The Ritz-Carlton

Page 1 of 11

Mondays With Bob Greene: Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year

Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year

STARS

Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-2 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell in Barcelona, Spain

Ivo Minar won the Bulgarian Open in Sofia, Bulgaria, beating Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3

Jim Courier beat Jimmy Arias 6-4 6-2 to win The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships in Grand Cayman

FED CUP

World Group Semifinals

Italy beat Russia 4-1 at Castellaneta Marina, Italy

United States beat Czech Republic 3-2 at Brno, Czech Republic

World Group Playoffs

Serbia beat Spain 4-0 (doubles abandoned due to rain); France beat Slovak Republic 3-2; Germany beat China 3-2; Ukraine beat Argentina 5-0

World Group II Playoffs

Belgium beat Canada 3-2; Estonia beat Israel 3-2; Poland beat Japan 3-2; Australia beat Switzerland 3-1 (doubles abandoned due to bad light)

SAYING

“The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing.” – Geoff Pollard, Tennis Australia president, announcing Australia’s Davis Cup will not go to India for its scheduled Davis Cup match.

“I think it’s irresponsible for the ITF to expect us as players to go there and put ourselves on the line in a very, very difficult predicament with the way their social system’s running.” – Todd Woodbridge, who played in an Australian-record 32 ties before he retired.

“It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety. “John Fitzgerald, Australia’s Davis Cup captain.

“By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie. India is declared the winner and will advance to the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, scheduled for 18-20 September.” – The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a statement.

“I never imagined anything like this. To win again here in Barcelona, in my home club and at such an important tournament is incredible.” – Rafael Nadal, following his fifth straight Barcelona title.

“Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year. He has a great rhythm right from the start and it’s very difficult to beat him.” – David Ferrer, after losing to Nadal in the Barcelona Open final.

“Once you’ve won a big tournament, you are more relaxed in tight situations.” – Sabine Lisicki, who won The Family Circle Cup tournament, explaining her Fed Cup victory over China’s Zheng Jie.

“You’ve got to expect things to be tough. I didn’t go into either of these matches thinking it was going to be easy.” – Samantha Stosur, who won both of her singles matches as Australia beat Switzerland in their Fed Cup World Group II playoff.

“It’s amazing to be back in the final. It’s a dream and I am very happy to be part of the dream.” – Francesca Schiavone, who won both of her singles matches as Italy beat Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals.

“It’s unimaginable. What they’ve done is extraordinary. These girls will go down in the history of Italian tennis.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italy’s Fed Cup captain.

“It’s special because I won. It’s not fun to be in final number 100 and lose because it’s a special day. Winning a title is always a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, a winner in his 100th career doubles final.

“It was a battle. Once I turned it on, got some confidence and started playing aggressively, things went in my favor.” – Jim Courier, after beating Jimmy Arias to win a senior event in Grand Cayman.

“We don’t want to see night time tennis and we hope and believe that that the matches would finish in day time hours. But if they don’t finish, we will close (the roof) and finish them.” – Ian Ritchie, All England Club chief executive, refusing to rule out night-time play at Wimbledon.

“It’s always nice to win after being out for so long, but I’m hardly at a level where I can be happy. Tennis is bad business for me, but being away from it is even worse.” – Gaston Gaudio, a former French Open champion who won his first ATP level match in two years.

STAYING HOME

India was declared the winner of next month’s Davis Cup tie when Tennis Australia refused to play in Chennai, India. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said any decision to sanction Australia will be made in due course. Under Davis Cup rules, Australia could be banned from the competition for 12 months and face a substantial fine. Claiming there was an “unacceptable level of risk” in going to Chennai, Tennis Australia appealed for a change of venue. But the ITF said Chennai was approved by the Davis Cup Committee following a positive report from security consultants. Australia then said it would not send a team, thus forfeiting the match. “The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision of Tennis Australia to default its upcoming Davis Cup tie against India,” the ITF said in a statement on the Davis Cup website. In 1987, India forfeited the Davis Cup final when it refused to travel to Sweden because of that country’s policy of allowing South Africans to play tennis in Sweden. Concerns about security on the Indian subcontinent increased after the Sri Lanka cricket team was attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, last month. Last November, terror attacks in Mumbai, India, blamed on Islamic terrorists, killed 166 and injured 304 and forced an international cricket tournament to be moved to South Africa.

SUNDOWN BATTLE?

Now that Wimbledon’s Centre Court has lights, can night matches be far behind. The new retractable roof will be in operation when the tournament is played this summer, guaranteeing play on the show court regardless of the weather. Although the roof is translucent, allowing sufficient light for play in most conditions, 120 lights have been installed so play can continue when it is dark outside. All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie says there are no planned night sessions at Wimbledon, like at the US Open and Australian Open, but he refused to rule out all night play. “Wimbledon is a daytime, outdoor event and preference is always to play outdoors, and if we can we will prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible,” Ritchie said. “But we need to provide consistent playing conditions for the players, which is why if a match starts with it shut it will finish with it shut.”

STERLING, NOT SO

Wimbledon has increased the prize money for this year’s tournament, but don’t tell the players that. Each of the men’s and women’s champions will receive 13.3 percent more this year than last. But that’s in British pounds. The pound’s weak exchange rate translates to an actual reduction in prize money if it’s counted in US dollars. All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the tournament was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates. “Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.” The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year’s prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro.

SWEET WEEK

When Gaston Gaudio beat Diego Junqueira 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the first round at the Barcelona Open, it was his first time he had won a match in nearly two years. The former French Open champion won the Barcelona Open seven years ago. He had to rally from a break down in the final set against Junqueira for his first victory at the ATP level since the 2007 French Open – 23 months ago.

SOME DEBUT

Alexa Glatch couldn’t have done any better in her dreams. Playing in her first Fed Cup, the 19-year-old Glatch won both of her singles matches as the seemingly overmatched United States surprised the Czech Republic and gained a spot in the final against Italy. “This has been unbelievable,” Glatch said after she beat Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-1 to level the best-of-five-match competition at 2-2. Liezel Huber then teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to down Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-1 and send the Americans into the final. Glatch, ranked 114th in the world, said her two Fed Cup wins were “definitely the most important” of her career. “I played well overall,” she said. “I really don’t know how I’m doing it.” The Americans played without the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.

SURGERY CONTEMPLATED

David Nalbandian may need surgery on his right hip. The Argentine star pulled out of the Barcelona Open, complaining of hip pain and allowing eventual winner Rafael Nadal to advance into the semifinals on a walkover. Nalbandian’s doctor in Europe, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, told an Argentine newspaper that the tennis star would receive three or four days of treatment, including physical therapy and medication, before a decision on whether he will undergo surgery is made.

SWITCHING PLAYERS

Russia has five of the top 10 players in the world, but only two showed up to play Fed Cup against Italy. And that wasn’t enough. The Italians shocked Russia 4-1 as Francesca Schiavone won both her singles matches. That puts Italy in the Fed Cup final for the third time in four years. The Russians won four of the last five Fed Cup titles. Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked ninth in the world, gave Russia it’s only point, winning her singles match against Flavia Pennetta. Nadia Petrova, ranked 10th in the world, played only doubles, while missing from the competition were top-ranked Dinara Safina, third-ranked Elena Dementieva and sixth-ranked Vera Zvonareva. The latter missed the tie because of an ankle ligament injury. Instead, 22-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and 28-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova played for Russia – and lost.

SEEKING NUMBER FIVE

Andy Roddick will be going for his fifth Queen’s Club crown when the Wimbledon warm-up tournament is held in London in June. The American won the grass-court title from 2003-05 and again in 2007. Among others in this year’s field are defending champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

SAD NEWS

Irving Glick, the US Open tournament doctor for more than 25 years, is dead at the age of 92. Glick ran the medical department at the US Open until 1991 and served as the International Tennis Federation’s medical representative to the Olympic Games in South Korea in 1988 and Spain in 1992. Glick chaired the US Tennis Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in 1989 and helped develop the tennis anti-doping program years before establishing the current World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees doping control in all Olympic sports. He also was a founding member of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Medical Committee, which established medical and eligibility guidelines for international wheelchair tennis.

STEPPING UP

Davis Cup teams from Pacific Oceania and Sri Lanka will compete in Asia/Oceania Zone Group II play next year following round-robin matches in Aleppo, Syria, last week. Relegated from Group III to Group IV for next year were Singapore and Tajikistan. In Group IV play, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Bangladesh won promotion to Group III for next year.

SPONSOR

IBM has extended its sponsorship of Wimbledon for another five years. The All England Club announced the extension and said it also has signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia. “In this climate it’s a vote of confidence in Wimbledon,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. IBM advises on and helps implement new technologies at the lone grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Barcelona: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 7-6 (9)

Sofia: Dominik Hrbaty and David Skoch beat James Auckland and Peter Luczak 6-2 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Rome: www.internazionalibnlditalia.it/1/default.asp

Stuttgart: www.porsche-tennis.de/prod/pag/tennis.nsf/web/english-home

Tunis: www.tct.org.tn

Fez: www.frmt.ma

Rhodes: www.atcrhodes.com

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/

International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$3,500,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$125,000 Tunis Open, Tunis, Tunisia, clay

$110,000 Aegean Tennis Cup, Rhodes, Greece, hard

WTA

$700,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Pix, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$220,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fez, Morocco, clay

$100,000 Open GDF Suez, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, clay

$100,000 Soweto Women’s Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard

DAVIS CUP

(April 28-May 3)

Europe/Asia Group III-A, at Istanbul, Turkey: Estonia, Greece, Botswana, Iceland, Luxembourg, Rwanda, Turkey

Europe/Asia Group IV, at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$580,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay

$580,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$580,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay

$100,000 Israel Open, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay

Courier and Cash Advance to Semifinals in Grand Cayman

Jim Courier advances in Grand Cayman

GRAND CAYMAN, April 24, 2009 – Jim Courier opened up the defense of his Outback Champions Series title in the Cayman Islands Friday, defeating Mikael Pernfors of Sweden 6-3, 6-4 to advance into the semifinals of the $150,000 The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships. Also advancing with a quarterfinal win Friday in the eight-player event was Pat Cash of Australia, who defeated Karel Novacek of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4. The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships is the fourth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Courier will face Mark Philippoussis of Australia in Saturday evening’s semifinal, while Cash will take on Jimmy Arias in the first semifinal in the afternoon session. Courier is looking to win for the second time in the second-year Outback Champions Series event and, like in 2008, use the clay-court event to kick start his Outback Champion Series season.

“I am here defending my honor and my title as last year’s champion but the task ahead will be a challenge, as anything worth doing tends to be,” wrote Courier in his blog on the Outback Champions Series website – linked here – http://m1e.net/c?97079246-HVhYO/dMh9KPk%404189130-9tRhGLCNPAfF%2e “(Winning in Grand Cayman in 2008) was the lift off for my season where I won here and then three more tournaments after a slow start. I am looking for the same thing here this year as I have had a bumpy start to my 2009 OCS campaign and am in need of a jump start.”

Courier finished the 2006 and 2008 Outback Champions Series campaigns as the No. 1 ranked player in the year-end standings, but has struggled so far in 2009. In the opening event in Boston in February, Courier injured his back in round-robin play against John McEnroe and finished in fourth place. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Courier continued to struggle with his form and health and lost to McEnroe in the championship match. In the third event of the year last month in Los Cabos, Mexico, Courier beat Mats Wilander in the third-place play-off after losing to Patrick Rafter in the semifinals. “Since Cabo I have been able to train hard on/off court once again and should be ready to make a serious run this week for the title” wrote Courier on his blog. “We’ll see if that’s enough. With the tough field, I’ll have to earn it if I’m going to hold the trophy again.”

Cash, the 1987 Wimbledon champion, was spurred on to his win over Novacek by a group of vocal Australian fans – many donning Cash’s trademark checkerboard headbands. Cash was a late entry into the field after 2001 Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic was forced to withdraw when he was not sufficiently recovered from recent knee surgery to compete.

“I am just happy to be here,” said Cash of his late entry into the tournament. “A few days ago, I was sitting in cold London when I got the call. It’s a great opportunity to play in this tournament and to play here in Grand Cayman. It’s a wonderful event.”

The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships features a field of eight champion players competing in a single knock-out format event, vying for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 on the Outback Champions Series. Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com. In 2008, Courier won the inaugural event defeating Wayne Ferreira 7-6 (3), 7-6 (1) in the championship match.

The schedule of play for the remainder of the event is as follows;

Saturday, April 25
Starting 1 pm
Doubles featuring all four quarterfinalists
Pat Cash vs. Jimmy Arias

Starting at 6 pm
Doubles featuring all four quarterfinalists
Jim Courier vs. Mark Philippoussis

Sunday, April 26
Starting at 1 pm
Third Place Match
Championship Match

Pete Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Rafter in the final. Following Grand Cayman, Outback Champions Series events will be played in Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end No. 1.

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

About The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, The DeckHouses and Secret Harbour – Stretching sea to sea from the acclaimed Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort has set a lavish new standard of living on the Caribbean’s most prosperous, cosmopolitan and safe island – Grand Cayman. Comprising The Residences, The DeckHouses and Secret Harbour, all anchored by the hotel itself, living at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort is distinguished by an unparalleled lifestyle experience enhanced with the unique Endless Service program, which includes a fleet of luxury automobiles and intrepid 36-foot motor yachts available for use when in residence. Owners also have access to the legendary service and amenities of the $600 million Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Resort.  For more information, please visit www.residences-cayman.com, www.thedeckhouses.com or www.findsecretharbour.com.

Robbie Koenig: Checking in from Doha

Hi tennis fans, I’m in Doha this week doing the commentating for the world TV feed. This tournament is insane!!! They have Nadal, Federer, Murray and Roddick (some serious cash been handed out right there for appearance fees!!!) All these guys are on the schedule Wednesday. Today we ONLY had three of those four – Nadal, Fed and Murray!

The way the treat everyone is top-draw stuff. We’re with the players at The Ritz- Carlton here in Doha, and the hotel is the best I have ever been in….and I have been to some pretty spectacular ones around the world!

Food is great, the quality of tennis from the top three seeds was phenomenal today and we’ll see what they bring to the court.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Robbie

Page 1 of 11