A great trivia question out there that one might not find too easily with a Google search, and was touched upon briefly on American television by Cliff Drysdale and Patrick McEnroe on ESPN and Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson and John McEnroe on NBC, is the following:
“What was the last year in which there was no sitting on changeovers at Wimbledon?”
The answer is 1973, with the men’s final that year being between Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia and Alex Metrevelli of the Soviet Union.
Writes Kodes his new coffee-table glossy book JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN (New Chapter Press, available for $36.46 on www.amazon.com), “In the course of the entire Wimbledon competition we were not allowed to sit down during change-overs; that got introduced only the following year. My final with Metreveli was thus the last match when players could not rest – there were no chairs. We had thirty seconds to drink, towel off and get back to the other side of the court. It was ok with me. The matches flowed, there was nothing disturbing the continuity. But what a difference a year later, when I played against Connors in the quarter-finals and he sat down at 2:1 in the first set and stayed there for a minute and a half! That made a real difference….”
Kodes won that 1973 Wimbledon, defeating Metrevelli 6-1, 9-8 (5), 6-3.
JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN was originally published in Czech and provides a narrative and illustrated history of Czech tennis through the eyes of Kodes and author Peter Kolar. The book, filled with hundreds of unique and personal photographs, documents the successful journey of Kodes from political turmoil of the Cold War to international tennis fame, detailing the early days of darkness and family persecution in communist Czechoslovakia and the complexities of becoming a professional tennis player under a totalitarian regime. Entertaining anecdotes featuring Czech tennis legends Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova are also featured as well as the stories behind Kodes’ victories at Wimbledon and the French Open and his two runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. The book is available for $49.95 in bookstores and retail outlets across the United States and Canada. It is a deluxe glossy photo and text hard cover that fills 548 pages.
Kodes is considered the most under-rated tennis champion of the Open Era, reaching five major singles finals, winning the French Open in 1970 and 1971 and the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1973. He also reached the U.S. Open final in both 1971 and 1973, losing to Stan Smith and John Newcombe, respectively. Kodes played Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia for 15 years, leading his country to the final in 1975, where it lost to Sweden in Stockholm. His Davis Cup finale came in representing the team in 1980 when it won the championship over Italy in the final. Kodes has served as his country’s Davis Cup captain, president of the Czech Tennis Association, and tournament director of ATP Czech Open tournament.
By Peter H. Nez
After the forecast gloomed something awful, and tennis fans geared for their action packed Tuesday, by towing umbrellas and slickers, the quarterfinal between the defending champion Roger Federer, and the upstart who crashed the fiesta Del la Espanola last year: Robin Soderling, started on the eve of a potential 24 straight semis or better run by Federer, a streak that is unmatched in the sport, or any other sport for that matter. Broadcaster Patrick McEnroe called the streak, “The greatest streak in tennis history.” I go even further by calling it the greatest streak in sports history period.
Soderling the wiry, lanky Swede, with Dr. Suess face, and quirks to match, had a 0-12 record heading in. If given the right color, and the right kind of eyes, one could see the shades of the Grinch in the young Swedes smirks and overall demeanor on court. Could anyone foresee Soderling manifesting the Grinch that stole Tennis Glory? Two years in a row?
The first set was typical in their historic matchup. Roger, with majestic movement and balletic flourishes, took the opener 6-3. Commentator Brad Gilbert remarked, “I’ve never seen anyone slide on clay better than Federer,” going as far as saying, “Even his socks stay clean. He glides so well, that he doesn’t have the typical smears and smudges most players have.” It looked that number 24 for Roger would be inevitable. Then something happened that may have only happened once in tennis history in the past five or six years: Soderling’s racquet morphed into a 12 gauge shotgun, with the accuracy of a laser sighted pistol. Line after line bombasted and thumped past the Swiss Maestro’s flailing efforts to defend, set after set. Soderling was compiling an offensive so massive that the Roger base looked pitiful in comparison. You could feel the Swede’s pop on his racquet swelter the Maestro’s usually impervious front. This was reminiscent of the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro’s missile strike at the 2009 US Open. Forehands blistered, serves rocketed, and the flag was still there. This wasn’t the lefty anomaly of spin mayhem that Nadal mustered to garner a winning record against the holy one, but an all out onslaught of power that inspired large oohs and aahhs from the Parisian spectators. Darren Cahill repeatedly commented that Soderling was “Bringing the heat!” Soderling’s average second serve ranged in the 115 to 118 mph zone, and he held serve much more comfortably than he had in previous meetings. But wait a minute… this was the “Greatest of All Time” wasn’t it? There had to be a response right? One would think. But, the same thing happened that I have been witnessing happen, with scratchy head and bewilderment, for the past several years: The Federer kryptonite forehand emerged. Amidst rain soaked Parisian skies and grounds, the usually competent, jedi-light-saberesque forehand of Roger’s, sprayed the back of the courts almost as much as the groundskeepers’ water hose. Routine short balls ended up five feet out of bounds, and the Roger Empire in Paris was crumbling fast. And as Roger’s ground strokes became more wobbly, Robin’s ground strokes gained heat and the white lines of Roland Garros couldn’t have been bigger for the Swede, as stroke after ripping stroke painted the lines regularly. If one looked closely one could see smoke fuming from the top of Soderling’s Head racquet. If the story last year was ‘The Slaying of the Dragon’ than this year’s would indubitably be ‘The Demolition of The Royal Palace.’
Still, even after the near perfect assault of Soderling on the Royal grounds, Roger’s streak of 23 semis stands alone in sports history and in my mind will never be surpassed. In today’s game, where the top fifty players in the world would easily have been top ten or better fifteen years ago, to reach a milestone as that even supersedes the 16 slam titles in my humble view. And with Roger’s game and playing style, if he can remain healthy, which he has done, and doesn’t lose the hunger to play, which he has claimed is safely in tact until at least 2015, who knows? Could it be fathomable that Roger could be the one to beat the streak?
By David Goodman
It was 1998 and I was working for USTA/Eastern as their executive director. Former Eastern junior Justin Gimelstob, a Jewish fella like me, had just won his second straight Grand Slam mixed doubles title with Venus Williams. I said to myself, “Self, how many other Jews have won Grand Slam titles?”
I had to know.
The first players to make my list were fairly easy. Dick Savitt won the 1951 Wimbledon singles title. Ilana Kloss, who I knew as CEO of World TeamTennis, won the 1976 doubles title with Linky Boshoff (the only Linky to ever win a Grand Slam title). Angela Buxton won the 1956 French and Wimbledon doubles titles with the great Althea Gibson. That’s right, an African American and a Jew, playing together because no one else wanted them as partners. “Leben ahf dein kop!” my grandmother would say (“well done!”).
After a little digging, I learned that 1980 Australian Open champion Brian Teacher enjoys lox on his bagels, 1983 French Open mixed doubles champ Eliot Teltscher (with Barbara Jordan) is no stranger to a yarmulke, and two-time doubles champ Jim Grabb (’89 French Open with Richey Reneberg and ’92 U.S. Open with Patrick McEnroe) doesn’t sweat, he shvitzes.
Dr. Paul Roetert, then the head of sport science at the USTA, heard about my budding kosher list and told me that his fellow Dutchman Tom Okker, winner of the 1973 French Open doubles title with John Newcombe and the 1976 U.S. Open doubles title with Marty Riessen, was Jewish. In fact, I later learned that Tom often had troubles against Romanian Ilie Nastase, who would whisper anti-Semitic remarks when passing by on changeovers. That shmeggegie sure had chutzpah.
Back in ’98 I looked up past winners of Grand Slam events and came by Brian Gottfried, who I had met once or twice in his role as ATP President. He’s gotta be Jewish, I thought. His name is Gottfried, for crying out loud. So I called him. I left what had to be one of the strangest messages he’s ever received. I actually asked him what he likes to do when the Jewish high holidays come around. To Brian’s credit, he called back and told me he enjoys spending the holidays with his family and typically goes to the synagogue. Bingo! Another one down.
I honestly don’t remember when Vic Seixas came to my attention, but no matter, I had missed the greatest Jewish tennis player of all time, not to mention one of the greatest mixed doubles players ever. The Philadelphia native won eight mixed doubles titles (seven with Doris Hart), five doubles titles (four with Tony Trabert), as well as singles championships at Wimbledon in 1953 and Forest Hills in 1954. Vic still shleps from his home in California to attend various tennis events around the country. If you see him, give my best to the lovely and talented alter kocker!
So, for the time being my list was done. Until recently. Something told me to dust off the list (or clean the spots off my monitor) and see if any of My People had triumphed in recent years. And lo and behold, the land of milk and honey, the Jewish state itself, the only country in the Middle East without oil, came through. Meet Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.
Erlich and Ram won the 2008 Australian Open doubles title, and Ram also has the ’06 Wimbledon mixed (with Vera Zvonareva) and ’07 French Open mixed (with Nathalie Dechy) doubles titles on his shelf. But don’t worry, Shlomo Glickstein, in my mind you’re still the pride of Israeli sports. (In fact, in 1985 Shlomo was one French Open doubles win from making the list himself.)
So that was all, I thought. There were names on the Grand Slam winners lists that sounded good to me. American Bob Falkenburg, Czech Jiri Javorsky and American Marion Zinderstein (Zinderstein? She’s gotta be Jewish!), but I just can’t prove their Hebrewness.
Miriam Hall sounded Jewish, I thought, so I googled her, just as I did the others. There was nothing on the Internet to lead me to believe she was a member of The Tribe, but I did find her 1914 book, Tennis For Girls. Perhaps I’ll get it for my daughters, who will learn that “the use of the round garter is worse than foolish – it is often dangerous, leading to the formation of varicose veins.” Better yet, Miss Hall advised that “… the skirt should be wide enough to permit a broad lunge…”
On second thought, perhaps my kids aren’t old enough for such a detailed how-to book.
Alas, my search brought me to Hungarian Zsuzsa (Suzy) Kormoczy, winner of the 1958 French singles championships. I had found the athlete the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame calls the first and only Jewish woman to win a Grand Slam singles event.
Enter controversy. According to Morris Weiner (pronounced Weener), who wrote an article called “Jews in Sports” in the August 23, 1937 edition of The Jewish Record, Helen Jacobs’ father was Jewish. You know Helen. She owns nine Grand Slam titles, five of which are singles championships (1932-1935 U.S. Championships and 1936 Wimbledon). And while any Rabbi worth his or her tallis would probably argue that the mom had to be Jewish for it to count, I’m with Morris Weiner. Call me a holiday Jew, but Helen is on my list. Besides, according to The Jewish Record’s Weiner (there, I said it), Helen was the first woman to popularize man-tailored shorts as on-court attire. And her 1997 obituary says she is one of only five women to achieve the rank of Commander in the Navy. Happy Hanukkah, Commander Helen.
So, by my count there are 14 Jewish Grand Slam champions who have won a combined 44 Grand Slam titles. And perhaps there are more. Alfred Codman (1900 U.S. Singles Championships)? Helen Chapman (1903 U.S. Singles Championships)? Marion Zinderstein has to be Jewish, don’t you think? The work of a Jewish Grand Slam tennis historian never ends.
David Goodman has worked in the tennis industry for 20 years. He was executive director of USTA/Eastern, Inc., co-founder and CEO of The Tennis Network, executive director of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, and Vice President of Communications at Advanta Corp. He has been a World TeamTennis announcer since 2002, and is on the USTA Middle States Board of Directors. If he enters the US Open qualifying tournament in New Jersey later this month, he figures he’ll have to win about 20 matches in order to become the 15th Jewish Grand Slam champion.
Jewish Grand Slam Tournament Winners
Buxton, Angela 1956 French Championships Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson)
1956 Wimbledon Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson)
Erlich, Jonathan 2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Andy Ram)
Gimelstob, Justin 1998 Australian Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams)
1998 French Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams)
Gottfried, Brian 1975 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)
1976 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)
1977 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)
Grabb, Jim 1989 French Open Men’s Doubles (Richey Reneberg)
1992 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Patrick McEnroe)
Jacobs, Helen 1932 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships
1932 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)
1933 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships
1934 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships
1934 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)
1934 U.S. Mixed Championships (George M. Lott, Jr.)
1935 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships
1935 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)
1936 Wimbledon Women’s Singles
Kloss, Ilana 1976 U.S. Open Women’s Doubles (Linky Boshoff)
Kormoczy, Suzy 1958 French Singles Championships
Okker, Tom 1973 French Open Men’s Doubles (John Newcombe)
1976 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Marty Riessen)
Ram, Andy 2006 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Vera Zvonareva)
2007 French Open Mixed Doubles (Nathalie Dechy)
2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Jonathan Erlich)
Savitt, Dick 1951 Wimbledon Men’s Singles
Seixas, Vic 1952 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Mervyn Rose)
1953 Wimbledon Men’s Singles
1953 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1953 French Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1953 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubes (Doris Hart)
1954 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1954 U.S. Men’s Championships
1954 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)
1954 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1954 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)
1955 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1955 Australian Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)
1955 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)
1955 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)
1956 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Shirley Fry)
Teacher, Brian 1980 Australian Open Singles
Teltscher, Eliot 1983 French Open Mixed Doubles (Barbara Jordan)
Shahar Peer won the GDD-Guangzhou International Women’s Open, beating Alberta Brianti 6-3 6-4 in Guangzhou, China
Melinda Czink beat Lucie Safarova 4-6 6-3 7-5 to win the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada
Evgeny Korolev beat Florent Serra 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland
World Group Semifinals
Czech Republic beat Croatia 4-1 in Porec, Croatia
Spain beat Israel 4-1 in Murcia, Spain
World Group Playoffs
Switzerland beat Italy 3-2, France beat Netherlands 4-1, Sweden beat Romania 3-21, Serbia beat Uzbekistan 5-0, India beat South Africa 4-1, Belgium beat Ukraine 3-2, Ecuador beat Brazil 3-2, and Chile played Austria
Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay beat Peru 4-1; Group II Final: Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 3-2
Group I Playoff: China beat Thailand 4-1. Group II 3rd Round: Philippines beat New Zealand 4-1
Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic beat FYR Macedonia 5-1; Poland beat Great Britain 3-2; Group II 3rd Round: Latvia beat Slovenia 3-2; Finland beat Cyprus 3-2
“I feel like I was in a 10-round boxing match. Everything hurts.” – Ivo Karlovic, who served a record 78 aces, yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek.
“I fought for my country. It was an amazing game.” – Radek Stepanek, who survived Ivo Karlovic’s record 78 aces to win 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14.
“I have to go on holiday badly. I have a problem with my leg. I have a problem with my arm – everything is hurting. And I’ve got to do some babysitting.” – Roger Federer, after helping Switzerland beat Italy and remain in the World Group in 2010.
“I tried everything, but he was particularly good today.” – Potito Starace, who lost to Roger Federer to give Switzerland an insurmountable lead in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy.
“It’s not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call, in any sport, in any manner.” – Serena Williams, apologizing for her verbal assault towards a line judge during the US Open women’s final.
“I was very tired after the first two sets, lost the third and the fourth. But then, when I went to the locker room when the fourth set finished, I told my brother I wasn’t going to lose the match. This is the beauty of Davis Cup, the energy of a team and the energy of a country.” – Nicolas Lapentti, whose 6-4 6-4 1-6 2-6 8-6 victory over Marcos Daniel clinched Ecuador’s World Group Playoff tie over Brazil.
“It’s like David against Goliath – and we know who won that one!” – Andy Ram, before Israel played Spain in a Davis Cup semifinal. This time Goliath won.
“I hope it’s the start of something.” – Eyal Ran, Israel’s Davis Cup captain, on his team’s surprising run to the World Group semifinals.
“I hope to come back next year and do better. Unless you win, you can always do better.” – Lucie Safarova, who lost to Melinda Czink in the final of the Bell Challenge.
“I thought they (India) were trying different tactics. I couldn’t understand why he (Mahesh Bhupathi) was serving and staying back.” – Jeff Coetzee, who with his partner Wesley Moodie earned South Africa’s lone point in their Davis Cup tie against India when the Indian doubles team was forced to retire after Bhupathi suffered a groin injury.
“At last we are where we deserve to be.” – Andy Murray, on Great Britain being relegated to Group II in the Euro/Africa Zone after losing its Davis Cup tie to Poland.
Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 78 aces yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek in a marathon that lasted one minute short of six hours. Stepanek’s 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14 victory gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 first-day lead over Croatia. The Czechs captured the tie 4-1 and advanced to the final against Spain. The 82 games equaled the Davis Cup record since tiebreakers were introduced in 1989, but the elapsed time was well short of two matches played by John McEnroe, against Mats Wilander in 1982 and against Boris Becker in 1987, both of which lasted around 6½ hours. Karlovic wasted four match points in the final set, and there were only five break-point chances in the match. Karlovic obliterated both the men’s record and Davis Cup record for aces, marks he held. He had 55 aces in a loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the French Open in May, and his previous Davis Cup mark was 47, which he shared with Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten and Switzerland’s Marc Rosset.
Apparently apparel company Fila has deep pockets. According to reports, Kim Clijsters was given a significant bonus by her shoe and clothing sponsor for her surprising US Open singles championship. And where companies usually insure these bonuses, CNBC says Fila did not. The bonus is reported to be in the range of USD $300,000, which could buy a lot of shoes for Clijsters’ young daughter. Darren Rovell of SportsBiz says that while it’s standard practice for companies to insure their big incentive bonuses to minimize the risk, Fila didn’t do it with Clijsters since she had played just two tournaments following a two-year retirement. The odds on Clijsters winning were as high as 40-to-1.
You can excuse Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych if they want to take an extra nap or two. Between them, the Czech duo played for nearly 10 hours on the first day of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia. But the two then joined forces on the second day to play – and win – their doubles, clinching a spot for the Czech Republic in the final against Spain. On the first day, Stepanek needed one minute less than 6 hours to outlast Ivo Karlovic, and then Berdych was on court for 3 hours 48 minutes to down Marin Cilic in five sets. Together, Stepanek and Berdych needed only 2 hours, 16 minutes to defeat Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek. Stepanek and Berdych are unbeaten together in Davis Cup doubles, improving their record to 5-0, including 3-0 this season.
Even with Andy Murray playing all three days, Great Britain was relegated to Group Two of the Euro/African zonal play when Poland won their Davis Cup tie 3-2. Murray won both of his singles matches, but Michal Przysiezny beat Dan Evans in the decisive singles to give Poland the victory. It is the first time in 13 years that Great Britain has been dropped to the third tier of the world-wide competition. Evans also lost his first-day singles match to Jerzy Janowicz, But Poland’s Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Murray and Ross Hutchins in the doubles.
When talking about Belgium tennis, most are thinking about the women. The country has produced former number ones Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the latter winning the US Open earlier this month on her return to the sport following a two-year retirement. But Belgium’s men have also proved their mettle, keeping the country in the World Group for 2010 by besting Ukraine 3-2. And that came despite Belgium losing it’s number one player with an injury just hours before the Davis Cup Playoff began. Olivier Rochus withdrew with a leg injury, but his brother Christophe Rochus joined with Steve Darcis to help Belgium beat Ukraine.
Zina Garrison has settled the racial discrimination suit she brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA). A deal was signed on August 27, although its terms were not disclosed. A former Fed Cup captain, Garrison filed her lawsuit in February, saying she was unfairly treated, paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe while being held to higher standards. As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, at the time becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson to play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final. She became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup team when she replaced Billie Jean King in 2004. Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA is happy the case was resolved and looks forward to working with Garrison in the future.
STOP RIGHT NOW
Martina Hingis should stick to tennis and stay away from dancing, at least according to the British public. Hingis became the first celebrity to be ousted from the new BBBC reality talent show, “Strictly Come Dancing.” It’s England’s answer to the American TV show “Dancing With The Stars.” Hingis and her partner Matthew Cutler were in the bottom two when phone votes were added to the judges’ score. They then lost a dance-off against policeman-turned-crime-presenter Rav Wilding and his partner Aliona Vilani. Two years ago, Cutler teamed with Alesha Dixon to win the competition. This year, Dixon, a singer, is a judge on the show.
Admitting she lost her cool, Serena Williams has issued an apology for her outburst towards a line judge in her women’s singles final at the US Open. “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately,” Williams said. “I want to sincerely apologize first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the US Tennis Association and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” The line judge had called a foot fault on Williams on her second serve, giving Clijsters match point. William, who already had been handed a code violation for racquet abuse, unleashed a tirade towards the line judge, briefly walked away, and then returned for another blast at the official. When chair umpire Louise Engzell asked the line judge what had been said, she called for the tournament referee Brian Earley and eventually ordered a point penalty, the next level of punishment under the code. That gave the match to Clijsters. Williams was fined USD $10,000 for the infraction, and was further penalized USD $500 for the racquet abuse.
SPEAK YE NOT
Saying the “magic” word cost Roger Federer a USD $1,500 fine at the US Open. The Swiss superstar was fined for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the US Open final. Television microphones picked up the naughty word during the live broadcast of the match. Tournament spokesman said Federer was fined the same amount as two other players – Vera Zvonareva and Daniel Koellerer – for audible obscenities. Daniel Nestor was fined USD $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan, but the big loser at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was Serena Williams, who was docked USD $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. She also was fined USD $500 for racket abuse.
Melinda Czink is finally a winner on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The left-hander from Hungary beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to capture the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. Playing in her second career final, it was Czink’s first title. “It feels great. I haven’t really processed it year, but I will,” she said. Czink’s first final was somewhat historic. She lost to Ana Ivanovic in the final round of qualifying in Canberra, Australia, in 2005, gained entry into the main draw as a “lucky loser,” then met and lost to Ivanovic in the final, the only known time that has happened.
SAYS YOU, SAYS ME
India has two of the world’s best doubles players. Both are now sidelined with injuries. Leander Paes pulled out of India’s Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against South Africa because of an injury he sustained during the US Open, where he won the doubles title with Lucas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and reached the mixed doubles final with Cara Black of Zimbabwe. Mahesh Bhupathi, who lost the men’s doubles with his partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, suffered a groin injury during the Davis Cup doubles. The injury forced the Indian doubles team to retire, giving South Africa its lone point in the tie.
SOME KIND OF PROBLEM
Albert Costa has a problem every Davis Cup captain would love to have. Costa has been Spain’s Davis Cup captain for just nine months, but already he faces several decisions that could make him unpopular with several players and their supporters. Costa’s team just swept past Israel 4-1 to return to the final to defend their Davis Cup title. This time they will take on the Czech Republic, which beat Croatia. Costa’s problem. His top two players missed the Israeli tie because of injuries. Does he now name the players who took Spain to the final or go with the two missing players – second ranked Rafael Nadal and ninth-ranked Fernando Verdasco. Of course, there may be no problem. Although injured, both Nadal and Verdasco sat through all three live rubbers on Friday and Saturday, cheering on their compatriots.
SEATS ARE FREE
Admittance to next week’s Vogue Athens Open will be free. The organizers Liberis Publications and Hellenic Tennis Federation decided to open the doors to the public for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that will be played on the same courts where five years ago the Athens Olympic Games were held. The decision was also made because of the large capacity at the Olympic Tennis Center. All seats are available to anyone, beginning with the qualifying all the way through the final, which will be played on October 4.
Juan Martin del Potro’s five-set upset of five-time defending champion Roger Federer had the fans at home turning on their television sets. The men’s final, which was postponed because of rain to Monday, drew a 2.3 rating and 5 share on CBS. That’s up 35 percent from the 2008 final, which was also played on Monday because of rain delays. That was when Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets. Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
Things at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are normal. The US Open set an attendance record this year, just as it has done every year. This year’s attendance was 721,059, slightly more than the previous record of 720,227 set last year. The tournament also set a Week One attendance record of 423,427, including a single-day high of 61,554 for the combined day and night sessions on the first Friday.
Remember Melanie Oudin, the 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Well, she has signed on to be a pitch woman for AirTran Airways Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based company. Oudin became the youngest woman to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams did it in 1999. Oudin had victories over fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva, 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova. The youngster is currently ranked 44th in the world and is the third-highest ranked American woman, behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams. AirTran, a low-cost airline, recently took over as the official airline of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.
Guangzhou: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Kimiko Date Krumm and Sun Tiantian 3-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Quebec City: Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Sofia Arvidsson and Severine Bremond Beltrame 6-1 6-3
Szczecin: Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk beat Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. and Artem Smirnov 6-3 6-4
SITES TO SURF
Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com
Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay
$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard
$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard
$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay
Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard
$608,500 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard
$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard
USTA Becomes Title Sponsor And Host Of USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships In 2010
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 5, 2009 – The USTA announced today a three-year sponsorship agreement with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association to become title sponsor of the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships and 88 USTA/ITA Regional Tournaments starting next year. Additionally, the USTA will host the 2010-12 USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“This partnership with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association reinforces our commitment to college tennis and our efforts to create a complete competitive pathway for the USTA and American tennis,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development. “College varsity tennis is an integral part of the development process for the vast majority of American players.”
The ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships features a 32-player singles field and 16-team doubles field for men and women, including: champions from the 24 Division I ITA Regional Championships, the ITA National Small College champions, the winners of the ITA Men’s All-American Tennis Championships and ITA Women’s All-American Championships, and at-large and wild card selections made by the ITA National Tournament Committee.
“The ITA is delighted that our USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Singles and Doubles Championships will be sponsored by the USTA and hosted at the fabulous new indoor tennis facility at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” said David A. Benjamin, Executive Director, Intercollegiate Tennis Association. “The original Intercollegiate Tennis Championships were administered by the USTA at the turn of the 20th century, and it is wonderful to have this extraordinary event return to its historic roots in the first decade of the 21st century. We’re also excited to be the first national collegiate championship that will take place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and we know that all of our outstanding men and women varsity student-athletes will be thrilled to be competing on the same grounds as the past and current legends of the game.”
This USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Tennis Championships was inaugurated in 1978 for the men and 1984 for the women. Past champions and finalists include current professionals Benjamin Becker (Baylor), James Blake (Harvard), Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford), Laura Granville (Stanford), John Isner (Georgia),Kevin Kim (UCLA), and Lisa Raymond (Florida). Big Ten legends and Grand Slam finalists Todd Martin (Northwestern) and MaliVai Washington (Michigan) are also among the past champions.
“This is an exciting and important step in the right direction for the USTA,” said 1999 US Open finalist Todd Martin, who won the 1990 ITA Intercollegiate Indoor singles title as a sophomore at Northwestern University. “College tennis was a critical step in my development as a player. When I won the ITA Indoors, it was the first sign that maybe I had what it took to make it on the pro tour.” and the USTA is smart to recognize that 99% of our juniors should be going to college not only to get a great education, but as part of the player development path to the pros.”
The USTA/ITA Regional Championships include varsity college tennis players from all NCAA Divisions as well as small colleges and junior colleges from across the country. In all, close to 10,000 players from nearly 600 schools participate annually in the ITA Regional Championships. A total of 88 host sites include 24 from the Division I level and 64 from the small college divisions nationwide.
The new USTA Player Development unit has been created to identify and develop the next generation of American champions by surrounding the top junior players and young pros with the resources, facilities and coaching they need to reach their maximum potential. The Player Development program is based at the USTA Training Facility in Boca Raton, Fla., and also utilizes the USTA West Coast Training Center in Carson, Calif. Last year, the USTA announced its first two Certified Regional Training Centers, in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., as part of its expanded efforts to develop future American tennis champions. The USTA expects to name approximately ten more Regional Training Centers over the next five years.
The 2009 US Open draws have been made! Roger Federer opens with Devin Britton, a wild card entry and the NCAA Champion from Ole Miss, in the first round. Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic are in Federer’s half of the draw and could face off in the quarterfinals, while Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are in the bottom half of the draw.
Djokovic opens with Ivan Ljubicic. Roddick opens with Bjorn Phau of Germany and could play Dmitry Tursunov of Russia in the second round and John Isner in the third round.
In the bottom half, Rafael Nadal takes on Richard Gasquet of France, coming back from his drug suspension. Nadal could face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals. Del Potro could face Marat Safin in the second round. Murray faces Ernests Gulbis in the first round and could face Ivo Karlovic in the third round.
Fabrice Santoro, in his final major tournament appearance, faces Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. USTA National Junior Champion and Ohio State student Chase Buchanan plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the bottom half.
“The bottom half is completely loaded” said Patrick McEnroe on ESPNews broadcast of the draw.
The full men’s draw is available at www.usopen.org.
From the US Open draw being released on ESPNews on Thursday to Stonyfield Farm signing a one-year sponsorship deal with the US Open to more than 300 hours worth of US Open action to be streamed for free on USOpen.org, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.
- The US Open draw will be released to the public during a live draw show telecast on ESPNews at Noon on Thursday, August 27. The draw reveal show will be hosted by ESPN anchor Chris McKendry, while Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez will analyze the draw.
- The USTA announced on Monday that Stonyfield Farm, the world’s largest organic yogurt maker, has agreed to a one-year sponsorship deal with the US Open. Stonyfield will have signage throughout Arthur Ashe Stadium to promote the Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt brand and will offer yogurt samples to the fans throughout the tournament.
- More than 300 hours worth of US Open action will be streamed for free on the official website, USOpen.org. Throughout the coverage, more than 150 matches will be shown.
- The USTA announced the first year launch of the US Open Bracket Challenge, which allows fans to fill out the brackets online to compete for prizes, including a trip to the 2010 US Open. Fans have until Monday, August 30 at 11 a.m. EST to fill out their free brackets.
- The USTA also announced that a special opening night ceremony will take place at the US Open and will honor athletes who “give back” to the community. The ceremony will honor Andre Agassi, former USA soccer legend Mia Hamm, quarterback Doug Flutie and former basketball star David Robinson. The ceremony, which will be televised live on ESPN2, will also include an appearance by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
- On August 26 in Bryant Park in New York City, the DIRECTV ESPN US Open Experience will take place, which will include free tennis clinics and a tennis exhibition involving Venus and Serena Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan and former doubles players Luke and Murphy Jensen.
- US Open women’s main draw wild cards were awarded to:
- Kim Clijsters
- Vania King
- Alexa Glatch
- Gail Brodsky
- Mallory Cecil
- Christina McHale
- Kristina Mladenovic (French reciprocal wildcard)
- Olivia Rogowska (Australia reciprocal wildcard)
- US Open men’s main draw wild cards were awarded to:
- Taylor Dent
- Brendan Evans
- Rajeev Ram
- Devin Britton
- Jesse Levine
- Chase Buchanan
- Michael Llodra (French reciprocal wildcard)
- Chris Guccione (Australia reciprocal wildcard)
- Tennis Hall of Famer Pancho Segura will be on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 4 to sign copies of his biography, Little Pancho: the Life of Tennis Legend Pancho Segura.
- RadioTennis.com will be live on the internet during the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which began on Tuesday, August 25. Coverage starts each day at 11 a.m. and is free of charge.
- The Grand Slam of Asheville, which will take place on Friday, August 28, will no longer feature Andre Agassi and Marat Safin. Brian Wood, the promoter for the event, originally set the ticket prices in the $49-$2,000 range and since only 1,100 tickets were sold, he was forced to drop the former world No. 1 players due to financial reasons. American Rajeev Ram and Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo will now be featured during the upcoming exhibition.
- Venus and Serena Williams are buying a stake in the NFL Miami Dolphins.
- Tennis Canada is considering two mini-combined tennis events that will feature half the players in Toronto and half in Montreal with the winners of each bracket facing off on a Sunday final to determine the tournament champion.
- 16-year-old rising tennis star Michelle Larcher de Brito will now train at the Mouratoglou Academy in France. The former Top 100 player used to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.
- IMG has signed rising Bulgarian tennis player Viktoriya Tomova to a marketing and representation deal.
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 25, 2009 – The USTA announced today that five-time defending US Open champion and world No. 1 Roger Federer of Switzerland and world No. 1 Dinara Safina of Russia will be the top seeds at the 2009 US Open in men’s and women’s singles, respectively. The 2009 US Open will be played at the USTA BillieJean KingNational TennisCenter in Flushing, N.Y., August 31 – September 13.
Federer, winner of the French Open and Wimbledon this summer, is the No. 1 seed at the US Open for the fifth time. He will be followed by No. 2 Andy Murray of Great Britain; No. 3 Rafael Nadal of Spain, the reigning Australian Open champion; No. 4 Novak Djokovic of Serbia; and No. 5 Andy Roddick of Austin, Texas.
Safina, a three-time Grand Slam singles finalist, is followed by No. 2 seed and defending champion Serena Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., winner of 11 Grand Slam singles titles; No. 3 seed Venus Williams of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., a two-time US Open champion and winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles overall; No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva of Russia, the women’s singles gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics; and No. 5 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, the 2008 US Open runner-up.
Federer, 28, has won four titles this year including his first French Open title to become the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam. He then won his 15th career Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon to break Pete Sampras’ record. On Sunday, he won his 61st career singles title at the Olympus US Open Series event in Cincinnati. Federer will attempt to win three Grand Slam singles titles in the same year for the fourth time in his career.
Safina, 23, has won three titles this year, including her back-to-back victories at Rome andMadrid. She also reached the final of the French Open for the second consecutive year, as well as the Australian Open.
For 2009, the US Open followed the ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings to determine the men’s and women’s singles seeds. This is the eighth consecutive year that the US Open has seeded 32 players in both singles events.
The singles draws for the 2009 US Open will be announced live on the US Open Draw Show on ESPNews, Thursday, August 27 at 12 PM ET. Chris McKendry will host the show along with U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe and U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez serving as lead analysts.
- Dinara Safina, Russia
- Serena Williams, United States
- Venus Williams, United States
- Elena Dementieva, Russia
- Jelena Jankovic, Serbia
- Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia
- Vera Zvonareva, Russia
- Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
- Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark
10. Flavia Pennetta, Italy
11. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia
12. Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland
13. Nadia Petrova, Russia
14. Marion Bartoli, France
15. Samantha Stosur, Australia
16. Virginie Razzano, France
17. Amelie Mauresmo, France
18. Na Li, China
19. Patty Schnyder, Switzerland
20. Anabel Medina Garrigues, Spain
21. Jie Zheng, China
22. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovak Republic
23. Sabine Lisicki, Germany
24. Sorana Cirstea, Romania
25. Kaia Kanepi, Estonia
26. Francesca Schiavone, Italy
27. Alisa Kleybanova, Russia
28. Sybille Bammer, Austria
29. Maria Sharapova, Russia
30. Alona Bondarenko, Ukraine
31. Elena Vesnina, Russia
32. Agnes Szavay, Hungary
- Roger Federer, Switzerland
- Andy Murray, Great Britain
- Rafael Nadal, Spain
- Novak Djokovic, Serbia
- Andy Roddick, United States
- Juan Martin Del Potro, Argentina
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
- Nikolay Davydenko, Russia
- Gilles Simon, France
10. Fernando Verdasco, Spain
11. Fernando Gonzalez, Chile
12. Robin Soderling, Sweden
13. Gael Monfils, France
14. Tommy Robredo, Spain
15. Radek Stepanek, Czech Republic
16. Marin Cilic, Croatia
17. Tomas Berdych, Czech Republic
18. David Ferrer, Spain
19. Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
20. Tommy Haas, Germany
21. James Blake, United States
22. Sam Querrey, United States
23. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Germany
24. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spain
25. Mardy Fish, United States
26. Paul-Henri Mathieu, France
27. Ivo Karlovic, Croatia
28. Victor Hanescu, Romania
29. Igor Andreev, Russia
30. Viktor Troicki, Serbia
31. Lleyton Hewitt, Australia
32. Nicolas Almagro, Spain
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 20, 2009 – The USTA announced today a series of expanded fan enhancements and programming for the 2009 US Open. This year’s Opening Night ceremony will celebrate athletes who “give back” with a special appearance by Andre Agassi and other notable athletes. Other on-court ceremonies during the tournament will pay tribute to Arthur Ashe and Pancho Gonzalez. New features at the US Open this year include the recently opened USTA Indoor Training Center that will host an array of US Open activities, hundreds of hours of US Open programming on new cable broadcasters ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, and for the first time a live reveal show of the US Open Draw on ESPNews.
Other fan enhancements include the return of SmashZone, the premier interactive fan experience in tennis, and the return of wheelchair tennis to the US Open. The USTA will host its first-ever Family Day at the US Open, with reserved family courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Also at the 2009 US Open, the country’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-site, and the nighttime order of play will be reformatted so the men take the court before the women during some evening sessions. Instant replay also has been added to the Grandstand, meaning the US Open will now feature the system on all three primary show courts.
The US Open Welcomes ESPN and Tennis Channel: ESPN2 will make its debut as the lead cable broadcaster for the US Open, providing approximately 100 hours of TV coverage and more than 260 hours of coverage on its signature broadband network ESPN360.com. The US Open also will have a major presence on ESPN, ESPN.com, ESPN International, ESPNews, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Mobile Properties. All action on televised courts will be presented in High Definition. Tennis Channel will provide “round the clock” coverage of the US Open in 2009, with nearly 250 hours of planned total coverage. In addition to live match coverage, Tennis Channel will bring fans up-to-speed with post-match highlight shows and next-day preview shows.
Special Opening Night Ceremony: A ceremony celebrating athletes who “give back” will feature two-time US Open champion Andre Agassi, soccer’s Mia Hamm, quarterback Doug Flutie and former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson. The special ceremony on Arthur Ashe Stadium court also will include an appearance by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and featuremusical performances by Grammy winner Rob Thomas and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The O’Jays. The ceremony will be televised live on ESPN2.
Pancho Gonzalez Tribute: On Saturday night, September 5, special guests including actor Benjamin Bratt will host a tribute to former U.S. National Champion Pancho Gonzalez on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The tribute will celebrate Gonzalez on the 60th anniversary of his second consecutive victory at the U.S. Championships and will include a video presentation highlighting Gonzalez’ life and tennis career. Gonzalez family members, as well as a number of former players and Hispanic community leaders, will be in attendance.
Arthur Ashe Court of Champions Induction: Arthur Ashe will be inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in a ceremony held Thursday evening, September 10. In 1968, Ashe won the first US Open of the Open Era. An amateur at the time, Ashe became the first African-American man to win the US Open.
25th Anniversary of Super Saturday: On Saturday, September 12, the USTA pays tribute to the first official “Super Saturday,” which took place 25 years ago. The US Open stands alone among the four majors by packaging the Men’s Singles Semifinals and the Women’s Singles Final on the second-to-last day (and evening) of the event. The first Super Saturday was the biggest blockbuster of them all, featuring some of the greatest names in tennis—including Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, and Martina Navratilova—with all four matches on Center Court (including the men’s seniors match) going to the limit.
Live US Open Draw Reveal Show on ESPNews: For the first time ever, the US Open draw will be unveiled live from Bristol, Conn., airing uninterrupted on ESPNews from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 27. Defending champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams will join USTA President and Chairman of the Board Lucy Garvin for a viewing ceremony at The TimesCenter in Manhattan. ESPN anchor Chris McKendry will host with Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez analyzing the draw.
Live Online Streaming: USOpen.org, the official website of the US Open, will offer the most extensive live streaming in the history of the event, airing all matches within the ESPN and Tennis Channel broadcast television windows. Streaming up to five matches simultaneously, US Open.org will make more than 150 matches available for free within the United States. Live streaming also will integrate live match stats updates, fan commenting and picture-in-picture capabilities.
US Open Bracket Challenge: The 2009 US Open Bracket Challenge will make its debut, allowing fans to fill out the US Open brackets online to win prizes. With separate competitions for the men’s and women’s singles draws, the participants compiling the most bracket points in each draw by the end of the tournament will win a trip to the 2010 US Open. Prizes will be awarded to the second through 10th place finishers as well. The challenge can be accessed at USOpen.org and will go live following the US Open draw unveiling ceremony, aired live on ESPNews on Thursday, August 27.
USTA Indoor Training Center: The new 245,000-square-foot indoor building near the East Gate is a state-of-the-art training facility that opened in November and will house the fan-friendly SmashZone, USTA Membership, the Heineken Light Lounge and other activities during the 2009 US Open. Featuring 12 tennis courts, locker rooms, a fitness center and a full-service pro shop, the new building increases year-round access for tennis players to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the world’s largest public tennis facility.
Family Day: The US Open is holding its first-ever Family Day on Tuesday, September 1. Parents accompanied by children 14-and-under can sit together in reserved courtside seating in Louis Armstrong Stadium. The day’s activities will feature contests, giveaways, special entertainment attractions and autograph sessions. An exclusive family breakfast, located in the Corporate Hospitality Pavilion in the Indoor Training Center, is also available as an add-on package with a previously purchased September 1 day session ticket.
SmashZone: The premier fan interactive attraction in tennis, SmashZone will return to the 2009 US Open after a three-year hiatus. Located in the Indoor Training Center, the 20,000-square-foot interactive experience features the QuickStart Tennis play format (tennis scaled to size for kids) on two courts, as well as on “Center Court” where there will be revolving programming each day, including special guest appearances, games, contests and exhibitions. Other activities include a Fast Serve Cage, “American Express Challenge a Pro,” “The Training Zone,” a state-of-the-art electronic backboard, “You Call the Shots” where fans can become sports broadcasters, and tennis video games.
American Express “Challenge a Pro:” Using interactive GreenScreen technology, fans are invited to “virtually” play against tennis pros Sam Querrey or Caroline Wozniacki on-site at the US Open “SmashZone.” A unique digital video is captured and then sent to the participant via text, MMS or email, which can also be shared with family and friends and posted to their social networks.
American Express “Rally Experience:” All tennis fans on-site will be able to take their passion for tennis into the gaming world by simultaneously engaging in a virtual tennis match using their mobile phone as a controller with pro players Shahar Peer and Gael Monfils. American Express will donate $1 to the USTA Serves Foundation for every participant that plays throughout the US Open event, up to $10,000. Players and Open attendees can watch as the number of participants is tracked along with the time of each play on a giant LED screen located in the heart of the Open.
Best TennisTown: On September 6, the much-anticipated winner of America’s Best Tennis Town will be announced on-court in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Representatives from the finalist cities of Independence, Kan.,Midland, Mich., and Ojai, Calif., will attend the US Open, with the winner receiving $100,000 for tennis programs in its local area. The nationwide call required towns to self-nominate via application form and submit a five-minute video highlighting the community’s passion for tennis. Ten cities were chosen as semifinalists and then voted on by the general public.
Kids Nightly Anthems: An instant tradition from the past two US Opens, children selected from auditions at the US Open Casting Call held at Radio City Music Hall in early June will perform in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Out of the 225 children who tried out, 15 were selected to perform. The performers hail from the New York metro area, Philadelphia,Florida, Tennessee, and New Jersey. Two singers have performed in all three US Opens and two sisters from Brooklyn, N.Y., will take the stage together.
Record Prize Money: The 2009 US Open purse will top $21.6 million, marking the third consecutive year that the tournament’s prize money has increased by $1 million. Both the men’s and women’s US Open singles champions will earn a record $1.6 million with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money based on their performances in the Olympus US Open Series. The top three men’s and top three women’s finishers in the Olympus US Open Series will together earn up to an additional $2.6 million in bonus prize money and be crowned at the US Open, which provides a potential total payout of $24.2 million.
Instant Replay on Grandstand: The Chase Review electronic line calling system makes its debut on Grandstand, giving the US Open instant replay on all three primary show courts. In 2006, the US Open became the first Grand Slam tournament to use electronic line calling technology, which serves as an officiating aid while increasing the excitement for in-stadium fans and TV viewers.
The Return of Wheelchair Tennis: Wheelchair tennis returns after a 2008 absence due to the Paralympic Games in Beijing. The world’s finest players will take to the courts, as eight men and eight women will compete in the Wheelchair Division in singles and doubles, while four players will take part in the Quad Division in singles and doubles (non-gender specific). Play starts on Thursday, September 10, and runs through Sunday, September 13, with a 33 percent increase in prize money over the 2007 competition. Rules of wheelchair tennis are the same as able-bodied tennis, except that the ball can bounce twice.
New Nighttime Play Format: Breaking the tradition of putting the men’s match in the second half of the nightly doubleheaders, in 2009 there will be a new gender-equality policy under the lights. This year, some evening sessions will start with a men’s match followed by a women’s match.
New Champions Invitational Format: The US Open Champions Invitational returns for its fourth year with a new design—players will compete in the popular World TeamTennis format. Players will be divided into three four-person teams, with each team playing a total of two matches from Wednesday, September 9, to Saturday, September 12. Each match consists of one set each of men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. As in past years, each of the players invited for 2009 is either a past Grand Slam singles champion or finalist. This year’s invitees include Tracy Austin, Mary Joe Fernandez, Goran Ivanisevic, Hana Mandlikova, Todd Martin, Ilie Nastase, Stan Smith, Guillermo Vilas and Mal Washington, among others. The team captains will be Pat Cash, Billie Jean King and Ivan Lendl.
Heineken Light Lounge: Adults are invited to visit the Heineken Light Lounge, located in the front of the Indoor Training Center. Fans can relax and enjoy a Heineken in the lounge featuring the Heineken Wisdom Wall and the EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis game on the Nintendo Wii system. Limited edition US Open-Heineken merchandise will be available.
US Open Gallery – International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum: Each year since 1999, the US Open Gallery features a display from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. This year’s exhibit is themed, “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement” and showcases the Grand Slam achievement in singles, doubles, mixed doubles and on the junior level. The exhibit will display trophies, photos and artifacts from historic calendar-year Grand Slams, including Rod Laver’s in 1969, Steffi Graf’s in 1988, the doubles Slam of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver in 1984, as well as Stefan Edberg’s junior Grand Slam in 1983. The US Open Gallery is open daily and located in the southwest corner of Louis Armstrong Stadium.
US Open Tennis Auction: The US Open will host the first major tennis auction in North America, featuring a wide variety of tennis memorabilia including Bobby Riggs’ “Sugar Daddy” jacket from the historic 1973 Battle of the Sexes with Billie Jean King, trophies won by the legendary Bill Tilden and assorted racquets used by Jimmy Connors. The auction, hosted by the prestigious Guernsey auction house, will take place on Friday, September 11, at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 13, at 11:00 a.m. in the Indoor Training Center. Bidding can take place in person or live at auctioneers.com and guernseys.com. A portion of the proceeds benefit USTA Serves, the philanthropic entity of the USTA.
Green Initiatives: The USTA is expanding its efforts this year at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in order to ensure that the US Open will register as little impact on the environment as possible. The NTC grounds will feature 500 recycling bins and all paper products will be made with 30 percent post-consumer waste. Hybrid vehicles will make up 52 percent of the Lexus player transportation fleet (up from 30 percent in 2008) and Constellation Energy, the US Open’s energy provider, will supply Renewable Energy Certificates to offset the US Open’s electricity consumption. A reusable tote bag and organic T-shirts, including one designed by Venus Williams, will be sold on the grounds and a fan awareness campaign which includes player PSAs; an additional PSA from Alec Baldwin will run throughout the tournament.
Croatia stands just one win away from a third incredible win over the United States in Davis Cup play. Croatia, in fact, is the only nation the United States has never beaten in Davis Cup play and it will remain as such unless James Blake and Mardy Fish can sweep Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic in Sunday’s reverse singles. On Saturday, Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, cutting the Croatian lead from 2-0 to 2-1.
After losing to Croatia 3-2 in the opening round of the 2003 competition, the United States was again upset by Croatia in the first round in 2005, despite the United States having Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and the Bryan twins on the squad. That 2005 upset – a match that was ultimately the Davis Cup swan song for Agassi – is documented below.
The day after returning back in New York after the 2004 Davis Cup Final in Sevilla, Spain, where the U.S. lost 3-2 to the Carlos Moya/Rafael Nadal led Spanish team, U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe called into the nationally-syndicated morning radio and MSNBC cable show “Imus in the Morning,” where host Don Imus and his sports reporter Sid Rosenberg had been ridiculing McEnroe for the final round loss to Spain – or as Imus described “a team of leaf blowers and cab drivers.” McEnroe was introduced onto the program as the “tennis terrorist” in that he had embarrassed the United States to the largest degree.
After taking the playful ribbing, McEnroe told “the I-man” and gang that he wanted to have a serious reflection on the Davis Cup Final, stating that he felt proud in the way that he and his team represented the United States in Spain and that the conduct and sportsmanship displayed by his team “had restored a little respect for our country in a part of the world where the U.S. is not looked upon in the most positive way” in reference to Spain’s recent objection to the foreign policy of the United States, most notably the war in Iraq.
“Next year,” Pmac then boasted. “We’re going to bring back the Cup I-man.”
Imus, quick with the retort, then stated, “When the authorities find you, they’re going to ask that you give it back.”
The United States had drawn a first round home tie against Croatia and the USTA selected The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, as the site of the contest. Los Angeles is a town that like stars and while the U.S. Davis Cup team did have a star in Andy Roddick, the one star that it was missing was one Andre Agassi.
McEnroe had always kept Agassi in the loop as far as Davis Cup goes since taking over as captain and, after asking him to play in the Final against Spain, sensed that Agassi was considering a return to Davis Cup in 2005. McEnroe began to push the buttons again at the Australian Open, where Agassi first addressed his possible comeback after his second round romp over Rainer Schuettler.
“I’m going to have this discussion with Patrick, just because he’s made the effort to want to have conversations with me about it, so I’ll be respectful of that,” said the 34-year-old Agassi. “But it’s just two-fold. I have a lot of regret not playing because it’s one of the best memories of my career, playing Davis Cup, not to mention playing with another generation of guys that have such a good fellowship and team camaraderie together. To experience that would be a great feeling. But the other side of the coin is really what my decision has come down to in the past, which is what can I really do. I’ve never been a big fan of being halfway playing at your convenience. It’s always been something I haven’t respected a whole lot in the past when it’s come to that for others. The decision I had to make is not an easy one and it hasn’t been easy, but it’s something I’ll discuss with him.”
A few days after Agassi’s quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer, McEnroe phoned Agassi at his home in Las Vegas and offered to sit down with him in person en route back to New York after the Australian Open. Agassi told McEnroe he was still hung up on the year-long commitment that he expected he would have to give to Davis Cup. On Monday January 31, McEnroe arrived in Los Angeles from Melbourne and stopped off in Carson for a media luncheon to promote the USA vs. Croatia tie. McEnroe then revealed to the gathered guests and media that he was en route to Las Vegas that evening to meet with Agassi.
”I think (Agassi) finds that right now, it’s hard for him to commit to every match because of his family and his responsibilities and because he is going to be 35 and it’s a little taxing on him,” McEnroe told the assembled press. “My job is to alleviate his fear that we don’t necessarily have to have him play ever match… I don’t need to hear from Andre ‘I’m going to play every match.’ My feeling is, let’s see how it goes. Let’s get you to play in the first round and let’s see what happens and take it from there.”
McEnroe tagged his chances at “less than 50-50” before boarding the AmericaWest Airlines flight to Las Vegas. “I don’t have any expectation other than I hope he says yes,” said McEnroe. “I have to field the best team I can and I have to exhaust all possibilities. If that means getting on a plane and sitting down with him face to face, than that’s a small price to play for trying to get him to join up.”
McEnroe met Agassi and his coach Darren Cahill for a two-and-a-half hour dinner at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. The three reminisced about Davis Cup stories of old, talked of the passion of the current group of Davis Cuppers and addressed the concerns and issues that Agassi had with committing to Davis Cup. McEnroe later said he told Agassi, “Don’t cut off your options by saying it’s all or nothing, because to me it’s not. We’ve never had a year where we’ve had the same four guys every match. It’s too unrealistic for that to happen, with injuries, with different surfaces, with schedules, you name it.” McEnroe said he, the team and the tennis industry in general would not hold it against him if he could not commit for every match in 2005.
Two days later, after consulting with others in his inner circle – most notably his wife Steffi Graf – Agassi phoned McEnroe to tell him to count on him to be in Carson. Agassi then called all the members of the team – Roddick, the Bryan twins and Taylor Dent (who would travel to Carson as the “fifth” player on the four-man team and would have been the No. 2 singles player had Agassi not decided to play) – to get their approval on his returning to the team. On Monday, February 7, McEnroe made the Agassi news public in a conference call with the media.
“We’re going to take it one match at a time,” said McEnroe in explaining Agassi’s commitment to the team. “It’s not just this match. It’s not every match. I think it’s a case-by-case basis situation. He’s not coming back simply to play because it happens to be the week before Indian Wells. At the same time, I didn’t ask him to say, “Are you going to play every match?’ I understand where he is in his career, personally, professionally with all the different things on his plate. We will take it one step at a time…To me, it doesn’t make any sense to say to him, ‘Listen, you’ve got to play every match.” Things happen, things come up, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s having a tough major, whether it’s not having a tough major and maybe wanting some extra matches. I think you have to take all those things into account and understand that Andre is going to make the decision based on a variety of factors.”
Two days later, Agassi first addressed his return to Davis Cup following his first round win over xx in San Jose, Calif.
“What had a big influence on me was the camaraderie I saw last year,” said Agassi. “They’ve built a great team and are a part of something I never got to experience. I played Davis Cup with guys who were fighting to be the best in the world and everyone had a sense of their own goals…This group of guys really seems to look out for each other. I respect and admire it a lot.”
Agassi again addressed his absence from Davis Cup for five years, citing the demanding schedule and the difficultly in committing to potentially four ties during a calendar year, especially at age 34 with a wife and two children.
“I had gotten to a point that I didn’t have enough to give anymore when it came to the full goal of winning the Cup,” said Agassi. “I did it for 12 years and wasn’t convinced I could do it anymore and accomplish the things I needed to stay out here for the last few years. I never respected those guys who played at their convenience and didn’t play all times. Patrick was the first captain to show a strong sense of understanding and support in knowing it’s not realistic for me to play every tie.”
Roddick was estactic at the news and struggled to stay composed when Agassi reached him by phone while Roddick was in his car in driving several of his buddies around his hometown of Austin. Said Roddick, “I told him I was excited he was on board and then hung up the phone and started screaming.”
While the Agassi hype was substantial, insiders were paying close attention to the progress of the Croatian team. Ivan Ljubicic, who had almost single handedly defeated the United States in Zagreb two years prior in the first round, was fast becoming the hottest player on the circuit. Entering Davis Cup week, he posted three straight final round appearances in Marseille, Rotterdam and Dubai – the latter two losing to world No. 1 Roger Federer in three tight sets. Ancic had reached the semifinals of Marseille (losing to Ljubicic) and Rotterdam (losing to Federer) and had reached his second career ATP singles final in Scottsdale, Ariz., the week before Davis Cup. With Ljubicic and Ancic boasting a bronze medal in men’s doubles from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Bryan twins would also face a stern test. Cautioned Ancic, “In Davis Cup, there are many surprises.” Croatian Captain Niki Pilic, who also captained Germany to Davis Cup victories over the United States in 1985, 1987 and 1989, echoed the sentiment of his young charge. “In Davis Cup,” he said, “there are no rules.”
To add to the intrigue of the first round tie, Roddick suffered a scare during his quarterfinal win over Robby Ginepri at the ATP event in Memphis, spraining his ankle just two weeks before the start of the tie. Roddick chose to default his semifinal match with Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark rather than risk further injury that would jeopardize his form for the tie with Croatia.
“The repercussions of this injury won’t just affect me, but they’d affect my teammates it would affect me playing for my country as well,” said Roddick. “That’s a lot of responsibility that I have to take into consideration.”
Gavin Rossdale of the rock band “Bush” and the husband of rock star Gwen Stefani pulled the ceremonial chip at the Davis Cup draw ceremony at The Home Depot Center that placed Andre Agassi against Ivan Ljubicic in the opening rubber of the best-of-five match series. Roddick would follow against Ancic, while the Bryan twins would face Ancic and Ljubicic in Saturday’s doubles contest. Whether it was nerves, discomfort with the cool, blustery conditions or Ljubicic’s game, Agassi showed distress and tentativeness as his return to Davis Cup began at 1 pm Los Angeles time on Friday, March 4. There was no swagger in the legend’s step or game as Ljubicic swept the first set 6-3. Agassi got out of his funk in the second set, taking a 5-2 lead, but faltered when serving for the second at 5-3 and was skunked 7-0 in the second set tie-break to go down two-sets-to-love. The eventual 6-3, 7-6 (0), 6-3 loss marked only the third time that Agassi has been dismissed in straight sets in 36 Davis Cup singles matches.
His anger and displeasure was apparent on his face as he briskly left the court for the U.S. team locker room where his Head tennis racquet was tendered to multiple fragments scattered throughout the locker room within minutes.
“Today was one of those days,” said a dazed Agassi in the post-match press conference. “I just never got settled and never got comfortable. It was just frustrating. You’re trying hard to figure things out and sometimes you wonder if you’re just trying too hard…I was useless to be quite honest, as far as being clear on what was going on out there.“
Said McEnroe, “Everybody gets nervous playing Davis Cup – even Andre Agassi.”
Down 0-1, the match virtually sat on the shoulders of Roddick against Ancic, who quickly bounced upon the tentative Roddick taking the first set 6-4 as panic began to set in among the American hopefuls. The second set marked the start of “the street fight” as Roddick’s trainer Doug Spreen would later describe the Roddick swagger and attitude, that translated the match into a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory for the American – tying the first day’s play at 1-1.
‘I’m not going to lie, I was really tight during the first set today,” admitted Roddick. “I’m happy because I was able to dig down…I think this was a big steppingstone for me.”
The Bryans entered the pivotal doubles match on Saturday having not lost a set in Davis Cup play in their previous five matches. However, the twins from Camarillo, Calif., knew that Ljubicic and Ancic were by far the best team they had faced in Davis Cup play.
Jumping like a pair of Mexican jumping beans, the Bryans were quick out of the blocks to take the first set 6-3 in just 27 minutes, but Ljubicic and Ancic would stay tight in the second set, forcing a tie-break. The Bryans would hold three set points, including one of Mike Bryan’s serve at 7-6, but were unable to deliver what would be a near lethal two-sets-to-love blow. They surrendered the second set tie-break – and their first ever set in Davis cup play – 10 points to eight and gave new life to Ancic and Ljubicic. As the Croatians gained in confidence, the Bryans appeared drained and dismayed. As the sun dripped below the Pacific Ocean just xx miles away, conditions became cooler and slower, helping Ljubicic and Ancic close out the final two sets for the vital 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-4 win and the 2-1 lead for Croatia heading into the climatic third day.
Former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson entered the U.S. team locker room to try and cheer up the Bryan twins. “You guys think you are going to win every match you play?” a jovial Jackson told the Bryans as one must of wondered whether Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal received the same speech after losing an NBA game. Jackson’s words could not take the sting out of the loss for the Bryans, who for the first time tasted Davis Cup defeat in front of their father and numerous friends and family from Southern California
“We’ve had a lot of disappointing losses, but this ranks pretty high,” said Mike Bryan. “It hurts.”
McEnroe’s posture still exuded confidence. After all, the United States was still favored to win the final two singles matches – Roddick against Ljubicic in the fourth rubber and Agassi against Ancic in the fifth rubber. Roddick held a 5-1 career record with Ljubicic, having won the last five meetings, while Agassi’s experience and aura would make him the clear favorite against the 20-year-old Ancic, who had lost to Agassi in their only previous meeting.
“If there are two guys you want to roll out down 2-1, we’ve got the two guys we want,” said McEnroe. “I’m extremely confident that they’re both going to play well. Andre’s been in this position before and Andy’s been in a position where he’s had to win a match. These are the two guys we want to bring out. This is our best team. It’s our one-two punch. We’re playing at home. They’re going to have to play with a little more pressure on them now. Up until now, I think they’ve been able to sort of swing away and been the underdogs and go for their shots. If they can do that, if Ljubicic can do that against Agassi, the Bryans and Roddick, than that’s too good. But we’ll see if he can.”
Roddick and Ljubicic would battle in the fourth rubber of the tie – Ljubicic, like in 2003, trying to shut the door on the Americans – while Roddick trying to stave off elimination, a position he had been in on two other occasions without success – against France in 2002 and Spain in 2004.
After splitting the first two sets, the epic – and pivotal – third-set tie-break ensued with neither Roddick or Ljubicic willing to give the other the two-sets-to-one lead. Roddick jumped to a 4-1 lead and held three set points throughout the 24 point tie-break – tying the longest tie-break in U.S. Davis Cup history. However, Roddick’s inside-out cross court forehand at 11-12 landed wide giving Ljubicic the fourth set. The two players would again go toe-to-toe in a tie-break in the fourth set, with Ljubicic fighting off four set points before double faulting at 7-8 on the fifth-set point to give Roddick the set and square the match at two-sets apiece. The momentum appeared to be with Roddick, but he was not able to capitalize. Ljubicic ran off with the first eight points of the fifth set, breaking Roddick at love in the first game of the fifth set and cashing in on an insurance break in the fifth game of the final set. Three game later, Ljubicic closed out the crushing 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11), 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory in three hours and 57 minutes.
Roddick and McEnroe slumped on their courtside seating while Ljubicic, Ancic, Pilic and the rest of the Croatian delegation danced and sang on the court with handfuls of Croatian fans in the audience waving flags and rejoicing in the historic first round upset. It marked the first time in 105 years of Davis Cup that the United States was eliminated in the first round on home soil.
Ljubicic would become one of only two players to win three live rubbers against a U.S. Davis Cup team on two occasions – joining Mexico’s Raul Ramirez who turned the trick against the United States in the 1975 and 1976 Davis Cup campaigns.
In all, Ljubicic labored for a total of eight hours and 44 minutes over 12 sets over the weekend. His career record against the United States in Davis Cup play now stood at 6-0 – with only Laurie Doherty of Great Britain holding a better record against the U.S. with a 10-0 record in matches against the U.S. in 1902, 1903, 1905 and 1906.
“I have no words, really,” said Ljubicic. “To beat Andre, the Bryans and Roddick in three days….it is amazing.”
Roddick was crushed, irritable, devastatingly angry and disappointed. He slumped in front of the microphone in the interview room and was asked to share how he was feeling.
“Probably not in words you would understand,” he slurred. “It’s tough to describe. Really, really bad….There’s no worse feeling than losing a match in Davis Cup in our sport, especially when your teammates are counting on you.”
“It hurts a lot,” said McEnroe, who spoke with the press after coaching Bob Bryan to a three-set win over Roko Karanusic in the dead-fifth rubber that made the final verdict a 3-2 win for Croatia. “After getting to the final last year, starting off at home with our best team, it’s disappointing.”