roland garros site

CAREERS REJUVENATED: THE FRIDAY FIVE

Careers Rejuvenated – Raise your hand if you had Caroline Wozniaki vs. Jelena Jankovic in the Indian Wells women’s final and Andy Roddick vs. Ivan Ljubicic in the Indian Wells men’s final. While credit has to go to both of the losing finalists for a fine effort in the desert, hearty congratulations are due to the winners, Jankovic and Ljubicic. Jankovic, who has seen her ranking slowly plummet as she struggled to win matches, finally got her act together to bag the big title and put herself back on the map. Even more impressive was Ljubicic. Well into the twilight of his career, it would seem that the big Croat’s best days were behind him. But Ljubicic proved the critics wrong and held his nerve to knock off Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (“accident” or not), and Roddick to win his first Masters 1000 title. If this is a sign of things to come, the men’s and women’s games just got a little more interesting.

More Rumblings at Roland Garros – Gilbert Ysern has once again reiterated the fact that the French Open may not only have to move away from the Roland Garros site, but from the city of Paris itself. The reason for the move is the current inability of the FFT to enact site upgrades, such as the construction of a retractable roof, due to opposition from the public, primarily environmentalists. Some predict this will all blow over, that there’s little chance of the move. They feel that the public will cave, as they can’t imagine the second major of the year being played anywhere but Roland Garros. I’ve got my fingers crossed that a compromise can be reached so that fans around the world can continue to enjoy springtime in Paris.

A Split Decision – Politics once again has the opportunity to influence an upcoming Davis Cup tie, as Serbia is set to take on host Croatia in the city of Split. The Serbian coach, Bogdan Obradovic had requested that the tie be played in the capital Zagreb, as he felt it would be less nationalistic than Split. I’m with the ITF on denying the request, especially given the significance of Split to Croatian tennis as the hometown of local hero Goran Ivanisevic. That said, I’m not Serbian, nor am I Croatian. I can’t fathom the levels of tension that may exist, but I have seen players from both nations making great strides to get along and set an example. While this could potentially be ugly, this may also be a viewed as a golden opportunity. This is a chance for tennis to set politics aside and perhaps through sport, start mending fences between two nations.

Hewitt Headed to Houston – Aussie Lleyton Hewitt has announced that he will be making his return to the ATP World Tour earlier than expected at the clay court event in Houston.  Bouncing back from a second hip surgery will be difficult, but Houston is the perfect place to test the waters. The soft clay coupled with a middle-of-the-road field should give Hewitt the opportunity to ease back into competition. And with guys such as Ivan Ljubicic and Juan Carlos Ferrero mounting their own comebacks in the latter years of their careers, there’s no reason two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt shouldn’t expect he can do the same.

Tiger Tim Ready to Return – Well, he wasn’t ready to sit in the captain’s seat of the British Davis Cup team, but Tim Henman, still one of the most popular figures in British sports, has stated that he is ready to consider making a return to competitive tennis. He’ll play his first event at the AEGON Masters in London at the end of the season. Having reached a career high of No. 4 and one of the best serve-and-volleyers in his day, Henman was always a crowd favorite and will undoubtedly be a welcomed presence to the tour. I for one hope everything pans out, and that as Henman said, the AEGON Masters is the “first event of many for me on the ATP Champions Tour.”

The Friday Five: Hang it up Scud

By Maud Watson

Hang it up Scud – My apologies to any Mark Philippoussis fans out there. I don’t personally have anything against the guy, but when I read earlier this week that he’s considering the possibility of yet another comeback to the ATP World Tour, I had to shake my head. He claims his reasons for coming back are twofold: he has “unfinished business,” and he wants the money. The guy needs to face reality. He is struggling to beat Jim Courier and Pat Cash on the seniors tour, and it’s no disrespect to Courier and Cash. They’re great players in their own right, but they’re playing the seniors tour for a reason. If Flipper can’t hang with those guys, how does he ever figure he’ll make it into the Top 100 on the ATP World Tour? Maybe if he’d put the time in earlier in his career (which might have curbed his injuries) and managed his finances better, he wouldn’t be in this situation now. Cut your losses, Scud and move on.

Adieu Roland Garros? – It seems plans for a new center court with a retractable roof at the world’s second Slam event of the year have hit a snag according to French Tennis Federation (FFT) Director General Gilbert Ysern. The Paris mayor’s office is now expressing doubts about the project, mainly due to the opposition of green members within the city council. While the FFT is relatively confident the project will still be able to move forward, Ysern has also stated the FFT is prepared to move from the Roland Garros site if their plans are blocked. Given the historical significance of the site, which hosted the famous 1928 Davis Cup tie between the USA and France, and its ties to the famous French aviator whose name the complex bears, it would be a shame to see the site of the French Championships moved to a new location. That said, in an effort to keep up with the other Majors, as well as a few voices from Spain (a nation that has produced the champion at the French major six of the last 10 years) claiming they now have the facilities to host the clay court Grand Slam event, the FFT must be prepared to take whatever steps necessary. Fingers crossed they reach an agreement with the Paris city council.

Serena Sweeps – As if winning two majors, the WTA Tour Championships, and taking the No. 1 ranking weren’t enough, Serena Williams has managed to add one more accolade to her 2009 season. She has set a new record for most prize money won by a woman in a single season, with $6,545,586. Granted, she did win three of the biggest tournaments of the season, but if her prize money total is any indication, it would seem that the women’s tour is plenty healthy.

Under the Weather – Well, we all knew it was just a matter of time before swine flu hit the tennis community, and it finally did this week in Basel. German Tommy Haas was forced to withdraw from the tournament when he tested positive for the H1N1 virus. With the way things can often travel quickly throughout the locker room, tournament organizers and fans alike will hope this is just an isolated incident, especially with the ATP World Tour Championships just around the corner. And here’s wishing a speedy recovery to Haas, who has put together a great season!

Good-Bye Fred, Hello Adidas – Britain’s Andy Murray is back with a vengeance this week in Valencia, showing little mercy to the opposition in his return from injury. And while Andy Murray is undoubtedly happy to see his game back on track, he has even more to smile about with the new multi-million dollar deal that he just signed with Adidas. Murray will be trading in his Fred Perry duds for the three-striped brand beginning in January. Now wouldn’t it be ironic if he won Wimbledon in 2010?