By Leigh Sanders
Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.
Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.
The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.
This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.
This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.
In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.
Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.
Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.
In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.
Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.
More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.
Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.
Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.
Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.
Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.
Caroline Wozniacki beat Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-4 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Fernando Verdasco beat Sam Querrey 6-4 7-6 (6) to win the Pilot Pen men’s singles in New Haven
Tatjana Malek won the EmblemHealth Bronx Open, beating Kristina Barrois 6-1 6-4 in The Bronx, New York, USA
“Now it’s my time. It’s my turn to win some tournaments. I just feel I’ve had a great year. I’m so happy that it’s my name coming up a lot of times now.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after successfully defending her Pilot Pen Tennis women’s singles championship.
“I never got a chance to go back there to defend my title in 2006 because I was injured with my left wrist and then pregnant in 2007. So while this does feel like a new beginning, I am looking forward to walking through those gates again for the first time in four years.” – Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open in her last appearance at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
“I am number three in the world, and the number three in the world should have a chance to win, no?” – Rafael Nadal, on his chances to win the US Open.
“I have to take it as a positive that I will have more time to get ready for the Open. It’s been a really busy summer for me so I’ll just take advantage of these (early losses) and keep training and preparing for the Open.” – Venus Williams, talking about early exits from her last two tournaments.
“I’m recharged. I know I can play and move well and compete with the top players as good as I was, if not better. The US Open is my main goal.” – Jelena Jankovic.
“With every tournament I feel physically I’m getting better and getting a good sense of the court, but it’s still a work in progress. I’d like to forget I was gone for a long time but you have to put things in perspective.” – Maria Sharapova, noting her chances of winning the US Open this year are slim.
“This year I equaled my best result in Australia (last 16), did two rounds better than I ever did at the French (quarterfinals) and got further than I have done at Wimbledon (semifinals). So now the slam is the last thing I need to do. I believe that I can do it.” – Andy Murray, saying he’s one of the favorites to win the US Open.
“Andy’s not under the radar anymore and that’s probably a good thing. Now that the expectations are there I think he’s ready to handle it. He is definitely one of the six guys capable of winning.” – Brad Gilbert, speaking about Andy Roddick.
“One of the important things he has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since (Jimmy) Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it.” – John McEnroe, talking about Roger Federer.
“I’ve never had a normal life, so I don’t know what a normal life means.” – Fabrice Santoro, who, playing in his 20th season on tour, will retire after the US Open.
“I just look to be prepared for the Open. This is my first important thing for me is to just get there and be prepared for a fight.” – Flavia Pennetta.
“I think I’ve learned, especially in the last year, that it’s a lot simpler than I realized, playing professional tennis. There are no secrets. You got to do what you do well and you have to bring that to the table every day.” – Rajeev Ram, who won his first ATP Tour title earlier this summer…
“I don’t think I am going to do anything special because it is my last Grand Slam. I am not planning it. But you never know what can happen. I know I am not going to win, there is no chance. So we will just see.” – Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion who will retire at the end of this year.
“For the next year or so I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. I just want to stay healthy and enjoy my tennis.” – Katarina Srebotnik, whose US Open appearance is her first tournament in 10 months because of injuries.
“She was just playing with me like a pussy cat, one corner to other corner. In the second set I started to be more aggressive and I started serving a lot better.” – Elena Vesnina, after her three-set semifinal win over Amelie Mauresmo in New Haven.
“I elected to go with disaster control and the high powder-puff. Everyone asks did you bounce it. I just threw it over the catcher.” – Andy Roddick, talking about throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game.
“I contemplated things like whether I would be able to accept myself for not being on the level that I was in my teens, twenties, and when I was 25; whether I would be able to accept losing, moreover be able to accept a losing streak. I did spend a lot of time contemplating about this. Yet, after I made my decision to be back on court again and challenge myself, I haven’t really thought about it.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who returned to the WTA Tour after a 12-year retirement.
“It makes for something special. You sit in the players’ lounge and you wait. It doesn’t rain so often here so I don’t think they should change anything.” – Dinara Safina, saying she thinks something might be lost if a roof is installed over Arthur Ashe Stadium and there were no rain delays to sit though.
“I’ve peeked at the draw and seen where some of the qualifying spots are. I’d love to play a Federer or Nadal or a Roddick. We’ll see. I just want to play in there.” – Michael Yani, who at age 28 qualified for his first US Open, pointing at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Twice Andre Agassi closed out the US Open by winning the men’s singles. This year, he is the headliner on opening day, being honored for “giving back.” In 1994, the year he won his first US Open title, Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation, which is dedicated to transforming public education in Las Vegas, Nevada. As part of the Opening Night celebration, the USTA is recognizing the 40th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder as a network of community tennis organizations seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education. Besides Agassi, others honored on opening night include Mia Hamm, David Robinson and Doug Flutie.
Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” will be published in November. The eight-time Grand Slam singles champion writes about his start in tennis, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields.
SAM THE MAN
There could be a USD one million dollar payday in Sam Querrey’s future. By winning the US Open Series, the American has a chance to earn a bonus of between USD $15,000 and $1 million, according to how he finishes in the US Open. Querrey reached the final of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, before falling to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-6 (8).
The US Open wants players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter. Signs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center warn that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules. The signs say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches and warns about using Twitter away from the court, saying information about players, weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event could be determined as the passing of “inside information.” The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.
Because of tropical storm Denney, the semifinals of the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, were moved indoors. After waiting in vain most of Friday for the steady rain to cease, the women’s semis were switched from a 13,000-seat stadium to an indoor college court where only 300 fans were able to be squeezed into the building and leaned over a balcony that overlooked the court or stood on adjacent courts. There, Caroline Wozniacki beat Flavia Pennetta and Elena Vesnina downed Amelie Mauresmo. The men’s semis followed suit Saturday morning, with Sam Querrey stopping Jose Acasuso and Fernando Verdasco defeating Igor Andreev. Both finals were played outdoors late Saturday as the storm finally subsided and the hard courts were dried.
SITTING IT OUT
Dominika Cibulkova won’t be able to match her French Open performance at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The semifinalist at Roland Garros pulled out of the US Open because of a rib injury. Her withdrawal allowed Alberta Brianti of Italy to move into the main draw, while Agnes Szavay becomes the number 32 seeded player.
SORE BUT THERE
Several players are nursing injuries as they begin their US Open run. Marion Bartoli retired from her match at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, because of a left thigh strain. A hand injury forced Agnieszka Radwanska to retire before the third set of her match in New Haven. And Nikolay Davydenko needed a doctor to look at his right wrist midway through his quarterfinal final loss to Sam Querrey in the Pilot Pen men’s singles. Davydenko said his wrist became sore from the force of Querrey’s serves hitting his racquet. Sabine Lisicki, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, will play in the US Open.
India’s Sania Mirza received acupuncture treatment on her right wrist before heading to New York and the US Open. The 22-year-old underwent wrist surgery in April 2008, but the problem flared up again at the Beijing Olympics, forcing her to miss the last year’s US Open. She had reached the semifinals of a challenger event in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she again felt pain in her right wrist. So she flew home to Hyderabad, India, to get treatment. “I’m much better now, but not absolutely pain-free,” she said.
Katarina Srebotnik is making her comeback at the US Open. She was ranked as high as number 20 in the world in singles and number four in doubles, and had posted victories over Serena Williams at Roland Garros and Svetlana Kuznetsova at the US Open a year ago. But pain in her Achilles tendon and a shoulder injury forced her off the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for 10 months. It’s called the luck of the draw, and for Srebotnik it’s bad luck. Her first-round opponent will be 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.
Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic has denied deliberating taking a banned substance. The 25-year-old tested positive for a derivative of the banned stimulant pseudo ephedrine following a Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Argentina in July. “I have never consciously taken a banned substance,” said Minar, who is ranked 66th in the world. “This is why I rejected the accusation of doping in my reaction sent to the ITF.” Minar cited an injury when he withdrew from this year’s US Open.
SERENA, THE AUTHOR
Serena Williams says she is telling all in her autobiography, “Queen of the Court,” which is going on sale during the US Open. Serena says it was important for her to give an honest account of her life because she has not been as open as she should have been since the shooting death of her sister, Yetunde Price. She said that while she told the press injuries kept her from playing, she was also beset by depression because of a delayed reaction to Tunde’s death. Serena says three things got her out of her depression: seeing a therapist, going to Africa where she began a school, and winning the 2007 Australian Open over Maria Sharapova. “It opened up a lot of doors I left closed to the public and to myself,” Serena said of writing the book.
SENSITIVITY COURSE ALUMNI
Brydan Klein promises to be on his best behavior after completing a racial sensitivity course. The former Australian Open junior champion was banned for six months and fined USD $10,000 by the ATP after making a racial slur against a black South African player during a tournament in England in June. The 19-year-old Klein has a history of clashes with officials, having been suspended from the Australian Institute of Sport for repeated on-court misbehavior. Ranked 223rd in the world, Klein said he has apologized to fellow player Raven Klaasen for the slur. He also said he cannot afford to slip up again. “I’m definitely on my last warning,” he said. “This has been a step back for me and it hasn’t been a nice experience.”
John McEnroe has always been a big man in New York City, but this is ridiculous. A 100-foot high by 35-foot wide (30.48m by 15.24m) banner of McEnroe hangs on the side of Madison Square Garden promoting prostate cancer screening guidelines. McEnroe’s father was diagnosed with the illness in 2006 but is now doing well. Now 50 years old, the younger McEnroe says he knows many men his age are reluctant to get screened for cancer for the same reason they don’t like to ask for directions: they may view it as a sign of weakness.
Billie Jean King and actor Alec Baldwin will be the spokespeople for the expanded environmental initiatives at the National Tennis Center named in her honor. The two will join the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in encouraging US Open fans and others to help preserve the environment. Expanded 2009 initiatives will include a site-wide recycling effort placing more than 500 recycling receptacles across the 42 acres of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There also will be on sale an exclusive organic t-shirt designed by two-time US Open champion Venus Williams.
Venus Williams has been named to the first Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine. Selecting “20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts,” the magazine picked Venus Williams as “The Power of Female Strength.” Noting her Grand Slam and Olympics medals as well as her voice in the lobbying effort to win equal prize money for female players, the magazine said: “Both on and off the court, Venus Williams embodies a perfect marriage of power and grace. In the singular artistry of her play, we see that beauty and brawn aren’t mutually exclusive.”
The US Open logo – a flaming tennis ball – accounts for about 42 percent of all sales at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Sarah Cummins, the USTA’s managing director for merchandising, told Bloomberg News that clothing, hats and other gear bearing the US Open logo brought in almost USD $14 million during the two-week tournament last year.
When James Blake debuts his new Fila line of clothes at the US Open, he will be thinking about his father. The logo on Blake’s new clothing is “TR,” and the line is called Thomas Reynolds, the first and middle names of his late father, who died in 2004. Fila will help capture the lessons instilled in James by his father through print ads and through hang tags on the line. While Blake will be wearing the clothes on a tennis court, there are plans for the Thomas Reynolds brand to be on golf, fitness and leisurewear as well. “I wanted to be part of something that wouldn’t necessarily have to always be tied to me and be more about the spirit that father embodied,” Blake said.
Following her third hip surgery, Jamea Jackson is retiring from the women’s tour and will become assistant tennis coach at Oklahoma State University. The 22-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, will also be a student at OSU. Jackson was a member of the United States Fed Cup team.
STANDING FOR OFFICE
John Alexander’s new game is politics. The former tennis player and commentator has joined the Liberal Party and is running for a seat in the Australian parliament. Alexander is an advocate for preventive health and believes the decline of public tennis courts and other facilities in Australia has contributed to childhood obesity and health problems. He said he joined the Liberal Party at the invitation of a friend, who told him he would be more effective in securing change by trying to be part of a government. Ranked as high as eighth in the world, Alexander was the youngest player to represent Australia in Davis Cup. He played Davis Cup from 1968 to 1980 and has been captain of Australia’s Fed Cup team.
The US National Championships, known since 1968 as the US Open Tennis Championships, is the second oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments and is the only one to have been played each year since its inception in 1881. This is the 129th version of America’s premier tennis event and has been played on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard court. The tournament has been held on hard court at Flushing Meadows since moving from Forest Hills in 1978. The only major sporting event in the United States older than the US Open is the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875.
New Haven (men): Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 6-4 7-6 (3)
New Haven (women): Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Iveta Benesova and Lucie Hradecka 6-2 7-5
The Bronx: Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Vania King beat Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-0, 6-3
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
Kim Clijsters: www.kimclijsters.be/
Roger Federer: www.rogerfederer.com/en/index.cfm
Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com/nada/en/home
Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com/
Venus Williams: www.venuswilliams.com/
Andy Roddick: www.andyroddick.com
Andre Agassi Foundation: www.agassiopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA
US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
US Open (second week), New York, New York, USA, hard
$120,000 Genoa Open Challenger, Genoa, Italy, clay
Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7
Women’s Singles: Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 7-5 6-4
Men’s Doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (12) 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-3
Women’s Doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2
Mixed Doubles: Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur beat Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5 6-4
Boys Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3
Girls Singles: Laura Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1
Boys Doubles: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua beat Matt Reid and Bernard Tomic 6-4 2-6 12-10
Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Isabella Holland and Sally Peers 6-3 1-6 6-2
Ladies Invitational Doubles: Jana Novotna and Kathy Rinaldi beat Martina Navratilova and Helena Sukova 7-5 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles: Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer beat Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, walkover
Senior Gentlemen’s Doubles: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Wheelchair Masters: Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink beat Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-7 (6) 6-1 6-3
Ivan Navarro defeated Dick Norman 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-6 (10) to capture the 2008 Open Diputacion in Pozoblanco, Spain
Luis Horna won the BSI Challenger Lugano, defeating Nicolas Devilder 7-6 (1) 6-1 in Lugano, Switzerland
Fabio Fognini beat Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-1 to win the Sporting Challenger 08 in Turin, Italy
Tathiana Garbin won the Cuneo 2008 ITF event in Cuneo, Italy, beating Sorana-Mihaela Cristea 6-3 6-1
“I am very, very happy. For me it is a dream to play on this court. I had a lot of chances to win, but he always fight unbelievable.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating five-time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, it hurts. Rafa really served well at the end. I missed so many opportunities. I paid the price in the end.” – Roger Federer.
“My first job is big sister. I take that job very seriously.” – Venus Williams, talking about family ties after beating sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.
“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win.” – Serena Williams, noting she and her sister Venus have won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women’s singles titles.
“I’m definitely more in tune with my sister’s feelings because one of us has to win and one has to lose. Of course the celebration isn’t as exciting because my sister has just lost.” – Venus Williams.
“They’re serving bombs.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, referring to the big-serving games of both Williams sisters.
“His forehand was ridiculous. He hits the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult to get any rhythm. I felt rushed on every point.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
“To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place.” – Marat Safin.
“His forehand is incredible. The speed and spin is incredible, and the pop in his serve, there’s a life to it.” – John McEnroe, admitting he was stunned by the power of Rafael Nadal after he practiced with the Spaniard.
“It’s not over ’til the blonde lady screams.” – Mary Carillo on Elena Dementieva’s shrieking during her semifinal loss to Venus Williams.
“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.” – Jelena Jankovic, complaining about having to play on Court 18, where she lost.
“My husband warms up with me every time. He’s a good hitting partner, but maybe he needs to practice the serve more and serve like Serena. Then next time I will return much better.” – Zheng Jie, after Serena Williams fired 14 aces in her semifinal victory over the Chinese player.
“We have always aimed for singles gold, but Zheng Jie’s results have further bolstered our confidence in the Chinese tennis team.” – Xie Miqing, spokeswoman for the Chinese Tennis Federation, after Zheng reached the Wimbledon semifinals.
“I thought I was going to be sick when I walked onto court because there were so many people watching. In the second set I went a bit mad but got it back together and managed to win.” – Laura Robson, who became the first British player since 1984 to win the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles.
“It was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player. It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, after receiving an ITF Place in the Beijing Olympics tennis event.
“He is a wonderful role model for our young Canadiens, and I am so proud of his remarkable accomplishment today. His victory is an exclamation point on a Hall of a Fame career.” – Michael S. Downey, president and chief executive of Tennis Canada, talking about Daniel Nestor.
When Rafael Nadal unleashed a final ferocious forehand to end an epic battle, he became the first person since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to sweep both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. His 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 victory also stopped Roger Federer’s bid for a record sixth straight Wimbledon men’s singles title. The defeat snapped Federer’s 40 straight match streak at the All England Club and a record 65-match streak on grass. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, two years before the Open Era began. And at 4 hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history.
SONG FOR ZHENG
The biggest surprise at this year’s Wimbledon was China’s Zheng Jie. She became the first female wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and joined Monica Seles as the second at any Grand Slam tournament. Zheng beat three ranked players, including top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the reigning French Open champion. Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals was the only player to take a set off Zheng, and the Chinese righthander retaliated by winning the third set 6-1. Zheng wasn’t a complete surprise as she was ranked number 27 in the world in singles before she injured her ankle in 2007 and underwent surgery, ending her season. She won the gold at the Asian Games in 2006, beating Sania Mirza, and teamed with Yan Zi to win the doubles at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon the same year, her doubles ranking being as high as number three in the world.
SUN RISING IN EAST
Could the tennis power axis be shifting to the East – the Far East, that is? China’s Zheng Jie shocked the tennis world by knocking off top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Agnes Szavay and No. 18 Nicole Vaidisova on her way to the semifinals. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand eliminated the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic. Another Thai, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, reached the Girls’ singles final, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua captured the boys’ doubles title, winning the decisive third set 12-10. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama was a quarterfinalist in the mixed doubles. Earlier this year 18-year-old Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event in almost 16 years when he upset James Black in the final of Delray Beach, Florida. And the center of the tennis world next month will be the Beijing Olympics.
SET FOR BEIJING
Nicolas Massu of Chile will be able to defend his gold medals in singles and doubles now that he has been added to the field of the Beijing Olympics tennis event. The ITF awarded places in the field to 12 players – six men and six women – who did not meet the direct acceptance requirements. Massu won both the singles and doubles at the Athens Games four years ago. Other ITF Places in the men’s singles went to Kevin Anderson, South Africa; Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden; Kei Nishikori, Japan; Max Mirnyi, Belarus; and Sun Peng, China. Given ITF Places in the women’s singles were Maria Koryttseva, Ukraine; Chan Yung-Jan, Taiwan; Ayumi Morita, Japan; Nuria Llagostera-Vives, Spain; Alicia Molik, Australia; and Selima Sfar, Tunisia.
SEE YOU IN BEIJING
Eighteen of the top 20 men and seven of the top ten women are scheduled to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For both men and women, this is the strongest field to compete in the Olympics since tennis returned as a full medal sport in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Out of the top players, the only ones deciding to stay home are Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet and Anna Chakvetadze. Fernando Verdasco and Marion Bartoli are both ineligible to compete. The Olympic tennis event will be played from Sunday, August 10, through Sunday, August 17, at the new Olympic Tennis Center in Beijing.
More than 40 of the top tennis players took part in the ITF’s official tennis Olympic book, “Journey to Beijing – Tennis.” The 140-page publication features a series of photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. The pictures are accompanied by interviews with the players. The pictures were taken in Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, the Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Check out Serena Williams as an ice skater.
SURE ABOUT RETIRING?
Justine Henin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to tennis. The 26-year-old Belgian announced her retirement 10 days before the start of the French Open in May. At the time, she was ranked number one in the world. Henin, who is establishing a tennis academy in Belgium, said, “I can never say for sure that I’ll never be back because I hate to say never. But for me, and the people who know me, they know that when I do something, I do it 200 percent, and when I decide it’s over, it’s over and I go to the next step.”
Austrian doubles player Sandra Klemenschits will return to the WTA Tour this month following her battle with abdominal cancer, the same illness that caused the death in April of her twin sister Daniela. Organizers of the Gastein Ladies awarded Klemenschits a wild card for their July 14-20 tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria. She will team up with Germany’s Marlene Weingaertner, who is making her comeback after a two-year retirement from competitive tennis. Sandra and Daniela Klemenschits played doubles on Austria’s Fed Cup team and won 23 titles on the ITF women’s circuit before both were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer.
Jonas Bjorkman was on the losing side in his final Wimbledon’s men’s doubles championship match. He and Kevin Ullyett lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Swede’s last appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before he retires at the end f the season. Bjorkman’s partners in his winning 51 doubles titles – including eight at Grand Slam events – include Todd Woodbridge, John McEnroe, Pat Rafter and Roger Federer.
When Daniel Nestor teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship, he became the first Canadian to win a title at the All England Club. Nestor also completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to championships he won with Mark Knowles at the Australian Open in 2002, the U.S. Open in 2004 and the French Open in 2007. And he became just the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, joining Andre Agassi, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
After facing each other in the women’s singles final, sisters Venus and Serena Williams teamed up to win their third Wimbledon women’s doubles championship and seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2. The sisters last won the doubles at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena beat Venus in the singles final. This year, Venus beat Serena for her fifth Wimbledon singles crown.
When Laura Robson beat third-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1, she became the first British player to win the Wimbledon girls singles since Annabel Croft in 1984. Because of the interest in the 14-year-old’s match, the girls’ singles final was played in the 11,000-seat No. 1 court. She is the youngest girls’ champion at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis won in 1994 at the age of 13. When she was handed the trophy by Ann Jones, one of the British women to have won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles, Robson said she hopes she will be granted a wild card into the main draw of next year’s Championships.
Marcos Baghdatis has decided not play Davis Cup for Cyprus against Portugal later this month. Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, said he is pulling out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie because of other commitments, but said he was not be quitting the team indefinitely.
The top-seeded brother team of Bob and Mike Bryan never lost serve during this year’s Wimbledon, yet they didn’t win the title. The American twins lost in the men’s doubles semifinals to the team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9). Bob Bryan did win a Wimbledon title, teaming with Samantha Stosur to capture the mixed doubles. Mike Bryan was on the losing side of the net with Katarina Srebotnik.
SEEING IT ON TV
The battle between sisters Venus and Serena Williams drew the highest preliminary United States television ratings in three years for a Wimbledon women’s final. NBC said viewership was up 21 percent from last years’ meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli and the best rating since 2005 when Venus beat Lindsay Davenport.
Ricoh, a global leader in digital office solutions, has extended its role as the Official Office Solutions Provider of the ATP for three additional years. The company will also sponsor the official ATP MatchFacts, distributed after every ATP Tour match and sponsorship of Hawkeye graphics at a number of ATP Masters Series events in Europe.
Cordoba: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat James Cerretani and Dick Norman 6-4 6-3
Lugano: Ramirez Junaid and Philipp Marx beat Mariano Hood and Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (7) 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Turin: Carlos Berlocq and Frederico Gil beat Tomas Cibulec and Jaroslav Levinsky 6-4 6-3
Cuneo: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Olga Savchuk and Marina Shamayko 6-1 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Siemens Open, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay
$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$890,000 Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay
$525,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, hard
$525,000 Dutch Open Tennis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, clay
$525,000 ATP Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay
$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard
$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay
Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Group III: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hard
Group IV: Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, US Virgin Island at Honduras
Group II Playoffs: Luxembourg vs. Finland at Hanko, Finland, clay; Hungary vs. Greece at Thessaloniki, Greece, clay
Group II Second Round: Denmark vs. South Africa at Johannesburg, South Africa, hard; Algeria vs. Monaco at Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay