wrist injury

Tennis People: US Open seedings announced, Del Potro and Serena out, Nalbandian very much in

*The seedings have been announced for the US Open next week and this is where the realisation the final Slam of the year is upon us really sets in. On the men’s side the top seeds are as you would expect. The top ten reads, in order: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Davydenko, Berdych, Verdasco, Roddick, Ferrer. Cypriot fans’ favourite Marcos Baghdatis finds himself seeded 16th and could be an outside bet on going far in the tournament. John Isner, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey fly the home flag at 18, 19 and 20 while David Nalbandian (31) and Lleyton Hewitt (32) round off the seeds.

*The women’s side throws in a few more surprises as there are a few stars missing through injury. Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will be celebrating her top seeding in Serena Williams’ absence and China’s Li Na (8) will have a few eyes on her following her heroics in Australia on the hard courts. 14th seed Maria Sharapova can never be overlooked in these events and emphatic Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at 20 will be looking to cause some Melanie Oudin-sized shockwaves in 2010. Zheng Jie (21), Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (22), Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic (26) and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi (31) are also worthy outsiders.

*The Juan Martin Del Potro injury saga has reached a disappointing conclusion for his fans as he has announced that his persistent wrist injury will prevent him from defending his US Open title this year. The Argentine has been missing since the Aussie Open and underwent surgery in May. “I’m so sorry for my fans, sponsors and the people who care about me,” he said. “But I have only started practising in the last two weeks and unfortunately I cannot compete at the top level yet.” The news follows the pulling out of World No. 1 women’s player Serena Williams who has failed to recover from the foot injury she sustained stepping on broken glass in Munich in July. “It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open. My doctors have advised against my playing,” she said. Serena has set next month’s Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, beginning September 26, as her likely return date.

*David Nalbandian has spoken of his delight at securing a seeding for the US Open next week. “I think expectations are good because the goal we set for this year was to finish in the top 30 and in a few tournaments I’ve pretty much done that,” he told ESPN Desportes. “After getting a seed at the U.S. Open, you aspire to more.”

*Ahead of the Davis Cup World Group relegation playoff between Ecuador and Romania in September, Ecuadorian coach Raul Viver has highlighted Nicolas Lapentti as the key man in the tie. Viver believes that victory over Romania could help to persuade Lapentti to postpone his retirement for a further year. “If we win against Romania I can see Nicolas Lapentti staying one more year,” said Viver. “For the team, it would be good to have him more years because I think the younger players can learn a lot from him. Nicolas is a great team player, a natural leader, and he increases the level of motivation for the rest of the players. In Davis Cup, he always plays his best level, physically and mentally. He demonstrated that last year against Brazil, winning both his singles matches and the doubles match.” For the full interview on Ecuador’s prospects visit the ITF website.

*Top South African player Kevin Anderson has announced he is ready to end his self-imposed two-year ban from Davis Cup play. With such an important match against Germany next month for a place in the World Group stage Anderson’s announcement is a well-timed boost for SA tennis fans. Speaking in a conference call last Thursday Anderson said: “I needed time to work on my game but I’m back in the top 100 now (in the ATP rankings) and I’ve grown a lot as a player over the last two years. I’m glad to be back in the team and I’m looking forward to the tie in Germany.” For full build up visit South African sporting website Sport24.co.za.

*Lleyton Hewitt and coach Nathan Healy have parted ways after this year’s tournament in Washington. Hewitt’s manager David Drysdale says it is down to Healy wishing to spend more time with his family and being unable to constantly travel.

*Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova has been reflecting on her career recently and giving thanks for the fact she has remained relatively injury-free. Recently passing the $7m mark for prize money she still harbours hopes of returning to the Top 10 despite a career-record 3-10 in tournament finals, and only one Grand Slam semifinal appearances in 38 attempts. “Knock on wood , I wonder when I will get to that stage but I remember when Ai Sugiyama and other players said you wait till you get to certain age…but I don’t feel that way yet,” she said of her good health. To read about her thoughts on recent results visit the TennisReporters website.

*Sam Querrey has spoken of his delight as his family went in to partnership with the City of Las Vegas to run the Darling Tennis Center. Querrey won his first professional tournament, the Tennis Channel Open, on the site in 2008 and spoke of his pride at what his family could bring to the people of LA. However, he has been quick to play down talk of him being a “white knight” or saviour to the site. “It’s an awesome place,” Querrey said. “I think there’s so much potential here, and I learned to play tennis as a kid (in Las Vegas), so I wanted to help.” For the full interview visit the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s website.

*James Blake’s 6-0, 6-1 victory over Pere Riba at New Haven on Monday in 35 minutes was the fastest completed match of 2010.

*Twitter is currently awash with tennis gossiping as players begin descending on New York for the US Open. Close friends Caroline Wozniacki and Viktoria Azarenka both seem pleased with their hotel choices while Azarenka is also delighted to have stumbled across £160 in a jacket pocket left there since Wimbledon. What is it with women and multiple jackets? Sabine Lisicki has been getting her sweat on in the gym while Brit teenage sensation Laura Robson is voicing her frustration at rain-delayed matches.

*This week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings see Andy Roddick climb back in to the top 10 at No. 9 in good timing before the US Open begins. Juan Martin Del Potro is now ranked at No. 10 as his injury woes continue. Another American, Mardy Fish, leaps 15 places to No. 21 in the world while the Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela slips back in to the top 50. Taylor Dent leaps 13 places to No. 70 and Donald Young sees himself ranked at No. 100 in what is a great week for the USA ahead of their home slam.

*Two returning female stars have achieved their comeback’s highest rankings this week in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. Kimiko Date Krum sees herself at No. 50, her highest placing since her retirement back in 1996 (she returned to the tour in 2008). The 39-year-old is the oldest player in the Top 50 since Billie Jean King in March 1982, aged 40. Kim Clijsters is the world No. 3, her highest slot since August 2006. Li Na is at a career-high No. 8 after becoming the first Chinese player to break the Top 10 back in February while Elena Dementieva slips from No. 8 to No. 13.

*Former world No. 8 John Alexander has been elected in to Australia’s parliament after winning the New South Wales seat of Bennelong. Alexander, 59, won 7 singles and 28 doubles titles during his career and has spent many years since his retirement commentating for Australian Channel Seven. “I think for the moment I’ll concentrate on this job, I won’t do anything that will detract from my efforts to represent the people of Bennelong. I’m 100 per cent committed,” he said.

Around the Corner: Clay Court Tennis in Stuttgart and Bastad

With the short grass court season already over, the ATP Tour turns to a couple of clay court tournaments in Europe this week.

Stuttgart:

The chance at redemption to a multitude of players who have missed significant portions of the tennis season due to injury is offered at Stuttgart this year.

Russian Nikolay Davydenko is the top seed in Stuttgart and will try to improve on his semi-final appearances here in 2004 and 2005. Ranked sixth in the world, Davydenko is still struggling with his game since returning from a wrist injury in June. After missing three months he returned in time for Halle and Wimbledon and lost both times in the second round on his least favorite surface of grass. Davydenko gets a first round bye and will then play the winner of the Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Jeremy Chardy match. Chardy won his first career title here a year ago but will be hard-pressed to repeat.

Frenchman Gael Monfils is seeded third and has a fairly easy looking quarter of the draw that is littered with qualifiers. Monfils also missed some time earlier in the year with injury issues and has yet to post any significant results in 2010. This tournament offers the perfect opportunity for Monfils to reach his first final of the season.

Fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon could meet up with veteran Juan Carlos Ferrero in the third quarter-final. Simon will be have trouble living up to this seventh-seed status as he too was out of action for three months between March and June with injuries and is not yet where his game is capable of being.

In the final quarter, clay-court specialist Albert Montanes the fifth seed will likely meet up with second seeded Jurgen Melzer if they can get through the opening two rounds. Melzer is experiencing the season of his career thus far at the age of 29 by making it to the semi-finals at the French Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Austrian had never before advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam.

Bastad:

In Bastad, Sweden, local hope Robin Soderling will look to defend his title from a year ago. Soderling was the first Swede to win the singles title in Bastad since his current coach, Magnus Norman, did it in 2000.

Third seeded David Ferrer won the title in 2007 and is still capable of strong results on clay. This year he has won the title in Acapulco, made the finals of Buenos Aires and the Masters-Series tournament in Rome as well as the semi-finals of four other tournaments.

Nicolas Almagro is seeded fourth and is an able clay-court player. His section seems quite routine and he should be able to find his way deep into the draw.

The bottom quarter features two tough players from Spain in veteran Tommy Robredo, who has won the Bastad title twice before (2006, 2008), and second seeded Fernando Verdasco. Robredo holds a 23-7 career record at this tournament and has a 4-4 head-to-head against Verdasco.

One interesting note when looking at the list of former doubles champions is that Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won here on seven separate occasions and with six different partners.

FEDERER NEARS EDBERG RECORD; KUBOT SHINES BRIGHT FOR POLAND

* October 13, 1986 – this is the date when Wojtek Fibak, the best player in history of Polish tennis, was a top 100 player for the last time in his long career. Twenty-three years later, on Nov. 16, 2009, Lukasz Kubot became the second player from Poland to rank in the top 100 in the ATP rankings. In the third round at the Australian Open 2010, a doubles specialist Kubot, got a walkover from Mikhail Youzhny (right wrist) and advanced to his first-ever “sweet sixteen” singles appearance at a major. It’s the best result for a Polish player ever in Melbourne. Fibak, a four-time major quarterfinalist, played only once Down Under, reaching the third round in 1978. Kubot, ranked No 86, is the lowest ranked player in the last 16 this year, with Ivo Karlovic being the second-lowest at No. 39. Kubot will play Novak Djokovic Monday.

* “I started to feel it against [first-round opponent] Gasquet in the last set a little bit,” Youzhny said. “The next day was worse and worse little bit,” said Youzhny of his wrist injury. The Russian wasn’t the only player who did not advance due to injury or illness in the third round. Marcos Baghdatis and Stefan Koubek each retired in their matches after the first set. Koubek because of illness (against Fernando Verdasco), Baghdatis due to right shoulder (against Lleyton Hewitt). It was very tough especially for the Cypriot because he had been in great form winning 17 of last 18 matches. For the first time in tournament’s history three players defaulted in the last 32.

* Roger Federer overcoming Albert Montanes 6-3 6-4 6-4 won his 50th match at the Australian Open. In the history of the tournament only two-time champion Stefan Edberg won more matches – 56. But given the precentage, Federer is better – 50 wins, 7 losses (87%), Edberg 56/11 (83%).

* The two tallest guys on the tour (Ivo Karlovic and John Isner) advanced to the fourth round after thrilling four-setters, and lead in the ace department. The Croatian has already served 93 aces (34, 26, 33 respectively), the American 81 (34, 21, 26). Record holder, Joachim “Pim Pim” Johansson served 126 aces in four rounds five years ago.

* Jarkko Nieminen, the greatest player to ever come out of Finland, lost a heart-breaking second-round match, falling to Florent Serra, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 5-7. The Finn had two match points in the fourth set, but was unable to convert. Serra’s win was his fifth in a row over Nieminen. The Frenchman reached the third round at the Australian Open for the first time in his sixth attempt, but lost handily to Andy Murray.

* Among the five qualifiers who had played in the second round, only the veteran Stefan Koubek (quarterfinalist in 2002) advanced to the last 32 after beating the other qualifier, Ivan Dodig of Croatia. According to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, the farthest a qualifier has advanced in the Australian Open was the semifinals, Bob Giltinan turning the trick in the (December) 1977 Australian Open. After Koubek’s loss to Verdasco, Giltinan remains in the record book.

* James Blake lost his five-set match to Juan Martin del Potro in the second round despite being a break up at the beginning of the final set. The American’s five-set record has slipped 4-13 in his career, with only Ivo Karlovic holding a worse five-set record among active players. The 30-year-old Blake hasn’t yet won in his career in a match that goes beyond 6-6 in the final set, losing on all five occasions, as outlined below.

4-6 7-5 8-10  to Yaoki Ishii – Australian Open 2000, 2nd rd, qualifying match;
3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 9-11  to Richard Krajicek – Wimbledon 2002, 2nd rd;
7-6(5) 6-0 6-7(2) 4-6 8-10 to Fernando Gonzalez – Davis Cup 2006, QF;
6-4 5-7 9-11 again (!) to Fernando Gonzalez – Beijing 2008, SF;
4-6 7-6(3) 7-5 3-6 8-10 to Del Potro – Australian Open 2010, 2nd rd

* American Robby Ginepri posted a revealing blog on the USTA’s website – www.usta.com. We encourage you to read the entire blog from Ginepri and other Americans, but here is some of what he said; “It’s been almost five years since I reached the US Open semifinals. It looks like maybe I peaked then. I hate to think that, but at some point you have to be realistic. I have to find a way to enjoy my career again. I ‘m not enjoying the travel grind and living out of suitcases as much any more, and it’s getting to me a little. I spent five weeks in Asia and Russia at the end of the fall, and at the beginning of this year I went to India, which was a very long trip, and then took another long trip to Australia, and I regret doing that. I’ve got to take it one day at a time and see if I can get this thing figured out. Playing healthy is the main thing, as it’s no fun to practice and play matches in pain. I’m a young guy at 27, and I stay fit and do the right things, and if things still aren’t working out, it takes a lot of wind out of your sail.”