Zhen Jie

Mondays With Bob Greene: I am like a machine, fit for every match

STARS

Ayumi Morita beat Ksenia Lykina 6-1 6-3 to win the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge women’s event in Toyota City, Japan

Martin Vassallo Arguello won the Lima Challenger 2008, beating Sergio Roitman 6-2 4-6 6-4 in Lima, Peru

Go Soeda beat Hyung-Taik Lee 6-2 7-6 (7) to win the Dunlop World Challenge men’s singles in Toyota City, Japan

Grega Zemlja beat Martin Alund 6-2 6-1 to win the Abierto Internacional Varonil Ciudad de Cancun in Cancun, Mexico

SAYING

“This was our worst defeat. We had a sinister weekend.” – David Nalbandian, who earned Argentina’s lone point in Spain’s 3-1 Davis Cup victory.

“I think he’s my natural successor. He’s very close to this group of players who are integrated into the nucleus of the team and he’s demonstrated his qualities as a coach by leading Feliciano (Lopez), who has shown notable progression in the last while.” – Emilio Sanchez, on Albert Costa’s prospects for becoming Spain’s Davis Cup captain.

“I am like a machine, fit for every match, and I give my best for all my matches. I have a consistent style of play, which is my major strength and keeps me going. I am fine with the current ATP schedule and love playing tennis, which keeps me going.” – Nikolay Davydenko.

“It goes back to what my dad said: I peaked at 12 years old.” – Jimmy Arias, who in 1980 at the age of 16 became the youngest player to make the main draw of the US Open.

“She will have an opportunity but she will have to earn it.” – Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director on Jelena Dokic playing in a wild card playoff for a direct entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of 2009.

SUFFERIN’ SUCCOTASH

His business manager says Jimmy Connors is “extremely disappointed and embarrassed” about an incident that led to the tennis legend being charged with a misdemeanor. Karen Scott says a man tried to pick a fight with Connors and his son before a basketball game between the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina. Police asked Connors to leave, but the eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion was arrested after he said he wanted to wait for his son to finish watching the game. Connors was charged with disrupting campus activities and refusing to leave a university facility.

STEPS DOWN

The day after leading Spain to its third Davis Cup championship, Emilio Sanchez Vicario retired as captain of the victorious team. “I will not be there for the tie against Serbia,” said Sanchez, referring to Spain’s first-round tie in 2009. “I started something three years ago and the cycle is now complete with this reward for all the players, and I hope that whoever replaces me can share all the magical moments I have experienced.” The next Spanish captain is rumored to be Albert Costa, the 2002 Roland Garros champion.

[ad#adify-300×250]

SAME IN ARGENTINA

Alberto Mancini apparently is through as coach of Argentina’s Davis Cup squad. He announced his resignation just hours after Spain clinched its third Davis Cup title, defeating Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five-matches tie. The fifth match was not played. According to reports, Mancini had planned to resign after the final regardless of the outcome.

SCORING MORE

As an incentive to play better, Chinese tennis players will be able to keep more of their winnings. China’s players will keep 70 percent of the money they win, twice the amount they have been able to put into the bank. But the country’s top players, including Li Na and Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, are eligible to keep even more if they do well at Grand Slams and other big tournaments. In China, the sports associations have paid for coaches, travel and other expenses for the players. In making the announcement, Sun Jinfang, head of the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA), didn’t say if the players would now have to pay for some of their own expenses.

SQUARING OFF

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could resume their rivalry in their opening 2009 tournament. The world’s top two players are scheduled to play the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar, which begins January 5. According to Nasser al-Kholiafi, Qatar tennis federation president, the star-filled field will also include Andy Murray and Andy Roddick. The Qatar Open is one of three tournaments that will begin the 2009 ATP season, the others being the Brisbane International in Australia and the Chennai Open in India.

STOPPED

Kimiko Date-Krumm’s latest tournament ended quickly in the singles. Once ranked number five in the world, Date-Krumm lost her second-round match in the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament in Toyota, Japan, to Russian wild-card Ksenia Lykina 5-7 7-5 6-3. She did much better in the doubles, teaming with China’s Han Xinyun to reach the final, where they lost to Finland’s Emma Laine and Britain’s Melanie South 6-1 7-5.

SLUITER RETURNS

Dutch tennis player Raemon Sluiter is returning to the ATP tour after a 10-month retirement. He reached his highest world ranking of number 46 in 2003. The right-hander from Rotterdam turned pro in 1996 and earned a little more than USD $1.6 million in his career. Sluiter began his Davis Cup career in 2001 by upsetting Juan Carlos Ferrero as the Netherlands beat Spain and Germany to reach the World Group semifinals before losing to France. He also has a Davis Cup victory over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.

SET TO EXPLODE

A live bomb from World War II was discovered when a court at a British tennis club underwent renovation. The bomb was thought to be a piece of old farm machinery and handed to Steve McLean, chairman of the Greenlaw Tennis Club in Berwickshire, who put it in a bin. Six weeks later, he realized it was a bomb and called police. Army bomb disposal experts took the bomb away so it could be detonated safely.

STUMBLE

The first event in a closed tour for Asian players was canceled because of the lack of top players. The Asian Tennis Federation said it was planning a closed Asian Tennis Tour to help Asian players make more money. The first two events were to be held in India in December, a men’s tournament in Pune, followed by a women’s event in Indore. But some of the eight countries who had pledged their participation in the tour ended up nominated their third- or fourth-string players for the tournaments.

SENDS WARNING

John McEnroe hasn’t been quiet about his chances at the BlackRock Masters Tennis championships at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The lefthander, who at the age of 49 is by far the oldest in the eight-man draw, sent a video message to his rivals warning them not to underestimate him. McEnroe’s recent victory in Luxembourg has convinced the American that he can still compete. McEnroe is in a group with American Pete Sampras, Frenchman Cedric Pioline and Britain’s Jeremy Bates. The other group consists of Sweden’s Stefan Edberg, Australian Pat Cash, Britain’s Greg Rusedski and France’s Guy Forget. Jamie Murray, Wimbledon mixed doubles champion in 2007 and the brother of Andy Murray, will play doubles, joining, among others, Peter Fleming, Henri Leconte, Mansour Bahrami, Mark Woodforde and Anders Jarryd. Goran Ivanisevic withdrew from the singles field because he will undergo knee surgery.

SITTING ON TOP

For the third consecutive year, France has more players in the year-ending ATP Top 100 than any other nation. This year, however, Spain has tied France with 14 players in the Top 100. With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at number six and Gilles Simon at number seven, it is the first time since 1986 that two Frenchmen have been in the year-end Top Ten. Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte did it then. Twenty-nine countries are represented in the Top 100. After France and Spain, Argentina has nine players in the Top 100, followed by the United States with eight, Germany and Russia with seven each, Croatia with five, the Czech Republic and Italy with four each, and Serbia and Belgium with three apiece.

STARS FOR SALE

The Heineken Open has reportedly been forced to shell out record appearance fees in order to land a couple of top players for the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, beginning January 12. The headliners will be world number eight Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina and former champion David Ferrer of Spain. Tournament director Richard Palmer would not reveal the exact amount of appearance fees he had to pay to get the two, but said it was considerably less than the sums some top 10 players were demanding.

SO HAPPY

Organizers of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas, are smiling these days. Because of the changes in the ATP calendar for 2009, Lleyton Hewitt and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, have committed to the US Clay Court. The Houston event now doesn’t bump up against Davis Cup competition or a popular clay-court tournament in Europe. And it directly follows the Masters 100 tournament in Miami, Florida. “This is a perfect example of how we’ve improved our prospects of getting some players we probably wouldn’t have had a shot at before,” said Van Barry, tennis director of River Oaks Country Club, site of the tournament.

SERBIAN DREAMS

The decrepit courts of the Milan Gale Muskatirovic Sports Centre in Belgrade, Serbia, will be restored in time to hold an ATP tournament in May. Tennis Masters Cup champion Novak Djokovic and his family are behind the changes, having acquired the ATP event only a few weeks ago. The Serbian government, city of Belgrade and municipality of Stari Grad will jointly pay more than USD $1 million for the venture. The courts also will be used by the Serbian Tennis Federation for Fed Cup and Davis Cup practice as well as university competition. When completed, the complex will have seven courts with seating for 5,000 at the Central Court. The restoration is scheduled to be completed by mid-April, two weeks before the tournament will begin.

SYDNEY CALLING

The Medibank International Sydney 2009 tournament will feature a number of top players, including Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, David Nalbandian and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Officials say the competition will be Sydney’s international sporting event of the Australian summer. Also in the field will be Russian Elena Dementieva and Frenchman Richard Gasquet, while Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt will be gunning for his fifth title in the tournament.

STICKING WITH IT

Argentina’s David Nalbandian refuted rumors that he is considering quitting his country’s Davis Cup team because of its loss to Spain. “For me it’s really an honor to represent my country. I’m going to continue defending these colors in the best way possible. For me, playing Davis Cup is the best and I’m upset that people have doubted me.” Nalbandian won the opening singles in the three-day competition, beating David Ferrer. But he and Agustin Calleri lost their doubles match and his “reverse singles” match was never played because Spain had already wrapped up its victory. “We’ve played in two Davis Cup finals in the last three years and I still think we can win it,” Nalbandian said.

SET FOR CHENNAI

India’s two top-ranked singles players, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj, have been given wild cards into the Chennai Open tournament scheduled to begin January 5. The third wild card into the main singles draw has been offered to Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic, who will partner India’s Leander Paes in the doubles. India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner, Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, have also entered the tournament. While Paes and Bhupathi are India’s best-known players, neither play singles that much any more.

SAD NEWS

Anne Pittman, who coached Arizona State’s women’s tennis program for 30 years, died in Tempe, Arizona, after suffering a stroke. She was 90 years old. Pittman guided ASU to a 338-71 record from 1954 through 1984 and led the Sun Devils to national championships in 1971, 1972 and 1974. In 1995, she was selected as one of the charter members and only coach into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. During her tenure, the women’s tennis coach was considered a volunteer position. Pittman refused to retire until funding was approved during the 1983-84 season to make the coach a paid, full-time position.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Toyota (women): Emma Laine and Melanie South beat Kimiko Date-Krumm and Han Xinyun 6-1 7-5

Lima: Luis Horna and Sebastian Prieto beat Ramon Delgado and Julio Silva 6-3 6-3

Toyota (men): Frederik Nielsen and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Chen Ti and Gazegorz Panfil 7-5 6-3

Cancun: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Lee Hsin-Han and Yang Tsung-Hua 7-5 6-2

SITES TO SURF

London: www.theblackrockmasters.com/

Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/

ATP: www.atptennis.com

WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com

ITF: www.itftennis.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

SENIORS

BlackRock Masters Tennis, London, England, carpet

Mondays With Bob Greene: I played unbelievable tennis against Novak

STARS

Andy Roddick won the China Open by beating Dudi Sela 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 in Beijing, China

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 6-4 to win the Thailand Open in Bangkok, Thailand

Jelena Jankovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win the China open women’s singles in Beijing

Maria Kirilenko defeated Samantha Stosur to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea, 2-6 6-1 6-4

Alberto Martin beat Julian Reister 6-2 6-0 to win the ATP Challenger Trophy 2008 in Trnava, Slovakia

John McEnroe won the Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg, beating Henri Leconte 6-1 6-4

Jim Courier beat Todd Martin 6-2 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Citadel Group Championships at The Palisades in Charlotte, North Carolina

SAYINGS

“I’ve been dreaming about this, so I’m very happy. I played unbelievable tennis against Novak. It’s one of the great moments of my life.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Thailand Open, his first ATP singles title.

“I lost to a great player. Bravo to Jo and his team for his first ATP title. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again often in the future.” – Novak Djokovic.

“This feels really good. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve won one of these events, so many that I can’t even remember the last one I won.” – John McEnroe, after beating Henri Leconte to win the Vivium Victory Challenge.

“At first I couldn’t believe it. I thought that maybe they were joking or something. Me, playing with all these great players like Borg, McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Henri Leconte, is incredible. When I started to play tennis, Borg was my idol, so this is the most fantastic thing for me.” – Johny Goudenbour, who was given a wild card to play in a BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Luxembourg.

“If I was more consistent I think I would be ranked higher, maybe Top 10 or Top 15. But I have time to improve. I’m only 21 and I’ll get more experience in the time to come.” – Maria Kirilenko, after winning her third singles title of the year.

“Svetlana beat me two times this year. I was really motivated to get a win against her, and winning in two sets is very satisfying.” – Jelena Jankovic, after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the China Open.

“I’m disappointed. I wasn’t moving the ball or doing the right things on the court. I love playing here, so it was disappointing to not play well in the final.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“This was a good win for me. It was in China and in front of my home crowd. There were lots of fans supporting me, which gave me even more motivation.” – Zheng Jie, after upsetting Ana Ivanovic in the China Open.

“I was defending a lot. It was like running a marathon out there. She was really aggressive and was dominating a lot. I didn’t even realize how much I was running out there.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Zheng Jie.

“I had a lot of pressure on me during those years and I was too young for it. … This time, win or lose, I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’m going to have more fun. And I think this will be good for Japanese tennis too.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, on her returning to tennis after a 12-year hiatus following her retirement.

“I didn’t feel comfortable on court. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. The other guy was better than me.” – Marat Safin, after suffering a 6-4 7-6 first-round loss to Philipp Petzschner at the Thailand Open.

“Roger (Federer) has said he wants to put the Davis Cup into his calendar, but he wants to see all the details first. He will do anything possible to be there.” – Swiss Tennis spokeswoman Sandra Perez on whether Federer will play in a first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States.

“I will have to digest this one and make sure I go back on the right track for the next few tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo, a former world number one who has lost her last two first-round matches.

“People tend to think athletes have a glamorous life, traveling all the time to international destinations and staying at five-star hotels. But in reality it is not all that great. We do go through some difficult moments in our careers, with struggles, intrigues and fights, like in any other job.” – Fernando Meligeni, who has written a book about his 14-year career as a professional tennis player.

“As an American player it meant a lot to me to break the record. It’s nice to have the opportunity to play so many great pro circuit events in this country. I’ve played most of the pro circuit events held in the US and have met a lot of wonderful people, and have a lot of good memories from the different tournaments.” – Julie Ditty, after becoming the new record-holder of the most career USTA Pro Circuit titles.

SERVING WITH THE STARS

Johny Goudenbour’s day job is with the local tourist board in Luxembourg. But he lived a dream this past week at the Vivium Victory Challenge, a stop on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Goudenbour was Luxembourg’s highest ranked tennis player for six consecutive years in the 1980s, and he reached a career high world ranking of 304. Now 45 years old, Goudenbour still plays inter-club level tennis in neighboring Germany, but his main job these days is putting together cultural films promoting his home town. He was surprised when he received a telephone call offering him a wild card into the seniors tournament being played in Luxembourg. Goudenbour upset both Carl-Uwe Steeb and Cedric Pioline before losing to Henri Leconte 6-2 7-5.

SECURITY CONCERNS

With tennis tournaments scheduled for the country in November, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has expressed its concern to Pakistan about security. A Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) offical said the ITF did not call for cancellation of the events, but asked for details on security arrangements in view of travel advisories issued by the United States, European and other countries. A record number of players from Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Romania, Kazakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and India have entered the first tournament, which will be held in Islamabad.

SUING ATP?

His lawyer says Nikolay Davydenko is considering suing the ATP to get the men’s tennis organization to pay the Russian’s legal costs following a 13-month gambling inquiry that found no evidence that he did anything wrong. Attorney Frank Immenga said Davydenko wants the ATP to issue a more positive press statement and “maybe apologize,” according to the Bloomberg news agency. Davydenko also is considering taking action against Betfair Ltd., the British gambling site, for making public details of its probe into a Davydenko match.

STILL TOUGH

Andy Roddick says the game of tennis in the United States is in good health despite no American man winning a Grand Slam title in five years. Roddick was the last American man to win a major, the US Open in 2003. But the former world number one notes that the United States has three players in the top 25 and two in the top ten. Plus, he points out that the US won the Davis Cup in 2007 and the fact that the brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the world’s top-ranked doubles team. “If you compare us with other countries, we’re very, very strong,” Roddick said.

SINO STAR

Zheng Jie is proving her Wimbledon showing was no surprise. The right-hander upset second-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-4 at the China Open in a quarterfinal baseline slugfest that lasted six minutes short of three hours. It was Zheng’s second straight win over her Serbian opponent in as many 2008 meetings. She beat Ivanovic at Wimbledon to become the first Chinese player to topple a reigning world number one. It also was her first Top 10 win. In the Beijing tournament, she also beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, giving Zheng her second and third career wins over players ranked in the Top 10.

SPORTS HALL INDUCTEE

Billie Jean King is in yet another hall of fame. The tennis great is one of four athletes elected to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). Others included in the 2009 class are baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry, football tight end Dave Casper and quarterback Craig Morton. The four will be inducted at a banquet March 9 in San Francisco.

SELECTED

Two-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver has been elected a Life Trustee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Nine new members have been elected to the Hall’s board of directors: Douglas Fonte, Lucy Garvin, Elizabeth Jeffett, Ted Leonsis , Andrew McElwee Jr., David Westin, Allen Brill, David Tyree and Nancy von Auersperg. Returning to the board are Robert Downey, Steve Lessing and Sue Ann Weinberg.

[ad#adify-300×250]

SKIPPING OUT

Simone Bolelli has been banned by the Italian Tennis Federation from national team events for skipping the country’s Davis Cup matches with Latvia. Bolelli, ranked 45th in the world, chose instead to play tour events in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Tokyo, Japan. Bolelli said he told Italian Davis Cup captain Corrado Barrazzutti well in advance of the international team competition that he preferred to work on his fast-court game in Asia.

SWISS START

For the second time in nine years, the United States could face a Roger Federer-led Switzerland team when the two countries meet in a first-round Davis Cup match next year. The last time they faced each other, Federer won three points to lead Switzerland to victory in 2001. Spain and Argentina, this year’s finalists, will begin next year’s play at home, Argentina facing the Netherlands and Spain playing host to Serbia. In other World Group first-round matches, France will be at the Czech Republic, Chile at Croatia, Israel travels to Sweden and Austria goes to Germany.

SHRIVER CHARITY CLASSIC

US Open champion Serena Williams and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva will face each other at the 23rd annual Pam Shriver Charity Tennis Classic in November. Williams is ranked number one in the world, while Dementieva is ranked number four. They will meet in a “Battle of Olympic Gold Medal Champions.” Williams teamed with her sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation.

SAYING IT ALL

Former ATP star Fernando Meligeni has turned author. His book – “Aqui Tem! Vitórias e Memórias de Fernando Meligeni com Andre Kfouri” – was released last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The book was written by Meligeni and Andre Kfouri, a well-known sports journalist in Brazil who currently is working for ESPN. Ranked as high as 25th in the world, Meligeni was a French Open semifinalist in 1999. He said he wrote the book to unveil some funny and stressful behind-the-scenes moments of his 14-year career on the tour.

SETS RECORD

Julie Ditty is the new record-holder for most career USTA Pro Circuit championships. The 29-year-old swept the singles and doubles titles at a recent ITF Women’s Circuit event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earning her 31st and 32nd career USTA Pro Circuit titles, the most of any player, man or woman. On the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the 29-year-old Ditty’s best result came last November when she reached the semifinals of an event and broke into the Top 100 for the first time. The previous record of 30 titles was held jointly by Paul Goldstein and Nana Smith.

SIXTH SENSE ACADEMY

Justine Henin and Carlos Rodrigez have opened a tennis academy in Florida. The superstar player, who was ranked number one in the world when she retired from the sport earlier this year, and her coach opened their second 6th Sense Tennis Academy, this one in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, located 30 miles northwest of Orlando. Their first academy was opened in Belgium almost a year ago.

SUCCESSFUL PAIR

When Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins won the doubles at China Open, it was their first title as a team. The 32-year-old Huss had won two other doubles crowns, including Wimbledon in 2005 with Wesley Moodie. Hutchins, nine years younger than his partner, won his first title in just his second ATP final. But Hutchins has done well in Beijing, having reached the semifinals last year when he was teamed with Eric Butorac. Huss and Hutchins became partners in Valencia, Spain, in April where they lost in the first round. Prior to winning in Beijing, their best result had been reaching the third round at Roland Garros.

SHARAPOVA OUT FOR YEAR

Because of her lingering shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova has decided to stop playing tournaments until next year. She is currently in Arizona where she is rehabilitating her shoulder. The injury has kept her from practicing the past several weeks, but she hopes to return to practice soon. She has decided to skip tournaments in Asia, Europe and the season-ending Championships. Sharapova won the Australian Open in January along with two other singles titles and has been ranked number one in the world this year.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Beijing: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Wozniacki beat Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan 6-1 6-3

Bangkok: Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei beat Vera Dushevina and Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-0

Beijing: Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins beat Ashley Fisher and Bobby Reynolds 7-5 6-4

Bangkok: Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 6-4 7-6 (4)

Trnava: David Zkoch and Igor Zelenay beat Daniel Koellerer and Michael Mertinak 6-3 6-1

SITES TO SURF

Tokyo: www.jta-tennis.or.jp/aigopen/e/

Stuttgart: www.porsche-tennis.de

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Eindhoven: www.afastennisclassics.nl

Mons: http://www.ethiastrophy.be

Vienna: www.ba-ca-tennistrophy.at

Stockholm: www.stockholmopen.se

Moscow: www.kremlincup.ru

Henin: www.6senstennisacademie.com.

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard

WTA TOUR

$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard

$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

SENIORS

AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,000,000 ATP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet

$800,000 IF Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard

$755,000 Bank Austria TennisTrophy, Vienna, Austria, hard

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet

SENIORS

BlackRock Tour of Champions, Budapest, Hungary, carpet

US Open Day 5: Roger Federer Is Not Worried About His Game

NEW YORK – Despite flashes of flaws in his once-perfect game, Roger Federer moved a step closer Friday to his fifth consecutive US Open title.

Federer, playing in his first Grand Slam tournament in more than four years as anything other than as the number one seed, defeated Thiago Alves, a qualifier from Brazil, 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Friday produced yet another big upset in the women’s singles as Katarina Srebotnik knocked off third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-7 (1) 6-3. That came a day after the top seed, Ana Ivanovic, fell to qualifier Julie Coin.

“I think she served better than I did,” Kuznetsova said of Srebotnik. “She served so many aces. I had many chances, especially in the first set, but somehow I overdid it.”

Although Federer has moved into the third round on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center without dropping a set, against Alves he was shaky on his volleys and committed a bundle of unforced errors.

“I wasn’t comfortable at net from the start,” Federer said. “And in the second set, when it got tough, he dug out some shots and everything seemed to go against me on those break points.”

Against his outclassed opponent, Federer hit 54 winners. But he also had 46 unforced errors as he repeatedly missed the mark with his ground strokes and found the net with his volleys.

At times Federer appeared hesitant and his play was sloppy. He was caught in no-man’s land several times, and time and again found the net with his shots. He had problems closing out service breaks, allowing his opponent, a qualifier playing in only his second US Open, to stay around longer than most of the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium had expected.

But when he needed a point, Federer showed he still is the player who has won 12 Grand Slam tournament titles. He never looked as if he was in trouble, and for the most part he held serve easily, using his well-placed serve to gain easy points.

“I was never really in danger, so it was actually pretty good for me,” he said. “I knew the longer the match would go the more tired he would get, so it was a good match for me.”

[ad#adify-300×250]

On match point, Federer whipped a half-volley forehand cross-court that landed on the sideline near the far corner. As the tournament’s defending champion raised his hand in triumph and the umpire began to intone “game, set and match,” Alves challenged the call and, smiling broadly, appeared to apologize to Federer for doing so.

The two stood at the net and watched together as a replay showed the ball landed squarely on the line. Federer again waved to the crowd. And again the crowd responded with a cheer.

“After everything I’ve got through already, these are the early round matches, so it will only get better from here,” Federer said. “Yeah, so I’m really happy to be playing well. Everybody’s cheering me on, so it’s a nice feeling.”

Federer says he’s not worried about his game, despite what he reads and hears in the media.

“I guess we’re talking about it today, and if I win the title you forget about it again. That’s usually how it goes,” he said.

Keeping pace with Federer was third-seeded Novak Djokovic, who advanced to the third round with a 7-6 (8) 6-4 6-4 victory over hard-hitting Robert Kendrick. Federer and Djokovic could meet in the semifinals.

Among the other early winners Friday included fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Gonzalez, Nicolas Almagro and Dmitry Tursunov.

In some of the other women’s singles played Friday, second-seeded Jelena Jankovic stopped China’s Zheng Jie 7-5 7-5 for a spot in the fourth round. She was joined by fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva, a 6-3 6-4 winner over Britain’s Anne Keothavong 6-3 6-4; Li Na of China, who ousted Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 4-6 6-2; and Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who eliminated 14th-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4 6-4.

Mondays With Bob Greene: All That Glitter Is Gold

STARS

(Beijing Olympics)

Men’s Singles

Gold: Rafael Nadal, Spain

Silver: Fernando Gonzalez, Chile

Bronze: Novak Djokovic, Serbia

Women’s Singles

Gold: Elena Dementieva, Russia

Silver: Dinara Safina, Russia

Bronze: Vera Zvonareva, Russia

Men’s Doubles

Gold: Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland

Silver: Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson, Sweden

Bronze: Bob and Mike Bryan, United States

Women’s Doubles

Gold: Venus and Serena Williams, United States

Silver: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain

Bronze: Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, China

(Other tournaments)

Juan Martin Del Potro beat Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 to win the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.

Nadia Petrova won the Western and Southern Financial Groups Women’s Open in Mason, Ohio, by defeating Nathalie Dechy 6-2 6-1

Pat Cash beat Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 to win the Hall of Fame Champions Cup title in Newport, Rhode Island

Frederico Gil beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 1-6 6-3 to win the Ted Open Challenger in Istanbul, Turkey

SAYINGS

“Nowhere in my best dreams I can imagine something like what I did this year. I know how difficult it is to win these things, and especially here, because you only have one chance every four years.” – Rafael Nadal, after adding Olympic gold to his victories at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

“I never expected a medal – gold, silver or bronze. It’s unbelievable. For me this is the best moment in my career.” – Elena Dementieva, after winning the women’s singles title.

“It does mean more for me to win it with Serena, to share this kind of moment with your sister. I mean, we are practically joined at the hip.” – Venus Williams, who with sister Serena won the women’s doubles.

“Sort of a dream-come-true moment. Maybe it comes around once in a lifetime. It’s almost disbelief, to some degree.” – Roger Federer, after he teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to win the men’s doubles gold medal.

“We’re leaving China on a high. We were obviously disappointed that we couldn’t make the gold medal match, but it’s going to be something really special to us to have that medal back at home.” – Mike Bryan, after teaming with brother Bob to win the bronze medal in men’s doubles.

“To win any medal in the Olympics is a huge achievement. Not many of the athletes get a chance to win a medal.” – Novak Djokovic, who beat James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the third-place bronze medal.

“I felt like I competed hard. I have to take something positive from the way I was playing this week.” – James Blake, who upset Roger Federer, then lost the next two matches at the Beijing Olympics.

“I’m the most consistent player, so that’s why I became number one in the world. And my time will come. I’m only 23 years old. It’s not like I’m at the end of my career.” – Jelena Jankovic, defending her rise to the top of the women’s rankings without having reached the final of a Grand Slam tournament.

“I came here to win an Olympic medal and realistically I was only ever going to win one in either singles or doubles. If I had to pick one, I’d like to win it with my brother.” – Andy Murray, following his upset singles loss to Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan at the Olympics. Andy and brother Jamie Murray then lost in the second round of doubles to Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 6-1 6-3.

“The crowd cheered me with so much passion and many of them used my hometown dialect. It was great to play in front of them.” – Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie after her first-round victory at the Olympics. She wound up teaming with Yan Zi for the bronze medal in doubles.

“You know the feeling when you remember something and smile in the darkness? I had this kind of smile on my face that night.” – Akgul Amanmuradov of Uzbekistan, in her blog about the Olympics opening ceremony.

“He can’t win all the time. It is not humanly possible. I think now the pressure is off, so watch out.” – Tomas Berdych, after losing to Roger Federer, saying the Swiss star just has had too much pressure.

“Rafa played great to get it. That’s what I expected and hoped for many years ago when I got to number one – that if ever somebody were to take it away from me, he would have to play an incredible tennis schedule, win the biggest tournaments, dominate the game basically. I think Rafa totally deserves it.” – Roger Federer, on Rafael Nadal taking over the number one ranking.

“This is definitely not the way I wanted to go out, but I am looking forward to getting a week on court to focus on things not in a match situation.” – Andy Roddick, after being upset in Washington, D.C., by Viktor Troicki.

“Roger has been dominating everyone for four years and now Nadal is beating everyone. For me, there are two number ones.” – Italy’s Potito Starace.

“She served really well. She kept it deep, and I was always under pressure. My serve wasn’t that good, and she has one of the best on the tour, so there was a huge gap.” – Nathalie Dechy, after losing to Nadia Petrova in the final at Mason, Ohio.

“I wouldn’t mind playing Roger or Rafa. I just think it would be fun to play on a big court and get that experience, but whoever I play is fine. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.” – Austin Krajicek, who earned a wild card entry into the U.S. Open by winning the U.S. National Boys’ 18 championship.

[ad#adify-300×250]

SHOCKING THURSDAY

Thursday at the Olympics was a rough day for the favorites. It was capped by Li Na’s 7-5 7-5 victory over Venus Williams, but earlier the same day Serena Williams was sidelined by eventual champion Elena Dementieva 3-6 6-4 6-3, and James Blake shocked top-seeded Roger Federer 6-4 7-6 (2). The losers ended up winners, however, as sisters Venus and Serena won the women’s doubles title while Federer teamed with fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles gold.

SPANISH ORO

Rafael Nadal continued his torrid summer by adding Olympic gold to his trophy case. It was the first gold medal for Spain in tennis as Nadal became the first player ranked in the top five in the world to win the men’s singles at the Olympics, never losing serve in his 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-3 victory over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. Nadal also moves up to number one in the world this week, finally supplanting Roger Federer. Nadal has won 38 of his last 39 matches, including victories over Federer in the finals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Gonzalez is the first man since 1920 to medal in men’s singles in two successive Olympic Games.

SWISS GOLD

Roger Federer finally won Olympic gold. He teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles for Switzerland, beating Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden 6-3 6-4 6-7 (4) 6-3 for the title. It was one of the few bright spots this year for Federer, who has not won a Grand Slam tournament since last September and has seen his 4½ -year reign atop the rankings end when Rafael Nadal became number one in the world. It is Federer’s first medal in his three Olympics.

SWEEP

Russia swept all three medals in the women’s singles, with Elena Dementieva gaining the gold, Dinara Safina the silver and Vera Zvonareva the bronze. It was the first time a country has swept all three medals in one tennis event since Great Britain did it in the women’s singles in 1908. Dementieva beat Safina 3-6 7-5 63 for the gold medal, while Zvonareva stopped Li Na of China 6-0 7-5 in the bronze-medal match. Zvonareva was inserted in the singles draw only after fellow Russian Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Olympics with a shoulder injury. It was the second Olympic medal for Dementieva, who won silver in 2000.

SIBLING SUCCESS

Venus and Serena gave the United States a gold medal in women’s doubles by beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2 6-0. With the win, the Williams sisters improved their lifetime Olympic doubles record to 10-0. They won the doubles gold at Sydney but didn’t play in Athens four years ago because Serena was hurt. In the men’s doubles, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan won a bronze for the United States by beating Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement of France 3-6 6-3 6-4. The medal is the first for the Bryan twins.

SERBIAN STAR

Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the bronze in men’s singles when he defeated American James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4). Djokovic, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, followed his medal-winning victory by ripping off his shirt and throwing it to the cheering crowd along with two rackets. He then circled the court waving a Serbian flag. Blake had upset top-seeded Roger Federer in the quarterfinals before losing his next two matches.

STREAKING

Rafael Nadal isn’t the only ATP player having a grand summer. Juan Martin del Potro won his fourth straight tournament by routing Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C. The 19-year-old Argentine ran his winning streak to 19 matches and has won 38 of his last 40 sets. In his last four tournaments, he has win titles in Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and now Washington, D.C. Troicki, a 22-year-old from Serbia, was playing in his first ATP final.

SUITE ROGER

There apparently were so many fans of Roger Federer living in the Olympic village that the Swiss tennis star instead stayed in a Beijing hotel. Every time Federer showed up at the Olympic village his fellow athletes swamped him with requests for autographs. “It is impossible, really, there are so many athletes asking for photos and so on. It is not ideal to prepare,” Federer said. He stayed in the village at the last two Olympics and even met his girlfriend there during the Sydney Games.

SISTERLY ANGST

When the Gumulya sisters finally met on a tennis court when it counted, a tournament title was on the line and 22-year-old Sandy was the top seed. But it was 17-year-old Beatrice Gumulya who came away with her first career singles title, capturing the USD $10,000 ITF event in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sandy Gumulya may be Indonesia’s top female player, but she was routed by her younger sister 6-2 6-1. The Gumulya sisters rarely play in the same tournament, and it has usually been Sandy who has toted home the trophies.

STANDING TALL

Jelena Jankovic showed how much a champion she is when she participated in a gala event in Beijing called Champions For Children. Jankovic took time out before the Olympic tennis competition got underway to support UNICEF in her role as National Ambassador for Serbia, and she also chatted with 14-year-old Chinese tennis champion Liu Yingchong. At the event, which focused on the most vulnerable children, Jankovic advocated for equality for girls. Other celebrities at Champions For Children included movie star Jackie Chan and classical pianist Lang Lang.

SAME OLD MAC

Even with age, rage is still there for John McEnroe. The left-hander was tossed from his opening round-robin match at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, for a new kind of triple fault: cursing, arguing with the chair umpire and making an obscene gesture at fans. While arguing a line call, the 49-year-old McEnroe was given a code violation warning for uttering an obscenity. When he kept up his tirade against chair umpire Ray Brodeur, he drew two abuse of official penalties. As the argument progressed, fans started yelling at McEnroe to resume play. McEnroe responded with his obscene gesture and was ejected, the first time McEnroe has been defaulted from a match on the Outback Champions Series, a circuit for stars over 30.

SWITCH AT THE TOP

In the maddening world of tennis rankings, Ana Ivanovic has regained the number one spot from her Serbian compatriot Jelana Jankovic, even though she withdrew from the Olympics with a thumb injury. Jankovic played – which could have been her downfall – but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by silver medalist Dinara Safina. If she had won the gold, Jankovic would have retained the number one ranking. Svetlana Kuznetsova also could have become number one if she had won the Olympic gold. Instead, the Russian lost in the first round.

STRIPPER

When her shirt was soaked with sweat, Australia’s Casey Dellacqua changed at her courtside chair by stripping down to her sports bra during her 6-2 6-0 loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Olympics. Dellacqua was furious when chair umpire Ali Katebi and then tournament supervisor Donna Kelso refused to allow her to go to the dressing room to change her shirt without having to take an authorized toilet break. “In this humidity, you should be able to change a shirt,” Dellacqua said. “I could literally feel water dripping down my legs. But he wouldn’t let me go off the court … So I just thought, ‘Oh, I’ll strip’.'” That, she did.

SET TO WED

A German newspaper says former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker plans to marry his late manager’s daughter. According to Bild, Sandy Meyer-Woelden, 24, will marry the 40-year-old Becker. The bride-to-be is the daughter of former Becker manager Axel Meyer-Woelden, who died in 1997. Becker is divorced from his first wife, Barbara Becker, with whom he has two children. He also has a daughter with London-based model Angela Ermakova. Meyer-Woelden is a jewelry designer and for several years dated German tennis star Tommy Haas.

SENIOR SHUFFLE

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been added to the Outback Champions Series for 2009. The Rio Champions Cup will be held March 12-15, 2009, on an indoor hard court at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and will be the first stop for the senior tour in South America for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic are the first three players to commit to play in the eight-player round-robin event.

SHOWING IT AGAIN

The 2008 Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, considered by many as one of the greatest tennis matches ever, will be shown in the United States again on ESPN Classic on Sunday, August 24,. The five-time defending champ Federer came back from two sets down and saved two championship points in the fourth-set tiebreak before falling 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 as Nadal won his first Wimbledon title. The rain-delayed match ended in near darkness after 4 hours, 48 minutes of play, making it the longest (in terms of elapsed time) men’s final in Wimbledon recorded history, and ending 7 hours, 15 minutes after its scheduled start. The defeat also brought to an end Federer’s 65-match winning streak on grass.

SINGLES ENTRIES

Severine Bremond will play in her 19th consecutive Grand Slam tournament singles draw. The Frenchwoman, who turned 29 the past week, received a wild card into the U.S. Open, which begins August 25. Once ranked as high as 34 in the world, Bremond reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon two years ago. Others receiving wild cards into the main women’s singles draw are U.S. Girls’ 18s national champion Gail Brodsky, American Fed Cup players Jamea Jackson and Ahsha Rolle, and American teenagers Asia Muhammad, Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe. The United States Tennis Associated said an eighth wild card will be given to an Australian player not yet named.

Awarded wild cards into the men’s singles draw are Americans Amer Delic, a former NCAA singles champion; Brendan Evans, Scoville Jenkins, Austin Krajicek, Jesse Levine, and Sam Warburg, along with Carsten Ball of Australia and Laurent Recouderc of France. Krajicek, a distant relative of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, earned his wild card by capturing the USTA Boys’ 18 singles national championship, defeating Ryan Thacher 2-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 in the first battle of left-handers in the tournament’s finals history.

SHARING TITLES

The United States boys’ and girls’ teams pulled off a historic feat at the World Junior Tennis Finals, each winning the 14-and-under version of Fed Cup and Davis Cup in Prostejov, Czech Republic.  It is the first time in the history of the event that one country has captured both titles.  The girls’ team successfully defended its 2007 title, while the boys’ team won the championship for the first time since 2003.

SAWGRASS BOUND

Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will be the site next year for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been held at Amelia Island Plantation just outside Jacksonville, Florida. The tournament, which had been known as Bausch & Lomb, will also get new sponsorship and be known as The MPS Group Championships.

SWITCHING SPORTS

Kelsey Anonsen is giving up her tennis scholarship at the University of Washington to switch to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and that school’s women’s basketball team. In high school, the 5-foot-9 (1.7m) guard led her team to a provincial basketball title and was a tournament all-star. In tennis, she was ranked sixth in the Canadian province.

SETS NEW ANTI-DOPING CODE

The International Tennis Federation has ratified a new anti-doping code which will allow more flexibility in determining sanctions. The changes, which will allow the circumstances of a case to be taken into account to a greater extent, go into effect on January 1.

SUIT

Tennis great Tracy Austin is the latest sports figure to accuse a prominent Los Angeles investment broker of fraud. Austin and her husband Scott Holt filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Gary R. Fournier charged excessive commissions on bond trades and “churned” their accounts to generate fees from unnecessary transactions. The couple claims damages “in excess of USD $500,000” on the trades, which allegedly occurred from 1994 to 2002, while Fournier worked for Salomon Smith Barney Inc. Its successor firm, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., also is named as a defendant. Fournier has denied wrongdoing. Others who have filed charges against Fournier include former basketball players Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, B.J. Armstrong and Stacey Augmon; and former major league baseball players Sean Douglass and Rex Hudler.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Washington: Marc Gicquel and Robert Lindstedt beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (6) 6-3

Mason: Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova beat Hsieh Su-Wei and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Istanbul: Michael Kohlman and Frank Moser beat David Skoch and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (4) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com

Forest Hills: www.foresthillstennis.com

US Open: www.usopen.org

Jelena Jankovic: www.jj-jelenajankovic.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$708,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard

WTA TOUR

$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard

$74,800 Forest Hills Tennis Classic, Forest Hills, New York, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: The First Week of Wimbledon

STARS

(Wimbledon first week)

Zheng Jie beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-4

Marat Safin beat third-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-2

Alla Kudryavtseva beat third-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-4

Mario Ancic beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3)

Janko Tipsarevic beat sixth-seeded Andy Roddick 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4)

Frank Dancevic beat seventh-seeded David Nalbandian 6-4 6-2 6-4

Ranier Schuettler beat ninth-seeded James Blake 6-3 6-7 (8) 4-6 6-4 6-4

Shahar Peer beat ninth-seeded Dinara Safina 7-5 6-7 (4) 8-6

SAYINGS

“Sport isn’t the priority at the moment. … I think food would be.” – Cara Black, discussing her native country, Zimbabwe.

“There’s only one winner in the tournament, and everyone else is disappointed. I’m one of them.” – Maria Sharapova, after her 6-2 6-4 second-round loss to Alla Kudryavtseva.

“I don’t like her outfit. It was one of the motivations to beat her.” – Alla Kudryavtseva, on Sharapova’s tuxedo-style ensemble.

“I just didn’t make anything happen out there. Zero, zero, zero.” – Andy Roddick, following his 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4) loss to Janko Tipsarevic.

“This means the world to me. I’m just glad that I won and Serbia will have more representatives in the men’s singles draw.” – Janko Tipsarevic, following his upset win over Roddick.

“Jocks win Wimbledon, and those are clearly two of the best athletes in the game. They can make the adjustments. They can play physical tennis. They can think on the move.” – Television analyst Mary Carillo, predicting Venus and Serena Williams will face each other in the Wimbledon final.

“I felt like I was about 25, maybe 30 percent. In a first-, second-round match, it’s just not good enough. It’s not going to get better the more I play on it.” – Lindsay Davenport, who withdrew from Wimbledon hours before her second-round match because of a knee injury.

“He’s trying to become number one in the world and he had a lot of pressure on him and I really didn’t have any pressure at all.” – Marat Safin, after beating third-seeded Novak Djokovic.

“It was a bad day for me.” – Novak Djokovic.

“Yeah, 127 is a good way to end it.” – Venus Williams, after hitting a 127-mph ace on match point in her third-round match.

“At the end of ther match it was pretty tough because we both, I think, couldn’t see the ball anymore.” – Marat Safin, who completed his victory over Andreas Seppi in virtual darkness.

“Maybe when you are my age you are happier as a tennis player than when you’re in the 20s. I’m happy right now even if I’m the oldest in the draw.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, who at 31 is the oldest player in the Wimbledon women’s draw to reach the second week.

“I look forward to the rest of my 2008 season, which hopefully will include the Olympic Games in Beijing. It would be the most incredible way to finish my career if I could win a medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who will retire at the end of this year.

“Tomorrow is the only day that I can think of. I never thought I could play this long. This is my 16th Wimbledon, and it’s been great. … But I just don’t want to just be here. I still need to play good.” – Ai Sugiyama, who is playing in a record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament.

“I put so much pressure on myself for the (Olympic) goal that I was traveling for almost three months and I couldn’t find my game. Somehow in the last moment I qualified. I catch the last train.” – Dinara Safina, who was picked for the Russian Olympic tennis team after reaching the French Open final.

“Among the targets of my comments was Anna Kournikova, not to mention a general disregard and disrespect toward women. They all deserve and have my deepest apologies. While I see how it could be implied by my remarks, I assure you that I have the utmost respect for women.” – Justin Gimelstob, apologizing for remarks he made on a radio chat show broadcast in the Washington, DC, area.

“The ATP cannot condone any form of intolerance and Justin Gimelstob’s comments last week were unacceptable. However, Justin has done the right thing in taking full responsibility for his comments by apologizing publicly to Anna (Kournikova) for what he has rightly described as his disappointing and disrespectful comments.” – The ATP, in a statement.

“I really don’t want to get into any of the off-court stuff. I’m just going to take the high road and not get into this discussion.” – Anna Kournikova.

“We’re disappointed at Justin’s remarks, which are inappropriate and contrary to what our sport should stand for.” – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, in a statement.

SIZZLING SERVE

Venus Williams closed out her third-round victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez with a record-breaking serve. The American ended a love game with a 127-mph delivery, the fastest recorded by a woman at Wimbledon. It was her 11th ace of the match, which she won 6-1 7-5. Williams also holds the WTA Tour record for fastest serve at 129 mph.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH

When Justin Gimbelstob was interviewed for a radio chat show in the Washington, DC, area, his comments sent shock waves throughout tennis. The former player and newly-elected ATP board member, later apologized to Anna Kounikova, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chief Larry Scott, World Team Tennis co-founder Billie Jean King, the ATP and just about everyone else. In the interview, Gimbelstob called Kournikova a “bitch” and said he wanted to make her cry, called French players Tatiana Golovin and Alize Corent “sexpots,” and said Czech player Nicole Vaidisova was a “well-developed young lady.” Gimbelstob said there was “no excuse and I am extremely disappointed in myself. I take full responsibility for all the words that came out of my mouth, and while I can’t take them back, I hope my heartfelt remorse can begin to heal the woulds felt by many.”

SEEING THE END?

Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport has hinted strongly that this is her last year on the tour. The 32-year-old recently returned to the tour after giving birth to her child. She withdrew from her second-round match because of a knee injury, then told BBC Sport: “I would be surprised if I was back here playing. I am looking forward to the Olympics and playing the U.S. Open. After that there are not a lot of plans.” Davenport won the U.S. Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999, the Australian Open in 2000, and a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

SINO SHOCKER

Because she missed most of 2007 with an ankle injury, China’s Zheng Jie saw her ranking slip from number 27 in the world to 133. So she wrote to the All England Club asking for a wild card since she had qualified for the French Open and reached the third round, had won the women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2006 and that China was staging the Olympics this year. She got the wild card, and turned it into history when she upset the world’s top-ranked player, Ana Ivanovic, to advance to the fourth round. Four years ago at the French Open, Zheng became the first Chinese woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. Two years ago, China’s Li Na gained a quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon.

SAFINA TO BEIJING

French Open finalist Dinara Safina will play singles at the Beijing Olympics in August. The Russian Tennis Federation added Safina when Anna Chakvetadze decided to skip the Games. Also heading to Beijing are Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva. En route to the final at Roland Garros, Safina beat Sharapova, Dementieva and Kuznetsova. Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev said the men’s team will be picked according to the rankings, meaning Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Andreev will play singles in Beijing.

STILL GOING

By playing at Wimbledon this year, Ai Sugiyama of Japan set a record for most consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearances by a man or woman. This is her 57th straight Grand Slam tournament, which she began with a victory over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. Sugiyama, who turns 33 years old on July 5, said she has never had a serious injury, travels with a trainer and has a massage every day to prolong her career. Currently ranked number 38 in the world, Sugiyama started her unbroken stretch of majors at Wimbledon in 1994 before she had graduated from high school. South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira previously held the record at 56 straight.

SET FOR BEIJING

Two sisters and two brothers will be key players on the United States Olympic tennis team in Beijing. Serena and Venus Williams will lead the women’s squad, while Bob and Mike Bryan will be favored to win the men’s doubles. Others named to the nine-player squad include Lindsay Davenport, Liezel Huber, James Blake, Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri. The Williams sisters will play both singles and doubles, while Davenport will play singles and team with Huber in doubles. Blake, Querrey and Ginepri will play singles and Blake and Querrey will join the Bryans in doubles. Zina Garrison will coach the women’s team, while the men’s coach is Rodney Harmon.

SHAKEN

Anna Chakvetadze’s recent bad form is the result of an armed robbery at her Moscow house late last year. While she escaped unharmed, Chakvetadze admits she is still suffering mental stress from the ordeal. Her father, Jamal, a wealthy Russian businessman, was badly beaten during the robbery.

SCANDAL TALK?

Nikolay Davydenko said he may have inadvertently become embroiled in a betting scandal by talking too loudly to his wife during a tournament in Poland last year. An online bookmaker, Betfair, voided all bets on a match between Davydenko and Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland, last August after the Russian retired in the third set, citing a foot injury. Davydenko said his wife was in the stands when he told her something like, “I don’t want to play or I can retire.” He feels someone may have overheard him and misunderstood what he meant. Denying any involvement in illegal betting, the 27-year-old Davydenko says he will be vindicated when the ongoing investigation is complete.

SWEDE SUSPENDED

The Swedish junior team indefinitely suspended a 15-year-old player after he and two others reportedly vandalized several clay courts in Bastad, site of the Swedish Open. According to a newspaper, the vandalism occurred during Midsummer celebrations in the Swedish seaside town. The other two players are former members of the junior team. None of them was named.

SHIFTING SITE

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been played at Amelia Island Plantation, Florida, since 1980 may have a new home. Residents of Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, have received a notice that the Sawgrass Board of Governors has approved in principle a proposal from Octagon Enterprises to have Sawgrass play host to the tournament. The tournament has been known as the Bausch & Lomb Championships.

STOPPED BY COPS

Two rowdy fans were ejected from Wimbledon for unruly behavior during a match between Lleyton Hewitt and Albert Montanes. While police could not confirm if the two unidentified fans were detained, they did say six people were arrested at Wimbledon for various offenses, including the possession of pepper spray.

STOPPED FROM VOTING

Serena Williams says their Jehovah’s Witness religion will keep her and sister Venus from voting for Barack Obama or anyone else in this fall’s United States presidential election. “So I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion,” Serena said.

STERN LETTER

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, condemning the treatment of pigeons at Wimbledon. All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins confirmed media reports that contract pest controllers had used marksmen to shoot at pigeons around the club.

SECRET EXPOSED

Those who live in the community of Wimbledon receive free parking permits that enable them and their guests access to streets and driveways during the tennis tournament’s fortnight at the All England Club. But it seems as if some of those permits are showing up on eBay for USD 120 dollars. And it seems as if some permit holders have been making copies of the originals since one resident offered for sale no fewer than 17 permits.

SHARED SORROW

The first round at Wimbledon wasn’t kind to seeded doubles teams. Among the men’s teams that lost were fourth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, fifth-seeded Simon Aspelin and Julian Knowle, and sixth-seeded Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner. Gone from the women’s doubles at the end of the first round were fourth-seeded Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung, along with eighth-seeded Peng Shuai and Sun Tiantian.

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.Wimbledon.com

Newport: www.tennisfame.com

Gstaad: www.swissopengstaad.com

Palermo: www.countrytimeclub.it

Budapest: www.gazdefrancegrandprix.com

Stuttgart: www.mercedescup.de

Bastad: www.tennisfame.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Cordoba Challenger, Pozoblanco, Spain, hard

$100,000 Turin Challenger, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$100,000 ITF Cuneo, Cuneo, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$100,000 Scheveningen Challenger, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay

WTA TOUR

$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay

SENIORS

Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass