seen her slip a place to 15th in this week’s WTA rankings, published October 12. Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak climbed four places to 31st while another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, also slipped one place to 69th.
In the doubles rankings (October 12th), Canadian Marie-Eve Pelletier climbed a place to 68th in the world while Natalie Grandin of South Africa rose from 83rd to 79th. Brit Sarah Borwell fell from 77th to 81st and another one to drop in the rankings was Sharon Fichman of Canada who now finds herself ranked 99th in the world.
British number three Katie O’Brien faces US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the Japan Open after her first round victory over American Alexa Glatch on Monday. O’Brien is celebrating her career-high 94 on the rankings which has allowed her to enter some WTA tournaments alongside those on the second-tier of the ITF circuit.
Other British players with victories under their belts this week include Alex Bogdanovic, Sarah Borwell and Emily Webley-Smith. Bogdanovic is through to the second round of the ATP Challenger in Denmark while Borwell is through in the $220,000 event in Linz, Austria. Webley-Smith and partner Danielle Brown are through to the quarterfinals of the doubles at the $25k event at Port Pirie, Australia.
Guernsey-born 2009 US Junior Open winner Heather Watson says she is ready to turn professional. The 17-year-old has been in Britain battling it out in the Aegon Pro Series in Barnstaple but has now been eliminated from both singles and doubles play. Now living and training in Florida she says she aims to turn professional on her return there.
NEWPORT, RI – Rajeev Ram became the 15th player in the history of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships to claim his first career ATP World Tour title on the grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. On Sunday, Ram won his maiden title with a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-3 win over fellow American Sam Querrey.
Ram is the first lucky loser to claim the Newport crown. Initially in the qualifying tournament, Ram entered the main draw when top seed Mardy Fish withdrew on Monday in order to replace Andy Roddick on the US Davis Cup team for a tie against Croatia. No lucky loser had ever advanced beyond the quarterfinals previously in Newport. Ram is the first lucky loser to win on the ATP circuit since Sergiy Stakhovsky won last year in Zagreb.
On the ATP World Tour, Ram is the third player to claim his first career title in 2009, joining Benjamin Becker (‘s-Hertogenbosch) and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Kitzbuhel). The most recent Newport champion to be claiming his first career title was Robby Ginepri in 2003.
Querrey, who fired a tournament record 80 aces during the week, was in search of his second career title. This is his second runner-up finish of 2009, having lost to Juan Martin del Potro in Auckland in January.
The all-American final was the ninth in Newport history and the first since 2002 when Taylor Dent defeated James Blake. It was the first all-American title match on the ATP since 2007 when Blake defeated Fish in the New Haven final.
Ram is the15th American champion in tournament history, and joins Roddick and Fish as the only American winners on the ATP World Tour in 2009.
Ram later teamed up with Jordan Kerr to defeat Michael Kohlman and Rogier Wassen 67(6) 76(7) 10-6. This was the first time either team was playing together on the ATP World Tour.
Ram is the third player in tournament history to claim both the singles and doubles titles in the same year while Kerr adds to his record haul of Newport trophies by winning the title for the fifth time.
Ram was the 15th player in tournament history to contest both the singles and doubles titles in the same year, and joins Dan Goldie (1987) and John Fitzgerald (1983) as the only three players to win both.
Kerr moves to 18-1 lifetime in Newport, having won the title in 2003 with David Macpherson as well as 2004, 2005 and 2007 with Jim Thomas. His five doubles titles are the most in tournament history, and it ties him with Vijay Amritraj for the most overall (Amritraj won three singles and two doubles titles).
The 2010 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships will take place July 5-11 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The next event at the venue is the 2009 Hall of Fame Champions Cup Aug. 20-23 featuring Pat Cash, Jim Courier, Wayne Ferreira, Todd Martin, Mikael Pernfors, Mark Philippoussis and Mats Wilander.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis and its champions. For more information regarding the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, Tennis Tournaments, Events and Programs, please call 401-849-3990 or visit our website at www.tennisfame.com.