Simon Aspelin

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Tennis In The Commonwealth – Murray and Robson To Play For GB In Hopman Cup

TENNIS-WTA-QAT

By Leigh Sanders

Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.

Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.

The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.

This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.

This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.

In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.

Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.

Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.

In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.

Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.

More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.

Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.

Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.

Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls

Dinara Safina wins Banka Koper Slovenia Open

STARS

Robby Ginepri beat Sam Querrey 6-2 6-4 to win the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Nikolay Davydenko beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-2 to win the International German Open in Hamburg, Germany

Dinara Safina won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz, Slovenia, beating Sara Errani 6-7 (5) 6-1 7-5

Andrea Petkovic beat Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-2 6-3 to win the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein, Austria

SAYING

“I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls. This is the best day of our lives.” – Roger Federer, announcing the births on his Web site and Facebook page.

“The twins certainly come from good tennis stock. If they are half as good as their dad they will still be a potent force on the court.” – Nick Weinberg, spokesman for British bookmaker Ladbrokes on the twin girls one day winning Wimbledon.

“When you have a lot of losses, you start questioning if you can play at this level. It creeps in the back of your mind, so this is definitely a confidence boost for me the rest of the summer.” – Robby Ginepri, after winning the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.

“It’s been a great week for me. Of course, when you are in a final you always want to win but it has been a great week for me.” – Paul-Henri Mathieu, after losing in the Hamburg, Germany, final to Nikolay Davydenko.

“I know I am good enough to beat most players on this level.” – Andrea Petkovic, after reaching her first career WTA Tour final, which she won.

“I played better each match this week. I beat two Top 30 players this week, the best wins of my career. I’m sorry about today: I wish I could have done more, but there’s always next tournament.” – Ioana Raluca Olaru, who lost in the Gastein Ladies final to Andrea Petkovic.

“I am a hundred percent. I mean, if I wasn’t at that point, I certainly wouldn’t be playing.” – Maria Sharapova, who played for the Newport Beach Breakers in a World TeamTennis match against Kansas City.

“There’s always a lot of pressure against Korie (Homan) because I have not lost a set at this tournament since 2000 and of course I have the winning streak.” – Esther Vergeer, after stretching her unbeaten singles record to 364 matches in wheelchair tennis by again beating world number two Korie Homan.

“Andy’s presence really does give a boost to County Week and British tennis in general. It proves to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children that if the world number three can be bothered to show up and compete for his county, then they can do it, too.” – Ian Conway, captain of the North of Scotland team, on Andy Murray playing an amateur event.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It’s been awhile since Nikolay Davydenko took home the biggest check at a tournament. The Russian won his first ATP World Tour title in over a year when he trounced Paul-Henri Mathieu at the International German Open in Hamburg. Davydenko last appeared in a final at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai last November, and he hadn’t won a title since Warsaw, Poland, in June 2008. Davydenko also became the first Russian to win in Hamburg.

SONY TOPPER

Until this past week, Andrea Petkovic had a 3-8 lifetime record in WTA Tour-level events, with all three match wins coming at Grand Slam tournaments. That changed in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Petkovic won five straight matches and her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, the Gastein Ladies, when she stopped Ioana Raluca Olaru. The unseeded German dropped only one set all week, that to seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the quarterfinals. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Petkovic said. “I hope I can keep playing like this and build on it.” Olaru was also appearing in her first Tour singles final, having upset third-seeded Sybille Bammer, sixth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and top-seeded Alize Cornet en route to the title match.

SURE BET

It didn’t take the British bookmakers long. Just a day after their birth, Roger Federer’s twin daughters were given 100-1 odds for either to win Wimbledon. Charlene Riva Federer and Myla Rose Federer are 50-1 to win a Grand Slam as part of the same doubles team and 200-1 to capture the Wimbledon women’s doubles. Andy Roddick, who has lost the Wimbledon final three times to the twins’ father, agreed with the bookies. The American sent a message from his Twitter page, which read: “Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040 … the Federer girls: congrats to the new parents!”

SUPER TIEBREAKS

Playing together for the first time, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won all four matches in third-set super tiebreakers to capture the doubles title at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. “They’re obviously better as a team, but when there’s a lot of firepower against you, there’s not much you can do,” Tursunov said after the pair beat top-seeded Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak). Not one to break up a winning pair, the two plan to play together in Los Angeles this week. “It’s kind of like beginner’s luck in poker, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tursunov said. “If we’re having success, it makes sense to continue to play.”

STEPPING IT UP

The knee injury must be better. Rafael Nadal has returned to training for the first time since he was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee. Nadal is planning on returning to the ATP tour at the Montreal Masters next month. He has been out since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open, where he was seeking his fifth straight title. The injury also kept him from defending his Wimbledon crown. With Nadal not there, Roger Federer won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to record his 15th Grand Slam trophy and reclaim the number one ranking.

STRUGGLING

Leander Paes was named the league’s male MVP as he led the Washington Kastles to their first World TeamTennis Pro League championship. Paes teamed with Scott Oudsema to win the men’s doubles and with Rennae Stubbs to win the mixed doubles as the Kastles downed the Springfield Lasers 23-20. Oudsema beat Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the men’s singles, while Washington’s Olga Puchkova downed Vania King in women’s singles. King and Liezel Huber captured the women’s doubles. King was named the league’s female MVP.

STANDING TALL

Cara Black is only 5-foot-6 ( 1.67m) but she stands tall in the tennis record book. The Zimbabwean player is second only to Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova in the number of weeks spent as the number one doubles player in the world. When Black recorded her 125th week at number one spot, she moved past Natasha Zvereva. The 30-year-old first took over the top spot on October 17, 2005, staying there for 16 weeks. She regained the spot on June 11, 2007, before relinquishing it two weeks later to Lisa Raymond. But Black began her third and current stint at number one on July 9, 2007, after winning Wimbledon. Navratilova led the doubles rankings for 237 weeks.

SPOTLIGHTED

Austria’s national anti-doping authorities are investigating Tamira Paszek after she received a medical treatment for a back injury that allegedly violated doping regulations. Authorities say that during treatment earlier this month, blood was taken from Paszek for enrichment, then later injected back into her, which is not allowed under international anti-doping rules. Paszek said she was not aware that the treatment was possibly illegal until a reporter told her. Paszek then alerted the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA, which began its investigation. The Austrian right-hander has struggled with back problems since last season. She has not played since retiring during her first-round match at Wimbledon.

STAYING HOME

Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Croatia’s Mario Ancic won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 15th-ranked Nalbandian is still recovering from recent hip surgery, while Ancic is battling mononucleosis. Their spots in the men’s main draw were taken by Ivan Navarro of Spain and Karol Beck of Slovakia.

An injury has caused Li Na of China to withdraw from China’s National Games in Shandong. The 27-year-old said she felt a recurrence of her right knee injury. Li will undergo tests in Beijing to determine whether she will be able to play the North American hard court season, including the US Open. “We have signed up for it and got the visa,” said Li’s husband and coach, Jiang Shan. “If she is OK by then we will go to play.”

SUSPENDED

John McEnroe seems to be a lightning rod for problems on a tennis court. His World TeamTennis club has been fined for what the league called “unprofessional conduct.” During the men’s doubles match between McEnroe’s New York Sportimes and the Washington Kastles, a shot by Washington’s Leander Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick. McEnroe and Sportimes coach Chuck Adams went to Paes’ side of the court and yelled at him. Four points later, Kendrick hit Paes with a serve, prompting more confrontations. The league suspended and fined Adams the next day, then, after reviewing the video and getting the umpire’s report, issued fines on both teams. Kendrick and Kastles player Olga Puchkova received individual fines.

SHORT STICH STAY

Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis lasted only 62 minutes. The former Wimbledon champion lost his first-round doubles match at the German Open in Hamburg. The 40-year-old Stich, who retired from the sport 12 years ago, and 21-year-old Mischa Zverev were beaten by Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-4 6-2. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and reached the final at both the French Open and US Open. His best ranking was number two in the world. As tournament director of the German Open, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wild card into the tournament. Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback. John McEnroe was 47 when he and Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won the doubles at San Jose, California. That came 14 years after his previous title.

SAYING AU REVOIR

Nathalie Dechy is calling it a career. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman is expecting a child and wants to devote her time to family life. Dechy reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2005, but is currently ranked 88th in the world. She won two US Open women’s doubles titles, with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007. She also won the French Open mixed doubles in 2007 with Israel’s Andy Ram. Dechy won her only WTA Tour singles title at the Gold Coast tournament in 2003 and reached her career-highest ranking in January 2006 when she rose to 11th in the world. She played for France in the Fed Cup in singles and doubles from 2000 until this year.

STRIKE IT WASN’T

Robby Ginepri had an unusual way of throwing out the game’s first pitch when he was a special guest at the Triple-A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Durham Bulls. In Indiana where he was competing in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Ginepri used his racquet and a tennis ball to serve to the Indians catcher. The umpire called balls on both of Ginepri’s “serves,” but the American was delighted with his performance. “It was very close to a strike,” Ginepri said. “It is quite different to have to serve at a catcher’s glove. The target is just very small.”

SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA

Maria Sharapova is continuing to give back. The former world number one has launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation to distribute scholarships among first-year students at Belarusian State University throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The USD $3,500 scholarships will be available to Belarus residents attending BSU who come from areas formally recognized as affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. According to the BSU press office, recipients should actively participate in public, research and volunteer activities, and should have a high average grade in their general education school diplomas. It’s not the first time the tennis player has given generously. In February 2007, Sharapova, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Development Program, donated USD $100,000 for eight Chernobyl relief projects in Belarus and Ukraine. Sharapova’s father and pregnant mother fled Homyel, a town 80 miles north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the accident in April 1986. She was born in a Siberian city months later.

SUMMER COUNTY CUP

Forget the ranking. Andy Murray took time to compete in the AEGON Summer County Cup, a 115-year-old amateur team tennis competition. With no umpires, line judges or ball-persons, the players call their own lines in the last amateur grass-court competition in the United Kingdom where senior professionals mix with junior players to represent their county in a competitive team environment. It was a huge surprise to the other players and the 300 spectators at Eastbourne when Murray showed up to play for North of Scotland. “Andy has come down to Eastbourne under his own steam, paying for his transport and lunch out of his own pocket,” said North of Scotland captain Ian Conway. “I was surprised and delighted, and his presence has given the rest of the team a huge boost.” While Murray and Owen Hadden won all three of their matches for the North of Scotland, Hertfordshire won the tie 5-4 when Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his partner lost the deciding match 6-3 6-7 (3) 10-8 (match tiebreak).

STILL WINNING

Esther Vergeer is not slowing down. The Dutch woman won her ninth consecutive women’s wheelchair singles title at the British Open in Nottingham, defeating Korie Homan. Ranked number one in the world, Vergeer stretched her winning streak to 364 matches.

Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s main draw singles, while American David Wagner captured the quad singles titles. Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet for his third successive men’s main draw singles title. Wagner won his second British Open quad singles in three years as he beat world number one and home favorite Peter Norfolk.

SIGNED ON

Nicole Pratt has been appointed Australian national women’s coach. A former junior Australian Open champion, Pratt will work with Australia’s Fed Cup team and on player development, according to Tennis Australia. Pratt’s highest ranking on the WTA Tour was 35th in the world.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Indianapolis: Dmitry Tursunov and Ernests Gulbis beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Hamburg: Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley beat Marcelo Melo and Filip Polasek 6-3 6-3

Bad Gastein: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Tatjana Malek and Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4

Portoroz: Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beat Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

Washington: www.leggmasontennisclassic.com/

Segovia: www.teniselespinar.com/

San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/

Vancouver: www.vanopen.com/

Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$450,000 Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

$100,000 Orbetello Challenger, Orbetello, Italy, clay

WTA

$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard

$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard

$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay

$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard

WTA

$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’ve had good times and bad times

Andy Murray: The King of Queens

STARS

Tommy Haas beat Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-1 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany

Andy Murray won the AEGON Championships in London, Great Britain, defeating James Blake 7-5 6-4

Magdalena Rybarikova beat Li Na 6-0 7-6 (2) to win the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain

Stanislas Wawrinka beat Potito Starace 7-5 6-3 to win the BSI Lugano Challenger in Lugano, Switzerland

Iona-Raluca Olaru beat Masa Zec-Peskiric 6-7 (4) 7-5 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez de Marseille in Marseille, France

SAYING

“I’m a long way from winning Wimbledon, but I feel confident. I’ll try and not get too far ahead of myself and focus on my first match there, but if I play my best like I did this week, I’ve got a chance.” – Andy Murray, after winning at Queen’s Club.

“It’s incredible, I can hardly believe it myself when I think of the highs and lows I’ve been through in the last year and a half.” – Tommy Haas, after winning his first grass-court title.

“I was so excited last night after I beat Sharapova I forgot I had a match today.” Li Na, who lost in the final after upsetting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain.

“I still felt like I had many chances in this match, but I have played five matches in the last six days and after that you just hope you wake up with that intensity you need. Against her you need that.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing to Li Na.

“Winning today is the best feeling of my career so far. It’s unbelievable. Just like a dream.” – Magdalena Rybarikova, after winning her first WTA title, the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain.

“I had a good week. Playing on the grass, I always have a lot of fun playing here. I feel great. I’ve been working with my coach and trainer, and I know I’m doing the best preparation possible for Wimbledon. I’ll be ready to play and feel great about my chances.” – James Blake, after reaching the final at Queen’s Club.

“A problem a lot of people in this country have is expecting huge things, thinking that it’s just going to happen.” – Andy Murray, concerning the British public hoping he can win Wimbledon.

“I think he’s over the biggest hurdle in his tennis with the French under his belt. Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, great players, never did. The monkey is off Roger’s back and he’ll play, not with abandon, but with excitement, enjoyment and freedom. He’ll be Wimbledon champion again next month unless someone catches fire like Robin Soderling did against Nadal.” – Rod Laver, on Roger Federer winning the French Open.

“I’ve had good times and bad times. That’s me. That’s how I am. I’m really lucky and I’m happy that the ATP has allowed me to do what I want to do on the court. They’ve been nice to me throughout the years and that’s made it much easier for me to play this way.” – Marat Safin, talking about his career.

“I have now, after a lot of thinking, decided to put an end to my professional tennis career.” – Thomas Johansson, announcing his retirement from competitive tennis.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he needs to settle down. In my case, again.” – Boris Becker, after marrying Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, his second marriage.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

When Andy Murray beat James Blake in the AEGON Championships final, he became the first British player to win at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938. “I was quite nervous,” Murray admitted. “People were telling me that no (Briton) had won here for 70-odd years, so that got the nerves going, especially when I was serving for the match.” The fact he won on grass will only increase the belief – and the pressure – that Murray, ranked third in the world, will win Wimbledon. A Brit hasn’t won on the grass courts of the All England Club since Fred Perry did it in 1936.

SLOVAKIAN SURPRISE

Magdalena Rybarikova could be called the women’s champion of China. The little-known Slovakian won her first WTA title at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, stopping China’s Li Na 6-0 7-6 (2) in the final. In the quarterfinals, the 20-year-old Rybarikova upset top-seeded Zheng Jie of China 7-6 (10) 6-4. “I was very nervous in the tiebreak, but she looked more nervous than me, so that helped me concentrate even harder,” Rybarikova said of Li. In the semifinals, Li upset Maria Sharapova, her first victory over the Russian in six career meetings.

SPECIAL ENTRY

Japan’s Kimiko Date Krumm will play at Wimbledon for the first time in 13 years. The 38-year-old Date Krumm was given a wild card into the main draw. Once ranked as high as number four in the world, Date Krumm reached the semifinals in 1996, the last time she played on the grass of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. She retired from her first-round qualifying match at the French Open last month because of a calf injury.

STRAIGHT IN

Can Laura Robson match the exploits of Martina Hingis? Thanks to a wild card, Britain’s 15-year-old junior Wimbledon champion will be the youngest player in the women’s main draw since Hingis in 1995. Hingis went on to become number one in the world. Robson is ranked 482nd in the world, but was given a wild card via a clause that allows juniors to be included under “exceptional circumstances.” Others receiving wild cards into the women’s main draw include Elena Baltacha, Alexa Glatch, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Katie O’Brien, Georgie Stoop and Melanie South.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion from Spain who has been ranked as high as number one in the world, has been given a wild card entry into this year’s Wimbledon men’s draw, along with 2008 Wimbledon and US Open junior champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Also given wild cards into the men’s singles were Britons Alex Bogdanovic, Daniel Evans, Joshua Goodall and James Ward.

SQUEAKER

Although he ended up winning the tournament, it didn’t appear in the semifinals that Tommy Haas had a chance of advancing in the Gerry Weber Open. In an all-German semifinal in Halle, Germany, Haas trailed 5-2 in the third set before edging Philipp Kohlschreiber 2-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3). A year ago, Kohlschreiber beat Haas in the second round en route to the final at Halle. This year, Kohlschreiber served for the match while leading 5-3 but played a sloppy game. Haas made him pay for it, serving his 15th ace of the day on his third match point. It was the first tournament Haas has won since Memphis, Tennessee, USA, in 2007.

SWAN SONG

Sweden’s Thomas Johansson, who won the Australian Open in 2002, retired from competitive tennis at the age of 34. Besides his surprising win in Melbourne, where he beat Marat Safin in the title match, Johansson won eight other ATP titles and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2005, where he lost to Andy Roddick. Last year, Johansson teamed with Simon Aspelin to win the silver medal in doubles at the Beijing Olympics, losing the gold-medal match to Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka.

SWEDISH PRISON

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to nine months in prison and fined USD $17,200 for rioting outside the Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden. The Swede was one of 10 people arrested after protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Earlier, an 18-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison for rioting. A third man has been acquitted because of lack of evidence.

ST. MORITZ WEDDING

Boris Becker has married for the second time. The German tennis great and Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg tied the knot in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Attending the wedding were Becker’s two sons, 15-year-old Noah and 9-year-old Elias. along with Prince Albert of Monaco, supermodel Claudia Schiffer, cyclist Jan Ulrich and his wife Sara, and soccer stars Franz Beckenbaur and Oliver Kahn, among others. The newly-weds had announced their plan to get married when they appeared on a German television show in February.

SITTING IT OUT

Saying he was “overwhelmed” and “exhausted” after winning his first French Open title, Roger Federer pulled out of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, his usual grass-court warm-up for Wimbledon. “I sincerely apologize to the tournament organizers, my competitors, and my fans in Germany. I only hope they will understand that I still feel emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted by the incredible events of the past few days,” Federer said on his Web site.

Before he began his victorious run at the Gerry Weber Open, Tommy Haas withdrew from Germany’s Davis Cup quarterfinal against Spain, saying the clay court matches would put too much strain on his body. Haas, once ranked as high as number two in the world, did not play in the last Davis Cup World Group against Austria after being sidelined with a shoulder injury for much of 2008.

SIGNAGE

No longer will the Swiss Indoors tournament be held at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland. Oh, it will be held at the same venue, but the name of the hall is being changed to Roger Federer Arena. Basel sports director Peter Howald said the city had discussed ways of honoring the new French Open champion, who completed a career Grand Slam and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major singles title with his clay court victory at Roland Garros. Federer is a three-time defending champion of the Swiss Indoors.

SPLITSVILLE

The team didn’t last long at all. Ana Ivanovic has broken up with coach Craig Kardon. Ivanovic had hired Kardon, once a coach for Martina Navratilova, in February as a replacement on a temporary basis for Sven Groeneveld. But the Serb, who won Roland Garros last year, continued her fall in the WTA rankings. Once ranked number one in the world, she dropped out of the top ten following her fourth-round French Open loss this year. Ivanovic said she will use a temporary coach when she plays at Wimbledon.

SENTENCED

Damir Dokic has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for making death threats against the Australian ambassador to Serbia. “The sentence is inappropriate and we are going to appeal,” said Dokic’s lawyer, Bosiljka Djukic. “We hope that the higher court will annul this sentence.” The father of tennis player Jelena Dokic, Damir Dokic was arrested in early May after he reportedly said he would “attack the ambassador and her husband with a stinger missile.” Police found two hand grenades and 20 bullets in his house for which Dokic had no permit, in addition to seven hunting rifles and a handgun which he owned legally. The alleged threats came after Jelena, once ranked fourth in the world, was quoted in Australia’s Sports & Style magazine describing the torment she endured under her father.

START DELAYED

The start of the third-round match at Queen’s Club between Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt was delayed by a bomb threat. Both players stayed on court while officials searched the entire site but found nothing. Roddick and Hewitt were seen laughing and talking with each other during the break in play. Roddick ended up winning the match.

SCOTT AWARD

The late Arthur Ashe and his widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, will be recognized with the Eugene L. Scott Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum (ITHFM). Presented annually since 2006, the award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. “Arthur and Jeanne have used their voices, which have been amplified through the game of tennis, to change the world in so many ways that it’s fitting to present them as one with the Eugene L. Scott Award,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the ITHFM. “Humanitarians like Arthur and Jeanne are few and far between and we should recognize them for the contributions they have made to help enact change.” The award will be presented at the 29th annual “Legends Ball” on September 11 in New York City. Also being honored will be Rod Laver and the four newest members of the Hall of Fame: Donald L. Dell, Andres Gimeno, the late Dr. Robert Johnson and Monica Seles.

SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES

The 2009 US Open is a hot ticket. The first day of ticket sales to the general public for this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was the second-best opening day in US Open history. With nearly 35,000 tickets sold, it is only the second time that opening day ticket sales topped 30,000 tickets. This year’s total trails only last year’s event. In the six days leading up to the public sale, the US Open pre-sale for American Express members set an all-time sales mark of more than 31,000 tickets.

SPONSOR LOSS

The Australian Open is continuing to lose sponsors. The latest is Qantas, which is ending its 21-year agreement with the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. In the past few months, the Australian Open has lost several other major sponsors, including Master Card, Garnier and GE Money. Three major sponsors say they will continue, including Kia Motors, Rolex and Lacoste.

SLICING FINE

The Swedish Tennis Association (STA) has had its fine reduced by the International Federation of Tennis (ITF) Board of Directors. The board agreed to reduce the fine from USD $25,000 to USD $5,000, but upheld the original decision by the Davis Cup Committee not to waive the gross receipts payment of $15,000. The Committee took the action following Sweden’s first-round Davis Cup tie against Israel, which was played behind closed doors in Malmo, Sweden.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Birmingham: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-1 6-4

London: Wesley Moodie and Mikhail Youzhny beat Marcelo Melo and Andrew Sa 6-4 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Halle: Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Andreas Beck and Marco Chiudinelli 6-3 6-4

Marseille: Tathiana Garbin and Maria-Emilia Salerni beat Timea Bacsinszky and Elena Bovina 6-7 (4) 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Lugano: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Pablo Cuevas and Sergio Roitman walkover

SITES TO SURF

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/Watch/

s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl/

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$600,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

WTA

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$220,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

The Championships (first week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

Mondays With Bob Greene: I thought I took all the right decisions today

Dinara Safina and Roger Federer

STARS

Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 to win the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open men’s singles in Madrid, Spain

Dinara Safina beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-4 in Madrid, Spain, to win the women’s singles at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.

Marc Gicquel beat Mathieu Montcourt 3-6 6-1 6-4 to win the BNP Paribas Primrose Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France

SAYING

“I thought I took all the right decisions today. In the end it was a perfect game for me. (You) stay positive and I did. I got the win I needed badly.” – Roger Federer, after beating Rafael Nadal.

“There are no positives, there is little to analyze. He broke and broke and I went home.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Roger Federer.

“I’m very disappointed I can play this well and still not win a match.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.

“Since I became No. 1 I’m playing better and better.” – Dinara Safina, after winning the Madrid Open women’s title.

“I don’t want anybody telling me all the time what to do. I want to do my own thing. I’m more relaxed, easy going. I’m not worried too much. If it goes my way, fine. If not, I’ll keep trying.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, who hired Larisa Savchenko as her new coach.

“After a few weeks of training I got the hunger back. I felt really good and wanted the challenge to see if I can still be up there (competing on the tour).” – Kim Clijsters, a former top-ranked player who will return to the WTA Tour in August.

“It’s going to be a challenge but she seems really determined. She has the talent and the tennis. I really think she can do it.” – Steffi Graf, on Kim Clijsters rejoining the WTA Tour.

“It is truly a page that has been turned. It was 20 years of my life. Now life is something different.” – Justine Henin, saying she will not follow Kim Clijsters in returning to the WTA Tour.

“Sometimes it’s hard to fully accept change in some respects. It’s an exciting change, it’s an asset for fans and for players.” – Andre Agassi, about the roof over Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court.

“That’s saying something when this is already the best and most famous court in the world, but I’m intrigued to see what level the atmosphere might go to. Given the right scenarios with the right match and players, it could be really something.” – Tim Henman, on the new roof covering Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court.

“The small amounts gambled (and) the absence of influence of the bets on the matches in question.” – The Court of Arbitration for Sport, announcing the reason that the suspension of Mathieu Montcourt for betting on matches has been reduced from eight to five weeks.

SUCCESS AT LAST

Roger Federer ended his five-match losing streak to his top rival when he shocked Rafael Nadal in the final of the Madrid Open. That stretch included the finals at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Calling his first win over Nadal since the 2007 Masters Tennis Cup “very satisfying,” Federer now trails in their head-to-head meetings 7-13. It was the 16th time the two have played for a title, with Nadal winning 11 times. Only Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe have met in more finals among the men: 20. And it was only the second time that Federer has beaten Nadal on clay. The Swiss star is the only player ranked in the top 10 to have ever beaten Nadal on the surface.

SETTLING UP

Organizers of the Dubai Tennis Championships have agreed to pay a USD $300,000 fine assessed against the tournament when Israel’s Shahar Peer was not allowed to enter the country. The WTA Tour board rejected Dubai’s appeal of the record fine, which was more than twice as much as the previous highest. The United Arab Emirates refused to grant Peer a visa just before she was due to arrive at the Dubai tournament in February. The WTA Tour also demanded that any Israeli players who qualify for the 2010 tournament must receive visas at least eight weeks before the tournament. “I just say that it’s a shame that Shahar could not compete in the tournament because she has nothing to do with the politics – she’s a tennis player,” said top-ranked Dinara Safina.

STRAIGHT IN

Emilie Loit and five other Frenchwomen have been awarded wild cards for direct entry into the main draw at this year’s Roland Garros. The French Open begins on May 24 in Paris. Claire Feuerstein, Kinnie Laisne, Kristina Mladenovic, Irena Pavlovic and Olivia Sanchez will be joined by American Lauren Embree and Australian Olivia Rogowska in receiving wild cards from the French Tennis Federation. Given wild cards into the women’s qualifying draw were Chloe Babet, Simona Halep, Florence Haring, Violette Huck, Karla Mraz, Laura Thorpe, Aurelie Vedy and Stephanie Vongsouthi.

STYLISH RETURN

Kim Clijsters made a splash when she helped inaugurate the new roof over Wimbledon’s Centre Court. After Clijsters and Tim Henman teamed up to win a mixed doubles challenge against Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, Clijsters beat Graf 6-4 and earned a standing ovation from the crowd for the quality of tennis. “I had started practicing again, but I was really out of shape and I didn’t want to embarrass myself,” said Clijsters, who has married and had a child since she retired from the sport. “About four weeks into training I felt I would like to compete again on tour. Since then I have been training really hard.”

SEX AND TENNIS

Anna Kournikova wants to get away from her sexy tennis star image – at least somewhat. The Russian, who works for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Cartoon Network, says she is driven to get kids more involved in sports and exercise. Kournikova began her professional tennis career at the age of 14. And while many think of her as the sexy tennis player, she was ranked as high as eighth in the world in singles and won two Grand Slam tournament doubles titles, partnering with Martina Hingis. While she has not played on the WTA Tour since 2003, Kournikova participates in World Team Tennis and occasionally plays exhibitions. And she hasn’t abandoned modeling. “You’ve got to have some kind of income,” Kournikova said.

SPOT FOR GAUDIO

Gaston Gaudio of Argentina will be playing at Roland Garros again. Gaudio, who won the French Open in 2004, was granted a wild card for this year’s tournament. The 30-year-old right-hander last won a tournament at Kitzbuhel, Austria, in 2005. Once ranked fifth in the world, Gaudio has dropped to 395th in the world rankings.

SIDELINED

It was a doubleheader at the Madrid Open when both Philipp Kohlschreiber and Nikolay Davydenko pulled out of the tournament. Both players said they had injured their left leg and had to withdraw. Kohlschreiber was facing Rafael Nadal in his next match, while Davydenko was scheduled to face Andy Roddick. Both Nadal and Roddick moved into the quarterfinals with walkovers.

SEE, ME TOO

Roland Garros is playing follow the leader, with officials saying the French Open will have a new center court with a retractable roof in place by 2013 or 2014. Wimbledon will have a retractable roof on its Centre Court for the first time at this year’s tournament. The retractable roof-covered stadium in Paris was supposed to be ready for the 2012 Olympics, but it was delayed when France failed to get the Games. Jean Gachassin, president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), said the future of Roland Garros depends on it getting the roof. “The goal is to have an outdoor stadium that can be covered, instead of an indoor stadium that can be uncovered,” said Marc Mimram, the head architect for the project. The Australian Open has two courts with roofs, while organizers of the US Open are considering building a roof over its main court, Arthur Ashe Stadium.

STOP IT

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf say their names and trademarks are being used on Web sites without their permission. The two, who are married, have filed separate cyber squatting claims in federal court. Agassi claims that the domain names andre-agassi.com, andre-agassi.net and andre-agassi.info have been registered. Graf says steffigraf.com, steffigraf.net and steffigraf.info have been registered without her consent. Both Agassi and Graf are seeking ownership of the domain names.

SUSPENSION SHORTENED

When he finally serves his suspension for betting on matches, Mathieu Montcourt will only miss five weeks on the ATP tour instead of eight weeks. And he will be able to compete at both Wimbledon and the US Open this summer. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) noted the 24-year-old Montcourt bet a total of USD $192 on 36 different tennis events, but none on his own matches or at tournaments where he was playing. Citing “the small amounts gambled (and) the absence of influence of the bets on the matches in question,” the CAS reduced Montcourt ban to five weeks, starting July 6. The Frenchman was a finalist this past week at the BNP Paribas Primrose Bordeaux where he lost to Marc Gicquel 3-6 6-1 6-4 in Bordeaux, France.

STAYING RETIRED

Just because she has picked up a racquet and hit with longtime coach Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin says she has no plans to un-retire like fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters. “I hasten to add, just to improve my condition and stay healthy,” Henin said of the practice. A year after she surprised the world by retiring while ranked number one in the world, Henin says she still feels the pain of competitive tennis every day. “If it is not the knee, it is the shoulder,” she said. The seven-time Grand Slam tournament champion is now a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, earlier this year visiting eastern Congo, and is appearing on Belgian television in a show titled “12 works of Justine Henin.”

SCRAPPING TENNIS PROGRAMS

In cost-cutting moves, two American colleges have dropped their tennis programs. Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, suspended indefinitely its tennis programs affected 12 student-athletes, seven men and five women, as well as coach Malik Tabet and assistant coach Martha Montoya. Athletic director Ron Prettyman said he had to cut USD $350,000 from his budget. The university says it will honor all scholarships for the 2009-2010 school year for tennis players who want to stay at ISU, while those who want to transfer will be able to play at other schools.

At Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, Louisiana, the men’s tennis team was cut because of the budget. Officials said the move to drop the 10-player squad was because next year’s proposed state budget calls for chopping millions of dollars from public universities. Southeastern plans to retain men’s tennis coach Jason Hayes, who also oversees the women’s team, which for now will be spared.

The University of La Verne in Southern California won’t drop its women’s tennis team after all. Two weeks after announcing it was dropping the sport temporarily, the women’s program has been reinstated. The biggest problem at the La Verne, California, school – located 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles – was the lack of a facility since the school turned the courts into a parking lot in 2007. But the school worked out a deal to use the facilities at The Claremont Club during the spring, making it possible for the school to keep its program. The men’s tennis program, however, remains on hiatus with no definitive timetable for its return.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Madrid (men): Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Simon Aspelin and Wesley Moodie 6-4 6-4

Madrid (women): Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond 4-6 6-3 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Bordeaux: Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos beat Xavier Pujo and Stephane Robert 4-6 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Dusseldorf: www.arag-world-team-cup.com/

Kitzbuhel: www.atpkitz.at

Warsaw: www.warsawopen.com.pl/

Strasbourg: www.internationaux-strasbourg.fr/

Paris: www.rolandgarros.com/index.html

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$490,000 Interwetten Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay

$1,800,000 ARAG ATP World Team Championships, Dusseldorf, Germany, clay

WTA

$600,000 Warsaw Open, Warsaw, Poland, clay

$220,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, clay

SENIORS

Grand Champions Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay (first week)

Mondays With Bob Greene: All That Glitter Is Gold

STARS

(Beijing Olympics)

Men’s Singles

Gold: Rafael Nadal, Spain

Silver: Fernando Gonzalez, Chile

Bronze: Novak Djokovic, Serbia

Women’s Singles

Gold: Elena Dementieva, Russia

Silver: Dinara Safina, Russia

Bronze: Vera Zvonareva, Russia

Men’s Doubles

Gold: Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland

Silver: Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson, Sweden

Bronze: Bob and Mike Bryan, United States

Women’s Doubles

Gold: Venus and Serena Williams, United States

Silver: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain

Bronze: Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, China

(Other tournaments)

Juan Martin Del Potro beat Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 to win the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.

Nadia Petrova won the Western and Southern Financial Groups Women’s Open in Mason, Ohio, by defeating Nathalie Dechy 6-2 6-1

Pat Cash beat Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 to win the Hall of Fame Champions Cup title in Newport, Rhode Island

Frederico Gil beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 1-6 6-3 to win the Ted Open Challenger in Istanbul, Turkey

SAYINGS

“Nowhere in my best dreams I can imagine something like what I did this year. I know how difficult it is to win these things, and especially here, because you only have one chance every four years.” – Rafael Nadal, after adding Olympic gold to his victories at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“I never expected a medal – gold, silver or bronze. It’s unbelievable. For me this is the best moment in my career.” – Elena Dementieva, after winning the women’s singles title.

“It does mean more for me to win it with Serena, to share this kind of moment with your sister. I mean, we are practically joined at the hip.” – Venus Williams, who with sister Serena won the women’s doubles.

“Sort of a dream-come-true moment. Maybe it comes around once in a lifetime. It’s almost disbelief, to some degree.” – Roger Federer, after he teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to win the men’s doubles gold medal.

“We’re leaving China on a high. We were obviously disappointed that we couldn’t make the gold medal match, but it’s going to be something really special to us to have that medal back at home.” – Mike Bryan, after teaming with brother Bob to win the bronze medal in men’s doubles.

“To win any medal in the Olympics is a huge achievement. Not many of the athletes get a chance to win a medal.” – Novak Djokovic, who beat James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the third-place bronze medal.

“I felt like I competed hard. I have to take something positive from the way I was playing this week.” – James Blake, who upset Roger Federer, then lost the next two matches at the Beijing Olympics.

“I’m the most consistent player, so that’s why I became number one in the world. And my time will come. I’m only 23 years old. It’s not like I’m at the end of my career.” – Jelena Jankovic, defending her rise to the top of the women’s rankings without having reached the final of a Grand Slam tournament.

“I came here to win an Olympic medal and realistically I was only ever going to win one in either singles or doubles. If I had to pick one, I’d like to win it with my brother.” – Andy Murray, following his upset singles loss to Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan at the Olympics. Andy and brother Jamie Murray then lost in the second round of doubles to Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 6-1 6-3.

“The crowd cheered me with so much passion and many of them used my hometown dialect. It was great to play in front of them.” – Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie after her first-round victory at the Olympics. She wound up teaming with Yan Zi for the bronze medal in doubles.

“You know the feeling when you remember something and smile in the darkness? I had this kind of smile on my face that night.” – Akgul Amanmuradov of Uzbekistan, in her blog about the Olympics opening ceremony.

“He can’t win all the time. It is not humanly possible. I think now the pressure is off, so watch out.” – Tomas Berdych, after losing to Roger Federer, saying the Swiss star just has had too much pressure.

“Rafa played great to get it. That’s what I expected and hoped for many years ago when I got to number one – that if ever somebody were to take it away from me, he would have to play an incredible tennis schedule, win the biggest tournaments, dominate the game basically. I think Rafa totally deserves it.” – Roger Federer, on Rafael Nadal taking over the number one ranking.

“This is definitely not the way I wanted to go out, but I am looking forward to getting a week on court to focus on things not in a match situation.” – Andy Roddick, after being upset in Washington, D.C., by Viktor Troicki.

“Roger has been dominating everyone for four years and now Nadal is beating everyone. For me, there are two number ones.” – Italy’s Potito Starace.

“She served really well. She kept it deep, and I was always under pressure. My serve wasn’t that good, and she has one of the best on the tour, so there was a huge gap.” – Nathalie Dechy, after losing to Nadia Petrova in the final at Mason, Ohio.

“I wouldn’t mind playing Roger or Rafa. I just think it would be fun to play on a big court and get that experience, but whoever I play is fine. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.” – Austin Krajicek, who earned a wild card entry into the U.S. Open by winning the U.S. National Boys’ 18 championship.

SHOCKING THURSDAY

Thursday at the Olympics was a rough day for the favorites. It was capped by Li Na’s 7-5 7-5 victory over Venus Williams, but earlier the same day Serena Williams was sidelined by eventual champion Elena Dementieva 3-6 6-4 6-3, and James Blake shocked top-seeded Roger Federer 6-4 7-6 (2). The losers ended up winners, however, as sisters Venus and Serena won the women’s doubles title while Federer teamed with fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles gold.

SPANISH ORO

Rafael Nadal continued his torrid summer by adding Olympic gold to his trophy case. It was the first gold medal for Spain in tennis as Nadal became the first player ranked in the top five in the world to win the men’s singles at the Olympics, never losing serve in his 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-3 victory over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. Nadal also moves up to number one in the world this week, finally supplanting Roger Federer. Nadal has won 38 of his last 39 matches, including victories over Federer in the finals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Gonzalez is the first man since 1920 to medal in men’s singles in two successive Olympic Games.

SWISS GOLD

Roger Federer finally won Olympic gold. He teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles for Switzerland, beating Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden 6-3 6-4 6-7 (4) 6-3 for the title. It was one of the few bright spots this year for Federer, who has not won a Grand Slam tournament since last September and has seen his 4½ -year reign atop the rankings end when Rafael Nadal became number one in the world. It is Federer’s first medal in his three Olympics.

SWEEP

Russia swept all three medals in the women’s singles, with Elena Dementieva gaining the gold, Dinara Safina the silver and Vera Zvonareva the bronze. It was the first time a country has swept all three medals in one tennis event since Great Britain did it in the women’s singles in 1908. Dementieva beat Safina 3-6 7-5 63 for the gold medal, while Zvonareva stopped Li Na of China 6-0 7-5 in the bronze-medal match. Zvonareva was inserted in the singles draw only after fellow Russian Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Olympics with a shoulder injury. It was the second Olympic medal for Dementieva, who won silver in 2000.

SIBLING SUCCESS

Venus and Serena gave the United States a gold medal in women’s doubles by beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2 6-0. With the win, the Williams sisters improved their lifetime Olympic doubles record to 10-0. They won the doubles gold at Sydney but didn’t play in Athens four years ago because Serena was hurt. In the men’s doubles, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan won a bronze for the United States by beating Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement of France 3-6 6-3 6-4. The medal is the first for the Bryan twins.

SERBIAN STAR

Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the bronze in men’s singles when he defeated American James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4). Djokovic, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, followed his medal-winning victory by ripping off his shirt and throwing it to the cheering crowd along with two rackets. He then circled the court waving a Serbian flag. Blake had upset top-seeded Roger Federer in the quarterfinals before losing his next two matches.

STREAKING

Rafael Nadal isn’t the only ATP player having a grand summer. Juan Martin del Potro won his fourth straight tournament by routing Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C. The 19-year-old Argentine ran his winning streak to 19 matches and has won 38 of his last 40 sets. In his last four tournaments, he has win titles in Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and now Washington, D.C. Troicki, a 22-year-old from Serbia, was playing in his first ATP final.

SUITE ROGER

There apparently were so many fans of Roger Federer living in the Olympic village that the Swiss tennis star instead stayed in a Beijing hotel. Every time Federer showed up at the Olympic village his fellow athletes swamped him with requests for autographs. “It is impossible, really, there are so many athletes asking for photos and so on. It is not ideal to prepare,” Federer said. He stayed in the village at the last two Olympics and even met his girlfriend there during the Sydney Games.

SISTERLY ANGST

When the Gumulya sisters finally met on a tennis court when it counted, a tournament title was on the line and 22-year-old Sandy was the top seed. But it was 17-year-old Beatrice Gumulya who came away with her first career singles title, capturing the USD $10,000 ITF event in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sandy Gumulya may be Indonesia’s top female player, but she was routed by her younger sister 6-2 6-1. The Gumulya sisters rarely play in the same tournament, and it has usually been Sandy who has toted home the trophies.

STANDING TALL

Jelena Jankovic showed how much a champion she is when she participated in a gala event in Beijing called Champions For Children. Jankovic took time out before the Olympic tennis competition got underway to support UNICEF in her role as National Ambassador for Serbia, and she also chatted with 14-year-old Chinese tennis champion Liu Yingchong. At the event, which focused on the most vulnerable children, Jankovic advocated for equality for girls. Other celebrities at Champions For Children included movie star Jackie Chan and classical pianist Lang Lang.

SAME OLD MAC

Even with age, rage is still there for John McEnroe. The left-hander was tossed from his opening round-robin match at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, for a new kind of triple fault: cursing, arguing with the chair umpire and making an obscene gesture at fans. While arguing a line call, the 49-year-old McEnroe was given a code violation warning for uttering an obscenity. When he kept up his tirade against chair umpire Ray Brodeur, he drew two abuse of official penalties. As the argument progressed, fans started yelling at McEnroe to resume play. McEnroe responded with his obscene gesture and was ejected, the first time McEnroe has been defaulted from a match on the Outback Champions Series, a circuit for stars over 30.

SWITCH AT THE TOP

In the maddening world of tennis rankings, Ana Ivanovic has regained the number one spot from her Serbian compatriot Jelana Jankovic, even though she withdrew from the Olympics with a thumb injury. Jankovic played – which could have been her downfall – but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by silver medalist Dinara Safina. If she had won the gold, Jankovic would have retained the number one ranking. Svetlana Kuznetsova also could have become number one if she had won the Olympic gold. Instead, the Russian lost in the first round.

STRIPPER

When her shirt was soaked with sweat, Australia’s Casey Dellacqua changed at her courtside chair by stripping down to her sports bra during her 6-2 6-0 loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Olympics. Dellacqua was furious when chair umpire Ali Katebi and then tournament supervisor Donna Kelso refused to allow her to go to the dressing room to change her shirt without having to take an authorized toilet break. “In this humidity, you should be able to change a shirt,” Dellacqua said. “I could literally feel water dripping down my legs. But he wouldn’t let me go off the court … So I just thought, ‘Oh, I’ll strip’.'” That, she did.

SET TO WED

A German newspaper says former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker plans to marry his late manager’s daughter. According to Bild, Sandy Meyer-Woelden, 24, will marry the 40-year-old Becker. The bride-to-be is the daughter of former Becker manager Axel Meyer-Woelden, who died in 1997. Becker is divorced from his first wife, Barbara Becker, with whom he has two children. He also has a daughter with London-based model Angela Ermakova. Meyer-Woelden is a jewelry designer and for several years dated German tennis star Tommy Haas.

SENIOR SHUFFLE

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been added to the Outback Champions Series for 2009. The Rio Champions Cup will be held March 12-15, 2009, on an indoor hard court at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and will be the first stop for the senior tour in South America for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic are the first three players to commit to play in the eight-player round-robin event.

SHOWING IT AGAIN

The 2008 Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, considered by many as one of the greatest tennis matches ever, will be shown in the United States again on ESPN Classic on Sunday, August 24,. The five-time defending champ Federer came back from two sets down and saved two championship points in the fourth-set tiebreak before falling 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 as Nadal won his first Wimbledon title. The rain-delayed match ended in near darkness after 4 hours, 48 minutes of play, making it the longest (in terms of elapsed time) men’s final in Wimbledon recorded history, and ending 7 hours, 15 minutes after its scheduled start. The defeat also brought to an end Federer’s 65-match winning streak on grass.

SINGLES ENTRIES

Severine Bremond will play in her 19th consecutive Grand Slam tournament singles draw. The Frenchwoman, who turned 29 the past week, received a wild card into the U.S. Open, which begins August 25. Once ranked as high as 34 in the world, Bremond reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon two years ago. Others receiving wild cards into the main women’s singles draw are U.S. Girls’ 18s national champion Gail Brodsky, American Fed Cup players Jamea Jackson and Ahsha Rolle, and American teenagers Asia Muhammad, Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe. The United States Tennis Associated said an eighth wild card will be given to an Australian player not yet named.

Awarded wild cards into the men’s singles draw are Americans Amer Delic, a former NCAA singles champion; Brendan Evans, Scoville Jenkins, Austin Krajicek, Jesse Levine, and Sam Warburg, along with Carsten Ball of Australia and Laurent Recouderc of France. Krajicek, a distant relative of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, earned his wild card by capturing the USTA Boys’ 18 singles national championship, defeating Ryan Thacher 2-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 in the first battle of left-handers in the tournament’s finals history.

SHARING TITLES

The United States boys’ and girls’ teams pulled off a historic feat at the World Junior Tennis Finals, each winning the 14-and-under version of Fed Cup and Davis Cup in Prostejov, Czech Republic.  It is the first time in the history of the event that one country has captured both titles.  The girls’ team successfully defended its 2007 title, while the boys’ team won the championship for the first time since 2003.

SAWGRASS BOUND

Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will be the site next year for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been held at Amelia Island Plantation just outside Jacksonville, Florida. The tournament, which had been known as Bausch & Lomb, will also get new sponsorship and be known as The MPS Group Championships.

SWITCHING SPORTS

Kelsey Anonsen is giving up her tennis scholarship at the University of Washington to switch to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and that school’s women’s basketball team. In high school, the 5-foot-9 (1.7m) guard led her team to a provincial basketball title and was a tournament all-star. In tennis, she was ranked sixth in the Canadian province.

SETS NEW ANTI-DOPING CODE

The International Tennis Federation has ratified a new anti-doping code which will allow more flexibility in determining sanctions. The changes, which will allow the circumstances of a case to be taken into account to a greater extent, go into effect on January 1.

SUIT

Tennis great Tracy Austin is the latest sports figure to accuse a prominent Los Angeles investment broker of fraud. Austin and her husband Scott Holt filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Gary R. Fournier charged excessive commissions on bond trades and “churned” their accounts to generate fees from unnecessary transactions. The couple claims damages “in excess of USD $500,000″ on the trades, which allegedly occurred from 1994 to 2002, while Fournier worked for Salomon Smith Barney Inc. Its successor firm, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., also is named as a defendant. Fournier has denied wrongdoing. Others who have filed charges against Fournier include former basketball players Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, B.J. Armstrong and Stacey Augmon; and former major league baseball players Sean Douglass and Rex Hudler.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Washington: Marc Gicquel and Robert Lindstedt beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (6) 6-3

Mason: Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova beat Hsieh Su-Wei and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Istanbul: Michael Kohlman and Frank Moser beat David Skoch and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (4) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com

Forest Hills: www.foresthillstennis.com

US Open: www.usopen.org

Jelena Jankovic: www.jj-jelenajankovic.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$708,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard

WTA TOUR

$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard

$74,800 Forest Hills Tennis Classic, Forest Hills, New York, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard

Bill Mountford: Olympic Tennis – Citius, Altius, Fortius!

The Olympics event has gotten increasingly compelling.

The Russian women have their 3rd, 4th, and 6th ranked players in the semi-final round (Safina, Dementieva, and Zvonareva respectively).  This is unprecedented since the Olympics were reinstated in 1988.

In a nod to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who did the seeding for the doubles, it seems as though some of the best “singles” players in the world are poised to be decorated in doubles gold.  This is in stark contrast to Rennae Stubbs’ comments. The affable Aussie offered a self-serving criticism of the seeding policy (before losing to doubles “specialists” from Spain), suggesting that it is incorrect to factor in singles rankings when seeding for the doubles event.

Roger Federer has continued his quest for gold… but in the doubles.  With partner Stan Wawrinka, also ranked top 10 in the world in singles, redemption should come at the hands of surprise Swedes Tommy Johansson and Simon Aspelin during the gold medal round.  I will continue to presume that if Roger Federer actually played doubles frequently (and the same can be said for the Williams sisters in women’s tennis) that he would be atop the world ranking. This is reminiscent of Barcelona, when two great singles players (Boris Becker and Michael Stich) ran the tables to take the gold.

The top-seeded Bryan brothers take on Michael Llodra and Arnie Clement for the bronze.  The French team beat the Bryans in Davis Cup earlier this year and in the 2007 Wimbledon final.

James Blake lost a heartbreaker to Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the semi-final.  The match was marred by an incredulous moment.  The first point of the 19th game in the third set was decided when Blake rifled a passing shot point-blank that evidently clicked off Gonzalez’ racquet before sailing long.  Replays confirmed this.  Unfortunately, the umpire did not see or hear this.  In an act of dubious sportsmanship, the Chilean offered nothing.  Commentator Jimmy Arias, who might well be the best in the business, called it exactly what it was: Cheating.

This has been gum-chewing time for US coaches Rodney Harmon and Jay Berger.  Like tennis coaches are wont to do, Harmon and Berger have looked presciently calm on the sidelines, but their stomachs surely have been churning.

In the second men’s semi, the relentless Rafael Nadal managed to overcome Novak Djokovic.  Theirs is fast becoming the best rivalry in tennis, as Djokovic has the movement and groundstroke artillery to compete favorably against Nadal.  The final point of the match came when Rafa chased down some bombs and lofted a short lob that was sure to be smashed away.  Unfortunately nerves came into play or Djokovic simply took his eyes off the ball, but he missed the simple overhead smash.  His tearful reaction while walking off the court confirmed just how meaningful this Olympic opportunity was for him.

I have been among the naysayers about Olympic tennis, but could not have been proved more wrong.  The painful, inconsolable reactions from losing players, and the sheer tension at the end of close matches, have told a clear story.  The players love this event, and are desperate for success.  Citius, Altius, Fortius indeed!

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