Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-3 to win an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. Murray beat Roger Federer in the semifinals of the eight-player event.
“That’s what I’m aiming for. I worked really hard in November, December to give myself the best chance.” – Andy Murray, talking about his chances to win the Australian Open.
“I’m just not ready to play against the top-class competition in Hong Kong, although I remain hopeful for Australia where I’m the defending champion.” – Maria Sharapova, after withdrawing from a Hong Kong exhibition tournament because she is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
“Ken Rosewall is one of Australia’s sporting legends and without question one of the greatest tennis players of all time.” — Tennis New South Wales president Stephen Healy, on naming the Sydney Olympics stadium the Ken Rosewall Arena.
“I accomplished a lot of my dreams as a player, winning at Roland Garros, and now I’ve managed another one, becoming captain of our Davis Cup team.” – Albert Costa, after being named to the helm of Spain’s Davis Cup squad.
“We have chosen two professionals with a lot of experience and long careers in tennis. The AAT based its decision on the technical and leadership qualities of the two coaches.” — Enrique Morea, president of the AAT, after Modesto Vazquez was picked as Argentina’s new Davis Cup captain and Ricardo Rivera was selected as his assistant.
It hasn’t taken long for Andy Murray to show he should be considered one of the favorites for this month’s Australian Open. Although it was just an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, the Brit walked away with the USD $250,000 first-place prize after defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-3 in the final. Murray also beat Roger Federer in the semifinals and James Blake in his opening match. It was Murray’s second straight win over Nadal and the fifth time he has beaten Federer.
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic will be playing in this year’s Australian Open after winning a wild card spot in the draw. The 25-year-old Dokic was ranked as high as number four in the world in 2002. But a series of injuries and personal problems, many of them involving her father Damir, saw her ranking drop to 617 in 2006. Last year she won three ITF tournaments and improved her ranking to 179, her highest in four years.
Expecting her second child, Lindsay Davenport has taken herself off the WTA Tour indefinitely. The three-time Grand Slam winner learned she was pregnant just a week after agreeing to play in this month’s Australian Open. After returning to the tour following the birth of her first child, Jagger, Davenport won four of her 55 career singles titles. She also has won 37 doubles titles, including Roland Garros in 1996 with Mary Joe Fernandez, the US Open in 1997 with Jana Novotna and Wimbledon in 1999 with Corina Morariu. Her Grand Slam singles titles came at the US Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999 and the Australian Open in 2000.
Sydney’s 2000 Olympics tennis stadium has been named in honor of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ken Rosewall. The 10,000-seat stadium at Sydney Olympic Park will now be known as the Ken Rosewall Arena. Rosewall played in four Wimbledon finals during his career, with a 20-year gap between the first in 1954 and the last in 1974. He won four Australian titles, two French titles and two US titles. He turned 74 last month.
Albert Costa is Spain’s new Davis Cup captain. The 33-year-old replaces Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who stepped down after leading the Spaniards to their third Davis Cup title with a 3-1 win over Argentina. Costa, the 2002 French Open winner, played on Spain’s first Davis Cup winning team in 2000. He will make his debut as captain in a first-round World Group match against Serbia on March 6-8.
Little-known Modesto Vazquez is the new captain for Argentina’s Davis Cup team. The 59-year-old Vazquez replaces Alberto Mancini, who led Argentina to the finals in both 2006 and 2008, only to lose both times. Currently the development director for the Argentina Tennis Association (AAT), Vazquez played two Davis Cup ties for Argentina in 1968 and 1970. The AAT also selected Ricardo Rivera to be Vazquez’s assistant.
SET FOR AUSTRALIA
Two Americans have won wild-card spots for the Australian Open. Christina McHale will be making her first main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam tournament, while John Isner played in all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2008, losing to Fabrice Santoro in the first round of the Australian Open. The US Tennis Association and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement to exchange wild-card berths for the US and Australian Opens.
A shoulder injury is still bothering Maria Sharapova, who will be defending her Australian Open singles crown later this month. The injury forced Sharapova to withdraw from an exhibition event in Hong Kong, where she will be replaced by fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze. Sharapova has not played competitively since pulling out of a tournament in Montreal, Canada, in July following a match in which she double-faulted 17 times. Medical tests found a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder.
Upset that a first-round Davis Cup tie was relocated because of security fears, Pakistani tennis officials are demanding USD $60,000 from the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dilawar Abbas said the ITF last month gave his country the option of playing its Group II tie against Oman scheduled for March 6-8 in either Oman or Malaysia. Abbas, denying there are security issues in his country, said the switch will incur losses to Pakistan and the ITF should pay compensation. “If the ITF still wants to switch the tie, we demand it to be played on a neutral venue, either in Singapore or Malaysia and not in Oman,” Abbas said.
China’s Peng Shuai has a new coach. She began training with Tarik Benhabiles last month in Florida and will continue to work together fulltime throughout 2009. The 22-year-old Peng had split with former coach Zhang Depei. Benhabiles, who reached a career-high ranking of 22nd in the world and represented France in Davis Cup, ended his playing career in 1992 and coached a young Andy Roddick. He has worked with other players, including Benjamin Becker, Ivo Karlovic and Gael Monfils.
STEFFI THE TARGET
Andre Agassi’s former agent and longtime friend has filed a lawsuit against the tennis star’s wife, Steffi Graf. In the lawsuit, sports agent Perry Rogers charges Graf, herself an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, owes USD $50,000 to Rogers and his Alliance Sports Management Co. for services outlined in a 2002 agreement. Graf declined to comment. Her husband released a statement saying he was “saddened and disappointed” by the lawsuit. When Agassi and Rogers split last October, both described the parting as friendly.
The International Tennis Federation has decided to allow Nigeria to remain in the Euro/Africa Group 3 Davis Cup competition. The ITF initially dropped the African nation to Group 4 when the Nigerian team failed to show up in Bulgaria last March for their tie. But the ITF reversed its decision when it learned that the Bulgarian Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, refused to give visas to the Nigerian team.
Oded Yaakov has stepped down as captain of Israel’s Fed Cup team, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. However, Yaakov has not ruled out the possibility of coaching the national team again in the future. “When you have the soul of a coach, you’re wired with an element of competitiveness and adrenaline,” Yaakov said. “These are traits that stay with you, and you can’t get rid of them. I’m sure I’ll feel them again, and that’s why I’m not ruling out returning to the [Fed Cup] team sometime in the future.”
Former USA Davis Cup captain George MacCall is dead at the age of 90. MacCall directed the American Davis Cup teams in 1965-67 that featured Arthur Ashe, Dennis Ralston and Marty Riessen. He is credited with pushing through a rule that allowed the players to be paid USD $28 a day for expenses. MacCall, who won USA senior titles as a player, organized the National Tennis League in 1967 and signed Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Fred Stolle among others. He also signed women players, including Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Ann Jones and Francoise Durr, helping force tennis into the Open Era.
SITES TO SURF
Sao Paulo: www.abertosp.com.br/
Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$1,110,250 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Doha, Qatar, hard
$484,750 Brisbane International, Brisbane, Australia, hard
$450,000 Chennai Open, Chennai, India, hard
$100,000 Prime Aberto de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hard
$220,000 Brisbane International, Brisbane, Australia, hard
$220,000 ASB Classic, Auckland, New Zealand, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$484,750 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$480,750 Heineken Open, Auckland, New Zealand, hard
$600,000 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$220,000 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia, hard
Tennis History Tuesday” is a feature every Tuesday on Tennisgrandstand.com that highlights the glorified history of the sport of tennis by virtue of access to excerpts from books The Bud Collins History of Tennis and On This Day In Tennis History and other sources.
The inaugural edition of “Tennis History Tuesday” brings readers events that happened “On This Day In Tennis History” with an excerpt from the book by the same name, written by, yours truly. It is a day that John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors will certainly never forget and reminds us that anything can happen in Davis Cup, which is a large part of the beauty of the competition. For more info on “On This Day In Tennis History,” go to www.tennishistorybook.com. It makes for a great stocking-stuffer for the Holidays!
1984 – In an ignominious low for the United States Davis Cup team, future Hall of Famers and the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, are embarrassingly straight-setted by Henrik Sundstrom and Mats Wilander, respectively, as Sweden takes a surprising 2-0 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup Final in Goteborg, Sweden. Wilander easily defeats Connors 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, while Sundstrom hands McEnroe only his third loss in the calendar year in a 13-11, 6-4, 6-3 upset. Connors is criticized for his rude and boorish behavior highlighted by many obscenity-laced tirades against chair umpire George Grime. Alan Mills, the event’s referee, considers tossing Connors from the series due to his behavior, but his decision to simply fine Connors $2,000 the next day is made a moot point when Sweden closes out the victory over the United States the next day in the doubles rubber. The behavior of McEnroe and Connors cause for the U.S. Tennis Association to implement a code of conduct for its players following the eventual 4-1 loss. Connors never plays Davis Cup again and McEnroe refuses to sign the USTA’s contract and does not play Davis Cup again until 1987.
1990 – Pete Sampras wins $2 million – the largest payout in tennis history – by defeating Brad Gilbert 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the inaugural Grand Slam Cup in Munich, Germany, a year-end tournament that features the 16 players who perform the best in all four major tournaments during the year. Sampras compares his win over Gilbert to his win over Andre Agassi in the final of the U.S. Open earlier in the year saying “I just felt similar to when I beat Agassi at the U.S. Open – that anything I hit turned to gold.” Says Gilbert, whose runner-up showing earned him $1 million, “I have bought a lot of bad stock and I would like to buy some stock in him (Sampras) because his stock is rising.”
Roger Federer is in full preparation in this off season of continuing his assault on the tennis history books. He is one major singles title shy of equaling the all-time men’s record of 14 major singles title set by Pete Sampras from 1990 to 2002. The Australian Open, which begins January 19, 2009 in Melbourne, is Federer’s next target as he looks to win his fourth title “Down Under.” The following excerpt from the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION, details Roger’s 2005 Australian campaign and how his coaching relationship at the time with Tony Roche began. For more information on THE ROGER FEDERE STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION, written by Rene Stauffer, please go to www.rogerfedererbook.com. (It makes for a great holiday gift for the tennis fan!)
Because of his success in the 2004 season, Roger Federer found himself in an interesting dilemma with regard to his coaching situation. He was without a coach for the entire year, making him the exception on the professional tour, yet he completed one of the greatest individual years in the history of the sport. Despite his success, he still sought new impulses. He still felt he had an even greater untapped potential and he wanted to continue to improve- especially his serve, his backhand and his net game. He knew that if he rested on his laurels and stayed stagnant, his game would regress.
However, he also knew the dangers that taking on a new coach would have not only for him, but for the coach as well. “If a player loses a few times, then they’ll say that it was the coach’s fault,” Federer said in Bangkok. “As long as I don’t have a coach, I don’t think too much, and as long as I play well, I also don’t have to change anything. That is the case right now, but I am also aware that there are going to be times when things won’t run as smoothly. Then it would be better to have a coach.”
Since the beginning of the 2004 season, rumors swirled that Federer was pursuing Darren Cahill as his coach. Cahill, who was actually a childhood school friend of Roger’s deceased coach Peter Carter, was a standout Australian player who reached the semifinals at the 1988 US Open and was the former coach of Lleyton Hewitt. At the time, he was working with Andre Agassi and Federer was quick to deny the rumor at every opportunity.
Truth be told, Federer had his eye cast on another prominent Australian of an older generation-Tony Roche. The unflappable man with the sun and wind-burned complexion was born in 1945 in Wagga Wagga-a city located between Melbourne and Sydney whose meaning is “the city of the many crows.” He was one of the greats in tennis history, but won only one Grand Slam tournament title in singles, mainly due to the fact that the competition of his era consisted of legends such as Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe.
In his prime, the left-hander was an imposing figure with a treacherous serve and brilliant net game that helped him secure 13 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles and guided him to four Davis Cup titles representing Australia.
In singles, he reached six Grand Slam tournament finals, including the Wimbledon final in 1968 and the US Open final in 1969 and 1970. His only Grand Slam triumph in singles came in 1966 on the slow clay courts at Roland Garros, where aggressive players like Roche are usually at a disadvantage.
Roche is a gentleman and when asked about his victory in Paris, he immediately emphasized that he was only able to win the tournament thanks to the fairness of his final-round opponent, a Hungarian named Istvan Gulyas. “I injured my ankle and, without a doubt, would not have been able to play in the final if he had not allowed me to have an extra day off to rest,”
Roche said. “It was an incredible gesture of sportsmanship.”
Roche is considered to be one of the world’s premier tennis tacticians. He is a polite, quiet, extremely modest and very discreet. Even Australian journalists who meticulously cover the sport admit that there’s a certain mystery to Roche. “He prefers to stay in the background when working with players,” said Australian radio reporter Craig Gabriel. Even during his glamour years as a player, Roche preferred ceding the limelight to Newcombe, his long-time doubles partner. Roche won 12 of his 13 Grand Slam doubles titles with “Newk”-five at Wimbledon, four in Melbourne, two in Paris, and one in New York. Newk and “Rochey”-as he is referred to in Australian circles-led the Australian Davis Cup team as captain and coach respectively from 1994 to 2000.
But Roche didn’t always manage to keep out of the headlines. At 29, following a series of unsuccessful treatments for serious shoulder and elbow problems, he consulted a miracle healer in the Philippines, who used acupuncture to treat his ailments and allow him the opportunity to achieve further accolades on the tennis court. Three years later in 1977, Roche starred in the Davis Cup Final when he upset Adriano Panatta of Italy to help Australia win the Davis Cup title. The win over Panatta, next to his French Open triumph 11 years earlier, was his most celebrated victory in singles in his career.
As a mentor, “Coach Roche” led New Zealander Chris Lewis to his unexpected run to the Wimbledon final in 1983. In 1985, he teamed with Ivan Lendl and steered the Czech to seven of his eight Grand Slam singles titles, but unfortunately, not the elusive Wimbledon title that Lendl so desperately desired. After Lendl’s retirement, Roche worked with fellow Australian Patrick Rafter, who won the US Open twice and became the No. 1 player in the world briefly in 1999. After the death of his coach Tim Gullikson in 1996, Pete Sampras even offered Roche a job as his personal coach, but Roche preferred to stay with Rafter. After Rafter’s retirement, he worked primarily in Australia, working in women’s tennis with the Australian Fed Cup team and also promoting up-and-coming Australian junior talents.
Both Lendl and Rafter still rave when asked about Roche and his influence on their tennis careers and their lives. When once asked who the most important person was in his career, Rafter answered without hesitation, “Rochey is my hero above all as a human being and not just as a tennis coach.”
In October of 2004, Roche first trained with Federer in Dubai on a trial basis, but the Aussie legend didn’t think the timing was right for him to start working with the No. 1 player in the world. He was approaching his 60th birthday and no longer wanted the excessive global travel that a full-time career in tennis demanded. Nonetheless, he offered to help Federer prepare for the new season. Just before Christmas in 2004, Federer traveled to Australia to train with Roche where he lived in Turramurra, a suburb of Sydney. He assumed this was going to be their last training session together and was saddened at the prospect of not having the full opportunity to work with the man he felt was best suited to help him. “Roche would have been a person who could have improved my game,” he said at the time.
However, the personal chemistry between Federer and Roche clicked during the 10-day training camp. Despite the 36-year age difference, Federer and Roche got along fabulously. Federer made one last attempt-he told Roche he would be happy no matter how much or how little time Roche could dedicate to him as coach, he would take advantage of every opportunity. The Australian was impressed by Federer’s persistence and was flattered that Federer traveled so far to Australia-and sacrificed celebrating the Christmas holidays at home-just to train with him. Roche relented. They shook hands on the deal without any sort of formal contract. The intention was that they would work together for about 10 weeks during the 2005 season.
After Christmas, Federer flew from Sydney to Doha, Qatar in the Middle East where he made his 2005 tournament debut at the Qatar Open. Federer chose the tournament as the stage for publicly announcing his agreement with Roche. “I’m glad that Tony changed his mind,” he said. “I now have somebody who I can fall back on if necessary. Roche was a great serve, volley and return player in his day. He won’t change my basic game but he will try to help me in certain areas. We also mutually respect and appreciate one another too which is great.”
“If I were ten years younger, I would have jumped at the opportunity,” Roche explained later on the eve of the Australian Open. “The fact that Roger made the sacrifice to come to me in Australia before Christmas demonstrated the great respect he has for me. That convinced me.” For Roche, respect and trust were the most important elements for a partnership. As with Federer, Roche’s previous deals with Lendl and Rafter were also sealed with simply a handshake.
Roche had a vision of how Federer could get stronger and become more efficient-improving his volleys and playing more at the net. By coming to the net more often, Federer could end points quicker and save energy. “He’s a good athlete who can volley well and he has good reflexes,” Roche said.
“He could be even better. He should take more advantage of this. He already dominates from the baseline. I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be as dominant at the net.”
The fact that Federer approached Roche demonstrated the great respect he has for tennis history. Federer knew that there was very little from a tactical and technical standpoint that was a mystery to Roche and that the Aussie had over 40 years of global experience in the sport. Like John McEnroe, Federer was fascinated by the rich history of his sport and held former champions in high regard. Who would be a better person to tell him about the strengths of Laver, Emerson, Borg, Lendl or Rafter than Roche, who had intimate knowledge of the minds and talents of the all-time greats.
Roche constantly pointed out the similarities between Federer and Laver as a person and as a player. Federer, like Laver, is an easy-going, relaxed person who likes to laugh and doesn’t seem to be easily rattled. This attitude, he said, is an important base for success. The two agreed to travel together during the eight-week stretch between Hamburg in May and Wimbledon, but as the year developed, there would be down times where the two would hardly communicate with each other for several weeks. It was a strange player-coach relationship, but mutually agreeable.
As the 2005 season commenced, the relationship began auspiciously. Federer opened the 2005 season in Doha, losing just 23 games in five matches to win his fourth tournament in a row. To add to Federer’s domination of the field was the fact that for the first time in his career, he won a title without having his serve broken. “I thought a lot about this stat and concentrated on not losing a service game,” he said after dominating Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
Federer immediately flew back to Australia, where he also won the Kooyong Classic, an exhibition tournament featuring some of the bigger names in tennis held at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, a previous site of the Australian Open. There was no question that the Australian Open favorite was Federer, who entered the event with a 21-match winning streak stretched over a five-month period. An Australian sports bookie reduced the odds of Federer winning to 1-8. Even Pete Sampras had not reached such odds for a Grand Slam tournament during his greatest days on the circuit. Approximately two thirds of the gambling public placed bets on the man from Switzerland to win the 2005 Australian Open.
En route to the semifinals, Federer did not lose a set, including a dominating 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over four-time Australian Open Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals. Marat Safin-and his coach Peter Lundgren-awaited Federer in the semifinals. Just like their second-set tie-break in Houston, their semifinal match became an epic and turned into the match of the year. Federer led two sets to one and by 5-2 in the fourth-set tie-break and had Safin in a virtual stranglehold. Federer held a match point at 6-5 and rushed the net, only to see Safin counter with a superb lob over his head. In his confident manner, Federer attempted an aggressive and risky between-the-legs retrieval of the lob, only to have his trick shot land in the net. Two points later, Safin won the fourth-set tie-break to even the match at two sets apiece. Before the start of the fifth set, Federer’s foot was worked on by the medical staff, but the conclusion of the match was still a long way from being determined. Unlike the US Open, where a tie-break is played in the fifth set, the Australian Open, as well as the other two Grand Slam tournaments, play out a deciding set until one player wins by two games. Federer and Safin duked it out in a fifth set for another 80 minutes-almost as long as a full soccer game-before the winner was determined. After four hours and 28 minutes, the result was a bitter pill for Federer as Safin finally broke through on his seventh match point to register the shocking and unexpected 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 9-7 upset victory.
In the wee hours of the morning, after Australian fans sang “Happy Birthday” to Safin who was minutes into his 25th birthday, Federer faced the fact that many of his winning streaks ended. His 26-match winning streak-his personal best-ended as well as his 24-match win streak against top 10 players. For the first time since Madrid in 2003, he lost a tournament after reaching the semifinals. His attempt to become the first player since Pete Sampras in 1993/1994 to win three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments also came up short.
Nonetheless, Federer seemed composed when he showed up at 1:30 in the morning for his post-match press conference. “I can only blame myself,” he said. “I gave it my best. It was a good fight between two good men and in the end, the best man won.” He did not mention that he entered the match with a painful left foot that became worse as the match progressed. In trying to favor the foot, he put extra stress on his back. In the fourth set, when he could have closed out the match, a pinched nerve radiated pain to his pointer finger, which adversely affected his forehand.
The loss dented Federer’s armor. His point total in the world rankings sank by 550 and his advantage over the No. 2-ranked Lleyton Hewitt dropped as much as 1,000 points. His lead was still equivalent to two Grand Slam titles-but the year was still young and many things could happen. Although Federer achieved his second-best result ever at the Australian Open and narrowly missed reaching the final, fundamental questions were being asked.
Was Tony Roche the wrong man for the job as coach? Could Marat Safin, who won the title, threaten Roger and take his spot as world No. 1? Had Roger lost the aura of invincibility?
Since the tennis world is silent this week, TennisGrandstand.com will fulfill your tennis fix with an excerpt from the new tennis book “ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY.” The book, which makes an excellent holiday gift, is written by tennis historian and sports marketing guru Randy Walker, the former USTA publicity specialist. Here’s some of what happened from November 27 to November 30. For more information on the book, go to www.tennishistorybook.com.
1973 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black player to win a title in the apartheid nation of South Africa, winning the doubles title in the South African Open with Tom Okker, defeating Lew Hoad and Bob Maud 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final. After initially being denied a visa based on his anti-apartheid views, Ashe is permitted to play in the event by the South African government. Ashe requests to tournament officials that the bleacher seating not be segregated during the tournament, but his wishes are not granted. Says Ashe to local reporters, “You can’t integrate the place in one full sweep. It is important to recognize the progress that has been made.” Ashe loses the singles final the day before to Jimmy Connors 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Chris Evert wins the women’s singles title, defeating Evonne Goolagong 6-3, 6-3.
1982 – John McEnroe clinches his fourth career Davis Cup title for the United States as he and Peter Fleming defeat Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte 6-3, 6-4, 9-7 to give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-0 lead over France in the Davis Cup final in Grenoble, France. McEnroe is also on victorious U.S. teams in 1978, 1979 and 1981 – winning the clinching singles point in the fourth rubber in 1978 against Britain and in 1981 against Argentina. Says McEnroe of his title-winning performances, “Each one is different and each one’s nice in its own way. This was one of the best, if not the best, because we beat their team in front of a large crowd and played well, and I played on my worst surface and won the matches. Argentina, when we beat them last year in Cincinnati, was probably the most exciting final I was involved in. This and Argentina were definitely the two biggest.”
1999 – Pete Sampras wins the year-end ATP Tour Championships for a fifth time, defeating world No. 1 Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the championship match in Hannover, Germany. Agassi had defeated Sampras 6-2, 6-2 in round-robin play earlier in the tournament. Writes British journalist Stephen Bierley, “It was perhaps fitting, given that this was the last major singles tournament of the millennium, that the best player of modern times won it so emphatically.”
1985 – Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seeded Boris Becker loses to Dutchmen and No. 188th ranked Michael Schapers 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6),6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open. “I surprised myself at how badly I can play,” says Becker of the grass court loss.
1998 – One day after clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record sixth consecutive year, Pete Sampras is un-gloriously dumped in the semifinals of the ATP Tour World Championships by Alex Corretja of Spain, who defeats the world No. 1 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) after saving three match points. Fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya also advances into the championship match, defeating Tim Henman of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Says Sampras, who hits 50 unforced errors in the loss, “It’s a tough way to end it. I had mixed emotions, coming so close to winning, being in the final. But the achievement of doing it six years in a row, and the fans giving me a nice ovation, it was a very good feeling. But it wasn’t the way I wanted to end the year.”
2001 – Thirty-year-old Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic begins his six-month service in the Croatian Army. Says Ivanisevic, “Now that I’m in the army, you can all sleep peacefully…I have to do basic drill, but after that they will probably send me to catch (Arab terrorist Osama) bin Laden.”
1991 – Pete Sampras makes an inauspicious Davis Cup debut, losing to Henri Leconte 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the Davis Cup Final in Lyon, France. The 28-year-old Leconte, the former top 10 player ranked No. 159 in the world and recovering from back surgery that threatened his career, plays perhaps the most inspirational tennis match of his career. Says Leconte, “It’s the greatest day of my life, the win of my career. I’ve proved I’m still around.” Says French captain Yannick Noah “He played like I dreamed he would.” Says Sampras, ranked No. 6 in the world of his baptismal Davis Cup appearance, “It’s certainly a different experience.” Andre Agassi’s earlier 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Guy Forget makes the score 1-1 after the first day of play.
1998 – Alex Corretja rallies from a two-sets-to-love deficit to win the biggest title of his career, defeating fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 in four hours to win the year-end ATP Tour World Championship in Hannover, Germany. Corretja, who lost to Moya in the French Open final earlier in the year, says he used Ivan Lendl’s two-set-to-love comeback win over John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final as inspiration for his comeback. Says Corretja, “At that time Lendl was my idol. Today I was thinking, ‘Come on, try to do like your idol’ … try to find some energy from somewhere and try to think about your tennis and try to push him to see if he is going to be able to finish in straight sets. Even when I was two sets down, I was still thinking that I could win this match. That’s why I think I won.” Says Moya, “Two sets up, maybe I relaxed a bit. I thought the match was not over. It’s never over when you play against Alex. But I had a really big advantage. I had many chances to beat him, but they went and he started to play better. It’s a big disappointment.”
1973 -Rod Laver and John Newcombe each win five-set struggles to give Australia a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States, the five-time defending Davis Cup champions, in the Davis Cup Final in Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-nine-year-old Newcombe beats Stan Smith 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the opening rubber, while 35-year-old Laver defeats 27-year-old Tom Gorman 8-10, 8-6, 6-8, 6-3, 6-1. The loss is Smith’s first-ever defeat in five previous Davis Cup Final appearances and only his second singles loss in 17 previous Davis Cup singles matches in all. Says Smith, “I played tougher matches under tougher conditions, but it’s the best I’ve seen Newk play.” Newcombe, the reigning U.S. Open champion, calls the win, “the toughest five-set match I have won in the last five years.” Laver, playing in his second Davis Cup series in his return to the competition for the first time since 1962, needs 3 hours, 22 minutes to outlast Gorman.
1990 – Andre Agassi wins a dramatic five-set match over Richard Fromberg, while Michael Chang is steady in a straight-set dismissal of Darren Cahill as the United States takes a 2-0 lead over Australian in the Davis Cup Final at the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, Fla. Agassi, the world No. 4 and a French Open finalist earlier in the year, struggles on the indoor red clay court against Fromberg, playing in his first career Davis Cup match, but barrels through to win 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, has little difficultly with Cahill, a serve and volleyer, winning 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
2003 – Mark Philippoussis wins perhaps the most courageous and most heroic match of his career, as he clinches Australia’s 28th Davis Cup title, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-0 to give Australia the 3-1 victory over Spain on a grass court at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Philippoussis, playing in his hometown, fights through a torn pectoral muscle that inflicts him with sharp pain with every serve and groundstroke he hits. But spurred on by a screaming crowd of 14,000 supporters, Philippoussis, the losing finalist to Roger Federer earlier in the year at Wimbledon, plays the match as if his life were on the line. “The crowd was incredible,” says Philippoussis after the match. “This is what Davis Cup is all about. There is no way I could have got through without them. It gets you up and numbs the pain because they are so loud.” Eleanor Preston writing for The Guardian writes that Philippoussis “veered between triumph and disaster before fighting back nerves, fatigue and pain from an injured pectoral muscle to win.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years – written by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.
On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548
People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull, Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan, Robbie Weiss, Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.
New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com
As the Presidential campaign winds down in the United States, it is interesting to speculate whether Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain will be a “friend of tennis” in the Oval Office. Tennis players with high incomes may be partial to John McCain for tax purposes, while Barack Obama seems to be more engaged in the sport. Obama played tennis while growing up in Hawaii and follows the sport, as witnessed by a friend of mine who works in political circles who, back 2007, spoke with Obama, who gushed over watching the US Open on television the previous night – in particular James Blake’s five-set win over Fabrice Santoro (Blake’s first career five-set victory). As a working member of the tennis industry, author of the new book On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com) and as the great, great, great nephew of James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States, I have a great interest in tennis and in U.S. Presidential history.
Who was the most tennis friendly President? Teddy Roosevelt might warrant consideration as he was the man responsible for creating the White House tennis court in 1902. Tennis was part of his exercise regimen and had a group of Washingtonians who comprised of what was called his “tennis cabinet” – a group of players with whom he would talk policy between serves and forehands. Roosevelt may have been inspired in his tennis pursuits by two of the greatest American players of the time – Bill Larned and Robert Wrenn – who were members of his famed “Rough Riders” that fought under his command in the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898. Roosevelt in his book, The Rough Riders, bragged of the enlistment of Wrenn and Larned along with “an eclectic group of eastern dudes and western deadshots.” Roosevelt prided in the fact that on two occasions as U.S. tennis champion, Wrenn had “saved this championship from going to an Englishman” referencing Wrenn’s final-round victories over Brits Manliffe Goodbody in 1894 and Wilberforce Eaves in 1897. Larned won a record seven U.S. singles titles – 1901, 1902, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911.
Warren Harding, the 29th President, played tennis early in his life and became re-engaged in the game when the United States recaptured the Davis Cup in 1920. He hosted the winning U.S. team and the Cup to the White House on May 6, 1921 – the first time the famous trophy visited the home of the President. U.S. team members Bill Tilden, Bill Johnston, Dick Williams and Watson Washburn competed in exhibition matches against each other on the White House court, with Harding enjoying the action with his family and staff. President Harding, in fact, appointed Davis Cup founder Dwight Davis as his Assistant Secretary of War in 1923. Davis was subsequently elevated to Secretary of War (the modern day Secretary of State) in the next administration of President Calvin Coolidge starting in 1923.
Coolidge, the 30th President, was the first U.S. President to host and preside over the making of the Davis Cup draw – no doubt at the urging of Davis himself – and hosted the festivities on March 17, 1927. The draw was held on the front lawn of the White House and Coolidge picked out of the Cup the card with Czechoslovakia on it – drawn against Greece in the first round of the European Zone. Wrote the New York Times of the event, “Surrounded by diplomats from the twenty-five nations entered into the tournament, he drew the card bearing the name of Czechoslovakia from the bowl of the trophy. Joseph C. Grew, Under Secretary of State, then picked Greece, which was paired with the nation of the President’s choice. The various diplomats then formed in line and each withdrew the name of one nation from the cup.”
Herbert Hoover, the 31st President, was also a fan of the game. When running against Democrat Al Smith in 1928, Hoover received a great tennis endorsement from all-time great Helen Wills, who made her public announcement of her support of Hoover for President the day before her win at the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills. In her press announcement in support of Hoover, Wills stated, “All youth can admire Herbert Hoover because of his sincerity, intelligence and great industry. His achievements in the past have been marked with success because of his ability for organization and his wonderful powers of perservance.” During his administration (1929 to 1933), four U.S. Davis Cup matches were played at the nearby Chevy Chase Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland – 1929 vs. Japan, 1930 vs. Mexico, 1931 vs. Argentina and 1932 vs. Canada – with Hoover dispatching his wife to represent him at the matches.
Franklin Roosevelt’s connections to tennis came from his cousins Grace and Ellen, who were both U.S. champions – Ellen winning the singles title in 1890 and the pairing with Grace to win the doubles – becoming the first sisters to win a major title. It is interesting to note what President Roosevelt did NOT do in one famous episode in tennis history. On July 20, 1937, the United States Davis Cup team competed against Nazi Germany in the decisive day of the Davis Cup Inter-zone Final at Wimbledon in what many call the most dramatic and politically important Davis Cup match of all time. American Don Budge and Germany’s Gottfried von Cramm played the decisive fifth match where, famously, von Cramm received a pre-match phone call from German dictator Adolf Hitler, who told von Cramm that winning the match was of great political importance to the Fatherland. Budge, who won the match when he came back from two-sets-to-love to win 6-8, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 8-6, said later of Hitler’s phone call, “I thought why didn’t Franklin Roosevelt call me? Didn’t he give a damn?”
Harry Truman, the 33rd President, was the second Commander in Chief to host the Davis Cup draw as he presided over the ceremonies on February 3, 1947. Said Truman shortly before reaching into the Davis Cup trophy to pull of the names of nations in the second post-World War II staging of the competition, “I hope the time will come when we can settle our international differences in courts, just as we settle our tennis differences on a court.”
President Dwight Eisenhower was more of a fan of golf and delegated “tennis duty” to his vice president Richard Nixon, who gave out the winner’s trophy at the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills and Davis Cup Challenge Rounds. In 1957, he famously presented Althea Gibson, the first black to win the U.S. singles title, with her winner’s trophy at Forest Hills. Two years earlier, Nixon also presented the Australian Davis Cup team with the Davis Cup trophy after the Aussies completed a 5-0 shutout of the United States at Forest Hills. Nixon was told by Australian Davis Cup Harry Hopman that day that he might someday be “the youngest president in American history.” Nixon next touched the Davis Cup in 1969 when, as the 37th President, he welcomed the victorious 1968 U.S. Davis Cup team that defeats Hopman’s Australian team in the 1968 Davis Cup final in Adelaide, Australia. That ceremony, that also featured the challenging Romanian Davis Cup team, featured some awkward moments as Bud Collins documented in his book The Bud Collins History of Tennis. Wrote Collins; “President Richard M. Nixon, a bowler and golfer who secretly despised tennis, hosted both final-round teams at a White House reception. This was a nice gesture, but the Chief Executive caused a few awkward stares when, as a memento of the occasion, he presented each player with a golf ball. Perhaps these were left over, some speculated, from the golf-happy Eisenhower administration. “I’m a Republican, but I’ll never vote for him again,” grumbled Cliff Richey. “Why he do this?” said a puzzled Ion Tiriac. “No golf courses in Romania.”
Lyndon Johnson, Nixon’s precedessor, was not a tennis enthusiast but did host the winning 1963 U.S. Davis Cup team at the White House. On January 15, 1964, Johnson hosted the victorious U.S. team at the White House and spent 45 minutes with team members Dennis Ralston, Chuck McKinley and Marty Riessen as well as U.S. captain Bob Kelleher and U.S. Lawn Tennis Association President Ed Turville. As Johnson introduced the team to his press secretary Pierre Salinger he said, “There’s my tennis player. If I can teach Salinger to ride a horse, maybe he can teach me to play tennis.”
Gerald Ford, the 38th President, was known as an avid player and used the White House tennis court more than any President since Teddy Roosevelt. After watching 14-year-old Tracy Austin beat Virgina Ruzici in the fourth round of the 1977 U.S. Open on television, President Jimmy Carter placed a call to the pig-tailed wunderkind to offer his best wishes and congratulations.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th President, played tennis in his youth and was known as perhaps the biggest sports fan among U.S. chief executives. He hosted many athletes and sports teams – including tennis stars such as John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Arthur Ashe, Pam Shriver and others. On September 15, 1981, Reagan and his wife Nancy hosted a U.S. Tennis Association contingent to the White House that included U.S. Open champions McEnroe and Austin and the U.S. Davis Cup and Wightman Cup teams. Said Reagan of the 1981 U.S. Open finals, “Nancy and I watched the TV Saturday and Sunday and the matches were so breathtaking I nearly turned blue.” Stan Smith and Marty Riessen hit tennis balls for the assembled group on the White House tennis court – highlighted by Smith hitting a ball that broke through the flimsy, deteriorating net. “I don’t oversee the operation as closely as my predecessor” said Reagan of the White House tennis operations. Nineteen-year-old Shriver proudly told Reagan during the 90-minute visit, “This was my first election and I voted for you, sir.” Ashe then chimed in to Reagan, “Well I didn’t vote for you. But I’m all for you, and I hope your policies work, Mr. President.”
Reagan left the tennis-playing to his Vice President and successor George Bush, who not only had a strong penchant for playing the game but came from a strong tennis bloodline. Bush’s great uncles Joseph Wear and Arthur Wear were bronze medalists in tennis at the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis – Joseph pairing with Allen West and Arthur pairing with Clarence Gamble. Joseph Wear also went on to serve as U.S. Davis Cup captain in 1928 and 1935 – having the opportunity to work with both Bill Tilden and Don Budge. Bush, whose mother Dorothy was also a standout ranking junior player, also entertained many tennis players during his term and remains an active player, competing often at Chris Evert’s annual charity event and frequented the U.S. Clay Court Championships, the Tennis Masters Cup and Davis Cup as a fan when held at the Westside Tennis Club in his hometown of Houston, Texas
Bush attended the U.S. Open when he was Vice President under Reagan, but Bill Clinton was the first sitting President to attend the U.S. Open when he took in the men’s semifinals on September 9, 2000, watching Marat Safin beat Todd Martin and Pete Sampras beat Lleyton Hewitt. He also called Venus Williams after she won the U.S. Open women’s singles title that year and told her “You worked really hard” prompting the witty Williams to ask Clinton for a tax cut on her hard-earned U.S. Open prize money.
After leaving office, Clinton again created tennis headlines when he attended the French Open in 2001 and was, in fact, jokingly blamed for Andre Agassi’s quarterfinal loss to Sebastien Grosjean. Clinton sat to watch the match after Agassi won the first set 6-1, but Agassi proceeded to lose 12 of the next 14 games to go down two sets to one. The five-months-out-of-office Clinton then briefly left the court, as Agassi went up a service break in the fourth set 2-1, but when Clinton returned to watch the match, Agassi lost his service break and proceeded to win only one more game in the match, losing 1-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. “I was bad for him,” Clinton said afterward, referring to Agassi. “I was bad luck. I left, and he won three games. I hated to come back.”
Like his father, George W. Bush, the 43rd President, was a tennis player, but later in life did not play the game as much as he resorted to jogging and cycling for exercise. As governor of Texas in 1999, Bush penned a note of congratulations and good luck to U.S. player Alex O’Brien when named to the U.S. Davis Cup team to face Britain in the Centennial year of the competition, writing “All athletes should consider it an honor to represent their country. Sadly, a number of America’s top tennis players do not share this view. I commend you and your teammates for stepping forward when asked by Captain Tom Gullikson and the USTA. Your patriotism, team spirit and work ethic are inspirations for athletes of all ages.”
His most infamous connection to tennis came just five days before the 2000 Presidential election when it was revealed publicly for the first time that he was arrested for drunken driving in Maine on Sept. 4 1976 with Aussie tennis legend John Newcombe in the car with the future president. “I was drinking beers, yeah, with John Newcombe,” Bush said in a briefing with the press. “I’m not proud of that. I made some mistakes. I occasionally drank too much, and I did that night. I learned my lesson. I told the guy (the arresting officer) I had been drinking, what do I need to do? He said, ‘here’s the fine.’ I paid the fine.” Newcombe didn’t comment on the incident for another two weeks until after the election. “When it came out I just did the first thing that came into my mind – I went underground mate. I didn’t put my head up,” Newcombe told the Australian Associated Press of when news of the arrest first surfaced. Newcombe described Bush as a “good bloke” who would make a “pretty good president” and said the drunk-driving incident was a minor one in terms of how far Bush was over the limit. “That’s something I’ve laughed about with George for the last 24 years,” Newcombe said. “That’s something that just happened that night. We were just a couple of young blokes going out and having a good time. We didn’t do anything wrong, basically. We probably shouldn’t have been driving at that stage but it wasn’t that anyone was badly inebriated.”
Roger Federer won the Davidoff Swiss Indoors, beating David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 in Basel, Switzerland
Andy Murray beat Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1 to win the St. Petersburg Open in St. Petersburg, Russia
Robin Soderling won the Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon by beating Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-1 in Lyon, France
Ana Ivanovic beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 to win the Generali Ladies Linz in Linz, Austria
Elena Dementieva stopped Carolina Wozniacki 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4) to win the FORTIS Championships in Luxembourg
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Julie Coin 6-4 6-3 to win the Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne in Poitiers, France
Hyung-Taik Lee won the Samsung Securities Cup Challenger in Seoul, Korea, by beating Ivo Minar 6-4 6-0
Jim Courier beat Thomas Enqvist 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Champions tiebreak) to win the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas
“There was a bit of disappointment but I gave a good fight for almost five years, so I’m proud of that, and I think Rafa deserves it this year because he’s played consistently well.” – Roger Federer, admitting he’s disappointed about not finishing the year as the number one player.
“This season has been hard, long and punishing. I will be very happy when I lose in Bercy.” – Richard Gasquet, after losing in Lyon, France, and talking about this week’s tournament in Paris.
“To see him give up mentally beforehand is quite simply abnormal. It is disrespectful vis-à-vis the public who he is counting on supporting him at Bercy. Naturally we are annoyed.” – Patrice Dominguez, national technical director of the French Tennis Federation, referring to Gasquet’s comment.
“This year has been a very positive year for me and I am looking forward to continued success in Doha.” – Venus Williams, after qualifying for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha.
“It has been awhile since I last played and it feels wonderful to be one of the best eight players of the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season.” – Vera Zvonareva, who qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships.
“You could never forecast that he was going to miss that shot. If he lets it bounce, he could hit it with the butt cap and make it and I wouldn’t be there. That was as improbable as it gets, but that’s why we play sports. The whacky happens.” – Jim Courier, after Thomas Enqvist shanked an easy overhead on match point.
“I think I was just too casual. It’s what you tell an amateur when you play the pro-ams with them, that sometimes they do those mistakes. They take their eye off the ball. I think I did that.” – Thomas Enqvist.
“For the first set and a half we were completely outplayed. At 4-3 down in the second set Bopanna double-faulted at 40-40, and after that the momentum shifted our way.” – Travis Parrott, after teaming with Filip Polasek to win the doubles at St. Petersburg, Russia.
“I’m really disappointed with how I played today. I had no concentration at any stage of the match. Maybe today I finally paid for all of the traveling and the many matches I’ve played over the last several weeks.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Ana Ivanovic in the title match of the Generali Ladies Linz.
“Rafael Nadal has donated the racquet he used to win the 2008 Wimbledon final, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi both donated tennis racquets, while Roger Federer gave us the shirt off his own back.” – Lleyton Hewitt, on items donated to help raise money for a charity, Cure Our Kids.
SET FOR DOHA
The final two spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships have been clinched by Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams. The women’s tour will wind up with world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. It will be the third time Venus Williams will compete in the season-ending event, but her first since 2002. Others in the field include Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
SIGN OF RESPECT
The new tennis center in Brisbane, Australia, has been named for two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter. The 5,500-seat Rafter Arena will open in January for the Brisbane International men’s and women’s hard court championships. The tournament is a warm-up for the Australian Open, which is held in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic, Marcos Baghdatis and Ana Ivanovic are confirmed for the event, the first international tennis tournament to be played in Brisbane since 1994.
When Robin Soderling captured his second Lyon trophy, he became the first Swedish player to win an ATP title in almost three years. The last Swede to capture a tournament on the men’s tour was Thomas Johansson at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. The victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau will move Soderling into the top 20 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time. At Lyon, Soderling beat two top-ten players, Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon.
Roger Federer won his third straight Davidoff Swiss Indoors crown in his native Basel, Switzerland. He also has been runner-up twice in his nine appearances in Basel. And his 57th career title moves Federer into a tie with Ilie Nastase on the ATP list. He is now three titles behind Andre Agassi. Basel was Federer’s fourth title of 2008, highlighted by his fifth consecutive US Open win. This one came over David Nalbandian, the 2002 Swiss Indoors winner and the tournament’s number two seed. It was the first time since 1993 that the two top seeds have reached the final at Basel.
Andy Murray needed only 56 minutes to successfully defend his St. Petersburg Open title by defeating qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1. It was the shortest final on the ATP tour this year, and the second fewest games in a title match since Mikhail Youzhny crushed Rafael Nadal 6-0 6-1 at the Chennai Open in January. Now ranked fourth in the world, Murray becomes the first British player to win consecutive titles since Mark Cox did it in March 1975. The Scott has won five titles this year, second only to the eight captured by Nadal. Murray is on a 12-match winning streak and has won 18 of his last 19 matches since losing in the first round of the Beijing Olympics to Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun.
For the second straight year, Nikolay Davydenko made a brief appearance at the St. Petersburg Open. This time he injured his left wrist during a first-round victory over Chris Guccione, and then pulled out of the tournament. “I was able to finish the match, but today I felt a lot of pain and I just can’t play,” Davydenko said. Last year, the Russian was fined USD $2,000 by the ATP for not trying hard enough during his loss to qualifier Marin Cilic in a second-round match. The fine was overturned on appeal. Davydenko’s victory over Guccione was his 50th match win of the season, the fourth straight year he has won at least 50 matches.
STAYING ON TOP
Despite what happens the rest of the way, Jelena Jankovic will end the season as the number one player in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. Jankovic has a commanding points lead over Dinara Safina and will remain in the top spot regardless of the outcome of the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. She secured the year-ending ranking by winning 12 straight matches en route to three consecutive titles in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow. She lost in the US Open final and reached the semifinals of two other Grand Slam tournaments.
Holding match point at 9-8 in the Champions tiebreaker, Jim Courier sent a high defensive lob that just made it over the net in the final of the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas. But Thomas Enqvist, standing right on top of the net, elected not to let the ball bounce and shanked the overhead straight down off the frame of his racquet, giving Courier his sixth career Outback Champions Series title, 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Championships tiebreak). “I think I was too casual,” Enqvist said, while Courier said the missed overhead was “one of the nuttiest match points I’ve ever been a part of.”
Four top players will lead a five-day tennis “fantasy camp” on Maui, Hawaii, in November. Lindsay Davenport, Tom Gullikson, Robby Ginepri and Corina Morariu will participate in the four days of instruction and free play. Gullikson is the former US Davis Cup captain and Olympic coach, while Davenport was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles. She is one of only four women – joining Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert – to have been the year-ending number one at least four times. Ginepri is one of the top five American players currently on the ATP tour, while Morariu was ranked number one in the world in doubles before being diagnosed with leukemia. She made a complete recovery and was named Comeback Player of the Year on the WTA Tour. The “fantasy camp” is for adult tennis players ranging in skill from recreational to tournament-level.
Hall of Famer Michael Chang and women’s tennis pro Amber Liu are now husband and wife. Matthew Cronin reports the pair was married at Lake Hills Community Church in Laguna Hills, California, with the reception and dinner taking place at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California. Among those in attendance were Chang’s brother and coach, Carl; his cousin James Wan, who plays for Stanford University; John Austin, Anne Yelsey, Dick Gould, Lele Forood, Eliot Teltscher and Peanut Louis.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships will have some people in the seats, if ticket sales are any indication. According to tournament officials, more than 95 percent of the premium seats have been sold for the season-ending event that features the world’s top eight women’s singles players and top four doubles teams. The Championships will be held November 4-9 at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar.
Lleyton Hewitt and his wife Bec have begun a month-long fundraising auction with proceeds going to Cure Our Kids, an organization which supports children with cancer and their families at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, Australia. The auction includes items donated by the Hewitts as well as from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff, among others.
A former top-100 player from Italy, Federico Luzzi, is dead at the age of 28. Luzzi died at a hospital in Arezzo, Italy, of leukemia. He was hospitalized after retiring a few days earlier from an Italian league match, citing a high fever. He reached a career-high ranking of number 92 in 2002 before a shoulder injury plagued him the rest of his career. In February, Luzzi was suspended for 200 days and fined USD $50,000 by the ATP for betting on tennis. In 2001, he beat Ville Liukko of Finland 14-12 in the fifth set to complete a 4-hour, 35-minute victory, the longest Davis Cup match ever played by an Italian.
Bill Rusick, an All-American college player and later tennis coach and co-owner of a tennis club, has died at the age of 51. Rusick led Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to two national championships and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. He coached at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and served as club pro and co-owner at St. Clair Tennis Club. He suffered from pancreatic cancer.
Basel: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3
St. Petersburg: Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek beat Rohan Bopanna and Max Mirnyi 3-6 7-6 (4) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Lyon: Michael Llodra and Andy Ram beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 6-3 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Seoul: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana 7-5 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Linz: Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama beat Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4 7-5
Luxembourg: Sorana Cirstea and Marina Erakovic beat Vera Dushevina and Mariya Koryttseva 2-6 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Poitiers: Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-4
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 BNP Paribas Masters, Paris, France, carpet
$125,000 Seguros Bolivar Open, Cali, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Busan Open Challenger, Busan, South Korea, hard
$175,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Quebec, hard
$100,000 Ritro Slovak Open, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,450,000 Sony Ericsson Championships, Doha, Qatar, hard
$100,000 ITF women’s event, Krakow, Poland, hard
$106,500 Tatra Banka Open, Bratislava, Slovakia, hard
Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise, Surprise, Arizona
Roger Federer got his bid to capture a third straight title in Basel off to winning start on Tuesday, but not without a scare. American Bobby Reynolds took the second set in a tiebreaker, but Federer turned things around to prevail 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3 in one hour and 50 minutes.
Fellow Swiss and Olympic doubles gold medalist Stanislas Wawrinka was not as lucky on Monday against Benjamin Becker. The unheralded German, known almost exclusively as the man who beat Andre Agassi in the final match of Agassi’s illustrious career, stunned Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5). Not only did Wawrinka suffer a setback in his own country, but his Masters Cup hopes were dealt a serious-probably crippling-blow.
In St. Petersburg, seeds Marin Cilic and Dmitry Tursunov are already out after just one match. Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, and Ernests Gulbis, however, took care of business to reach the second round. Gulbis crushed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a mere 48 minutes on Tuesday. He could get Madrid champion and No. 1 seed Andy Murray in round two. The Scot faces Viktor Troicki in his opener on Wednesday.
The French favorites, for the most part, are still alive in Lyon. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, however, both needed three sets to advance on Tuesday. No. 1 seed Andy Roddick and fifth-seeded Tommy Robredo are also safely through to round two. Ivo Karlovic, on the other hand, crashed out to Nicolas Lapentti in straight sets just days after reaching the Madrid quarterfinals. The surprise of round one-much to the delight of the French crowd-was wildcard Josselin Ouanna, who stunned Ivan Ljubicic 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4.
The women, meanwhile, are in Linz, Austria and all eyes will be on Ana Ivanovic to see if she can end a dismal season-ending slump before the conclusion of 2008 play. Ivanovic is the No. 1 seed and is joined as a first-round bye recipient by Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Patty Schnyder. So far all eight seeded players are still alive.
Maria Sharapova might be out of the running for the rest of the season (darn that nagging shoulder injury!), but it hasn’t stopped her from hitting the town — especially in the name of a good cause.
Last weekend she came out to Thousand Oaks, Calif. in full fashion regalia — a green dress from 3.1 Phillip Lim, shoes by Dior, and a brown hyper-zippered Stella McCartney clutch — in support of brothers Mike and Bob Bryan, who’ve taken a page out of Andre Agassi’s philanthropic book with the establishment of their eponymous foundation.
Saturday’s All-Star Tennis Smash raised money for local and national charities supported by the twins, including City Impact, an organization supporting at-risk youth in Ventura County. The half-day event started with a pro exhibition featuring celebs and athletes, including Agassi (in his public playing appearance this year), Jon Lovitz, Jimmy-Jean Louis, Melissa Rivers, Lindsay Davenport, James Blake, Justin Gimelstob, Thomas Blake, and Robby Ginepri.
Afterwards, the brothers feted Agassi for his charitable endeavors at a gala dinner attended by Masha, among others. The evening began with an auction (autographed racquets, days with tennis players) and was capped off with performances by Evan and Jaron and Brandi Carlile.
More: Ventura County Star via hcfoo.
Asia Muhammad said that she wanted to make her US Open debut a lasting one, but became of the first players to be eliminated from the tournament on day one.
Struggling with her serve and Rezai’s aggressive baseline play, the 17 year old Muhammad wasted a 3-0 lead in the second set in losing to Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai 6-2, 6-4. The victory allowed Rezai to gain her first win during the American hard court season and snap a five match losing streak in the process.
“I just have to make a decision to be aggressive out there and the rest will take care of itself,” Muhammad said. “That’s what everybody has been saying all along. It’s just a matter of whether or not I’m able to do it consistently.”
Despite the loss, Muhammad impressed the packed crowd on Court 11. Showing a more mature shot selection and willingness to construct points then she did when competing in the US Open qualifying last year, Muhammad took advantage of Rezai’s serving troubles in the second set by breaking early to take a 3-0 lead.
Muhammad served three consecutive double faults to give the break back to Rezai, allowing the Frenchwoman to regain her momentum in the match. At 4-4 in the second set, Rezai broke Muhammad’s serve at love before closing out the match on her own serve with a forehand winner.
“I played well to get to that point, but held back once I got the lead,” Muhammad said.
Despite the loss, Muhammad said that she could see noticeable improvements in her game.
“As long as you learn from every match, then it’s a good match in my mind,” Muhammad said. “I felt much less nervous out on the court than last year and was able to feed off the crowd instead of being overwhelmed by it.”
Growing up in Las Vegas, Muhammad began playing tennis at the Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas that was founded by Andre Agassi. She trained there until recently hiring a full-time coach, Tim Blenkiron, but is still mentored by both Agassi and his wife, tennis legend Steffi Graf.
“If you ask anybody in Las Vegas about Andre Agassi, they only have positive things to say about him” Muhammad said. “He founded a school that’s completely paid for and helps keeps the younger kids out of trouble. And I’m so thankful that he did it. Without him, I wouldn’t be anywhere.”
Muhammad said that in addition to offering advice, she’s also had the opportunity to train with both Agassi and Graf on their private tennis court.
“It was pretty overwhelming at first, but I’m comfortable with the both of them now,” Muhammad said. “I hit with Steffi three weeks ago at home and Andre also comes out on occasion. He also helped me with strategy before playing some clay court tournaments this year.
Spurred on by strong results at the challenger level in 2008, including reaching the finals at a $50,000 event in her hometown of Las Vegas, Muhammad said that she decided to turn pro this year while still competing in top level junior tournaments. Having had the chance to compete against several players in the top 100, Muhammad said has been inspired by the intensity of her colleagues on tour.
“They take it far more seriously than junior players do,” Muhammad said. “This is their job, so this is how they’re going to make
While many of her peers from the junior circuit have decided to forego the pro tour and attend college instead, Muhammad said that she has decided to adopt a more international approach.
“In Europe, they don’t really have national events and there’s not the differentiation between college and pro tennis,” Muhammad said. “You go to college if you haven’t made it as a pro player.”
Muhammad said that upcoming American players need to start taking the game more seriously in order for American tennis to break out its slump.
“In my experience, a lot of junior players view the national tournaments as a big social event,” Muhammad said, “There needs to be more focus amongst some of the girls out there. We have a lot of young and talented players coming up, and we have the ability to make it. It’s all about your mindset.”