By Aimee Schroeder (www.schroeds.wordpress.com | @Schroeds2)
By now we are almost halfway through the second week of tennis at Roland Garros, and just a few days away from crowning this year’s winners. While the newsworthy stories over the first few days of a slam, usually consists of the upsets, the fluff – not just who’s wearing what – but also the literal fluff at this year’s French Open, in the form of the controversial tennis balls. By the start of the second weekend, things have settled down somewhat and it’s perhaps easier to gauge who the real title contenders are, and the opportunity for a few lesser known players to win over fans by making a good run into the second week at a grand slam arises.
Several happenings of the last few days have been noteworthy; not least of them Rafael Nadal’s perceived lack of form. The top seed and defending champion has surprised with his sometimes lacklustre play and has certainly been questioned about it nonstop since his 5-set first round encounter against American server, John Isner. The progress of several French players into the second week of the draw has drawn plenty of attention too. Marion Bartoli, a former Wimbledon finalist has outdone all the men from her country by reaching the semi-finals. Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon both however had good runs at the tournament too. In addition Swiss lefty, Patty Schnyder, announced her retirement from the sport. While these were interesting events to transpire, they don’t quite make the top 5 of the last 5 days of tennis.
The rise of several young women’s players in the absence of the more experienced one’s in the second week of a grand slam ranks number five on the list. Andrea Petkovic, the biggest personality to hit the tour in ages along with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Victoria Azarenka are all top 20 players who have made great strides towards being more consistent on court at the 2011 French Open, resulting in each of theirs best showing at a grand slam being equalled or improved. Particularly Azarenka seems to have mastered the art of keeping her composure and has a great opportunity to go even deeper into the tournament. She and the other two ladies mentioned are sure to do well at Wimbledon and the US Open too, with their modern hard-hitting styles and excellent double fisted backhands.
Ranking number four on the list is the exodus of top seeded women’s players from the draw over the last 5 days. Starting with 4-time major winner, Kim Clijsters and continuing on with the rest of the top 3 players, Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, and also including Sam Stosur, defending finalist here at the French Open, a whole host of top ranked players lost significantly earlier in the tournament than they were seeded to.
Unfortunately the criticism levelled at them is immensely high, and from a variety of sources including former players. World number 1, Wozniacki, got a roasting from the press for not living up to her seeding. The fact that the WTA’s rankings are flawed is frequently mentioned, along with the idea that the women’s game lacks real depth. Whereas in the past, other players have been critical of the then number 1’s for not having a grand slam title to their name (Serena Williams stating that everyone knows who the real number one is – implying her, while non grand slam winner, Dinara Safina had the official ranking) it was a breath of fresh air to learn of a sense of camaraderie on the women’s tour – through Azarenka’s fervent defence of Wozniacki and her early exit from the French Open.
There have been several epic five set matches in the men’s draw which makes it on this list at number three. Most recent was the Viktor Troicki vs Andy Murray match, in which Murray came back to win from a 2-set deficit. The Albert Montanes – Fabio Fagnini match which was eventually won by a so badly injured Fagnini that he could not continue on in the tournament, Allejandro Falla’s eventual loss to the Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela, and Gael Monfils crowd inspiring win over the clay courter, David Ferrer, were just a few of the long encounters that had viewers on the edges of their seats. Matches like these add to the drama, and highlight the value of having five set matches in grand slams. The better player wins far more often than not, and the intense physical battles are a great advertisement for the athleticism, training and fitness which professional tennis requires.
Close to the top of the list at number two is manner in which Novak Djokovic, yet to lose a match this year, and Roger Federer, for a change playing with no pressure from the media to win, have managed to progress through the draw. Both have been in excellent form, spending few moments longer than they have to out on court. Djokovic particularly is in the most amazing form he is ever likely to be, while Federer is the only player in the draw who hasn’t dropped a single set. Their impending semi-final match is sure to a great display from two great ball strikers.
At number one is the mental strength and sheer will to win on display from two ladies who could still meet in the finals of the French Open 2011. Both Maria Sharapova and defending champion, Francesca Schiavone, have done far better than they probably ought to at this tournament. Sharapova, who a few years ago likened her movement on clay to being “like a cow on ice”, has managed to go deep into the second week at the clay court major, despite the obvious deficits in her game. Schiavone, while playing a beautiful brand of tennis – her backhand especially is a shot at which to wonder – has definitely had an unconventional career trajectory. Going deep in grand slam should probably have started happening far earlier in her career, or not all.
Despite both of them having very tight matches, which they seemingly just squeaked through, both still remain in the draw, and are considered title contenders. Although the both of them do have plenty of great shots in their respective repertoires, it is their fighter, never-say-die attitudes which tops this list. Neither Sharapova, nor Schiavone knows how to give up, and a match against them is truly never won until the umpire has called the score to be game, set and match.
The Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina has officially begun. It’s a WTA Premier event that attracts some of the biggest names in women’s tennis. This year’s field includes the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, Jelena Jankovic, Shahar Peer, Marion Bartoli, and more. The main draw begins on Monday, but the top eight seeds receive byes in the first round. No tournament would be complete without the draw party.
I’ve never been to a draw before, so I was eager to see this one. The draw party was held off site at the Daniel Island Grille, about a half mile from the Family Circle Stadium. I’m not sure how it works at other tournaments, but the draw party was open to the public. There were a few rows up seats set up in the restaurant and people were encouraged to sit up close. Patty Schnyder, who is participating in the Family Circle Cup for the 15th consecutive year, and Shelby Rogers, a local Charleston girl making her first main draw appearance at the Family Circle Cup, were on hand to perform the draw.
The Family Circle Cup trophy was used to hold the chips, each of which had a number corresponding to a player in the main draw. Shelby and Patty each chose a chip, and in an effort to encourage crowd participation, each member of the audience was asked to draw a chip. I thought this was an excellent idea. It really made people feel like they were a part of the action.
Shelby really seemed to be a local favorite. A lot of the people in attendance knew her, and local reporters all wanted the chance to talk to her. When it came time to choose her opponent, Shelby was offered the chance to draw the chip. She looked horrified at the idea and instantly declined. I can’t say I blame her. You can’t blame yourself for a bad draw if you didn’t choose the chip. An audience member eventually ended up drawing Jill Craybas, the 36 year old American, as Shelby’s first round opponent.
My impression is that this draw is quite different from the way other tournaments do it, but I loved the fact that everyone was encouraged to attend and participate. Fans really enjoy being part of the action. The tournament seems to be a bit cutting edge in that respect. They’ve also embraced new media, live tweeting the draw and the other important events, as well as developing a mobile website so you can easily access information on your phone.
It was 10 years ago on September 27, 2000 that Roger Federer concluded his participation at the Sydney Olympic Games when he was defeated by unheralded Arnaud DiPasquale of France 7-6 (5), 6-7 (7), 6-3 in the bronze medal match in men’s singles.
Despite losing this important match – the only time Federer has been this close to winning and Olympic medal in singles (he did win Olympic gold in 2008 in doubles) – the 2000 Olympic Games was a pivotal point in Federer’s life. It was at these Sydney Games 10 years ago this week where Federer and his now wife Mirka met and became a couple. Rene Stauffer, in his book ROGER FEDERER: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com), describes Federer and his “Olympic Experiences” in this exclusive book excerpt.
The Swiss Olympic tennis team was in shatters at the start of the Sydney Games. Martina Hingis and Patty Schnyder both withdrew from the women’s competition at the last minute. Marc Rosset, the 1992 Olympic champion was also a late withdrawal, costing Federer an opportunity to play Olympic doubles. The Swiss Olympic Committee was furious. Tennis players were depicted as pampered and spoiled athletes who didn’t appreciate the true value of the Olympic Games.
The Swiss tennis team shared living quarters, socialized and dined with fellow Olympians from the Swiss archery, judo and wrestling teams in the Olympic Village, where Federer had the privilege of occupying a single room.
“That was the best event I ever attended,” Federer said years later as he embellished his long-time fascination of the Olympic Games. The contrast to the monotony of life in the hotels could hardly be bigger. The Opening Ceremonies, the interaction with athletes from other sports, the atmosphere in the Olympic Village and the feeling of belonging also made an impression on Mirka Vavrinec, a member of Switzerland’s women’s Olympic tennis team. “The Olympics are fantastic, unbelievably beautiful, unparalleled,” Vavrinec gushed of the Olympic experience courtside following a practice session. She also had nice things to say about Federer, the youthful star of the Swiss team, who was three years her junior—“I had no idea he was so funny.”
Mirka was born an only child in Bojnice, in the Slovakian part of Czechoslovakia in 1978. Her parents fled the Communist country with her when she was two-years-old to make a new life for themselves in the Swiss border city of Kreuzlingen on Lake Constance. Her father, Miroslav, a former javelin thrower, and his wife, Drahomira, ran a jewelry shop. In the fall of 1987, when Mirka was nine, Miroslav took his family to nearby Filderstadt, Germany where Martina Navratilova happened to be competing in a WTA Tour event.
The Czech-born Navratilova dominated women’s tennis and, like the Vavrinecs, defected from Czechoslovakia. When in Filderstadt, she warmly greeted the Vavrinec family. “We got to stay a few days with her,” Mirka said of the trip. Navratilova asked her if she played tennis. Mirka said no, “I do ballet.” The eight-time Wimbledon champion (she would go on to win her ninth title in 1990) advised her to try tennis. She said that Mirka’s good physique
and athletic talent would serve her well on the tennis courts. Navratilova put out feelers and asked the former top Czech player living in Switzerland, Jiri Granat, if he could test and coach the girl.
Navratilova’s instincts were correct. Mirka immediately showcased great skills with a tennis racquet. But not only that, she also had grit and endurance. Tennis instructor Murat Gürler, who tutored her in her early years, recalled that she was “completely into it” when it came to tennis. Mirka told the Swiss tennis magazine Smash in 1994, after winning the Swiss juniors’ title for 18-year-olds at the age of 15, “Tennis is my life, but it certainly can’t be easy to work with me because I can be really stubborn.”
Her ambition and her uncompromising nature were tremendous. In 1993, following a tournament in the city of Maribor in Slovenia, she convinced her coach to take her to a tournament in Croatia. The trip required travel through a part of Croatia where there was still fighting in the Balkan civil war. The two passed through destroyed villages, tanks and burned cars. She was afraid, but her ambition was greater.
Mirka ranked among the top 300 in the world by the time she was 17. A protracted heel injury in 1996 kept her off the circuit for months, causing her ranking to fall over 300 places. She valiantly fought back to No. 262 in the rankings by the end of 1997 and looked euphorically to the future. “I really want to place in the top 30 in the world rankings,” she said.
Mirka meanwhile obtained a Swiss passport. The only connections she still had to her native land were a few relatives still living in Slovakia as well as the confused mix of German and Slovakian spoken at home. She maintained loose ties to Navratilova and was fortunate to find a patron, the Swiss industrialist Walter Ruf, who helped her to survive financially on the women’s tennis circuit.
Thanks to her ambition and her endurance—as well as to her backhand that some even considered the best in the world—Mirka cracked the top 100 in the world rankings for the first time in 2000. She luckily received a wildcard
entry to play at the Olympic Games in Sydney, even though her ranking did not qualify her to play.
While Mirka won only two games in her first-round match against eventual silver medalist Elena Dementieva of Russia, Federer began to rack up victory after victory. Benefiting from an Olympic men’s field without Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, and upset losses by US Open champion Marat Safin, Tim Henman and Michael Chang in his half of the draw, Federer won four straight matches and found himself in the semifinals. It was his best result of his career to date and surprisingly, it came at an outdoor event
At age 19, Federer was in position to become the youngest Olympic gold medalist in modern tennis. However, he played cautiously against the German Tommy Haas, ranked No. 48 (12 places behind Federer) in the semifinals and decisively lost. He did, however, still have a chance to win the bronze medal, but instead of registering a lifetime achievement of winning an Olympic medal, Federer suffered one of his greatest disappointments, losing to Arnaud DiPasquale of France, ranked No. 61 in the world. Despite being up 3-0 in the first-set tie-break, Federer lost seven of the next nine points to lose the tie-break 7-5. In the second set, Federer fought off a match point in the tie-break at 6-7 and won the tie-break two points later. Federer broke DiPasquale, who began suffering from cramps, to take a 2-1 lead in the final set, but the Frenchmen rallied to win the two-and-half-hour match 6-7 (5), 7-6 (7), 6-3.
“Considering how the match was going, I should never have lost,” Federer said, hardly able to hold back the tears. “I really wanted to be standing on the podium. Now I have nothing to take home except my pride.” But Federer, who had recently said “I would choose tennis over a girlfriend” would leave Sydney with more than his pride. His friendship with Mirka blossomed into romance. Mirka said at first she wasn’t aware that he had taken a romantic interest in her. “He didn’t kiss me until the last day of the Olympic Games,” she admitted.
They parted ways for now. She followed the women’s tour to Japan and then to Europe. However, the relationship became more intense over the next few months. The public still had to wait a long time until stories and official pictures of the new “dream couple” surfaced. When a newspaper disregarded Federer’s request to please keep his new relationship under wraps, he reacted angrily. “I don’t think that this has to come out in public,” he complained. “I spoke with my girlfriend and she didn’t want this exposed either, because then we would both just have to talk about our relationship and not about our tennis anymore.”
Mirka’s career, however, didn’t work out as hoped. She managed to reach the third round of a Grand Slam tournament at the 2001 US Open, losing to future world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, but the price she had to pay for her victories was high. Like her Swiss colleague, Martina Hingis, Mirka encountered problems with her feet—despite several operations and rest. Her career-high ranking was achieved on Sept. 10, 2001 when she ranked No.
76 in the world, but a torn ligament in her right foot prevented her from further improving and forced her into a hiatus that lasted for months. The 2001 US Open was her last great success on the tennis tour—with the exception of the Hopman Cup in Perth in January of 2002 where she was able to celebrate a victory over Argentina alongside her boyfriend. Shortly afterwards, at the age of 24, she played her last match on the WTA Tour in Budapest. She was forced to have another operation and was once again on crutches. It was still quite some time until she finally realized that her career was really finished. Her record as a professional concluded with 202 victories and 159 defeats—including the lower-level challenger and satellite events—with overall earnings of $260,832.
The abrupt and premature end of her career cast her into a depression. “It’s not easy when you do something you like your entire life and then have to quit it from one day to the next,” she said later in an interview at Wimbledon. “I fell into a deep hole. The most difficult part was when I was home for eight months and couldn’t do anything. I had a lot of time to think and watch tennis on television. Roger was my greatest support back then. He gave my tennis life back to me. When he wins, it’s as if I win as well.”
Anyone else so annoyed with the Montreal weather last week at the Rogers Cup 2010 final? So was I. Continous interruptions made me not want to watch it all anymore. Though it’s tough to fight the forces of nature.
What I was curious about was the following: What do tennis players find of the rain delay? And thanks to the WTA Tour , I finally know.
Watch the following video as Gisela Dulko, Patty Schnyder, Jarmila Groth, Abigail Spears, Natalie Grandin, Arantxa Rus, Kateryna Bondarenko, Lucie Safarova, Aravavne Rezai and Ipek Senoglu explain you what they think of the rain delays.
Anyone else surprised by the sudden withdrawal of Serena Williams from the US Open 2010? I got over that quickly. Caroline Wozniacki is now the new number one seed at the upcoming edition of the US Open and I couldn’t have picked a better one. Yes , she is a little out of shape but the Roger Cup 2010 proved that the girl still has plenty of game left. And she’d better…I am expecting her to win at least one grand slam and to reach the number one spot on the WTA Tour. And have been expecting that since she entered the WTA Tour. She’s got the talent and the right attitude for it.
Here is what she’s got to say on the US Open 2010:
I was browsing the forums when I stumbled accross these great modeling pics of Elena Dementieva.
The photos look amazing and who am I to deny you any such pleasures? Exactly…that’s why I am posting them here.
2010 has seen many “tennis firsts” typified with Francesca Schiavone becoming the first Italian lady to lift a major at Roland Garros.
Last week landed us with another – an Estonian’s name etched on to a WTA title for the first time. That name is Kaia Kanepi as she lifted the Palermo Open much to her country’s delight. This isn’t just a flash in the pan either. She is the only Estonian woman to have reached the WTA Top 20 players in the world (ranked at 18 in May 2009) and she also became the first Estonian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter final at the 2008 French Open, a feat she repeated at Wimbledon this year.
She rates clay as her best surface so it will be no surprise to those following her career that Palermo is her first tour victory. But for those who do not, let us give you another insight in to a first-timer in the WTA winners’ circle.
Kanepi was born June 10, 1985 in Haapsalu, Estonia to her real estate broker father Jaak and homemaker Anne who both also played tennis. She began playing aged 8 and topped the ITF Junior Rankings before turning pro in 2000. She still lives in Haapsalu and currently plays without a full-time coach or agent. Her former coaches include Luca Appino and fellow Estonian player Mait Kunnap.
After plying her trade and learning her sport on the circuit for six years she began to taste her first real success in 2006. At the Gaz de France Stars tournament in Hasselt, Belgium, she came through three qualification rounds before defeating Anne Kremer, Nathalie Dechy, Eleni Daniilidou, Francesca Schiavone and Michaella Krajicek before eventually succumbing to Kim Clijsters 3-6, 6-3, 4-6.
Rather than resting on her laurels Kanepi pushed on. Starting the 2007 season in Australia she reached the second round of the Open, defeating Italy’s Flavia Pennetta before losing to local girl Alicia Molik. The rest of her season was mixed but she recorded some impressive results over a few of the world’s top players including Patty Schnyder at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.
2008 saw that impressive run at the French which was eventually halted in the quarters by Svetlana Kuznetsova while she pushed Serena Williams hard in their first round encounter at Wimbledon before falling 5-7, 3-6.
Another quarterfinal followed after qualifying for the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo where Dinara Safina halted her progress and she followed that up with a semifinal defeat to top seed Maria Kirilenko at the Hansol Women’s Open in Seoul.
She capped off a highly impressive end to 2008 with her second WTA Tour final appearance. After seeing off Lucie Safarova, Yanina Wickmayer, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Aleksandra Wozniak but it was the Dane Caroline Wozniacki who this time left her broken hearted with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win.
For her exploits throughout the year the Association of Estonian Sports Journalists named Kanepi their Best Female Estonian Athlete of 2008. Kanepi was really starting to make waves.
After a career-best third round at the 2009 Aussie Open Kanepi was part of the Estonian Fed Cup team that caused a stir during the 2009 tournament.
Another semifinal appearance surfaced at the Dubai Tennis Championships including a victory over Jelena Jankovic who, being ranked at No. 3 in the world at the time, provided Kanepi with her biggest scalp yet on the tennis circuit. After another quarterfinal at the Rome Masters, 2009 quietened down somewhat for the youngster.
2010 has seen Kanepi looking in much better physical condition than ever before and she has been playing much more powerfully and confidently. This was evident in the Fed Cup matchup between Estonia and Belgium earlier this year when Kanepi defeated returning star Justine Henin on the clay in Belgium 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3.
She won her seventh and eighth ITF tournaments in May and then shocked Sam Stosur in the first round at Wimbledon. This proved to be her second Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance where she even had two match points before eventually losing 6-4, 6-7, 6-8 to Petra Kvitova of Czechoslovakia.
And so we came to Palermo where the 25-year-old didn’t drop a set throughout the whole tournament on her way to victory. Her two-hand backhand is proving useful on the pro circuit and is proving a useful weapon against some of the biggest stars of the game.
With much of clay tennis over for 2010 we may need to wait till next year to see her true potential but there are some who will really fancy to cause a few upsets in New York in September.
Whatever happens, keep an eye out for Kaia on a court near you soon.
Top seed Dinara Safina faces Oliva Rogowska of Australia in the first round of the 2009 US Open. Safina and could face Virginie Razzano or Patty Schnyder in the fourth round.
Safina could face Jankovic in the quarters and is in the same half of the draw as Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams are in the same half of the draw and could face each other in the semifinals.
Venus opens with Vera Dushevina of Russia. Serena opens with Alexa Glatch of the US in the first round.
Kim Cljisters is also in the same half as the Williams sisters.
For the full women’s draw, go to www.usopen.org.
Andy Murray beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada
Jelena Jankovic beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Peter Luczak beat Olivier Rochus 6-3 3-6 6-1 to win the Zucchetti Kos Tennis Cup Internazionali del Friuli Venezia in Cordenons, Italy
Greg Rusedski beat Stefan Edberg 6-3 6-4 to win the Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD in Algarve, Portugal
“My smile is back and I’m having fun playing the matches. This is what I missed. I missed this for maybe seven months this year.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Western & Southern tournament.
“The number two – maybe it’s because it’s something different – that means maybe a little bit more. But winning a tournament here is still great.” – Andy Murray, who moved ahead of Rafael Nadal and is now ranked number two in the world.
“I’m very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I’m happy. I don’t have to think in the past and now see the future.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost to Andy Murray in the final of the Montreal Masters.
“I would love to come back to number one, but the important thing is to play well. The thing that makes me happy is to be competitive (and) to win important tournaments.” – Rafael Nadal, who fell to number three in the world.
“I’m definitely pleased with the level I’ve had … in these four matches.” – Kim Clijsters, who in her first tournament after a two-year retirement reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati.
“I’m realistic. I know I am not going to win (another title). There is no way. It’s getting tougher and tougher with each tournament. It really gets into you and it’s not easy to play. Every match is a battle. It’s tough not to choke in the important moments. But I want to finish up in a right note. I should enjoy it more. I just want to finish up nice.” – Marat Safin, following his first-round loss to Gael Monfils at the Montreal Masters.
“It happens in tennis, it’s never over until it’s over and it showed today. … I never should have allowed it but it did happen.” – Roger Federer, who led 5-1 in the third set before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I haven’t seen her in two years. That’s the reason I didn’t start well. I was trying to figure out what she was doing instead of playing my game. By the time I figured out her tactics, I was down 0-4. It’s just a really bad draw, I guess.” – Marion Bartoli, who lost to Kim Clijsters in their first-round match.
“I look like I had a kid more than she does. She looks amazing.” – Serena Williams, on how fit Kim Clijsters looked in her return to the WTA Tour following her marriage and birth of a daughter.
“She is the same as she was before. She moves well. You can see she hasn’t been all the time on the tour but she was playing great.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Kim Clijsters.
“I was the number one player in the world, and I want to start winning big tournaments again. I just need to start finding my game and start playing better and better and better. But the more I play, the better I get.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning her semifinal match.
“Definitely I want to get a grand slam, no doubt about it. It’s not that I’m number one and I want to stop. There is another goal. I want to win a Grand Slam. I will do my best to win at the US Open. If not, next year I will work even harder to get it.” – Dinara Safina.
“Just walking down to that stadium, the reception that I received, the signs, the pictures and the high-fives going to the matches … I said, ‘You know what? This feels like home. I made the right decision.’” – Monica Seles, recalling the reaction she received from Toronto fans when she returned to tennis following her stabbing.
“I was joking with my coach that now I should probably buy a flat here since it is my fifth title in Canada.” – Mahesh Bhupathi, who teamed up with Mark Knowles to win the doubles at the Montreal Masters.
SECOND IN LINE
Even before he won the Montreal Masters, Andy Murray had surpassed Rafael Nadal as the number two-ranked player in the world. The 22-year-old Scott became the first player to win 50 matches this season as he won his fifth tournament of the year, matching Nadal. Murray is the first British player to win the Rogers Cup, a tournament that once was called the Canadian Open, and becomes the first player other than top-ranked Roger Federer and Nadal to be ranked number two in the world since Lleyton Hewitt on July 18, 2005. The last Briton to reach the Canadian final was Roger Taylor, who lost in 1970 to Rod Laver. Both Federer and Nadal lost in the quarterfinals, while Murray finished the week by beating Argentine’s Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 in the title match.
STAYING THE COURSE
Form followed rank at the Montreal Masters. For the first time since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973, a tour-level event wound up with the top eight ranked players in the quarterfinals. Once there, top-ranked Roger Federer, second-ranked Rafael Nadal and fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic all lost to lower seeded players. The other quarterfinalists were third-ranked Andy Murray, the eventual winner, fifth-ranked Andy Roddick, sixth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro, seventh-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and eighth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko.
SHOWING THE WAY
Flavia Pennetta has made Italian tennis history. The 27-year-old right-hander is the first Italian woman to be ranked in the top ten in the world. Her rise up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings has come with some well-known victims added to her resume. Pennetta beat Maria Sharapova when she won the tournament in Los Angeles, then followed with a shocking upset of Venus Williams in the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open. After winning 11 matches in 13 days, a visibly tired Pennetta lost in the semifinals at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, to top-ranked Dinara Safina.
Marriage, a baby and two years away from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour didn’t seem to slow down Kim Clijsters. The former world number one left some highly ranked players in her wake as she reached the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open before finally losing. “I’ll just take each day at a time and try to be as professional as possible whenever I’m playing and we’ll see what happens,” Clijsters said after losing to top-ranked Dinara Safina. “Obviously so far it’s worked. I’ve had some really good results and I feel like my level here has risen.” Less than 18 months after giving birth to her first child, a daughter, Clijsters beat Marion Bartoli, Patty Schnyder and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova before running into Safina. “There’s still a lot of things to work on,” said Clijsters, who owns 34 career singles titles. “I need to keep working on the good things as well.”
Jelena Jankovic has been ranked number one in the world, a fact that had drawn some criticism, seeing that she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament. But her victory over Dinara Safina in the final of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, was the first time Jankovic had beaten a player ranked number one in the world. She dedicated her victory to her mother, who is at home recovering from surgery. “I dedicate this win to her,” Jankovic said. “I wanted to make her happy. It’s important.”
When Monica Seles returned to tennis following a two-year hiatus caused when a fan stabbed her in the back, she chose the Canadian Open. Seles won the 1995 event, but she was more impressed by the warm reception she received from the fans. One of the newest members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Seles will participate in an exhibition doubles match in Toronto during the women’s Rogers Cup event. She is being inducted into the tournament’s hall of fame as the only player in the modern era to win four straight Canadian titles, beginning with the 1995 victory. Violet Summerhayes won four straight Canadian titles from 1899 through 1904.
It seems to make no difference as to who Mahesh Bhupathi teams with to win doubles championships. When Bhupathi and Mark Knowles won the Rogers Cup doubles in Montreal, it was the fifth time the Indian right-hander has captured the title – with four different partners. The 35-year-old won in1997 with Leander Paes, in 2003 with Max Mirnyi, in 2004 with Paes, and in 2007 with Pavel Vizner. Bhupathi and Knowles teamed up as a regular pair at the start of the 2008 season. This was the duo’s first title since last October in Basel, Switzerland, although they reached the finals at the Australian Open in January and Barcelona, Spain, in April. Bhupathi has now won at least one ATP World Tour doubles crown every year since 1997.
Chase Buchanan, an 18-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, and 17-year-old Christina McHale from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, won the 2009 United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Boys’ and Girls’ 18s championships to earn wild cards into the main singles draws at the US Open. McHale also competed in the women’s main draw of this year’s Australian Open after winning the 2008 USTA Australian Open wild card playoff. Buchanan earned a wild card into the 2008 US Open men’s doubles draw by winning the USTA Junior Boys’ 18 doubles title last year.
Tzipi Obziler is finally stepping down from Israel’s Fed Cup team. “This is the right time for me to retire,” she said. “I’m grateful for this wonderful and small country which gave me the opportunity to have a great career.” Obziler played 61 Fed Cup ties for Israel, equaling former teammate Anna Smashnova’s Fed Cup participation record. Obziler has played 90 matches, compiling a 51-39 win-loss record in her 16-year Fed Cup career. She was part of the Israeli team that reached the World Group in 2008 for the first time in the nation’s history. Obziler, however, didn’t completely close the door to her retirement. “If captain Lior Mor decides he wants me on the team and I see that I’m physically capable of playing, than of course I wouldn’t refuse,” she said.
SETS TARGET DATE
Recovering from a serious knee injury, Britain’s Anne Keothavong hopes to be back in action in February. The 25-year-old tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in her left knee when she ran into a fence while playing a doubles match at a tournament in California, USA. Keothavong, Britain’s top player on the WTA Tour, broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time earlier this year. “I hope to be back by February, which is ambitious, but achievable,” she said.
Former world number one Carlos Moya of Spain and Kei Nishikori of Japan have withdrawn from this year’s US Open because of injuries. Moya’s biggest victory came at the 1998 French Open. He has been sidelined for most of this season with a foot injury and his ranking has slipped out of the top 100. Nishikori was the top alternate and would have taken Moya’s spot in the draw, but he also withdrew because of an injury. That means Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador is directly in the main draw of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
STOP IT, I SAY
Lleyton Hewitt’s wife has gone to court over a magazine article. The actress wants to know the source of the story that ran last April that implied she was having an affair. New Idea magazine has twice published apologies over the article, titled “Bec’s Other Man,” which pictured Bec Hewitt with whom the magazine identified as a “hunky American fitness trainer” named Minder Mark. The man in the picture actually was Bec’s brother, Shaun Cartwright, who frequently accompanies the family on the tennis circuit.
Montreal: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 6-4 6-3
Cincinnati: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3 0-6 10-2 (match tiebreak)
Cordenons: James Cerretani and Travis Rettenmaier beat Peter Luczak and Alessandro Motti 4-6 6-3 11-9 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
$2,000,000 Rogers Cup, Toronto, Canada, hard
International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard
Former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters continued her remarkable comeback to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour with a second consecutive win over a Top 20 player, this time defeating world No. 20 Patty Schnyder, 6-2, 7-5, on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the third round at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.
Quickly getting in front 3-0 in the opening set, Clijsters eventually took the opening set 6-3, backed by winning 15 of 16 first serve points and breaking serve twice in the 23-minute set.
“I’m very happy that I’m starting the matches off well,” said Clijsters, a winner of 34 career singles titles including the 2005 US Open. “
The 26-year-old Belgian continued showing the signs of consistent tennis and superb fitness that was clear during her first round triumph over No. 12 seed Marion Bartoli.
“The main thing I was happy with today was the first serve percentage was a lot better than in the first match,” said Clijsters.
Schnyder picked up her game in the early stages of second set, before Clijsters broke in the 12th game and never looked back.
“She just had a great start,” said Schnyder, who won the title in Cincinnati in 2005. “She’s striking the ball great. It was really tough to get the rallies going and to get some advantage in the rallies.”
Clijsters’ was able to win the match without facing a break point on her serve, while smashing four aces and only two double faults. Schnyder, who was making her fourth appearance in Cincinnati, falls to 2-6 lifetime against Clijsters.
Next up for the newest mother on tour, is a third round match-up against reigning Roland Garros champion and No. 6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Clijsters has dominated Kuznetsova in the past, winning six of seven meetings.
In other matches, No. 5 seed Jelena Jankovic saved two set points in the opening set tiebreak to edge past Russian wild card Maria Kirilenko, 7-6(6), 6-3, in one hour and 45 minutes. A match full of serving problems featured 13 service breaks and a combined 10 double faults.
“First match for me, it’s never easy,” said Jankovic, who finished the 2008 season as the top-ranked player in the world. “You know, I had trouble holding my serve, especially in that first set. I was returning well, but I wasn’t putting many first serves in, and kept playing with the second serve almost throughout the whole first set.”
Jankovic will next square off against No. 9 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus for a place in the quarterfinals. Azarenka stormed past Russian Anna Chakvetadze, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and 21 minutes. Jankovic leads the head-to-head 2-1, winning both matches on hard courts in 2007.
Eleventh seed Ana Ivanovic’s struggles since winning the 2008 Roland Garros title continued, as she was bounced by in-form Melinda Czink, 7-6(6), 7-5. Ivanovic struggled with her ball toss for the second straight match, hitting 11 double faults and dropping her serve five times. The loss marked the second early exit in as many weeks, after losing in the third round last week to Samantha Stosur in straight sets in Los Angeles.
In the late match, No. 2 seed Serena Williams sailed past Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-3, 6-2. Williams, who won her 11th Grand Slam singles title earlier this summer at Wimbledon, smashed 12 aces, while dropping just three points on first serve. The Florida native was also able to break serve on three of six occasions. Williams will next clash with Sybille Bammer in the third round. Bammer won the only previous meeting in three sets in Hobart in 2007.
Other winners on Wednesday in Cincinnati:
No. 4 Elena Dementieva def. (Q) Yanina Wickmayer, 6-3, 6-3
No. 7 Vera Zvonareva def. Alisa Kleybanova, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5
No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki def. Aleksandra Wozniak, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Sybille Bammer def. No. 13 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-0, 7-5
No. 14 Flavia Pennetta def. Agnes Szavay, 6-2, 6-2
Sorana Cirstea def. Anna-Lena Groenfeld, 6-3, 6-2
Daniela Hantuchova def. Alona Bondarenko, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4
Peng Shuai def. Maria Jose Martinez Sanchzez, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
Marion Bartoli beat Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA
Sam Querrey beat Carsten Ball 6-4 3-6 6-1 to win the Countrywide Classic LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA
Nikolay Davydenko beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 to win the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia
Thomaz Bellucci won his first ATP title, the Allianz Suisse Open, beating Andreas Beck 6-4 7-6 (2) in Gstaad, Switzerland
Vera Dushevina beat Lucie Hradecka 6-0 6-1 to win her first WTA Tour title, the Istanbul Cup in Istanbul, Turkey.
Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. beat Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-2 to win the Trofeo Stefano Bellaveglia in Orbetello, Italy
“Venus is one of the greatest champions ever. That’s what I practice for, to play her. To beat her is even better.” – Marion Bartoli, after beating Venus Williams to win the Bank of the West Classic.
“She didn’t give me much of a chance. I might have been able to win a few more points, but not the match.” – Elena Dementieva, after losing to Venus Williams in the semifinals.
“It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest win of my career. We don’t always play our best tennis every single day. Maybe she didn’t play her best and I played very well.” – Samantha Stosur, after beating Serena Williams in the Bank of the West Classic.
“I’m going to go home, relax, and do some fitness. Ultimately it would good for me and I need to work with my mom on some things. I want to figure out what to do with my singles career.” – A joking Serena Williams, following her loss to Samantha Stosur.
“When I was done (with my career), I felt I’d put up some numbers no one would touch. Little did I know Roger would surpass me in seven years.” – Pete Sampras, who saw his men’s record 14 Grand Slam tournament titles eclipsed by Roger Federer.
“To be number one, you should be complete, and if you are number one you have to be beating the Williams sisters. I’m one of the rare players who has a positive record against the Williams sisters.” – Jelena Jankovic, who is 5-4 against Venus and 3-4 against Serena.
“It’s another one I can’t believe. Sandra Day O’Connor, hello. Tutu. Ted. I was overwhelmed when I heard it. What about Milk man? I was so excited for the community. I think it’s the first time the LGBT community has been acknowledged. It’s another breakthrough.” – Billie Jean King, who will be one of 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“When I was 7, I said, ‘Mom, I know I’m going to do something great with my life.’ She said, ‘That’s all right, just get the dishes done.’” – Billie Jean King, whose 87-year-old mother, Betty Jean Moffitt, will accompany her to the White House when she receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I really don’t know why I play so well here. Three wins and one final, and each time with a different Czech partner, which is also strange. I don’t know why but I hope it continues.” – Michal Mertinak, after teaming with Frantisek Cermak to win the doubles at Umag, Croatia.
“Before the tournament if someone came and told me I’d play the final of singles and win the doubles, I’d have said they were joking. I’m very happy with my week.” – Lucie Hradecka, who reached the Istanbul Cup final in both singles and doubles.
Billie Jean King is the recipient of yet another honor. She is one of 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama later this month. The medals are the first to be awarded by Obama and represent the country’s highest honor for a civilian. Besides King, other honorees include Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking and civil rights activist Reverend Joseph Lowery. . Former US Representative and football quarterback Jack Kemp, who died in May, will receive a posthumous award. Among her many other accomplishments, King is a global mentor of a joint WTA and UNESCO program to promote women’s equality in sport.
SOUTH AMERICAN SUCCESS
When Thomaz Bellucci captured the Swiss Open in Gstaad, he became the first Brazilian to win an ATP tournament in nearly five years. The last Brazilian champion was Ricardo Mello at Delray Beach, Florida, USA, in September 2004. Bellucci, a qualifier, beat Andreas Beck in the final. But he proved he belonged there by eliminating top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka and third-seeded Igor Andreev on his way to the title match. Bellucci is the fifth player to claim his first ATP World Tour title this season. The Bellucci-Beck matchup was the first ATP final between two left-handers since January 2008 when Michael Llodra and Jarkko Nieminen contested the title in Adelaide, Australia.
Britain’s Anne Keothavong is out for the rest of the season after injuring her left knee. She damaged her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during a doubles match in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA. The injury occurred when Keothavong ran into a fence chasing a shot during her match. “Of course I’m disappointed to be out for the rest of the season but I’ll continue to work with my team and look forward to coming back next season,” Keothavong said.
For Marion Bartoli, the Bank of the West Classic victory was redemption for Wimbledon. Bartoli won her first WTA Premier Tour title by upsetting Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 in the championship match at Stanford, California, USA. In their only previous meeting, Bartoli lost to Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final. It was the second straight year Bartoli has been in the Stanford final, and her first title on American soil. Williams, making her first appearance at the event since 2005, reached her seventh final in eight appearances at Stanford, where’s she won twice, her last coming in 2002. Venus lost for just the third time in her last 15 matches, but she has not won an outdoor hard court tournament in the United States in seven years.
For the first time in his career, Nikolay Davydenko has won consecutive tournaments. This time the ninth-ranked Russian crushed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 in the final of the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia. The week before, Davydenko won in Hamburg, Germany. It was his 16th ATP World Tour title in his 21st final, the sixth best record among active players. And the win increases Davydenko’s chances of qualifying for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in London, England. Last year, when the season finale was held in Shanghai, China, Davydenko reached the title match where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
A foot injury will keep Svetlana Kuznetsova on the sidelines this week. The French Open champion pulled out of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships because of the injury. That still leaves the Los Angeles event with 10 of the world’s top 15 women in the field, including the defending champion, top-ranked Dinara Safina.
Swiss pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer needed a wild card to enter the Allianz Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland. They came away with the doubles title, defeating defending champions Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3 in the final. The two had a rough road to the title match, also knocking out second-seeded Michael Kohlmann and Sebastien Prieto in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau in the semifinals. The 27-year-old Chiudinelli won his first ATP World Tour doubles title on his second final in Gstaad. He and Jean-Claude Scherrer were runners-up in 2006.
It didn’t take long for Kim Clijsters to have to go to the bank. The former top-ranked player has signed a sponsorship agreement with Adecco SA, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers. The Zurich, Switzerland-based company is becoming the “official sponsor” of the 26-year-old Belgian. Clijsters, who had a baby last year, will play her first WTA Tour match in two years when she takes to the court in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, on August 10. She will play the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, the week after that before heading to New York and the US Open, which starts August 31. It will be Clijsters’ first US Open since she won the Grand Slam tournament in 2005.
Sam Querrey finally has a title to call his own. The hard-serving American ended a string of final-round frustrations by winning the LA Tennis Open title with a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory over qualifier Carsten Bell. It was Querrey’s third straight final and fourth of the season – but his first title. “I didn’t want to lose three finals in a row,” said the 21-year-old, who lives in Santa Monica, California, not far from where the LA Tennis Open was contested. Seeded sixth in Los Angeles, Querrey had lost in the final in New Zealand in January and the last two weeks at Newport, Rhode Island, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Querrey became the fifth player to reach the finals in four events this season, joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was his second career ATP title. Ball had never won a match on tour before the LA Tennis Open.
Australian Alicia Molik is planning on ending her retirement and returning to the WTA Tour. “I’m loving being back … and enjoying training,” Molik said. “I’m injury-free and back doing what I love.” Ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik retired last year after being felled by illness and injuries. She had an inner ear virus that affected her balance. Then she was plagued by leg and arm injuries. “I think I’m still young enough to focus my energies on something that I feel is again challenging,” said the 28-year-old Molik.
The Bank of the West Classic is staying right where it is. The tournament and Stanford University have agreed to a three-year contract that will keep the longest-running women-only pro tournament in the world at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, California, through the year 2012. IMG Senior Vice President Adam Barrett said the WTA adjusted its rules to allow the tournament to continue because of having a long-term sponsor as well as rich tradition. The Taube Family Tennis Center seats just fewer than 4,000, while the new WTA Roadmap rules state Premier tournaments such as the Bank of the West must seat at least 6,000 fans.
Roger Federer reportedly wants to play for Switzerland in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy in September. “Nothing is definite yet, but there’s a good chance that our best players will be there,” said Severin Luethi, part of Federer’s coaching team. Federer missed Switzerland’s 4-1 loss to the United States in the World Group first round because of a back injury. The winner of the Switzerland-Italy playoff tie in Genoa, Italy, on September 18-20 will remain in the World Group next year, while the loser will drop to zonal play. The tie, which will be played on outdoor clay courts, will begin five days after the men’s singles final of the US Open, where Federer is the five-time defending champion. Against Italy, Federer would likely team up with the Stanislas Wawrinka to play singles and doubles. Federer and Wawrinka won the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Austrian Tamira Paszek faces a provisional suspension while officials investigate whether a medial treatment she received for a back injury violated doping regulations. The Austrian anti-doping agency has asked its disciplinary committee to temporarily ban the WTA player. Last month, blood was taken from the 18-year-old for enrichment, then later re-injected in the lower part of her back. Re-injecting one’s own blood is banned under international anti-doping rules. Paszek, who is ranked 59th in the world, alerted the doping agency herself when she learned her treatment might possibly be illegal.
SON OR DAUGHTER?
Boris Becker and his wife, model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, are expecting a child. The two were married June 12 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. “Yes, we’re going to be parents,” Becker told the German newspaper Bild. “We are really looking forward to our baby.” It will be the fourth child for Becker, who has two sons, 15-year-old Noah and 9-year-old Elias, with his ex-wife Barbara Feltus, and a 9-year-old daughter, Anna, from an extramarital affair.
Tim Mayotte has been hired as a United States Tennis Association (USTA) national coach. He will facilitate coaching and training programs while working with players in the USTA Player Development program. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, who was ranked as high as number seven in the world, Mayotte will be based at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. He was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1982 and at the Australian Open in 1981.
Graydon Nichols is being inducted into the United States Tennis Association Northern California Hall of Fame. The induction of the 84-year-old farmer highlights a career that has catapulted him to the top of the world in senior tennis. “I never imagined that something like this would be possible for me,” Nichols said. “I was shocked to get a phone call saying that I had been selected.” Nichols has won two world singles titles, the latest at the 2007 World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. That’s when he ended the year ranked number one in the world in his category. Not only did he go undefeated in 2007, Nichols captained the United States team to the Gardnar Mulloy Cup title, senior tennis’ version of the Davis Cup. He is currently ranked number one in the United States and number four in the world after posting a 13-1 record in 2008.
Nancy Reed, a three-time International Tennis Federation Seniors Singles World Champion and pioneer of Seniors Tennis, is dead. Reed won the women’s 40 doubles with fellow American Mary Ann Plante at the very first ITF Seniors World Championships in Brazil in 1981. She went on to win 12 World Championship doubles crowns. She captured her first singles title in Sicily in 1992 in the 55 age category. The next year, she won the 60 age category. Her third and final singles world title came in 1999, but she won the doubles world title in the 75 age category in Turkey last year. She also was a member of the United States team that won the Queens’ Cup in Turkey last October.
HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports has been fined USD $24,780 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to report the amount of toxic chemicals released by its plant in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. According to the EPA, the sports company failed to report emissions of N-hexane and zinc compounds from its facility to EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory for 2007. HEAD/Penn, which is based in Connecticut, manufactures tennis, badminton, and ski equipment, and owns and operates the Phoenix facility. US federal law requires that facilities using toxic chemicals over specified amounts must file annual reports of their chemical releases with EPA and the state. Information from these reports is then compiled into a national database and made available to the public.
Los Angeles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Benjamin Becker and Frank Moser 6-4 7-6 (2)
Stanford: Venus Williams and Serena Williams beat Yung-Jan Chan and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-1
Istanbul: Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova beat Julia Goerges and Patty Schnyder 2-6 6-3 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Gstaad: Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer beat Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3
Umag: Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 6-4
Orbetello: Paolo Lorenzi and Giancarlo Petrazzuolo beat Alessio Di Mauro and Manuel Jorquera 7-6 (5) 3-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/
Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard
$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay
$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard
$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,000,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal, Canada, hard
$120,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Guilia Tennis Cup Cordenons, Italy, clay
$2,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Algarve, Portugal, hard
Rajeev Ram beat Sam Querry 6-7 (3) 7-5 6-3 to win the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Agnes Szavay won the GDF Suez Grand Prix, beating Patty Schnyder 2-6 6-4 6-2 in Budapest, Hungary
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-4 to win the Collector Swedish Open Women in Bastad, Sweden
Julia Goerges beat Ekaterina Dzehalevich 7-5 6-0 in Biarritz, France, to win the Open GDF Suez de Biarritz
Karol Beck won the Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco in Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, beating Thiago Alves 6-4 6-3
World Group Quarterfinals
Czech Republic Argentina 3-2; Croatia beat the United States 3-2; Israel beat Russia 4-1; Spain beat Germany 3-2
Americas Zone Group 1 Playoff: Peru vs. Canada; Group 2 Second Round: Venezuela beat Mexico; Dominican Republic beat Paraguay; Netherlands Antilles beat Jamaica; Bahamas vs. Guatemala
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Second Round Playoffs: Kazakhstan beat Thailand 5-0; Korea vs. China; Group 2 Second Round: Philippines beat Pakistan 3-2; New Zealand beat Indonesia 5-0; Group 2 Playoffs: Hong Kong-China beat Oman 5-0; Malaysia beat Kuwait 4-1
Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Playoffs: Belarus beat FYR Macedonia 4-1; Group 2 Second Round: Slovenia beat Lithuania 5-0; Latvia beat Bulgaria 4-1; Finland beat Monaco 3-2; Cyprus beat Ireland 3-1; Group 2 Playoffs: Egypt beat Georgia 5-0; Hungary beat Moldova 3-2; Denmark beat Montenegro 3-2; Portugal beat Algeria 5-0
“It’s a beautiful way to celebrate my career. … I wish my dad would have been here today, but I know he’s here in spirit because without him I wouldn’t be sitting here today.” – Monica Seles, on her installation into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“These days don’t come around very often unless you’re (Roger) Federer or (Rafael) Nadal. There’s definitely pressure. … Winning tournaments is not normal on the tour for 99 percent of us.” – Rajeev Ram, after beating fellow American Sam Querry in Newport to win his first ATP title.
“I’m sorry I spoiled your (birthday) celebrations, but I promise I will buy you something instead.” – Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain, after beating Caroline Wozniacki on the Dane’s 19th birthday.
“For the first time I have absolutely nothing to say, usually I just can’t stop talking, and I started to cry like a little boy.” – Andy Ram, after teaming with Jonathan Erlich to win the doubles and clinch Israel’s first semifinal berth in Davis Cup competition.
“It was a great fight. At the end I was just fighting like a tiger. That was the difference, I think. It wasn’t about the tennis in that match. I was so close to losing.” – Agnes Szavay, after beating Patty Schnyder in the final in Budapest.
“I was so embarrassed to be with them that I called everybody sir. Those players have won Wimbledon, Davis Cup, Forest Hills, French Open, and I have one trophy, Monte Carlo.” – Andres Gimeno, who joined Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad and others on the pro tour before he won his only Grand Slam tournament title, the French Open, in 1972.
“It shows how important Andy is for the team. Being on the No. 2 spot is less pressure than playing on the No. 1 spot.” – James Blake, losing both of his singles matches after being forced to play No. 1 when Andy Roddick pulled out of the United States-Croatia Davis Cup quarterfinal tie with a hip injury.
SWEET DAY INDEED
In a string of circumstances, Andy Roddick’s hip injury may have been the catalyst that led to Rajeev Ram winning his first ATP title. When Roddick pulled out of Davis Cup with the injury, he was replaced by Mardy Fish, the top seed at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Knowing he would get a spot in the main draw because of Fish’s leaving, Ram withdrew from his final round of qualifying, then became the tournament’s “lucky loser.” With rain curtailing play on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ram played eight matches over the last three days of the tournament as he became just the third player on the ATP World Tour this year to win both singles and doubles at the same event. He downed fellow American Sam Querrey 6-7 (3) 7-5 6-3 for the singles title, then teamed with Austria’s Jordan Kerr to beat Michael Kohlmann of Germany and Dutchman Rogier Wassen 6-7 (6) 7-6 (7) 10-6 (match tiebreak) in the doubles. Ram, playing in his fist ATP final and ranked 181 in the world, is the lowest ranked player to win a tournament this year. Until the Newport tournament, he had won a total of six career ATP matches.
In the biggest shocker of the Davis Cup weekend, Israel advanced to the semifinals of the World Group for the first time by upsetting Russia 4-1. The Israelis clinched the tie when Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich bested Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn to win the doubles and give their side an unassailable 3-0 lead over the two-time Davis Cup champions. “I actually can’t describe how I feel. … I am so proud to be an Israeli today, to be a part of this team, so proud to be part of this sport and Davis Cup tennis, it was a classic tie,” said Israel team captain Eyal Ran. Israel took a surprising 2-0 lead on the opening day when 210th-ranked Harel Levy upset Igor Andreev before Dudi Sela beat Mikhail Youzhny. Israel will take on defending champion Spain in the semifinals on September 18-20.
The other semifinal will pit two other surprising teams against each other. The Czech Republic edged Argentina, last year’s Davis Cup finalists, 3-1, while Croatia defeated the Andy Roddick-less United States 3-2.
The singles winners at the US Open will pocket at least a record USD $1.6 million. The two champions also can earn an additional USD $1 million in bonus prize money, which could help in building a new garage on their home since they will also receive a new 2010 Lexus IS convertible vehicle. The USTA announced that the total US Open purse will top USD $12.6 million, making it the third consecutive year that the prize money has increased by USD $1 million. In addition to the base purse of USD $21.6 million, the top three men and top three women finishers in the Olympus US Open Series may earn up to an additional USD $2.6 million in bonus prize money. And just in case that’s not enough to make ends meet, the US Open winners – like all the other players in the field – will receive per diem payments to help with the cost of accommodations and other expenses during their New York City stay.
Andre Agassi is returning to the US Open. Twice a champion in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, Agassi will headline the opening night ceremony on August 31 as the US Open celebrates charity work by athletes. Agassi, who began the Andre Agassi Foundation in 1994, ended his 21-year career by retiring at the end of the 2006 US Open. His foundation has a charger school in Las Vegas, Nevada, which graduated its first senior class in June, sending all 34 students to college.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
The marathon Wimbledon final in which Roger Federer outlasted Andy Roddick was the most-watch All England Club men’s final in the United States in 10 years. NBC said an average of 5.71 million people tuned in to watch Federer win his record-setting 15th Grand Slam title, the most since Pete Sampras beat Andre Agassi in the 1999 final. The 3.8 rating and 10 share was the best for a men’s final since Sampras defeat4ed Patrick Rafter in 2000, and surpassed last year’s five-set battle between Federer and Rafael Nadal by nine percent. The fifth set of the Federer-Roddick match was the longest in major final history.
While in Newport, Rhode Island, to attend his colleague Donald Dell’s induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Ray Benton told the story about how he once advised Ivan Lendl that if he showed how much he enjoyed playing tennis it could help the bottom line. Benton, Lendl’s agent, theorized that if the stoic-looking Lendl just smiled and acted happy after he won matches, it would result in the player earning an additional USD $1 million dollars a year in endorsements. Benton said Lendl pondered the idea for a few moments, then said, “It’s not worth it.” Lendl, who won 94 singles titles in his career, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.
SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
The top mixed doubles team in the Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League will be playing on the big stage come this August. The mixed doubles team that finishes at the top of the WTT Pro League rankings will receive a wild card into the 2009 US Open mixed doubles tournament. More than 50 players are competing in the Advanta WTT Pro League this month for 10 franchises throughout the United States. “World TeamTennis has long featured some of the best players in the world, especially in doubles,” said WTT commissioner Ilana Kloss. “We are very excited to work with the USTA to provide our players with this opportunity to be rewarded for their high level of play.” World TeamTennis matches feature three sets of doubles – men’s, women’s and mixed – along with one set each of men’s and women’s single. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis.
Spain reached back into the past to gain a victory in their Davis Cup tie against Germany. When Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer both pulled out of the World Group quarterfinal because of injuries, Juan Carlos Ferrero was added to the team. Then Spanish captain Albert Costa replaced Tommy Robredo with Ferrero in the decisive fifth match, and the former world number one bested Andreas Beck 6-4 6-4 6-4. It was the first time since 2005 against Italy that Spain won a fifth match to determine the outcome of a tie. It was Ferrero that time also who came away victorious. “It’s amazing what I felt on the court today,” Ferrero said. “It’s a long time I didn’t play Davis Cup competition and this tie for me was very special. To come back and play the last point, I felt amazing on the court.”
India’s Sania Mirza is making headlines for reasons beyond her tennis. In the latest incident, two engineering students have been arrested and accused of stalking her. All of this comes as she is being engaged to family friend Sohrab Mirza, whose father owns Universal Bakers chain in Hyderabad, India. The 23-year-old Sohrab is reportedly heading to the United Kingdom to pursue an MBA degree. Police said Ajay Singh Yadva was apprehended as he tried to barge into the tennis player’s house, apparently to profess his love. He was taken into custody when he refused to leave. Yadav’s arrest came a day after another student threatened to commit suicide if the engagement was not called off. Last month, the Andhra Pradesh state government found that a man had secured a white ration card showing Sania Mirza as his wife, complete with photos of the tennis star. White ration cards are meant for people living below the poverty line. The 22-year-old Mirza became the first Indian woman to climb into the top 40 in the rankings. At one time, the Muslim player was assailed by conservative elements of the Indian community for competing in short skirts and sleeveless shirts.
Former junior Australian Open champion Brydan Klein has been banned from the game for six months for racially abusing South African Raven Klaasen during an ATP event in England last month. The 19-year-old Australian also will undergo a racial sensitivity course and was fined USD $10,000 by the ATP. Australian media said Klein called Klaasen a “kaffir” and spat at his coach and another player. Klein earlier had been fined USD $13,290 by Tennis Australia, which suspended him from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and cut off his funding grants. “I sincerely regret my error in judgment in using the language I did and I am deeply sorry for the offense caused,” Australian Associated Press (AAP) quoted Klein as saying in a statement. “I am accepting the ATP’s ruling and am now looking to put the whole incident behind me. I will undergo a racial sensitivity course and am determined to learn from this mistake.” The suspension covers all ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events. The final two months of the suspension and extra fine will be waived if Klein successfully completes the racial sensitivity training course.
Jelena Dokic’s ailment has been diagnosed as mononucleosis. The illness has plagued Dokic since the end of the French Open. Blood tests taken after she lost at Wimbledon revealed the illness. She was told by doctors to do nothing but rest for at least two weeks. “I am disappointed to have to pull out of a couple of events, but I am also relieved to finally know what was wrong,” said Dokic, who once was ranked as high as fifth in the world before dropping off the tour with personal problems. “It has been so frustrating since the French. My natural work ethic is to get on court and train hard with intensity. I just haven’t been able to do that, and until now I didn’t know why.”
Todd Woodbridge is Australia’s new Davis Cup coach. A 16-time doubles Grand Slam tournament champion, Woodbridge has been appointed national men’s and Davis Cup coach in an expanded full-time role. Tennis Australia made the move in an effort to reverse the country’s flagging fortunes in the competition, which they have won 28 times, second only to the United States. Woodbridge is Australia’s longest serving Davis Cup player and was a member of the 1999 and 2003 Davis Cup winning teams. The country currently has only one player ranked in the top 100 in the world, Lleyton Hewitt. It ended its 2009 campaign by forfeiting a regional group tie against India earlier this year, claiming security concerns on the sub-continent.
SOME HELP NEEDED
Being that tweeting while playing is against the rules, Justin Gimelstob needed help to tweet during his doubles match at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Gimelstob would write notes and give them to a ball girl who would run over to the side of the court where another person would post them on Gimelstob’s Twitter account. Some times he would mouth a few comments for the intern to post in between points. Most of the twittering was standard play-by-play recaps. “There’s so much competition for the entertainment dollar,” Gimelstob explained. “Fans want to know what goes on behind the scenes. Fans want to know what goes on in the players’ heads.”
The death of French tennis player Mathieu Montcourt has been attributed to cardiac arrest. Montcourt, who had just begun a five-week ban from tennis for gambling on other players’ matches, was found outside his apartment in Paris after he spent the evening at the home of Patrice Dominguez, technical director of the French Tennis Federation. Ranked 119th in the world, Montcourt was cleared of influencing the outcome of any of the matches he had bet on. He also had been fined USD $12,000 for the offense, which he called ridiculous since he had only bet a total of USD $192.
NH Hoteles has extended its sponsorship of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for an additional three years. Originally a Spanish brand, NH Hoteles has grown to 348 hotels in 22 countries in Europe, Africa and the Americas. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in making the announcement, noted that since NH Hoteles joined the Davis Cup family in 2004 as an international sponsor it has added 106 hotel properties to its portfolio.
Newport: Rajeev Ram and Jordan Kerr beat Michael Kohlmann and Rogier Wassen 6-7 (6) 7-6 (7) 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Bastad: Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2 0-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Budapest: Alisa Kleybanova and Monica Niculescu beat Alona Bondarenko and Kateryna Bondarenko 6-4 7-6 (5)
Biarritz: Yung-Jan Chan and Anastasia Rodionova beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Darya Kustova 3-6 6-4 10-7 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Bad Gastein: www.matchmaker.at/gastein/
Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$600,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$600,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$125,000 Bogota, Columbia, clay
$220,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
$220,000 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,500,000 Bet-at-Home Open, Hamburg, Germany, clay
$600,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, hard
$220,000 Banka Koper Slovenia Open, Portoroz, Slovenia, hard
$220,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay