MaliVai Washington

Michelle Obama attends the US Open

First Lady Michelle Obama applauded the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for engaging millions of children in tennis, introducing tennis into thousands of elementary schools throughout the country, and building more than 2000 right-sized courts that provide a place for young people to play tennis. The USTA’s efforts were part of its partnership with both the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to encourage more children to become active and lead healthier lifestyles. The USTA exceeded its commitment.

Mrs. Obama was in New York to participate in a USTA 10 and Under Tennis Clinic at the US Open. She was joined by several current and former tennis champions including Billie Jean King, Serena Williams, John McEnroe, James Blake, MaliVai Washington and Katrina Adams, as she thanked children from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program for participating in her Let’s Move! initiative.

“I have been trying to get to the US Open my entire life. I am so incredibly excited to finally be at my first US Open, but I am equally excited and proud to be standing in partnership with the USTA and all they have done for hundreds of thousands of kids across this country. You are an example of what we can do when we put our minds to it,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “I am again grateful to the USTA. The courts you build, these kids sized courts, are just amazing. They will break that barrier; they will make tennis accessible to kids…  I am so proud of the USTA.”

Earlier this year, the USTA partnered with the “Let’s Move!” campaign, which helps more kids to get moving, lead healthy lifestyles, and earn their own Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA). The PALA award recognizes kids who stay active for 60 minutes per day, five days a week for six out of eight weeks. Kids are encouraged to play tennis during their program hours and are reminded to stay active at home or in school. PALA’s national goal is to get one million youngsters to take this challenge. To date, the USTA is responsible for providing over 226,634 kids who have participated in and completed PALA through its National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network, Jr. Team Tennis (JTT) League, Community Tennis Associations (CTA), Schools Tennis, Tennis in the Parks, and Wheelchair Tennis programs.

Sampras, Washington Fall in Davis Cup Play

Today, April 7, is an anniversary to forget for Pete Sampras and Mal Washington, who lost memorable Davis Cup matches ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY. The excerpts from the April 7 chapter of my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) is excerpted below.

2000 – Pete Sampras suffers the worst Davis Cup loss of his career, losing to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening day of play in the USA vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup quarterfinal at the Forum in Los Angeles. With Captain John McEnroe sitting with him courtside, Sampras is unable to break serve and fails on all 11 of his break point opportunities. Says Sampras, “I just got out played. I haven’t said that too often throughout my career, but today I ran into someone that was pretty much in the zone…It’s been a while since I felt I was getting outplayed like that. Right now I’m trying to figure out why and what happened.” Andre Agassi defeats Slava Dosedel 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to even the score at 1-1 after the first day of play.

1980 – Seventeen-year-old Tracy Austin assumes the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour computer – the fourth player to hold the position following Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong and Martina Navratilova. Austin holds the ranking for two weeks, before surrendering it back to Navratilova. Ten weeks later, she again assumes the ranking for a 20 week period, before losing the ranking to Chris Evert, never to hold the ranking again.

1996 – MaliVai Washington is defeated by Petr Korda 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as the Czech Republic regisers a 3-2 Davis Cup quarterfinal win in Prague over the United States, playing without its top four players – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier. Washington is unable to convert two set points with Korda serving at 4-5 in the first set, which ultimately proves critical in the loss. ‘When you win that first set, it changes the whole complexion of the match,” Washington says after the match. ”If I could have won that first set, it would have been a lot different.” Earlier in the day, Todd Martin evens the series at 2-2 by routing Daniel Vacek 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-1 in a flawless display as the American never loses his serve and during one incredible stretch in the first and second sets wins 34 consecutive points on his serve, including seven straight love service games. Says Vacek to Martin at the conclusion of the match, “Just how much should I pay you for the lesson?”

1996 – In her 10th appearance, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeats Barbara Paulus 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to finally win her first title at the Family Circle Magazine Cup in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Says Sanchez Vicario, “I was coming every year, hoping to do a little better than the year before. Finally, the 10th time has been the one.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: A win here is amazing, another victory at the start of the season

STARS

Rafael Nadal won the BNP Paribas Open men’s singles at Indian Wells, California, USA, beating Andy Murray 6-1 6-2

Vera Zvonareva beat Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (5) 6-2 to win the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles at Indian Wells, California

Robin Soderling won the BMW Tennis Championships, beating Tomas Berdych 6-1 6-1 in Sunrise, Florida, USA

Horacio Zeballos beat Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (3) 6-0 to win the Bancolombia Open in Bogota, Colombia

Marcos Daniel beat Lamine Ouahab 4-6 7-5 6-2 to win the Marrakech Challenger in Marrakech, Morocco

Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter 7-6 (6) 6-4 to capture the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico

SAYING

“A win here is amazing, another victory at the start of the season. It was a dream for me to win the Australian Open and now here. I love playing here.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Andy Murray to win the BNP Paribas Open.

“It’s amazing, and a great feeling to win such a big event. I’ve been watching this tournament since I was a kid, you know. It’s been on television back home for so many years. It’s basically one of the biggest events after the majors.” – Vera Zvonareva, who won the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles.

“Honestly, it was the toughest conditions I ever played in. It was very, very windy and it wasn’t much about the game and a game plan today. It was just who can handle the conditions better and who can stay mentally tougher through it. Today she did. She played really well.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Vera Zvonareva in the title match.

“It’s just one of those days when you really don’t feel comfortable on the court. I just didn’t have any momentum. No feel for the ball, no movement, no solutions.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Andy Roddick.

“I don’t think he had his best day by any means.” – Andy Roddick, after beating defending champion Novak Djokovic.

“He’s a big favorite and anything that happens to me, it’s all positive. It’s been a while since I didn’t play without that pressure. I feel like I’m 18 again without anything to lose.” – Ivan Ljubicic, before losing to Andy Murray at Indian Wells, California.

“I’m not thinking about this, because if it comes, it comes. If I play like this, definitely it will not come.” – Dinara Safina, on her chances of becoming number one in the world.

“It was only fair. He carried me for three sets. I only had to carry him for about five seconds.” – Andy Roddick, after Mardy Fish jumped on his back following their victory over Andy Ram and Max Mirnyi in the doubles final in Indian Wells.

“We’re both emotional. It’s just the way we are. … We want to win so bad. We want to be so much better that sometimes we just probably expect too much from ourselves. But I think you have to be emotional on the court. Otherwise I don’t think it’s fun.” – Victoria Azarenka, after teaming with Vera Zvonareva to win the women’s doubles in Indian Wells, California.

“Tonight we are here to celebrate. Celebrate our accomplishments, celebrate the Tour’s current success, and of course, celebrate its bright future, which now includes the establishment of the Tour Alumnae & Friends Program. This is a welcome addition to an association that is continually evolving. Let us continue the fun, reconnect with friends and celebrate all that has been achieved over the last 35 years.” – Billie Jean King, speaking at Indian Wells.

“It’s an elegant game that you can watch in every country. It’s a worldwide sport I’m in awe watching.” – Michele Sicard, head of BNP Paribas corporate communications in North America, talking about tennis, a sport she doesn’t play.

SECURITY SWITCH

Pakistan has been forced to give up its right to stage its Davis Cup tie against the Philippines because of security fears in the wake of an attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team. The Asia/Oceania Zone Group II competition was scheduled to be played July 10-12 in Lahore, Pakistan. But the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has moved the tie out of Pakistan. Three of the five Filipino players, including Cecil Mamiit, are dual US-Philippine citizens and Philippine Lawn Tennis Association vice president Randy Villanueva feared they may be targeted because they carry American passports. Rashid Khan, secretary of the Pakistan Tennis Federation, called for the series to be held in a third country.

STRUGGLE

Rafael Nadal ended up winning yet another title, but getting past the fourth round was a struggle for the world’s number one player. Nadal had to save five match points before beating David Nalbandian 3-6 7-6 (5) 6-0 in Indian Wells, California. Nalbandian had four match points at 5-3 in the second set and another on his own serve at 5-4. But Nadal survived to beat Nalbandian, snapping a two-match losing streak to the Argentine. “I didn’t go to the match with a clear idea of how to play,” Nadal said. “I was scared about his backhand and it was a mistake. I played too much to his forehand and he killed me.” Nadal ended the week by besting Andy Murray in the title match.

SELECTED

The new president of the Romanian Tennis Federation is 38-year-old Ruxandra Dragomir, who played on the WTA Tour for a number of years. She succeeds Dumitru Haradau, who became the vice-regent president of the federation after Ilie Nastase resigned. During her playing career, Dragomir won four singles and five doubles titles. Her highest ranking was 15th in the world in August of 1997. In 2001 she suffered a major ankle injury, which ultimately resulted in ending her career.

STRONG MOVE

By reaching the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open, Victoria Azarenka continued her strong move up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. She became only the second player from Belarus to crack the top ten, joining Natasha Zvereva in that rarified ranking. Azarenka won the first two titles of her career earlier this season, at Brisbane, Australia, and Memphis, Tennessee. And while Azarenka lost to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva in the semifinals, she didn’t come away from Indian Wells without a title. She teamed with Zvonareva to win the doubles, besting Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer 6-4 3-6 10-5 in the final.

SKIPPING MONTE CARLO

Roger Federer will miss the Monte Carlo Masters where Rafael Nadal will be going after his record fifth consecutive title. “Roger already told me some time ago that he had to renounce to play in our tournament because of a change in his clay season’s schedule,” tournament director Zljko Franulovic. A three-time finalist at Monte Carlo, Federer could still ask for a last-minute wild card if he changes his mind. Last year, Nadal beat Federer in the final. Also missing from the field will be American Andy Roddick.

STILL NUMBER TWO

Dinara Safina failed in her bid to overtake Serena Williams and climb into the number one spot in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The Russian would have moved to the top of the rankings had she reached the final of the BPN Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Instead, she lost to eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals 6-7 6-1 6-3. Safina’s aggressive all-round game was the reason she moved up in the rankings in the past year. But she says she has gotten away from that in recent weeks. “I played three rounds before and I was struggling with every player that I’m playing,” Safina said. “With everyone I played, they were either serving for the set or had set points. I have to finally start playing my game, because I’m not playing it. Since Australia, I’m playing defensive, and it’s not me. I just want to play aggressive.”

SEEING IS UNBELIEVING

Even the Hawk-Eye system was against Ivan Ljubicic on his 30th birthday. The big-serving Croat was playing Andy Murray in a quarterfinal match at Indian Wells when a shot by Murray landed just outside the line. “I didn’t play the ball because it was clearly out,” Ljubicic said later. Murray, however, challenged the line call and everyone seemed surprised when Hawk-Eye showed the ball was good. “The (Hawk-Eye) operator showed a second bounce instead of the first,” Ljubicic said. “It’s just human error, and it’s frustrating when you see such a clear mistake. We really wanted to take control of the human error with that machine, and then you have a human error of the operator who is controlling that machine. It’s a strange situation.” Murray, who ended up winning the match, agreed. “Obviously I got pretty lucky,” Murray said. “Supposedly he (the operator) took the second bounce of the ball, which obviously landed on the line. So it wasn’t the technology problem. It was sort of human error, which can happen with line calls. But I don’t think it had a huge bearing on the outcome or the result.”

STRONG TEEN

Teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is showing her triumphs as a junior was a harbinger of things to come. The Russian battled her way to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, knocking off second-seeded Jelena Jankovic and seventh-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska before losing to defending champion Ana Ivanovic. It was the first WTA Tour semifinal berth for Pavlyuchenkova, who won three junior Grand Slam tournament titles.

SODERLING SMASH

Robin Soderling made a loss pay off. After losing his first-round match at Indian Wells, California, Soderling flew to Sunrise, Florida, fought his way through qualifying and eventually won the BMW Tennis Championship title. But in the second set of his quarterfinal match, Soderling smashed his racquet and drew a third conduct warning and game penalty to trail 1-3. Although the Swede won his fourth career title, his temper almost knocked him out of the Challenger event. When he missed a backhand pass down the line in the first-set tiebreak, he belted the ball out of the stadium for violation number one. He received another ball abuse penalty before he slammed his racquet to the court for the third violation and game penalty.

SPECIAL CELEBRATION

More than 100 guests attended a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Alumnae Reunion Celebration in Indian Wells, including Hall of Famers Billie Jean King, Tracy Austin and Rosie Casals. Others in attendance included Lindsay Davenport, Pam Shriver, Mima Jausovec, Mary Joe Fernandez and Diane Desfor Stadler. King honored another Hall of Famer, journalist Bud Collins, as the reporter most interested in women’s tennis and truly promoting it. Casals also spoke at the event, which also reflected on the progress made by women’s tennis since the 1970s, and the recent awarding of equal prize money at all four Grand Slam tournaments.

SEXUAL IDENTITY

Women’s tennis once again has to deal with sexual identity on the courts. Sara Gronert, a 22-year-old from Germany, was born with born male and female genitalia, but underwent surgery to become female both legally and physically. That hasn’t stopped some coaches, players and officials from charging that she seems unnaturally strong for a woman and questioning whether she would be allowed to compete against women. “There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams,” Schlomo Tzoref said after Gronert upset Julia Glushko, whom Tzoref coaches. Gronert has won two USD $10,000 International Tennis Federation tournaments, one in Israel, the other in Germany. Since her last title, she has lost in two USD $10,000 ITF events in France. In the late 1970s Renee Richards became the first reassigned female to play on the women’s tour after a New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor. Richards, then known as Richard Raskin, had played on the Yale University men’s tennis team before undergoing a sex change operation.

SENIOR LEADER

When Pete Sampras beat Patrick Rafter to win the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, he also overtook John McEnroe as the top-ranked player on the Outback Champion Series. It wasn’t easy for Sampras as he fought off two set points in the opening set, including at 5-6 in the first-tie tiebreaker. It was Sampras’ second tournament title this season on the Outback Champions Series and his fifth career title on the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

SACKED

It was a rough day for Mashona Washington. She and partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost their doubles match at the BNP Paribas Open. Later the same day, Washington was arrested on suspicion of felony vandalism, according to the Riverside Count Sheriff’s Department. The 32-year-old Washington is scheduled to be arraigned on May 14 in Indian Wells, California. According to authorities, a felony vandalism charge is specific to damage estimated at USD $5,000 or more. Washington, who has been ranked as high as 50th in the world, was released on USD $5,000 bail. Mashona Washington is the sister of 1996 Wimbledon runnerup MaliVai Washington.

SPEAKING

Mario Ancic switched from his tennis clothes in Indian Wells to his lawyer garb at Harvard University. Ancic spoke to students at Harvard Law School about the business side of tennis. Ancic received his law degree from the University of Split in his native Split, Croatia. His 90-minute lecture and question-and-answer session at Harvard was based on his thesis describing the “legal foundation and organization of the ATP Tour.” “I had given a couple of speeches before in Croatian, so it was a little more challenging delivering it in English, but I was prepared and I was really happy with the way it went.” Ancic said.

STARRING

A five-person Class of 2009 will be inducted into the USTA New England Hall of Fame on June 6 in a ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island. This year’s inductees are Peter Allen, Jules Cohen, Avis Murray, Jean Osachuk and Aileen Smith Eleey. Murray is a USPTA Master Professional who has held the number one rankings in both the United States Tennis Association and the USPTA.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

ATP

Indian Wells (men): Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 3-6 6-1 14-12 (match tiebreak)

Indian Wells (women): Victoria Azarenka and Vera Zvonareva beat Gisela Dulko and Shahar Peer 6-4 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Sunrise: Eric Butorac and Bobby Reynolds beat Jeff Coetzee and Jordan Kerr 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Bogota: Sebastian Prieto and Horacio Zeballos beat Alexander Peya and Fernando Vicente 4-6 6-1 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Marrakech: Ruben Ramirez Hildago and Santiago Ventura beat Alberto Martin and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava 6-3 7-6 (5)

SITES TO SURF

Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com/

Napoli: www.atpnapoli.com/

Bethanie Mattek-Sands: www.bmattek.com.

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (first week)

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)

$116,000 Napoli, Italy, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)

On This Day In Tennis History – Yesterday and Today

Monday was a monumental day in tennis history with some major events occurring – perhaps most notably the birth of John McEnroe 50 years ago, but as you will see from the below excerpt from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, www.tennishistorybook.com), there were many other major events that happened on this day.  Also pasted below are events that happened today, February 17, highlighted by Justine Henin’s 41st – and final WTA Tour singles title.

February 16

1926 – In one of the most hyped and anticipated matches in the history of the sport, Suzanne Lenglen of France beats American Helen Wills 6-3, 8-6 at Cannes, France in the final of the Carleton tournament – the only career meeting between the two tennis legends. The Associated Press calls the match, “a wonderful match between the greatest women players of the old and new world…which packed the stands with enthusiastic supporters of the two contestants and brought together huge clamoring crowds outside the gates who were unable to get in.” Fans unable to purchase tickets, sit on root tops of neighboring houses to catch a glimpse of the two women’s champions. “From the point of view of tennis, the contest was not what had been expected, but after all, the interest lay in the meeting of Suzanne and Helen, long deferred and at one time thought never to come,” reports the AP. “For weeks, little else had been talked of.”

1959 – John McEnroe, known perhaps more for his fiery temper tantrums as much as his deft touch and artistic serve and volley game that corrals seven major singles titles, is born in Wiesbaden, West Germany. McEnroe bursts onto the scene at Wimbledon in 1977 as an 18-year-old qualifier, reaching the semifinals before losing to future rival Jimmy Connors. After one year at Stanford University in 1978 – where he wins the NCAA singles title – McEnroe embarks on a professional tennis career that nets him 77 singles titles and 78 doubles titles. He wins his first major singles title at the 1979 U.S. Open, defeating fellow New Yorker Vitas Gerulaitis in the final. He goes on to win the next two Open finals – beating Bjorn Borg both times – and again in 1984 for a fourth time over Ivan Lendl. His battle with Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon final is regarded as one of the greatest matches of all time and the two legends play a 34-point fourth-set tie-break – McEnroe saving five match points to extend the match into a fifth set. McEnroe, however, is denied the Wimbledon title, falling to Borg 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16), 8-6. A year later, McEnroe finally breaks through to beat Borg in the 1981 Wimbledon final – his first of three singles titles at the All England Club, also winning in 1983 and 1984. McEnroe’s best season comes in 1984 when he posts an 82-3 won-loss record, but his French Open loss to Ivan Lendl that year, after leading two sets to love, was one of his career biggest disappoints. McEnroe was a loyal supporter of the U.S. Davis Cup team, helping the U.S. to titles in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1992.

1992 – Martina Navratilova becomes the all-time singles titles leader in professional tennis, defeating Jana Novotna 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-5 in the final of theAdd an Image Virginia Slims of Chicago for her 158th career singles crown. Navratilova breaks the tie she previously held with the retired Chris Evert, but is well ahead of Jimmy Connors, the men’s record holder with 109 singles titles. Says Novotna of Navratilova’s achievement, “It’s a credit to Martina for her comeback and her historic match. I don’t think she felt the pressure of the record so much as the pressure I put on her. I was the one who pushed her to the limit.”

1968 – In the longest doubles match of all-time – 6 hours, 20 minutes – Bobby Wilson and Mark Cox of Britain defeat Charlie Pasarell and Ron Holmberg of the United States 26-24, 17-19, 30-28 in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Indoor Championships in Salisbury, Md. The first set lasts 2:05 and the third set lasts 2:35. The match starts at 4:40 in the afternoon and doesn’t finish until 11 pm!

1985 – Martina Navratilova defeats Chris Evert 6-2, 6-4 to win the first ever women’s singles title at the Lipton International Players Championship in Delray Beach, Fla. ”I still have more to do to improve as a player, to show people what I can do,” Navratilova says following the match. ”There is still a long way to go to be the greatest player in the world. I haven’t been playing as well lately. My game is to and I had been giving too much credit to Chris’s passing shots.”

2003 – Playing in his 31st – and ultimately his last – ATP singles final, Marcelo Rios of Chile loses in front of his home crowd to Spain’s David Sanchez 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the championship match at the BellSouth Open in Vina del Mar, Chile.

1992 – MaliVai Washington wins his first ATP singles title, defeating Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-2 in Memphis, Tenn.  Washington does not lose a set in his five matches en route to the title, including his semifinal win over Jimmy Connors.

February 17

1985 – Tim Mayotte wins his first ATP singles title in the first-ever Lipton International Players Championships in Delray Beach, Fla., defeating former Stanford University teammate Scott Davis 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Mayotte, ranked No. 45, benefits from an overruled call that would have given the No. 27-ranked Davis a crucial service break in the third set, but holds serve and comes back from two-sets to love to win the $112,500 first prize.

2008 – Justine Henin wins her 41st – and final – WTA Tour singles title, defeating Karin Knapp of Italy in the final of the Proximus Diamond Games in Antwerp, Belgium. Three months after the final, the 25-year-old Henin shocks the tennis world by announcing her retirement from the sport, despite ranking No. 1 in the world. Henin’s final tournament victory also occurs in the final staging of the Proximus event in Antwerp after a 10-year run.

2001 – Stanford sophomore Laura Granville sets an NCAA record defeating Vanderbilt’s Julie Ditty 6-4, 6-1 in the USTA/ITA National Women’s Team Indoor Championships in Madison, Wis., for her 58th consecutive victory.  Granville breaks the record she shares with Stanford’s Patty Fendick-McCain, who sets the record while at Stanford in 1986-87. Granville’s victory at No. 1 singles helps top-ranked Stanford beat No. 13 Vanderbilt 5-1.

2008 – The Murray brothers from Scotland – Jamie and Andy – are victorious in events held in different continents. Andy wins his fifth career ATP singles title in Marseille, France, defeating Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-3, 6-4 in the final. In Delray Beach, Fla., Jaime Murray wins his fourth career ATP doubles title, pairing with Max Mirnyi of Belarus to defeat Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 (Match Tie-Break) in the final of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

2008 – Eighteen-year-old Kei Nishikori of Japan – ranked No. 244 – becomes only the second player from Japan to win an ATP singles title, defeating James Blake of the United States 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. Nishikori, who comes back from facing triple match point a 3-6 in the final-set tie-break in the semifinals the previous day against Sam Querrey, wins eight matches in nine days to win the title, including three matches in the qualifying tournament. Shuzo Matsuoka was the last – and only other – Japanese player to win an ATP singles title, winning in Seoul, Korea in 1992. Nishikori also becomes the youngest player to win an ATP title since Lleyton Hewitt wins in Adelaide at the age of 16 in 1998.  Says Nishikori, “I can’t believe I won this tournament.” Says Blake, “He’s only 18? I’m very impressed.”

2007 – Defending champion Andy Murray defeats Andy Roddick 7-6 (8), 6-4 in the semifinals of the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif., – the second consecutive year that Murray defeats Roddick in the semifinals of the event. Roddick is only able to convert on one of his six break point opportunities during the match. Says Roddick after the match, “I didn’t covert them, so I deserve to lose.”

Edberg hits back to seize maiden BlackRock title

Stefan Edberg completed a miraculous comeback against Sergi Bruguera on Sunday to claim his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title at the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy in Paris. Edberg, was in trouble while down by a set and 4-2 , but he turned the match around in impressive fashion to triumph 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break) in an hour and 20 minutes.

In tennis things can change pretty quickly, said Edberg. You just have to believe that you can do it one way or another. You need one or two points to get you going and make you feel like youre in with a chance and thats what he gave me, a few free points.

I thought I played very well today, he added. I found it a little bit difficult in the beginning because Sergi was playing well and with a lot of spin so I was having trouble getting the timing.  But I managed to get back in the match and I actually played very well in the end, which was necessary because Sergi is such a great clay court player.

The match was a tale of two halves. In the early stages Edberg looked overwhelmed by the vicious topspin of the Spaniard, making uncharacteristic errors and hitting few winners. Bruguera succeeded where previous opponents failed,  sending one passing shot after another past the bewildered Swede. But, after losing the first set and going a break down in the second to trail 2-4, Edberg suddenly began to turn the tide. After recuperating the break of serve to level the set at 4-4, and with the full weight of the crowds vocal support behind him, Edberg started to find his range. He went on to clinch the second set with a winning backhand volley and forced the decider that such a high quality match deserved. Edberg carried his momentum into the Champions Tie Break and at 9-5 down and facing 4 match points a dejected Bruguera dumped his second serve into the net to hand the match and the title to his opponent.

After such a successful run in Paris, Edberg said he would like to play more events on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in the coming year.

If I can make some kind of arrangement with my family so that we can travel a bit together then theres a good chance Ill be back in Paris next year as the defending champion, he said.

For now, Edberg, will now turn his attention to the BlackRock Masters Tennis  at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he is due to play alongside fellow Wimbledon Champions Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic.

Im really looking forward to playing in the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, said Edberg. London is my second home because I lived there for a long time. Its a great event at the Albert Hall and theres usually lots of good matches there so that should be a really good week.

In third/fourth place play-off, Cedric Pioline defeated fellow Frenchman and Tournament Director of the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy, Guy Forget 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.

The Tour will now move on to Luxembourg for the first Vivium Victory Challenge (September 25-28), and then the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven (October 2-5). Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry in Luxembourg (for a taster, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw).  In Eindhoven, former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington will make the BlackRock Tour of Champions debuts.

RESULTS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2008
Cedric Pioline d. Guy Forget 7-5, 4-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break)
Stefan Edberg d. Sergi Bruguera 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break)
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets)
Stefan Edberg             3-0 (6-0)
Guy Forget        2-1 (4-2)
Henri Leconte              1-2 (2-4)
Thomas Muster            0-3 (0-6)
GROUP B
Matches won/lost (sets)
Sergi Bruguera 3-0 (6-0)
Cedric Pioline 2-1 (4-3)
Mats Wilander           1-2 (2-4)
Guillaume Raoux       0-2 (1-6)
BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION
Winner   400 points
Finalist   250 points
3rd place   200 points
4th place   125 points
5/6th place   80 points
7/8th place   60 points
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after nine events)
POS. PLAYER PTS
1 Marcelo Rios 1130
2 Goran Ivanisevic          970
3 Michael Stich 900
4      Cedric Pioline          660
5 Thomas Muster         655
6 Sergi Bruguera         610
7 Henri Leconte          580
8 Anders Jarryd         525
9= Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC) 455
9= Fernando Meligeni (WC) 455
11 Pat Cash         420
12= Patrick Rafter         400
12= Pete Sampras         400
12=   Stefan Edberg                   400
15 Mikael Pernfors         330
16 Chris Wilkinson (WC) 325
17 Jaime Oncins (WC) 200
18=   Guy Forget                        125
18= Jeremy Bates (WC) 125
18= Albert Costa 125
21=  Mats Wilander                    80
21=    Joao Cunha e Silva (WC) 80
21= Magnus Larsson 80
21= John McEnroe         80
21= Andrei Cherkasov 80
26= Bjorn Borg 60
26= Carl Uwe Steeb         60
26= Jaime Yzaga 60
26= Alladin Karagoz (WC) 60
26= Andrei Chesnokov 60
26= Guillermo Vilas 60
WC denotes Wild Card.

The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008
Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)
Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors
Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)
Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Rome, Italy – May 10-11
Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic
Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)
Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner
Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)
Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios
Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20
Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni
Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)
Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Algarve, Portugal – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Paris, France – September 18-21 (5e Trophe Jean-Luc Lagardre)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)
Budapest, Hungary – October 9-12
Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)
Macao, China – November 20 (Special Event)
London, UK – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)
OTHER INFO
About BlackRock
BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.
For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com
and for further information:

Edberg rolls on in Paris

Stefan Edbergs impressive return to professional tennis continued today as he notched up another straight sets win, this time 6-4, 7-6 against Tournament Director Guy Forget at the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris.
Despite the scoreline, Edberg was made to work hard for victory in only his second BlackRock Tour of Champions match. A stroke of luck for the Swede separated the two men in the first set, with Edberg clinching the decisive break of serve courtesy of a net cord. The second set was closer still with both players delighting the crowd with deft volleys and scintillating passing shots. Edberg deserved the victory though, fittingly clinching the match in the tie-break with a drop volley.
After the match, Edberg admitted that he had been pushed all the way by Forget.

I had to work really hard today he said. It was just a few points that made the difference. I thought Guy played really well and I had to hit a lot of good shots to be able to win.

I got a little bit tight out there, I have to admit that. Although I feel that my fitness it good, I havent played a lot of matches so its just getting used to that. Well see tomorrow how fit I really am, but for the moment I feel good.

On Saturday, Edberg will take on Henri Leconte who earlier put in an impressive performance to beat an out-of-sorts Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4. The winner of that match is likely to progress to Sundays final.

Im really looking forward to that match, said Edberg. Henri is a great player and a great showman on the court so for me its always a pleasure to play him. He does so much for tennis and the spectators really love to watch him play so its just nice to be on the same court as him again. There is only one Henri Leconte!

In Group B, Sergi Bruguera continued his seven-match unbeaten run in Paris, proving he is still the man to beat on clay. The Spaniard raced past Mats Wilander in just under an hour for the loss of just 6 games and will now meet Guillaume Raoux on Saturday in the final round of matches in Group B.

In the last match of the day, Raoux, a replacement for the injured Mikael Pernfors, put in a valiant effort against Cedric Pioline before eventually losing 6-7, 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie Break) in a match which lasted over 2 hours and finished in the last moments of daylight.  Pernfors watched the days play on crutches after injuring his achilles tendon against Mats Wilander yesterday. Two years ago, Pernfors ruptured his achilles tendon, but doctors are hopeful that the injury is less serious this time.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.

All the players in each group will play each other over the first three days, and the players finishing top of each group will meet each other in the final. Those finishing second in each group will contest the 3rd/4th place play-off.

Last month in the Algarve (Portugal) Marcelo Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD to overtake Michael Stich as No.1 player in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings.

After Paris, the Tour will move on to Luxembourg for the first Vivium Victory Challenge (September 25-28), and then the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven (October 2-5). Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry in Luxembourg (for a taster, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw). In Eindhoven, former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington will make the BlackRock Tour of Champions debuts.

tel: +44 7509023344
RESULTS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
GROUP A
Henri Leconte d. Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4
Stefan Edberg d. Guy Forget 6-4, 7-6(3)
GROUP B
Sergi Bruguera d. Mats Wilander 6-4, 6-2
Cedric Pioline d. Guillaume Raoux 6-7(6), 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie-Break)
LATEST GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets)
Stefan Edberg             2-0 (4-0)
Guy Forget        1-1 (2-2)
Henri Leconte              1-1 (2-2)
Thomas Muster            0-2 (0-4)
GROUP B
Matches won/lost (sets)
Sergi Bruguera 2-0 (4-0)
Mats Wilander           1-1 (2-2)
Cedric Pioline 1-1 (2-3)
Guillaume Raoux       0-2 (0-4)
SCHEDULE SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER
13:00                                                   Sergi Bruguera/Guillaume Raoux
Not before 2:30pm                              Stefan Edberg / Henri Leconte
Followed by                                         Cedric Pioline/ Mats Wilander
Followed by                                         Guy Forget/Thomas Muster
BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION
Winner   400 points
Finalist   250 points
3rd place   200 points
4th place   125 points
5/6th place   80 points
7/8th place   60 points
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after seven events)
POS. PLAYER PTS
1 Marcelo Rios 1130
2 Goran Ivanisevic          970
3 Michael Stich 900
4 Thomas Muster         595
5 Anders Jarryd         525
6 Henri Leconte          500
7 Cedric Pioline          460
8= Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC) 455
8= Fernando Meligeni (WC) 455
10 Pat Cash         420
11= Patrick Rafter         400
11= Pete Sampras         400
13 Sergi Bruguera         360
14 Mikael Pernfors         330
15= Chris Wilkinson (WC) 325
16= Jaime Oncins (WC) 200
17= Jeremy Bates (WC) 125
17= Albert Costa 125
19    Joao Cunha e Silva (WC) 80
20= Magnus Larsson 80
20= John McEnroe         80
20= Andrei Cherkasov 80
23= Bjorn Borg 60
23= Carl Uwe Steeb         60
23= Jaime Yzaga 60
23= Alladin Karagoz (WC) 60
23= Andrei Chesnokov 60
23= Guillermo Vilas 60
WC denotes Wild Card.
The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008
Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)
Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors
Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)
Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Rome, Italy – May 10-11
Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic
Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)
Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner
Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)
Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios
Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20
Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni
Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)
Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Algarve, Portugal – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Paris, France – September 18-21 (5e Trophe Jean-Luc Lagardre)
Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)
Budapest, Hungary – October 9-12
Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)
Macao, China – November 20 (Special Event)
London, UK – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)
OTHER INFO
About BlackRock
BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.
For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com
and for further information:

Edberg continues Muster dominance on BlackRock debut in Paris

BlackRock Tour of Champions debutant Stefan Edberg made an impressive start to his champions tennis career today as he swept past Thomas Muster 6-2, 6-1 in just 59 minutes.

Edberg, who held a 10-0 record against Muster during their ATP careers, continued where he left off against the Austrian 12 years ago. From the outset, Edberg appeared to be in control of the match, breaking early to secure a 3-1 lead in the first set. The second set was an equally comfortable affair as Muster dumped a forehand in the net to lose his serve and go 3-0 down. From then on the result never looked in doubt as the Swede overwhelmed his opponent with winners on both wings from every corner of the court.

After the match, Edberg was pleased with his performance.

“I actually felt really good on the court today,” he said. “I’ve prepared quite a bit over the last 3 or 4 months because I wanted to enjoy my tennis here in Paris. It’s one of the best feelings to have when you strike the ball well and today I did that.”

The 42-year-old Edberg seemed to abandon the classic serve and volley style which won him two Wimbledon titles and looked at home battling from the baseline against former French Open Champion Muster.

“I felt really comfortable on the clay out there today,” said Edberg. “It’s a lot easier on your body and it gives you a little bit of extra time on the ball and to prepare yourself for the shot.”

“Paris is a great city and the atmosphere here is really good. Playing against these guys and seeing all the old faces is a bit like turning the clock back. It really is nice to be back.”

Elsewhere, Mikael Pernfors was forced to retire against Mats Wilander after rupturing his achilles tendon at 1-1 in the second set.

The Swede had looked to be turning the match around after dropping the first set to his compatriot, Wilander, who accompanied his injured opponent to hospital after the match. Pernfors, who had stepped in at short notice to replace the injured Bjorn Borg in the Paris draw, will now be replaced in Group B by 38-year-old Frenchman Guillaume Raoux.

Earlier in the day, two-time defending Champion Sergi Bruguera edged past a below par Cedric Pioline, 7-6, 6-2 and Guy Forget, who doubles up as the tournament director in Paris, beat countryman Henri Leconte  7-5, 7-5.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.

All the players in each group will play each other over the first three days, and the players finishing top of each group will meet each other in the final. Those finishing second in each group will contest the 3rd/4th place play-off.

Last month in the Algarve (Portugal) Marcelo Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD to overtake Michael Stich as No.1 player in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings.

After Paris, the Tour will move on to Luxembourg for the first Vivium Victory Challenge (September 25-28), and then the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven (October 2-5). Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry in Luxembourg (for a taster, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw). In Eindhoven, former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington will make the BlackRock Tour of Champions debuts.

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RESULTS – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

GROUP A

Stefan Edberg d. Thomas Muster 6-2, 6-1

Guy Forget d. Henri Leconte 7-5, 7-5

GROUP B

Sergi Bruguera d. Cedric Pioline 7-6(4), 6-2

Mats Wilander d. Mikael Pernfors 6-4, 1-1 ret.

LATEST GROUP STANDINGS

GROUP A

Matches won/lost (sets)

Stefan Edberg                       1-0 (2-0)

Guy Forget                             1-0 (2-0)

Henri Leconte                       0-1 (0-2)

Thomas Muster                    0-1 (0-2)

GROUP B

Matches won/lost (sets)

Sergi Bruguera                    1-0 (2-0)

Mats Wilander                      1-0 (2-0)

Mikael Pernfors                   0-1 (0-2)

Cedric Pioline                      0-1 (0-2)

SCHEDULE – FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER

13:00                                                   Henri Leconte/Thomas Muster

Not before 14:30                              Stefan Edberg / Guy Forget

Followed by                                         Sergi Bruguera/ Mats Wilander

Followed by                                         Guillaume Raoux/ Cedric Pioline

BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION

Winner –                400 points

Finalist –                250 points

3rd place –            200 points

4th place –            125 points

5/6th place –  80 points

7/8th place –         60 points

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after seven events)

POS.       PLAYER                                                PTS

1              Marcelo Rios                                        1130

2              Goran Ivanisevic          970

3              Michael Stich                                        900

4              Thomas Muster                           595

5              Anders Jarryd                              525

6              Henri Leconte                              500

7              Cedric Pioline                              460

8=           Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC)                455

8=           Fernando Meligeni (WC)   455

10           Pat Cash                                                      420

11=         Patrick Rafter                               400

11=         Pete Sampras                             400

13           Sergi Bruguera                           360

14           Mikael Pernfors                          330

15=         Chris Wilkinson (WC)         325

16=         Jaime Oncins (WC)                             200

17=         Jeremy Bates (WC)                             125

17=         Albert Costa                                          125

19    Joao Cunha e Silva (WC)         80

20=         Magnus Larsson                  80

20=         John McEnroe                             80

20=         Andrei Cherkasov                               80

23=         Bjorn Borg                                             60

23=         Carl Uwe Steeb                          60

23=         Jaime Yzaga                                        60

23=         Alladin Karagoz (WC)         60

23=         Andrei Chesnokov                              60

23= Guillermo Vilas                                            60

WC denotes Wild Card.

The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008

Belfast, Northern Ireland    – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)

Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors

Barcelona, Spain                                 – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)

Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich

Rome, Italy                                            – May 10-11

Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic

Hamburg, Germany            – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)

Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner

Sao Paulo, Brazil                                 – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)

Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios

Istanbul, Turkey                   – July 17-20

Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni

Graz, Austria                         – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)

Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich

Algarve, Portugal                                 – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)

Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic

Paris, France                        – September 18-21 (5e Trophée Jean-Luc Lagardère)

Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28

Eindhoven, Netherlands    – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)

Budapest, Hungary                             – October 9-12

Frankfurt, Germany             – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)

Macao, China                       – November 20 (Special Event)

London, UK                          – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)

OTHER INFO

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.

For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

and for further information:

www.blackrockinternational.com/tourofchampions

McEnroe Defaulted in Opening Match at Hall of Fame Champions Cup

NEWPORT, R.I., August 14 – John McEnroe was defaulted in his opening round-robin match at the $150,000 Hall of Fame Champions Cup Thursday at the International Tennis Hall of Fame due to audible, unsportsmanlike conduct and abuse of official code violations in his match with fellow American MaliVai Washington. The default marked the first time McEnroe was defaulted from a match on the Outback Champions Series, the international tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30.

The series of events that lead to McEnroe’s dismissal came after McEnroe won the first set 6-3 and with Washington serving at 4-2, ad-in, in the second set in the opening round-robin match for both players. Arguing a line-call, McEnroe was issued a code violation warning for an audible obscenity by chair umpire Ray Brodeur. McEnroe continued his tirade against Brodeur and was issued consecutive abuse of official code violations. According to the Outback Champions Series Code of Conduct, match defaults are a four-step process, with the first violation resulting in a warning. The second violation results in a point penalty, a third violation – a game penalty and a fourth violation – a match default. McEnroe’s three violations gave Washington the second set 6-2 (the point penalty giving Washington the game for a 5-2 lead and the game penalty giving him the set by a 6-2 margin.) As McEnroe continued his tirade, fans at the Newport Casino became vocal and restless and began to yell at McEnroe to continue playing. McEnroe responded to the fans with a visible obscene gesture which resulted in a fourth code violation from Brodeur and McEnroe’s immediate default from the match.

Jon Venison, the Outback Champions Series co-founder and supervisor, was summoned to the court and confirmed the code violations and the default.

McEnroe did not meet with press following the incidents but will continue to compete in the eight-player round-robin format event.  He is next scheduled to play Karel Novacek on Friday.

“All players must abide by the same rules,” said Venison. “Umpires tend to be intimated by John which generally means they are more lenient with him. He crossed the line today. We are dealing with a group of extremely competitive guys, and John is one of them. He agreed to the first three code violations, but disagreed with the fourth (for an obscene gesture). John said that he did not do it, and the umpire said he 100 percent categorically saw it. We have to go with the umpire’s ruling.”

Said Washington following the match, “I guess 1992 in New Haven was the last time I played John. Has anything changed? I guess he has one of those explosive personalities, you could say. There are a lot of things I can deal with, disputed line calls, stoppage in play. I have an issue when my opponent starts berating people, fans, and umpires. I said something to the official. As players, we are in control of the match. Officials are in charge of the integrity of the game.”

McEnroe’s other high-profile default from a match came at the 1990 Australian Open when he was tossed out of a round-of-16 match with Sweden’s Mikael Pernfors due to audible obscenities. Said McEnroe following his default loss to Pernfors in 1990, “I don’t really have anyone to blame but myself. This is like a long story that culminates in me getting defaulted in a big tournament. I mean, I guess it was bound to happen. It’s too bad. I don’t feel good about it, but I can’t say that I’m totally surprised.”

Said Venison, “For the vast majority of players this is a non-issue. Historically there have been more issues with John’s matches than the other guys but this was over the top. We tell them (the umpires) to set guidelines early in the match so that the players know their boundaries. If you don’t, things can get ugly quickly.”

In other matches on Thursday, Jim Courier defeated Magnus Larsson 6-7 (2), 6-2, 10-6 and Mikael Pernfors defeated Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-3.

The Hall of Fame Champions Cup features an eight-man round-robin match format with the winner of each four-player division meeting in the title match while second place finishers in each division meet in the third-place match. The event features $150,000 in prize money with an undefeated winner taking home $54,000 as well as Stanford Champions ranking points that will determine the year-end champion and the winner of a $100,000 bonus. Play continues at the International Tennis Hall of Fame Friday with the continuation of round-robin play. Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling 866-914-FAME or at www.tennisfame.com. Play begins at noon on all days of the tournament.

The 2008 Outback Champions Series kicked off March 12-16 in Naples, Fla., at The Oliver Group Champions Cup where Todd Martin defeated McEnroe in the final. Courier won the second event of the season at The Residences at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Legends Championships April 16-20, defeating Ferreira in the final, while McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series event in Boston April 30- May 4, defeating Aaron Krickstein in the final. The next five events on the 2008 Outback Champions Series calendar are stops in Newport, R.I., Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Texas, Surprise, Arizona and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. More information can be obtained by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, established in 1954, is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, enshrining tennis heroes and heroines, and providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide. It was recognized as the sport’s official Hall of Fame in 1986 by the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis. The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s legendary grass courts remain the only competition grass courts available for professional events and exhibitions, while also available for public play. For more information about the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, events and programs, please call 401-849-3990 or log on to www.tennisfame.com.

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including the annual Ultimate Fantasy Camp. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com

Thursday’s Results – August 14
Mikael Pernfors, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-3, 6-3
MaliVai Washington, United States, def. John McEnroe, United States, 3-6, 6-2, default
Jim Courier, United States, def. Magnus Larsson, Sweden, 6-7 (2), 6-2, 10-6 (Champions Tie-Break)

Wednesday’s Results – August 13
Magnus Larsson, Sweden, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-2, 6-2
Jim Courier, United States, def. Mikael Pernfors Sweden, 7-6 (1), 6-4
Pat Cash, Australia, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-1

STANDINGS
ROUND ROBIN GROUP A
Jim Courier 2-0
Magnus Larsson 1-1
Mikael Pernfors 1-1
Wayne Ferreira 0-2

ROUND ROBIN GROUP B
Pat Cash 1-0
Mal Washington 1-0
Karel Novacek 0-1
John McEnroe 0-1

REMAINING SCHEDULE
Friday, August 15
Beginning at Noon
Magnus Larsson vs.  Mikael Pernfors
Followed by
Karel Novacek vs. John McEnroe
Followed by
Pat Cash vs. Mal Washington

Saturday, August 16
Beginning at Noon
Karel Novacek vs. Mal Washington
Followed by
Pat Cash vs. John McEnroe
Followed by
Jim Courier vs. Wayne Ferreira

Sunday, August 17
Beginning at Noon
Third Place Match
Followed by
Championship Match

Istanbul Title Catapults Ivanisevic To No.1

Goran Ivanisevic won the inaugural Turkcell Legends Cup in Istanbul, Turkey to take his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title of 2008 and jump to No.1 in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings.

A capacity crowd generated an electric atmosphere for the final, which Ivanisevic won 6-4, 6-4 against Fernando Meligeni of Brazil.

The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, but the Ivanisevic serve was the deciding factor.  In the first set, the two players exchanged breaks of serve before Ivanisevic took the decisive advantage at 4-4. Meligeni kept fighting in  the second set and made the match competitive, but again Ivanisevic broke the Meligeni serve and from then on the outcome was never in doubt.

“I played really good today and I really had a great time,” said Ivanisevic.

“It’s been such a well-organised tournament and everybody has been so welcoming and kind. I’m really grateful to play here and I hope the tournament exists next year and I hope to be here. I’m happy to be number one (in the rankings), that’s really nice. But there’s still a lot of tournaments and a lot of competition between now and then but if I play like this then it’s definitely possible (that I could finish the year No.1).”

Meligeni was disappointed to lose, but not surprised, having lost all of his three meetings with Ivanisevic on the ATP circuit.

“Always when I play Goran it’s very tough and he served unbelievably and put me under a lot of pressure,” said Meligeni.

“I think it was a good match and it was fun but I was under pressure all the time and he was definitely the deserving winner today, he played better. It’s an honour for me to be playing here and competing with these guys on the circuit.  This week has been unbelievable with great hospitality and a great welcome here in Istanbul. I would love to have the chance to come back.”

In the 3rd/4th place play-off, Cedric Pioline defeated Thomas Muster 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 (Champions’ Tie Break).

Next, the BlackRock Tour of Champions moves on to two of the most popular and long-standing tour-dates –  Graz, Austria for the s Tennis Masters (July 29 – August 2) and then Algarve, Portugal for the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD (August 5-8).

These are exciting times for the Tour, with former World No.1’s Pete Sampras Sao Paulo, London),  Stefan Edberg (Paris, London) and Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Eindhoven) all joining the circuit for World No.1’s, Grand Slam finalists and Davis Cup winners in 2008.

The 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang  and 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington also announced that they will join Kafelnikov at the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven, October 2-5.

Ivanisevic, Muster, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pat Cash, Marcelo Rios and Michael Stich will also be back in action as the year progresses.

To go inside the Borg/McEnroe rivalry and watch an exclusive video, click here: http://www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

RESULTS – SUNDAY, 20 JULY, 2008

Cedric Pioline d. Thomas Muster 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 (Champions’ Tie Break)

Goran Ivanisevic d. Fernando Meligeni 6-4, 6-4

FINAL GROUP STANDINGS

GROUP A

Matches won/lost (sets)

Fernando Meligeni                              3-0 (6-0)

Cedric Pioline                     2-1 (5-3)

Sergi Bruguera                    1-2 (3-4)

Alladin Karagoz                   0-3 (0-6)

Matches won/lost (sets)

GROUP B

Goran Ivanisevic                  3-0 (6-1)

Thomas Muster                    2-1 (5-3)

Pat Cash                                               1-2 (2-5)

Andrei Chesnokov                              0-3 (2-6)

BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION

Winner –                400 points

Finalist –                250 points

3rd place –            200 points

4th place –            125 points

5/6th place –         80 points

7/8th place –         60 points

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after six events)

POS.       PLAYER                                                PTS

1              Goran Ivanisevic                  660

2              Michael Stich                        650

2=           Marcelo Rios                        650

4              Anders Jarryd                       525

5              Thomas Muster                    515

6              Pat Cash                                               420

7=           Pete Sampras                      400

7=           Cedric Pioline                 400

9              Fernando Meligeni                              375

10=         Mikael Pernfors                   330

10=         Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC)                330

12           Henri Leconte                      240

13=         Chris Wilkinson (WC)         200

13=         Jaime Oncins                       200

15           Sergi Bruguera               160

16=         Jeremy Bates (WC)             125

16=         Albert Costa                          125

18=         Magnus Larsson                  80

18=         John McEnroe                      80

18=         Andrei Cherkasov                               80

21=         Bjorn Borg                                             60

21=         Carl Uwe Steeb                   60

21=         Jaime Yzaga                                        60

21=         Alladin Karagoz (WC)        60

21=         Andrei Chesnokov                              60

WC denotes Wild Card.

The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008

Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24   (Tennis Legends) – Champions: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors

Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08) – Champion: Marcelo Rios; runner-up: Michael Stich

Rome, Italy – May 10-11 – Champion: Thomas Muster; runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic

Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)

Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner

Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)

Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios

Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20

Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni

Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)

Algarve, Portugal – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)

Paris, France – September 18-21 (5e Trophée Jean-Luc Lagardère)

Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28

Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)

Budapest, Hungary – October 9-12

Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)

Brussels, Belgium – November 20-23

London, UK – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)

OTHER INFO

BlackRock is a premier provider of global investment management, riskmanagement and advisory services to clients around the world. The rebrand from the Merrill Lynch Tour of Champions to the new BlackRock Tour of Champions,

stemmed from the merger between BlackRock and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers on the 29th September 2006. This merger united the predominantly US fixed income institutional heritage of BlackRock with that of Merrill Lynch

Investment Managers’ award-winning global retail equity franchise.

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At December 31, 2007, BlackRock’s assets under management (AUM) was US$1.357 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions(r) investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of December 31, 2007, the firm has approximately 5,500 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.

For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

and for further information:

www.blackrockinternational.com/tourofchampions

Federer vs. Ancic..A Look Back At Fed’s Last Wimby Loss

Roger Federer will face Croatia’s Mario Ancic in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at Wimbledon. It has been well-documented that in the first round of Wimbledon in 2002 that Ancic, an 18-year-old qualifier, defeated the much-hyped Federer, one year removed from his titanic fourth-round upset of Pete Sampras. The loss marked the last time Federer lost on grass and at Wimbledon as the Swiss maestro has ripped off five Wimbledon titles including a record 63 straight wins on grass and 38 straight at the All England Club. Rene Stauffer in his book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) details this famous match between Federer and Ancic, excerpted below. (To order this book at a special 34 percent off discount, click here.)

Federer was considered the hottest player on the ATP Tour on the eve of both the French Open and Wimbledon. He arrived in Paris with hero-like status and viewed himself as a dangerous dark horse threat to win both titles. Prior to his first-round match with Morocco’s Hicham Arazi in Paris, Federer said he was hoping not to expend too much energy. He fulfilled this goal, but not exactly in the way he planned. On a cool, drizzly Tuesday on tiny Court No. 2, Federer faced Arazi who, after a miserable clay court season, was only ranked No. 45 in the world. But Federer committed 58 unforced errors in 95 minutes of play and decisively lost 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. It was a debacle. He com­plained about the slipperiness of the court, the rainy, dreary weather, about being fatigued after Hamburg, and praised Arazi. In short-he was confused.

He now had plenty of time to prepare for the grass courts at Wimbledon, where he defeated Pete Sampras the year before. British bookies ranked Federer behind Hewitt, Safin, Agassi and Henman as the fifth most likely player to win the Wimbledon title. To John McEnroe, Federer was the favorite and boldly predicted he would win the tournament. Former Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington said to ESPN that “it is only a matter of time until Federer wins his first Grand Slam tournament. The real question is how many Grand Slam tournaments will he win?”

Prior to the start of The Championships, the ATP organized a telephone press conference with Federer for the international press. “I feel that my chances of winning the tournament are good,” he explained on the call, while he attempted to refute the theory that he could not come to terms with being the favorite. “I feel better when I’m the favorite and I know that I can win the tournament. It helps me not to be the outsider. That’s why I’m playing better this year than in previous years.”

But Federer was also aware of the fact that he still didn’t have a Grand Slam title, and that many were expecting him to win one-and soon. Federer, himself, felt burdened by the expectations, but more from the expectations that he placed upon himself to break through and win a Grand Slam tourna­ment title. His impatience grew with each missed opportunity. He placed an enormous amount of pressure to break through and win either Wimbledon or the US Open in 2002.

In the first round at Wimbledon, Federer drew Croatian teenager Mario Ancic. Federer had no idea who he was and didn’t find out much about him before their match. Prior to the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, the 18-year-old Ancic primarily played junior events and only advanced into the Wimbledon main draw through the qualifying tournament. He was ranked No. 154 in the world and stood at nearly six feet, six inches tall. The 2001 Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic, who like Ancic hailed from the Croatian coastal city of Split, even gave his young countryman tips on how to play Federer. Wimbledon was Ancic’s Grand Slam tournament debut and his first match was played on Centre Court of all places, against Federer, the man who one year earlier defeated one of Wimbledon’s greatest champions on the very same court.

Roger’s father Robert, who seldom watched his son play live, traveled to Wimbledon to watch his son. Sitting in the bleachers at Centre Court, he an­ticipated peacefully watching a routine first-round victory for his son on this pleasant, warm and dry afternoon. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Like in Paris, Roger unceremoniously lost in the tournament’s opening round without win­ning a set. He was unrecognizable compared to the previous year’s heroics and only scored one ace against the young Ancic in the 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 loss.

Federer was shocked. As in Paris, he couldn’t understand why he played so poorly. “I normally like to compliment young players,” he said, “but the way I performed today, I can’t really judge Ancic.” Federer was forced to witness the top-ranked Hewitt, who was not considered to be a grass court specialist, go on to beat David Nalbandian in the final to become the first Australian Wimbledon champion since Pat Cash in 1987.

By contrast, Federer dropped out of the top 10 by virtue of his Wimbledon performance. Two weeks later at the Swiss Open in Gstaad, Federer expe­rienced another unexpected defeat at the hands of Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the second round. His crisis was incomprehensible. “He’s not himself on the court anymore,” said Lundgren. “Technically, there’s nothing wrong with his game. It’s in his head. He feels the pressure.” For the moment, Federer lost his entire creativity, his entire joy in playing ten­nis and his self-confidence. “I allowed myself to become too dragged down mentally and I thought I couldn’t play tennis anymore,” he said later.

But his greatest setback still lay before him and it would come from a completely unexpected direction.