*The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has named Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki as their world champions for 2010. 20-year-old Dane Wozniacki has ousted Serena Williams as world champion after six tournament wins during this calendar year. She is, however, yet to lift a Grand Slam. “To be listed with all the former world champions is something I’m really proud of,” said the No. 1 player in the women’s game. Rafa Nadal was a more obvious choice on the men’s side having taken three of the four majors and becoming the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam after finally conquering New York. The 24-year-old reclaims the crown off Roger Federer. “It is an honour to be named world champion for the second time,” said the 24-year-old. “After a difficult year in 2009, it was an amazing feeling to regain the number one ranking and finally win the US Open. My goal all the time is to keep improving and be a better player each year than I was the previous year.” This should be a pretty dominant 2011 for the Spaniard then.
*American No. 1 Andy Roddick has committed to his country’s Davis Cup cause for 2011. The 28-year-old missed the 2010 event but is set to return under the stewardship of new captain Jim Courier. The USA will travel to Chile for round 1 between 4-6 of March. “I have always said that Davis Cup is something you should commit to for the entire season and not when it is convenient,” said the world No. 8 who suffered a torrid time at last month’s ATP Tour Finals. “Andy not only brings his outstanding Davis Cup record but also his experience and team leadership which will be invaluable to our efforts,” Courier added. “On a personal note I am very excited to get the opportunity to sit on the bench with Andy and help him continue to perform at his very best on the Davis Cup stage.”
*Rejuvenated Serbian star Ana Ivanovic has hired Portuguese coach Antonio van Grichen on a trial basis till at least the end of the Australian hard-court season. She enjoyed a fabulous end to 2010 which saw her climb back to No. 17 in the world but then split with coach Heinz Gunthardt as he no longer wanted to travel full-time. van Grichen enjoyed great success coaching Viktoria Azarenka to No. 6 in the world and he has also worked briefly with Vera Zvonareva and Sorana Cirstea.
*Belgian stars Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are pondering pairing up to compete at the London 2012 Olympics together. The pair once shared a pretty hostile relationship but having both returned from retirement recently this seems to have thawed. They have competed as a team once before at the 2006 Fed Cup where Belgium lost to Russia in the quaterfinals. Both are said to be treating the Olympics very seriously and Clijsters has hinted that 2012 could be her final year on the tour. “We have to get together to discuss this, see what the possibilities are and assess how far we want to go in this,” said world No. 3 Clijsters. Henin, 28, added: “There is a real willingness to be there.” Further feedback from the players can be read at the BBC Tennis website.
*The Australian Open have announced that both Juan Martin del Potro and Dmitri Tursunov have been accepted directly in to the men’s singles playing field as they both have injury-protected rankings.
*Gael Monfils has pulled out of the French team to play next month’s Hopman Cup and will be replaced by Nicolas Mahut. This means that he will come face to face with America’s John Isner for the first time since their record breaking 183 game, 11-hour epic encounter at Wimbledon back in June.
*After an exceptional year world No. 16 Mardy Fish has set his sights on cracking the Top 10 in 2011. “I have very high expectations, higher than I’ve ever had,” he told the Treasure Coast Palm. “I’m healthy, fit, confident. So I don’t think it’s unrealistic to aim for the Top 10. I don’t have many (rankings) points to defend the first half of the year. The first three Grand Slams, I didn’t get past the second round. So if I can be more consistent through the first part of the year, win some matches on the clay, do something more at Wimbledon, I should be able to get there.”
*Serbian Davis Cup hero Novak Djokovic took some time out on Tuesday to visit the Special Olympics Centre in Monte-Carlo where he spoke to members, posed for photos and signed autographs. He became involved with the organisation earlier in the year where he has helped fund various events. “I was really impressed with the good organisation of the centre and the nice and dedicated people working there,” Djokovic said, sporting his newly shaved head from the final celebrations. “It’s always very nice to be able to give time and resources to these kinds of causes here in Monte-Carlo, where I live.”
*Rafa Nadal becomes the latest sporting superstar to become a modelling figurehead for fashion powerhouse Giorgio Armani. He follows in the footsteps of football’s David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo and will spearhead their spring/summer campaigns for 2011.
*The Moorilla Hobart International has a strong lineup ready for tennis fans when it kicks off on January 9, 2011. There are five former Top 10 players including the Russian former world No. 1 Dinara Safina who will be looking to put a dreadful 2010 behind her. World No. 16 Marion Bartoli will take the top seeding but she will face stiff competition from the likes of Kimiko Date-Krumm, Patty Schnyder, Anna Chakvetadze (two former Champions), Alona Bondarenko and Shahar Peer if she wants to be victorious.
*Dutch doubles legends Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis will return to the ATP Tour briefly in February to compete at the ABN Amro Tournament in Rotterdam to raise money for the Richard Krajicek Foundation. Between 1991 and 1998 they won 39 doubles titles together.
*Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has begun his first mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador by visiting the victims of this year’s devastating floods in his native Pakistan. He flew in by helicopter to oversee rebuilding projects where homes are being built of wood, brick and stone, most notably with indoor plumbing. “It is really overwhelming,” said Qureshi. “You see the pictures on the television, you read about the thousands and thousands that are affected. But until you actually go there and see the suffering and in such harsh weather, it is very tough to fully comprehend.” You can read his full reaction at the ATP website.
*Yen-Hsun Lu’s 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 6-7(5) 9-7 victory over Andy Roddick in the fourth round at Wimbledon has been named the upset of the year by the ATP. “Through three sets I was playing horrendously, I mean really, really badly,” Roddick moaned at the time. “Actually I think the fifth set was probably the best set that I played as far as hitting the ball, making him struggle to actually get through service games sometimes. But when you dig yourself a hole, it’s tough to get out. He deserved to win more than I did. That’s for sure.”
*Following recent reports that much of Pete Sampras’ career trophy haul had been pinched from a storage facility in LA, the ITF have offered him duplicates of some of those missing. He has been offered two replica trophies of his Davis Cup wins with the United States, according to thestar.com. Sampras also recently admitted he had no insurance to cover the theft.
*Former women’s star Martina Hingis has tied the knot with French showjumper Thibault Hutin, six years her junior, in a private ceremony in Paris. “Our marriage may come as a surprise to many, but it was planned a long time in advance,” the 30-year-old, who has been engaged twice before but never married, told Swiss magazine Scheizer Illustrierte.
*American doubles star Bob Bryan has wed lawyer Michelle Alvarez on December 13.
*Serena Williams is to be inducted in to the California Hall of Fame next week. She enters alongside Hollywood director James Cameron, country music singer Merle Haggard, former Secretary of State George Shultz, actress Barbra Streisand and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
*Canadian Valerie Tetreault, 22, has announced her retirement as a pro following four and a half years on the tour. She reached a career-high No. 112 in the world in February but leaves to study communications, citing depletion in motivation as the main reason.
*17-year-old George Morgan, the British junior No. 2, has become the latest player to add his name to the prestigious pool of Champions to lift the Orange Bowl title in Key Biscayne, Florida. He beat the Dutch second seed Jannick Lupescu 6-2, 6-3 in the Under-18s final having already lifted the Under-14s trophy in 2007. Most of tennis’ top talent have competed at the Championships and past winners include Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Bjorn Borg.
By Maud Watson
Taking the Reins
A week after Australia named the appointment of Patrick Rafter as its new Davis Cup captain, the United States followed suit. On Wednesday it was announced that Jim Courier would be replacing Patrick McEnroe at the helm of the U.S. team. Courier will have some big shoes to fill, as McEnroe did much to turn around the fortunes of the U.S. Davis Cup squad, which included a title win in 2007. But Courier, a four-time Grand Slam winner, brings plenty of experience to the table, including serving as a member of the 1995 victorious U.S. Davis Cup squad. And, as an added bonus, reports seem to indicate that there’s a slight chance Mr. Courier’s new appointment could entice a healthy Andy Roddick to devote time to Davis Cup duty once again.
Thomas Muster made his comeback debut at the main ATP World Tour level in his native Austria this week, and unfortunately, it didn’t have a fairytale ending. The 43-year-old succumbed to his native countryman Andreas Haider-Maurer in straight sets in the opening round, though it should be noted that the second set ended in a tiebreak. Perhaps Muster is still polishing off some of the rust, but it is a little difficult to see him putting in another two good years as he stated he hopes to do. Still, judging by the crowd’s reaction to his efforts, there’s little doubt that his comeback is still bringing plenty of smiles to fans’ faces.
In addition to Muster, the ATP World Tour may see the return of yet another veteran in Australian Mark Philippoussis. After securing two wins on the Champions Series seniors’ tour, the veteran Australian has stated that he has found his hunger once again and is contemplating a return to the main tour level. While there are many fans who would love to see Scud see his plan through, it’s certainly questionable on Philippoussis’ part. It’s not as though this is the first time he’s considered such a comeback, and while those who compete on the Champions Tour are champions in their own right, they are retired from the main tour for a reason. The difference in the caliber of play is wide, and Philippoussis is kidding himself if he thinks success on one tour means it will translate to success on the ATP World Tour. Sadly, one has to wonder if Philippoussis’ considerations for a return don’t stem from the fact that he squandered his talent during his prime by choosing to live the good life instead putting in the time necessary to remain more injury-free and to realize his full potential. But then again, if Muster thinks he can do it in his 40s, there’s at least a glimmer of hope for the Aussie to do it in his 30s.
Few would argue that 2010 has been the year of Rafael Nadal. With the No. 1 ranking sewn up, three of the four majors to his name, and achieving the career Grand Slam, it has been his banner year. But Roger Federer, despite the subpar results by his high standards, has still managed to achieve yet another milestone, as he tied Sampras’ record of 64 singles titles with is win in Stockholm last week. At this stage in the game, Connors’ 109 still seems untouchable and McEnroe’s 77 a doable but lofty goal, but look for Federer to add to his total and use this mini-milestone as a springboard to better things in 2011.
In case you missed your daily dose of gossip, it’s worth noting a story that broke late last week followed by one earlier this week. The first concerns the engagement of Maria Sharapova to LA Laker Sasha Vujacic. More than once Sharapova has commented that she couldn’t see herself playing till she was 30, and if her results don’t drastically improve in 2011, don’t be entirely surprised if she hangs up the racquet and decides to permanently soak up the California sun. Then there’s Lleyton Hewitt, who became a father for the third time as he and wife Bec welcomed a baby girl last weekend. The whole charging for texts to find out the baby girl’s name is a little odd (and someone please let me know if that goes to some kind of charity), but congratulations are in order for the Hewitt’s. Don’t look for a third child to have a negative impact on Hewitt’s game either. It’s his body he’ll need to worry about.
* Former world No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez has announced he will be away from the tour for 10 weeks while he battles a bilateral patellar tendinitis. “Unfortunately I have bad news,” he told his official website. “The bilateral patellar tendinitis that I have will force me to be away from competition for 10 weeks. Because of that, I will have to skip Gstaad, Bastad, Hamburg and, most sadly, the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Czech Republic at Coquimbo.” He has targeted the hard-court ATP Masters tournament in Toronto in August as his return.
*Andy Murray has conformed he will not be participating in Great Britain’s crucial Davis Cup relegation playoff against Turkey next month. New captain Leon Smith must face the Turks without his two highest ranked players as Alex Bogdanovic is also missing. But Murray felt the Brits were in good shape even without their two top stars. “I’ve given a lot of reasons for not playing and I do think that it’s time for us to start winning ties, having young players getting used to winning,” Murray told BBC Sport. “Right now it’s important that the guys get used to winning and beating teams like Turkey and I think they will do.”
* Rafa Nadal has admitted that recapturing his Roland Garros crown from Roger Federer was always top priority in his mind ahead of reclaiming the No. 1 slot in the South Africa Airways ATP World Rankings. In an interview with Fox Sports he said: “The (French Open trophy) is the most important thing for me. After the No. 1 is there, yes. But I was No. 1, and believe me, I am very happy. When I was crying after the match, the last thing I was thinking was the No. 1. The first thing is the title and all the hours I worked, a lot, to be here another time.” The interview also gives the views of top stars including Robin Soderling on Rafa’s chances of dominating at Wimbledon again two years on from that epic 2008 final against Roger Federer. Check it out at the Fox Sports website.
* Roger Federer’s defeat to Lleyton Hewitt in the final at Halle last Sunday was only his second defeat on grass since 2003, the first being the blockbusting 2008 Wimbledon final against Rafael Nadal. The victory for Hewitt moved him up to No. 26 in the world in this week’s ATP rankings (14/06) which will help emphatically with his seeding for Wimbledon. Benjamin Becker re-enters the Top 50 at 48 while his Queens final defeat to Sam Quarrey has seen Mardy Fish jump 20 places to No. 70 in the world.
*Thai star Paradorn Srichapan has officially announced his retirement from professional tennis. He has always said he hoped to return from the wrist injury that has kept him sidelined since early 2007 but a recent motorcycle accident in which he broke both his hands and injured his knee has put paid to that. He is now set to coach the Thai Davis Cup team.
*In the Sony Ericsson WTA Rankings (14/06) Na Li’s victory over Maria Sharapova in Birmingham moves her in to the world’s Top 10 for the first time since February. Aravane Rezai is in to the Top 20 at 19 while Sybille Bammer and Arantxa Parra Santonja enter the Top 50. It is the first time since the week beginning August 25, 2003 that only one Russian occupies a Top 10 slot.
* The knee injury that forced Russian Elena Dementieva to pull out of her French Open semi with Francesca Schiavone has now ruled her out of Wimbledon. The 28-year-old reached the semis in 2008 and 2009 and had hoped to go one step further this year. In better news, Richard Gasquet has stepped up his return from the back injury that kept him out of Queens in a bid to make the Slam, reports L’Equipe. Kei Nishikori also hopes to make the event according to his management.
* Kim Clijsters reflected favourably on her return from injury which saw her crush compatriot Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-1 at Eastbourne. “It was not bad for a first match in a while,” said Clijsters. “I stayed focused very well… Yanina wasn’t playing her best tennis, she made a lot of mistakes, but I was trying to go to the lines a lot and be really aggressive.”
* Following on from yet another Roland Garros title Rafa Nadal chose somewhere different to celebrate – Disneyland Paris. He posed with new-generation favourites such as the Incredibles and spent the day on his favourite rides and attractions. “It’s a place I love,” he said. “I often come with my family and I also intend to return very soon.”
* Lindsay Davenport has increased her return to the WTA Tour by announcing she will also be playing the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford this year.
* Billie Jean King is backing Martina Hingis to also return to pro tennis on the doubles circuit following her competing in the 2010 World Team Tennis season. Hingis has already announced that her and Anna Kournikova will compete in the legends doubles competition at Wimbledon this month and King believes she is “testing the waters” in regards to a full return according to the associated press. In a conference call with Tennis.com, however, Hingis has claimed she is still undecided on the issue but has considered teaming up for doubles with Lindsay Davenport after the former American star announced more dates for her comeback this year.
* Following on from his defeat to Feliciano Lopez at Queens Rafa Nadal gave an insight in to how he was going to be spending his time off before Wimbledon. “Have some dinner with the friends and maybe play some golf. That’s it,” he said. “Oh, and World Cup—always,” he added. He also pinpointed where he may improve before tackling the third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon later this month. “Next week, in Wimbledon, I gonna have more time to practice and to adjust a little bit more the serve, a little bit more the backhand and the movements on the grass. So that can be good thing.”
* Dominica Cibulkova has begun to work full-time with Dinara Safina’s recently axed coach Zeljko Krajan, according to TennisReporters.net.
* Three-time Rogers Cup Champion Chris Evert is heading in to the tournament’s Hall of Fame. She will be inducted in a ceremony on August 16th during the evening session of that day’s play.
* GB’s Ken Skupski has spoken of his delight at moving in to the world’s Top 50 doubles players, at No. 49. “We’ve [Skupski and partner Colin Fleming] just finished with the Aegon Championships and we’re heading to Eastbourne to play in the Aegon International and that’s the tournament prior to Wimbledon,” he told BBC Sport. “We feel we have got a good chance next week. I’m not sure whether we’ll be seeded but we will be one of the top ranked teams there.”
Rockstar John Mayer hit the tennis courts in Sydney, Australia this week, sporting some great Nike duds! His shorts are bit high – harkening back to the days of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. Mayer actually went to the same high school – Fairfield High School in Connecticut – as U.S. Davis Cup star James Blake and is friends with the standout American.
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jimmy Connors, the five-time U.S. Open champion, has contributed the Foreword to the upcoming book “ACING DEPRESSION: A TENNIS CHAMPION’S TOUGHEST MATCH” written by his friend and former pro tennis colleague Cliff Richey.
Richey, who 40 years ago was the No. 1-ranked American tennis player and the hero of the 1970 championship-winning U.S. Davis Cup team, was the winner of the first-ever professional Grand Prix points title. In his book, due out in April, he discusses the most difficult opponent of his life, depression. Richey calls depression among adult males as “the silent tragedy in our culture today” and details his life-long battle with the disease that afflicts approximately 121 million people around the world. Co-written with his oldest daughter Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, ACING DEPRESSION ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewC
hapterMedia.com), profiles the life and tennis career of Richey, with his depression being a constant theme.
Writes Connors in the Foreword, “What made Cliff Richey what he was on the tennis court has certainly carried over into this book. His story has taken a subject, depression—which has affected him personally—and put it out there for everyone to see. Depression has been a subject that no one really talks about. Few people even admit to having such a condition. But Cliff is not afraid to be bold and reveal what he has gone through and what it takes to get a handle on this disease…Just as Cliff played tennis, he is studying how depression works; what its weaknesses are; and what strategies you can use against it. His hope is that people who read his story can learn—learn about the disease and learn that people who suffer can have a better quality of life. Things can get better. There is hope.”
Richey was known as the original “Bad Boy” of tennis, before there was John McEnroe and Ilie Nastase. His 26-year career was highlighted by a 1970 season where he led the United States to the Davis Cup title, finished as the first-ever Grand Prix world points champion and won one of the most exciting matches in American tennis history that clinched the year-end No. 1 American ranking. He won both of his singles matches in the 5-0 U.S. victory over West Germany in the 1970 Davis Cup final, while he beat out rivals Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith to win the first-ever Grand Prix world points title the precursor to the modern day ATP rankings. He won his second U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in 1970, while also won titles in his career at the Canadian Open, the South African Open, the U.S. Indoors and the Western Open (modern day Cincinnati Masters 1000 event).
At the 1970 Pacific Coast Championships at the Berkeley Tennis Club in Berkeley, Calif., he earned the No. 1 U.S. ranking when he beat Smith in a fifth-set tie-breaker, where both players had simultaneous match point in a sudden-death nine-point tie-breaker at 4-4. He also reached the semifinals of both the 1970 French and U.S. Opens, losing a famous match to Zeljko Franulovic of Yugoslavia in the French semifinals, despite holding match points and leading by two-sets-to-one and 5-1 in the fourth set.
ACING DEPRESSION is due out in April and is published by New Chapter Press – also the publisher of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Education of a Tennis Player by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda, Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog by Susan Anson, The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle by Stewart Wolpin, People’s Choice Cancun – Travel Survey Guidebook by Eric Rabinowitz and Weekend Warriors: The Men of Professional Lacrosse by Jack McDermott, among others. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.NewChapterMedia.com.
Fifteen years ago on Oct. 12, 1994, one of the most unusual on-court incidents in the history of tennis happened in Tokyo when American Jeff Tarango “dropped his drawers” on court during his second-round match against Michael Chang. That event, plus others, are outlined below in this excerpt from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).
1994 – American Jeff Tarango performs one of the most unusual on-court activities in professional tennis, dropping his shorts after having his serve broken in the first game of the third set in his loss to Michael Chang in the second round of the Seiko Championships in Tokyo. Following his serve being broken, Tarango, in the words of Britain’s Daily Record, “pulled his shorts down, raised his arms and waddled to his seat courtside with his shorts around his ankles and his underpants in full view.” Says Tarango, “I felt that I let the match slip away a little bit, and I wanted to make light of it. I had exposed my weakness to Michael.” Tarango, who would famously walk off the court in a third round match at Wimbledon in 1995, retires from his match with Chang with a left forearm injury, trailing 4-1 in the third set. Tarango is given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct and is fined $3,000. Says Chang, who goes on to lose to Goran Ivanisevic in the final of the event, “I know the ATP has been trying to create a little bit more interest in the game but I don’t know if that is what they had in mind.”
2001 – One hundred and one years after three Harvard students make up the first U.S. Davis Cup team, former Harvard student James Blake makes his Davis Cup debut against India in the Davis Cup Qualifying Round at the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Blake, playing in his first Davis Cup match, defeats India’s Leander Paes, playing in his 79th Davis Cup match, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Blake also becomes the first Harvard student to play Davis Cup for the U.S. since Titanic survivor Richard Norris Williams in 1926 and becomes only the third African-American man to play Davis Cup for the U.S. – joining Mal Washington and Arthur Ashe. Earlier in the day, Andy Roddick defeats India’s Harsh Mankad 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
1998 – Lindsay Davenport ascends to the No. 1 ranking in women’s professional tennis for the first time in her career, taking the No. 1 WTA ranking from Martina Hingis, whom she beat in the U.S Open final the previous month. Davenport holds the No. 1 ranking for 98 weeks in her career.
2003 – Roger Federer wins his 10th career ATP singles title and successfully defends a title for the first time in his career when he defeats Carlos Moya of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to win the CA Trophy in Vienna, Austria. Says Federer of successfully defending a title for the first time, “I’m over the moon about that.”
1980 – Ivan Lendl needs nearly five hours to defeat Guillermo Vilas 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the final of the Spanish Open championships in Barcelona.
CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 25, 2009 – Jim Courier defeated Mikael Pernfors 6-4, 6-2 just ahead of arriving rain showers Friday evening to advance into the semifinals of the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades at The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Courier will face Todd Martin in Saturday’s semifinals in a re-match of the 2006 and 2008 singles finals at the Charlotte event on the Outback Champions Series global tennis circuit.
Friday night’s other quarterfinal match between Pat Cash and Jimmy Arias was moved indoors due to the rain with Cash advancing into a semifinal meeting with Pete Sampras with a 6-4, 6-3.
Sampras and Cash will play the afternoon semifinal on Saturday at noon,
while Courier and Martin will compete in the evening semifinal to start at 5 pm.
Courier was happy to finish his match outdoors Friday night before the rain suspended play.
“I wanted to get through that match,” said Courier. “No one likes rain
delays when you’re already warmed up and playing. I was able to become more aggressive by necessity. I didn’t want to move much on the court so it forced me to go on the offense and play aggressively. If the rain got any harder at all it would have been unplayable and lines would have been too wet.”
The Courier-Martin semifinal will mark the fourth straight year the two
former U.S. Davis Cup teammates have squared off at The Palisades. In 2006, in the first-year of the event in Charlotte, Courier defeated Martin 5-7, 7-6 (6), 10-4 (Champions Tie-Breaker) in the singles final, while in 2008 Courier again got the better of Martin in the championship match, winning 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie-Breaker). In 2007, Martin defeated Courier 6-4, 6-7 (4), 10-5 in round-robin play prior to the tournament switching to a single knock-out format.
Martin will be looking to reach the Charlotte final for a fourth straight year. In addition to his losses to Courier in the 2006 and 2008 finals, he lost to Sampras in the Palisades final in 2007.
The remaining schedule of play for the tournament is as follows.
Saturday, Sept. 26
Starting at Noon
Pete Sampras vs. Pat Cash
Followed by Doubles
Starting at 5 pm
Todd Martin vs. Jim Courier
Followed by Doubles
Sunday, Sept. 27
Starting at 2 pm
Third Place Match
Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series,
defeating John McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier won his first title of the 2009 season in April at the Cayman Islands, defeating Arias in the final. Cash successfully defended his title on the grass courts at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. in August, defeating Courier in the final. Following Charlotte, the next event on the Outback Champions Series will be held in Surprise, Ariz., where Andre Agassi will make his debut Oct. 8-11.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features seven events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including ”Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events, corporate outings and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.
Roger Federer is returning to Davis Cup duty this weekend to help lead Switzerland to victory against Italy in the Davis Cup Play-off in Genova, Italy. It was against Italy back in 1999 when Federer – then age 17 – made his Davis Cup debut. His performance against the Italians proved to be an early indication that Federer was indeed going to become one of the sports great talents. Federer’s experience against the Italians proved to be a catapult for the young star who would crack the top 100 in the world rankings later in the year. Rene Stauffer, author of the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com), describes Federer’s Italian Davis Cup experience and what followed shortly thereafter in 1999 in this book excerpt.
Before the outdoor season—and his series of first-round defeats—Federer achieved another career highlight in April—his Davis Cup debut. Switzerland was slated to play against Italy in a first-round match in Neuenburg, Switzerland. However, the Swiss team experienced some tumultuous months leading into the tie as Marc Rosset, the No. 1 Swiss player, quarreled and separated from his coach of 11 years, Stephane Oberer, and threatened to quit the Davis Cup if Oberer remained the captain of the Swiss team. Luckily, Oberer resigned at the beginning of February and was replaced shortly thereafter by Claudio Mezzadri, a former top-30 ranked Swiss player.
Federer’s Davis Cup debut could not have been better. He decisively beat Italian No. 1 Davide Sanguinetti, ranked No. 48 in the world, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in his first match in the 3-2 win for the Swiss. “It was unfortunate that Federer was playing for the opponent,” Italy’s team captain, Paolo Bertolucci, said afterwards, “but it was fun to watch him. There are not many people in the world who can play tennis so well.”
In July, the Swiss played Belgium in Brussels in the quarterfinals and Federer, not quite 18-years-old, found himself acting as the leader of the Swiss team in only his second match as a member of the team. The higher-ranked Rosset was with the team in Brussels, but was feeling ill during the week and, after much deliberation, declined to play singles in the tie. Federer was unable to carry the Swiss team on his back as he lost two marathon matches to Christophe van Garsse and Xavier Malisse in the Swiss loss.
At the time, Federer was an inconsistent player with the fascinating repertoire of strokes. He still had trouble concentrating and often couldn’t find his way to winning matches, despite his technical superiority. This was especially the case in matches that exceeded three sets, where stamina, patience and tactical maturity—not brilliance—were required. He became irritated when the wind and weather altered playing conditions and when fans moved in the grandstands.
However, he consistently proved that he had everything it took to compete with the pros—indoors or outdoors—regardless of court surfaces. This proved to be the case on the clay courts at Roland Garros, where the 17-year-old made his main draw Grand Slam tournament debut as the youngest competitor in the men’s field. In his first-round match, Federer drew Patrick Rafter, the Australian two-time US Open champion. He jumped out to win the first set against the world’s No. 3-ranked player who then was at the peak of his career. However, the sun came out and the conditions became warmer and faster. The clay courts dried out and balls moved much faster through the court. The Australian’s attacking serve-and-volley style seemed to run on automatic and he won in four sets.
“The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,” the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote during the tournament. Rafter shared the same opinion. “The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.” Asked at a press conference what he was still lacking to beat such players, Federer said, “I just have to mature.”
Four weeks later, Federer made his main draw debut at Wimbledon and faced the experienced Czech, Jiri Novak. It was only Federer’s second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, but he once again showed that he could dominate a match over long stretches. It appeared he was on his way to a victory—leading Novak two sets to one—when his concentration began to fade and he became mired down in the first five-set match of his career. Federer’s inexperience showed as he was unable to capitalize on eight break points in the deciding set—and lost.
After the string of seven first-round defeats in Key Biscayne, Monte Carlo, Paris, Queens, Wimbledon, Gstaad and Washington, D.C.—as well as the Davis Cup disappointment in Brussels—Federer lost in the qualifying rounds at ATP events in Long Island and the US Open in New York. Federer’s crisis, however, suddenly vanished when the indoor season began in the fall of 1999.
With a first-round win over former Wimbledon and US Open finalist Cedric Pioline of France in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Federer reached the top 100 in the world rankings, and at the age of 18, he was the youngest player within the group. He beat another seven opponents on the ATP Tour by the end of the year and reached his first career ATP semifinal in Vienna. He ended the year by winning the challenger tournament in Brest, France in his last tournament appearance in a challenger or satellite-level event. From this point forward, Federer only competed on the ATP Tour and in the Grand Slam events. It took him only about a year to transition from an inexperienced newcomer into an established professional.
AMAGANSETT, N.Y. July 5, 2009 – Alex Bogomolov of Long Branch, N.J. defeated Noam Okun of Israel 20-18, 17-20, 10-8 to win the $10,000 first prize at the first annual Gotham Tennis Academy “Hamptons 20-Ball Open” Sunday at the Napeague Tennis Club. The unique single day event featured first-to-20-point match formats beginning with a ground-stroke feed.
“It feels great to win this tournament,” said Bogomolov, ranked No. 179 in the ATP singles rankings. “I love this format and I challenge anybody to play me in a groundstroke game.”
Bogomolov has never been beaten in this unique competitive format. Last summer in Los Angeles, he won the only other known professional “20-ball” tournament, defeating John Isner in the semifinals and Philip King in the final. Bogomolov used the Hamptons 20-Ball as a preparation for his return to ATP tournament tennis. The bronze medalist for the United States at the 2003 Pan American Games team will play in Newport, R.I. this week in his first ATP-level tournament since the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open and since he underwent surgery on his left wrist late last year. Since his surgery, Bogomolov, ranked as high as No. 97 in 2003, has served as the touring professional for Gotham Tennis and worked with its officials to create the special formatted tournament for this summer at Napeague.
Okun, a member of Israel’s Davis Cup team from 1999 to 2008, traveled to the Hamptons from Winnetka, Ill., where he competed in the Nielsen USTA Challenger, losing in the round of 16.
“We both played really well and it was a great atmosphere and a great event here in the Hamptons,” said Okun, ranked No. 309, but as high as No. 95 in 2002. “Alex was just too tough and too solid for me. This is the first time I have played a tournament in this format, and I enjoyed it. The Napeague Tennis Club is very nice. The courts here are great. They are so even, which is very unusual for a clubs with clay courts, where they have courts that have a lot of bad bounces, but not here.”
The tournament was played simultaneously as the epic men’s singles final at Wimbledon, where Roger Federer won his record-breaking 15th major singles title, defeating Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. When not playing their matches, players were glued to the television watching the drama unfold at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
“Andy was outplaying Roger for most of the match,” said Bogomolov, who beat Roddick to win the 1998 USTA National Boy’s 16 Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. “The match is a different story if Andy wins one of those points at 6-2 in the second set tie-breaker and goes up two sets to love. I think losing that set from being up 6-2 made Andy uncertain about himself for the much of the rest of the match, even though he won the fourth set.”
“It was a great match,” said Okun, who lost to Roddick 6-3, 6-3 in a round of 16 match in Indianapolis in 2005. “I feel really bad for Andy. He played unbelievable, but not well enough to beat Roger Federer. There are no words to describe Roger Federer. He is the best player ever. He is so great for tennis.”
The one-day “20-Ball” event featured many fast-paced and entertaining matches featuring men and women who have represented their countries in Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Pan American Games competitions.
Three women registered wins over men in the co-ed event. Former Slovenian Fed Cupper Petra Rampe, currently ranked No. 375 in the WTA rankings, defeated Napeague member Rick Rudeman 20-12 in the first round before losing to Felipe Meier of Sweden 20-16 in the second round. Former Ukrainian Fed Cupper Elena Jirnova of Kiev defeated Napeague member and film director Mark Levin 20-5 in the first round before falling to East Hampton junior standout Max Hirsh in the second round. Suzanne Sales of Boston defeated Scott Marden in the first round 20-1 before losing to Ytai Abougzir 20-6 in the second round.
Sponsors of the Hamptons 20-Ball include Grand Central Racquet, Tiffany’s of East Hampton, Gubbins Sports of East Hampton, Gone Local, Hamptons.com, Montauk Chamber of Commerce, WHEN Radio and Pop Chips.
The Napeague Tennis Club is located at 2145 Montauk Highway in Amagansett, N .Y. The club features four immaculately-maintained clay courts and one artificial grass court. The Napeague Tennis Club offers excellent tennis programming at reasonable prices including individual and family memberships, corporate memberships, adult and children’s tennis clinics, tennis parties, tennis camps and private tennis lessons. It is the preferred destination for tennis in the Hamptons because of its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, beautiful clay courts, close proximity to the beach, and reasonable prices. “Napeague is a very special place” says Tennis Director Brian Helm. “It’s an oasis of calm with high-level, state-of-the-art tennis programming for players of all levels.”
The mission of Gotham Tennis Academy is to provide friendly, personalized, high-performance tennis instruction in convenient facilities for Manhattan and Hamptons clients. In addition to operating the Napeague Tennis Club in the Hamptons, Gotham Tennis Academy has established a reputation for excellent tennis programming at three Manhattan locations — the Harlem Armory Tennis Center, the Midtown Tennis Club and the Riverside Clay Tennis Association. Gotham Tennis Academy offers tennis programs year-round to players of all ages and skill levels. Gotham Tennis Academy’s goal is to help each player improve all aspects of his or her tennis game. More information on Gotham Tennis Academy can be found at www.GothamTennis.com .