Marcelo Rios

Australian Open Recollections

By James A. Crabtree

The Aussie Open is over and this means constant therapy and prescription pills until the French Open.

Regardless, here are some pointless observations, rumours, thoughts and complete randomness that needs to be shared.

1. Fred Stolle said, adamantly, a few days before the tournament that “Djokovic will win it all unless he breaks his leg.” Not only was he right but I do hate it when old people get it so so right.

2. During the qualifying rounds I got to know a guy I simply referred to as Security Guard Joe. Our conversations were like those you expect to share whilst drinking  a brew with an old guy at a bar.

“Got any good bets?” he asked.

Monica Puig, I’d say she will reach round 3, at least.” I responded boldly.

“Good. I’ll put some money down.”

I was wrong, need to avoid Security Guard Joe.

3. Bernie Tomic was the only non-seeded player to list Monaco as his residence, so somebody good is doing his accounts! According to rumour the young Australian was given 32 different racquets by Yonex to trial. He chose the 31st and is happy with it. Lets hope he is not as picky with shoes.

4. Djokovic should be featured in the next video by PSY, of Gangnam Style fame. He really should be, the guy just cant stop doing the dance.

5. Ever wondered why so many players look so clean cut? Wonder no more as the Australian Open featured a “Player Beauty Bar.”

6. Sloane Stephens had roughly 17,000 twitter followers before her match with Serena Williams. One little win later and she had 35,000. She now has over 60,000.

7. Spoke to an old Czech reporter who has been coming to the Open since 1991. He had some great tales, including the legend that Marcelo Rios spent $300,000 in the casino in 1998, the year he reached the final as the number one seed. Wow.

8. The media received a very cool media pack, sunscreen, that included a little towel, pen, mini fan, media guide and a USB stick that is not compatible with my computer….ARGHH.

Also, some journalists partook in a special Cardio Tennis session run by Tennis Australia. All athletes (I use that word very loosely) took themselves far too seriously, and all were panting like poodles on a hot summers day after only five minutes action. One journalist by the name of Crabtree was awesome and won a towel but we shall go into no further detail of these incredible exploits. 😉

9. Bumped into Security Guard Joe. Luckily for me he didn’t put a bet on Monica Puig because he couldn’t remember her name.

“My shift is over soon mate, got any other good bets?” he asked.

Del Potro is probably due a good run,” I suggested.

“Del Potro? “

“Yeah, the Argentinian. He should go deep, I’d put a dollar on him.” I said.

Security Guard Joe left quickly like I was Old Biff with a sports Almanac from Back to the Future 2. Del Potro lost later that day in the third round to Jeremy Chardy. I am not Old Biff, and really need to avoid Security Guard Joe for the rest of the tournament.

10. Stan vs Novak, for many this was the match of the tournament – can’t stop thinking about this one and a possible alternate reality where Stan got it then cruised through the rest of the tournament. Stan was amazing, up 1 set and 5-2 in the second. Imagine if he had capitalised and become the other Swiss with a slam.

11. The Media restaurant never once skimmed on portions. Thanks guys, but more dessert options next time, please.

12. Beneath Rod Laver Arena I passed a guy I thought I recognised, some small time Aussie player I thought. I said “Hey mate,” and he responded with a “Hey Mate” of his own. I stopped for a second, hang on, that wasn’t the Aussie I thought it was and this guy is wearing Nike’s with a hint of pink. That was bloody Roger Federer.

13. Popped in to see the stringers and one old time doubles player had a tension of 33lbs. What the!

14. The old Czech reporter told of how he once hit with Andre Agassi, whilst the eight-time grand slam champion was waiting around for Brad Gilbert on a practice court. I am insanely jealous.

15. Where’s Wally. Captain Australia. A bloke with a giant phone. A guy with a giant head. The Heard stole the show at matches featuring Aussie players. This crew should be a perquisite at every grand slam.

Like many of you I am having Aussie Open withdrawals. Hope this offers you some solace. Roll on Roland Garros.

I Don’t Take Wimbledon…Like A Really Important Thing

Who is the biggest villain in Wimbledon history? Chilean Marcelo Rios may get the nod. It was on this day back in 1998 when the former world No. 1 took a swipe at the All England Club and The Championships after being dismissed from the tournament as the No. 2 seed. The match, and Rios’ comments, are documented below in the June 24 chapter of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY, which is excerpted below.

1998 – Marcelo Rios of Chile takes a swipe at Wimbledon after being unceremoniously dumped in the first round of the world’s most prestigious tournament as the No. 2 seed. ”I don’t take Wimbledon, like playing on grass, like a really important thing,” says the dour Chilean, seeded No. 2, after losing to No. 36-ranked Francisco Clavet of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. ”Tennis, when you see it on grass, it’s not tennis. It’s not a surface to watch or play tennis on; it’s really boring. You just serve, return, go in, that’s it.”  Rios does not return to the All-England Club, never playing the event again after competing for three years – 1995, 1997 and 1998 – with a round of 16 showing in 1997 being his best result.

2003 – Lleyton Hewitt becomes only the second defending men’s singles champion at Wimbledon to lose in the first round as six-foot-10 Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic dismisses Hewitt 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 at The Championships. Hewitt joins 1966 Wimbledon champion Manuel Santana, defeated in the first round of Wimbledon in 1967 by Charlie Pasarell, as the only defending champions to be dismissed in the first round.

2004 – Forty-seven-year-old nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, in a cameo singles appearance at Wimbledon for the first time since 1994, loses her final singles match at the All England Club on Court No. 3, losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round to 19-year-old Gisela Dulko of Argentina, the same player who ends Navratilova’s French Open singles cameo four weeks earlier. Says Dulko, “This is the most special win of my career.”

1983 – Kathy Jordan upsets Chris Evert Lloyd 6-1, 7-6 (2) in the third round of Wimbledon, marking Evert Lloyd’s first-ever loss before the semifinals at a major event. Evert Lloyd’s semifinal streak, which dates back to her 1971 U.S. Open debut as a 16-year-old, is stopped at 34 consecutive major semifinals. “I’m disappointed,” says Evert Lloyd. “In the past when opponents have been in a winning position against me, they’re usually intimidated. Kathy wasn’t. When I lose a set, it warms me up and gets me started. But at 3-0 in the tie-breaker, I knew, the way she was playing, I was not going to win.”

2004 – Chair umpire Ted Watts performs one of the biggest mistakes in Wimbledon history, famously awarding Croatia’s Karolina Sprem an extra point in a second-set tie-break in her second-round Centre Court upset win over Venus Williams. Sprem leads Williams 2-1 in a second-set tie-break and wins the next point to lead 3-1, but Watts announces the score as 4-1. The mistake escapes both players and neither player protests the incorrect score. Sprem holds to win the tie-break 8-6 and wins the match 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6). Says a diplomatic Williams, “I don’t think one call makes a match.”

2002 – Pete Sampras wins what ultimately becomes his final match at Wimbledon, beating Britain’s Martin Lee 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the first round. Says Sampras of the match, also his final appearance on Centre Court at the All England Club, “It’s nice to play on Centre Court. Stepping out there felt like coming home again….It’s like Mecca out there.”

2006 – In a pre-Wimbledon press conference at the All-England Club, thirty-six-year–old Andre Agassi announces that the 2006 tournament will be his last Wimbledon and he will retire from competitive tennis at the 2006 U.S. Open. Says Agassi, “It’s been a long road this year for me, and for a lot of reasons. It’s great to be here. This Wimbledon will be my last, and the U.S. Open will be my last tournament.”

1996 – Andre Agassi, the No. 3 seed and a Wimbledon champion in 1992, is dismissed from the first round of The Championships by No. 281-ranked qualifier Doug Flach 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (6) on the famed “Graveyard” Court, Court No. 2. Says Agassi after the match, “This has nothing to do with Wimbledon. This is just, you know, I came out here and I was one of many guys trying to do well, and I didn’t.” Michael Chang, the No. 6 seed, joins Agassi on the sideline, also losing on the Graveyard Court, falling to Spain’s Albert Costa, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 6-4. No. 8 seed Jim Courier is also dismissed in the first round, struggling with a sore leg in his 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 loss to former junior doubles partner Jonathan Stark.

1977 – Twenty-two-year-old world No. 1 Chris Evert defeats 14-year-old Wimbledon rookie Tracy Austin 6-1, 6-1 in 49 minutes in the third round of Wimbledon.

The Coast-to-Coast Double

The tennis world is in the latter stages of what tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins calls “The Coast-to-Coast Double” – the stretch that encompasses back-to-back co-ed events in Indian Wells, Calif., (the BNP Paribas Open) in California and in Key Biscayne, Fla., (the Sony Ericsson Open). Rafael Nadal, the men’s champion in Indian Wells this year, would be only the seventh player to complete the double, joining Jim Courier (1991), Michael Chang (1992), Pete Sampras (1994), Marcelo Rios (1998), Andre Agassi (2001) and Roger Federer (2005, 2006). Vera Zvonareva, the women’s champion this year in Indian Wells, already lost in the third round of Key Biscayne to Li Na of China, but would have joined Steffi Graf (1994, 1996) and Kim Clijsters (2005) as the only women to turn the “Coast-to-Coast” double trick. Collins writes the following of the “Coast-to-Coast Double” in his new book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS $35.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com);

Other than the U.S. Open, the successive springtime fortnights of Indian Wells, Calif., and Key Biscayne, Fla., blending men and women, are the foremost tournaments in North America, probably a dead heat behind the four majors in world prominence. Moving from the California desert to the Florida seaside, the pair provide a solid month of solid hard court tennis.

In 2000, two men who played Davis Cup, Charlie Pasarell for the United States, and Ray Moore for South Africa, built the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, a beautifully landscaped plot amid mountains anchored by a lighted 16,000 seat center court, the largest in the U.S. apart from Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Pasarell began promoting tournaments in the neighborhood in 1981 at La Quinta, eventually settling in at Indian Wells. He and Moore have been partners since 1987.

Butch Buchholz, also an ex-U.S. Davis Cupper (and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame), and his brother, Clifford, overcame numerous Floridian trials to establish what is now the Sony Ericsson Open at Crandon Park on an isle, Key Biscayne, across Biscayne Bay from Miami. Opening business in 1985 at Delray Beach, Fla., the brothers moved south to Boca Raton the next year, and farther south to the Key the year after that, finally feeling at home among the palms and mangrove. Their floodlit center court, holding 13,800 and replacing bleachers, was ready in 1994. With 18 tennis courts, the record attendance, 297,011, was made in 2008.

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.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: It’s the most exciting victory of my life

STARS

Dmitry Tursunov beat Karol Beck 6-4 6-3 to win the IPP Open in Helsinki, Finland

Caroline Wozniacki won the Nordea Danish Open, beating Sofia Arvidsson 6-2 6-1 in Odense, Denmark

Jim Courier beat Stefan Edberg 6-3 6-4 to win the Legends “Rock” Dubai Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

DAVIS CUP

David Nalbandian (Argentina) beat David Ferrer (Spain) 6-3 6-2 6-3

Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (4) 6-3

Feliciana Lopez and Fernando Verdasco (Spain) beat Agustin Calleri and David Nalbandian (Argentina) 5-7 7-5 7-6 (5) 6-3

Fernando Verdasco (Spain) beat Jose Acasuso (Argentina) 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 6-3 6-1

SAYINGS

“It’s the most exciting victory of my life. Playing for my country, against the best players, it’s a dream.” – Fernando Verdasco, after winning the clinching point to give Spain its third Davis Cup title.

“I was prepared for the match, but Verdasco played very well in the fourth and fifth sets. He started serving better and deserves a lot of credit for this win.” – Jose Acasuso, after losing decisive match to Fernando Verdasco

“When you lose such an important player like Juan Martin, it opens a big hole in the team. After that, things got complicated for us.” – Alberto Mancini, Argentina Davis Cup captain.

“I have to remember Rafael Nadal because we played the Davis Cup final thanks to him.” -Verdasco, honoring the man who won two singles matches in the semifinals against the United States.

“Nadal gave us several victories, and thanks to him we are here. But the players who are here are the ones who deserve all the credit now.” – Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Spain’s Davis Cup captain.

“This is a great finish to a great year. Dubai is a fantastic place for me, and for all the players, to end up the season.” – Jim Courier.

“We get our grounds back and then we can decide what we do with it and be in charge of our own destiny, while it secures investment in British tennis for the next 40 years until 2053.” – Tim Phillips, on Wimbledon paying USD $83 million to gain total control of the All England Club.

“Carole and I first met when we were both 12 years old and remained lifelong friends. More than any other person, Carole worked tirelessly behind the scenes to be the driving force and influential leader of Fed Cup, the international women’s tennis team competition.” – Billie Jean King, about Carole Graebner, who died at the age of 65.

SPAIN SI SI

So what if the world’s number one player, Rafael Nadal, is missing. Spain still won its third Davis Cup by besting Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five international competition. The winning point came on the first “reverse singles” when Fernando Verdasco outlasted Jose Acasuso 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 6-3 6-1 before a boisterous crowd in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. It was a battle of replacements as Verdasco had replaced David Ferrer for Spain and Acasuso was a replacement for the injured Juan Martin de Potro. Feliciano Lopez had rallied to give Spain its first point by upsetting del Potro 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (4) 6-3, then teamed with Verdasco to win the doubles, besting Agustin Calleri and David Nalbandian 5-7 7-5 7-6 (5) 6-3. It was the first time Spain had won a Davis Cup title on the road. Playing on home courts, Spain beat Australia in 2000 and the United States in 2004.

[ad#adify-300×250]

STILL WINLESS

For Jose Acasuso, losing the decisive match to give Spain the Davis Cup title was doubly devastating. The Argentine became the first man to lose two decisive five-set matches in Davis Cup finals, having also lost to Marat Safin in five sets in 2006 as Russia beat Argentina for the title. In the fourth set of the match against Spain, the trainer came onto court to work on Acasuso’s abdominal strain. “There was a lot of sadness in the locker room after the loss,” Acasuso said, “and the fact that three of the four of us lost to Russia two years ago means that the pain was double.”

STRAIGHT TO JAIL

Jimmy Connors was arrested at a University of California Santa Barbara basketball game when he refused to move on after being instructed to do so by police officers. An eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion, Connors refused to leave an area near the entrance of the Thunderdome following a confrontation, according to police. The tennis great was arrested at the beginning of the game and was taken to the Santa Barbara County jail where he was booked and released.

SUCCESS AT HOME

Caroline Wozniacki’s return home ended in triumph. Denmark’s top player won the Nordea Danish Open by defeating Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1. “I played incredibly stable and pushed her around the court, just as I had planned,” Wozniacki said. “Therefore, she never really got started. So I win the fight, and since it was on my home ground, I am obviously more than happy.” Ranked 12th in the world, Wozniacki was the highest ranked player ever to play an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s Circuit event. It was the first USD $100,000 women’s tournament played in Denmark.

STEFANKI ON BOARD

Andy Roddick has a new coach. The former world number one player announced on his website that he has hired Larry Stefanki, who has previously coached John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Tim Henman and Fernando Gonzalez. Under Stefani’s guidance, both Rios and Kafelnikov reached the world number one ranking. Roddick has been without a coach since splitting from Jimmy Connors.

SEEKING OWN DESTINY

Wimbledon is buying back its own club. Organizers of the grass court Grand Slam tournament will pay USD $83 million to regain total control of the All England Club, buying back the 50 percent it gave away in 1934. The money will be paid to Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association after the existing agreement expires. Under the 40-year deal, the All England Club will keep 10 percent of the profits instead of giving it all to the LTA, the governing body of British tennis. This year’s tournament generated a profit of USD $39 million.

SPOTLIGHT ON VILAS

Guillermo Vilas is this year’s recipient of the Davis Cup Award of Excellence. The International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) presented the award to Vilas during the Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina in Mar del Plata, Argentina. ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti presented the award to Vilas with past award recipients Neale Fraser (2001), Pierre Darmon (2002) and Manolo Santana (2004) in attendance. Vilas holds the Argentinean Davis Cup record for most total wins (57), most singles wins (45), most doubles wins (12), most ties played (29), most years played (14) and best doubles team, with Jose-Luis Clerc. Born in Mar del Plata in 1952, the left-hander is credited with being the first Argentine to win a Grand Slam tournament singles (Roland Garros in 1977) and the first Argentine to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1991). He also won the last US Open to be played at Forest Hills in 1977.

SENIOR CHAMP

Jim Courier closed out the 2008 Outback Champions Series season in style by capturing the Emirates NBD The Legends “Rock” Dubai Championships. Courier beat Stefan Edberg 6-3, 6-4 to win his fourth tournament title of the year on the tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. He also won titles this year in Grand Cayman, Charlotte and Dallas, was finished the 2008 Outback Champions Series as its number one player in the Stanford Champions Rankings. Counting his Stanford Financial Group bonus, Courier won USD $404,000 in prize money this year.

STARS OF OLD

BlackRock Tour of Champions stars John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg joined up with Roger Federer and James Blake for a series of exhibition matches in Macao, China. Federer bested Blake 6-4 6-4 and Borg edged McEnroe in a one-set clash 7-6 before the two Americans teamed up to beat Borg and Federer 10-7 in a single Champions’ Tiebreak.

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE

Julia Parker Goyer, a Duke University graduate and tennis player, was among 32 Americans chosen as a Rhodes Scholar. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Goyer graduated with a psychology major and neuroscience minor in May 2007. She will pursue a masters of science in comparative and international education at Oxford University in England. After making trips to Vietnam and Belize in 2007, Goyer founded the Coach for College program, which sends student-athletes to teach middle schoolers in rural areas of developing countries.

SAD NEWS

Carole Caldwell Graebner, who won doubles titles at the US and Australian Championships in the 1960s, is dead. She was 65. The top-ranked doubles player in the United States in 1963, Graebner teamed with Nancy Richey to win the 1965 US Championships, now the US Open, and the 1966 Australian Championships, now the Australian Open. She reached the US Championships women’s singles final in 1964, losing to Brazil’s Maria Bueno. Graebner was a member of the inaugural 1963 US Fed Cup team, and played college tennis alongside Billie Jean King at California State University at Los Angeles. She later served as United States Tennis Association (USTA) chair of the Fed Cup committee, and was a vice president of Tennis Week magazine and a radio and television commentator. She is survived by a daughter, Cameron Graebner Mark; a son, Clark Edward Graebner Jr.; and four grandchildren.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Helsinki: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Eric Butorac and Lovro Zovko 6-7 (2) 7-6 (7) 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Odense: Sarah Borwell and Courtney Nagle beat Gabriela Chmelinova and Mervana Jugic-Salkic 6-4 6-4

SITES TO SURF

ATP: www.atptennis.com

WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com

ITF: www.itftennis.com

Borg scares Goran in first ever match; Cash eclipses McEnroe in thriller

BORG SCARES GORAN IN FIRST EVER MATCH; CASH ECLIPSES MCENROE IN THRILLER

Bjorn Borg gave away 15 years to Goran Ivanisevic, but the great Swede had the Croatian worried throughout their first ever clash at the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Budapest.

Ivanisevic eventually prevailed 7-6(5), 6-3, but not before Borg raced to a 4-1 first set lead. It was all that the Croatian could do to concentrate on the ball with such a legend on the opposite side of the net for the first time.

“First and foremost it was an honour to be able to play Bjorn because we have never played before,” said Ivanisevic, who currently tops the South African Airways Rankings.

“It was a tough match, very serious. I want to win every match badly and especially playing Bjorn. You don’t play Bjorn every day. I’ve watched him so many times on tv so to play him for the first time officially is a great honour. It’s great that I can say that I played him during my career.”

Borg was happy with his performance, and not hugely surprised to lose his early lead.

“Goran started to play really well,” said Borg, who will face John McEnroe on Friday.

Borg vs. McEnroe –

[manfred]pUa2ltLC0hw[/manfred]

“We had a long game when he broke me and he started to play better. In the beginning he started a bit slow and then he picked up his game and we had a really good first set. I had a few chances but in general it was a good match.”

Pat Cash was another man to stage an impressive comeback on day one. The Australian lost the first set 6-3 against McEnroe, who continued the form of two weeks earlier when he won the Luxembourg title. But Cash hung in, serving-and-volleying throughout the two-hour match, and ultimately edged the second set on a tie-break. In the Champions’ Tie-Break, the match was still there for McEnroe to win. He forced a 7-5 lead before losing the final five points of the match to an inspired Cash.

“I’m really pleased to have won that but really the difference was just a few points here and there,” said Cash.

“In the first set John was just serving too well and there was no way I could beat him. But then he dropped his level a bit and I picked mine up. It was a real struggle but I’m glad to have come through.”

McEnroe was predictably crestfallen.

“I gave my best but unfortunately I didn’t win the last point. He just played the big points better, but it was a good contest,” he said.

Elsewhere, Sergi Bruguera overcame Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-4 and Henri Leconte defeated Thomas Muster, also 6-3, 6-4.

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.  After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in Sunday’s final.

Last week, Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic in a thrilling final to win his first ever BlackRock Tour of Champions Title at the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven.

In the final event of the year, Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg will take on McEnroe and Ivanisevic in an eight-man field at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, December 2-7.

RESULTS – THURSDAY OCTOBER 9

Sergi Bruguera d. Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-4

Henri Leconte d. Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4

Goran Ivanisevic d. Bjorn Borg 7-6(5), 6-3

Pat Cash d. John McEnroe 3-6, 7-6(6), 10-7 (Champions’ Tie-Break)

LATEST STANDINGS

GROUP A

Matches won/lost (sets)

Goran Ivanisevic                                                                  1-0 (2-0)

Pat Cash                                                                               1-0 (2-1)

John McEnroe                                                      0-1 (1-2)

Bjorn Borg                                                                             0-1 (0-2).

GROUP B

Sergi Bruguera                                                                    1-0 (2-0)

Henri Leconte                                                                      1-0 (2-0)

Thomas Muster                                                            0-1 (0-2)

Guillermo Vilas                                                                    0-1 (0-2)

SCHEDULE

Friday, 10th October, 2008

At 14:30

Henri Leconte vs. Guillermo Vilas

Thomas Muster vs. Sergi Bruguera

At 17:30

John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg

Goran Ivanisevic vs. Pat Cash

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

[ad#adify-300×250]

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

POS.       PLAYER                                                PTS

1              Goran Ivanisevic             1220

2              Marcelo Rios                                        1130

3              Michael Stich                   980

4              Henri Leconte                      890

5              Sergi Bruguera                    810

6        Cedric Pioline                            740

7              Thomas Muster                    655

8              Anders Jarryd                        525

9        John McEnroe                     480

10=         Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC)                455

10=         Fernando Meligeni (WC)   455

12           Pat Cash                                                420

13=    Richard Krajicek                        400

13=         Patrick Rafter                         400

13=         Pete Sampras                       400

13=   Stefan Edberg                      400

17           Mikael Pernfors                    330

18           Chris Wilkinson (WC)          325

19=         Jaime Oncins (WC)                              200

19=    Johny Goudenbour             200

21           Bjorn Borg                                              185

22=   Guy Forget                           125

22=         Jeremy Bates (WC)                             125

22=         Albert Costa                                          125

22=         Michael Chang                    125

26=  Carl Uwe Steeb                           120

26= Guillermo Vilas                                            120

28=  Mats Wilander                        80

28=  Joao Cunha e Silva (WC)          80

28=         Magnus Larsson                   80

28=         Andrei Cherkasov                                80

28= Mansour Bahrami                  80

28= Paul Haarhuis                              80

34 Yevgeny Kafelnikov                      60

34=         Jaime Yzaga                                         60

34=         Alladin Karagoz (WC)          60

34=         Andrei Chesnokov                               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)

Champion: Stefan Edberg; Runner-up: Sergi Bruguera

Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28

Champion: John McEnroe; Runner-up: Henri Leconte

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

Champion: Richard Krajicek; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic

Budapest, Hungary – October 9-12

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

Fever-pitch in Budapest as Borg/McEnroe arrive

As the BlackRock Tour of Champions rolls into Budapest this week for the city’s first ever Tennis Classics event, Bjorn Borg will get the chance to avenge his  defeat to long-time rival John McEnroe, who stole victory from under his nose when the pair met in Luxembourg only two weeks ago.

When the pair attended a press conference with Group A rivals Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Cash and the rest of the eight-man field in Budapest on Wednesday, 130 journalists and 30 photographers greeted them.

Borg/McEnroe rivalry –

[manfred]pUa2ltLC0hw[/manfred]

Staged in a lavish banquet hall with meals served from a silver platter, it was quite a spectacle. Anticipation ahead of the country’s first ever sight of McEnroe and Borg is at fever-pitch. The tournament has been organised by promoter and former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Balazs Taroczy, and no stone has been left unturned. Taroczy and his team have promoted the event throughout the year and everywhere you go around the city of Budapest the Tennis Classics event is being talked about.

McEnroe and Borg have again been drawn into the same Group this week in Budapest so  on Friday evening the duo are scheduled to meet for the latest installment of the most famous rivalry in tennis history. At the first Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg two weeks ago, Borg led by a set and 3-0 before a fired-up McEnroe came back to clinch the match in a Champions’ Tie-Break.

McEnroe and Borg are joined in Group A by former Wimbledon Champions Cash and Ivanisevic. On Sunday, Ivanisevic leap-frogged Marcelo Rios to take over the top spot in the South African Airways Rankings after collecting 250 points for finishing runner-up  in the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven last week. The Croatian will play Borg in his first match on Thursday, while Cash is due to meet McEnroe with whom he has enjoyed a fierce rivalry on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. The last time the two men met was at the 2007 BlackRock Masters Tennis in London where the American turned around a break deficit to edge an extremely closely fought encounter 7-5, 6-2.

Group B is comprised of former French Open champions Thomas Muster, Sergi Bruguera,  Guillermo Vilas and finalist Henri Leconte. Vilas will play his first match of the tournament on Thursday against Bruguera, while Muster and Leconte will also clash at the 4500 capacity Budapest Sportarena.

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.  After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in Sunday’s final.

Last week, Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic in a thrilling final to win his first ever BlackRock Tour of Champions Title at the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven.

In the final event of the year, Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg will take on McEnroe and Ivanisevic in an eight-man field at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, December 2-7.

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.

[ad#adify-300×250]

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