Vogue Athens Open

Mondays With Bob Greene: I Fought For My Country

STARS

Shahar Peer won the GDD-Guangzhou International Women’s Open, beating Alberta Brianti 6-3 6-4 in Guangzhou, China

Melinda Czink beat Lucie Safarova 4-6 6-3 7-5 to win the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada

Evgeny Korolev beat Florent Serra 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Czech Republic beat Croatia 4-1 in Porec, Croatia

Spain beat Israel 4-1 in Murcia, Spain

World Group Playoffs

Switzerland beat Italy 3-2, France beat Netherlands 4-1, Sweden beat Romania 3-21, Serbia beat Uzbekistan 5-0, India beat South Africa 4-1, Belgium beat Ukraine 3-2, Ecuador beat Brazil 3-2, and Chile played Austria

Americas Zone

Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay beat Peru 4-1; Group II Final: Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 3-2

Asia-Oceania Zone

Group I Playoff: China beat Thailand 4-1. Group II 3rd Round: Philippines beat New Zealand 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone

Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic beat FYR Macedonia 5-1; Poland beat Great Britain 3-2; Group II 3rd Round: Latvia beat Slovenia 3-2; Finland beat Cyprus 3-2

SAYING

“I feel like I was in a 10-round boxing match. Everything hurts.” – Ivo Karlovic, who served a record 78 aces, yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek.

“I fought for my country. It was an amazing game.” – Radek Stepanek, who survived Ivo Karlovic’s record 78 aces to win 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14.

“I have to go on holiday badly. I have a problem with my leg. I have a problem with my arm – everything is hurting. And I’ve got to do some babysitting.” – Roger Federer, after helping Switzerland beat Italy and remain in the World Group in 2010.

“I tried everything, but he was particularly good today.” – Potito Starace, who lost to Roger Federer to give Switzerland an insurmountable lead in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy.

“It’s not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call, in any sport, in any manner.” – Serena Williams, apologizing for her verbal assault towards a line judge during the US Open women’s final.

“I was very tired after the first two sets, lost the third and the fourth. But then, when I went to the locker room when the fourth set finished, I told my brother I wasn’t going to lose the match. This is the beauty of Davis Cup, the energy of a team and the energy of a country.” – Nicolas Lapentti, whose 6-4 6-4 1-6 2-6 8-6 victory over Marcos Daniel clinched Ecuador’s World Group Playoff tie over Brazil.

“It’s like David against Goliath – and we know who won that one!” – Andy Ram, before Israel played Spain in a Davis Cup semifinal. This time Goliath won.

“I hope it’s the start of something.” – Eyal Ran, Israel’s Davis Cup captain, on his team’s surprising run to the World Group semifinals.

“I hope to come back next year and do better. Unless you win, you can always do better.” – Lucie Safarova, who lost to Melinda Czink in the final of the Bell Challenge.

“I thought they (India) were trying different tactics. I couldn’t understand why he (Mahesh Bhupathi) was serving and staying back.” – Jeff Coetzee, who with his partner Wesley Moodie earned South Africa’s lone point in their Davis Cup tie against India when the Indian doubles team was forced to retire after Bhupathi suffered a groin injury.

“At last we are where we deserve to be.” – Andy Murray, on Great Britain being relegated to Group II in the Euro/Africa Zone after losing its Davis Cup tie to Poland.

SMOKIN’

Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 78 aces yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek in a marathon that lasted one minute short of six hours. Stepanek’s 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14 victory gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 first-day lead over Croatia. The Czechs captured the tie 4-1 and advanced to the final against Spain. The 82 games equaled the Davis Cup record since tiebreakers were introduced in 1989, but the elapsed time was well short of two matches played by John McEnroe, against Mats Wilander in 1982 and against Boris Becker in 1987, both of which lasted around 6½ hours. Karlovic wasted four match points in the final set, and there were only five break-point chances in the match. Karlovic obliterated both the men’s record and Davis Cup record for aces, marks he held. He had 55 aces in a loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the French Open in May, and his previous Davis Cup mark was 47, which he shared with Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten and Switzerland’s Marc Rosset.

SMALL CHANGE?

Apparently apparel company Fila has deep pockets. According to reports, Kim Clijsters was given a significant bonus by her shoe and clothing sponsor for her surprising US Open singles championship. And where companies usually insure these bonuses, CNBC says Fila did not. The bonus is reported to be in the range of USD $300,000, which could buy a lot of shoes for Clijsters’ young daughter. Darren Rovell of SportsBiz says that while it’s standard practice for companies to insure their big incentive bonuses to minimize the risk, Fila didn’t do it with Clijsters since she had played just two tournaments following a two-year retirement. The odds on Clijsters winning were as high as 40-to-1.

STAYING UP

You can excuse Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych if they want to take an extra nap or two. Between them, the Czech duo played for nearly 10 hours on the first day of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia. But the two then joined forces on the second day to play – and win – their doubles, clinching a spot for the Czech Republic in the final against Spain. On the first day, Stepanek needed one minute less than 6 hours to outlast Ivo Karlovic, and then Berdych was on court for 3 hours 48 minutes to down Marin Cilic in five sets. Together, Stepanek and Berdych needed only 2 hours, 16 minutes to defeat Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek. Stepanek and Berdych are unbeaten together in Davis Cup doubles, improving their record to 5-0, including 3-0 this season.

SINKING BRITS

Even with Andy Murray playing all three days, Great Britain was relegated to Group Two of the Euro/African zonal play when Poland won their Davis Cup tie 3-2. Murray won both of his singles matches, but Michal Przysiezny beat Dan Evans in the decisive singles to give Poland the victory. It is the first time in 13 years that Great Britain has been dropped to the third tier of the world-wide competition. Evans also lost his first-day singles match to Jerzy Janowicz, But Poland’s Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Murray and Ross Hutchins in the doubles.

SURPRISING BELGIUM

When talking about Belgium tennis, most are thinking about the women. The country has produced former number ones Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the latter winning the US Open earlier this month on her return to the sport following a two-year retirement. But Belgium’s men have also proved their mettle, keeping the country in the World Group for 2010 by besting Ukraine 3-2. And that came despite Belgium losing it’s number one player with an injury just hours before the Davis Cup Playoff began. Olivier Rochus withdrew with a leg injury, but his brother Christophe Rochus joined with Steve Darcis to help Belgium beat Ukraine.

SETTLED SUIT

Zina Garrison has settled the racial discrimination suit she brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA). A deal was signed on August 27, although its terms were not disclosed. A former Fed Cup captain, Garrison filed her lawsuit in February, saying she was unfairly treated, paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe while being held to higher standards. As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, at the time becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson to play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final. She became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup team when she replaced Billie Jean King in 2004. Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA is happy the case was resolved and looks forward to working with Garrison in the future.

STOP RIGHT NOW

Martina Hingis should stick to tennis and stay away from dancing, at least according to the British public. Hingis became the first celebrity to be ousted from the new BBBC reality talent show, “Strictly Come Dancing.” It’s England’s answer to the American TV show “Dancing With The Stars.” Hingis and her partner Matthew Cutler were in the bottom two when phone votes were added to the judges’ score. They then lost a dance-off against policeman-turned-crime-presenter Rav Wilding and his partner Aliona Vilani. Two years ago, Cutler teamed with Alesha Dixon to win the competition. This year, Dixon, a singer, is a judge on the show.

SERENA SPEAKS

Admitting she lost her cool, Serena Williams has issued an apology for her outburst towards a line judge in her women’s singles final at the US Open. “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately,” Williams said. “I want to sincerely apologize first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the US Tennis Association and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” The line judge had called a foot fault on Williams on her second serve, giving Clijsters match point. William, who already had been handed a code violation for racquet abuse, unleashed a tirade towards the line judge, briefly walked away, and then returned for another blast at the official. When chair umpire Louise Engzell asked the line judge what had been said, she called for the tournament referee Brian Earley and eventually ordered a point penalty, the next level of punishment under the code. That gave the match to Clijsters. Williams was fined USD $10,000 for the infraction, and was further penalized USD $500 for the racquet abuse.

SPEAK YE NOT

Saying the “magic” word cost Roger Federer a USD $1,500 fine at the US Open. The Swiss superstar was fined for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the US Open final. Television microphones picked up the naughty word during the live broadcast of the match. Tournament spokesman said Federer was fined the same amount as two other players – Vera Zvonareva and Daniel Koellerer – for audible obscenities. Daniel Nestor was fined USD $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan, but the big loser at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was Serena Williams, who was docked USD $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. She also was fined USD $500 for racket abuse.

SUCCESS

Melinda Czink is finally a winner on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The left-hander from Hungary beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to capture the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. Playing in her second career final, it was Czink’s first title. “It feels great. I haven’t really processed it year, but I will,” she said. Czink’s first final was somewhat historic. She lost to Ana Ivanovic in the final round of qualifying in Canberra, Australia, in 2005, gained entry into the main draw as a “lucky loser,” then met and lost to Ivanovic in the final, the only known time that has happened.

SAYS YOU, SAYS ME

India has two of the world’s best doubles players. Both are now sidelined with injuries. Leander Paes pulled out of India’s Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against South Africa because of an injury he sustained during the US Open, where he won the doubles title with Lucas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and reached the mixed doubles final with Cara Black of Zimbabwe. Mahesh Bhupathi, who lost the men’s doubles with his partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, suffered a groin injury during the Davis Cup doubles. The injury forced the Indian doubles team to retire, giving South Africa its lone point in the tie.

SOME KIND OF PROBLEM

Albert Costa has a problem every Davis Cup captain would love to have. Costa has been Spain’s Davis Cup captain for just nine months, but already he faces several decisions that could make him unpopular with several players and their supporters. Costa’s team just swept past Israel 4-1 to return to the final to defend their Davis Cup title. This time they will take on the Czech Republic, which beat Croatia. Costa’s problem. His top two players missed the Israeli tie because of injuries. Does he now name the players who took Spain to the final or go with the two missing players – second ranked Rafael Nadal and ninth-ranked Fernando Verdasco. Of course, there may be no problem. Although injured, both Nadal and Verdasco sat through all three live rubbers on Friday and Saturday, cheering on their compatriots.

SEATS ARE FREE

Admittance to next week’s Vogue Athens Open will be free. The organizers Liberis Publications and Hellenic Tennis Federation decided to open the doors to the public for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that will be played on the same courts where five years ago the Athens Olympic Games were held. The decision was also made because of the large capacity at the Olympic Tennis Center. All seats are available to anyone, beginning with the qualifying all the way through the final, which will be played on October 4.

STAYING HOME

Juan Martin del Potro’s five-set upset of five-time defending champion Roger Federer had the fans at home turning on their television sets. The men’s final, which was postponed because of rain to Monday, drew a 2.3 rating and 5 share on CBS. That’s up 35 percent from the 2008 final, which was also played on Monday because of rain delays. That was when Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets. Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Things at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are normal. The US Open set an attendance record this year, just as it has done every year. This year’s attendance was 721,059, slightly more than the previous record of 720,227 set last year. The tournament also set a Week One attendance record of 423,427, including a single-day high of 61,554 for the combined day and night sessions on the first Friday.

SPONSOR

Remember Melanie Oudin, the 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Well, she has signed on to be a pitch woman for AirTran Airways Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based company. Oudin became the youngest woman to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams did it in 1999. Oudin had victories over fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva, 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova. The youngster is currently ranked 44th in the world and is the third-highest ranked American woman, behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams. AirTran, a low-cost airline, recently took over as the official airline of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Guangzhou: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Kimiko Date Krumm and Sun Tiantian 3-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Quebec City: Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Sofia Arvidsson and Severine Bremond Beltrame 6-1 6-3

Szczecin: Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk beat Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. and Artem Smirnov 6-3 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Bucharest: www.bcropenromania.ro/

Metz: www.openmoselle.com

Hansol: www.hansolopen.com

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.org

Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay

$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

WTA

$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

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

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

WTA

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

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

Mondays With Bob Greene: I probably can win a Grand Slam

STARS

Gilles Simon won the BCR Open Romania title by beating Carlos Moya 6-3 6-4 in Bucharest, Romania

Patty Schnyder beat Tamira Paszek 6-3 6-0 to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in Bali, Indonesia

Nicolas Mahut beat Christophe Rochus 5-7 6-1 7-6 (2) to win the Open d’Orleans in Orleans, France

Lourdes Dominguez-Lino beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 in Athens, Greece, to win the Vogue Athens Open 2008

SAYINGS

“I have the belief right now that I can do it as long as I’m healthy, really. That’s the way I feel. I’m going to believe till the end of my tennis days that I probably can win a Grand Slam. And if it’s not the case, or I don’t believe in it anymore, then I’ll probably retire.” – Roger Federer.

“It’s the end of the year, it’s the last Grand Slam. He didn’t have a bad year, but for his standards, not as good as he would have liked. It’s a great thing going into next year. It gives him a lot of hope to get ready for next season, and I think it’s a great feeling for him.” – Jose Higueras, on Roger Federer winning the US Open.

“These days I feel like my opponents have to play really well to beat me. … I felt good on court and I’m happy about the result. It’s nice to defend the title here in Bucharest.” – Gilles Simon.

“I am having my best season ever and qualifying for (Tennis Masters Cup) Shanghai is a great reward. It was one of my goals at the beginning of 2008 and I look forward to competing there for the first time.” – Andy Murray, the first Briton to qualify for the season-ending tournament since Tim Henman in 2004.

“It wasn’t one of my goals at the beginning of the season, but of course it would be very nice if I made it.” – Gilles Simon, on the possibility of him qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China.

“This is kind of a surprise for us,” confessed Nicolas Devilder. “We came here focusing on our singles matches and end up winning the doubles. It feels great to win the title here.” – Nicolas Devilder, after teaming with Paul-Henri Mathieu to win the doubles in Bucharest, Romania.

“It’s not the easiest tie to start off your Davis Cup career with. I would probably prefer a home tie on hard court. To jump in there against Spain in the semifinals, in a way though it’s a nice introduction to the Davis Cup. It will be tough.” – Sam Querrey, who will make his United States Davis Cup debut against Spain on clay.

“I always felt I could be number one if I put in the effort. It’s been great. I enjoyed the journey because it wasn’t overnight, and life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Serena Williams, who won the US Open women’s singles.

“Missing the U.S. Open and the Olympics was really tough for her, but she’s resolved not to try to work through the pain. She’s not coming back until the problem is corrected.” – Agent Max Eisenbud, on Maria Sharapova’s rehabilitation schedule.

“The ATP has now exhausted all avenues of inquiry open to it and the investigation is now concluded.” – The ATP in announcing it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Nikolay Davydenko and has ended its investigation of a match he lost in August 2007.

“The site on which we bet a few euros didn’t have the right to reveal that data because it was prior to the agreement made with the various sporting associations. And the ATP was not allowed to make public other information, like the bets on football and other sports. We’ll go all the way to the highest court.” – Giorgio Galimberti, one of four Italian players given suspensions by the ATP for betting on matches, saying they intend to sue the ATP for violation of privacy.

STREAKING RUSSIANS

With 4-0 clobbering of Spain, Russia won its second straight Fed Cup title and its fourth international women’s team championship in the last five years. Playing on clay in Madrid, Vera Zvonareva beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-4, Svetlana Kuznetsova stopped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-1 before beating Medina Garrigues 5-7 6-3 6-4, and Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina teamed up to down Spain’s Nuria Llagostera Vives and Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-1. Since the best-of-5 tie was already decided, the fourth singles match was not played.

SOME BATTLE

Frenchmen Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu won three fewer points than their opponents, but outlasted top-seeded Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak) to win the BCR Open Romania doubles in Bucharest. It was their first team title. In fact, they had never won a match in their two previous tournaments, and it was the first ATP doubles title for both players. The winners saved six match points before finally winning on their tenth match point. Besides beating the top-seeded Polish team, Devilder and Mathieu also knocked off the third-seeded team as well as the 2005 champions.

SWISS MISS

When Patty Schnyder won the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in her third attempt, she reached several milestones. It was the Swiss left-hander’s 500th singles victory of her career and her eleventh title, her last one coming in Cincinnati in July 2005. Since that win, Schnyder had lost seven straight finals before defeating 17-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3 6-0 in Bali, Indonesia.

SHANGHAI BOUND

By reaching the US Open final, Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which will be held at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium in November. Murray, who reached his first Grand Slam tournament final before running into Roger Federer, joins the elite eight-man field that already includes Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram became the third team to qualify for the eight-team doubles event in Shanghai.

SOMETHING NEW

The Bali Classic is being transformed next year into a real Tournament of Champions. That will be the new name for the Indonesian event, which will see increased prize money from USD $225,000 to $600,00, plus a possibility of a USD $1 million bonus. Next year’s tournament will be played indoors from November 4-8 at the Bali International Convention Centre with 12 players in four round-robin groups. It will be open only to players who have won at least one of the season-long International Series events, a series of 30 tournaments played in Australia, Asia, north Africa, the Americas and Europe. The top ten WTA Tour players who have won at least one International Series tournaments and are not participating in the year-end championships in Doha, Qatar, will qualify, along with two wild cards. A player who wins three International Series events and the Tournament of Champions will collect an additional USD $1 million bonus.

SINGLES SHIFT

There were some major shifts in the top ten of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles rankings following the US Open, led by Serena Williams taking over the top spot with her winning the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Williams is the fourth player to take over the number one spot since Justine Henin retired in May. Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina took over as the top two Russians, Dementieva moving from number six to number four, while safina moved up two spots to number five after both were semifinalists in New York. US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic is second and her Serbian countrywoman Ana Ivanovic is third.

SINO COOPERATION

Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai of China teamed up to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic doubles title in Bali, Indonesia, rallying from the brink of defeat to down Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova. The losers held three match points on Petrova’s serve at 5-4 in the second set only to hae Hsieh and Peng come away with a 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak) victory. The win was the first for the team. “I’m really happy to win with my partner,” Peng said. “We have been good friends for eight years now and she’s always been helping me and giving me advice, so to share this with her, it really doesn’t get any better than this.”

SALUTE

Dennis Van der Meer and the late Howard Head are the first two inductees into the new Tennis Industry Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by the Tennis Industry Association at a special reception honoring the two men and their contributions to the sport of tennis. Van der Meer founded the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), based in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 1976 to certify tennis teaching professionals. He also has coached world-class players on both the women’s and men’s professional tours. Howard Head first transformed the ski industry in the late 1940s when he designed a new type of ski that combined metal, plastic and plywood that was more durable, lighter and easier to turn. In 1969, he designed a metal racquet. He then joined Prince Manufacturing, where he helped redesign and improve a tennis ball machine, then later designed and patented a racquet with a 20 percent larger head.

SHARAPOVA TO RETURN

Maria Sharapova hopes to begin her comeback the second week in January when she plays an exhibition event in Hong Kong. She hopes to follow that by defending her title at the Australian Open. Sharapova, who missed the Olympics and the US Open because of a shoulder injury, has been in Phoenix, Arizona, for the last month working with fitness trainer Brett Fischer, who is working to strengthen the area around the torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder. No surgery is indicated and Sharapova’s doctors have described the tear as “very moderate.” Sharapova hasn’t played since retiring from a second-round match against Ai Sugiyama at the Canadian Open in early August.

SPANISH CAPTAIN

Miguel Margets, captain of the Spanish Fed Cup team, has been given the 2008 Fed Cup Award of Excellence by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF). Francesco Ricci Bitti, ITF president, and 1984 International Tennis Hall of Famer Manolo Santana presented the award to Margets during the Fed Cup World Group final in Madrid, Spain. Miguel has captained four Spanish teams to Fed Cup championships. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence, which was inaugurated by the ITHF and the ITF in 2001, is presented to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Fed Cup competition and must be a member of a past or present Fed Cup team.

SISTERS TO AFRICA

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are scheduled to visit Nigeria in November in what reportedly will be their first joint visit to Africa. Godwin Kienka, who runs the International Tennis Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, and publishes a tennis magazine – Tennis Africa – said the sisters will be accompanied by their mother Oracene as well as sister and manager Isha Price, trainers and other staffers. Kienka said Venus and Serena would play an exhibition and run a clinic. It will be Venus’ first visit to Africa, whereas Serena has been to Ghana and Senegal.

SAM TO THE RESCUE

Sam Querrey will make his Davis Cup debut when the United States travels to Madrid, Spain, for a semifinal. United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said Querrey is replacing James Blake, who McEnroe said, is “physically and mentally exhausted.” Querrey won his first ATP title in March, reached the quarterfinals on clay at Monte Carlo, and reached the fourth round of the US Open earlier this month. Other members of the American squad are Andy Roddick and the doubles team of brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The world’s number one player, Rafael Nadal, leads the Spanish squad.

SERENA, THE WRITER

Serena Williams is reportedly planning to write her memoir. Publishing industry sources report the nine-time Grand Slam tournament champion could be close to signing a USD $1 million dollar book deal. The news of a pending Williams autobiography was initially reported by Matthew Flamm, a senior reporter at Crain’s New York.com.

SWEPT CLEAN

After a year-long investigation into suspicious betting patterns, Russian star Nikolay Davydenko has been cleared by the ATP. The governing body of men’s tennis said it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Davydenko, his opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, or anyone else associated with their match in Sopot, Poland, on August 2, 2007. Then ranked number five in the world, Davydenko, citing a foot injury, retired in the third set of his match against the 87th-ranked Vassallo.

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SUING ATP

Four Italian tennis players banned for betting on matches are planning on suing the ATP Tour for violation of privacy over its handling of their cases. The ATP handed Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali, Federico Luzzi and Giorgio Galimberti bans ranging from six weeks to 200 days between December 2007 and February this year. Galimberti told La Gazzetta dello Sport that a Miami law firm “will defend us for violation of privacy.” He also said the four were planning on suing the betting agency that gave the ATP the information about their wagers. Galimberti said another Italian player, Alessio di Mauro, who was banned for nine months for betting, is not taking part in the legal action.

SOME HISTORY

The Vogue Athens Open ITF women’s tournament was played on hallowed ground. It was the first USD $100,000 ITF women’s circuit event to be held in Greece and included eight players ranked in the WTA Tour’s top 100. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain won the singles, beating Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 at the Athens Lawn Tennis Club next to the famed Temple of Olympian Zeus. The 109-year-old tennis club, the largest and oldest in Greece, also was the site for the tennis event at the first Olympic Games in 1896. Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties also have been played at the club.

SPONSOR

Turismo Madrid has become an international sponsor of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the three-year sponsorship began with the 2008 Fed Cup final between Russia and Spain held at the Club de Campo in Madrid, Spain. Turismo Madrid is the tourism arm of the region of Madrid with the aim to attract international visitors not only to its capital city Madrid, but also to the many cultural, leisure and entertainment activities within the region.

SPOTLIGHT

Dr. Dharmendran Navaratnam, the tournament physician in Bali, Indonesia, has been awarded the Dr. Glick Award by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The award is named for Irving Glick, who was chief medical officer at the US Open for more than 20 years. Dr. Glick founded and chaired the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the USTA, served on the Medical Commission for the ITF, was the science coordinator for Tennis Sports Medicine at the Olympics, and was the ITF medical representative to the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics.

SPA AND ACADEMY

Jimmy Connors has made his first trip to India where a tennis academy named for the tennis great is being set up. Club Solaris, which has a chain of fitness centers, is developing the Jimmy Connors Tennis Academy at a 250-300 acre resort spa located between Pune, Mumbai and Goa. The facility will include 100 villas.

SUPER SHOW

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) says the 2008 tournament was the biggest and most successful US Open in its 40-year history as revenue, attendance, website traffic, and concession sales hit all-time highs. More than 720,000 fans attended the 15-day event, topping last year’s record as Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold to a record 99 percent of capacity for the first time, with 23 of 26 sessions sold out. The US Open remains the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world.

SHE’S BACK

Anna Kournikova will compete in mixed doubles exhibition matches at The Stanford Championships, a stop on the Outback Champions Series circuit which will be played October 22-26 in Dallas, Texas. Once ranked in the top ten in the world, Kournikova will play during both the day and night sessions on Saturday, October 25.

SETS AN ASIAN TOUR

The Asian Tennis Federation has unveiled plans for a new tour to boost players from Asia, but is quick to insist it is not in competition with the ATP tour. Anil Khanna, president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), says the sole objective is to provide opportunities for Asian players to earn more money and win wild-cards for ATP events. The Asian Tour will feature 12 tournaments in different cities in Asia and will have minimum prize money of USD $50,000. The tour will begin in New Delhi, India, in December with an Asian Championship and will culminate with an eight-player Masters tournament offering prize money of USD $300,000. Khanna said the winner of the Asian Championship will be given a wild card into the ATP Qatar Open.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Bucharest: Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak)

Orleans: Sergiy Stakhovsky and Lovro Zovko beat Jean-Claude Scherrer and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (7) 6-4

Bali: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Athens: Sorana Cirstea and Galina Voskoboeva beat Kristina Barrois and Julia Schruff 6-2 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Tokyo: www.toray-ppo.co.jp

Guangzhou: www.qztennis.com

Szczecin: www.pekaoopen.pl

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Beijing: www.chinaopen.com.cn

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.com

Paris: www.tropheejeanluclagardere.com

Luxembourg: www.covadis.be/viviumchallenge

Charlotte: http://championsseriestennis.com/charlotte2008/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

$100,000 ITF Tournament, Sofia, Bulgaria, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Paris, France, clay

DAVIS CUP

(September 19-21)

World Group Semifinals

Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay

World Group Playoffs

Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay

Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass

Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard

Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard

Israel vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay

Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay

Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group I

Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay

Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group II

Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay

Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$576,000 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

$524,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$120,000 ATP Challenger Trophy, Trnava, Slovakia

WTA TOUR

$600,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$145,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

SENIORS

The Citadel Group Championships at the Palisades, Outback Champions, Charlotte, North Carolina, hard

Viviam Victory Challenge, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, hard