linz

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Roger Federer Named in Lawsuit

Roger Federer

From the Australian Open to the US Open, I couldn’t get enough tennis. It seemed like there was a constant stream of news. I was attending tournaments almost monthly and if I wasn’t watching in person, I was glued to the TV. For those of you in Europe, I highly recommend a subscription to the online Eurosport player. They provide great tennis coverage, much better than what we have here in the US. Anyway, the last month has been tough for me, not because of my crazy schedule or copious amounts of work, but because I’m going through tennis withdrawal. My favorite blogs are only updated every few days, my twitter feed is as silent as I’ve ever seen it, and if I want to watch a match I have to stay up until 3am.

Luckily, next week the ATP tour moves back to Europe and I can stop being nocturnal. Even better, there’s actually been news. The last few weeks have been pretty boring. Rafa won another tournament. Yeah, that’s not really news anymore. Serena Williams claimed she was coming back at Linz and then tweeted that she was actually wrapping up the year instead. I guess that’s kind of news, but who didn’t see that coming?

Anyway, let’s talk about some of this week’s developments.

First up, Caroline Wozniacki has reopened the infamous WTA #1 debate. After winning the Beijing tournament Caro topped Serena Williams for the number one spot even though Wozniacki remains winless at Grand Slam events. I thought we exhausted this debate when Jelena Jankovic was #1, and then again when Dinara Safina was #1, but I was wrong. Everyone had to weigh in all over again and I was actually quite surprised by the overwhelming criticism of the adorable Dane. As far as I’m concerned the numbers don’t lie. She won the points and deserves the credit. Plus, Caroline Wozniacki has won as many tournaments this year as Serena Williams has played. Don’t tell me she doesn’t deserve this.

Nadal lost in Shanghai. I think there was actually more press about his loss to Jurgen Melzer than the fact that he won last week’s tournament. Frankly Nadal can afford to spread the wealth a little when it comes to winning and this was pretty darn impressive for Jurgen Melzer, who has never beaten Rafa before. Also, a great way for Melzer to underscore the point I made in my article a couple of weeks ago that the older players keep getting better. If he keeps playing this way, Jurgen actually has a reasonable chance of making the World Tour Finals.

Roger Federer was named in a betting lawsuit. Apparently the owner of IMG, Fed’s management firm, upped his bet on Fed to win the 2006 French Open final based on a tip. The IMG guy may be guilty or he may not, but I honestly don’t believe Fed had anything to do with this. Roger addressed the situation in his latest press conference, saying he was unconcerned as there was no truth whatsoever to the claim.

Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic are parting ways next year. If you don’t follow doubles, this means nothing to you. However, these guys are the number two doubles team and have won three Grand Slam titles together. Nestor will play with Max Mirnyi next year and more interestingly, Zimonjic will pair up with Michael Llodra. I’m pretty intrigued by this second pair. Nenad only plays doubles so I’m a little surprised he chose a partner that is currently a high ranked singles player.

Andy Roddick is injured, again. Poor Andy just can’t catch a break. He was forced to withdraw from his first match in Shanghai against Guillermo Garcia Lopez with a leg injury. He hopes to be back for Basel and almost certainly for Paris, but it’s going to be an uphill battle to make it to the World Tour Finals this year. Roddick looked pretty torn up about his withdrawal in Shanghai and I can’t blame him. Andy’s bestie Mardy Fish is also out, with some kind of ankle injury. Hopefully they both make a full recovery and we’ll see an American back in the Top 10 soon.

In weird tennis news, Ana Ivanovic was docked an entire game worth of points during a match in Linz. Apparently she had to leave the court to throw up but wasn’t given permission. It turns out the game was insignificant since Ana won quite convincingly, but you’ve got to think this was a little unfair. Would the ref have preferred she throw up on court?

Well, that’s a wrap for this week’s tennis news. Plus, it’s 3am and I’d really like to catch the Djokovic/Garcia Lopez match. I’ll be back next week, hopefully with something a little more interesting.

Despite Loss, Cancer Survivor Sandra Klemenschits Wins In Grand Slam Debut

It wasn’t the result she was hoping for, but for Austrian doubles specialist Sandra Klemenschits, wins and losses don’t have the same impact anymore.

Playing with Aravane Rezai of France, the pair lost 6-1, 6-2 in the first round to the No. 5 seeds in the women’s doubles draw, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and Ai Sugiyama of Japan.

“After my illness, I’m just happy to be alive,” said Klemenschits. “We did the best we could against a team that are not just great players, but great people as well.”

Klemenschits used to be a top doubles pairing with her twin sister, Daniela. The pair won 20 doubles titles on the ITF circuit and reached the finals of a WTA event in Istanbul in 2006.

That all radically changed in January of 2007 when both players were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer, squamous cell carcimona. The chances of survival from the cancer are slim at best.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Klemenschits. “We’re both very healthy people and then all of a sudden, we’re being told that we both are dying.”

The sisters immediately underwent a series of expensive medical treatments in Germany. Lacking insurance, the costs of the treatment threatened to wipe them out financially.

The WTA Tour and its players responded with great generosity, putting together an online auction that raised over $70,000 for their medical treatments. Players including Martina Hingis, Maria Sharapova, and Justine Henin donated items for the auction. Later that fall, when Sugiyama won the doubles title at the WTA event in the Austrian city of Linz, she donated her winnings to their medical expenses.

“It was really special for me to be able to do that,” said Sugiyama. “This is about so much more than results or winning and losing. I’m so happy to see her back on the tour and doing so well. There were a lot of extra emotions running for me in our match today.”

“Sugiyama is one of the most amazing people that I know, but the support of all the other players was so moving as well,” said Klemenschits. “You can’t believe that people are thinking of you like this and doing these things for you.”

Although doctors told both sisters that their prognosis was promising, Daniela ultimately died from her cancer in April of 2008. She died at the same time Sandra was told that her cancer was in remission. Feeling that she needed a distraction, Sandra picked up a racket as soon as she was given the green light by her doctors.

“The first practices was so hard because the cancer wiped away all the power from my body,” said Klemenschits. “But I knew that I needed to do something.”

Three months after the death of her sister, Klemenschits returned to the WTA Tour in July of 2008 at an event in Bad Gastein, Austria. Shockingly, the titles soon began to pile up and Klemenschits returned better than before. Since returning to the tour, Klemenschits has won 8 doubles titles on the ITF circuit, five of them in 2009.

Klemenschits said that she still needs to be checked by her doctors in Austria every two months, but her cancer is still in remission and all signs are promising at the moment.

“Obviously, my perspective has changed after all of this,” said Klemenschits. “You start to think differently because you realize that life is so short. The most important thing for me right now is health, and to just enjoy everything that I’m doing. In the end, the winning and losing doesn’t matter as long as you have your health.”

Klemenschits will return to the ITF circuit in the fall for a series of events in Europe. She said that she hopes to serve as a motivation for people with the same illness as she had.

“The one thing that I would tell people is to be positive mentally and you can beat the cancer,” said Klemenschits. “If you aren’t thinking positive, then you have no chance. You never know what’s going to happen next, so it’s just important to enjoy every minute.”

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