Paul-Henri Mathieu

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Roger Federer at Rotterdam Opening Ceremony; Tsonga, Mathieu Ousted

Roger Federer at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Opening Ceremony

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 11, 2013) — World No. 2 Roger Federer and Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer took part in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament opening ceremony in Rotterdam today. All suited and dressed up, the two hit some balls on court amid pyrotechnics on center court.

Earlier in the day, defending champion Federer paid a visit to the media for a pre-tournament press conference. “I feel at home in Rotterdam. This is one of the best indoor tournaments in the world with a very strong field and always lots of spectators.” Later in the day he joked about hoping to “win some match this week,” before having a hit with David Goffin and congratulating Benoit Paire on reaching the final in Montpellier last week.

In first round match play, No. 3 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was frustrated by and eventually lost in three sets to wildcard Igor Sijsling, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4.

“I’m very happy”, said Sijsling after the match. “This is perhaps my best victory ever. To beat a top-10 player in my own country in front of such an audience. Thank you all.”

In similar fashion, Martin Klizan also took out Paul Henri Mathieu, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. ”I’m very happy with this victory,” beamed Klizan. “It was a tough first round fight. It was fun with many spectators in the stands. I hope I can keep this level.”

(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

No Trouble at the Top: Djokovic Cruises Through Opener

Djokovic had plenty of reason to smile after advancing with ease on Monday.

In his 2013 Australian Open debut, world #1 Novak Djokovic took a crisp step forward toward his goal of becoming the first man in the Open era to win three straight major titles Down Under.  Facing the unheralded but talented Paul-Henri Mathieu, the world #1 wasted little time under the Melbourne sun in confirming his position among the favorites in the men’s draw.

The two-time defending champion wasted no time in signaling his intent with a vicious backhand winner down the line.  A meek forehand error by Mathieu yielded his first service game to the Serb, who seemed content to play solid but not spectacular tennis.  While the Frenchman looked nervous for much of the set, Djokovic emitted an air of calm confidence as he sauntered along the baseline.  The qualifier struggled to take control of baseline rallies against his opponent’s suffocating defense, often attempting too aggressive a shot too early in the point.

When Djokovic broke Mathieu to start the second set, having taken the first 6-2, the Frenchman finally started to loosen the tension in his game and swing more freely.  He earned double break point in the top seed’s first service game, only to see the Serb wriggle out of trouble.  Mathieu managed to stay within range better in the second set than he had in the first, partly because he found his first serve more regularly.  After the first two games, both men held serve without difficulty as Djokovic continued to keep his nose front before closing out the set with a love service game.

If the task had looked insurmountable for Mathieu when the match began, it looked even more so once he trailed by two sets to love.  In contrast to the first two sets, though, he kept the third interesting at first by holding his first service game.  The two men then held serve smoothly in a series of short points as the Serb’s focus appeared to wane.  Under slight pressure at 4-5, he brushed away the prospect of a fourth set with a quick service game that allowed Mathieu no ray of hope.  Brilliant court coverage by the Serb in the following game opened a 0-30 door with an inspired lob-pass hybrid that left the Frenchman frozen at the net.  Soon afterwards, Djokovic held the match on his racket and served out the straight-sets victory 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.

With one comfortable victory behind him, Djokovic will continue his quest for the historic three-peat against rising American Ryan Harrison, who defeated Santiago Giraldo in four sets to reach the second round.  Djokovic has an undefeated record against Harrison so far, and his current form suggests that this trend will not change when they meet on Wednesday.

 

John Isner, Serena Williams downed at the French Open — The Friday Five

John Isner loses to France's Paul-Henri Mathieu in the second round of the French Open (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

By Maud Watson

Major Upset

It was an upset at a major, and it was an upset of major proportions. Whether you call it shocking, stunning, or even stupefying, the defeat Serena Williams suffered for the first time in the opening round of a major marked an epic win for Virginie Razzano and an epic loss for Serena. Much credit should go to Razzano, who played a fantastic match to seal victory. But the bigger storyline of this encounter was the collapse of Williams. Up a set and 5-1 in the tiebreaker, it seemed almost certain the American would advance. But then nerves struck. She lost six straight points to lose the tiebreaker and quickly found herself in a 0-5 hole in the third. She finally did settle down while Razzano tightened up, and after rattling off three consecutive games, it looked like another historic Serena comeback was in the cards. But it was not to be. In the final nail-biting game of the match, Serena had five chances to get back on serve, and by her own doing, squandered most of them. Her unwillingness to grind and play the score cost her. More than once on the big points, she failed to even put the return in play. The loss certainly puts a different perspective on Serena’s upcoming grass court season. Even Serena, as evidenced by her tears, knows this one was different. This was a loss against a former top 20 player struggling to win matches. This was a loss where the finish line was plainly in sight. This was a loss where the words “choke job” could so easily be applied. It will test Serena’s resolve in the weeks to come. For now though, the race to become Roland Garros champion suddenly became a lot more open.

Shining Moment

It won’t be remembered in the same manner as Isner’s historic defeat of Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, but Paul-Henri Mathieu did give home fans plenty to cheer about when he defeated the towering American 18-16 in the fifth set of their second round encounter at Roland Garros. For Mathieu, this was a moment long overdue. He showed plenty of promise early in his career, but he struggled to regain his form after blowing a 2 set lead in the fifth and deciding rubber of the 2002 Davis Cup final against Russia. Four years later, he found himself playing Rafael Nadal in the third round of Roland Garros. It was a fairly tightly contested match that lasted just shy of five hours, but once again, it was the Frenchman who got the short end of the stick. What followed were years of injuries and inconsistent play, so that by the time he entered this year’s French Open, his ranking was outside of the top 200. An upset over Isner seemed unlikely, but Mathieu, now aged 30, turned back the clock and exhibited some of the raw talent that had made him a top prospect a decade ago. It’s unlikely the victory is a precursor of positive results to come, but how wonderful to see him come out on the right end of one of these epic matches, and at his home major to boot.

Already Winners

The first week of Roland Garros is nearly done and dusted, and already we’ve seen two fairytale stories. The captivating case of Brian Baker has been discussed in length. After numerous surgeries and six years out of the game, he qualified in Nice last week and reached the final. He then got to play his first match as a pro at the French Open, where he defeated Xavier Malisse in straight sets. His reward was the opportunity to play on Court Philippe Chatrier against Frenchman Gilles Simon. Baker put forth a heroic effort, coming back from 2-0 down to force a fifth before succumbing to defeat. At age 27, he still has a few good years left, so let’s hope what we saw in France is a sign of good things to come. Virginie Razzano has been the story on the women’s side. After losing her former coach and fiancé to a brain tumor just eight days before the start of Roland Garros last year, she was due for some good fortune. Playing on the main show court in front of her home crowd against one of the most dominant women of the Open Era, Razzano wrote herself into the history books with her upset of Serena Williams. Much like Baker, the fact that she lost her second round match doesn’t diminish the value of her achievement. Even if she just ends up a footnote in a tennis encyclopedia or never wins another match, you get the sense that it won’t matter. Whatever happens in her career going forward, she’ll always have Paris.

Another Day, Another Record

Though not as impressive as Nadal potentially breaking Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles or Djokovic becoming the first man since Laver to simultaneously hold all four Slams, Roger Federer did make history earlier this week. By reaching the third round, the Maestro surpassed Jimmy Connors’ Open Era record for most wins at the majors. While recognizing that the bar would have been higher had Connors not opted to occasionally skip majors, the fact that Federer was able to surpass the American’s benchmark in nearly a decade’s less time is very impressive. Federer would undoubtedly prefer another Slam title come with the record, but the achievement is still a deserved honor for a player who has so consistently produced sublime play over the course of his career.

A New Voice

After a failed experiment with Ricardo Sanchez earlier in the year, Caroline Wozniacki has decided to once again add an additional coach to her team. The new member is 2002 Australian Open Champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden. Johansson reportedly had been working with the Wozniacki camp in the weeks leading up to the French Open and will be prepared to work more closely with them upon Wozniacki’s return from Paris. From the sound of it, Johansson will not be a constant presence in the Wozniacki camp, but he has signed a contract to work with the Dane through the US Open, which will hopefully ensure he’s given more of an opportunity than Sanchez to have a positive impact on Wozniacki’s game. Wozniacki may also be looking to put in extra effort to make this relationship work, as her decline in the rankings may have spurred on recognition that she’s in need of a fresh voice with new ideas to propel her back towards the top. It will be intriguing to see how the new pupil/coach relationship plays out over the next few months.

Rotterdam Results & Exclusive Photos: Federer, Del Potro, Baghdatis

Bagh_s-r32_015

It was a thrilling day in Rotterdam as the top three seeds, including Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro all claimed a spot in the second round of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, including a first ever win for del Potro at this event – but not without some drama.

Top seed Roger Federer picked up where he left off seven years ago, as the 2005 champion won 13 of the last 14 points with his win over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 6-4. Federer’s expected second round opponent Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a foot problem sending the Swiss straight into the quarterfinals on Friday against Jarkko Nieminen, who beat Lukasz Kubot earlier in the day.

“Any win is a good win,” stated Federer. “Frankly I’m glad to be in the quarterfinals. It’s always tough to make the change from clay but after losing my last two singles matches [for Davis Cup], a win is great.”

For more exclusive Roger Federer content on his top three grand slam wins, mental strength, his toughest opponent, and thoughts on retirement, go here.

Second seed Tomas Berdych also had a routine win over fellow Czech countryman Lukas Rosol, 6-4, 6-2. Berdych also didn’t shy away from admitting it was “a tough transition from Davis Cup. Our court was much faster with lower bounce. I didn’t really have much time to train, but I coped with it pretty well. I was able to find my rhythm quite fast and was able to play my game.”

Juan Martin del Potro struggled to close out the second set in a tiebreaker and was forced to win in three, against 2008 champion Michael Llodra, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4. ”I was really nervous, especially in the last game, so it was nice”, Del Potro said durin his interview. He underlined that he was very pleased to be in Rotterdam and to see so many people coming out to support him.

Cheerful Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (looking surprisingly great in Adidas’ lastest fireball orange and blue kits, below) defeated qualifier Matthias Bachinger, 7-6(2), 6-2.

Nikolay Davydenko was also take to three sets before overcoming the “comeback kid” Paul-Henri Mathieu who had received a wildcard into the qualifying. After two-and-a-half hours of play into the evening hours, Davydenko prevailed, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1.

But another qualifier, Karol Beck, made a commotion as he took out Philipp Petzschner, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Alex Bogomolov, Jr. won when Sergiy Stakhovsky was forced to retire.

In doubles action, top seed Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor were ousted by Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, while  the tandem of Richard Gasquet and Ivan Ljubicic  were defeated, as was the duo of Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen.

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day three action, and the Davydenko-Mathieu match was shot with a 200mm f/2 lens Canon Nederland provided to our photographe Rick for the match. The photos are of the highest quality. Thank you, Canon!

(All photos © Rick Gleijm)

ATP Rotterdam Day One Roundup & Photos: Lopez, Gasquet, Mathieu, Dolgopolov

Lopez r32_1

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day one action.

Three top players were surprised to find themselves on the losing end of their first-round matches.

  • Paul-Henri Mathieu came to Rotterdam as a wildcard into the qualifying draw only to find himself in the second round of the main draw, after stunning Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
  • Jesse Huta Galung dispensed of former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(6), 6-3.
  • Sixth-seed Alexandr Dolgopolov also saw his time in Rotterdam come to a premature end as he was defeated by Lukasz Kubot 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
  • Richard Gasquet also came through in three sets beating Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

For a full recap of Roger Federer‘s and Juan Martin Del Potro‘s press conferences from earlier today, go here.

Full Tuesday schedule below.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] R De Voest (RSA) vs A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] I Sijsling (NED) vs J Nieminen (FIN)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[7] V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] T de Bakker (NED)
F Cermak (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs J Del Potro (ARG) / P Petzschner (GER)

Not Before 7:30 PM
R Haase (NED) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
M Youzhny (RUS) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / D Norman (BEL) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND)

Not Before 3:30 PM
[8] M Granollers (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)

ATP Rotterdam Day Two Qualifying with Paul-Henri Mathieu

Mathieu q2_2

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day two qualifying matches highlighting Paul-Henri Mathieu, Simon Greul, Thomas Schoorel and Rik De Voest.

Earlier in the day, Matthias Bachinger defeated Dusan Lojda 7-6(1), 6-3, while Karol Beck came from a one-set deficit to beat Jan Hajek 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu then defeated Thomas Schoorel 6-1, 6-4, and Rik De Voest overcame Simon Greul 7-5, 7-6(4).

The four winners will all try to make their presence known in the main draw beginning tomorrow as Mathieu is set to take on fourth-seeded Feliciano Lopez. Full Monday schedule is below.

SCHEDULE – MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY, 2012

CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
F Cipolla (ITA) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[4] F Lopez (ESP) vs [Q] P Mathieu (FRA)

Not Before 7:30 PM
[WC] J Huta Galung (NED) vs I Ljubicic (CRO)
L Kubot (POL) vs [6] A Dolgopolov (UKR)

Federer commemorative stamp launched in Austria: This Week in Tennis Business

Daniela Hantuchova

From the Austrian Postal Service launching a commemorative Roger Federer stamp to the Andre Agassi Foundation raising $8 million during the Grand Slam for Children event in Las Vegas to former top-ranked doubles player Ai Sugiyama retiring from professional tennis to Li Na signing with IMG to tennis icon Jack Kramer being remembered at a memorial service at Starus Stadium at UCLA to John Isner and Melanie Oudin agreeing to team up in January to represent the United States in Hopman Cup, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • According to a report by AFP, the Austrian Postal Service will launch a commemorative stamp honoring Roger Federer and his record 15 Grand Slam singles titles. About 400,000 Federer stamps will be issued.

  • The Andre Agassi Foundation’s Grand Slam for Children event raised $8 million over the weekend in Las Vegas. The Engelstad Family Foundation also pledged another $7.5 million to Agassi’s Foundation over a five year period.

  • Ai Sugiyama of Japan has retired from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour following a first round defeat to Nadia Petrova at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Sugiyama was honored on court during a special ceremony put on by WTA Tour officials and players to honor her remarkable career, which included speeches by her regular doubles partners Daniela Hantuchova and Katarina Srebotnik. Throughout her career, Sugiyama won six singles titles, 38 doubles titles and earned more than $8 million in tournament prize money.

  • Li Na, the highest ranked Chinese player ever on the WTA Tour, has signed a representation deal with IMG. “We are very pleased to have Li Na as an IMG client,” said Max Eisenbud, the Senior Vice President of IMG.

  • Tennis legend and the first executive of the ATP Tour Jack Kramer was remembered on Saturday during a memorial service at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the campus on UCLA. Hundreds of people were in attendance during the service, as former WTA Tour star Pam Shriver and Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Dwyre acted as hosts of the ceremony. Barry MacKay, Tracy Austin, Donald Dell, US Open tournament director Jim Curley and former player Charlie Pasarell were among the speakers during the service.

  • John Isner and Melanie Oudin will represent the United States at the Hopman Cup from January 2-9, 2010 in Perth, Australia.

  • The inaugural Maria Sharapova South American Tour will take place from November 29 to December 4 and will feature the former Grand Slam singles champion and Argentine Gisela Dulko. The tour will feature exhibition matches between the players in San Paulo, Brazil on November 29, Santiago, Chile on December 2 and Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 4. Fashion shows, charity appearances and tennis clinics for the local children will also be a part of the three-city exhibition series.

  • The USTA and Levy Restaurants, the official restaurateur of the US Open, combined to donate more than 21,000 pounds of unused food from the US Open to City Harvest. City Harvest, which is based in New York City, is a food rescue organization that feeds people in need of food. “We are very thankful to the USTA and Levy Restaurants and for this generous donation,” said Jilly Stephens, the Executive Director at City Harvest. “Our long-standing partnership with the US Open demonstrates their commitment to helping us feed hungry New Yorkers.”

  • AEGON signed a five-year deal until 2013 to become the title sponsor of the prestigious Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall in London and will now be called the AEGON Masters Tennis. The tournament has featured former Wimbledon champions such as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. “We are delighted to welcome AEGON as our new title sponsor,” said Peter Worth, the Senior Vice President of IMG.

  • Defending US Open champion Kim Clijsters has announced her 2010 tournament schedule. Clijsters will play at Brisbane, Australian Open, Fed Cup, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, French Open, Eastbourne/Rosmalen, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Montreal, US Open, Beijing and possibly the year-end championships in Doha.

  • The 2010 Davis Cup World Group opening round ties have been announced:

      • Spain vs. Switzerland

      • France vs. Germany

      • Russia vs. India

      • Sweden vs. Argentina

      • Croatia vs. Ecuador

      • Serbia vs. United States

      • Chile vs. Israel

      • Belgium vs. Czech Republic

  • Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu has signed a sponsorship deal with Lagardere.

  • Romanian Andrei Pavel officially retired from the ATP World Tour following a straight sets loss to Pablo Cuevas in his hometown tournament last week in Bucharest. Pavel, who lives in the United States, will continue to be the captain for the Romanian Davis Cup team and has plans to open a tennis academy in Arizona.

  • Argentine tennis player Sergio Roitman has announced that he will retire from the ATP World Tour at the conclusion of the Copa Petrobas Challenger tournament in Buenos Aires. Roitman reached a career high ranking of No. 62 in October 2007 and has won more than $1.2 million in tournament prize money. “It is a strange moment for me, but the time has come for me to leave professional tennis,” said Roitman.

  • A lawsuit filed against Frenchman Richard Gasquet has been dismissed in Parisian courts stating no finding whether he took cocaine or if somebody else was responsible.

  • A Serbian court has confirmed that Jelena Dokic’s father has been sentenced to 15-months in prison for threatening to kill the Australian Ambassador to Serbia.

  • The Tennis Industry Association (TIA) is set to launch the website, www.playtennis.com. The website is designed to allow people to join the sport, learn more about tennis and get on a system to become a frequent player. “PlayTennis.com will be the first step,” said TIA President Jon Muir. “We’ll get key messaging out there through this site. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all stakeholders to get behind.”

  • Nine tennis professionals earned the distinction of Master Professional by the USPTA. The nine honorees were honored during the recent USPTA World Conference on Tennis at the Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Marco Island, Fla. Only about one percent of the 15,000 USPTA members have achieved the Master Professional merit.

  • Cory Ross of Littleton, Colo., won the men’s open division $30,000 USPTA International Championships on Thursday in Marco Island, while Marina McCollom of West Des Moines, Iowa won the women’s open division title.

  • Robert Greene Jr., of Rangeley, Maine, who is the Director of Tennis at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, N.H., earned the USPTA’s Alex Gordon Award for the Professional of the Year.

Clijsters rolls in return to Grand Slam play

NEW YORK (AP)—Four years and one baby later, Kim Clijsters still looks like a contender.

The 2005 U.S. Open titlist cruised through her return to Grand Slam tennis Monday, defeating Viktoriya Kutuzova 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Next on that court, Roger Federer extended his U.S. Open winning streak to 35 matches with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 victory over NCAA champion Devin Britton.

While Federer is seeking his sixth straight title at Flushing Meadows, Clijsters played her first Grand Slam match since the 2007 Australian Open, after which she retired to start a family. She had a baby girl in May 2008, but recently decided to return to competitive tennis.

It has been a good return thus far, one that has included four wins over top-20 opponents in two tournaments in August. Granted, this was only the first round of the U.S. Open, but her 58-minute win over Kutuzova included very few signs of rust.

“Now it’s a matter of trying to keep this going,” Clijsters said.

She won the first seven and last 11 points of the match and grinded through her few hiccups, including three double-faults in the third game of the opening set, which extended to seven deuces before she pulled it out.

The win guaranteed she’ll be ranked at least 148th after the Open, when she’ll have played the three required tournaments she needs to return to the list.

“I still feel like I can improve,” she said. “But I’m definitely comfortable where I am right now.”

Other winners in the first round included eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and 26th-seeded Francesca Schiavone. Paul-Henri Mathieu, No. 26 on the men’s side, was the first seeded player to lose, beaten by Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2.

The Williams sisters were both on the schedule, as were Andy Roddick and James Blake.

Another American, Sam Querrey, will debut later this week, bringing with him some lofty expectations—he might be the next great American tennis star in a country looking for just that.

“Everyone is doing what they can,” said Querrey, who is seeded 22nd. “A lot of times, even if you go back 100 years, you’ll have a period of 10 years where you’ll have four or five guys in the top 10, and then years where you might just have one guy. It’s kind of like a rolling wave.”

As much as anywhere else, the search for America’s next great player resonates at Arthur Ashe Stadium, inside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of America’s Grand Slam. It’s the place where Connors and McEnroe, Chrissy and Tracy Austin, ruled during a golden era that feels more like ancient history with each passing year.

Patrick McEnroe is in charge of putting together the program that will keep the pipeline filled, with hopes of producing multiple stars in the future.

“I think it’s going in the right direction,” Roddick said. “I think even with younger kids going back to 14, 15, 16 years old in Florida, from what I hear, it’s a lot more” organized.

That’s the future.

The present belongs—could belong, that is—to guys like John Isner (ranked 55th), Donald Young (185) and Jesse Levine (135). No. 25 seed Mardy Fish is on this list, too, but the 27-year-old withdrew Sunday with a rib injury.

And Querrey.

He stands 6-foot-6 and ranks third on tour with 696 aces this year, a stat that is allowing him to become more aggressive in his return game, as well, because he’s more confident about holding serve.

He is 21-6 since Wimbledon and has played in four finals, including a victory in Los Angeles. He won the U.S. Open Series, a grouping of hard-court tournaments leading to this week. That pushed his ranking from barely inside the top 50 to a career-best 22nd. It also earned him a chance for a $1 million bonus if he wins the Open.

His biggest win this summer was a 7-6 (11), 7-6 (3) victory over Roddick, one that may not signal Querrey is ready to rise all the way to the top, but certainly serves as a confidence builder.

“It also helps if you play Federer or Nadal,” Querrey said. “Andy’s beaten those guys. Hey, he did it, I beat him, why can’t I beat those guys? So it kind of gives you that extra edge against them, too.”

Karlovic stuns Monfils in Cincinnati; Ljubicic, Ferrer, Safin advance

Ivo Karlovic

Croatian serving machine Ivo Karlovic smashed 21 aces en route to dismissing No. 13 seed Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), in two hours and 10 minutes on Monday afternoon to advance to the second round at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.
Karlovic, who defeated No. 1 Roger Federer last year in Cincinnati, was very strong on his service games throughout, even hitting five aces in the final set tiebreaker.

Karlovic won 64 of 74 first serve points, 56 percent of second serve points and was able to save all five break points he faced on his serve. The 6-foot-10 Croatian was consistently smashing serves in the 130 M.P.H. range.
Despite losing, Monfils also had a good serving outing, winning 57 of 74 first serve points, 62 percent of second serve points, but had a hiccup in the third game of the opening set when the 30-year-old Karlovic broke serve.

Karlovic, who improved to 2-1 against Monfils, next faces Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who rallied to defeat German Mischa Zverev, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-3, in two hours and 25 minutes.

In other action, fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic hammered 19 aces past Frenchman Florent Serra to advance to the second round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, victory. It was Ljubicic’s third straight win over Serra.

After a slow start to his Cincinnati title campaign, Ljubicic managed to get his consistency back and was able to break serve twice and win 76 percent of first serve points and 71 percent of second serve points en route to setting up a second round clash with No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has a 2-1 edge in career matches with Ljubicic, most recently beating him in straight sets in the quarterfinals in Madrid.

Former Top 5 player David Ferrer of Spain breezed past Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 39 minutes. Ferrer improved to 4-2 against the Swiss, winning the last three meetings.

The Spaniard, currently ranked No. 19, dropped only six points on his first serve, while breaking Wawrinka’s serve on four of 11 opportunities. Wawrinka, who teamed with Roger Federer to win a doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, struggled on serve throughout, making only 47 percent of his first serves. Ferrer, a two-time quarterfinalist in Cincinnati, earned his 37th victory of the season, which includes reaching the finals earlier this year in Barcelona and Dubai. The Spaniard next faces No. 14 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who cruised past Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 6-4, in 72 minutes. The head-to-head between Ferrer and Cilic is tied 1-1, with Ferrer winning most recently in Miami in three sets.

In the late match, unseeded Marat Safin of Russia beat American Robby Ginepri, 7-5, 7-6(2), in one hour and 26 minutes. Safin, who announced that this will be his last season on the ATP World Tour, smashed 13 aces and just four double faults, while breaking Ginepri’s serve twice on six opportunities. Safin now levels the series 2-2 with Ginepri with his victory.

Other scores from Monday in Cincinnati
No. 9 Gilles Simon def. Wayne Odesnik, 6-3, 6-2
Jeremy Chardy def. No. 15 Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 7-5
No. 16 Radek Stepanek def. Victor Troicki, 7-6(2), 1-0 ret. Injury
Sam Querrey def. Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-3, 6-4
Igor Andreev def. Nicolas Kiefer, 6-1, 7-5
Benjamin Becker def. Martin Vassallo Arguello, 6-3, 6-3
Nicolas Almagro def. Dudi Sela, 6-4, 1-0 ret. Injury
Jose Acasuso def. Lukas Kubot, 6-4, 6-3

Mondays With Bob Greene: Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls

Dinara Safina wins Banka Koper Slovenia Open

STARS

Robby Ginepri beat Sam Querrey 6-2 6-4 to win the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Nikolay Davydenko beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-2 to win the International German Open in Hamburg, Germany

Dinara Safina won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz, Slovenia, beating Sara Errani 6-7 (5) 6-1 7-5

Andrea Petkovic beat Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-2 6-3 to win the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein, Austria

SAYING

“I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls. This is the best day of our lives.” – Roger Federer, announcing the births on his Web site and Facebook page.

“The twins certainly come from good tennis stock. If they are half as good as their dad they will still be a potent force on the court.” – Nick Weinberg, spokesman for British bookmaker Ladbrokes on the twin girls one day winning Wimbledon.

“When you have a lot of losses, you start questioning if you can play at this level. It creeps in the back of your mind, so this is definitely a confidence boost for me the rest of the summer.” – Robby Ginepri, after winning the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.

“It’s been a great week for me. Of course, when you are in a final you always want to win but it has been a great week for me.” – Paul-Henri Mathieu, after losing in the Hamburg, Germany, final to Nikolay Davydenko.

“I know I am good enough to beat most players on this level.” – Andrea Petkovic, after reaching her first career WTA Tour final, which she won.

“I played better each match this week. I beat two Top 30 players this week, the best wins of my career. I’m sorry about today: I wish I could have done more, but there’s always next tournament.” – Ioana Raluca Olaru, who lost in the Gastein Ladies final to Andrea Petkovic.

“I am a hundred percent. I mean, if I wasn’t at that point, I certainly wouldn’t be playing.” – Maria Sharapova, who played for the Newport Beach Breakers in a World TeamTennis match against Kansas City.

“There’s always a lot of pressure against Korie (Homan) because I have not lost a set at this tournament since 2000 and of course I have the winning streak.” – Esther Vergeer, after stretching her unbeaten singles record to 364 matches in wheelchair tennis by again beating world number two Korie Homan.

“Andy’s presence really does give a boost to County Week and British tennis in general. It proves to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children that if the world number three can be bothered to show up and compete for his county, then they can do it, too.” – Ian Conway, captain of the North of Scotland team, on Andy Murray playing an amateur event.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It’s been awhile since Nikolay Davydenko took home the biggest check at a tournament. The Russian won his first ATP World Tour title in over a year when he trounced Paul-Henri Mathieu at the International German Open in Hamburg. Davydenko last appeared in a final at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai last November, and he hadn’t won a title since Warsaw, Poland, in June 2008. Davydenko also became the first Russian to win in Hamburg.

SONY TOPPER

Until this past week, Andrea Petkovic had a 3-8 lifetime record in WTA Tour-level events, with all three match wins coming at Grand Slam tournaments. That changed in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Petkovic won five straight matches and her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, the Gastein Ladies, when she stopped Ioana Raluca Olaru. The unseeded German dropped only one set all week, that to seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the quarterfinals. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Petkovic said. “I hope I can keep playing like this and build on it.” Olaru was also appearing in her first Tour singles final, having upset third-seeded Sybille Bammer, sixth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and top-seeded Alize Cornet en route to the title match.

SURE BET

It didn’t take the British bookmakers long. Just a day after their birth, Roger Federer’s twin daughters were given 100-1 odds for either to win Wimbledon. Charlene Riva Federer and Myla Rose Federer are 50-1 to win a Grand Slam as part of the same doubles team and 200-1 to capture the Wimbledon women’s doubles. Andy Roddick, who has lost the Wimbledon final three times to the twins’ father, agreed with the bookies. The American sent a message from his Twitter page, which read: “Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040 … the Federer girls: congrats to the new parents!”

SUPER TIEBREAKS

Playing together for the first time, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won all four matches in third-set super tiebreakers to capture the doubles title at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. “They’re obviously better as a team, but when there’s a lot of firepower against you, there’s not much you can do,” Tursunov said after the pair beat top-seeded Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak). Not one to break up a winning pair, the two plan to play together in Los Angeles this week. “It’s kind of like beginner’s luck in poker, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tursunov said. “If we’re having success, it makes sense to continue to play.”

STEPPING IT UP

The knee injury must be better. Rafael Nadal has returned to training for the first time since he was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee. Nadal is planning on returning to the ATP tour at the Montreal Masters next month. He has been out since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open, where he was seeking his fifth straight title. The injury also kept him from defending his Wimbledon crown. With Nadal not there, Roger Federer won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to record his 15th Grand Slam trophy and reclaim the number one ranking.

STRUGGLING

Leander Paes was named the league’s male MVP as he led the Washington Kastles to their first World TeamTennis Pro League championship. Paes teamed with Scott Oudsema to win the men’s doubles and with Rennae Stubbs to win the mixed doubles as the Kastles downed the Springfield Lasers 23-20. Oudsema beat Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the men’s singles, while Washington’s Olga Puchkova downed Vania King in women’s singles. King and Liezel Huber captured the women’s doubles. King was named the league’s female MVP.

STANDING TALL

Cara Black is only 5-foot-6 ( 1.67m) but she stands tall in the tennis record book. The Zimbabwean player is second only to Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova in the number of weeks spent as the number one doubles player in the world. When Black recorded her 125th week at number one spot, she moved past Natasha Zvereva. The 30-year-old first took over the top spot on October 17, 2005, staying there for 16 weeks. She regained the spot on June 11, 2007, before relinquishing it two weeks later to Lisa Raymond. But Black began her third and current stint at number one on July 9, 2007, after winning Wimbledon. Navratilova led the doubles rankings for 237 weeks.

SPOTLIGHTED

Austria’s national anti-doping authorities are investigating Tamira Paszek after she received a medical treatment for a back injury that allegedly violated doping regulations. Authorities say that during treatment earlier this month, blood was taken from Paszek for enrichment, then later injected back into her, which is not allowed under international anti-doping rules. Paszek said she was not aware that the treatment was possibly illegal until a reporter told her. Paszek then alerted the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA, which began its investigation. The Austrian right-hander has struggled with back problems since last season. She has not played since retiring during her first-round match at Wimbledon.

STAYING HOME

Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Croatia’s Mario Ancic won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 15th-ranked Nalbandian is still recovering from recent hip surgery, while Ancic is battling mononucleosis. Their spots in the men’s main draw were taken by Ivan Navarro of Spain and Karol Beck of Slovakia.

An injury has caused Li Na of China to withdraw from China’s National Games in Shandong. The 27-year-old said she felt a recurrence of her right knee injury. Li will undergo tests in Beijing to determine whether she will be able to play the North American hard court season, including the US Open. “We have signed up for it and got the visa,” said Li’s husband and coach, Jiang Shan. “If she is OK by then we will go to play.”

SUSPENDED

John McEnroe seems to be a lightning rod for problems on a tennis court. His World TeamTennis club has been fined for what the league called “unprofessional conduct.” During the men’s doubles match between McEnroe’s New York Sportimes and the Washington Kastles, a shot by Washington’s Leander Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick. McEnroe and Sportimes coach Chuck Adams went to Paes’ side of the court and yelled at him. Four points later, Kendrick hit Paes with a serve, prompting more confrontations. The league suspended and fined Adams the next day, then, after reviewing the video and getting the umpire’s report, issued fines on both teams. Kendrick and Kastles player Olga Puchkova received individual fines.

SHORT STICH STAY

Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis lasted only 62 minutes. The former Wimbledon champion lost his first-round doubles match at the German Open in Hamburg. The 40-year-old Stich, who retired from the sport 12 years ago, and 21-year-old Mischa Zverev were beaten by Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-4 6-2. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and reached the final at both the French Open and US Open. His best ranking was number two in the world. As tournament director of the German Open, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wild card into the tournament. Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback. John McEnroe was 47 when he and Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won the doubles at San Jose, California. That came 14 years after his previous title.

SAYING AU REVOIR

Nathalie Dechy is calling it a career. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman is expecting a child and wants to devote her time to family life. Dechy reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2005, but is currently ranked 88th in the world. She won two US Open women’s doubles titles, with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007. She also won the French Open mixed doubles in 2007 with Israel’s Andy Ram. Dechy won her only WTA Tour singles title at the Gold Coast tournament in 2003 and reached her career-highest ranking in January 2006 when she rose to 11th in the world. She played for France in the Fed Cup in singles and doubles from 2000 until this year.

STRIKE IT WASN’T

Robby Ginepri had an unusual way of throwing out the game’s first pitch when he was a special guest at the Triple-A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Durham Bulls. In Indiana where he was competing in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Ginepri used his racquet and a tennis ball to serve to the Indians catcher. The umpire called balls on both of Ginepri’s “serves,” but the American was delighted with his performance. “It was very close to a strike,” Ginepri said. “It is quite different to have to serve at a catcher’s glove. The target is just very small.”

SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA

Maria Sharapova is continuing to give back. The former world number one has launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation to distribute scholarships among first-year students at Belarusian State University throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The USD $3,500 scholarships will be available to Belarus residents attending BSU who come from areas formally recognized as affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. According to the BSU press office, recipients should actively participate in public, research and volunteer activities, and should have a high average grade in their general education school diplomas. It’s not the first time the tennis player has given generously. In February 2007, Sharapova, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Development Program, donated USD $100,000 for eight Chernobyl relief projects in Belarus and Ukraine. Sharapova’s father and pregnant mother fled Homyel, a town 80 miles north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the accident in April 1986. She was born in a Siberian city months later.

SUMMER COUNTY CUP

Forget the ranking. Andy Murray took time to compete in the AEGON Summer County Cup, a 115-year-old amateur team tennis competition. With no umpires, line judges or ball-persons, the players call their own lines in the last amateur grass-court competition in the United Kingdom where senior professionals mix with junior players to represent their county in a competitive team environment. It was a huge surprise to the other players and the 300 spectators at Eastbourne when Murray showed up to play for North of Scotland. “Andy has come down to Eastbourne under his own steam, paying for his transport and lunch out of his own pocket,” said North of Scotland captain Ian Conway. “I was surprised and delighted, and his presence has given the rest of the team a huge boost.” While Murray and Owen Hadden won all three of their matches for the North of Scotland, Hertfordshire won the tie 5-4 when Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his partner lost the deciding match 6-3 6-7 (3) 10-8 (match tiebreak).

STILL WINNING

Esther Vergeer is not slowing down. The Dutch woman won her ninth consecutive women’s wheelchair singles title at the British Open in Nottingham, defeating Korie Homan. Ranked number one in the world, Vergeer stretched her winning streak to 364 matches.

Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s main draw singles, while American David Wagner captured the quad singles titles. Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet for his third successive men’s main draw singles title. Wagner won his second British Open quad singles in three years as he beat world number one and home favorite Peter Norfolk.

SIGNED ON

Nicole Pratt has been appointed Australian national women’s coach. A former junior Australian Open champion, Pratt will work with Australia’s Fed Cup team and on player development, according to Tennis Australia. Pratt’s highest ranking on the WTA Tour was 35th in the world.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Indianapolis: Dmitry Tursunov and Ernests Gulbis beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Hamburg: Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley beat Marcelo Melo and Filip Polasek 6-3 6-3

Bad Gastein: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Tatjana Malek and Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4

Portoroz: Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beat Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

Washington: www.leggmasontennisclassic.com/

Segovia: www.teniselespinar.com/

San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/

Vancouver: www.vanopen.com/

Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$450,000 Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

$100,000 Orbetello Challenger, Orbetello, Italy, clay

WTA

$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$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

WTA

$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

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