With just over a week until the start of the Australian Open, there is little time to tinker with one’s game for the first Grand Slam of the year.
While the top four players in the world will be taking the week to rest themselves in anticipation for a deep-run in Melbourne, there are plenty of other of the game’s great players who are in action.
The ATP has two tournaments, one in Sydney and another in Auckland, while the Kooyong Classic exhibition will boast a strong field as well. Here’s a closer look at what tennis fans can expect.
Apia Sydney International
Juan Martin Del Potro starts his year in Sydney as the top seed. After making a strong return to the circuit last season following a wrist injury, the 2009 U.S. Open champion is ready to make some noise this year. Del Potro is certainly capable of challenging anyone in the top four and I would put him in the mix of the few serious contenders at the Aussie Open.
The Argentine could see Marcos Baghdatis in the quarters here and then Feliciano Lopez who is the fourth seed. I would however, put the winner of the first round match between Viktor Troicki and veteran Aussie Lleyton Hewitt to advance against Del Potro in this section of the draw.
Hewitt has won the even four times, in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005. Don’t expect a repeat as his career is clearly on the downward spiral and injuries have taken their toll on the two-time Grand Slam champion. This may be the last year we see Hewitt playing on the ATP Tour, so enjoy him while you still can.
John Isner from the United Statesis the second seed. Patrick McEnroe recently stated that he feels Isner has the potential to reach the top ten in the ATP rankings. While I do not see that as being a realistic assessment for the 6’9” Isner just yet, this guy is certainly a strong top-thirty player who can cause incredible damage on a hard court due to his imposing serve. It will be Isner’s first action of the year so it will be interesting to see how he comes out of the gate.
Isner could face either veteran Xavier Malisse or Radek Stepanek in the quarters and given his ranking he should be beating opponents like these. However, at this stage of the year anything is possible.
A likely semi-final opponent would be third seeded Richard Gasquet who had a solid week at the Hopman Cup where he defeated Fernando Verdasco, Lleyton Hewitt and Wu Di before falling to Tomas Berdych in the finals.
All-court wonder and the always hustling David Ferrer is the number one seed in Auckland. Ferrer started the year off by making the finals of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi and was the runner-up in that exhibition to Novak Djokovic. Ferrer starts his week off with a bye at the Heineken Open and will face the winner of the match between Albert Ramos and Lukas Rosol. In other words, a nice way to ease into the tournament.
Ferrer’s main opposition will be from third seeded Fernando Verdasco who has just competed in the Hopman Cup. There, the Spaniard defeated Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, knocked-off Wu Di of China 6-3, 6-4 and was beaten by Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-4. So essentially, he won the two matches he was supposed to win and could not find a way to be competitive against a solid opponent in Gasquet. Never any consistency with Fernando, but he has the tools to go deep in any draw.
The second seed here is Nicolas Almagro, but unless we’re talking about a clay court match I wouldn’t count on this guy to get too far. While he did make the semi-finals in Chennai, the field was rather weak and he was no match for Canadian Milos Raonic who took him out 6-4, 6-4.
Look for guys like Philipp Kohlschreiber, Donald Young and perhaps Sam Querrey to enjoy some success in this draw. It is nice to see Young seeded in the tournament (7th) and hopefully able to build on a nice season in 2011. There is still so much potential with the American and he still has many years ahead of him despite already being a presence on the ATP Tour for several seasons.
AAMI Kooyong Classic
Always a high-quality exhibition tournament, the Kooyong Classic again boasts a strong field in 2012. Ten players make-up the draw that has both a championship and consolation side to it.
American Andy Roddick will be the most high-profile player involved and will make his season debut on the tennis court at Kooyong. Roddick’s buddy and current number-one American male tennis player, Mardy Fish, will also be present.
This year will be of the utmost importance to Roddick who struggled mightily a year ago. He needs to re-assert himself and prove to his fellow players that he is still relevant in the sport today. Usually a strong starter, Roddick will be one to watch closely here this week.
Continuing with North-American players, we have Canadian Milos Raonic who has just made the finals in Chennai. Raonic is going to be very exciting to watch this year, especially if he can stay healthy. This guy’s game is perfectly suited toWimbledonand it is no surprise that he grew up idolizing Pete Sampras.
The rest of the players here include Jurgen Melzer, Bernard Tomic, Tomas Berdych and recent Qatar finalists Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Of all the stops this week, Kooyong will be the one I’m most interested in due to its very strong field.
Keep checking back with us all week long for updates and check out my Twitter feed as well if you like. Only one more week until the first Slam of 2012 so we have lots to look forward to!
Happy New Year!
That’s another way of saying, “Yes! The 2009 ATP season is just days, hours, minutes away!” So let’s the kick off the new year by taking a look at some of the men’s new year’s resolutions. Well, these are at least what their resolutions SHOULD be.
Rafael Nadal – Play a lighter schedule to preserve his body for the fall indoor season and the Masters Cup. (Note: there is not much Nadal can do about this due to mandatory tournaments, but limiting his clay-court events to the Masters Series and French Open and nothing else would be a good start).
Roger Federer – Take back Wimbledon. Take back the No. 1 ranking.
Novak Djokovic – Win back the U.S. Open crowd. (Note: borderline impossible).
Andy Roddick – Get back his mojo.
Gilles Simon – 1) Get in the weight room. 2) Come up big, for once, in the Slams. 3) Other than that, do exactly what he did in 2008.
Juan Martin Del Potro – See Simon (especially part 3).
Andy Murray – Win a Slam. Other than that, do exactly what he did in 2008.
Ernests Gulbis – Get a brain. Or–if he has one–use it.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – Stay away from the infirmary.
Mario Ancic – See Tsonga.
Tommy Haas – See Ancic.
Marcos Baghdatis – See Haas.
Lleyton Hewitt – See Baghdatis.
Robin Söderling – Do something of significance at a tournament that’s not indoors.
Nicolas Almgaro – Do something of significance at a tournament that’s not on clay.
Marat Safin – Either play or retire. No more playing like he would rather be retired.
Fernando Gonzalez – Admit when balls hit his racket before going out.
James Blake – Get over the Gonzalez Olympic controversy.
Fernando Verdasco – Be as successful on the court as he was off the court in 2008.
Tomas Berdych – Beat someone ranked ahead of him.
Mikhail Youzhny – Refrain from self-inflicted harm.
Well, there’s the new year’s resolution list. If any applicable player was left off, let’s hear who it is and what his–or her–resolution should be (in the comments section below). With the 2009 season just days away, it won’t be long before we find out which players are prepared to make the necessary changes.
Happy New Year to all tennis fans and here’s to another great season on the ATP Tour!
Novak Djokovic beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-1 7-5 to win the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China
Fabrice Santoro won the PEOPLEnet Cup by beating Victor Hanescu 6-2 6-3 in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine
“I would put it in the same league as a Grand Slam because the best eight players in the world are participating here. I feel very happy. End up the season the way I started it, with a win in a big event.” – Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open champion who beat Nikolay Davydenko to win the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup.
“Against Djokovic you need to be perfect, also play very fast and very good. That’s what he did, and I didn’t.” – Nikolay Davydenko.
“At the moment it’s Rafa and myself. I really still feel it’s that way because … we’ve played big events on so many occasions. I mean, we still have to play a few more Grand Slam finals. If that’s the case, I’m very happy from my side.” – Roger Federer, after being ousted from the Tennis Masters Cup and failing to reach the semifinals.
“I didn’t feel like I could go out and try to compete and win a tennis match. It’s definitely a tough prospect trying to beat Roger (Federer) with no serve and not being able to move much.” – Andy Roddick, after pulling out of the Tennis Masters Cup with a right ankle injury.
“I don’t know if the injury (resulted) from my fight to be number one because in reality, I didn’t play in any extra tournaments, I only played what I had to for the ranking and I don’t think you can reproach me for that. I didn’t do anything crazy to be No. 1.” – Rafael Nadal.
“Rafa comes in off a very tough year and his body has been warning him for weeks. It’s an acute injury that needs time to recuperate. If he played in Argentina, it could become worse.” – Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, Spanish Davis Cup team doctor, saying Nadal would not play in the Cup final against Argentina.
“It’s disappointing (Rafael) Nadal cannot be with us but we shouldn’t talk about him any more from now on.” – Emilio Sanchez-Vicario, Spain’s Davis Cup captain, as he replaced the world’s top-ranked player with little-known Marcel Granollers.
“It’s always hard to win against Federer. I know that I have to play my best tennis. But in another way, it’s easier for me because I have no question in any head. I just want to give everything, every point to my best tennis to win. It’s easier to play in that way.” – Gilles Simon, after beating Roger Federer in the first match at the Tennis Masters Cup.
“The better you play, the better he plays. He’s quite a unique player and he makes you work hard and runs very well. He’s unusual to play against.” – Roger Federer, about Gilles Simon, who won their opening-round round-robin match at Shanghai.
“I think the umpires are not going to miss me. I’ve been quite tough on those guys.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who retired after 17 years on the ATP tour.
“She will laugh at herself, cry over sad memories, swear if she is angry, be shy about intimate details, and that is why she is a perfect movie hero.” – Film critic Dubravka Lakic, on his documentary on Jelena Jankovic.
“For the first time in my career I feel sad that the season is over.” – Elena Dementieva.
After celebrating his Tennis Masters Cup victory by joining his coach, family and a former Miss University in the stands, Novak Djokovic realized he had cut his left hand. He had the trainer apply a bandage before accepting the trophy for capturing the season-ending tournament. Following his victory over Nikolay Davydenko, Djokovic celebrated by tossing two racquets, his wristbands and sweat-soaked shirt into the crowd at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium. Then he went to the player’s box where he hugged everyone in his entourage. That’s when he noticed his bloody hand. “You don’t feel the pain in the moments of happiness,” Djokovic said.
After losing his first round-robin match, Andy Roddick pulled out of the Tennis Masters Cup with a right ankle injury. The 26-year-old American said he rolled the ankle during a warm-up drill in practice. He initially hoped treatment would allow him to play his second match, against Roger Federer, but realized during his pre-match warm-up that he couldn’t run or serve well enough. Roddick, who also missed the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup because of an injury, was replaced in the elite eight-man field by Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic.
When Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of the Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina, he was replaced by little-known Marcel Granollers, who will be making his Davis Cup debut. Granollers, who is ranked 56th in the world, will join David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez as Spain attempts to win the famed international Cup for the first time since 2004. Also taking himself out of contention for the Spanish squad was Tommy Robredo.
STRAIGHT TO THE BANK
There’s a whole new look to the career money leaders in women’s tennis. Lindsay Davenport took over the top spot when she won USD $295,412 in 2008, boosting her career total to USD $22,144,715. Although she won both Wimbledon and the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar, Venus Williams slipped behind her sister Serena, the US Open winner. But Serena and Venus are now second and third on the WTA Tour career earnings list. Serena has pocketed USD $21,961,407, with Venus right behind at USD $21,921,346. For 2008, Serena earned USD $3,852,173 and Venus USD $3,747,565. Steffi Graf dropped from first to fourth on the career earnings list with USD $21,895,277, followed by Martina Navratilova at USD $21,626,089.
It didn’t take long for this year’s Tennis Masters Cup to pull off a surprise. Gilles Simon made his debut by shocking four-time champion Roger Federer 4-6 6-4 6-3. It was Simon’s 50th ATP match win of the season, a year that saw the Frenchman break into the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time. Simon has also shown that the opening set is only the beginning of a match. The 23-year-old leads the ATP with 14 match wins after losing the first set. Against Federer, he also was a break down in the second set. “I defeated him once in Toronto, so it was easier to finish the match,” Simon said. “For sure it was one of the best victories of my career.”
Jonas Bjorkman has hung up his racquets. The Swede finished his 17-year tennis career when he and partner Kevin Ullyett failed to qualify for the doubles semifinals at the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. A Wimbledon singles semifinalist two years ago, Bjorkman won more than USD $14 million over his career as well as three Davis Cup titles with his country in 1994, 1997 and 1998. Although his playing career is over, Bjorkman isn’t leaving the sport. He will be editing a Swedish tennis magazine.
Stefan Edberg is making his Outback Champions Series debut at the Emirates NBD’s The Legends “Rock” Dubai this week. The six-time Grand Slam tournament winner is joining the six-player round-robin field that includes Jim Courier, Sergi Bruguera, Anders Jarryd, Wayne Ferreira and defending champion Paul Haarhuis. Edberg is one of 15 men in the history of tennis to play in all four major singles finals during his career, winning twice at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. The stoic Swede lost the 1989 French Open final to Michael Chang in a five-set thriller.
Daniel Hantuchova will play in next year’s inaugural Brisbane International tennis tournament. Organizers said the Slovakian star will join French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and reigning Australian Women’s Hardcourt champion Li Na in the field. The Brisbane International will be played at a new tennis center in the Queensland capital from January 4-11 and replaces both the men’s and women’s Australian Hardcourt championships. The Brisbane International men’s draw will feature Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marcos Baghdatis, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Mardy Fish.
A documentary film about Jelena Jankovic has opened in movie theaters in Serbia. The 80-minute film, titled “Jelena’s World,” follows the world’s number one-ranked women’s player during tournaments in Madrid and Berlin, as well as her frequent but brief visits to her hometown Belgrade. The movie’s makers, Talas Film, hope to distribute the film world-wide. Director Tanja Brzakovic said the documentary was borne out of her fascination with Jankovic.
There’s a school in Kenya named for Serena Williams. The tennis ace was on hand when the Serena Williams Secondary school in the Eastern province district of Makueni was opened. The school was constructed through funds provided by Serena, computer company Hewlett Packard and The Build African Schools Organization, which funds and supports construction of schools in marginalized areas. Since the area does not have electricity, the school’s state-of-the-art computer laboratory runs on solar power supplied by Hewlett Packard. Following the ceremony, Williams paid a courtesy call on Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Andy Roddick is upset over plans to make players turn up for more tournaments next year. However, the hard-serving American refused to blame the rigorous tennis schedule for the ankle injury that forced him to pull out of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. “I think too much is asked of us as far as playing eleven months of the year, and now they’re imposing more mandatory tournaments,” Roddick said. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” The ATP tour has revealed a 2009 schedule that calls for top players to attend eight of the nine Masters events plus four lower-tier tournaments. That, of course, doesn’t include the four Grand Slam tournaments.
There will be an ATP tournament in Hamburg, Germany, in 2009, despite the legal battle over the future of the event. The German tennis federation (DTB) said the tournament would be held in late July. At the same time, the DTB is appealing a United States court decision that upheld the ATP’s right to downgrade the Hamburg tournament from one in which all of the top players had to compete.
Lacoste has extended its partnership with the ATP and will be the official apparel and footwear partner of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals until 2013. As part of the restructuring of men’s tennis in 2009, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will replace the Tennis Masters Cup as the season-ending tournament with the top eight singles players and top eight top doubles teams. As the exclusive provider of apparel and footwear for the tournament, Lacoste will also continue to dress the lines people and ball kids.
Tom Gorman has signed on as the new director of tennis at La Quinta Resort & PGA West in the Palm Springs, California, area. A two-time NCAA All-American Gorman reached the semifinals at the US Open, Wimbledon and the French Open during his long career. He was on the winning American Davis Cup team in 1972 and coached the US women’s Wightman Cup and Federation Cup teams in 1984 and 1985. In 1986, he was named the US men’s Davis Cup coach, a position he held for eight years. Gorman was coach with the Americans won the Davis Cup in 1990 and 1992.
Shanghai: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (3) 6-2
Dnepropetrovsk: Guillermo Canas and Dmitry Tursunov beat Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 6-3 7-6 (5)
SITES TO SURF
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
Argentina vs. Spain at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, hard
$125,000 IPP Open, Helsinki, Finland, hard
$100,000 Nordea Danish Open, Odense, Denmark, carpet
Blackrock Tour of Champions, Macao, China
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years – written by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.
On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548
People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull, Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan, Robbie Weiss, Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.
New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com
Last year’s semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis has been struggling with injuries throughout the season and retired due to pain in his lower back in the first round match against Sam Querrey. Baghdatis won 2nd set despite 0:3 down in the tie-break (with two mini-breaks) but was forced to retire immediately after dropping his serve in the 5th game of the final set. “I felt a sharp pain and I didn’t want to take any risks,” Baghdatis said. “I felt that if I continued, I would have had problems afterward. So I preferred to stop.”
Three-time Paris champion (2000, 2002, 2004) Marat Safin began his match against qualifier Juan Monaco losing 8 games in a row! The Russian broke back to 2:2 but lost second set in the tie-break on 1st match point for the opponent. Safin said after the match that he considers an end of the career. “I need to sit down and relax and just enjoy my life without any tennis for a couple of months and then I will see,” Safin said.
First round was unsuccessful for the local players. Five out of six French players lost in the first round, including three “wild cards”: Chardy, Mannarino and Ouanna – none of them won a set. This year French organizers decided not to give a “wild card” for any of more experienced French players like Grosjean, Clement, Santoro or Benneteau. Another Frenchman, Richard Gasquet pulled out because of injuried right elbow. He has been replaced in the draw by a qualifier Marcel Granollers.
Paris – First round
(LL)Florent Serra (FRA) d. (LL)Guillermo Canas (ARG) 4-6 7-5 6-3
(q)Juan Monaco (ARG) d. Marat Safin (RUS) 6-0 7-6(4)
Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. (q)Robby Ginepri (USA) 6-4 7-5
(q)Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) vs (q)Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Samuel Querrey (USA) d. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 7-5 6-7(5) 3-2 ret.
Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. (WC)Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6(4) 7-6(5)
Mario Ancic (CRO) d. Rainer Schuettler (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Nicolas Kiefer (GER) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-4 7-5
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Igor Andreev (RUS) d. Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 7-6(6) 6-3
Radek Stepanek (CZE) vs Marc Gicquel (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-4
Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) d. (WC)Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-2
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) vs Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
(q)Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 7-5 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-6(5) 6-2
Robin Soderling (SWE) vs (WC)Josselyn Ouanna (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Roger Federer won the Davidoff Swiss Indoors, beating David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 in Basel, Switzerland
Andy Murray beat Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1 to win the St. Petersburg Open in St. Petersburg, Russia
Robin Soderling won the Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon by beating Julien Benneteau 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-1 in Lyon, France
Ana Ivanovic beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-1 to win the Generali Ladies Linz in Linz, Austria
Elena Dementieva stopped Carolina Wozniacki 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4) to win the FORTIS Championships in Luxembourg
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Julie Coin 6-4 6-3 to win the Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne in Poitiers, France
Hyung-Taik Lee won the Samsung Securities Cup Challenger in Seoul, Korea, by beating Ivo Minar 6-4 6-0
Jim Courier beat Thomas Enqvist 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Champions tiebreak) to win the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas
“There was a bit of disappointment but I gave a good fight for almost five years, so I’m proud of that, and I think Rafa deserves it this year because he’s played consistently well.” – Roger Federer, admitting he’s disappointed about not finishing the year as the number one player.
“This season has been hard, long and punishing. I will be very happy when I lose in Bercy.” – Richard Gasquet, after losing in Lyon, France, and talking about this week’s tournament in Paris.
“To see him give up mentally beforehand is quite simply abnormal. It is disrespectful vis-à-vis the public who he is counting on supporting him at Bercy. Naturally we are annoyed.” – Patrice Dominguez, national technical director of the French Tennis Federation, referring to Gasquet’s comment.
“This year has been a very positive year for me and I am looking forward to continued success in Doha.” – Venus Williams, after qualifying for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha.
“It has been awhile since I last played and it feels wonderful to be one of the best eight players of the regular Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season.” – Vera Zvonareva, who qualified for the Sony Ericsson Championships.
“You could never forecast that he was going to miss that shot. If he lets it bounce, he could hit it with the butt cap and make it and I wouldn’t be there. That was as improbable as it gets, but that’s why we play sports. The whacky happens.” – Jim Courier, after Thomas Enqvist shanked an easy overhead on match point.
“I think I was just too casual. It’s what you tell an amateur when you play the pro-ams with them, that sometimes they do those mistakes. They take their eye off the ball. I think I did that.” – Thomas Enqvist.
“For the first set and a half we were completely outplayed. At 4-3 down in the second set Bopanna double-faulted at 40-40, and after that the momentum shifted our way.” – Travis Parrott, after teaming with Filip Polasek to win the doubles at St. Petersburg, Russia.
“I’m really disappointed with how I played today. I had no concentration at any stage of the match. Maybe today I finally paid for all of the traveling and the many matches I’ve played over the last several weeks.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Ana Ivanovic in the title match of the Generali Ladies Linz.
“Rafael Nadal has donated the racquet he used to win the 2008 Wimbledon final, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi both donated tennis racquets, while Roger Federer gave us the shirt off his own back.” – Lleyton Hewitt, on items donated to help raise money for a charity, Cure Our Kids.
SET FOR DOHA
The final two spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships have been clinched by Vera Zvonareva and Venus Williams. The women’s tour will wind up with world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. It will be the third time Venus Williams will compete in the season-ending event, but her first since 2002. Others in the field include Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina, Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
SIGN OF RESPECT
The new tennis center in Brisbane, Australia, has been named for two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter. The 5,500-seat Rafter Arena will open in January for the Brisbane International men’s and women’s hard court championships. The tournament is a warm-up for the Australian Open, which is held in Melbourne. Novak Djokovic, Marcos Baghdatis and Ana Ivanovic are confirmed for the event, the first international tennis tournament to be played in Brisbane since 1994.
When Robin Soderling captured his second Lyon trophy, he became the first Swedish player to win an ATP title in almost three years. The last Swede to capture a tournament on the men’s tour was Thomas Johansson at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. The victory over Frenchman Julien Benneteau will move Soderling into the top 20 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time. At Lyon, Soderling beat two top-ten players, Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon.
Roger Federer won his third straight Davidoff Swiss Indoors crown in his native Basel, Switzerland. He also has been runner-up twice in his nine appearances in Basel. And his 57th career title moves Federer into a tie with Ilie Nastase on the ATP list. He is now three titles behind Andre Agassi. Basel was Federer’s fourth title of 2008, highlighted by his fifth consecutive US Open win. This one came over David Nalbandian, the 2002 Swiss Indoors winner and the tournament’s number two seed. It was the first time since 1993 that the two top seeds have reached the final at Basel.
Andy Murray needed only 56 minutes to successfully defend his St. Petersburg Open title by defeating qualifier Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-1. It was the shortest final on the ATP tour this year, and the second fewest games in a title match since Mikhail Youzhny crushed Rafael Nadal 6-0 6-1 at the Chennai Open in January. Now ranked fourth in the world, Murray becomes the first British player to win consecutive titles since Mark Cox did it in March 1975. The Scott has won five titles this year, second only to the eight captured by Nadal. Murray is on a 12-match winning streak and has won 18 of his last 19 matches since losing in the first round of the Beijing Olympics to Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun.
For the second straight year, Nikolay Davydenko made a brief appearance at the St. Petersburg Open. This time he injured his left wrist during a first-round victory over Chris Guccione, and then pulled out of the tournament. “I was able to finish the match, but today I felt a lot of pain and I just can’t play,” Davydenko said. Last year, the Russian was fined USD $2,000 by the ATP for not trying hard enough during his loss to qualifier Marin Cilic in a second-round match. The fine was overturned on appeal. Davydenko’s victory over Guccione was his 50th match win of the season, the fourth straight year he has won at least 50 matches.
STAYING ON TOP
Despite what happens the rest of the way, Jelena Jankovic will end the season as the number one player in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. Jankovic has a commanding points lead over Dinara Safina and will remain in the top spot regardless of the outcome of the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha. She secured the year-ending ranking by winning 12 straight matches en route to three consecutive titles in Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow. She lost in the US Open final and reached the semifinals of two other Grand Slam tournaments.
Holding match point at 9-8 in the Champions tiebreaker, Jim Courier sent a high defensive lob that just made it over the net in the final of the Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas. But Thomas Enqvist, standing right on top of the net, elected not to let the ball bounce and shanked the overhead straight down off the frame of his racquet, giving Courier his sixth career Outback Champions Series title, 3-6 6-4 10-8 (Championships tiebreak). “I think I was too casual,” Enqvist said, while Courier said the missed overhead was “one of the nuttiest match points I’ve ever been a part of.”
Four top players will lead a five-day tennis “fantasy camp” on Maui, Hawaii, in November. Lindsay Davenport, Tom Gullikson, Robby Ginepri and Corina Morariu will participate in the four days of instruction and free play. Gullikson is the former US Davis Cup captain and Olympic coach, while Davenport was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles. She is one of only four women – joining Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert – to have been the year-ending number one at least four times. Ginepri is one of the top five American players currently on the ATP tour, while Morariu was ranked number one in the world in doubles before being diagnosed with leukemia. She made a complete recovery and was named Comeback Player of the Year on the WTA Tour. The “fantasy camp” is for adult tennis players ranging in skill from recreational to tournament-level.
Hall of Famer Michael Chang and women’s tennis pro Amber Liu are now husband and wife. Matthew Cronin reports the pair was married at Lake Hills Community Church in Laguna Hills, California, with the reception and dinner taking place at the St. Regis Hotel in Dana Point, California. Among those in attendance were Chang’s brother and coach, Carl; his cousin James Wan, who plays for Stanford University; John Austin, Anne Yelsey, Dick Gould, Lele Forood, Eliot Teltscher and Peanut Louis.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships will have some people in the seats, if ticket sales are any indication. According to tournament officials, more than 95 percent of the premium seats have been sold for the season-ending event that features the world’s top eight women’s singles players and top four doubles teams. The Championships will be held November 4-9 at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex in Doha, Qatar.
Lleyton Hewitt and his wife Bec have begun a month-long fundraising auction with proceeds going to Cure Our Kids, an organization which supports children with cancer and their families at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in New South Wales, Australia. The auction includes items donated by the Hewitts as well as from Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff, among others.
A former top-100 player from Italy, Federico Luzzi, is dead at the age of 28. Luzzi died at a hospital in Arezzo, Italy, of leukemia. He was hospitalized after retiring a few days earlier from an Italian league match, citing a high fever. He reached a career-high ranking of number 92 in 2002 before a shoulder injury plagued him the rest of his career. In February, Luzzi was suspended for 200 days and fined USD $50,000 by the ATP for betting on tennis. In 2001, he beat Ville Liukko of Finland 14-12 in the fifth set to complete a 4-hour, 35-minute victory, the longest Davis Cup match ever played by an Italian.
Bill Rusick, an All-American college player and later tennis coach and co-owner of a tennis club, has died at the age of 51. Rusick led Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to two national championships and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. He coached at McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, and served as club pro and co-owner at St. Clair Tennis Club. He suffered from pancreatic cancer.
Basel: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-3
St. Petersburg: Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek beat Rohan Bopanna and Max Mirnyi 3-6 7-6 (4) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Lyon: Michael Llodra and Andy Ram beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 6-3 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Seoul: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana 7-5 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Linz: Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama beat Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-4 7-5
Luxembourg: Sorana Cirstea and Marina Erakovic beat Vera Dushevina and Mariya Koryttseva 2-6 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Poitiers: Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-4
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 BNP Paribas Masters, Paris, France, carpet
$125,000 Seguros Bolivar Open, Cali, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Busan Open Challenger, Busan, South Korea, hard
$175,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Quebec, hard
$100,000 Ritro Slovak Open, Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,450,000 Sony Ericsson Championships, Doha, Qatar, hard
$100,000 ITF women’s event, Krakow, Poland, hard
$106,500 Tatra Banka Open, Bratislava, Slovakia, hard
Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise, Surprise, Arizona
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
Pull-outs from the Olympic tennis competition has become almost as much of a tradition as the Olympics Games itself.
Maria Sharapova is the most recent example with the reigning Australian Open champion pulling out of the Beijing Games – and the U.S. Open – with a shoulder injury. Other recent pullouts include Marcos Baghdatis, Mario Ancic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Some other examples of high profile pullouts from past Games include Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf before the 1996 Games in Atlanta, (strained Achilles tendon and left knee injury, respectively) Andre Agassi before the 2000 Games in Sydney (cancer diagnosis to his mother and sister), Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati before the Athens Games (left knee and hamstring, respectively).
The other high-profile player not in the Beijing field is of course 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Mardy Fish. While a super-patriot when representing the United States in Davis Cup – and at the 2004 Games – Roddick made the tough decision to focus on getting a leg up on his rivals at the U.S. Open by not traveling to the other side of the globe just two weeks before the fourth and final major tournament of the year. Roddick’s reasoning for skipping the Games is to put the Open as a high priority this time around. Fish, another Davis Cup stalwart, made the tough decision as well having already achieved Olympic glory on his resume.
Another great American tennis champion, Bill Tilden, took perhaps the same reasoning when skipping the Olympic tennis competition at the 1924 Games in Paris, although his public excuse for missing out on the Games was due to his journalistic contracts. On March 11, 1924 – as documented in the my new book On This Day In Tennis History (New Chapter Press, $19.95) – Tilden announced that he will not represent the United States in the Paris Games. Tilden’s reasoning is that even if he wanted to play for the United States, the U.S. Olympic rule that forbids athletes from writing for newspapers prevents him from competing since he is contracted to write two articles per week for various outlets. Wrote the New York Times on the day “The tennis champion had never definitely announced that he would go abroad this year if picked for the Olympic team. Two months ago, Tilden said he did not think he would go because of the sharp competition expected in the national singles and in the Davis Cup matches. He said he regarded the Davis Cup competition more important than the Olympics and that he felt he could husband his strength for those matches in the event he is to be one of the contestants.” The USLTA also had enacted a similar rule for amateur tennis, but it is not scheduled to take affect until Jan. 1, 1925.
Also in 1924, French superstar Suzanne Lenglen withdrew from the competition in the capital city of her home country due to illness. She does, however, attend select sessions of the competition. Reported the Associated Press on the first day of the 1924 competition, “Suzanne Lenglen, the world’s champion, watched some of the matches until the sun became too uncomfortably warm for her. She looked thinner than usual. Mlle. Lenglen said she still felt ill and her appearance bore out her statement.”
The benefactors of Tilden and Lenglen’s withdrawals in 1924? Vincent Richards, Tilden’s Davis Cup teammate who won singles gold over France’s Henri Cochet, and Helen Wills, who won the singles competition over France’s Didi Vlasto.
Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7
Women’s Singles: Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 7-5 6-4
Men’s Doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (12) 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-3
Women’s Doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2
Mixed Doubles: Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur beat Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5 6-4
Boys Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3
Girls Singles: Laura Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1
Boys Doubles: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua beat Matt Reid and Bernard Tomic 6-4 2-6 12-10
Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Isabella Holland and Sally Peers 6-3 1-6 6-2
Ladies Invitational Doubles: Jana Novotna and Kathy Rinaldi beat Martina Navratilova and Helena Sukova 7-5 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles: Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer beat Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, walkover
Senior Gentlemen’s Doubles: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Wheelchair Masters: Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink beat Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-7 (6) 6-1 6-3
Ivan Navarro defeated Dick Norman 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-6 (10) to capture the 2008 Open Diputacion in Pozoblanco, Spain
Luis Horna won the BSI Challenger Lugano, defeating Nicolas Devilder 7-6 (1) 6-1 in Lugano, Switzerland
Fabio Fognini beat Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-1 to win the Sporting Challenger 08 in Turin, Italy
Tathiana Garbin won the Cuneo 2008 ITF event in Cuneo, Italy, beating Sorana-Mihaela Cristea 6-3 6-1
“I am very, very happy. For me it is a dream to play on this court. I had a lot of chances to win, but he always fight unbelievable.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating five-time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, it hurts. Rafa really served well at the end. I missed so many opportunities. I paid the price in the end.” – Roger Federer.
“My first job is big sister. I take that job very seriously.” – Venus Williams, talking about family ties after beating sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.
“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win.” – Serena Williams, noting she and her sister Venus have won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women’s singles titles.
“I’m definitely more in tune with my sister’s feelings because one of us has to win and one has to lose. Of course the celebration isn’t as exciting because my sister has just lost.” – Venus Williams.
“They’re serving bombs.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, referring to the big-serving games of both Williams sisters.
“His forehand was ridiculous. He hits the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult to get any rhythm. I felt rushed on every point.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
“To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place.” – Marat Safin.
“His forehand is incredible. The speed and spin is incredible, and the pop in his serve, there’s a life to it.” – John McEnroe, admitting he was stunned by the power of Rafael Nadal after he practiced with the Spaniard.
“It’s not over ’til the blonde lady screams.” – Mary Carillo on Elena Dementieva’s shrieking during her semifinal loss to Venus Williams.
“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.” – Jelena Jankovic, complaining about having to play on Court 18, where she lost.
“My husband warms up with me every time. He’s a good hitting partner, but maybe he needs to practice the serve more and serve like Serena. Then next time I will return much better.” – Zheng Jie, after Serena Williams fired 14 aces in her semifinal victory over the Chinese player.
“We have always aimed for singles gold, but Zheng Jie’s results have further bolstered our confidence in the Chinese tennis team.” – Xie Miqing, spokeswoman for the Chinese Tennis Federation, after Zheng reached the Wimbledon semifinals.
“I thought I was going to be sick when I walked onto court because there were so many people watching. In the second set I went a bit mad but got it back together and managed to win.” – Laura Robson, who became the first British player since 1984 to win the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles.
“It was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player. It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, after receiving an ITF Place in the Beijing Olympics tennis event.
“He is a wonderful role model for our young Canadiens, and I am so proud of his remarkable accomplishment today. His victory is an exclamation point on a Hall of a Fame career.” – Michael S. Downey, president and chief executive of Tennis Canada, talking about Daniel Nestor.
When Rafael Nadal unleashed a final ferocious forehand to end an epic battle, he became the first person since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to sweep both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. His 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 victory also stopped Roger Federer’s bid for a record sixth straight Wimbledon men’s singles title. The defeat snapped Federer’s 40 straight match streak at the All England Club and a record 65-match streak on grass. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, two years before the Open Era began. And at 4 hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history.
SONG FOR ZHENG
The biggest surprise at this year’s Wimbledon was China’s Zheng Jie. She became the first female wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and joined Monica Seles as the second at any Grand Slam tournament. Zheng beat three ranked players, including top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the reigning French Open champion. Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals was the only player to take a set off Zheng, and the Chinese righthander retaliated by winning the third set 6-1. Zheng wasn’t a complete surprise as she was ranked number 27 in the world in singles before she injured her ankle in 2007 and underwent surgery, ending her season. She won the gold at the Asian Games in 2006, beating Sania Mirza, and teamed with Yan Zi to win the doubles at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon the same year, her doubles ranking being as high as number three in the world.
SUN RISING IN EAST
Could the tennis power axis be shifting to the East – the Far East, that is? China’s Zheng Jie shocked the tennis world by knocking off top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Agnes Szavay and No. 18 Nicole Vaidisova on her way to the semifinals. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand eliminated the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic. Another Thai, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, reached the Girls’ singles final, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua captured the boys’ doubles title, winning the decisive third set 12-10. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama was a quarterfinalist in the mixed doubles. Earlier this year 18-year-old Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event in almost 16 years when he upset James Black in the final of Delray Beach, Florida. And the center of the tennis world next month will be the Beijing Olympics.
SET FOR BEIJING
Nicolas Massu of Chile will be able to defend his gold medals in singles and doubles now that he has been added to the field of the Beijing Olympics tennis event. The ITF awarded places in the field to 12 players – six men and six women – who did not meet the direct acceptance requirements. Massu won both the singles and doubles at the Athens Games four years ago. Other ITF Places in the men’s singles went to Kevin Anderson, South Africa; Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden; Kei Nishikori, Japan; Max Mirnyi, Belarus; and Sun Peng, China. Given ITF Places in the women’s singles were Maria Koryttseva, Ukraine; Chan Yung-Jan, Taiwan; Ayumi Morita, Japan; Nuria Llagostera-Vives, Spain; Alicia Molik, Australia; and Selima Sfar, Tunisia.
SEE YOU IN BEIJING
Eighteen of the top 20 men and seven of the top ten women are scheduled to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For both men and women, this is the strongest field to compete in the Olympics since tennis returned as a full medal sport in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Out of the top players, the only ones deciding to stay home are Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet and Anna Chakvetadze. Fernando Verdasco and Marion Bartoli are both ineligible to compete. The Olympic tennis event will be played from Sunday, August 10, through Sunday, August 17, at the new Olympic Tennis Center in Beijing.
More than 40 of the top tennis players took part in the ITF’s official tennis Olympic book, “Journey to Beijing – Tennis.” The 140-page publication features a series of photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. The pictures are accompanied by interviews with the players. The pictures were taken in Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, the Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Check out Serena Williams as an ice skater.
SURE ABOUT RETIRING?
Justine Henin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to tennis. The 26-year-old Belgian announced her retirement 10 days before the start of the French Open in May. At the time, she was ranked number one in the world. Henin, who is establishing a tennis academy in Belgium, said, “I can never say for sure that I’ll never be back because I hate to say never. But for me, and the people who know me, they know that when I do something, I do it 200 percent, and when I decide it’s over, it’s over and I go to the next step.”
Austrian doubles player Sandra Klemenschits will return to the WTA Tour this month following her battle with abdominal cancer, the same illness that caused the death in April of her twin sister Daniela. Organizers of the Gastein Ladies awarded Klemenschits a wild card for their July 14-20 tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria. She will team up with Germany’s Marlene Weingaertner, who is making her comeback after a two-year retirement from competitive tennis. Sandra and Daniela Klemenschits played doubles on Austria’s Fed Cup team and won 23 titles on the ITF women’s circuit before both were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer.
Jonas Bjorkman was on the losing side in his final Wimbledon’s men’s doubles championship match. He and Kevin Ullyett lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Swede’s last appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before he retires at the end f the season. Bjorkman’s partners in his winning 51 doubles titles – including eight at Grand Slam events – include Todd Woodbridge, John McEnroe, Pat Rafter and Roger Federer.
When Daniel Nestor teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship, he became the first Canadian to win a title at the All England Club. Nestor also completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to championships he won with Mark Knowles at the Australian Open in 2002, the U.S. Open in 2004 and the French Open in 2007. And he became just the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, joining Andre Agassi, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
After facing each other in the women’s singles final, sisters Venus and Serena Williams teamed up to win their third Wimbledon women’s doubles championship and seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2. The sisters last won the doubles at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena beat Venus in the singles final. This year, Venus beat Serena for her fifth Wimbledon singles crown.
When Laura Robson beat third-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1, she became the first British player to win the Wimbledon girls singles since Annabel Croft in 1984. Because of the interest in the 14-year-old’s match, the girls’ singles final was played in the 11,000-seat No. 1 court. She is the youngest girls’ champion at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis won in 1994 at the age of 13. When she was handed the trophy by Ann Jones, one of the British women to have won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles, Robson said she hopes she will be granted a wild card into the main draw of next year’s Championships.
Marcos Baghdatis has decided not play Davis Cup for Cyprus against Portugal later this month. Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, said he is pulling out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie because of other commitments, but said he was not be quitting the team indefinitely.
The top-seeded brother team of Bob and Mike Bryan never lost serve during this year’s Wimbledon, yet they didn’t win the title. The American twins lost in the men’s doubles semifinals to the team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9). Bob Bryan did win a Wimbledon title, teaming with Samantha Stosur to capture the mixed doubles. Mike Bryan was on the losing side of the net with Katarina Srebotnik.
SEEING IT ON TV
The battle between sisters Venus and Serena Williams drew the highest preliminary United States television ratings in three years for a Wimbledon women’s final. NBC said viewership was up 21 percent from last years’ meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli and the best rating since 2005 when Venus beat Lindsay Davenport.
Ricoh, a global leader in digital office solutions, has extended its role as the Official Office Solutions Provider of the ATP for three additional years. The company will also sponsor the official ATP MatchFacts, distributed after every ATP Tour match and sponsorship of Hawkeye graphics at a number of ATP Masters Series events in Europe.
Cordoba: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat James Cerretani and Dick Norman 6-4 6-3
Lugano: Ramirez Junaid and Philipp Marx beat Mariano Hood and Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (7) 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Turin: Carlos Berlocq and Frederico Gil beat Tomas Cibulec and Jaroslav Levinsky 6-4 6-3
Cuneo: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Olga Savchuk and Marina Shamayko 6-1 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Siemens Open, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay
$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$890,000 Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay
$525,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, hard
$525,000 Dutch Open Tennis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, clay
$525,000 ATP Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay
$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard
$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay
Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Group III: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hard
Group IV: Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, US Virgin Island at Honduras
Group II Playoffs: Luxembourg vs. Finland at Hanko, Finland, clay; Hungary vs. Greece at Thessaloniki, Greece, clay
Group II Second Round: Denmark vs. South Africa at Johannesburg, South Africa, hard; Algeria vs. Monaco at Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay
It’s becoming a regular pattern, and – for now at least – a small crisis for Andy Murray and his camp: a fine tournament win followed by a weak first round loss to a journeyman.
Last week’s display in Marseille was typical of the Scot. He had some gritty, and at times awkward, wins (e.g.., over Stanislas Wawrinka and Nicolas Mahut ) and some dominant displays (Jesse Huta Galung and a recovering Mario Ancic in the final). Of course his triumph was aided by the early exits of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the disappointing Richard Gasquet, and tennis’s new darling Novak Djokovic. However, such luck is commonplace in today’s game, and Murray’s second title of the year indicated a prosperous 2008 was to come.
Fresh off his return to the top ten and surely brimming with confidence, Murray then joined Marcos Baghdatis in exiting the first round of Rotterdam. This time he lost tamely to local wildcard Robin Hasse. Murray insisted fatigue was not a factor: “I wasn’t tired physically or mentally, I felt decent,” but even after beefing up somewhat since his gangly early years, Murray still has a lot of room to improve his physical condition, which would help his stamina.
Instead, Britain’s number one used a rather tired excuse that the court and balls were different and hard to get used to. Frankly, this excuse never really holds much weight. These players are professionals and the time they get to practice on such courts should surely eradicate any issues they have with the different surfaces from week to week.
Perhaps his dismissive view of the loss coupled with his recent title win suggests that priorities lie predominantly with the more glamorous, and rewarding, trio of upcoming tournaments: “This is just one of those matches you can afford in tournaments like this…now I will have some days off before I start preparing for Dubai and the Indian Wells and Miami stretch. It still has been a good start of the year.”
The above comment shows a still-young attitude towards the game that may well change as he matures. Either way, with two tournament wins and a return to the top ten, it has indeed been a fine start to Murray’s third full year on the ATP circuit.