Shanghai Masters

Murray Relishing Run, Djokovic’s Influence Grows and Peng Shuai set for Bali

Murray Relishing Run:

New world No.3 Andy Murray is enjoying a magnificent autumn run that has seen him pick up three titles on the trot and replace Roger Federer in the world’s Top 3. It is the first time Federer has been ranked fourth or lower since before he earned his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003. “My goal for the last three-four months after the US Open was to try to finish as high as possible and win as many matches as I could,” said the Scot. “It’s obviously been a great start. But I’m still not guaranteed to finish at No. 3. I’m still going to have to win some more matches. But if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then there’s not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that. So that’s obviously a nice thing if I can do it.” It makes for a great piece of symmetry; Murray the world No.3 after three titles in three weeks.

Djokovic’s Amazing Year Increases Influence:

World No.1 Novak Djokovic hasn’t just seen his ranking and bank balance increase significantly this year, he has also seen his global influence widen according to the latest poll by AskMen.com. In their sixth annual Top 49 most influential men poll readers voted Djokovic the third most influential athlete, and the 19thmost influential man overall. “Just when it looked like Rafael Nadal was set to begin his long reign atop the men’s ATP rankings, the notoriously hot-headed Djokovic quieted all the outside noise, put all his tools together and reminded us why, right now, men’s tennis is the most exciting sport on the planet, after defeating Nadal at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships and the 2011 US Open,” read the Serbian’s bio on the website. Barcelona and Argentinean football star Lionel Messi was the top-ranked athlete at No.10 in the poll, while Dutch cyclist Cadel Evans was ranked No.11. Former Barca star and current manager Pep Guardiola was one place above Djokovic at No.18. Recently deceased former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was voted in at No.1. SEAL Team Six, who were presented to the world as the men to finally kill Osama Bin Laden were voted second, while Google co-founder Larry Page was third.

Peng set for Bali:

China’s Peng Shuai has become the second player after Ana Ivanovic to be handed a wildcard entry in to the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali in two weeks. She has had a career-best season in which she began the year at No.72 in the world, going on to become only the third player behind Li Na and Zheng Jie to crack the Top 15 in the WTA World Rankings. The rest of the line-up is still undecided as the tour enters its final tournaments. “Peng Shuai is not only one of the most talented and exciting players in Asia, but she [has] made her mark across the world in both singles and doubles,” said tournament director Kevin Livesey. “She is no stranger to Bali after she claimed the doubles title in 2008, and we are confident that she will once again be a fan favourite as she returns to Bali for the Commonwealth Bank Tournament Of Champions.”

Soderling to Miss Season’s End:

France’s Tennis Magazine is reporting that Robin Soderling will miss the Stockholm Open and the Paris Masters as he continues his battle with mononucleosis. The world No.6 has not played since he won Bastad in July. “I’m extremely disappointed and sad right now,” he said on his official Facebook page. “Playing in Stockholm is very special for me and it’s a title I still miss and dream about. I made an attempt to train, but my body just could not do it. I felt worse after practice and so had to make a tough decision to not play in Stockholm. I have to think long term and plan to play tennis for years to come. I believe the best days are in front of me. I will do everything I can to get through this difficult time and come back stronger and more motivated than ever.”

Nestor Enjoys Record-Breaking Week:

Canadian doubles star Daniel Nestor is used to winning things. But when he and Max Mirnyi lifted last week’s doubles title at the Shanghai Masters, despite facing match points against Michael Llodra and his former partner Nenad Zimonjic, it added an unprecedented record to his achievements roll. He is now the only player to have won all four major titles, every ATP Masters 1000 event, a season-ending ATP Finals and an Olympic gold medal. That record added to the one he clinched earlier in the year by becoming the first doubles player to reach 800 wins. His achievements have also been recognised by his native Canada this year. As well as receiving the Order of Canada back in January he was also inducted in to the Canada Hall of Fame with his own star before he flew out to Shanghai.

Date-Krumm Joins Exclusive Circle:

41-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm joined illustrious company when she lifted the doubles title at Osaka with Zang Shuai. She became the oldest player other than Martina Navratilova to win a doubles title. Navratilova was 49 years and nine months when she won in Montreal in 2006 and she also has another eleven titles to her name at an older age than the Japanese star. Billie Jean King is the next oldest player to win a title behind Date-Krumm as she lifted the 1984 Chicago doubles title at the age of 40 years and two months. Date-Krumm also spoke out against the playing styles of many of today’s performers, stating that they were too “uniform”. She said: “Martina Navratilova had the serve and volley and the touch for net play but now when you look at the young players, their styles are all the same. It’s only power, big serve, and then bam, bam, bam – no tactics.” Speaking to Tennis World, she continued: “Before it was mainly defensive styles. Martina had her leftie serve and volley game; Steffi Graf had a superb backhand slice and big forehand; Gabriela Sabatini had more spin; Arantxa Sanchez did also, she ran very fast and was mentally tough. Martina Hingis had a lot of talent. She’s not a big player, not a lot of muscle and her tennis was all about touch. For Asian players today, she’s a good model. She didn’t have the power but she was very smart. Back then most players had a good serve but they were still very different. Now they are all almost identical.” (Excerpts taken from Tennis World USA)

Venus to Play Aussie Open:

Current world No.101 Venus Williams, who has only played four tournaments this year, has posted on Twitter that she is: “absolutely planning on being in Australia” to compete at the year’s first Grand Slam in January. Given that she has no rankings points to defend from this year, if she decides to enter she will go directly in to the main draw.

No More Fishing:

Australian doubles specialist Ashley Fisher has retired from professional tennis at the age of 36 following a first-round exit at the Beijing Open. He missed the latter part of 2009 and all of 2010 with a knee injury and after a slow start to 2011 he found success at the French Open where he and Stephen Huss upset third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes on their way to the third round. He got his ranking back inside the Top 100 but has now decided to call it a day. “My knee issues were a big part in the decision,” he said. “Earlier in the year playing on clay and grass I was able to practise and play pain-free, but after Wimbledon the hard courts begun to take a toll on my knees. I was becoming too reliant on [anti-inflammatory] Advil and felt like I was doing serious long term damage to my body. I also felt like I was unable to play at a similar level to 2009 when I had my best year and it was frustrating.”

Bogomolov Jr. Considers Russian Davis Cup Career:

Russian-born but American-registered 28-year-old Alex Bogomolov Jr. has said that he would consider playing Davis Cup tennis for Russia, the homeland of his father Alexander. Alex Sr. is a well-known tennis coach and moved back to Russia in 2003 after he grew tired of the lack of work ethic of the American youths he taught in Florida. “I didn’t think about it before but in case I receive a concrete proposal to play for Russia I will seriously think about it,” said the world No.37. “I will also have to consult with my family and my team on the case before taking the decision.”

New McEnroe Enjoying Champions Circuit:

Former world No.1 John McEnroe says that he is enjoying the Champions Circuit he continually flaunts his talent on and that the wiser, more mature McEnroe appreciates the wider aspects of tennis more than the wise-cracking youth who played professionally in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. “Ironically, I find myself enjoying the working-out part more than I ever did. I feel like I benefit mentally, not just physically,” McEnroe said. “I go the gym three days a week and play three days a week. I’m lucky in that I don’t have a job where I have to work 10 hours a day. But part of my job is to keep myself in condition and close to the game so I can interpret what I’m watching when I’m commentating. I’m much more appreciative. I’ve been able to get some perspective and it’s a lot better than when I was in the midst of trying to be the best player in the world. I feel like I’m in a pretty good place now.”

Meyerson Passes On:

Andy Roddick’s long-time agent Ken Meyerson has passed away aged 47 on Wednesday night after suffering a heart attack in his sleep. Meyerson rose quickly as an agent, signing Roddick as well as Justine Henin, Chris Evert, Gael Monfils, Fernando Gonzalez and the Radwanska sisters. Tributes have been flooding in from fellow agents who knew him, but most poignant was Roddick’s message in his honour on Twitter, which read: “I love you and miss you. I will be forever grateful for your faith & loyalty, You will forever be my brother. As always ‘thanks Meyerson.'” Gonzalez also tweeted in Meyerson’s honour, saying: “We [going to really miss] Ken like he use to say ‘wuuoooh love you baby.'”

Murray Above Federer in This Week’s Rankings Watch:

British No.1 Andy Murray has climbed above Roger Federer in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings to No.3 in the world for the first time since February 2010. Mardy Fish crucially climbs in to the Top 8 at the expense of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with the ATP World Finals just around the corner. Germany’s Florian Mayer climbs three to enter the Top 20. Kei Nishikori’s good form sees him climb 17 in to the Top 30, while Marcos Baghdatis and Philipp Kohlschreiber climb in to the Top 50. Australia’s Matthew Ebden jumps a mammoth 44 places to No.80 in the world, while Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer climbs one place to No.100. Marion Bartoli has thrown herself in to strong contention for the WTA Finals in Istanbul by climbing from No.11 to No.9 in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings and can qualify for the event should she win the Kremlin Cup in Moscow this week. Dominika Cibulkova is in to the Top 20 this week, while Zheng Jie and Petra Martic climb in to the Top 50. Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina, Austria’s Patricia Mayr-Achleitner and Iryna Bremond of France are in to the Top 100.

Injuries Strike Top Stars, Murray now Plays Down Strike Talk and Plenty of Coaches Seeking New Work

Late Summer Injuries:

Roger Federer has pulled out of next month’s Shanghai Masters, citing a need to “rest and recuperate” some “niggling injuries” following a long summer. He hasn’t been seen since Switzerland’s impressive win over Australia to return to the World Group of Davis Cup play and his next scheduled tournament after he ruled himself out of the Asian event is his home show; the Swiss Indoors, Basel, starting October 31. “After consultation with my team, I’ve unfortunately decided to pull out of the Shanghai Masters in order to take some necessary time to rest and recuperate after a long summer,” said the 16-time Grand Slam winner. “I have very fond memories of Shanghai so I will miss this amazing tournament and all my loyal Chinese fans, but I look forward to returning to China next fall.” World number one Novak Djokovic has also announced he will not be participating in the China Open, one of the warm-up tournaments leading up to the Shanghai Masters. The current Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon champion pulled out of Serbia’s recent Davis Cup defeat to Argentina to relinquish their grip on the trophy, and hasn’t recovered sufficiently.

Murray Plays Down Strike Talk:

Following the talk last week of a potential  player strike should the ATP fail to listen to player’s complaints about an overcrowded season, world No.4 Andy Murray has again played down the rumours of an upcoming strike, insisting it will only be a last resort. “We’re only proposing small chances, a few less mandatory events and some more rest periods,” he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur Open. “Tennis is in a great place right now and no one is yet talking about a strike. There are just a few minor things we’d like to see changed and we hope to sit with the ATP and other officials and discuss them. Two or three more weeks off a season is what we are thinking of. There is no rush. I never said anyone wanted to strike, we hope it doesn’t come to that. But we do want some small changes. I don’t think we’re talking about anything major. We’d like to talk and see what can be done. It would be good to see changes made sooner rather than later.”

Clijsters back to Square One:

Belgian ace Kim Clijsters has confirmed she has split with her coach Wim Fissette in order to return to working with Carl Maes. “Wim does not feel entirely in place in his current role in Kim’s coaching team and wants to go his own way,” a statement read. Elsewhere, Jelena Dokic has confirmed she is again working with her previously estranged father, Damir, and that he has “changed greatly”. In an official statement, she said: “My partner Tin Bikic and I have visited my father at his home to finally put an end to our disagreement. I initiated the meeting as I want to reunite my family and allow us all to get on with our lives and be happy. This has gone on too long. I am in a very positive and confident frame of mind in my life and I really wanted to do this because I believe it is the right thing to do both for me and for all of my family. My father was very receptive and I believe he has changed greatly. He understands that I am my own person who makes my own decisions.” Young American Melanie Oudin has also returned to USTA coach Tom Gullikson after splitting with Brian DeVilliers.

Mayer Joins Winner’s Circle:

Germany’s Florian Mayer lifted his first ATP Tour title at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy last week, becoming the first German to win there. Having lost all four of his previous finals he made light work of Spain’s Pablo Andujar, racking up a 6-3, 6-1 win in just 72 minutes. “The beginning was not perfect, I was so nervous today,” said Mayer. “I wanted to win so badly. My legs were heavy. I was lucky at the beginning, he was 3-1, 40/15 up in the first set. Today he made some untypical mistakes and once I got a break in the second set I relaxed and played better.” Andujar seemed disappointed when he said: “There was a point at 3-1, 40/15 when I hit a double fault and it completely changed the match. Maybe he got more confident and I lost some of my confidence.”

Scheepers another Maiden Winner:

South African Chanelle Scheepers was celebrating her maiden debut title too last week after defeating Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets to take the WANLIMA Guangzhou International Women’s Open 6-2, 6-2. She became the first woman from her country to win a WTA title since Amanda Coetzer won at Acapulco in 2003. “All of my other matches were tough, but today was the day it all clicked,” said the 27-year-old. “I thought I was hitting my groundstrokes well. I was really consistent and tried to move her around. I didn’t give her a lot of mistakes. I don’t remember much about the match point. I was so in the moment. I know it was a long point, but it seemed so long ago. I was fighting every match [in the tournament] – all of them were difficult in their own way.”

Bryans Take Tennis to San Quentin:

In the full knowledge that the prison ran a strict “no hostage” policy, the Bryan brothers went in to the infamous San Quentin last week to give tennis clinics to some of the inmates. Donning their Wimbledon whites, and only able to take their racquets and photo Ids with them, they went behind bars to take on inmates of one of the USA’s most hostile prisons. Despite admitting early nerves, they soon got in to the swing of things with their new company. “When Mike and I stepped on the court, everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around. My hands were shaking as I hit the first few balls but as the time went by and we got to talk to the guys, I loosened up,” said Bob in an online column for the ATP. “I was blown away by the genuine enthusiasm these guys had for our sport. They would cheer, clap, and heckle their fellow inmates as they tried to take us on in doubles. I had a laugh when I heard a few of them had lost packs of “smokes” because of our first round US Open loss. Oops!”

Chakvetadze to Turn to Politics?:

World No.157 Anna Chakvetadze has announced that she is set to run for parliament in her native Russia. The 24-year-old is one of three parliamentary candidates put forward by the Right Cause Party; a pro-business group with public support. Without a title since the Slovenia Open last year, she has missed most of 2011 with a mystery illness and appears to be looking at other lines of work. Whether she will be able to continue her tennis career if she is successful is unknown.

Baghdatis Hits Double Century:

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis’ win over the American Alex Bogomolov Jr at the Kuala Lumpur Open in Malaysia was the 200th win of his professional career.

Nadal and Tipsarevic Bare All:

World No.2 Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic have both stripped bare for underwear modelling campaigns. Nadal has followed up his summer work with Armani by modelling their new undies range, while Tipsarevic is making his first foray in to the world of modelling with his new shoot for Extreme Intimo. “I lead a very active and dynamic lifestyle and that can be quite arduous sometimes,” said Tipsarevic. “I like feeling good in my own skin, which is to be expected because it is only through comfort, quality and safety that I can overcome all the obstacles and achieve my goals.”

Tsonga on the Rise:

Following on from his title win at Metz last week France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has risen three places to No.7 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings this week. The race for the ATP Tour finals is now hotting up and he appears to be making his move at the right time. His countryman Gael Monfils is the unlucky man to drop out of the qualification spots. Italy’s Andreas Seppi is in to the Top 50 at No.49 while Argentina’s Maximo Gonzalez jumps 19 to enter the Top 100 at No.91, Allejandro Falla jumps 21 to No.93 and Italy’s Flavio Cipolla is up six to No.96. Chanelle Scheepers celebrated her maiden WTA Tour title by jumping from No.73 to No.41 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings to cap a memorable week for the South African. Croatia’s Petra Martic is at a career-high No.47 this week while Magdalena Rybarikova re-enters the Top 50 after her Guangzhou final defeat to Scheepers. Urszula Radwanska (No.88) and Stephanie Foretz Gacon (No.98) are back in to the Top 100.