Peter Fleming

McEnroe’s St. Patty’s Day Happenings

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – a day where a salient moment happened to John McEnroe, whose grandparents on his father’s side were from Ireland. As excerpted from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com), McEnroe made his Davis Cup doubles debut and when he received no luck of the Irish in Key Biscayne in his swan song appearance in the modern day Sony Ericsson Open.

March 17

1927 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge conducts the draw for the 1927 Davis Cup competition on the front lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. Coolidge picks the card with Czechoslovakia on it, which is drawn against Greece in the first round of the European Zone. Writes the New York Times of the event, “Surrounded by diplomats from the twenty-five nations entered into the tournament, he drew the card bearing the name of Czechoslovakia from the bowl of the trophy. Joseph C. Grew, Under Secretary of State, then picked Greece, which was paired with the nation of the President’s choice. The various diplomats then formed in line and each withdrew the name of one nation from the cup.” An ironic event occurs when the representative from Belgium selects his own nation from the cup. Twenty one nations are placed in the European Zone and four in the American Zone. The winner of each zone would meet each other and the winner taking on the United States, the holder of the Davis Cup, in the Challenge Round.

1979 – John McEnroe and Peter Fleming make their Davis Cup debut as a doubles team, defeating Ivan Molina and Orlando Agudelo 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 giving the United States a match-clinching 3-0 lead over Colombia in the Davis Cup first round at the Cleveland Skating Club in Cleveland, Ohio. McEnroe and Fleming become arguably the greatest doubles combination the United States has ever fielded in Davis Cup play, ending their patriotic partnership in 1984 with a 14-1 record. They win 14 straight Davis Cup doubles matches – a record among U.S. Davis Cup doubles teams – and represent the U.S. on Davis Cup final-winning teams in 1981 and 1982. Their final Davis Cup doubles match is their only defeat – a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 loss to Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd in the title-clinching win for Sweden over the United States in the 1984 Davis Cup final in Goteborg, Sweden.

1992 – John McEnroe, whose grandparents on his father’s side were born in Ireland, receives no luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day in what becomes his final match ever at the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., losing to Richard Krajicek 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the third round.

1996 – In a final played with on-court temperatures surpassing 110 degrees, Michael Chang defeats No. 68th-ranked Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “Today I could actually feel the heat coming through the soles of my shoes,” says Chang following the match. “They announced 110 degrees, but I was told it was 130 degrees. They just didn’t want to scare anybody.”

2001- Booed as she enters the court for her final round match against Kim Clijsters at the Tennis Masters Series -Indian Wells, Serena Williams withstands the harsh fan and media allegations of match-fixing, by defeating Clijsters 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Fans react severely to the Williams family after Venus Williams abruptly withdraws from her semifinal match with Serena Williams the day before. “In the beginning, I was a little shocked,” Serena says. “Then I was like, ‘Wow, this is getting old. Move on to something new…I prayed to God just to help me be strong, not even to win, but to be strong, not listen to the crowd.” The withdrawal and aftermath came on the heels of tabloid story in the National Enquirer stating that Williams father Richard fixed the 2000 Wimbledon semifinal between the two sisters.

2007 – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia wins her second Pacific Life Open championship in Indian Wells, Calif. – and her second career title – defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 in the women’s singles final. “I think all the best things in life are worth waiting for, moments like this,” says Hantuchova, who wins her first title in Indian Wells five years earlier. “I guess all the hard work and everything I had to go through makes the victory that much sweeter.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: Perhaps Tennis

STARS

Marion Bartoli beat Li Na 6-4 6-3 to win the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico

Lukas Rosol beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 4-6 7-6 (3) to win the Internazionali di Bergamo in Bergamo, Italy

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina beat Netherlands 5-0 at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Czech Republic beat France 3-2 at Ostrava, Czech Republic

United States beat. Switzerland 4-1 at Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Croatia beat Chile 5-0 at Porec, Croatia

Israel beat Sweden 3-2 at Malmo, Sweden

Russia beat Romania 4-1 at Sibiu, Romania

Germany beat Austria 3-2 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Spain beat Serbia 4-1 at Benidorm, Spain

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Colombia beat Uruguay 5-0, Ecuador beat Canada 3-2

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Mexico beat Jamaica 5-0, Venezuela beat Netherlands Antilles 4-1, Dominican Republic beat Guatemala 5-0, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia beat Thailand 3-2, India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2, Japan beat China 5-0, Uzbekistan beat Korea 4-1

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines beat Hong Kong China 4-1, Pakistan beat Oman 4-1, Indonesia beat Kuwait 3-2, New Zealand beat Malaysia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

South Africa beat Macedonia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Italy beat Slovak Republic 4-1, Ukraine beat Great Britain 4-1, Belgium beat Poland 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Lithuania beat Georgia 3-2, Slovenia beat Egypt 5-0, Latvia beat Moldova 5-0, Bulgaria beat Hungary 3-2, Finland beat Denmark 3-2, Monaco beat Montenegro 5-0, Ireland beat Algeria 4-1, Cyprus beat Portugal 3-2

SAYING

“Perhaps tennis.” – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested after telling Barack Obama he couldn’t compete with the American president in basketball. “I hear you’ve got a game,” Obama replied.

“I want to play the best possible but it couldn’t be today. I couldn’t break his rhythm on this surface.” – Novak Djokovic, playing on clay for the first time since Roland Garros and losing to David Ferrer in the opening Davis Cup match between Serbia and Spain.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I think it maybe can open the door for other countries to make a stupid decision like this one. I think it’s going to be very bad to play without a crowd.” – Israel’s Andy Ram, about the decision to play the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie in an empty stadium.

“We are here to play tennis. We are not here to talk about politics or to talk about terror.” -Harel Levy, another member of Israel’s four-man Davis Cup team.

“When you play Davis Cup on home turf you want a full house, and we think it’s too bad that there won’t be.” – Thomas Johansson, Swedish Davis Cupper.

“Yesterday’s doubles poured a lot of power and confidence into my veins.” – Radek Stepanek, who beat Gilles Simon to clinch the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup victory over France.

“It’s probably the worst experience of my life right now ever playing a tennis match. I had two match points in the tiebreak, I had the match in my hands. I wanted to win so badly and that’s why it hurts so much.” – Frank Dancevic, who could have given Canada a victory over Ecuador if he had won.

“Billie Jean King has done so much for the game. She’s really a true legend in the sport. I think this is a really great tribute to her.” – Jelena Jankovic, who participated in a four-player “Tennis Night in America” exhibition in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Following the attack in Pakistan on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) canceled a junior tennis tournament scheduled for this month in Karachi, Pakistan. Most of the players signed up for the amateur tournament were between the ages of 13 and 18 and came from Pakistan, but others were from the region, including Thailand, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Luca Santilli, the ITF manager of junior tennis, said the attack that killed six police officers and injured seven Sri Lankan players was not the only factor in postponing the tournament.

STADIUM SLAMMERS

Police fought with demonstrators outside the stadium where the Sweden and Israel were playing Davis Cup. Dozens of anti-Israeli protestors tried to storm the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall in Malmo, Sweden, after about 7,000 people gathered at a downtown square to hear speeches condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. The players found out about the melee after Sweden’s Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt beat Israel’s Andy Ram and Amir Hadad. Ram, who earlier in the week called the decision by Malmo officials to bar the public from the Davis Cup competition “stupid,” praised police after the demonstration. “We knew there were going to be a few thousand people screaming out there,” Ram said. “Inside here we didn’t feel anything. The police did a good job.” Israel advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. It was the second time a Davis Cup series was played without fans in Sweden. In 1975, two years after a military coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet, Sweden played Chile in an empty stadium in Bastad.

STRONG WINDS

Defending champion Spain’s first-round World Group Davis Cup tie against Serbia was pushed back a day because of strong winds that damaged the stadium in Benidorm, Spain. Gusts up to 60 miles per hour (90 kph) blew off some of the rows of the stands and affected the stability of the 16,000-seat temporary stadium, according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) referee Soren Frienel. When the winds died down, it was Spain that roared, beating Serbia 4-1.

SHAHAR AFTERMATH

Organizers of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships say they will appeal the USD $300,000 fine imposed on them by the WTA Tour after Israeli Shahar Peer was barred from playing in the women’s tournament. Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the tournament sponsors, say they are will challenge the WTA Tour’s threat to withdraw the sanction of the tournament if all players are not allowed entry into the United Arab Emigrates in the future. Colm McLoughlin, managing director of DDF, said that despite the differences, “In my opinion there is no danger that the tournament will be pulled.”

SECOND TO NICKY

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes won their doubles match against Chinese Taipei, defeating Yang Tsung-Hua and Yi Chu-Huan 6-4 7-6 (0) 6-7 (2) 6-2. It was the Indian duo’s 23rd consecutive doubles victory in Davis Cup play, extending their record streak. Paes has posted 36 doubles victories, second in Davis Cup history only to Nicola “Nicky” Pietrangeli of Italy, who was on the winning doubles team 42 times.

STANDING TALL

When twins Bob and Mike Bryan beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Yves Allegro, they became the winningest United States Davis Cup team in history, increasing their record to 15-2. The pair moved past the pairings of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who finished with a 14-1 mark, as well as Wilmer Allison and John Van Ryn who posted a 14-2 record by the time they played their last Davis Cup matches in 1936. “We’re just plugging away,” Bob Bryan said. “I truly didn’t know that we were playing for the record at all. It’s great to look at when you retire. When you’re in the heat of the moment, still in the battle, you just want to keep trying to get better and look for ways to improve.”

STAR POWER

Women’s tennis returned to New York’s Madison Square Garden after a nine-year absence with what is turning into the usual suspects in a title match: Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus 6-4 6-3 after both won one-set matches against Serbia’s top two players, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Venus and Serena have won the last three Grand Slam tournament titles between them. The crowd of 12,026 was clearly on hand to see the Williams sisters, and many of the fans filed out after Serena won the first set of the championship. Before the final, former President Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan and race car driver Janet Guthrie participated in a tribute to Billie Jean King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973. “She has probably done more than any other woman in the world to empower women and educate men,” Clinton said.

SAVING MONEY

In a measure to battle the effects of the global economic crisis, the ATP is returning around USD $3 million in fees to tournaments around the world. “In these difficult times the ATP has decided to give the tournaments a reduction in tournament fees to help them financially,” a spokesman for the ATP said. The spokesman said the fee reductions would come from ATP resources and would not affect the prize money awarded by the tournaments. A spokesman for the WTA said the women’s tour would not be making similar reductions as it was in a healthy position financially.

SWINGING AWAY

Andre Agassi is returning to competitive tournament tennis with his old gang. Agassi will participate in the Outback Champions Series event at Surprise, Arizona, in October. The Outback Champions tour is for players 30 years old and older. Agassi, who will soon turn 39, won eight major singles titles before retiring after the 2006 US Open.

SPONSOR FOR DAVIS CUP

Telefonica has become the official telecommunications sponsor of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The multi-year agreement began with last week’s opening round of Davis Cup as eight World Group ties and 26 Zone Group ties were played in 34 nations. The Spanish company will provide telecommunications expertise at Davis Cup ties around the world and advise the ITF and its member nations on new ways to develop their internet properties. “In a world where technology is one of the true growth areas, we are delighted that Telefonica and its brands have joined Davis Cup,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

STUNNED

Anna Kournikova says her recent trip to Haiti was “completely and devastatingly humbling.” Kournikova went to Haiti as part of an awareness-raising mission organized by PSI, a leading global health organization. “What shocked me about Haiti, where 70 percent of the population lives on less than (USD) $2 a day, was just the complete lack of basic human needs, and the amazing amount of disease and sickness that is so prevalent with the population,” Kournikova wrote in her blog. “It was so difficult to see those conditions with my own eyes.”

SUPPORTING A CAUSE

Several top players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have pitched in to help raise funds to rebuild areas in Australia that were affected by the recent bush fires. Players from around the world have sent messages of support and donated signed equipment, clothing and money toward aiding the fund-raising. Australian tennis stars Casey Dellacqua, Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs were joined by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Ai Sugiyama and Serena Williams, all of whom donated items that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Tennis Bushfire Relief Appeal. “Tennis is part and parcel of community life throughout Australia and the sport has a role to play in aiding the recovery of these fire-ravaged communities,” Geoff Pollard, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) vice president and president of Tennis Australia, and Tennis Victoria President David Stobart said in a statement.

SHARAPOVA RETURNS?

Maria Sharapova will play doubles only at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, according to TennisReporters.net. The web site says Sharapova’s right shoulder still gets fatigued after playing two-out-of-three-set matches for several days in a row and her doctors don’t think it’s a good idea for her to play singles in the next two weeks. The three-time Grand Slam tournament champion hasn’t played since the Canadian Open last August and underwent shoulder surgery in October. She hasn’t played doubles since 2005. At Indian Wells, she will play with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina.

SERGEI’S THE MAN

The name was familiar when Ukraine’s Davis Cup doubles team bested Great Britain. But Sergei Bubka Jr. decided not to following in his father’s footsteps and instead he took up tennis. The younger Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-4 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 and Ukraine went on to down Great Britain 4-1 in their Europe/Africa Group 1 zonal tie. The elder Bubka was a pole-vaulting great, won an Olympic gold medal and set world records almost every time he competed. But his 22-year-old son has played most of his tennis on the Challenger level and is ranked 269th in the world.

STILL LISTED

Lindsay Davenport is having a bit of problem getting rid of her house in the prestigious Emerald Bay neighborhood in Laguna Beach, California. The tennis star was asking USD $6,395,000 for her home, but the listing expired without any takers. The five-bedroom house was on the market for 183 days.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Monterrey: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Iveta Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova 6-3 6-4

Bergamo: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Chris Haggard and Pavel Vizner 7-6 (6) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

Rio Champions Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico

Mondays With Bob Greene: I am like a machine, fit for every match

STARS

Ayumi Morita beat Ksenia Lykina 6-1 6-3 to win the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge women’s event in Toyota City, Japan

Martin Vassallo Arguello won the Lima Challenger 2008, beating Sergio Roitman 6-2 4-6 6-4 in Lima, Peru

Go Soeda beat Hyung-Taik Lee 6-2 7-6 (7) to win the Dunlop World Challenge men’s singles in Toyota City, Japan

Grega Zemlja beat Martin Alund 6-2 6-1 to win the Abierto Internacional Varonil Ciudad de Cancun in Cancun, Mexico

SAYING

“This was our worst defeat. We had a sinister weekend.” – David Nalbandian, who earned Argentina’s lone point in Spain’s 3-1 Davis Cup victory.

“I think he’s my natural successor. He’s very close to this group of players who are integrated into the nucleus of the team and he’s demonstrated his qualities as a coach by leading Feliciano (Lopez), who has shown notable progression in the last while.” – Emilio Sanchez, on Albert Costa’s prospects for becoming Spain’s Davis Cup captain.

“I am like a machine, fit for every match, and I give my best for all my matches. I have a consistent style of play, which is my major strength and keeps me going. I am fine with the current ATP schedule and love playing tennis, which keeps me going.” – Nikolay Davydenko.

“It goes back to what my dad said: I peaked at 12 years old.” – Jimmy Arias, who in 1980 at the age of 16 became the youngest player to make the main draw of the US Open.

“She will have an opportunity but she will have to earn it.” – Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director on Jelena Dokic playing in a wild card playoff for a direct entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of 2009.

SUFFERIN’ SUCCOTASH

His business manager says Jimmy Connors is “extremely disappointed and embarrassed” about an incident that led to the tennis legend being charged with a misdemeanor. Karen Scott says a man tried to pick a fight with Connors and his son before a basketball game between the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina. Police asked Connors to leave, but the eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion was arrested after he said he wanted to wait for his son to finish watching the game. Connors was charged with disrupting campus activities and refusing to leave a university facility.

STEPS DOWN

The day after leading Spain to its third Davis Cup championship, Emilio Sanchez Vicario retired as captain of the victorious team. “I will not be there for the tie against Serbia,” said Sanchez, referring to Spain’s first-round tie in 2009. “I started something three years ago and the cycle is now complete with this reward for all the players, and I hope that whoever replaces me can share all the magical moments I have experienced.” The next Spanish captain is rumored to be Albert Costa, the 2002 Roland Garros champion.

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SAME IN ARGENTINA

Alberto Mancini apparently is through as coach of Argentina’s Davis Cup squad. He announced his resignation just hours after Spain clinched its third Davis Cup title, defeating Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five-matches tie. The fifth match was not played. According to reports, Mancini had planned to resign after the final regardless of the outcome.

SCORING MORE

As an incentive to play better, Chinese tennis players will be able to keep more of their winnings. China’s players will keep 70 percent of the money they win, twice the amount they have been able to put into the bank. But the country’s top players, including Li Na and Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, are eligible to keep even more if they do well at Grand Slams and other big tournaments. In China, the sports associations have paid for coaches, travel and other expenses for the players. In making the announcement, Sun Jinfang, head of the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA), didn’t say if the players would now have to pay for some of their own expenses.

SQUARING OFF

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could resume their rivalry in their opening 2009 tournament. The world’s top two players are scheduled to play the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar, which begins January 5. According to Nasser al-Kholiafi, Qatar tennis federation president, the star-filled field will also include Andy Murray and Andy Roddick. The Qatar Open is one of three tournaments that will begin the 2009 ATP season, the others being the Brisbane International in Australia and the Chennai Open in India.

STOPPED

Kimiko Date-Krumm’s latest tournament ended quickly in the singles. Once ranked number five in the world, Date-Krumm lost her second-round match in the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament in Toyota, Japan, to Russian wild-card Ksenia Lykina 5-7 7-5 6-3. She did much better in the doubles, teaming with China’s Han Xinyun to reach the final, where they lost to Finland’s Emma Laine and Britain’s Melanie South 6-1 7-5.

SLUITER RETURNS

Dutch tennis player Raemon Sluiter is returning to the ATP tour after a 10-month retirement. He reached his highest world ranking of number 46 in 2003. The right-hander from Rotterdam turned pro in 1996 and earned a little more than USD $1.6 million in his career. Sluiter began his Davis Cup career in 2001 by upsetting Juan Carlos Ferrero as the Netherlands beat Spain and Germany to reach the World Group semifinals before losing to France. He also has a Davis Cup victory over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

SET TO EXPLODE

A live bomb from World War II was discovered when a court at a British tennis club underwent renovation. The bomb was thought to be a piece of old farm machinery and handed to Steve McLean, chairman of the Greenlaw Tennis Club in Berwickshire, who put it in a bin. Six weeks later, he realized it was a bomb and called police. Army bomb disposal experts took the bomb away so it could be detonated safely.

STUMBLE

The first event in a closed tour for Asian players was canceled because of the lack of top players. The Asian Tennis Federation said it was planning a closed Asian Tennis Tour to help Asian players make more money. The first two events were to be held in India in December, a men’s tournament in Pune, followed by a women’s event in Indore. But some of the eight countries who had pledged their participation in the tour ended up nominated their third- or fourth-string players for the tournaments.

SENDS WARNING

John McEnroe hasn’t been quiet about his chances at the BlackRock Masters Tennis championships at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The lefthander, who at the age of 49 is by far the oldest in the eight-man draw, sent a video message to his rivals warning them not to underestimate him. McEnroe’s recent victory in Luxembourg has convinced the American that he can still compete. McEnroe is in a group with American Pete Sampras, Frenchman Cedric Pioline and Britain’s Jeremy Bates. The other group consists of Sweden’s Stefan Edberg, Australian Pat Cash, Britain’s Greg Rusedski and France’s Guy Forget. Jamie Murray, Wimbledon mixed doubles champion in 2007 and the brother of Andy Murray, will play doubles, joining, among others, Peter Fleming, Henri Leconte, Mansour Bahrami, Mark Woodforde and Anders Jarryd. Goran Ivanisevic withdrew from the singles field because he will undergo knee surgery.

SITTING ON TOP

For the third consecutive year, France has more players in the year-ending ATP Top 100 than any other nation. This year, however, Spain has tied France with 14 players in the Top 100. With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at number six and Gilles Simon at number seven, it is the first time since 1986 that two Frenchmen have been in the year-end Top Ten. Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte did it then. Twenty-nine countries are represented in the Top 100. After France and Spain, Argentina has nine players in the Top 100, followed by the United States with eight, Germany and Russia with seven each, Croatia with five, the Czech Republic and Italy with four each, and Serbia and Belgium with three apiece.

STARS FOR SALE

The Heineken Open has reportedly been forced to shell out record appearance fees in order to land a couple of top players for the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, beginning January 12. The headliners will be world number eight Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina and former champion David Ferrer of Spain. Tournament director Richard Palmer would not reveal the exact amount of appearance fees he had to pay to get the two, but said it was considerably less than the sums some top 10 players were demanding.

SO HAPPY

Organizers of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas, are smiling these days. Because of the changes in the ATP calendar for 2009, Lleyton Hewitt and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, have committed to the US Clay Court. The Houston event now doesn’t bump up against Davis Cup competition or a popular clay-court tournament in Europe. And it directly follows the Masters 100 tournament in Miami, Florida. “This is a perfect example of how we’ve improved our prospects of getting some players we probably wouldn’t have had a shot at before,” said Van Barry, tennis director of River Oaks Country Club, site of the tournament.

SERBIAN DREAMS

The decrepit courts of the Milan Gale Muskatirovic Sports Centre in Belgrade, Serbia, will be restored in time to hold an ATP tournament in May. Tennis Masters Cup champion Novak Djokovic and his family are behind the changes, having acquired the ATP event only a few weeks ago. The Serbian government, city of Belgrade and municipality of Stari Grad will jointly pay more than USD $1 million for the venture. The courts also will be used by the Serbian Tennis Federation for Fed Cup and Davis Cup practice as well as university competition. When completed, the complex will have seven courts with seating for 5,000 at the Central Court. The restoration is scheduled to be completed by mid-April, two weeks before the tournament will begin.

SYDNEY CALLING

The Medibank International Sydney 2009 tournament will feature a number of top players, including Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, David Nalbandian and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Officials say the competition will be Sydney’s international sporting event of the Australian summer. Also in the field will be Russian Elena Dementieva and Frenchman Richard Gasquet, while Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt will be gunning for his fifth title in the tournament.

STICKING WITH IT

Argentina’s David Nalbandian refuted rumors that he is considering quitting his country’s Davis Cup team because of its loss to Spain. “For me it’s really an honor to represent my country. I’m going to continue defending these colors in the best way possible. For me, playing Davis Cup is the best and I’m upset that people have doubted me.” Nalbandian won the opening singles in the three-day competition, beating David Ferrer. But he and Agustin Calleri lost their doubles match and his “reverse singles” match was never played because Spain had already wrapped up its victory. “We’ve played in two Davis Cup finals in the last three years and I still think we can win it,” Nalbandian said.

SET FOR CHENNAI

India’s two top-ranked singles players, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj, have been given wild cards into the Chennai Open tournament scheduled to begin January 5. The third wild card into the main singles draw has been offered to Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic, who will partner India’s Leander Paes in the doubles. India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner, Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, have also entered the tournament. While Paes and Bhupathi are India’s best-known players, neither play singles that much any more.

SAD NEWS

Anne Pittman, who coached Arizona State’s women’s tennis program for 30 years, died in Tempe, Arizona, after suffering a stroke. She was 90 years old. Pittman guided ASU to a 338-71 record from 1954 through 1984 and led the Sun Devils to national championships in 1971, 1972 and 1974. In 1995, she was selected as one of the charter members and only coach into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. During her tenure, the women’s tennis coach was considered a volunteer position. Pittman refused to retire until funding was approved during the 1983-84 season to make the coach a paid, full-time position.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Toyota (women): Emma Laine and Melanie South beat Kimiko Date-Krumm and Han Xinyun 6-1 7-5

Lima: Luis Horna and Sebastian Prieto beat Ramon Delgado and Julio Silva 6-3 6-3

Toyota (men): Frederik Nielsen and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Chen Ti and Gazegorz Panfil 7-5 6-3

Cancun: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Lee Hsin-Han and Yang Tsung-Hua 7-5 6-2

SITES TO SURF

London: www.theblackrockmasters.com/

Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/

ATP: www.atptennis.com

WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com

ITF: www.itftennis.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

SENIORS

BlackRock Masters Tennis, London, England, carpet

On This Day In Tennis History

Since the tennis world is silent this week, TennisGrandstand.com will fulfill your tennis fix with an excerpt from the new tennis book “ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY.” The book, which makes an excellent holiday gift, is written by tennis historian and sports marketing guru Randy Walker, the former USTA publicity specialist. Here’s some of what happened from November 27 to November 30. For more information on the book, go to www.tennishistorybook.com.

November 27

1973 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black player to win a title in the apartheid nation of South Africa, winning the doubles title in the South African Open with Tom Okker, defeating Lew Hoad and Bob Maud 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final. After initially being denied a visa based on his anti-apartheid views, Ashe is permitted to play in the event by the South African government. Ashe requests to tournament officials that the bleacher seating not be segregated during the tournament, but his wishes are not granted. Says Ashe to local reporters, “You can’t integrate the place in one full sweep. It is important to recognize the progress that has been made.” Ashe loses the singles final the day before to Jimmy Connors 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Chris Evert wins the women’s singles title, defeating Evonne Goolagong 6-3, 6-3.

1982 – John McEnroe clinches his fourth career Davis Cup title for the United States as he and Peter Fleming defeat Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte 6-3, 6-4, 9-7 to give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-0 lead over France in the Davis Cup final in Grenoble, France. McEnroe is also on victorious U.S. teams in 1978, 1979 and 1981 – winning the clinching singles point in the fourth rubber in 1978 against Britain and in 1981 against Argentina. Says McEnroe of his title-winning performances, “Each one is different and each one’s nice in its own way. This was one of the best, if not the best, because we beat their team in front of a large crowd and played well, and I played on my worst surface and won the matches. Argentina, when we beat them last year in Cincinnati, was probably the most exciting final I was involved in. This and Argentina were definitely the two biggest.”

November 28

1999 – Pete Sampras wins the year-end ATP Tour Championships for a fifth time, defeating world No. 1 Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the championship match in Hannover, Germany. Agassi had defeated Sampras 6-2, 6-2 in round-robin play earlier in the tournament. Writes British journalist Stephen Bierley, “It was perhaps fitting, given that this was the last major singles tournament of the millennium, that the best player of modern times won it so emphatically.”

1985 – Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seeded Boris Becker loses to Dutchmen and No. 188th ranked Michael Schapers 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6),6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open. “I surprised myself at how badly I can play,” says Becker of the grass court loss.

1998 – One day after clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record sixth consecutive year, Pete Sampras is un-gloriously dumped in the semifinals of the ATP Tour World Championships by Alex Corretja of Spain, who defeats the world No. 1 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) after saving three match points. Fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya also advances into the championship match, defeating Tim Henman of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Says Sampras, who hits 50 unforced errors in the loss,  “It’s a tough way to end it. I had mixed emotions, coming so close to winning, being in the final. But the achievement of doing it six years in a row, and the fans giving me a nice ovation, it was a very good feeling. But it wasn’t the way I wanted to end the year.”

2001 – Thirty-year-old Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic begins his six-month service in the Croatian Army. Says Ivanisevic, “Now that I’m in the army, you can all sleep peacefully…I have to do basic drill, but after that they will probably send me to catch (Arab terrorist Osama) bin Laden.”

November 29

1991 – Pete Sampras makes an inauspicious Davis Cup debut, losing to Henri Leconte 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the Davis Cup Final in Lyon, France. The 28-year-old Leconte, the former top 10 player ranked No. 159 in the world and recovering from back surgery that threatened his career, plays perhaps the most inspirational tennis match of his career. Says Leconte, “It’s the greatest day of my life, the win of my career. I’ve proved I’m still around.” Says French captain Yannick Noah “He played like I dreamed he would.” Says Sampras, ranked No. 6 in the world of his baptismal Davis Cup appearance, “It’s certainly a different experience.” Andre Agassi’s earlier 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Guy Forget makes the score 1-1 after the first day of play.

1998 – Alex Corretja rallies from a two-sets-to-love deficit to win the biggest title of his career, defeating fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 in four hours to win the year-end ATP Tour World Championship in Hannover, Germany. Corretja, who lost to Moya in the French Open final earlier in the year, says he used Ivan Lendl’s two-set-to-love comeback win over John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final as inspiration for his comeback. Says Corretja, “At that time Lendl was my idol. Today I was thinking, ‘Come on, try to do like your idol’ … try to find some energy from somewhere and try to think about your tennis and try to push him to see if he is going to be able to finish in straight sets. Even when I was two sets down, I was still thinking that I could win this match. That’s why I think I won.” Says Moya, “Two sets up, maybe I relaxed a bit. I thought the match was not over. It’s never over when you play against Alex. But I had a really big advantage. I had many chances to beat him, but they went and he started to play better. It’s a big disappointment.”

November 30

1973 -Rod Laver and John Newcombe each win five-set struggles to give Australia a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States, the five-time defending Davis Cup champions, in the Davis Cup Final in Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-nine-year-old Newcombe beats Stan Smith 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the opening rubber, while 35-year-old Laver defeats 27-year-old Tom Gorman 8-10, 8-6, 6-8, 6-3, 6-1. The loss is Smith’s first-ever defeat in five previous Davis Cup Final appearances and only his second singles loss in 17 previous Davis Cup singles matches in all. Says Smith, “I played tougher matches under tougher conditions, but it’s the best I’ve seen Newk play.” Newcombe, the reigning U.S. Open champion, calls the win, “the toughest five-set match I have won in the last five years.” Laver, playing in his second Davis Cup series in his return to the competition for the first time since 1962, needs 3 hours, 22 minutes to outlast Gorman.

1990 – Andre Agassi wins a dramatic five-set match over Richard Fromberg, while Michael Chang is steady in a straight-set dismissal of Darren Cahill as the United States takes a 2-0 lead over Australian in the Davis Cup Final at the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Agassi, the world No. 4 and a French Open finalist earlier in the year, struggles on the indoor red clay court against Fromberg, playing in his first career Davis Cup match, but barrels through to win 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, has little difficultly with Cahill, a serve and volleyer, winning 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-0.

2003 – Mark Philippoussis wins perhaps the most courageous and most heroic match of his career, as he clinches Australia’s 28th Davis Cup title, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-0 to give Australia the 3-1 victory over Spain on a grass court at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Philippoussis, playing in his hometown, fights through a torn pectoral muscle that inflicts him with sharp pain with every serve and groundstroke he hits. But spurred on by a screaming crowd of 14,000 supporters, Philippoussis, the losing finalist to Roger Federer earlier in the year at Wimbledon, plays the match as if his life were on the line. “The crowd was incredible,” says Philippoussis after the match. “This is what Davis Cup is all about. There is no way I could have got through without them. It gets you up and numbs the pain because they are so loud.”  Eleanor Preston writing for The Guardian writes that Philippoussis “veered between triumph and disaster before fighting back nerves, fatigue and pain from an injured pectoral muscle to win.”

On This Day In Tennis History

The following are events that happened this week in tennis history. Look out for the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY due out later this year from New Chapter Press (www.newchapterpressmedia.com)

March 8

1986 – Ken Flach and Robert Seguso give the United States a 2-1 lead over Ecuador with a 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Andres Gomez and Ricardo Ycaza in the Davis Cup first round in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

1985 – The United States plays its first Davis Cup tie in Japan and takes a 2-0 lead over the Japanese as Eliot Teltscher defeats Kaoru Maruyama 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 and Aaron Krickstein defeats Shozo Shiraishi 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the Davis Cup first round in Kyoto, Japan.

1981 – Needing to sweep the final two matches to avoid a first-round upset by Mexico, Roscoe Tanner and John McEnroe respond without losing a set, defeating Jorge Lozano and Raul Ramirez, respectively, to give the United States a 3-2 win over Mexico in the first round in Carlsbad, Calif. The win is the first for U.S. Captain Arthur Ashe.

1987 – Miloslav Mecir upsets world No. 1 Ivan Lendl 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla.

1992 – Michael Chang defeats Andrei Chesnokov 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.,

1995 – Two-time champion Jim Courier loses in the second round of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif., falling to No. 34–ranked Carlos Costa of Spain 7-6 (6), 6-3. Said Courier, “Losing is never easy, but I’m at a stage right now where I feel I can handle it.”


March 9

1986 – Jimmy Arias defeats Raul Viver 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in the fifth and decisive match as the United States defeats Ecuador 3-2 in the Davis Cup first round in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

1980 – In what eventually becomes Tony Trabert’s last Davis Cup tie as U.S. captain, John McEnroe is defeated by Guillermo Vilas 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to clinch Argentina’s 4-1 victory over the United States in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

1971- No. 1 seed Rod Laver wins his opening round match at the Australian Open, defeating Colin Dibley 7-5, 6-3, 6-1. Defending champion Arthur Ashe needs five set to overcome Australian Ray Ruffels 6-4, 6-1, 6-7, 0-6, 7-5.

1991 – World No. 5 Guy Forget upsets top-ranked Stefan Edberg 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the final of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. Jim Courier also advances into the final, defeating Michael Stich 6-3, 6-2.

March 10

2006 – The senior tennis circuit returns to the United States for the first time since 2001 as the Outback Champions Cup Series begins in Naples, Fla., as Mats Wilander defeats Aaron Krickstein 2-6, 6-2, 10-2 in the opening round robin match of the series. Tour co-founder Jim Courier defeats Mikael Pernfors 6-2, 6-2. in the final match of the day, Pat Cash surprises John McEnroe 2-6 7-6(5), 10-6 in the Super Tie-break.

1971 – No. 1 seed Rod Laver is upset by Mark Cox 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the third round of the Australian Open in Sydney. No. 3 seed and fellow Australian John Newcombe is also upset, losing to Marty Riessen 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 7-6.

1991 – Twenty-year-old Jim Courier, ranked No. 26 in the world, wins his second career singles title, defeating No. 5 ranked Guy Forget 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “To win it – and it sounds like a cliché – but it’s a big honor for me,” said Courier.

1996 – In her second tournament in her second comeback attempt in professional tennis, Jennifer Capriati routs Shi-Ting Wang of Chinese Taipei 6-0, 6-0 in 43 minutes in the second round of the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

March 11

1991 – Steffi Graf’s record reign of 186 weeks as the No. 1 ranked players comes to an end as Monica Seles overtakes Graf as the No. 1 player. Seles would hold the No. 1 ranking for a total of 178 weeks during her career.

2001 – Jan-Michael Gambill of Spokane, Wash., became the first American in six years to win singles and doubles titles in the same event, capturing both at the Citrix Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Fla. Gambill, 23, defeats Xavier Malisse of Belgium, 7-5, 6-4, in the singles final, for the second singles title of his career Gambill pairs with 18-year-old Andy Roddick of Boca Raton, Fla., to win the doubles title over Thomas Shimada, a Philadelphia-born Japanese national, and Myles Wakefield of South Africa, 6-3, 6-4, in the final. Pete Sampras, at the 1995 Stella Artois Grass Court Championships at Queen’s Club, London, was the last American to win singles and doubles in the same event.

1990 – Thirteen-year-old Jennifer Capriati’s debut tournament comes to an end as she is defeated by Gabriela Sabatini 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the Virginia Slims of Florida in Boca Raton, Fla. “It’s been the greatest week of my life,” said Capriati of her first WTA tournament. “It was exciting just to make the finals…I was tired at the end.”

1971 – Arthur Ashe defeats Cliff Drysdale 7-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open played at White City, Sydney, Australia.

2006 – In one of the most stunning and disastrous reversals of fortune, Michael Chang, playing in his “Champions” circuit debut at the Outback Champions Series – Naples event in Naples, Fla., leads Mikael Pernfors 6-0, 5-0 in a round robin match, only two lose two games in a row and then ruptures his left Achilles tendon running for a drop shot. Chang is taken off of the court in a stretcher and loses the match 0-6, 2-5, ret., and is forced to withdraw from the competition.

1990 – Stefan Edberg defeats Andre Agassi 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6) in nearly three-and-a-half hours in the final of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

2007 – Roger Federer’s bid to break Guillermo Vilas’s record of 46 straight wins in men’s tennis ends in his opening round match at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif. Federer, the No. 1 player in the world, is stunned by No. 60 Guillermo Canas of Argentina 7-5, 6-2, ending his match win streak at 41. `He just kept the ball in play and moving me around,” Federer said. “He put me away when he had to. He played the perfect match. The right guy won.” Canas who was reinstated into professional tennis after serving a 15-month suspension due to breaking the ATP’s banned drug policy, was a “lucky loser” entrant into the event after losing in the qualifying rounds of the tournament. Said Canas, “It’s my first Masters Series after I start again and to beat the world No. 1 and to play like this is great for me.” Said Federer of the blown match win streak, “Sooner or later it had to happen, so it’s OK. It’s no problem.”

March 12

1989 – Ivan Lendl wins his 75th career singles title, defeating Stefan Edberg 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Eagle Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

1997 – Pete Sampras loses his first match in the 1997 season, losing to Bohdan Ulirach of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 7-5 losing his opening match at the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. Said Sampras who started the year 17-0, “It was pretty ugly. I just made error after error. … I was missing a lot of groundstrokes, normal shots; I just wasn’t very comfortable out there.”

1971 – Margaret Court needs only 32 minutes to defeat fellow Australian Lesley Hunt 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Australian Open in Sydney, Australia. Court requires only 10 minutes to win the first set of the match. Thirty-six-year-old Ken Rosewall defeats Tom Okker 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 to advance into the men’s singles final.

1996 – Chanda Rubin ends the second tournament in the second comeback of unranked Jennifer Capriati, defeating the 19-year-old 6-3, 6-3 in the third round of the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

1996 – Carlos Costa of Spain, ranked No. 38 in the world, upsets reigning Australian Open champion Boris Becker 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

1995 – Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi set up a dream final in the Newsweek Champions Cup by registering semifinal victories over Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker respectively. Sampras defeats Edberg 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, calling Edberg, “one of the classier guys I have ever played” following the match, while Agassi defeats Becker 6-4, 7-6 (4).

1993 – Thirty-year-old Tracy Austin is defeated by Stephanie Rottier of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla.

March 13

1987 – Aaron Krickstein overcomes a vocal Paraguayan home crowd to defeat Hugo Chapacu 5-7, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to help the United States to an early 1-0 lead over Paraguay in the Davis Cup first round tie in Asuncion, Paraguay. Paraguay ties the score at 1-1 when Victor Pecci defeats Jimmy Arias 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

1971 – Evonne Goolagong advances into a Grand Slam final for the first time in her career, defeating Winnie Shaw of Scotland 7-6, 6-1 in the semifinals of the Australian Open in Sydney, Australia. Defending men’s singles champion Arthur Ashe defeats Bob Lutz 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the men’s singles semifinals.

1996 – Playing his second match as the world’s No. 1 ranked player, Thomas Muster is defeated in his opening round match at the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif., losing to Adrian Voinea of Romania 6-3, 7-5. “For me, being No. 1 is maybe the same as Pete (Sampras) winning Wimbledon six times in a row,” said Muster of his No. 1 status. “It’s a personal thing, a dream come true.”

1995 – In their 14th career match-up and re-match of the Australian Open men’s singles final six weeks earlier, Pete Sampras defeats Andre Agassi 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 in a sun-down final of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif., avenging his loss in Australia. “If we battle for the next 10 years, it will be great for the game,” said Sampras. “It’s different when I play Andre. It’s like two heavyweights going at it.”

2007 – Defending champion Maria Sharapova serves up 13 double faults – and loses her No. 1 ranking – in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 loss to fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif. Sharapova actually served for the match at 6-4, 5-4, but loses seven straight games to lose the match and surrender the top ranking to Justine Henin.

March 14

1988 – Andre Agassi is named to the U.S. Davis Cup team for the first time in his career. Agassi, 17, is named to play against Peru in the first-ever Davis Cup zonal match for the United States.

1987 – Ken Flach and Robert Seguso overcome a two-sets-to-love deficit, bad line calls, and objects thrown from the stands to defeat Victor Pecci and Francisco Gonzalez 5-7, 9-11, 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to give the United States a 2-1 lead over Paraguay in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Asuncion, Paraguay.

1971 – Margaret Court and Ken Rosewall win singles titles at the Australian Open at White City in Sydney, Australia. Court defeats first-time Grand Slam finalist and fellow Australian Evonne Goolagong 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 to win her nation’s national championship for the 10th time in the last 12 years. Rosewall defeated defending champion Arthur Ashe 6-1, 7-5, 6-3, benefiting from 13 Ashe double-faults. Court’s title was her sixth straight Grand Slam women’s singles title on the heels of her 1970 Grand Slam.

1994 – Andre Agassi defeats Boris Becker 6-2, 7-5 in the third round of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla. Down 2-6, 0-2, Becker hands his racquet to ball-girl Stephanie Flaherty who plays a point with Agassi and gains mini-celebrity status at the tournament.

1999 – One day after defeating Gustavo Kuerten to clinch the world’s No. 1 ranking, Carlos Moya is defeated by Mark Philippoussis 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the final of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “To be No. 1 and then win the title on top of that would have been the perfect beginning, but today he’s better than me so that’s it,” said Moya after the match.

1996 – Steffi Graf needs two hours and 44 minutes to fight off a bad back and defeat Lindsay Davenport 6-7 (6), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the semifinals of the State Farm Evert Classic in Indian Wells, Calif. “Every match she plays, there is something wrong with her,” said Davenport. “but even when she is so hurt, she always plays real well.”

March 15

1987 – In one of the strangest Davis Cup matches in U.S. history, 285th-ranked Hugo Chapacu defeats Jimmy Arias 6-4, 6-1, 5-7, 3-6, 9-7 in five hours and five minutes. Chapacu is unable to convert a match point at 5-4 in the third set, but comes back from a 1-5 fifth-set deficit and saves three match points to win a force a fifth and decisive match between the United States and Paraguay.

1996 – Both Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi lose chances of recapturing the No. 1 ranking in the world from Thomas Muster of Austria with quarterfinal losses at the Newsweek Champions Cup. Paul Haarhuis stuns world No. 2 Sampras 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-1, while Agassi, ranked No. 3, loses to Michael Chang 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. Sampras summed up the lost opportunity to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking, buy simply saying, “C’est la vie.”

1998 – Temperamental Marcelo Rios of Chile loses a second-set tie-break in 32 points – the only set he would lose all week – and wins the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif., defeating Britain’s Greg Rusedski 6-3, 6-7 (15-17), 7-6 (4), 6-4. Said Rios of his reputation as one of the meanest players in tennis, “I’m nice sometimes. In Chile, there’s even a lot of kids who want to be like me.”

1999 – Carlos Moya becomes the No. 1 player in the world, replacing Pete Sampras in the top spot on the ATP computer. Moya only holds the ranking for two weeks before Sampras reclaims the top spot.

2001 – Controversy erupts at the Tennis Masters Series in Indian Wells, Calif., as Venus Williams pulls out of her scheduled semifinal match against younger sister Serena Williams because of an injured right knee. Wrote Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, “This last-minute development left officials angered and mystified, raising the persistent question of credibility. Timing was one issue, as the withdrawal was announced only four minutes before the match was to have started. Some fans among the crowd of 11,767 asked for refunds and ESPN was stranded and resorted to showing the earlier semifinal between Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters.”

March 16

1987 – In a match completed at 2:35 am, Victor Pecci of Paraguay defeats Aaron Krickstein 6-2, 8-6, 9-7 to give Paraguay an unbelievable 3-2 upset of the United States in the Davis Cup by NEC first round in Asuncion, Paraguay.

1988 – Gabriela Sabatini fights off three set points in the first set and defeats 14-year-old newcomer Monica Seles 7-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla.

1992 – American qualifier Robbie Weiss, a former NCAA singles champion from Pepperdine University ranked No. 289 in the world, registers one of the biggest ranking upsets ever in men’s tennis, defeating No. 2 ranked Stefan Edberg 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the third round of the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla. Said Edberg following the match, “Robbie played a good match. I played a poor match.”

1996 – Steffi Graf wins her 96th career singles title in her first tournament appearance in 1996, defeating Conchita Martinez 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in the final of the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.,

March 17

1978 – John McEnroe and Peter Fleming make their Davis Cup debut as a doubles team, defeating Ivan Molina and Orlando Agudelo 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 giving the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Colombia in the Davis Cup first round at the Cleveland Skating Club in Cleveland, Ohio.

1927 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge conducts the draw for the 1927 Davis Cup competition on the front lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.

1992 – John McEnroe receives no luck of the Irish in what becomes his final match ever at the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla., losing to Richard Krajicek 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the third round.

1996 – In a final played with on-court temperatures surpassing 110 degrees, Michael Chang defeats No. 68th ranked Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “Today I could actually feel the heat coming through the soles of my shoes,” said Chang following the match. “They announced 110 degrees, but I was told it was 130 degrees, they just didn’t want to scare anybody.”

2001- Booed as she entered the court for her final round match against Kim Clijsters at the Tennis Masters Series –Indian Wells, Serena Williams withstood the harsh fan and media allegations of match-fixing, by defeating Clijsters 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Fans reacted harshly to the Williams family after Venus Williams had abruptly withdrawn from her semifinal match with Serena Williams the day before. “In the beginning, I was a little shocked,” Serena said. “Then I was like, ‘Wow, this is getting old. Move on to something new…I prayed to God just to help me be strong, not even to win, but to be strong, not listen to the crowd.” The withdrawal and aftermath came on the heels of tabloid story in the National Enquirer stating that Williams father Richard had fixed the 2000 Wimbledon semifinal between the two sisters.

2007 – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia wins her second Pacific Life Open championship in Indian Wells, Calif., – and her second career title – defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 in the women’s singles final. “I think all the best things in life are worth waiting for, moments like this,” Hantuchova said, who won her first title in Indian Wells five years earlier. “I guess all the hard work and everything I had to go through makes the victory that much sweeter.”