By Maud Watson
No Coach, No Problem – It’s been mere weeks since the news broke that Murray was sacking Maclagan as his coach. The decision didn’t come as a surprise given the relative slump that he’s endured throughout the bulk of 2010. But what did come as a bit of a surprise is the recent resurgence in his game that has come right on the heels of going solo with just a few notes from mum (who does know a thing or two about the game). His most recent results have included a finals appearance in Los Angeles, and more importantly, successfully defending his crown at the Rogers Cup just last week. The young Scot produced some of the best play to come off his racquet in recent memory, taking that Masters 1000 title with wins over the red-hot Nalbandian, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in Cincy, but there’s little doubt that in spite of the fact he’s without a coach, he’s perhaps never looked more ready to end the major title drought for Great Britain.
Swan Song? – Earlier this week, James Blake announced that following the conclusion of the US Open, he would be taking a break from the sport to assess where he is in his career. No one could really find this piece of news shocking based on how his 2010 season has unfolded, which includes a recent thumping by Denis Istomin in the first round of Cincinnati this week. Blake’s ultimate goal is to take off enough time to hopefully recuperate and be able to log in more practice hours in the future, but he has admitted that his patience is being tried, and his career may be over sooner than anticipated. Blake is a nice guy who deserves to go out on his own terms and on a high note, but if you’re in a position to attend the final Slam of the year, you might go see Blake while you still can. This could very well be his last appearance in the Big Apple.
Additions to the WTA DL – After reaching the finals of Cincinnati, Russian Maria Sharapova was forced to pull out of the event in Montreal with a foot injury. The injury was acquired in her finals loss to Kim Clijsters (though hats off to Kim for fending off match points to emerge with the title). No word yet on how this will impact her chances at the US Open. The same goes for Serb Ana Ivanovic, who is suffering from some strained ligaments around the ankle. It’s an unfortunate injury given that Ivanovic was finally starting to make a bit of headway as far as rebuilding her rankings and confidence, but it’s better than the fracture she initially thought she was had. She is still holding out hope of making an appearance this coming week, and hopefully both of these young starlets will be able to wow fans with their presence in New York in just under two weeks time.
Additions to the ATP DL – With just under two weeks to go until the final major of the year, John Isner and Denis Istomin find themselves in a fitness race to be ready to go in the Big Apple. Both men sustained foot injuries in their matches on Wednesday at the Cincy Masters 1000 event. The severity of the injuries is unknown, but Isner wasn’t taking any chances, pulling out of the doubles as well. Isner has put together a nice season and has a real opportunity to raise his ranking even more with a good showing at the Open. Istomin, for his part, is an up-and-comer to watch and might well have been ready for a breakout performance at the last major of the year. Fingers crossed that both men make a full recovery and end the Grand Slam season with a bang.
Out of the Running – Justine Henin is out for the season as a result of the injury she sustained when she fell at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. The Belgian stated that while things are progressing, she won’t even be able to start practicing again until October. This has to be a disappointment, especially when considering the way her season began, but she’s certainly struggled since reaching the finals of the Australian Open. Perhaps this break will give Henin a chance to regroup and wage a more successful, and consistent, campaign in 2011.
*Returning Belgian ace Justine Henin has announced that the elbow injury she sustained at Wimbledon in July has curtailed her 2010 season. She will begin light training in October in preparation for taking part in the 2011 Hopman Cup which begins January 1. “Unfortunately the healing process is taking time,” Henin said. “This means I must be patient.”
*Andy Murray believes his final victory over Roger Federer in the Rogers Cup last week boosts his chances of lifting the US Open in three weeks’ time. “It was good for me to win today [Sunday],” stated Murray after the final. “Three good results in a row against Nalbandian, Rafa and Roger, so that will give me confidence for next week. I managed to stay tough mentally, which is always tough against Roger because he started to play some great tennis, but it’s a great way to finish the week – I played very well.” Murray also reiterated that he was in no hurry to find a replacement for coach Miles Maclagan anytime soon. The full interview can be seen at the BBC Tennis website.
*Andy Roddick has revealed that mononucleosis has been causing his nausea and tiredness in recent tournaments. After missing Toronto to get to the bottom of his illness Roddick has returned to winning ways at Cincy this week. “I’m just glad that we found out something that was causing it,” Roddick said before play taking to the court. “It’s nice to have a little bit of clarity moving forward. It’s not something that’s going to affect me, anything super-serious. It was just me wondering if I was out of shape or what was going on, why there was this lethargic feeling.” Roddick has been told he is getting over the illness so believes he will be fine for the US Open.
*Despite again hinting he may be close to retirement James Blake is one of those handed a wildcard in to the US Open by the USTA this week. Blake lost in 45 minutes to the Russian Denis Istomin at Cincinnati on Tuesday but the current world No. 107 reached the quaterfinals of the Slam in both 2005 and 2006. He is joined by compatriots Ryan Sweeting, Donald Young, Jack Sock and Bradley Klahn in being handed first-round places. Australia’s Carsten Ball and France’s Guillaume Rufin have also secured slots.
*Two famous names have been handed wildcard entries on the women’s side. Chelsey Gullickson, daughter of former New York Yankees pitcher Bill Gullickson, and Coco Vandeweghe, niece of former New Jersey Mets General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe, are to enter the first round draw. They will join American girls Jamie Hampton, Christina McHale and Shelby Rogers, as well as Aussie Sophie Ferguson and France’s Virginie Razzano in the draw.
*Juan Martin Del Potro latest – he is now NOT expected to defend his title at the US Open. Tune in next week for the next twist in this story.
*However, Venus Williams insists she will play the Slam despite withdrawing from Cincinnati and Montreal with a knee injury. “…I was not feeling 100 percent and I am very sad I wasn’t able to go back to Cincinnati and make my first appearance in Montreal,” she wrote on her official website. “But I am getting geared up to play in New York in just a couple of weeks.”
*In coaching latest – Paul Annacone is not with Roger Federer at Cincinnati. Is this the end of the trial?
*John Isner has assured fans the ankle injury he suffered against David Nalbandian at Cincinnati will not keep him out of the US Open. Serving for the first set at 5-4 he was forced to retire having rolled his ankle in the previous game. “It was just a routine second serve return that went into my body, so I moved to get out of the way,” said Isner. “So I had to jump up for it. Upon landing, my right foot just twisted really quick on the outside. That was it. I couldn’t play after that.”
*Novak Djokovic’s 6-3, 7-5 victory over fellow Serb and great friend Viktor Troicki was his 100th win at ATP 1000 Masters Events. His lifetime record now reads 100-36.
*American doubles legends the Bryan bros. have returned to the summit of the doubles game following their 7th title of the year at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. They now sit top of the individual doubles rankings although they remain behind Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the team rankings. They beat French pairing Michael Llodra and Julien Benneteau in straight sets in the final and Mike said: “We were lucky today. We played the best match of the year,” he joked. “We had a great week. It is one of our favourite weeks of the year. We will be back in 2012!”
*Kim Clijsters’ victory at Cincinnati was her third title of 2010. She now has more victories this year than anyone else showing just how wide open the women’s game currently is.
*After winning over Taylor Dent at Cincy this week Rafa Nadal has been complaining about the speed the court is playing at. He seems to think that the two North American masters Events (Cincinnati and Montreal/Toronto) should play at the same slower speed rather than Cincy playing closer to the quick velocity of the courts at Flushing Meadows. “It is something (that) in the future the tournaments can work to make the courts more similar,” Nadal said. “For us it’s difficult to adapt, especially if you only have one or two days [between tournaments]. When you get to semifinals or final it’s not easy to adapt, especially in the beginning of the tournament. So it’s big change. This first match always is very dangerous.”
*Tennis legend Chris Evert has been inducted in to the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame this week after a career which took in 154 singles titles, including 18 Grand Slams. Evert lifted the then-Canadian Open four times in 1974, 1980, 1984 and 1985 while she also lost the final to Tracey Austin in 1981 and great rival Martina Navratilova in 1989. “Aside from the Grand Slams, you had the best crowds and you certainly had very knowledgeable crowds,” she told those gathered at the induction ceremony.
*Roger Federer’s finals appearance in Toronto has seen him reclaim the world No. 2 slot from Novak Djokovic in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings. He does, though, remain nearly 4,000 rankings points behind No. 1 Rafa Nadal. Andy Murray’s title lift has seen him consolidate his No. 4 slot ahead of Sweden’s Robin Soderling. Serbia’s Viktor Troicki (47) and the Belgian Xavier Malisse (49) both climb in to the top 50 while Russia’s Teymuraz Gabashvili sneaks in to the top 100.
*In the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings Caroline Wozniacki has climbed back above Jelena Jankovic to be world No. 2, although she, too, remains some distance behind No. 1 Serena Williams. Kim Clijsters’ Rogers Cup win sees her jump to No. 4 in the world while China’s Na Li re-enters the top 10. Ana Ivanovic is seeing a return for her improved form as she leaps from No. 62 to No. 39 and Timea Bacsinszky is in the Top 50 at No. 49. Dinara Safina’s woes continue as she drops from No. 35 to No. 70 this week and there’s a huge leap for Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova who rises from No. 114 to No. 76.
*Roger Federer has announced he will play this year’s Stockholm Open, according to Swedish English-language newspaper The Local. Federer was a late withdrawal in 2008 but this time promises to be ready for the event where he will face competition for the title from local hero Robin Soderling as well as thorn-in-his-side Tomas Berdych. “The competition has fine traditions with winners such as Borg, Edberg, Becker and Agassi and I also want my name engraved on the trophy,” he said speaking from Cincinnati.
*Fernando Gonzalez has taken a wildcard in to New Haven next week. Ana Ivanovic also hopes to return from injury at the event ready for the US Open.
Ivo Karlovic of Croatia smashed the all-time match ace record Friday, firing an incredible 78 aces – 19 more than the previous record – in his epic five-set marathon loss to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the opening match of the Croatia vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup semifinal in Porec, Croatia.
Karlovic’s 78 aces in his 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14 loss to Stepanek broke the previous record set by American Ed Kauder, who hit 59 aces in his first-round loss to countryman Ham Richardson at the 1955 U.S. Championships.
The five-hour, 59-minute match spanned 82 games and gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Croatia. Karlovic held a total of five match points in the epic, failing to convert for his country.
After exchanging early service breaks in the first set, Karlovic and Stepanek each held serve for 78 consecutive games on the indoor clay surface.
“We were not able to break each other,” Stepanek said. “The match was going crazy.”
Kauder, incidentally, is the step-father of famed U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. Following Kauder’s 59 aces in 1955, according to the authoritative book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) by tennis historian Bud Collins, the most number of aces in a match are as follows;
Aces In A Match
59 Ed Kauder (lost to Ham Richardson, 1st. rd., US Championships, 1955)
55 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7(1), 6-7(4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 1st round 2009 French Open)
54 Gary Muller (d. Peter Lundgren Wimbledon qualifying, Roehampton, 1993)
51 Joachim Johansson (lost to Andre Agassi, Australian Open, 4th rd., 2005)
51 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Daniele Bracciali, Wimbledon, 1st rd., 2005)
Also according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, the distinction of the longest match of all-time in terms of time goes to Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement, who during the 2004 French Open played for six hours, 33 minutes (played over two days due to a match suspension due to darkness). Santoro won the first round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14.
The longest match of all-time in terms of games played goes to Roger Taylor of Great Britain and Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, who played 126 games in the 1966 King’s Cup in Warsaw, Poland – Taylor winning 27-29, 31-29, 6-4.
The following are the lists of longest matches in time and games in the history of tennis, according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.
Longest Matches — Time
6:33 Fabrice Santoro d. Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14, 2004 French Open first round
6:22 John McEnroe d. Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6, 5th rubber, Davis Cup Quarterfinal, St. Louis, Mo, 1982
6:20 Boris Becker d. John McEnroe 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2, Davis Cup, Qualifying Round, Hartford, 1987
6:31 Vicki Nelson Dunbar d. Jean Hepner, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), 1984, Richmond, Va., first round (tie-break alone lasted 1 hour and 47 minutes, one point lasted 29 minutes, a rally of 643 strokes)
4:07 Virginie Buisson d. Noelle Van Lottum 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, 1995 French Open first round
3:55 Kerry Melville Reid d. Pam Teeguarden 7-6 (7), 4-6, 16-14, 1972 French Open third round
6:20 Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, 2003 Davis Cup semifinals 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17, 2002 Davis Cup Semifinal, Moscow
Longest Matches — Games
126 games Roger Taylor of Great Britain d. Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, 27-29, 31-29, 6-4; Kings Cup match, Warsaw, 1966
62 games Kathy Blake of the United States d. Elena Subirats of Mexico 12-10, 6-8, 14-12, first round, Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966
147 games Dick Leach and Dick Dell d. Len Schloss and Tom Mozur, 3-6, 49-47, 22-20, second round, Newport (R.I.), Casino Invitation, 1967
81 games Nancy Richey and Carole Graebner, d. Carol Hanks and Justina Bricka, 31-33, 6-1, 6-4, semifinal, Eastern Grass Championships, South Orange, N.J., 1964
77 games Brenda Schultz and Michiel Schapers d. Andrea Temesvari and Tom Njissen, 6-3, 5-7, 29-27, Wimbledon, mixed doubles, first round, 1991
Other “Century” (100 Game) Matches
112 games Pancho Gonzalez d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, Wimbledon, 1969
107 games Dick Knight d. Mike Sprengelmeyer, 32-30, 3-6, 19-17; qualifying, Southampton (N.Y.), 1967
100 games F.D. Robbins d. Dick Dell, 22-20, 9-7, 6-8, 8-10, 6-4; first round, U.S. Open, 1969
100 games Harry Fritz d. Jorge Andrew, 16-14, 11-9, 9-11, 4-6, 11-9; America Zone Davis Cup, Canada at Venezuela, 1982
144 games Bobby Wilson and Mark Cox d. Ron Holmberg and Charlie Pasarell, 26-24, 17-19, 30-28; QF, US Indoor, Salisbury, MD, 1968
135 games Ted Schroeder and Bob Falkenburg d. Pancho Gonzalez and Hugh Stewart, 36-34, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 19-17; Final, Southern California, Los Angeles, 1949
122 games Stan Smith and Erik van Dillen d. Jaime Fillol and Patricio Cornejo, 7-9, 37-39, 8-6, 6-1, 6-3; Davis Cup USA vs. Chile, America Zone match, Little Rock Ark., 1973
106 games Len Schloss and Tom Mozur d. Chris Bovett and Butch Seewagen, 7-5, 48-46; 2nd rd., Southampton, NY, 1967
105 games Cliff Drysdale and Ray Moore d. Roy Emerson and Ron Barnes, 29-31, 8-6, 3-6, 8-6, 6-2; QF, US Doubles, Boston, 1967
105 games Jim Orborne and Bill Bowrey d. Terry Addison and Ray Keldie, 3-6, 43-41, 7-5; Pennsylvania Grass, Phildelphia, SF, 1969
105 games Joaquin Loyo-Mayo and Marcelo Lara d. Manolo Santana and Luis Garcia, 10-12, 24-22, 11-9, 3-6, 6-2; 3rd rd., US Doubles, Boston, 1966
102 games Don White and Bob Galloway d. Hugh Sweeney and Lamar Roemer, 6-4, 17-15, 4-6, 18-20, 7-5; 1st rd, US Doubles, Boston, 1964
100 games Cliff Sutter and Gene McAuliff d. Frank Shields and George Lott; 12-14, 14-12, 25-23; SF, Buffalo Indoor, 1934
100 games Bob Lutz and Joaquin Loyo-Mayo d. Bill Bond and Dick Leach; 19-17, 33-31; QF, Phoenix,1969
This weekend’s Davis Cup tie between Argentina and Great Britain was always going to be difficult. Since that glorious weekend in late September when Tim Henman bowed out of the game after sending his country back into the higher echelons of the competition, Argentina have been looming.
The joy soon turned to a knowing dread that all the hard work would ultimately be in vain against a squad boasting one of the most formidable and compatible Cup teams.
Nalbandian, Canas, Chela and Monaco all ranked within the top 25 and all except Nalbandian clay court specialists the surface on which the tie would be played.
Of course, since then the Argentines have also been weakened after the injury/loss of form of Canas, Chela and most recently Monaco who sustained an ankle injury last week in the Movistar Open in Chile.
The revised South American squad now includes lower ranked players like Agusten Calleri (41), Jose Acasuso (50) and 31-ranked doubles player Sebastian Prieto.
As flimsy as this may be against any other team, the GB outfit, without the services of main talisman Andy Murray is now the least impressive set of players in the group. Yes doubles maestro and disgruntled sibling Jamie Murray will prove invaluable but it is Alex Bogdanovic who is ranked the highest of the UK’s competitors. At 188 in the world Bogdanovic rests below no less than 19 Argentine players.
Jamie Baker and Davis Cup debutant Ross Hutchins will play some superb tennis despite being undoubtedly awed by the occasion and stature of their opponents, but the result is a foregone conclusion.
Once again the lack of commitment to an increasingly unimportant tournament and indeed the struggling state of British tennis when compared to every other nation in the world will be agonisingly exposed.