Marcin Matkowski

Moya Retires, Soderling Takes Paris and ATP Finals Take Shape

*Former French Open Champion Carlos Moya has become the latest star to announce their retirement, this time due to persistent foot injuries. “It’s not how I dreamt of ending,” said the former world No. 1 and Australian Open finalist. He also helped Spain win the Davis Cup in 2004 but recently things haven’t been so rosy. “I wanted to say goodbye at one of the big tournaments, the Grand Slams, but that dream wasn’t to be. I am still young for life but for sport, I am already knocking on a bit.”

*Sweden’s Robin Soderling is understandably beaming after picking up his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Paris last week but he was also praising of the man whose dream ended one step too short in the final for the second year running. Home favourite Gael Monfils tasted finals defeat for the second year running having lost to Novak Djokovic in 2009. “I know it’s difficult to lose two finals in a row in this city but Monfils played incredible tennis this week,” said the 26-year-old Soderling. “Of course, winning matches against a lot of good players this week gives me a lot of confidence. Playing in any Masters, when you play the top players of the world, every match can be a Grand Slam final. I think you need to believe in yourself and I think that can make a big change. I’m feeling really good right now.” Soderling is now at a career-high No. 4 in the world.

*The groups have been decided for the ATP World Tour Finals in London starting this weekend. Group A in the singles sees world No. 1 Rafa Nadal paired with Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick. Roger Federer, Robin Soderling, Andy Murray and David Ferrer will contest Group B. In the doubles, the defending Champions the Bryan brothers contest Group A with Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes, Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski and Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner. Group B consists of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach, Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi and Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman.

*Pakistan’s Prime Minister has announced that Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has been appointed as United Nations Development Project (UNDP) National Goodwill Ambassador. His first task is to help obtain global funds to go towards the victims of the devastating floods across the country which affected twenty million people. “I am honoured to become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP in Pakistan,” says Qureshi. “I have been very fortunate in life to pursue my passion for tennis. It is important for me to help people who lost everything because of the floods to get back on their feet.” Full reaction can be seen at the ATP website.

*Roger Federer has targeted a strong finish to the year with victory at the ATP Tour Finals, a competition he has an enviable record of 29-7 at. Federer faced questions about the current state of his mind after squandering five match points during his semi final defeat to Gael Monfils in Paris but the world No. 2 is confident of his chances in London. “I think I have good chances maybe in London for winning,” declared the sixteen-time Grand Slam winner. “I feel good physically. In a way it is a relief that I was able to finish the tournament [in Paris-Bercy] in good physical health. I’m fresh mentally, too. This is the most important thing. Victories are important, but when you’re not fit and when you’re injured, it’s bad.  So I think I’m going to recover quite fast after that loss. I feel good. I’m playing well. It was not a bad match [against Monfils]. I’m happy with my performance. Clearly with a victory I would have had big chances of winning the tournament. This is not the case, so now I have to look at the future. I’m going to prepare for London.” The full interview can be seen at the ATP site.

*Czech star Tomas Berdych has said that it was the increased burden of expectation following his Wimbledon finals appearance this year which contributed to his average results over the past few months. “In the past, I entered many matches in the position of a mere challenger, but after Wimbledon, everything changed,” he told the Prague Post. “My opponents became the challengers and were keen on taking the scalp of a top-10 player. Every game was much more difficult for me… [in London] I’ll try to pick up my game and to prove that I did not qualify by accident.”

*The Bryan brothers have announced that they will return to Houston in 2011 to defend their back to back US Men’s Clay Court Championships doubles titles.

*Li Na has taken Gold for China at the Asia Games, defeating Taiwan’s Chan Yung Jan 6-2, 6-1 in the final.

*Venus Williams has said she hopes to be fit in time for the Australian Open. The 30-year-old has been nursing yet another knee injury since her US Open defeat to Kim Clijsters but told AOL Fanbase: “I’m gearing up for Australia. Playing professional tennis is very intense. You have to be as close to 100 percent as possible. So I’m aiming to be 100 percent by January.”

*In the South African Airways ATP World Rankings Robin Soderling has benefitted from his Paris Masters victory by becoming the new world No. 4 at the expense of Andy Murray. Jurgen Melzer, Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic, Nicolas Almagro, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and Marcos Baghdatis all climb within the Top 20. Russian Nikolay Davydenko drops 11 places to No. 22 while Michael Llodra jumps 11 to No. 23. The Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov enters the Top 50 and Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, Germany’s Dustin Brown and Brazil’s Marcos Daniel enter the Top 100.

*The Bondarenko sisters have announced that they will immediately cease representing Ukraine in Fed Cup play. Kateryna has described the move as a “mutual decision” between themselves and Ukrainian tennis authorities. The door has been left open for a future return.

*Tennis Hall of Famer Dennis Ralston has been talking to The Desert Sun about his life since the amputation of his foot back in June due to infection. It’s a touching story, which can be read on their website. “The situation was bleak, not knowing if I would work again,” Ralston said. “I still don’t know, but I hope I still can.”

*After her engagement to lawyer Andreas Bieri broke down back in April, Martina Hingis has announced that she is “…not single anymore.” She is said to be dating fellow horse-riding enthusiast Thibault Hutin.

London Showcase Set For Kick-Off: Tennis in the Commonwealth

By Leigh Sanders

The final line-up for the ATP World Finals Championship in London, England, next week has been confirmed following the conclusion of the Paris Masters. Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Verdasco secured the last two berths following their performances on the hard courts of Paris. Eight players went in to the week’s play knowing a victory there could secure a place at the prestigious event but after the twists and turns had unfurled Davydenko and Verdasco won through after Robin Soderling and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga failed to advance past the quarterfinals.

However, with Andy Roddick having missed five weeks with a knee problem he has announced that he is unable to participate, allowing Soderling the opportunity to take his place in the event for the first time.

“I have not fully recovered from my knee injury and I won’t be able to compete,” said Roddick. “One of my goals in 2010 will be to qualify for this event again.”

The round-robin stage of the tournament has been drawn (seeds in brackets) and Group A sees career Grand Slam winner Roger Federer (1), Britain’s Andy Murray (4), US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro (5) and Fernando Verdasco (7) vying for qualification. Group B consists of 2009 Australian Open Champion Raphael Nadal (2), the 2008 winner Novak Djokovic (3), Nikolay Davydenko (6) and Robin Soderling (8).

In the doubles at Paris, Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski took the final berth at the tournament with an emphatic win over the Bryan brothers in Paris. That victory prevents South African Wesley Moodie and his partner Dick Norman taking part. The round robin groups have also been drawn. Group A sees world No. 1 and No. 2 Daniel Nestor of Canada/Nenad Zimonjic (1), India’s Mahesh Bhupathi/Mark Knowles (3), Frantisek Cermak/Michal Mertinak (5) and Max Mirnyi/Andy Ram (7). Group B will consist of the Bryan brothers (2), Lukas Dlouhy/Leander Paes of India (4), Lukasz Kubot/Oliver Marach (6) and Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (8).

*Great Britain’s Murray crashed back down to earth in Paris following his victory at the Valencia Open last time out. He failed to progress past the third round in Paris, sluggishly going down 6-1, 3-6, 4-6 to Radek Stepanek just sixteen hours after he had seen off James Blake in the previous round in a match that went on till the early hours of last Thursday.

* Daniel Nestor of Canada clinched his ninth doubles title of 2009 with partner Nenad Zimonjic after the pair beat the Spaniards Marcelo Granollers and Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Paris Masters. The world No. 1 and No. 2 have now stretched their rankings lead over the Bryan brothers to 830 points. It follows on from their recent win in the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel. Aussie Jordan Kerr reached the third round with American Travis Parrott before they eventually went down 6-2, 6-4 to the in-form Czech-Slovak partnership of Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak. In the previous round, Kerr/Parrott had halted doubles specialist and fourth seed Leander Paes of India and partner Lukas Dlouhy. The exit of South African Wesley Moodie and Belgian Dick Norman in round two to the eventual finalists Granollers/Robredo means they miss out on a place at the ATP World Tour Finals. Another Aussie, Paul Hanley, and his Swedish partner Simon Aspelin also fell foul of the Spaniards in round three after they had beaten India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, seeded No. 3, in round two. South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee lost with his partner Marcelo Melo of Brazil in the opening round to the ever-impressive French duo Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

*In this week’s ATP World Tour Rankings for singles (16/11) there was no movement for any Commonwealth tennis star ranked in the Top 100 in the world. India’s Somdev Devvarman climbs two to 122 and Canada’s Frank Dancevic is down nine to 132. Australians Carsten Ball and Chris Guccione also saw falls this week, five and 12 respectively.

*In the doubles rankings (16/11) Canada’s Daniel Nestor extends his lead as the world’s No. 1 but there are no other changes for the other Commonwealth players ranked in to Top 10. Australia’s Paul Hanley is down a place to 28 while his compatriot Jordan Kerr climbs one to 30. Fellow Aussie Ashley Fisher is down two to 43. Despite falling in the singles rankings Carsten Ball is up one to 57 and Chris Guccione drops to 66. Following their recent leaps and bounds up the rankings Britain’s Ken Skupski (3) and Colin Fleming (4) see falls in their rankings. Countryman Jonathan Marray drops one to 92. Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi sees a jump of six and is now ranked at 60. Jeff Coetzee of South Africa sees the biggest fall of all as he drops 12 to 68 while Rohan Bopanna of India climbs five to 90.

*The final WTA rankings for 2009 have been decided following the closing tournaments in Bali and Doha for the top players of the year. There were no Commonwealth players in the Top 10, Australia’s Samantha Stosur the highest ranked at 13. Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak (35) is the only other player in the Top 50. Next up is another Australian, Jelena Dokic, at 57 while Sania Mirza of India is below her in 58. It’s been a bad year for British tennis but Katie O’Brien will be delighted to end the year as British No. 1 as her end of season form sees her end up in 88, one ahead of Elena Baltacha in 89. Anne Keothavong’s long injury sees her drop to 98 in the end-of-season rankings.

*The final doubles rankings or 2009 have also been decided. Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs finish the year joint No. 7 and Sania Mirza of India is the third-highest ranked Commonwealth star at 37. Canada’s Marie-eve Pelletier ends the year ranked 66 while her compatriot Sharon Fichman is 96. British No. 1 Sarah Borwell is at 76. Natalie Grandin of South Africa, ranked No. 78, makes it only seven Commonwealth players in the Top 100 at the end of 2009.

*In a review of the British sporting “crown jewels” which decides which sporting events are to be aired on free-to-air television, it has been decided that Wimbledon should be kept on the list beyond 2017. The review, carried out by the Independent Advisory Panel for Listed Events, always causes arguments between satellite broadcasters and sports authorities but it is no question that the British public will be delighted that the prestigious tennis tournament is kept where everybody can view it without subscribing to satellite providers. The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has already expressed concern at the decision as they believe it hampers investment in tennis. It seems money truly does talk in all sports.

*Australian tennis fans are celebrating the news that former Australian Open finalist and crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis will return to play the Medibank International Sydney in 2010 alongside Aussie Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka. While at the Brisbane International, Frenchman Gilles Simon has announced he’ll begin his 2010 season by making his tournament debut. Both provide warm ups to the Australian Open.

*Former world No. 8 Alicia Molik of Australia won on her return to court in the first round of the Cliffs Esperance International. After a shaky start she saw of compatriot Monika Wejnert 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.

*The All England Tennis Club and the LTA have announced that the 2009 Wimbledon Championships raised a total of £29.2 million which will be invested in to British tennis. The aim this year is to improve tennis facilities throughout the country so that all communities have access to quality coaching and future players coming through the youth ranks will be of a higher calibre. It would also mean that top players like Andy Murray wouldn’t have to seek the level of coaching they require abroad.

*British tennis starlet Heather Watson has qualified for the Tevlin Challenger $50k event in Toronto, Canada, despite losing in the final of the Qualifying Tournament to American Macall Harkins. Two competitors from the main event have withdrawn allowing Watson to progress as a lucky loser.

*British No. 7 Jade Curtis reached the semifinals of the $10k AEGON Pro-Series Women’s singles event in Jersey before going down 4-6, 1-6 to No. 6 seed Matea Mezak of Croatia.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I Fought For My Country

STARS

Shahar Peer won the GDD-Guangzhou International Women’s Open, beating Alberta Brianti 6-3 6-4 in Guangzhou, China

Melinda Czink beat Lucie Safarova 4-6 6-3 7-5 to win the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada

Evgeny Korolev beat Florent Serra 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Czech Republic beat Croatia 4-1 in Porec, Croatia

Spain beat Israel 4-1 in Murcia, Spain

World Group Playoffs

Switzerland beat Italy 3-2, France beat Netherlands 4-1, Sweden beat Romania 3-21, Serbia beat Uzbekistan 5-0, India beat South Africa 4-1, Belgium beat Ukraine 3-2, Ecuador beat Brazil 3-2, and Chile played Austria

Americas Zone

Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay beat Peru 4-1; Group II Final: Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 3-2

Asia-Oceania Zone

Group I Playoff: China beat Thailand 4-1. Group II 3rd Round: Philippines beat New Zealand 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone

Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic beat FYR Macedonia 5-1; Poland beat Great Britain 3-2; Group II 3rd Round: Latvia beat Slovenia 3-2; Finland beat Cyprus 3-2

SAYING

“I feel like I was in a 10-round boxing match. Everything hurts.” – Ivo Karlovic, who served a record 78 aces, yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek.

“I fought for my country. It was an amazing game.” – Radek Stepanek, who survived Ivo Karlovic’s record 78 aces to win 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14.

“I have to go on holiday badly. I have a problem with my leg. I have a problem with my arm – everything is hurting. And I’ve got to do some babysitting.” – Roger Federer, after helping Switzerland beat Italy and remain in the World Group in 2010.

“I tried everything, but he was particularly good today.” – Potito Starace, who lost to Roger Federer to give Switzerland an insurmountable lead in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy.

“It’s not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call, in any sport, in any manner.” – Serena Williams, apologizing for her verbal assault towards a line judge during the US Open women’s final.

“I was very tired after the first two sets, lost the third and the fourth. But then, when I went to the locker room when the fourth set finished, I told my brother I wasn’t going to lose the match. This is the beauty of Davis Cup, the energy of a team and the energy of a country.” – Nicolas Lapentti, whose 6-4 6-4 1-6 2-6 8-6 victory over Marcos Daniel clinched Ecuador’s World Group Playoff tie over Brazil.

“It’s like David against Goliath – and we know who won that one!” – Andy Ram, before Israel played Spain in a Davis Cup semifinal. This time Goliath won.

“I hope it’s the start of something.” – Eyal Ran, Israel’s Davis Cup captain, on his team’s surprising run to the World Group semifinals.

“I hope to come back next year and do better. Unless you win, you can always do better.” – Lucie Safarova, who lost to Melinda Czink in the final of the Bell Challenge.

“I thought they (India) were trying different tactics. I couldn’t understand why he (Mahesh Bhupathi) was serving and staying back.” – Jeff Coetzee, who with his partner Wesley Moodie earned South Africa’s lone point in their Davis Cup tie against India when the Indian doubles team was forced to retire after Bhupathi suffered a groin injury.

“At last we are where we deserve to be.” – Andy Murray, on Great Britain being relegated to Group II in the Euro/Africa Zone after losing its Davis Cup tie to Poland.

SMOKIN’

Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 78 aces yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek in a marathon that lasted one minute short of six hours. Stepanek’s 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14 victory gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 first-day lead over Croatia. The Czechs captured the tie 4-1 and advanced to the final against Spain. The 82 games equaled the Davis Cup record since tiebreakers were introduced in 1989, but the elapsed time was well short of two matches played by John McEnroe, against Mats Wilander in 1982 and against Boris Becker in 1987, both of which lasted around 6½ hours. Karlovic wasted four match points in the final set, and there were only five break-point chances in the match. Karlovic obliterated both the men’s record and Davis Cup record for aces, marks he held. He had 55 aces in a loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the French Open in May, and his previous Davis Cup mark was 47, which he shared with Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten and Switzerland’s Marc Rosset.

SMALL CHANGE?

Apparently apparel company Fila has deep pockets. According to reports, Kim Clijsters was given a significant bonus by her shoe and clothing sponsor for her surprising US Open singles championship. And where companies usually insure these bonuses, CNBC says Fila did not. The bonus is reported to be in the range of USD $300,000, which could buy a lot of shoes for Clijsters’ young daughter. Darren Rovell of SportsBiz says that while it’s standard practice for companies to insure their big incentive bonuses to minimize the risk, Fila didn’t do it with Clijsters since she had played just two tournaments following a two-year retirement. The odds on Clijsters winning were as high as 40-to-1.

STAYING UP

You can excuse Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych if they want to take an extra nap or two. Between them, the Czech duo played for nearly 10 hours on the first day of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia. But the two then joined forces on the second day to play – and win – their doubles, clinching a spot for the Czech Republic in the final against Spain. On the first day, Stepanek needed one minute less than 6 hours to outlast Ivo Karlovic, and then Berdych was on court for 3 hours 48 minutes to down Marin Cilic in five sets. Together, Stepanek and Berdych needed only 2 hours, 16 minutes to defeat Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek. Stepanek and Berdych are unbeaten together in Davis Cup doubles, improving their record to 5-0, including 3-0 this season.

SINKING BRITS

Even with Andy Murray playing all three days, Great Britain was relegated to Group Two of the Euro/African zonal play when Poland won their Davis Cup tie 3-2. Murray won both of his singles matches, but Michal Przysiezny beat Dan Evans in the decisive singles to give Poland the victory. It is the first time in 13 years that Great Britain has been dropped to the third tier of the world-wide competition. Evans also lost his first-day singles match to Jerzy Janowicz, But Poland’s Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Murray and Ross Hutchins in the doubles.

SURPRISING BELGIUM

When talking about Belgium tennis, most are thinking about the women. The country has produced former number ones Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the latter winning the US Open earlier this month on her return to the sport following a two-year retirement. But Belgium’s men have also proved their mettle, keeping the country in the World Group for 2010 by besting Ukraine 3-2. And that came despite Belgium losing it’s number one player with an injury just hours before the Davis Cup Playoff began. Olivier Rochus withdrew with a leg injury, but his brother Christophe Rochus joined with Steve Darcis to help Belgium beat Ukraine.

SETTLED SUIT

Zina Garrison has settled the racial discrimination suit she brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA). A deal was signed on August 27, although its terms were not disclosed. A former Fed Cup captain, Garrison filed her lawsuit in February, saying she was unfairly treated, paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe while being held to higher standards. As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, at the time becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson to play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final. She became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup team when she replaced Billie Jean King in 2004. Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA is happy the case was resolved and looks forward to working with Garrison in the future.

STOP RIGHT NOW

Martina Hingis should stick to tennis and stay away from dancing, at least according to the British public. Hingis became the first celebrity to be ousted from the new BBBC reality talent show, “Strictly Come Dancing.” It’s England’s answer to the American TV show “Dancing With The Stars.” Hingis and her partner Matthew Cutler were in the bottom two when phone votes were added to the judges’ score. They then lost a dance-off against policeman-turned-crime-presenter Rav Wilding and his partner Aliona Vilani. Two years ago, Cutler teamed with Alesha Dixon to win the competition. This year, Dixon, a singer, is a judge on the show.

SERENA SPEAKS

Admitting she lost her cool, Serena Williams has issued an apology for her outburst towards a line judge in her women’s singles final at the US Open. “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately,” Williams said. “I want to sincerely apologize first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the US Tennis Association and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” The line judge had called a foot fault on Williams on her second serve, giving Clijsters match point. William, who already had been handed a code violation for racquet abuse, unleashed a tirade towards the line judge, briefly walked away, and then returned for another blast at the official. When chair umpire Louise Engzell asked the line judge what had been said, she called for the tournament referee Brian Earley and eventually ordered a point penalty, the next level of punishment under the code. That gave the match to Clijsters. Williams was fined USD $10,000 for the infraction, and was further penalized USD $500 for the racquet abuse.

SPEAK YE NOT

Saying the “magic” word cost Roger Federer a USD $1,500 fine at the US Open. The Swiss superstar was fined for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the US Open final. Television microphones picked up the naughty word during the live broadcast of the match. Tournament spokesman said Federer was fined the same amount as two other players – Vera Zvonareva and Daniel Koellerer – for audible obscenities. Daniel Nestor was fined USD $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan, but the big loser at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was Serena Williams, who was docked USD $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. She also was fined USD $500 for racket abuse.

SUCCESS

Melinda Czink is finally a winner on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The left-hander from Hungary beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to capture the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. Playing in her second career final, it was Czink’s first title. “It feels great. I haven’t really processed it year, but I will,” she said. Czink’s first final was somewhat historic. She lost to Ana Ivanovic in the final round of qualifying in Canberra, Australia, in 2005, gained entry into the main draw as a “lucky loser,” then met and lost to Ivanovic in the final, the only known time that has happened.

SAYS YOU, SAYS ME

India has two of the world’s best doubles players. Both are now sidelined with injuries. Leander Paes pulled out of India’s Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against South Africa because of an injury he sustained during the US Open, where he won the doubles title with Lucas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and reached the mixed doubles final with Cara Black of Zimbabwe. Mahesh Bhupathi, who lost the men’s doubles with his partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, suffered a groin injury during the Davis Cup doubles. The injury forced the Indian doubles team to retire, giving South Africa its lone point in the tie.

SOME KIND OF PROBLEM

Albert Costa has a problem every Davis Cup captain would love to have. Costa has been Spain’s Davis Cup captain for just nine months, but already he faces several decisions that could make him unpopular with several players and their supporters. Costa’s team just swept past Israel 4-1 to return to the final to defend their Davis Cup title. This time they will take on the Czech Republic, which beat Croatia. Costa’s problem. His top two players missed the Israeli tie because of injuries. Does he now name the players who took Spain to the final or go with the two missing players – second ranked Rafael Nadal and ninth-ranked Fernando Verdasco. Of course, there may be no problem. Although injured, both Nadal and Verdasco sat through all three live rubbers on Friday and Saturday, cheering on their compatriots.

SEATS ARE FREE

Admittance to next week’s Vogue Athens Open will be free. The organizers Liberis Publications and Hellenic Tennis Federation decided to open the doors to the public for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that will be played on the same courts where five years ago the Athens Olympic Games were held. The decision was also made because of the large capacity at the Olympic Tennis Center. All seats are available to anyone, beginning with the qualifying all the way through the final, which will be played on October 4.

STAYING HOME

Juan Martin del Potro’s five-set upset of five-time defending champion Roger Federer had the fans at home turning on their television sets. The men’s final, which was postponed because of rain to Monday, drew a 2.3 rating and 5 share on CBS. That’s up 35 percent from the 2008 final, which was also played on Monday because of rain delays. That was when Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets. Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Things at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are normal. The US Open set an attendance record this year, just as it has done every year. This year’s attendance was 721,059, slightly more than the previous record of 720,227 set last year. The tournament also set a Week One attendance record of 423,427, including a single-day high of 61,554 for the combined day and night sessions on the first Friday.

SPONSOR

Remember Melanie Oudin, the 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Well, she has signed on to be a pitch woman for AirTran Airways Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based company. Oudin became the youngest woman to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams did it in 1999. Oudin had victories over fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva, 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova. The youngster is currently ranked 44th in the world and is the third-highest ranked American woman, behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams. AirTran, a low-cost airline, recently took over as the official airline of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Guangzhou: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Kimiko Date Krumm and Sun Tiantian 3-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Quebec City: Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Sofia Arvidsson and Severine Bremond Beltrame 6-1 6-3

Szczecin: Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk beat Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. and Artem Smirnov 6-3 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Bucharest: www.bcropenromania.ro/

Metz: www.openmoselle.com

Hansol: www.hansolopen.com

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.org

Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay

$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

WTA

$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard

$608,500 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: Did I hear the baby? My grandmother in Russia heard the baby

STARS

Juan Martin del Potro beat Andy Roddick 3-6 7-5 7-6 (6) to win the Legg Mason Tennis Classic title in Washington, DC, USA

Flavia Pennetta beat Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-3 to win the LA Women’s Tennis Championships in Los Angeles, California, USA

Feliciano Lopez won the ATP Open Castilla y Leon in Segovia, Spain, defeating Adrian Mannarino 6-3 6-4

Andreas Seppi beat Potito Starace 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-4 to win the San Marino CEPU Open in San Marino

Marcos Baghdatis beat Xavier Malisse 6-4 6-4 to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open men’s singles in Vancouver, Canada

Stephanie Dubois beat Sania Mirza 1-6 6-4 6-4 to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open women’s singles in Vancouver, Canada

SAYING

“We play until the tiebreaker, and then I did the best service of my life.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who hit five of his 19 aces in the tiebreaker to beat Andy Roddick and win his second straight Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

“I kind of forced him to play high-risk tennis, especially with the heat. He was taking big cuts, especially for the last 30, 45 minutes we were out there, and he was connecting.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the final at Washington, DC.

“Every match I improved. I had a great chance in the second set and I took it, that’s why I won.” – Flavia Pennetta, who won the LA Women’s Tennis Championships.

“My whole career I’ve been trying to get to this point. It kind of looks like I’ve done it late, but I don’t worry too much about that. I took a little longer to develop.” – Samantha Stosur, after reaching the final of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships.

“I don’t have fear if I miss that important point. If you don’t take a risk, you don’t gain.” – Fernando Gonzalez, after beating Tommy Haas at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

“Did I hear the baby? My grandmother in Russia heard the baby.” – Maria Sharapova, after a baby started crying in the first set of her 6-4 (4) 6-4 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka at the LA Women’s Tennis Championships.

“I have to give him a lot of credit. He helped turn my mind around. I’m no longer looking at tennis as a matter of life and death.” – Philip Bester of Canada, speaking about his several sessions with sports psychologist Jim Loehr.

”I realized how much I missed it and how it made me sharper, and, in some ways, more focused. Then I realized I wanted it back.” – Ana Ivanovic, talking about the pressure of being number one in the world.

“Maybe some people think it’s too crazy, but I’m enjoying a lot. For me it’s not only for the ranking or always to win the tournament. It’s just to enjoy life.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, on returning to the WTA Tour after her 12-year retirement.

SECONDING THE CALL

After battling through 14 points in the final-set tiebreaker, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro waited at the net for the replay to tell them if their match was over. Del Potro appeared to win the match with a crosscourt forehand winner, but Roddick challenged the call. “I actually thought it might have been out, and I asked him and he said it might have been out,” Roddick said. “So imagine the disappointment when it wasn’t.” The disappointment was all Roddick’s as del Potro won his second straight Legg Mason Tennis Classic title in Washington, DC, edging Roddick 3-6 7-5 7-6 (6).

STRIKING BACK

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has appealed a ruling that essentially cleared Richard Gasquet, who said he inadvertently took cocaine by kissing a woman in a nightclub. The ITF is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after an independent tribunal decided to exonerate Gasquet for a positive cocaine test. The Frenchman was allowed to resume playing after serving a 2½-month retroactive ban. The ITF is seeking a two-year ban under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s code.

SKIPPING SUSPENSION

Tamira Paszek will not be suspended while officials investigate whether medical treatment the Austrian tennis player received for a back injury violated doping regulations. The disciplinary committee of Austria’s anti-doping agency said Paszek can continue to play on the WTA Tour until a verdict is reached in about seven weeks. Last month Paszek had blood taken for homeopathic enrichment, and then re-injected into her lower back. Re-injecting one’s own blood is banned under international anti-doping rules. It was Paszek herself who alerted the doping agency when she learned that her treatment may have been illegal. She hasn’t played a match since retiring in the first round of Wimbledon in June.

SPARKLING MARK

Andy Roddick reached another milestone at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC. When the Wimbledon finalist beat fellow American Sam Querrey in a third-round match, it was his 500th career match victory, making Roddick only the fourth active player and the 36th in the Open Era to win 500 matches. Roger Federer – no surprise there – leads the active players with 657 match wins, while Carlos Moya has 573 and Lleyton Hewitt 511.

SODERLING STOPPED

An elbow injury did what an opponent couldn’t at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC. An injury to his right elbow forced Sweden’s Robin Soderling to withdraw from his quarterfinal match against second-seeded Juan Martin del Potro. Soderling reached the French Open final this year, losing to Roger Federer, then won the Swedish Open in Bastad, Sweden, in his last two tournaments.

SQUEEZE PLAY

After years of paying on consecutive weeks, men and women will compete for the Rogers Cup at the same time but in separate Canadian cities. The men and women take turns playing one year in Montreal, then the next in Toronto. This year, the men will play in Stade Uniprix at Jarry Park in Montreal this week; the women will play at Rexall Centre at York University in Toronto next week. But because of increased international pressure for more combined men’s and women’s tournaments, Tennis Canada will squeeze its two marquee events into the same week beginning in 2011. That’s the only way the Rogers Cup can be played three weeks before the US Open, the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Despite the two tours playing in separate cities, Tennis Canada will be calling it the world’s first “virtually-combined” tournament, melding the two events into one through the medium of television.

SINGLES WINNER

On her way to the court to play for the title, Stephanie Dubois noticed the photos of the previous winners of the Vancouver Open. “I visualized myself on that wall with the others,” said Dubois, a native of Quebec, Canada. “I worked very hard for this.” The 22-year-old Dubois made sure her picture will be added to the “winners’ wall” when she became the first Canadian to capture the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open women’s singles title by beating India’s Sania Mirza 1-6 6-4 6-4. The winner didn’t hold serve until 3-2 in the second set, then knotted the match at one set apiece when she cashed in on her sixth set point. “I’m very happy to have won,” Dubois said. “I came here with that objective.”

SWEETING FINED

When he suffered a second-round loss at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Ryan Sweeting had a few choice words to say to the chair umpire. The officials weren’t impressed by his choice of words and instead fined Sweeting USD $1,500 for verbal abuse of a chair umpire. The young American made his expensive speech after losing to Canada’s Philip Bester 6-4 6-3.

SIGN UP, PLEASE

Two tennis stars, Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza, have asked cricketers in India to sign the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code despite apprehension about the “whereabout” clause. “Lots of the tennis players had apprehensions early but we are all doing it,” Bhupathi said. The disputed clause makes it mandatory for athletes to disclose their whereabouts three months in advance. Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are two tennis stars who are the most vociferous critics of the clause, but both have signed it. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) supports its players and has asked the International Cricket Council, a WADA signatory, to explore the possibility of having an anti-doping agency of its own. “It would not be fair to all the other sports and sportsmen of the world to make exceptions to WADA’s rules, and I’m sure any doubts that the cricketers have can be sorted out amicably through consensus before they sign on the dotted line,” Sania said.

SWISS DOUBLES

Roger Federer posted the first public photo of his twin daughters on the Internet. The Swiss tennis star wrote below the photo on his Facebook account that the girls and mother are “doing great,” and thanks friends and fans for their wishes. Federer and his wife Mirka are each holding a baby in the picture. Charlene Riva and Myla Rose were born July 23. Federer said the photo was taken by his father.

SPECIAL HONOR

Jane Brown Grimes and John Reese are the 2009 recipients of the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHFM) Chairman’s Award, which recognizes outstanding service by a board member. Brown Grimes opened the ITHFM’s New York office in 1977 and became the Hall of Fame’s executive director in 1981. In 1986 she became managing director of the Women’s Tennis Council, then returned to the Hall of Fame as its president and CEO in 1991, serving until 2000. A board member since 1983, Reese became executive vice president of the Hall of Fame board and later served in a number of positions, including president and CEO, chairman and CEO, and chairman of the executive committee. In 1998, Reese was inducted into the United States Tennis Association’s Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame.

SPOT CLINCHED

Dinara Safina is the first player to clinch a spot in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held October 27-November 1 at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams from the 2009 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour will compete for the year-ending title and a share of the record Championships prize money of USD $4.45 million. It will be Safina’s second trip to the Championships, having made her debut a year ago. The Russian reached the world number one ranking on April 20. Her 16-match winning streak is the best on the WTA Tour this season. She also has reached the final of the Australian Open and Roland Garros, while gaining a semifinal berth at Wimbledon. “Qualifying for the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships is one of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year,” Safina said. “I’ve accomplished a lot of milestones this season and am thrilled to be the first to qualify for the Championships.”

STAR JUNIORS

The United States became the first nation to win three straight World Junior Tennis titles when the 14-and-under girls beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the final held in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Aneta Dvorakova beat Victoria Duval of Delray Beach, Florida, to begin the title competition. After Sachia Vickery of Miramar, Florida, beat Petra Rohanova 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-2 of knot the tie at one match each, the American doubles team of Duval and Vickery beat Dvorakova and Rohanova 6-2 6-7 (4) 6-1 to clinch the crown. Also on the winning team was Brooke Austin of Indianapolis, Indiana.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Washington: Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-5 7-6 (3)

Los Angeles: Chuang Chia-Jung and Yan Zi beat Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Segovia: Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Sergiy Stakhovsky and Lovro Zovko 6-7 (4) 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)

San Marino: Lucas Arnold Ker and Sebastian Prieto beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (4) 2-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Vancouver (men): Kevin Anderson and Rik De Voest beat Ramon Delgado and Kaes Van’t Hof 6-4 6-4

Vancouver (women): Ahsha Rolle and Riza Zalameda beat Madison Brengle and Lilia Osterloh 6-4 6-3

SITES TO SURF

Montreal: http://www3.rogerscup.com/men/english/home.php

Cincinnati: www.cincytennis.com/

Cordenons: www.euro-sporting.it/challenger/

Toronto: www.rogerscup.com/

Algarve: www.atpchampionstour.com/

Newport: www.championsseriestennis.com/newport2009/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$3,000,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal, Canada, hard

$120,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Guilia Tennis Cup Cordenons, Italy, clay

WTA

$2,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard

SENIORS

Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Algarve, Portugal, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$3,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Rogers Cup, Toronto, Canada, hard

SENIORS

International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass

Mondays With Bob Greene: I probably can win a Grand Slam

STARS

Gilles Simon won the BCR Open Romania title by beating Carlos Moya 6-3 6-4 in Bucharest, Romania

Patty Schnyder beat Tamira Paszek 6-3 6-0 to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in Bali, Indonesia

Nicolas Mahut beat Christophe Rochus 5-7 6-1 7-6 (2) to win the Open d’Orleans in Orleans, France

Lourdes Dominguez-Lino beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 in Athens, Greece, to win the Vogue Athens Open 2008

SAYINGS

“I have the belief right now that I can do it as long as I’m healthy, really. That’s the way I feel. I’m going to believe till the end of my tennis days that I probably can win a Grand Slam. And if it’s not the case, or I don’t believe in it anymore, then I’ll probably retire.” – Roger Federer.

“It’s the end of the year, it’s the last Grand Slam. He didn’t have a bad year, but for his standards, not as good as he would have liked. It’s a great thing going into next year. It gives him a lot of hope to get ready for next season, and I think it’s a great feeling for him.” – Jose Higueras, on Roger Federer winning the US Open.

“These days I feel like my opponents have to play really well to beat me. … I felt good on court and I’m happy about the result. It’s nice to defend the title here in Bucharest.” – Gilles Simon.

“I am having my best season ever and qualifying for (Tennis Masters Cup) Shanghai is a great reward. It was one of my goals at the beginning of 2008 and I look forward to competing there for the first time.” – Andy Murray, the first Briton to qualify for the season-ending tournament since Tim Henman in 2004.

“It wasn’t one of my goals at the beginning of the season, but of course it would be very nice if I made it.” – Gilles Simon, on the possibility of him qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China.

“This is kind of a surprise for us,” confessed Nicolas Devilder. “We came here focusing on our singles matches and end up winning the doubles. It feels great to win the title here.” – Nicolas Devilder, after teaming with Paul-Henri Mathieu to win the doubles in Bucharest, Romania.

“It’s not the easiest tie to start off your Davis Cup career with. I would probably prefer a home tie on hard court. To jump in there against Spain in the semifinals, in a way though it’s a nice introduction to the Davis Cup. It will be tough.” – Sam Querrey, who will make his United States Davis Cup debut against Spain on clay.

“I always felt I could be number one if I put in the effort. It’s been great. I enjoyed the journey because it wasn’t overnight, and life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Serena Williams, who won the US Open women’s singles.

“Missing the U.S. Open and the Olympics was really tough for her, but she’s resolved not to try to work through the pain. She’s not coming back until the problem is corrected.” – Agent Max Eisenbud, on Maria Sharapova’s rehabilitation schedule.

“The ATP has now exhausted all avenues of inquiry open to it and the investigation is now concluded.” – The ATP in announcing it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Nikolay Davydenko and has ended its investigation of a match he lost in August 2007.

“The site on which we bet a few euros didn’t have the right to reveal that data because it was prior to the agreement made with the various sporting associations. And the ATP was not allowed to make public other information, like the bets on football and other sports. We’ll go all the way to the highest court.” – Giorgio Galimberti, one of four Italian players given suspensions by the ATP for betting on matches, saying they intend to sue the ATP for violation of privacy.

STREAKING RUSSIANS

With 4-0 clobbering of Spain, Russia won its second straight Fed Cup title and its fourth international women’s team championship in the last five years. Playing on clay in Madrid, Vera Zvonareva beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-4, Svetlana Kuznetsova stopped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-1 before beating Medina Garrigues 5-7 6-3 6-4, and Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina teamed up to down Spain’s Nuria Llagostera Vives and Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-1. Since the best-of-5 tie was already decided, the fourth singles match was not played.

SOME BATTLE

Frenchmen Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu won three fewer points than their opponents, but outlasted top-seeded Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak) to win the BCR Open Romania doubles in Bucharest. It was their first team title. In fact, they had never won a match in their two previous tournaments, and it was the first ATP doubles title for both players. The winners saved six match points before finally winning on their tenth match point. Besides beating the top-seeded Polish team, Devilder and Mathieu also knocked off the third-seeded team as well as the 2005 champions.

SWISS MISS

When Patty Schnyder won the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in her third attempt, she reached several milestones. It was the Swiss left-hander’s 500th singles victory of her career and her eleventh title, her last one coming in Cincinnati in July 2005. Since that win, Schnyder had lost seven straight finals before defeating 17-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3 6-0 in Bali, Indonesia.

SHANGHAI BOUND

By reaching the US Open final, Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which will be held at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium in November. Murray, who reached his first Grand Slam tournament final before running into Roger Federer, joins the elite eight-man field that already includes Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram became the third team to qualify for the eight-team doubles event in Shanghai.

SOMETHING NEW

The Bali Classic is being transformed next year into a real Tournament of Champions. That will be the new name for the Indonesian event, which will see increased prize money from USD $225,000 to $600,00, plus a possibility of a USD $1 million bonus. Next year’s tournament will be played indoors from November 4-8 at the Bali International Convention Centre with 12 players in four round-robin groups. It will be open only to players who have won at least one of the season-long International Series events, a series of 30 tournaments played in Australia, Asia, north Africa, the Americas and Europe. The top ten WTA Tour players who have won at least one International Series tournaments and are not participating in the year-end championships in Doha, Qatar, will qualify, along with two wild cards. A player who wins three International Series events and the Tournament of Champions will collect an additional USD $1 million bonus.

SINGLES SHIFT

There were some major shifts in the top ten of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles rankings following the US Open, led by Serena Williams taking over the top spot with her winning the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Williams is the fourth player to take over the number one spot since Justine Henin retired in May. Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina took over as the top two Russians, Dementieva moving from number six to number four, while safina moved up two spots to number five after both were semifinalists in New York. US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic is second and her Serbian countrywoman Ana Ivanovic is third.

SINO COOPERATION

Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai of China teamed up to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic doubles title in Bali, Indonesia, rallying from the brink of defeat to down Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova. The losers held three match points on Petrova’s serve at 5-4 in the second set only to hae Hsieh and Peng come away with a 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak) victory. The win was the first for the team. “I’m really happy to win with my partner,” Peng said. “We have been good friends for eight years now and she’s always been helping me and giving me advice, so to share this with her, it really doesn’t get any better than this.”

SALUTE

Dennis Van der Meer and the late Howard Head are the first two inductees into the new Tennis Industry Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by the Tennis Industry Association at a special reception honoring the two men and their contributions to the sport of tennis. Van der Meer founded the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), based in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 1976 to certify tennis teaching professionals. He also has coached world-class players on both the women’s and men’s professional tours. Howard Head first transformed the ski industry in the late 1940s when he designed a new type of ski that combined metal, plastic and plywood that was more durable, lighter and easier to turn. In 1969, he designed a metal racquet. He then joined Prince Manufacturing, where he helped redesign and improve a tennis ball machine, then later designed and patented a racquet with a 20 percent larger head.

SHARAPOVA TO RETURN

Maria Sharapova hopes to begin her comeback the second week in January when she plays an exhibition event in Hong Kong. She hopes to follow that by defending her title at the Australian Open. Sharapova, who missed the Olympics and the US Open because of a shoulder injury, has been in Phoenix, Arizona, for the last month working with fitness trainer Brett Fischer, who is working to strengthen the area around the torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder. No surgery is indicated and Sharapova’s doctors have described the tear as “very moderate.” Sharapova hasn’t played since retiring from a second-round match against Ai Sugiyama at the Canadian Open in early August.

SPANISH CAPTAIN

Miguel Margets, captain of the Spanish Fed Cup team, has been given the 2008 Fed Cup Award of Excellence by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF). Francesco Ricci Bitti, ITF president, and 1984 International Tennis Hall of Famer Manolo Santana presented the award to Margets during the Fed Cup World Group final in Madrid, Spain. Miguel has captained four Spanish teams to Fed Cup championships. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence, which was inaugurated by the ITHF and the ITF in 2001, is presented to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Fed Cup competition and must be a member of a past or present Fed Cup team.

SISTERS TO AFRICA

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are scheduled to visit Nigeria in November in what reportedly will be their first joint visit to Africa. Godwin Kienka, who runs the International Tennis Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, and publishes a tennis magazine – Tennis Africa – said the sisters will be accompanied by their mother Oracene as well as sister and manager Isha Price, trainers and other staffers. Kienka said Venus and Serena would play an exhibition and run a clinic. It will be Venus’ first visit to Africa, whereas Serena has been to Ghana and Senegal.

SAM TO THE RESCUE

Sam Querrey will make his Davis Cup debut when the United States travels to Madrid, Spain, for a semifinal. United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said Querrey is replacing James Blake, who McEnroe said, is “physically and mentally exhausted.” Querrey won his first ATP title in March, reached the quarterfinals on clay at Monte Carlo, and reached the fourth round of the US Open earlier this month. Other members of the American squad are Andy Roddick and the doubles team of brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The world’s number one player, Rafael Nadal, leads the Spanish squad.

SERENA, THE WRITER

Serena Williams is reportedly planning to write her memoir. Publishing industry sources report the nine-time Grand Slam tournament champion could be close to signing a USD $1 million dollar book deal. The news of a pending Williams autobiography was initially reported by Matthew Flamm, a senior reporter at Crain’s New York.com.

SWEPT CLEAN

After a year-long investigation into suspicious betting patterns, Russian star Nikolay Davydenko has been cleared by the ATP. The governing body of men’s tennis said it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Davydenko, his opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, or anyone else associated with their match in Sopot, Poland, on August 2, 2007. Then ranked number five in the world, Davydenko, citing a foot injury, retired in the third set of his match against the 87th-ranked Vassallo.

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SUING ATP

Four Italian tennis players banned for betting on matches are planning on suing the ATP Tour for violation of privacy over its handling of their cases. The ATP handed Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali, Federico Luzzi and Giorgio Galimberti bans ranging from six weeks to 200 days between December 2007 and February this year. Galimberti told La Gazzetta dello Sport that a Miami law firm “will defend us for violation of privacy.” He also said the four were planning on suing the betting agency that gave the ATP the information about their wagers. Galimberti said another Italian player, Alessio di Mauro, who was banned for nine months for betting, is not taking part in the legal action.

SOME HISTORY

The Vogue Athens Open ITF women’s tournament was played on hallowed ground. It was the first USD $100,000 ITF women’s circuit event to be held in Greece and included eight players ranked in the WTA Tour’s top 100. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain won the singles, beating Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 at the Athens Lawn Tennis Club next to the famed Temple of Olympian Zeus. The 109-year-old tennis club, the largest and oldest in Greece, also was the site for the tennis event at the first Olympic Games in 1896. Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties also have been played at the club.

SPONSOR

Turismo Madrid has become an international sponsor of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the three-year sponsorship began with the 2008 Fed Cup final between Russia and Spain held at the Club de Campo in Madrid, Spain. Turismo Madrid is the tourism arm of the region of Madrid with the aim to attract international visitors not only to its capital city Madrid, but also to the many cultural, leisure and entertainment activities within the region.

SPOTLIGHT

Dr. Dharmendran Navaratnam, the tournament physician in Bali, Indonesia, has been awarded the Dr. Glick Award by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The award is named for Irving Glick, who was chief medical officer at the US Open for more than 20 years. Dr. Glick founded and chaired the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the USTA, served on the Medical Commission for the ITF, was the science coordinator for Tennis Sports Medicine at the Olympics, and was the ITF medical representative to the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics.

SPA AND ACADEMY

Jimmy Connors has made his first trip to India where a tennis academy named for the tennis great is being set up. Club Solaris, which has a chain of fitness centers, is developing the Jimmy Connors Tennis Academy at a 250-300 acre resort spa located between Pune, Mumbai and Goa. The facility will include 100 villas.

SUPER SHOW

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) says the 2008 tournament was the biggest and most successful US Open in its 40-year history as revenue, attendance, website traffic, and concession sales hit all-time highs. More than 720,000 fans attended the 15-day event, topping last year’s record as Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold to a record 99 percent of capacity for the first time, with 23 of 26 sessions sold out. The US Open remains the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world.

SHE’S BACK

Anna Kournikova will compete in mixed doubles exhibition matches at The Stanford Championships, a stop on the Outback Champions Series circuit which will be played October 22-26 in Dallas, Texas. Once ranked in the top ten in the world, Kournikova will play during both the day and night sessions on Saturday, October 25.

SETS AN ASIAN TOUR

The Asian Tennis Federation has unveiled plans for a new tour to boost players from Asia, but is quick to insist it is not in competition with the ATP tour. Anil Khanna, president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), says the sole objective is to provide opportunities for Asian players to earn more money and win wild-cards for ATP events. The Asian Tour will feature 12 tournaments in different cities in Asia and will have minimum prize money of USD $50,000. The tour will begin in New Delhi, India, in December with an Asian Championship and will culminate with an eight-player Masters tournament offering prize money of USD $300,000. Khanna said the winner of the Asian Championship will be given a wild card into the ATP Qatar Open.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Bucharest: Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak)

Orleans: Sergiy Stakhovsky and Lovro Zovko beat Jean-Claude Scherrer and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (7) 6-4

Bali: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Athens: Sorana Cirstea and Galina Voskoboeva beat Kristina Barrois and Julia Schruff 6-2 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Tokyo: www.toray-ppo.co.jp

Guangzhou: www.qztennis.com

Szczecin: www.pekaoopen.pl

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Beijing: www.chinaopen.com.cn

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.com

Paris: www.tropheejeanluclagardere.com

Luxembourg: www.covadis.be/viviumchallenge

Charlotte: http://championsseriestennis.com/charlotte2008/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

$100,000 ITF Tournament, Sofia, Bulgaria, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Paris, France, clay

DAVIS CUP

(September 19-21)

World Group Semifinals

Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay

World Group Playoffs

Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay

Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass

Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard

Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard

Israel vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay

Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay

Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group I

Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay

Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group II

Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay

Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$576,000 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

$524,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$120,000 ATP Challenger Trophy, Trnava, Slovakia

WTA TOUR

$600,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$145,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

SENIORS

The Citadel Group Championships at the Palisades, Outback Champions, Charlotte, North Carolina, hard

Viviam Victory Challenge, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, hard