Regular readers of TennisGrandstand will know that my first steps in this esteemed company were tracking the progress of players from the former Commonwealth countries as they did battle the world over in search of fame, success and prize money.
Now, starting October 4, all that changes for these players who bare the colours of their homelands and descend on Delhi as tennis makes its debut in the Commonwealth Games schedule.
The sailing certainly hasn’t been plain. The bad press and setbacks have almost derailed the games altogether and have led to accusations of outdated concepts and an existence as a poorer little brother to the Olympics.
There have been withdrawals, hissy fits and refusals to play but finally the pens and insults can be dropped and the racquets lifted in the search for Commonwealth gold.
There will be no Andy Murray. No Sam Stosur. No Marcos Baghdatis. No Lleyton Hewitt.
But the home stars have all stood firm and the likes of Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman will fly the Indian flag in to competition and they will be hoping that performances and medals silence the critics.
All singles and doubles matches will be the best of three tie-break sets, including the finals. The male and female singles draws will consist of 32 players while the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles competitions will see 16 teams fight for gold.
Each country can enter a maximum of four men and women (of which three can compete in singles play) and two teams in each of the doubles events. Players from the same country will be placed in separate quarters of the draw.
Despite all the high-profile withdrawals there is still plenty of talent to feast our tennis-hungry eyes upon. Australia’s Peter Luczak has troubled the higher echelons of the men’s game and Scotland’s Colin Fleming is one of Britain’s formidable ‘Flemski’ doubles partnership alongside Ken Skupski of England.
Mirza will be one to look out for in the women’s draw as will the recently christened Aussie Anastasia Rodionova.
Then we have Paes and Bhupathi in the doubles who have two French Opens (1999 and 2001) and a Wimbledon title (1999) won together under their belt. Devvarman will also link up with US Open finalist Rohan Bopanna to give India a fantastic chance of gold in the men’s doubles.
Then there’s also British doubles number one Sarah Borwell to look out for and former singles and doubles Top 50 player Marina Erakovic lining up for New Zealand.
Wales have two players in the draw – Josh Milton and Chris Lewis. Milton is in fact the eighth seed in the men’s singles. Lewis faces Fleming in the first round which will be a difficult encounter but I’m hoping for the best for both of them.
While there might not be enough top world talent to tempt the eyes of some peripheral tennis fans there is certainly enough to keep tennis fanatics occupied throughout the tournament.
We hope that the games run according to plan, like the football World Cup in South Africa, and that the critics are put firmly in their place. We hope there are no problems, no collapsing structures, and no serious injury.
It is time for the players to put all the hoo-hah behind them and focus fully on winning medals for their friends, family and countrymen. Good luck to them all.
Less than twenty-four hours after Rafael Nadal’s impressive French Open victory and the ATP Tour is switching gears from the red clay of Roland Garros to the green grass of Halle and London. The short grass-court season is now upon us and over the next month we will witness a very different and exciting brand of tennis. Let’s take a closer look at what’s around the corner at the first two tune-up events for Wimbledon.
Gerry Weber Open – Halle, Germany
Halle will crown a new champion this year as veteran German player Tommy Haas is out with injury issues. In 2009 he defeated Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-1 for the title in his home country.
Roger Federer will be the number-one seed this year although he officially loses his number-one ranking on Tour on Monday as Nadal has surpassed him once again. Federer has won Halle five times before, from 2003-2006 and more recently in 2008. His first round opponent will be Jarkko Nieminen from Finland. The unfortunate Nieminen holds a 0-10 record against Federer and has never before taken a set off of him.
Interestingly enough, Federer signed a lifetime deal with the tournament on Sunday agreeing to participate in the event for as long as he is still playing professional tennis.
Federer could face the tricky Radek Stepanek in the quarter-finals and then either Juan Carlos Ferrero or Marcos Baghdatis in the semis. Both of those players have had success on grass, with Ferrero twice making the quarter-finals of Wimbledon while Baghdatis made the semi-finals in 2006.
In the bottom half of the draw Lleyton Hewitt is the 8th seed and opens against fellow Aussie Peter Luczak. Seeded second is Nikolay Davydenko who will be making his first appearance on the Tour since a wrist injury in mid-March.
One first round match worth noting is veteran Nicolas Kiefer against Russian Mikhail Youzhny. Kiefer is still struggling to find his game after injuries kept him from playing most of 2009.
AEGON Championships – London, England (aka Queen’s Club)
Four time champion Andy Roddick brings a 29-4 career record into Queen’s Club this year. Who can forget just how close the American came to finally capturing Wimbledon a year ago, where he fell 16-14 in the fifth set to Roger Federer. Roddick has not played much tennis in the past two months, but will be looking to regain his form on his favourite surface.
As of right now, Rafael Nadal is seeded first in the tournament. He does have a first-round bye so hopefully that will give him enough of a rest after winning Roland Garros. Nadal won this event in 2008 – the year he won his first and only Wimbledon title. Nadal opens by playing the winner of Marcos Daniel vs. Blaz Kavcic – a nice way to open his grass-court season wouldn’t you say? Nadal has the most favourable quarter of the tournament with the highest seed he could face being Feliciano Lopez who is the number-eight.
Andy Murray is the defending champion as he won in 2009 against James Blake 7-5, 6-4. Murray could meet up with Marin Cilic in the quarters. The pressure to win his first Grand Slam is growing and Murray will be looking to gain some momentum heading towards the grass at Wimbledon.
In the bottom half we have potential quarter-finals of Novak Djokovic against Sam Querrey. It will be interesting to see how Djokovic responds after blowing a two set lead over Jurgen Melzer at the French. Since winning his first and only Slam in Australia in 2008, Djokovic has consistently disappointed in the majors.
The last quarter offers us a potential Andy Roddick versus Richard Gasquet meeting – a rematch of their epic five-set Wimbledon battle from 2007 where the American was up by two sets before falling 8-6 in the fifth.
For any Canadian tennis fans, Frank Dancevic makes his first tournament appearance of 2010 after missing many months recovering from back surgery. After winning three matches in the qualies he advances to face Dustin Brown of Jamaica in the opening round. Dancevic is an able grass-court player and made the finals of Eastbourne last year where he fell to Dmitry Tursunov.
Don’t expect many surprises in either of these two tournaments as the big-names will be setting the tone for the month-long grass court season. I expect Federer to win his first non-Slam tournament of the year in Halle while I feel Andy Murray is due to put up some serious results in front of his home fans in London.
There are no seeds left after quarterfinals at Medibank International in Sydney as local favorite Lleyton Hewitt, the only seeded player in quarterfinals, was defeated Thursday 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to Marcos Baghdatis.
“The first set and a half I was hitting the ball pretty well, and I was happy with my ball striking,” said Hewitt. “Even after that, my ball striking wasn’t too bad.”
The match was a re-match of a famous match where Hewitt beat Baghdatis two years ago in Melbourne in latest finish match ever (4:34 AM). In the semifinals, Baghdatis will play Mardy Fish. The American ousted the other Aussie, Peter Luczak, 7-6, 6-2 in the night match.
In Auckland, Albert Montanes advanced to his first hard-court semifinal after 6-3, 6-3 over qualifier Michael Lammer. He meets next John Isner, who reached first semifinal outside United States by upseeting No. 1 seed Tommy Robredo 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4, recovering from 1-3 in the third set.
Wednesday was a “G’Day” for the home Aussies at the Sydney International. Lleyton Hewitt needed just 55 minutes to beat Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 to advance into the quarterfinals. The win avenged a loss to Seppi in Sydney’s quarterfinals four years ago after wasting two match points; Also 30-year-old Aussie Peter Luczak reached first ATP-quarterfinal in his home country after 1-6 6-4 6-2 win over Tomas Berdych.
The Spaniards are the main force at the Heineken Open in Auckland where they comprise of the top four seeds. However, only two of them advanced to the quarterfinals. Swiss qualifier Michael Lammer, 27, advanced to the first ATP-quarterfianl when he led 3:1 in the first set when his opponent, Juan Carlos Ferrero (No. 3 seed), was forced to retire (sprained right ankle).
Tennis fans of Queensland, Australia, were celebrating after three of their big name stars received wild cards this week for the 2010 Australian Open.
Davis Cup star Carsten Ball, two-time junior Grand Slam winner Bernard Tomic and national under 18 champion Jason Kubler were all handed passes to the event.
Ball missed the recent wild card playoff tournament with a back injury but has performed exceptionally well in 2009 and came close to making the main draw cut off point so the organisers made the decision to hand him a wildcard.
Tomic won this year’s US Open boy’s title to add to the 2008 Aussie boy’s title he’d already picked up. The Australians view Tomic as a huge prospect for the future and he has already shown promise by reaching the second round of the 2009 tournament.
Sixteen-year-old Kubler went on a 30-match winning streak this year which included victory at the prestigious Osaka Junior Open as well as leading Australia to Junior Davis Cup victory.
Former World No. 8 Alicia Molik and rising star Olivia Rogowska received wild cards in the women’s draw, Rogowska being the losing finalist in the recent wildcard playoffs.
The decision on the final wildcards to be handed out to the men’s and women’s draws will be made soon.
*Women’s doubles pairs were left feeling nervous as one of the most successful pairings of all time, America’s Lisa Raymond and Australia’s Rennae Stubbs, announced that they will once more compete together in 2010. Between 1996 and 2005 they won 32 titles together including three Grand Slams – Australia (2000), Wimbledon and the US Open (both 2001). They also won the 2001 Sony Ericsson Championships and both held the No. 1 ranking slot. Raymond has won a further two majors with another Aussie, Samantha Stosur, but the pair were always the most successful together. Raymond commented: “It’s funny how things come full circle.”
*Australian World No. 77 Peter Luczak has signed up to play in the 2010 Movistar Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament beginning January 31st in Santiago, Chile. The tournament takes place during the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence and vast celebrations are set to mark the event.
*Spanish clay court coach Felix Mantilla has been added to the Australian Davis Cup coaching team and captain John Fitzgerald was full of praise for the move, describing it as one of the most significant moves in decades. “Having Felix Mantilla now is a great asset to us,” he said. “I reckon it’s a very, very important appointment.”
*British tennis has awarded its December AEGON Awards with Naomi Broady picking up player of the month, Luke Bambridge (Junior Player) and Neil Frankel (coach) being the other benefactors.
*The Australian Open Changing Ends Film Festival has extended its entry deadline until January 18th. By submitting a film of no longer than 30 seconds you could win the top prize of $5,000 and have your film shown during end changes at the 2010 Open. Films must have a tennis theme. For more information visit www.changingends.com.au.
By Leigh Sanders
Britain’s Andy Murray has offered his support to Andre Agassi after the former star’s revelations about crystal methamphetamine use in his autobiography. While other top players, such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, have voiced disappointment at the news, Murray claims it has not ruined his views on his boyhood hero.
“I judge him as a tennis player; he was great, one of the best of all time,” said Murray. “I loved Andre, met him numerous times. I guess it’s something he has to deal with himself. He’s entitled to say whatever he wants and I wish him the best.”
Meanwhile, Murray tasted victory on his return to the court at the Valencia Open after he defeated Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 6-1 in his first match in six weeks. It was Murray’s first appearance on court since Great Britain’s embarrassing Davis Cup defeat to Poland in September.
*A dozen WTA stars who have excelled on the international tournament level this season have gathered in Bali for the inaugural Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions. The draw on Monday split the stars in to four round-robin groups of three with Australia’s Samantha Stosur drawn in Group B alongside Maria Jose Martina Sanchez and Agnes Szavay. After the three competitors in each group play each other the group winner will advance to the semifinal on Saturday with the final held on Sunday. Depending on results this week, Stosur could realise her dream of entering the World’s Top 10 with victory in Bali.
*In this week’s ATP singles rankings (02/11) there was little movement for Commonwealth tennis players. Australian Peter Luczak continued his climb up the top 100 with a three place jump to 80 while his compatriot Chris Guccione jumped one place to 103. Somdev Devarrman of India climbed five to 116 while South African Kevin Andersen is up to 120.
*The ATP doubles rankings for November 2 see a little more movement for Commonwealth players. Daniel Nestor (Canada, 1), Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes (India, 7 and 8) and Wesley Moodie (South Africa, 9) all remain unmoved in their top 10 berths. Australians Paul Hanley and Jordan Kerr remain in 26 and 29 respectively while Ashley Fisher drops to 40 and Stephen Huss climbs to 45. South African Rik De Voest is behind him in 46 and Briton Ross Hutchins is 47. Fellow Britons Ken Skupski (16) and Colin Fleming (14) saw massive climbs to 50 and 53 respectively following their victory in St. Petersburg (see below). South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee dropped 21 places to 56. Jonathan Marray of Great Britain climbs one place to enter the Top 100.
*This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA Singles Rankings (02/11) see Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada fall from 30 to 34 while Australia’s Jelena Dokic has jumped from 64 to 57. British No. 1 Anne Keothavong now finds herself ranked 84 as she continues to fall during her period of injury while her compatriot Elena Baltacha also dropped one spot to 87. British No. 3 Katie O’Brien also dropped a place to 91 but there are now only a few ranking spots and only 63 ranking points between the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked players from the British Isles.
*In the doubles (02/11) The Australian duo Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs dropped from No. 5 to No. 7 this week while Sania Mirza of India climbed a place to 37. Canada’s Marie-eve Pelletier fell a place to 67 and British No. 1 Sarah Borwell was up three to 75. Another Canadian, Sharon Fichman, climbed to 97.
*The race for the final two ATP World Tour Finals places in London, England, later this month heated up this week. At the Valencia Open, Gilles Simon, Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Gael Monfils led the French charge in to round two as they looked to make the Championships while the Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco also progressed as they look to secure a place. The Russian Nikolay Davydenko is also looking for one of those two slots and he is through in Valencia too, beating Alejandro Falla of Columbia 6-2, 6-1.
*In the doubles at Valencia, British-Australian pair Ross Hutchins and Jordan Kerr were knocked out in the first round by the in-form third seeds Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak on Monday. The match was closely fought and they eventually went down 4-6, 6-4, 10-6. The Czech-Slovak duo are one team with a chance of claiming a berth at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, later this month. In the quarterfinals they will face South African-Australian pair Jeff Coetzee and Stephen Huss who overcame Spanish wild cards Marc Lopez and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.
*British doubles pair Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski picked up their second ATP World Tour title when they beat the French pairing of Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy in the final of the St. Petersburg Open. The win capped a memorable year for the pair who won their first title at Metz in September and followed that up by winning the ATP Challenger event in Orleans, France last week. They are expected to represent GB against Lithuania in their forthcoming Davis Cup tie.
*Aussie Paul Hanley has lost in the first round of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel doubles with Swedish partner Simon Aspelin. The fourth seeds were upset by the South American pairing of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 5-7, 3-6. Canadian world No. 1 Daniel Nestor and his partner Nenad Zimonjic survived a scare against South Americans Lucas Arnold Ker and Fernando Gonzalez as they came from a set down to win 4-3, 6-3, 10-5 in the same competition. Nestor has triumphed twice here in 2003 and 2006 with long-time partner Mark Knowles. Wildcard home favourites Roger Federer and Marco Chiudinelli were also defeated in the first round. They fell to Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and American James Cerretani.
*Another Aussie to taste an early defeat was Peter Luczak in the singles at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel. The qualifier was downed by the Czech Jan Hernych who saved six break points to win through 6-3, 6-4 in 76 minutes.
*Jelena Dokic of Australia continued to show her fine form as she won her second ITF title in two weeks in Poitiers, France. She beat the Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the final. Despite a few setbacks this year including a back injury and a debilitating virus she has climbed from 198 to 64 in the rankings this year. “I’m very happy with the way things have played out these last three tournaments,” said Dokic. “It shows that my consistency is at a very high level and the fact that I can win so many matches in a row.”
*Britain was mightily close to more glory this week at the $15K AEGON Pro-Series Event in Cardiff, Wales. Marcus Willis and Dan Evans both reached the semifinals of the singles before losing to Yannick Mertens (BEL) and Henri Kontinen (FIN) respectively. In the doubles, Brits Alexander Slabinsky and Tim Bradshaw lost in the final to the Irish pair of James McGee and Barry King.
*Sarah Borwell of Great Britain partnered American Raquel Kops-Jones to the semifinals of the $100k Doubles Event in Ortisei, Italy. The No. 2 seeds went down 6-7(3), 3-6 to Tathiana Garbin (ITA) and Timea Bacsinszky (SUI), who went on to win the tournament.
*Christopher Simpson won the AEGON British Tour in Taunton after winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 against Artiom Kolpakov (LTU). He had beaten fellow Briton David Brewer in the semi final. In the women’s event, Jessica Ren triumphed over another British girl, Alexandra Walker 6-3, 6-3 in the final. She had beaten her sister and No. 1 seed, Jen Ren, in the semifinal.
*Marinko Matosevic of Australia was knocked out of the quarter finals of the Samsung Securities Cup in Seoul, Korea by The Dutch third seed Thiemo De Bakker. His compatriot Greg Jones fell at the same stage to Lester Cook of the USA. Moving on to the Flea Market Cup in Chuncheon, Korea, Matosevic has reached the same stage with victory over the German Matthias Bachinger. Fellow Aussies Greg Jones and Sadik Kadir fell in the round of 32.
*Hot Canadian prospect Vasek Pospisil clinched his third straight tournament win in Mexico over the weekend. The 19-year-old won the $10K event in Obregon to add to his two wins in September in Italy. In the doubles, he partnered Australian Nima Roshan to the Championship, beating Adrien Bossel and Julien Dubail 6-7(5), 6-3, 11-9 in the final.
*Young Australian tennis starlets Olivia Rogowska and Bernard Tomic have been nominated for the 2009 Sports Performer of the Year awards. Rogowska came perilously close to upsetting Dinara Safina in the first round of the US Open while Tomic is the most anticipated Australian prospect since Lleyton Hewitt.
By Leigh Sanders
Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.
Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.
The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.
This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.
This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.
In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.
Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.
Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.
In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.
Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.
More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.
Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.
Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.
Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.
Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.
Andy Murray beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada
Jelena Jankovic beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Peter Luczak beat Olivier Rochus 6-3 3-6 6-1 to win the Zucchetti Kos Tennis Cup Internazionali del Friuli Venezia in Cordenons, Italy
Greg Rusedski beat Stefan Edberg 6-3 6-4 to win the Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD in Algarve, Portugal
“My smile is back and I’m having fun playing the matches. This is what I missed. I missed this for maybe seven months this year.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Western & Southern tournament.
“The number two – maybe it’s because it’s something different – that means maybe a little bit more. But winning a tournament here is still great.” – Andy Murray, who moved ahead of Rafael Nadal and is now ranked number two in the world.
“I’m very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I’m happy. I don’t have to think in the past and now see the future.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost to Andy Murray in the final of the Montreal Masters.
“I would love to come back to number one, but the important thing is to play well. The thing that makes me happy is to be competitive (and) to win important tournaments.” – Rafael Nadal, who fell to number three in the world.
“I’m definitely pleased with the level I’ve had … in these four matches.” – Kim Clijsters, who in her first tournament after a two-year retirement reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati.
“I’m realistic. I know I am not going to win (another title). There is no way. It’s getting tougher and tougher with each tournament. It really gets into you and it’s not easy to play. Every match is a battle. It’s tough not to choke in the important moments. But I want to finish up in a right note. I should enjoy it more. I just want to finish up nice.” – Marat Safin, following his first-round loss to Gael Monfils at the Montreal Masters.
“It happens in tennis, it’s never over until it’s over and it showed today. … I never should have allowed it but it did happen.” – Roger Federer, who led 5-1 in the third set before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I haven’t seen her in two years. That’s the reason I didn’t start well. I was trying to figure out what she was doing instead of playing my game. By the time I figured out her tactics, I was down 0-4. It’s just a really bad draw, I guess.” – Marion Bartoli, who lost to Kim Clijsters in their first-round match.
“I look like I had a kid more than she does. She looks amazing.” – Serena Williams, on how fit Kim Clijsters looked in her return to the WTA Tour following her marriage and birth of a daughter.
“She is the same as she was before. She moves well. You can see she hasn’t been all the time on the tour but she was playing great.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Kim Clijsters.
“I was the number one player in the world, and I want to start winning big tournaments again. I just need to start finding my game and start playing better and better and better. But the more I play, the better I get.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning her semifinal match.
“Definitely I want to get a grand slam, no doubt about it. It’s not that I’m number one and I want to stop. There is another goal. I want to win a Grand Slam. I will do my best to win at the US Open. If not, next year I will work even harder to get it.” – Dinara Safina.
“Just walking down to that stadium, the reception that I received, the signs, the pictures and the high-fives going to the matches … I said, ‘You know what? This feels like home. I made the right decision.’” – Monica Seles, recalling the reaction she received from Toronto fans when she returned to tennis following her stabbing.
“I was joking with my coach that now I should probably buy a flat here since it is my fifth title in Canada.” – Mahesh Bhupathi, who teamed up with Mark Knowles to win the doubles at the Montreal Masters.
SECOND IN LINE
Even before he won the Montreal Masters, Andy Murray had surpassed Rafael Nadal as the number two-ranked player in the world. The 22-year-old Scott became the first player to win 50 matches this season as he won his fifth tournament of the year, matching Nadal. Murray is the first British player to win the Rogers Cup, a tournament that once was called the Canadian Open, and becomes the first player other than top-ranked Roger Federer and Nadal to be ranked number two in the world since Lleyton Hewitt on July 18, 2005. The last Briton to reach the Canadian final was Roger Taylor, who lost in 1970 to Rod Laver. Both Federer and Nadal lost in the quarterfinals, while Murray finished the week by beating Argentine’s Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 in the title match.
STAYING THE COURSE
Form followed rank at the Montreal Masters. For the first time since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973, a tour-level event wound up with the top eight ranked players in the quarterfinals. Once there, top-ranked Roger Federer, second-ranked Rafael Nadal and fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic all lost to lower seeded players. The other quarterfinalists were third-ranked Andy Murray, the eventual winner, fifth-ranked Andy Roddick, sixth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro, seventh-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and eighth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko.
SHOWING THE WAY
Flavia Pennetta has made Italian tennis history. The 27-year-old right-hander is the first Italian woman to be ranked in the top ten in the world. Her rise up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings has come with some well-known victims added to her resume. Pennetta beat Maria Sharapova when she won the tournament in Los Angeles, then followed with a shocking upset of Venus Williams in the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open. After winning 11 matches in 13 days, a visibly tired Pennetta lost in the semifinals at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, to top-ranked Dinara Safina.
Marriage, a baby and two years away from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour didn’t seem to slow down Kim Clijsters. The former world number one left some highly ranked players in her wake as she reached the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open before finally losing. “I’ll just take each day at a time and try to be as professional as possible whenever I’m playing and we’ll see what happens,” Clijsters said after losing to top-ranked Dinara Safina. “Obviously so far it’s worked. I’ve had some really good results and I feel like my level here has risen.” Less than 18 months after giving birth to her first child, a daughter, Clijsters beat Marion Bartoli, Patty Schnyder and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova before running into Safina. “There’s still a lot of things to work on,” said Clijsters, who owns 34 career singles titles. “I need to keep working on the good things as well.”
Jelena Jankovic has been ranked number one in the world, a fact that had drawn some criticism, seeing that she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament. But her victory over Dinara Safina in the final of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, was the first time Jankovic had beaten a player ranked number one in the world. She dedicated her victory to her mother, who is at home recovering from surgery. “I dedicate this win to her,” Jankovic said. “I wanted to make her happy. It’s important.”
When Monica Seles returned to tennis following a two-year hiatus caused when a fan stabbed her in the back, she chose the Canadian Open. Seles won the 1995 event, but she was more impressed by the warm reception she received from the fans. One of the newest members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Seles will participate in an exhibition doubles match in Toronto during the women’s Rogers Cup event. She is being inducted into the tournament’s hall of fame as the only player in the modern era to win four straight Canadian titles, beginning with the 1995 victory. Violet Summerhayes won four straight Canadian titles from 1899 through 1904.
It seems to make no difference as to who Mahesh Bhupathi teams with to win doubles championships. When Bhupathi and Mark Knowles won the Rogers Cup doubles in Montreal, it was the fifth time the Indian right-hander has captured the title – with four different partners. The 35-year-old won in1997 with Leander Paes, in 2003 with Max Mirnyi, in 2004 with Paes, and in 2007 with Pavel Vizner. Bhupathi and Knowles teamed up as a regular pair at the start of the 2008 season. This was the duo’s first title since last October in Basel, Switzerland, although they reached the finals at the Australian Open in January and Barcelona, Spain, in April. Bhupathi has now won at least one ATP World Tour doubles crown every year since 1997.
Chase Buchanan, an 18-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, and 17-year-old Christina McHale from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, won the 2009 United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Boys’ and Girls’ 18s championships to earn wild cards into the main singles draws at the US Open. McHale also competed in the women’s main draw of this year’s Australian Open after winning the 2008 USTA Australian Open wild card playoff. Buchanan earned a wild card into the 2008 US Open men’s doubles draw by winning the USTA Junior Boys’ 18 doubles title last year.
Tzipi Obziler is finally stepping down from Israel’s Fed Cup team. “This is the right time for me to retire,” she said. “I’m grateful for this wonderful and small country which gave me the opportunity to have a great career.” Obziler played 61 Fed Cup ties for Israel, equaling former teammate Anna Smashnova’s Fed Cup participation record. Obziler has played 90 matches, compiling a 51-39 win-loss record in her 16-year Fed Cup career. She was part of the Israeli team that reached the World Group in 2008 for the first time in the nation’s history. Obziler, however, didn’t completely close the door to her retirement. “If captain Lior Mor decides he wants me on the team and I see that I’m physically capable of playing, than of course I wouldn’t refuse,” she said.
SETS TARGET DATE
Recovering from a serious knee injury, Britain’s Anne Keothavong hopes to be back in action in February. The 25-year-old tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in her left knee when she ran into a fence while playing a doubles match at a tournament in California, USA. Keothavong, Britain’s top player on the WTA Tour, broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time earlier this year. “I hope to be back by February, which is ambitious, but achievable,” she said.
Former world number one Carlos Moya of Spain and Kei Nishikori of Japan have withdrawn from this year’s US Open because of injuries. Moya’s biggest victory came at the 1998 French Open. He has been sidelined for most of this season with a foot injury and his ranking has slipped out of the top 100. Nishikori was the top alternate and would have taken Moya’s spot in the draw, but he also withdrew because of an injury. That means Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador is directly in the main draw of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
STOP IT, I SAY
Lleyton Hewitt’s wife has gone to court over a magazine article. The actress wants to know the source of the story that ran last April that implied she was having an affair. New Idea magazine has twice published apologies over the article, titled “Bec’s Other Man,” which pictured Bec Hewitt with whom the magazine identified as a “hunky American fitness trainer” named Minder Mark. The man in the picture actually was Bec’s brother, Shaun Cartwright, who frequently accompanies the family on the tennis circuit.
Montreal: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 6-4 6-3
Cincinnati: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3 0-6 10-2 (match tiebreak)
Cordenons: James Cerretani and Travis Rettenmaier beat Peter Luczak and Alessandro Motti 4-6 6-3 11-9 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
$2,000,000 Rogers Cup, Toronto, Canada, hard
International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard
Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-2 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell in Barcelona, Spain
Ivo Minar won the Bulgarian Open in Sofia, Bulgaria, beating Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3
Jim Courier beat Jimmy Arias 6-4 6-2 to win The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships in Grand Cayman
World Group Semifinals
Italy beat Russia 4-1 at Castellaneta Marina, Italy
United States beat Czech Republic 3-2 at Brno, Czech Republic
World Group Playoffs
Serbia beat Spain 4-0 (doubles abandoned due to rain); France beat Slovak Republic 3-2; Germany beat China 3-2; Ukraine beat Argentina 5-0
World Group II Playoffs
Belgium beat Canada 3-2; Estonia beat Israel 3-2; Poland beat Japan 3-2; Australia beat Switzerland 3-1 (doubles abandoned due to bad light)
“The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing.” – Geoff Pollard, Tennis Australia president, announcing Australia’s Davis Cup will not go to India for its scheduled Davis Cup match.
“I think it’s irresponsible for the ITF to expect us as players to go there and put ourselves on the line in a very, very difficult predicament with the way their social system’s running.” – Todd Woodbridge, who played in an Australian-record 32 ties before he retired.
“It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety. “John Fitzgerald, Australia’s Davis Cup captain.
“By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie. India is declared the winner and will advance to the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, scheduled for 18-20 September.” – The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a statement.
“I never imagined anything like this. To win again here in Barcelona, in my home club and at such an important tournament is incredible.” – Rafael Nadal, following his fifth straight Barcelona title.
“Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year. He has a great rhythm right from the start and it’s very difficult to beat him.” – David Ferrer, after losing to Nadal in the Barcelona Open final.
“Once you’ve won a big tournament, you are more relaxed in tight situations.” – Sabine Lisicki, who won The Family Circle Cup tournament, explaining her Fed Cup victory over China’s Zheng Jie.
“You’ve got to expect things to be tough. I didn’t go into either of these matches thinking it was going to be easy.” – Samantha Stosur, who won both of her singles matches as Australia beat Switzerland in their Fed Cup World Group II playoff.
“It’s amazing to be back in the final. It’s a dream and I am very happy to be part of the dream.” – Francesca Schiavone, who won both of her singles matches as Italy beat Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals.
“It’s unimaginable. What they’ve done is extraordinary. These girls will go down in the history of Italian tennis.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italy’s Fed Cup captain.
“It’s special because I won. It’s not fun to be in final number 100 and lose because it’s a special day. Winning a title is always a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, a winner in his 100th career doubles final.
“It was a battle. Once I turned it on, got some confidence and started playing aggressively, things went in my favor.” – Jim Courier, after beating Jimmy Arias to win a senior event in Grand Cayman.
“We don’t want to see night time tennis and we hope and believe that that the matches would finish in day time hours. But if they don’t finish, we will close (the roof) and finish them.” – Ian Ritchie, All England Club chief executive, refusing to rule out night-time play at Wimbledon.
“It’s always nice to win after being out for so long, but I’m hardly at a level where I can be happy. Tennis is bad business for me, but being away from it is even worse.” – Gaston Gaudio, a former French Open champion who won his first ATP level match in two years.
India was declared the winner of next month’s Davis Cup tie when Tennis Australia refused to play in Chennai, India. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said any decision to sanction Australia will be made in due course. Under Davis Cup rules, Australia could be banned from the competition for 12 months and face a substantial fine. Claiming there was an “unacceptable level of risk” in going to Chennai, Tennis Australia appealed for a change of venue. But the ITF said Chennai was approved by the Davis Cup Committee following a positive report from security consultants. Australia then said it would not send a team, thus forfeiting the match. “The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision of Tennis Australia to default its upcoming Davis Cup tie against India,” the ITF said in a statement on the Davis Cup website. In 1987, India forfeited the Davis Cup final when it refused to travel to Sweden because of that country’s policy of allowing South Africans to play tennis in Sweden. Concerns about security on the Indian subcontinent increased after the Sri Lanka cricket team was attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, last month. Last November, terror attacks in Mumbai, India, blamed on Islamic terrorists, killed 166 and injured 304 and forced an international cricket tournament to be moved to South Africa.
Now that Wimbledon’s Centre Court has lights, can night matches be far behind. The new retractable roof will be in operation when the tournament is played this summer, guaranteeing play on the show court regardless of the weather. Although the roof is translucent, allowing sufficient light for play in most conditions, 120 lights have been installed so play can continue when it is dark outside. All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie says there are no planned night sessions at Wimbledon, like at the US Open and Australian Open, but he refused to rule out all night play. “Wimbledon is a daytime, outdoor event and preference is always to play outdoors, and if we can we will prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible,” Ritchie said. “But we need to provide consistent playing conditions for the players, which is why if a match starts with it shut it will finish with it shut.”
STERLING, NOT SO
Wimbledon has increased the prize money for this year’s tournament, but don’t tell the players that. Each of the men’s and women’s champions will receive 13.3 percent more this year than last. But that’s in British pounds. The pound’s weak exchange rate translates to an actual reduction in prize money if it’s counted in US dollars. All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the tournament was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates. “Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.” The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year’s prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro.
When Gaston Gaudio beat Diego Junqueira 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the first round at the Barcelona Open, it was his first time he had won a match in nearly two years. The former French Open champion won the Barcelona Open seven years ago. He had to rally from a break down in the final set against Junqueira for his first victory at the ATP level since the 2007 French Open – 23 months ago.
Alexa Glatch couldn’t have done any better in her dreams. Playing in her first Fed Cup, the 19-year-old Glatch won both of her singles matches as the seemingly overmatched United States surprised the Czech Republic and gained a spot in the final against Italy. “This has been unbelievable,” Glatch said after she beat Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-1 to level the best-of-five-match competition at 2-2. Liezel Huber then teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to down Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-1 and send the Americans into the final. Glatch, ranked 114th in the world, said her two Fed Cup wins were “definitely the most important” of her career. “I played well overall,” she said. “I really don’t know how I’m doing it.” The Americans played without the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.
David Nalbandian may need surgery on his right hip. The Argentine star pulled out of the Barcelona Open, complaining of hip pain and allowing eventual winner Rafael Nadal to advance into the semifinals on a walkover. Nalbandian’s doctor in Europe, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, told an Argentine newspaper that the tennis star would receive three or four days of treatment, including physical therapy and medication, before a decision on whether he will undergo surgery is made.
Russia has five of the top 10 players in the world, but only two showed up to play Fed Cup against Italy. And that wasn’t enough. The Italians shocked Russia 4-1 as Francesca Schiavone won both her singles matches. That puts Italy in the Fed Cup final for the third time in four years. The Russians won four of the last five Fed Cup titles. Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked ninth in the world, gave Russia it’s only point, winning her singles match against Flavia Pennetta. Nadia Petrova, ranked 10th in the world, played only doubles, while missing from the competition were top-ranked Dinara Safina, third-ranked Elena Dementieva and sixth-ranked Vera Zvonareva. The latter missed the tie because of an ankle ligament injury. Instead, 22-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and 28-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova played for Russia – and lost.
SEEKING NUMBER FIVE
Andy Roddick will be going for his fifth Queen’s Club crown when the Wimbledon warm-up tournament is held in London in June. The American won the grass-court title from 2003-05 and again in 2007. Among others in this year’s field are defending champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Irving Glick, the US Open tournament doctor for more than 25 years, is dead at the age of 92. Glick ran the medical department at the US Open until 1991 and served as the International Tennis Federation’s medical representative to the Olympic Games in South Korea in 1988 and Spain in 1992. Glick chaired the US Tennis Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in 1989 and helped develop the tennis anti-doping program years before establishing the current World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees doping control in all Olympic sports. He also was a founding member of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Medical Committee, which established medical and eligibility guidelines for international wheelchair tennis.
Davis Cup teams from Pacific Oceania and Sri Lanka will compete in Asia/Oceania Zone Group II play next year following round-robin matches in Aleppo, Syria, last week. Relegated from Group III to Group IV for next year were Singapore and Tajikistan. In Group IV play, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Bangladesh won promotion to Group III for next year.
IBM has extended its sponsorship of Wimbledon for another five years. The All England Club announced the extension and said it also has signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia. “In this climate it’s a vote of confidence in Wimbledon,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. IBM advises on and helps implement new technologies at the lone grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
Barcelona: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 7-6 (9)
Sofia: Dominik Hrbaty and David Skoch beat James Auckland and Peter Luczak 6-2 6-4
SITES TO SURF
Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/
International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,500,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$125,000 Tunis Open, Tunis, Tunisia, clay
$110,000 Aegean Tennis Cup, Rhodes, Greece, hard
$700,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Pix, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$220,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fez, Morocco, clay
$100,000 Open GDF Suez, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, clay
$100,000 Soweto Women’s Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard
(April 28-May 3)
Europe/Asia Group III-A, at Istanbul, Turkey: Estonia, Greece, Botswana, Iceland, Luxembourg, Rwanda, Turkey
Europe/Asia Group IV, at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$580,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay
$580,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$580,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay
$100,000 Israel Open, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard
$2,000,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay