Kristof Vliegen

Day 4 of Legg Mason – Fish, Verdasco & Malisse Press Conferences, Tipsarevic’s DNA, Friendships on Tour

Another day has set on the Legg Mason Tennis Classic and with it we find a quickly diminishing field as only the best players move through. Two seeded Frenchman, Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau, crashed out but the rest of the seeds prevailed. Let’s catch up on the day’s happenings around the grounds and on the practice courts.

  1. First up, I stumbled upon the end of Stan Wawrinka’s practice with Andrey Golubev. What caught my eye more was that Richard Gasquet was sitting in the stands, watching and waiting to take the court next. As soon as Wawrinka sat down, Gasquet strolled over to him and the two started chatting. Gasquet then picked up a racquet of Wawrinka’s and started feeling it out. Both players use a Head racquet, so I started wondering if Gasquet was looking to switch models. Will be interesting to see.

  1. When Gasquet finally took the court, I could tell right away he was not feeling the ball well. He had just played a final in the cold of Gstaad, Switzerland on Sunday and was already slated to play a match in the 90-degree humidity of Washington, DC two days later. Suffice it to say that his hitting hand was even cramping mid-hit. One thing struck me in particular. As fluid as his backhand looked, his forehand seemed off-balance and forced. The placement of his left hand is even more awkward up-close and actually takes away from his power. Not sure if it was just the day and conditions, but he’s looked better. Sadly, he had to retire from his match later in the day after losing the first set 6-3 to Kristof Vliegen.

  1. Lo, and behold, who do I find now watching Gasquet practice? None other than newly-minted tweeter Janko Tipsarevic, eating a banana.

A girl sitting close to me taping Gasquet’s practice, started getting really fidgety when she saw Tipsarevic. I couldn’t tell it she was being bitten by bugs or suddenly realized she had lost her passport. Thankfully, she figured out there were people around her and she quickly asked me “Can I borrow your pen?!” I said “Sure” knowing full well it would become her souvenir if Tipsarevic were to sign an autograph with it. I watched as she ran over to him, got his signature with my pen and took a photo. She then proceeded to walk back towards me and extended her hand holding my blue pen. “Thank you so much!” she exclaimed. I was stunned. I actually got my pen back. Not only that, but with Tipsarevic’s DNA on it. I wonder if I could clone him …

Shortly, Tipsarevic took the court and practiced with another player. He mostly did serves and wanted to work on his returns, but was frustrated when his practice partner was struggling getting serves in. Luckily, Tipsarevic went on to win his match against Arnaud Clement in fairly easy fashion a few hours later. What was most entertaining was that he looked like Darth Vader from Star Wars in his all-black Fila kit and Oakley sunglasses. Pretty intimidating if you ask me!

  1. First match of the day that I watched was between Marco Chiudinelli and Brian Dabul. Although Chiudinelli struggled in his match and his left knee was still tightly wrapped up, his coach was cheering him on in crucial moments and he seemed to be happy to get through. He seemed limited in his lateral movement in the back court, so he tried approaching the net more frequently. However, his opponent was quick and could retrieve most balls. It took some adjusting but Chiudinelli came out victorious with a score of 7-6(3), 6-2.

And look who I find on my way out of the match: compatriot Stan Wawrinka and his coach, Peter Lundgren watching Chiudinelli.

  1. I next made my way over to a hotly-anticipated doubles match, played on Grandstand instead of Stadium Court. It was the match-up between doubles world #1 Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic vs. Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek. The stands were packed and the tennis was top-notch. I didn’t feel bad missing the Fish/Troicki blow-out on stadium court when this doubles match had everything a tennis fan wanted: amazing rallies, bad calls, umpire disputes, ‘Ajde’-ing and on-court laughter and embarrassment when a shot was miserably calculated. The pairing of Berdych/Stepanek was like peanut butter and jelly: Berdych is smooth, fluid and strong, while Stepanek has shot variety and nutty surprises at the net. Even though Berdych/Stepanek won 6-4, 4-6, 10-8, it says a lot about the doubles game and how they can compete with top singles players and only narrowly lose in a matchup.

  1. My next two stops were the press conferences of Xavier Malisse and Mardy Fish, who knocked out Julien Benneteau and Viktor Troicki, respectively.

Malisse was very personable and engaging, detailing how his past injuries kept him away from top form. I don’t think I realized how many injuries he has had in the last 3 years: left wrist, then right wrist, then twisted right knee, then left wrist again. But today he said he is “playing well and feeling healthy.” This looked to be the case when I peaked in on his match against Benneteau. He was running him all over the court! Hopefully, this will continue and we’ll see him once again climb in the ranks.

Mardy Fish was next and he was light-spirited and pleasant as well. He talked about how quickly he lost weight, going from 203 lbs. to about 170-3 lbs. currently. He thankfully feels that he hasn’t lost any energy or precision in his shots or serve, but hopes to gain some muscle in the off-season and not lose any more weight. Since he didn’t have any points to defend, he wanted to stack his summer up with tournaments and see how he fared.

Fish was asked about the other Americans in tennis and how it feels to play a friend in a match, like Andy Roddick 2 weeks ago. He stated that you pretty much have to put the friendship aside, “just play the match, and you’ll be friends after the match.” He also paid compliments to John Isner saying that his serve is “probably one of the best in the world.” Fish’s current coach, David Nainkin, is also the long-time coach of Sam Querrey. Fish had praise for Querrey’s character as well: “I’m lucky Sam is who he is to let me share [Nainkin].” Quite a humble guy, and not taking his new-found game for granted. He’s worked hard to get in the best shape of his life and I hope he continues strong.

  1. The last match I watched was between Fernando Verdasco and Michael Berrer. I have a separate post on Verdasco and his press conference (http://www.tennisgrandstand.com/archives/6953), but I’ll sum up a little here, including the tiebreaker point-by-point.

Verdasco struggled in the first set and even faced two match points down 5-2 in the second set. He finally found his rhythm and won the next five games. All he had to do was wear Berrer out and he couldn’t do it. It seemed that from the first ball, Berrer was wearing HIM out. Verdasco seemed drained and tired on the court and his footwork was lacking. He was miscalculating shots and overhitting them and couldn’t seem to return most of Berrer’s first serves. The most alarming aspect of his game during the match was his erratic toss. He would throw it too far behind him, let it drop, and then try again. He blamed it on the wind and the crowd, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a deeper problem.

The third set reached a tiebreak. It was high energy, exhilarating, with lots of crowd cheering and clapping. Two unfortunate shots that clipped the net and went out, brought the score to 4-3 for Verdasco. Another backhand mishit from Verdasco, brought it to 4-4. An ace from Berrer make it 4-5 for Berrer. A fearless backhand approach winner from Verdasco evened the score again. Verdasco then fired a service winner that Berrer was not able to place, making the score 6-5 for Verdasco. The next rally brought fear and doubt to the crowd as they watched Verdasco approach the net for a volley and fall to the ground, grabbing his left foot. He took his shoe off, shunned ice away, and got the trainer. A few moments passed. To the applause of the crowd, he eventually got up and jogged to the other side for the changeover. (He later stated it was just the plastic in his shoe that hurt his big toe with a great deal of pain, but that it was nothing to worry about.) The score was now 6-6. As the crowd, we still didn’t know what exactly happened to cause the fall and if he would be able to close this out. However, Berrer never scored another point and Verdasco went up 7-6 with a big “VAMOS!”, and then finished it off at 8-6 to the cheers of the crowd.

Check out the video below and find more of my videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/kiki52484#g/u

It was a great day showcasing all the top seeds in either singles or doubles and the tournament has indeed started well on its way. I’ll be back for more later this week!

Federer Ties Nastase; Soderling and Murray Also Win Tourney Titles

BASEL

Roger Federer drew level with Ilie Nastase on 57 career titles after beating 6-3 6-4 David Nalbandian in the final between the Top two seeded players. Federer never faced a break point and won in Basel third straight year. “It feels great to win at home. Once you had it you want more of it and you want to do it over and over again.” said Federer who improved 10-8 against Nalbandian and 29-6 lifetime record in his hometown.

LYON

Robin Soderling has finally won his 3rd ATP tournament. The Swede has been waiting more than three years for another title, losing meanwhile 4 consecutive finals, three this year (Rotterdam, Memphis, Stockholm). Soderling is one of the biggest indoor specialist, he has played 9 finals in career, all of them indoor. On Sunday needed three sets to upset Julien Benneteau and his home-crowd 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1. Soderling broke the Frenchman’s serve in the 7th game of the second set but lost his own serve in the following game – it was the only game of the match with break points for Benneteau who lost his second ATP final. “As a player you always have the goal to reach the Top 100,” said Soderling who next week will be for the first time in career a Top 20 player. “Once you get there, you want to get to the Top 50. Reaching the Top 20 feels great. It has been my goal for two or three years already.” Thanks to this triumph Soderling creates theoretical chances to play in Masters Cup. He needs to win in Paris next week on the assumption that Gilles Simon and David Ferrer don’t make QF, and anyone else behind Simon and Ferrer doesn’t make the final.

St. PETERSBURG

The Russian-born but Kazhstan representative, Andrei Goloubev was able to win only two games in his first ATP final against defending champion Andy Murray. The British No. 1 converted five of 8 break points and saved two break points in the match which lasted just 58 minutes. It was the shortest final on the ATP circuit this year, and the second shortest final in terms of games (14) after Mikhail Youzhny defeated Rafael Nadal 6-0 6-1 in Chennai. Murray won 8th title in career (5th in European indoor) and became the first British player to win back-to-back titles since Mark Cox in March 1975. “I’m happy to defend my title in St Petersburg,” said Murray. “I like to play indoors. I reached my first ATP final indoors in Bangkok and then won my first ATP title in San Jose.”

Basel – Final

(1)Roger Federer (SUI) d. (2)David Nalbandian (ARG) 6-3 6-4

Lyon – Final

(7)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-3 6-7(5) 6-1

St. Petersburg – Final

(1)Andy Murray (GBR) d. (q)Andrei Goloubev (KAZ) 6-1 6-1

Andy Murray Cruises Into Second Straight Final

BASEL

Roger Federer for the fifth time (third in a row) advanced to the final of his home-event in Basel after convincing 6-3 6-2 over in-form Feliciano Lopez. “It’s great to play back-to-back semifinals and reach the final,” said Federer. “I have some points to defend but that is not what my life is about anymore, I hope to win titles. My game has really come along this week and I’m serving well this week.”

In the second semifinal between two Argentinians, David Nalbandian outplayed Juan Martin del Potro 6-4 6-4. Nalbandian is also a Basel specialist. He has played three finals there, won one of them, six years ago, in his first attempt (beating Gonzalez in straight sets in the final).

LYON

Gilles Simon has finally lost a three-setter. He was beaten by the hands of the indoor specialist Robin Soderling. Simon was losing 4:5 (15-30) in the first set but won 10 points in a row and the first set 7-5. The next two sets Soderling won 6-3 and reached third indoor final this year (after Rotterdam and Memphis).

Julien Benneteau defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 7-5 despite 2:5 down in the first set. Benneteau later saved set point at 5:6 with subtle volley. In the similar style he won his first set point in the tie-break as well.

St. PETERSBURG

Andy Murray has won 17 of his last 18 matches. In the Satursday’s semifinal British No. 1 demolished Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-3. Last year in the final Murray playing against Verdasco lost only two games more. “I played a solid match and he got off to a slow start, making some mistakes and I was able take advantage of that,” said Murray.

“I was very happy with my level of play today and it was a perfect match,” said Golubev, who won the final 10 games of his semifinal match against Victor Hanescu. “This will be my first ATP final and I will never forget this match and this tournament.”

Basel – Semifinals

(1)Roger Federer (SUI) d. Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-2

(2)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 6-4 6-4

Lyon – Semifinals

(7)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (4)Gilles Simon 5-7 6-3 6-3

Julien Benneteau (FRA) d. (3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(5) 7-5

St. Petersburg – Semifinals

(1)Andy Murray (GBR) d. (3)Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-3

(q)Andrei Goloubev (KAZ) d. Victor Hanescu 6-3 6-0

Voo’s ATP Round-Up From Basel, Lyon and St. Pete

BASEL

Roger Federer after two difficult matches in early rounds, won easily his quarterfinal match against Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-2 6-3. “I’m very satisfied by how it went,” Federer said. “I tried to step up the pressure and so far that’s worked well.”

In the semifinal Federer will face Feliciano Lopez who knocked out James Blake 6-4 7-6(7). Blake had double setpoint at 6:5 in the 2nd set but Lopez saved it with second serve ace and forehand winner. In the tie-break Lopez led 6:3, then saved another set point (6:7) with service winner to convert finally 4th match point with excellent cross-court backhand passing-shot. “This one hurt,” Blake said. “I had a set point in the tiebreaker. If I expect to beat a lot of the guys out there I need to play well on those points and I didn’t do it today.” Lopez has won 10th tie-break in a row!

In the other semifinal will meet the two best Argentinians (Del Potro and Nalbandian) who played a match last week in Madrid – Del Potro won 6-4 6-2 in the last 16. “Last week I beat him (Nalbandian) in a great match, and tomorrow I’ve got to be in good shape if I want to do it again,” Del Potro said.

LYON

Two former champions Andy Roddick (2005) and Robin Soderling (2004) played a hard-service battle with no breaks of serve and two tie-breaks. Both tie-breaks had the same pattern – Roddick was leading 3:1 but Soderling won twice 7-5 thanks to unforced errors of American player. Roddick was better (22-20) in aces. Roddick doesn’t add points to Champions Race (he should have reached the final to do it) in contrary to Gilles Simon who has won for the first time in two weeks time a match in straight sets (6-3 7-5 against compatriot Ouanna). Simon could move within three points of sixth-placed Roddick if he wins the title.

In the bottom half of the draw, two Frenchmen (Tsonga and Benneteau) will fight against each other to reach the final. Benneteau advanced to the last four in impressive style – hasn’t lost 4 games in a set in three matches this week.

ST. PETERSBURG

Defending champion Andy Murray has won 10th consecutive match beating Janko Tipsarevic 7-6(5) 7-5 in two hours and 10 minutes. Murray sets up semifinal clash with Fernando Verdasco who qualified to St. Petersburg semifinal third straight year. Murray beat Verdasco 6-2 6-3 in last year’s final.

Andrey Golubev as a first player from Kazakhstan reached the ATP semifinal. Golubev in a duel of two qualifiers was better than Misha Zverev 6-7 6-4 7-6. 21 year-old Kazakh won match point after a successful challenge. He now face Victor Hanescu. The Romanian hadn’t any problems against 27 year-old Michail Elgin who won this week his 1st ATP match.

Basel – Quarterfinals

(1)Roger Federer (SUI) d. Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-2 6-3

Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. (4)James Blake (USA) 6-4 7-6(7)

(3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. (6)Igor Andreev (RUS) 6-4 7-5

(2)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (q)Benjamin Becker (GER) 7-6(4) 6-4

Lyon – Quarterfinals

(7)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (1)Andy Roddick (USA) 7-6(5) 7-6(5)

(4)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. (WC)Josselyn Ouanna (FRA) 6-3 7-5

(3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 7-6(5) 6-1

Julien Benneteau (FRA) d. Steve Darcis (BEL) 6-3 6-2

St. Petersburg – Quarterfinals

(1)Andy Murray (GBR) d. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 7-6(5) 7-5

(3)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Rainer Schuettler (GER) 7-5 6-2

(q)Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. (q)Michael Zverev (GER) 6-7(3) 6-4 7-6(4)

Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. (WC)Michail Elgin (RUS) 6-1 6-4

Second Round Round-Up – Basel, Lyon, St. Pete!

BASEL

Roger Federer hasn’t lost a set in 10 meetings against Jarkko Nieminen. The Finn was very close to win a set against former No. 1 this time. Nieminen had two set points at 5:3 in the first set, led 30-0 on serve in the next game and was 5:4 up on serve in the tie-break. Federer finally won the match in two tie-breaks.

Nieminen can’t win a set against federer, Philipp Kohlschreiber can’t win a match against Igor Andreev. The German has lost 7 match in a row to Andreev but for the first time in career was relatively close of victory. Andreev won 7-6 6-7 7-5 breaking Kohlschreiber’s serve for the first time in the last game of the match. Kohlschreiber lost tight matches in his last three indoor events (all of them 6-7 or 5-7 in the third set).

James Blake builds up chances to play in Shanghai after beating Oscar Hernandez. Blake surprisingly lost first set in a tie-break but won the next two sets comfortably 6-2 6-4, facing just one break point in the whole match. “I was serving well and that got me out of a lot of trouble,” Blake said who served 17 aces.

Kristof Vliegen saved with stunning backhand passing-shot a match point against David Nalbandian in the 12th game of the final set and was leading 4:3 in the tie-break but experienced in tight matches Nalbandian won the last four points of the match.

LYON

Marathon-man Gilles Simon still wins his matches in three-sets. In the second round he beat Andreas Seppi 7-6(5) 5-7 6-4. It has been 7th three-set win for Simon in the last two weeks and each of those matches lasted more than 2 hours (against Nadal more than 3 hours)!

Tennis Masters Cup qualification contender Andy Roddick needed two tie-breaks and 26 aces to overcome his compatriot Robby Ginepri. Roddick has to reach the final to add the points in Champions Race. He will now face Robin Soderling who served 20 aces in just 8 service games against one of the shortest player on the tour Christophe Rochus. Rochus received also 20 aces from Gilles Muller one round earlier.

ST. PETERSBURG

For the first time in history two players from Kazakhstan and Latvia reached second round of an ATP Tournament. From those foursome only Andrey Golubev won his match, easily surpassing Marat Safin 6-2 6-4. Unexpectedly Russia won’t have a seeded player in the quarterfinals (four seeded players at the start of tournament). The best Russian tennis player Nikolay Davydenko withdrew due to injuried left wrist. “In one of the games when I was receiving his serve I just snapped my wrist,” said Davydenko about his first-round match against Guccione. “I was able finish the match but today I felt a lot of pain and I just can’t play”.

Basel – Second Round

(1)Roger Federer (SUI) d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 7-6(6) 7-6(1)

Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-4 6-2

(4)James Blake (USA) d. Oscar Hernandez (ESP) 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4

Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. (8)Mardy Fish (USA) 7-6(9) 6-4

(6)Igor Andreev (RUS) d. Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 7-6(6) 6-7(0) 7-5

(3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. (WC)Stephane Bohli (SUI) 6-3 6-3

(q)Benjamin Becker (GER) d. (LL)Andreas Beck (GER) 3-6 6-3 6-4

(2)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (q)Kristof Vliegen (BEL) 6-4 5-7 7-6(4)

Lyon – Second Round

(1)Andy Roddick (USA) d. Robby Ginepri (USA) 7-6(5) 7-6(3)

(7)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (q)Christophe Rochus (BEL) 6-1 6-2

(4)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-6(5) 5-7 6-4

(WC)Josselyn Ouanna (FRA) d. Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) 6-3 1-6 6-3

Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) d. (8)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 6-4 6-1

(3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Fabrice Santoro (FRA) 6-2 5-7 6-3

Julien Benneteau (FRA) d. (5)Tommy Robredo (ESP) 6-2 6-2

Steve Darcis (BEL) vs (2)Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-4 3-6 7-6(5)

St. Petersburg – Second Round

(1)Andy Murray (GBR) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-4 6-2

Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 7-6(3)

(3)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. (WC)Karlis Lejnieks (LAT) 6-1 6-3

Rainer Schuettler (GER) d. Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) 6-3 6-3

(q)Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. (8)Marat Safin (RUS) 6-4 6-2

(q)Michael Zverev (GER) d. (4)Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 7-5 6-4

Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. (q)Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3 7-6(7)

(WC)Michail Elgin (RUS) d. (2)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) w/o

St. Pete seeds lack Simon survival skills

The St. Petersburg draw is already in shambles after just two rounds of the tournament, as seeds are tumbling out at an alarming rate. No. 5 Marin Cilic, No. 6 Dmitry Tursunov, and No. 7 Mario Ancic were all upset in their openers. No. 2 Nikolay Davydenko, No. 4 Mikhail Youzhny, and No. 8 Marat Safin followed suit in round two, much to the chagrin of the Russian fans. Davydenko pulled out after his first-round win with a wrist injury, while Youzhny lost to doubles partner Mischa Zverev and Safin fell to qualifier Andrey Golubev.

The only seeds to reach the quarterfinals were No. 3 Fernando Verdasco and–not surprisingly–No. 1 Andy Murray. Murray won the Masters Series Madrid last week and has had no problems so far in St. Petersburg taking care of Viktor Troicki and Ernests Gulbis.

Pehaps the six unfortunate seeded players in St. Petersburg should be taking notes from Gilles Simon. The Frenchman won five matches in three sets–four in third-set tiebreakers–last week en route to the Madrid title match, and he is already up to his old tricks in Lyon. Simon recovered from being a set and a break down in the first round to outlast Juan Monaco in three. He went to three again on Thursday with Andreas Seppi, but was far too strong mentally and physically in the end for the Italian.

Simon will play countryman Josselin Ouanna, who got into the event as a wildcard, in the quarterfinals. Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also through, while Richard Gasquet got upset by Steve Darcis in the second round.

Over in Basel, top two seeds Roger Federer and David Nalbandian have been doing their best Simon impersonations. Federer struggled with Bobby Reynolds in his opener and lost the second set in a tiebreaker, but he outlasted the American in three. The Swiss then saw Jarkko Nieminen serve for the first set on Thursday, but Federer came back to win the match in two tiebreakers. Nalbandian cruised in his first match, but the Argentine needed a third-set breaker to overcome Kristof Vliegen.

James Blake and Juan Martin Del Potro are still looming large as potential semifinal opponents for Federer and Nalbandian, respectively.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I shocked myself with some of the winners I played, was near perfect tennis

STARS

Dinara Safina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-3 to win the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan

Vera Zvonareva won the TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open in Guangzhou, China, by defeating Shuai Peng 6-7 (4) 6-0 6-2

Florent Serra beat Albert Montanes 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Open in Szczecin, Poland

Nuria Llagostera Vives beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 6-3, winning the ITF women’s event in Sofia, Bulgaria

Stefan Edberg won the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris, France, by beating Sergi Bruguera 3-6 7-5 10-5 (match tiebreak)

SAYINGS

“Today I play an almost perfect match and it is very, very exciting. Today I played very well. I shocked myself with some of the winners I played, was near perfect tennis.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Andy Roddick 6-4 6-0 64 and giving Spain an unbeatable 3-1 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals.

“God knows how far I can get! I’ve played the best tennis I’ve ever played this week.” – Dinara Safina, after winning the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, her fourth title this year.

“I had the confidence to do this, and as we say in Russia, ‘If you don’t take risks, you don’t drink champagne.'” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after upsetting Jelena Jankovic.

“I played well at the US Open and it is challenging to keep the intensity up after such a big event.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Pacific Open quarterfinals.

“One of my goals has always been to get as close as possible to the top and to make it to the Sony Ericsson Championships. Making it to Doha just shows me that I’ve been doing a few things right this season, so I am just very happy about my qualification.” – Elena Dementieva, after becoming the fifth player to qualify for the eight-player, season-ending Championships.

“It was an annoying call for me and I just asked him to change them, that’s all I did. Who knows, maybe I overreacted, but I was so irritated by the call because for me it was such an obvious call.” – Roger Federer, asking that the line judges be removed during his Davis Cup match against Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen.

“If Roger himself is complaining about the people, with the umpire and the line umpires … that is a really good sign to me that I was not the only one.” – Kristof Vliegen.

“That point was crucial. I hit a nice shot (on the replayed point), I felt different in the tiebreak, and I could turn it around.” – David Nalbandian, who got a break on a controversial call and went on to defeat Igor Andreev in the opening match of Argentina-Russia Davis Cup semifinal.

“It’s not only we who have the pressure. The chair umpire has the pressure of the crowd as well, and sometimes they make the wrong decision, but he is an experience umpire. I have to call it bad luck for me, but it did change the game.” – Russia’s Igor Andreev, who lost to Argentina’s David Nalbandian after a controversial call in the first-set tiebreak changed the momentum of their Davis Cup match.

“We’re looking for other partners. It’s a shame because we worked hard to try to make it work. It just didn’t quite click.” – Jamie Murray, on the breakup of his doubles partnership with Max Mirnyi.

“Everything you learn can also help you on faster courts and help you change strategies mid-match. I am looking forward to developing Australian youngsters into top tennis players.” – Spain’s Felix Mantilla, who has been hired to teach clay-court tennis to young Australian players.

“The only sport I do follow is tennis. Tennis is much more civilized, and civilization is something I search for in everything, every day.” – singer Tony Bennett.

STREAKING RUSSIANS

Dinara Safina won her fourth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the year by beating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-3 in the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan. Since beginning the season with an 11-10 record, Safina has posted a 41-5 mark, reaching seven finals in nine events. With the win she becomes only the fifth Russian to crack the top three in the rankings, joining Anatasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova, Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova. It also was the fifth all-Russian WTA Tour final of the year.

SHADOW FROM THE PAST

Kimiko Date-Krumm, who has returned to tennis after a 12-year hiatus, will compete in the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships later this month. Once ranked as high as number four in the world, Date-Krumm turns 38 on the eve of the tournament. She has been playing on the ITF women’s circuit in Japanese tournaments only and her ranking has risen to 264th in the world.

SHOOTING DARTS

Ivo Karlovic had 39 aces and 70 winners in his 7-6 (5) 6-4 6-7 (6) 7-6 (4) win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, a victory that returned Croatia to the World Group for 2009. Roko Karanusic earned his first Davis Cup victory in his fourth attempt, beating Brazil’s Thiago Alves 7-6 (4) 4-6 7-6 (5).

SWISS TIFF

In a rare show of frustration, Roger Federer asked that the line judges be changed after he felt he received a bad call in a Davis Cup match, leading to his losing serve and falling behind Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen 2-0 in the second set. The team of nine officials stayed on court until the next changeover, and they were booed by the partisan Swiss crowd as they left. After the new line judges were brought on, Federer won the next five games to take the set en route to his 7-6 (1) 6-4 6-2 first-day victory.

SHARP SWING

A controversial line call in another Davis Cup semifinal helped Argentina’s David Nalbandian defeat Russia’s Igor Andreev 7-6 (5) 6-2 6-4 in the opening match of the tie. Andreev was leading 4-2 in the first-set tiebreak when Nalbandian’s forehand hit the net cord and was called out. Andreev walked up to the mark in the clay and ringed it, but umpire Carlos Bernardes came down from his chair, inspected the mark and agreed with the line call. Instead of Andreev leading 5-2 with two minibreaks, they replayed the point, which Nalbandian won. The Argentine went on to win four of the next five points and the opening set.

SALUTE

Gigi Fernandez and Wendy White Prausa are among the four newest members of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s Hall of Fame. Also inducted were Alice Luthy Tym, the former head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Janice Metcalf Cromer. Tym started the women’s team and served as its captain while an undergraduate at the University of Florida before playing internationally. Fernandez won 17 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals, while Prausa is the only women’s tennis player to turn pro during college and still graduate on time. Cromer was the first woman to play on the men’s team at the University of Redlands, helping lead the team to NAIA national championships in 1973 and ’74.

SLIPS AGAIN

Jelena Jankovic keeps missing that top rung of the WTA Tour rankings. The Serb was ranked number one in the world for the first time in her career on August 11, but stayed there for only one week. She had another chance at the US Open, but lost the final to Serena Williams, who took over the top spot. The second-ranked Jankovic would have replaced Williams if she won the Pacific Open in Tokyo. But she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 7-5 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

SPOT IN DOHA

Elena Dementieva is the latest player to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar. Others who have qualified for the November 4-9 event are Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic. The top eight singles players and top four doubles team will compete for the Championships title. Dementieva, the Olympic singles gold medalist, was a semifinalist at the US Open and is currently ranked number five in the world.

SQUEAKER

Alexander Peya defeated Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 in the decisive fifth match to return Austria to the World Group for the sixth straight year. The tie was played at Wimbledon and it was Pey’s first Davis Cup win on grass in four attempts. Andy Murray had leveled the tie for Great Britain when he began the final day with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-1 win over Austria’s Jurgen Melzer.

SURVIVES

Thiemo De Bakker lifted the Netherlands back into the World Group for the first time since 2006 by beating South Korea’s Woong-Sun Jun 6-2 6-1 6-3 in the decisive fifth rubber. Korean veteran Hyung-Taik Lee had leveled the tie 2-2 in the first reverse singles by stopping Jesse Huta Galung 1-6 6-1 7-6 (5) 6-2.

SPLITSVILLE

The doubles partnership of Jamie Murray and Max Mirnyi has ended after winning just one ATP title, that coming at Delray Beach, Florida, in February when they beat brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The team of Murray and Mirnyi had a 15-17 record for the year, including first-round losses at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

SPANISH TINGE

The country that produced Rod Laver and Margaret Court among many tennis stars in the past is turning to Spain for its future. Tennis Australia has hired Felix Mantilla of Spain as a clay-court coach to work with its young players. The governing body also will add a clay-court facility in Barcelona, Spain, to its training bases in Canberra and London. Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione are the only Australian men currently ranked in the top 100, while number 48 Casey Dellacqua and number 73 Samantha Stosur are the country’s top women.

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SPONSOR I

The United States government’s takeover of American International Group Inc. won’t affect the sponsorship of the AIG Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo. AIG is the title sponsor of the men’s and women’s event that offers nearly USD $1 million in prize money. The US government received 80 percent of AIG’s shares in the USD $85 billion deal to rescue America’s largest insurer by assets.

SPONSOR II

The International Tennis Federation and Wilson Racquet Sports have extended their sponsorship agreement to include Wilson as the Official Ball of Davis Cup, Fed Cup and other ITF initiatives in a multi-year deal. Wilson has been involved in Davis Cup since 2002. Under this expanded agreement, Wilson will be the official ball for Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the ITF’s junior team competitions at the under-14 and under-16 level. In addition, Wilson will be the exclusive supplier of tennis rackets, shoes, clothing and accessories to the ITF Development Coaching Team.

SPONSOR III

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is breathing much easier now that AEGON has signed on to sponsor the sport over the next five years. The Scottish pensions and life assurance company has acquired the naming rights to tournaments in London, Eastbourne and Edgbaston. Beginning next June, the combined men’s and women’s event at Eastbourne will be renamed the AEGON International. Queens Club, formerly the Stella Artois, will be renamed the AEGON Championships, while the AEGON Classic will be played at Edgbaston.

SUCCESSFUL PAIR

Romanians Irina-Camelia Begu and Laura-Iona Andrei are doubles partners and opponents. And they’re successful at both. The 18-year-old Begu beat the top-seeded Andrei 7-5 6-1 to win the singles title at a recent USD $10,000 ITF tournament in Budapest, then teamed with Begu to win the doubles. Begu successfully defended her singles title and joined with Andrei to win the doubles at another ITF women’s event the week before in Brasov, Romania. In fact, Begu has won the doubles in her last five tournaments, teaming with Andrei at Budapest, Brasov and Bucharest, Romania; pairing with Elora Dabija at Hunedoara, Romania, and playing with Ioana Gaspar in another Bucharest tournament. All have been USD $10,000 clay-court events.

STUPID

Three fans have been charged with riotous behavior and assaulting police at the Australian Open in January. According to police, the three men became aggressive when police attempted to remove one of them for shouting obscenities at Chile’s Fernando Gonzales during his match against Konstantinos Economidis of Greece. One of the men, a 24-year-old from a Melbourne, Australia, suburb, was also charged with resisting arrest and discharging a missile. The confrontation in the stands caused the match to be suspended for 10 minutes.

SHARAPOVA SCHOLARSHIPS

The Maria Sharapova Foundation Scholarship for Youth from the Chernobyl-Affected Areas of Belarus will award five-year scholarships to 12 students so they can study at two leading universities in Belarus. The program is a joint initiative of the tennis star’s foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where she serves as Goodwill Ambassador. Sharapova’s foundation has already contributed USD $100,000 to youth-oriented projects in the regions of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine that were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Three incoming students will be awarded scholarships each year over an initial four-year period. The first scholarship recipients will begin their studies in September 2009.

SELLING RACQUETS

Known for its shoes and clothing, Adidas is getting ready to include racquets in their line of tennis goodies. The first of the three racquets, the Adidas Barricade, will go on sale in February. The other two are called Response and Feather, as all three are named for the company’s tennis shoes. The three racquets will provide a racquet for every player level: tour player, club player and recreational player.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Tokyo: Vania King and Nadia Petrova beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-1 6-4

Guangzhou: Mariya Koryttseva and Tatiana Poutchek beat Sun Tiantian and Yan Zi 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Sofia: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Lourdes Dominguez-Lino and Arantxa Parra-Santonja 7-6 (4) 7-6 (9)

Szczecin: David Marrero and Dawid Olejniczak beat Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 7-6 (4) 6-3

SITES TO SURF

Beijing: www.chinaopen.com.cn

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.com

Paris: www.tropheejeanluclagardere.com

Luxembourg: www.covadis.be/viviumchallenge

Charlotte: http://championsseriestennis.com/charlotte2008/

Tokyo: www.jta-tennis.or.jp/aigopen/e/

Stuttgart: www.porsche-tennis.de

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Eindhoven: www.afastennisclassics.nl

Mons: http://www.ethiastrophy.be

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$576,000 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

$524,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$120,000 ATP Challenger Trophy, Trnava, Slovakia

WTA TOUR

$600,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$145,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

SENIORS

The Citadel Group Championships at the Palisades, Outback Champions, Charlotte, North Carolina, hard

Viviam Victory Challenge, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard

WTA TOUR

$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard

$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

SENIORS

AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet