The Olympics have tried, rather unsuccessfully, to compete with the Grand Slams, this despite the fact that Tennis is an original Olympic Sport. While everyone loves Olympic gold medals, Trophy silverware has always been far more prestigious. As such it is hardly surprising that the best tennis players are not particularly enthused by the idea of playing in the Olympics, with online tennis betting odds firmly in the favor of the annual quartet of majors.
Players like Milos Raonic, Tomas Berdych, and Feliciano Lopez have already announced that they won’t be flying to Rio for the Olympics. Maria Sharapova (Five-time Grand Slam winner) has suggested that she would go if her two-year-long drug ban wasn’t in place.
While the London games managed to maintain an aura of the Grand Slams, probably because they were staged on Wimbledon Courts, the Game in Rio couldn’t possibly muster such prestige.
The controversy surrounding the Zika virus outbreak gives a lot of athletes the excuse the need to bail from the Olympics. Though, Sam Querrey chose to go the honest route, admitting that he didn’t think sports like Golf and Tennis should be Olympic Sports in the first place.
Martina Navratilova said something similar when she opted out of Seoul, though John McEnroe admitted later on that he regretted bailing on the Seoul Olympics.
The only thing most top-tier players can see right now is the U.S Open at the Flushing Meadows, fast approaching at the end of August. For those most renowned Tennis players, the Rio games have nothing to offer, no better than all-star games, especially when you consider the potential for injury.
Of course, not everyone is so jaded about the sport, with the likes of Andre Agassi (who won gold in 1996) having been stirred by the spectacle of the biggest show on earth. Olympics fans might also have the opportunity to see Rafael Nadal represent Spain in Rio, though others might mourn over Roger Federer’s decision to withdraw.
But Federer needs to time to recover from a surgical procedure, so his decision doesn’t exactly say anything about his opinion on the Olympics. Andy Murray, on the other hand, has seen success at the Olympics and he will seek to maintain the momentum he built four years ago.
Murray believes that Tennis is definitely an Olympic sport and he has admitted to cherishing every moment he spent on the court during the London Games.
For Djokovic, the idea of not going to the Olympics is ridiculous, the Tennis superstar determining to redeem his previous Olympics failures in Rio. Despite the lack of interest amongst elite players from a number of countries, the United States is putting their best foot forward, sending a team of 12 to the Olympics led by the Williams sisters.
The Sisters have tasted success at the Olympics before and they would like to win every medal possible for their nation this time round. There are several other major players who have refused to allow Zika Virus fears to keep them away from Rio, the likes of Eugene Bouchard, Angelique Kerber, and Petra Kvitova determining to afford the Olympic games the respect they deserve.
“On This Day In Tennis History,“ the popular tennis book, ebook and mobile app, is now also available as an audio book. The calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis is now available in audio form via Audible.com and can be purchased here on Amazon.com: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day/dp/B0178PCQH4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449508067&sr=8-1 The narrator is Tiffany Bobertz, a theatre production veteran graduate of Augustana College and resident of Tempe, Arizona. The audio version is available for sale for $26.21 or $14.95 with an Audible.com membership.
The popular mobile app version of the book is available for $2.99 at www.TennisHistoryApp.com. The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:
“On This Day In Tennis History,” compiled by Randy Walker, is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Don Budge, Maria Sharapova, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
“On This Day In Tennis History” is published by New Chapter Press while the mobile app was designed and developed in conjunction with Miki Singh, founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Fans can follow the app on social media at Twitter.com/ThisDayInTennis and facebook.com/thisdayintennis.
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest—and most quirky—moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “The 87 Rules For College” by Jacob Shore and Drew Moffitt, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.
NEW YORK – “On This Day In Tennis History,” the book and mobile app that documents daily anniversaries of historic and unusual events in tennis history, is now available as an electronic Kindle download. The new electronic version – and the mobile app – have been updated with recent tennis happenings into 2014.
The Kindle edition of the compilation is available for $7.99 here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day-ebook/dp/B00JQDZ43U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1402513835 The mobile app is available for $1.99 in both Apple’s AppStore and the Google Play Store at www.TennisHistoryApp.com.
“On This Day In Tennis History” provides fans with a fun and fact-filled calendar-like compilation of historical and unique tennis anniversaries, events and tennis happenings for every day of the year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries in this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, birthdays and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings.
The mobile app is easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details featuring captivating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras among many others.
Features of the “This Day In Tennis History” app include:
• Easily browse daily anecdotes and facts
• View birthdays for top legends and current players
• Tweet and email options makes sharing a breeze
• Set up daily reminders
• Quickly search the archive by player
• Save your favorite entries
• No internet connection needed
• Entries will be updated periodically
“On This Day In Tennis History” was created by Randy Walker, the former USTA press officer now the managing partner of New Chapter Media (www.NewChapterMedia.com) and developed and designed by Miki Singh, the former ATP Tour press officer and the founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Most of the content in the app was originally published in Walker’s hard copy book “On This Day In Tennis History” ($19.95, available here on Amazon.com http://m1e.net/c?96279190-.PAh92abybkPc%4018743019-Kel6bOgMLp6Qc published by New Chapter Press.
Said Tennis Hall of Famer and current U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis.” Tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of the book “Jimmy Connors Saved My Life,” called the book compilation “an addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients.”
The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion, The Full Extraordinary Story“ by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.
Coco Vandeweghe on her pre-match rituals, her U.S. Open debut, and wanting to party with Novak Djokovic
WASHINGTON, D.C. — American Coco Vandeweghe, who shot up 50 spots in the the WTA Tour rankings after reaching the Stanford final three weeks ago, is in action this week at the Citi Open. After receiving the tournament’s last wildcard and her highest career seeding, Vandeweghe finds herself in the quarterfinals with fellow American Vania King as her next opponent.
I had a chance to chat with the rising star and she cheerfully reminisced about her greatest on-court moment, admitted she would want to party with Novak Djokovic, and disclosed some funny pre-match rituals she has.
What is your most memorable moment in your career?
Playing on opening night in Arthur Ashe stadium against Jelena Jankovic when she was no. 1 in the world, and I was 16 years old.
What would you do if you weren’t a tennis player?
I would be in college – playing basketball, probably.
If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?
I’d want to play against a couple: Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, and Martina Navratilova because they’re all great players. I’ve looked up to Lindsay for a long time and she’s been a great friend, and so has Chris Evert.
If you were hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite and why?
I would invite my coach who is an ex-tennis play, Jan-Michael Gambill, Irina Falconi who is a great friend of mine on the WTA Tour, and Novak Djokovic because he’s seems like a lot of fun. [Laughs]
What are two things you couldn’t live without?
Music and probably my family.
What do you to get ready in the day before a match?
I enjoy my sleep. [Smiles] And then I have my own little rituals and different tedious things that I do, like tying my left shoe before my right shoe.
If you could invite any three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be?
I would invite my grandmother who died two years ago – pretty much just family members, my grandfather, my mom, my family.
No famous people?
No, probably not. [Laughs]
If you were given a camera crew and unlimited access to the WTA Tour, what would you want to show the public about pro tennis?
Just how fun the women’s tour is. We have great personalities, but we do dumb stuff sometimes. Even myself – dumb little fights like with the airline attendant, and me trying to sneak my tennis bag onto the airplane without trying to check it because it’s a pain in the butt! There’s a lot of fun stuff on Tour, and I would want to capture that.
By Maud Watson
Victoria Azarenka managed to find a way to come back from the brink of defeat in her fourth round match against Dominika Cibulkova (thanks in large part to a choke job by the Slovak), but she couldn’t pull off the feat twice. The Belarusian crumbled under the relentless pressure of the penetrating groundstrokes coming off the racquet of Marion Bartoli to suffer her first defeat of 2012. There’s no shame in the loss. Bartoli has collected several big wins and is ranked number seven, but it was evident by the way Azarenka handled herself at the end that this was one of the toughest losses of her career. Still, I like Azarenka’s chances of making a quick mental recovery and continuing to be the player to beat throughout the course of the season. She’s matured and improved her game too much not to, and in the long run, the fact that the pressure of extending the unbeaten streak is over should only help her cause heading into the French.
Finding a Balance
So it was a just quarterfinal match at a premiere event, and she did fall to Sharapova in the semis. But the win Wozniacki posted over Serena Williams earlier this week in Miami was just what the doctor ordered to get her back on track and infuse her and her fans with the belief that she may have what it takes to win a major. And contrary to Serena’s assessment of herself, she didn’t play poorly. She posted typical Serena numbers with 36 unforced errors that were nearly completely offset by her 34 winners. And while Wozniacki’s consistency played a large part in allowing her to weather the barrage of Williams, it was refreshing to see her adding a little more “oomph” to her groundies and serve. If she has in fact reconciled herself to the fact that she needs to beef up her game and take a few more risks, she could be well on her way to moving back towards the top and capturing that elusive major singles title.
Less than 24 hours after he had completed a huge breakthrough win by claiming just his third victory over Roger Federer, Andy Roddick found himself out of Miami in straight sets – including a second set bagel – to Juan Monaco. No offense to Monaco, who continues to enjoy a good run this week, but this was a bad loss for Roddick. It’s understandable that he’d be mentally and physically drained after the Federer match, especially since his injuries have hampered his ability to stay in shape. But what made the loss to Monaco so maddening was the way he lost it. Against Federer, it appeared Roddick had turned back the clock and finally returned to the brand of tennis that took him to the top. He was going after his shots, aggressively attacking the ball and taking it to Federer. Against Monaco, he reverted to playing it safer and hanging out well behind the baseline, even though his lack of fitness should have encouraged him to be even more aggressive in an attempt to shorten the points. For his sake and his fans’ sake, he needs to employ the tactics he did against Federer. Otherwise, that win against the Swiss will turn into a fluke instead of the turning it could be for the twilight of his career.
Where’s Petko when you need her? Following in the (two left) footsteps of Monica Seles, Martina Navratilova became the first competitor to be booted off of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars this past Tuesday night. Navratilova found herself at the bottom of the pack for two straight weeks, so it wasn’t unexpected. But in many ways, it was still sad to see her go. Clearly out of her comfort zone and at times struggling to remember the routine, you could see glimpses where she was enjoying herself and the challenge of trying something she’d never done before. It is a shame her journey had to come to such an early end, but no doubt she has been an inspiration to others to get out and try something they never thought they could.
Hobbling to the Finish
At this point, it would virtually be a more shocking news story if Kim Clijsters were healthy. It seems every week we’re hearing about a new injury for the Belgian No. 1, and this week was no exception. Clearly hampered in her loss to Wickmayer, it was later revealed that she has a tear in her hip muscle and will be out four weeks. Following the loss, rumors abounded that she was considering early retirement, and though she herself has put a stop to the rumors, I’m still not wholly convinced. With each injury setback, the desire to work at regaining her top form has to dwindle, and the fear factor she once had in the locker room is going to be all but non-existent come Roland Garros. Kim’s a great competitor and an even better person, but it will be a bigger surprise if she manages to nab just one of the three prizes that enticed her to return to the game than if she calls it a career before season’s end.
by Maud Watson
Pushing the Limits
In the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Severus Snape once said, “Well, it may have escaped your notice, but life isn’t fair.” Of course, Professor Snape was saying that to the Boy Who Lived, but it pretty much sums up what Dubai tournament officials told No. 1 Arab player Malek Jaziri (ranked No. 104) and the press, as they attempted to justify giving a disputed wildcard to Marko Djokovic (younger brother of Novak and ranked 869) instead. The uproar caused by the decision is only partially justifiable, and it’s most likely strictly due to the fact it involved the younger brother of the current No. 1. The Djokovic family did nothing wrong, having submitted the wildcard request at least a month ago. And as for Novak’s part in getting his brother the wildcard, he’s not the first star player to use his leverage. Many top tier players use their elite status to rake in huge appearance fees, and some, such as Hewitt and Clijsters, have also used leverage to garner wildcards for younger siblings. It’s also not uncommon for tournaments to weigh other factors over actual merit when doling out wildcards. How many French, American, and Australian players have benefited from the reciprocal major wildcard agreement between their home governing bodies that competitors from non-Slam nations can only dream of? And don’t get me started on the number of undeserving British players that have been handed a free pass to play on the most hallowed grounds in the sport. The real fault lies in how poorly tournament officials handled the situation. They previously told Jaziri he wouldn’t have to play the qualifying event only to pull the rug out from under him in the 11th hour by giving the wildcard to the younger Djokovic. Had it been handled more professionally, Jaziri may not have been as disgruntled. And yes, the extremely low ranking of Marko Djokovic does suggest officials were pushing the limits. Then again, had it been awarded to a local Arab player of the same ranking, would this even be a topic of discussion? I think not.
New Day, New Clay
Come April, France will look to do what Switzerland could not – defeat the United States Davis Cup team on clay. This time it will be an outdoor clay court set in picturesque Monte Carlo. But while the venue will serve as a beautiful locale, it’s still a surprising decision. French No. 1 Tsonga has already stated clay is not his best surface. A quicker hard court would help shorten the long rallies in which Monfils frequently finds himself entangled, not to mention better suit Llodra’s attacking style. The long short of it is that, barring injuries, these are going to be two evenly matched teams no matter what the surface, and the French need to avoid falling into a false sense of security. Playing the U.S. on the red dirt doesn’t mean what it did a decade or so ago.
Own Worst Enemy
Be it counting backwards from 10, taking a few deep breaths, or taking a page out of Frank Costanza’s book and yelling “Serenity now!” (risking insanity later), Tomas Berdych needs to find some way of letting the little things go. On a breakpoint for Berdych to extend the second set into a tiebreak, a Murray serve was initially called out, only to have Hawkeye reverse the call. Mohamed Lahyani then awarded the point to Murray rather than replaying it, infuriating Berdych in the process. It’s understandable that Berdych would rue letting the break point go, especially since he’d already saved multiple match points. But while he got his racquet on the serve, Lahyani was correct in his ruling. The initial out call in no way affected Berdych’s play on it, and yet, the Czech was still ranting about it in his press conference. But this isn’t the first time Berdych has failed to understand the rules and etiquette of the game, and sadly it probably won’t be the last. He needs to learn to stop sweating the small stuff. It doesn’t help his game any, and it certainly won’t win him any fans. With a game as big as his – a game that is capable of earning him a major – it would just be a waste to see it not come to full fruition simply because he can’t get out of his own way.
She won’t get a ton of press, because she doesn’t have multiple majors to her name, nor is she known outside tennis circles. All of that aside, the undisputed feel-good story of the week is Alisa Kleybanova’s planned return to WTA competition. The young Russian announced last July that she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and would be undergoing treatment in Italy. She now says she’s finished her cancer treatment, the doctors are pleased with her health, and she’s anxious to return to action. Stories like this really drive home the point that tennis is just a game, and hopefully she’ll be an inspiration to others. One thing is for certain – win or lose when she returns to the court in Miami later this month, it will go down as a victory.
The worlds of sports and entertainment are never lacking for surprises, and this week was no exception. Who can honestly say that they saw the announcement that Martina Navratilova would be joining the Season 14 cast of Dancing with the Stars coming? There are players I’d love to see take to the dance floor, and others that I can see wanting to join the cast. Somehow the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion didn’t fit either mold. It’s hard to imagine her in a frilly ball gown. But she may just be full of surprises. She’s fit, and she also possesses the work ethic and commitment necessary for success. But it will be interesting to see how easily she takes direction from one of the show’s regular pros, Tony Dovolani, as well as criticism from the judges. Hopefully she proves adept at both. It’s just a fun TV show, but after the Seles debacle a few seasons ago, tennis could do with posting a respectable finish.
Tennis World Split over Strike Claims:
The main talking point in the tennis world this week has been the proposed player strike which world No.4 Andy Murray believes ATP professionals will not be scared to enforce should their concerns about the over-packed tennis calendar again be ignored. World Murray says that in conversations he has had with his fellow pros there seems to be a positive reaction to the proposals. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that but I’m sure the players will consider it,” said the 24-year-old Scot. “If we come up with a list of things we want changed – and everyone is in agreement but they don’t happen – then we need to have some say in what goes on in our sport. At the moment we don’t.” His calls for the shortening of the ATP calendar have also been reciprocated over recent times by the other top stars; Roger Federer, Raphael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. And a former great champion, 18-time Grand Slam singles winner Martina Navratilova, believes that Murray is right to stick up for himself and his fellow pros. “I don’t know why Andy Murray should be criticised for taking charge of his life,” said the 54-year-old. “If that’s the only way they can get to that point, then that’s what they have to do if they can unify themselves enough and that’s the last resort.” She continued: “Of course
all tennis players want to play. That’s what you train for. But I was complaining about the calendar being too long 25 years ago, saying we need to shorten it. We have shortened it on the women’s side. Women play about a month less than the guys. But now, especially with the Davis Cup and the top players being involved in the Davis Cup, for a Nadal or a Djokovic or a Federer, then that schedule is just untenable. We are talking about longevity.” But not everyone is in agreement with the British number one. German 1991 Wimbledon champion Michael Stich believes that players should stop worrying about such issues and get on with things as the sport provides them with a privileged career and income they should be happy with. “I don’t think it is a big issue. They are not playing more than we did 10 or 15 years ago and they have shorter seasons than we used to,” he said. “When people like Stefan Edberg played in singles and doubles at Grand Slams, they [just] did their job. Andy Murray doesn’t even play four rounds of Davis Cup each year.” India’s Somdev Devvarman has also waded in to the debate, telling India Today that players are underpaid: “What happened in the US Open [retirements] just stirred things up,” he said. “Also, we get only 12 percent of the revenue while it is we who generate the revenue. The players should have a good say in such matters. [A] lot of players like Rafa, [Andy] Roddick, Murray have spoken about it. Tennis is one major sport which has no players’ union but with the recent happening the game is about to see a change.”
Zahlavova Strycova and Pervak win Maiden Titles:
The Czech Republic’s Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Ksenia Pervak of Russia were celebrating their maiden WTA titles last week after taking the crowns at Quebec and Tashkent respectively. “After the first set I changed my strategy. I could see she [Marina Erakovic] was very tired after the first set so I started putting more balls in the court and making her run,” Zahlavova Strycova said. “In the first set she was playing very good, but I could see she started to make more mistakes. It felt like she was breaking down. Once it got to the third set I was just in the zone. It felt like everything I hit was going in. I saw the ball so big. I just knew I was going to win the match.” Pervak was also understandably delighted with her showing. “I would like to give my best wishes to Eva [Birnerova, beaten finalist], who is also a very good friend of mine,” she commented. “She has had a wonderful week here and was a great competitor in the finals today. Both of us were nervous, but being the top seed was a little more pressure on me. This win is very special for me as it’s my first win on the WTA circuit. It was a pleasure to play here and get big support from the crowd. I’ll take a lot of positives from here. I know how to fight off pressure better.”
Wawrinka Splits with Lundgren:
Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka has announced that his 13-month partnership with coach Peter Lundgren has ended. Roger Federer and Marat Safin can count Lundgren as a former mentor but the Swiss number two has decided to finish with the coach who helped him to the quarter finals of both the 2010 US Open and the 2011 Aussie Open. “I’ve had a great relationship with Peter over the past year and I want to thank him for his positive contribution to my career. We have had a lot of success and fun working together.”
Hewitt Named Sydney Ambassador:
Two-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt has been named an ambassador for the Medibank International Sydney tournament beginning from next January. The 30-year-old will help to drum up support for the event and plans are already underway for a kids’ tennis clinic in November alongside an international charity event. “I’m really pleased to confirm my participation in next year’s Sydney International,” Hewitt said. “It is a really special tournament for me and I have great memories from my four titles there. The support I have received at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre over the years has been fantastic and I can’t wait to kick start my 2012 season in front of a packed Ken Rosewall Arena crowd.”
Muster to Retire (Again):
44-year-old Austrian Thomas Muster has announced that he will once more retire from professional tennis after the Erste Bank Open in his native country next month. “You should not drag it along forever,” Muster said Wednesday. “I wanted to relive competitive tennis again and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
US Champs set for Kuala Lumpur:
New US Open doubles champions Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner have announced that their first return to the courts since that New York triumph will be at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur which begins this weekend. “We have often discussed the strength of the singles field for the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, but tennis fans will see that the doubles game is equally impressive and having the US Open Champions in our line-up, gives the tournament even more status,” Tournament Director Nick Freyer of organisers IMG said.
Moya to Coach Young Spaniards:
Former world No.1 Carlos Moya has announced that he is set to take over the SD Tennis Academy in Madrid with friend Roberto Carretero with the aim of making it the country’s best tennis school. The 1998 French Open winner retired from the tour at the end of 2010 and has announced this as his new project. “I am starting a wonderful project,” said Moya. “I am really hoping to be able to share my knowledge with the new talents looking to make a career in tennis, but also with the ones looking to play tennis for fun. I really look forward to trying to develop one of the best tennis schools in this magnificent complex of Santo Domingo Club Social.”
Fish Earns Chips in Rankings Watch:
American Mardy Fish has climbed back above Gael Monfils of France to No.7 in the world in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings on the back of the US Open. Argentine Juan Martin del Potro climbs four to No.13 as the only other movement in the Top 20. Portugal’s Rui Machado jumps 19 to No.61 and David Nalbandian is up 11 to No.53, while Eric Prodon of France leaps 15 slots to enter the Top 100 at No.93. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova celebrates her win at Quebec City by jumping 26 spots to enter the Top 50 at No.49 in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. Tashkent winner Ksenia Pervak does the same by jumping from No.52 to No.37. Silvia Soler-Espinoza, who Pervak defeated in Tashkent, goes from No.110 to a career-high No.90.
Rafa Charges on in GOAT Race:
After the US Open’s conclusion for 2011 Rafael Nadal has opened up his lead over 16-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in the 2011 Tennis People Greatest Of All Time race. With points doubled for Grand Slam events Federer earns 100 points for falling to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals while Nadal earns 200 for losing the final. This makes the scores:
Roger: 1100 Rafa: 1910
Petra Kvitova shocked former Wimbledon Champion Maria Sharapova with an outstanding display of powerful tennis to lift her maiden Grand Slam at the All England Club on Saturday.
Equally surprising was the dominant display shown by Novak Djokovic who cemented his new world number one ranking by handing out a four-set defeat to Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard’s first at SW19 since the 2007 final on Sunday.
Kvitova’s shot-making ability proved too much for Sharapova as she became the first Czech woman to triumph here since Jana Novotna in 1998, while she also became the first left-hander since another Czech great, Martina Navratilova, won the title back in 1990.
The match saw eight breaks of serve as both players displayed aggression in their play, but it was the 21-year-old Kvitova, in her maiden Grand Slam final, who held on to more of her service games to see out the 6-3, 6-4 victory.
The 24-year-old Sharapova also contributed six double faults, taking her total to a tournament-high 38, and although she fluffed one less unforced error than Kvitova, her nine fewer winners didn’t help her cause either.
Kvitova’s main weapons, other than her shot selection, included her ferocious service return that left Sharapova rooted to the spot on many an occasion as the ball whizzed past her. As her body language sagged, Kvitova’s shoulders continued to rise until her first ace of the match secured the win and saw the coveted Venus Rosewater Dish in her hands.
On Sunday, the recently dominant Nadal took on 2011’s dominant force Djokovic in what promised to be a tantalising encounter.
While we weren’t treated to a five-set classic, the tennis showcased by Djokovic was mesmerising and Nadal had very little in even his vast array of weapons to halt the Serbian.
The 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 scoreline did not flatter the 24-year-old who registered his fifth win over the Spaniard this year, all in finals, and a momentous 50th win in 51 matches in 2011.
The Serb only let up the pace for a short while in the third set but it was enough for Nadal to take it comfortably.
Djokovic’s shot selection returned, though, as he found corners with some excellent cross-court efforts including one on the slide when it seemed Nadal had pulled off an exquisite drop shot to leave the contender stranded at the back of the court.
Nadal received a few fortuitous net-cords as he searched for a way back in to match but this isn’t the mentally fragile Djokovic of two years ago who may have let such things get to him.
A poor game for Nadal at 3-4 in the fourth set gave Djokovic a sight of his third Grand Slam title and he didn’t let it slip, securing victory when Nadal sent a forehand long and the two-time Aussie Open winner sank to the floor in delight.
Petra Kvitova will meet Maria Sharapova in the 2011 Wimbledon final after they beat Victoria Azarenka and Sabine Lisicki respectively.
Kvitova shone in her 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 victory over the fourth seeded Belarusian who lost her first ever Grand Slam semi-final having had a her run ended in the quarters on several occasions previously.
The Czech eighth seed will now play her first Grand Slam final as she becomes only the fourth Czech woman to grace the Championship match here after Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova and Jana Novotna.
Kvitova started blisteringly as her powerful play and high winner count helped her wrap up the first set in just 27 minutes.
Yet her one main weakness remains her inconsistency and at the start of the second set her level dropped to allow the inevitably loud Azarenka back in to the match.
21-year-old ‘Vika’ won the first six points of the second set to firmly take control and she pummelled away at Kvitova, also 21, with a succession of backhands before she finally conceded the set.
But Kvitova then switched herself back on and held service to love in the opening game of the third set that sent out a message of intent to her opponent. She then broke Azarenka as the semi-final debutant began to buckle under another succession of big hits and when she moved 3-0 ahead in the decider all looked lost for the world No.5.
After making it to match point Kvitova again began to wobble but a kindly double fault from Azarenka saw her over the line under the delighted gaze of Navratilova herself. It was a welcome relief for the girl who lost at this stage to Serena Williams last year.
“I can’t say anything, I’m so happy,” Kvitova told BBC Sport after the match. “I started very well, and it was all about the serves in both sets, so I’m very happy with mine in the third. I’m not thinking about the final too much yet.”
Sharapova and Lisicki stepped out on to Centre Court next as the crowd geared up to see the 2004 Champion take on another Grand Slam semi-final debutant.
The 6-4, 6-3 scoreline may have looked remarkably comfortable but the start of the match was far from so for the 24-year-old Russian.
A dreadful, error-strewn beginning left the fifth seed 0-3 in the first set, but she would have been delighted to see 21-year-old Lisicki, the surprise package of SW19 this year, crumble as Sharapova took nine out of the next ten games to leave the German reeling.
Once Sharapova had finally held her serve she settled and began to attack the service of Lisicki, which has been such a potent weapon for the world No.62 over the past week and a half.
Whilst Sharapova was pretty erratic by her own usual standards, she made 18 unforced errors during the match, a double-break at the beginning of the second left Lisicki with little hope of ever turning this one around.
“It’s amazing to be back in the final, it’s been a while,” she said of the seven-year gap since her last final appearance here. “I’m really happy, even through I didn’t play my best tennis today. She played really well in the first few games and I did quite the opposite – but I remained really focused.
“I haven’t gone past the fourth round here for a few years, but I still feel I have more to do. Kvitova is a great player on grass and is playing really good tennis – it’ll be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it.”
By Thomas Swick
For a day at the Sony Ericsson without much action, Wednesday had a fair amount of action.
Mid-morning the scent of cinnamon-roasted nuts floated through the air and Kim Clijsters stood in the outdoor players’ lounge.
“Kim! Kim!” cried a rubbernecker pressed against the fence. He had shown astonishing restraint in waiting until she had finished her conversation.
Clijsters turned and gave him a stern thumbs up, saying, in effect: I appreciate your support. Please respect my privacy.
Nancy Saylor stood at the fence much more respectfully (though maybe she was just tired). She had gotten the train in Deerfield Beach at 8:20, then the Metrorail, finally a bus to Key Biscayne – arriving at Crandon Park at half past ten.
Roger Federer was practicing on Court 9 before an excited crowd of a couple hundred people. After about 15 minutes he took a seat in a chair. We had moved from watching a man at work to watching a man take a break from work. “Federer’s sitting down,” I told a couple who wandered over curious about the object of our attention.
A small storm erupted to our left as a large legion followed in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, its numbers increased by a few Federer deserters.
Finding a shady spot, I was joined by a middle-aged woman in a sunhat.
“It’s nice to be in the shade,” I said.
She looked at me with a mildly alarmed expression, shaking her head and wagging her index finger.
“Ah, no habla Espanol,” I said. “Dondé vive?”
“Guatemala,” she said.
About quarter past twelve two Miami Dade County policemen arrived.
“Are you a tennis fan?” I asked one of the officers. He had a Spanish name.
“Once a year I am,” he said with a smile. I was thinking of telling him he had a plum assignment and then I thought of my own.
A little after 12:30 they made their move to the court and, when Federer had finished a quick autograph session (“He’s always patient,” someone said), they escorted him back to the locker room. In their wake an Asian family walked in delight, admiring their Roger Federer poster now adorned with a surprisingly legible Roger Federer signature.
By the time I got to Court 10, Nadal too was sitting down, shirtless, showing off his policeman’s tan.
Up in the media center Bud Collins – in green shirt and green-and-yellow trousers – told me there was a press conference with Roger Federer. I had never been to a post-practice press conference before, so I headed downstairs.
About 30 journalists were gathered, and six television cameras. A tray of cupcakes sat on a side table, but no one touched them – or offered one to Federer.
The first question was: What do you love about tennis?
“I have nobody to blame if I win or lose,” Federer said, making a rare unforced error in English. Though he recovered quickly and said: “It’s one on one.” Later, when asked if he would encourage his daughters to play tennis, he showed great touch with verbs: “I don’t know if I would encourage them, but I would support them.” He spoke thoughtfully about the recent disaster in Japan (a Japanese journalist had asked him if he had any words for the Japanese people).
Demonstrating that he can still throw his verbs around, Bud Collins asked him if he was “puzzled, annoyed, or amused” when people say that the Federer era is over.
“Depends who’s saying it,” Federer replied, before adding that he never thought that he’d “dominate for 15 years.”
And when someone asked about Martina Navratilova’s remark that he will never get back to his former level, he spoke warmly of the former champion after suggesting, to laughter throughout the room, that perhaps she missed his title in London because she was off “climbing Kilimanjaro.”
Back out on the grounds, I noticed that stone crabs had finally been added to the foods on sale. And I found a Federer fan whom I had met two years ago. She was standing with a younger woman in a white RF cap. They had met, they told me, through the fan message board on rogerfederer.com. Christina was originally from Greece; Yulia from Russia. Federer: Forging International Friendship.
“Roger Federer is the best,” Yulia said, when I mentioned that she has lots of compatriots on the courts. “I don’t care if he is Russian or not. He has such a great personality, and his tennis is so beautiful.”
Christina said that she’s been coming to the Sony Ericsson every year since 2006 (the last year Federer won it). I asked how long she was staying.
“As long as Roger is here,” she said. “If he loses I go on the web and book a flight out of here.”
Sam Querrey and Andy Murray were practicing on Court 9. “Still playing tennis?” an elderly gentleman asked another, who was sitting in a chair. “Your body holding up?”
“It’s been a tough winter,” the other man said. “I broke my wrist in six places.”
Not far away, Alexander Dolgopolov and Nicolas Almagro hit.
“You know who that is?” a teenager asked his friend.
“Yea,” the friend scowled. “He has a really weird serve.”
The Sania Mirza-Arantxa Parra Santonja match was moved from Court 3 to Court 10. I overheard two men talking about a female player they had seen practicing in what looked like her underwear.
Not far away, Bob Richmond stood. He was from Chicago, and enjoying the Sony Ericsson much more than the U.S. Open.
“This is so much more intimate,” he said. “There’s a lot more interaction with the players. And all the players who are at the Open are here. We’ve seen all the players,” he said, adding with amazement, “and you’re ten feet away from them. I feel like a stalker.” He paused. “In a good way.”
Then he turned his gaze to Mirza.