Larry Smith

Mondays With Bob Greene: The whole week Amelie was playing very solid

STARS

Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 4-6 6-0- to win the ABN Amro World Tennis in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Amelie Mauresmo beast Elena Dementieva 7-6 (7) 2-6 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France

Radek Stepanek won the SAP Open in San Jose, California, by beating Mardy Fish 3-6 6-4 6-2

Vera Zvonareva won the Pattaya Women’s Open, beating Sania Mirza 7-5 6-1 in Pattaya City, Thailand

Thomas Robredo beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 3-6 6-4 to win the Brasil Open in Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil

Pete Sampras won the Champions Cup Boston by beating John McEnroe 7-6 (10) 6-4 in Boston, Massachusetts

SAYING

“The feeling you have when you conclude a tournament with the title is different than a good week with a defeat. It’s a special feeling. It gives you an extraordinary confidence.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after winning the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France.

“The whole week Amelie was playing very solid. She really picked up her game and played her best, especially today. … She has had some difficult times with all of those injuries, and it’s really great to see her win here, especially since it’s at home.” – Elena Dementieva, who lost the Paris final to Amelie Mauresmo.

“He made it difficult as he was hitting the ball so hard and being aggressive on every shot to try and keep the points short. It just shows how good he is that he can beat me on one leg.” – Andy Murray, after beating an injured Rafael Nadal to win in Rotterdam, but losing the second set.

“I had a problem with the injury, but I don’t want to talk about that. Andy played very well today and he deserved to win the tournament.” – Rafael Nadal.

“I’ve been playing a lot of tennis. Maybe it’s just a sign that I need to take a day off or two and get ready for the next event.” – Serena Williams, after pulling out of a WTA Tour event in Paris.

“The Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking.” – Larry Smith, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO, on the refusal of the United Arab Emirates to give a visa to Israeli Shahar Peer.

“This is my second tournament this year after six months of injury last year. I couldn’t ask for a better start by winning the mixed doubles in the Australian Open and making it to the final here in Pattaya City.” – Sania Mirza, who lost to Vera Zvonareva in the Pattaya Women’s Open title match.

“Everything went – starting with my leg, my feet. You stop moving, you get a little tight. … To say it doesn’t creep in your mind that you remember some of those losses you have in all those finals – I have 10 losses in all those finals – that’s a lot.” – Mardy Fish, the losing finalist in San Jose, California.

“It was an amazing week for me. It never happened to me to win the singles and doubles in the same week. It seems like there is some magic around here. I’m always playing well here.” – Radek Stepanek, who won both singles and doubles at the SAP Open.

STOPS PEER

Shahar Peer was denied a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a move that could damage Dubai’s efforts at fostering an image of full openness in business, sports and other high-profile events. Peer broke barriers last year when she became the first Israeli to play a WTA Tour event in Qatar. But the visa denial could prove to be a blow to Dubai. “Ms Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it’s regrettable that the UAF is denying her this right,” said Larry Scott, WTA chief executive. Scott said WTA tour officials will take a close look at the event’s future. Peer’s brother said the 21-year-old player applied for a visa months in advance and was assured by tournament organizers that she would be allowed entry.

SWEET SUCCESS

Amelie Mauresmo returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in two years when she beat Elena Dementieva in the final of the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France. A two-time Grand Slam tournament winner, Mauresmo has been beset by several injuries. Her last title came in Antwerp, Belgium, in February 2007.

STOPPED

Losing to Andy Murray in the final at Rotterdam, Netherlands, was the least of Rafael Nadal’s problem. The Spaniard hurt his knee in the first game of the second set and received treatment from the ATP trainer after the third game. Then came eight successive service breaks as Nadal went for broke on Murray’s service games. The strategy worked for awhile as Nadal won the second set to level the match. But after that it was all Murray, who kept the ball in play and cut down on his own errors. Murray’s victory was the first in Rotterdam for a British player, while the final pitted the top two seeds against each other for the first time since Ivan Lendl played Jimmy Connors in 1984.

SERBIA VS SPAIN

Serbia will travel to Spain for their World Group playoffs in April. In other matchups, with the winners qualifying for next year’s World Group competition, Slovak Republic will be at France, Germany and China and Ukraine an Argentina. The losing nations of the April 25-26 competition will drop to the World Group II in 2010. In World Group II playoffs, Canada will be at Belgium, Estonia at Israel, Poland at Japan, and Switzerland at Australia.

SIDELINED

A right knee injury forced Serena Williams to withdraw from her semifinal match at Elena Dementieva at the Open GDF Suez tournament in Paris, France. “My left knee always hurts, but this time it’s my right knee,” said Williams. “When I woke up this morning it wasn’t feeling good. I wasn’t moving well at all in practice.” Williams said she hurt her knee during a victory against Emile Loit and was in too much pain to compete.

SWIMMINGLY STUNNING

Three tennis players – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Tatiana Golovin of France – are appearing in the 46th edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Joining some of the world’s top supermodels, the players spent five days shooting on the secluded beaches of the Dominican Republic. While Hantuchova, Kirilenko and Golovin are making their SI Swimsuit debuts, several other players have been featured in the publication, including Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Anna Kournikova, Steffi Graf and Ashley Harkleroad.

SWITCHING COACHES

In a bid to regain the form that brought her the French Open title a year ago, Ana Ivanovic has hired Craig Kardon as her new coach. The 47-year-old Kardon has coached a number of other top players, including Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce and Jennifer Capriati. Ivanovic, who had been coached by Sven Groeneveld, took over the number one ranking when she won at Roland Garros, but has since dropped to number eight in the world.

SPANISH RESCUE

Brazilian tennis is turning to Spain in a bid to reinvigorate the sport in the South American country. Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who led Spain to the Davis Cup title last year, will oversee a project to find new talent and reorganize the structure of the sport in Brazil. “The project will focus on high level in all spheres of the confederation, from youths to professionals. I chose Brazil because it has a very large base to work with,” said Sanchez Vicario, who won 15 singles and 50 doubles titles on the ATP tour. The only Brazilian player to reach number one in the world was Gustavo Kuerten, the three-time French Open champion who retired last year. There are currently no Brazilian women ranked in the top 100.

SAVES DAY

Tommy Haas helped out tournament officials of the SAP Open by playing two singles matches on the same day. The German downed Lars Poerschke 6-1 7-6 (8) in a first-round match, then returned to the court to play an exhibition match against Pete Sampras. “Tommy saved the day,” said Sampras, who had been scheduled to play James Blake. But citing back spasms, Blake withdrew from the exhibition match less than 15 minutes before the scheduled state. “Pete asked me and I said sure, why not?” Haas said. “A lot of people came to see Pete tonight, and not who he played. It was fun. Pete still has an unbelievable serve.” For the record, Haas beat Sampras 6-7 (4) 6-4 12-10 (match tiebreak).

SERBIAN IRE

Jelena Jankovic is a little ticked off at Roger Federer. Last month, Federer criticized the WTA rankings, saying a player who has never won a Grand Slam tournament should not be ranked number one in the world. Jankovic, who has been number one and has never won a major singles title, told Reuters that she could not understand why Federer felt he needed to hit out at women’s tennis while Rafael Nadal was, in her words, “so humble.” Jankovic said Federer should not criticize fellow players. “I don’t think it’s nice to attack other players,” the Serbian right-hander said.

STILL OUT

Maria Sharapova is now looking at the end of March before returning to tennis. Her shoulder injury has caused her to miss the last two Grand Slam tournaments as well as the Beijing Olympics. Writing on her web site, Sharapova said she hopes to return by March 25 at Key Biscayne, Florida, “depending on how things shape up.” The Russian has been recovering from a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder.

SENIORS

Mark Philippoussis, Jim Courier and Goran Ivanisevic will headline the field at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships to be held April 24-26 in Grand Cayman. The tournament is the fourth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event’s other three competitors will be announced in the near future.

SUCH HIGH HOPES

Grigor Dimitrov, who won the Junior Boys titles at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, is moving to France where he will be coached by Peter Lundgren, the man who has coached Roger Federer and Marat Safin. A native of Bulgaria, Dimitrov will train at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Rotterdam: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-2 7-5.

Paris: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond 6-4 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

San Jose: Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek beat Rohan Bopanna and Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 6-3

Pattaya City: Tamarine Tanasugarn and Yaroslav Shedova beat Yuliya Beygelzimer and Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3 6-2

Costa Do Sauipe: Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo beat Lucas Arnold Ker and Juan Monaco 6-4 7-5

SITES TO SURF

Marseille: www.open13.fr/

Buenos Aires: www.copatelmex.com/

Memphis: www.rmkchampionships.com/1/home/

Dubai: www.dubaitennischampionships.com

Bogota: www.copacolsanitas.com

Acapulco: www.abiertomexicanodetenis.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

576,000 Open 13, Marseille, France, hard

$600,000 Copa Telemex, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

$1,226,500 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$2,000,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emigrates, hard

$220,000 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard

$220,000 Copa Colsanitas, Bogota, Colombia, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$2,233,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, UAE, hard

$1,226,500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay

$500,000 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$220,000 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay