Paul Annacone

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Paul Annacone Joins Team Roger Federer Full Time – The Friday Five

Player Down – In one of the scarier moments at the US Open in recent memory, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka collapsed on court near the tail end of the first set during her match encounter with Gisela Dulko. Heat was initially deemed the culprit behind the collapse (and it probably did add to the situation), but it was later confirmed that Azarenka was suffering from a mild concussion, which came as a result of a fall she had taken earlier in the day. In hindsight, Azarenka should recognize the foolishness of her actions in staying on the court. Health should never be that severely compromised, and there were plenty of signs that she needed to throw in the towel well before she collapsed. But at the same time, I have to applaud Azarenka. Many a player has retired from a match for far less than she was experiencing, and while she did push the limits too far, I do admire her attitude of wanting to try to find any way to cross the finish line, even when things aren’t going well.

It’s Official – It’s probably no surprise, but Roger Federer did confirm prior to the start of the US Open that Paul Annacone would be joining his team full time. While Annacone is with Federer in New York, Annacone will not be able to go full time with Federer until he finishes his commitment with the LTA later this year. Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi will also remain a part of the Federer team. All are in agreement that having Annacone in his corner is likely to pay some big dividends for Federer down the road, and it would appear that Annacone’s advice is already creeping into the “Maestro’s” game, with Federer finding his way to net with increasing frequency. There’s still plenty of tennis to be played, but a major win in their first Slam together as official coach and pupil could be in the cards for Annacone and Federer.

Hall Bound? – Earlier this week, the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced the names of those individuals who will be on the ballot for possible 2011 induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the spotlight belonged to Andre Agassi. There were a few grumblings about the Hall putting Agassi forth as a candidate after he had confessed in his autobiography Open to using drugs, but Agassi’s situation is not the same as the performance-enhancing drug problem that baseball currently faces and should not stand in the way of his candidacy for induction consideration. Hard to imagine he won’t make the cut at the first time of asking, so expect to see him take his place among the legends next July.

Roddick Bounced – A few upsets have already occurred at the 2010 US Open, including the loss of Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych to tricky Frenchman Michael Llodra in his opening match on Wednesday. But later that same night, in a men’s second round encounter, Janko Tipsarevic caused an even bigger upset, bouncing crowd favorite Andy Roddick in four sets. While this match did go down as an upset (and certainly a disappointment to the home crowd), it wasn’t a total shocker. Tipsarevic has shown he can produce phenomenal tennis, as few will forget his memorable five-set encounter with Federer at the 2008 Australian Open. That was the kind of spectacular brand of tennis Tipsarevic brought to the court this past Wednesday, and coupling that with the fact that mono prevented Roddick from being match tough going into the Open proved a recipe for disaster for the veteran American. The question to keep an eye on for now will be how Tipsarevic follows up that win in his next round.

Spare a Thought – A former Top-10 player, who along with countryman Nicolas Massu brought glory to Chile at the 2004 Summer Olympics, Fernando Gonzalez now finds his career in a freefall thanks to a niggling knee injury. The Chilean had only been able to compete in one other tournament since Wimbledon, and it showed. After dropping the first set in a tiebreak in his first round match with Ivan Dodig, Gonzalez appeared just a shadow of his former self, quickly surrendering the second set before retiring from the match down 1-0 in the third. A colorful character who hits his forehand as big as anybody, my fingers are crossed that his body cooperates and allows him to have at least one more go near the upper echelons of the game.

By Maud Watson

Weekly Debrief – Lil Wayne Gives his US Open Picks, Federer’s Coaching Change, and ATP Pros’ “Busted Racquets”

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic

The US Open goes into full swing today, but the week leading up to the event is sometimes even more full of headlines! There are coaching changes for Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, Murray has a chance to pocket $2.7 million, rapper Lil Wayne gives his picks for US Open champs on both the men’s and women’s side and Sergiy Stakhovsky captured his fourth title in New Haven over the weekend. I leave you off with links to free live streaming of the US Open online and a heart-warming racquet-busting story.

Murray could pocket a cool $2.7 million

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic

AndyMurray shakes hands with Novak Djokovic after their practice session on Saturday, August 28, 2010.

Andy Murray clinched the 2010 Olympus US Open Series, edging out Roger Federer and Mardy Fish who took second and third place, respectively. It was Murray’s title in Toronto and finals’ appearance in Los Angeles this summer that allowed him to take the lead. If he goes all the way at Flushing Meadows, he could walk away with a cool $2.7 million, the largest payout in tennis history. At that point, I’m sure he could pretty much hire any coach he would like. After all, it would be hard to say ‘No’ to a US Open slam champion.

Federer hires Paul Annacone as coach

Speaking of coaching changes, Roger Federer announced on his website that he would be working with Pete Sampras’ old coach, Paul Annacone. During a media conference at the US Open on Saturday, Federer stated that Annacone has “moved from a test trial to integrating him into the team now.” Severin Luthi, Federer’s current coach and Swiss Davis Cup captain, will continue working with Federer as Annacone finishes his commitments to the British Lawn Tennis Association this fall. Afterwhich, the three will work together: “I just think the dynamics work really well with Severin and Paul and me,” Federer stated. “I can go with a very clear mind-set into the matches.”

Roger Federer with Paul Annacone

Roger Federer on the practice courts at the US Open. (Image via GoToTennisBlog)

On top of coaching Sampras to nine of his major titles, Annacone has also coached the greats of Marat Safin and Tim Henman. Federer has already worked with coaches Darren Cahill, Peter Lundgren, Jose Higueras and Tony Roche, so it will be interesting to see how long this new relationship with Annacone lasts. But for now, we are convinced he is a good influence on Federer’s psyche: Annacone brings “his experience … he’s a very nice guy and he’s very calm and speaks as experience from a player and as a coach, as well,” led on Federer. “We speak occasionally about Pete [Sampras] and about how he was with him or about his experience and stuff. I know so much about Pete already that I never try to copy him. I never try to be like him, but I tried to learn from him as a junior because he was my hero growing up. So definitely when I do hear stories from Paul about Pete it can be inspiring.” Federer, being a family man himself, then continued on: “I guess he also had kids early as a player, so he knows how to handle that. You know, it’s just nice to hear, you know, a different voice for a change.”

Hewitt going coachless into US Open

On the flip side, Aussie Lleyton Hewitt will be going ‘coachless’ into this year’s US Open. Citing family reasons, coach Nathan Healey has parted ways after only one year with Hewitt. Hewitt has only had two full matches on the hard court this summer and that could pose a problem as far as gaining a rhythm against his tough first-round opponent, Paul-Henri Mathieu. He could then face Roger Federer in the third round.

Rapper Lil Wayne chooses his picks for the US Open from jail

This week, the tennis world found one of its biggest and most-famous fans in an unlikely place: a New York jail. American rapper Lil Wayne is currently serving out an eight-month weapons charge sentence on Rikers Island, but has always been an avid tennis fan.

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne responded to a Sports Illustrated request via SI stationery and gave both his men’s and women’s winners for the US Open. Before revealing his picks, he showcased his knowledge of tennis stats and history and even counted himself as a fan boy of Andre Agassi growing up.

He claims to “love the Williams sisters” and “simply adore Maria Sharapova” but neither were his pick to win the US Open. He chose to give “the edge to Clijsters … due to Serena’s right foot” on the women’s side.

On the men’s side, he also claimed to be a “huge Nadal fan …. He simply plays with pure passion and leaves it all out there on the court,” Lil Wayne wrote. “With Del Potro pulling out of this year’s Open with injury, Nadal’s only threats are obviously Federer, Djokovic, and Roddick’s aggressive play, but the player that scares me the most is Andy Murray, who’s beaten Rafael four times. Even still I say ‘Nadal wins it all.’”

You can go hear to read Lil Wayne’s full letter: http://us-open-tennis.si.com/2010/08/27/lil-wayne-backs-nadal-clijsters-in-u-s-open/

2010 US Open Men’s Preview with Steve Flink

TennisChannel.com columnist Steve Flink is a long-time veteran of tennis, having been both a statistician for televised matches and an editor for a tennis magazine. He gives us an in-depth preview to the men’s side.

Stakhovsky caputres fourth career title and “ready for the US Open”

Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovsky captured his fourth career title this week in New Haven, CT at the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament, defeating Uzbek Denis Istomin 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

In what has become tradition for tennis players, Stakhovsky kisses his Pilot Pen trophy.

Stakhovsky not only overcame the rain delay this week by playing two matches on Thursday, but his run included three three-setters as well — a grueling task for any player. As his reward, he gained 250 ATP World Tour points, $93,360 and improves to 23-18 on the season. He also went up 11 spots and sits at a comfortable 36 in today’s published ATP rankings.

“It was really an exhausting week for me,” stated Stakhovsky. “A lot of three sets. A lot of tiebreaks. Just a lot of time on court. Just now I have to get myself together and get ready for the US Open. I’m really glad to win this title. It pushed me to another level again. But I just need to think forward again and get ready.” Stakhovsky is slated to take on Aussie Peter Luczak in the first round of the US Open which kicks off today, and could face seed #15 Ivan Ljubicic in the second round.

Watch the US Open online for free!
Don’t have access to the televised matches at this year’s US Open? No problem! You can now watch online via several websites. I actually prefer the multi-court coverage on USOpen.org’s own site (http://www.usopen.org/en_US/interactive/video/live.html?promo=subnav) or ESPN3.com’s interface. Other free (and international-friendly) notable sites include:

Live Score Hunter: http://www.livescorehunter.com/Livescores/Livescore-Tennis.html

MyP2P:  http://ht.ly/2wYcC

ATDHE: http://atdhe.net/index.html

Channel Surfing: http://channelsurfing.net/

ATP Bonus:

Ever wonder what happens to those busted racquets players demolish in a rage of fit on-court or in the locker room? Well, wonder no more. ESPN.com contributor Patrick Hruby takes a unique look at a little-known secret showcased on the walls of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC.

Racquets of ATP pros Gael Monfils and Marat Safin, only two of the many racquest on display.

For the past few years, head laundry/locker attendant Alex Cordier has started ‘velcro’-ing racquets that ATP pros have broken while at the tournament. There is nothing like it in the world and you won’t find this “wall of shame” at any other ATP tournament either. But, it’s pure gold and worth a look at the photos and stories — had me laughing! http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=hruby/100827_atp_broken_rackets

That’s it for this week’s Debrief. Just stop by anytime you want a recap of the ATP Tour. We’ve got you covered!

US Open Preview: Murray vs Federer

Andy Murray’s recent impressive defence of his Toronto Master’s title following back to back victories over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, has meant that once again he is one of the firm favourites for the US Open which starts tomorrow.

The final marked a welcome return to the more aggressive style of play witnessed before the devastating psychological impact of losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open at the start of the year. The Canadian fans were treated to a more focused and mature performance from the young Scot, unnerved by the rain delays and the prospect of facing his arch nemesis once again, prevailing 7-5, 7-5 to record his first title victory of the season.

The win brought Murray’s head to head record to seven wins out of twelve against the majestic Swiss master, but the world waits with baited breath to see whether he can maintain his form throughout the grueling two weeks of a Grand Slam or simply continue his reign as the best player never to have won a major.

Murray remains confident of his chances and revealed, “I feel very fresh after taking a couple of days off after reaching the quarter finals in Cincinnati and right now I’m fine physically. The Toronto win was very good for the confidence and now I’ve been in New York, a city I love, for a week. I feel good which is important because I know I have got to produce my best tennis.”

Indeed, on recent form and the shape of the US Open draw, Murray is likely to face Federer once again in the final, with Rafael Nadal certainly less impressive during the American hard court season. While each feels equally confident of victory, their summer preparations couldn’t have been further apart.

Murray has spent the summer enjoying his rekindled romance with Kim Sears, whilst Federer has had to come to terms with balancing being a father to twins with the pressures of the tour; a fact he has taken into consideration when taking on the advice of new coach, Paul Annacone, who also had children early in his playing career. Meanwhile, in July Murray chose to sever ties with his coach of two and a half years, Miles Maclagan.

Will Murray carry on his good form and survive the two weeks unscathed as a lone ranger or will Federer succeed with the inspiration and insight of his new right hand man and former coach of Pete Sampras? Or will a certain Spaniard spoil the party? Be sure to tune and join the rollercoaster ride at Flushing Meadows, but remember to hold on to your hats and glasses folks, as we’re certainly in for some unpredictable twists and turns!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates @thetenniswriter. She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

Roger Federer Faces Doubts In Toronto

Roger Federer

Roger Federer held his first tournament press conference at the Rogers Cup on Monday and was bombarded by questions about his current slip to the No. 3 position in the ATP rankings. Such is the reality the Swiss star faces wherever he goes these days as his game has dropped a notch in recent months.

After making a record 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, Federer’s streak was snapped at Roland Garros in May where he lost to surging Swede Robin Soderling. Then at Wimbledon, a tournament he has owned the past seven years, he lost to Tomas Berdych in four sets. Having just turned 29 years old on Sunday, fans and media alike are both starting to question Federer’s tenure at the top of the men’s game.

In fact, this is not the first time that Roger has been faced with a barrage of doubts about his grip on the upper echelon of the ATP tour. In 2008, after falling to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Federer would go on to lose the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon to Rafa Nadal. This time two years ago in Toronto he was bounced in his opening match to Gilles Simon and then the vultures were really out to get him.

Federer rebounded of course by winning three of the next four Slams. He triumphed at the U.S. Open that September and then won his first French Open title last year, followed by another Wimbledon title. Could Federer have some late season magic up his sleeve for Flushing Meadows again this year?

One sign that Federer is serious about re-establishing his dominance is the new partnership he is testing out with Paul Annacone, former coach of Pete Sampras. The relationship began shortly after Wimbledon with a visit from the American tennis coach to Roger’s home in Switzerland and the Rogers Cup offers the first tournament action to test out their short-term progress.

“I’ve always gotten along very well with Paul,” Federer said. “Him being obviously the coach of Sampras and Henman who were sort of friends to me and I know very well. So I thought it was a good time to do a test, and this is our first test tournament we’re doing. We’re taking it slow, and we’ll see what happens next week.”

As for all the media attempts to speculate about his demise, Federer quipped that the press sometimes rushes their judgments and forgets some of the obstacles he has faced over the past year and a half. He also stated that Nadal had to endure the same type of negativity a year ago as he battled his injury issues.

“…the press gets too carried away too quickly. It’s understandable with our success we’ve had, Rafa, myself, you know, the last couple of years…I had mono, the lung infection, I had back issues a couple of times.”

Excuses aside, it is coming to the time where Federer is going to have to let his results do the talking. A strong start to his summer hard-court season here in Toronto would certainly put some of the doubts aside.

Federer takes to Centre Court this evening against Juan Ignacio Chela to try to take that first step forwards.

Coach Changes For Federer and Murray: The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Coach Onboard – One of the two big news stories that broke earlier in the week was that Swiss No. 1 Roger Federer has announced that he’ll be working with American coach Paul Annacone. Paul Annacone is one of the most respected coaches in the sport, and his work speaks for itself. He’s had the experience of dealing with a legend of the game in Pete Sampras, as well as helping a guy discover his best form late in a career as shown in his work with Tim Henman. With the possible exception of someone like a Darren Cahill, it’s hard to imagine a better fit for Federer at this stage in his career. The move also represents just one more signal that Federer is still hungry and is committed to getting back to the top, and he’s not afraid to admit that he may not be able to do it solo. Annacone still has some lingering commitments to the LTA before the two can consider going fulltime, but this has all the makings of another positive turnaround in Federer’s career.

Coach Overboard
– On the opposite end of the coaching carousel is the news concerning Andy Murray and Miles Maclagan. Murray announced that after just less than three years, he is parting ways with Maclagan. Murray explained the reasons behind the split, with most of them stemming from MacLagan and Murray having differing opinions about where he is and how to get to where he wants to be. I’m inclined to see this as a very positive move for Murray, and it’s no disrespect to Maclagan. He’s done a great job with Murray, taking him to two Grand Slam finals and the No. 2 singles ranking. But there’s no doubt that Murray’s career has at best stalled, and at worst, has been in a steady decline since the Aussie Open final, excluding his unexpected run to the semis of Wimbledon. Murray is in no rush to replace Maclagan and will be staying with his part-time coach, former professional Alex Corretja, through the US Open before reevaluating the situation. Sometimes a ball of negative energy, Andy Murray can undoubtedly be a handful to coach, but there’s bound to be a nice selection of coaching candidates willing to harness that emotion and take a talented player like Murray to the next level. Stay tuned…

Fish Flying High – Confident coming off his win in Newport, Fish continued to accumulate the victories with his second straight tournament win in the inaugural ATP event in Atlanta. Battling the competition and searing summer temperatures, Fish hung on to take a third set tiebreak over fellow American John Isner in the final. It’s great to see Mardy’s hard work to get in better shape and bounce back from injury is paying dividends in a relatively short window of time. It’s also good to see him playing it smart, opting to withdraw from singles competition in Los Angeles in order to rest and give his tweaked ankle an opportunity to recuperate (and it’s probably not such a bad thing his attempt to win the doubles was abruptly cut short by the Bryan Brothers). If Fish continues to grow in confidence, he could be a dangerous floater this summer, and with his ranking jumping yet another 14 places after his performance in Atlanta, he may even earn a seed for the final major of 2010.


The Road Back?
– Less publicized over the weekend was former World No. 5 Anna Chakvetadze’s win over Johanna Larsson to win the Slovenia Open. Chakvetadze seems to have predominantly (and understandably) gone in a downward spiral ever since the traumatic robbery experience she and her family endured at their family home in Moscow in late 2007. With her ranking now outside the top 100, Chakvetadze has been a mere shadow of the Top 5 player she once was, but this win in Slovenia may just give the Russian the confidence she needs to get her ranking and her game going in the right direction once again.

Not Hanging it Up…Yet – Earlier in the year, James Blake looked all but ready to retire. He wasn’t enjoying himself on the court, the wheels had come off his game, and he was playing with pain and a lingering injury. Now, after playing without pain and earning a relatively routine win over Leonardo Mayer in his opening match L.A. , Blake is feeling much more positive about his game. His current approach couldn’t be better, setting small goals and just enjoying being out on the court. Blake has always been one of the better sportsmen in the game, and he’s had some great results in his career. Will he get back into the Top 20? Top 50? That’s hard to say, but it’s great to see that Blake may at least be able to go out on a positive note and on his terms when the time comes.

Check World Tennis Magazine’s Interview with James Blake:

Tennis People – Murray And Federer Looking At New Coaches, Del Potro May Make US Open And Golubev Another “Tennis First”

Roger Federer at Wimbledon

*World No. 4 Andy Murray and coach Miles Maclagan have parted ways after nearly three years working together. Maclagan has always been reportedly uneasy with Murray’s insistence on keeping Alex Corretja as an advisor although the split is reported to be amicable. “I’ve had a great relationship with Miles over the past two-and-a-half years and I want to thank him for his positive contribution to my career,” said Murray. “We have had a lot of success and fun working together.” Maclagan said of the situation: “It’s been a privilege to work with Andy as his coach and I’m happy to have played my part in his career. I also want to thank the team for all their hard work over the years and I will miss working with them and Andy on a day-to-day basis. Andy is a great player and I know he will continue to have the success his talent and hard work deserves.” Murray was No. 11 in the world when the pair began working together in 2007 so the success has been plain for all to see. Murray will work with Corretja until the US Open later this year and then review the situation further.

*In other coaching news, Roger Federer is having a trial period working with former Pete Sampras and Tim Henman coach Paul Annacone. Federer is now ranked No. 3 in the world following being knocked out at the quarter final stage of the past two Slams and he said: “I’ve been looking to add someone to my team and I’ve decided to spend some days with Paul Annacone,” Federer told his official website. “As Paul winds down his responsibilities working for the Lawn Tennis Association, we will explore our relationship through this test period. Paul will work alongside my existing team and I am excited to learn from his experiences.” An LTA spokesperson told BBC Sport: “As outlined in Roger Federer’s statement, Paul will do a number of days with Roger as he winds down his work with the LTA.”

*The USTA is claiming that defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro is “expected” to return from injury at the US Open finals despite missing much of the year since his miraculous win over Roger Federer in the final. The player’s agent, Ugo Colombini, added that: “Del Potro is working and hopefully he will get back soon.” Del Potro has also spoken out saying he will play the Thailand Open starting September 27 so the three parties are offering differing opinions. “I am looking forward to playing the PTT Thailand Open on my return from injury,” said Del Potro. “I really enjoyed myself on my last visit to Bangkok and hope for good results at this year’s tournament.” World No. 1 Rafa Nadal has also been confirmed for the event.

*There has been yet another “tennis first” for 2010 with Andrey Golubev becoming the first player from Kazakhstan to lift an ATP Tour title by defeating the Austrian Jurgen Melzer in Hamburg. “I’m really excited,” he said. “I can’t believe what happens now in Kazakhstan. I’m really, really happy to make a page in the history of the country. I’m a little bit surprised but I believe in my game on all surfaces so that was the key.” A full interview with the beaming champ can be viewed now over at the ATP website.

*The lineup for the Malaysian Open, beginning September 25, is looking very tantalising. World No. 5 Robin Soderling, Nikolay Davydenko (6), Tomas Berdych (8) and David Ferrer (12) are the main draws. Mikhail Youzhny (14), Nicolas Almagro (18), popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (25) and Aussie Lleyton Hewitt (30) will also be big crowd-pullers.

*Two former World No. 1s have been talking about renewed faith in their games in the women’s game this week. Russian Dinara Safina has admitted that: “players aren’t afraid of me anymore,” in an interview with TennisReporters.net. “Now I have to earn back their respect. Now it’s a new time for me,” she continued. “I’m playing well but you need a breakthrough and in many matches I’m playing, I’m just not closing them up. I’m playing better and trying to win matches, but I need to start to cruise and I’m not there yet.” On the same website, the leaner-looking Serb Ana Ivanovic has been speaking in a similar vein. “I’ve been working a lot on foot work drills and that’s been something in my game that’s been lacking,” she said. “I’m better getting into balls into the corners and that’s important. I feel like I got the joy back like when I was 16 or 17 rather than feeling like I have so much pressure on me,” the 22-year-old continued. “I still think I’m very young. It all comes down to pressure because regardless of my ranking I still have a lot of expectations of myself. If I can reduce that it will be a huge step for me.”

*Maria Sharapova has announced that she is finally overcoming her troublesome shoulder problems and is able to serve with her old service motion more easily. “I knew eventually I would go back, I just didn’t quite know when,” said Sharapova, who underwent shoulder surgery in October 2008. “But I knew that if I was going to come back when I did last year, I had to start with an abbreviated motion. I’m just trying to work myself toward the U.S. Open,” she added. “I’m just happy to be back playing.”

*Jelena Jankovic expects to be fit for next week’s event in San Diego despite twisting her ankle in Portoroz. “Unfortunately, in my second round match, I was up 6-1, 2-0 and went running for a ball and twisted my ankle. I had to retire and I haven’t hit since then. I’m still recovering,” said Jankovic on her website. “I came back to Serbia afterwards and have a whole team of doctors helping me get healthy as fast as possible. I’m hoping to leave for San Diego in the next few days. I love it there. That’s where my new house is going to be. Next year in San Diego, I’ll be playing at home.”

*James Blake is now backtracking on the retirement thoughts he had after exiting Wimbledon following a vast improvement in his knee. “I’ve done a complete 180,” Blake was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. “Wimbledon was a pretty disappointing time. I wasn’t able to train, but now I’m feeling great, the knee is feeling good.”

Bottom of Form

*After the Dane Caroline Wozniacki recently turned 20 years old the mantle of top-ranked teen in the Sony Ericsson WTA rankings falls on the young shoulders of Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The 2006 ITF World Junior Champion took time out of her practice schedule to talk to the WTA website about her life on the circuit. “I was the best in juniors, and then everyone expected me to be the best in the pros quite quickly, which I did also expect,” said the 19-year-old. “But sometimes now I feel juniors doesn’t really matter so much – the real tennis starts after you stop playing those events. It’s a pretty tough step mentally, even for me. You just have to try to handle it and pass it.” You can catch up with the full interview here.

*Former tennis star Roscoe Tanner is reportedly wanted by the authorities once more for failing to pay maintenance on his many children from various relationships. The two-time Aussie Open champ has been in and out of prison over the last decade for various offences and has spent much more time in hiding from the law. A defendant of one of his ex wives said: “Mr. Tanner, I would say, is one of the most difficult people we have ever dealt with, just to comply with basic court orders.” You can see the full report at the American News Channel 9 website.

*In this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings Mardy Fish (No. 35, 14 places), Hamburg winner Andrey Golubev (No. 37, 45) and Florian Mayer (No. 40, 14) have all seen great rises in the rankings. Donald Young of the USA enters the Top 100 at No. 99 as does Pablo Andujar of Spain who leaps 19 places to No. 100.

*There are a few career bests in this week’s Sony Ericsson WTA Rankings following last week’s play. After winning in Bad Gastein, Julia Georges entered the Top 50 for the first time at No. 42 while Timea Bacsinszky, Georges’ victim, is now ranked No. 39, within touching distance of her career best No. 37. Portoroz runner-up Johanna Larsson of Sweden also achieved a career-best No. 66 after leaping from No. 84.

*The hottest player on the ATP Tour right now, Mardy Fish, has revealed it was a mixture of fatigue and an ankle injury which forced him to withdraw from the LA Open this week. “Due to fatigue and a sprained ankle in Atlanta, I am not in good shape to play,” the 28-year-old said in an official statement. “I need to rest in order to compete at a high level.”

*American star James Blake has been answering fans’ questions via the new ATP World Tour Facebook page. Giving his views on the perks of being a pro, his favourite female star and Lady Gaga he gives a range of insights in to his lifestyle. You can see the full Q+A at the ATP website.

Mondays with Bob Greene: Philippoussis close to retirement

A Triumphant Return

The Atlanta tennis event, the Infinite Energy Atlanta Slam pro tennis exhibition is back again at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on  Saturday night.  This year’s action will take place on Saturday evening.

Bob and Mike Bryan headline the event as they will take on Atlanta residents Luke and Murphy Jensen.  The event not only has doubles scheduled but also singles matches. James Blake and Sam Querrey are scheduled to play as well.

With the 2009 season still a month away the exhibition comes in the middle of the off season the Bryan brothers.

“We like to play these kind of matches in the offseason,” said Mike Bryan. “A lot of guys put the racket down and head for the gym, and they may get a little rusty. This helps keep us sharp, but it’s less pressure and a lot more fun (than a normal tour event). Of course, you never want to lose in front of 7 or 8,000 people. We want bragging rights (with the Jensen brothers).”

Breaking away

Andy Murray and Fred Perry. You thought of Andy Murray, you thought of Fred Perry.  Andy Murray has decided however to move on to K-Swiss which offers him a much more lucrative deal.

The deal with K-Swiss is believed to be worth 3 million US Dollars and will be announced early next month at the Abu Dhabi exhibition event.

British Tennis to be coached by Brits

The British Tennis Association, the LTA, has given off signals that they no longer wish to rely on foreign coaches. In recent years, the LTA has hired a lot of foreign coaches Brad Gilbert and Paul Annacone among others. With Stuart Smith stepping down as the president of the LTA after serving 3 years term it was also announced that the British Tennis Coaches Association (BTCA) has disaffiliated from the LTA.

The roof is on fire

The Arthur Ashe Stadium might get a retractable roof. Managing director of the USTA Danny Zausner has thrown out scenarios as his group prepares to issue a proposal in January to give the 22,547-seat venue a retractable roof.

The roof could cost $100 million would protect the stadium against rain delays and washouts that have plagued the US Open tournament in recent years. The USTA hasn’t quite figured out yet how to finance the new roof but maybe there is a NBA opportunity, Zausner said.

Zausner also said that it makes sense to consider turning the stadium into a multipurpose facility.

Philippoussis retirement draws near

Even though his mind is still willing, his beaten up body tells him to stop. Philippoussis has told Australian media that he is close to giving up trying to ressurect his career.

Philippoussis has lingered from one injury to the other in recent years.

‘It’s in my heart to give it one more go, and at the end of the day it comes down to my body,’ Philippoussis told the Age newspaper. ‘If my body doesn’t allow it, it doesn’t matter how much my heart wants it or my mind wants it.

‘I honestly believe, 100 per cent, but I know what it’s going to take for me to get to that level. It’s going to take a hell of a lot of hard work and discipline.’

Charity

Mardy Fish’s foundation gave a very generous donation to 110 students of the Pelican Island Elementary school. With the money the kids can now take guitar, dance and drama lessons for free.

The Mardy Fish Foundation’s program provides a place for children to participate in sports, art and music as after school activities.  It is free of charge but parents will have to pay a small fee for transportation and a small insurance fee for each child. All the equipment such as musical instruments, excercise equipment, staff salaries and snacks are provided by the foundation.

The club are currently talking about expanding to tennis lessons which should start in January.

ATP Tour has trouble attracting sponsors

Six tennis tournaments on the ATP Tour have trouble finding sponsors for their events. The six events make up for 10% of the total of tournaments on the tour.

The current global financial crisis has effected sports leagues and tournaments including the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and soccer and golf are all affected. Earlier this year the Dutch Open sold its’ license to the family of Australian Open 2008 winner Novak Djokovic after failing to attract a sponsor. The Paris Masters event also indicated that they lost one of their sponsors.

The ATP are however cautiously optimistic about their situation.

“We continue to have very encouraging discussions with a number of partners from different sectors,” Kris Dent, an ATP Tour spokesman,  said when asked how close the tour was to finding a new title sponsor. “We are in a fortunate position that as a business we can afford to take the time required to get the right kind of deal for the ATP.

“While clearly the current financial climate is an added challenge, we are very confident of finding the right kind of partner for the ATP at the right price for the ATP,” Dent said.

Having events spread out all over the world “means regional economic difficulties do not affect us in the way they might national associations or leagues.”

The ATP Tour will continue to keep a careful eye on the global financial situation.

The prize money for the 2009 season will not be affected. The total prize money for next year is set to a record of  $80 million.

On This Day In Tennis History Is Latest Book Release From New Chapter Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the yearswritten by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.

On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com

Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.

More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548

People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull,  Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan,  Robbie Weiss,  Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com

Davis Cup: Bryans Seperation Similar To 1986 Flach-Seguso Situation

Say it ain’t so – Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan NOT playing Davis Cup together?!? It indeed will be strange to see Mike Bryan playing Davis Cup for the United States this weekend in the semifinals against Spain in Madrid without twin brother Bob by his side. However, it certainly will be make entertaining TV viewing to watch Mardy Fish substitute for Bob, ailing with a left shoulder injury, pair with Mike and take on Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez in the crucial doubles rubber on Saturday. Incidentally, Mike has had success in men’s doubles without Bob in the past – winning two ATP titles without his left-handed double in 2002, winning Long Island with Mahesh Bhupathi and Nottingham with Mark Knowles.

A comparable situation in Davis Cup play for the United States came in the 1986 Davis Cup semifinals when the United States played Australia in Brisbane and the legendary American doubles team of Ken Flach and Robert Seguso were forced apart due to injury. A lingering knee injury from Seguso prevented him from posting with Flach – thrusting Paul Annacone on the line for the United States (incidentally, Annacone’s only on-court appearance for the United States Davis Cup team). As documented on my upcoming book On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, New Chapter Press, available for a special 32 percent off pre-order at the bottom of this article), Flach and Annacone played a two-day epic on Oct. 4-5, 1986 as excerpted below

October 4, 1986 – Pat Cash wins 16 of 20 games played and defeats Tim Mayotte 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the completion of a rain-postponed match to give Australia a 2-0 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals in Brisbane, Australia. Mayotte begins play leading Cash 6-4, 1-2. Cash the pairs with John Fitzgerald in the doubles match, and nearly puts away the Americans by an insurmountable 3-0 margin, but darkness postpones their match with the ad-hoc U.S. doubles team of Ken Flach and Paul Annacone, with the Aussies leading 10-8, 6-1, 5-7. Annacone, in his Davis Cup debut and what ultimately becomes his only Davis Cup playing experience, substitutes for an injured Robert Seguso.

October 5, 1986 – Ken Flach and Paul Annacone keep American hopes alive against Australia in the Davis Cup semifinal as they complete a come-from-behind, darkness delayed victory over Pat Cash and John Fitzgerald by a 8-10, 1-6, 7-5, 13-11, 7-5 margin. Entering the day’s play trailing two sets to one, Flach and Annacone prevent a 3-0 shutout by the Australians by rallying to win the final two sets in dramatic fashion.

A summary from my notes and writings on this 1986 tie as the former U.S. Davis Cup team media director is as follows;

The practice sessions leading into the semifinal would reveal that the doubles would be the major question mark for the United States as Robert Seguso’s knee problems from the US Open prevented him from being 100 percent fit. Annacone would fill in and pair with Flach, his steady doubles partner from the 14, 16 and 18-and-under junior competition. Tim Mayotte and Brad Gilbert would be the singles players.

“Robert is very disappointed, but we gave him as long as we could. In terms of form he wasn’t quite there,” Gorman said. “That gives us the option of three singles players and we can also change the doubles team. If the singles are long matches, we can change and the Australians will probably be thinking the same thing. Our players respect the Australians, but if we play our best tennis, we can win three points (matches).”

“Breaking up one of the best doubles teams in the world is not what you want to do. It’s not the best circumstances,” said Annacone. “There’s a lot of chemistry — who takes what ball, how you react under pressure. It may take a set, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, but there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy playing together, and if we play well, we have a very good chance.”

Gorman, a singles player when Rod Laver and John Newcombe won the 1973 Cup final in Cleveland, was eagerly awaiting his return to Australia-US ties. “”There is a long tradition of great rivalry between our two countries in Davis Cup, though we are great rivals in all sports, not just tennis,” he said. “”There aren’t too many rivalries which go back as far as this, when the winning team is the best in the world,”

The United States and Australia were the two most successful Davis Cup nations, with the U.S. winning 28 Davis Cup titles and Australia winning 25. The two nations met in the Davis Cup final 28 times. The United States led the series with Australia 23-17, but the United States had recently dominated the Aussies, winning their last four meetings. The Australians had not beaten the U.S. in Cup play in 13 years, since the 1973 Davis Cup Final in Cleveland when Gorman was a singles player on the U.S. team that lost 5-0.

Gilbert, ranked No. 12 in the world, opened the tie against 31-year-old Paul McNamee, a doubles specialist with major titles on his shelf with fellow Aussie Peter McNamara. The 25-year-old Gilbert played strong tennis in the 90-degree temperatures and took a two-sets-to-one-lead into the 10-minute locker room break. What transpired following the break was one of the more perplexing turnarounds ever seen in Cup play. With a firm two-sets-to-one lead and momentum on his side, Gilbert emerged from the break only to lose 11 games in a row before holding serve down 0-5 in the fifth set. McNamee then closed out the 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 victory, giving Australia the 1-0 lead.

“I don’t know what happened,” Gilbert said after the match. “He got positive, I got down. It was like a sinking ship. It was definitely the worst two sets of my career, and it comes at a bad time. The first match of a Davis Cup series is the most important one. But he raised his game and I was flat.”

The second rubber featured Mayotte against Pat Cash, the former No. 8 ranked Australian who had reached the semifinals of both the US Open and Wimbledon in 1984. After two years of enduring back problems and an appendectomy that saw his ranking drop as low as No. 413, Cash was again finding his top form and had reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon just three months earlier and negotiated his ranking up to a somewhat respectable No. 80 world ranking.

Mayotte’s grass court game was on full display in taking a 6-4, 1-2 lead over Cash before rains riddled the Milton Courts, postponing play until Saturday morning. The new day resulted in new life for the 21-year-old Cash, who reeled off the first four games of the day to take the second set 6-1. Cash then broke Mayotte twice each in the third and four sets to register the 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 decision to put the Australians in the comfortable 2-0 driver’s seat.

Cash was given a two-hour break before he teamed with John Fitzgerald in the doubles against the makeshift team of Annacone and Flach. Annacone’s Davis Cup jitters were in full blossom in the first two sets, losing his serve three times as he Flach dropped the first two sets, putting the United States on the verge of elimination and an embarrassing 3-0 sweep. But Annacone began to find his footing in the third set as darkness began to envelope the Milton Courts. The bleeding was stopped when the Americans won the third set 7-5, breaking Fitzgerald in the 12th game, forcing the match to be continued on Sunday morning due to night fall.

Sunday morning’s fourth set would prove to be an epic as neither team flinched on their serve. The Americans were closest to elimination at 11-11 in the fourth set, when Annacone wiffed an overhead that he lost in the brilliant Brisbane sun, putting the U.S. down 15-40 on Flach’s serve. But an error from Cash followed by a Flach volley winner erased the Australian opportunity. After Flach held serve, the match was then leveled at two sets apiece when the Americans again broke Fitzgerald to the dismay of the 6,500 assembled Australian fans.

The tight and intense tennis continued well into the fifth set with the Americans giving every ounce of effort to stave off elimination for their country. Wrote Angus Phillips of The Washington Post, of Flach and Annacone “They stalked the court like hungry cats, moving unexpectedly to the net on Australian first serves, making challenging gestures and dangerously aggressive returns of serve, and hurling themselves after difficult shots. Flach dove after a shot in the last set and conked himself on the head with his racket, but refused to stop play to regroup. Then Annacone, a Davis Cup rookie, went flying into a TV camera on the next point.”

Flach and Annacone took an early 3-1 lead in the fifth set and Fitzgerald again showed his vulnerability, losing his serve for the second consecutive time. Annacone, however, returned the favor in the next game, faltering on serve to put the decisive set back on serve. In the 10th game of the fifth set, the U.S. reached its first match point at 4-5 with Cash serving at 30-40, only to have the Aussie heroically escape. Four games later at 6-7, the Americans had double match point on Cash’s serve at 15-40, only to see two service winners bail the Aussies out of trouble. While Cash’s serve proved too tough to crack, Fitzgerald’s serve, as witnessed at the end of the third and fourth sets, would prove to be the Australian Achilles heel, as the 1986 US Open doubles champ’s serve was broken for a fourth time in three sets two games later to put the Americans over the hump. After four hours and 56 minutes – two hours and 45 minutes on Sunday alone – Annacone and Flach emerged triumphant in an 8-10, 1-6, 7-5, 13-11, 9-7 victory that ranks as one of the great doubles victories in U.S. Davis Cup history. The Australian fans, always ones that respected good tennis and tremendous efforts on a tennis court, gave the Americans a standing ovation at the conclusion of the doubles epic, called by Brian Dewhurst of UPI “one of the most memorable Davis Cup doubles matches of recent times.”

“I enjoy good tennis,” said Australian Captain Neal Fraser, “and if there’s any satisfaction from watching, I’d say this was probably one of the best doubles matches I’ve seen in a long time.”

“No one else seems to think we can win this tie, but the team doesn’t think that way,” Annacone said after the doubles epic. “We’ve got a lot of guts and winning the doubles will give the team a big emotional uplift.”

Said Gorman, “We are looking at this like a football game. Australia won in the first half, but now we have to win the second half.”

The Cash-Gilbert match would be delayed until Monday, as an ITF rule allows for a player to have a night’s rest should he play in more than 30 games in a day. Cash certainly needed the rest having played a total of 120 games in three days of play – including 40 games of doubles on Sunday – entering his match with Gilbert.

Cash certainly had the upper hand on Gilbert in the big match experience department, having played in two Grand Slam tournament semifinal matches – one being a tie-break in the fifth-set loss to Ivan Lendl at the 1984 US Open. Cash had also clinched Australia’s last Davis Cup victory in 1983, with a convincing win over Joakim Nystrom of Sweden. To date, Gilbert had not reached a major quarterfinal and still had his Friday melt down to McNamee fresh on his mind in only his second appearance in a U.S. Davis Cup tie. After the two split the first six games of the match, Gilbert reeled off 11 straight points en route to claiming the first set 6-3. Cash rebounded by breaking Gilbert twice before serving out the second set 6-2.

As Cash seized the momentum, Gilbert began self-deprecating comments, while chirping at Cash who walked away or put up his hand telling Gilbert that he was not ready to receive serve. Gilbert complained of “stall tactics.” Cash would later counter that Gilbert was “quick-serving” him.

“The umpire should have done something about it because he did it 30 times,” Gilbert later said. “If I’m ready to serve, he shouldn’t be able to walk away. It’s unfair. Play should be continuous. ”

Two double faults in the opening game of the third set resulted in Gilbert’s serve being broken again and Cash holding on to take the third set 6-3. At 3-3 in the fourth set, the stalling/quick serving banter erupted again. Gorman protested to chair umpire Guy Nash that Cash’s repeated attempts to stall Gilbert was again going too far. Cash would break Gilbert in that game to take the 4-3 lead and three games later, would serve out the 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and 23 minutes.

“At 3-3, the guy (Nash) goes: “Next time he does that you play two (serves),’” said Gilbert. “It was a fairly crucial point for “next time’. I play a little quickly but I feel like the receiver should play to the server’s pace.”

Said Gorman, “It is the first time I have heard a receiving guy saying: “Wait, I’m not ready’ between first and second serves. I always thought that when a guy is at the line looking at the server, he is ready. They have 30 seconds to start the point, but if he wanted to take extra time he should take a step back, like our players do.”

Cash countered by saying he felt Gilbert quick-served him in his loss to the American two weeks before the Davis Cup at the ATP event in Los Angeles and that he had warned his teammate McNamee of Gilbert’s quick-serve tactics prior to the opening rubber of the series.

Said Cash, “Three weeks ago, he quick-served me in Los Angeles and he did it to me 20 times again today. I have a right to slow him down. If I didn’t, he’d have 100 more points. The guy just rolls up and serves. He doesn’t even look across the court to see if you’re there.”

The win placed Australia into the Davis Cup final against Sweden, which it would win in Melbourne two months later by a 4-1 margin, with Cash clinching victory with a stirring two-sets-to-love comeback over Mikael Pernfors. The loss ended Gorman’s first campaign as the U.S. skipper – a year which saw some highs – namely efforts from Mayotte and Gilbert in Mexico and by Flach, Seguso and Annacone in doubles – and some low-lights, namely the absence of John McEnroe from the team, which in all likelihood would have resulted in the United States hosting a Davis Cup final against Sweden – a favorable scenario for a 29th Davis Cup championships for the United States. Asked in Brisbane whether having McEnroe on the team would have made a difference in outcome, Gorman did not want to think about what might have been, stating, “That is not a relevant question.”

Mondays With Bob Greene

7 April 2008

STARS

Nikolay Davydenko became the first Russian to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s singles crown at Miami, Florida, by crushing second-seeded Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2.

Serena Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-1 5-7 6-3 to capture her fifth Sony Ericsson Open women’s singles title.

Bob and Mike Bryan finally won their first doubles championship of 2008, beating Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama won their second doubles title as a team, edging Cara Black and Liezel Huber 7-5 4-6 10-3 at the Sony Ericsson Open.

SAYINGS

“I have only one (racquet). Surprising I didn’t break a string. Warm up and play match, warm up and play match, every match, and I finish with the racquet. I’m going to keep forever this racquet.” – Nikolay Davydenko, who said he used the same racquet in all six matches to win the Sony Ericsson Open.

“People write more about Roger (Federer), about me, about Andy (Roddick). People outside tennis can think different about Nikolay, but we know he’s a very, very good player.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open final to Davydenko 6-4 6-2.

“She looked so nervous out there. I could never believe that a girl who has won so many Grand Slams, so many tournaments, could be that nervous closing out a match.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open women’s final to Serena Williams 6-1 5-7 6-3.

“I smashed a racquet? Are you sure it was me? I guess maybe my hand must have been oily.” – Serena Williams, who drew a code violation when she smashed her racquet after blowing a 5-2 40-0 lead in the second set of her three-set victory over Jelena Jankovic.

“This tie is important for the team, as a win would give us the opportunity to compete in a playoff to make it back in the World Group, where I believe Australia belongs.” – Lleyton Hewitt, saying he plans on playing Davis Cup against Thailand.

“Losing in the finals four times just makes you hungrier and hungrier. When we went out there … we didn’t take anything for granted.” – Bob Bryan after he teamed with his brother Mike to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s doubles.

“Winning in September and staying in the World Group is obviously a key focus for us, but just as vital is working with hose younger players who may be capable of thriving in a Davis Cup environment in the near future.” – Paul Annacone, who has been named coach of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, succeeding Peter Lundgren.

SPLAT

After he hit a backhand into the net during his third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Mikhail Youzhny showed his displeasure by angrily whacking himself in the head three times with his racket strings. That sent a stream of blood running from above his hairline down his nose and nearly to his mouth. The Russian became a celebrity when a video of his tantrum was put on YouTube and drew more than a half-million hits.

SUFFERING SUCCOTASH

Here it is April and the world’s top two men players are still looking for a 2008 tournament title. Top-ranked Roger Federer’s best results this year have been semifinal appearances at both the Australian Open and the Pacific Life Open. Federer has been limited to just three tournaments because of mononucleosis. World number two Rafael Nadal has been in two finals – the Chennai Open and the Sony Ericsson Open – losing both. He also was a semifinalist at both the Australia Open and the Pacific Life Open. And, the top-ranked men’s doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan won their first title of 2008 at the just-concluded Sony Ericsson Open.

SUCCESS FINALLY

Playing in their fifth final of 2008, twins Bob and Mike Bryan finally came away with the title when they defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Beginning with the 2007 Australian Open, the Bryans have reached 20 finals in 27 tournaments. And this championship was their 45th career title together.

SELECTED FOR BEIJING

Players from El Salvador, Togo and Liechtenstein will compete in Olympic tennis for the first time at the Beijing Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) selected four players to compete in the Summer Games: Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador, Komlavi Loglo of Togo, Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein. Only 21 years old, Arevalo has already played 22 Davis Cup ties for El Salvador. Loglo, 23, is the first African Junior Champion from Togo. Vogt, 17, has played eight Fed Cup ties for Liechtenstein. Black, currently co-ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles, played singles at the 2000 Sydney Games.

SQUEAKER

By nipping Cara Black and Liezel Huber in a Match Tiebreak (7-5 4-6 10-3) to win the women’s doubles at the Sony Ericsson Open, Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama were just repeating themselves. The Miami, Florida, tournament title was their second doubles crown as a team. Their first came last year in Toronto when they also beat Black and Huber in a Match Tiebreak in the final.

STEERING TENNIS EUROPE

Jacques Dupre is the new president of Tennis Europe, succeeding John James of Great Britain. Others elected to the board at the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, were Peter Bretherton of Great Britain, Michele Brunetti of Italy, Philios Christodoulou of Cyprus, Gunther Lang of Germany, Aleksei Selivanenko of Russai, Jose Antonio Senz de Broto of Spain, Stefan Tzvetkov of Bulgaria and Ayda Uluc of Turket. There were delegates from a record 43 member nations at the 34th annual general meeting.

SOUTH AFRICA ON TOP

South Africa successfully defended its African Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. Tunisia finished in second place, followed by Egypt in third and Morocco in fourth. Points are earned in singles and doubles in three age groups. South Africa captured two of the six singles titles and reached three other finals. The winners dominated the 16-and -under age group with Jarryd Botha defeating fellow South African Japie de Klerk 6-2 6-2 in the boys singles final.

SENIORS DOING IT

A record 376 teams have entered the 2008 ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey, in October. More than 220 teams from 38 countries have registered for the Seniors age categories – women and men 35 to 55 – while 150 teams will compete in the Super-Seniors: women 60 to 70 and men 60 to 80. The team event will be followed by the ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Individual Championships.

SORE BUT READY

Despite possibly having tendinitis and a hip tendon tear – or a combination of both – Lleyton Hewitt says he will play for Australia in its Davis Cup tie against Thailand. Doctors had advised Hewitt to rest his sore left hip and continue treatment. He has suffered hip pain since losing to Mardy Fish in Indian Wells, California, in March.

SUPERHERO

India’s Davis Cup captain Leander Paes will be a superhero in a cartoon television series in his home country. According to the Indian Express newspaper, Paes will play a miracle man who helps school kids in each of the 26 half-hour episodes being planned. The cartoons, called “The Magic Racquet,” are aimed at promoting an active lifestyle in children. According to the newspaper, a date has not been set for the start of the series.

SWINGING AGAIN

Two retired Wimbledon champions will play each other on grass once again. Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will play an exhibition match in Liverpool, England, in June. Hingis beat Novotna in the 1997 Wimbledon final to become the youngest champion in the Open Era. Novotna, who also lost in the final at Wimbledon to Steffi Graf in 1993, finally won the Championships in 1998.

SITES TO SURF

Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com/

Olympic Tennis: www.itftennis.com/olympics.

Family Circle Cup: www.familycirclecup.com

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Valencia: www.open-comunidad-valencia.com/

Houston: www.riveroaksinternational.com

ITF Seniors: www.itftennis.com/seniors

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

WTA Tour

$600,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, Amelia Island, Florida, clay

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

(April 11-13)

Czech Republic at Moscow, Russia

Sweden at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Spain at Bremen, Germany

France vs. United States at Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Second Round

Italy at Zagreb, Croatia; Netherlands at Skopje, Macedonia; Switzerland at Minsk, Belarus; Georgia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic

America’s Zone Group 1 Second Round

Canada at Santiago, Chile; Colombia at Soracaba, Brazil

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Second Round

Thailand at Townsville, Australia; Japan at New Delhi, India

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 First-Round Playoffs

Chinese Taipei at Almaty, Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan at Manila, Philippines

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP TOUR

$370,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$370,000 Open de Tenis Comunidad Valencia, Valencia, Spain, clay

$436,000 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, clay

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Family Circle Cup, Charleston, South Carolina

Photos of Miami:

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