Sania Mirza

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WTA Stuttgart Gallery: Finals, Trophy Ceremonies, Giggles and a Porsche

Sharapova Lisicki Barthel_600

STUTTGART (April 28, 2013) — World No. 2 Maria Sharapova is a repeat winner at this year’s Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, defeating Li Na in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Matthias Müller, CEO of Porsche AG, handed over the keys to a new blue Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet to the winner, adding it to her white winner’s Porsche from last year.

“It was a great week for me,” said Sharapova. “I had to fight hard in every match but it was a good start to the clay court season.” One year ago after winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix she went on to win the French Open in Paris but, after her triumph in Stuttgart today, she did not want to look that far ahead into this season.

“I’m pretty tired,” she said. “I was out on court for almost ten hours in my four matches, that’s tough. The final against Li Na lasted only two sets but was nevertheless the “toughest match of the tournament” for her.

In the doubles final, Sabine Lisicki and Mona Barthel defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza 6-4, 7-5 to become the tournament’s first all-German team to win the doubles title in Stuttgart.

Finals gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Moana Bauer below.

Photos: Australian Open Doubles with Hlavackova, Schiavone, Mirza and more

Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka

Our esteemed tennis photographer is currently at Melbourne Park and will be providing daily tennis galleries from the 2013 Australian Open. Make sure to check back each day for a new gallery and don’t miss the fun from down under!

January 15, 2013 — Our Tennis Grandstand photographer has today’s featured gallery which includes a unique doubles set, featuring Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Hradecka, Ashleigh Barty, Casey Dellacqua, Sania Mirza, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Francesca Schiavone, Christina McHale and many more! Enjoy!

Will Huber and Raymond Notch a Season for the Ages?

Liezel Huber (left) and Lisa Raymond (right) - Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

It’s as if winning streaks are a prerequisite if you’re going to be at the top of the rankings. Novak Djokovic won dozens of matches in a row last year, and in 2012, Victoria Azarenka is unbeaten.

In  women’s doubles, the world’s number-one pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond is racking up the victories. The Americans are in the semifinals at this week’s tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., bringing their winning streak in ’12 to 15.

And it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
Granted, the veterans’ start to the season didn’t give any indication of where they would be at now. They lost in the finals of their first tournament in Sydney to Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke. Then, Huber and Raymond went on to the year’s first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, and fell in the quarterfinals to Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina in a controversial match.
Since that loss, though, Huber and Raymond have been on a tear: They won the Paris Indoors and the tournaments in Doha and Dubai. Between those three events, they were only pushed to a match tiebreak four times out of 12 matches.
But probably the most impressive result they had over those tournament wins was in the finals in Dubai: There, they won a rematch of sorts against Mirza and Vesnina, 6-2, 6-1.
If Mirza and Vesnina are among their chief rivals and they’re dismissing them so easily, what does that say about the year Huber and Raymond are capable of having in 2012?
Plenty.
After Indian Wells, it’s off to Miami for another tournament on hard courts, the pair’s best surface. Then, the clay-court season gets into full swing. There are teams that will definitely challenge the two with doubles on the dirt relying more on ball-striking than playing the classic serve-and-volley style displayed by Huber and Raymond.
However, neither one of them is strangers to having success on clay: Raymond’s a former French Open champion and Huber has made the finals of the season’s second Slam. Both of them have won numerous titles on the surface with different partners over the years.
Weather that storm then it’s off to the brief grass-court season, which includes what some consider the game’s biggest prize, Wimbledon. Not many players in the field will have the grass-court pedigree of the American pair as both of them have won at the All-England Club in the past, too.
This being an Olympic year, they would have to be considered among the favorites for a Gold medal—provided they’re selected to represent the U.S., which isn’t a given, despite what they’ve accomplished. But if they aren’t chosen for the team, then that gives them the chance to get an early start on the summer hard-court swing. It’s obvious the defending U.S. Open champions are at their best when on the concrete and have proven they can get through the unique challenges the last Major of the year provides.
The fall indoor season sees Huber and Raymond back playing in conditions similar to where their 2012 winning streak first started. And with the year-end championship only requiring two matches won to be named the victor, a title at the season finale would be a proper way to cap off 2012.
While the season is still early, the possibility is there for Huber and Raymond to find their names in the record books among some of the game’s all-time greats. Djokovic and Azarenka have made it look easy at times on the singles front, why can’t two players get it done?

ASB Classic Preview: Lisicki, Goerges, Kuznetsova In Action

ASB Classic, Meet the seeds portrait session, 31 December 2011

by Stephanie Neppl, Special for Tennis Grandstand

The 2012 ASB Classic is underway and it’s lining up to be a memorable tournament with stellar fields in both singles and doubles.

Despite the withdrawal of drawcard Venus Williams, the singles draw is full of big names and big talent. We’ve got our previous two champions in 2011 winner Greta Arn and 2010 champ Yanina Wickmayer as well as former runners up Flavia Pennetta (2010) and Elena Vesnina (2009) all in the main draw.

Sabine Lisicki, who was forced to play qualifing in Auckland in 2011 thanks to an injury that saw her ranking plummet, is the top seed. Lisicki made noise through 2011 with two tournament wins and a semifinal run as a Wimbledon wildcard. The smiley blonde has raised the interest of many tennis fans who relish the chance to see her big serve in action.

The field also includes Chinese #2 Peng Shuai, who lost a heartbreaker to Wickmayer in the semifinals here last year; two-time slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova and German Julia Goerges. Goerges made the semis in 2011 and had some big results, including two wins over WTA #1 Caroline Wozniacki. It will be interesting to see how she fares this year with as the 5th seed and a lot more expectation than a year ago.

 

Pennetta, the #4 seed, made the final in 2010 but didn’t return in 2011. She had some inconsistent results in singles last year but had some big wins in the second half of the year – Maria Sharapova at the US Open and Caroline Wozniacki in Beijing.

New faces to Auckland this year include Italian Roberta Vinci (seeded #6), young American Christina McHale and two-time grand slam semifinalist Zheng Jie.

The doubles draw includes reigning Wimbledon champs Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke and  reigning French Open champs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka. Pennetta, who won the 2011 Aussie Open doubles title with Gisela Dulko, will partner Goerges in the doubles draw. Also competing are Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza, who made the French Open final in 2011, and Lisicki and Peng are partnering up.

Follow the 2012 ASB Classic on www.asbclassic.co.nz, http://www.facebook.com/ASBClassic  and  http://twitter.com/#!/ASBClassicAuckl

(All photos © www.photosport.co.nz)

Stephanie Neppl is the Social Media Manager for Tennis Auckland covering the ASB Classic and Heineken Open. She is the author of the website I Have a Tennis Addiction and you can follow her on twitter @StephInNZ for further updates.

Adidas Tennis Fashions for 2012 with Wozniacki, Verdasco, Ivanovic and Others

Verdasco 3

The tennis season is ending this week with the Argentine men taking on Spain in the Davis Cup Finals, but we’re already looking toward 2012. More specifically, what tennis fashion the adidas athletes will wear come the Australian Open and beyond. Let’s have a look at the ensembles the following players will be wearing come January: Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Andrea Petkovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Laura Robson, Maria Kirilenko, Daniela Hantuchova, Ernests Gulbis, Viktor Troicki, Sania Mirza, Sorana Cirstea, Jurgen Melzer, and Fabio Fognini.

Stella McCartney has been known to dress World #1 Caroline Wozniacki in some rather revealing (and appealing!) dresses and the one for the start of 2012 is no exception. Made of what seems to be a combination of lace and mesh, it’s quite a statement — particularly the back of the dress. Does anyone else think the back looks transparent or see through?

Ana Ivanovic, along with Daniela Hantuchova, will be sporting a peach and coral dress from the adiZero collection. While this style is not their best attempt to glam up the Serbian star, the cute compression shorts and bra may make up for it. The white version of the dress, however, doesn’t look as flattering, while the green version may look less harsh against the red clay of of Roland Garros.

 

Interestingly enough, the supposed adiZero tank meant to be worn by Sania Mirza and Sorana Cirstea seem eerily close in length to Ana’s minidress. Perhaps the two have been accidentally reversed? Jokes.

The other adidas ladies, namely Andrea Petkovic, Maria Kirilenko, and Laura Robson, will all be sporting the adiPower Barricade line in coral and green showcased below.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, Fernando Verdasco will be sporting a bright orange adiZero set at the Australian Open, and a green set supposedly for the clay court season. Wonder what was going through Verdasco’s mind in that second photo …

One look at this photo of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s adiZero set and it deceptively seems the adidas team has ventured away from their recent asymmetrical shapes. But do not fret. The mark up of the front view shows that the designers have kept their word in keeping our eyes busily scanning every inch of the shirt. I still can’t figure out whether it looks good or not.

And more for Tsonga:

With a warped adjustment of the focus of the lens, the designers also seemed to have created another look from this mark up for Jurgen Melzer and Fabio Fognini, just in white, bright orange or electrifying yellow.

Adidas’ top man Andy Murray recently previewed his new adiPower Barricade styles in London at a “Road Tennis” event, but a detailed look is shown here also in white.

 Taking similar cues as in the past, Ernests Gulbis will stick to his trusty collared shirts from the same adiPower line in white or blue. Viktor Troicki will also be wearing this set.

Overall, the adidas team has done a grand job once again dressing the world’s elite tennis stars. What do you think?

Tennis under the palms in Key Biscayne

Roger Federer

By Thomas Swick
swickt@bellsouth.net

For a day at the Sony Ericsson without much action, Wednesday had a fair amount of action.

Mid-morning the scent of cinnamon-roasted nuts floated through the air and Kim Clijsters stood in the outdoor players’ lounge.

“Kim! Kim!” cried a rubbernecker pressed against the fence. He had shown astonishing restraint in waiting until she had finished her conversation.

Clijsters turned and gave him a stern thumbs up, saying, in effect: I appreciate your support. Please respect my privacy.

Nancy Saylor stood at the fence much more respectfully (though maybe she was just tired). She had gotten the train in Deerfield Beach at 8:20, then the Metrorail, finally a bus to Key Biscayne – arriving at Crandon Park at half past ten.

Roger Federer was practicing on Court 9 before an excited crowd of a couple hundred people. After about 15 minutes he took a seat in a chair. We had moved from watching a man at work to watching a man take a break from work. “Federer’s sitting down,” I told a couple who wandered over curious about the object of our attention.

A small storm erupted to our left as a large legion followed in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, its numbers increased by a few Federer deserters.

Finding a shady spot, I was joined by a middle-aged woman in a sunhat.

“It’s nice to be in the shade,” I said.

She looked at me with a mildly alarmed expression, shaking her head and wagging her index finger.

Ah, no habla Espanol,” I said. “Dondé vive?”

“Guatemala,” she said.

About quarter past twelve two Miami Dade County policemen arrived.

“Are you a tennis fan?” I asked one of the officers. He had a Spanish name.

“Once a year I am,” he said with a smile. I was thinking of telling him he had a plum assignment and then I thought of my own.

A little after 12:30 they made their move to the court and, when Federer had finished a quick autograph session (“He’s always patient,” someone said), they escorted him back to the locker room. In their wake an Asian family walked in delight, admiring their Roger Federer poster now adorned with a surprisingly legible Roger Federer signature.

By the time I got to Court 10, Nadal too was sitting down, shirtless, showing off his policeman’s tan.

Up in the media center Bud Collins – in green shirt and green-and-yellow trousers – told me there was a press conference with Roger Federer. I had never been to a post-practice press conference before, so I headed downstairs.

About 30 journalists were gathered, and six television cameras. A tray of cupcakes sat on a side table, but no one touched them – or offered one to Federer.

The first question was: What do you love about tennis?

“I have nobody to blame if I win or lose,” Federer said, making a rare unforced error in English. Though he recovered quickly and said: “It’s one on one.” Later, when asked if he would encourage his daughters to play tennis, he showed great touch with verbs: “I don’t know if I would encourage them, but I would support them.” He spoke thoughtfully about the recent disaster in Japan (a Japanese journalist had asked him if he had any words for the Japanese people).

Demonstrating that he can still throw his verbs around, Bud Collins asked him if he was “puzzled, annoyed, or amused” when people say that the Federer era is over.

“Depends who’s saying it,” Federer replied, before adding that he never thought that he’d “dominate for 15 years.”

And when someone asked about Martina Navratilova’s remark that he will never get back to his former level, he spoke warmly of the former champion after suggesting, to laughter throughout the room, that perhaps she missed his title in London because she was off “climbing Kilimanjaro.”

Back out on the grounds, I noticed that stone crabs had finally been added to the foods on sale. And I found a Federer fan whom I had met two years ago. She was standing with a younger woman in a white RF cap. They had met, they told me, through the fan message board on rogerfederer.com. Christina was originally from Greece; Yulia from Russia. Federer: Forging International Friendship.

“Roger Federer is the best,” Yulia said, when I mentioned that she has lots of compatriots on the courts. “I don’t care if he is Russian or not. He has such a great personality, and his tennis is so beautiful.”

Christina said that she’s been coming to the Sony Ericsson every year since 2006 (the last year Federer won it). I asked how long she was staying.

“As long as Roger is here,” she said. “If he loses I go on the web and book a flight out of here.”

Sam Querrey and Andy Murray were practicing on Court 9. “Still playing tennis?” an elderly gentleman asked another, who was sitting in a chair. “Your body holding up?”

“It’s been a tough winter,” the other man said. “I broke my wrist in six places.”

“Playing tennis?”

“Rollerblading.”

Not far away, Alexander Dolgopolov and Nicolas Almagro hit.

“You know who that is?” a teenager asked his friend.

“Yea,” the friend scowled. “He has a really weird serve.”

The Sania Mirza-Arantxa Parra Santonja match was moved from Court 3 to Court 10. I overheard two men talking about a female player they had seen practicing in what looked like her underwear.

Not far away, Bob Richmond stood. He was from Chicago, and enjoying the Sony Ericsson much more than the U.S. Open.

“This is so much more intimate,” he said. “There’s a lot more interaction with the players. And all the players who are at the Open are here. We’ve seen all the players,” he said, adding with amazement, “and you’re ten feet away from them. I feel like a stalker.” He paused. “In a good way.”

Then he turned his gaze to Mirza.

 

Nadals Laughs off “Grand Slam” Talk, Hopman Cup Taking Shape and Commonwealth Success for Australia

Rafael Nadal

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal has laughed off talk of him winning all four majors in 2011 as “impossible.” Nadal has the last three majors in his pocket and will complete an ‘out of calendar’ Slam if he lifts the Australian Open in January. Only Don Budge and Rod Laver (twice) have lifted all four Slams in the same year and Nadal said of his hopes: “I will try to keep playing well and try to win four titles next year. But the Grand Slam, for me, is impossible.”

*Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will once again warm up for next year’s Aussie Open by partnering each other in the Hopman Cup. The pair lost 2-1 to Spain in this year’s final although the reigning Champions aren’t expected to defend their title in 2011. However, Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic are expected to represent Serbia, Serena Williams and John Isner (USA) and Justine Henin (Belgium), Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) and Francesca Schiavone (Italy) will also compete. Tournament Director Paul McNamee said of Murray’s pending return: “He is a rare talent so we are delighted he is coming back.”

*It was a busy time for Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova at the Commonwealth games. She partnered Sally Peer to women’s doubles Gold where they beat fellow Aussies Jessica Moore and Olivia Rogowska in the final. She also took Silver in the mixed doubles (with Paul Hanley) after they lost to Scotland’s doubles specialist Colin Fleming and Jocelyn Rae. The temperamental former Russian left court in tears after failing to land a triple gold. This came after Rodionova beat home favourite Sania Mirza 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(3) in a marathon women’s singles final. Australia and India largely dominated the medals tables which, in full, read:

Event: Medal: Country
Men’s Singles Gold Somdev Devvarman (India)
Silver Greg Jones (Australia)
Bronze Matt Ebden (Australia)
Men’s Doubles Gold Paul Hanley

Peter Lukzak (Australia)

Silver Ross Hutchins

Ken Skupski (England)

Bronze Mahesh Bhupathi

Leander Paes (India)

Women’s Singles Gold Anastasia Rodionova (Australia)
Silver Sania Mirza (India)
Bronze Sally Peers (Australia)
Women’s Doubles Gold Anastasia Rodionova

Sally Peers (Australia)

Silver Jessica Moore

Olivia Rogowska (Australia)

Bronze Rushmi Chakravarthi

Sania Mirza (India)

Mixed Doubles Gold Jocelyn Rae

Colin Fleming (Scotland)

Silver Anastasia Rodionova

Paul Hanley (Australia)

Bronze Sarah Borwell

Ken Skupski (England)

*Novak Djokovic has a lot on his plate with the Shanghai Masters going on and the ATP Finals in London just around the corner in November. But he already has one eye on Serbia’s historic Davis Cup final matchup against France in December. Speaking at a press conference in Shanghai he said: “Davis Cup is a very unique competition where you get to feel the team spirit that you don’t get to feel that often. We are individuals, so we mostly perform for ourselves. In Davis Cup, it’s about the team; it’s about supporting each other, winning for your country.” He is also confident his beloved Serbia can upset the odds in Belgrade: “We are playing against France, who has much more success and tradition in this competition than us. Great players, but we’re confident we can pull out the win.” For the full interview visit the ITF website.

*Djokovic has also been issuing fighting talk on his chances of future Grand Slam glory to add to the Australian open he lifted in 2008. To date it is his sole Slam, but he is confident of more. “I’m ready. Definitely, I am,” he said at the Rolex Masters in Shanghai on Tuesday. “For the last two years I’ve been ready. If the good day comes, it comes.” Djokovic won his 18th tour-level title at the China Open last week and has now set his sights on higher honours once more. “Right now, emotionally, I’m confident. I’m happy, and looking forward to upcoming challenges. I feel good mentally and physically. I didn’t spend that much energy in Beijing. I’m sure I’ll be fit and ready. I will do my best to get as far as I can in this week.” The full interview is on the ATP site.

*Three-time Grand Slam winners Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic will not play doubles together again next season. The No. 2 seeds will part ways with Nestor teaming up with Frenchman Michael Llodra and Zimonjic aligning to fellow doubles specialist Max Mirnyi. “It think it’s a good move,” Nestor told The Globe and Mail. “It came from him but it’s something I’ve definitely thought about, too.”

*After reaching the semifinals of the China Open last week Shahar Peer rose from No. 18 to No. 13 in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. As well as being a career-high it is also the highest ranking for an Israeli in tennis history. Dane Caroline Wozniacki’s victory in China means she is now the twentieth No. 1 in WTA rankings history. Much has been made of the absence of Serena Williams attributing to Wozniacki’s ascent so the real test for her will be if she stays there once Serena is back on court.

*American Andy Roddick, who retired this week while leading Guillermo Garcia Lopez, hopes to be back competing in two weeks time in Basel, Switzerland. “I’m going to try to go home to Austin,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to get back for Basel. I think the fact that I still have a shot at London, even after the past year and everything, I think it would be an accomplishment for me.”

*Kim Clijsters is now more confident of featuring in the year-ending WTA Finals in Doha after the pain in her foot which has kept her out of the past few weeks has begun ceasing.

*Roger Federer has been answering questions from his Chinese fans this week. Visit the ATP website to find out what was being said.

*Alicia Molik is running for election to Tennis Australia, joining John Fitzgerald, Wally Masur and six other candidates. If successful, she will be a rarity as an active pro on the board of her country’s tennis association.

*The Bryan brothers brought smiles to the young children unfortunate enough to be spending time at the Shanghai United Family Hospital on Wednesday. They spoke to staff, patients and families while signing autographs and giving insight in to their time on the tour.

*Venus Williams has become the face of new home workout video game EA Sports Active 2 which will use her image for branding in North America. She joins David Beckham whose image is used in Europe and Australia. “Her commitment to healthy living and ability to inspire others makes her a natural fit for EA Sports Active 2,” said Jon Slavet, EA Sports Active’s Vice president.

*It seems Lindsay Davenport and her trainer Todd Norman have got their roles mixed up. Davenport Tweeted on Wednesday: “I’m here working my ass off but my trainer is nowhere to be found.” Norman’s response? “Was getting a foot massage!”

*We all know males can be somewhat competitive. But what happens when tennis stars take to their Playstation consoles for a spot of Pro Evolution Soccer gaming? Tuesday night saw Juan Monaco and Rafa Nadal take on Andy Murray and his friend Dani Vallverdu and there is still some confusion as to who won. Monaco spoke first via his Twitter account claiming a 2-1 win for the Latin duo but Murray thinks otherwise. It appears there is some confusion on the rules between the teams regarding penalty shootouts. Monaco/Nadal seem confident of the win so could it just be sour grapes from Murray. Murray? Couldn’t possibly be… Check the ATP website for a full summary.

Tennis Set to Dazzle the Commonwealth

Sania Mirza practices for the Commonwealth Games

Regular readers of TennisGrandstand will know that my first steps in this esteemed company were tracking the progress of players from the former Commonwealth countries as they did battle the world over in search of fame, success and prize money.

Now, starting October 4, all that changes for these players who bare the colours of their homelands and descend on Delhi as tennis makes its debut in the Commonwealth Games schedule.

The sailing certainly hasn’t been plain. The bad press and setbacks have almost derailed the games altogether and have led to accusations of outdated concepts and an existence as a poorer little brother to the Olympics.

There have been withdrawals, hissy fits and refusals to play but finally the pens and insults can be dropped and the racquets lifted in the search for Commonwealth gold.

There will be no Andy Murray. No Sam Stosur. No Marcos Baghdatis. No Lleyton Hewitt.

But the home stars have all stood firm and the likes of Sania Mirza, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman will fly the Indian flag in to competition and they will be hoping that performances and medals silence the critics.

All singles and doubles matches will be the best of three tie-break sets, including the finals. The male and female singles draws will consist of 32 players while the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles competitions will see 16 teams fight for gold.

Each country can enter a maximum of four men and women (of which three can compete in singles play) and two teams in each of the doubles events. Players from the same country will be placed in separate quarters of the draw.

Despite all the high-profile withdrawals there is still plenty of talent to feast our tennis-hungry eyes upon. Australia’s Peter Luczak has troubled the higher echelons of the men’s game and Scotland’s Colin Fleming is one of Britain’s formidable ‘Flemski’ doubles partnership alongside Ken Skupski of England.

Mirza will be one to look out for in the women’s draw as will the recently christened Aussie Anastasia Rodionova.

Then we have Paes and Bhupathi in the doubles who have two French Opens (1999 and 2001) and a Wimbledon title (1999) won together under their belt. Devvarman will also link up with US Open finalist Rohan Bopanna to give India a fantastic chance of gold in the men’s doubles.

Then there’s also British doubles number one Sarah Borwell to look out for and former singles and doubles Top 50 player Marina Erakovic lining up for New Zealand.

Wales have two players in the draw – Josh Milton and Chris Lewis. Milton is in fact the eighth seed in the men’s singles. Lewis faces Fleming in the first round which will be a difficult encounter but I’m hoping for the best for both of them.

While there might not be enough top world talent to tempt the eyes of some peripheral tennis fans there is certainly enough to keep tennis fanatics occupied throughout the tournament.

We hope that the games run according to plan, like the football World Cup in South Africa, and that the critics are put firmly in their place. We hope there are no problems, no collapsing structures, and no serious injury.

It is time for the players to put all the hoo-hah behind them and focus fully on winning medals for their friends, family and countrymen. Good luck to them all.

Clijsters Sidelined, Baltacha out of Commonwealth Games but Mirza Boost for Organisers

Kim Clijsters cancels the China Open

*Current Queen of the US Open Kim Clijsters has been forced to pull out of next month’s China Open with an infected foot. The Belgian star recently had a mole removed from the base of the foot but the wound has become infected. “I’m very sorry to have to cancel,” said the 27-year-old. “The wound on my sole is healing really bad – playing tennis is not possible.” Serena Williams has already announced that her foot injury sustained when stepping on broken glass in Munich earlier this year will also keep her out of the competition. She hopes to return for Moscow.

*Scotland’s Elena Baltacha has pulled out of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi with a chronic liver condition linked to her immune system. “After a lot of thought and discussion, I have taken the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the Games,” the 27-year-old told BBC Sport. “Conditions in Delhi are such that going there would pose too high a risk to my health. I am incredibly disappointed because I was really excited about playing for Scotland but I will be cheering on Team Scotland with all my heart, in particular my fellow tennis players. I am very, very sad that I won’t get to play alongside them.”

*Under fire Commonwealth Games bosses will undoubtedly be buoyed by the news that top Indian star Sania Mirza will be staying at the much-maligned Players’ Village, contrary to recent rumours. Her father, Imran, told PTI News: “She will check in to the Village with the rest of the team.”

*Despite losing his first comeback match since his wrist surgery Juan Martin del Potro seemed very pleased with the condition he is in. He, perhaps surprisingly, lost to the Belgian Olivier Rochus in Bangkok on Tuesday but his wrist seemed to be near full strength according to the Argentine. “The most important thing for today is my wrist,” said the 2009 US Open winner, “and it’s perfect. I hope to play five or six more tournaments between now and the end of the season. It was a great moment for me being with the fans on centre court playing a match again. I felt very happy. I lost today but I have good things to take for the future.” For the full interview check out the ATP World Tour website.

*There is no movement this week within the Top 20 of the South African Airways ATP World Rankings released on Monday (September 27th). Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela leaps 14 places to No. 39 while Belgium’s Xavier Mallisse climbs five to No. 50. Spain’s Pablo Andujar jumps 28 places to No. 77 after losing the Bucharest final to Chela and Somdev Devvarman jumps 17 to enter the Top 100.

*This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings finally bring good news for troubled Russian star Dinara Safina who has climbed ten slots to No. 49 this week while Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic climbs two to No. 50. Another Russian, Alia Kudryavtseva, sees a massive rise from No. 82 to No. 57 and Elena Vesnina does likewise from No. 72 to No. 58.

*Gilles Simon’s title at Metz last week was his first since becoming a father during the US Open. “Thanks to my fiancée for being here,” he said. “She was worried that I would be distracted – I think I’ve given the best response today.”

*Spanish pinup Fernando Verdasco is known to be a fan of martial arts and has been learning some local specialties while playing at the PTT Thailand Open this week. He took part in some Muay Thai alongside 2008 Olympic Gold Medallist Somjit Jongjorhor on stage in Bangkok and former ATP pro Paradorn Srichapan also joined in. “I would love to learn more Thai boxing,” said Verdasco. “I’ve always loved martial arts so maybe when I stop playing tennis I can learn some more. It was a lot of fun to learn some of the moves today.”

*Top seed Rafa Nadal has also been experiencing local culture while competing at the PTT Thailand Open this week. He took part in Thailand’s ‘A Million Trees For The King’ project by planting a tree in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Afterwards he partook in some local pastimes with friends. “I did a lot of things,” said the reigning Wimbledon, French and US Open Champion who took part in a religious ceremony with Buddhist monks on the beach over the weekend. “I was with friends. I was on the beach, very nice beach. We did water sports, we went to golf one time, we went [go-carting] another time. So we did a lot of things. We went there, having fun in Hua Hin and enjoying a lot.”

*Kazakhstan’s Evgeny Korolev is set to miss up to four months after undergoing elbow surgery today (September 30th). It is a problem which has dogged him since January and that has seen him drop from a career-high No. 46 to No. 97. Robby Ginepri will also be missing from the tour for the rest of the season after also undergoing elbow surgery on an injury suffered in a biking accident. Ginepri reached the fourth round at Roland Garros this year before falling to Novak Djokovic.

*29-year-old Frenchman Thierry Ascione has announced his retirement from professional tennis following the conclusion of play in Metz last week. “Right before and right after the match it was really emotional,” he said. “I had a beautiful career. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to be a champion. To be one, I think I would have needed a different personality but I don’t regret anything. I had the best times and through tennis I met my best friends.”

*London fashion week has just finished for 2010 and tennis got near the catwalks with Andy Murray and Serena Williams in attendance along with actress Sarah Jessica Parker and photographer Mario Testino to see Burberry unveil its latest collection. “I’m looking forward to seeing the clothes,” said British No. 1 Murray. “I like Burberry so it should be fun.” “This is my first fashion show in Europe,” added fashionista Serena. “I like Burberry, I always do the ones in New York so it was definitely something I wanted to come and do. I can’t believe I’m here I’m so excited.”

TENNIS PEOPLE: FEDERER PLEDGES TO PLAY AFTER 2012 OLYMPICS

By Leigh Sanders

* Roger Federer has told BBC Sport he intends to play on after the 2012 Olympics despite recent rumors he was growing tired of the sport he has dominated for years. The 28-year-old world No. 1 also believes his best tennis is around the corner. “I don’t have a problem saying this is the second half of my career because I do have kids and a lot of things have changed around me,” he said. “People think I’m going to retire at the 2012 Olympics – which is not true. Even though you never know, it depends on your body. I would like to play beyond that so we’ll see how it goes.”

* A Romanian TV station is reporting that tennis Hall of Famer Ilie Nastase may quit the country in a bid to escape the press. The 63-year-old, two-time Slam winner is said to be fed up of the paparazzi invading his privacy, particularly during recent divorce proceedings with third wife Amalia Nastase. Realitatea TV believes he is ready to quit his homeland.

* Rafa Nadal’s straight-set victory over Roger Federer in Madrid makes him the all-time leader in Masters Tournament victories with 18, leaving Andre Agassi behind on 17. The Bryan brothers’ victory in the men’s doubles has them tied for the most ATP Tour doubles titles on 61 with Aussie 2010 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductees Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

* India’s Sania Mirza has said she will return to action at Birmingham, England, on June 9 following her three-month hiatus to marry Pakistani cricket star Shoaib Malik, according to her Twitter page.

* Jelena Jankovic’s third-round victory over Anabel Medina Garrigues in Madrid was her 400th career singles win.

* British No. 1 Andy Murray has declared himself confident ahead of the French Open and insists he has reversed the slump which has affected him since his Aussie Open final defeat to Roger Federer back in January. “I’ve got my intensity back, my mind’s where it needs to be,” Murray told BBC Sport. “Going into the French I’ll definitely feel way, way better than I did a few weeks ago.”

* Speaking via conference call for Tennis Channel Martina Navratilova has said she is “cancer free” following surgery six weeks ago. “I’m doing well,” she said. “I just started radiation last week.”

* This week’s ATP World Rankings (17/05) sees Rafa Nadal re-take the No. 2 slot from Novak Djokovic following his win in Madrid last week. Nicolas Almagro’s fine performance on the Spanish clay has seen him climb 13 spaces to the brink of the top 20, ranked No. 22. Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela has re-entered the top 50 at 48.

* In this week’s WTA World Rankings (17/05), the Williams sisters were dominating women’s tennis again as they occupied the top two slots for the first time in seven years. Serena still holds the no. 1 ranking while Venus has climbed to No. 2. Shahar Peer has re-entered the top 20 at No. 19 while Aravane Rezai’s stunning win over Venus in Madrid sees her jump eight places to 16. Anabel Medina Garrigues re-enters the top 50 at No. 49.

* Sporting brand Wilson have reported on their Facebook page that Juan Martin del Potro has been in Minnesota visiting Dr. Richard Berger with a view to swapping his plaster cast for a softer and lighter one which will enable him to step up his return to the game by starting rehab soon.

* American high school tennis hopeful Stefan Mangroo has been disqualified from a tournament for refusing to play on The Sabbath. The 17-year-old Franklin High School Junior and his partner Cody Buffenbarger were due to play the semifinals of the doubles at the Division II sectional tournament on Saturday May 15 but Mangroo refused to compete due to this being The Sabbath for Seventh-Day Adventists. “You have to stand up for what you believe,” said Mangroo.

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