Peter Lundgren

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Is Martina Hingis Making Another Comeback? – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Notable Performances – There have been a number of great matches at this year’s US Open, and as predicted, some of the biggest stars in the game have lived up to their billing to reach the latter rounds of the year’s last major, while others have had some outstanding breakout performances. But a special tip of the hat has to go to Swiss No. 2 Stanislas Wawrinka. A talented player with a relatively versatile game, he’s struggled to really find his footing in the Slams. It now seems those days could potentially be behind him, as Wawrinka finally took out one of the Top 4 at a major, defeating Andy Murray in four sets in the third round of the 2010 US Open. Though he nearly faltered at the next hurdle against Sam Querrey, he found a way to follow up his big win by grinding to a 5-set victory over the American. Look for him to hopefully build on his US Open performance going into 2011, especially with the solid coaching he is getting from Federer’s former man, Peter Lundgren.

Relinquishing the Helm – Over the course of Labor Day Weekend, Patrick McEnroe announced that he would be stepping down as captain of the United States Davis Cup squad. The move stemmed from McEnroe’s desire to spend more time with his family, as well as in his other job with the USTA in developing elite players. No word yet on who will replace the younger McEnroe, but he himself had suggested that both Jim Courier and Todd Martin would make excellent candidates for the job. Whoever takes the job will have their work cut out for them, but at least there is the assurance that there’s a young and talented crop of Americans eagerly willing to step up and represent their country in the international team competition.

Back for More? – Once again Hingis is toying with the idea (and the tennis world) with the possibility that she may be coming back to the WTA Tour to strictly play the doubles circuit. Hingis has stated her decision will be based primarily on whether or not her heart is in it, as well as if she can find a steady partner. Davenport had suggested playing with Hingis but wanted to return sooner than Hingis was ready to. Curious to see if Cara Black would be interested in teaming with the Swiss Miss given that she has tried out a few different partners since she split with Liezel Huber (she’s played with four different partners at each of the 2010 majors this year). They wouldn’t bring a lot of fire power to the court, but they would be no less formidable to any opponent.

Eggs in One (Promising) Basket – Paul Annacone has opted to cut short his time working with the British LTA after being named the full-time coach of Roger Federer. The reasoning behind his immediate resignation was the potential for a conflict of interest, given that his charge could meet British No. 1 Andy Murray in the latter rounds of any tournament on any given week. Given the current state of British tennis, the move has to be a welcomed one for Annacone, particularly given the talent and prestige of some of his past clientele.

At Long Last? – On Wednesday, Chief Executive of the ATP Adam Helfant announced that the ATP would be looking at increasing the offseason by two to three weeks, and that he expects a formal decision on the matter no later than the last board meeting of the year, which takes place in mid-November. A longer offseason is well overdue, but it will be interesting to see if action is finally taken, and if so, how smoothly it will go. Currently there is no talk of moving the Australian Open start date, which seems to imply any changes to create the longer offseason would have to come from tweaking the ATP tournament calendar, and depending on the nature of those changes, it could be a bumpy road ahead.

Tennis Is Well Represented At The ESPY Awards – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Defending Champs Out – This past weekend marked the quarterfinals of the 2010 Davis Cup competition and promised plenty of good tennis matchups. But one result few could have seen coming was France’s thrashing of defending two-time champion Spain. Spain has gotten used to dishing out some 5-0 defeats of its own, but unexpectedly found itself on the receiving end of such a defeat as it suffered its first 5-0 loss since 1957. There’s little doubt that this was a disappointing showing for Spain, irrespective of the fact that they were without their No. 1 Rafael Nadal. They have won without him before, and France certainly wasn’t able to field their star players either. It was Spain’s misfortune that they ran into the one team that could match them for depth of players, and congratulations are in order for the nation of France that may be ready to make its first run to the title since 2001.
Coach in the Corner – Peter Lundgren is going to be coaching a man from Switzerland, but this time it isn’t Roger Federer. It’s the number two man for the Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka. This is a great move on Wawrinka’s part, whose results over the course of the past year have been up and down and have seen his ranking slip to outside of the Top 20. Lundgren has had another high profile pupil in Marat Safin, so there’s no doubt he possesses the ability to handle talented players and get their careers going in the right direction. Hopefully he will be able to do the same for Wawrinka by getting him to channel his talent and play within his own boundaries. If so, he could well be headed back to the Top 10.

Back on Track – On the historical grass courts of the Newport Casino, Mardy Fish suddenly found his game and emerged victorious. Fish has been an unfortunate victim of some serious injuries over the course of his career, and he’s also admitted to being more than a little negligent when it came to ensuring he was putting in the time on and off the court to be at his best. But they say it’s never late than never, and nearing his 29th birthday, Mardy Fish may be ready to make a run to the upper echelons of the men’s game, his ranking having jumped 30 places with his victory in the city by the sea. Last year’s Newport finalist appearance turned out to be a catalyst to a great summer for Sam Querrey, and it may bring Fish the same kind of results during the 2010 US Open Series.
Highest Honor – This past Saturday saw the induction of seven new members into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This induction also had a different feel as it focused on some of the greatest doubles teams of all time (though not the first…see Hewitt/McMillan, Class of 1992), and saw the induction of the first wheelchair tennis player, wheelchair tennis founder and pioneer Brad Parks. Don’t expect this to become a trend at the Hall, but rightfully I think we can expect to see more stellar doubles teams and wheelchair tennis athletes behind the podium during Enshrinement Weekend in the future.
And the ESPY goes to… – Okay, not as prestigious as the Oscars or the Emmys, and personally I think there’s a bit of American bias with these awards, but it is worth noting that tennis was well-represented at the 2010 ESPY Awards. Not surprisingly, Roger Federer and Serena Williams took top honors in the sport of tennis, while Kim Clijsters was named the Comeback of the year. But what was best was seeing that John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut took the cake for best Record-breaking Performance. Again, the quality of the tennis was not the greatest in this match, but a big thank you to those guys for gutting it out for just over 11 hours and putting tennis on the map in a multitude of ways.

FEDERER RIDUCLED AS GRAND SLAM CHOKER? SAY IT AIN’T SO!

Roger Federer

Roger Federer, the man who has won more major singles titles than anyone in history, was once considered a Grand Slam tournament choker. Rene Stauffer, the author of the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com), takes readers back to the time when Federer was remarkably perceived as a Grand Slam underachiever.

Chapter 15

The Grand Slam Block

Roger Federer’s declared goal for 2003 was, as before, to win a Grand Slam tournament. He finally wanted to rid himself of the moniker as the best player in tennis without a Grand Slam title. In his 14 career Grand Slam tournament appearances, his best results were two modest quarterfinal finishes— both achieved in 2001.

Coach Peter Lundgren still displayed an unshakable belief in Federer. He constantly repeated the mantra in his sonorous voice that Federer required more time than others to fully develop. “He has an unbelievable repertoire and he needs more time with his game for all the pieces to come together,” he said, declaring that the goal to be achieved for the 2003 season was to reach the top four in the world rankings. “Roger is on the right path and shouldn’t listen to what others are saying. He’s like a bird that is learning how to fly. As soon as he reaches his maximum flying altitude, he’ll be hard to beat. He is now beating all the players he is supposed to be beating. There isn’t much of a difference between being ranked No. 1, No. 5 and No. 10.” Pleasant words and nice thoughts—but what else was Peter Lundgren supposed to say?

More disturbing than the initial, unexpected defeats to Jan-Michael Gambill in Doha and Franco Squillari in Sydney was the reappearance of the pains in his groin that just didn’t want to go away. Federer was forced to rest and not practice for two days and his status for the Australian Open was in doubt. In addition, his late season surge and appearance in the Tennis Masters Cup in China late in 2002 diminished the already paltry tennis offseason. The season’s first Grand Slam tournament came much too early in the tennis season, especially for those who competed in the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. “There isn’t enough time to prepare,” said Federer.

The Czech Pavel Kovac was a member of Federer’s entourage as a physiotherapist since the past summer. He was a taciturn, burly man completely devoted to serving Federer. The wear and tear of the tennis circuit made Kovac and his services very important to Federer’s future success. Kovac managed to stop Federer’s pain just in time for him to post at the Australian Open.

In his first three matches, Federer did not lose a set. Expectations rose, especially when two of his rivals in his half of the draw—Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin—were eliminated from the tournament—Hewitt losing to Younes El Aynaoui and Marat Safin withdrawing with injury prior to his third-round match with Rainer Schuettler. In the round of 16, Federer faced David Nalbandian for the third time in his professional career—and for a third time—he was defeated. Federer seemed dazed against Nalbandian and struggled with the Argentinean’s backhand and strong counter-attack in the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 loss. Another opportunity to win a Grand Slam tournament disappeared. Federer was completely devastated.

Away from the pressures of Grand Slam tournament play, Federer flourished and continued his winning ways. He won 16 of his next 17 matches—including two singles victories in Davis Cup against the Netherlands, where the Swiss, led by new captain Marc Rosset, defeated the Dutch 3-2. He then won his sixth and seventh career ATP titles in Marseille and Dubai. For the third consecutive year, the ATP named him the “Player of the Month” for February.

While Federer experienced disappointments on the major stages of the Tennis Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, he again demonstrated his strength in Davis Cup, registering all three points for Switzerland in its 3-2 upset of France in Toulouse. So excited was Federer at leading the Swiss into the Davis Cup semifinals, he uncharacteristically celebrated at a disco in the French city, dancing and partying until the wee hours of the morning. Federer’s success continued into the start of the clay court season as he won the title in Munich and also reached the final of the Italian Open, losing unexpectedly to Felix Mantilla of Spain. The result, however, still propelled him into the conversation as being a favorite to win the French Open.

“I feel much better this year than the year before when I first was in the top 10,” he explained in one of the many interviews before the French Open. “It was a new situation for me back then. I’ve gotten used to it in the meantime.”

He admitted to feeling the pressure from the public. “The entire world keeps reminding me that I am supposed to win a Grand Slam tournament and be No. 1 in the world. That’s not fair because it’s not that easy,” he said. He then stated defiantly that “whoever wants to beat me will have to work hard for it. I don’t want to lose in the first round at Roland Garros again.”

On a summery Monday afternoon in Paris, Federer’s first match at the 2003 French Open took place on Court Philippe Chatrier, the center court named after the Frenchman who was a past president of the International Tennis Federation. His opponent was an unknown Peruvian Luis Horna, whom Federer beat earlier in the year in Key Biscayne. Horna, ranked No. 88 in the world, had yet to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament. Federer took an early 5-3 lead in the first set, but began to show his insecurity and nerves when, during a routine rush to the net, he slipped and fell to the ground, only to mutter to himself and show negative emotions. Despite his lead, he seemed discouraged and, quite unusually, often glanced desperately at Peter Lundgren. Federer lost his service break advantage and despite holding a set point in the tie-break, he surrendered the first set by an 8-6 tie-break. The match immediately turned into a drama for Federer. He seemed frustrated, apathetic and didn’t show any belief that he could win. He appeared mentally absent, missing even the easiest shots. He tallied 82 unforced errors in the 7-6 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (3) first-round loss.

The tournament was shockingly finished before it even really began. Federer, the fallen favorite, appeared in the overcrowded interview room with his head bowed low. “I don’t know how long I’ll need to get over this defeat,”

he said. “A day, a week, a year—or my entire career.”

Federer became the ridicule of the tournament. France’s sports newspaper L’Equipe ran a headline the next day translated as, “Shipwrecked In Quiet Waters” and published a cartoon in which a steam ship named “Roland Garros” steams away, leaving Federer behind in quiet waters. Florida’s Palm Beach Post described him as the “Phil Mickelson of Tennis,” comparing Federer to the American golfer who failed to win any of the major tournaments despite his great talent and many opportunities. “Federer has all the strokes but no Grand Slam trophy. He carries the dog tags of the best tennis player who

has never won a major competition.”

The loss undeniably confirmed Federer’s reputation as a Grand Slam loser. He showed that he was a player who could not pull out a match even though he was not playing his best tennis—a characteristic that most champion tennis players exhibited, most notably in the present by Lleyton Hewitt, who could win a match on guts and determination alone. Since his victory over Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer was 0-4 in matches at the French Open and Wimbledon—the last three matches without even winning a set. His last five Grand Slam tournaments ended in defeat at the hands of much lower-ranked players

What could one say in his defense? Federer was now five years into his ATP career and approached his 22nd birthday. He won six ATP singles titles, excelled in Davis Cup play and time and again insisted he was capable of achieving greatness. He was considered one of the bigger stars in tennis and climbed to No. 5 in the world rankings. But outside of the title in Hamburg, all of the tournaments he won were smaller events and even the German Open was not a Grand Slam tournament. Federer failed routinely in the arenas where it was decided if a player was a champion or not. The once precocious maverick simply could not bring his tremendous potential to bear at the Grand Slams. When looking at the successes of his idols, rivals or earlier great players, he couldn’t help but feel envy.

At his age, Becker, Borg, Courier, Edberg and Sampras as well as Hewitt, Safin and many others had already long since won their first Grand Slam titles. Federer, however, had not even reached the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament. The experts were unanimous in their opinions that Federer was mature enough athletically to break through a win his first title. But athletic brilliance alone was not sufficient enough and Federer was still searching for the key to real success. An analysis would seem to indicate that a mental block was preventing him from winning. He felt under pressure to such a degree at the Grand Slam tournaments that he couldn’t concentrate on the moment, especially in the early rounds. This was a basic rule for success. The pressure came from all sides—but mostly from himself. He hadn’t yet learned that these tournaments couldn’t be won in the first week but they certainly could be lost. With some luck, he could have already won a Grand Slam title—in 2001, for example, after upsetting Sampras. Everything would have looked different.

After his loss to Horna, Federer seemed to be the loneliest man in tennis. He was a man alone braving the stormy tempest. How could he have known that this defeat was to be his last such one-sided Grand Slam defeat in a very, very long time? How could he have known that this painful experience was necessary in order to become the hardened, keen-sighted but yet modest champion who would have the tennis world at his feet?

Federer described what really happened when he faced Horna in Paris  months later. “I was simply not prepared mentally,” he said. “I put myself under too much pressure. After losing the first set, I couldn’t get back into the match. I had the feeling that it was impossible, that I was no longer in control of the situation. After the first set, I said to myself, ‘Even if I survive this round, I still have to play six more rounds to win this tournament.’ That almost drove me insane. I put myself under such pressure that I couldn’t play anymore.”

After the match, he said that he was overwhelmed with questions about the how and why. “But at that moment, I didn’t really feel like talking about it. I was too disappointed. I wanted to do nothing else but take eight days vacation and then start my preparations for the grass tournament in Halle. I didn’t want to think about Roland Garros—I wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to analyze what happened because I knew that I had simply failed mentally. I didn’t accept it by any means.”

78 Aces! Ivo Karlovic Breaks Record

Ivo Karlovic

Ivo Karlovic of Croatia smashed the all-time match ace record Friday, firing an incredible 78 aces – 19 more than the previous record – in his epic five-set marathon loss to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the opening match of the Croatia vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup semifinal in Porec, Croatia.

Karlovic’s 78 aces in his 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14 loss to Stepanek broke the previous record set by American Ed Kauder, who hit 59 aces in his first-round loss to countryman Ham Richardson at the 1955 U.S. Championships.

The five-hour, 59-minute match spanned 82 games and gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Croatia. Karlovic held a total of five match points in the epic, failing to convert for his country.

After exchanging early service breaks in the first set, Karlovic and Stepanek each held serve for 78 consecutive games on the indoor clay surface.

“We were not able to break each other,” Stepanek said. “The match was going crazy.”

Kauder, incidentally, is the step-father of famed U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. Following Kauder’s 59 aces in 1955, according to the authoritative book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) by tennis historian Bud Collins, the most number of aces in a match are as follows;

Aces In A Match

Men

59 Ed Kauder (lost to Ham Richardson, 1st. rd., US Championships, 1955)

55 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7(1), 6-7(4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 1st round 2009 French Open)

54 Gary Muller (d. Peter Lundgren Wimbledon qualifying, Roehampton, 1993)

51 Joachim Johansson (lost to Andre Agassi, Australian Open, 4th rd., 2005)

51 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Daniele Bracciali, Wimbledon, 1st rd., 2005)

Also according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, the distinction of the longest match of all-time in terms of time goes to Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement, who during the 2004 French Open played for six hours, 33 minutes (played over two days due to a match suspension due to darkness). Santoro won the first round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14.

The longest match of all-time in terms of games played goes to Roger Taylor of Great Britain and Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, who played 126 games in the 1966 King’s Cup in Warsaw, Poland – Taylor winning 27-29, 31-29, 6-4.

The following are the lists of longest matches in time and games in the history of tennis, according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.

Longest Matches — Time

Men’s Singles

6:33 Fabrice Santoro d. Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14, 2004 French Open first round

6:22 John McEnroe d. Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6, 5th rubber, Davis Cup Quarterfinal, St. Louis, Mo, 1982

6:20 Boris Becker d. John McEnroe 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2, Davis Cup, Qualifying Round, Hartford, 1987

Women’s Singles

6:31 Vicki Nelson Dunbar d. Jean Hepner, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), 1984, Richmond, Va., first round (tie-break alone lasted 1 hour and 47 minutes, one point lasted 29 minutes, a rally of 643 strokes)

4:07 Virginie Buisson d. Noelle Van Lottum 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, 1995 French Open first round

3:55 Kerry Melville Reid d. Pam Teeguarden 7-6 (7), 4-6, 16-14, 1972 French Open third round

Men’s Doubles

6:20 Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, 2003 Davis Cup semifinals 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17, 2002 Davis Cup Semifinal, Moscow

Longest Matches — Games

Men’s Singles

126 games Roger Taylor of Great Britain d. Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, 27-29, 31-29, 6-4; Kings Cup match, Warsaw, 1966

Women’s Singles

62 games Kathy Blake of the United States d. Elena Subirats of Mexico 12-10, 6-8, 14-12, first round, Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966

Men’s Doubles

147 games Dick Leach and Dick Dell d. Len Schloss and Tom Mozur, 3-6, 49-47, 22-20, second round, Newport (R.I.), Casino Invitation, 1967

Women’s Doubles

81 games Nancy Richey and Carole Graebner, d. Carol Hanks and Justina Bricka, 31-33, 6-1, 6-4, semifinal, Eastern Grass Champion­ships, South Orange, N.J., 1964

Mixed Doubles

77 games Brenda Schultz and Michiel Schapers d. Andrea Temesvari and Tom Njissen, 6-3, 5-7, 29-27, Wimbledon, mixed doubles, first round, 1991

Other “Century” (100 Game) Matches

Men’s Singles

112 games Pancho Gonzalez d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, Wimbledon, 1969

107 games Dick Knight d. Mike Sprengelmeyer, 32-30, 3-6, 19-17; qualify­ing, Southampton (N.Y.), 1967

100 games F.D. Robbins d. Dick Dell, 22-20, 9-7, 6-8, 8-10, 6-4; first round, U.S. Open, 1969

100 games Harry Fritz d. Jorge Andrew, 16-14, 11-9, 9-11, 4-6, 11-9; America Zone Davis Cup, Canada at Venezuela, 1982

Men’s Doubles

144 games Bobby Wilson and Mark Cox d. Ron Holmberg and Charlie Pasarell, 26-24, 17-19, 30-28; QF, US Indoor, Salisbury, MD, 1968

135 games Ted Schroeder and Bob Falkenburg d. Pancho Gonzalez and Hugh Stewart, 36-34, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 19-17; Final, Southern Cali­fornia, Los Angeles, 1949

122 games Stan Smith and Erik van Dillen d. Jaime Fillol and Patricio Cor­nejo, 7-9, 37-39, 8-6, 6-1, 6-3; Davis Cup USA vs. Chile, Amer­ica Zone match, Little Rock Ark., 1973

106 games Len Schloss and Tom Mozur d. Chris Bovett and Butch Seewa­gen, 7-5, 48-46; 2nd rd., Southampton, NY, 1967

105 games Cliff Drysdale and Ray Moore d. Roy Emerson and Ron Barnes, 29-31, 8-6, 3-6, 8-6, 6-2; QF, US Doubles, Boston, 1967

105 games Jim Orborne and Bill Bowrey d. Terry Addison and Ray Keldie, 3-6, 43-41, 7-5; Pennsylvania Grass, Phildelphia, SF, 1969

105 games Joaquin Loyo-Mayo and Marcelo Lara d. Manolo Santana and Luis Garcia, 10-12, 24-22, 11-9, 3-6, 6-2; 3rd rd., US Doubles, Boston, 1966

102 games Don White and Bob Galloway d. Hugh Sweeney and Lamar Roemer, 6-4, 17-15, 4-6, 18-20, 7-5; 1st rd, US Doubles, Bos­ton, 1964

100 games Cliff Sutter and Gene McAuliff d. Frank Shields and George Lott; 12-14, 14-12, 25-23; SF, Buffalo Indoor, 1934

100 games Bob Lutz and Joaquin Loyo-Mayo d. Bill Bond and Dick Leach; 19-17, 33-31; QF, Phoenix,1969

Federer’s Most Devasting French Open Loss?

Federers Most Devasting French Open Loss?

What was Roger Federer’s most devastating loss at the French Open? Some would say the 2008 final, when he was dominated by Rafael Nadal 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. Another candidate would be his 2003 first-round loss to Luis Horna. Rene Stauffer, the author of the definitive book on Federer called THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) details this loss and its circumstances in this book excerpt.

Federer’s success continued into the start of the clay court season as he won the title in Munich and also reached the final of the Italian Open, losing unexpectedly to Felix Mantilla of Spain. The result, however, still propelled him into the conversation as being a favorite to win the French Open.

“I feel much better this year than the year before when I first was in the top 10,” he explained in one of the many interviews before the French Open. “It was a new situation for me back then. I’ve gotten used to it in the meantime.”

He admitted to feeling the pressure from the public. “The entire world keeps reminding me that I am supposed to win a Grand Slam tournament and be No. 1 in the world. That’s not fair because it’s not that easy,” he said. He then stated defiantly that “whoever wants to beat me will have to work hard for it. I don’t want to lose in the first round at Roland Garros again.”

On a summery Monday afternoon in Paris, Federer’s first match at the 2003 French Open took place on Court Philippe Chatrier, the center court named after the Frenchman who was a past president of the International Tennis Federation. His opponent was an unknown Peruvian Luis Horna, whom Federer beat earlier in the year in Key Biscayne. Horna, ranked No. 88 in the world, had yet to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament. Federer took an early 5-3 lead in the first set, but began to show his insecurity and nerves when, during a routine rush to the net, he slipped and fell to the ground, only to mutter to himself and show negative emotions. Despite his lead, he seemed discouraged and, quite unusually, often glanced desperately at Peter Lundgren. Federer lost his service break advantage and despite holding a set point in the tie-break, he surrendered the first set by an 8-6 tie-break. The match immediately turned into a drama for Federer. He seemed frustrated, apathetic and didn’t show any belief that he could win. He appeared mentally absent, missing even the easiest shots. He tallied 82 unforced errors in the 7-6 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (3) first-round loss.

The tournament was shockingly finished before it even really began. Federer, the fallen favorite, appeared in the overcrowded interview room with his head bowed low. “I don’t know how long I’ll need to get over this defeat,” he said. “A day, a week, a year-or my entire career.”

Federer became the ridicule of the tournament. France’s sports newspaper L’Equipe ran a headline the next day translated as, “Shipwrecked In Quiet Waters” and published a cartoon in which a steam ship named “Roland Garros” steams away, leaving Federer behind in quiet waters. Florida’s Palm Beach Post described him as the “Phil Mickelson of Tennis,” comparing Federer to the American golfer who failed to win any of the major tournaments de­spite his great talent and many opportunities. “Federer has all the strokes but no Grand Slam trophy. He carries the dog tags of the best tennis player who has never won a major competition.”

The loss undeniably confirmed Federer’s reputation as a Grand Slam loser. He showed that he was a player who could not pull out a match even though he was not playing his best tennis-a characteristic that most champion tennis players exhibited, most notably in the present by Lleyton Hewitt, who could win a match on guts and determination alone. Since his victory over Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer was 0-4 in matches at the French Open and Wimbledon-the last three matches without even winning a set. His last five Grand Slam tournaments ended in defeat at the hands of much lower-ranked players

What could one say in his defense? Federer was now five years into his ATP career and approached his 22nd birthday. He won six ATP singles titles, excelled in Davis Cup play and time and again insisted he was capable of achieving greatness. He was considered one of the bigger stars in tennis and climbed to No. 5 in the world rankings. But outside of the title in Hamburg, all of the tournaments he won were smaller events and even the German Open was not a Grand Slam tournament. Federer failed routinely in the arenas where it was decided if a player was a champion or not. The once precocious maverick simply could not bring his tremendous potential to bear at the Grand Slams. When looking at the successes of his idols, rivals or earlier great players, he couldn’t help but feel envy. At his age, Becker, Borg, Courier, Edberg and Sampras as well as Hewitt, Safin and many others had already long since won their first Grand Slam titles. Federer, however, had not even reached the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament. The experts were unani­mous in their opinions that Federer was mature enough athletically to break through a win his first title. But athletic brilliance alone was not sufficient enough and Federer was still searching for the key to real success.

An analysis would seem to indicate that a mental block was preventing him from winning. He felt under pressure to such a degree at the Grand Slam tournaments that he couldn’t concentrate on the moment, especially in the early rounds. This was a basic rule for success. The pressure came from all sides-but mostly from himself. He hadn’t yet learned that these tournaments couldn’t be won in the first week but they certainly could be lost. With some luck, he could have already won a Grand Slam title-in 2001, for example, after upsetting Sampras. Everything would have looked different.

After his loss to Horna, Federer seemed to be the loneliest man in tennis. He was a man alone braving the stormy tempest. How could he have known that this defeat was to be his last such one-sided Grand Slam defeat in a very, very long time? How could he have known that this painful experience was necessary in order to become the hardened, keen-sighted but yet modest champion who would have the tennis world at his feet?

Federer described what really happened when he faced Horna in Paris months later. “I was simply not prepared mentally,” he said. “I put myself under too much pressure. After losing the first set, I couldn’t get back into the match. I had the feeling that it was impossible, that I was no longer in control of the situation. After the first set, I said to myself, ‘Even if I survive this round, I still have to play six more rounds to win this tournament.’ That almost drove me insane. I put myself under such pressure that I couldn’t play anymore.”

After the match, he said that he was overwhelmed with questions about the how and why. “But at that moment, I didn’t really feel like talking about it. I was too disappointed. I wanted to do nothing else but take eight days vacation and then start my preparations for the grass tournament in Halle. I didn’t want to think about Roland Garros-I wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to analyze what happened because I knew that I had simply failed mentally. I didn’t accept it by any means

Federer vs. Ancic..A Look Back At Fed’s Last Wimby Loss

Roger Federer will face Croatia’s Mario Ancic in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at Wimbledon. It has been well-documented that in the first round of Wimbledon in 2002 that Ancic, an 18-year-old qualifier, defeated the much-hyped Federer, one year removed from his titanic fourth-round upset of Pete Sampras. The loss marked the last time Federer lost on grass and at Wimbledon as the Swiss maestro has ripped off five Wimbledon titles including a record 63 straight wins on grass and 38 straight at the All England Club. Rene Stauffer in his book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) details this famous match between Federer and Ancic, excerpted below. (To order this book at a special 34 percent off discount, click here.)

Federer was considered the hottest player on the ATP Tour on the eve of both the French Open and Wimbledon. He arrived in Paris with hero-like status and viewed himself as a dangerous dark horse threat to win both titles. Prior to his first-round match with Morocco’s Hicham Arazi in Paris, Federer said he was hoping not to expend too much energy. He fulfilled this goal, but not exactly in the way he planned. On a cool, drizzly Tuesday on tiny Court No. 2, Federer faced Arazi who, after a miserable clay court season, was only ranked No. 45 in the world. But Federer committed 58 unforced errors in 95 minutes of play and decisively lost 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. It was a debacle. He com­plained about the slipperiness of the court, the rainy, dreary weather, about being fatigued after Hamburg, and praised Arazi. In short-he was confused.

He now had plenty of time to prepare for the grass courts at Wimbledon, where he defeated Pete Sampras the year before. British bookies ranked Federer behind Hewitt, Safin, Agassi and Henman as the fifth most likely player to win the Wimbledon title. To John McEnroe, Federer was the favorite and boldly predicted he would win the tournament. Former Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington said to ESPN that “it is only a matter of time until Federer wins his first Grand Slam tournament. The real question is how many Grand Slam tournaments will he win?”

Prior to the start of The Championships, the ATP organized a telephone press conference with Federer for the international press. “I feel that my chances of winning the tournament are good,” he explained on the call, while he attempted to refute the theory that he could not come to terms with being the favorite. “I feel better when I’m the favorite and I know that I can win the tournament. It helps me not to be the outsider. That’s why I’m playing better this year than in previous years.”

But Federer was also aware of the fact that he still didn’t have a Grand Slam title, and that many were expecting him to win one-and soon. Federer, himself, felt burdened by the expectations, but more from the expectations that he placed upon himself to break through and win a Grand Slam tourna­ment title. His impatience grew with each missed opportunity. He placed an enormous amount of pressure to break through and win either Wimbledon or the US Open in 2002.

In the first round at Wimbledon, Federer drew Croatian teenager Mario Ancic. Federer had no idea who he was and didn’t find out much about him before their match. Prior to the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, the 18-year-old Ancic primarily played junior events and only advanced into the Wimbledon main draw through the qualifying tournament. He was ranked No. 154 in the world and stood at nearly six feet, six inches tall. The 2001 Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic, who like Ancic hailed from the Croatian coastal city of Split, even gave his young countryman tips on how to play Federer. Wimbledon was Ancic’s Grand Slam tournament debut and his first match was played on Centre Court of all places, against Federer, the man who one year earlier defeated one of Wimbledon’s greatest champions on the very same court.

Roger’s father Robert, who seldom watched his son play live, traveled to Wimbledon to watch his son. Sitting in the bleachers at Centre Court, he an­ticipated peacefully watching a routine first-round victory for his son on this pleasant, warm and dry afternoon. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Like in Paris, Roger unceremoniously lost in the tournament’s opening round without win­ning a set. He was unrecognizable compared to the previous year’s heroics and only scored one ace against the young Ancic in the 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 loss.

Federer was shocked. As in Paris, he couldn’t understand why he played so poorly. “I normally like to compliment young players,” he said, “but the way I performed today, I can’t really judge Ancic.” Federer was forced to witness the top-ranked Hewitt, who was not considered to be a grass court specialist, go on to beat David Nalbandian in the final to become the first Australian Wimbledon champion since Pat Cash in 1987.

By contrast, Federer dropped out of the top 10 by virtue of his Wimbledon performance. Two weeks later at the Swiss Open in Gstaad, Federer expe­rienced another unexpected defeat at the hands of Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the second round. His crisis was incomprehensible. “He’s not himself on the court anymore,” said Lundgren. “Technically, there’s nothing wrong with his game. It’s in his head. He feels the pressure.” For the moment, Federer lost his entire creativity, his entire joy in playing ten­nis and his self-confidence. “I allowed myself to become too dragged down mentally and I thought I couldn’t play tennis anymore,” he said later.

But his greatest setback still lay before him and it would come from a completely unexpected direction.

The Weekly Links Megaphoto Post – Photos From Rome, Berlin and more…

So here we are with another edition of the Weekly Links extravaganza.  But first of all: How do you like our new design? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment. No you don’t have to register for a comment but just fill in the required fields to do so!  I look forward to hearing from you and so does the rest of the Tennis Grand Stand staff!

First off we go with the list of woeful weekly links compiled by yours truely.

Richard Gasquet has parted ways with his coach.  And right before the French Open starts. Time will tell if he made the right decision (Reuters)

Former Wimbledon and US Open winner Lleyton Hewitt thinks it would be better to have surgery on his hip rather than playing Roland Garros. (The Australian)

You can now have your own customised tennis plates in Florida (Tallahaassee)

Peter Lundgren (former coach of Roger Federer and Marat Safin) wants to get back to work asap! (Eurosport on Yahoo!)

The University of Arkansas- Little Rock has let go of their tennis team.  (Todays THV)

And Arizona State too! (Arizona State Devils)

Jelena Jankovic in Rome:

Maria Sharapova in Rome

Maria Kirilenko in Rome

Alizee Cornet in Rome

Michaella Krajicek in Rome

Extra bonus – Maria Kirilenko in Berlin

Roger Federer’s First Slump

Roger Federer’s 2008 season continues this week as the world’s No. 1 plays for the first time at the clay-court event in Estoril, Portugal and with the services of a new coach – Jose Higueras, the man who guided the likes of Michael Chang and Jim Courier to French Open titles. The current “slump” (if that is what you want to call it) that Roger Federer is currently in is not the first time that the Swiss tennis champion has faced adversity in his tennis career based on high expectations. After Federer upset Pete Sampras in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer was tagged for greatness by the tennis establishment and expectations for him rose rapidly. For about an 18-month period, Federer was tagged as the greatest player in tennis without a major title. He repeatedly failed to break through and fulfill his potential and meet the expectations of the tennis establishment. Rene Stauffer, the author of the best-selling book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, Quest for Perfection ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) called this era in Roger’s career as “The Grand Slam Block” – highlighted by a 2002 first round Wimbledon loss to Mario Ancic. Below is an excerpt from Stauffer’s book which discusses Federer’s most troubling part of his previous “slump” which, of course, directly preceded his major tournament breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2003.

Roger Federer’s declared goal for 2003 was, as before, to win a Grand Slam tournament. He finally wanted to rid himself of the moniker as the best player in tennis without a Grand Slam title. In his 14 career Grand Slam tournament appearances, his best results were two modest quarterfinal fin­ishes-both achieved in 2001.

Coach Peter Lundgren still displayed an unshakable belief in Federer. He constantly repeated the mantra in his sonorous voice that Federer required more time than others to fully develop. “He has an unbelievable repertoire and he needs more time with his game for all the pieces to come together,” he said, declaring that the goal to be achieved for the 2003 season was to reach the top four in the world rankings. “Roger is on the right path and shouldn’t listen to what others are saying. He’s like a bird that is learning how to fly. As soon as he reaches his maximum flying altitude, he’ll be hard to beat. He is now beating all the players he is supposed to be beating. There isn’t much of a difference between being ranked No. 1, No. 5 and No. 10.”

Pleasant words and nice thoughts-but what else was Peter Lundgren sup­posed to say?

More disturbing than the initial, unexpected defeats to Jan-Michael Gambill in Doha and Franco Squillari in Sydney was the reappearance of the pains in his groin that just didn’t want to go away. Federer was forced to rest and not practice for two days and his status for the Australian Open was in doubt. In addition, his late season surge and appearance in the Tennis Masters Cup in China late in 2002 diminished the already paltry tennis off-season. The season’s first Grand Slam tournament came much too early in the tennis season, especially for those who competed in the year-end Tennis Masters Cup. “There isn’t enough time to prepare,” said Federer.

The Czech Pavel Kovac was a member of Federer’s entourage as a physio­therapist since the past summer. He was a taciturn, burly man completely devoted to serving Federer. The wear and tear of the tennis circuit made Kovac and his services very important to Federer’s future success. Kovac managed to stop Federer’s pain just in time for him to post at the Australian Open. In his first three matches, Federer did not lose a set. Expectations rose, es­pecially when two of his rivals in his half of the draw-Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin-were eliminated from the tournament-Hewitt losing to Younes El Aynaoui and Marat Safin withdrawing with injury prior to his third-round match with Rainer Schuettler. In the round of 16, Federer faced David Nalbandian for the third time in his professional career-and for a third time-he was defeated. Federer seemed dazed against Nalbandian and strug­gled with the Argentinean’s backhand and strong counter-attack in the 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 loss. Another opportunity to win a Grand Slam tournament disappeared. Federer was completely devastated.

Away from the pressures of Grand Slam tournament play, Federer flourished and continued his winning ways. He won 16 of his next 17 matches-includ­ing two singles victories in Davis Cup against the Netherlands, where the Swiss, led by new captain Marc Rosset, defeated the Dutch 3-2. He then won his sixth and seventh career ATP titles in Marseille and Dubai. For the third consecutive year, the ATP named him the “Player of the Month” for February. While Federer experienced disappointments on the major stages of the Tennis Masters Series events in Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, he again demonstrat­ed his strength in Davis Cup, registering all three points for Switzerland in its 3-2 upset of France in Toulouse. So excited was Federer at leading the Swiss into the Davis Cup semifinals, he uncharacteristically celebrated at a disco in the French city, dancing and partying until the wee hours of the morning.

Federer’s success continued into the start of the clay court season as he won the title in Munich and also reached the final of the Italian Open, losing unexpectedly to Felix Mantilla of Spain. The result, however, still propelled him into the conversation as being a favorite to win the French Open.

“I feel much better this year than the year before when I first was in the top 10,” he explained in one of the many interviews before the French Open. “It was a new situation for me back then. I’ve gotten used to it in the meantime.”

He admitted to feeling the pressure from the public. “The entire world keeps reminding me that I am supposed to win a Grand Slam tournament and be No. 1 in the world. That’s not fair because it’s not that easy,” he said. He

then stated defiantly that “whoever wants to beat me will have to work hard for it. I don’t want to lose in the first round at Roland Garros again.”

On a summery Monday afternoon in Paris, Federer’s first match at the 2003 French Open took place on Court Philippe Chatrier, the center court named after the Frenchman who was a past president of the International Tennis Federation. His opponent was an unknown Peruvian Luis Horna, whom Federer beat earlier in the year in Key Biscayne. Horna, ranked No. 88 in the world, had yet to win a match at a Grand Slam tournament. Federer took an early 5-3 lead in the first set, but began to show his insecurity and nerves when, during a routine rush to the net, he slipped and fell to the ground, only to mutter to himself and show negative emotions. Despite his lead, he seemed discouraged and, quite unusually, often glanced desperately at Peter Lundgren. Federer lost his service break advantage and despite holding a set point in the tie-break, he surrendered the first set by an 8-6 tie-break. The match immediately turned into a drama for Federer. He seemed frustrated, apathetic and didn’t show any belief that he could win. He appeared mentally absent, missing even the easiest shots. He tallied 82 unforced errors in the 7-6 (6), 6-2, 7-6 (3) first-round loss.

The tournament was shockingly finished before it even really began. Federer, the fallen favorite, appeared in the overcrowded interview room with his head bowed low. “I don’t know how long I’ll need to get over this defeat,” he said. “A day, a week, a year-or my entire career.”

Federer became the ridicule of the tournament. France’s sports newspaper L’Equipe ran a headline the next day translated as, “Shipwrecked In Quiet Waters” and published a cartoon in which a steam ship named “Roland Garros” steams away, leaving Federer behind in quiet waters. Florida’s Palm Beach Post described him as the “Phil Mickelson of Tennis,” comparing Federer to the American golfer who failed to win any of the major tournaments de­spite his great talent and many opportunities. “Federer has all the strokes but no Grand Slam trophy. He carries the dog tags of the best tennis player who has never won a major competition.”

The loss undeniably confirmed Federer’s reputation as a Grand Slam loser. He showed that he was a player who could not pull out a match even though he was not playing his best tennis-a characteristic that most champion tennis players exhibited, most notably in the present by Lleyton Hewitt, who could win a match on guts and determination alone. Since his victory over Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, Federer was 0-4 in matches at the French Open and Wimbledon-the last three matches without even winning a set. His last five Grand Slam tournaments ended in defeat at the hands of much lower-ranked players

What could one say in his defense? Federer was now five years into his ATP career and approached his 22nd birthday. He won six ATP singles titles, excelled in Davis Cup play and time and again insisted he was capable of achieving greatness. He was considered one of the bigger stars in tennis and climbed to No. 5 in the world rankings. But outside of the title in Hamburg, all of the tournaments he won were smaller events and even the German Open was not a Grand Slam tournament. Federer failed routinely in the arenas where it was decided if a player was a champion or not. The once pre­cocious maverick simply could not bring his tremendous potential to bear at the Grand Slams. When looking at the successes of his idols, rivals or earlier great players, he couldn’t help but feel envy. At his age, Becker, Borg, Courier, Edberg and Sampras as well as Hewitt, Safin and many others had already long since won their first Grand Slam titles. Federer, however, had not even reached the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament. The experts were unani­mous in their opinions that Federer was mature enough athletically to break through a win his first title. But athletic brilliance alone was not sufficient enough and Federer was still searching for the key to real success.

An analysis would seem to indicate that a mental block was preventing him from winning. He felt under pressure to such a degree at the Grand Slam tournaments that he couldn’t concentrate on the moment, especially in the early rounds. This was a basic rule for success. The pressure came from all sides-but mostly from himself. He hadn’t yet learned that these tournaments couldn’t be won in the first week but they certainly could be lost. With some luck, he could have already won a Grand Slam title-in 2001, for example, after upsetting Sampras. Everything would have looked different.

After his loss to Horna, Federer seemed to be the loneliest man in tennis. He was a man alone braving the stormy tempest. How could he have known that this defeat was to be his last such one-sided Grand Slam defeat in a very, very long time? How could he have known that this painful experience was necessary in order to become the hardened, keen-sighted but yet modest champion who would have the tennis world at his feet?

Federer described what really happened when he faced Horna in Paris months later. “I was simply not prepared mentally,” he said. “I put myself under too much pressure. After losing the first set, I couldn’t get back into the match. I had the feeling that it was impossible, that I was no longer in control of the situation. After the first set, I said to myself, ‘Even if I survive this round, I still have to play six more rounds to win this tournament.’ That almost drove me insane. I put myself under such pressure that I couldn’t play anymore.”

After the match, he said that he was overwhelmed with questions about the how and why. “But at that moment, I didn’t really feel like talking about it. I was too disappointed. I wanted to do nothing else but take eight days vacation and then start my preparations for the grass tournament in Halle. I didn’t want to think about Roland Garros-I wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to analyze what happened because I knew that I had simply failed mentally. I didn’t accept it by any means.”

Mondays With Bob Greene

7 April 2008

STARS

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

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

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

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

SAYINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPLAT

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

SUFFERING SUCCOTASH

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

SUCCESS FINALLY

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

SELECTED FOR BEIJING

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

SQUEAKER

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

STEERING TENNIS EUROPE

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

SOUTH AFRICA ON TOP

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

SENIORS DOING IT

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

SORE BUT READY

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

SUPERHERO

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

SWINGING AGAIN

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

SITES TO SURF

Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com/

Olympic Tennis: www.itftennis.com/olympics.

Family Circle Cup: www.familycirclecup.com

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

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

Houston: www.riveroaksinternational.com

ITF Seniors: www.itftennis.com/seniors

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

WTA Tour

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

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

(April 11-13)

Czech Republic at Moscow, Russia

Sweden at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Spain at Bremen, Germany

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

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Second Round

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

America’s Zone Group 1 Second Round

Canada at Santiago, Chile; Colombia at Soracaba, Brazil

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Second Round

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

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 First-Round Playoffs

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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP TOUR

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

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

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

WTA TOUR

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

Photos of Miami:

Photo Post: Sony Ericsson Open 2008 by Chris Rogers Photography

Chris Rogers photo 1

Hello True Believers,

Chris Rogers has been so kind to submit photos to TennisGrandStand. The photos include photos of Roger Federer, Jelena Jankovic, Justine Henin and many others.

For more photos go to Chris’ website Miami Tennis Photos.

Chris Rogers photo 1 Chris Rogers photo 2 Chris Rogers photo 3 Chris Rogers photo 4 Chris Rogers photo 5 Chris Rogers photo 6 Chris Rogers photo 7 Chris Rogers photo 8 Chris Rogers photo 9

Enjoy the photos!

In the meantime I dugg up some more links to interesting articles:

This could be the last time that the Williams sisters will ever play the Sony Ericsson Open ever again! (Sun Sentinel)

Tennis is a sport for all ages. Even when you are 95. (My Desert)

Marat Safin will play Davis Cup for Russia (Russia Today)

The Vietnam Tennis Federation closes a major deal with a big sponsor. Asian tennis is definitely growing. (Thanhnien News)

It’s been a big week for Andy Roddick. He announced his engagement and he beat his long time nemesis Roger Federer. Roy S. Johnson summarises a wonderful week for Roddick. (Yahoo! Sports blogs)

Former Federer and Marat Safin coach Peter Lundgren has the English Davis Cup team to spend more time with his sick father. (The Press Association)

The last photos of Miami can be found here:

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