Tathiana Garbin

NCAA Champion Cecil Loses In Opening Match at US Open

Despite losing in the first round of the US Open, Spartanburg native and NCAA champion Mallory Cecil chalks it all up to a learning experience.

Playing in front a packed crowd on Court 8, Cecil, who received a wild card into the main draw for winning the NCAA championships earlier this summer, found herself overwhelmed by the occasion and her opponent’s game. Committing 38 unforced errors, the American never managed to impose her game as she lost 6-0, 6-1 to Tathiana Garbin, the veteran player from Italy.

“I’m just really lacking experience at this point,” said Cecil. “This is all new to me and matches like these show me what I need to do to play against players at this level.”

Cecil, who turned professional this summer on August 14th, opened the match with two unforced errors as Garbin seemed content to guide down the ball the middle of the court, allowing Cecil to dictate the tempo of the match.

The American held a game point on her serve early on in the first set and held a break point one game later, but backhand errors cost Cecil the chance to get on the scoreboard, allowing Garbin to run take the first set, 6-0.

“With players like Garbin, it’s pretty much all up to you,” said Cecil. “I was trying to control the points, but also hitting shots I didn’t necessarily need to go for. It was tough to do anything with her slice because it stayed so low, but in order to be a top player, you have to learn how to handle anything.”

Cecil held serve to level the second set at 1-1, but it would be the only game she won in the contest. Committing unforced errors early in the rallies, Cecil dropped serve two more times before a missed drop shot sent Garbin into the second round on her first match point.

“I’ll obviously talk about the match with my dad and my coach, but obviously I need to try and put this behind me as quickly as possible,” said Cecil.

Despite the loss today, Cecil has shown potential this summer as she looks to break through the pro ranks. She reached the quarterfinals of a $50,000 challenger in Texas, and in the first round of a $50,000 challenger in Kentucky, served for the match against No. 63 ranked Julie Coin before losing in 3 sets.

“I can definitely compete against players in the top 100, but those were smaller tournaments and there wasn’t perhaps as much as attention as there was in this match,” said Cecil. “I’m just in a bit of a slump and need to try and move past it.”

Cecil said she plans to either play several challenger events in the US this fall, or head to France for a five week stretch of challengers. By this time next year, she plans to be in the US Open off merit, rather than a wildcard.

“By this time next year, I want my ranking to be high enough to get into the US Open qualifying (approximately No. 250) and then qualify into the main draw. Having a wild card was great, but I want to be able to do this on my own.”

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

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: Federer has the potential to win at Paris and at any site in the world

STARS

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Julien Benneteau 3-6 7-6 (1) 6-3 to win the Interwetten Austrian Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria

Aravane Rezai beat Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (2) 6-1 to win the Internationaux de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France

Alexandra Dulgheru beat Alona Bondarenko 7-6 (3) 6-3 6-0 to win the Warsaw Open in Warsaw, Poland

Serbia won the ARAG ATP World Team Championship, defeating Germany in Dusseldorf, Germany

Thomas Enqvist beat Fernando Meligeni 7-6(3) 6-3 to win the AOC Grand Champions Brazil in Sao Paulo, Brazil

SAYING
“I know what I have to do, but that doesn’t make it easy.” – Roger Federer, when asked if he could win the French Open.

“Federer has the potential to win at Paris and at any site in the world. He’s showed that throughout his career. But Paris begins with the first round, not the final.” – Rafael Nadal.

“If I continue playing like I’ve been playing for the past three weeks, I have a very good chance (of winning the tournament). I’m really looking forward to it.” – Dinara Safina, on her chances at Roland Garros.

“Any win on the clay is a great win. I know the Americans don’t do well over here, so it’s good to get us on the board.” – Robert Kendrick, after his five-set, first-day win over Daniel Brands.

“To play him on any surface, he’s so dangerous. (He served) a lot of unreturnables.” – Lleyton Hewitt, after surviving a French Open -record 55 aces struck by Ivo Karlovic to win his first-round match.

“I think it is going to be huge and this is respect because Djokovic was not here. And I think we showed that we are a big tennis nation also if Novak is not here with us.” – Janko Tipsarevic, after he teamed with Viktor Troicki and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic to lead Serbia to the ARAG ATP World Team Championship title.

“A very, very poor match – probably my worst match in the last two years.” – Jelena Dokic, after losing to Romanian qualifier Ioana Raluca Olaru in the first round of the Warsaw Open.

“I have no expectations for the French Open. This is not a time in my career to have expectations.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing a quarterfinal match in her first singles tournament since undergoing shoulder surgery.

“It’s incredible. I’m so happy to win my first title in France.” – Aravane Rezai, the first Frenchwoman to win the Internationaux de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France, in the tournament’s 23-year history.

“I didn’t expect to win. I don’t know what happened that I was playing so well. .. I had to use every drop of energy I had to win.” – Alexandra Dulgheru, after winning her first WTA Tour title, the Warsaw Open.

“I think it’s my best moment in my career. I played in my first ATP World Tour final and I won.” – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, after winning the Austrian Open.

SETS RECORD FOR ACES

Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 55 aces yet still lost his first-round Roland Garros match to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7 (1) 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4) 6-4 6-3. The tallest man on the ATP Tour at 6-foot-10 (2.08m), Karlovic shared the previous record of 51 aces with Joachim Johansson. The ATP began keeping records on aces in1991. However, Bud Collins, the Hall of Fame tennis journalist and broadcaster, in his book The Bud Collins History of Tennis, lists American Ed Kauder as the holder of the most aces struck in a match. Kauder fired 59 aces in a 6-2 3-6 9-11 10-8 6-0 first-round loss to Ham Richardson at the US Championships (now US Open) in 1955. According to Collins, Karlovic’s 55 aces stands as the second-most all-time and the most aces in a match at Roland Garros.

SET FOR LONDON

Rafael Nadal is the first player to clinch a spot in the season-ending ATP World Tour finals to be held in London. Nadal is the reigning Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon champion. He will be joined by seven other player sin the November 22-29 event. Despite qualifying for the year-ending event in each of the past four years, Nadal has twice withdrawn from the competition because of injury and has never reached the final. Last year he missed the finale in Shanghai because of tendinitis in his knee. He lost to Roger Federer in the semifinals in 2006 and 2007.

SURPRISE

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Alexandra Dulgheru won the Warsaw Open. She rallied from 7-5 4-2 down to win her opening round in qualifying, then won two more matches just to get to the main draw. Ranked 201st in the world, Dulgheru included among her victims Daniela Hantuchova before she beat Alona Bondarenko in her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final. Dulgheru won the title match in two hours, 52 minutes – exactly the same time it took her to beat Lenka Wienerova in the first round of qualifying.

STOPPED

John Isner’s French Open ended before it began. Isner won a wild card into Roland Garros by winning the USTA wild card tournament in Boca Raton, Florida. But he had to pull out of the French Open because of mononucleosis.

Russia’s Dimitry Tursunov and Croatia’s Mario Ancic are also missing this year’s clay court Grand Slam tournament. Tursunov withdrew because of a heel injury, while Ancic pulled out because of a lack of fitness.

SHARAPOVA BACK

Maria Sharapova played singles in a tournament for the first time in nearly 10 months, reaching the quarterfinals before being stopped by Alona Bondarenko. The three-time Grand Slam tournament winner needed nine match points in her opening match before finally downing Tathiana Garbin in three sets at the Warsaw Open. She beat Darya Kustova in the second round before falling to the eight-seeded Bondarenko. The Russian had surgery for a torn rotator cuff last year and missed the US and Australian Opens as well as the Beijing Olympics. She briefly returned to tournament tennis in March, playing and losing a doubles match in Indian Wells, California. “In these nine months the only thing I’ve accomplished is probably a good pasta carbonara,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s not my specialty. My specialty is to go out and compete and win Grand Slams.” Sharapova has already next month’s Edgbaston Classic in Birmingham, England, a grass-court warm-up for Wimbledon.

STRICKEN

Japan’s Kei Nishikori has an injured right elbow, forcing him to pull out of the French Open. Nishikori has not played since losing in the opening round at Indian Wells, California, in March. Last year Nishikori became the first Japanese man since 1937 to reach the fourth round of the US Open, and he was later honored as the ATP’s newcomer of the year for 2008. He was ranked as high as number 56, but currently is ranked 117th in the world.

STEFFI AND ANDRE, AGAIN

Their act was so good at Wimbledon, Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf will play another exhibition match – this time at Roland Garros on Saturday, June 6. Sponsored by Longines and in honor of the tenth anniversary of the couple’s 1999 singles championship victories, Agassi and Graf will play on Court 7 with ten young players from around the world.

STEAMED

Lleyton Hewitt is upset over the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) decision to fine Australia USD $10,000 because of the country’s refusal to play a Davis Cup zonal tie in India. Tennis Australia (TA) had asked the ITF to move the Asia/Oceania Zone tie out of Chennai, India, but when the request was denied, the Australians refused to play, forfeiting the round. “The way the ITF went about it was a disgrace in the first place,” said Hewitt. “Australia Davis Cup is pretty disappointed about the way they’ve gone about it.” Under ITF rules, Australia could have been suspended for a year. India feels the ITF has been too lenient with Australia and is seeking a review of the punishment.

STUPIDITY

Jelena Dokic’s father is facing up to eight years in prison after threatening the Australian ambassador in Belgrade, Serbia. Damir Dokic was charged with “endangering security” of the ambassador and unlawful possession of weapons. He was arrested after reportedly saying he would blow up Ambassador Clair Birgin’s car if she did not stop negative articles about him from being published in the Australian mea. Searching his house in northern Serbia, police found rifles and hand grenades.

SINGERS WANTED

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is seeking youngsters to perform at this year’s US Open. The children – 12 years of age and younger as of September 13, 2009 – will be singing “America the Beautiful” before the night sessions at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

STRAIGHT IN

Taylor Dent has been granted a wildcard for the Pilot Pen Tennis to be held August 21-29 at the Connecticut Tennis Center in New Haven, Connecticut. Dent will join fellow American Mardy Fish and Spaniard Tommy Robredo as players already committed to the US Open hard court warm-up event. Dent has reached a career-high ranking of 21st in the world before undergoing back surgery. When that surgery proved to be unsuccessful, he had spinal fusion surgery and has slowly worked his way back onto the ATP tour.

SUSPENSION SHORTENED

Poland’s Radwanska sisters -Agnieszka and Urzula – along with Daniela Hantuchova have lent their support to Habitat for Humanity and their latest building project in Warsaw, Poland. Due to be completed this September, the Warsaw project will provide new homes and a better future for six families. The three WTA Tour stars joined in with the construction on the latest installment of the “women-only” construction program which is designed to recruit, train and empower women. Besides their financial support, the Radwanska sister gave their match play racquets to Habitat for Humanity Poland for an auction.

STAGE FOR UPSETS

The infamous Court Two at Wimbledon, dubbed the graveyard of champions, will be replaced in time for the 2011 grass-court championships. “The new court (Three), containing enhanced spectator amenities, will be built on the site of old Court Two,” All England Club officials said. The work will start immediately after this year’s tournament and will be completed by May 2011. Several Wimbledon champions were upset on the old Court Two, including Pete Sampras in his last visit to Wimbledon in 2002. A new Court Two will be used for the first time when the Grand Slam tournament begins next month, while the retractable roof over Centre Court will also makes its debut.

SPONSORSHIP GONE

The Australian Open has lost nearly USD $10 million in sponsorship, thanks to the current world-wide financial crisis. Garnier, part of the L’Oreal Group, has become the second major backer to pull out of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. GE Money recently decided against extending its three-year arrangement. Garnier said the beauty products company has recently advised Tennis Australia of its decision not to continue as a sponsor in 2010. A much smaller arrangement between the Australian Open and MasterCard is also over as the sponsorship market continues to tighten locally and internationally.

STANDING TALL

Vera Zvonareva has been named a “Promoter of Gender Equality” as part of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s partnership with UNESCO. Zvonareva joins fellow tennis stars Venus Williams, Tatiana Golovin and Zheng Jie as Promoters of General Equality for the program as well as WTA Tour founder Billie Jean King. Zvonareva had her best year in 2008. The 24-year-old enrolled in the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007 where she is studying for a post-graduate degree in International Relations and Economics.

STRODE ARTHUR ASHE WINNER

The top men’s player on the University of Arkansas’ team, senior Blake Strode, has been named the national recipient of the ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship. Strode beat out nominees from Harvard, Georgia, Toledo, Rice, New Mexico and Pepperdine for the national honor.

SIGNS UP

Alex Bogomolov is the new Touring Professional in Residence for the Napeague Tennis Club in the Hamptons area of Long Island, New York. At one time ranked in the top 100 in the world, Bogomolov will serve as the club’s resident ATP Touring Pro and will be available to Napeague Tennis Club members for private lessons, clinics, and other club events throughout the summer.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Warsaw: Raquel Kops-Jones and Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat Yan Zi and Zheng Jie 6-1 6-1

Strasbourg: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Claire Feuerstein and Stephanie Foretz 6-0 6-1

Kitzbuhel: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Andrei Pavel and Horla Tecau 6-7 (9) 6-2 10-7 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Paris: www.rolandgarros.com/index.html

Prostejov: www.czech-open.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

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

ATP

$170,000 UniCredit Czech Open, Prostejov, Czech Republic, clay

For Julie Ditty, US Open Run Is A Sign Of Things To Come

After struggling with self-doubt about whether she belonged with the top girls on the WTA Tour, Julie Ditty is starting to produce the results that her former coach, Pat Van der Meer, said she is more than capable of.

Julie Ditty’s fairytale run continued on Friday at the US Open with a second round win in the Women’s Doubles event. According to Van der Meer, results like these are just a sign of things to come.

“I really believe that Julie has the ability to start reaching the quarterfinals and better in doubles at the Grand Slams on a regular basis,” said Van der Meer. “She’s just as good as any of the other girls out there.”

Ditty and fellow American Carly Gullickson defeated the team of Tathiana Garbin and Tamira Paszek 7-5, 6-4, marking the first time that either Ditty or Gullickson have reached the third round at a Grand Slam. Attacking Garbin’s weak service deliveries, the pair broke Garbin three times and came back from 4-2 in the second set.

Gullickson was the star player in the match, attacking the net throughout the match as she frequently poached across the net for winning volleys. Ditty said that Gullickson’s strong play helped carry them to victory on Court 8.

“She was really helping me out on the court today,” said Ditty. “I was struggling out there, but sometimes you have to win ugly and I’m just really happy to be in the third round.”

While many of the doubles teams competing at the US Open choose to play from the baseline, Ditty and Gullickson have adopted a more traditional form of doubles play. Both players served and volleyed on their first serves and looked for opportunities to attack the net throughout the match.

Ray Ruffels, who has helped coach Ditty throughout the summer, said the more conventional doubles play they have used will help them in the long run.

“Part of the reasons so many players stand back is because the volleying at the women’s level is pretty poor overall,” said Ruffels. “There’s so many specific shots like drop volleys or short angles that you can use against a team who is at the baseline. Because both Julie and Carly are so good up at the net, there’s no reason why they can’t be successful playing the way they are right now.”

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Ditty said that she and Gullickson have also been successful this week because of their strong friendship. The pair first met when Gullickson, as a 12 year old, would train with Ditty at Vanderbilt University, where she was an All-American NCAA player. While both Ditty and Gullickson have been competing together on tour for the last few years, this is the first time they have played doubles together.

“I almost feel like she’s my sister,” Ditty said. “We have a great friendship off the court and you always want to play with somebody that you get along with.”

Finishing up her first full year of competing exclusively on the WTA Tour, Ditty said that she has struggled with the higher level of competition.

“It’s been a real eye opener to me,” said Ditty after her first round win on Wednesday. “The girls at this level are so much stronger and they have the belief that they belong out here, which is something I struggle with at times.”

After winning three titles and compiling a 29-13 record in 2007 on the USTA Pro Circuit, the tennis equivalent of Triple A in baseball, Ditty has gone 2-15 in main draw matches on the WTA Tour in 2008, with the majority of her wins this year coming in the qualifying rounds.

“It was really important for Julie to make that jump to the next level,” Van der Meer. “She was getting too comfortable playing in the same tournaments.”

In the final tournament of her first 12 months on the WTA Tour, Van der Meer said the mental and technical aspects of Ditty’s game are beginning to come together.

“We’ve told her so many times how good she is and I think she’s finally starting to get that confidence,” said Van der Meer. “She’s starting to use her left-handedness by incorporating slice and topspin more as well. It might be too late this year because the season is winding down, but I really believe that Julie is ready to have a breakout year on tour next year.”

For Julie Ditty, A Career First At Age 29

At an age where many of her contemporaries have long since retired, Julie Ditty is producing the best results of her career.

In front of a standing room only crowd on Court 5, Ditty won a round in a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. Teaming with fellow American Carly Gullickson, the wild card pair beat the team of Tamarine Tanasugarn and Yaroslava Shvedova 7-5, 6-1.

“It feels awesome,” said Ditty. “We were one out from getting directly into the main draw, so I’m glad we were able to take advantage of being wild carded in.”

Displaying more tactical doubles skills than their opponents, who were pinned at the baseline throughout the match, Ditty and Gullickson regularly put away winning volleys as they attacked the net throughout the contest.

After breaking Shvedova’s serve to take a 2-0 lead in the second set, they broke her serve once again to consolidate their lead. A service winner by Gullickson on their first match point at 5-1 sent them into the next round, where they will take on the team of Tathiana Garbin and Tamira Paszek.

Although this is the first time that Ditty and Gullickson have paired up in doubles, Ditty said they’ve known each other for more than a decade.

“I’ve known her since she was 13,” Ditty said. “When I was on the team at Vanderbilt, she would come to hit with us because she was based out of Nashville. She’s a great girl and we have a lot of fun together out on the court.”

After years of toiling away on the challenger circuit, Ditty has produced the best results of her career in the last 12 months. She cracked the top 100 for the first time, reached the semifinals at a WTA event in Quebec City, and competed in the singles main draw at three Grand Slam events in 2008.

Despite her rapid progression, Ditty said that her first full year on the WTA Tour has shown her just how much she needs to improve.

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“It’s been a real eye opener,” Ditty said. “I’m still kind of feeling my way through it. Everybody is so much stronger physically at this level and they have the belief that they belong here, which is something I struggle with at times. I’ve really had to improve my level of play and my fitness considerably just to be able to contend.”

Part of Ditty’s late blooming status on the tour is due to the fact that she didn’t turn professional until the age of 22, opting to gain a degree in early childhood education from Vanderbilt University while remaining of the top NCAA in the country. Fellow Americans Venus Williams and Jill Craybas are the only other players in the top 100 with college degrees.

Many of the American teenagers competing at the US Open, including Melanie Oudin and Asia Muhammad, have already turned professional, therefore foregoing their opportunity to play college tennis. While both Oudin and Muhammad spoke of the need to face stronger competition and utilize their talent tennis, Ditty said she has no regrets about finishing her education.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would in a second,” Ditty said. “I loved the experience of being able to compete on a team and have your friends around. Once you get on the tour, you’re by yourself all year and don’t have anybody cheering you on.”

In addition to gaining the college experience, Ditty said her years at Vanderbilt have allowed her time on tour to be less stressful.

“It takes the pressure off me a little bit because in the worst case scenario, I have a degree to fall back on. For a lot of these girls out here, this is their one shot. They can always go back to college afterwards, but they won’t be able to college tennis and probably won’t be able to receive a scholarship.”

Having already achieved a career milestone in winning her first main draw match at a Grand Slam, Ditty will look to beat her own personal best result when she plays her second round match on Friday.

Mondays With Bob Greene: The Second Week of Wimbledon

STARS

Wimbledon

Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7

Women’s Singles: Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 7-5 6-4

Men’s Doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (12) 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-3

Women’s Doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2

Mixed Doubles: Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur beat Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5 6-4

Boys Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3

Girls Singles: Laura Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1

Boys Doubles: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua beat Matt Reid and Bernard Tomic 6-4 2-6 12-10

Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Isabella Holland and Sally Peers 6-3 1-6 6-2

Ladies Invitational Doubles: Jana Novotna and Kathy Rinaldi beat Martina Navratilova and Helena Sukova 7-5 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles: Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer beat Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, walkover

Senior Gentlemen’s Doubles: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Wheelchair Masters: Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink beat Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-7 (6) 6-1 6-3

Other Tournaments

Ivan Navarro defeated Dick Norman 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-6 (10) to capture the 2008 Open Diputacion in Pozoblanco, Spain

Luis Horna won the BSI Challenger Lugano, defeating Nicolas Devilder 7-6 (1) 6-1 in Lugano, Switzerland

Fabio Fognini beat Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-1 to win the Sporting Challenger 08 in Turin, Italy

Tathiana Garbin won the Cuneo 2008 ITF event in Cuneo, Italy, beating Sorana-Mihaela Cristea 6-3 6-1

SAYINGS

“I am very, very happy. For me it is a dream to play on this court. I had a lot of chances to win, but he always fight unbelievable.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating five-time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles.

“It’s tough, it’s tough, it hurts. Rafa really served well at the end. I missed so many opportunities. I paid the price in the end.” – Roger Federer.

“My first job is big sister. I take that job very seriously.” – Venus Williams, talking about family ties after beating sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.

“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win.” – Serena Williams, noting she and her sister Venus have won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women’s singles titles.

“I’m definitely more in tune with my sister’s feelings because one of us has to win and one has to lose. Of course the celebration isn’t as exciting because my sister has just lost.” – Venus Williams.

“They’re serving bombs.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, referring to the big-serving games of both Williams sisters.

“His forehand was ridiculous. He hits the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult to get any rhythm. I felt rushed on every point.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.

“To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place.” – Marat Safin.

“His forehand is incredible. The speed and spin is incredible, and the pop in his serve, there’s a life to it.” – John McEnroe, admitting he was stunned by the power of Rafael Nadal after he practiced with the Spaniard.

“It’s not over ’til the blonde lady screams.” – Mary Carillo on Elena Dementieva’s shrieking during her semifinal loss to Venus Williams.

“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.” – Jelena Jankovic, complaining about having to play on Court 18, where she lost.

“My husband warms up with me every time. He’s a good hitting partner, but maybe he needs to practice the serve more and serve like Serena. Then next time I will return much better.” – Zheng Jie, after Serena Williams fired 14 aces in her semifinal victory over the Chinese player.

“We have always aimed for singles gold, but Zheng Jie’s results have further bolstered our confidence in the Chinese tennis team.” – Xie Miqing, spokeswoman for the Chinese Tennis Federation, after Zheng reached the Wimbledon semifinals.

“I thought I was going to be sick when I walked onto court because there were so many people watching. In the second set I went a bit mad but got it back together and managed to win.” – Laura Robson, who became the first British player since 1984 to win the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles.

“It was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player. It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, after receiving an ITF Place in the Beijing Olympics tennis event.

“He is a wonderful role model for our young Canadiens, and I am so proud of his remarkable accomplishment today. His victory is an exclamation point on a Hall of a Fame career.” – Michael S. Downey, president and chief executive of Tennis Canada, talking about Daniel Nestor.

SPANISH KING

When Rafael Nadal unleashed a final ferocious forehand to end an epic battle, he became the first person since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to sweep both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. His 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 victory also stopped Roger Federer’s bid for a record sixth straight Wimbledon men’s singles title. The defeat snapped Federer’s 40 straight match streak at the All England Club and a record 65-match streak on grass. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, two years before the Open Era began. And at 4 hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history.

SONG FOR ZHENG

The biggest surprise at this year’s Wimbledon was China’s Zheng Jie. She became the first female wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and joined Monica Seles as the second at any Grand Slam tournament. Zheng beat three ranked players, including top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the reigning French Open champion. Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals was the only player to take a set off Zheng, and the Chinese righthander retaliated by winning the third set 6-1. Zheng wasn’t a complete surprise as she was ranked number 27 in the world in singles before she injured her ankle in 2007 and underwent surgery, ending her season. She won the gold at the Asian Games in 2006, beating Sania Mirza, and teamed with Yan Zi to win the doubles at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon the same year, her doubles ranking being as high as number three in the world.

SUN RISING IN EAST

Could the tennis power axis be shifting to the East – the Far East, that is? China’s Zheng Jie shocked the tennis world by knocking off top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Agnes Szavay and No. 18 Nicole Vaidisova on her way to the semifinals. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand eliminated the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic. Another Thai, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, reached the Girls’ singles final, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua captured the boys’ doubles title, winning the decisive third set 12-10. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama was a quarterfinalist in the mixed doubles. Earlier this year 18-year-old Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event in almost 16 years when he upset James Black in the final of Delray Beach, Florida. And the center of the tennis world next month will be the Beijing Olympics.

SET FOR BEIJING

Nicolas Massu of Chile will be able to defend his gold medals in singles and doubles now that he has been added to the field of the Beijing Olympics tennis event. The ITF awarded places in the field to 12 players – six men and six women – who did not meet the direct acceptance requirements. Massu won both the singles and doubles at the Athens Games four years ago. Other ITF Places in the men’s singles went to Kevin Anderson, South Africa; Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden; Kei Nishikori, Japan; Max Mirnyi, Belarus; and Sun Peng, China. Given ITF Places in the women’s singles were Maria Koryttseva, Ukraine; Chan Yung-Jan, Taiwan; Ayumi Morita, Japan; Nuria Llagostera-Vives, Spain; Alicia Molik, Australia; and Selima Sfar, Tunisia.

SEE YOU IN BEIJING

Eighteen of the top 20 men and seven of the top ten women are scheduled to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For both men and women, this is the strongest field to compete in the Olympics since tennis returned as a full medal sport in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Out of the top players, the only ones deciding to stay home are Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet and Anna Chakvetadze. Fernando Verdasco and Marion Bartoli are both ineligible to compete. The Olympic tennis event will be played from Sunday, August 10, through Sunday, August 17, at the new Olympic Tennis Center in Beijing.

SUMMERTIME READING

More than 40 of the top tennis players took part in the ITF’s official tennis Olympic book, “Journey to Beijing – Tennis.” The 140-page publication features a series of photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. The pictures are accompanied by interviews with the players. The pictures were taken in Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, the Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Check out Serena Williams as an ice skater.

SURE ABOUT RETIRING?

Justine Henin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to tennis. The 26-year-old Belgian announced her retirement 10 days before the start of the French Open in May. At the time, she was ranked number one in the world. Henin, who is establishing a tennis academy in Belgium, said, “I can never say for sure that I’ll never be back because I hate to say never. But for me, and the people who know me, they know that when I do something, I do it 200 percent, and when I decide it’s over, it’s over and I go to the next step.”

SANDRA’S BACK

Austrian doubles player Sandra Klemenschits will return to the WTA Tour this month following her battle with abdominal cancer, the same illness that caused the death in April of her twin sister Daniela. Organizers of the Gastein Ladies awarded Klemenschits a wild card for their July 14-20 tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria. She will team up with Germany’s Marlene Weingaertner, who is making her comeback after a two-year retirement from competitive tennis. Sandra and Daniela Klemenschits played doubles on Austria’s Fed Cup team and won 23 titles on the ITF women’s circuit before both were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer.

STRONG PARTNERS

Jonas Bjorkman was on the losing side in his final Wimbledon’s men’s doubles championship match. He and Kevin Ullyett lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Swede’s last appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before he retires at the end f the season. Bjorkman’s partners in his winning 51 doubles titles – including eight at Grand Slam events – include Todd Woodbridge, John McEnroe, Pat Rafter and Roger Federer.

SETS RECORDS

When Daniel Nestor teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship, he became the first Canadian to win a title at the All England Club. Nestor also completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to championships he won with Mark Knowles at the Australian Open in 2002, the U.S. Open in 2004 and the French Open in 2007. And he became just the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, joining Andre Agassi, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.

SISTERLY SUCCESS

After facing each other in the women’s singles final, sisters Venus and Serena Williams teamed up to win their third Wimbledon women’s doubles championship and seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2. The sisters last won the doubles at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena beat Venus in the singles final. This year, Venus beat Serena for her fifth Wimbledon singles crown.

SINGLES WINNER

When Laura Robson beat third-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1, she became the first British player to win the Wimbledon girls singles since Annabel Croft in 1984. Because of the interest in the 14-year-old’s match, the girls’ singles final was played in the 11,000-seat No. 1 court. She is the youngest girls’ champion at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis won in 1994 at the age of 13. When she was handed the trophy by Ann Jones, one of the British women to have won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles, Robson said she hopes she will be granted a wild card into the main draw of next year’s Championships.

STAYING HOME

Marcos Baghdatis has decided not play Davis Cup for Cyprus against Portugal later this month. Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, said he is pulling out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie because of other commitments, but said he was not be quitting the team indefinitely.

SAY WHAT?

The top-seeded brother team of Bob and Mike Bryan never lost serve during this year’s Wimbledon, yet they didn’t win the title. The American twins lost in the men’s doubles semifinals to the team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9). Bob Bryan did win a Wimbledon title, teaming with Samantha Stosur to capture the mixed doubles. Mike Bryan was on the losing side of the net with Katarina Srebotnik.

SEEING IT ON TV

The battle between sisters Venus and Serena Williams drew the highest preliminary United States television ratings in three years for a Wimbledon women’s final. NBC said viewership was up 21 percent from last years’ meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli and the best rating since 2005 when Venus beat Lindsay Davenport.

SPONSORSHIP

Ricoh, a global leader in digital office solutions, has extended its role as the Official Office Solutions Provider of the ATP for three additional years. The company will also sponsor the official ATP MatchFacts, distributed after every ATP Tour match and sponsorship of Hawkeye graphics at a number of ATP Masters Series events in Europe.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Cordoba: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat James Cerretani and Dick Norman 6-4 6-3

Lugano: Ramirez Junaid and Philipp Marx beat Mariano Hood and Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (7) 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Turin: Carlos Berlocq and Frederico Gil beat Tomas Cibulec and Jaroslav Levinsky 6-4 6-3

Cuneo: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Olga Savchuk and Marina Shamayko 6-1 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Newport: www.tennisfame.com

Gstaad: www.swissopengstaad.com

Palermo: www.countrytimeclub.it

Budapest: www.gazdefrancegrandprix.com

Stuttgart: www.mercedescup.de

Bastad: www.tennisfame.com

Istanbul: www.tedclub.org.tr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com

Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at

Scheveningen: www.siemens-open.nl

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$100,000 Siemens Open, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay

WTA TOUR

$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay

SENIORS

Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$890,000 Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay

$525,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, hard

$525,000 Dutch Open Tennis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, clay

$525,000 ATP Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

WTA

$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay

SENIORS

Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard

DAVIS CUP

(July 18-20)

Americas Zone

Group III: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hard

Group IV: Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, US Virgin Island at Honduras

Europe/Africa Zone

Group II Playoffs: Luxembourg vs. Finland at Hanko, Finland, clay; Hungary vs. Greece at Thessaloniki, Greece, clay

Group II Second Round: Denmark vs. South Africa at Johannesburg, South Africa, hard; Algeria vs. Monaco at Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay

For Calleri and Garbin, Clay Season Is Not Over

Last week on the challenger circuit, clay-court specialists prevailed in the biggest red dirt events on the men’s and women’s side, while we also got a sneak peek of coming attractions for Wimbledon at the first grass court tune-up of the year.

The $150,000 challenger in Prostejov, Czech Republic, has always attracted a strong field and this year was no exception. Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic is ranked among the world’s top 15 and all the seeded players were ranked in the top 100. In the end, Agustin Calleri of Argentina used his clay court prowess to overwhelm Martin Vasallo-Arguello of Spain 6-0, 6-3. The win propels Calleri back among into the top 50 in the rankings.

Daniel Kollerer of Austria, known as “Crazy Dani” on the ATP Tour, has attracted an infamous reputation for his bad attitude on the court and was even suspended from playing ATP tournaments for six months. He’s finally starting to become known for his tennis, winning his first title of the year at the $50,000 challenger in Furth, Germany, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. This result takes some of the sting out of Giraldo’s Roland Garros performance, where he had match points to qualify for the main draw before losing to Frederico Gil of Portugal.

The $50,000 challenger in Surbiton, Great Britain, featured a top 20 entry in Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, but he withdrew from his second round match with an injury. Frank Dancevic of Canada, always a dangerous threat on the grass with his serve, won a hard fought 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 contest over Kevin Anderson of South Africa. Both Dancevic and Anderson are competing at the ATP tour event in London this week.

In other results on the men’s side, Michael Yani of the United States came through qualifying to win the $50,000 challenger in Yuba City, California, while Frederico Gil of Portugal won the $35,000 challenger in Sassuolo, Italy.

On the women’s side, Tathiana Garbin of Italy delighted the home crowd by winning the $75,000 event in Rome, Italy, rallying from being an early break in the final set to defeat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-4, 4-6 7-6. This tournament also snapped a four-match losing streak for Garbin and a six-match losing streak for Meusburger.

At the $50,000 challenger in Surbiton, United Kingdom, Marina Erakovic of New Zealand continued her strong form by defeating Anne Keothavong of Great Britain 6-4, 6-2. Erakovic, who gave Jelena Jankovic a tough match in the second round of Roland Garros, could truly break through at Wimbledon on a surface which is tailor made for her game. Despite the loss, Keothavong has much to be proud about, becoming the first British woman to crack the world’s top 100 since Samantha Smith in 1999.

After coming close twice this year, Patricia Mayr of Austria finally broke through and won her first title at the $25,000 event in Grado, Italy, narrowly beating Jasmina Tincic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6. Mayr is now on track to compete in her first ever Grand Slam qualifying event at the US Open this summer. We could be hearing more from Tincic in the future though; this was only the fifth professional event she has ever played in.

Marseille, France hosts the top event on the women’s side this week as Martina Muller of Germany leads the way at the $75,000 event held there. Yvonne Meusburger of Austria is the top seed at the $75,000 event in Zlin, Czech Republic, Lauren Albanese of the United States leads the way at the $25,000 challenger in El Paso, Texas, and Ana Vrljic of Croatia takes top billing at the $25,000 challenger in Campobasso, Italy.

On the men’s side, Adrian Cruciat of Romania is the top seed at the $50,000 challenger in Sofia, Bulgaria. Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia is the top seed at the $35,000 event in Milan, Italy, while Eric Prodon of France leads the way at the $35,000 challenger in Kosice, Slovakia.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Nadal And Ivanovic Win Roland Garros

STARS

French Open

Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0

Women’s Singles: Ana Ivanovic beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3

Men’s Doubles: Pablo Cuevas and Luis Horna beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 6-3

Women’s Doubles: Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual beat Casey Dellacqua and Francesca Schiavone 2-6 7-5 6-4

Mixed Doubles: Victoria Azarenko and Bob Bryan beat Katarina Srebotnik and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 7-6 (4)

Boys Singles: Tsung-Hua Yang beat Jerzy Janowicz 6-3 7-6 (5)

Girls Singles: Simona Halep beat Elena Bogdan 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-2

Boys Doubles: Henri Kontinen and Christopher Rungkat beat Jaan-Frederik Brunken and Matt Reid 6-0 6-3

Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Lesley Kerhove and Arantxa Rus 5-7 6-1 1-0 (7)

Under 45 Doubles: Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Stich beat Richard Krajicek and Emilio Sanchez 6-1 7-6 (5)

Over 45 Doubles: Anders Jarryd and John McEnroe beat Mansour Bahrami and Henri Leconte 6-4 7-6 (2)

Men’s Wheelchair Singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Robin Ammerlaan 6-0 7-6 (5)

Men’s Wheelchair Doubles: Shingo Kunieda and Mailkel Scheffers beat Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink 6-2 7-5

Women’s Wheelchair Singles: Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan 6-2 6-2

Women’s Wheelchair Doubles: Jiske Griffioen and Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan and Sharon Walraven 6-4 6-4

Other Tournaments

Agustin Calleri beat Martin Vassallo Arguello 6-0 6-3 to win the UniCredit Czech Open 2008 in Prostejov, Czech Republic

Tathiana Garbin won the Tiro A Volo in Rome, Italy, by defeating Yvonne Meusburger 6-4 4-6 7-6 (6)

SAYINGS

“Roger, I’m sorry for the final.” – Rafael Nadal, after destroying Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0 to win his fourth straight French Open.

“After a loss like this, you don’t want to play Rafa again tomorrow, that’s for sure.” – Federer.

“Roger’s going to be back, and so will Rafa.” – Bjorn Borg, the only other player to win four consecutive French Open singles titles.

“This was amazing. I think we both played a very nervous match. I’m just so happy to keep my composure at the end.” – Ana Ivanovic, after beating Dinara Safina and winning the French Open women’s title.

“Tennis is an easy sport. You don’t need to change anything when you do things well.” – Rafael Nadal, who has never lost at Roland Garros, winning 28 consecutive matches.

“Not one job is easy out there. I mean, the great thing about being a tennis player is that there are some opportunities that you’re going to get during the year, and it’s really up to you to take those opportunities.” – Maria Sharapova, after a fourth-round loss in Paris.

“If Rafa continues to play the way he plays, it’s just impossible.” – Nicolas Almagro, after winning three games against Nadal, the most lopsided French Open men’s quarterfinal in the Open era.

“I was just, I think, tired, mental and physically. Even though I wanted to, my heart couldn’t and my body couldn’t do it anymore.” – Dinara Safina after the women’s final.

“Those are not drop shots. I don’t know what they are, but those are not drop shots. His balls were not bouncing up at all. They had a spin effect. I’ll ask him to explain to me because I don’t know what those were.” – Gael Monfils, on drop shots hit by Roger Federer in their semifinal.

“Kill myself? No, I will have some dinner and maybe get drunk or do something. I don’t know. Whatever makes me feel better.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals.

“It was pretty horrible. I felt pretty bad out there.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after her semifinal loss to Dinara Safina.

“I feel like I’m playing a Russian championship, not Roland Garros.” – Elena Dementieva after beating compatriot Vera Zvonareva to set up a quarterfinal meeting against another Russian, Dinara Safina, who then went on to beat yet another Russian, Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“I am just mother. Win or lose, it’s my children.” – Raouza Islanova, a famed Russian tennis coach who is the mother of Dinara Safina and Marat Safin.

“I’m not the girl to keep all the emotions I have inside. I guess I have to pay lots of fines because that’s the way I am.” – Dinara Safina.

“If somebody would tell us when we were 12 or 13 when we were practicing that we would play on Suzanne Lenglen in a quarterfinal, I wouldn’t have believed it.” – Ernests Gulbis, after losing to Novak Djokovic, friends since the two trained together at the Niki Pilic academy in Munich, Germany..

“It’s hard to comprehend that a person so young had to die. He accompanied me, challenged me and motivated me over the years.” – Thomas Muster, about fellow Austrian player Horst Skoff.

“He’s the defending champion. … What he achieved back in Athens, winning singles and doubles, maybe it’s never going to happen again.” – Roger Federer, backing defending Olympic champion Nicolas Massu’s bid to gain a wildcard entry to the Beijing Olympics.

“Leander and Mahesh, being true patriots and professionals, have agreed to put in their best effort by pairing up for Beijing Olympics to win a medal for the country.” – India Tennis Association (AITA) secretary Anil Khanna, announcing Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will team up again for the Summer Games.

“He wanted to work with me, a lowly tennis player. He saw something in me that no one else has ever seen, the side that’s classic tennis player with elegance and grace.” – Venus Williams, about photographer Koto Bolofo’s new book, “Venus.”

“I am fulfilling my role as president according to the constitution. I am not interfering in the government at all. These days I play a lot of tennis, go swimming. Sometimes I play a hand of bridge.” – Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

SURGE TO THE TOP

Ana Ivanovic left Roland Garros with her first Grand Slam tournament title and the world number one ranking. The first player from Serbia to reach the top in the rankings, Ivanovic replaced Maria Sharapova as number one when she defeated fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals.

SKIPPING BIRMINGHAM

Defending champion Jelena Jankovic and French Open runner-up Dinara Safina will skip this week’s DFS Classic, a grass-court tournament in Birmingham, England. Jankovic has been bothered by an arm injury, while Safina withdrew because of a bad back.

SOUTH AMERICAN SHUFFLE

Luis Horna of Peru and Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay became the first South American team to win a Grand Slam doubles title when they knocked off second-seeded Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 6-2 6-3 at Roland Garros. Horna and Cuevas beat three other seeded teams in the fortnight, including top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan in the quarterfinals and number seven Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra in the opening round. The only other South American man to win a Grand Slam doubles title was Ecuador’s Andres Gomez, who captured the U.S. Open in 1986 with Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia and Roland Garros in 1988 with Emilio Sanchez of Spain.

STICKING TOGETHER?

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are setting aside their differences and teaming for the Beijing Olympics. Winners of three Grand Slam titles together, the pair are India’s best shot at a medal in Beijing. The two will play together in two events before and after Wimbledon.

SHORT SCHEDULE

Maria Sharapova will play just one grass court tournament this year: Wimbledon. The 21-year-old Russian said on her web site that she will bypass grass-court warmup events in Birmingham and Eastbourne in order to focus on Wimbledon, a tournament she won in 2004.

STAR-STUDDED DINNER

Justine Henin, who retired just before defending her French Open title, was among those honored at the ITF World Champions Dinner in Paris for finishing the year ranked number one. Henin and Roger Federer were honored as singles champions. Other recipients were doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan, junior champions Ricardas Berankis and Urzula Radwanska, and wheelchair champions Shingo Kunieda and Esther Vergeer. The Philippe Chatrier Award, the ITF’s highest accolade, was presented to Neal Fraser, an integral part of Australia’s Davis Cup history. Fraser played on 11 Davis Cup-winning squads, including four as captain, a position he held for 24 years to become the competition’s longest-serving captain.

SPOT IN OLYMPICS GONE

Any chance Tzipi Obziler had to participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympics ended when fellow Israeli Shahar Peer lost in the quarterfinals of the French Open doubles. Obizer needed Peer to reach the tourney’s final, which would put Peer in the top ten in the rankings. And that would have allowed the two Israelis to have direct entry into the tennis event at Beijing.

SAYS NO WAY

Japan’s Akiko Morigami denied she was told by a coach to throw a doubles match at the French Open. It had been widely reported that she had been asked to deliberately lose the match in order to boost partner Aiko Nakamura’s chances of qualifying for the Beijing Olympics. “I am aware of the media reports, and unfortunately my comments were misunderstood,” Morigami said in a statement. On her blog, Morigami said: “I’m sorry for the trouble my remarks have caused.”

SKOFF DIES

Horst Skoff, who won four ATP Tour titles during his career, died in Hamburg, Germany, while on a business trip. He was 39. The Austrian tennis federation said Skoff died of a heart attack, but Skoff’s friend, Arno Puckhofer, said German police have ordered an autopsy to verify the cause of death. Once ranked as high as 18th in the world, Skoff helped lead Austria to the 1990 Davis Cup semifinals along with Thomas Muster. Skoff won the first two sets before losing a five-setter to Michael Chang in the decisive fifth match as the United States won 3-2.

STAR-STUDDED WEDDING

Two former U.S. presidents are expected to be on hand when Chris Evert and golfer Greg Norman are married later this month in the Bahamas. According to news reports, the guest list includes Lleyton Hewitt, Anna Kournikova, Lindsay Davenport, Jim Courier, Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors from the tennis world. Entertainers Chevy Chase, Jon Lovitz, Kenny Loggins, Gwen Stefani, Matt Lauer also will watch the nuptials, alongside ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. Evert and Norman, both 53, will reportedly tie the knot in a dusk ceremony on a private beach at The One And Only Ocean Club Hotel on Paradise Island. An Australian newspaper, The Sunday Telegraph, reported that Norman’s son Gregory will be best man at the wedding.

SO LONG BARRY

Barry Lorge, who had been tennis writer for the Washington Post and sports editor of The San Diego Union, died after a long battle against cancer. He was 60. Lorge’s first Wimbledon was in 1970, right after he had graduated from Harvard with a degree in political science. Since leaving the Union, Lorge operated a public relations firm in San Diego.

SMALL WORLD INDEED

Another way of proving tennis is the number one sport in the world. The semifinalists in all the competitions played at the French Open – including men, women, boys, girls, singles, doubles and wheelchair – represented 32 nations: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe. The senior exhibitions added two more countries: Paraguay and Croatia.

STAYING HOME

France’s top player, Richard Gasquet, will not compete in the Beijing Olympics this summer. Ranked number nine in the world, Gasquet withdrew from the French Open with a knee injury but is scheduled to play at Wimbledon later this month. Also skipping the Summer Games will be Americans Ashley Harkleroad, Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish.

SAHOF AWARDS

The 1950 Davis Cup-winning team has been honored by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Frank Sedgman and John Bromwich headed the squad that beat the United States 4-1 at Forest Hills in New York City, starting a golden era for Australia, which held the Cup for 15 of the next 18 years.

SALES GURU

Scott MacLeod has joined the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour as senior vice president of business development, a new position. MacLeod, who will be based in London, will be responsible for sponsorship sales development, on-line advertising sales and licensing.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Prostejov: Rik De Voest and Lukasz Kubot beat Chris Haggard and Nicolas Tourte 6-2 6-2

Rome: Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska beat Alina Jidkova and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-3, 6-1

SITES TO SURF

London: www.artoischampionships.com

Halle: www.gerryweber-open.de

Warsaw: www.orangewarsawopen.pl

Birmingham: http://birmingham.lta.org.uk

Barcelona: www.bcnwta.com

Eastbourne: http://eastbourne.lta.org.uk/

‘s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl

Akiko Morigami: www.40love.jp/morigami/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$1,125,000 The Artois Championships, London, England, grass

$1,125,000 Gerry Weber Open, Halle, Germany, grass

$670,000 Orange Prokom Open, Warsaw, Poland, clay

WTA TOUR

$200,000 DFS Classic, Birmingham, Great Britain, grass

$145,000 Torneo Barcelona KIA, Barcelona, Spain, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$584,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$584,000 The Nottingham Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Braunschweig Challenger, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

WTA TOUR

$600,000 International Women’s Open, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$175,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass