melbourne age

FEDERER’S AUSSIE TEARS – PART I

Roger Federer is known for showing his emotions – almost as much as he is for winning major tennis titles. At the 2009 Australian Open, Federer could not hide his disappointment in losing an epic five-set final to Rafael Nadal. Federer began weeping uncontrollably in the post-match ceremony when asked to make his obligatory runner-up speech. The emotional breakdown overshadowed other occasions when Federer shed tears in high visibility moments. One such moment was four years ago today, January 29, 2006, when Federer became emotional after Rod Laver presented him with the Norman Brookes Trophy after beating Marcos Baghdatis in the championship match.

Rene Stauffer, the author of the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com), documents Federer’s 2006 Australian title – that concluded in tears – in this exclusive book excerpt.

In his six matches en route to the final, Federer lost four sets—more than previously surrendered while reaching a Grand Slam final. The man from Basel, however, was still the overwhelming favorite to win the title when he faced unseeded upstart Marcos Baghdatis—a 200-1 outsider to win the title. The 20-year-old bearded maverick from the island of Cyprus was the major story of the tournament—defeating Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic and David Nalbandian in succession to become an unlikely Grand Slam finalist. Cyprus, a small island nation off the Greek and Turkish coast in the Mediterranean with no tennis history whatsoever, was suddenly stricken with tennis fever as businesses closed and children skipped school to watch his matches. Baghdatis was unseeded, ranked No. 54 in the world and had never won an ATP tournament in his career at the time. To boot, he held an 0-3 record against Federer and Federer had never lost a Grand Slam final—let alone to an unseeded player.

The Melbourne Age newspaper carried the headline “The Wizard And The Apprentice” before the final, but as the match began, the question was which was which. Baghdatis, supported throughout the fortnight by the many Greeks in Melbourne who created a soccer-stadium atmosphere with chants, cheers and flag-waving, continued to play boldly, aggressively and on the offensive—as he had the entire tournament—while Federer struggled, particu­larly off the forehand side. Federer lost the first set 7-5 and saved two break points to prevent a double-service-break 0-3 deficit in the second set. After he held serve, Federer then broke the Cypriot’s serve in the next game to square the set at 2-2. After the two players exchanged service holds, a stroke of good luck benefited Federer late in the set as an overruled call on set point gave Federer the second set 7-5. The momentum immediately turned in Federer’s favor and the challenge to his supremacy ended. Federer’s 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 victory secured him his seventh Grand Slam title—tying him with such legends as Richard Sears and William Renshaw—heroes of the 1880s—as well as John McEnroe, John Newcombe, Mats Wilander and two of four French Musketeers, Rene Lacoste and Henri Cochet.

Federer showed no exuberance as the award ceremony began, but when Rod Laver bestowed the Norman Brookes Trophy upon him, he was overcome with emotions. “I don’t know what to say,” he said at the start of his victory speech, before he fell silent. He barely managed to congratulate Baghdatis and thank his entourage and sponsors. When he mentioned Laver and that the title meant a great deal to him, his voice cracked, just like at his first Wimbledon victory, and he could no longer hold back his tears.

“I was terribly nervous,” Federer told Swiss television commentator Heinz Günthardt after he left the court. “It was an immense burden to be so clearly favored against a newcomer.” With seven Grand Slam titles, Federer began to compete not only against his contemporaries on the other side of the net, but against the ghosts of tennis history, including Pete Sampras and Rod Laver, who was standing next to him on this day.

This Week in Tennis Business: Andy Roddick and Serena Williams, 2012 Olympic Gold Medalists?

·         Via Twitter, Andy Roddick says he will team up with Serena Williams in the mixed doubles event at the 2012 London Olympics. Last week the International Olympic Committee approved mixed doubles for the London Olympics.

  • Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who is the third richest American according to Forbes, has purchased the entire Indian Wells tennis tournament with his own money, according to tennisreporters.net. Ellison is an avid recreational tennis player and the owner of the Malibu Racquet Club.
  • The International Tennis Federation has cleared Yanina Wickmayer to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, her agent Olivier Van Lindonk tells Belga, a Belgian wire service. On Monday, Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse had their one year doping bans provisionally lifted by a Brussels court, but were not allowed to return to the pro circuit until the ITF cleared them. Van Lindonk can’t confirm if Malisse has also been cleared by the ITF.
  • According to reports by Jornal do Tenis, Victoria Azarenka has split from Coach Antonio van Grichen. The pair had worked together for four years.
  • According to the Melbourne Age, Lleyton Hewitt and manager David Drysdale have launched their own sports management firm called Signature Sports Management. The firm plans to operate as a boutique agency focusing on Australian players. Rising Australian player Olivia Rogowska is the first player to sign with the agency.
  • The Spanish Supreme Court has ordered three-time French Open singles champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario to pay back roughly $5.1 million in unpaid income tax because the court rejected she was a resident of Andorra and not Spain from 1989 to 1993.
  • According to Matt Cronin of tennisreporters.net, tennis historian Bud Collins will no longer be covering tennis telecasts on ESPN.
  • According to the Sportsbusiness Journal, the ATP Board of Directors will allow the ATP Indianapolis tournament to be sold to Atlanta. Previously, the ATP was going to buy back the event and retire it from the ATP World Tour calendar.
  • Via Twitter, Bob and Mike Bryan have signed a 4-year clothing sponsorship deal with K-Swiss.
  • Stan Smith will be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame on May 24, 2010.
  • The World No. 1 doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan have agreed to play in the 2010 LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group from July 26 to August 1. The Bryans will be trying to win a record sixth doubles title at the tournament, which is held on the UCLA campus. US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic have committed to play in the singles tournament.
  • 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro was named “Athlete of the Year” and “Best Tennis Player” at the recent Fox Pan American Sports LLC’s Premios Fox Sports, which was held at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
  • Plexipave announced that the Plexipave Prestige tennis surface will be used at the Capitala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. Plexipave is the world’s largest selling brand of acrylic tennis court coatings.
  • Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka and longtime girlfriend Ilham Vuilloud were married in a civil ceremony on Monday in Switzerland. The couple is expecting their first child in February.
  • Jelena Dokic, Sorana Cirstea and Aravane Rezai will all train at the prestigious Mouratoglou Academy in Paris.
  • Last Thursday, Spain’s Davis Cup Captain and former French Open singles champion Albert Costa was taken to a Barcelona hospital because he was suffering from chest pains. He was released later in the day. In his first competitive match since having hip surgery in the spring, David
  • Former World No. 1 Dinara Safina’s status for the Australian Open in January is in doubt after withdrawing from the Brisbane International, which is a tune-up tournament for the first Grand Slam event of the year.

·         Nalbandian easily defeated Nicolas Massu, 6-2, 6-1, in an exhibition match in Buenos Aires.