Azarenka Plows Past Radwanska for a 21-0 Record
Perhaps the most anticipated match on the WTA side of the draw, everyone was hoping for a squeaker between Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka. Going into this match, Radwanska and Azarenka had already met three times this year, with Azarenka winning all three encounters. The two used to be good friends, but after their last encounter in Dubai, Radwanska seemed to have some qualms with the world No. 1. Their three previous encounters had been incredibly close and the suspected animosity between the two only built the tension leading up to yesterday’s match. From the get go, things did not go so well for Radwanska. She immediately fell down a break, and then two, and in what seemed like no time at all had been bageled in the first set and was down 5-0 in the second. While Radwanska managed to salvage two games, there was just no way to come back from that kind of deficit. Asked about her feelings after going down 6-0 in the first set, Radwanska did not hold back, “pretty much I was pissed, yeah, in the first set especially ‑‑ you know, losing 6‑Love, you know, is not fun, right?” Clearly frustrated, she claimed there were only two options, “What you can do? I said, Either have fun or cry.” Relatively cheerful for such a crushing loss, she obviously opted for fun, a great attitude from the Aga, who will move up to No. 4 in next week’s rankings. In the mean time, Azarenka keeps extending her winning streak, now 21-0 and this season, and feeling strangely similar to Novak Djokovic about this time last year.
Isner Becomes Last American Standing
Poised to become the highest ranked American in the next few months as Mardy Fish struggles to defend points, John Isner is now that last American man standing in the singles draw after Ryan Harrison lost a close encounter with Gilles Simon. When Isner was asked about the situation in his press conference, Harrison was still playing Simon, but, Isner described the experience of being American and playing here as “very, very special,” knowing that, “the crowd is definitely behind, you know, us Americans.” He was looking forward to a matchup with Harrison, which would have guaranteed at least one American in the semifinals, but he will play Frenchman Gilles Simon this evening.
Bryans Felled by Coachella Virus
Prior to any official tournament announcements, Bob Bryan tweeted the following yesterday morning.
“I’m sorry to announce that Mike and I are withdrawing from our quarterfinal match @BNPPARIBASOPEN. Mike has been struck with a severe stomach virus since late last night. Unfortunately, he is too weak and nauseous to get out of bed. We apologize to the tournament, staff, but more importantly, our fans. We love you, thank you for the support, and we look forward to making another run at it next year.”
The Bryans were forced to pull out of their match against Fyrstenberg/Matkowski after Mike Bryan came down with virus that has claimed so many players this week.
Federer and Djokovic Survive Scares
Both the world No. 1 and No. 3 were tested yesterday against much weaker opponents. It became clear early on that Federer was not at his best. He has been feeling a little off, but it was very unlike him to drop the first set against a clay court specialist like Thomaz Bellucci. Federer seemed to right the ship in the second set, which he won 6-3 The Brazilian managed to stay with Federer for most of the third set, before being broken. Federer admitted he was “surprised,” but that he “found a way, and you know, dug deep and came through…At the end of the day, these are the wins that sort of almost feel better.” Federer played a three set night match on Tuesday against Milos Raonic, and his fourth round match was scheduled for Wednseday afternoon, leaving little time for recovery. Next up, Federer will face Juan Martin del Potro, who has given him trouble in the past, but not since returning to the tour last year after wrist surgery.
Novak Djokovic had a much different encounter Wednesday morning. After easily winning the first set 6-0, suddenly his opponent, Pablo Andujar of Spain, seemed to find his bearings, managing to hang in through the second set, making it all the way to a tie break. More impressively, Andujar won the tiebreak, and forced the match into a third set, which he lost 2-6. Djokovic attributed the second set loss to both a drop in his game and an improvement from Andujar, saying, “For some reason I didn’t move as well as. I was holding on my service games very closely, and he was winning comfortably. So we got to the tiebreak, and I though that there is my chance. I didn’t use it when it was presented.”
Bob and Mike Bryan
The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena in Birmingham, Ala., has been selected as the site for the 2009 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round match between the United States and Switzerland, March 6-8. The indoor arena is expected to seat more than 17,000. Tickets will go on sale in mid-January.
The United States and Switzerland are two of the 16 nations competing for the 2009 Davis Cup title as part of the Davis Cup World Group. The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles.
“The tennis fans in Alabama are in for something special. There is nothing in tennis, or sport, like a Davis Cup match,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe. “It’s a tough assignment at home, so crowd support will certainly be an advantage for us. It should be one of the most star-studded Davis Cup matches this year.”
The United States has used the same line-up – world No. 8 Andy Roddick, No. 10 James Blake, and the world’s second-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan – for 10 of the last 11 Davis Cup matches, including all four wins during its 2007 title run. World No. 2 and five-time reigning US Open champion Roger Federer has announced his intention to play in the first round of Davis Cup for the first time since 2004 and is expected to be joined by No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka, with whom he won the Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles this past summer in Beijing.
The best-of-five match series begins Friday, with two singles matches, featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. The final day of play on Sunday will feature two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match.
“We are excited that the USTA has chosen Birmingham to host the Davis Cup,” said Gene Hallman, Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation. “We look forward to showcasing our fine state in front of a global audience and expanding on Birmingham’s strong tennis tradition.”
This will be the first Davis Cup tie ever played in Alabama, making it the 33rd state to host the prestigious competition. It also will be the first major professional tennis event in Birmingham since the city hosted the 1994 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. The city also hosted a USTA Pro Circuit men’s challenger from 1991-93 and 1995-2003 as well as a women’s $10,000 event from 1983-88. Blake won the doubles titles and was the singles runner-up at the Challenger in 2001 and the Bryan brothers won the doubles title in 1999.
The United States and Switzerland have split their two previous meetings in Davis Cup. Switzerland won the last meeting in the 2001 first round in McEnroe’s debut as U.S. Davis Cup Captain and Roddick’s Davis Cup debut. The Swiss were led by relative unknown Federer who won both his singles matches and the doubles point.
The two nations first met in the 1992 Davis Cup Final in Ft. Worth, Texas, as Andre Agassi and Jim Courier each won a singles match and Pete Sampras and John McEnroe teamed for a doubles victory to give the U.S. the title. A 10-year-old Roddick was among the capacity crowds. He said the experience “changed my life. It changed the way I viewed tennis, especially the way I viewed Davis Cup.”
Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition. The USTA organizes, stages and promotes all Davis Cup events in the U.S.
Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Men’s Singles: Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 6-2 7-5 6-2
Women’s Single: Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5
Men’s Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10)
Women’s Doubles: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-3 7-6 (6)
Mixed Doubles: Cara Black and Leander Paes beat Liezel Huber and Jaime Murray 7-6 (6) 6-4
Junior Boys’ Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Devin Britton 6-4 6-3
Junior Girls’ Singles: Coco Vandeweghe beat Gabriela Paz Franco 7-6 (3) 6-1
Junior Boys’ Doubles: Nikolaus Moser and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe beat Henri Kontinen and Christopher Rungkat 6-7 (5) 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Junior Girls’ Doubles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Sandra Roma beat Mallory Burdette and Sloane Stephens 6-0 6-2
“I was that close to winning so many of the big tournaments this season … I was disappointed not winning the Olympics. I was disappointed losing the epic at Wimbledon, but this was as big of a goal maybe this season. I mean, going for five US Opens is probably the last time ever in my career I’ll have that opportunity, so to keep it alive … is something I’m very, very happy about.” – Roger Federer.
“Usually after a Grand Slam I feel like I still have another match to play, but I don’t really feel that way today. I feel liked it’s done and it’s all over and I’m so excited.” – Serena Williams, after winning her third US Open singles championship.
“I had a great two weeks. I really fought hard out there every match, and tonight I really gave everything I had.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Serena Williams in the women’s singles final.
“It’s obviously been a very good couple of weeks. And I’ll try my best to work on my game, work harder, and hopefully come back and do better next time.” – Andy Murray, after losing the men’s singles final.
“I accept the losses with the same calm when I win. So I am disappointing? Yes. But at the same time I am happy because I did good semifinals here.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Andy Murray.
“It was in the back of my mind that I hadn’t won this one. I woke up this morning with a purpose. I woke up really fired up.” – Leander Paes, after winning the US Open mixed doubles with Cara Black.
“I would say that we’re probably one of the best doubles teams there has been in a long while, and we feel confident that whoever we lay against that we’ll give them a good run for their money.” – Liezel Huber, after teaming with Cara Black to win the women’s doubles.
“I’m like on cloud nine right now. This is my first junior tournament win in the ITF, and to do it at the US Open is an every greater achievement for me.” – Coco Vandeweghe, after winning the Junior Girls singles.
“I’m happy about the way I lost. I think that when you get into the court, you can win or lose, but at least I gave everything that I could inside the court, so I’m happy about that. I’m not happy about the loss, but that’s the sport, how it is.” – Tommy Robredo, after his five-set loss to Novak Djokovic.
“I’m the first one actually to do everything. I mean, that’s not my goal, to be the best in Luxembourg.” – Gilles Monfils, a qualifier who reached the quarterfinals.
“The people enjoy the match. He’s more happy than me, but I’m not sad.” – Juan Martin Del Potro, after losing a four-set, four-hour quarterfinal to Andy Murray.
“I’ve been playing pretty high-risk, high-reward tennis and I probably wasn’t about to stop. Given the choice again, I’d probably go for them again. That’s what got me back in the match.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Novak Djokovic.
“Devin gave me a hard time in the first set and especially in the beginning of the second. But I found a way to manage my game, and that was the key.” – Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Devin Britton to win the Junior Boys crown.
“I’m not sure whether I should sing the anthem, do a cartwheel or tell you guys to vote, but I’m the proudest American right now.” – Liezel Huber, a South African-born American, after she and Cara Black won the women’s doubles.
“This is the best team we could assemble at the moment.” – Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, whose team does not include Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, French Open runnerup Dinara Safina, former number one Maria Sharapova and top tenner Anna Chakvetadze.
With his victory over Andy Murray, Roger Federer has won an Open Era record five consecutive US Open singles titles and become the first player in any era to win five straight Grand Slam tournament titles at two different events. Federer also won five consecutive Wimbledons before losing the final to Rafael Nadal on the grass of the All England Club in July. It also is Federer’s 13th Grand Slam tournament crown, one behind men’s record-holder Pete Sampras. In a twist of fate, Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam crown on September 8, 2002. This year’s final was scheduled to be held on Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday, September 8, by Tropical Storm Hanna’s heavy rains two days that cut short Saturday’s play.
It took a long time for Serena Williams to win her third US Open title, something she accomplished by defeating Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5. Her other two US Open championships came in 1999 and 2002. Her last Grand Slam title was at the Australian Open in 2007. By winning, she became the number one-ranked player on the WTA Tour for the first time since August 2003, the longest gap at the top for a woman in ranking history. She now has won nine majors, while this was the first year since 2001 that she played in all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Bob and Mike Bryan didn’t drop a set at the US Open as they won their seventh Grand Slam tournament men’s doubles title, defeating India’s Leander Paes and Luka Dlouhy of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10) in the final. The American brothers previously won at Roland Garros in 2003, the US Open in 2005, Wimbledon in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2006 and 2007. By losing, Paes lost a chance at a US Open doubles double, having already won the mixed doubles crown with Zimbabwe’s Cara Black. Paes won a doubles double in 1999 at both Wimbledon and the French Open. With the victory, the Bryans regained their world number one ranking.
Cara Black had an excellent US Open. She teamed with Liezel Huber to win the women’s doubles, the team’s eighth title this year, by beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. Earlier in the final week, the native of Zimbabwe teamed with Leander Paes of India to win the mixed doubles title. In that final, Black and Paes beat Huber and Jamie Murray.
SAMPRAS A CHAMPION
Pete Sampras, a five-time US Open winner, and Molla B. Mallory are the 2008 inductees into the US Open Court of Champions. The tennis shrine is located just inside the South Entry Gate at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Sampras played in eight US Open finals and compiled a 71-9 record, the second-best winning percentage in the tournament’s history, trailing only Bill Tilden’s 71-7 mark with a minimum of 50 matches played.
Alicia Molik of Australia is calling it quits. The 27-year-old Mollik has retired from international tennis after a long run of injuries, including a debilitating inner-ear virus. Molik peaked at a world ranking of number eight after she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2005, but was sidelined for most of the rest of that season because she was unable to balance due to the ear virus. She won the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and played in the Beijing Olympics last month, losing in the first round. During her career, Molik won five WTA Tour singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles, at the Australian and French Opens.
Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischchev will not have his country’s top players when Russia takes on Spain in the final. Six Russians are ranked in the top ten on the WTA Tour, but only Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva will play Fed Cup. They will be joined by Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Olympic champion Elena Dementieva and silver medalist Dinara will miss the final in Madrid in order to chase ranking points at a tournament in Tokyo, Japan. Maria Sharapova has an injured shoulder and Anaa Chakvetadze is not physically fit.
SERENA, SAFINA IN DOHA
Serena Williams and Dinara Safina have clinched spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held November 4-9 in Doha. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the title and a share of the record prize money of $4.45 million. Previously qualified were Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic in the singles. Besides her US Open triumph, Williams lost to her sister Venus in the Wimbledon final. Safina has had her best season so far, going 37-4 since the beginning of the European clay season, including finishing runnerup at both Roland Garros and the Olympics.
The WTA Tour will have 54 tournaments across 31 countries and record prize money of more than USD $86 million in 2009. There will be 20 premier events, down from 26, and four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – will be mandatory. Under the new structure, top-10 players who miss premier events after making a commitment to play will face suspension, and there will be increased withdrawal fines. The rankings system will focus on players’ best 16 results, and the year will conclude at the end of October, giving players nine weeks before the start of the next year. And on-court coaching will be allowed next season.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) is upset with private promoters canceling tournaments over what it calls bogus reasons. Consequently the AITA wants to have direct control over future tour events. An ATP event, the Bangalore Open, was cancelled for what the promoters said was security reasons. And a WTA Tour event in Mumbai, promoted by a company owned by Indian player Mahesh Bhupathi, also has been cancelled. AITA secretary Anil Khanna said both events were cancelled because the organizers could not find sponsors. India has two other events, the Chennai Open for men and a women’s event in Bangalore.
Rafael Nadal has been named winner of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Sports award for 2008. Eighteen members of the 24-man jury, which was presided over by former International Olympic Committee chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch and which met in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, voted for Nadal, who was selected over US Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Olympic 100 meters champion Ursain Bolt of Jamaica. The Spanish football (soccer) squad, which won this year’s European Championships, was also among the candidates.
The world’s top-ranked player believes outgoing ATP chief executive Etienne de Villiers should have communicated better with the players. De Villiers, who is stepping down when his contract expires in December, has been criticized by Nadal and other players. Asked at the U.S. Open what he’d like De Villiers’ successor to do, Nadal said: “For me, most important thing is, first of all, a little bit more communication than the past. For sure, the second thing is one person who knows a little bit about the tennis, no? And one person who wants to talk about with the persons who knows the tennis well.”
Leader Paes now has a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. The Indian star teamed with Cara Black of Zimbabwe to beat Britain’s Jamie Murray and American Liezel Huber for the US Open title. Paes teamed with American Lisa Raymond to win the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999, and with Martina Navratilova for titles at the 2003 Wimbledon and Australian Opens.
STARK TO NEWPORT
The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, has a new museum director. Douglas A. Stark, a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts, will oversee and manage the museum’s collection, permanent and traveling exhibitions, educational programming, and the activities of the Information Research Center. Stark was formerly with the United States Golf Association Museum, serving most recently as curator of Education and Outreach.
The US Open will have a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium sometime in the future. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” said Arlen Kantarian, the US Tennis Association’s CEO for professional tennis. “It’s the right next thing to do.” Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Hanna caused the final Saturday’s schedule to be curtailed, with the women’s final played on Sunday night and the men’s final pushed back to Monday.
Fresh off winning her third US Open, Serena Williams announced she will participate in the PNC Tennis Classic on November 21 in Baltimore. The Classic is a charity event begun by Pam Shriver. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Since 1986, over USD $4 million has been raised and distributed to many needy non-profits.
Bud Collins was named winner of the ATP Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award during the US Open. Rafael Nadal, the world’s top-ranked player, presented the award to the writer, historian, broadcaster and Tennis Hall of Fame member. His latest book, recently released, is The Bud Collins History of Tennis. The annual ATP award goes to a media member in honor of Ron Bookman, who died in April 1988.
SITES TO SURF
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$416,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay
$125,000 Open d’Orleans, Orleans, France, hard
$225,000 Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, Bali, Indonesia, hard
$100,000 Vogue Athens Open 2008, Athens, Greece, clay
Spain vs. Russia at Madrid, Spain, final, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland
$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard
World Group Semifinals
Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay
World Group Playoffs
Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay
Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass
Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard
Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard
Isral vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard
Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay
Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay
Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group I
Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay
Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group II
Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay
Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard
U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe, appearing on the “Imus in the Morning” radio program Tuesday morning, announced that 19-year-old Sam Querrey will travel to Spain with the U.S. Davis Cup team and will “make his Davis Cup debut” against Spain in next week’s Davis Cup semifinal in Madrid.
McEnroe said an announcement would be forth-coming from the USTA. Querrey is coming off of a strong showing at the US Open where he reached the fourth round where he gave Spain’s No. 1 Rafael Nadal all sorts of trouble in a 6-2, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-3 loss.
Querrey also posted some strong clay court results earlier this year reaching the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo. The relative high altitude of Madrid (2,000-plus feet above sea level) – which provides for faster conditions – should be an asset to Querrey and his booming serve.
If Querrey competes for the U.S., he would be the No. 2 player for the United States and would face Spain’s No. 1 – likely Nadal – in Friday’s opening singles rubber.
The USTA announced last week that the U.S. team would consist of Andy Roddick, James Blake and Bob and Mike Bryan. Official nominations are not due to the International Tennis Federation until today. After official nominations are submitted to the ITF Tuesday, two changes to the team can be implemented before a deadline of one hour before the Thursday draw ceremony on the day before the series begins. Blake has struggled since his fourth-place finish at the Olympic Games, losing to fellow American Mardy Fish in the third round in Flushing.
Gold: Rafael Nadal, Spain
Silver: Fernando Gonzalez, Chile
Bronze: Novak Djokovic, Serbia
Gold: Elena Dementieva, Russia
Silver: Dinara Safina, Russia
Bronze: Vera Zvonareva, Russia
Gold: Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland
Silver: Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson, Sweden
Bronze: Bob and Mike Bryan, United States
Gold: Venus and Serena Williams, United States
Silver: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain
Bronze: Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, China
Juan Martin Del Potro beat Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 to win the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.
Nadia Petrova won the Western and Southern Financial Groups Women’s Open in Mason, Ohio, by defeating Nathalie Dechy 6-2 6-1
Pat Cash beat Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 to win the Hall of Fame Champions Cup title in Newport, Rhode Island
Frederico Gil beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 1-6 6-3 to win the Ted Open Challenger in Istanbul, Turkey
“Nowhere in my best dreams I can imagine something like what I did this year. I know how difficult it is to win these things, and especially here, because you only have one chance every four years.” – Rafael Nadal, after adding Olympic gold to his victories at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
“I never expected a medal – gold, silver or bronze. It’s unbelievable. For me this is the best moment in my career.” – Elena Dementieva, after winning the women’s singles title.
“It does mean more for me to win it with Serena, to share this kind of moment with your sister. I mean, we are practically joined at the hip.” – Venus Williams, who with sister Serena won the women’s doubles.
“Sort of a dream-come-true moment. Maybe it comes around once in a lifetime. It’s almost disbelief, to some degree.” – Roger Federer, after he teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to win the men’s doubles gold medal.
“We’re leaving China on a high. We were obviously disappointed that we couldn’t make the gold medal match, but it’s going to be something really special to us to have that medal back at home.” – Mike Bryan, after teaming with brother Bob to win the bronze medal in men’s doubles.
“To win any medal in the Olympics is a huge achievement. Not many of the athletes get a chance to win a medal.” – Novak Djokovic, who beat James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the third-place bronze medal.
“I felt like I competed hard. I have to take something positive from the way I was playing this week.” – James Blake, who upset Roger Federer, then lost the next two matches at the Beijing Olympics.
“I’m the most consistent player, so that’s why I became number one in the world. And my time will come. I’m only 23 years old. It’s not like I’m at the end of my career.” – Jelena Jankovic, defending her rise to the top of the women’s rankings without having reached the final of a Grand Slam tournament.
“I came here to win an Olympic medal and realistically I was only ever going to win one in either singles or doubles. If I had to pick one, I’d like to win it with my brother.” – Andy Murray, following his upset singles loss to Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan at the Olympics. Andy and brother Jamie Murray then lost in the second round of doubles to Frenchmen Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 6-1 6-3.
“The crowd cheered me with so much passion and many of them used my hometown dialect. It was great to play in front of them.” – Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie after her first-round victory at the Olympics. She wound up teaming with Yan Zi for the bronze medal in doubles.
“You know the feeling when you remember something and smile in the darkness? I had this kind of smile on my face that night.” – Akgul Amanmuradov of Uzbekistan, in her blog about the Olympics opening ceremony.
“He can’t win all the time. It is not humanly possible. I think now the pressure is off, so watch out.” – Tomas Berdych, after losing to Roger Federer, saying the Swiss star just has had too much pressure.
“Rafa played great to get it. That’s what I expected and hoped for many years ago when I got to number one – that if ever somebody were to take it away from me, he would have to play an incredible tennis schedule, win the biggest tournaments, dominate the game basically. I think Rafa totally deserves it.” – Roger Federer, on Rafael Nadal taking over the number one ranking.
“This is definitely not the way I wanted to go out, but I am looking forward to getting a week on court to focus on things not in a match situation.” – Andy Roddick, after being upset in Washington, D.C., by Viktor Troicki.
“Roger has been dominating everyone for four years and now Nadal is beating everyone. For me, there are two number ones.” – Italy’s Potito Starace.
“She served really well. She kept it deep, and I was always under pressure. My serve wasn’t that good, and she has one of the best on the tour, so there was a huge gap.” – Nathalie Dechy, after losing to Nadia Petrova in the final at Mason, Ohio.
“I wouldn’t mind playing Roger or Rafa. I just think it would be fun to play on a big court and get that experience, but whoever I play is fine. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.” – Austin Krajicek, who earned a wild card entry into the U.S. Open by winning the U.S. National Boys’ 18 championship.
Thursday at the Olympics was a rough day for the favorites. It was capped by Li Na’s 7-5 7-5 victory over Venus Williams, but earlier the same day Serena Williams was sidelined by eventual champion Elena Dementieva 3-6 6-4 6-3, and James Blake shocked top-seeded Roger Federer 6-4 7-6 (2). The losers ended up winners, however, as sisters Venus and Serena won the women’s doubles title while Federer teamed with fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles gold.
Rafael Nadal continued his torrid summer by adding Olympic gold to his trophy case. It was the first gold medal for Spain in tennis as Nadal became the first player ranked in the top five in the world to win the men’s singles at the Olympics, never losing serve in his 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-3 victory over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. Nadal also moves up to number one in the world this week, finally supplanting Roger Federer. Nadal has won 38 of his last 39 matches, including victories over Federer in the finals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Gonzalez is the first man since 1920 to medal in men’s singles in two successive Olympic Games.
Roger Federer finally won Olympic gold. He teamed with Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the men’s doubles for Switzerland, beating Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden 6-3 6-4 6-7 (4) 6-3 for the title. It was one of the few bright spots this year for Federer, who has not won a Grand Slam tournament since last September and has seen his 4½ -year reign atop the rankings end when Rafael Nadal became number one in the world. It is Federer’s first medal in his three Olympics.
Russia swept all three medals in the women’s singles, with Elena Dementieva gaining the gold, Dinara Safina the silver and Vera Zvonareva the bronze. It was the first time a country has swept all three medals in one tennis event since Great Britain did it in the women’s singles in 1908. Dementieva beat Safina 3-6 7-5 63 for the gold medal, while Zvonareva stopped Li Na of China 6-0 7-5 in the bronze-medal match. Zvonareva was inserted in the singles draw only after fellow Russian Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Olympics with a shoulder injury. It was the second Olympic medal for Dementieva, who won silver in 2000.
Venus and Serena gave the United States a gold medal in women’s doubles by beating Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain 6-2 6-0. With the win, the Williams sisters improved their lifetime Olympic doubles record to 10-0. They won the doubles gold at Sydney but didn’t play in Athens four years ago because Serena was hurt. In the men’s doubles, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan won a bronze for the United States by beating Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement of France 3-6 6-3 6-4. The medal is the first for the Bryan twins.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia won the bronze in men’s singles when he defeated American James Blake 6-3 7-6 (4). Djokovic, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, followed his medal-winning victory by ripping off his shirt and throwing it to the cheering crowd along with two rackets. He then circled the court waving a Serbian flag. Blake had upset top-seeded Roger Federer in the quarterfinals before losing his next two matches.
Rafael Nadal isn’t the only ATP player having a grand summer. Juan Martin del Potro won his fourth straight tournament by routing Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Legg Mason Classic in Washington, D.C. The 19-year-old Argentine ran his winning streak to 19 matches and has won 38 of his last 40 sets. In his last four tournaments, he has win titles in Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and now Washington, D.C. Troicki, a 22-year-old from Serbia, was playing in his first ATP final.
There apparently were so many fans of Roger Federer living in the Olympic village that the Swiss tennis star instead stayed in a Beijing hotel. Every time Federer showed up at the Olympic village his fellow athletes swamped him with requests for autographs. “It is impossible, really, there are so many athletes asking for photos and so on. It is not ideal to prepare,” Federer said. He stayed in the village at the last two Olympics and even met his girlfriend there during the Sydney Games.
When the Gumulya sisters finally met on a tennis court when it counted, a tournament title was on the line and 22-year-old Sandy was the top seed. But it was 17-year-old Beatrice Gumulya who came away with her first career singles title, capturing the USD $10,000 ITF event in Jakarta, Indonesia. Sandy Gumulya may be Indonesia’s top female player, but she was routed by her younger sister 6-2 6-1. The Gumulya sisters rarely play in the same tournament, and it has usually been Sandy who has toted home the trophies.
Jelena Jankovic showed how much a champion she is when she participated in a gala event in Beijing called Champions For Children. Jankovic took time out before the Olympic tennis competition got underway to support UNICEF in her role as National Ambassador for Serbia, and she also chatted with 14-year-old Chinese tennis champion Liu Yingchong. At the event, which focused on the most vulnerable children, Jankovic advocated for equality for girls. Other celebrities at Champions For Children included movie star Jackie Chan and classical pianist Lang Lang.
SAME OLD MAC
Even with age, rage is still there for John McEnroe. The left-hander was tossed from his opening round-robin match at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, Rhode Island, for a new kind of triple fault: cursing, arguing with the chair umpire and making an obscene gesture at fans. While arguing a line call, the 49-year-old McEnroe was given a code violation warning for uttering an obscenity. When he kept up his tirade against chair umpire Ray Brodeur, he drew two abuse of official penalties. As the argument progressed, fans started yelling at McEnroe to resume play. McEnroe responded with his obscene gesture and was ejected, the first time McEnroe has been defaulted from a match on the Outback Champions Series, a circuit for stars over 30.
SWITCH AT THE TOP
In the maddening world of tennis rankings, Ana Ivanovic has regained the number one spot from her Serbian compatriot Jelana Jankovic, even though she withdrew from the Olympics with a thumb injury. Jankovic played – which could have been her downfall – but was eliminated in the quarterfinals by silver medalist Dinara Safina. If she had won the gold, Jankovic would have retained the number one ranking. Svetlana Kuznetsova also could have become number one if she had won the Olympic gold. Instead, the Russian lost in the first round.
When her shirt was soaked with sweat, Australia’s Casey Dellacqua changed at her courtside chair by stripping down to her sports bra during her 6-2 6-0 loss to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the Olympics. Dellacqua was furious when chair umpire Ali Katebi and then tournament supervisor Donna Kelso refused to allow her to go to the dressing room to change her shirt without having to take an authorized toilet break. “In this humidity, you should be able to change a shirt,” Dellacqua said. “I could literally feel water dripping down my legs. But he wouldn’t let me go off the court … So I just thought, ‘Oh, I’ll strip’.'” That, she did.
SET TO WED
A German newspaper says former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker plans to marry his late manager’s daughter. According to Bild, Sandy Meyer-Woelden, 24, will marry the 40-year-old Becker. The bride-to-be is the daughter of former Becker manager Axel Meyer-Woelden, who died in 1997. Becker is divorced from his first wife, Barbara Becker, with whom he has two children. He also has a daughter with London-based model Angela Ermakova. Meyer-Woelden is a jewelry designer and for several years dated German tennis star Tommy Haas.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been added to the Outback Champions Series for 2009. The Rio Champions Cup will be held March 12-15, 2009, on an indoor hard court at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and will be the first stop for the senior tour in South America for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Jim Courier, John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic are the first three players to commit to play in the eight-player round-robin event.
SHOWING IT AGAIN
The 2008 Wimbledon final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, considered by many as one of the greatest tennis matches ever, will be shown in the United States again on ESPN Classic on Sunday, August 24,. The five-time defending champ Federer came back from two sets down and saved two championship points in the fourth-set tiebreak before falling 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 as Nadal won his first Wimbledon title. The rain-delayed match ended in near darkness after 4 hours, 48 minutes of play, making it the longest (in terms of elapsed time) men’s final in Wimbledon recorded history, and ending 7 hours, 15 minutes after its scheduled start. The defeat also brought to an end Federer’s 65-match winning streak on grass.
Severine Bremond will play in her 19th consecutive Grand Slam tournament singles draw. The Frenchwoman, who turned 29 the past week, received a wild card into the U.S. Open, which begins August 25. Once ranked as high as 34 in the world, Bremond reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon two years ago. Others receiving wild cards into the main women’s singles draw are U.S. Girls’ 18s national champion Gail Brodsky, American Fed Cup players Jamea Jackson and Ahsha Rolle, and American teenagers Asia Muhammad, Melanie Oudin and Coco Vandeweghe. The United States Tennis Associated said an eighth wild card will be given to an Australian player not yet named.
Awarded wild cards into the men’s singles draw are Americans Amer Delic, a former NCAA singles champion; Brendan Evans, Scoville Jenkins, Austin Krajicek, Jesse Levine, and Sam Warburg, along with Carsten Ball of Australia and Laurent Recouderc of France. Krajicek, a distant relative of 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek, earned his wild card by capturing the USTA Boys’ 18 singles national championship, defeating Ryan Thacher 2-6 6-2 6-2 6-0 in the first battle of left-handers in the tournament’s finals history.
The United States boys’ and girls’ teams pulled off a historic feat at the World Junior Tennis Finals, each winning the 14-and-under version of Fed Cup and Davis Cup in Prostejov, Czech Republic. It is the first time in the history of the event that one country has captured both titles. The girls’ team successfully defended its 2007 title, while the boys’ team won the championship for the first time since 2003.
Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will be the site next year for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been held at Amelia Island Plantation just outside Jacksonville, Florida. The tournament, which had been known as Bausch & Lomb, will also get new sponsorship and be known as The MPS Group Championships.
Kelsey Anonsen is giving up her tennis scholarship at the University of Washington to switch to the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, and that school’s women’s basketball team. In high school, the 5-foot-9 (1.7m) guard led her team to a provincial basketball title and was a tournament all-star. In tennis, she was ranked sixth in the Canadian province.
SETS NEW ANTI-DOPING CODE
The International Tennis Federation has ratified a new anti-doping code which will allow more flexibility in determining sanctions. The changes, which will allow the circumstances of a case to be taken into account to a greater extent, go into effect on January 1.
Tennis great Tracy Austin is the latest sports figure to accuse a prominent Los Angeles investment broker of fraud. Austin and her husband Scott Holt filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that Gary R. Fournier charged excessive commissions on bond trades and “churned” their accounts to generate fees from unnecessary transactions. The couple claims damages “in excess of USD $500,000” on the trades, which allegedly occurred from 1994 to 2002, while Fournier worked for Salomon Smith Barney Inc. Its successor firm, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., also is named as a defendant. Fournier has denied wrongdoing. Others who have filed charges against Fournier include former basketball players Jerry West, Mitch Kupchak, B.J. Armstrong and Stacey Augmon; and former major league baseball players Sean Douglass and Rex Hudler.
Washington: Marc Gicquel and Robert Lindstedt beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (6) 6-3
Mason: Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova beat Hsieh Su-Wei and Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Istanbul: Michael Kohlman and Frank Moser beat David Skoch and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (4) 6-4
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com
Forest Hills: www.foresthillstennis.com
US Open: www.usopen.org
Jelena Jankovic: www.jj-jelenajankovic.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$708,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
$74,800 Forest Hills Tennis Classic, Forest Hills, New York, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard
The Olympics event has gotten increasingly compelling.
The Russian women have their 3rd, 4th, and 6th ranked players in the semi-final round (Safina, Dementieva, and Zvonareva respectively). This is unprecedented since the Olympics were reinstated in 1988.
In a nod to the International Tennis Federation (ITF), who did the seeding for the doubles, it seems as though some of the best “singles” players in the world are poised to be decorated in doubles gold. This is in stark contrast to Rennae Stubbs’ comments. The affable Aussie offered a self-serving criticism of the seeding policy (before losing to doubles “specialists” from Spain), suggesting that it is incorrect to factor in singles rankings when seeding for the doubles event.
Roger Federer has continued his quest for gold… but in the doubles. With partner Stan Wawrinka, also ranked top 10 in the world in singles, redemption should come at the hands of surprise Swedes Tommy Johansson and Simon Aspelin during the gold medal round. I will continue to presume that if Roger Federer actually played doubles frequently (and the same can be said for the Williams sisters in women’s tennis) that he would be atop the world ranking. This is reminiscent of Barcelona, when two great singles players (Boris Becker and Michael Stich) ran the tables to take the gold.
The top-seeded Bryan brothers take on Michael Llodra and Arnie Clement for the bronze. The French team beat the Bryans in Davis Cup earlier this year and in the 2007 Wimbledon final.
James Blake lost a heartbreaker to Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in the semi-final. The match was marred by an incredulous moment. The first point of the 19th game in the third set was decided when Blake rifled a passing shot point-blank that evidently clicked off Gonzalez’ racquet before sailing long. Replays confirmed this. Unfortunately, the umpire did not see or hear this. In an act of dubious sportsmanship, the Chilean offered nothing. Commentator Jimmy Arias, who might well be the best in the business, called it exactly what it was: Cheating.
This has been gum-chewing time for US coaches Rodney Harmon and Jay Berger. Like tennis coaches are wont to do, Harmon and Berger have looked presciently calm on the sidelines, but their stomachs surely have been churning.
In the second men’s semi, the relentless Rafael Nadal managed to overcome Novak Djokovic. Theirs is fast becoming the best rivalry in tennis, as Djokovic has the movement and groundstroke artillery to compete favorably against Nadal. The final point of the match came when Rafa chased down some bombs and lofted a short lob that was sure to be smashed away. Unfortunately nerves came into play or Djokovic simply took his eyes off the ball, but he missed the simple overhead smash. His tearful reaction while walking off the court confirmed just how meaningful this Olympic opportunity was for him.
I have been among the naysayers about Olympic tennis, but could not have been proved more wrong. The painful, inconsolable reactions from losing players, and the sheer tension at the end of close matches, have told a clear story. The players love this event, and are desperate for success. Citius, Altius, Fortius indeed!
I suppose that I owe a apology to over a billion Chinese people. Although, to paraphrase Arthur Ashe, I suspect that they would not care too much. Way back when, I predicted that the majority of top-ten players, both men and women, would avoid the Beijing Olympics like the plague. I was wrong.
It was hard for me to envision players flying from America to smoggy, humid Beijing and then back just before the US Open Tennis Championships. These are professional players who (as Jim Courier once put it) eat what they kill. There is no prize money at the Olympics and the US Open offers the most prize money.
In tennis, players grow up dreaming about competing in the majors and a lucky few harbor realistic thoughts of winning them. Tennis at the Olympics always feels like an aberration. It is has made the US Open Series this summer fairly impotent, and I fear that results in my beloved US Open will be particularly screwy due to burn-out and jet-lag. Time will tell.
Meanwhile in Beijing, however, the Americans appear poised for a substantial medal haul. Serena and Venus Williams are in opposite halves and an all-Williams singles final is feeling preordained. James Blake has drawn the increasingly vulnerable Roger Federer in the quarterfinal. If ever the American is to come through against the all-time great Swiss, this could be the time. Bob and Mike Bryan have their eyes firmly set on taking home the gold, as an Olympic title is, literally, the only prize missing from their twin-sized bachelor pads. Lastly, the L & L team of 1996 gold medalist Davenport and current No. 1 ranked doubles player Huber are also strong threats to medal. The tennis event has been pleasantly compelling thus far.
Rafael Nadal beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-3 6-2 in Toronto, Canada, to win the Rogers Cup
Dinara Safina won the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles, California, by beating Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-2
Nicolas Devilder beat Bjorn Phau 7-5 6-0 to win the Porsche Open in Poznan, Poland
Sara Errani won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open, defeating Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 in Portoroz, Slovenia
Filippo Volandri beat Potito Starace 5-7 6-4 6-1 to win the San Marino Cepu Open in San Marino
“I win on every surface, no? I win on grass, on hard, on indoor, and on clay, too. So if I am playing my best tennis I can win on every surface, no?” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Nicolas Kiefer to win the Rogers Cup.
“I haven’t changed anything this year. I just try to practice hard every day and the results are starting to come.” – Sara Errani, who won the Slovenia Open for her second title in three weeks.
“The hard court season just started so it is not the end of the world, but I wish I could have started better. I’ve got to regroup and look forward.” – Roger Federer, after losing his opening Roger Cup match to Gilles Simon.
“I was playing like I was in a dream. I just saw the ball and hit it as hard as possible.” – Gilles Simon, after beating Roger Federer 2-6 7-5 6-4 in Toronto.
“Some points were very close and I didn’t make them. I think I shouldn’t look only at my game today, I should see the whole week in general. I think this was a big step forward for me. This is how I have to look at it.” – Nicolas Kiefer, after losing to Nadal in Toronto.
“In one of those super tiebreakers, it’s pretty much anyone ballgame.” – Mike Bryan, who with his brother Bob led the match tiebreaker 6-3 before losing the Toronto final to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 4-6 10-6.
“Hopefully my time will come. It’s not the end of the world.” – Jelena Jankovic, whose semifinal loss kept her from gaining the world number one ranking.
“It was a perfect match. I have nothing bad to say. My coach said it was the best match I ever played.” – Dinara Safina, after crushing Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-1 in a quarterfinal match at Los Angeles.
“Before it was all golf, golf, golf. I probably practice more tennis than golf now.” – Greg Norman, who finished third in the British Open shortly after marrying tennis legend Chris Evert.
“It’s been suspended. The Tour will evaluate the results of the testing period and make a decision as to whether to adopt on-court coaching or not.” – WTA Tour spokesman Andrew Walker.
“I’m for it but they wanted more opinions. The results weren’t convincing enough and some of the younger players don’t know what they want, so we need more time to see how they feel.” – Player Council representative Patty Schnyder on the WTA Tour suspending on-court coaching.
“It’s a little distracting when you have coaches walking on court and most of them are parents. That’s what I didn’t like about it. On the other hand, it worked perfectly for me.” – Nadia Petrova, about the on-court coaching.
Bob and Mike Bryan led 6-3 in the match tiebreak at the Rogers Cup before Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic won the final seven points to capture their third straight doubles title. It was the third time this season the top two doubles teams have clashed, the Bryan brothers winning the Masters Series Rome, with the Canadian/Serbian team capturing the Masters Series Hamburg. It was the first time Nestor had won the Canadian title since 2000. Simonjic’s best previous finish was the quarterfinals two years ago with Fabrice Santoro.
Jelena Jankovic’s bid to become number one in the world was derailed by Dinara Safina in the semifinals of the East West Bank Classic. If she had reached the final, Jankovic would have replaced fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic as the world’s top-ranked female player. Safina moved up one spot, from ninth to eighth, in the WTA Tour rankings.
No player has been hotter on the WTA Tour lately than Dinara Safina. She was down match point before beating qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva in the round of 16 at the East West Bank Classic. Then she lost a 4-2 opening set lead in the semifinals before winning five of the final six points in the tiebreaker and dominating the second set to knock off Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (3) 6-1. That victory put Safina in her fourth final in her last five tournaments, including the French Open, and she easily won that by beating Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-2. The Russian moved up in the rankings from number nine to number eight, and she improved her match record to 22-3 since the start of May. Eight of her 22 wins have come against top-ten players.
Gilles Simon was the latest stumbling block for Roger Federer. The Frenchman upset the world’s top-ranked player 2-6 7-5 6-4 to hand the Swiss player his second straight defeat. It was Federer’s first match since his five-set loss to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Federer appeared to be in great shape, winning the first four games of the match before losing to Simon. Then Federer and fellow Swiss Stanislav Wawrinka, preparing for the Beijing Olympics, lost their second-round doubles match to Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-4 6-4.
With his victory in Toronto, Rafael Nadal is ready to overtake Roger Federer for the world number one ranking. Federer has held the top ranking for a record 234 weeks, but his commanding 1,445-point cushion at the start of this year is now less than 300 points. “Every player wants to be number one,” Nadal said. “I would love to be number one, but I am number two right now. I’m very happy to be number two, because with my titles, with my points, in a normal situation I would have been number one before. … Because if I am number two, it’s because in front of me there is amazing player like Roger.”
John McEnroe has come to the rescue of the United States Tennis Association. In March, the USTA prepared a series of commercials to promote the 10-tournament summer season known as the U.S. Open Series. The commercials featured the world’s top players and former player Justin Gimelstob. But Gimelstob unleashed a tirade against former WTA Tour player and model Anna Kournikova, and although he has since apologized, the USTA decided to kill the ads. Along came McEnroe, who shot new footage that was inserted into the existing ads. “They should have asked me in the first place,” McEnroe said. “The U.S. Open has always been close to my heart. I grew up in Queens.”
Fans at the Tanga Cement tennis championships in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, complained about one first-round match, charging unfair pairings. Sebastian Mtupili, who is more than 30 years old, beat ten-year-old John Njau 6-0 6-0. Players from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Tanzania competed in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and veterans, but there was no lower age limit for those entering the tournament. The singles winners each received USD $1,000.
A knee injury is keeping Venus Williams on the sidelines this week. The Wimbledon champion withdrew from the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada, because she did not want to risk aggravating the tendinitis in her knee ahead of the Beijing Olympics, according to tournament director Eugene Lapierre. Also pulling out of the tournament was Tatiana Golovin, who has been sidelined since injuring her back at a tournament in Germany in May.
Serena Williams pulled out of the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles, California, because of her left knee. That came a few days after she withdrew from the semifinals at Stanford, California, with the same injury. “I’m working hard to be ready for the Olympics and U.S. Open,” Serena said.
Who will be seeking gold in tennis at the Beijing Olympics is a work in flux. Mary Pierce withdrew because of injury and was replaced by Amelie Mauresmo, who also withdrew. So Pauline Parmentier will play both singles and doubles for France. Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine will replace the injured Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands.
Chung Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung had to rally to win their seventh WTA Tour doubles title. The Taiwanese pair trailed 6-2 4-2 in the final of the East West Bank Classic before fighting back to defeat Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlrova 2-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak). The top seeded team in the tournament, Chan and Chuang have now won two titles at the Tier II level or above. Their first five titles came at the Tier III and IV level. They won a Tier I event at Rome earlier this year.
SANCHEZ VICARIO TO WAIT
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will have to wait two years for her latest honor. The Spanish star had to miss her induction into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame when acute gastroenteritis forced her to cancel her plans to travel to Montreal and instead remain in Spain for treatment. Sanchez Vicario, who won the Canadian tournament in 1992 and 1994, retired as a player after the 2002 season and has since become a tennis analyst for Spanish television. She also is tournament director for a women’s event in Barcelona, Spain.
Boris Becker was on hand in Toronto where he was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame during the men’s event. Becker won the tournament in 1986.
When an eight-year-old girl playing her first junior tennis tournament questioned a number of line calls, officials became suspicious. After they checked, Anastasiya Korzh was ejected from the tournament when she was found to be wearing a radio earpiece under her headband, linked by a cord to a receiver under her shirt. Korzh’s father said he was using the earpiece only to help his daughter keep score in the under-10 tournament.
No more on-court coaching for players on the WTA Tour. The controversial initiative, which was never used at the Grand Slam tournaments, has been suspended by the women’s tour, which will evaluate the results of the testing period and make a decision whether or not to bring it back.
Carlista Mohammed of Trinidad and Tobago will be taking a lot of hardware with her when she travels to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she is on a full tennis scholarship. The 18-year-old Mohammed recently won the women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles at the 2008 Evian National Tennis Championships in Trinidad and Tobago. She also won the singles titles at both the Citi-Tranquil and South Open Classifieds tournaments. “It feels really good to be leaving with everything,” said Mohammed, who will be majoring in linguistics with a minor in sports psychology at Southern University.
SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Eleven tennis players would love to celebrate their birthday with a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. The players who will turn a year older during the Beijing Games, and their birthdays, all in August, are: Roger Federer, Switzerland, Aug. 8; Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine, 8; Pepa Martinez, Spain, 12; Nicolas Lapentti, Ecuador, 13; Alona Bondarenko, Ukraine, 13; Lu Yen-Hsun, Chinese Taipei, 14; Robin Soderling, Sweden, 14; Chan Yung-Jan, Chinese Taipei, 17; Liezel Huber, United States, 21; Nicolas Almagro, Spain, 21; and Olga Govortsova, Belarus, 23.
Kimiko Date-Krumm has continued her amazing return to pro tennis by reaching the finals in singles and doubles at the USD $25,000 Miyazaki tournament in Japan. She won the singles, beating Kyung-Yee Chae of Korea 6-3 6-2, but lost the doubles in a match tiebreak 4-6 6-3 10-7.
Jelena Dokic also was a winner in her latest stop on the comeback trail. She captured a USD $25,000 ITF tournament in Darmstadt, Germany, beating Michelle Gerards of the Netherlands 6-0 6-0 in the final.
Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Michal Mertinak of Slovakia have been suspended and fined by the ATP for betting on tennis matches. Cermak was banned for 10 weeks and fined USD $15,000, while Mertinak received a two-week suspension and a $3,000 penalty. Both were doubles winners earlier this month. Cermak teamed with Roger Wassen to win in Amersfoort, Netherlands, while Mertinak won in Umag, Croatia, with Petr Pala. The ATP said neither player placed bets on his own matches, and the independent hearing officer found no evidence of any intent to affect the outcome of any matches wagered upon.
After dropping his asking price by USD $2 million, Pete Sampras sold his home in Beverly Hills, California. The former tennis star reportedly dropped the price from $25 million to $23 million for the two-story house that has five bedrooms and twelve bathrooms. There is a detached guesthouse, a separate gym and a tennis court. The main house includes a home theater and the master bedroom suite has his-and-hers bathrooms.
SEARCHING FOR DOLLARS
Georg von Waldenfels, head of the German Tennis Federation, told a court that the ATP Tour’s planned tournament restructuring would have a devastating effect on the annual men’s clay court event in Hamburg. The first witness in a federal trial held in Wilmington, Delaware, von Waldenfels said the ATP’s plan to move the Hamburg tournament from May to July and downgrade it to second-tier status would make it difficult to attract top players to Germany since a July date would come when the top players are gearing up for the North American hard court season that leads up to the U.S. Open. The German federation has filed suit claiming the ATP’s tournament restructuring violates antitrust laws by attempting to monopolize player commitments and tournament sanctions in men’s professional tennis.
The bird carcass causing a stink at a tennis tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, will be staying right where it is. The dead heron fledgling likely fell out of a nest in the tree and died, dangling several meters (yards) above a path between tennis courts at Stanley Park. City parks board chairwoman Korina Houghton said the bird won’t be removed because doing so could disturb the large colony of endangered great blue heron nesting in the trees above, one of the largest colonies in the Canadian province.
Toronto: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 6-2 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Poznan: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Santiago Giraldo and Alberto Martin 3-6 6-3 10-5 (match tiebreak)
San Marino: Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau beat Fabio Colangelo and Philipp Marx 7-5 7-5
Los Angeles: Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung beat Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlrova 2-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Portoroz: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual beat Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1
SITES TO SURF
Los Angeles: www.countrywideclassic.com
Vale do Lobo: www.grandchampions.org
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard
$135,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Cordenons, Italy, clay
$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard
$1,340,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal Canada, hard
$145,000 Nordea Nordic Light Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
s Tennis Masters, Graz, Austria, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$525,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, hard
$125,000 Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$100,000 ITF event, Monterrey, Mexico, hard
Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Vale do Lobo, Portugal, hard
If you support tennis in the United States, then I urge you to visit your local newsstands and purchase the July 14-21 double issue of Sports Illustrated. First of all, it celebrates “the Greatest Match Ever” with an action shot of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer doing battle. This will be a collector’s item for years to come.
Tennis has not gotten its due in recent years from SI. The most important sports magazine in the US has not had a tennis player on the magazine cover in over five years
(Serena Williams was the last, from way back in May 2003). What is the corporate reason for this slight? Apparently, the Sports Illustrated “tennis issues” have traditionally been among the worst-selling.
So… tennis supporters please heed the call. Go to your newsstands and purchase one (or many) of this great issue and send a clear message to advertisers and the mainstream media. For a review of ALL the times that tennis players have graced the cover of SI, visit http://subs.timeinc.net/SI/coverstore/CoverMain.jhtml?category=Cover&subcategory=tennis.
By the way, nothing should please the U.S. Tennis Association more than seeing this SI issue. Tennis has enjoyed a growth period over the past half-decade that puts golf (to name just one traditional sport) to shame. The USTA mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis, and this cover exposure on Sports Illustrated is an invaluable marketing bonus.
Speaking of magazine covers, the August issue of Playboy magazine hits newsstands on Friday, July 18th. America’s Ashley Harkleroad, the No. 72 ranked player on the WTA Tour, is this month’s cover girl. This is a brave – and lucrative – move for the 23-year-old. She joins a list of other athletes to pose for Playboy, which includes Amanda Beard, Katarina Witt, and Gabrielle Reece.
Harkleroad will surely enjoy additional attention, and some extreme media scrutiny, throughout the summer on the “greatest road trip in sports.” The US Open Series got underway this week. Visit http://www.usopenseries.com/home/default.sps for daily updates and various previews and features.
On a feel-good note, if you are anywhere near a World Team Tennis franchise, take a carload of kids to these matches. The unique format (men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles played in shorter sets and with no-ad scoring) creates an entertaining night out. It also includes some of the greatest names in our sport, including past champions, current stars, and future prospects. A small sampling of these players includes John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Bob and Mike Bryan, Serena and Venus Williams, and- of course- Anna Kournikova. For a full list, as well as the schedule and standings, visit www.wtt.com. Thankfully, the Tennis Channel is covering many of the matches. Enjoy!
Lastly, a few weeks ago our sport lost a dear friend. Thomas Pura, of Bedford Hills, NY and Los Angeles, passed away suddenly. Pura produced the documentary “50,000 Balls” about top-level 12 & under tennis. His precocious son, TJ, is one of America’s top young prospects. Tom was always a smiling, positive presence in the junior tennis community, and his love and support of our sport was obvious. The Pura family requests that in lieu of flowers any donation in Tom’s name should be made to Partnership for After School Education (PASE), 120 Broadway, 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10271 or Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, 130 West 143rd Street, New York, NY 10037. Rest in peace, Tom. You will be sorely missed.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., June 26, 2008 – The USTA, the governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S., today announced the nine players nominated for the U.S. Olympic team for tennis at the 2008 Olympic Games, August 10-17 in Beijing, China.
U.S. women’s tennis coach Zina Garrison announced a four-woman team with three singles entries and two doubles teams. All three singles players — Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport — are former Olympic gold medal winners. The two nominated U.S. women’s doubles teams consist of world No. 1 Liezel Huber with Davenport and the Williams sisters.
U.S. men’s tennis coach Rodney Harmon announced a five-player men’s team, also with three singles entries and two doubles teams. James Blake, Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri were named to the team in singles. Bob and Mike Bryan, the No. 1 doubles team in the world, and Blake and Querrey have been nominated as the two U.S. men’s doubles teams.
The 2008 Olympic tennis competition will be staged August 10-17 on the hard courts of the Olympic Green Tennis Center in Beijing. The United States has won 15 Olympic medals in men’s and women’s tennis since it returned as a full medal sport in 1988 — more than any other nation.
“Selection to the U.S. Olympic team is a tremendous honor for these athletes, and one they truly deserve,” said Jane Brown Grimes, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “The Olympics provides one of the greatest global platforms to showcase our sport, and we expect this to be a very memorable summer for tennis.”
“Each player selected to our U.S. Olympic team knows what playing for their country is all about,” said Arlen Kantarian, CEO, Pro Tennis, USTA. “All of these players have worn the Stars and Stripes as part of the U.S. Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams, and will be outstanding competitors — and first-class ambassadors — for our country in Beijing.”
“With three former gold medalists on our team and the No. 1 doubles player in the world, we are certainly capable of earning medals at this Olympics,” said Garrison. “I have great memories of the Olympics as a player and coach, and I am thrilled to be a part of the excitement once again.”
“The guys are all honored to receive the nomination to represent their country,” said Harmon. “With all of our singles players making their Olympic debuts and the Bryans searching for one of the few prizes they have still to earn in their accomplished careers, our goal is to be on the podium when all is said and done.”
Serena Williams, 26, will be making her second Olympic appearance having won a gold medal in women’s doubles at the 2000 Olympic Games with sister, Venus, becoming the first set of siblings to win Olympic gold in tennis. A resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Serena has won eight Grand Slam singles titles, and in 2003, became one of only five women to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles within a 12-month period.
Venus Williams, 28, will be making her third Olympic appearance having won a gold medal in both women’s singles and women’s doubles at the 2000 Olympic Games, joining Helen Wills in 1924 as the only player to sweep both titles at the same Olympiad. A resident of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Venus holds four Wimbledon and two US Open singles titles.
Lindsay Davenport, 32, will be making her third Olympic appearance having won a gold medal in singles at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Davenport took 11 months off from professional tennis to have her first child in June 2007, returning to the tour in September 2007. A resident of Laguna Beach, Calif., she has won 55 singles titles and 37 doubles titles in her career, including the 1998 US Open, 1999 Australian Open and 2000 Wimbledon titles.
Liezel Huber, 30, will be making her first Olympic appearance as an American (she competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney representing her native South Africa). A resident of Cypress, Texas, she became an American citizen in July 2007 with the hopes of competing for the U.S. in the Olympics. Ranked No. 1 in doubles since November 2007, Huber has won three Grand Slam doubles titles. She made her debut for the U.S. Fed Cup team in April.
James Blake, 28, will be making his Olympic debut in Beijing. A resident of Tampa, Fla., Blake has the chance to make history by becoming the first African-American male to win an Olympic tennis medal. Blake missed the 2004 Olympic Games while recovering from a broken vertebra. The winner of 10 singles and five doubles titles during his career, he is currently the No. 2 ranked American and in 2007, helped the U.S. win the Davis Cup title.
Sam Querrey, 20, will be making his Olympic debut in Beijing. Querrey is having a breakthrough year in just his second full season as a pro. He broke into the Top 50 in 2007 and his ranking continues to rise after winning his first singles title in March in Las Vegas. He currently resides in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Robby Ginepri, 25, will be making his Olympic debut in Beijing. He missed being named to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team despite being ranked No. 35 in the world (he was the fifth-ranked American entered and the maximum number of singles players per country is four). A resident of Kennesaw, Ga., Ginepri has the distinction of being the only active American man other than Andy Roddick to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam event (2005 US Open).
Bob and Mike Bryan, 30, will be making their second appearance in the Olympics having reached the quarterfinals in 2004 in Athens, losing to eventual gold medalists Fernando Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu of Chile. The Bryans, currently residing in Wesley Chapel, Fla., joined the great, great uncles of President George W. Bush as the only two sets of brothers to play tennis for the United States in the Olympics (Arthur and George Wear competed in the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis and each won a bronze medal with different doubles partners). Together, the Bryans have won the career Grand Slam in doubles and in 2007, helped the U.S. capture its first Davis Cup title since 1995.
Venus and Serena Williams are the last American women to win Olympic gold in tennis. The women were shut out of the medal stand at the 2004 Olympic Games for the first time since tennis returned to Olympic competition in 1988.
Andre Agassi was the last American man to win Olympic gold in men’s singles when he defeated Spain’s Sergi Bruguera in the gold medal match at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Ken Flach and Robert Seguso are the last American team to win Olympic gold in men’s doubles when they defeated Sergio Casal and Emilio Sanchez of Spain in the gold medal match at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Mardy Fish was the last American to earn an Olympic medal in tennis, winning silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Tennis was part of the Olympic program from the first modern Olympiad in 1896 until 1924. After a 64-year hiatus, tennis returned to the official Olympic program in 1988, becoming the first sport to feature professional athletes.
Team nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. A not-for-profit organization with 725,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.