tennis event

Andy Roddick throws another tantrum at Indian Wells – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

The Nightmare Continues

The world has seen some interesting tennis played thus far at the prestigious Indian Wells tennis event, with upsets more often than not proving to be the order of the day. An omen of the potential shockers to come came early in the tournament, when Donald Young dismissed Andy Murray in straight sets. It marked just the first time in three years that Young strung together back-to-back ATP level matches. For Murray, it meant yet another listless performance as his season continues in its downward spiral. The Scot desperately needs to right the ship in Miami, or this year’s slump may prove harder to pull out of than in 2010. And no doubt the British press will be merciless and even quicker to bury him.

Injury Woes

There have been a few injuries this week, but two of the more high profile concerns are Kim Clijsters and Robin Soderling. Clijsters was forced to retire from her match with Marion Bartoli, citing a shoulder injury. Clijsters revealed that shoulder pain had been an issue for awhile now, and that she was also suffering with a neck problem. She is hopeful of attempting to defend her title in Miami but is unsure if she will even be able to finish that tournament if she enters. She has also expressed concern over how her shoulder will hold up during the clay court season. With Clijsters already suggesting that this could be her last season on tour, her fans will be collectively holding their breath that these latest setbacks don’t force her into an even earlier permanent retirement. As for Soderling, the Swede admitted that he had sustained an injury to his foot during Davis Cup play, even insinuating that he was “stupid” for attempting to play his match with Kohlschreiber. Fingers crossed he makes a quick recovery and can continue is upward climb in results.

Feel Good Stories

Indian Wells has also seen some great storylines emerge over the course of the last week and a half. Former No. 1 Dinara Safina was thrashed by Maria Sharapova, but before her one-sided loss, she managed to string together some solid wins, including victories over Daniela Hantuchova and Sam Stosur. For a player who seriously considered hanging it up following her humiliating loss at the Australian Open, this should instill a much needed boost in confidence. And on the men’s side, you have American Ryan Harrison. There have been more than murmurs that this guy could be the next big American star, and with his solid play this tournament that included a win over fast-rising star Milos Raonic, he’s certainly starting to give credence to the faith others are putting in him.

Enough is Enough

Andy Roddick is a talented player who has always been good about giving it his all through to the end of a match. He’s also been one of the most consistent performers on the ATP World Tour over the last decade, and he’s done a lot of good work both on and off the court. But none of these positives should excuse him from being punished for the way that he behaved this week (or any of the other times he’s crossed the line in abusing officials in recent years). In his win over John Isner, Roddick was sarcastic and obnoxious in requesting a linesperson move to where he felt he could more accurately call the line. Irrespective of whether the linesperson was in the right or wrong position, there was a more professional way to go about it. Then in his loss to Gasquet, he went on a tirade with Fergus Murphy and was very lucky Murphy didn’t slap him with a point penalty in the second set tiebreak after chucking his racquet. Yes, Roddick is correct in that the let-calling technology needs work. But it’s always been that way, and it’s the same for both players. Get over it. He’s not in the same league as the likes of John McEnroe, but Roddick has been one of the best (or is worst?) in this generation players at finding someone else to blame for when things aren’t going the way he wants. One can’t help but wonder if he gets by with it because he’s Andy Roddick. It’s time that umpires started doing more to eradicate this kind of behavior, even if it means hitting a player with a point penalty in the middle of a potentially match-ending tiebreak. That would certainly get players’ attention. It would be a positive for the officials, and would help show young fans what is the more acceptable and admirable behavior on court.

Tech Add-Ons

The ITF has announced that they are increasing the number of matches in Davis Cup and Fed Cup that will utilize that Hawk-Eye technology, with the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup and the semifinals of the Fed Cup both set to use the line-calling tool. ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti feels that “the increased use of electronic review at ties reflects the importance of these competitions, and creates added interest and entertainment for spectators.” While it’s great to see the ITF investing in these competitions, this barely qualifies as even a band-aid solution for fixing what’s wrong with these events. The Hawk-Eye technology is not new to either event, and it’s not rare given that it’s used at so many other tournaments. Since the ITF seems genuinely interested in trying to make these more viable events, hopefully they will start pouring more time and resources into more solid initiatives to increase the popularity and exposure of these historic competitions.

Weekly Debrief: Nadal as King of Outdoors, France & Serbia Win in Davis Cup, Qureshi as a “Hero”

Although the week after a Grand Slam is quieter than most, there was still plenty of action with the semifinals of the Davis Cup seeing France and Serbia winning their respective rubbers in surprising fashion. I also take a look at Rafael Nadal’s greatest weakness. Surprise! He has one! Even after winning 9 grand slams, there is still one thing missing from his collection. We’ll also take a look at Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi’s hero’s welcome in his native Pakistan. Finally, I’ll leave you off with a tip from a friend: it’s an extended (and funnier) version of Roger Federer’s Lindt “Airport” Commercial.

Davis Cup Semifinals Action

As there were no ATP-level tournaments scheduled the week after the U.S. Open, each nation had the opportunity to play their best players in Davis Cup action this past weekend.

For those not familiar with Davis Cup, some commentators and fans don’t see the necessity of the event saying it just adds to the athlete’s already-full schedule or that the event has lost its appeal because of a yearly redundancy. (Imagine if the World Cup of Soccer was played every year instead of every four, it would lose its hype and draw for fans.) The players, however, take a completely different stand in the knock-out event: they love the chance to play as part of a team representing their home country. Where every other tennis event is based off of individual performance, Davis Cup draws on a best-of-five rubbers format that includes 2 singles, 1 doubles, and 2 reverse singles matches. Some players are even known for finding their best game come Davis Cup time.

The main highlight this week was obviously France’s unexpected domination of Argentina, winning all 5 of their rubbers, and Serbia’s come-from-behind mentality to take out the Czech Republic 3-2. The two big players for each winning nation were, Gael Monfils and Janko Tipsarevic, respectively.

France: After Michael Llodra of France took out Juan Monaco in convincing fashion in the ties first rubber, all eyes were on the Gael Monfils-David Nalbandian match. Naldandian is one of those players I mentioned before who brings his best to Davis Cup. He usually has shaky results during the course of the year, but is often integral in bringing Argentina far in Davis Cup. In fact, for his last 9 singles rubbers, he’s only lost 1 and it was to a top 10 player. This weekend, however, notched another loss to his record. After a very solid performance by Monfils, Nalbandian could pull out no hat trick to close the deal this time and was taken out in four sets.

Gael Monfils showcases his new love, breakdancing.

Players spray captain Guy Forget

France Tennis Federation Jean Gachassin is sprayed by Michael Llodra and Richard Gasquet

Serbia: Following his stellar performance at the U.S. Open, expecting Novak Djokovic to travel halfway across the world and recover in 72 hours to play one of the most important Davis Cup rubbers in the country’s history would have been nearly impossible. As luck would have it, Djokovic pulled out of his first rubber citing a case of gastroenteritis, pitting Viktor Troicki against Czech Radek Stepanek. Stepanek walked away with the win, but Serb Janko Tipsarevic took a commanding lead against Tomas Berdych in the next rubber. After playing uninspiring tennis, Berdych somehow looked like he was going to force a 5th set, but Tipsarevic broke through a won the 4th in a tiebreak. The Serbian duo of Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic then had a hard time in the doubles rubber against the expert precision team of Stepanek/Berdych. The Czechs took the doubles rubber, but it would be the last match they would win. After Djokovic stepped in and took out Berdych in the 4th rubber, Tipsarevic won the deciding 5th rubber in three straight sets against Stepanek. Never in Serbia’s 15 year history as a country has the team gotten this far.

Believe it or not, this is Janko Tipsarevic after clinching the deciding 5th rubber against Radek Stepanek!

This Novak Djokovic after winning a point. Is it me or do these Serbs celebrate a victory with fierceness!?

The celebrations from both teams were grand! I can’t decide who I would rather party with!

Serbia will be looking for its first-ever Davis Cup title while France will be looking for its tenth. The final will be played the week following the year-end championships in December.

Nadal as an Outdoor Specialist

Gone are the days when Rafael Nadal was considered a clay court-specialist. After winning 5 French Opens, 2 Wimbledons, and an Australian and U.S. Open, the King of Clay has taken on a new kingdom: King of Outdoors. After clinching the year-end #1 for the second time in three years, Nadal is set to surpass Roger Federer on several records, including possibly most Slams won.

But there is still one thing on Nadal’s resume that is lacking: Indoor titles. Of Nadal’s 42 ATP titles, only 1 has come on the indoor hard courts and that was back in 2005 when the Madrid Masters were played indoors. At the same time, Nadal has been a finalist 12 times in his career and only 2 of those were indoor hard courts (Paris Masters in 2007 and Rotterdam in 2009). Now you may be thinking he simply doesn’t play enough indoor tournaments to win them, but that is not the case. Since 2006, he has lost in the quarterfinals or earlier in 5 of his last 9 indoor tournaments. That statistic now looks a bit more perplexing for the champion, doesn’t it?

Why all the fuss about indoor tournaments anyway? Well, if you recall, there is a very small and negligible tournament at the end of the year that just happens to pit the eight best ATP players against each other on indoor hard courts. Oh right! It’s the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals held in London, England at the end of November! Although Nadal has qualified for the last four years, the further he has gotten was in his first two appearances (2006 and 2007) when he lost in the semifinals to Federer in straight sets both times. He lost all three round robin matches in 2008 without winning a set, and in 2009, he pulled out with knee tendinitis.

Now that Nadal has overcome one of his biggest obstacles by staying healthy long enough to win the U.S. Open, his eyes should be set on clinching the last major trophy he has yet to touch: the WTF trophy played on quick indoor courts, his weakness. Let’s see if Nadal can win and show us what he is really made of.

Welcome Fit for a Hero, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi became an overnight hero in his native Pakistan. After advocating and standing as the voice for Pakistani flood victims at this year’s U.S. Open, Qureshi was greeted by a multitude of happy, cheering fans at the Allama Igbal International Airport in Lahore, India on September 15, 2010. Although he failed to win Pakistan’s first Grand Slam title, he was both Men’s Doubles runner-up and Mixed Doubles runner-up. He is regarded as Pakistan’s most successful tennis player, securing a #6 doubles ranking with partner Rohan Bopanna of India.

Government and Pakistan Tennis Federation officials draped Qureshi with garlands as fans chanted “long live Aisam” and “our new hero.” The throngs of people for his homecoming are reminiscent of when pop stars visit foreign lands.

ATP BONUS

Many fans have seen Roger Federer’s 32 seconds Lindt “Airport” Commercial. However, many more haven’t seen the funnier extended version one below. It includes a ‘strip search’ and Federer spinning around while the two female security guards admire:

Female 1: Stop, right there.

Federer: What’s wrong?

Female 1: Nothing. Everything’s right.

Female 2: You move very well. You must work out a lot.

Fed finishes with a smile and remarks: You ladies are crazy.

But, as Fed is walking away, the females get the last word: I love you.

We love you too, Fed.

Ma Clijsters Continues Hot Play at US Open

NEW YORK –Ma Clijsters took another giant step for motherhood Sunday and moved closer to regaining her women’s singles title at the US Open.

Playing in her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to her daughter, Kim Clijsters out-gunned Venus Williams 6-0 0-6 6-4 to advance into the quarterfinals of America’s premier tennis event.

“I’m not trying to get carried away with it all,” Clijsters said of her surprising run into the second week of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. “Just trying to focus on what I have to do because the tournament’s still going. I just want to keep focusing on my tennis without having to worry too much about what’s going on around.”

Two years ago, Clijsters retired from the sport. She got married to an American basketball player and gave birth to their daughter. Earlier this year, she decided she wanted to return to the tennis tour and is playing the US Open for the first time since she captured the title in 2005. She was injured when the 2006 US Open came around, and retired the following year.

This is her third tournament back since retirement, and it’s as if she had never been away. She reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati and the third round in Toronto, losing in the latter to Jelena Jankovic.

“Although I lost to Jankovic, it really helped me a lot knowing that I was capable of taking her to a 5-3 in that third set,” Clijsters said. “That’s where after Toronto I felt like, OK, I feel at this moment I can compete with those best players. … I had a good feeling that I can have a chance against these girls. That’s something that I didn’t have before I went to Cincinnati.”

She was almost perfect in the opening set against the third-seeded Williams, a two-time US Open champion, but the last title coming in 2001. Williams turned the table in the second set, needing only 23 minutes to run through the six games, allowing Clijsters to win just nine points.

“I just said to myself, OK, forget about what happened this last hour,” Clijsters said. “You start from zero and just make sure that you stay aggressive, keep serving well, and it worked.”

The mother broke Williams in the third game of the final set, then held on to hold her own serve for the rest of the match. In the final game, Williams won three of the first four points before Clijsters, pounding the ball deep into the recesses of the court, won the final four points to grab a spot in the quarterfinals.

Clijsters is trying to become the third mother to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, after two Australians, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong.

Clijsters will next face 18th-seeded Li Na, a 6-2 6-3 winner over Italy’s Francesca Schiavone. Li is the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The other quarterfinal in the bottom of the draw will pit second-seeded Serena Williams against No. 10 Flavia Pennetta of Italy, who staved off six match points before beating No. 7 Vera Zvonareva 3-6 7-6 (6) 6-0.

Williams is 0-6 in her career after losing the first set at love. The last time she lost a 6-0 set at the US Open was in the final in 1997 against Martina Hingis.

Serena Williams began Sunday’s play by crushing Daniela Hantuchova 6-2 6-0, winning the last 10 games of the match.

“I traditionally play well in fourth-round matches,” Serena said. “I want to keep this level, stay focused and play well my next match. I enjoy every moment. I enjoy walking out there and I like to battle.

“I’m blessed to be in this position, to travel the world, play tennis and do something I love every day.”

Third-seeded Rafael Nadal grabbed a fourth-round spot in the men’s singles in an early match, beating Nicolas Almagro 7-5 6-4 6-4.
In other early third-round matches, seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Julien Benneteau 7-6 (4) 6-2 6-4; No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez ousted No. 17 Tomas Berdych 7-5 6-4 6-4; No. 13 Gael Monfils advanced when Jose Acasuso retired with a left knee injury while trailing 6-3 6-4 1-0; No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro beat Daniel Koellerer 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-3; No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero upset No. 9 Gilles Simon, who retired with a right knee injury while trailing 1-6 67-4 7-6 (5) 1-0; and No. 16 Marin Cilic stopped Denis Istomin 6-1 6-4 6-3.

Sam Querrey Clinches 2009 Olympus US Open Series Men’s Title

August 26, 2009 – Sam Querrey clinched the 2009 Olympus US Open Series men’s title today with a 7-5, 6-3 round of 16 win over Bjorn Phau at Pilot Pen Tennis, the final Series event of the season in New Haven. With the victory, Querrey ties Andy Murray in the Olympus US Open Bonus Challenge men’s standings, but officially wins the overall Series title by virtue of the tie-breaker (greatest number of 2009 Olympus US Open Series matches won in the current year). Juan Martin del Potro finishes the Series in third place.

Since the Olympus US Open Series began in 2004, every Series winner had been, or went on to be, No. 1 in the world rankings. Querrey will now compete for the largest payout in tennis history at the 2009 US Open — $2.6 million ($1.6 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus for winning the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series).

On the women’s side, Elena Dementieva currently holds the lead in the Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge women’s standings. Flavia Pennetta can still capture the overall Series title — by winning the Pilot Pen Tennis event at New Haven — while Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli could finish the Series in second or third place.

Querrey and the women’s winner of the Olympus US Open Series will compete for $1 million in bonus prize money at the 2009 US Open. The second and third place finishers will compete for $500,000 and $250,000, respectively.

Rafael Nadal won the 2008 Olympus US Open Series men’s title and Dinara Safina won the women’s title.  In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history — $2.4 million — for winning US Open and the Olympus US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series, winning $2.2 million — the largest purse in women’s sports history.

Now in its sixth season, the Olympus US Open Series has established itself as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In 2008, Olympus became the first title sponsor of the Series. The Olympus US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Evian and MassMutual Financial Group.