By James A. Crabtree
What thirty five year old Tommy Haas has done this year is just absurd. The guy is not just old; he is pretty much prehistoric.
Tommy turned professional in 1996 and lost his first grand slam match to Michael Stich at the U.S. Open that year. That was the same year Renée Zellweger said “You had me at hello” to Jerry Maguire, everyone danced ‘the Macarena’ and approximately 45 million people were using the Internet.
Some of the big and very much now retired players young Tommy beat in the years following were Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1997, Marcelo Rios in 1998, Tim Henman and Andre Agassi in 1999, Pete Sampras in 2000 and Andy Roddick in 2002.
Yet Tommy is still swinging. Better, stronger and faster. In many ways he makes a mockery of the suggestion that the modern player is a much better player/athlete/tactician. He still plays very much the same game he always has. The groundstrokes are still crisp and aggressive, he isn’t afraid of the net and he will likely still have a slight emotional meltdown during the match.
Many a professional athlete has tried a comeback from the usual ailments that affects us all over time, but few have shown the resolve to not only to make it back, but stay back and truly return to a respectable level.
Haas has come back from various injuries for the joy of playing in front of his young daughter. His determination to continue playing shows there is a fire inside that is still burning. It is obvious that Tommy has an increased duty to physical fitness, as he is known to practice hard but also put in the work before and after practice. It would not be unreasonable to believe that Tommy Haas is indeed the result of military intervention courtesy of the Office of Scientific Intelligence and is the new 6 million dollar man (that’s 31 million adjusted to todays money).
2013 has seen him register wins over Alexandr Dolgopolov, Gilles Simon, John Isner and a certain Mr Novak Djokovic. All while wearing the sort of awful translucent fashion statements and lame black socks that you expect your dad to wear in attempt to embarrass. Indeed, Tommy is still human and a dad, so some things should be expected.
The German who is as much an American now is the quintessential nearly man, one of the best to have knocked on the door of grand slam contention having reached 3 Australian Open semi-finals and 1 Wimbledon semi-final. Obviously he still believes he can add his name to the history books having climbed to his current ranking of 14 after an all time high of 2 back in 2002. Not a bad comeback after dropping out of the rankings in 2010.
Tommy does have a long list to be encouraged by such as Andre Agassi, who held the number won spot aged thirty three and Ken Rosewell who won the 1972 Australian Open aged thirty seven. Fabrice Santoro played twenty one years on tour, Jimmy Connors competed in his final ATP match in 1996 at the age of forty three and Pancho Gonzalez sustained his mission until the age of forty six.
Tommy will surely join this list at some time. But for now Tommy is no Haas been.
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
Compiling information for more than 15 years, former U.S. Tennis Association press officer Randy Walker has published a compilation of significant anniversaries, summaries and anecdotes from the world of tennis in his book On This Day In Tennis History. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches, trivia, statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings for every day of the calendar year.
“On This Day In Tennis History is an informative guide that brings significant – and quirky – tennis matches and happenings from the past into the context of the present,” saidWalker. “It is uncanny the number of significant events in tennis history that occurred on other significant and appropriate anniversaries, such as Boris Becker and Michael Stich both winning their first Wimbledon titles on the birthday of the first great German tennis champion Gottfried von Cramm. It’s fun to pick up the book every day and read what happened on each day of the year.”
Some of the quirky and significant events documented by Walker include from February 5, 1985, when Ivan Lendl defeats Larry Stefanki 6-2, 6-0 in the first round of the Lipton Championships in Delray Beach, Fla., in a match that ends without an umpire or linesmen, from July 18, 1930 when Wilmer Allison saves a record 18 match points in his Davis Cup victory against Giorgio de Stefani of Italy and from April 28, 1968 when Ken Rosewall wins the first ever “Open” tournament, defeating fellow Aussie and fellow professional Rod Laver 3-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 in the final of the British Hard-Court Championships in Bournemouth, England.
Said former world No. 1 Jim Courier of “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.”
Walker is a New York-based sports marketer, publicist, writer and tennis historian. A 12-year veteran of the USTA’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
On This Day In Tennis History is published by New Chapter Press, also the publisher of The Bud Collins History of Tennis. More information on the book can be found atwww.tennishistorybook.com.
From the December 13 chapter of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, TennisHistoryBook.com
1992 – Michael Stich of Germany concludes an otherwise disappointing season winning the $2 million first prize at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany, defeating Michael Chang 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in the final. One year after winning the singles title at Wimbledon, Stich struggles throughout the 1992 season, winning only one title in Rosmalen, the Netherlands, before winning the final tournament of the year with the biggest first prize in the sport. Says Stich after winning in Munich, “I would be much happier winning Wimbledon and getting $10,000 than winning here and getting two million. It counts more for me now that I won the tournament and beat four top ten players. The money comes afterwards, when I’m going to realize just how much I made.”
Roger Federer hits the courts this week in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland for the Swiss Indoor Championships. Roger is the three-time defending champion at the event, but it was, at one time, an elusive title for him as it was not until 2006 that he won his first “hometown” title. Rene Stauffer, the author of the Federer biography THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) details Federer’s first playing experience in Basel in 1998 in this exclusive book excerpt.
In recognition for his results in Toulouse, Federer received a wild card entry into the Swiss Indoors, Switzerland’s biggest tournament, from tournament director Roger Brennwald. This tournament guaranteed him a prize money paycheck of at least $9,800. The tournament took place at St. Jakobshalle in Basel’s south side, within walking distance of Federer’s home in Münchenstein. This event, played originally in an inflatable dome in 1970, is one of the most important indoor tournaments in the world that almost every great player has played in. When a virtually unknown Czech player named Ivan Lendl defeated the legendary Björn Borg in the Swiss Indoor final in 1980, it garnered major headlines around the world. The 34th and final duel between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors took place at the Swiss Indoors in 1991. Future world No. 1 Jim Courier won his first ATP tournament in Basel in 1989. Stefan Edberg won the Swiss Indoors three times and Ivan Lendl won the title twice. Borg, McEnroe, Boris Becker, Vitas Gerulaitis, Goran Ivanisevic, Yannick Noah, Michael Stich, Pete Sampras and Guillermo Vilas are also champions of the event.
For Roger Federer, the Swiss Indoors is like a Grand Slam tournament. The St. Jakobshalle is the place of his dreams, like Centre Court at Wimbledon. In 1994, he was a ball boy at the event, grabbing balls for such players as Rosset, Edberg and Wayne Ferreira, who won the title back then. Now, four years later, he was a competitor in the event. His first-round match was against none other than Andre Agassi. In his youthful hauteur, Federer boldly stated “I know what I’m up against—as opposed to Agassi who has no idea who I am. I am going to play to win.”
But Agassi, the former No. 1 player ranked No. 8 at the time, was without question a larger caliber opponent than what Federer faced in Toulouse. Agassi allowed the hometown boy only five games in the 6-3, 6-2 defeat and said he was not overly impressed by the Swiss public’s new darling. “He proved his talent and his instinct for the game a few times,” the American said kindly. “But for me it was an ideal first round where I didn’t have to do all that much and where I could get accustomed to the new conditions.”
NEW YORK, N.Y., October 6, 2009 – Andre Agassi will make his highly anticipated Outback Champions Series debut when he takes on Mikael Pernfors of Sweden Friday night in the opening round of the 2009 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Ariz.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise runs Thursday through Sunday and will feature a field of eight champion players competing in a single knock-out format event for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series.
“It’s great to have an opportunity to get back on the court,” said the 39-year-old Agassi of playing on the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. “That’s the best part of tennis — to be out there and hopefully make a difference in the lives of fans for a couple of hours.”
Agassi is one of only six men in the history of tennis to win all four major singles titles in a career, joining Rod Laver, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Fred Perry and Roger Federer. He won his first major title at Wimbledon in 1992, defeating Goran Ivanisevic in a dramatic five-set final. He won his first U.S. Open title in 1994, defeating Michael Stich in the final, and his second five years later in 1999, defeating Todd Martin in the championship match. He won four Australian Open titles between 1995 and 2003, while his victory at the 1999 French Open rounded out his career Grand Slam. Agassi ranked No. 1 in the world for 101 weeks during his career. He helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1990, 1992 and 1995 and won 60 career singles titles from 1987 until he concluded his career at the 2006 U.S. Open. In 1994, Agassi started the Andre Agassi Foundation which is dedicated to transforming public education for underserved youth. He will be the eighth former world No. 1
to compete on the Outback Champions Series, joining Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Pat Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster and John McEnroe.
Born, raised and still a resident of Las Vegas, Nev., Agassi has had great success playing in the Phoenix, Ariz., area, winning four of his 60 titles in nearby Scottsdale in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2002.
“Every time I’ve been to Arizona, I’ve loved it,” said Agassi. “I grew up in the desert. As a result, I’ve always felt very comfortable there. Some of my best memories are games played right in Scottsdale.”
Agassi and Pernfors will play their quarterfinal match the evening of October 9. Mark Philippoussis and Wayne Ferreira will open up tournament play on Thursday evening, October 8 at 7 pm with the winner playing the Agassi/Pernfors winner in the semifinals. Rounding out the field in Surprise are Americans Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias. The order of play and tournament schedule is as follows;
Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Session #1 – 7:00pm
Quarterfinal #1 – Mark Philippoussis vs. Wayne Ferreira
Followed by Quarterfinal #2 – Jim Courier vs. Aaron Krickstein
Friday, October 9th, 2009
Session #2 – 7:00pm
Quarterfinal #3 – Todd Martin vs. Jimmy Arias
Followed by Quarterfinal #4 – Andre Agassi vs. Mikael Pernfors
Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Session #3 – 12:00pm
Semifinal #1 – Winner of Agassi/Pernfors vs. Winner of Philippoussis/Ferreira
Session #4 – 5:00pm
Semifinal #2 – Winner of Martin/Arias vs. Winner of Courier/Krickstein
Sunday, October 11th, 2009
Session #5 – 12pm
Third Place Match
John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise defeating Martin in the final. Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.
Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Rafter in the final. Courier won his first title of the 2009 season in April at the Cayman Islands, defeating Arias in the final. Pat Cash successfully defended his title on the grass courts at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. in August, defeating Courier in the final. Courier won his second title of the season in Charlotte, defeating Sampras in the final.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features seven events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events, corporate outings and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.
Robby Ginepri beat Sam Querrey 6-2 6-4 to win the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Nikolay Davydenko beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-2 to win the International German Open in Hamburg, Germany
Dinara Safina won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz, Slovenia, beating Sara Errani 6-7 (5) 6-1 7-5
Andrea Petkovic beat Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-2 6-3 to win the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein, Austria
“I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls. This is the best day of our lives.” – Roger Federer, announcing the births on his Web site and Facebook page.
“The twins certainly come from good tennis stock. If they are half as good as their dad they will still be a potent force on the court.” – Nick Weinberg, spokesman for British bookmaker Ladbrokes on the twin girls one day winning Wimbledon.
“When you have a lot of losses, you start questioning if you can play at this level. It creeps in the back of your mind, so this is definitely a confidence boost for me the rest of the summer.” – Robby Ginepri, after winning the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.
“It’s been a great week for me. Of course, when you are in a final you always want to win but it has been a great week for me.” – Paul-Henri Mathieu, after losing in the Hamburg, Germany, final to Nikolay Davydenko.
“I know I am good enough to beat most players on this level.” – Andrea Petkovic, after reaching her first career WTA Tour final, which she won.
“I played better each match this week. I beat two Top 30 players this week, the best wins of my career. I’m sorry about today: I wish I could have done more, but there’s always next tournament.” – Ioana Raluca Olaru, who lost in the Gastein Ladies final to Andrea Petkovic.
“I am a hundred percent. I mean, if I wasn’t at that point, I certainly wouldn’t be playing.” – Maria Sharapova, who played for the Newport Beach Breakers in a World TeamTennis match against Kansas City.
“There’s always a lot of pressure against Korie (Homan) because I have not lost a set at this tournament since 2000 and of course I have the winning streak.” – Esther Vergeer, after stretching her unbeaten singles record to 364 matches in wheelchair tennis by again beating world number two Korie Homan.
“Andy’s presence really does give a boost to County Week and British tennis in general. It proves to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children that if the world number three can be bothered to show up and compete for his county, then they can do it, too.” – Ian Conway, captain of the North of Scotland team, on Andy Murray playing an amateur event.
It’s been awhile since Nikolay Davydenko took home the biggest check at a tournament. The Russian won his first ATP World Tour title in over a year when he trounced Paul-Henri Mathieu at the International German Open in Hamburg. Davydenko last appeared in a final at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai last November, and he hadn’t won a title since Warsaw, Poland, in June 2008. Davydenko also became the first Russian to win in Hamburg.
Until this past week, Andrea Petkovic had a 3-8 lifetime record in WTA Tour-level events, with all three match wins coming at Grand Slam tournaments. That changed in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Petkovic won five straight matches and her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, the Gastein Ladies, when she stopped Ioana Raluca Olaru. The unseeded German dropped only one set all week, that to seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the quarterfinals. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Petkovic said. “I hope I can keep playing like this and build on it.” Olaru was also appearing in her first Tour singles final, having upset third-seeded Sybille Bammer, sixth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and top-seeded Alize Cornet en route to the title match.
It didn’t take the British bookmakers long. Just a day after their birth, Roger Federer’s twin daughters were given 100-1 odds for either to win Wimbledon. Charlene Riva Federer and Myla Rose Federer are 50-1 to win a Grand Slam as part of the same doubles team and 200-1 to capture the Wimbledon women’s doubles. Andy Roddick, who has lost the Wimbledon final three times to the twins’ father, agreed with the bookies. The American sent a message from his Twitter page, which read: “Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040 … the Federer girls: congrats to the new parents!”
Playing together for the first time, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won all four matches in third-set super tiebreakers to capture the doubles title at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. “They’re obviously better as a team, but when there’s a lot of firepower against you, there’s not much you can do,” Tursunov said after the pair beat top-seeded Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak). Not one to break up a winning pair, the two plan to play together in Los Angeles this week. “It’s kind of like beginner’s luck in poker, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tursunov said. “If we’re having success, it makes sense to continue to play.”
STEPPING IT UP
The knee injury must be better. Rafael Nadal has returned to training for the first time since he was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee. Nadal is planning on returning to the ATP tour at the Montreal Masters next month. He has been out since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open, where he was seeking his fifth straight title. The injury also kept him from defending his Wimbledon crown. With Nadal not there, Roger Federer won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to record his 15th Grand Slam trophy and reclaim the number one ranking.
Leander Paes was named the league’s male MVP as he led the Washington Kastles to their first World TeamTennis Pro League championship. Paes teamed with Scott Oudsema to win the men’s doubles and with Rennae Stubbs to win the mixed doubles as the Kastles downed the Springfield Lasers 23-20. Oudsema beat Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the men’s singles, while Washington’s Olga Puchkova downed Vania King in women’s singles. King and Liezel Huber captured the women’s doubles. King was named the league’s female MVP.
Cara Black is only 5-foot-6 ( 1.67m) but she stands tall in the tennis record book. The Zimbabwean player is second only to Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova in the number of weeks spent as the number one doubles player in the world. When Black recorded her 125th week at number one spot, she moved past Natasha Zvereva. The 30-year-old first took over the top spot on October 17, 2005, staying there for 16 weeks. She regained the spot on June 11, 2007, before relinquishing it two weeks later to Lisa Raymond. But Black began her third and current stint at number one on July 9, 2007, after winning Wimbledon. Navratilova led the doubles rankings for 237 weeks.
Austria’s national anti-doping authorities are investigating Tamira Paszek after she received a medical treatment for a back injury that allegedly violated doping regulations. Authorities say that during treatment earlier this month, blood was taken from Paszek for enrichment, then later injected back into her, which is not allowed under international anti-doping rules. Paszek said she was not aware that the treatment was possibly illegal until a reporter told her. Paszek then alerted the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA, which began its investigation. The Austrian right-hander has struggled with back problems since last season. She has not played since retiring during her first-round match at Wimbledon.
Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Croatia’s Mario Ancic won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 15th-ranked Nalbandian is still recovering from recent hip surgery, while Ancic is battling mononucleosis. Their spots in the men’s main draw were taken by Ivan Navarro of Spain and Karol Beck of Slovakia.
An injury has caused Li Na of China to withdraw from China’s National Games in Shandong. The 27-year-old said she felt a recurrence of her right knee injury. Li will undergo tests in Beijing to determine whether she will be able to play the North American hard court season, including the US Open. “We have signed up for it and got the visa,” said Li’s husband and coach, Jiang Shan. “If she is OK by then we will go to play.”
John McEnroe seems to be a lightning rod for problems on a tennis court. His World TeamTennis club has been fined for what the league called “unprofessional conduct.” During the men’s doubles match between McEnroe’s New York Sportimes and the Washington Kastles, a shot by Washington’s Leander Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick. McEnroe and Sportimes coach Chuck Adams went to Paes’ side of the court and yelled at him. Four points later, Kendrick hit Paes with a serve, prompting more confrontations. The league suspended and fined Adams the next day, then, after reviewing the video and getting the umpire’s report, issued fines on both teams. Kendrick and Kastles player Olga Puchkova received individual fines.
SHORT STICH STAY
Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis lasted only 62 minutes. The former Wimbledon champion lost his first-round doubles match at the German Open in Hamburg. The 40-year-old Stich, who retired from the sport 12 years ago, and 21-year-old Mischa Zverev were beaten by Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-4 6-2. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and reached the final at both the French Open and US Open. His best ranking was number two in the world. As tournament director of the German Open, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wild card into the tournament. Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback. John McEnroe was 47 when he and Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won the doubles at San Jose, California. That came 14 years after his previous title.
SAYING AU REVOIR
Nathalie Dechy is calling it a career. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman is expecting a child and wants to devote her time to family life. Dechy reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2005, but is currently ranked 88th in the world. She won two US Open women’s doubles titles, with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007. She also won the French Open mixed doubles in 2007 with Israel’s Andy Ram. Dechy won her only WTA Tour singles title at the Gold Coast tournament in 2003 and reached her career-highest ranking in January 2006 when she rose to 11th in the world. She played for France in the Fed Cup in singles and doubles from 2000 until this year.
STRIKE IT WASN’T
Robby Ginepri had an unusual way of throwing out the game’s first pitch when he was a special guest at the Triple-A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Durham Bulls. In Indiana where he was competing in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Ginepri used his racquet and a tennis ball to serve to the Indians catcher. The umpire called balls on both of Ginepri’s “serves,” but the American was delighted with his performance. “It was very close to a strike,” Ginepri said. “It is quite different to have to serve at a catcher’s glove. The target is just very small.”
SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA
Maria Sharapova is continuing to give back. The former world number one has launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation to distribute scholarships among first-year students at Belarusian State University throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The USD $3,500 scholarships will be available to Belarus residents attending BSU who come from areas formally recognized as affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. According to the BSU press office, recipients should actively participate in public, research and volunteer activities, and should have a high average grade in their general education school diplomas. It’s not the first time the tennis player has given generously. In February 2007, Sharapova, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Development Program, donated USD $100,000 for eight Chernobyl relief projects in Belarus and Ukraine. Sharapova’s father and pregnant mother fled Homyel, a town 80 miles north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the accident in April 1986. She was born in a Siberian city months later.
SUMMER COUNTY CUP
Forget the ranking. Andy Murray took time to compete in the AEGON Summer County Cup, a 115-year-old amateur team tennis competition. With no umpires, line judges or ball-persons, the players call their own lines in the last amateur grass-court competition in the United Kingdom where senior professionals mix with junior players to represent their county in a competitive team environment. It was a huge surprise to the other players and the 300 spectators at Eastbourne when Murray showed up to play for North of Scotland. “Andy has come down to Eastbourne under his own steam, paying for his transport and lunch out of his own pocket,” said North of Scotland captain Ian Conway. “I was surprised and delighted, and his presence has given the rest of the team a huge boost.” While Murray and Owen Hadden won all three of their matches for the North of Scotland, Hertfordshire won the tie 5-4 when Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his partner lost the deciding match 6-3 6-7 (3) 10-8 (match tiebreak).
Esther Vergeer is not slowing down. The Dutch woman won her ninth consecutive women’s wheelchair singles title at the British Open in Nottingham, defeating Korie Homan. Ranked number one in the world, Vergeer stretched her winning streak to 364 matches.
Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s main draw singles, while American David Wagner captured the quad singles titles. Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet for his third successive men’s main draw singles title. Wagner won his second British Open quad singles in three years as he beat world number one and home favorite Peter Norfolk.
Nicole Pratt has been appointed Australian national women’s coach. A former junior Australian Open champion, Pratt will work with Australia’s Fed Cup team and on player development, according to Tennis Australia. Pratt’s highest ranking on the WTA Tour was 35th in the world.
Indianapolis: Dmitry Tursunov and Ernests Gulbis beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Hamburg: Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley beat Marcelo Melo and Filip Polasek 6-3 6-3
Bad Gastein: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Tatjana Malek and Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4
Portoroz: Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beat Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/
San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/
Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
$450,000 Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay
$100,000 Orbetello Challenger, Orbetello, Italy, clay
$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard
$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard
$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay
$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard
$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
Robin Soderling beat Juan Monaco 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the Catella Swedish Open in Bastad, Sweden
Jeremy Chardy won his first career ATP title, beating Victor Hanescu 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.
Flavia Pennetta beat Sara Errani 6-1 6-2 to win the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo in Palermo, Italy
Sybille Bammer beat Francesca Schiavone 7-6 (4) 6-2 to win the ECM Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic
Marcos Daniel won the Open Seguros Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia, defeating Horacic Zeballos 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-4
“I’m so happy, I wouldn’t trade this victory for a Grand Slam.” – Robin Soderling, the French Open finalist, after becoming the first Swede to win the Swedish Open since 2000.
“It is the first time I’ve won a title here in Italy. And it’s even more special with my family and friends here watching and supporting me.” – Flavia Pennetta, after winning the Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo.
“I felt the pressure because I knew this would be my first title.” – Jeremy Chardy, after beating Victor Hanescu to win his first ATP title, the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany.
“I like practicing, but I like playing matches better.” – Kim Clijsters, saying she’s rejoining the WTA Tour after a two-year retirement during which she got married and had a baby.
“I’m tired of the tour, tired of staying at hotels and tired of travelling…I’ve had enough now.” – Marat Safin, after his first-round loss at the Swedish Open.
“I still want to win. Especially that title. I like winning that one. I’m used to winning that one.” – Venus Williams, taking little consolation that the Wimbledon women’s singles title remained in the Williams family when she lost the final to sister Serena.
“I thought it would be pretty easy. You play five games, you get to sit down. But it’s highly competitive and a difficult way to tiptoe back into it.” – Andre Agassi, after returning to the sport by playing World TeamTennis.
“Basically, it was a great match, probably one of the greatest World TeamTennis matches ever played, maybe the greatest. All in all, I thought it was a great night.” – New York Sportimes owner Claude Okin, after his coach was suspended following a wild and crazy match that saw two players get hit by batted balls.
It was Robin Soderling’s fourth ATP title and his first on clay. But what made his 6-3 7-6 (4) victory over Juan Monaco even sweeter was that Soderling became the first Swede to win the Swedish Open since his coach, Magnus Norman, won in 2000. Soderling, who upset defending champion Rafael Nadal en route to the final of the French Open, was playing in his third ATP final in Sweden. He lost both previous times on the indoor hard court of the Stockholm Open. He wasn’t to be denied this time as he didn’t drop a set on the clay courts of Bastad. Swedish players have won the singles 18 times in the 54-year history of the Swedish Open. Soderling also was in the doubles final, but he and partner Robert Lindstedt lost to Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak).
Frenchman Richard Gasquet escaped a two-year ban when an independent panel agreed with him that the reason he tested positive for cocaine was because he had kissed a woman in a Miami, Florida, nightclub who had been using the drug. The panel also ruled that while Gasquet’s test was officially in competition, this was a technicality as he had decided the day before his first match to pull out of the Sony Ericsson Championships. Cocaine is not banned out of competition. Fearing a dangerous precedent, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sought a mandatory two-year band and may yet appeal the ruling, as may the World Anti-Doping Agency. Gasquet’s test showed traces of a tiny quantity of cocaine, about the size of a grain of salt. Gasquet missed the French Open and Wimbledon, but could return to the tour at the Montreal, Canada, Masters that starts on August 10.
The president of the Russian tennis federation blames his team’s upset Davis Cup loss to Israel on the scheduling of the men’s tour. “The main problem is this murderous calendar,” said Shamil Tarpishchev. “This is not only a big problem for us. Just look at the other top teams like U.S., Spain, Argentina or Germany. It seems like every top team was missing their best players.” Tarpishchev, who had led Russia to Davis Cup titles in 2002 and 2006, said the timing of the World Group quarterfinals coming immediately after the French Open and Wimbledon gave top players almost no time to recover. Russia played without its top two players, Nikolay Davydenko and Dmitry Tursunov. Others missing Davis Cup quarterfinals included American Andy Roddick, Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Argentina’s David Nalbandian, Germany’s Tommy Haas and Croatia’s Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic.
Before President Barack Obama headed to baseball’s All-Star game to throw out the first pitch, he welcomed Wimbledon champion Serena Williams to the White House. “I love President Obama; he has such an unbelievable presence, and he seems to be so normal – and he noticed my shoes,” Williams said. “I think that was the highlight of the whole day, was he liked my shoes.” Serena said she was wearing 5-inch heels and the President wondered if she should be wearing them. “I thought that was kind of funny because he may have been right,” Serena said. “Because it is a job hazard for me, but I insist on wearing them.”
Spain is on top of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Davis Cup Nations Ranking. The Spaniards ended Russia’s 2 ½ -year reign as number one. The United States moved up to second place, followed by Russia. Israel, which upset Russia in the quarterfinals, advanced to a career-high sixth.
When Andre Agassi ended his nearly 3-year retirement, he did it all. The 39-year-old played mixed doubles, doubles and singles for the second straight week while competing for the Philadelphia Freedoms in World TeamTennis. Agassi also traded shots with youngsters and bantered with fans as the Freedoms played the Newport Beach Breakers. He teamed with Lisa Raymond to post a mixed doubles victory, but lost in singles to Ramon Delgado and to Delgado and Kaes Van’t Hof in the men’s doubles.
Venus and Serena Williams aren’t the only sisters meeting on the opposite ends of a tennis court. The difference, though, is what part of the week they face each other. In their latest pairing, Serena beat Venus in the Wimbledon final. In Prague, Czech Republic, fifth-seeded Alona Bondarenko was ousted by her unseeded sister Kateryna in the opening round of the Prague Open 6-1 6-3. That snapped a tie and the younger sister now leads in their head-to-head matchups 4-3. In their career head-to-head battles, Serena leads her older sister 11-10. The Bondarenko sisters did team up to win the doubles in Prague, their third doubles title together. They won the Australian Open and Paris indoors last year.
SET FOR THE CAPITAL
Washington, D.C., will be the site for this year’s World TeamTennis championship finals. The July 26 competition, being played in America’s capital for the first time, will pit the 10-team league’s Eastern Conference champions against the winners of the Western Conference.
The Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai is adding new courts as it gets ready to stage an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in October. The Tennis Center was the site for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for five years, an event that this year will be held in London. For this year’s tournament, Qi Zhong’s main stadium roof will be opened, turning it into a 15,000-seat outdoor facility. The Grand Stand Court 2 will accommodate 5,000 spectators, while Court 3 will seat 2,000. Construction of the new facilities is expected to be completed by August. The tournament will be held October 10-18 and will conclude a four-week Asian tour, following stops in Bangkok, Tokyo and Beijing.
New York Sportimes coach Chuck Adams was suspended and fined by World TeamTennis after his team and the Washington Kastles got into heated arguments over players getting hit by shots. The league barred Adams for “violating the World TeamTennis Coaches’ Code of Conduct.” During the melee, Adams went onto Washington’s side of the court to confront a Kastles player. The league said this was “the first p[punishment” for what happened between the two teams. WTT said it “continues to investigate the incident to determine if there will be any additional punishments issued.” During the men’s doubles match, a shot by Washington’s Leader Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick, prompting Adams and Sportimes player John McEnroe to yell at Paes. The chair umpire issued a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct against the New York team. Four points later, Kendrick hit a serve that hit Paes as he stood near the net as his partner waited to return serve. Kastles players Olga Puchkova and Rennae Stubbs responded and both drew code violation warnings, Puchkova for yelling at Kendrick and Stubbs for abuse of officials.
SET TO RETURN
Having taken time to get married and have a baby, Kim Clijsters is ready to rejoin the WTA Tour. The 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters reached number one in the world in singles and doubles in August 2003. She also was runner-up at four major tournaments – losing to fellow Belgian Justine Henin at both Roland Garros and the US Open in 2003 and at the Australian Open in 2004 – as she won 34 career singles titles before beginning a two-year retirement. This will be her first US Open since she captured the title. She has been given wild cards to enter tournaments at Mason, Ohio, and Toronto, Canada, before the US Open, which begins its two-week run on August 31. The 26-year-old Clijsters married American Brian Lynch in 2007 and their daughter, Jada, was born in February 2008.
SET FOR MONTREAL
Rafael Nadal is shooting to return to the men’s tennis tour at the Montreal Masters next Month. The Spaniard has been slowing recovering from tendinitis in his knees and plans to resume training this week. He last played at Roland Garros, where he was upset in the fourth round by Sweden’s Robin Soderling. Nadal then was forced to skip the defense of his Wimbledon title. He is the defending champion in Montreal. While he was recuperating, he also lost his number one ranking to Roger Federer, who succeeded Nadal as champion at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
Marat Safin is looking forward to life free of racquets and balls. The Russian is scheduled to play another eight tournaments before he retires at the end of the year. After losing his first-round Swedish Open match to Nicolas Almagro, Safin said, “I’ve had enough now.” Asked by the Swedish news agency TT if he would be interested in a coaching career, Safin replied: “I am tired of everything that has to do with rackets and balls. I want to do something completely different.”
Yet another retiree is returning to the courts. However, when former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich snaps his 12-year stint on the sidelines, it will be only to play doubles at the tournament in Hamburg, Germany. Now 40 years old, Stich is the director of the event that is struggling to survive after losing its Masters Series status on the tour. Stich will team with 21-year-old Mischa Zverev, one of Germany’s top prospects. “I’ve been practicing with Mischa in Hamburg for about five years and we got the idea at some point to play doubles at a tournament,” Stich said. “The opportunity has now presented itself and as Hamburg boys we will play before the home fans next week.” Stich upset fellow German Boris Becker to win Wimbledon in 1991. The following year he teamed with John McEnroe to win the Wimbledon doubles.
Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick will skip this week’s Indianapolis Tennis Championships because of a right hip flexor injury. It’s the same injury that caused Roddick to pull out of the United States Davis Cup team’s quarterfinal at Croatia. Without Roddick, the Americans lost.
Australia won’t be suspended from Davis Cup for refusing to play in India in May. But while the International Tennis Federation board declined to impose tougher sanctions on Australia, it did say the next Davis Cup tie between the two countries will be played in India. Australia forfeited May’s competition when it refused to send a team to India, claiming security fears. While the board also reversed the Davis Cup committee’s decision that Australia would lose its hosting rights for its next home match, the board upheld a USD $10,000 fine and additional legal costs imposed on the Australian federation.
Spurred by last year’s competition in Argentina, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has decided that Davis Cup finals must in the future be held in major cities. The ITF said Argentina’s use of Uslas Malvinas Stadium in Mar del Plata last November did not meet capacity requirements. Wary of the Spaniards’ dominance on clay, Argentina moved the Cup final to indoor carpet. Spain won the final anyway, 3-1.
Three countries – Albania, Kenya and Zambia – have been promoted from Class C membership to Class B while two others have been dropped as the ITF has reconfigured the Europe/Africa Zone. It now will be Europe Group II and Africa Group III. Mongolia and Antigua and Barbuda are the nations who were dropped.
Roger Federer has been named “Ehrespalebaerglemer,” an award given to outstanding citizens of Basel, Switzerland, the tennis star’s home town. A plaque, unveiled in Federer’s honor, sits alongside those honoring other local heroes in the historic city center of Basel. “It’s a nice honor for me to receive the plaque and I will walk past it, I am sure, just a few more times,” said Federer. “It’s going to be a proud moment, maybe also to show my kids in the future.”
SCOTT TO STACEY
The new chairman and chief executive of the WTA Tour is Stacey Allaster. The native of Canada had served three years as president of the WTA Tour after previously serving as vice president and tournament director of Tennis Canada. Allaster replaces Larry Scott in the top job at the WTA Tour. Scott resigned in March after six years as chief executive to become commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference of US colleges.
Jon Gibbs, a trailblazer in computerized tennis statistics, has died in Verona, New Jersey, USA. The cause of death was pancreatic cancer. A video tape editor for ABC Television before he retired, Gibbs created TenniSTAT, a computer program that enabled a complete printout of every point after a match. At one time TenniSTAT was the official statistics program for the US Open, the WCT Tournament of Champions, the Volvo Masters and the Virginia Slims Championships in New York City, and the US Pro Indoors in Philadelphia. He also provided statistics at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Gibbs had just celebrated his 71st birthday. A memorial service will be held July 26 at Temple Beth Sholom in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Among his survivors are his wife, Roz, and two sons, Noah and Josh.
Bastad: Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek beat Robert Lindstedt and Robin Soderling 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Prague: Alona Bondarenko and Kateryna Bondarenko beat Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-1 6-2
Palermo: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Mariya Koryttseva and Darya Kustova 6-1 6-2
Stuttgart: Frantisek Cermak and Mischa Mertinak beat Victor Hanescu and Horia Tecau 7-5 6-4
Bogota: Sebastian Prieto and Horarcic Zeballos beat Marcos Daniel and Ricardo Mello 6-4 7-5
SITES TO SURF
Bad Gastein: www.matchmaker.at/gastein/
Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$1,500,000 Bet-at-Home Open, Hamburg, Germany, clay
$600,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, hard
$220,000 Banka Koper Slovenia Open, Portoroz, Slovenia, hard
$220,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
Felix Mantilla completed an emotional comeback just two years after recovering from skin cancer as he became the first player in history to win an ATP Champions Tour and an ATP World Tour title in Barcelona. In the final of the Champions Cup on Sunday, Mantilla beat Albert Costa 6-4, 6-1.
The Spaniard, who won the ATP title in 1999, was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2006 after undergoing tests on a mole on his back. The former top ten player made a brief comeback before retiring from the game, but went on to win his battle against the disease. Despite being given a clean bill of health, he did not expect to be back playing title-winning tennis in Barcelona.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be playing tennis like this again,” said Mantilla, after completing victory at his maiden ATP Champions Tour event. “When I got my illness, I felt like I was retired and that it was finished. But then they gave me the possibility to come here and to play on the ATP Champions Tour and I thought ‘Why not?’ It’s always nice to play your sport whilst having fun.”
For Mantilla, today’s win was the perfect end to an enjoyable week spent in his home city.
“I have really good memories of this Centre Court here in Barcelona,” said Mantilla, who jumps to No.1 in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings. “Today it was a good match and both of us did our best. It’s always special to be here and hopefully I can come back next year to defend my title.”
Although his battle with cancer put a premature end to his career on the ATP Tour, since retiring Mantilla has remained involved in the tennis world. For the past year he has been working for Tennis Australia as a talent-spotter, and he now spends half of the year living Down Under working with young Australian Tennis players.
“I’m really happy that Tennis Australia gave me the opportunity to try and help them,” he said. “I’m working to try and develop clay court tennis in Australia. We’re hoping that the young kids can grow up playing on slower surfaces, because that will help their play on all surfaces.”
In the third/fourth place play-off, Magnus Gustafsson defeated fellow Swede Anders Jarryd 6-7(3), 6-2, 11-9 (Champions’ Tie Break) in a thrilling three-set encounter. Jarryd looked to be dominating his countryman early on, but Gustafsson pulled off a dramatic comeback, eventually saving two match points in the Champions’ Tie Break before clinching the match.
The ATP Champions Tour will now move on to Sao Paulo for the Nossa Caixa Grand Champions, May 21-24 – http://www.atpchampionstour.com/saopaulo.html
To view the week’s results in Barcelona, click here: http://www.atpchampionstour.com/results
For the latest gossip and chat from behind the scenes, click here: http://www.atpchampionstour.com/twitter
ATP Champions Tour Launches New Website
On the eve of the Barcelona tournament, the ATP Champions Tour launched its new, official website, http://www.atpchampionstour.com
The site features a fresh design, more player and tournament information than ever before, and a new interactive FanZone where fans can send questions to their favourite champions, access exclusive video and audio, and test their knowledge of the Champions in a special Quiz.
For the first time, you can also read exclusive Blogs and follow us on Twitter, with tweets from the players during tournaments as well as regular gossip, opinions and tennis chat throughout the year. Everything you could want to know about the Champions Cup ’09 in Barcelona (16-19 April) can be found in Events, such as player field (when available), the Roll of Honour and a guide to the city where the tournament is hosted.
About South African Airways
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the ATP Champions Tour and sponsor of the official rankings. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 75-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.
Cedric Pioline continued where he left off at The Masters Tennis in London last December by ignoring the storm clouds to thrash Michael Stich 6-1, 6-2 at the first ATP Champions event of the year in Barcelona on Thursday.
The weather was the story of the first day’s play. Dark storm clouds hovered over the Real Club de Tenis throughout, causing the start of play to be delayed by nearly three hours. When the rain eventually relented enough for the players to take to the court, it was Pioline, the man who beat Pete Sampras to win the event at the Royal Albert Hall last year, who once again stole the show.
The Frenchman was in imperious form to defeat Stich for the loss of just three games.
“I surprised myself today,” he said. “I didn’t expect to play that good as it was my first match on clay this year. I think I served pretty good and I returned pretty good. I kept the ball in play and he couldn’t stay in the rallies. I didn’t miss too much today and everything worked well.”
Pioline is now unbeaten in five straight matches on the ATP Champions Tour, and the Frenchman admits that he is setting his sights high for the 2009 season.
“I have to finish Number One!” said Pioline, of his intention to top the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings. “It’s so important for me, it’s my goal.”
Clay court specialist Costa looked in fine form against Cash, striking the ball with the heavy topspin shots that helped win him the French Open title in 2002.
Costa, a native of Barcelona, explained after the match that he always feels at home playing at the beautiful Real Club de Tenis.
“For me this tournament is always very special,” he said “It means a lot so I am so happy to play here. Even though it was tough today with the rain I think it was a good match we had.”
Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner. After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in Sunday’s final.
To view the order of play and the round-robin groups, click here.
ATP CHAMPIONS TOUR LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE
With the first event of the year set to start in Barcelona on Thursday, the ATP Champions Tour has launched its new, official website.
The site features a fresh design, more player and tournament information than ever before, and a new interactive FanZone where fans can send questions to their favourite champions, access exclusive video and audio, and test their knowledge of the Champions in a special Quiz.
For the first time, you can also read exclusive Blogs and follow us on Twitter, with tweets from the players during tournaments as well as regular gossip, opinions and tennis chat throughout the year. Everything you could want to know about the Champions Cup ’09 in Barcelona (16-19 April) can be found in Events
, such as player field (when available), the Roll of Honour and a guide to the city where the tournament is hosted.
About South African Airways
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the ATP Champions Tour and sponsor of the official rankings. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.