Yannick Noah

Roland Garros Day 12: Links Roundup with Sharapova, Kuerten, Djokovic and Mixed Doubles Champs

Roland Garros Roundup takes you through the Slam’s hot stories of the day, both on and off the court.

Shot of the Day: After a relatively easy first set, Maria Sharapova faced an uphill battle for the rest of her match against Victoria Azarenka. The Russian dropped the second set and blew three match points up 5-2 in the third, before winning on an ace, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ready to lock horns: Doug Robson of USA Today reminds us that, “At the start of the French Open, Novak Djokovic asked reporters not to mention his draw.” Now, as most expected, Djokovic will be squaring off for the 35th time against none other than the King of Clay—Rafael Nadal—a situation he cannot avoid anymore. Nadal has talked about his preference for hotter conditions stating, “For us it’s better to play with sun because the ball spins more.” Djokovic knows this is the biggest test either will face during the tournament and said as much to reporters.

“This is it. This is the biggest matchup of our Roland Garros 2013 campaign for both me and him.”

Frantisek Cermak and Lucie Hradecka- Five years to the French: The Czech Republic team of Frantisek Cermak and Lucie Hradeck defeated Canadian Daniel Nestor and Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 1-6 6-4 10-6 in the mixed doubles final. As the Associated Press tells us, “Five years after teaming up, Frantisek Cermak and Lucie Hradecka won their first doubles title together at the French Open.”

French Open Quotes: Sports Illustrated has compiled the most gripping and entertaining quotes from this year’s French Open. This is part II of SI’s list with quotes from Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Jamie Hampton, Sloane Stephens, and Tommy Haas.

Yannick Noah reflects on French Open title 30 years later: 2013 marks the 30 year anniversary of Frenchman Yannick Noah’s Roland Garros title. In his interview with EuroSport, Noah talks about how winning the French Open changed his life, the sacrifices involved with becoming a successful tennis player, and the thrill of winning a major in his home country

“My victory was so perfect … Millions of people cried in front of their TV because they were so happy.  It was a memory I got to share with so many people.”

Noah also talks about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s pursuit for a French Open title and has given Tsonga tons of praise in his quest to bring back Roland Garros glory to France.

“I’m really impressed by the way he is dealing with this tournament. He is playing well. He is focused and healthy. Most of all, I think he is mentally strong. I was really impressed by his reaction after beating Federer on center court.”

Serena Williams to carry dominant form into championship match against Maria Sharapova: Maria Sharapova hasn’t beaten Serena Williams since 2005 and its pretty safe to say that if Serena is able to maintain the level of play that propelled her to a 6-0 6-1 47 minute victory over Italian Sara Errani, Sharapova’s wait will have to continue. Piers Newbery of the BBC gently described Errani’s situation by describing her as being “overwhelmed.” Errani described it more tellingly saying, “She played unbelievable, that’s it. When she plays like this for me it’s difficult to play. She’s very strong, so there’s nothing I can do.” I think this sentiment expressed by Errani has been articulated over and over by Serena’s opposition during her current 30-match win-streak dating back to Miami in March.

Road to Roland Garros with Gustavo Kuerten: Three time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerton took a ride through Paris in this edition of Road to Roland Garros. Guga talked about why he chose to play tennis, what current player he would like to play, his connection with the French public, and who he thinks will win the tournament on the men’s side.

Novak Djokovic Wins Big; Questionable Rafael Nadal Skit — The Friday Five

by Maud Watson

Trend Continues

In a field that contained among others the fastest man in the world, an international soccer star, and a 7’0” German NBA power forward, it was Novak Djokovic who took home the top honor as he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.   The award represented hard-earned recognition for the outstanding season he had in 2011, and it also marked the sixth time in eight years that the prestigious award went to a male tennis player.  Djokovic’s win has brought more favorable press to the sport, and with the men’s game in particular looking stronger than ever, this can only be great for the future of tennis.  Well done to the current No. 1, and with his title in Australia, it may not be too premature to suggest he’s building a case to repeat for the award in 2013.

Poor Judgment

Between an epic Aussie Open final, growing buzz about the Olympics, and that ever popular topic of “grunting” in women’s tennis, Yannick Noah’s unfounded accusatory remarks regarding alleged Spanish doping were all but forgotten.  At least they were, until French television channel Canal+ aired an episode of Les Guignols (The Puppets) featuring a life-size puppet Nadal relieving himself into his gas tank, which allowed him to break speed limits before finally being stopped by cops.  A message then appeared on screen that all but blatantly stated Spanish athletes only succeed in sports because they cheat.  The skit is clearly coming out now, because Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has been handed a two-year ban and stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for doping.  Les Guignols is also a satirical program, so ordinarily such an episode might have been begrudgingly laughed off by Spaniards.  But in the wake of Noah’s comments, the Spanish Tennis Federation, whose logo also appeared in the skit, is taking legal action.  Subsequent similar-themed skits have also prompted the government of Spain to look into taking legal action.  Ironically, the ones who might be the worse for wear in all of this are the French sporting organizations and athletes, such as the French Tennis Federation and French players, who hopefully won’t be left where they were after Noah’s remarks – holding the bag and offering apologies.

A Total Farce

Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see some of the game’s top stars sign up for Davis and Fed Cup duty, and it’s not because they’re feeling a strong patriotic calling.  It’s 2012, and it’s an Olympic year.  It really is a joke watching players suddenly become available, which is why the ITF should either look at abolishing the requirements altogether, or maybe the Olympics should return to just being for amateurs.  After all, it’s not as though these tennis players don’t already compete at the highest levels of international competition week in and week out, with their successes indirectly benefiting their home countries.  A change to the current system would also help alleviate potential politics from being played.  Sure, there isn’t much grumbling when Federer or Murray answer their country’s call, as they’re from nations that most likely won’t be in a position to field a full Olympic roster.  But then there are countries like the United States where talk of including both Williams Sisters on the Olympic team has already sparked talk of a potentially ugly situation if what some consider a more deserving candidate gets left off the roster.  The Olympic qualification system is flawed no matter how you slice it, and the ITF should revisit it along with the Davis and Fed Cup formats.

Bypassed Again

No official announcement has been made, but news that well-known tennis coach Nick Bollettieri won’t be among the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 has spread fast.  Personally, I’m not a fan of the Hall of Fame’s classification system.  It’s possible to recognize contributors without putting them on the same plane as players, and the Masters Category should only be used for those whose careers coincided with the “Americans only” induction rule that wasn’t abolished until 1975 (if a player’s career achievements aren’t good enough to get them inducted within 20 years of retirement, why are they suddenly sufficient 21+ years later?).  But all that aside, under the Hall of Fame’s current system, it seems ludicrous to not have Bollettieri as part of the mix.  Then again, there have been plenty of other questionable inductions in the past (Chang getting the nod the same year Bruguera and Stich did not comes to mind), so Bollettieri shouldn’t be too broken up about it.  People know what he’s contributed, even if the Hall of Fame voters fail to recognize it.

Tragic Story

Former Spanish tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario may have just one-upped Andre Agassi when it comes to shocking book revelations.  News broke that the former No. 1 is estranged from her family, that she is basically broke, and is accusing her parents of mismanaging her funds.  It paints a very different picture from the loving family we saw when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame almost five years ago.  There are two sides to every story, and it appears that these revelations may only get uglier.  Hopefully they will be able to reconcile their differences, not only because it would be a shame to see anything serve as a deterrent to Arantxa and her brothers continuing to serve the sport, but most importantly because given the state of her father’s health, it’s what that family needs most.

Standout Performances by Federer, Ferrer, Tsonga; Yannick Noah Should be Punished – The Friday Five

by Maud Watson

Say What?!

Despite the enthralling tennis that has been taking place in London, one of the biggest stories of the week has been Yannick Noah’s accusations that Spanish athletes are doping.  Put bluntly, Noah’s comments couldn’t have been more idiotic for a multitude of reasons.  First, if you’re going to accuse someone of doping, have some semblance of concrete evidence, because suggesting that other athletes suddenly appear stronger and able to significantly dominate out of nowhere is not going to cut it.  Not to mention, has he taken a look at Tsonga or Monfils?  They’ve no doubt achieved their builds fair and square, but there are many players who don’t cut as imposing of a figure as those two.  Second, Noah put his own countrymen in an awkward position.  Kudos to Llodra and Tsonga who took the high road and apologized to their fellow Spanish competitors for Noah’s comments.  Finally, Noah’s solution to the problem was appalling.  Rather than suggesting that authorities clean up the alleged abuse, he supports letting French athletes dope, ignoring the long-term health effects it could have on those athletes.  The French Tennis Federation has condemned his comments, but they should also suspend him from any involvement with their Davis and Fed Cup teams as well as any media obligations.  He cannot go unpunished.

Standout Performers

There has been more than one upset this week in London, and there have also been some spectacular efforts from three individuals in particular.  Props need to be given to Federer.  True, he’d probably trade in his results this week for a major title, but he’s the only one of the Big Four who’s proven there’s still plenty left in the tank (and check out his total matches for 2011 vs. the other three, and you’ll see he’s played nearly as much).  Then a big congrats to David Ferrer.  He’s a bit like Davydenko in that he always seems to be overlooked.  He’s played breathtaking tennis in London, however, and if this is any indication that he’s starting to find the belief against the biggest names in the game, watch out for him in 2012.  Finally, hats off to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  After losing to Federer in three to start his campaign this year, he then produced top-notch tennis against Fish before taking it to Nadal when the chips were down to secure his semifinal berth.  If they keep playing like this, we’re in for an exciting end to the last tournament of the season.

Valiant Effort

His overall match results at the ATP World Tour Finals may say otherwise, but Mardy Fish was one of the feel-good stories of the week.  He said he was approaching the tournament with the attitude that he was just happy to be there, and that’s been evident in his whole demeanor.  You can see how much it meant to him to qualify for this prestigious event, and the fact that he played that third round robin match, knowing he was already out of the running and carrying an injury, is nothing short of admirable.  He also put together some fine tennis and had his preparation not been hampered by the injury, you can’t help but wonder if he might have won a few more of the key points and found his way to the semis.  It’s hard to know whether or not Fish is capable of backing up his 2011 season next year, but it’s hard not to root for him to have another crack at London.

Awards Are In

The ATP Awards were announced at the front part of the week, and there were no real surprises.  Djokovic took home honors for finishing No. 1 while Nadal received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his work with his foundation.  Bogomolov Jr. was named the Most Improved by his peers, while standout Raonic was voted the Newcomer of the Year.  But the most telling awards were perhaps those that were given to Roger Federer.  Despite falling to No. 4 in the rankings and not winning a major for the first time in nearly a decade, fans still voted him their favorite player for the ninth consecutive time, a testament to the enduring quality of the brand of tennis he plays.  He was also named the recipient of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, as voted on by his peers, for the seventh time in eight years.  For sure, Federer has had some less-than-classy moments in interviews following tough losses, but it’s nice to see that the sportsmanship award went to the top player who doesn’t feel the need to wear every emotion on his sleeve and doesn’t violate the time or coaching rules.

Lighten Up

That’s what Roger Draper and the LTA are asking the British Government to do when it comes to their tax laws regarding athletes competing in Britain.  Currently, athletes are taxed on prize money, appearance fees, and worldwide endorsements.  While taking taxes out for prize money and even the appearance fees doesn’t seem unreasonable (though they are high), the tax on the endorsements does.  Nadal, who brought the issue to a head earlier in the year, and any other athlete is right to complain and can’t be blamed for choosing to play at another venue that will allow them to take home more of their hard-earned money.  The question is if the government will budge, or if they think that they can continue to get away with it.  They’ve already granted some exemptions, such as to those competing in the 2012 Olympics, but it’s hard to imagine tennis players boycotting Wimbledon or possibly even the ATP World Tour Finals if not given exemptions just because of the tax laws.  Fingers crossed Draper and the LTA can get the government to do the right thing in this scenario.

Noah Drug Comments Cause Spanish Uproar, Djokovic Honoured for Incredible Year and Murray Withdraws from ATP Finals

Noah Infuriates Spain with Drug Cheat Comments:

1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah and Spanish ten-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal have clashed over claims the former made about performance enhancing drug use mainly being behind Spain’s recent dominance of world sport. Both Nadal and David Ferrer have made this year’s ATP World Tour Finals, Spain’s football team are European and World Champions and their basketball team is currently dominating the European and world game as well as picking up a silver medal in Beijing. Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has also won three of the last five Tour De France titles. “Today, if you don’t have the magic potion, it’s hard to win. How can a nation dominate sport virtually overnight like this?” asked Noah. “When I still milled around on the courts with my racket, we weren’t ridiculous, far from it, against our Spanish friends. It was the same on the soccer fields, the basketball halls or on the roads of the Tour de France,” he continued. “Today they are running faster than us, are much more stronger and only leave us the bread crumbs. We look like dwarves. Did we miss something? Did they discover some avant-garde techniques or training facilities that nobody before them had imagined?” But Nadal reacted angrily to Noah’s claims, stating that stringent doping policies make them invalid. “He knows better than anybody that to say that today is a totally stupid thing because you know how many anti-doping controls we have during the season, year by year,” he fumed. “So in my opinion, the article that he wrote was from a kid and when one kid says something it’s not painful for us.” The French Tennis Federation immediately distanced themselves from Noah’s comments, and French star Michael Llodra immediately apologised for the comments made by Noah, saying: “He’s stupid and maybe he was…” and then making a gesture tipping his hand toward his mouth to indicate that Noah might have been drinking. “I felt a profound disappointment,” added former Top 10 star Emilio Sanchez-Vicario, who is the President of the Athletes’ Association of Spain. “You have hurt the Spaniards, the athletes and me; I don’t think it’s fair to discredit the triumphs of Spanish athletes by treating them all as cheaters. You, who always defended sportsmanship! Is this a sportsman’s behaviour? I don’t think we deserved it.”

Djokovic Receives No.1 Award:

In a special on-court ceremony on Tuesday at the ATP World Tour Finals Novak Djokovic was honoured for his incredible record-breaking year by receiving the award for finishing as the year-end No.1 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. ATP Executive President and Chairman Adam Helfant presented the award to the Serbian who looked back on his year with great pride. “It feels fantastic, making history obviously is a big privilege,” said Djokovic, who has recorded a 70-4 match record so far in 2011. “It’s something I always dreamed about, becoming the best in the world, and finishing the year as No. 1 in the world and it’s come true. This year has been the best of my life, the best of my career. All my dreams have been realised and I’m just trying to enjoy every single moment of it and this trophy. I was fortunate enough to have a group of people really believing in me, in my qualities, believing that I could be the best one day. It all came down to myself, if I was really able to bring it or not. Especially in the era of Nadal and Federer, who have been so dominant, it makes my success even bigger.”

Murray Withdraws from ATP Finals:

World number three Andy Murray has been forced to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals in London because of a recurrence of the muscle strain he suffered in training on November 14. He suffered a re-strain during his disappointing opening loss to David Ferrer on Monday and has decided to withdraw from the tournament altogether. He was due to practice for an hour with Tomas Berdych on Tuesday but failed to materialise, and a press conference was hastily arranged so the 24-year-old could make his announcement. Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic benefitted by being called in to replace the Scot. He faced Berdych instead of Murray on Wednesday and lost a thrilling three-set encounter. “I was told to take a week to 10 days completely off – I just didn’t have enough time to recover,” said a disappointed Murray. “I was probably going to do myself more damage playing than not.  When I came off the court [on Monday], I was very disappointed and upset,” he continued. “I said we’d see how I feel when I woke today up but I was never going to feel great. You hope things are going to get better, but in reality that wasn’t ever going to happen.” Meanwhile, Murray has announced that he will kick off his 2012 season at the Brisbane International before aiming to get to his third-straight Australian Open final.

Laver Fancies R-Fed’s Slam Chances:

Aussie legend Rod Laver believes that Roger Federer won’t have to wait much longer to end his two-year wait for a 17th Grand Slam. He believes that the Swiss ace’s recent form shows that he is getting back to the level that saw him dominate the sport for so long. “Federer has a chance to come back and, if anywhere, the Australian Open is a good place for him,” Laver said. “It seems to me he’s serving a whole lot better, he’s getting to the net a lot more and he’s got a drop shot that works pretty effectively.”

Massu Robbed at Challenger Event:

The Chilean press are reporting that Olympic gold medallist Nicolas Massu was robbed at gunpoint at the recent Guayaquil Challenger event. His father is quoted in one report saying that a knife was pulled on his son by a taxi driver who took his mobile phone and his wallet. His tennis equipment was not taken as it was in his hotel room.

ATP Finals the Last Chance for GOAT Race Points in 2011:

After lifting the Paris Masters title in Paris-Bercy Roger Federer added another 200 points to his 2011 Greatest Of All Time race total, tracking the fortunes of the two great rivals Federer and Rafael Nadal. Now we enter the final event of the year, the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals. As it is an elite event which only the top eight qualify for, points totals will be doubled as with the Grand Slams. So, both players receive 20 points for entering. As there is no quarter-final stage the points that would usually be given for that achievement are now valid for the semis. Therefore, players will receive 50 points for a semi-final berth, 100 for a final appearance and 200 for bringing home the big prize. While Federer cannot win the race for this year, he could make it a much tighter finish than it looked just a couple of months ago.

Roger: 1540, Rafa: 1950

Cahill Turns Down Murray, Lendl To Return And Bryan Bros. Make History

*The Aussie former coach of Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, Darren Cahill, has ruled himself out of the running to become Andy Murray’s latest coach. The Scot had hoped to land the former US Open semifinalist following his recent split with Miles Maclagen but Cahill has intimated he would rather concentrate on his work with Adidas and ESPN. Todd Martin, Sven Groeneveld, Larry Stefanki and Tony Roche are other names linked with the position. “I think the world of Andy and I think he’s a major winner in the waiting,” said the Las Vegas-based Cahill. “But if I was going to go back to full-time coaching, I’d probably would have hung in there with Roger, seeing whether Roger offered me the job.”

*Ivan Lendl has confirmed that he intends to join the ATP Champions Tour having rarely picked up a racquet since his retirement in 1994. Paris is the chosen destination for his return, the site of his famous French Open victory of 1984 where he came from two sets down to beat American John McEnroe in the final. This gives McEnroe a shot at revenge. “Oh boy, l’m looking forward to it,” he said. “We had some great matches together but it’s been a long time and he hasn’t played for more than 15 years so I think we need to discuss a few things, both on and off the court. I know he’s been working most of the last year to get back into the type of shape he needs to be in, because it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. But we’ll be giving it our all, that’s for sure.” Yannick Noah will also make his return to the tour after a seven-year absence and Mats Wilander will also be present. The other two contestants of the October event are yet to be announced.

*They’ve done it, the Bryan brothers have finally become the most successful doubles team of all time following last week’s Farmers Classic in Los Angeles. Title number 62 came courtesy of a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 10-7 triumph over Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer. It was their 100th final together and was their sixth title in LA. “It’s sweet, feels awesome, hanging out with family and friends after the match,” said Mike. “It’s a cool feeling.” “Sixty two brings a smile to our face,” added Bob. “It’s been an emotional ride, talking about it every day for the past couple of months. To finally do it is incredible. There were definitely nerves out there and those guys were playing great. It was a very hard fought match. Our legs felt like jelly, arms spaghetti… It was a flood of emotion. I never thought we’d be this consistent, this healthy our whole career. We’ve never given up on each other.”

*Following on from that record-breaking win many of the world’s top doubles players have been paying homage to the feats of America’s doubles specialists. Arch rivals over recent years have been the Canadian Daniel Nestor and his long-time Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic. Nestor was beaming with praise at the achievement: “They are the face of doubles. They’ve pretty much been the No. 1 team for 10 years. When people think of doubles they think of the Bryans. They are fun to watch. I don’t think any team in history has been as consistent as they have been. They rarely have bad losses and they’ve won a lot. 62 titles is an amazing achievement and they’ve got a lot of time to go. They could reach 80 or 90 titles easily.” To see what Zimonjic, Mark Knowles and James Blake, among others, also had to say visit the ATP website.

*The first signings for the 2011 Hopman Cup have been anounced. John Isner and Serena Williams have signed up to play for the United States. Justine Henin and Steve Darcis will play for Belgium while Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic will partner up for Serbia. Lleyton Hewitt has agreed to return for Australia and Gael Monfils will play for France alongside Kristina Mladenovic. Tournament director Paul McNamee said: “It’s a spectacular line-up. There is potential for some really great match-ups for both the men and the women, not to mention the mixed.” We are now just waiting on the name of Hewitt’s female partner.

*Tennis’ long-running ‘anti-grunt’ campaign has received fresh backing from French star Marion Bartoli who was shrieked off court by Victoria Azarenka on Vika’s route to lifting the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford last week. “It’s difficult to play against those kinds of players,” Bartoli said. “I think it’s fine to grunt sometimes when you make an effort, but sometimes it’s just so loud. It’s hard to focus on the other side of the net. But it’s not something I can get bothered by, because otherwise I would lose my concentration so much. I just need to forget about it, but it’s hard.” There were other grumbles too from the elder Bartoli. To see these and Azarenka’s defence, visit TennisReporter.net.

*Another grumbling tennis queen this week is teenage American sensation Melanie Oudin. The 18-year-old has, at times, struggled to hit the form which saw her dazzle the courts of New York in that incredible giant killing run of 2009. Pressure seems to be mounting, and she seems to increasingly lose her temper on-court. “It’s kind of annoying sometimes when people are like ‘Pull it together Melanie,’ and they yell at me kind of,” she said after her 6-1 6-3 defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the second round at Stanford last week. “Really, like you get down here and play. I know they mean it in a good way, like to say ‘C’mon’ Melanie,’ but you don’t have to say ‘Pull it together,’ like ‘Get your energy up’ That’s what some lady was telling me.” The full interview can also be seen at TennisReporter.net.

*Following the conflicting reports about Juan Martin Del Potro’s proposed injury return in last week’s column the reigning US Open champ has posted pics of his long-awaited return to the practice courts on his Twitter page. Serena Williams posted an interesting one this week. She claimed that she was charged $100 to watch the likes of Andy Murray at the Farmers Classic in LA despite the publicity work she had done for the event plus the fact that she is one of the greatest women’s players of all time. “Oh my God, the Farmers Classic tournament in LA is charging me $100 a ticket after I did publicity for them. (Laughs out loud) I’ll send them a bill for my publicity. Anyway, don’t go if you’re in LA. I would have paid $1,000 if I had not done publicity for them.”

*Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s win in Istanbul last week has seen her climb to a career high No. 24 in this week’s Sony Ericsson WTA rankings. In the doubles, Liezel Huber has regained the number 1 doubles ranking slot from the Williams sisters following her win in Stanford with returning mum Lindsay Davenport.

*Reuters have been reporting that Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of San Diego having won at Stanford.

*Spanish newspaper El Mundo has held its annual poll of the country’s favourite celebrity with Rafa Nadal coming out on top. He defeated Spanish footballer and World Cup winning hero Iker Casillas who came second.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC IS ALWAYS UP FOR A DJOKE

Some tennis players have a great sense of humor on and off the court.  Anyone remember Henri Leconte’s jokes? They were hilarious. So was Yannick Noah.

Now we got Novak Djokovic. Always funny with his imitations of fellow tennis players. This time Nole parodies Nadal and Shakira from the Shakira video “Gypsy”.

Enjoy!

YOUZHNY BEATS GASQUET IN NO. 5 LONGEST AUSSIE OPEN MEN’S SINGLES MATCH

In the longest match of the 2010 Australian Open far (4 hours, 53 minutes), Mikhail Youzhny ousted Richard Gasquet 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4, trailing 0:3 in the fourth and 2:4 in the fifth set. The Russian also saved double match point on serve at 5:6 in the fourth set. What’s more interesting, Gasquet, playing on the same Margaret Court Arena, lost last year despite 2-0 lead in sets and match point up (to Fernando Gonzalez). Youzhny beat Gasquet in five sets also four years in Davis Cup in a match that lasted 4 hours, 48 minutes. According to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com), the match was the fifth longest men’s match ever at the Australian Open. The list of top six are as follows;

* 5 hours, 14 minutes Rafael Nadal d. Fernando Verdasco 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4, SF, 2009

* 5 hours, 11 minutes Boris Becker d. Omar Camporese, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 4-6, 14-12, 3rd rd., 1991

* 4 hours, 59 minutes Andy Roddick d. Younes El Aynaoui, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19, QF, 2003. The fifth set took 2:23, Roddick saved MP in 10th game of the fifth with inside-out forehand

* 4 hours, 59 minutes Pete Sampras def. Tim Mayotte, 7-6, 6-7, 4-6, 7-5, 12-10, 1st rd, 1990

* 4 hours, 53 minutes Mikail Youzhny def. Richard Gasquet 6-7(9), 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-4, 1st rd, 2010

* 4 hours, 51 minutes Yannick Noah def. Roger Smith 6-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 16-14, 1st rd, 1988

Federico Gil retired against David Ferrer of Spain, trailing 0-6, 0-6, 0-2 (allegedly suffering a left knee injury). In the Open Era, there have been three triple bagels at Roland Garros, one at both Wimbledon and Us Open but it has never happened at the Australian Open.

Fabrice Santoro came back out of retirement only to become the first player in the Open Era to participate in the major tournaments in four different decades (Santoro debuted at Roland Garros in 1989). It was 70th Grand Slam in Santoro’s career, which is also a record. (Andre Agassi is No. 2 with 61).

Ivo Karlovic established last year an amazing record of 78 aces in a five-set loss to Radek Stepanek. Giant Ivo, avenged that defeat, beating Stepanek 2-6 ,7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 on Monday, serving this time “only” 34 aces, and converting his only break point of the final set in the 10th game.

Seven players won their first matches in a major so far at the 2010 Australian Open: Stephane Robert, Ivan Sergeyev, Illya Marchenko, Ivan Dodig, Santiago Giraldo, Louk Sorensen and Lukas Lacko. Four of them (the Ukrainians: Sergeyev and Marchenko and Sorensen and Dodig) are playing first match in a Grand Slam event.

Federer’s Basel Debut

Roger Federer hits the courts this week in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland for the Swiss Indoor Championships. Roger is the three-time defending champion at the event, but it was, at one time, an elusive title for him as it was not until 2006 that he won his first “hometown” title. Rene Stauffer, the author of the Federer biography THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) details Federer’s first playing experience in Basel in 1998 in this exclusive book excerpt.

In recognition for his results in Toulouse, Federer received a wild card entry into the Swiss Indoors, Switzerland’s biggest tournament, from tour­nament director Roger Brennwald. This tournament guaranteed him a prize money paycheck of at least $9,800. The tournament took place at St. Jakobshalle in Basel’s south side, within walking distance of Federer’s home in Münchenstein. This event, played originally in an inflatable dome in 1970, is one of the most important indoor tournaments in the world that almost every great player has played in. When a virtually unknown Czech player named Ivan Lendl defeated the legendary Björn Borg in the Swiss Indoor final in 1980, it garnered major headlines around the world. The 34th and final duel between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors took place at the Swiss Indoors in 1991. Future world No. 1 Jim Courier won his first ATP tourna­ment in Basel in 1989. Stefan Edberg won the Swiss Indoors three times and Ivan Lendl won the title twice. Borg, McEnroe, Boris Becker, Vitas Gerulaitis, Goran Ivanisevic, Yannick Noah, Michael Stich, Pete Sampras and Guillermo Vilas are also champions of the event.

For Roger Federer, the Swiss Indoors is like a Grand Slam tournament. The St. Jakobshalle is the place of his dreams, like Centre Court at Wimbledon. In 1994, he was a ball boy at the event, grabbing balls for such players as Rosset, Edberg and Wayne Ferreira, who won the title back then. Now, four years later, he was a competitor in the event. His first-round match was against none other than Andre Agassi. In his youthful hauteur, Federer boldly stated “I know what I’m up against—as opposed to Agassi who has no idea who I am. I am going to play to win.”

But Agassi, the former No. 1 player ranked No. 8 at the time, was without question a larger caliber opponent than what Federer faced in Toulouse. Agassi allowed the hometown boy only five games in the 6-3, 6-2 defeat and said he was not overly impressed by the Swiss public’s new darling. “He proved his talent and his instinct for the game a few times,” the American said kindly. “But for me it was an ideal first round where I didn’t have to do all that much and where I could get accustomed to the new conditions.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: You just try to first get the ball back

STARS

Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-5 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Elena Dementieva beat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada

Pat Cash successfully defended his International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup singles title, defeating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA

SAYING

“It’s been a wonderful summer.” – Roger Federer, winning his first tournament title after the birth of his twin daughters.

“The closest I was going to get to the first-place trophy is now.” – Novak Djokovic, while standing five feet (1.5m) from the crystal bowl that Roger Federer collected by winning the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

“I returned poorly and served poorly. Against Roger, if you do both of those things, it’s going to be very difficult.” – Andy Murray, after his semifinal loss to Roger Federer in Cincinnati.

“It’s only a number. I hope to be ready in the future to come back to number two or to be in the top position. Number three is a very good number, too.” – Rafael Nadal, who is now ranked number three in the world.

“When you have so many important points and every point is so tough, you have to give 100 percent. It really kills your brain more than physical.” – Alisa Kleybanova, after outlasting Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (6) 7-6 (7) 6-2 in Toronto.

“It’s tough to think about the winner’s circle because you have to take it one match at a time.” – Maria Sharapova, who has returned to the WTA Tour following a nine-month layoff.

“It’s big because it was against Venus.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, after upsetting Venus Williams in an opening round match at Toronto.

“It’s my brain. I know exactly what I have to do, but if I’m not using my brain, I’m not doing the things my coach is telling me.” – Dinara Safina, after losing her second-round match at Toronto.

“It’s difficult to push yourself to play relaxed, even though you know this is the end. But still, you are a player deep inside, so it comes out in important moments, and you want to win no matter what.” – Marat Safin, after winning his first-round match in Cincinnati.

“I’m actually having a competition with myself to see how many errors and double-faults I can make and still win the match in two sets.” – Maria Sharapova, after winning her second-round match in Toronto.

“I’ve already missed a Masters’ event this year when I got married, so I guess that wasn’t an option here unless I wanted to pay everyone off.” – Andy Roddick, on why he played in Cincinnati despite playing the two weeks prior.

“You just try to first get the ball back.” – Roger Federer, when asked the secret of playing winning tennis.

“Depending on the draw, my pick at this point is (Andy) Murray or (Andy) Roddick.” – John McEnroe, forecasting the winner of this year’s US Open men’s singles.

“I think there could be a battle for the number one in the world. That’s what everybody hopes for. This year the tour is very tough and it’s tight at the top. Hopefully that’s what we’ll get to see.” – Andy Murray, on the battle looming at the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships.

“My overhead cost has gone down considerably.” – Brian Wood, a promoter for a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, after replacing Andre Agassi and Marat Safin with Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.

SETTING THE TABLE?

Elena Dementieva put herself in good company by beating Maria Sharapova and winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada. The fourth-seeded Dementieva captured her third title of the year and during the week won her 50th match of the season, something only Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki had done in 2009. The Russian hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last three Toronto winners – Justine Henin in 2003, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Henin again in 2007. They went on to win the US Open. The gold-medalist at the Beijing Olympics, Dementieva has never won a Grand Slam tournament.

SET FOR US OPEN

Despite not winning a tournament, Rafael Nadal says he’s ready for the US Open. Nadal had not played since suffering an injury at Roland Garros this spring until the past two weeks, in Montreal and Cincinnati. “These two weeks, winning three matches here and two matches (in Montreal), winning five matches and playing seven matches in total, it’s enough matches I think,” said the Spaniard, who has seen his ranking drop from number one in the world to number three during his absence from the court. “We will see how I am physically to play the five-set matches,” he said. “I know when I am playing well I can play at this level. But you only can win against these top players when you are playing your best tennis.”

SERENA’S IN

Serena Williams is the second player to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be played October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion joins Dinara Safina to have clinched spots in the eight-player field. By winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Australian Open, Serena became the first professional female athlete to surpass USD $23 million in career earnings. She moved past Lindsay Davenport as the all-time prize money leader on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Davenport has earned USD $22,144,735. And because she and her sister Venus Williams have won three doubles titles this year – the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA – the sisters currently rank second in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships Doubles Standings.

SCOT SCORES

Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held November 22-29 in London. The Scot joins Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the first three singles players to qualify for the elite eight-man event. By winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, Murray moved up to a career-high number two in the world behind Federer. That snapped the four-year domination of Federer and Nadal at the top of the men’s game. The 22-year-old Murray is the first ATP player to record 50 match wins this year and has won five titles in 2009: Montreal, Doha, Rotterdam, Miami and Queen’s Club in London, where he became the first British champion since Henry “Bunny” Austin in 1938.

SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE

Pat Cash loves grass court tennis. The 1987 Wimbledon champion successfully defended his singles title on the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, beating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was Cash’s second career victory in the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for players age 30 and over. Courier, once ranked number one in the world, is still seeking his first professional title on grass.

SHARING A TEAM

If only the Miami Dolphins were as well-known on the football field as their owners. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams are believed to be acquiring a stake in the National Football League team. Musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony recently bought small shared of the team, while owner Stephen Ross forged a partnership with singer Jimmy Buffett.

SKIPPING CINCINNATI

Juan Martin del Potro is paying the price for his success. The sixth-ranked Argentine pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters because of fatigue. Del Potro reached the final of the Montreal Masters one week after winning the tournament in Washington, DC. He played 24 sets in two weeks. Winning seven matches at the US Open would take between 21 and 35 sets over a two-week period.

SKIPPING FLUSHING

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic won’t be around when the year’s final Grand Slam tournament gets underway in New York’s Flushing Meadow at the end of this month. Muller withdrew from the US Open because of a knee injury. He is best known for upsetting Andy Roddick in the opening round of the US Open in 2005 when he went on to reach the quarterfinals. Muller’s spot in this year’s tournament will be taken by Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. An injury also has sidelined Minar. With his withdrawal, Rajeev Ram moves into the main draw.

SQUANDERING MATCH POINTS

Brothers Bob and Mike Bryan led 9-4 in the match tiebreak before Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic rallied to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters doubles in Cincinnati. In all, Nestor and Zimonjic saved eight match points before prevailing over the top-seeded and defending champions 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13. Nestor and Zimonjic won six straight points but failed to convert their first match at 10-9. They were successful on their second match point, improving their record to 44-10 as a team this year and collecting their eighth title of 2009. Both teams have already clinched spots in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held in London in November.

SUBBING

Instead of Andre Agassi and Marat Safin, spectators at a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, will instead be watching Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. When only 1,100 tickets had been sold for the 6,000-seat Asheville Civic Center, promoter Brian Wood decided to replace Agassi and Safin. He also dropped the ticket price from a high of USD $200 to a top price of USD $25. The promoter said tickets purchased for the Agassi-Safin match will be refunded. This wasn’t the first change in the program. Originally Safin was to play Novak Djokovic on August 6. When the date was changed to August 28, Djokovic was replaced by Agassi. “We could have canceled altogether or moved forward on a much lower scale, and that’s what we did,” Woods said. “The guys coming are still world class players who play at an extremely high level.”

SPEAKING UP

John McEnroe is covering the airwaves as tightly as he did the court in his playing days. This year Johnny Mac will join the ESPN broadcasting team for its coverage of the US Open. The broadcast will have its own brand of family ties. John will work with his younger brother Patrick, who has been a mainstay at ESPN since 1995. He also will team with ESPN’s Mary Carillo. The two won the French Open mixed doubles in 1977.

STRAIGHT IN

Taylor Dent leads a group of five Americans who have been given wild cards into the main draw of the US Open men’s singles. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said they have also issued wild cards to Devon Britton, Chase Buchanan, Jesse Levine and Ryan Sweeting, along with Australian Chris Guccione and a player to be named by the French Tennis Association. Dent had climbed as high as 21 in the world before undergoing three back surgeries and missing two years on the tour.

Nine men have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open qualifying tournament, which will be held August 25-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Receiving wild card berths into the qualifying are Americans Lester Cook, Alexander Domijan, Ryan Harrison, Scoville Jenkins, Ryan Lipman, Tim Smyczek, Blake Strode and Michael Venus, along with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

SHE’S BACK

Australian Alicia Molik is returning to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Once ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik hasn’t played since losing in the opening round in both singles and doubles at the Beijing Olympics. Molik has asked for a wild card into the US Open where she plans on playing only doubles with American Meghann Shaughnessy. Her future plans call for her playing singles in a low-level International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Darwin, Australia, in September. Molik won four of her five WTA titles in a six-month period in 2004-05 before a middle-ear condition affected her vision and balance, forcing her off the tour in April 2005. An elbow injury followed, leading to her announcing her retirement earlier this year.

SRICHAPHAN UNDECIDED

Although he hasn’t played on the ATP Tour since March 2007, Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan says he has not retired from tennis. “I’m not going to quit,” he said. “I just want to be back when I’m really ready.” Srichaphan underwent operations on his wrist in Los Angeles in 2007 and in Bangkok, Thailand, this year. He originally had planned to return to play last year, and then postponed it until the Thailand Open this September. But now he says he may not play in a tournament until 2010.

SITE TO SEE

Tennis Canada is considering combining both ATP and WTA events into one tournament the same week and playing it in both Toronto and Montreal at the same time. Under that plan, each city would stage one-half of the men’s main draw and one half of the women’s main draw. Montreal and Toronto would each stage a final, meaning one of the men’s and one of the women’s finalists would switch cities, making the one-hour trip by private jet. Currently the tournaments are run on consecutive weeks with the men’s and women’s events alternating annually between Montreal and Toronto. This year the ATP tournament was held in Montreal a week ago and won by Andy Murray. Elena Dementieva captured the women’s title in Toronto on Sunday. But the ATP and WTA are pushing for more combined tournaments, a trend that resulted in the creative suggestion by Tennis Canada.

SHOEMAKER SELECTED

David Shoemaker is the new president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The 36-year-old Shoemaker previously was the Tour’s chief operating officer, general counsel and head of the Asia-Pacific region. The native of Ottawa, Canada, succeeds Stacey Allaster, who was recently appointed the tour’s chairman and CEO. In his new job, Shoemaker will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and business affairs of the tour, tournament and player relations, strategic expansion of the sport in key growth markets; international television and digital media rights distribution, and the tour’s year-end Championships.

STEPPING UP

The ATP also has a new executive. Laurent Delanney has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer, Europe, and will be based in the tour’s European headquarters in Monte Carlo, Monaco. A former agent who managed a number of top players, including Yannick Noah, Delanney joined the ATP’s European office in 1994, serving most recently as senior vice president, ATP Properties, the business arm of the ATP. The 49-year-old Delanney began his career with ProServ, a sports management and marketing agency, and at one time was marketing and publication operations manager for Club Med in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

SHOW AND TELL

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s gallery exhibition at this year’s US Open will be titled “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement.” The exhibit chronicles the accomplishment of the calendar-year Grand Slam as 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s 1969 singles Grand Slam and the 25th anniversary of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver’s 1984 doubles Grand Slam. Among the many stars featured in the exhibit are Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Smith Court, Steffi Graf, Maria Bueno, Martina Hingis and Stefan Edberg. The exhibition will be on view from August 29 through September 13 in the US Open Gallery.

SUPERB WRITING

The telling of the 2008 epic Wimbledon final between eventual winner Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer earned New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy a first-place award from the United States Tennis Writers’ Association. The three-judge panel called Bondy’s story “a masterful, compelling account of the greatest match, told with vivid quotes and observations, a deft touch, and a grand sense of tennis history.” Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Joyce of RealClearSports.com and Paul Fein, whose work was published by TennisOne.com and Sportstar, each were double winners. The awards will be presented during the USTWA’s annual meeting at the US Open.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Cincinnati: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13 (match tiebreak)

Toronto: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 2-6 7-5 11-9 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/

Bronx: www.nyjtl.org/tournaments/ghiBronx/index.htm

New York: www.usopen.org

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard

WTA

$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard

$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard

One Week On Top – 10 Years Ago This Week

Ten years ago this week, Patrick Rafter was on top of the world. On July 26, 1999 the Aussie hunk and two-time U.S. Open champion reached the career pinnacle by earning the No. 1 ranking on the ATP computer. Rafter’s reign, however, last only one week and he never again attained the top spot in the computer rankings, marking the shortest ever reign as a world’s top ranked player. The following text describes Rafter’s No. 1 ascent and other events that happened in tennis history this week as excerpted from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTOR Y ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

July 26

1999 – Patrick Rafter of Australia begins his one – and only – week as the world’s No. 1 ranked player, replacing Andre Agassi in the top spot on the ATP computer. Rafter’s curious one-week reign as the No. 1 ranked player is the briefest stint in the top spot of any man or woman. Carlos Moya of Spain ranks No. 1 for only two weeks in March of 1999, while Evonne Goolagong ranks as  the No. 1 woman on the WTA Tour for a two-week period in April of 1976 (although not uncovered and announced by the WTA Tour until December of 2007).

1987 – The United States is relegated to zonal competition for the first time in Davis Cup history as Boris Becker defeats Tim Mayotte 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as West Germany defeats the United States 3-2 in the Davis Cup qualifying round in Hartford, Conn. The Becker-Mayotte match is called by John Feinstein of the Washington Post as, “the match of their lives,” as Mayotte, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., a 25 miles from the Hartford Civic Center, plays inspired tennis in front of furiously vocal crowd. Says Becker after the epic match, “It was the most difficult match of my life. The circumstances made it hard, the crowd cheering every time I missed a serve made it hard and him playing for two sets like I have never seen him play in his life, it was all very tough. I just had to stay calm — stay calm, be patient and not go mad. If I go mad, I lose the match.” Writes Feinstein, “For Mayotte, this was sweet agony. He miraculously came from two sets down to force a fifth set. He was playing in an emotional daze, carried by the fans, by his teammates, by the circumstances.”

1969 – Nancy Richey is upset in the semifinals of the U.S. Clay Court Championships by Gail Sherriff Chanfreau, 6-3, 6-4 – ending her tournament record winning streak at 33 straight matches over seven years. Chanfreau goes on to win the title, beating Linda Tuero, 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

July 27

1986 – Martina Navratilova returns to her native Czechoslovakia and her hometown of Prague in triumph as a member of the U.S. Federation Cup team, clinching the U.S. 3-0 final-round victory over the Czechs with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Hana Mandlikova. “We all did it for Martina,” says Chris Evert Lloyd, whose 7-5, 7-6 victory over Helena Sukova began the U.S. sweep of Czechoslovakia in the final series. “We dedicate this Federation Cup to her.” Says Navratilova of the crowd support she received all week that results in a tearful closing ceremony for the Wimbledon champion and her U.S. teammates. “I wanted to tell them how special it was for me to be here. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

1946 – In the final of the first French Championship since the conclusion of World War II, Frenchmen Marcel Bernard dramatically defeats fellow left-hander Jaroslav Drobny of Czechoslovakia 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in the men’s singles final. The French have to wait another 37 years before they celebrate another native men’s singles champion when Yannick Noah wins the men’s singles title in 1983. It will be another 59 years before another all left-handed men’s singles final is played at Roland Garros when Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta in the 2005 final. In the women’s singles final, Margaret Osbourne defeats fellow American Pauline Betz 1-6, 8-6, 7-5.

July 28

1991 – Andrei Chesnokov wins the Canadian Open in Montreal, defeating Petr Korda 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final and promises a high-spirited celebration. Says Chesnokov, “I’m going to New York, I’m going to go to Tower Records, have dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and, of course, I’m going to get drunk.”

July 29

1990 – Michael Chang defeats Jay Berger 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the final of the Canadian Open men’s singles final in Toronto. The 24th-ranked Chang’s $155,000 winner’s check puts him in the million-dollar club for career prize money. “It feels good,” says the 18-year-old Chang of his financial achievement. “I think my first priority as far as tennis is concerned is not making money. My priority is to be the best in the world – the best I can be.”

1974 – Jimmy Connors becomes the No. 1 ranked player in the world for the first time in his career at the age of 21, replacing John Newcombe.

2001 – Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles, Agassi’s 17th consecutive match victory on hard courts. Identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan of Camarillo, Calif., win their third ATP doubles title in six weeks, defeating Jan-Michael Gambill and Andy Roddick 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

July 30

1928 – France successfully defends its Davis Cup title against the United States as Henri Cochet defeats Bill Tilden 9-7, 8-6, 6-4 clinching the 4-1 victory for France at newly-dedicated Stade Roland Garros in Paris, which is constructed to host the Davis Cup matches. Writes P.J. Philip of the New York Times, “On the central court of the Roland Garros Stadium at Auteuil, that Napoleon of tennis, Big Bill Tilden, met his Waterloo today. In three straight sets, Henri Cochet swept him off the field, holding the Davis Cup for France and writing finis to the world championship career of the most brilliant tennis player of the past decade. It was Waterloo alright.” Tilden’s career was not entirely finished following the loss. He was kicked off the Davis Cup team prior to this famous series for his “professional” writing from tennis events, which U.S. Lawn Tennis Association officials said violated his amateur status. However, due to the huge demand to see Tilden play against the four French “Musketeers” at the newly-constructed Roland Garros Stadium, the French government and French Tennis Federation pressured the USLTA to re-instate Tilden to the team to appease the ticket-buying public. Tilden is, instead, suspended from the U.S. Championships later in the summer, but continues to play high-level amateur tennis through 1930.

1996 – Andre Agassi stages a stunning comeback to advance into the medal round at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, coming back from a 3-5 third-set deficit to defeat Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinal of men’s singles. Ferreira is upset with Agassi’s behavior and profane language that results in Agassi receiving a point penalty in the first game of the second set. Says Ferreira, “I honestly believe he should be kicked off the court for the things he was saying. They were pretty rude and actually the worst I’ve ever heard anybody say. I’m surprised the umpires took it so lightly. If I was sitting in the chair, I probably would have done something different.” Retorts Agassi, “It was about the only way he was going to beat me.” Also advancing into the medal round in men’s singles are Leander Paes of India, who defeats Renzo Furlan of Italy 6-1, 7-5, Sergi Bruguera of Spain, who defeats Mal Washington of the United States 7-6 (8), 4-6, 7-5 and Fernando Meligeni of Brazil, who defeats Russia’s Andrei Olhovskiy 7-5, 6-3

July 31

1932 – In what Hall of Fame journalist and historian Bud Collins calls “The Great Cup Robbery,” France defeats the United States in the Davis Cup Challenge Round for the fifth time in six years as Jean Borotra clinches the Davis Cup for France, erasing a two-sets-to-love deficit, a 3-5 fifth-set deficit and four match points to defeat Wilmer Allison 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.  Allison holds three match points while leading 5-3 in the fifth set – 40-15 and then with an advantage – but has his serve broken. In the next game, Allison holds another match point on Borotra’s serve. After missing his first serve, Borotra hits a second serve that by all accounts is out – but not called by the linesman. Allison, who did not make a play on the serve, runs to the net to shake hands with Borotra, but stands in disbelief at the non-call. Allison wins only one point in the remainder of the match to lose 7-5 in the fifth set, giving France it’s third point of the series, clinching the Cup.

2005 – Andre Agassi wins his 60th and what ultimately becomes his final ATP singles title, defeating 22-year-old Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-5 in 1 hour, 28 minutes to win the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles. The title is also the fourth tournament victory at the Los Angeles event for Agassi, who also wins on the campus at UCLA in 1998, 2001 and 2002. “It’s been a dream week for me for sure,” says the 35-year-old Agassi. “I couldn’t have expected to come in here and find my comfort level so early on in the tournament and get better with each match. It’s a great sign.”