Qatar Open

Serena in hospital dash, Djokovic equals Dubai record and del Potro back to winning ways

Serena In Lung Clot Scare:

Serena Williams was rushed in to hospital for emergency treatment on a blood clot found in her lung, according to People magazine. Her representative, Nicole Chabot, confirmed in a statement to the publication that Williams had indeed been visiting Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles recently and was rushed in on Monday for emergency treatment on a pulmonary embolism discovered over the course of her care. “Monday Serena Williams underwent emergency treatment at Cedars for a hematoma she suffered as a result of treatment for a more critical situation,” Chabot said. “Last week, Serena suffered from a pulmonary embolism [a blood clot in the lungs] which was discovered upon her return to L.A. She had been in New York for doctor appointments for the ongoing issues with her foot.”

Djokovic Makes it Three on the Spin:

Novak Djokovic equalled the record of three straight titles at the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open with an emphatic straight sets victory over Roger Federer in the final on Saturday. The world number three outplayed 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer in a 6-3, 6-3 victory despite trailing 1-3 in the second set. Bouncing back to take the next five games the Serbian showed the same form which saw him overcome his illustrious Swiss opponent in the semi-final at Melbourne Park on the way to his second Australian Open title. The writing was on the wall for Federer in just the third game as Djokovic broke the world number two’s serve before going on to comprehensively take the first set. “I was aware of the challenge that is expected of me on the court, and I was aware of the fact that I need to be on top of my game in order to beat Roger,” said Djokovic. “So the focus was there. I was serving really well, especially the first set. Just the perfect performance overall.” Federer spoke about the two players’ recent rivalry: “We’ve had it kind of come and go in spells a bit against each other. I definitely feel he’s playing well. I thought he was already playing well at the end of last year. We had a couple real close ones. This one has been one of the rather disappointing matches for me against him.”

del Potro back in the Winner’s Circle:

Juan Martin del Potro lifted his first title since the 2009 US Open by overcoming Janko Tipsarevic in the final at Delray Beach. The Argentine won 6-4, 6-4 in what will be a sweet return to form for the man who only played three tournaments in 2010 due to a serious wrist injury. He only entered the tournament as a wildcard and was ranked as low as No. 484 in the world last month. It follows on from two semifinal postings in his last two events at San Jose and Memphis. “I feel completely tired but it’s amazing for me, this comeback,” said Del Potro. “I’m trying to improve my game day by day. Today Janko played better than me I think, but I had a little luck in the important moments. I was playing at night every match and today was a little bit hot for me. I just tried to focus on my serve, especially on my break points.”

Zvonereva Triumphs in Qatar:

Second seed Vera Zvonereva extracted revenge for her finals defeat in Beijing last year by overcoming the world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Qatar Open on the weekend. The Russian took an hour and 49 minutes to see out the victory which ended the Dane’s hopes of back to back titles following her win in Dubai last week. Zvonereva even trailed a break in the second set but turned it round to secure the win in straights. It was her first victory in three Doha finals appearances. “It’s a special moment for me,” said Zvonareva. “I have so many fans here and it’s an unbelievable feeling to come to Doha and win this tournament. It was a tough match and I had to play aggressive and go for my shots.” Wozniacki was very complimentary of her opponent: “I had a great few days but today it was Vera’s day,” she said. “I had my chances but she really played well. I failed to convert several break points. I’m always disappointed to lose but I played a great competitor today. Vera played a great match and a great tournament.”

Raonic in for IW:

Rising Canadian star Milos Raonic has been handed a wildcard for the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the season beginning in Indian Wells on March 7. The BNP Paribas Open is always one of the best tournaments of the year and Raonic will be joined by Americans James Blake and Ryan Harrison, Kei Nishikori of Japan and Australia’s Bernard Tomic in being able to avoid the qualifying campaign. In the women’s game young American starlets Coco Vandeweghe, Christine McHale, Lauren Davis and Sloan Stephens are all in as is returning Indian star Sania Mirza and American seniors Vania King and Jill Craybas.

“Dominance Over,” Says Nadal:

Rafa Nadal believes that the dominance he and rival Roger Federer once shared over the Grand Slams is now over. The pair have amassed 21 major titles since the 2005 French Open but the continued improvements of the likes of Novak Djokovic, Robin Soderling and Andy Murray mean the Top 2 no longer continually face each other in the final. “In 2005, 2006 and 2007, perhaps you could say there was a bit of a monopoly, but it was down to Federer,” he told the Spanish media. “I was also there, but a little less. For sure I think this monopoly ended some time ago. There are many players ready to challenge now.”

Ferrer Halts Almagro Run:

David Ferrer became the first man to defeat Nicolas Almagro in fourteen matches as he successfully defended his Abierto Mexicano TELCEL title in Acapulco. It also prevented Almagro from becoming the first man ever to win three of the Golden Swing South American tournaments in one year. It was a tight affair involving two tie-breakers which Ferrer finally won 7-6 (4), 6-7 (2), 6-2 in order to collect 500 South African Airways ATP Rankings Points and a cheque for $264,000. “It was a very intense match with a lot of rallies in the first and second set; we played a lot of great points,” reflected the 28-year-old. “In the third [set], I think I was better physically and he started making more mistakes. My error was that after coming back and winning the first set, I relaxed in the second and he started attacking a lot more.”

Fish Swimming to Newport:

Mardy Fish has confirmed he will be returning to the International Tennis Hall of Fame this summer to defend the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships he picked up last year. The world No. 15 will be making his ninth appearance in Rhode Island and last year’s title provided the springboard for his excellent late-season run which made him some people’s outside bet for a finals weekend appearance at the US open. That didn’t materialise but the 29-year-old but he will be hoping for a similarly successful 2011. “Newport was a great week for me last year. It was good to see all the work I’d put into training pay off with a title,” said Fish. “The Hall of Fame is a special place to compete and I look forward to returning to the tournament this summer.”

Federer’s Sporting Blacklist:

World No. 2 Roger Federer has declared that while he is an avid fan of many sports, ping pong is the only one he allows himself to play for fear of injuring himself. Skiing, football and squash were all favoured pursuits of the 16-time Grand Slam winner but he fears that taking part in any of them could harm his career should he pick up an injury. “To be quite honest, I do miss [skiing],” he said. “I used to do it up until a few years ago. Last time I skied was in 2008 when I had mono. Came back after the Australian Open, went skiing, and next day I got ill again. So I was like, ‘Okay, it’s a sign for me. No more skiing. That’s a pity, but okay, we’ll do that.’ Soccer I haven’t played much either. I remember when I had the groin issue in Wimbledon. Then I went to Gstaad and I really couldn’t move well. I mean, I won the doubles with [former Russian star Marat] Safin and stuff. But I went to play soccer that whole week as well and couldn’t move at the end. So it was just so silly of me. I did the same with squash as well.”

Nadal “100% Fit” Ahead of Return:

Rafa Nadal has declared he is 100% fit ahead of returning to action for Spain in their forthcoming Davis Cup tie with Belgium this weekend. The world No. 1 has not played since injuring his thigh as he crashed out to David Ferrer in the quaterfinals of the Australian Open. “If I am here it is because, physically, I am 100%,” said the 24-year-old. “I already start to practise a few weeks ago so I’m happy to be back in competition, back in important competition like Davis Cup. And, for sure, it’s a motivation to be back on the team. And sure it’s going to be a difficult confrontation against Belgium.” Nadal has not represented Spain since helping them to their fourth Davis Cup win in 2009.

No-Djo for Defending Champions:

Novak Djokovic has announced via his official website that he will not be participating in the beginning of Serbia’s Davis Cup defence against India this weekend. The statement doesn’t give a reason for the decision but says: “After winning the Australian Open and completing a hat-trick of Dubai Championships titles, Nole is heading to California so he can prepare for a run on US hard courts from March 10 when Indian Wells, the first of the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, starts. Djokovic is hoping to continue the year strong.” It continues: “Everyone in the Serbian team knows it won’t be the same without Novak, but players, the reigning world champions, are optimistic and believe they will beat India without Nole in the squad.” Meanwhile Sam Querrey will be missing for the United States this weekend with a shoulder problem.

Dulko Not Just a Dual Force:

Gisela Dulko showed that whilst being a dab hand at doubles she can also play for herself by becoming the first Argentinean woman to triumph at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL in Acapulco on Saturday. She triumphed over the Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja. She only dropped eight games in total in three of her matches whilst Laura Pous-Tio was the only lady to take a set off her in the whole Championships at the quarterfinal stage. “Finals are always special and we were both nervous in the first set, but after that I was playing much better,” the pin-up commented. “All of a sudden I started to get a bit nervous again and Arantxa started playing so well. I was three set points down. At the end I ended up winning, so I’m really happy. I love this tournament but I was always struggling here. I felt great this week though, on and off the court. I couldn’t go to the beach too much though, so I’ll try to do that tomorrow morning before I leave.” It is the fourth WTA singles title of her career.

Levy Breaks:

Israeli Harel Levy has retired from tennis aged 32. The former world No. 30 had his career somewhat thwarted by a hip injury since that watershed mark in 2001 but he remained a key component of Israel’s Davis Cup team. “I had the honour to be ranked among the top players in the world and experienced amazing things that were only cut abruptly by my injury,” he said. “I battled my injury hoping for some more success and got it with the Davis Cup team in recent years. Tennis has given me so much, but now it is time for me to dedicate myself to my family.”

Slow Movement in the Rankings Watch:

There was no change at all within the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP World Tour Rankings but the Croat Marin Cilic was back in to the Top 20 this week. Spain’s Marcello Granollers was back in the Top 50 at No. 49 while Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos is in to the Top 100. Juan Martin del Potro’s win at Delray Beach sees him leap 77 places in the rankings to No. 89. The same can be said for the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. The Russian Nadia Petrova is the only high-ranking mover as she re-enters the Top 20 from No. 22. her compatriot Vera Dushevina (No. 50) and Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino (No. 48) are in to the Top 50. Gisela Dulko’s title at Acapulco sees her leap from No. 73 to No. 56 in the world while the woman she conquered, Arrantxa Para Santonja, is up 20 to No. 59. The American Jill Craybas (No. 99) and Italy’s Alberta Brianti enter the Top 100.

Roger Careers Ahead in GOAT Race:

While Rafa Nadal awaits this weekend’s Davis Cup tie to return to action Roger Federer has been making good ground in his nemesis’ absence. Reaching the Dubai final last week and losing to Novak Djokovic earned him an extra 100 points to add to his total. With the American hard court season kicking off next week at Indian Wells the next couple of months could be very interesting for the two rivals.

Roger: 440, Rafa: 130

ECM Prague Open Photos – The Spotlight on Shahar Peer

Rollin’ Ralf Reinecke , our funky photographer in precious Prague, has sent a bunch of flashy photos of none other than the sensational Shahar Peer!

But first off a bunch of lucious links linking to your favorite articles!

Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, who fans could lick as the subjects of official Serbian postage stamps, are complaining about not having the same values on their stamps. (Women’s Tennis Blog)

Sesil Karantcheva is trying to revive her career and is right on course I think. (Yahoo!)

The first pull outs but ones with valid reasons. Hantuchova and Sharapova pull out of this year’s Qatar Open in Berlin. Hantuchova has a stress fracture in her foot while Sharapova never cited a reason for the pull out. (AFP on Google)

Jelena Dokic loses in the first round and is struggling to make a comeback. Perhaps she should take an example of Sesil Karantcheva. (Sporting News)

Ok now this is the weirdest reason ever to endanger people’s lives! A pilot decided to take the plane to take his son to tennis class because of the possibility that his son might actually be late for class. (Chicago Tribune)

The Arthur Ashe Foundation does it again: They raised a lot of funds for the children in need (The Bulletin)

Awww Anastasia Myskina gives birth to a baby boy Zhenya. Good luck to mother and son (Sony Ericsson WTA Tour)

Michaella Krajicek , yes sister of Wimbledon legend Richard Krajicek, keeps crashing out in the first rounds (Women who serve)

Now for the flashy photos of the sensational Shahar Peer, as I promised before.

Shahar Peer photo 1 Shahar Peer photo 2 Shahar Peer photo 3 Shahar Peer photo 4

Extra added bonus:

Photos of the BMW Open ATP Tournament Player’s Night. (Photos by the ATPtour.com)

BMW Open 1 BMW Open 2 BMW Open 3 BMW Open 4 BMW Open 5 BMW Open 6 BMW Open 8

BMW Open 9 BMW 10 BMW Open 17

Sharapova does Doha and she’s in (a) penthouse

maria-sharapova-doha-spr08.jpg

Maria Sharapova totes Fendi on one arm, slings her gold Prince bag over the other, and cradles her Sony Ericsson phone. Oh, the burden of celebrity!

She scheduled to compete in this week’s Qatar Open as the fourth seed.

(I’m not sure if that’s the actual link to the tourney website. If it is, then FYI webmaster: there are all kinds of things wrong with it.)

New digs: Haaretz reports that Masha bought a 350-square-meter luxury penthouse for 7.5 million Israeli shekels ($2 million). With all her commitments in the Middle East, it’s about time she got a place nearby.

(via Open Court; photo via Getty Images)