At the start of the second week, all of the singles matches shift to the three show courts. We organize our daily preview a bit differently as a result, following the order of play for each stadium. From here to the end of the 2013 Australian Open, you can find a preview of every singles match in Wizards of Oz.
Rod Laver Arena:
Kerber vs. Makarova: When two left-handed women last met on Rod Laver, the match unwound deep into a final set. Viewers can expect less drama but higher quality from a meeting between the world #5 and a Russian seeking her second straight quarterfinal here. In this round last year, Makarova recorded probably the best win of her career in upsetting Serena, and she rekindled some of those memories with a three-set upset of Bartoli. Advancing through the draw more routinely, Kerber reached the second week here for the first time and will look to exploit the ebbs and flows in her opponent’s more volatile game. Makarova will aim to take time away from the German counterpuncher, in part by opening the court with wide serves behind which she can step inside the baseline. In a close match, Kerber’s outstanding three-set record and her opponent’s relative frailty under pressure could prove decisive. The German won all three of their 2012 meetings in straight sets.
Ferrer vs. Nishikori: Despite his clear superiority in ranking and overall accomplishments, the fourth seed might feel a bit anxious heading into this match. Nishikori has won two of their three previous matches, both at significant tournaments. More notable than his victory over Ferrer at the Olympics was a five-set thriller that he won from at the US Open, which introduced the Japanese star to an international audience four years ago. Chronically beset by injuries, Nishikori overcame a knee problem early in his first match and has won nine straight sets. As he pursues his second straight quarterfinal here, like Makarova, he cannot afford to encounter any physical issues in a grinding encounter filled with protracted rallies and few outright winners. Ferrer wore down Baghdatis, a former nemesis here, in a routine third-round clash as his level rose with the competition, but now it rises again.
Sharapova vs. Flipkens: Perhaps benefiting from the guidance of retired compatriot Clijsters, Flipkens has reached the second week at a major for the first time. Still, she defeated nobody of greater significance than Zakopalova to reach that stage, and it is difficult to see any area of her game that can trouble the rampaging Russian. Following her two double bagels, Sharapova conceded just four games to Venus in a highly anticipated encounter that turned into a demonstration of just how crisply she has started the season. The Belgian’s best chance may lie in the hope that the world #2 enters this match a little complacent or satiated with her statement triumph, not likely from someone of her professionalism. Their only previous hard-court meeting, in Luxembourg ten years ago, bears no relevance to what might unfold here.
Ivanovic vs. Radwanska: Early in their careers, the Serbian former #1 hit through the Pole’s defenses with her serve-forehand combinations. As Ivanovic has grown more erratic with time, the balance of power has shifted towards Radwanska with three straight victories in 2009-10 before a retirement from the former in their most recent meeting. All of those matches have stayed very close, though, which can give the Serb as she realizes that she will have chances against a player who will not overpower her. Stalling in the fourth round of majors for most of the last few years, Ivanovic has suffered a long string of losses to top-four opponents. Currently undefeated in 2013 with two titles already, Radwanska has shown greater discipline and steadiness here (no surprise, really) than the flustered former #1, who has oscillated wildly in form. Expect the fourth seed to outlast and outwit Ivanovic in an entertaining battle.
Djokovic vs. Wawrinka: Not exactly known as a steely competitor, the Swiss #2 has acquired a reputation for folding at majors against elite opponents—not just Federer, but Djokovic and Murray has well. He has lost his last ten meetings against the defending champion, last winning in 2006, although three times since then he has won the opening set. Demolishing his first trio of victims without dropping serve, Djokovic has not shown any vulnerability that might offer Wawrinka a reason to believe. Granted, the latter has not lost a set here either, but a matchup with the world #1 in a night session on Rod Laver Arena seems like the type of environment calculated to bring out the worst from the Swiss and something near the best from the Serb. Parallel to Sharapova and Flipkens, one struggles to imagine any part of the underdog’s game that can threaten the favorite consistently.
Almagro vs. Tipsarevic: Never before have they met on a hard court, discounting an Abu Dhabi exhibition. To no surprise, the Spaniard defeated the Serb comfortably when they met at Roland Garros last year, the most favorable surface for the former and the least favorable for the latter. Almagro remains almost as lethal a threat on hard courts as on clay, producing a handful of fine results in Melbourne and New York behind an impressive serve and plenty of groundstroke first-strike power. Both men can strike winners down the line from either groundstroke wing, nor will either hesitate in attempting a bold shot at any moment. That factor, combined with their proximity to each other in the rankings, bodes well for a tightly contested match, as does their mixture of impressive and unimpressive results in the first week.
Li vs. Goerges: If Almagro and Tipsarevic never have met on a hard court, this pair of women never has collided at all. Whereas Li rolled through the first week without dropping a set, Goerges needed to claw through a long three-setter in her opener against Dushevina and salvage a third-round epic against Zheng after the Chinese served for the match. Despite the accumulated fatigue, that resilience under pressure might aid her in a match likely to feature several twists and turns between two streaky women. Under Henin’s former mentor, stern taskmaster Carlos Rodriguez, Li has hinted at improving her consistency from one tournament to the next. Starting the year with a title and a Sydney semifinal, she enters this match with an 11-1 record in 2013. On the other hand, Goerges has wobbled through a long span of the unpredictability typical of WTA Germans, leaving her stagnant until this week.
Margaret Court Arena:
Anderson vs. Berdych: The first South African to reach the second week of a major since Wayne Ferreira ten years ago, Anderson did it the hard way by winning the last two sets of a five-setter against Verdasco. Few players have started the year more impressively than he has, marching from a strong week at the Hopman Cup to the Sydney final and now a week in which he twice has won matches after losing the first set. But Anderson may find himself eyeing adversity again when he meets a man who won all four of their matches last year. The last two of those reached final sets, offering him some hope in this contest of crackling serves, ferocious forehands, and meager backhands, which should produce repeated holds and perhaps some tiebreaks. Berdych has dominated the opposition through three rounds with the relentless focus that he does not always show, although he has not faced anyone of a quality approaching the South African.
A plethora of intriguing encounters awaits audiences as the third round begins at the Australian Open. Foremost among them are two in the women’s draw, which we include in our latest preview.
Kerber vs. Keys (Rod Laver Arena): Long hovering on the horizon, the 17-year-old Madison Keys has soared into the consciousness of the tennis world by winning four main-draw matches in the last two weeks. Moreover, she has won most of them decisively, including routs of top-20 opponent Safarova in Sydney and the 30th-seeded Paszek here. The teenager’s serve could prove a crucial weapon against Kerber, whose superior steadiness and experience should prevail in rallies unless Keys can find a way to unsettle her, which she could with a strong start. Featured on the show court of a major for the first time, she seems more likely to rise to the occasion than crumble under the weight of the moment.
Li vs. Cirstea (RLA): Familiar with both rising and crumbling in spectacular style, the 2011 Australian Open runner-up split her two meetings with Cirstea at majors last year. Li defeated the heavy-hitting Romanian at Roland Garros but lost to her at Wimbledon before battling past her in a Cincinnati three-setter, so she will know what to expect. While Cirstea defeated Stosur in the first round here last year and can hope to capture that magic again, the moderately paced hard court in Australia would seem to favor Li’s more balanced game.
Sharapova vs. Williams (RLA): Scanning the WTA elite, one might not find two champions more similar in playing style than these two legends of first-strike tennis. Both Sharapova and Venus can hammer lethal missiles from both groundstroke wings, and both compete with the ferocity of women whose lungs illustrate their loathing for losing. Both have the ability to win free points in bunches with their serves, but both also can lose control of that shot beyond repair amidst cascades of double faults. Both have survived significant bouts of adversity, Sharapova by battling back from a career-threatening shoulder surgery and Venus by battling back from a career-threatening illness. While the American has accumulated a richer title haul, the Russian owns the more balanced resume.
Their record reflects much of the above, neatly balanced at 4-3 in Sharapova’s favor but skewed 4-1 in her favor away from Wimbledon, where Venus has claimed her greatest achievements. Not dropping a single game through her first two matches, Maria can expect a steep elevation in her opponent’s quality and must come as prepared to elevate her own quality as she did five years ago here against Davenport. Like her sister, Venus has produced some of her most dazzling surges when least expected, and she has looked quietly impressive if less overtly overpowering so far.
Ivanovic vs. Jankovic (Hisense): Those who appreciate tennis largely from an aesthetic perspective may wish to cover their eyes in a pairing of two women who sprayed disheveled errors to every corner of the court in their previous matches. Meanwhile, those who fancy their tennis served (or double-faulted) with a dollop of drama should enjoy this battle between two countrywomen who have feuded chronically but bitterly. The superior player by most measures, Ivanovic has dominated their head-to-head as her versatile forehand has hit through Jankovic’s baseline defense. So high do the emotions run in these matches, though, that one never knows what to expect from one point to the next.
Djokovic vs. Stepanek (RLA): In addition to their five-set epic at the 2007 US Open, Stepanek has troubled the Serb on two other occasions. He won a set from him at Wimbledon last year by using his idiosyncratic style to disrupt Djokovic’s rhythm. Even as his career has faded, Stepanek continues to revel in the spotlight and ended 2012 on a high note by winning the decisive match in Davis Cup. That momentum probably cannot lift him high enough to disturb Djokovic in Australia, where he looks as dominant as ever in all facets of his game.
Ferrer vs. Baghdatis (RLA): The fourth seed in Nadal’s absence, Ferrer can falter at times with the distractions caused by partisan crowds. Supported vociferously by Melbourne legions of Greeks and Cypriots, Baghdatis hopes to revive the memories of his charge to the 2006 final. At this tournament two years ago, he became the first man ever to win after losing the first two sets to Ferrer at a major, surprising in view of their relative fitness. The fourth seed looked vulnerable in stretches against an overmatched opponent in the last round, while Baghdatis did likewise in another mismatch. His flat, net-skimming groundstrokes should offer an intriguing contrast to Ferrer’s safer topspin.
Anderson vs. Verdasco (Hisense): Reprising their meeting at the Hopman Cup this month, this match pits a rising against a fading star. Like Baghdatis, Verdasco has failed to duplicate his breakthrough performance in Melbourne (a 2009 semifinal), and he should count himself fortunate to escape a five-setter to start the tournament. On the other hand, Anderson followed his strong results in Perth with a final in Sydney, where he showed poise under pressure. Expect plenty of quick holds as each man struggles to crack the other’s serve.
Benneteau vs. Tipsarevic (MCA): Which Tipsarevic will show up here? The man who fired his way past Hewitt with a blizzard of electric shot-making, or the man who barely edged past Lacko in an unimaginative performance? Tipsarevic looked a bit drained after the heroics of his opener, and he may pay the price if he enters this match flat, for Benneteau rolled past trendy dark horse pick Dimitrov in the first round. Although streaky, the Frenchman represents a clear notch upward in quality from Lacko.
Querrey vs. Wawrinka (MCA): The lanky American with the casual power got a little too casual early in each of his first two matches, dropping the opening sets in both. Against Wawrinka, a natural grinder who thrives on long rallies, Querrey should discipline himself to eliminate such gifts. Having lost both of his previous meetings to the Swiss, including a US Open five-setter, he will need to maintain a higher first-serve percentage this time and aim to end points more efficiently.
Almagro vs. Janowicz (Court 3): In the wake of a bizarre five-set comeback against Devvarman, one wondered whether to praise Janowicz for his tenacity in roaring back after losing the first two sets, or to linger on his immaturity for letting his emotions run astray early in the match. Without that costly burst of petulance, the match likely would not have lasted as long as it did. Similarly, Almagro needed much longer than expected to dismiss American neophyte Steve Johnson in another five-setter. Between the Spaniard’s backhand and the Pole’s forehand, fans should see risky, flamboyant shot-making as each man hopes to exploit a weak section of the draw.
By Yeshayahu Ginsburg
None of the top players were troubled at all in the first round, with each of the top 8 seeds winning in straight sets. Some of the top favorites, like Murray and Federer, looked a bit more dominant than the rest; but all in all these were strong performances from the top players. None of them showed any major weaknesses and each of them, for the moment at least, look like they are primed to play their best to win this tournament.
Who Looked Good
Juan Martin Del Potro – Where has this Delpo been since 2009? His forehand was harder and more consistent while his footwork was better than it has been since he won the US Open 3 long years ago. I am not saying that he is in the form to win a Slam at the moment, nor am I saying that tougher opponents in later rounds won’t challenge him more, but he did bring out the level that we all have been waiting to see for a long time. Now the only question is if he can keep it up.
Stanislas Wawrinka – There were very few superlative performances in the first round by men this year, but I was impressed with Stan. He had a tricky opponent who has a lot of talent and played well. Wawrinka stuck with his game, played very well, and never let the pressure get to him. He really played a solid match, which he doesn’t always do in these situations. The consistency he showed is really a good sign for him moving forward.
Honorable Mention: Not that it was a great performance, but I have to give an honorable mention to Amir Weintraub. After 7 years as a professional, Weintraub just competed in and won his first-ever tour-level match (though he has played Davis Cup). Not that it’s a statistic that means anything, but very few players win their first-ever matches—and in a Slam to boot. I’m sure this will give him a great feeling before he gets destroyed by Kohlschreiber in the next round.
Who Looked Bad
Nicolas Almagro – I’m sorry, but top 10 seeds should not be taken to five sets by qualifiers, and certainly not by lower-tier qualifiers like Steve Johnson. Yes, Johnson is a former NCAA champion. But he has not played well on the main tour since then and really didn’t play great in this match. He fought his way to win two tiebreaks, but this was a match dominated by poor play by each player. This was close to being the biggest win, by far, of Johnson’s career, yet it was a far cry from the best match he’s ever played. Almagro should have been better, period, and should not have thrown away those two tiebreaks.
Florian Mayer – Not that we were able to watch the match, because it was on untelevised Court 20, but Rhyne Williams is not a player that anyone in the top 30 should lose two sets to, and certainly not with multiple breaks of serve. Williams barely competes at a top 200 level and held two match points against Mayer in the fourth-set tiebreak. If Mayer plays so poorly in the next round, he will not last very long against his opponent Ricardas Berankis.
Thomaz Bellucci – Once again, I’m commenting on a match that wasn’t televised. And I know that Bellucci is probably the biggest clay court specialist on tour right now. I don’t even care how well Blaz Kavcic played. Winning just 7 games against Kavcic in 3 sets is just inexcusable. It’s not what a top-level tennis player does. It just isn’t.
Match of the Round
The most entertaining match of this round (as least, of those that were televised) was pretty clearly Tatsuma Ito against John Millman. The match was not the highest level of tennis, but it was two evenly matched players gutting it out and fighting from the first ball. Ito took the first two sets by a single break but could not convert a single break point in the third or fourth sets. As this match went on and Millman looked to be moving forward with his comeback, the crowd got more and more into the match. And while the Aussie was a decisive crowd favorite, Ito had some very strong support as well. The crowd erupted after every strong and important point late in the match. They had just as much a part of this being the best match this round as the players did. Millman had a real chance to go up a break to serve for the match at 5-5 in the fifth, but he could not convert and was immediately broken to fall 7-5 in the fifth. It was a good match by both players and one of the most enjoyable to watch this entire round.
Looking for a jumbo preview of the Australian Open men’s draw that breaks down each section of the brackets? Look no further. We take one quarter at a time in tracing the route of each leading contender, locating the most intriguing matches, projecting the semifinalists, and identifying one notable player to watch in each section.
First quarter: Seeking the first men’s three-peat Down Under of the Open era, Djokovic will want to conserve his energy during the first week and probably will. Although rising American star Ryan Harrison could threaten briefly in the second round, he lacks the experience to test the Serb in a best-of-five format, while potential third-round opponent Stepanek lacks the consistency to do so as his career wanes. Among the other figures of note in this vicinity are two resurgent Americans in Querrey and Baker, destined to meet in the second round. The winner may fancy his chances against Wawrinka, more comfortable on clay, and Querrey in particular could bring confidence from his upset of Djokovic in Paris to another clash with the Serb when the second week starts.
The quarter’s lower section features several men who share Wawrinka’s affinity for clay, such as Monaco and Verdasco. While the Spaniard’s career has sagged over the past year or two, the Argentine enjoyed his best season to date in 2012 as he reached the top ten for the first time. His reward lies in a clear route to the second week and an appointment with the enigmatic Berdych. Always susceptible to ebbs and flows, the world #6 ended last season optimistically with a semifinal at the US Open, where he upset Federer. But then Berdych started this season miserably by falling in Chennai to an opponent outside the top 50. He has won just one of his twelve career meetings with Djokovic, although the only victory came in one of their most important matches: a Wimbledon semifinal. While Berdych’s route to the quarterfinals looks comfortable, then, only a superb serving performance can shield him from the Serb’s more balanced array of weapons when he arrives there.
Player to watch: Querrey
Second quarter: The only section without a clear favorite proliferates with question marks but also with talent and intriguing narratives. In the draw’s most notable first-round match, Hewitt will open his 17th Australian Open campaign against the eighth-seeded Tipsarevic. A mismatch on paper, this encounter could develop into one of the late-night thrillers that have become a Melbourne tradition, and the home crowd might lift their Aussie to an improbable victory over an opponent less untouchable than those ranked above him. Other storylines include the apparent emergence of Grigor Dimitrov, previously familiar only for his facsimile of Federer’s playing style but now a Brisbane finalist. While the Bulgarian never has reached the third round of a major, his recent accomplishments and his desire to impress romantic interest Maria Sharapova might inspire him. He faces a challenging initial test against Benneteau, who fell just short of his second straight Sydney final.
Awarded his first seed in the main draw of a major, Jerzy Janowicz looks to continue his momentum from last fall when he reached the final at the Paris Masters 1000 tournament. Unlike Dimitrov, his route through the first round or two looks clear, and projected third-round opponent Almagro does not pose an insurmountable obstacle. Unless Janowicz improves upon his January efforts so far, however, Almagro can look ahead to the second week and perhaps even a quarterfinal against compatriot Ferrer. The highest seed in this section, the latter Spaniard will reach the top four after the tournament no matter his result. His fitness should carry him past erratic opponents like Baghdatis or Youzhny, although the titanic serve of Karlovic has troubled him before and merits watching in their second-round match. Having recorded multiple victories over Ferrer on marquee stages, Nishikori poses his most convincing pre-quarterfinal threat. But he has struggled with injury recently and may prove no better able to grind past the Spaniard in the heat than Almagro, who never has defeated him. If Tipsarevic reaches the quarterfinals, on the other hand, he will aim to reverse the outcome of their US Open quarterfinal last year, which he lost to Ferrer in a fifth-set tiebreak.
Player to watch: Dimitrov
Third quarter: Never has a man won his second major immediately after winning his first. Never, however, in the Open era had a British man won any major at all, so this bit of history should not intimidate the reigning US Open champion. Murray will start his campaign by reprising an odd encounter with Robin Haase at the 2011 US Open, which he rallied to win in five sets after losing the first two. The lanky Dutchman behind him, he will face nobody over the next few rounds with the firepower to discomfit him over this extended format. Throughout his section lie counterpunchers like Simon or Robredo or tactically limited players like Mayer and Stakhovsky. The two exceptions who could threaten Murray will meet in the first round. Reviving his career with solid results in Doha and Auckland, Monfils will pit his momentum against fellow showman Dolgopolov in a match likely to showcase plenty of electrifying shot-making.
Perhaps of more interest is the route traced by Del Potro, the most likely title contender outside the top three seeds. In the second round, the Tower of Tandil could meet surprising Slovakian Aljaz Bedene, who reached the Chennai semifinals to start the year and nearly upset Tipsarevic there. Owning more than enough weapons to dispatch the passive baseliner Granollers afterwards, Del Potro would open the second week against Marin Cilic. The Croat developed around the same time as the Argentine and honed a similar playing style to complement his similar physique. But Cilic has disappointed those who anointed him a future major champion and top-10 fixture, appearing to content himself with a lesser level of accomplishment. He must brace himself for an opening battle against home hope Marinko Matosevic, who took him to five sets in New York last fall. If Del Potro can reverse his 2009 loss to Cilic in that projected fourth-round encounter, he also must halt his winless hard-court record against Murray. The task does not loom as large as it might appear, for he has won sets in all four of those matches.
Player to watch: Del Potro
Fourth quarter: What a pity that leading Aussie hope Bernard Tomic can play only two rounds before descending into the maw of the GOAT, as he did in the fourth round here last year. All the same, Tomic will have the opportunity to knock off a seeded opponent in Martin Klizan while praying for a miracle from Federer’s second-round opponent, Nikolay Davydenko. (Those who saw their match at the 2010 Australian Open will remember how impressive the Russian looked against the Swiss—for a set and a half, after which he utterly collapsed.) Perhaps more formidable than the momentum of Tomic is the mighty serve of Milos Raonic, which nearly toppled Federer three times last year. In each of their matches, Federer managed to win the crucial handful of points late in final sets, but can he continue to escape so narrowly? The younger man cannot look too far ahead too soon, however, for a second-round match against Lukas Rosol lurks, and everyone knows what Rosol has done in the second round of majors.
Winless against top-eight opponents in 2012, former finalist Tsonga hopes to turn over a new leaf in 2013. To snap that streak, though, he must survive the early stages of the tournament against dangerous lurkers like Llodra and Bellucci. Tsonga has struggled at times against compatriots and has a losing career record against Gasquet, his projected fourth-round opponent. Fresh from his title in Doha, the world #10 never has plowed deep into the Australian draw and may not benefit this time from the weak first-week slates that he received at majors last year. Eyeing a possible upset is Haas, another artist of the one-handed backhand who has collaborated with Gasquet on memorable matches before. But the question remains whether any of these men currently can compete with Federer across a best-of-five match, and the answer seems clear.
Player to watch: Tomic
Final: Djokovic vs. Murray
Champion: Novak Djokovic
Come back tomorrow for the women’s preview, designed with the same level of detail!
By Kelyn Soong
Brian Baker’s biggest win on the ATP World Tour occurred in the first round of the 2005 U.S. Open, where he upset ninth-seeded Gaston Gaudio.
It would be more than six years and five major surgeries later before Baker would earn another ATP main draw victory.
After breezing through the qualifying rounds, the 27-year-old Baker defeated world No. 84 Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round of the Nice Open in France and will meet fourth seeded Gael Monfils next.
The win continues the comeback story of the former junior phenom, who earned a USTA wild card into the 2012 French Open by winning the Savannah Challenger in Georgia last month. For Baker, it will be a return to the scene he once commanded.
Back in 2003, Baker reached the Boys’ Singles final at Roland Garros – losing to former top 10 player Stanislas Wawrinka. En route he defeated 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals and current world No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. The tennis world had its eyes on the tall, powerful American.
But injuries and surgeries – left hip, sports hernia, right hip, left hip again and a Tommy John elbow procedure – would rear its ugly head.
By the time Baker was 23, the Nashville, Tenn. native returned home and enrolled at nearby Belmont University, where he worked as an assistant tennis coach. He was majoring in business with a finance concentration and still has one more year to complete.
The degree may have to wait a little longer than planned.
Now world No. 216 and not far off from his career best of No. 172 from November 2004, Baker has jumped more than 200 spots since the beginning of the year.
In a career full of twists and turns, Baker now has the chance to make the biggest splash of them all – mounting a comeback that no one expected.
(Photo of Brian Baker by Kathy Willens, AP)
The time has come! While Andrea has done a great job breaking down the World Group match-ups, I thought I’d spell out for you the specific reasons why you should set your alarm for 5AM, skip work, cancel all of your social plans, and dedicate your entire Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to the wonder that is Davis Cup.
10. The Newcomers
It’s been 8 years since Canada has been in the World Group. For Japan it’s been 27. In both cases the newcomers, led by youngsters Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori respectively, will be looking to prove that they belong with the big guns. Both teams have uphill battles- Japan hosts Croatia and Canada hosts France, but there’s nothing quite as exciting as fresh blood.
In a giant reversal of storylines, Federer is the only one of the “Big 4” playing in Davis Cup this weekend. To top it off, he’s playing in Switzerland, against a depleted but still fun-to-beat American squad, and with good buddy Stanislas Wawrinka by his side. Love him or not, it will be fun to see the Legend soak in the well-deserved adoration and play in a team atmosphere on his home turf.
8. Russian Roulette
The Russian Davis Cup Team has undergone a bit of a makeover. Alex Bogomolov, Jr. is not only making his Russian debut, but he’s the team’s #1 player. Dmitry Tursnov and Igor Andreev, team mainstays, are absent while the struggling Nikolay Davydenko and the wildcard Igor Kunitsyn take their place. Mikhail Youzhny is coming off singles and doubles victories in Zagreb, but has been complaining to the press about an injured shoulder. All in all, there’s absolutely no telling what to expect from Team Russia as they travel to Jurgen Melzer’s Austria this weekend, and as always- that’s part of the fun.
7. Veterans Day
Some players have proven time and time again that they adapt to the Davis Cup atmosphere better than others. Whether it’s Melzer leading his Austrian team, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek becoming mental giants for the Czech Republic, or David Nalbandian discovering the game (and legs) of his youth, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as seeing the veteran guys play their hearts out for their country.
6. The Battle of the Misfits
One of the ties I’m most looking forward to is Spain/Kazakhstan. The Spanish Davis Cup stalwarts (Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco) who have dominated the team competition for the past few years are sitting out this year, paving the way for their less heralded countrymen (Nicolas Almagro, Marcel Granollers, Legend and Former #1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Marc Lopez). Meanwhile Kazakhstan’s team is full of former Russians (Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrey Golubev, Yuri Schukin, and Evgeny Korolev) who migrated over to the neighboring country for a chance to shine. It will be fun to see all of these former “back-ups” take the stage and fight for Davis Cup glory.
5. Tommy Haas
Do I really need to explain this one? The often injured but forever adored German (when he’s not American) is back in Davis Cup action for the first time in five years! How lucky are we? Let’s just sit back and enjoy.
4. The Other Groups
Believe it or not, the World Group Playoffs aren’t the only Davis Cup action happening this weekend. There are some pretty crucial ties happening in “Group I” and “Group II” (don’t you dare ask me to explain what that means). Teams in action that you might be interested in are: Ukraine (Sergiy Stakhovsky! Sergei Bubka- yes, Vika’s boyfriend!) vs. Monaco, Uzbekistan (Denis Istomin- am I the only one interested in him?) vs. New Zealand, Australia (Hewitt! Tomic! You know them!) vs. China, P.R., Great Britain (Murray-less) vs. Slovak Republic (starring recent ATP Zagreb finalist Lukas Lacko). You’d be amiss if you didn’t scavenge for some (surely static) streams for the lesser-known teams this weekend too.
3. The New Heroes
Every year Davis Cup weekend, especially the first round, breeds unheralded heroes. Something about the five-set format, the team unity, and the pressure/invigoration of playing for one’s country brings out the best in some unsuspecting players. Who will it be this weekend? Could Milos lead the Canadians past the accomplished French team? Could the upstart Japanese make Davis Cup history against Croatia? Could the Swedish team find a miracle and cause the Serbian team to sweat? As cliche as it sounds, expect a new Davis Cup legend to be born.
2. Double Trouble
Davis Cup is the time for Doubles to shine, and this weekend is no different. This weekend we have spectacular Doubles storylines: the reunions of fan favorites Fedrinka (Federer and Wawrinka) and Bendra (Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra), the eternal mystery of who the other Bryan Brother will be (Bob Bryan is home playing father duty, so either Mardy Fish, John Isner, or Ryan Harrison will take his place alongside Mike Bryan in Switzerland), and the always delightful Davis Cup return of BerdWorm (Berdych and Stepanek). Whether you’re a fan of doubles, awkwardness, hysteria, or just misplaced volleys, Saturday will be a special day for you.
1. The Cheerleaders
Let’s be honest- Davis Cup really isn’t about the tennis. It’s about seeing the bromance on the benches as the fellow team members watch and frazzle along with us. Nothing is as great as seeing a good cheerleader- whether it be Roger Federer on his feet urging on Stanislas Wawrinka, Juan Carlos Ferrero fist-pumping a Nicolas Almagro winner, or John Isner and Ryan Harrison embracing when Mardy Fish gets to set point, there is no better reason to watch Davis Cup than to inspect the camaraderie on the benches.
The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Arena in Birmingham, Ala., has been selected as the site for the 2009 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round match between the United States and Switzerland, March 6-8. The indoor arena is expected to seat more than 17,000. Tickets will go on sale in mid-January.
The United States and Switzerland are two of the 16 nations competing for the 2009 Davis Cup title as part of the Davis Cup World Group. The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles.
“The tennis fans in Alabama are in for something special. There is nothing in tennis, or sport, like a Davis Cup match,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe. “It’s a tough assignment at home, so crowd support will certainly be an advantage for us. It should be one of the most star-studded Davis Cup matches this year.”
The United States has used the same line-up – world No. 8 Andy Roddick, No. 10 James Blake, and the world’s second-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan – for 10 of the last 11 Davis Cup matches, including all four wins during its 2007 title run. World No. 2 and five-time reigning US Open champion Roger Federer has announced his intention to play in the first round of Davis Cup for the first time since 2004 and is expected to be joined by No. 13 Stanislas Wawrinka, with whom he won the Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles this past summer in Beijing.
The best-of-five match series begins Friday, with two singles matches, featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. The final day of play on Sunday will feature two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match.
“We are excited that the USTA has chosen Birmingham to host the Davis Cup,” said Gene Hallman, Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation. “We look forward to showcasing our fine state in front of a global audience and expanding on Birmingham’s strong tennis tradition.”
This will be the first Davis Cup tie ever played in Alabama, making it the 33rd state to host the prestigious competition. It also will be the first major professional tennis event in Birmingham since the city hosted the 1994 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. The city also hosted a USTA Pro Circuit men’s challenger from 1991-93 and 1995-2003 as well as a women’s $10,000 event from 1983-88. Blake won the doubles titles and was the singles runner-up at the Challenger in 2001 and the Bryan brothers won the doubles title in 1999.
The United States and Switzerland have split their two previous meetings in Davis Cup. Switzerland won the last meeting in the 2001 first round in McEnroe’s debut as U.S. Davis Cup Captain and Roddick’s Davis Cup debut. The Swiss were led by relative unknown Federer who won both his singles matches and the doubles point.
The two nations first met in the 1992 Davis Cup Final in Ft. Worth, Texas, as Andre Agassi and Jim Courier each won a singles match and Pete Sampras and John McEnroe teamed for a doubles victory to give the U.S. the title. A 10-year-old Roddick was among the capacity crowds. He said the experience “changed my life. It changed the way I viewed tennis, especially the way I viewed Davis Cup.”
Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international team competition. The USTA organizes, stages and promotes all Davis Cup events in the U.S.
Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
Stanislas Wawrinka suffered the most painful (6-3 6-7 6-7) defeat of the year at the hands of German qualifier Benjamin Becker and practically lost chances to book his place at the Masters Cup in Shanghai. Wawrinka couldn’t handle the pressure playing in front of the home crowd. Lost the second set despite a comfortable lead at 6-3 5:3 up and the third set despite 4:1 up and two match points on 6:5 on Becker’s serve. Wawrinka stayed positive after the bitter loss: “I’ve still had a great year and I have one more chance to qualify for Tennis Masters Cup when I compete in Paris next week”.
Swiss No. 1 Roger Federer surprsingly lost a set after wasting match point but finally won the match against Bobby Reynolds 6-3 6-7 6-3 without facing a break point in the whole match.
Other contenders to play in Shanghai: those with big opportunities like Juan Martin Del Potro and James Blake, and those with theoretical chances like Igor Andreev and David Nalbandian, all won their 1st round matches without too much trouble
One out of 12 Frenchmen, who played in the 1st round in Lyon, Josselyn Ouanna has got his first ATP victory, beating former champion Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 7-6 6-4. Ljubic was serving for the match at 5:3 in the second set. In Lyon, likewise in Basel, three players fight for a spot in Masters Cup. All of them (Andy Roddick, Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) won first round matches. Madrid’s hero Gilles Simon needed a three-setter again to win another match on the road to Shanghai. Defending champion Sebastian Grosjean playing first match since US Open, lost 7-6 4-6 4-6 to Robby Ginepri. In the next round Ginepri will face Andy Roddick for the 9th time in his career but for the first time in the European indoor season.
Ernests Gulbis demolished Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0 6-2 in just 51 minutes, serving 11 aces at 81% of the first serve and for the first time in the history, Latvian tennis will be represented by two players in the second round of an ATP tournament. Gulbis’ compatriot and peer, Karlis Lejnieks playing first ATP match in career beat Alexandre Koudriavtsev 3-6 7-6(1) 6-3. Lejnieks saved double match point at 5:6 (15-40) in the second set.
The Croats were unlucky in the first round : Mario Ancic lost to Jeremy Chardy 4-6 6-3 4-6 despite a 3:1lead in the third set, in turn Marin Cilic wasted two match points in the final set tie-break against unknown Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin in a match which lasted 3 hours.
Basel – First Round
(1)Roger Federer (SUI) d. Bobby Reynolds (USA) 6-3 6-7(6) 6-3
Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Eduardo Schwank (ARG) 6-2 6-4
Marcel Granollers (ESP) d. Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-2 4-6 6-2
Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. (7)Tomas Berdych (CZE) 6-4 7-5
(4)James Blake (USA) d. Nicolas Kiefer (GER) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Oscar Hernandez (ESP) d. (q)Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-1
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. (WC)Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) 7-6(5) 7-6(7)
(8)Mardy Fish (USA) d. Agustin Calleri (ARG) 7-6(5) 6-2
(6)Igor Andreev (RUS) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 7-6(5) 7-5
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Denis Gremelmayr (GER) 6-4 7-6(5)
(WC)Stephane Bohli (SUI) d. Jose Acasuso (ARG) 6-3 6-2
(3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. (q)George Bastl (SUI) 6-2 6-4
(q)Benjamin Becker (GER) d. (5)Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(5) – 2 M.P.
(LL)Andreas Beck (GER) d. Nicolas Devilder (FRA) 6-4 6-4
(q)Kristof Vliegen (BEL) d. (WC)Philipp Petzschner (GER) 6-2 6-3
(2)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Lyon – First Round
(1)Andy Roddick (USA) d. Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 7-6(5) 6-4
Robby Ginepri (USA) d. (WC)Sebastien Grosjean (FRA) 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4
(q)Christophe Rochus (BEL) d. Gilles Muller (LUX) 6-2 6-4
(7)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (q)Thierry Ascione (FRA) 6-4 6-1
(4)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Juan Monaco (ARG) 2-6 6-4 6-1
Andreas Seppi (ITA) d. (q)David Guez (FRA) 6-2 7-5
(WC)Josselyn Ouanna (FRA) d. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4
Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) d. (6)Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 7-6(4) 6-3
(8)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) vs Guillermo Canas (ARG) 6-3 6-4
Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) d. Samuel Querrey (USA) 6-3 7-5
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-1
(3)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Marc Gicquel (FRA) 7-5 4-6 6-3
(5)Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. Michael Llodra (FRA) 6-4 6-3
Julien Benneteau (FRA) d. Arnaud Clement (FRA) 6-3 6-2
Steve Darcis (BEL) d. (WC)Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-4 3-6 6-3
(2)Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. (q)Santiago Giraldo (COL) 5-7 6-3 7-6(3)
Basel – First Round
(1)Andy Murray (GBR) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-3
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-0 6-2
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Potito Starace (ITA) 6-3 7-6(4)
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. (7)Mario Ancic (CRO) 6-4 3-6 6-4
(3)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. (q)Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 1-6 6-4 6-3
(WC)Karlis Lejnieks (LAT) d. (WC)Alexandre Koudriavtsev (RUS) 3-6 7-6(1) 6-3 – 2 M.P.
Rainer Schuettler (GER) d. Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) d. (6)Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-1 6-1
(8)Marat Safin (RUS) d. Sergey Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-2 6-4
(q)Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. Olivier Rochus (BEL) 6-1 6-4
(q)Michael Zverev (GER) d. Florent Serra (FRA) 6-4 6-2
(4)Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) d. Ivan Navarro-Pastor (ESP) 6-2 6-1
(q)Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d. (5)Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(6) – 2 M.P.
Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. Evgueni Korolev (RUS) 6-1 6-2
(WC)Michail Elgin (RUS) d. Filippo Volandri (ITA) 6-4 6-4
(2)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) d. Chris Guccione (AUS) 6-4 6-4
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
Born in Moscow but representating Germany, Mischa Zverev advanced to his first career ATP Tour semifinal (6th quarterfinal’s attempt) in dramatic fashion. Zverev was losing to Vicotr Troicki 1:5 in the third set but managed to win 6 consecutive games, attacking at the net almost at every opportunity. The German saved two match points with service winners at 1:5 and was 4 times two points away from defeat at 4:5 on Troicki’s serve.
The other Moscow-born player Marat Safin ousted the defending champion Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 after 2 hours 28 minutes. Davydenko was serving to win the first set at 6:5 and was two points away from taking the set in the tie-break. Decisive break in the third set came in the 5th game when Davydenko lost his serve despite 40-0 up.
Top-seeded David Nalbandian and two-time Stockholm finalist Jarkko Nieminen have each won their matches against Spanish opponents, dropping just 5 games. Nieminen had very promising start of the year but since Australian Open hasn’t won 3 matches in a tournament.
Mario Ancic withdrew prior to the match against Kei Nishikori due to acute bronchitis. Ancic has been health problems from the beginning of the week.
Robin Soderling served 13 aces in straight sets victory over Rainer Schuettler.
Former Vienna’s champion Feliciano Lopez disappointed local fans beating Jurgen Melzer 4-6 6-3 6-4. Lopez had only two break points in the match and converted both of them.
Philipp Kohlschreiber playing his first tournament since US Open, advanced to the semifinal after easy win over Fernando Verdasco. Kohlschreiber during the week has dropped only 9 games (4 in the 1st round, 5 against Verdadco). Kohlschreiber’s countryman Petzschner reached first ATP semifinal after 6-4 6-2 over Carlos Moya in the late match.
Moscow – Quarterfinals
(7)Marat Safin (RUS) d. (1)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4
Michael Zverev (GER) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-4 3-6 7-5 – 2 M.P.
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (4)Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3 2-0 ret.
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) d. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 6-2
Stockholm – Quarterfinals
(1)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (7)Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-4 6-1
(3)Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Oscar Hernandez 6-1 6-4
(4)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (5)Rainer Schuettler (GER) 6-2 7-5
(WC)Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. (2)Mario Ancic (CRO) w/o
Vienna – Quarterfinals
(q)Philipp Petzschner (GER) d. Carlos Moya (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. (5)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-2 6-3
(8)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. (2)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 6-3 7-6(2)