Sydney International

The Secret Behind Bobby Reynolds’ Win Streak

The chances that Jesse Levine gets his racquet back are looking slim.

After an inauspicious start in Brisbane, losing in the first round of qualifiers, Bobby Reynolds asked Levine for one of his racquets.

Since then, Reynolds has gone undefeated, winning five matches in a row at the Sydney International, including an upset over second seed John Isner. The victory was his first top-20 win in nearly seven years.

“Luckily [Levine] was nice enough to give me one of his racquets in Brisbane because the ones I brought down here didn’t fare so well and I didn’t really like it after I played a couple matches with them,” said Reynolds in an interview with the ATP. “He was nice enough to give me one racquet and that’s been getting me through the last five matches.”

The world No. 126 also joked that he may owe his friend Levine some money after his successful run in Sydney.

“He told me that I own him 20 percent,” said Reynolds with a laugh. “But I told him the more the tournament goes on the less likely he’ll get his racquet back or the 20 percent.”

With the win over Isner, Reynolds is in his first ATP quarterfinal since 2008. However, the victory also means that he will miss out on the Australian Open as he was set to play in the qualifiers that began this week.

“It was kind of a tough decision for me to play it out because I was in the qualies at the Australian Open,” said the 29-year-old Reynolds. “[But] I’m glad that I stuck with it here and gave it my all and I hope to build on this for the rest of the year.”

After progressing through the qualifying draw, Reynolds faces fellow qualifier Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday for an unexpected spot in the semifinals.

Regardless of the outcome, Reynolds may want to start stocking up on Levine’s racquets.

 

 

Soderling lifts first title of year, Clijsters back on form and Wozniacki laughs off criticism

*Swedish star Robin Soderling has paid tribute to new coach Claudio Pistolesi after overcoming Andy Roddick to win the Brisbane International 6-3, 7-5. The victory means that the Swedish No. 1 will climb above Andy Murray to No. 4 in the world and secures him the fourth seeding at the upcoming Australian Open. “We’ve only worked together for a couple of weeks, this is the first tournament, and it’s working pretty well, no?” said Soderling, who is looking to improve on a dismal record of never reaching the third round at Melbourne Park. “I’m playing really well and what makes me really happy is I never really played well in Australia before. It gives me a lot of confidence for Melbourne.” American star Roddick rued his inability to combat Soderling’s serve: “He served too well, it seemed like any time I had a look, he came up with one of those big serves,” said the American No. 1. “I’m normally at the other side and it’s better on that end of the serve.”

*Despite recent talk of a second retirement the Belgian Kim Clijsters has exploded on to the 2011 tennis calendar. In her opening match of the year at the Sydney International she took only 62 minutes to register a 6-1, 6-2 victory over the young Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru. The No. 3 seed won the first eleven points of the match and the first five games. “I was feeling very comfortable out there, said the three-time US Open winner. “It’s a nice feeling to have when you play your first match. I was really focused on trying to place my serves well and not give Alexandra a lot of second serves to attack. When I started back on the WTA I was working on my consistency – my best game was there but then I’d lose it for three or four games,” Clijsters added. “The last few months I’ve been focusing on that and reading myself better, and realizing when I lose that intensity, pick it up again as soon as possible.” Full reaction to the day’s play can be viewed at the WTA website.

*World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki has laughed off criticism after being stunned by Dominika Cibulkova in the second round in Sydney. “You need to learn from the losses,” said the 20-year-old, who is aiming to break her Grand Slam duck in Melbourne. “I’m confident for Melbourne I’ll be OK, there are positives I can take.” It was Cibulkova’s first win over the dominant Wozniacki in six attempts. And the Dane admitted there was room for improvement: “At the start of the new season you need to get into match play. I didn’t feel I was playing great tennis out there,” Wozniacki added. “Now I just need to get some training matches, head to Melbourne and get ready for the Australian Open. Last year I had the same start, so hopefully slow start, good finish.” The young Cibulkova was understandably delighted: “I think I’ve beaten No.2, No.3, No.4, No.5 and everybody, just not No.1,” said the Slovakian. “So I’m really happy about it. The most important thing today was I went on the court and saw myself like a winner from the first point until the last point. So it wasn’t a surprise for me – I just played my game. I had my plan. I knew it was going to work if I just stuck to my plan.” Full reaction can be seen at the WTA website.

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal is back on his feet after the bout of flu which badly affected him during his semifinal defeat to Nikolay Davydenko at the Qatar Open and has flown to Melbourne to continue his preparations for the Australian Open. The Spaniard is hoping to dethrone his great rival Roger Federer and hold all four Grand Slams simultaneously for the first time in his career. “Going by plane sometimes makes you worse and at the same time I don’t have anything to do right now in Australia,” the 24-year-old told the NZHerald. “With my condition right now I think the more reasonable thing to do is rest a few days and have less risk of injuries, less risk of everything.”

*2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro insists he is happy with his current comeback from injury following a shock 2-6, 5-7 defeat to the German Florian Mayer in the second round of the Sydney International. Missing much of 2010 saw del Potro fall to No. 259 in the world but having an injury protected ranking means he will compete at the Australian Open next week. “Of course I want to play and win a tournament,” he said following the match. “When you lose, it’s hard, but now it’s different, I have different sensations. I lost but I have another tournament in three days. I have my wrist in good shape. That’s good. Mayer played better than me but it’s normal. I am very far off my good game but I did my best. It was shorter, but I tried.”

*British No. 1 Andy Murray has denied that his decision to play in un-ranked events leading up to the Australian Open has harmed his chances of success. His decision to attend the Hopman Cup alongside Laura Robson last week coupled with Robin Soderling lifting the title at Brisbane means that the Scot will slip below the Swede and enter the Aussie slam ranked and seeded fifth. “I was seeded five for the Australian Open last year, so I don’t think it makes a big difference,” said Murray, who reached the final in 2010 before being outclassed by Roger Federer in straight sets. The full interview can be read at The Guardian website. Murray has also announced that he will return to Davis Cup play for the first time since 2009 after discovering that some play is required in order to compete at the 2012 Olympics. “I didn’t know about the Olympics situation until December,” he told the Daily Mail. “But I said to Leon [Smith, Davis Cup captain] before that I would be able to play and we should keep speaking. I will sit down and talk with him in Australia and see if he wants me to play in March or if it would be good for the other guys to have another match. I will definitely play, probably one or two [ties].”

*British teen sensation Laura Robson will miss both the Australian Open and Britain’s upcoming Fed Cup tie in Israel after injuring her hip in the Hopman Cup last week. Marcos Baghdatis is now a doubt for the men’s draw after withdrawing from this week’s Sydney International, where he was defending his 2010 title, with a groin injury.

*Young Aussie hopeful Bernard Tomic has vowed to mend his ways after receiving one of the final four wildcards in to this year’s Australian Open. Aussie Davis Cup coach Todd Woodbridge had previously told the talented 18-year-old to start making more of his gifts and Tomic seems firmly in agreement. In response to some questioning whether he deserved preferential treatment he said: “Look, it’s their decision at the end of the day. I can’t decide if I’m going to get it or not. I can only try to play tennis as much as I can. Yes, I had a bit of a strange December, but now it’s January. I mean, it’s their opinion. Everyone has got their own opinion; I’ve got mine. You don’t think about those things. You just play tennis. I think the wild-card that they gave, they gave for a reason.” Tomic’s full reaction can be read at The Australian’s website. Carsten Ball, Sally Peers and Sophie Ferguson were the other recipients.

*Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt believes he is ready for a strong run at his home slam Australian Open despite not playing a ranked warm-up tournament for the first time. “I feel like I’ve done the hard yards,” said the 2005 finalist who did compete at the Hopman Cup last week and is currently taking part in the Kooyong exhibitions. “There’s no stone that’s unturned for me, and I can go out there and know that I’ve had the best preparation possible for myself and my body. Obviously I won’t be seeded next week, so [it’s] a little bit in the hands of the Gods where you get put in the draw, but I feel capable that I can go out there and cause some upsets.” Sam Stosur also believes she can bring home glory for her flood-ridden country despite an early loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova in Sydney as well as an early defeat to compatriot Jarmila Groth in Brisbane last week. “I’m going to go in there thinking I can [win],” said the 26-year-old. “But there’s a long way from thinking you can do it and playing a first-round [match] to holding the trophy at the end…Even though it’s two second-round losses, I’m actually quite happy with the way I’m playing and think I’m in a good spot for Melbourne and still looking forward to obviously the Australian Open. If I could look back on this time last year to now I’m feeling 100 per cent better than I was.”

*In her latest attempts to find a new coach the Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova has begun working with Carlos Cuadrado.

*Former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo has been named the joint director of her home town tournament the WTA Paris Open. The Wimbledon and Australian Open Champion won the event three times during her career and said the challenge was “too good to turn down.”

*Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will find out next month whether they are the 2011 victors of the Laureus Sports Awards in Abu Dhabi. Nadal faces Formula One’s Sebastien Vettel, boxer Manny Pacquiao, basketball star Kobe Bryant and footballers Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Serena faces fellow tennis stars Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters, skier Lindsey Vonn, British track star Jessica Ennis and high jumper Blanka Vlasic.

*Roger Federer is looking to expand his charity exhibition CV by hosting an event in aid of the flood victims in Queensland on Sunday in Melbourne. The 16-time Grand Slam winner is in the city preparing for the Australian Open and said on his Facebook page: “The floods here in Australia are devastating! I am on my way to practise now and am going to speak with Tennis Australia to see if we perhaps can organise something on Sunday to help raise some funds for the people of Queensland who have been affected. Stay tuned as it would be great if the sport of tennis can help out right before the Australian Open begins.” Federer has previous when it comes to this type of thing and his ‘Hit For Haiti’ fundraisers were a massive hit on the 2010 circuit. Andy Roddick and Aussie star Sam Stosur promised $100 for every ace they hit in Brisbane last week with Roddick handing over $10,800 following his loss to Robin Soderling in the final. The ATP and WTA have also made the same pledge covering last week’s and this week’s tournaments as well as the Australian Open.

*Fresh for 2011 Tennis People has decided to introduce a new weekly feature to chronicle the ongoing battle between the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer, and his great rival Rafa Nadal: The GOAT Race. Unfortunately, this won’t see the world’s top two players hurtle down a Welsh mountainside atop a buccaneering billy goat gruff, but will keep track of their on-court achievements this term. With Rafa’s injury problems and Roger’s off-court duties as a father to contend with, both players will be awarded ten points for entering a tournament. They will receive a further 25 points for a quaterfinals appearance, 50 for a semifinal and 100 if they reach the final. Every title lifted will earn them 200 points. These will be doubled for Grand Slam competitions. So, after the first tournaments of 2011 came to a close R-Fed’s victory in Qatar makes him our early leader with 210 points after that 6-3, 6-4 win over Nikolay Davydenko. That’s ten for entering, and 200 for lifting the title. Rafa picks up 60 points after losing that flu-hit semi to the diminutive Russian.

Roger: 210   Rafa: 60

G’DAY FOR THE AUSSIES IN SYDNEY

Wednesday was a “G’Day” for the home Aussies at the Sydney International. Lleyton Hewitt needed just 55 minutes to beat Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 to advance into the quarterfinals. The win avenged a loss to Seppi in Sydney’s quarterfinals four years ago after wasting two match points; Also 30-year-old Aussie Peter Luczak reached first ATP-quarterfinal in his home country after 1-6 6-4 6-2 win over Tomas Berdych.
The Spaniards are the main force at the Heineken Open in Auckland where they comprise of the top four seeds. However, only two of them advanced to the quarterfinals. Swiss qualifier Michael Lammer, 27, advanced to the first ATP-quarterfianl when he led 3:1 in the first set when his opponent, Juan Carlos Ferrero (No. 3 seed), was forced to retire (sprained right ankle).

FUNDING CUTS, COMEBACKS, WITHDRAWALS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

By Leigh Sanders

British No. 2 Alex Bogdanovic’s career looks in jeopardy after the 25-year-old was told he is one of eleven players cut from the list to receive the highest level of support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) next year.

He is ranked No. 164 in the world, 97 places above British No. 3 Dan Evans who has been retained on the LTA’s high priority list. But the LTA appear to be growing impatient with his lack of progress and had already informed him in June that he was unlikely to receive a wildcard entry to the 2010 Wimbledon championships following his eighth consecutive first-round exit this year.

He is, however, still eligible for a reduced level of support. Bogdanovic had his financial support cut in 2004 after the LTA questioned his commitment but he recovered to reach a career-high 108 in 2007. The news comes following his recent exclusion from the British Davis Cup Team after only one victory in eight singles rubbers.

British No. 7 in women’s tennis, Naomi Broady, has also been left off the list despite finishing 2009 with three straight ITF titles and a career-high ranking at No. 309. The 19-year-old hit the headlines in 2007 when she had her funding cut after posting “inappropriate” pictures and messages on a social networking website.

*The venues for the opening round matches of the 2010 Davis Cup World Group have begun to be announced. The ties, played March 5-7, have given India a tricky encounter as they travel to Moscow to face the formidable Russians. The Indians lead 2-1 in head-to-heads and they will hope for progression to the quarterfinals as the Commonwealth’s only hope in the top band of Davis Cup countries. It is India’s first year in the top group since 1998.

*Belgian former world No. 1 Justine Henin has been handed a wildcard for the Sydney International in Australia next month as she makes her return to the tennis circuit.

*Britain’s Anne Keothavong has announced her return from knee ligament damage will be Team GB’s Fed Cup match up with Portugal in February. “To make my comeback from injury at the Fed Cup will be tough,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport, but hopefully we can perform well and move GB into the World Group.” She joins Elena Baltacha, Katie O’Brien and doubles specialist Sarah Borwell in being selected.

*Casey Dellacqua has recovered from injury to secure a wildcard for the 2010 Australian Open after winning Tennis Australia’s 2010 Australian Open Wildcard Playoff. The 24-year-old returned from shoulder surgery to recover from a 1-6, 2-5 deficit to beat upcoming star Olivia Rogowska 1-6, 7-6(9), 6-3. Alicia Molik was also in the draw but fell at the quarterfinal stage. In the men’s draw, Nick Lindahl defeated Bernard Tomic to book his place at the 2010 extravaganza.

*The 2010 South African Open in Johannesburg has been hit by a host of shuns after registration for the event closed on Tuesday. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France will be missing as a tough schedule including Davis Cup play after the Australian Open means he can not return to defend his title. South African tennis fans will be angered that their No. 1 star Kevin Anderson has also decided to miss the event, instead choosing to play in Challenger Events of lesser stature in Dallas and Hawaii. Anderson infuriated his countryman a few months ago when he refused to play in South Africa’s crucial World Group Davis Cup Playoff against India and this certainly won’t heal those bridges. However Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils and Spanish Davis Cup hero David Ferrer have confirmed they will play the event at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort.

*The latest ‘Active People Survey’ in Great Britain has shown an increase across all age groups of people participating in tennis. Those playing tennis weekly and monthly as well as club memberships have all seen increases. Yorkshire, in particular, saw a huge rise in the number of weekly participants. The stats will please the LTA who rank increasing participation highly in their ‘Whole Sport Plan.’

*Tennis Canada has announced the addition of promising junior Steven Diez to its National Team Program. The Toronto native will now represent Canada on the world stage.

*The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of Great Britain was in mourning this week following the passing of three of its highly respected names of past and present. Board member Sir Robert Phillips sadly lost his long battle with cancer this week and passed away in the early hours of December 22nd, aged 64. His distinguished career also saw him serve as Deputy Director-General of the BBC and most recently as the Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group. This followed the sad news that Dick Robinson OBE had also passed away aged 93. He joined the LTA board in 1954 and served as Chairman in 1973. Another former LTA President, Ron Presley OBE, has also lost a long battle with cancer and has passed away aged 78. He was one of the first men to serve as a Past President in 1995 when the category was first introduced.

Tennis History Tuesday – MCENROE ROUTS LENDL

Today is Tuesday so that means another edition of “Tennis History Tuesday” where we bring you another excerpt from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY with events that happened on January 13.  While the tennis world is gearing up for the Australian Open, this time of the year used to be devoted to the men’s tournament known as the year-end Masters Championships played at Madison Square Garden. The Australian Open was played in December and, due mainly to the proximity to the Christmas holidays, did not feature the strongest fields and was not considered as prestigious at the time as the Masters (or the women’s equivalent, the Virginia Slims Championships.). Enjoy the excerpts below, which features memorable wins for Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. For more information on the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY, go to www.tennishistorybook.com

1980 – Bjorn Borg finally wins in New York as the two-time U.S. Open runner-up wins the Masters Championships at Madison Square Garden, defeating Vitas Gerulaitis 6-2, 6-2 in the championship match. “I wanted to win a tournament here for a long time,” says Borg, who would play – and lose – two more U.S. Open finals in his career.

1985 – John McEnroe wins his third – and final – Masters singles championship, defeating Ivan Lendl 7-5, 6-0, 6-4 in the final at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Says Lendl of McEnroe in the post-match press conference, “I would say that he played very well. Unfortunately, I’ve seen him play very well many times.” The only hiccup in the match comes with McEnroe serving for the first set at 6-5 and, while bouncing balls off his racquet, waiting for photographers to settle down in their courtside positions, he bounces one of the balls higher than anticipated that hits his eye and requires McEnroe to engage in a three-minute injury time-out. Says McEnroe of freak injury, “I couldn’t see for a couple of minutes. I’ve hit myself before never when it hurt that way.”

1997 – Unheralded Spaniard Carlos Moya upsets defending champion Boris Becker 5-7, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open in oppressive 95-degree temperatures, with on-court readings registering as high as 135 degrees. “The weather was maybe the key to the match,” Moya says after contesting only his third five-set match. “I was also tired, but I think he was more tired than me. I am a young man, he is 29…I played a good match. Nobody can beat Boris when he’s playing 100 per cent. I was sure at least to fight (out) the match and put pressure on him.” Moya, a future French Open champion and world No. 1, goes on to reach the final of the tournament, where he loses to Pete Sampras.

2003 – Two-time defending champion Jennifer Capriati becomes the first defending women’s singles champion to lose in the first round of the Australian Open, losing to German Marlene Weingartner 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 on the opening day of the Australian Championships. Capriati partially blamed the loss on recent eye surgery in late 2002.

2007 – In a rare, ironic twist, James Blake wins the Sydney International with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win over Carlos Moya, the same player he is scheduled to play in the first round of the following week’s Australian Open. Three days later, Blake again beats Moya, registering a 7-6 (8), 6-2, 6-4 first round win. Blake joins four-time champion Lleyton Hewitt and two-time titlist Pete Sampras as the only players to win back-to-back titles in Sydney in the Open era.

1974 – Six weeks after losing the 1973 Davis Cup final to lose its five-year hold on the Davis Cup trophy, the United States is dealt its earliest loss ever in Davis Cup play as Jairo Velasco defeats Erik van Dillen 6-0, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to clinch Colombia’s 4-1 first round win over the United States in Bogota, Colombia. A 45-minute rain delay at the end of the third set snuffs out any momentum that van Dillen can muster as the American double-faults 10 times in the fourth set to go down in defeat. After clinching the historic victory, Velasco is carried around the court by enthusiastic fans.

1998 – Martina Hingis becomes the first No. 1 ranked woman ever to lose her opening match of a calendar year, losing 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 to fellow 17-year-old Venus Williams in the first round of the Sydney International tennis championships.