leigh sanders

TENNIS PEOPLE: FEDERER PLEDGES TO PLAY AFTER 2012 OLYMPICS

By Leigh Sanders

* Roger Federer has told BBC Sport he intends to play on after the 2012 Olympics despite recent rumors he was growing tired of the sport he has dominated for years. The 28-year-old world No. 1 also believes his best tennis is around the corner. “I don’t have a problem saying this is the second half of my career because I do have kids and a lot of things have changed around me,” he said. “People think I’m going to retire at the 2012 Olympics – which is not true. Even though you never know, it depends on your body. I would like to play beyond that so we’ll see how it goes.”

* A Romanian TV station is reporting that tennis Hall of Famer Ilie Nastase may quit the country in a bid to escape the press. The 63-year-old, two-time Slam winner is said to be fed up of the paparazzi invading his privacy, particularly during recent divorce proceedings with third wife Amalia Nastase. Realitatea TV believes he is ready to quit his homeland.

* Rafa Nadal’s straight-set victory over Roger Federer in Madrid makes him the all-time leader in Masters Tournament victories with 18, leaving Andre Agassi behind on 17. The Bryan brothers’ victory in the men’s doubles has them tied for the most ATP Tour doubles titles on 61 with Aussie 2010 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

* India’s Sania Mirza has said she will return to action at Birmingham, England, on June 9 following her three-month hiatus to marry Pakistani cricket star Shoaib Malik, according to her Twitter page.

* Jelena Jankovic’s third-round victory over Anabel Medina Garrigues in Madrid was her 400th career singles win.

* British No. 1 Andy Murray has declared himself confident ahead of the French Open and insists he has reversed the slump which has affected him since his Aussie Open final defeat to Roger Federer back in January. “I’ve got my intensity back, my mind’s where it needs to be,” Murray told BBC Sport. “Going into the French I’ll definitely feel way, way better than I did a few weeks ago.”

* Speaking via conference call for Tennis Channel Martina Navratilova has said she is “cancer free” following surgery six weeks ago. “I’m doing well,” she said. “I just started radiation last week.”

* This week’s ATP World Rankings (17/05) sees Rafa Nadal re-take the No. 2 slot from Novak Djokovic following his win in Madrid last week. Nicolas Almagro’s fine performance on the Spanish clay has seen him climb 13 spaces to the brink of the top 20, ranked No. 22. Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela has re-entered the top 50 at 48.

* In this week’s WTA World Rankings (17/05), the Williams sisters were dominating women’s tennis again as they occupied the top two slots for the first time in seven years. Serena still holds the no. 1 ranking while Venus has climbed to No. 2. Shahar Peer has re-entered the top 20 at No. 19 while Aravane Rezai’s stunning win over Venus in Madrid sees her jump eight places to 16. Anabel Medina Garrigues re-enters the top 50 at No. 49.

* Sporting brand Wilson have reported on their Facebook page that Juan Martin del Potro has been in Minnesota visiting Dr. Richard Berger with a view to swapping his plaster cast for a softer and lighter one which will enable him to step up his return to the game by starting rehab soon.

* American high school tennis hopeful Stefan Mangroo has been disqualified from a tournament for refusing to play on The Sabbath. The 17-year-old Franklin High School Junior and his partner Cody Buffenbarger were due to play the semifinals of the doubles at the Division II sectional tournament on Saturday May 15 but Mangroo refused to compete due to this being The Sabbath for Seventh-Day Adventists. “You have to stand up for what you believe,” said Mangroo.

Molik, Heather Watson Aspiring For Greater Heights: Tennis in the Commonwealth

By Leigh Sanders

*Former world No. 8, Australia’s Alicia Molik, reached the final of the Cliffs Esperance Tennis International Pro Tour event before finally being derailed by top seed Olivia Rogowska. It was her fourth pro tour final since coming out of retirement in September. In the men’s final, Aussie Matt Ebden overcame John Millman 6-3, 6-4.

*British tennis starlet Heather Watson of Guernsey was eliminated in the first round of the singles at the Tevlin Challenger Event at the Rexall Centre in Toronto. She was defeated by1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson 2-6, 4-6. In the doubles, Watson and partner Julia Boserup lost to the Canadian duo Gabriela Dobrowski and Rebecca Marino. Despite her early exit in Toronto, Watson has made the final three in the running for the 2009 BBC Young Sport’s Personality of the Year award. The acclaimed accolade honours sportsmen and women who achieve sporting heroics in the calendar year and the Young Personality award goes to up and coming stars of the future. The US Open junior girls champion faces stiff competition from world driving champion Tom Daly and double world youth sprint gold medallist Jodie Williams. Andy Murray picked up the award in 2004.

*The prestigious Queens Club in England was celebrating a coup this week after US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro committed himself to the pre-Wimbledon tournament until 2012 in a bid to improve his grass court game for Wimbledon. Andy Murray picked up his first grass-court title by winning at Queens this summer before losing a heartbreaking semifinal at Wimbledon to American Andy Roddick.

*French Open Champion and WTA No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova has confirmed she will begin her 2010 season at the Medibank International Sydney, Australia, following Serena Williams, defending champion Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in doing so. On the men’s side, home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils and Marcos Bagdhatis are already confirmed. The event takes place at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre from Sunday 10 to Saturday 16 January 2010.

*While over in Brisbane, Australia, Nadia Petrova has added her name to an already impressive cast at the Brisbane International warming themselves up for the 2010 Australian Open. The world No. 20 in singles and 16 in doubles joins Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina and Jelena Dokic in what should be a tasty event. On the men’s side, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, James Blake and Giles Simon have pencilled in the event for their early 2010 schedule.

*This week’s ATP World Tour singles rankings saw no movement in the world’s Top 40 players. Australia’s Peter Luczak climbs a place to 78 while compatriot Carsten Ball does the same to 137 and Chris Guccione in 139. India’s Somdev Devvarman drops two to 124 and Frank Dancevic of Canada drops 12 to 144.

*In the ATP doubles rankings, all the Commonwealth players in the Top 10 were safe as there was no movement. However, Australia’s Ashley Fisher climbed two places to 41 and his compatriot Carsten Ball dropped four to 61 and Chris Guccione dropped one to 67. Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi climbed up one to 59 and Jeff Coetzee of South Africa dropped a place to 69.

*British Paralympic Champion Peter Norfolk took the world No. 1 slot by regaining his quad singles title at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters. He beat the American world No. 1 David Wagner 6-2, 7-5 in the final to leapfrog him in the rankings. Norfolk had already beaten Wagner in the pool stage as well as Paralympic silver medallist Johan Andersson.

* Canadian duo Maureen Drake and Marianne Jodoin defeated compatriots Sharon Fichman and American Mashona Washington after world No. 97 Fichman was forced to retire when 3-2 up in the first set. It is the third year in a row an all-Canadian team has triumphed at the event.

*British women’s’ No. 2 Elena Baltacha has bounced back from injury to glide through the first round of the $75k event in Toyota, Japan. She beat the Japanese player Misaki Doi 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-1 and will face Korea’s So-Jung Kim in the next round. Meanwhile, at the €106.5k ATP Challenger Event in Helsinki, Finland, Alex Bogdanovic saw first round defeat after going down 6-7(0), 4-6 to Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli.

*Slovak-born Jarmila Groth has been granted Australian citizenship following a ceremony at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. Up to now, she has been unable to represent her adopted homeland other than in the four Grand Slam events but she is now cleared to play Fed Cup and play under the Australian flag in all other events on the WTA Tour. Earlier this year, she married fellow tennis pro Sam Groth and reached a career-high No. 57 on the WTA rankings. She has formerly represented Slovakia in the Fed Cup in 2003 and her best tour result to date is a semifinal at the Japan Open in 2008.

*The well-loved British tennis commentator Max Robertson has sadly passed away aged 94 on his home island of Guernsey. After serving in World War II he joined the BBC in 1946 and his post-war tennis commentaries live long in the memory of those who were guided through the action by Robertson. As well as tennis, he was the first reporter at the 1948 Winter Olympics in Switzerland as well as gaining fame away from sport on BBC’s famed investigative journalist program ‘Panorama’ and the antiques programme ‘Going for a Song.’ He was also an accomplished author and poet.

*Tennis Canada has announced that the recently retired Frederic Niemayer has been added to their coaching team to coach hot Canadian prospect Milos Raonic. In another coup for the organization, an announcement has been made that the Tennis Matters benefactors Mike and Nicole Tevlin have made a second $500,000 pledge. A new event named the Tevlin Open will now be held in their honour.

Tennis In The Commonwealth

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.