world champion

Nadal and Wozniacki world champions, Roddick to play Davis Cup again and Ivanovic hires van Grichen

*The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has named Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki as their world champions for 2010. 20-year-old Dane Wozniacki has ousted Serena Williams as world champion after six tournament wins during this calendar year. She is, however, yet to lift a Grand Slam. “To be listed with all the former world champions is something I’m really proud of,” said the No. 1 player in the women’s game. Rafa Nadal was a more obvious choice on the men’s side having taken three of the four majors and becoming the youngest player to complete the career Grand Slam after finally conquering New York. The 24-year-old reclaims the crown off Roger Federer. “It is an honour to be named world champion for the second time,” said the 24-year-old. “After a difficult year in 2009, it was an amazing feeling to regain the number one ranking and finally win the US Open. My goal all the time is to keep improving and be a better player each year than I was the previous year.” This should be a pretty dominant 2011 for the Spaniard then.

*American No. 1 Andy Roddick has committed to his country’s Davis Cup cause for 2011. The 28-year-old missed the 2010 event but is set to return under the stewardship of new captain Jim Courier. The USA will travel to Chile for round 1 between 4-6 of March. “I have always said that Davis Cup is something you should commit to for the entire season and not when it is convenient,” said the world No. 8 who suffered a torrid time at last month’s ATP Tour Finals. “Andy not only brings his outstanding Davis Cup record but also his experience and team leadership which will be invaluable to our efforts,” Courier added. “On a personal note I am very excited to get the opportunity to sit on the bench with Andy and help him continue to perform at his very best on the Davis Cup stage.”

*Rejuvenated Serbian star Ana Ivanovic has hired Portuguese coach Antonio van Grichen on a trial basis till at least the end of the Australian hard-court season. She enjoyed a fabulous end to 2010 which saw her climb back to No. 17 in the world but then split with coach Heinz Gunthardt as he no longer wanted to travel full-time. van Grichen enjoyed great success coaching Viktoria Azarenka to No. 6 in the world and he has also worked briefly with Vera Zvonareva and Sorana Cirstea.

*Belgian stars Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin are pondering pairing up to compete at the London 2012 Olympics together. The pair once shared a pretty hostile relationship but having both returned from retirement recently this seems to have thawed. They have competed as a team once before at the 2006 Fed Cup where Belgium lost to Russia in the quaterfinals. Both are said to be treating the Olympics very seriously and Clijsters has hinted that 2012 could be her final year on the tour. “We have to get together to discuss this, see what the possibilities are and assess how far we want to go in this,” said world No. 3 Clijsters. Henin, 28, added: “There is a real willingness to be there.” Further feedback from the players can be read at the BBC Tennis website.

*The Australian Open have announced that both Juan Martin del Potro and Dmitri Tursunov have been accepted directly in to the men’s singles playing field as they both have injury-protected rankings.

*Gael Monfils has pulled out of the French team to play next month’s Hopman Cup and will be replaced by Nicolas Mahut. This means that he will come face to face with America’s John Isner for the first time since their record breaking 183 game, 11-hour epic encounter at Wimbledon back in June.

*After an exceptional year world No. 16 Mardy Fish has set his sights on cracking the Top 10 in 2011. “I have very high expectations, higher than I’ve ever had,” he told the Treasure Coast Palm. “I’m healthy, fit, confident. So I don’t think it’s unrealistic to aim for the Top 10. I don’t have many (rankings) points to defend the first half of the year. The first three Grand Slams, I didn’t get past the second round. So if I can be more consistent through the first part of the year, win some matches on the clay, do something more at Wimbledon, I should be able to get there.”

*Serbian Davis Cup hero Novak Djokovic took some time out on Tuesday to visit the Special Olympics Centre in Monte-Carlo where he spoke to members, posed for photos and signed autographs. He became involved with the organisation earlier in the year where he has helped fund various events. “I was really impressed with the good organisation of the centre and the nice and dedicated people working there,” Djokovic said, sporting his newly shaved head from the final celebrations. “It’s always very nice to be able to give time and resources to these kinds of causes here in Monte-Carlo, where I live.”

*Rafa Nadal becomes the latest sporting superstar to become a modelling figurehead for fashion powerhouse Giorgio Armani. He follows in the footsteps of football’s David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo and will spearhead their spring/summer campaigns for 2011.

*The Moorilla Hobart International has a strong lineup ready for tennis fans when it kicks off on January 9, 2011. There are five former Top 10 players including the Russian former world No. 1 Dinara Safina who will be looking to put a dreadful 2010 behind her. World No. 16 Marion Bartoli will take the top seeding but she will face stiff competition from the likes of Kimiko Date-Krumm, Patty Schnyder, Anna Chakvetadze (two former Champions), Alona Bondarenko and Shahar Peer if she wants to be victorious.

*Dutch doubles legends Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis will return to the ATP Tour briefly in February to compete at the ABN Amro Tournament in Rotterdam to raise money for the Richard Krajicek Foundation. Between 1991 and 1998 they won 39 doubles titles together.

*Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi has begun his first mission as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador by visiting the victims of this year’s devastating floods in his native Pakistan. He flew in by helicopter to oversee rebuilding projects where homes are being built of wood, brick and stone, most notably with indoor plumbing. “It is really overwhelming,” said Qureshi. “You see the pictures on the television, you read about the thousands and thousands that are affected. But until you actually go there and see the suffering and in such harsh weather, it is very tough to fully comprehend.” You can read his full reaction at the ATP website.

*Yen-Hsun Lu’s 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(4), 6-7(5) 9-7 victory over Andy Roddick in the fourth round at Wimbledon has been named the upset of the year by the ATP. “Through three sets I was playing horrendously, I mean really, really badly,” Roddick moaned at the time. “Actually I think the fifth set was probably the best set that I played as far as hitting the ball, making him struggle to actually get through service games sometimes. But when you dig yourself a hole, it’s tough to get out. He deserved to win more than I did. That’s for sure.”

*Following recent reports that much of Pete Sampras’ career trophy haul had been pinched from a storage facility in LA, the ITF have offered him duplicates of some of those missing. He has been offered two replica trophies of his Davis Cup wins with the United States, according to thestar.com. Sampras also recently admitted he had no insurance to cover the theft.

*Former women’s star Martina Hingis has tied the knot with French showjumper Thibault Hutin, six years her junior, in a private ceremony in Paris. “Our marriage may come as a surprise to many, but it was planned a long time in advance,” the 30-year-old, who has been engaged twice before but never married, told Swiss magazine Scheizer Illustrierte.

*American doubles star Bob Bryan has wed lawyer Michelle Alvarez on December 13.

*Serena Williams is to be inducted in to the California Hall of Fame next week. She enters alongside Hollywood director James Cameron, country music singer Merle Haggard, former Secretary of State George Shultz, actress Barbra Streisand and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

*Canadian Valerie Tetreault, 22, has announced her retirement as a pro following four and a half years on the tour. She reached a career-high No. 112 in the world in February but leaves to study communications, citing depletion in motivation as the main reason.

*17-year-old George Morgan, the British junior No. 2, has become the latest player to add his name to the prestigious pool of Champions to lift the Orange Bowl title in Key Biscayne, Florida. He beat the Dutch second seed Jannick Lupescu 6-2, 6-3 in the Under-18s final having already lifted the Under-14s trophy in 2007. Most of tennis’ top talent have competed at the Championships and past winners include Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Bjorn Borg.

Who was Fred Perry?

With every mention of Andy Murray at Wimbledon, the name Fred Perry soon follows. Fred is the last British man to the singles title at Wimbledon (back in 1936). The clothing line that bears his name just happens to be the clothing line that Andy Murray wears and endorses. This year also marks the 100th year since Perry’s birth. Is this adding up to a fateful conclusion to Wimbledon this year? Bud Collins, the world’s most famous and lovable tennis journalist and historian, features Perry in his famous tennis encyclopedia called THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com). Below is Bud’s book excerpt on Perry.

It was the technique of one particular stroke that made Fred Perry into a world champion—and probably the best tennis player Great Britain has ever produced.

The knack of making the stroke baffled the promising Briton for so long that he was on the verge of giving up in despair. He had been advised that to get very far, he would have to learn to take the ball early on his continental forehand, the racket mak­ing impact instantly as the ball rose from the court.

For months he could not master the timing. Then suddenly, like riding a bicycle, it came to him and he was on his way—on his way to the net on a running forehand, going forward with the swing of the racket to gain good volleying position if the drive did not win outright. It took him to three Wimbledon Championships, three U.S. titles, an Australian and a French title and a lucrative pro career.

Born May 18, 1909, in Stockport, England, the right-handed Frederick John Perry did not take up tennis until he was 18 years old. But he had good coaching and took to the game quickly, for he had been playing table tennis for years and winning tourna­ments and international recognition.

Perry developed an undercut backhand that came off with surprising pace. He hit the ball smartly with good length and reg­ularity on the serve, was sharp and sound with his smash, perfect in his footwork and timing, and volleyed with dispatch. None of his strokes was overpowering, but his attack was impetuous and relentless, ever challenging, and he ran like a deer in retrieving.

He was the completely equipped and efficient adversary, jaunty, a bit cocky in his breezy self-assurance, with gallery appeal. He could be sarcastic and some thought him egotistical, but it was a pose and he had an ever-ready grin. He cut a hand­some figure with his regular features, raven black hair, and phy­sique that was perfection for the game. Once he developed the stroke that had eluded him, he was virtually unstoppable.

In 1933, Perry led the British to a 4-1 win over the U.S. in the inter-zone final and to the glorious 3-2 victory over France that brought the Davis Cup back to Britain after a wait of 21 years. As Stade Roland Garros boiled with patriotic fervor, and a seventh straight Cup in the balance for the home side, Fred icily erased a set point in the second to take the last match from rookie Andre Merlin, 4-6, 8-6, 6-2, 7-5. It was the climax of the greatest individual season for a Cup winner: 12-1 in singles, 4-2 in doubles.

Britain retained the Cup through 1936 as Perry won every singles match he played in the four challenge rounds. England had not produced a Wimbledon singles champion for a quarter-century, but Perry took care of that, too. He won three straight Wimbledon finals without loss of a set, defeating defender Jack Crawford in 1934, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5, and Gottfried von Cramm in 1935, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, and again in 1936, 6-1, 6-1, 6-0.

At Forest Hills in 1933, he was the 6-3, 11-13, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, stop­per as Crawford reached the U.S. final with an unprecedented Grand Slam within reach. The next year, Fred might have had the first Slam himself but for a quarterfinal defeat at the French by Italy’s Giorgio de Stefani, 6-2, 1-6, 9-7, 6-2.

Perry, a 6-footer, was also impressive elsewhere, winning the U.S. Championship in 1933, 1934 and 1936 (over Don Budge in 1936, 2-6, 6-2, 8-6, 1-6, 10-8, despite two match points), an assault interrupted only in 1935, when he suffered a painful kidney injury in a fall, and lost in the semifinals to Wilmer Allison. In 1934, he won the Australian Championship defeating Crawford 6-3, 7-5, 6-1, and in 1935, he won the French over von Cramm 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Fred was the first player to take all four majors, finish­ing with a total of eight major singles tites.

When Perry joined the pro tour, he drew huge crowds to see him play Ellsworth Vines and Tilden. Perry won the U.S. Pro Championship in both 1938, over Bruce Barnes, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, and 1941 over Dick Skeen, 6-4, 6-8, 6-2, 6-3.

After his playing career, he became associated with the man­ufacturer of tennis clothing that bore his name, was a tennis cor­respondent for a London newspaper and took part in radio and television coverage of tennis. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975 and died Feb. 2, 1995, in Melbourne. He ranked in the world’s Top 10 from 1931 through 1936, No. 1 the last three years.

MAJOR TITLES (14)—Australian singles, 1934; French singles, 1935; Wimbledon singles. 1934-35-36; U.S. singles, 1933-34, 36; Australian doubles, 1934; French dou­bles, 1933; French mixed, 1932; Wimbledon mixed 1935-36; U.S. mixed. 1932. DAVIS CUP—1931-32-33-34-35-36, 34-4 singles, 11-3 doubles. SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS—Australian (7-1), French (22-5), Wimbledon (35-5), U.S. (34-4).