MIAMI, FL (March 21, 2013) — Wednesday at the Sony Open was filled with great three-set wins, tumultuous matches and even some rain. Here is your full breakdown of results and a “best shots of the day” gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy at bottom.
Notable winners on Wednesday:
Donna Vekic (CRO) d Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 76(4) 60
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d Mallory Burdette (USA) 62 64
Laura Robson (GBR) d Camila Giorgi (ITA) 62 46 63
Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) d Shahar Peer (ISR) 46 61 64
Simona Halep (ROU) d Sabine Lisicki (GER) 62 36 75
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 62 64
Madison Keys (USA) d Allie Kiick (USA) 60 60
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) d J Sousa (POR) 61 76(3)
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) d [Q] T Smyczek (USA) 76(4) 75
M Llodra (FRA) d B Paire (FRA) 76(7) 62
[WC] J Blake (USA) d R Harrison (USA) 62 62
J Melzer (AUT) d R Berankis (LTU) 36 63 76(1)
L Rosol (CZE) d G Muller (LUX) 75 64
S Devvarman (IND) d E Donskoy (RUS) 46 76(5) 62
There are players on both the ATP and WTA Tours who are naturally talented; as we know, some don’t work as hard as others, and their results attest to that. Others are not as naturally gifted athletes, but push themselves to the limits and work themselves hard every day to maximize every bit of their potential. However, there are a small, select few that don’t fall completely into either group. You can argue their games have stagnated, that they haven’t improved in their time as professionals, or that they aren’t making full use of their skill set. Nonetheless, every so often, the draw goes right and they come out in the winner’s circle.
Magdalena Rybarikova is one of those players.
Rybarikova, like her contemporaries, had a solid career on the junior circuit. She reached the final at the junior Wimbledon event in 2006; en route, she defeated familiar WTA names in Ksenia Pervak, Alisa Kleybanova and Tamira Paszek before falling in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki in the finals. Rybarikova’s senior breakthrough came in 2009, again on grass; she won her first title in Birmingham, defeating among others, Zheng Jie, Urszula Radwanska and Li Na (with a bagel!) in the final.
She has never won a match in the main draw of the women’s singles event at Wimbledon.
She’s won two WTA titles on hard courts, both in the United States. She defeated Rebecca Marino to win Memphis in 2011, and defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win in Washington, D.C. in 2012. She made the third round at the US Open twice, in 2008 and 2009.
She has never won a match in the main draw of the women’s singles event at the Australian Open.
With up and down results like these, what has made the Slovakian successful and enabled her to win not just one but three WTA titles in her career? Many higher-ranked and arguably more accomplished peers including Shuai Peng, Tsvetana Pironkova, and Christina McHale are still title-less, so how has Rybarikova done it?
There’s something about Rybarikova that just exudes nonchalance. Perhaps it’s her all-court game, a breath of fresh air when she’s playing well. Perhaps it’s her calm demeanor; you usually can’t tell if she’s winning or losing, and she is rarely phased by anything on court. Or perhaps it’s her ability to fly under the radar for almost her entire career, as countrywomen Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova have taken the headlines. Her best career win came in 2011 at an ITF $100,000 event in Prague, where she defeated Petra Kvitova, ranked No. 10 at the time, in the final.
Despite all that, consistency has been the biggest thing that’s been lacking in Rybarikova’s career. Having peaked at a career-high of No. 40 in 2009, Rybarikova’s years on the WTA have ranged from solid to dreadful. She ended 2007 ranked No. 279, and finished the next year inside the top 60 at No. 58. In 2010 however, she finished back down at No. 104 before finishing 2011 at No. 72. In July of last season, Rybarikova’s ranking plummeted back to No. 122, but a quarterfinal in Baku and the title in Washington D.C. firmly cemented her back in the top 100.
A talented player, Rybarikova has no business languishing around in the third and fourth tier of women’s tennis; while not a world beater, she has the skills to be solid. Something else Rybarikova’s lacked in her career is a big win at the WTA level; one where all parts of her game click and her talent shines through. Perhaps a win over Venus Williams in the quarterfinals at the WTA event in Florianopolis, her second straight quarterfinal after losing in the semifinals of Memphis, on Thursday evening could help her do just that.
Shifting down the Persian Gulf, eight of the top ten women move from Doha to Dubai for the only Premier tournament this week. In North and South America are two International tournaments on dramatically different surfaces. Here is the weekly look at what to expect in the WTA.
Dubai: Still the top seed despite her dethroning last week, Azarenka can collect valuable rankings points at a tournament from which she withdrew in 2012. She looked far sharper in Doha than she did for most of her title run in Melbourne, and once again she eyes a potential quarterfinal with Sara Errani. Although the Italian has rebounded well from a disastrous start to the season, she lacks any weapons with which to threaten Azarenka. Between them stands last year’s runner-up Julia Goerges, an enigma who seems destined to remain so despite her first-strike potential. If Sloane Stephens can upset Errani in the second round, meanwhile, a rematch of the Australian Open semifinal could loom in the quarterfinals. The top seed might expect a test from Cibulkova in the second round, since she lost to her at Roland Garros last year and needed a miraculous comeback to escape her in Miami. But Cibulkova injured her leg in Fed Cup a week ago and has faltered since reaching the Sydney final.
Having won just one match until Doha, Stosur bounced back somewhat by recording consecutive wins in that Premier Five field. The Aussie may face three straight lefties in Makarova, Lepchenko, and Kerber, the last of whom has the greatest reputation but the least momentum. While Makarova reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Lepchenko displayed her newfound confidence in upsetting both Errani and Vinci on clay in Fed Cup—a rare feat for an American. Vinci herself also stands in this section, from which someone unexpected could emerge. Azarenka need fear little from either Kerber or Stosur, both of whom she has defeated routinely in most of their previous meetings, so a semifinal anticlimax might beckon. Not that Doha didn’t produce a semifinal anticlimax from much more prestigious names.
Atop the third quarter stands the greatest enigma of all in Petra Kvitova, who won four straight matches between Fed Cup and Doha before nearly halting Serena’s bid for the #1 ranking. Considering how far she had sunk over the previous several months, unable to string together consecutive victories, that accomplishment marked an immense step forward. Kvitova can capitalize immediately on a similar surface in the section occupied by defending champion Radwanska. In contrast to last week, the Czech can outhit anyone whom she could face before the semifinals, so she will determine her own fate. If she implodes, however, Ivanovic could repeat her upset when they met in last year’s Fed Cup final before colliding with Radwanska for the third time this year. Also of note in this section is the all-wildcard meeting between rising stars Putintseva and Robson.
Breaking with her usual routine, Serena has committed to the Middle East hard courts without reserve by entering both Doha and Dubai. Whether she plays the latter event in a physical condition that looks less than promising may remain open to question until she takes the court. So strong is the draw that Serena could open against world #11 Bartoli, who owns a Wimbledon victory against her from 2011 but has not sustained that success. The eighth-seeded Wozniacki proved a small thorn in her side last year by defeating her in Miami and threatening her in Rome, so a quarterfinal could intrigue if the Dane can survive Safarova to get there and if Serena arrives at less than full strength.
Final: Azarenka vs. Kvitova
Memphis: Overshadowed a little by the accompanying ATP 500 tournament, this event has lacked star power for the last few years. Rather than Venus, Sharapova, or Davenport, the top seed in 2013 goes to Kirsten Flipkens, a player largely unknown in the United States. This disciple of Clijsters may deserve more attention than she has received, however, rallying to reach the second week of the Australian Open in January after surviving blood clots last spring. Former finalist Shahar Peer and 2011 champion Magdalena Rybarikova attempt to resurrect their careers by returning to the scene of past triumphs, but lefty Ksenia Pervak may offer the most credible challenge to Flipkens in this quarter.
Of greater note is the hard-serving German who holds the third seed and should thrive on a fast indoor court. Although Lisicki has struggled to find her form away from grass, she showed flickers of life by charging within a tiebreak of the Pattaya City title earlier this month. Kristina Mladenovic, a potential quarterfinal opponent, delivered a key statement in the same week at the Paris Indoors, where she upset Kvitova en route to the semifinals. Before then, though, this French teenager had displayed little hint of such promise, so one feels inclined to attribute that result more to the Czech’s frailty for now.
Part of an elite doubles team with compatriot Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Hradecka has excelled on surfaces where her powerful serve can shine. Like Lisicki, she should enjoy her week in Memphis amid a section of opponents who cannot outhit her from the baseline. Among them is the largely irrelevant Melanie Oudin, who surfaced last year to win her first career title before receding into anonymity again. Neither Oudin nor the fourth-seeded Heather Watson possesses significant first-strike power, so their counterpunching will leave them at a disadvantage on the indoor hard court. But Watson has improved her offense (together with her ranking) over the last few months and should relish the chance to take advantage of a friendly draw. Interestingly, Hradecka’s doubles partner Hlavackova could meet her in the quarterfinals if she can upset Watson.
Finishing runner-up to Sharapova here in 2010, Sofia Arvidsson holds the second seed in this yaer’s tournament as she eyes a potential quarterfinal against one of two Americans. While Chanelle Scheepers anchors the other side of the section, Jamie Hampton could build upon her impressive effort against Azarenka at the Australian Open to shine on home soil. Nor should one discount the massive serve of Coco Vandeweghe, which could compensate for her one-dimensionality here.
Final: Lisicki vs. Hradecka
Bogota: Like the ATP South American tournaments in February, this event offers clay specialists an opportunity to compile ranking points in a relatively unintimidating setting. Top seed and former #1 Jankovic fits that category, having reached multiple semifinals at Roland Garros during her peak years. She has not won a title in nearly three years, but a breakthrough could happen here. In her section stand Pauline Parmentier and Mariana Duque Marino, the latter of whom stunned Bogota audiences by winning the 2010 title here over Kerber. As her wildcard hints, she never quite vaulted from that triumph to anything more significant. Serious opposition to Jankovic might not arise until the semifinals, when she faces the aging Pennetta. Once a key part of her nation’s Fed Cup achievements, the Italian veteran won their most recent clay meeting and looks likely to ensure a rematch with nobody more notable than the tiny Dominguez Lino blocking her.
The lower half of the draw features a former Roland Garros champion in Schiavone and a French prodigy who nearly broke through several years ago before stagnating in Cornet. Testing the latter in a potential quarterfinal is Timea Babos, who won her first career title around this time last year with a promising serve. For Schiavone, the greatest resistance could come from lanky Dutch lefty Arantxa Rus. Known most for her success on clay, Rus won a match there from Clijsters and a set from Sharapova, exploiting the extra time that the surface allows for her sluggish footwork. Also of note in this half is Paula Ormaechea, a rising Argentine who probably ranks as the most notable women’s star expected from South America in the next generation. Can she step into Dulko’s shoes?
Final: Jankovic vs. Schiavone
Check back shortly for the companion preview on the three ATP tournaments this week in Marseille, Memphis, and Buenos Aires!
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.
The top tennis players in the world converge this week for the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open in pristine Key Biscayne, Florida. As the world’s premier tournament outside of the four grand slams, these next two weeks are sure to bring many storylines and possibly some surprise winners on both the ATP and WTA tours.
Last week during the BNP Paribas Open, the tournament saw several high-profile players pull out due to a sweeping 48-hour long stomach bug that effected players, coaches and fans alike. One theory not yet tested in tennis is just how successful these same players will be in the week after their bodies and immune systems have had to fight off a vicious virus. That being said, will the players affected by last week’s stomach bug perform better or worse than their healthier counterparts this week in Key Biscayne? The answer: much better, and here’s why.
When the body is forced to fight an infection or virus, the immune system is initially compromised. But because of immunological memory, the body becomes more alert and “remembers” the pathogen it previously killed. You may have experienced this added alertness after recovering from a cold – you are less likely to contract another cold or virus directly after your initial cold because your immune system is more alert to foreign pathogens.
As tennis players’ immune systems are no different than our own, it’s very likely that they will respond in the same manner: the players who pulled out last week from the BNP Paribas Open are less likely to contract any new virus this week, and thus more likely to have extra energy as their bodies should be fully recovered and their immune systems more alert.
The list of pull-outs is no short list, and includes Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, Gael Monfils, Vera Zvonareva, Vania King, Jurgen Melzer, Mike Bryan, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Andreas Seppi, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Magdalena Rybarikova. Meanwhile, even Roger Federer stated he felt “under the weather” at the beginning of the tournament.
As the players range anywhere from number 1 on the ATP rankings to number 86 on the WTA rankings, it will be interesting to see the players’ progression through the draw. As some will undoubtedly fizzle out due to other factors, it’s no certain science, but I would bet that at least a few of these players will have better than expected results during the next two weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Schiavone or Melzer bust through with excellent runs, and now you would know why. It’s all thanks to their immune system.
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
Once again on the futures circuit this week, another former ATP standout bravely swallowed his pride and started back at square one in the hopes of turning back the clock.
It’s hard to tell how many comebacks Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui has had. The 36 year old has overcome financial destitution and just about every injury in the book to achieve a top 15 ranking and reach the quarterfinals at both the Australian Open and US Open. This week, El Aynaoui returned from a seven month injury layoff at the $15,000 event in Castelldefels. Appearing as a late entrant, he was forced to go through the qualifying rounds before surviving several tough three set matches in the main draw. In the end, El Aynaoui won his first title in almost 12 months by beating Adam Chadaj of Poland 6-3 7-6 in the final.
At the notoriously strong $100,000 event in Sunrise, Dutchman Robin Haase won a rain-delayed final that was pushed into Monday. Haase came back from being down a set and a break to defeat Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean 5-7 7-5 6-1. For Haase, who has already scored wins over Andy Murray and Ivan Ljubicic this year, this is the biggest title of his career. He hopped in a car directly after the final to head to Miami, where he layer played in the qualifying rounds of the Sony Ericsson Open (he won his first round match in Miami Monday evening).
Another player on the comeback trail is Mariano Puerta of Argentina, who’s still trying to rebound after a second doping suspension that almost ended his career. Competing at the $50,000 event in San Luis Potosi this week, Puerta showed glimpses of the form that took him to the French Open finals as he cruised through the draw without the loss of a set. However, injury derailed his good form as he was forced to withdraw from the final before striking a single ball, which allowed Brian Dabul of Argentina to win his first title of year. Both Dabul and Puerta are scheduled at the next $50,000 event in Mexico this coming week, held in the city of Leon.
In other challenger news on the men’s side, Ivan Navarro of Spain won his first event in two years at the $35,000 event in Meknes, while Andreas Beck of Germany won the $35,000 event in Sarajevo.
With her ranking just outside of the top 100, Israeli Tzipi Obziler decided to drop back down to the challengers for the $25,000 event in Tenerife. The decision proved to be wise as she dropped just 14 games in her last four matches and overwhelmed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-2 6-3 in the final. The win puts Obziler back inside the top 100 and, with little to defend over the next few months, she should see her ranking continue to climb.
In other challenger news on the women’s side, Barbora Zahalova Strycova of the Czech Republic won her second title of the year at the $25,000 event in Redding, while Melanie South of Great Britain won a nail biting three-set final to take the title at the $25,000 tournament in Sorrento. Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova won the $25,000 event in St. Petersburg, and Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova won her first challenger event at the $25,000 tournament in Noida.
The men keep the spotlight with two $50,000 tournaments this coming week. Werner Eschauer of Austria is the top seed in Barletta and Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer takes top billing in Leon. On the women’s side, Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain accepted a late wild card and is the top seed at the $50,000 event in Latina. Once again this week, there are also several $25,000 women’s events. Anna Lapushchenkova of Russia will hope to keep her local fans happy at the $25,000 event in Moscow, while China’s Shuai Zhang hopes to reverse her losing streak at the $25,000 tournament in Hammond. Anastasia Yakimova of Belarus is the clear favorite a the $25,000 event in La Palma, while Estonia’s Maret Ani takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Jersey. Finally, Tessenderlo hosts its first professional event as veteran Selima Sfar of Tunisia is the top seed at this $25,000 tournament.