One of the things that makes tennis so unique is the ability to categorize periods in the sport by generations; the struggle of the “new guard” to take control from the “old guard” is a constantly recurring narrative. With the news Wednesday that Agnes Szavay has officially retired from professional tennis due to lingering back issues, it’s only right to take a look at the highest-profile players in what can be dubbed “The Lost Generation” of the WTA; each of these women, fairly close in age, all found success over a short period of time that all went away in an instant due to injuries, personal problems or both.
It all began with Nicole Vaidisova.
In 2004, her first full season as a professional, Vaidisova became the sixth-youngest champion in WTA at the Tier V event in Vancouver, aged 15 years, three months and 23 days. Behind her strong serve and attacking baseline game, Vaidisova looked to be the next champion who had been groomed of the courts of the Bollettieri academy.
Despite being born in 1989, Vaidisova was a force on the senior circuit while her contemporaries were still playing juniors. When she made the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2006, defeating Amelie Mauresmo and Venus Williams along the way, Caroline Wozniacki was the second seed in the junior event, players including Dominika Cibulkova and Ekaterina Makarova were unseeded there, and Agnieszka Radwanska won the title; in addition, Victoria Azarenka was the 2005 ITF Junior World Champion. Vaidisova reached her second Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in 2007, and peaked at No. 7 in May of that year.
Also in 2007, the trio of Anna Chakvetadze, Tatiana Golovin and Szavay arrived.
Golovin burst on to the scene very early in her professional career, reaching the fourth round in her debut at the 2004 Australian Open and winning the mixed doubles with Richard Gasquet at their home slam in Paris later that year. She boasted an impressive all court game, also highlighted by a lethal forehand. Inconsistency followed, but Golovin found form late in 2006, when she reached her first, and only, Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open. She captured her two career WTA titles in 2007, finished runner-up to Justine Henin in two big events in the fall indoor season, and ended that year as World No. 13.
At her peak, Chakvetadze was perhaps the only player with legitimate claim to the (oft-misguided) comparison to Martina Hingis; Hingis herself affirmed the comparisons, once stating, “She’s very smart around the court and she has good vision. You don’t see anything specific that she’s winning matches [with] so I definitely see some similarities.” The Russian burst on the scene in 2004 as well, when she qualified and defeated reigning Roland Garros champion Anastasia Myskina in the first round of the US Open. Following a steady rise, she won her biggest career title at the Tier I event in Moscow in late 2006; on the back of a quarterfinal in Australia in 2007, she made her top 10 debut in February. Another quarterfinal at Roland Garros, a semifinal at the US Open and four titles put her among the elite at the 2007 Year-End Championships in Madrid. She is one of only a handful of players who can boast a win over both Williams sisters.
Possessed with a strong serve and elegant two-handed backhand, Szavay rose from obscurity to “destined for stardom” in a matter of a few months in 2007. As a qualifier at the Tier II event in New Haven, she reached the final, where she was forced to retire against Svetlana Kuznetsova up a set due to…a lower back injury; looking back, an injury which had originally been attributed to a taxing week may have been a sign of things to come. Nonetheless, Szavay reached the quarterfinals of the US Open, where she was again stopped by Kuznetsova. The Hungarian pulled off a lot of upsets in 2007, but perhaps greatest of these was her 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-2 triumph over Jelena Jankovic in the Tier II event in Beijing; at a set and 5-1 down, Szavay hit a second serve ace down match point en route to one of the greatest WTA comebacks in recent memory.
After starting the season ranked No. 189, Szavay ended it ranked No. 20. For her efforts, she was named the 2007 WTA Newcomer of the Year.
With the good, sadly, came all the bad. Vaidisova suffered from mononucleosis in late 2007 and her form took a nosedive; she officially retired in 2010, as her stepfather stated she was “fed up with tennis” and that it was “understandable” because “she started so young.” Chakvetadze, after being tied up and robbed in 2007, dealt with a whole host of injuries; she too is currently sidelined with a recurring back injury. Having made a foray into Russian politics in 2011 with the Right Cause Party, and being a featured commentator on Russian Eurosport for the 2013 Australian Open, it’s unclear when or if she will return to competition. After reaching a career-high ranking of No. 12 in early 2008, Golovin has been inactive since due to chronic lower back inflammation, and has ruled out a return. Whilst still being troubled by her back, Szavay showed only flashes of her best form in the seasons since, including upsetting then-World No. 3 Venus Williams 6-0, 6-4 in the third round at Roland Garros in 2009. 2010 was her last full season; a failed comeback in 2012 concluded with a retirement loss to countrywoman Greta Arn in the first round of the US Open, her last professional match.
It’s hard to say if this quartet could’ve taken the next step into legitimate slam contenders, or even champions, more than five years removed from their days in the sun. But largely due to matters outside their control, we’ll never even know.
Igor Kunitsyn beat Marat Safin 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3 to win the ATP Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russia
David Nalbandian beat Robin Soderling 6-2 5-7 6-3 to win the Stockholm Open in Stockholm, Sweden
Philipp Petzschner upset Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 to win the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy in Vienna, Austria
Jelena Jankovic won her third straight title, the Kremlin Cup, by beating Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-4 in Moscow, Russia
Goran Ivanisevic beat Henri Leconte 7-6 (0) 6-3 to win the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Budapest, Hungary
“This is a perfect ending for me to win the doubles title in Stockholm in my last match in Sweden, with my family and friends, old coaches, watching me. The only person who was missing today was my son, Max, who is back in Monte Carlo at school.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who is retiring this year.
“I was hoping to win a couple of games and that’s it. I still don’t know how I was able to outplay Marat, but I guess it happens. I still don’t understand how I won.” – Igor Kunitsyn, who won the ATP Kremlin Cup by upsetting Marat Safin in the final.
“It’s amazing to have beaten my first Top 10 player (Stanislas Wawrinka), my first semifinal straight away, my first final, my first title, and also playing in the doubles final. There were so many new and amazing things that happened to me this week.” – Philipp Petzschner, after winning the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy, a tournament in which he originally planned to play only doubles.
“I’ve worked really hard in the last three weeks, winning three titles in a row. It’s not easy.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Kremlin Cup.
“It seems she had an answer for everything I tried.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the Kremlin Cup final.
“I played great all week, almost perfect every match here. I lost a set today but that’s part of the game.” – David Nalbandian, after winning the Stockholm Open.
“I’m at a good moment in my career. I think this is the best I have played in three years. I’m excited about the indoor season because I don’t have any points to defend and I think I can do very well in the next three tournaments I play: Madrid, Lyon and Paris.” – Robin Soderling, who lost the Stockholm Open final.
“If they (WTA) don’t listen to what we have to say we might even choose to boycott the new tour.” Dinara Safina, about the new rules for the women’s tour.
“It would be great to have another duel with Federer. If I play him it means I will be number one at the end of the year because I will have reached the final. I can only meet him there.” – Rafael Nadal, about playing Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters.
“I totally came here because I love winning. I have never won this title, but I just had a day where I could not control my game. She played well.” – Venus Williams, after her first-round loss to Flavia Pennetta at the Kremlin Cup.
“Sydney is a happy hunting ground for me. Some good hard matches in Sydney will certainly help me in my preparation for the 2009 Australian Open.” – Leyton Hewitt, who has been recuperating from a hip operation, saying he will return to tennis at the Sydney tournament.
“I am looking forward to renewing some great rivalries, particularly with Jim Courier, and getting my competitive juices flowing again at The Stanford Championships.” – Boris Becker, who will compete in a senior tournament in Dallas, Texas, this month.
Dina Safina says the top players could boycott next year’s WTA Tour if their questions about the changes to the schedule are left unanswered. Under the new rules, the top players will have to play designated tournaments while lower-ranked players will be able to play any tournament they choose. Under the so-called Road Map 2010, there will be 20 Premiere tournaments with players committed to play in at least 10. Any player qualifying for the top four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – must play that event. The top-ranked players must also play in at least four of five other events – Canada, Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati and Tokyo. The WTA has committed to having at least seven of the world’s top 10 players at each of those events.
When Germany’s Philipp Petzschner arrived in Vienna, he was planning on playing only in doubles. But he qualified for the main singles draw, then kept winning until he came away with the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy title. Petzschner, who have never made it past the quarterfinals in an ATP tournament before Vienna, beat top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, former world number one Carlos Moya and 2004 Bank Austria champion Feliciano Lopez before upsetting fourth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 in the title match.
Politicians in Sydney want to build a multi-million dollar tennis facility and take the Australian Open away from Melbourne. The Victorian capital has the rights to stage the year’s first Grand Slam tournament until 2016. According to news reports, the New South Wales state government, however, wants to build a tennis complex in Glebe, which is close to the Sydney city center, and try to get the Australian Open to move after its contract with Melbourne expires.
She’s number one in the world and continuing her winning ways. Since reaching her first Grand Slam tournament final at the US Open, Jelena Jankovic has won three straight titles in as many weeks. It wasn’t easy, as Jankovic was down a set and a break before beating Vera Dushevina, then rallied from 3-1 down in both sets to beat Flavia Pennetta. In the semifinals, she lost the first set at love to defending champion Elena Dementieva before winning 0-6 6-1 6-0. She easily beat Vera Zvonareva in the final, 6-2 6-4. It has been three years since a woman has won three tournaments in three weeks, the last to achieve the feat being Nicole Vaidisova.
Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman played the final singles match of his career at the Stockholm Open, losing to “lucky loser” Juan Monaco in the opening round. At Wimbledon in June, Bjorkman announced his retirement plans, saying “I feel it is time to begin the next chapter of my life.” Making his 16th appearance in Stockholm, where he has won the singles twice, Bjorkman went away a champion. He teamed with Kevin Ullyett to win the doubles, beating fellow Swedes Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3. His victory in his 1,002nd career doubles match was his 700th match win and 53rd doubles title. He reached a career high singles ranking of number four in 1997, and in 2006 reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, losing to eventual champion Roger Federer.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina pulled out of his second-round match at the Vienna tournament with a toe injury. Del Potro, who won his first four ATP titles in a row in July and August, has been struggling with a broken nail on his right foot since the US Open.
The singles winners at the Australian Open in January will receive about USD $1.15 million each, based on current exchange rates. Tournament officials announced the prize money for the 2009 tournament winners will be increased 18 percent from this year’s event. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open will offer total prize money of USD $15.6 million. The upcoming tournament will feature the prospect of Roger Federer winning his 14th major title to equal the record of Pete Sampras. Federer lost in the semifinals at Melbourne in 2008 to eventual winner Novak Djokovic. Federer then lost to Rafael Nadal in the finals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon before winning the US Open. Maria Sharapova is the defending Australian Open women’s champion.
SEEKING COURT REDRESS
The German Tennis Federation is planning to return to court and appeal the ATP downgrading of the men’s tournament in Hamburg. In August, a jury in Wilmington, Delaware, sided with the ATP’s planned tournament restructuring, a move that moved the Hamburg clay court event from May to July and eliminated it as a key tune-up for Roland Garros. The German federation said on its web site that it aims to maintain the Hamburg tournament’s status and ask for unspecified damages. The federation did not specify which court would hear the appeal or when it would be filed.
David Nalbandian is upset that the Davis Cup final will be played in Mar del Plata, Argentina, instead of his hometown of Cordoba. The Argentine Tennis Association wanted to play the final against Spain next month on a fast indoor court in Cordoba. But that site was not approved by the International Tennis Federation., which selected instead Mar del Plata. Both venues are smaller than the 12,000-seat capacity the ITF has said it wanted. But the ITF said its selection was made because there were “many factors to consider,” including the ability to expand seating at Mar del Plata. “It’s a very strange decision,” Nalbandian said. “The players and captain and the federation want to play in Cordoba. I don’t know why they chose the other place.”
Three of the world’s top women – Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – have agreed to play a new World Team Challenge in Hong Kong next year as a warm-up event for the Australian Open. The tournament will feature four teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. Each team will consist of three players competing in singles and doubles. Jankovic will lead Team Europe, Williams the Americas, Sharapova Team Russia and Sania Mirza of India the Asia-Pacific squad.
Leyton Hewitt will make the Sydney International tournament in January his first tournament since undergoing hip surgery. Hewitt underwent the operation after the Beijing Olympics and says his recovery is going well. Once ranked number one in the world, Hewitt has won the Sydney title four times, most recently in 2005.
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker will make his Outback Champions Series debut at The Stanford Championships, to be played this month in Dallas, Texas. It will be the German’s first tournament in the United States since he competed in the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1999. Others scheduled to play in the seniors event will be Jim Courier, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, Mark Philippoussis, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias.
SET FOR THE BAR
Max Mirnyi is now ready for another court. The former world number one doubles player has received his diploma from Belarus State University, majoring in International Law with an emphasis on the international protection of children’s rights. The 31-year-old native of Minsk has been a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and has taken part in the various national and international children’s programs in the framework of the ATP. He had been working on his law degree for the past five years.
SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONS
Cara Black and Liezel Huber have clinched the top spot for 2008 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Doubles Rankings. The pair won eight doubles titles this year, including the US Open, the duo’s fourth career Grand Slam tournament title. It is the second straight season that Black and Huber will finish as the joint top-ranked players in doubles. The two are only the second doubles team to finish a season as joint top-ranked players, and only the fourth doubles pair to jointly hold the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour number one doubles ranking since its inception in 1984. Black is a native of Zimbabwe, while Huber was born in South Africa but has become a naturalized American citizen.
When Marat Safin won his 400th career match, he didn’t know it. Safin broke Noam Okum in the 10th game of the final set, earning a 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-4 first-round victory at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The ATP website, however, said Safin mistakenly thought it was 6-5 and went to his chair to towel off during what he thought was a changeover. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes leaned over and informed Safin the match was over. Safin ran his career match win total to 402 before losing in the final to Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3.
STOPPED AT THE GATE
The ATP is out to stop 15 professional gamblers from attending tournaments. Gerard Tsobanian, tournament director of the Madrid Masters, said the men’s tennis tour sent the tournament a list of names and credit card numbers of 15 bettors who they want excluded. The 15 were apparently found placing bets on site to exploit a 20-second delay in scores being received by bookmakers. Tsobanian said it was “a very international list” and that some of the gamblers had tried to get into tournaments by posing as journalists.
Anna Kournikova will compete in special mixed doubles matches at The Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas, later this month. The former top ten player who still appears on magazine covers, will join members of the 2008 Outback Champions Series tennis circuit on the campus of Southern Methodist University for the tournament. Two of the players from the men’s tournament along with another female player will play compete in the mixed doubles.
Hank Jungle, who coached Tim Gullikson and Johan Kriek, among others, has died at his Fort Myers, Florida, home. Jungle, who retired after serving 20 years in the military, met Gullikson when he was in the Air Force and living in Dayton, Ohio. A native of New Orleans, Jungle played tennis at Tulane University. He had been tennis director at Cypress Lake Country Club in recent years and had given lessons the day before he died.
Swedes Anders Jarryd and Mikael Pernfors complete the eight-player field who will compete in the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships in Surprise, Arizona, next month. Others in the field include feisty fan favorite John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jimmy Arias, Wayne Ferreira, Todd Martin and Mark Philippoussis. Surprise has signed a three-year agreement with the Outback Champions Series.
Moscow (women): Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4 6-4
Moscow (men): Sergiy Stakhovsky and Potito Starace beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 7-6 (4) 2-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Stockholm: Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet beat Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3
Vienna: Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram beat Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 6-1 7-5
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid, Madrid, Spain, hard
$125,000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
$600,000 Zurich Open, Zurich, Switzerland
$100,000 Internazionali Tennis Val Gardena, Ortisei, Italy, carpet
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,000,000 Davidoff Swiss Indoors, Basel, Switzerland, carpet
$1,000,000 St. Petersburg Open, St. Petersburg, Russia, hard
$800,000 Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon, Lyon, France, carpet
$125,000 Samsung Securities Cup Challenger, Seoul, Korea, hard
$600,000 Generali Ladies Linz, Linz, Austria, hard
$225,000 FORTIS Championships Luxembourg
$100,000 Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne, Poitiers, France, hard
$100,000 2008 OEC Taipei Ladies Open, Taipei, Taiwan, carpet
Stanford Championships, Outback Champions, Dallas, Texas
NEW YORK – Maybe the number one ranking was too heavy. If so, top-seeded Ana Ivanovic doesn’t have to worry any more. Her US Open is over in what is being called the biggest upset in the history of women’s tennis.
Julie Coin of France, ranked 188th in the world and playing in her first WTA Tour event, calmly kept her poise as she overpowered Ivanovic 6-3 4-6 6-3 in a second-round match on the hard courts of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
It was the earliest exit for the top-seeded woman in US Open history since 1973 and the first time the number one seed has lost in the second round of a major tournament since Justine Henin fell to Tathiana Garbin at Roland Garros four years ago. It also was the worst loss by a top-ranked player since Ivanovic lost to 133rd-ranked Zheng Jie at Wimbledon earlier this summer.
While Ivanovic struggled in her first-round victory, Thursday’s loss came as a huge shock. After all, Coin had never played in a WTA Tour event before and had failed to even qualify at the other three Grand Slam tournaments this year: the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. She didn’t do any better at the smaller tournaments, losing in qualifying at Estoril, Birmingham, Stanford and Los Angeles.
On Thursday, though, Coin was more than Ivanovic could handle.
“She made a lot of errors, so I got a lot of free points,” Coin said. “I thought maybe she was nervous, more than I was.”
It wasn’t all errors, however.
Coin powered five aces and finished with 19 winners and only 27 unforced errors, seven fewer than her opponent. But it was her nerves – actually the lack of them – that carried the Clemson University graduate to victory.
“Today I felt nervous at the beginning. Then it went away,” Coin said. “I was just playing on the court in a normal match for me. At match point, it (the nerves) came back. To win the last point a lot of pressure came back.”
Ivanovic has been hobbled by injuries since winning the French Open and gaining the number one ranking earlier this year. A right thumb injury caused her to withdraw from the tennis event at the Beijing Olympics earlier this month and she was unable to practice until just before the Open began.
Time and again it was Coin coming out a winner on their baseline battles. The 25-year-old showed a quickness that was more than a match for the top seed, and a power game that produced winners throughout the battle.
Coin double-faulted on her first match point. Two points later, Ivanovic saved the next match point when her cross-court forehand skipped off the sideline. Victory was Coins when, on the third match point, Ivanovic sailed a forehand wide.
“Today was just, like, perfect,” Coin said.
Closer to perfection were the Williams sisters as they both grabbed spots in the third round. Venus routed Rossana De Los Rios 6-0 6-3 before Serena opened the night session with a 6-1 6-1 romp over Elena Vesnina.
Venus needed just 28 minutes to rip through the opening set, and she never faced a break point on her serve. In fact, she was taken to deuce just twice in the match, both times as she was serving out the victory.
“I think I just had a lot more power than she did today,” Venus said. “She plays a game where she hits a lot of high balls, which at my height doesn’t, you know – I think it would be effective against a lot of players, but with my height and my reach, it doesn’t phase me as much. I think that helped me.”
Serena also was much too powerful for her Russian opponent, who tried unsuccessfully to trade ground strokes with the two-time US Open winner. Serena pounded out six aces and won 57 points to just 32 for Vesnina.
“I was disappointed I lost my serve,” Serena said. It was the lone game Vesnina won in the second set.
Two other seeded players in the women’s draw were eliminated Thursday. Italy’s Tathiana Garbin upset 13th-seeded Agnes Szavay of Hungary 5-7 6-2 6-3, and Severine Bremond of France ousted 20th-seeded Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic 7-5 6-3.
In the men’s second round, American Mardy Fish upset 24th-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-2 3-6 6-3 6-4. In the next round, Fish will play his best friend on the tour, ninth-seeded James Blake, who advanced when Belgium’s Steve Darcis retired while trailing 4-6 6-3 1-0.
None of the upsets had the impact of the one by Coin, a former college All-American.
“I was nervous going onto the court because I never saw her play before so I didn’t know what to expect,” Ivanovic said. “I thought I can slowly get into the match, and she played completely different than I expected. She was serving extremely well and hitting very powerful shots.
“I really struggled and made too many unforced errors, and my serve was not working really well. Obviously, it’s very frustrating, because I know I can play so much better.
“This was very, very disappointing loss for me.”
16 June 2008
Rafael Nadal won his first grass-court title, the Artois Championships, by beating Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6) 7-5 in London, England.
Roger Federer won the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, for the fifth time, downing Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4
Nikolay Davydenko beat Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-3 to win the Orange Prokom Open in Warsaw, Poland
Kateryna Bondarenko won her first WTA Tour title, the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, by beating Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4)
Maria Kirilenko defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-0 6-2 to win the Torneo Barcelona KIA in Barcelona, Spain
“I now have titles on all surfaces, so I am now a more complete player than I was a week ago.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning a grass-court tournament, The Artois Championships.
“It feels great. Finally I have my own title. I didn’t expect my first one to come on grass.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, who earned her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title by capturing the DFS Classic.
“Maybe if he wins it six times people won’t question him. People are sitting here saying, `Can Roger win Wimbledon?’ Yes, he can. He’s won it five times.” – Andy Roddick, about Roger Federer.
“It’s been a terrific week. I’ve only been playing on grass for three years so it’s quite an improvement for m e to get to the final.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Nadal in the final at Queen’s Club.
“I need three days off. Four would be amazing! I’ve spent nine days in the last four months at home. I need to be with friends, family, forget the tennis for a few days. I need to play some golf.” – Rafael Nadal.
“We’re confident going into Wimbledon. I think we’ll be second seeds, and anytime you’re the opposite of the Bryans it’s a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, who with his partner Nenad Zimonjic won The Artois Championships doubles.
“I am mentally exhausted after the French Open. I am not ready to compete so soon after winning my first Grand Slam.” – Ana Ivanovic, withdrawing from the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, England.
“My game plane was just to make her play every point. I knew she hadn’t had a lot of wins recently and I wanted to stop her taking the initiative out there.” – Bethany Mattek, after upsetting world number seven Nicole Vaidisova at the DFS Classic.
“I think I played well. Even though my knee hurt a lot, I kept on fighting. I’m not a quitter.” – Yanina Wickmayer,
“Nobody beats John Sadri 15 times, so he’s lucky I retired. I drew the line.” – John Sadri, noting his career record against John McEnroe was 14-0, including the 1978 NCAA championship match.
When Rafael Nadal won The Artois Championships at Queen’s Club in London, he became the first Spaniard to capture a grass-court title since Andres Gimeno at Eastbourne, England, in 1972. Nadal also became the first player to win the French Open and The Queen’s Club in the same year since Ilie Nastase of Romania captured both titles in 1973. He also is the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win at Roland Garros and a grass-court title in the same year. And he is the first left-hander to win The Artois Championships since Scott Draper of Australia in 1996.
Roger Federer has compiled an Open Era record 59-match winning streak on grass going into Wimbledon, where he is seeking his sixth consecutive title. He extended his record to 25-0 at the Gerry Weber Open, where he has won in his last five appearances on the grass in Halle, Germany. Federer’s last loss on grass was to Mario Ancic in the first round at Wimbledon in 2002. The victory was Federer’s 10th grass-court title, tying him with Pete Sampras for the Open Era record.
With Ana Ivanovic ranked number one in the world and Jelena Jankovic number two, Serbia becomes only the third nation since the rankings began in 1975 to have the world’s top two players. The United States have had five different pairs occupy first and second in the rankings at the same time, and Belgium joined the select group when Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters held those two spots.
Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium reached the final of a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event for the first time when they squared off for the title at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England. Before last week Bondarenko had never been beyond the quarterfinals of a Tour singles event, while Wickmayer’s best showing before Birmingham was a second-round appearance in Antwerp, Belgium. Bondarenko won the hard-fought battle of newcomers 3-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4).
Fernando Gonzalez forfeited his third-round match at Queen’s Club when he let his temper get the best of him. The Chilean was warned for ball abuse in the first set, then was docked a point when he smashed his racket in anger. When he abused a ball again after losing his serve in the 11th game of the second set, umpire Les Maddock issued a game penalty, sending Gonzalez to the locker room and giving the match to Ivo Karlovic.
SEEKING MORE SAY
The world’s top three players have become political allies in an attempt to take more control over their sport. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all but certain to be elected to the ATP Player Council. The three have complained about the current ATP leadership and have expressed concern about the potential impact of a lawsuit filed against the ATP by tournament organizers in Hamburg, Germany. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are running unopposed for three of the four slots reserved for players ranked one to 50.
SPADEA INTO WIMBLEDON
American Vincent Spadea and Frenchman Thierry Ascione gained spots in the main draw at Wimbledon when officials decided not to award the final two of eight wild cards in the men’s singles. Spadea, ranked 110th in the world, and Ascione, ranked 119th, where the next two players in the rankings who were eligible to play at the grass court Grand Slam. Receiving wild cards into the men’s field were Belgian Xavier Malisse, Britons Jamie Baker and Alex Bogdanovic, Canadian Frank Dancevic and Jeremy Chardy of France. The women’s wild cards went to Australia’s Samantha Stosur, Poland’s Urzula Radwanska, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Britain’s Elena Baltacha, Naomi Cavaday, Katie O’Brien and Melanie South.
STILL NUMBER ONE
Cara Black is moving up the all-time list of players who have held the number one ranking in doubles. The Zimbabwean has been ranked number one for a total of 68 weeks, tying her with Helena Sukova. Martina Navratilova leads the list with a total of 237 weeks being ranked number one. Liezel Huber, who teamed with Black to win the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, joined her partner at number one and now has been ranked at the top position for 31 weeks.
Fernando Verdasco has bared all for a good cause. The Spanish player can be seen without clothing in the July issue of the United Kingdom’s Cosmopolitan Magazine. Verdaco is the second tennis player to pose in the nude in support of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign. Another Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, was the first to pick a unique way to help raise awareness and funds for research into testicular and prostate cancer.
Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will repeat their Wimbledon final of 1997 when they play an exhibition match at the Liverpool International Tournament. Hingis retired after banned for two years from competitive tennis following a positive test for cocaine at Wimbledon last year. Hingis also took time to join Pat Cash, Goran and American Ashley Harkleroad at a charity dinner in Liverpool, England, to support Claire House, a hospice for children.
John Sadri’s current love is golf, where last week he shot an opening-round 77 that put him 10 strokes off the lead in the North Carolina Amateur in Raleigh. Now 51, Sadri once was ranked number 14 in the world in tennis and lost to Guillermo Vilas in the 1979 Australian Open men’s singles final. Sadri, who owns a construction company in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he took up golf to get closer to business clients.
SIGN OF AFFECTION
Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s home town is going big-time to honor their champion. How big? The New South Wales town of Barellan is building a giant replica of the wooden tennis racket Goolagong used during the height of her success in the 1970s. The steel construction will be 13.8 meters (45 feet) high and will stand on a 45-degree angle in the town’s Evonne Goolagong Park. Goolagong won 92 tournaments during her career, including Wimbledon in 1971 and 1980.
SPORT FOR AUSSIES
Australia’s most popular sport is tennis, according to the Sweeney Sports Report, which used various indicators such as participation, attendance at major events, viewing figures and merchandise sales to quantify the popularity of major sports. Golf, which moved into first place when Aussie Greg Norman was the world’s number one player, is now near the bottom of the list. The survey showed that swimming was second most popular and cricket third. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, was voted the third most popular sporting event in Australia behind the Australian Football Rules Grand Final and The Melbourne Cup, a horse race.
Tennis players can judge speed better than others, according to a study in Switzerland. But it could either be the case that tennis improves temporal processing or that better temporal processing allows people to become better tennis player. And the effects observed were quite small since we all use some of the skills on a daily basis, as when driving a car. Tennis players are only significantly better at spotting tennis balls in a match, not at spotting a cat running across the road while they are driving.
London: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 6-4 7-6 (3)
Halle: Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 3-6 6-4 10-3 (match tiebreak)
Warsaw: Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Nikolay Davydenko and Yuri Schukin 6-0 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Birmingham: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Yaroslava Shvedova and Tamarine Tanasugarn 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Barcelona: Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Arantxa Parra Santonja beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Roger Federer: www. rogerfederer.com
Ana Ivanovic: www.anaivanovic.com/
Koninklijke Nederlandse Lawn Tennis Bond: www.knltb.nl
The Lawn Tennis Association: www.lta.org.uk/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$584,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass
$584,000 The Slazenger Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass
$125,000 Braunschweig Challenger, Braunschweig, Germany, clay
$600,000 International Women’s Open, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass
$175,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass