The following is the Monday column from www.WorldTennisMagazine.com called “Mondays with Bob Greene” that features a review from the past week in tennis, written by former Associated Press tennis writer Bob Greene. This column is featured here this week on TennisGrandstand.com due to maintenance work on WorldTennisMagazine.com.
26 June 2017
Roger Federer beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany
Feliciano Lopez beat Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (8) to win the Aegon Championships in London, Great Britain
Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain
Anastasija Sevastova beat Julia Goerges 6-4 3-6 6-3 to win the Mallorca Open in Mallorca, Spain
Marton Fucsovics beat Alex Bolt 6-1 6-4 to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy men’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain’
Magdalena Rybarikova beat Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy women’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain
“My goal was to keep myself 100 percent for the grass season.” – Roger Federer, who easily beat Alexander Zverev to win the Halle, Germany, tournament for the ninth time.
“I came to play, to improve my game, I didn’t really have any expectation. I wanted to play my best, which I showed today, and I hope I can keep doing that.” – Petra Kvitova, after winning the Aegon Classic.
“It’s the best week of my career, which is crazy when you’re 35.” – Feliciano Lopez, after beating four players ranked in the Top 15 to win Queen’s Club.
“I was pretty pumped. Beating the world number one and a Grand Slam champion, on grass at Queen’s, it’s definitely number one for me.” – Jordan Thompson, a first-round winner over top-ranked Andy Murray at Queen’s Club.
“I know Azarenka is coming back, but it’s always tough to play against her.” – Ana Konjuh, who handed Victoria Azarenka her first loss since returning to the women’s tour following the birth of her child.
“The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.” – Elina Svitolina, saying there’s a possibility her injured heel could keep her out of Wimbledon.
“My earnings are well publicized and it was clear that I have the means to repay this debt.” – Boris Becker, after a London court declared the former tennis star bankrupt for failure to pay a debt that dates to 2015.
The king of grass appears ready to regain his throne. Roger Federer won his ninth Gerry Weber Open title by stopping Alexander Zverev in the final of the Wimbledon warm-up event. The victory – his 92nd ATP Tour level title, putting him just two behind Ivan Lendl on the all-time list – contrasted with his loss to Tommy Haas the week before in Stuttgart, Germany. “It was by far my best match of the week,” Federer said of his thrashing of the 12th-ranked Zverev. “After my long break, I’m feeling excellent and it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m fit for Wimbledon.” That might scare a lot of players: Federer will be going for a record eighth Wimbledon title. The 35-year-old Swiss skipped the entire clay-court season, yet still has lost only two matches this year. He won the Australian Open – his record 18th Grand Slam tournament singles crown – and hard-court titles in Indian Wells and Miami before the clay-court break. Until Halle, every time Zverev reached a final, he came away with the trophy. But Federer was ready for revenge, having lost a semifinal to Zverev last year at Halle. Zverev was on court for just 53 minutes as Federer was spectacularly sharp. The eventual winner began the day by winning the first four games. “I now hope that I’ll stay healthy in this second part of the season and we’ll see what happens,” Federer said. A scary thought for everyone else.
Petra Kvitova has two Wimbledon trophies and appears ready to add another. The Czech left-hander won the Aegon Classic in just her second tournament back being slashed with a knife during a home invasion. The December attack left her with a damaged left hand. But it didn’t seem to bother her one bit as she beat Australian Ashleigh Barty in three sets. “It was an amazing week, an amazing tournament,” Kvitova said. “From my first hits on the grass I felt great. It was encouraging to get into the grass season.” The last time she was in a grass-court final was in 2014 when she won her second Wimbledon title, three years after her first. At Birmingham, Barty held her own to begin the match, losing just one point in her first four service games. But Kvitova found her rhythm and raced to a 5-1 lead before leveling the match at one set apiece. After they traded service breaks in the decisive third set, Kvitova broke her opponent one more time, then finished off the victory with her 13th match of the day. “I like to play finals on grass,” Kvitova said. “I wish I could have more. I won’t be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon), but there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Three years ago, Feliciano Lopez had a match point in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, only to lose to Grigor Dimitrov. This time, the Spanish veteran needed three match points, but finally came away with the biggest title of his long career as he defeated Marin Cilic. “I can’t believe that I finally won it,” Lopez said. “I’ve been waiting for 15 or 16 years to hold this trophy.” At 35, Lopez is the oldest player to win Queen’s Club in the Open Era. And it wasn’t an easy path to the title. He defeated Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and Cilic, four players ranked in the top 14 in the world. Cilic reached match point in the final-set tiebreak, but Lopez saved it with a stretching volley. Then the Spaniard had a match point, only for Cilic to slam his 22nd ace of the day. A Cilic volley staved off a second Lopez match point. But his 19th ace gave the Spaniard a third match point, and they time he came away with the title. “I thought that at the end of the tiebreak, after losing match points, I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to do it,” Lopez said. “It was tough to put that (match point in 2014) out of my mind, so it was difficult to handle my nerves. But I managed it.”
Now a mother, Victoria Azarenka returned to the tennis tour at the Mallorca Open. Her stay was cut short by seventh-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1 6-3 in a second-round match. “She’s one of the best players in the world,” Konjuh said of Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who once was ranked number one in the world. “I was motivated, for sure, and I’m really glad that I could play so well today and win.” Azarenka also had problems in her first-round match. She saved match points in her win over Japan’s Risa Ozaki.
A heel injury could keep fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina out of Wimbledon. The injury hampered the 22-year-old Ukrainian as she suffered a 6-4 4-6 6-2 second-round loss to qualifier Camila Giorgi in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. “The heel feels painful and is very sensitive,” Svitolina said. “I am disappointed I am out of the tournament, but I am not disappointed with my performance because I could not show even 50 percent. Also, the court was slippery, which is bad for the foot.” Svitolina’s best results have come on clay. She won the Italian Open this spring and reached the French Open quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Simona Halep. And the weather didn’t help. One day it was extremely hot. The next day there was drizzle and dampness. Giorgi adapted to the slick surface, while Svitolina didn’t.
Tommy Haas, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2009, 2016 junior champion Denis Shapovalov and three British women – Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady – have been given wild card entries into the main draw of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament. At 39, Haas is playing his final season on the ATP World Tour and beat Roger Federer at a grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, this month. Other men receiving wild cards into the main men’s singles draw were British players Brydan Klein, Cameron Norrie and James Ward. Other women wild-card entries are Britain’s Katie Boulter and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
SIMONA AT EASTBOURNE
After losing the French Open women’s singles final, Simona Halep pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, with an ankle injury. But the Romanian is feeling better and received a wild card entry into the Aegon International this week in Eastbourne, Great Britain. “The quality of the draw is very high so I’m hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Halep said.
It was supposed to be an easy workout for top-ranked Andy Murray. Instead, it turned into a shocking defeat as he fell to Australia’s Jordan Thompson, a “lucky loser,” in a first-round match at Queen’s Club. It was the first grass-court match win in the Thompson’s career. “I signed in for the ‘Lucky Loser’ spot,” said Thompson, who lost in the qualifying. “I hung around. If someone was going to pull out, I was always going to be there. Then this morning I just got my transport, planning on doing the same thing, signing in, waiting around. Pretty much when I got here, someone pulled out. When I heard I was playing Andy, I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it.” Thompson did enjoy the day; Murray didn’t. Murray had won Queen’s Club a record five times, including three times in the last four years. Thompson hit 12 aces and saved all three break points against Murray.
SET FOR EXHIBITION
The world’s two top-ranked players – Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal – will play two exhibition matches in Hurlingham, Great Britain, this week to get extra match play on grass before Wimbledon. Murray signed up for the Aspall Tennis Classic event after suffering a shocking loss at Queen’s Club. Nadal has not played since winning a record 10th French Open title. He has not played a tournament on grass since 2015. Speaking with the Spanish media, Nadal said the “level I have today is not sufficient for me to compete the way I would like at Wimbledon.” Each player is guaranteed to play two matches.
Maria Sharapova will return to competitive tennis next month when she plays World Team Tennis. The Russian will play for the Orange County Breakers, a team she has played with for seven years. She recently returned to the WTA Tour after a 15-month doping ban. She pulled out of the Wimbledon qualifying because of an injured left thigh.
“SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED”
Boris Becker says he was “surprised and disappointed” when a court in London declared him bankrupt for failing to pay a long-standing debt. Lawyers for the three-time Wimbledon champion pleaded with a Bankruptcy Court registrar to allow Becker a “last chance” to pay off the debt, which dates back to 2015. But Registrar Christine Derrett ruled there was a lack of credible evidence that the outstanding payment would be made. Becker’s lawyers had argued there was sufficient evidence to show that the former player would be able to pay the debt soon through a refinancing arrangement involving remortgaging property in Mallorca. He said Becker was not likely to benefit from bankruptcy and it could have an adverse effect on his image., But the judge replied: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”
Former tennis star James Blake and the City of New York have reached an agreement that will set up a police watchdog agency. In exchange, Blake has agreed to drop his right to sue the city after he was mistakenly tackled by police and arrested. In exchange, a legal fellowship will be created in Blake’s name, with the fellow to serve two-year terms at the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The city will fund the fellow for six years with the salary to be commensurate with other staff there and will be no less than USD $65,00 a year. The fellow’s job will be to help navigate the system for people making complaints against police and to push for strong investigations. Blake was tackled and handcuffed outside a Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9, 2015. He had been ranked as high as fourth in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open. In a statement, Blake thanked the city of New York. “It has been my intention since Day One to turn a negative into a positive, and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal,” he said.
Birmingham: Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat Chan Hao-Ching and Zhang Shuai 6-1 2-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Halle: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Alexander Zverev and Misha Zverev 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Ilkley (men): Leander Paes and Adil Shamasdin beat Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury 2-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Ilkley (women): Anna Blinkova and Alla Kudryavtseva beat Paula Kania and Maryna Zanevska 6-1 6-4
London: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 6-3
Mallorca: Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova by walkover.
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$719,080 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass
$555,305 Antalya Open, Antalya, Turkey, grass
$731,000 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
MEN and WOMEN
Wimbledon, London, Great Britain, grass (first week)