Thomas Muster

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Speaking of winning streaks in tennis…

novak-djokovic-37-0

The tennis world is abuzz about Novak Djokovic’s current 37-match win streak as the French Open approaches. Today, May 20, marks the 21st anniversary of a win streak coming to an end, as documented below in this excerpt from Randy Walker’s book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

1990 – Monica Seles ends Steffi Graf’s 66-match winning streak, defeating the German 6-4, 6-3 in the singles final of the German Open in Berlin. Says Seles, “I’m much more experienced now and I wasn’t afraid of Graf as much as before. This is just one match. I’m just happy that I’m playing well.” Says Graf, “I was so far away from playing my best tennis, it was difficult to get into it. If I play like that I can’t expect to win.”

2007 – Roger Federer ends Rafael Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay, defeating the Spaniard 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the Hamburg Masters in Germany. “It was an incredible performance from my side,” says the world No. 1. “I had a great day, it’s nice to be playing well again. It’s my first title on clay in a couple of years.” Says Nadal, who had not lost to Federer on clay in five previous matches, “If I have to lose against anyone, then he is the man. I am not sad to lose to the best in the world.”

1990 – One year after attending the Italian Open on crutches recovering from torn knee ligaments suffering from being hit by a car, Thomas Muster of Austria wins the Italian Open for the first time in his career, defeating Andrei Chesnokov of Russia 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the singles final. Says Muster, “When I said then (last year) that I would be back to win this tournament, it was more like a wish. But I worked very hard since then, and it paid off. This is my biggest tournament victory.”

2001 – Albert Portas becomes one of the most unlikely champions of a Tennis Masters Series event when he upsets fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 to win the Tennis Master Series – Hamburg for his first – and only – career ATP singles title. Portas, a qualifier in the tournament, ends Ferrero’s 16-match winning streak with the final-round victory. “It was unbelievable, the most incredible experience in my life,” Portas says. “It was a beautiful match. Hamburg will be forever in my heart now. It was the best day in my life.”

1984 – Andres Gomez of Ecuador fends off the challenge of 16-year-old Aaron Krickstein, defeating the American 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Italian Open in Rome. Krickstein becomes the youngest men’s finalist in the history of the Italian Championships.

2007 – Jelena Jankovic defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 to win the Italian Open in Rome. Says Kuznetsova, “It’s just a bit sad because I felt like I was playing so well. I was fighting a lot against myself. I didn’t play the game I could have played. I had so many balls and I didn’t finish, that was the key.”

Jim Courier Takes the Reins – The Friday Five

Jim Courier

By Maud Watson

Taking the Reins

A week after Australia named the appointment of Patrick Rafter as its new Davis Cup captain, the United States followed suit. On Wednesday it was announced that Jim Courier would be replacing Patrick McEnroe at the helm of the U.S. team. Courier will have some big shoes to fill, as McEnroe did much to turn around the fortunes of the U.S. Davis Cup squad, which included a title win in 2007. But Courier, a four-time Grand Slam winner, brings plenty of experience to the table, including serving as a member of the 1995 victorious U.S. Davis Cup squad. And, as an added bonus, reports seem to indicate that there’s a slight chance Mr. Courier’s new appointment could entice a healthy Andy Roddick to devote time to Davis Cup duty once again.

Muster Wobbles

Thomas Muster made his comeback debut at the main ATP World Tour level in his native Austria this week, and unfortunately, it didn’t have a fairytale ending. The 43-year-old succumbed to his native countryman Andreas Haider-Maurer in straight sets in the opening round, though it should be noted that the second set ended in a tiebreak. Perhaps Muster is still polishing off some of the rust, but it is a little difficult to see him putting in another two good years as he stated he hopes to do. Still, judging by the crowd’s reaction to his efforts, there’s little doubt that his comeback is still bringing plenty of smiles to fans’ faces.

Comeback Bug

In addition to Muster, the ATP World Tour may see the return of yet another veteran in Australian Mark Philippoussis. After securing two wins on the Champions Series seniors’ tour, the veteran Australian has stated that he has found his hunger once again and is contemplating a return to the main tour level. While there are many fans who would love to see Scud see his plan through, it’s certainly questionable on Philippoussis’ part. It’s not as though this is the first time he’s considered such a comeback, and while those who compete on the Champions Tour are champions in their own right, they are retired from the main tour for a reason. The difference in the caliber of play is wide, and Philippoussis is kidding himself if he thinks success on one tour means it will translate to success on the ATP World Tour. Sadly, one has to wonder if Philippoussis’ considerations for a return don’t stem from the fact that he squandered his talent during his prime by choosing to live the good life instead putting in the time necessary to remain more injury-free and to realize his full potential. But then again, if Muster thinks he can do it in his 40s, there’s at least a glimmer of hope for the Aussie to do it in his 30s.

Consolation Prize

Few would argue that 2010 has been the year of Rafael Nadal. With the No. 1 ranking sewn up, three of the four majors to his name, and achieving the career Grand Slam, it has been his banner year. But Roger Federer, despite the subpar results by his high standards, has still managed to achieve yet another milestone, as he tied Sampras’ record of 64 singles titles with is win in Stockholm last week. At this stage in the game, Connors’ 109 still seems untouchable and McEnroe’s 77 a doable but lofty goal, but look for Federer to add to his total and use this mini-milestone as a springboard to better things in 2011.

Gossip Fill

In case you missed your daily dose of gossip, it’s worth noting a story that broke late last week followed by one earlier this week. The first concerns the engagement of Maria Sharapova to LA Laker Sasha Vujacic. More than once Sharapova has commented that she couldn’t see herself playing till she was 30, and if her results don’t drastically improve in 2011, don’t be entirely surprised if she hangs up the racquet and decides to permanently soak up the California sun. Then there’s Lleyton Hewitt, who became a father for the third time as he and wife Bec welcomed a baby girl last weekend. The whole charging for texts to find out the baby girl’s name is a little odd (and someone please let me know if that goes to some kind of charity), but congratulations are in order for the Hewitt’s. Don’t look for a third child to have a negative impact on Hewitt’s game either. It’s his body he’ll need to worry about.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I think that Justine’s comeback is good news for women’s tennis

Kimiko Date - Krumm

STARS

Albert Montanes won the BCR Open Romania, beating Juan Monaco 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6) in Bucharest, Romania

Gael Monfils beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-2 to win the Open de Moselle in Metz, France

Kimiko Date Krumm beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, Korea

Shahar Peer won the Tashkent Open, defeating Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3 6-4 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Arantxa Parra-Santonja beat Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4 6-3 to win the Open GDF Suez de Bretagne in Saint Malo, France

Thomas Enqvist beat Michael Chang 6-4 7-6 (5) to win the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris, France

Jim Courier beat Pete Sampras 2-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak) to win the Breezeplay Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

SAYING

“A flame I thought was extinguished forever suddenly lit up again.” – Justine Henin, announcing her return to tennis one year after she retired while being ranked number one in the world.

“Justine is that rare athlete who decided to step away from the game at the height of her powers and no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with.” – Stacey Allaster, WTA Tour CEO, on Justin Henin ending her retirement.

“The match reminded me again that in tennis you really don’t know how anything will turn out before you actually play.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, at 38 years, 11 months, 30 days becoming the second oldest player in the Open Era to win a singles title on the WTA Tour.

“When I was on court, I didn’t feel like she was 38. She won five matches in a row this week, four in three sets, more than two and a half hours, and today she was running like it was the first day.” – Anabel Medina Garrigues, after losing to Kimiko Date Krumm in the final of the Hansol Korea Open.

“For a long time people spoke about my lost finals. But now the curse is over.” – Gael Monfils, who ended a four-year title drought with his victory at the Open de Moselle.

“I think that Justine’s comeback is good news for women’s tennis but even better news for Belgium in general. … For tennis it is brilliant that she’s back.” – Kim Clijsters, on the return of Justine Henin.

“When I saw the draw I thought I could beat her. But you never know what she’s going to bring.” – Lucie Safarova, after beating former world number one Ana Ivanovic in a first-round match in Tokyo.

“I’m a little bit disappointed, but sports is like this. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” – Juan Monaco, after losing the BCR Open Romania to Albert Montanes.

“We’ve played our first two tournaments together in the last two weeks and won them both. It’s a great feeling.” – Tatiana Poutchek, who teamed with Olga Govortsova to win the doubles in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a week after winning in Guangzhou, China.

“It was a fabulous and glorious end, but he got a bad call late in the fifth set. He didn’t argue it.” – Jack Kramer’s son Bob, talking at his father’s memorial service.

SHE’S BACK

After watching fellow Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters win the US Open, another former number one player, Justine Henin, has decided to end her retirement. “The past 15 months I have been able to recharge my physical batteries, mental batteries (and) emotional batteries,” Henin said. Winner of four French Opens, two US Opens and the Australian Open, Henin said she plans to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in January in Australia. Henin was 25 years old when she retired in May 2008, saying she no longer had passion for tennis. She now says the passion is back. She will begin her comeback by playing exhibition tournaments in Dubai and Belgium in November and December. “Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women’s tennis and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today,” WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster said in a statement.

STILL SORE

Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Thailand Open because of an acute rupture of an abdominal muscle. Nadal admitted the injury contributed to his US Open semifinal loss to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. The Spaniard is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks. Nadal will remain in Spain to receive treatment for the injury.

STAYING HOME

Citing exhaustion, Roger Federer withdrew from the Japan Open and Shanghai ATP Masters. “This will allow me a chance to give my body a chance to rest, rehabilitate and recover from a physically challenging year,” Federer said in a statement. The Swiss star reached the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments this year, winning the French Open for the first time and breaking Pete Sampras’ record by capturing his 15th major title at Wimbledon. He also earned two points in Switzerland’s 3-2 Davis Cup victory over Italy in September.

STAYING THE COURSE

The retirements of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were just like taking weekends off if you compare them to Kimiko Date Krumm. Once ranked as high as fourth in the world, Date Krumm was retired for 12 years before returning to the tennis tour. After eight consecutive first-round losses, Date Krumm won not only a match but a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament when she defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Korea Open in Seoul. It was her first WTA Tour title since 1996 and, at age 38 years, 11 months and 30 days, the Japanese veteran becomes the second oldest player to win a Tour singles title, behind Billie Jean King. Date Krumm enjoyed success on the ITF women’s circuit before rejoining the WTA Tour. “For the past year I didn’t know if I could compete well on the Tour, but now it looks OK,” Date Krumm said.

SRICHAPHAN RETURNS

Paradorn Srichaphan never retired, he just stopped playing because of injuries. Now, the former ninth-ranked player will play doubles at the Thailand Open this week, his first action since March 2007. “I wanted to come back by using the Thailand Open as my tournament,” said the best player ever to come out of Thailand. “I’m not fit enough for the singles.” Srichaphan, who has won five career titles, underwent surgery on his wrist in Los Angeles in 2007 and again in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this year. He and countryman Danai Udomchoke received a wild card entry into the Thailand Open.

SAD SENDOFF

Several hundred spectators paid tribute to Hall of Famer Jack Kramer as he was remembered at a memorial service at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Kramer died on September 12 after a battle with cancer. The 88-year-old is survived by five children and eight grandchildren. US Open tournament director Jim Curley, calling Kramer a pioneer, said: “Every one of us who makes our living in professional tennis owes a debt of gratitude to Jack” Hall of Famer Pam Shriver and Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times served as hosts of the ceremony.

SWITZERLAND-SPAIN TIE

They’ve met in the finals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Now, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could battle in the opening round of the 2010 Davis Cup. Spain and Switzerland could face each other in the first round of World Group play next year. The world’s top two players have never faced each other in Davis Cup action since neither played when the two nations met in a first-round tie in 2007, Spain winning 3-2. “I truly enjoy playing for my country but I’ll also have to see where I have my priorities for next season,” Federer said. “Of course, there are the Grand Slams, but there is also number one, which is a bit of a dilemma. Like in the other years, I will see after the Australian Open how I feel and if I play the first round.”

SET FOR HOPMAN

Teen-ager Melanie Oudin and big John Isner both made big splashes at the US Open where they recorded huge upsets. Now they’ll team up to lead the United States challenge at the 2010 Hopman Cup. Oudin is ranked 43rd in the world after her US Open run to the quarterfinals where she upset top 10 player Elena Dementieva and former world number one Maria Sharapova. The 6-foot-9 (2.06 m) Isner used his big serve to upset fellow American Andy Roddick before losing to Roger Federer in the fourth round. Others confirmed for the Hopman Cup, which runs from January 2-9, include Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur, and Russians Igor Andreev and Dementieva.

STAYING HOME

Serena Williams won’t be playing in Tokyo this week because of injuries. The Australian and Wimbledon champion pulled out of the Pan Pacific Open with problems with her knee and toe. She has not played a singles match since her rant at a lineswoman in her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the US Open. Serena will be the only member of the women’s top 10, including her older sister Venus, not competing in the USD $2 million event.

SPARKLING PLAY

The British duo of Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski finally have a title to go along with the scalps of top doubles teams they have collected. “This is our first (direct) acceptance at ATP World Tour level,” Skupski said, then noted that in the previous three ATP events they’re played they have beaten American twins Bob and Mike Bryan as well as the Brazilian duo of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa. “So we always knew that we were capable of beating top guys,” he said. At Metz, France, Fleming and Skupski upset the top-seeded team of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2-6 6-4 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Open de Moselle. En route to the final, they also knocked off the third-seeded team of Christopher Kas and Rogier Wassen.

SUCCESS FINALLY

When Jim Courier beat Pete Sampras for the first time since the opening round of the 1997 Italian Open, it gave him the title of the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. It was Courier’s ninth career title on the Outback Champions Series, the global circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Courier clinched the title when Sampras double-faulted on match point. “I was serving right into the sun on that one and it hurt a little bit,” Sampras said. During their ATP Tour careers, Sampras beat Courier 16 times in their 20 meetings, including the Wimbledon final in 1993.

SURPRISE TREAT

Andre Agassi, making his Outback Champions Series debut, and Mikael Pernfors will clash in the opening round of the 2009 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships to be held October 8-11 in Surprise, Arizona, USA. Agassi will be the eighth former world number one to compete in the Outback Champions Series, a global tennis circuit for champion players age 30 and over. Others competing this year include Mark Philippoussis, Wayne Ferreira, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias. Other former number one players who have competed on the Outback Champions Series include Pete Sampras, Courier, Pat Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster and John McEnroe.

STOPPING

Sergio Roitman says he will retire from professional tennis at the conclusion of the Copa Petrobas, an ATP World Tour Challenger tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A native of Buenos Aires, Roitman announced his decision at the draw ceremony. “It is a strange moment for me, but the time has come for me to leave professional tennis,” said Roitman. “Physically, I cannot compete at the highest level anymore. I think this is the best place to retire, at a tournament that has given me a lot of pleasure and surrounded by people that have helped me and whom I love very much.” Currently ranked 124th in the world, the 30-year-old Roitman reached a career-high 62 in singles in October 2007. During his 14-year-old career he won two ATP World Tour doubles titles, and achieved high highest doubles ranking of 45th in the world in September 2008.

SERBIAN JAIL

Jelena Dokic’s father has had his 15-month prison sentence confirmed by a Serbian court. The retrial for Damir Dokic was held because the Australian ambassador to Serbia, Clair Birgin, did not testify in person during the original hearing in June. This time she was again represented by a lawyer. In June, Dokic was found guilty of “endangering the security” of Ambassador Birgin as well as unlawful possession of weapons, including a hand grenade. Dokic was arrested after reportedly saying he would blow up Birgin’s car if she didn’t stop negative articles about him from being published in Australia. Now 26 years old, Jelena Dokic was born in the former Yugoslavia and migrated with her family to Australia as a child and represented her adopted country at the 2000 Olympics. She renounced her Australian ties in 2001 and moved back to Serbia, only to return to Australia in 2006.

SERENA SPONSOR

Serena Williams is featured in a lighthearted campaign for Tampax. The Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. said Williams will take on Tampax’s “Mother Nature” character in new magazine print advertising. Company officials said Williams represents the energy, independence and strength of women they want to celebrate. The campaign was in the works before Williams was fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct during the US Open when she harangued a lineswoman. P&G spokesman David Bernens said: “Clearly she admitted she made a mistake. She apologized. We support her apology.”

SENIOR SPONSOR

The Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall in London has a new sponsor. AEGON will become the title sponsor of the senior event that has featured an array of Wimbledon champions, including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras. The tournament will be known as the AEGON Masters Tennis as the life assurance and pensions company’s involvement in the sport in Great Britain continues to grow. The new sponsorship means AEGON is involved in British tennis at every level, from grass roots development to the hugely popular senior event. Among those expected to compete this year will be Wimbledon champions Goran Ivanisevic and Stefan Edberg, along with two-time Wimbledon finalist Patrick Rafter.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Bucharest: Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2 6-4

Metz: Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski beat Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2-6 6-4 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Seoul: Chan Yung-Jan and Abigail Spears beat Carly Gullickson and Nicole Kriz 6-3 6-4

Tashkent: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Vitalia Diatchenko and Ekaterina Dzehalevich 6-2 6-7 (1) 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Saint Malo: Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin beat Andreja Klepac and Aurelie Vedy 6-3 retired

SITES TO SURF

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.org

Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com

Beijing: www.chinaopen.cn/

Tokyo: http://rakutenopen.rakuten.co.jp/en/index.html

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard

$608,500 PTT Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$3,337,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$1,226,500 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

WTA

$4,500,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$100,000 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

SENIORS

$150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Surprise, Arizona, USA

McEnroe Leads Field at Rio Champions Cup

NEW YORK, March 11, 2009 – John McEnroe, newly-turned 50 years old and fresh off reaching the final of the Champions Cup Boston, leads the field of players set to compete at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup that starts Thursday at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joining McEnroe in the field of eight champions are two-time French and Australian Open champion Jim Courier, 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, 1986 French Open finalist Mikael Pernfors, former U.S. Open and Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis, former U.S. Davis Cup standout Jimmy Arias, and Brazilian standouts Fernando Meligeni and Jaime Oncins.

The Rio Champions Cup will be the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event will mark the first Outback Champions Series event held in Brazil.

“We are looking forward to bringing Outback Champions Series tennis to Brazil for the first time and have an excellent field of players that will provide high-level tennis and entertainment in Rio,” said Jon Venison, co-founding partner for the Outback Champions Series.

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, reached his sixth career singles final on the Outback Champions Series at the Champions Cup Boston, losing to Pete Sampras in a hard-fought final 7-6 (10), 6-4. Following the match, Sampras said he was “in awe” of McEnroe and his level of play at his age. Thirty years ago in 1979, McEnroe won his major singles title at the U.S. Open – the first of his four titles in Flushing Meadows. McEnroe also won three Wimbledon singles titles and, on the Outback Champions Series, won titles in Boston and Surprise, Ariz., in 2008.

The Rio Champions Cup will feature a round-robin format with McEnroe, Pernfors, Arias and Oncins competing in “Group Maracana” and Courier, Cash, Philippoussis and Meligeni playing in “Group Corcovado.” The schedule of play for the event is as follows:

Thursday – March 12
Starting at 5 pm
Arias vs. Oncins
Courier vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Pernfors
Meligeni vs. Philippoussis

Friday – March 13
Starting at 5 pm
Pernfors vs. Oncins
Philippoussis vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Arias
Courier vs. Meligeni

Saturday – March 14
Starting at 3 pm
Arias vs. Pernfors
Meligeni vs. Cash
Courier vs. Philippoussis
McEnroe vs. Oncins

Sunday – March 15
Starting at noon
3rd Place Match
Starting at 2 pm
Championship Match

Following the Rio Champions Cup, Outback Champions Series events will be played in Los Cabos, Mexico (March 18-22), Grand Cayman (April 23-26), 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 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 and winner of a $100,000 bonus.

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.

Andre Agassi To Play On The Outback Champions Series

NEW YORK, March 9, 2009 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that Andre Agassi will play Outback Champions Series tennis for the first time when he participates in the The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise October 8-11 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise is the seventh of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Agassi is the first player announced for the 2009 tournament which will feature a field of eight champion players competing in a single knock-out format event over four days competing for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise is a second-year event on the circuit. John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise, defeating Todd Martin in the final. Agassi will be the eighth former world No. 1 to compete on the Outback Champions Series joining Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Pat Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster and McEnroe.

In his historic career, Agassi, 38, became one of only five men in the history of tennis to win all four major singles titles in a career, joining Rod Laver, Don Budge, Roy Emerson and Fred Perry. Agassi won his first major title at Wimbledon in 1992, defeating Goran Ivanisevic in a dramatic five-set final. He won his first U.S. Open title in 1994 and his second five years later in 1999. He won four Australian Open titles between 1995 and 2003, while his victory at the 1999 French Open rounded out his “career” Grand Slam. Agassi ranked No. 1 in the world for 101 weeks during his career. He helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1990, 1992 and 1995 and won 60 career singles titles from 1987 until he concluded his career at the 2006 U.S. Open. In 1994, Agassi started the Andre Agassi Foundation which is dedicated to transforming public education for underserved youth.

Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

About the Outback Champions Series
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years. 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 year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Series will receive a $100,000 bonus.

About InsideOut Sports & Entertainment
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 one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including 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.

On This Day In Tennis History Is Latest Book Release From New Chapter Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the yearswritten by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.

On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com

Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.

More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548

People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull,  Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan,  Robbie Weiss,  Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com

Borg scares Goran in first ever match; Cash eclipses McEnroe in thriller

BORG SCARES GORAN IN FIRST EVER MATCH; CASH ECLIPSES MCENROE IN THRILLER

Bjorn Borg gave away 15 years to Goran Ivanisevic, but the great Swede had the Croatian worried throughout their first ever clash at the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Budapest.

Ivanisevic eventually prevailed 7-6(5), 6-3, but not before Borg raced to a 4-1 first set lead. It was all that the Croatian could do to concentrate on the ball with such a legend on the opposite side of the net for the first time.

“First and foremost it was an honour to be able to play Bjorn because we have never played before,” said Ivanisevic, who currently tops the South African Airways Rankings.

“It was a tough match, very serious. I want to win every match badly and especially playing Bjorn. You don’t play Bjorn every day. I’ve watched him so many times on tv so to play him for the first time officially is a great honour. It’s great that I can say that I played him during my career.”

Borg was happy with his performance, and not hugely surprised to lose his early lead.

“Goran started to play really well,” said Borg, who will face John McEnroe on Friday.

Borg vs. McEnroe -

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“We had a long game when he broke me and he started to play better. In the beginning he started a bit slow and then he picked up his game and we had a really good first set. I had a few chances but in general it was a good match.”

Pat Cash was another man to stage an impressive comeback on day one. The Australian lost the first set 6-3 against McEnroe, who continued the form of two weeks earlier when he won the Luxembourg title. But Cash hung in, serving-and-volleying throughout the two-hour match, and ultimately edged the second set on a tie-break. In the Champions’ Tie-Break, the match was still there for McEnroe to win. He forced a 7-5 lead before losing the final five points of the match to an inspired Cash.

“I’m really pleased to have won that but really the difference was just a few points here and there,” said Cash.

“In the first set John was just serving too well and there was no way I could beat him. But then he dropped his level a bit and I picked mine up. It was a real struggle but I’m glad to have come through.”

McEnroe was predictably crestfallen.

“I gave my best but unfortunately I didn’t win the last point. He just played the big points better, but it was a good contest,” he said.

Elsewhere, Sergi Bruguera overcame Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-4 and Henri Leconte defeated Thomas Muster, also 6-3, 6-4.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.  After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in Sunday’s final.

Last week, Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic in a thrilling final to win his first ever BlackRock Tour of Champions Title at the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven.

In the final event of the year, Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg will take on McEnroe and Ivanisevic in an eight-man field at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, December 2-7.

RESULTS – THURSDAY OCTOBER 9

Sergi Bruguera d. Guillermo Vilas 6-3, 6-4

Henri Leconte d. Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4

Goran Ivanisevic d. Bjorn Borg 7-6(5), 6-3

Pat Cash d. John McEnroe 3-6, 7-6(6), 10-7 (Champions’ Tie-Break)

LATEST STANDINGS

GROUP A

Matches won/lost (sets)

Goran Ivanisevic                                                                  1-0 (2-0)

Pat Cash                                                                               1-0 (2-1)

John McEnroe                                                      0-1 (1-2)

Bjorn Borg                                                                             0-1 (0-2).

GROUP B

Sergi Bruguera                                                                    1-0 (2-0)

Henri Leconte                                                                      1-0 (2-0)

Thomas Muster                                                            0-1 (0-2)

Guillermo Vilas                                                                    0-1 (0-2)

SCHEDULE

Friday, 10th October, 2008

At 14:30

Henri Leconte vs. Guillermo Vilas

Thomas Muster vs. Sergi Bruguera

At 17:30

John McEnroe vs. Bjorn Borg

Goran Ivanisevic vs. Pat Cash

BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION

Winner -                400 points

Finalist -                250 points

3rd place -            200 points

4th place -            125 points

5/6th place -  80 points

7/8th place -          60 points

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after eleven events)

POS.       PLAYER                                                PTS

1              Goran Ivanisevic             1220

2              Marcelo Rios                                        1130

3              Michael Stich                   980

4              Henri Leconte                      890

5              Sergi Bruguera                    810

6        Cedric Pioline                            740

7              Thomas Muster                    655

8              Anders Jarryd                        525

9        John McEnroe                     480

10=         Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC)                455

10=         Fernando Meligeni (WC)   455

12           Pat Cash                                                420

13=    Richard Krajicek                        400

13=         Patrick Rafter                         400

13=         Pete Sampras                       400

13=   Stefan Edberg                      400

17           Mikael Pernfors                    330

18           Chris Wilkinson (WC)          325

19=         Jaime Oncins (WC)                              200

19=    Johny Goudenbour             200

21           Bjorn Borg                                              185

22=   Guy Forget                           125

22=         Jeremy Bates (WC)                             125

22=         Albert Costa                                          125

22=         Michael Chang                    125

26=  Carl Uwe Steeb                           120

26= Guillermo Vilas                                            120

28=  Mats Wilander                        80

28=  Joao Cunha e Silva (WC)          80

28=         Magnus Larsson                   80

28=         Andrei Cherkasov                                80

28= Mansour Bahrami                  80

28= Paul Haarhuis                              80

34 Yevgeny Kafelnikov                      60

34=         Jaime Yzaga                                         60

34=         Alladin Karagoz (WC)          60

34=         Andrei Chesnokov                               60

WC denotes Wild Card.

The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008

Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)

Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors

Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)

Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich

Rome, Italy – May 10-11

Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic

Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)

Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner

Sao Paulo, Brazil – June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)

Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios

Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20

Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni

Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)

Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich

Algarve, Portugal – August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)

Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic

Paris, France – September 18-21 (5e Trophée Jean-Luc Lagardère)

Champion: Stefan Edberg; Runner-up: Sergi Bruguera

Luxembourg, Luxembourg - September 25-28

Champion: John McEnroe; Runner-up: Henri Leconte

Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)

Champion: Richard Krajicek; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic

Budapest, Hungary - October 9-12

Macao, China – November 20 (Special Event)

London, UK – December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)

OTHER INFO

About BlackRock

BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.

South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.

For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com

and for further information:

www.blackrockinternational.com/tourofchampions

Fever-pitch in Budapest as Borg/McEnroe arrive

As the BlackRock Tour of Champions rolls into Budapest this week for the city’s first ever Tennis Classics event, Bjorn Borg will get the chance to avenge his  defeat to long-time rival John McEnroe, who stole victory from under his nose when the pair met in Luxembourg only two weeks ago.

When the pair attended a press conference with Group A rivals Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Cash and the rest of the eight-man field in Budapest on Wednesday, 130 journalists and 30 photographers greeted them.

Borg/McEnroe rivalry -

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Staged in a lavish banquet hall with meals served from a silver platter, it was quite a spectacle. Anticipation ahead of the country’s first ever sight of McEnroe and Borg is at fever-pitch. The tournament has been organised by promoter and former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Balazs Taroczy, and no stone has been left unturned. Taroczy and his team have promoted the event throughout the year and everywhere you go around the city of Budapest the Tennis Classics event is being talked about.

McEnroe and Borg have again been drawn into the same Group this week in Budapest so  on Friday evening the duo are scheduled to meet for the latest installment of the most famous rivalry in tennis history. At the first Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg two weeks ago, Borg led by a set and 3-0 before a fired-up McEnroe came back to clinch the match in a Champions’ Tie-Break.

McEnroe and Borg are joined in Group A by former Wimbledon Champions Cash and Ivanisevic. On Sunday, Ivanisevic leap-frogged Marcelo Rios to take over the top spot in the South African Airways Rankings after collecting 250 points for finishing runner-up  in the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven last week. The Croatian will play Borg in his first match on Thursday, while Cash is due to meet McEnroe with whom he has enjoyed a fierce rivalry on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. The last time the two men met was at the 2007 BlackRock Masters Tennis in London where the American turned around a break deficit to edge an extremely closely fought encounter 7-5, 6-2.

Group B is comprised of former French Open champions Thomas Muster, Sergi Bruguera,  Guillermo Vilas and finalist Henri Leconte. Vilas will play his first match of the tournament on Thursday against Bruguera, while Muster and Leconte will also clash at the 4500 capacity Budapest Sportarena.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.  After all round-robin matches are complete, the top two players in each group will meet in Sunday’s final.

Last week, Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic in a thrilling final to win his first ever BlackRock Tour of Champions Title at the AFAS Classics in Eindhoven.

In the final event of the year, Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg will take on McEnroe and Ivanisevic in an eight-man field at the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, December 2-7.

Edberg hits back to seize maiden BlackRock title

Stefan Edberg completed a miraculous comeback against Sergi Bruguera on Sunday to claim his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title at the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy in Paris. Edberg, was in trouble while down by a set and 4-2 , but he turned the match around in impressive fashion to triumph 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break) in an hour and 20 minutes.

In tennis things can change pretty quickly, said Edberg. You just have to believe that you can do it one way or another. You need one or two points to get you going and make you feel like youre in with a chance and thats what he gave me, a few free points.

I thought I played very well today, he added. I found it a little bit difficult in the beginning because Sergi was playing well and with a lot of spin so I was having trouble getting the timing.  But I managed to get back in the match and I actually played very well in the end, which was necessary because Sergi is such a great clay court player.

The match was a tale of two halves. In the early stages Edberg looked overwhelmed by the vicious topspin of the Spaniard, making uncharacteristic errors and hitting few winners. Bruguera succeeded where previous opponents failed,  sending one passing shot after another past the bewildered Swede. But, after losing the first set and going a break down in the second to trail 2-4, Edberg suddenly began to turn the tide. After recuperating the break of serve to level the set at 4-4, and with the full weight of the crowds vocal support behind him, Edberg started to find his range. He went on to clinch the second set with a winning backhand volley and forced the decider that such a high quality match deserved. Edberg carried his momentum into the Champions Tie Break and at 9-5 down and facing 4 match points a dejected Bruguera dumped his second serve into the net to hand the match and the title to his opponent.

After such a successful run in Paris, Edberg said he would like to play more events on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in the coming year.

If I can make some kind of arrangement with my family so that we can travel a bit together then theres a good chance Ill be back in Paris next year as the defending champion, he said.

For now, Edberg, will now turn his attention to the BlackRock Masters Tennis  at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where he is due to play alongside fellow Wimbledon Champions Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic.

Im really looking forward to playing in the BlackRock Masters Tennis in London, said Edberg. London is my second home because I lived there for a long time. Its a great event at the Albert Hall and theres usually lots of good matches there so that should be a really good week.

In third/fourth place play-off, Cedric Pioline defeated fellow Frenchman and Tournament Director of the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy, Guy Forget 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.

The Tour will now move on to Luxembourg for the first Vivium Victory Challenge (September 25-28), and then the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven (October 2-5). Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry in Luxembourg (for a taster, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw).  In Eindhoven, former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington will make the BlackRock Tour of Champions debuts.

RESULTS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2008
Cedric Pioline d. Guy Forget 7-5, 4-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break)
Stefan Edberg d. Sergi Bruguera 3-6, 7-5, 10-5 (Champions Tie Break)
FINAL GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets)
Stefan Edberg             3-0 (6-0)
Guy Forget        2-1 (4-2)
Henri Leconte              1-2 (2-4)
Thomas Muster            0-3 (0-6)
GROUP B
Matches won/lost (sets)
Sergi Bruguera 3-0 (6-0)
Cedric Pioline 2-1 (4-3)
Mats Wilander           1-2 (2-4)
Guillaume Raoux       0-2 (1-6)
BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION
Winner   400 points
Finalist   250 points
3rd place   200 points
4th place   125 points
5/6th place   80 points
7/8th place   60 points
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after nine events)
POS. PLAYER PTS
1 Marcelo Rios 1130
2 Goran Ivanisevic          970
3 Michael Stich 900
4      Cedric Pioline          660
5 Thomas Muster         655
6 Sergi Bruguera         610
7 Henri Leconte          580
8 Anders Jarryd         525
9= Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC) 455
9= Fernando Meligeni (WC) 455
11 Pat Cash         420
12= Patrick Rafter         400
12= Pete Sampras         400
12=   Stefan Edberg                   400
15 Mikael Pernfors         330
16 Chris Wilkinson (WC) 325
17 Jaime Oncins (WC) 200
18=   Guy Forget                        125
18= Jeremy Bates (WC) 125
18= Albert Costa 125
21=  Mats Wilander                    80
21=    Joao Cunha e Silva (WC) 80
21= Magnus Larsson 80
21= John McEnroe         80
21= Andrei Cherkasov 80
26= Bjorn Borg 60
26= Carl Uwe Steeb         60
26= Jaime Yzaga 60
26= Alladin Karagoz (WC) 60
26= Andrei Chesnokov 60
26= Guillermo Vilas 60
WC denotes Wild Card.

The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008
Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)
Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors
Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)
Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Rome, Italy - May 10-11
Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic
Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)
Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner
Sao Paulo, Brazil - June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)
Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios
Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20
Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni
Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)
Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Algarve, Portugal - August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Paris, France - September 18-21 (5e Trophe Jean-Luc Lagardre)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)
Budapest, Hungary - October 9-12
Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)
Macao, China – November 20 (Special Event)
London, UK - December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)
OTHER INFO
About BlackRock
BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.
For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com
and for further information:

Edberg rolls on in Paris

Stefan Edbergs impressive return to professional tennis continued today as he notched up another straight sets win, this time 6-4, 7-6 against Tournament Director Guy Forget at the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris.
Despite the scoreline, Edberg was made to work hard for victory in only his second BlackRock Tour of Champions match. A stroke of luck for the Swede separated the two men in the first set, with Edberg clinching the decisive break of serve courtesy of a net cord. The second set was closer still with both players delighting the crowd with deft volleys and scintillating passing shots. Edberg deserved the victory though, fittingly clinching the match in the tie-break with a drop volley.
After the match, Edberg admitted that he had been pushed all the way by Forget.

I had to work really hard today he said. It was just a few points that made the difference. I thought Guy played really well and I had to hit a lot of good shots to be able to win.

I got a little bit tight out there, I have to admit that. Although I feel that my fitness it good, I havent played a lot of matches so its just getting used to that. Well see tomorrow how fit I really am, but for the moment I feel good.

On Saturday, Edberg will take on Henri Leconte who earlier put in an impressive performance to beat an out-of-sorts Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4. The winner of that match is likely to progress to Sundays final.

Im really looking forward to that match, said Edberg. Henri is a great player and a great showman on the court so for me its always a pleasure to play him. He does so much for tennis and the spectators really love to watch him play so its just nice to be on the same court as him again. There is only one Henri Leconte!

In Group B, Sergi Bruguera continued his seven-match unbeaten run in Paris, proving he is still the man to beat on clay. The Spaniard raced past Mats Wilander in just under an hour for the loss of just 6 games and will now meet Guillaume Raoux on Saturday in the final round of matches in Group B.

In the last match of the day, Raoux, a replacement for the injured Mikael Pernfors, put in a valiant effort against Cedric Pioline before eventually losing 6-7, 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie Break) in a match which lasted over 2 hours and finished in the last moments of daylight.  Pernfors watched the days play on crutches after injuring his achilles tendon against Mats Wilander yesterday. Two years ago, Pernfors ruptured his achilles tendon, but doctors are hopeful that the injury is less serious this time.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.

All the players in each group will play each other over the first three days, and the players finishing top of each group will meet each other in the final. Those finishing second in each group will contest the 3rd/4th place play-off.

Last month in the Algarve (Portugal) Marcelo Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD to overtake Michael Stich as No.1 player in the South African Airways Champions Tour Rankings.

After Paris, the Tour will move on to Luxembourg for the first Vivium Victory Challenge (September 25-28), and then the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven (October 2-5). Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will renew their rivalry in Luxembourg (for a taster, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUa2ltLC0hw). In Eindhoven, former World No.1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 1989 French Open champion Michael Chang, and the 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington will make the BlackRock Tour of Champions debuts.

tel: +44 7509023344
RESULTS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2008
GROUP A
Henri Leconte d. Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4
Stefan Edberg d. Guy Forget 6-4, 7-6(3)
GROUP B
Sergi Bruguera d. Mats Wilander 6-4, 6-2
Cedric Pioline d. Guillaume Raoux 6-7(6), 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie-Break)
LATEST GROUP STANDINGS
GROUP A
Matches won/lost (sets)
Stefan Edberg             2-0 (4-0)
Guy Forget        1-1 (2-2)
Henri Leconte              1-1 (2-2)
Thomas Muster            0-2 (0-4)
GROUP B
Matches won/lost (sets)
Sergi Bruguera 2-0 (4-0)
Mats Wilander           1-1 (2-2)
Cedric Pioline 1-1 (2-3)
Guillaume Raoux       0-2 (0-4)
SCHEDULE SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER
13:00                                                   Sergi Bruguera/Guillaume Raoux
Not before 2:30pm                              Stefan Edberg / Henri Leconte
Followed by                                         Cedric Pioline/ Mats Wilander
Followed by                                         Guy Forget/Thomas Muster
BLACKROCK TOUR OF CHAMPIONS POINTS ALLOCATION
Winner   400 points
Finalist   250 points
3rd place   200 points
4th place   125 points
5/6th place   80 points
7/8th place   60 points
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS 2008 TOUR OF CHAMPIONS RANKINGS (after seven events)
POS. PLAYER PTS
1 Marcelo Rios 1130
2 Goran Ivanisevic          970
3 Michael Stich 900
4 Thomas Muster         595
5 Anders Jarryd         525
6 Henri Leconte          500
7 Cedric Pioline          460
8= Marc-Kevin Goellner (WC) 455
8= Fernando Meligeni (WC) 455
10 Pat Cash         420
11= Patrick Rafter         400
11= Pete Sampras         400
13 Sergi Bruguera         360
14 Mikael Pernfors         330
15= Chris Wilkinson (WC) 325
16= Jaime Oncins (WC) 200
17= Jeremy Bates (WC) 125
17= Albert Costa 125
19    Joao Cunha e Silva (WC) 80
20= Magnus Larsson 80
20= John McEnroe         80
20= Andrei Cherkasov 80
23= Bjorn Borg 60
23= Carl Uwe Steeb         60
23= Jaime Yzaga 60
23= Alladin Karagoz (WC) 60
23= Andrei Chesnokov 60
23= Guillermo Vilas 60
WC denotes Wild Card.
The BlackRock Tour of Champions Calendar 2008
Belfast, Northern Ireland – February 21-24 (Tennis Legends)
Champion: Anders Jarryd; Runner-up: Mikael Pernfors
Barcelona, Spain – April 24-27 (Champions Cup ’08)
Champion: Marcelo Rios; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Rome, Italy - May 10-11
Champion: Thomas Muster; Runner-up: Goran Ivanisevic
Hamburg, Germany – May 14-17 (BlackRock Tennis Classic)
Champion: Michael Stich; Runner-up: Marc-Kevin Goellner
Sao Paulo, Brazil - June 19-22 (Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brasil)
Champion: Pete Sampras; Runner-up: Marcelo Rios
Istanbul, Turkey – July 17-20
Champion: Goran Ivanisevic; Runner-up: Fernando Meligeni
Graz, Austria – July 29-August 2 (s Tennis Masters)
Champion: Patrick Rafter; Runner-up: Michael Stich
Algarve, Portugal - August 5-8 (Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD)
Champion: Marcelo Rios ; Runner-up : Goran Ivanisevic
Paris, France - September 18-21 (5e Trophe Jean-Luc Lagardre)
Luxembourg, Luxembourg – September 25-28
Eindhoven, Netherlands – October 2-5 (AFAS Tennis Classics)
Budapest, Hungary - October 9-12
Frankfurt, Germany – November 13-16 (klarmobil.de Champions Trophy)
Macao, China – November 20 (Special Event)
London, UK - December 2-7 (BlackRock Masters Tennis)
OTHER INFO
About BlackRock
BlackRock is one of the world’s largest publicly traded investment management firms. At June 30, 2008, BlackRock’s AUM was $1.428 trillion. The firm manages assets on behalf of institutions and individuals worldwide through a variety of equity, fixed income, cash management and alternative investment products. In addition, a growing number of institutional investors use BlackRock Solutions investment system, risk management and financial advisory services. Headquartered in New York City, as of June 30, 2008, the firm has approximately 5,700 employees in 19 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. For additional information, please visit the Company’s website at www.blackrock.com.
South Africa’s international flagship airline and the continent’s most awarded carrier, South African Airways is the official airline of the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Its modern fleet features a comfortable Economy Class cabin recently reconfigured for extra legroom and a Premium Business Class cabin featuring the airline’s award-winning, lie-flat seat. Complimentary South African wines, inspired cuisine and personal on-demand entertainment for all travellers make the trip to Africa fly by. Built on a venerable 72-year history of bringing the world to Africa and taking Africa to the world, the airline’s network is unsurpassed on the continent – connecting travellers to more than 20 destinations within South Africa and more than 20 cities across Africa. As a recent member to the worldwide Star Alliance, South African Airways is now able to offer its customers 852 destinations in 152 countries and more than 15,500 flights daily.
For the Latest News, Features and Updates from the BlackRock Tour of Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com
and for further information:
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