ted forstmann

Nadal Expects to play London, Federer and Murray Call for Longer Winter Break, Wozniacki on Player Council

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal expects to be fit for the ATP Tour Finals in London despite pulling out of the Paris Masters this week with injury. “I am not worried at all about London,” said the Spaniard. “It was not an easy decision [to pull out of Paris] because Paris is a special city for me. But I have played all the season’s Masters and Grand Slams. I will be back to practice soon, before next Sunday.” Nadal had an awful experience at the o2 Arena last year, being eliminated at the Group Stage without taking a single set. “I’m going to do all in my hands to play well there,” said the man who has won this season’s French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.

“It’s my goal to improve the image of last year in London.” The full interview, in which he discusses his latest injury, can be seen at the BBC Tennis site.

*Roger Federer is calling for the current four-week ATP Tour winter break to be increased to six to protect players from possible burnout. This debate has been going on for years as more and more tournaments crop up on the circuit and there have even been mentions of a possible fifth Grand Slam in Asia to dip in to the Eastern market. “I think it’s time we shifted back a bit and we get a proper off-season,” said the 29-year-old before he went in to battle at Paris this week. “Four weeks is just not enough. I think six is much better as you can take two weeks off… practise three, four weeks which is a lot for us in our world.” Federer has also this week firmly denied he has had any part to play in the IMG betting scandal surrounding many sports currently. IMG executive Ted Forstmann is accused of betting millions on sporting events including the 2007 French Open final with Federer lost to Rafa Nadal. “I reached out to him and told him I want to know everything about it, how this came about,” Federer told the New York Times. “And he’s been, you know, nice enough obviously to tell me from his side and has been very open in the press already. So that’s OK.”

*Andy Murray is another calling for a longer break. He believes the current length of the tour will curtail many players’ careers before their time. “There’s no time for you to take a break to get rid of an injury,” The British No. 1 told The Sun newspaper. “Instead players end up playing through it and that actually shortens careers. There should be fewer mandatory tournaments because you get punished so much for being injured and I don’t think that’s fair.” Recent examples of Murray’s points are 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro and Serena Williams.

*World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will replace the outgoing Patty Schnyder on the WTA Players’ Council. She joins the Williams sisters, Franchesca Schiavone, Akgul Amanmuradova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands as the players’ representatives.

*American Taylor Dent has become the latest star to announce their retirement from professional tennis. The Newport Beach native staged an amazing comeback in 2009 from a debilitating back injury for which he was nominated for the 2009 Comeback Of The Year award after climbing nearly 800 ranking slots to finish the year at No. 76 in the world. “I had the privilege to compete at the highest level for 12 years, see places in the world I would have never been able to see without tennis, and meet people along the way that have become lifelong friends,” said 29-year-old Dent.

“I am looking forward to spending more time with my family, especially with my wife Jenny [Hopkins, former tennis pro] and our son Declan. I want to continue to stay active in the tennis industry and I am excited to explore opportunities in the world of tennis that my full tournament schedule never allowed me to do.” 38-year-old doubles specialist Martin Damm has also announced his retirement from the sport due to poor results coupled with his age. He will now coach American starlet Ryan Harrison.

*World No. 4 Andy Murray has said it is “a possibility” that he may play on without a full-time coach if he feels happy with his current form and set-up. The British No. 1 has not had a full-time coach since parting ways with Miles McLagan in July but has been working closely with former world No. 2 Alex Corretja in that time. “I just have to decide to see what to do next year,” said the 23-year-old. “If I like the way things are going and I feel like I’m improving, then I’m not scared of playing some tournaments on my own, trying out being on my own for a little bit. But I need to make sure I’m improving. If I’m not improving, then I’m not going to keep just trying to make it work without a coach.” You can read, or watch, the full interview including Murray’s views on his recent form at the ATP website.

*Italy became the sixth nation to win three or more Fed Cup titles with their victory over the USA in San Diego. Understandably, Flavia Pennetta was on cloud nine. “It’s amazing to win a match like this,” Pennetta said of her victory over Coco Vandeweghe in their singles rubber. “I was feeling really good on the court and I think all of the team is very happy now. It’s amazing to be here. This will be with me all my life so it’s really nice and really exciting.”

*The Bryan brothers clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking in doubles with a 6-3, 3-6, 10-3 victory over long-time rivals Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Sunday. It was title number eleven for 2010 and they now have a 11-0 record in finals this year. They have achieved this feat once before (2007) and have the chance in either Paris or London to take a career-record twelfth title of the season.

*Pat Rafter has outlined Plan A in bringing Davis Cup success to Australia: healing the very public rift between Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic. It began at Wimbledon 2009 when Tomic and his father and coach, John, snubbed requests by Hewitt to be his hitting partner. It then exploded last summer when Hewitt questioned whether Tomic was ready for Davis Cup play. With many seeing Tomic, 18 last month, as the future of Aussie tennis, Rafter is keen to heal the damage. “I think after the Australian Open would be a nice time for us all to sit down. Both boys have to agree,” Rafter told the HeraldSun. “I spoke to Bernard recently and we had a really good conversation with both him and his father. That’s been a great thing. Obviously he is really important to us. He’s a great player, a great talent and he’s got a good opportunity of making it. He’s someone, with me being Davis Cup captain, who will definitely come into the fray.” For a great interview including Rafter’s views on Aussie tennis and how kids should have “more mongrel” on the tour, as he puts it, check out the Herald/Sun website.

*Former world No. 20 Katarina Srebotnik has announced her retirement from singles tennis to focus fully on the WTA doubles tour. The 29-year-old Slovenian suffered badly with injuries throughout 2009 and so has decided to focus on her more prosperous doubles exploits. In January 2008 she reached No. 3 in the world in doubles and she hopes to recapture some of that form in her twilight years. “I practiced very hard in the off-season in 2009 to prepare to play my best in singles and doubles in 2010. My career goal was always to do well in both,” Srebotnik said. “Because I was still doing very well in doubles, I used my special ranking in singles at bigger events, so I could play doubles there too.” Speaking about the end of her singles career she said: “I was in a situation. I was No. 228 and couldn’t even make the qualies of the US Open. Everything was pointing to a new direction.” You can read the full interview at the WTA website.

*The Paris surface has received a thumbs up from many of the top stars this week. Check out their views at Tennis.com.

Another Betting Scandal – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Another Betting Scandal

The fall is traditionally the quiet time of the tennis year, but controversy never sleeps. IMG owner Ted Forstmann has admitted to betting on sporting events involving IMG clients. The news made a splash on the tennis radar when allegations were that he lost $40,000 betting in favor of Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal in the 2007 Roland Garros final. Reports alleged that he made the bet after receiving inside information from man from Switzerland. No doubt Forstmann made a mistake on this one. Irrespective of the fact that the amount of the bet was a drop in the bucket when compared to his annual income, there’s a definite conflict of interest when it comes to betting on your own clients. The story also seemed a bit far-fetched given that Roger Federer has generally been the epitome of good sportsmanship and fairness, so it was always assumed unlikely that Federer would risk the humiliation and ban he would be slapped with if he had aided in the betting. Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this is that none seem to even be considering the possibility that Federer could be guilty in any of it.

Injury Update

Not that it’s a shocker after all the reports last week, but Serena Williams has officially called it a season, citing that she re-tore the tendon in her foot. Things are much grimmer for her fellow competitor Aggie Radwanska, however. The young Pole’s worst fears were realized when it transpired that the stress fracture in her foot has required surgery. She will need at least three months to recover before she can return to competition, which means she’ll be missing the first major of the year. Despite the setback, still look for Radwanska to collect some big upsets in 2011, as her unorthodox game will continue to give the big hitters fits, even if she is going to be starting the season behind the eight ball.

History Saved

In case you’ve missed it, it wasn’t all that long ago that the West Side Tennis Club stadium at Forest Hills, home to the US Open from 1915-1977, was headed towards being turned into a bunch of condos. The vote on what to do with the club ended in a draw, 123-123, but those wanting to keep the club stadium intact won out, as it would have taken a two-thirds majority to seal the condo deal. The question in the coming weeks will be if this is just a temporary reprieve or if the club has truly dodged a bullet. With neither the USTA nor the International Tennis Hall of Fame in a position to offer much financial assistance, it could be the former. Hopefully it will achieve historical landmark status or their fortunes will turn around by some other means, as it would be a shame to see this historical venue fall victim to financial woes.

Fearless Leader

On Wednesday it was announced that Patrick Rafter would be stepping up as the captain of the Australian Davis Cup team. The Aussie will have some big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of the legendary Harry Hopman, Neale Fraser, John Newcombe, and John Fitzgerald. Rafter has long been considered one of the nice guys on tour, and having won back-to-back US Open titles, he knows what it takes to get to the top. His experience and attitude should only pay dividends, and when coupling that with Tony Roche on as coach and Rafter’s good relationship with Lleyton Hewitt nearly sure to cement the younger Aussie’s commitment to the team competition, things look positive for the Australian team. Hopefully the results will come, as Rafter never had the pleasure of winning the Davis Cup as a player, and it would go a long way towards filling that void if he were to do it as a captain.

Back on Track?

Last week proved the perfect storm for Ana Ivanovic, and it may have just given her the boost she needs as she starts to look ahead to 2011. The young Serb, whose fall in the rankings has been well publicized, had no intention of playing in Linz but made the last minute decision to take a wildcard when Serena Williams unexpectedly withdrew. The result? She worked her way to the final. The fact that she hadn’t won a title in two years must have been the furthest thing from her mind as she thrashed the Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder, dropping just three games to claim victory. It’s too early to tell if this was just a good week, or if this is the beginning of a comeback that will see Ivanovic work her way back into the Top Ten next season. Many hope it’s the latter, and there’s little doubt that the WTA Tour could use another big name back at the top.