One week after the 2013 Davis Cup began, Fed Cup starts with four ties hosted by European nations. We look ahead to what viewers can expect from the women’s national team competition. Having gone 7-1 in Davis Cup predictions, will our hot streak continue?
Czech Republic vs. Australia: The first of the ties features the only two members of the top ten playing a Fed Cup World Group tie this weekend. But they also are the two most abjectly slumping women in that elite group, having slumped to equally deflating second-round exits at the Australian Open after imploding at tournaments earlier in January. The defending champions hold a key trump card if the match reaches a decisive fifth rubber, where their experienced doubles duo of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova should stifle whatever pair the Australians can compile. An ideally balanced team with two top-20 singles threats and a top-5 doubles team, the Czechs thus need earn only a split in singles, while the Aussies must get a victory from Dellacqua, Gajdosova, or Barty. Even in that scenario, they would need Stosur to sweep her singles rubbers, not as plausible a feat as it sounds considering her habit of embarrassing herself with national pride on the line. The boisterous Czech crowd might lift Kvitova’s spirits, similar to last year’s final when she eked out a victory as Safarova donned the heroine’s garb. But she too has struggled early this year, leaving the stage set for a rollercoaster weekend.
Pick: Czech Republic
Italy vs. USA: To paraphrase the producers who initially turned down the musical Oklahoma: no Williams, no Stephens, no chance. Like that show, which became a smash hit on Broadway, this American Fed Cup team has exceeded expectations in recent years when understaffed. Singles #1 Varvara Lepchenko enjoyed her breakthrough season in 2012, edging within range of the top 20, and Jamie Hampton announced herself with a three-set tussle against eventual champion Azarenka at the Australian Open. Hampered by a back injury in Melbourne, Hampton likely will trump the inconsistent Melanie Oudin after she showed how much her groundstrokes and point construction skills had improved. That said, Oudin has compiled plenty of Fed Cup experience, and her feisty attitude that so often thrives in this setting. Doubles specialist Liezel Huber, although past her prime, should provide a plausible counterweight to the top-ranked doubles squad of Errani and Vinci. The bad news for an American team, however, is the clay surface and the fact that their opposition also has proved themselves greater than the sum of their parts. Both inside the top 20 in singles as well, Errani and Vinci look set to take over from Schiavone and Pennetta as women who rise to the occasion in Fed Cup. Home-court advantage (and the choice of surface that accompanies it) should prove decisive.
Russia vs. Japan: Surprised at home by Serbia in last year’s semifinals, the Russians had become accustomed to playing final after final in Fed Cup during their decade of dominance. Even without the nuclear weapon of Maria Sharapova, the ageless Shamil Tarpischev has assembled troops much superior in quality to the female samurai invading from Japan. All of the Russians rank higher than any of the visitors, while Maria Kirilenko, Ekaterina Makarova, and Elena Vesnina all reached the second week at the Australian Open (Makarova reaching the quarterfinals). And world #31 Pavlyuchenkova reached the final in Brisbane when the new season started, although her production has plummeted since then. At any rate, Tarpischev has many more options for both singles and doubles than does his counterpart Takeshi Murakami, who may lean heavily on the 42-year-old legend Kimiko Date-Krumm. Older fans may recall Date-Krumm’s victory over Steffi Graf in Fed Cup, which came in the friendly confines of Ariake Colosseum rather than Moscow’s sterile Olympic Stadium. Kimiko likely will need a contribution of Ayumi Morita, who just defeated her in Pattaya City last week and has claimed the position of Japanese #1. One could see Date-Krumm or Morita swiping a rubber from Kirilenko or Makarova, neither of whom overpowers opponents. But it’s hard to see them accomplishing more.
Serbia vs. Slovakia: This tie in Nis looked nice a few days ago, slated to feature two gorgeous women—and only slightly less gorgeous games—in Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova. Adding a bit of zest was another former #1 Jelena Jankovic, who always has represented Serbia with pride and determination. When both of the Serbian stars withdrew from the weekend, then, the visitors suddenly shifted from slight underdogs to overwhelming favorites. Granted, the hosts still can rely on the services of Bojana Jovanovski, who fell just short of the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in a breakthrough fortnight. Beyond the 15th-ranked Cibulkova, Slovakia brings no woman in the top 50 to Nis. A more dangerous talent than her current position of #58 suggests, though, Hantuchova should fancy her chances on an indoor hard court against whomever Serbian captain Dejan Vranes nominates for singles between Vesna Dolonc and Alessandra Krunic. She has shone in Fed Cup while compiling a 27-12 singles record there, whereas even Jovanovski has played just seven singles rubbers. Hand a slight edge to Slovakia in the doubles rubber as well because of Hantuchova’s experience in that format, where she has partnered with Magdalena Rybarikova (also here) to defeat the Serbs before.
Come back on Monday for previews of the ATP and WTA tournaments next week, following the format of last week’s ATP preview.
It’s as if winning streaks are a prerequisite if you’re going to be at the top of the rankings. Novak Djokovic won dozens of matches in a row last year, and in 2012, Victoria Azarenka is unbeaten.
In women’s doubles, the world’s number-one pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond is racking up the victories. The Americans are in the semifinals at this week’s tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., bringing their winning streak in ’12 to 15.
Igor Kunitsyn beat Marat Safin 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3 to win the ATP Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russia
David Nalbandian beat Robin Soderling 6-2 5-7 6-3 to win the Stockholm Open in Stockholm, Sweden
Philipp Petzschner upset Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 to win the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy in Vienna, Austria
Jelena Jankovic won her third straight title, the Kremlin Cup, by beating Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-4 in Moscow, Russia
Goran Ivanisevic beat Henri Leconte 7-6 (0) 6-3 to win the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Budapest, Hungary
“This is a perfect ending for me to win the doubles title in Stockholm in my last match in Sweden, with my family and friends, old coaches, watching me. The only person who was missing today was my son, Max, who is back in Monte Carlo at school.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who is retiring this year.
“I was hoping to win a couple of games and that’s it. I still don’t know how I was able to outplay Marat, but I guess it happens. I still don’t understand how I won.” – Igor Kunitsyn, who won the ATP Kremlin Cup by upsetting Marat Safin in the final.
“It’s amazing to have beaten my first Top 10 player (Stanislas Wawrinka), my first semifinal straight away, my first final, my first title, and also playing in the doubles final. There were so many new and amazing things that happened to me this week.” – Philipp Petzschner, after winning the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy, a tournament in which he originally planned to play only doubles.
“I’ve worked really hard in the last three weeks, winning three titles in a row. It’s not easy.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Kremlin Cup.
“It seems she had an answer for everything I tried.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the Kremlin Cup final.
“I played great all week, almost perfect every match here. I lost a set today but that’s part of the game.” – David Nalbandian, after winning the Stockholm Open.
“I’m at a good moment in my career. I think this is the best I have played in three years. I’m excited about the indoor season because I don’t have any points to defend and I think I can do very well in the next three tournaments I play: Madrid, Lyon and Paris.” – Robin Soderling, who lost the Stockholm Open final.
“If they (WTA) don’t listen to what we have to say we might even choose to boycott the new tour.” Dinara Safina, about the new rules for the women’s tour.
“It would be great to have another duel with Federer. If I play him it means I will be number one at the end of the year because I will have reached the final. I can only meet him there.” – Rafael Nadal, about playing Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters.
“I totally came here because I love winning. I have never won this title, but I just had a day where I could not control my game. She played well.” – Venus Williams, after her first-round loss to Flavia Pennetta at the Kremlin Cup.
“Sydney is a happy hunting ground for me. Some good hard matches in Sydney will certainly help me in my preparation for the 2009 Australian Open.” – Leyton Hewitt, who has been recuperating from a hip operation, saying he will return to tennis at the Sydney tournament.
“I am looking forward to renewing some great rivalries, particularly with Jim Courier, and getting my competitive juices flowing again at The Stanford Championships.” – Boris Becker, who will compete in a senior tournament in Dallas, Texas, this month.
Dina Safina says the top players could boycott next year’s WTA Tour if their questions about the changes to the schedule are left unanswered. Under the new rules, the top players will have to play designated tournaments while lower-ranked players will be able to play any tournament they choose. Under the so-called Road Map 2010, there will be 20 Premiere tournaments with players committed to play in at least 10. Any player qualifying for the top four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – must play that event. The top-ranked players must also play in at least four of five other events – Canada, Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati and Tokyo. The WTA has committed to having at least seven of the world’s top 10 players at each of those events.
When Germany’s Philipp Petzschner arrived in Vienna, he was planning on playing only in doubles. But he qualified for the main singles draw, then kept winning until he came away with the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy title. Petzschner, who have never made it past the quarterfinals in an ATP tournament before Vienna, beat top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, former world number one Carlos Moya and 2004 Bank Austria champion Feliciano Lopez before upsetting fourth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 in the title match.
Politicians in Sydney want to build a multi-million dollar tennis facility and take the Australian Open away from Melbourne. The Victorian capital has the rights to stage the year’s first Grand Slam tournament until 2016. According to news reports, the New South Wales state government, however, wants to build a tennis complex in Glebe, which is close to the Sydney city center, and try to get the Australian Open to move after its contract with Melbourne expires.
She’s number one in the world and continuing her winning ways. Since reaching her first Grand Slam tournament final at the US Open, Jelena Jankovic has won three straight titles in as many weeks. It wasn’t easy, as Jankovic was down a set and a break before beating Vera Dushevina, then rallied from 3-1 down in both sets to beat Flavia Pennetta. In the semifinals, she lost the first set at love to defending champion Elena Dementieva before winning 0-6 6-1 6-0. She easily beat Vera Zvonareva in the final, 6-2 6-4. It has been three years since a woman has won three tournaments in three weeks, the last to achieve the feat being Nicole Vaidisova.
Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman played the final singles match of his career at the Stockholm Open, losing to “lucky loser” Juan Monaco in the opening round. At Wimbledon in June, Bjorkman announced his retirement plans, saying “I feel it is time to begin the next chapter of my life.” Making his 16th appearance in Stockholm, where he has won the singles twice, Bjorkman went away a champion. He teamed with Kevin Ullyett to win the doubles, beating fellow Swedes Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3. His victory in his 1,002nd career doubles match was his 700th match win and 53rd doubles title. He reached a career high singles ranking of number four in 1997, and in 2006 reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, losing to eventual champion Roger Federer.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina pulled out of his second-round match at the Vienna tournament with a toe injury. Del Potro, who won his first four ATP titles in a row in July and August, has been struggling with a broken nail on his right foot since the US Open.
The singles winners at the Australian Open in January will receive about USD $1.15 million each, based on current exchange rates. Tournament officials announced the prize money for the 2009 tournament winners will be increased 18 percent from this year’s event. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open will offer total prize money of USD $15.6 million. The upcoming tournament will feature the prospect of Roger Federer winning his 14th major title to equal the record of Pete Sampras. Federer lost in the semifinals at Melbourne in 2008 to eventual winner Novak Djokovic. Federer then lost to Rafael Nadal in the finals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon before winning the US Open. Maria Sharapova is the defending Australian Open women’s champion.
SEEKING COURT REDRESS
The German Tennis Federation is planning to return to court and appeal the ATP downgrading of the men’s tournament in Hamburg. In August, a jury in Wilmington, Delaware, sided with the ATP’s planned tournament restructuring, a move that moved the Hamburg clay court event from May to July and eliminated it as a key tune-up for Roland Garros. The German federation said on its web site that it aims to maintain the Hamburg tournament’s status and ask for unspecified damages. The federation did not specify which court would hear the appeal or when it would be filed.
David Nalbandian is upset that the Davis Cup final will be played in Mar del Plata, Argentina, instead of his hometown of Cordoba. The Argentine Tennis Association wanted to play the final against Spain next month on a fast indoor court in Cordoba. But that site was not approved by the International Tennis Federation., which selected instead Mar del Plata. Both venues are smaller than the 12,000-seat capacity the ITF has said it wanted. But the ITF said its selection was made because there were “many factors to consider,” including the ability to expand seating at Mar del Plata. “It’s a very strange decision,” Nalbandian said. “The players and captain and the federation want to play in Cordoba. I don’t know why they chose the other place.”
Three of the world’s top women – Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – have agreed to play a new World Team Challenge in Hong Kong next year as a warm-up event for the Australian Open. The tournament will feature four teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. Each team will consist of three players competing in singles and doubles. Jankovic will lead Team Europe, Williams the Americas, Sharapova Team Russia and Sania Mirza of India the Asia-Pacific squad.
Leyton Hewitt will make the Sydney International tournament in January his first tournament since undergoing hip surgery. Hewitt underwent the operation after the Beijing Olympics and says his recovery is going well. Once ranked number one in the world, Hewitt has won the Sydney title four times, most recently in 2005.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker will make his Outback Champions Series debut at The Stanford Championships, to be played this month in Dallas, Texas. It will be the German’s first tournament in the United States since he competed in the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1999. Others scheduled to play in the seniors event will be Jim Courier, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, Mark Philippoussis, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias.
SET FOR THE BAR
Max Mirnyi is now ready for another court. The former world number one doubles player has received his diploma from Belarus State University, majoring in International Law with an emphasis on the international protection of children’s rights. The 31-year-old native of Minsk has been a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and has taken part in the various national and international children’s programs in the framework of the ATP. He had been working on his law degree for the past five years.
SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONS
Cara Black and Liezel Huber have clinched the top spot for 2008 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Doubles Rankings. The pair won eight doubles titles this year, including the US Open, the duo’s fourth career Grand Slam tournament title. It is the second straight season that Black and Huber will finish as the joint top-ranked players in doubles. The two are only the second doubles team to finish a season as joint top-ranked players, and only the fourth doubles pair to jointly hold the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour number one doubles ranking since its inception in 1984. Black is a native of Zimbabwe, while Huber was born in South Africa but has become a naturalized American citizen.
When Marat Safin won his 400th career match, he didn’t know it. Safin broke Noam Okum in the 10th game of the final set, earning a 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-4 first-round victory at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The ATP website, however, said Safin mistakenly thought it was 6-5 and went to his chair to towel off during what he thought was a changeover. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes leaned over and informed Safin the match was over. Safin ran his career match win total to 402 before losing in the final to Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3.
STOPPED AT THE GATE
The ATP is out to stop 15 professional gamblers from attending tournaments. Gerard Tsobanian, tournament director of the Madrid Masters, said the men’s tennis tour sent the tournament a list of names and credit card numbers of 15 bettors who they want excluded. The 15 were apparently found placing bets on site to exploit a 20-second delay in scores being received by bookmakers. Tsobanian said it was “a very international list” and that some of the gamblers had tried to get into tournaments by posing as journalists.
Anna Kournikova will compete in special mixed doubles matches at The Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas, later this month. The former top ten player who still appears on magazine covers, will join members of the 2008 Outback Champions Series tennis circuit on the campus of Southern Methodist University for the tournament. Two of the players from the men’s tournament along with another female player will play compete in the mixed doubles.
Hank Jungle, who coached Tim Gullikson and Johan Kriek, among others, has died at his Fort Myers, Florida, home. Jungle, who retired after serving 20 years in the military, met Gullikson when he was in the Air Force and living in Dayton, Ohio. A native of New Orleans, Jungle played tennis at Tulane University. He had been tennis director at Cypress Lake Country Club in recent years and had given lessons the day before he died.
Swedes Anders Jarryd and Mikael Pernfors complete the eight-player field who will compete in the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships in Surprise, Arizona, next month. Others in the field include feisty fan favorite John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jimmy Arias, Wayne Ferreira, Todd Martin and Mark Philippoussis. Surprise has signed a three-year agreement with the Outback Champions Series.
Moscow (women): Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4 6-4
Moscow (men): Sergiy Stakhovsky and Potito Starace beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 7-6 (4) 2-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Stockholm: Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet beat Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3
Vienna: Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram beat Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 6-1 7-5
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid, Madrid, Spain, hard
$125,000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
$600,000 Zurich Open, Zurich, Switzerland
$100,000 Internazionali Tennis Val Gardena, Ortisei, Italy, carpet
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,000,000 Davidoff Swiss Indoors, Basel, Switzerland, carpet
$1,000,000 St. Petersburg Open, St. Petersburg, Russia, hard
$800,000 Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon, Lyon, France, carpet
$125,000 Samsung Securities Cup Challenger, Seoul, Korea, hard
$600,000 Generali Ladies Linz, Linz, Austria, hard
$225,000 FORTIS Championships Luxembourg
$100,000 Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne, Poitiers, France, hard
$100,000 2008 OEC Taipei Ladies Open, Taipei, Taiwan, carpet
Stanford Championships, Outback Champions, Dallas, Texas
Mark Keil, director/producer of the tennis documentary that depicts life on the tour in the late 90’s, tells us about the tour event that is being played out in Beijing, China. The stop this week takes us to the home of chicken chow mein, where the player’s travel back to the far east.
This spectacle is a great place in that the tourist attractions for the player’s are endless. In 1997, I teamed up with TJ Middleton of Dallas. It’s quite a way’s to go play an event, but the tour provides free hotel rooms for main draw player’s at each event. The only major expense is the airfare; the tournament usually has a gratis meal plan for at least two eats a day. The singles main draw competitors receive a room for the entire week. The doubles players each get their own accomodations up until the night they lose. When that happens, the player’s usually then bunk up and share a room with another guy until they leave to go onto the next tourney. Even at the future and challenger level do the male’s receive a free hotel stay.
The entry level tournaments to the tour are similar to the mini tours in golf, and the minor league baseball system in the states. This housing system help’s out immensely with the player’s being able to make a living. They then can pocket most of their prize money without having too many expenditures. I got a chance to visit the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. The huge mural of the late leader of China, Chairman Mao, is an awesome sight to see. The event is now played at the ‘08 Olympic tennis venue. First round, Middleton and I played Byron Black and Jonathan Stark. Bryon won the NCAA doubles championships with Eric Amend for the University of Southern California. He was a stalwart Davis Cup player for his native Zimbabwe for many years. His sister Cara Black, is currently the No. 1-ranked individual doubles player in the world, and shares that position with her partner Leizel Huber. Stark is from Medford, Oregon, and played at Stanford along with competing for his country in Davis Cup doubles. He now lives in Seattle. He actually was the most normal person that ever played tennis at Stanford. Most of the other Cardinal were very peculiar. In the second round, we beat the unusually superstitious Dane Kenneth Carlsen and America’s David Wheaton. David grew up in Minneapolis, was a Wimbledon singles semifinalist, and played for the US in our sport’s version of the Ryder Cup. He was a good hockey player, and now has a radio show and wrote a book titled “The University of Destruction.” It theorizes that US college’s are warping are youth’s mind’s. We played well and won 7-5, 6-7, 6-2.
In the semifinals, Middleton and I lost to India’s current Davis Cup partnership Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. Mahesh was an All American out of Ole Miss, and used the scholarship he received there to improve his game immensely. He now also own’s a major production company in India and manages athlete’s and personalities. Paes is still one of the most successful doubles player’s on the tour, having just won the US Open mixed title and reaching the men’s doubles finals’ as well. TJ and I had great time there, cruising around the city and having a few Tsing Tsau’s in the evening’s. We practiced hard though, and made around $7,500 each that week. The odyssey continue’s and until next week, check out all of the result’s in the small print at the back of your local sport’s page.
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
Marin Cilic beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 to win the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, Connecticut.
Caroline Wozniacki beat Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven
Lucie Safarova won the Forest Hills Classic in New York City by beating Peng Shuai 6-4 6-2
“There is always a little buzz, even in the middle of the points. That’s the main difference between this tournament and others. It’s good for the crowd to get into. It’s different to Wimbledon, which is very quiet. Here it is the opposite – it’s much louder. It’s good and it’s a different feeling to play. I love coming here.” – Britain’s Andy Murray on playing the US Open.
“I want to dedicate my victory today to all the victims and all the families of the victims in the flight in Madrid and send them all of my support and everything of me that I can help for them. It is my hometown, and when this thing happened I felt so bad.” – Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, playing in the Pilot Pen Tennis but thinking of the Spanair jetliner crash in Madrid, Spain, that killed 153 people.
“I was injured at the beginning of the year and haven’t had my best results, but this week has helped me regain my confidence in time for the US Open.” – Lucie Safarova, who won the Forest Hills Classic.
“I am having fun. I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing for a big crowd. You know, when you’re in the finals, you don’t have anything to lose. You can just win.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning the Pilot Pen women’s singles.
“This was a very important week for me. I don’t think I could have asked for a better week before the U.S. Open.” – Daniela Hantuchova, who is coming off an injury, after losing in both singles and doubles at the Pilot Pen.
“I would love to become number one in the world and win Grand Slams. I think everyone practicing this hard, you know, putting such an effort in it wants to become number one in the world. But there’s only one number one. You know, I still have 21 spots to go. And hopefully after this tournament I have a little bit less.” – Caroline Wozniacki.
“This is my eleventh final and I’ve only won twice. It’s starting to really sting, nine times losing. I’ve got a lot of runner-up trophies in my office in my house. These are the ones I need to get.” – Mardy Fish, after losing the Pilot Pen final.
“I had never faced a serve like that before. I needed to return better, and I didn’t.” – John Isner, the 6-foot-9 (205 cm) American, after losing to 6-foot-10 (208 cm) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the Pilot Pen.
“I am looking forward to playing again in January in my home country and using that as a springboard to compete at my best again on the world stage for at least a couple of more years.” – Lleyton Hewitt, who has undergone hip surgery and will miss the rest of 2008.
“It’s very disappointing for me to miss the U.S. Open. I’ve always done well in this tournament.” – Sania Mirza, who pulled out of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament with a right wrist injury.
“We’ve had a great year so far and look forward to finishing the season in Doha and defending our Championships title.” – Cara Black, after she and Liezel Huber became the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
“I have nothing more to say to this man. We spoke to him last year, trying to understand why he is doing these things, but it is impossible, it’s a waste of time.” – Rafael Nadal, talking last spring about Etienne de Villiers, who is stepping down as head of the ATP.
“I understand how much the Olympics means to many people. But for me, as a professional tennis player, it is just a tournament.” -Li Na, who made Chinese history by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams and reaching the semifinals at the Beijing Games.
If Rafael Nadal wins his third straight Grand Slam tournament, he would take home the biggest paycheck in tennis. Nadal clinched the 2008 Olympus US Open Series men’s title, and that would result in a USD $1 million bonus should he win the US Open. Add that to the winner’s purse at the two-week event and Nadal could increase his bank account by USD $2.5 million. Roger Federer won the Open Series title and the US Open last year, pocketing a record USD $2.4 million. Dinara Safina won the women’s Open Series and could also earn a USD $1 million bonus should she win the US Open women’s singles.
A parade of past winners will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium when the US Open’s Opening Night Ceremony celebrates the 40th anniversary of open tennis, including Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabrielle Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas and Mats Wilander. Virginia Wade, winner of the first U.S. Open in 1968, will be on hand, while the men’s champion, the late Arthur Ashe, will be represented by his widow, Jeanne Moutossamy-Ashe, and daughter, Camera Ashe. Other past champions on hand will include Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick.
The man from Disney, Etienne de Villiers, is stepping down as executive chairman and president of the ATP, the governing body of men’s professional tennis, when his contract expires at the end of the 2008 season. De Villiers has served as ATP executive chairman since June 2005. A native of South Africa, de Villiers had come under heavy criticism from the game’s top players, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. In March at the Sony Ericsson Open, every top 20 player signed a letter to the ATP Board of Directors demanding that de Villiers’ contract not be renewed until other candidates were interviewed for the position. An executive at Disney, de Villiers was hired by the ATP with a mandate to make change. He did that while also making enemies. The ATP recently won a court case but spent millions on its defense.
Hip surgery will keep Lleyton Hewitt from playing in this year’s U.S. Open. The 2001 winner at New York’s Flushing Meadows, Hewitt said in a statement published on his web site that he is frustrated at not being able to play but had exhausted every possibility besides surgery. He also will miss Australia’s Davis Cup World Group playoff in Chile later in September. His last tournament was the Beijing Olympics where he lost in the second round to Rafael Nadal.
Leander Paes has stepped down as captain of India’s Davis Cup team. A Davis Cup regular for 17 years, Paes has been named to the Indian team that will play Romania in a World Group playoff September 19, with the winner remaining in the World Group. Sumant Misra has been named non-playing captain for the tie in Bucharest, Romania, with Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj on the squad. In an uneasy partnership, Paes and Bhupathi reached the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics before losing to eventual gold medalist Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Once one of the world’s top doubles teams, Paes and Bhupathi split, and Bhupathi and his teammates tried unsuccessfully in February to have Paes removed as Davis Cup captain.
A right wrist injury means India’s Sania Mirza will miss the US Open. Mirza had surgery on her wrist in April, keeping her off the WTA Tour for some time. The injury flared up during her first-round match at the Beijing Olympics, and after tests, she was advised to rest for three weeks. In 2005, Mirza had her best US Open, reaching the fourth round.
Stefan Koubek of Austria has pulled out of this year’s US Open. Ranked 105th in the world, Koubek has not played since being routed by Robin Soderling 6-0 6-1 at the Sony Ericsson Masters in Miami in March.
Ivan Ljubicic is the newest member of the ATP Player Council. The 29-year-old Ljubicic was elected to the vacant position of European Player Board Representative and will fulfill the existing term that ends in December 2009. Ljubicic served as vice president and president of the ATP Player Council in 2006-07.
Having won his last four tournaments, Juan Martin del Potro said he was tired and withdrew from the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut. The 19-year-old Argentine won titles at Stuttgart, Germany; Kitzbuhel, Austria; Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C., moving up to number 17 in the world rankings.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball will be held in New York City on Friday, September 5, the last Friday of the US Open. The special night will honor Billie Jean King, Michael Chang, Mark McCormack and Eugene L. Scott along with others. Chang, McCormack and Scott were inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this summer. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the third annual Eugene L. Scott Award to King. The award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world.
SONY ERICSSON QUALIFIERS
Cara Black and Liezel Huber are the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, to be played in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. Black and Huber have teamed up so far this year to win seven WTA Tour titles, giving them 19 career doubles titles as a team. The top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete at the Championships.
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki continued her winning ways in New Haven, Connecticut, capturing the Pilot Pen by knocking off top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the final. It was Wozniacki’s second title of her career, both coming this month. The 18-year-old had never even been in a WTA Tour final until this month, winning her first crown in Stockholm, Sweden, before reaching the third round at the Beijing Olympics where she lost to eventual gold-medalist Elena Dementieva. Her run at New Haven included victories over third-seeded Marion Bartoli, seventh-seeded Alize Cornet and eighth-seeded Dominka Cibulkova.
Two tournaments scheduled to be held in the nation of Georgia have been canceled due to the current political situation. The International Tennis Federation called off a USD $10,000 event to be held at Tbilisi, beginning September 15, and a USD $25,000 tournament scheduled to be held in Batumi, beginning September 22.
Marin Cilic is finally a champion on the ATP circuit. The 19-year-old from Croatia beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 at the Pilot Penn in New Haven, Connecticut, a US Open tuneup tournament. Cilic, playing in a final for the first time in his pro career, broke Fish five times, including three times in the third set. Cilic joines Ivo Karlovic as the only Croats to win ATP titles this year.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present a gallery exhibition at the 2008 US Open entitled “Home Court: The Family Draw.” The exhibition will be on view at the US Open Gallery in Louis Armstrong Stadium during the two weeks of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The exhibit provides an inspiring look at the relationship of tennis and family and features stories of many remarkable families.
The four governing bodies of tennis have hired a former Scotland Yard detective to run the sport’s new integrity unit. Besides hiring Jeff Rees, the WTA and ATP tours, the International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slam Committee adopted an anti-corruption code to ensure the same set of penalties apply across the professional ranks. Rees, who previously worked for the International Cricket Council’s security unit, was part of an independent panel that issued a report in May saying 45 matches merited further investigation because of irregular betting patterns.
Players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour aren’t the only ones taking it off for the camera. Some of the ATP players are shedding their sports gear for more natural attire in a new calendar. Among those showing off their “muscles” are Fernando Verdaso, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Haas, Juan Monaco, Paradorn Srichaphan and Dmitry Tursonov.
Paraguayan javelin thrower Leryn Franco finished 51st overall in a field of 52 competitors at the Beijing Olympics, but nobody seemed to care. The 26-year-old part-time model and bikini contestant was competing in her second Olympics: She placed 42nd overall at the 2004 Athens Games. It is reported that she is dating Novak Djokovic, who in January became the first player from Serbia to win a Grand Slam tournament and the youngest player in the Open era to have reached all four Grand Slam semifinals. Franco and Djokovic were seen walking hand-in-hand at the Olympic village in Beijing.
One day after he resigned as president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf was playing tennis on the court at his home and relaxing with family and friends. “He was in a good mood, very relaxed,” said Tariq Azim, who was among 30 supporters who gathered at Musharraf’s house outside the capital, Islamabad. “We used to meet him there in the past, but with no official duties, he was completely different.”
Harry Marmion, the 43rd president of the United States Tennis Association, is dead. Marmion, foremost an educator, served as president of St. Xavier College in Chicago and of Southampton College of Long Island University. He also was vice president for academic affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. But he was best known as the USTA president when Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, was opened in 1997. Upon his retirement from the presidency, he was credited with playing an integral role in electing Judy Levering as the first female president of the USTA.
New Haven men: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 7-5 6-2
New Haven women: Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond beat Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu 4-6 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (second week)
Juan Martin Del Porto beat Andy Roddick 6-1 7-6 (2) to win the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, California
Sergiy Stakhovsky won the Open Castilla y Leon in Segovia, Spain, defeating Rhiago Alves 7-5 7-6 (4)
Jim Courier beat John McEnroe 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Countrywide Classic Legends title in Los Angeles, California
Marcelo Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD in Algarve, Portugal, when Goran Ivanisevic retired after losing the first set 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-1 to win an ITF women’s event in Monterrey, Mexico
“I feel good considering the calendar this year, which was terrorizing. It’s been a good year, but a difficult one.” – Rafael Nadal, who replaces Roger Federer as the world’s top player on August 18.
“If maybe I am a player who doesn’t have any Grand Slams, maybe a Grand Slam would still do more for my own career. But because I have 12 already, for me an Olympic gold ranks high.” – Roger Federer.
“Honestly, my Olympic gold, even though it was in doubles, is my favorite trophy I have.” – Serena Williams.
“It has been beyond my dreams to play the Olympics. It takes awhile to set in. A few years after you win you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, this is my gold. Oh, my gosh, yes.'” – Venus Williams.
“I’ve obviously experienced a lot in my 16-year career and I have to say (Friday) night was probably the greatest night I’ve had professionally in my whole career.” – Lindsay Davenport, commenting on the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
“Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It was like – wow!” -Devin Mullings of the Bahamas, who was in Beijing to play doubles and got called up as a last-minute replacement in the singles competition.
“It’s great to play in a final against Goran, but it’s unfortunate it had to end on an injury. It’s better for him to take care of his knee.” – Marcelo Rios, after winning the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD senior tournament for the second time in three years.
“I always get injured at the wrong time. I’m getting older, so I have to be careful now.” – Goran Ivanisevic, after retiring with a knee injury in the final at Algarve, Portugal.
“We had one intent, and that is to build the event.” – Paul Floury, tournament chairman, on the U.S. Tennis Association becoming the major owner of the men’s tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“If I continue in this way, I have a chance to be in the top 10. I don’t know when – if I am still beating (Andy) Roddick and top-10 players, for sure I will be, but you never know what may happen.” – Juan Martin Del Potro, who beat Roddick in the final of the Countrywide Classic.
“He certainly has the weapons; it depends on how he builds on it.” – Andy Roddick, about Juan Martin Del Potro.
STREAK TO 14
Teenager Juan Martin Del Potro hasn’t lost since the second round at Wimbledon, and his 14-match winning streak has raised the Argentine right-hander’s ranking to number 17 in the world. The 19-year-old, who won on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Kitzbuhel, Austria, upset top-seeded Andy Roddick in the final of the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, California, 6-1 7-6 (2). He becomes the first teenager to win the Los Angeles tournament since Pete Sampras did it in 1991 at the age of 19. “I think I am playing very good and my confidence is very, very high,” Del Potro said. Roddick didn’t dispute the statement.
Who’s playing who was a difficult question when the Beijing Olympics tennis competition finally got underway, thanks to a slew of withdrawals at the last moment. Among the last to pull out were top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, Tatiana Golovin, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Ljubicic and Marcos Baghdatis. Even Lindsay Davenport withdrew from the singles competition, but remained in the doubles where she is teaming with Liezel Huber. Ivanovic, the French Open champion, has failed to recover from an injured right thumb. Karlovic is out because of a stomach illness, while Ljubicic withdrew from the singles with back trouble, although he still plans to play doubles.
Although he was not happy with the way he won the tournament, Marcelo Rios was delighted with the fact that his victory moved him to the top of the South African Airways Rankings. Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD title when Goran Ivanisevic was forced to retire with a left knee injury. Rios broke Ivanisevic’s serve in the tenth game of the opening set before the Croat retired. It was the second time in three years that Rios has won the Algarve, Portugal, tournament, joining John McEnroe as the only players to twice win in Algarve.
Dinara Safina has set herself up for one of the biggest paydays in tennis. By winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, Safina clinched the 2008 Olympus US Open Series women’s title. If the Roland Garros runner-up should win the U.S. Open, she would receive not only the winner’s check of USD $2.5 million, but also a USD $1 million bonus. Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Spain’s Rafael Nadal are tied for the men’s lead with 145 points each.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the new owner of the Western & Southern Masters tournament in Cincinnati. Paul Flory, the tournament chairman, will retain a minority interest and continue to play a major role in the event. The USTA acquired only the men’s tournament from the nonprofit Tennis for Charity, which will continue to own the women’s event played at the same venue. The deal does not include the tennis center facility, which is located near the Kings Island theme park north of Cincinnati.
The world’s top two women players – Jelena Jakovic and Ana Ivanovic – are the first to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held November 4-9 in Doha, Qatar. The women’s tournament will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams. The two Serbs are currently in first and second place in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships.
Mario Ancic will miss his second straight U.S. Open. Ranked number 25 in the world, Ancic withdrew from this year’s final Grand Slam tournament because of a recurrence of mononucleosis. The former Wimbledon semifinalist was slowed throughout the 2007 season with the same illness. Ancic is best known as the last player to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon until Rafael Nadal did it this year. The native of Croatia beat Federer in the first round at Wimbledon in 2002.
SENIORS TO LOS CABOS
The senior players are moving south of the border, down Mexico way. Tos Cabos, Mexico, will be the site of an event on the Outback Champions Series calendar beginning next year. The Del Mar Development Champions Cup will be held March 18-22 at the Palmilla Tennis Club and will be the first tour stop in Central America on the Outback Champions Series, a circuit for champion players 30 years old and over. Players competing on the Outback Champions Series include Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang and Todd Martin.
A Wilmington, Delaware, jury has decided that the ATP can restructure its calendar the way it wants. But the German tennis federation (DTB) is considering appealing the decision. The governing body of men’s tennis plans to downgrade the Masters tournament in Hamburg, Germany, and move it from May to July. The DTB went to court and argued that the ATP’s plans violated American anti-trust laws. But after nine hours of deliberation, the jurors agreed with the ATP and rejected the suit. Before the case went to the jury, United States District Court Judge Gregory Sleet dismissed several ATP officials as defendants. He also dismissed breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims against the ATP, but kept intact the main antitrust claims.
Germany’s Rainer Schuettler is in the Beijing Olympics, much to the chagrin of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Schuettler sought a spot in the men’s singles draw in Beijing by going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where he was successful. He then wrote an open letter to ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti demanding an apology over the ITF’s reaction to the successful challenge. “I find the statement shocking, harming and damaging to my reputation due to the inaccuracy of its content,” Schuettler wrote. The ITF, which originally said it deplored the CAS decision, countered with another statement, saying: “There are so many inaccuracies in Mr. Schuettler’s open letter that it would be impossible for us to respond to each of his allegations.” The German Olympic Committee supported Schuettler’s petition and failed to nominate either Denis Gremelmayr or Michael Berrer, both of whom were ranked higher than Schuettler on the June 9 deadline for entries.
Mathieu Montcourt of France has been banned from the men’s tour for two months and fined USD $12,000 for betting on tennis matches. The ATP said that while Montcourt bet on matches between June and September 2005, it found no evidence that he had tried to affect the outcomes of the matches. The Frenchman did not bet on his own matches. A winner of two Challenger titles this year, Montcourt will be able to return to the tour in October.
SPLIT FOR SHRIVER
Citing irreconcilable differences, Pam Shriver has filed for divorce from her husband of six years, actor George Lazenby. The former tennis star is seeking custody of the couple’s three children, including twins born in 2005, with supervised visits for Lazenby. The winner of 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, Shriver has served as a tennis commentator since retiring. Lazenby, who is best known for his role as James Bond in the film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” said he will seek sole legal and physical custody of the children.
Los Angeles: Rohan Bopanna and Eric Butorac beat Travis Parrott and Dusan Vemic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5)
Segovia: Ross Hutchins and Jim Thomas beat Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-6 (3) 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Monterrey: Jelena Pandzic and Magdalena Rybarikova beat Monique Adamczak and Melanie South 4-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$483,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, hard
$100,000 TED Open Challenger, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$175,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$708,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
Faced with injuries and illness to several veteran players, captain Zina Garrison named a team that will rely on youth for the United States’ Federation Cup semifinal in Moscow, Russia. With Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Ashley Harkleroad all out of the tie, 18-year-old Madison Brengle may be asked to carry a heavy workload in her Fed Cup debut.
Brengle may see action as a singles player and that means facing top ten players. Russian, even without Maria Sharapova, has a formidable singles lineup with world number three Svetlana Kuznetsova and world number six Anna Chakvetadze on the team. Brengle will be a heavy underdog against either Kuznetsova or Chakvetadze.
The Dover, Delaware native is coming off a solid junior career in which she reached two junior grand slam finals in 2007, losing in the Australian Open in two tiebreaks to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and to Ursala Radwanska in 3 sets at Wimbledon. She captured the 43rd Astrid Bowl Charleroi, Belgian International Junior Champion-ships in 2007. Brengle has one career singles title on the ITF tour. She has not faced anyone the caliber of Kuznetsova or Chakvetadze this year.
Brengle will have to raise her game to a new level to pull off an upset if she is called upon. She will need to use her speed and good court movement to get a lot of balls back. She has a lot of fire and is a battler and that will serve her well. Chakvetadze lost to Dominika Cibulkova at the Bausch & Lomb Championships. Brengle‘s game is similar to Cibulkova’s, not quite as developed, but similar. She will have to give it her all and see what happens.
The one advantage that Brengle and the rest of her teammates will have is no expectations. Few expect an American team of Brengle, Vania King, Ahsha Rolle and Liezel Huber to be able to beat the Russians on their soil. Brengle and her teammates may have been thrown into the cauldron, but all the pressure is on Russia.
He’s not for the birds: Top Russian Nikolay Davydenko won his second Tennis Masters Series title by handily beating Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2 at the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open. This after overcoming Andy Roddick in the semis. Looks like Kolya has finally shaken off the mental insecurities that came with being under investigation for match fixing. Like Mary Carillo said in during CBS‘ coverage of the final, “This is what Davydenko will be known for” even if he’s cleared of allegations. Better leave all that worrying to your lawyers, Nikolay.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams defended her women’s singles title by swatting off a pesky Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 5-7, 6-3. The Serbian put up a fight against Serena but also had to battle the heat.
Who cares if she gets yet another crystal vase? Those big gold earrings are trophy enough!
Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama, the second seeds, defeated top seeds Cara Black and Liezel Huber 7-5, 4-6, 10-3.
The Bryan Brothers return to the podium after what seemed like a monopoly by the Israelis (Ehrlich and Ram). They won over Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2, 6-2.
More photos: Serena with Jelena, Nikolay, and Nikolay with Irina, his wife, below.
(photos by Getty Images)
7 April 2008
Nikolay Davydenko became the first Russian to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s singles crown at Miami, Florida, by crushing second-seeded Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2.
Serena Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-1 5-7 6-3 to capture her fifth Sony Ericsson Open women’s singles title.
Bob and Mike Bryan finally won their first doubles championship of 2008, beating Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama won their second doubles title as a team, edging Cara Black and Liezel Huber 7-5 4-6 10-3 at the Sony Ericsson Open.
“I have only one (racquet). Surprising I didn’t break a string. Warm up and play match, warm up and play match, every match, and I finish with the racquet. I’m going to keep forever this racquet.” – Nikolay Davydenko, who said he used the same racquet in all six matches to win the Sony Ericsson Open.
“People write more about Roger (Federer), about me, about Andy (Roddick). People outside tennis can think different about Nikolay, but we know he’s a very, very good player.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open final to Davydenko 6-4 6-2.
“She looked so nervous out there. I could never believe that a girl who has won so many Grand Slams, so many tournaments, could be that nervous closing out a match.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open women’s final to Serena Williams 6-1 5-7 6-3.
“I smashed a racquet? Are you sure it was me? I guess maybe my hand must have been oily.” – Serena Williams, who drew a code violation when she smashed her racquet after blowing a 5-2 40-0 lead in the second set of her three-set victory over Jelena Jankovic.
“This tie is important for the team, as a win would give us the opportunity to compete in a playoff to make it back in the World Group, where I believe Australia belongs.” – Lleyton Hewitt, saying he plans on playing Davis Cup against Thailand.
“Losing in the finals four times just makes you hungrier and hungrier. When we went out there … we didn’t take anything for granted.” – Bob Bryan after he teamed with his brother Mike to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s doubles.
“Winning in September and staying in the World Group is obviously a key focus for us, but just as vital is working with hose younger players who may be capable of thriving in a Davis Cup environment in the near future.” – Paul Annacone, who has been named coach of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, succeeding Peter Lundgren.
After he hit a backhand into the net during his third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Mikhail Youzhny showed his displeasure by angrily whacking himself in the head three times with his racket strings. That sent a stream of blood running from above his hairline down his nose and nearly to his mouth. The Russian became a celebrity when a video of his tantrum was put on YouTube and drew more than a half-million hits.
Here it is April and the world’s top two men players are still looking for a 2008 tournament title. Top-ranked Roger Federer’s best results this year have been semifinal appearances at both the Australian Open and the Pacific Life Open. Federer has been limited to just three tournaments because of mononucleosis. World number two Rafael Nadal has been in two finals – the Chennai Open and the Sony Ericsson Open – losing both. He also was a semifinalist at both the Australia Open and the Pacific Life Open. And, the top-ranked men’s doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan won their first title of 2008 at the just-concluded Sony Ericsson Open.
Playing in their fifth final of 2008, twins Bob and Mike Bryan finally came away with the title when they defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Beginning with the 2007 Australian Open, the Bryans have reached 20 finals in 27 tournaments. And this championship was their 45th career title together.
SELECTED FOR BEIJING
Players from El Salvador, Togo and Liechtenstein will compete in Olympic tennis for the first time at the Beijing Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) selected four players to compete in the Summer Games: Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador, Komlavi Loglo of Togo, Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein. Only 21 years old, Arevalo has already played 22 Davis Cup ties for El Salvador. Loglo, 23, is the first African Junior Champion from Togo. Vogt, 17, has played eight Fed Cup ties for Liechtenstein. Black, currently co-ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles, played singles at the 2000 Sydney Games.
By nipping Cara Black and Liezel Huber in a Match Tiebreak (7-5 4-6 10-3) to win the women’s doubles at the Sony Ericsson Open, Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama were just repeating themselves. The Miami, Florida, tournament title was their second doubles crown as a team. Their first came last year in Toronto when they also beat Black and Huber in a Match Tiebreak in the final.
STEERING TENNIS EUROPE
Jacques Dupre is the new president of Tennis Europe, succeeding John James of Great Britain. Others elected to the board at the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, were Peter Bretherton of Great Britain, Michele Brunetti of Italy, Philios Christodoulou of Cyprus, Gunther Lang of Germany, Aleksei Selivanenko of Russai, Jose Antonio Senz de Broto of Spain, Stefan Tzvetkov of Bulgaria and Ayda Uluc of Turket. There were delegates from a record 43 member nations at the 34th annual general meeting.
SOUTH AFRICA ON TOP
South Africa successfully defended its African Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. Tunisia finished in second place, followed by Egypt in third and Morocco in fourth. Points are earned in singles and doubles in three age groups. South Africa captured two of the six singles titles and reached three other finals. The winners dominated the 16-and -under age group with Jarryd Botha defeating fellow South African Japie de Klerk 6-2 6-2 in the boys singles final.
SENIORS DOING IT
A record 376 teams have entered the 2008 ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey, in October. More than 220 teams from 38 countries have registered for the Seniors age categories – women and men 35 to 55 – while 150 teams will compete in the Super-Seniors: women 60 to 70 and men 60 to 80. The team event will be followed by the ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Individual Championships.
SORE BUT READY
Despite possibly having tendinitis and a hip tendon tear – or a combination of both – Lleyton Hewitt says he will play for Australia in its Davis Cup tie against Thailand. Doctors had advised Hewitt to rest his sore left hip and continue treatment. He has suffered hip pain since losing to Mardy Fish in Indian Wells, California, in March.
India’s Davis Cup captain Leander Paes will be a superhero in a cartoon television series in his home country. According to the Indian Express newspaper, Paes will play a miracle man who helps school kids in each of the 26 half-hour episodes being planned. The cartoons, called “The Magic Racquet,” are aimed at promoting an active lifestyle in children. According to the newspaper, a date has not been set for the start of the series.
Two retired Wimbledon champions will play each other on grass once again. Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will play an exhibition match in Liverpool, England, in June. Hingis beat Novotna in the 1997 Wimbledon final to become the youngest champion in the Open Era. Novotna, who also lost in the final at Wimbledon to Steffi Graf in 1993, finally won the Championships in 1998.
SITES TO SURF
Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com/
Olympic Tennis: www.itftennis.com/olympics.
Family Circle Cup: www.familycirclecup.com
ITF Seniors: www.itftennis.com/seniors
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$600,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, Amelia Island, Florida, clay
World Group Quarterfinals
Czech Republic at Moscow, Russia
Sweden at Buenos Aires, Argentina
Spain at Bremen, Germany
France vs. United States at Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Second Round
Italy at Zagreb, Croatia; Netherlands at Skopje, Macedonia; Switzerland at Minsk, Belarus; Georgia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic
America’s Zone Group 1 Second Round
Canada at Santiago, Chile; Colombia at Soracaba, Brazil
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Second Round
Thailand at Townsville, Australia; Japan at New Delhi, India
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 First-Round Playoffs
Chinese Taipei at Almaty, Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan at Manila, Philippines
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$370,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$370,000 Open de Tenis Comunidad Valencia, Valencia, Spain, clay
$436,000 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, clay
$1,340,000 Family Circle Cup, Charleston, South Carolina
Photos of Miami: