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.
Juan Martin Del Porto beat Andy Roddick 6-1 7-6 (2) to win the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, California
Sergiy Stakhovsky won the Open Castilla y Leon in Segovia, Spain, defeating Rhiago Alves 7-5 7-6 (4)
Jim Courier beat John McEnroe 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Countrywide Classic Legends title in Los Angeles, California
Marcelo Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD in Algarve, Portugal, when Goran Ivanisevic retired after losing the first set 6-4
Yaroslava Shvedova beat Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4 6-1 to win an ITF women’s event in Monterrey, Mexico
“I feel good considering the calendar this year, which was terrorizing. It’s been a good year, but a difficult one.” – Rafael Nadal, who replaces Roger Federer as the world’s top player on August 18.
“If maybe I am a player who doesn’t have any Grand Slams, maybe a Grand Slam would still do more for my own career. But because I have 12 already, for me an Olympic gold ranks high.” – Roger Federer.
“Honestly, my Olympic gold, even though it was in doubles, is my favorite trophy I have.” – Serena Williams.
“It has been beyond my dreams to play the Olympics. It takes awhile to set in. A few years after you win you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, this is my gold. Oh, my gosh, yes.'” – Venus Williams.
“I’ve obviously experienced a lot in my 16-year career and I have to say (Friday) night was probably the greatest night I’ve had professionally in my whole career.” – Lindsay Davenport, commenting on the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.
“Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It was like – wow!” -Devin Mullings of the Bahamas, who was in Beijing to play doubles and got called up as a last-minute replacement in the singles competition.
“It’s great to play in a final against Goran, but it’s unfortunate it had to end on an injury. It’s better for him to take care of his knee.” – Marcelo Rios, after winning the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD senior tournament for the second time in three years.
“I always get injured at the wrong time. I’m getting older, so I have to be careful now.” – Goran Ivanisevic, after retiring with a knee injury in the final at Algarve, Portugal.
“We had one intent, and that is to build the event.” – Paul Floury, tournament chairman, on the U.S. Tennis Association becoming the major owner of the men’s tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“If I continue in this way, I have a chance to be in the top 10. I don’t know when – if I am still beating (Andy) Roddick and top-10 players, for sure I will be, but you never know what may happen.” – Juan Martin Del Potro, who beat Roddick in the final of the Countrywide Classic.
“He certainly has the weapons; it depends on how he builds on it.” – Andy Roddick, about Juan Martin Del Potro.
STREAK TO 14
Teenager Juan Martin Del Potro hasn’t lost since the second round at Wimbledon, and his 14-match winning streak has raised the Argentine right-hander’s ranking to number 17 in the world. The 19-year-old, who won on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Kitzbuhel, Austria, upset top-seeded Andy Roddick in the final of the Countrywide Classic in Los Angeles, California, 6-1 7-6 (2). He becomes the first teenager to win the Los Angeles tournament since Pete Sampras did it in 1991 at the age of 19. “I think I am playing very good and my confidence is very, very high,” Del Potro said. Roddick didn’t dispute the statement.
Who’s playing who was a difficult question when the Beijing Olympics tennis competition finally got underway, thanks to a slew of withdrawals at the last moment. Among the last to pull out were top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, Tatiana Golovin, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Ljubicic and Marcos Baghdatis. Even Lindsay Davenport withdrew from the singles competition, but remained in the doubles where she is teaming with Liezel Huber. Ivanovic, the French Open champion, has failed to recover from an injured right thumb. Karlovic is out because of a stomach illness, while Ljubicic withdrew from the singles with back trouble, although he still plans to play doubles.
Although he was not happy with the way he won the tournament, Marcelo Rios was delighted with the fact that his victory moved him to the top of the South African Airways Rankings. Rios won the Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD title when Goran Ivanisevic was forced to retire with a left knee injury. Rios broke Ivanisevic’s serve in the tenth game of the opening set before the Croat retired. It was the second time in three years that Rios has won the Algarve, Portugal, tournament, joining John McEnroe as the only players to twice win in Algarve.
Dinara Safina has set herself up for one of the biggest paydays in tennis. By winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, Safina clinched the 2008 Olympus US Open Series women’s title. If the Roland Garros runner-up should win the U.S. Open, she would receive not only the winner’s check of USD $2.5 million, but also a USD $1 million bonus. Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Spain’s Rafael Nadal are tied for the men’s lead with 145 points each.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the new owner of the Western & Southern Masters tournament in Cincinnati. Paul Flory, the tournament chairman, will retain a minority interest and continue to play a major role in the event. The USTA acquired only the men’s tournament from the nonprofit Tennis for Charity, which will continue to own the women’s event played at the same venue. The deal does not include the tennis center facility, which is located near the Kings Island theme park north of Cincinnati.
The world’s top two women players – Jelena Jakovic and Ana Ivanovic – are the first to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held November 4-9 in Doha, Qatar. The women’s tournament will feature the world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams. The two Serbs are currently in first and second place in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships.
Mario Ancic will miss his second straight U.S. Open. Ranked number 25 in the world, Ancic withdrew from this year’s final Grand Slam tournament because of a recurrence of mononucleosis. The former Wimbledon semifinalist was slowed throughout the 2007 season with the same illness. Ancic is best known as the last player to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon until Rafael Nadal did it this year. The native of Croatia beat Federer in the first round at Wimbledon in 2002.
SENIORS TO LOS CABOS
The senior players are moving south of the border, down Mexico way. Tos Cabos, Mexico, will be the site of an event on the Outback Champions Series calendar beginning next year. The Del Mar Development Champions Cup will be held March 18-22 at the Palmilla Tennis Club and will be the first tour stop in Central America on the Outback Champions Series, a circuit for champion players 30 years old and over. Players competing on the Outback Champions Series include Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang and Todd Martin.
A Wilmington, Delaware, jury has decided that the ATP can restructure its calendar the way it wants. But the German tennis federation (DTB) is considering appealing the decision. The governing body of men’s tennis plans to downgrade the Masters tournament in Hamburg, Germany, and move it from May to July. The DTB went to court and argued that the ATP’s plans violated American anti-trust laws. But after nine hours of deliberation, the jurors agreed with the ATP and rejected the suit. Before the case went to the jury, United States District Court Judge Gregory Sleet dismissed several ATP officials as defendants. He also dismissed breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims against the ATP, but kept intact the main antitrust claims.
Germany’s Rainer Schuettler is in the Beijing Olympics, much to the chagrin of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Schuettler sought a spot in the men’s singles draw in Beijing by going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where he was successful. He then wrote an open letter to ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti demanding an apology over the ITF’s reaction to the successful challenge. “I find the statement shocking, harming and damaging to my reputation due to the inaccuracy of its content,” Schuettler wrote. The ITF, which originally said it deplored the CAS decision, countered with another statement, saying: “There are so many inaccuracies in Mr. Schuettler’s open letter that it would be impossible for us to respond to each of his allegations.” The German Olympic Committee supported Schuettler’s petition and failed to nominate either Denis Gremelmayr or Michael Berrer, both of whom were ranked higher than Schuettler on the June 9 deadline for entries.
Mathieu Montcourt of France has been banned from the men’s tour for two months and fined USD $12,000 for betting on tennis matches. The ATP said that while Montcourt bet on matches between June and September 2005, it found no evidence that he had tried to affect the outcomes of the matches. The Frenchman did not bet on his own matches. A winner of two Challenger titles this year, Montcourt will be able to return to the tour in October.
SPLIT FOR SHRIVER
Citing irreconcilable differences, Pam Shriver has filed for divorce from her husband of six years, actor George Lazenby. The former tennis star is seeking custody of the couple’s three children, including twins born in 2005, with supervised visits for Lazenby. The winner of 22 Grand Slam doubles titles, Shriver has served as a tennis commentator since retiring. Lazenby, who is best known for his role as James Bond in the film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” said he will seek sole legal and physical custody of the children.
Los Angeles: Rohan Bopanna and Eric Butorac beat Travis Parrott and Dusan Vemic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5)
Segovia: Ross Hutchins and Jim Thomas beat Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-6 (3) 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Monterrey: Jelena Pandzic and Magdalena Rybarikova beat Monique Adamczak and Melanie South 4-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$483,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, hard
$100,000 TED Open Challenger, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$175,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$708,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, hard
Rafael Nadal beat Nicolas Kiefer 6-3 6-2 in Toronto, Canada, to win the Rogers Cup
Dinara Safina won the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles, California, by beating Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-2
Nicolas Devilder beat Bjorn Phau 7-5 6-0 to win the Porsche Open in Poznan, Poland
Sara Errani won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open, defeating Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 in Portoroz, Slovenia
Filippo Volandri beat Potito Starace 5-7 6-4 6-1 to win the San Marino Cepu Open in San Marino
“I win on every surface, no? I win on grass, on hard, on indoor, and on clay, too. So if I am playing my best tennis I can win on every surface, no?” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Nicolas Kiefer to win the Rogers Cup.
“I haven’t changed anything this year. I just try to practice hard every day and the results are starting to come.” – Sara Errani, who won the Slovenia Open for her second title in three weeks.
“The hard court season just started so it is not the end of the world, but I wish I could have started better. I’ve got to regroup and look forward.” – Roger Federer, after losing his opening Roger Cup match to Gilles Simon.
“I was playing like I was in a dream. I just saw the ball and hit it as hard as possible.” – Gilles Simon, after beating Roger Federer 2-6 7-5 6-4 in Toronto.
“Some points were very close and I didn’t make them. I think I shouldn’t look only at my game today, I should see the whole week in general. I think this was a big step forward for me. This is how I have to look at it.” – Nicolas Kiefer, after losing to Nadal in Toronto.
“In one of those super tiebreakers, it’s pretty much anyone ballgame.” – Mike Bryan, who with his brother Bob led the match tiebreaker 6-3 before losing the Toronto final to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 4-6 10-6.
“Hopefully my time will come. It’s not the end of the world.” – Jelena Jankovic, whose semifinal loss kept her from gaining the world number one ranking.
“It was a perfect match. I have nothing bad to say. My coach said it was the best match I ever played.” – Dinara Safina, after crushing Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-1 in a quarterfinal match at Los Angeles.
“Before it was all golf, golf, golf. I probably practice more tennis than golf now.” – Greg Norman, who finished third in the British Open shortly after marrying tennis legend Chris Evert.
“It’s been suspended. The Tour will evaluate the results of the testing period and make a decision as to whether to adopt on-court coaching or not.” – WTA Tour spokesman Andrew Walker.
“I’m for it but they wanted more opinions. The results weren’t convincing enough and some of the younger players don’t know what they want, so we need more time to see how they feel.” – Player Council representative Patty Schnyder on the WTA Tour suspending on-court coaching.
“It’s a little distracting when you have coaches walking on court and most of them are parents. That’s what I didn’t like about it. On the other hand, it worked perfectly for me.” – Nadia Petrova, about the on-court coaching.
Bob and Mike Bryan led 6-3 in the match tiebreak at the Rogers Cup before Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic won the final seven points to capture their third straight doubles title. It was the third time this season the top two doubles teams have clashed, the Bryan brothers winning the Masters Series Rome, with the Canadian/Serbian team capturing the Masters Series Hamburg. It was the first time Nestor had won the Canadian title since 2000. Simonjic’s best previous finish was the quarterfinals two years ago with Fabrice Santoro.
Jelena Jankovic’s bid to become number one in the world was derailed by Dinara Safina in the semifinals of the East West Bank Classic. If she had reached the final, Jankovic would have replaced fellow Serbian Ana Ivanovic as the world’s top-ranked female player. Safina moved up one spot, from ninth to eighth, in the WTA Tour rankings.
No player has been hotter on the WTA Tour lately than Dinara Safina. She was down match point before beating qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva in the round of 16 at the East West Bank Classic. Then she lost a 4-2 opening set lead in the semifinals before winning five of the final six points in the tiebreaker and dominating the second set to knock off Jelena Jankovic 7-6 (3) 6-1. That victory put Safina in her fourth final in her last five tournaments, including the French Open, and she easily won that by beating Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-2. The Russian moved up in the rankings from number nine to number eight, and she improved her match record to 22-3 since the start of May. Eight of her 22 wins have come against top-ten players.
Gilles Simon was the latest stumbling block for Roger Federer. The Frenchman upset the world’s top-ranked player 2-6 7-5 6-4 to hand the Swiss player his second straight defeat. It was Federer’s first match since his five-set loss to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. Federer appeared to be in great shape, winning the first four games of the match before losing to Simon. Then Federer and fellow Swiss Stanislav Wawrinka, preparing for the Beijing Olympics, lost their second-round doubles match to Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-4 6-4.
With his victory in Toronto, Rafael Nadal is ready to overtake Roger Federer for the world number one ranking. Federer has held the top ranking for a record 234 weeks, but his commanding 1,445-point cushion at the start of this year is now less than 300 points. “Every player wants to be number one,” Nadal said. “I would love to be number one, but I am number two right now. I’m very happy to be number two, because with my titles, with my points, in a normal situation I would have been number one before. … Because if I am number two, it’s because in front of me there is amazing player like Roger.”
John McEnroe has come to the rescue of the United States Tennis Association. In March, the USTA prepared a series of commercials to promote the 10-tournament summer season known as the U.S. Open Series. The commercials featured the world’s top players and former player Justin Gimelstob. But Gimelstob unleashed a tirade against former WTA Tour player and model Anna Kournikova, and although he has since apologized, the USTA decided to kill the ads. Along came McEnroe, who shot new footage that was inserted into the existing ads. “They should have asked me in the first place,” McEnroe said. “The U.S. Open has always been close to my heart. I grew up in Queens.”
Fans at the Tanga Cement tennis championships in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, complained about one first-round match, charging unfair pairings. Sebastian Mtupili, who is more than 30 years old, beat ten-year-old John Njau 6-0 6-0. Players from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Tanzania competed in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and veterans, but there was no lower age limit for those entering the tournament. The singles winners each received USD $1,000.
A knee injury is keeping Venus Williams on the sidelines this week. The Wimbledon champion withdrew from the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada, because she did not want to risk aggravating the tendinitis in her knee ahead of the Beijing Olympics, according to tournament director Eugene Lapierre. Also pulling out of the tournament was Tatiana Golovin, who has been sidelined since injuring her back at a tournament in Germany in May.
Serena Williams pulled out of the East West Bank Classic in Los Angeles, California, because of her left knee. That came a few days after she withdrew from the semifinals at Stanford, California, with the same injury. “I’m working hard to be ready for the Olympics and U.S. Open,” Serena said.
Who will be seeking gold in tennis at the Beijing Olympics is a work in flux. Mary Pierce withdrew because of injury and was replaced by Amelie Mauresmo, who also withdrew. So Pauline Parmentier will play both singles and doubles for France. Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine will replace the injured Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands.
Chung Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung had to rally to win their seventh WTA Tour doubles title. The Taiwanese pair trailed 6-2 4-2 in the final of the East West Bank Classic before fighting back to defeat Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlrova 2-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak). The top seeded team in the tournament, Chan and Chuang have now won two titles at the Tier II level or above. Their first five titles came at the Tier III and IV level. They won a Tier I event at Rome earlier this year.
SANCHEZ VICARIO TO WAIT
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will have to wait two years for her latest honor. The Spanish star had to miss her induction into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame when acute gastroenteritis forced her to cancel her plans to travel to Montreal and instead remain in Spain for treatment. Sanchez Vicario, who won the Canadian tournament in 1992 and 1994, retired as a player after the 2002 season and has since become a tennis analyst for Spanish television. She also is tournament director for a women’s event in Barcelona, Spain.
Boris Becker was on hand in Toronto where he was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame during the men’s event. Becker won the tournament in 1986.
When an eight-year-old girl playing her first junior tennis tournament questioned a number of line calls, officials became suspicious. After they checked, Anastasiya Korzh was ejected from the tournament when she was found to be wearing a radio earpiece under her headband, linked by a cord to a receiver under her shirt. Korzh’s father said he was using the earpiece only to help his daughter keep score in the under-10 tournament.
No more on-court coaching for players on the WTA Tour. The controversial initiative, which was never used at the Grand Slam tournaments, has been suspended by the women’s tour, which will evaluate the results of the testing period and make a decision whether or not to bring it back.
Carlista Mohammed of Trinidad and Tobago will be taking a lot of hardware with her when she travels to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she is on a full tennis scholarship. The 18-year-old Mohammed recently won the women’s singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles titles at the 2008 Evian National Tennis Championships in Trinidad and Tobago. She also won the singles titles at both the Citi-Tranquil and South Open Classifieds tournaments. “It feels really good to be leaving with everything,” said Mohammed, who will be majoring in linguistics with a minor in sports psychology at Southern University.
SINGING HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Eleven tennis players would love to celebrate their birthday with a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. The players who will turn a year older during the Beijing Games, and their birthdays, all in August, are: Roger Federer, Switzerland, Aug. 8; Kateryna Bondarenko, Ukraine, 8; Pepa Martinez, Spain, 12; Nicolas Lapentti, Ecuador, 13; Alona Bondarenko, Ukraine, 13; Lu Yen-Hsun, Chinese Taipei, 14; Robin Soderling, Sweden, 14; Chan Yung-Jan, Chinese Taipei, 17; Liezel Huber, United States, 21; Nicolas Almagro, Spain, 21; and Olga Govortsova, Belarus, 23.
Kimiko Date-Krumm has continued her amazing return to pro tennis by reaching the finals in singles and doubles at the USD $25,000 Miyazaki tournament in Japan. She won the singles, beating Kyung-Yee Chae of Korea 6-3 6-2, but lost the doubles in a match tiebreak 4-6 6-3 10-7.
Jelena Dokic also was a winner in her latest stop on the comeback trail. She captured a USD $25,000 ITF tournament in Darmstadt, Germany, beating Michelle Gerards of the Netherlands 6-0 6-0 in the final.
Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Michal Mertinak of Slovakia have been suspended and fined by the ATP for betting on tennis matches. Cermak was banned for 10 weeks and fined USD $15,000, while Mertinak received a two-week suspension and a $3,000 penalty. Both were doubles winners earlier this month. Cermak teamed with Roger Wassen to win in Amersfoort, Netherlands, while Mertinak won in Umag, Croatia, with Petr Pala. The ATP said neither player placed bets on his own matches, and the independent hearing officer found no evidence of any intent to affect the outcome of any matches wagered upon.
After dropping his asking price by USD $2 million, Pete Sampras sold his home in Beverly Hills, California. The former tennis star reportedly dropped the price from $25 million to $23 million for the two-story house that has five bedrooms and twelve bathrooms. There is a detached guesthouse, a separate gym and a tennis court. The main house includes a home theater and the master bedroom suite has his-and-hers bathrooms.
SEARCHING FOR DOLLARS
Georg von Waldenfels, head of the German Tennis Federation, told a court that the ATP Tour’s planned tournament restructuring would have a devastating effect on the annual men’s clay court event in Hamburg. The first witness in a federal trial held in Wilmington, Delaware, von Waldenfels said the ATP’s plan to move the Hamburg tournament from May to July and downgrade it to second-tier status would make it difficult to attract top players to Germany since a July date would come when the top players are gearing up for the North American hard court season that leads up to the U.S. Open. The German federation has filed suit claiming the ATP’s tournament restructuring violates antitrust laws by attempting to monopolize player commitments and tournament sanctions in men’s professional tennis.
The bird carcass causing a stink at a tennis tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, will be staying right where it is. The dead heron fledgling likely fell out of a nest in the tree and died, dangling several meters (yards) above a path between tennis courts at Stanley Park. City parks board chairwoman Korina Houghton said the bird won’t be removed because doing so could disturb the large colony of endangered great blue heron nesting in the trees above, one of the largest colonies in the Canadian province.
Toronto: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 6-2 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Poznan: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Santiago Giraldo and Alberto Martin 3-6 6-3 10-5 (match tiebreak)
San Marino: Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau beat Fabio Colangelo and Philipp Marx 7-5 7-5
Los Angeles: Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung beat Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlrova 2-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Portoroz: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual beat Vera Dushevina and Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-1
SITES TO SURF
Los Angeles: www.countrywideclassic.com
Vale do Lobo: www.grandchampions.org
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$2,450,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard
$135,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Giulia, Cordenons, Italy, clay
$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard
$1,340,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal Canada, hard
$145,000 Nordea Nordic Light Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
s Tennis Masters, Graz, Austria, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$525,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, hard
$125,000 Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$100,000 ITF event, Monterrey, Mexico, hard
Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Vale do Lobo, Portugal, hard
Nikolay Davydenko won The Hypo Group Tennis International 2008 in Poertschach, Austria, defeating Juan Monaco 6-2 2-6 6-2
Sweden captured the ARAG World Team Cup in Duesseldorf, Germany, edging Russia 2-1 when Robert Lindstedt and Robin Soderling took the decisive doubles, downing Dimitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny 4-6 7-6 (5) 11-9
Gilles Simon defeated Julien Benneteau 7-5 6-2 to win the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco
Anabel Medina Garrigues successfully defended Internationaux de Strasbourg title by beating Katarina Srebotnik 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-0 in Strasbourg, France
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Elena Demetieva 6-3 6-2 to win the Istanbul Cup in Istanbul, Turkey
“I don’t think I will ever come back. I think that it’s important just to move on.” – Justine Henin, confirming her retirement from tennis is for good.
“What better way could there be for me to say goodbye?” – Gustavo Kuerten, three-time French Open champion who retired after losing his first-round match at Roland Garros 6-3 6-4 6-2 to Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.
“I’ve never been this nervous in my whole life and maybe never been this glad in my whole life either. It’s a great feeling.” – Robin Soderling, after teaming with Robert Lindstedt to win the decisive doubles and lead Sweden to the ARAG World Team Cup title.
“Even though I was a qualifier this week, I knew that in theory I was number two of the tournament. I came here to win the tournament. I knew that I had my chances and it was a great week for me.” – Gilles Simon, after winning the Grand Prix Hassan II.
‘I had a couple of funny finals, but I would say this was the toughest. It stopped and started. I don’t even know how long we were out there.” – Katarina Srebotnik, who led 6-4 6-5 before losing at Strasbourg, France, to Anabel Medina Garrigues.
“I am very happy to win here and I have a lot of confidence going into Paris.” – Nikolay Davydenko after winning The Hypo Group Tennis International 2008.
“In the warm-up I couldn’t put the ball in the court because I was so nervous. So the first few games were more like my warm-up.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, who won the Istanbul Cup
“The doctor did not give me the green light to serve at 100 percent. I prefer to focus on the grass-court season.” – Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, pulling out of the French Open.
“I have had the best preparation I’ve had since 2002. I fell like I have played so many clay-court tournaments. I feel like I’m a clay-court player. I’m comfortable out there, which is great.” – Serena Williams, saying she’s one of the favorites to win at Roland Garros.
“I am probably more relaxed. I am now capable of saying the objective is just the next match.” – Amelie Mauresmo, admitting the pressure to win the French Open has affected her game in the past.
“You have to concentrate. You just have to survive all the problems that come at you. It’s like tennis’ equivalent of a marathon.” – Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, on playing at Roland Garros.
“If he’s as good as he looks right now … and stays away from injuries and be motivated, it’s going to be tough to beat him at the French.” – Bjorn Borg, picking Rafael Nadal to win his fourth straight French Open.
“I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s terribly long and I would be surprised if he was not ready to go for Queen’s. But as for now he needs to take a good 10 days, 12 days, just rest.” – John Roddick, Andy’s brother and coach, on the sixth-ranked American’s right shoulder injury.
“There is sufficient cause for concern about the integrity of some players and those outside tennis who seek to corrupt them.” – Report by an independent panel that concluded that 45 professional tennis matches in the past five years had suspicious betting patterns.
“James Blake is a great ambassador for his sport on and off the court. He is always friendly, courteous and lives the idea of Fair Play.” – Dietloff von Arnim, tournament director of the ARAG World Team Cup while giving Blake the Fair Play Trophy for the second time.
“You taught me everything important in this sport.” – James Blake, thanking his coach Brian Baker after receiving the Fair Play Trophy in Duesseldorf, Germany.
The ARAG ATP World Team Championships went into overtime before Sweden finally edged Russia 3-2 to collect the trophy. The two nations split the singles – Sweden’s Robin Soderling beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-3 6-1 in the opener before Russia’s Igor Andreev eclipsed Thomas Johansson 2-6 6-3 6-4, ensuring that the doubles would be decisive. Soderling and Robert Lindstedt, who were undefeated during the week, rallied from behind to nip Dimitry Tursunov and Youzhny 4-6, 7-6 (5) 11-9.
A host of French players and two former world number ones – Americans Lindsay Davenport and Andy Roddick – are among the growing crowd skipping the French Open for various reasons, including retirement, injuries and fatigue. Another former number one, three-time defending women’s champion Justine Henin, shocked tennis when she announcement her retirement last week. Others who have pulled out of Roland Garros include French players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will undergo right knee surgery, Sebastiab Grosjean and Tatiana Golovin; Americans Meilen Tu and Meghann Shaugnessy; India’s Sania Mirza; Romania’s Andrei Pavel, and Austria’s Stefan Koubek.
The cover of Sports Illustrated’s South Africa edition shows a topless Ana Ivanovic with her arms strategically wrapped around her body. The edition is headlined “Beauties of Sport Special Issue,” while the cover line says, “Author Paul Fein wrote of Ivanovic: “Breathtakingly beautiful and very talented, the Serbian tennis star has blazed up the WTA Tour rankings. We never … ever … thought we’d say this, but she may even better than Maria.”
American Ashley Harkleroad revealed that she posed for the August edition of Playboy magazine. The 23-year-old Harkleroad, who is ranked 61st in the world, noted other athletes who have appeared in the magazine include Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard and former volleyball player Gabrielle Reese. “I’ll be the first tennis player ever. That’s kind of cool,” Harkleroad said.
Anabel Medina Garrigues is very comfortable at Strasbourg, France. For the second straight year and the third time in her career, the Spaniard won the Internationaux de Strasbourgh, this time rallying from a 6-4 6-5 deficit to beat Katarina Srebotnik 4-6 7-6 (4) 6-0 in a title match plagued by rain delays. Besides her three titles in Strasbourg, Medina Garrigues has won at Palermo, Italy, four times in her eight career titles.
SURPASSES MILLION-DOLLAR MARK
When Agnieszka Radwanska knocked off top-seeded and defending champion Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-2 to win the Istanbul Cup, she became the first Polish woman to surpass USD $1 million in career earnings on the WTA Tour. It was the third career title for Radwanska, who won at Stockholm, Sweden, last year and Pattaya City, Thailand, earlier this season. The loss was Dementieva’s first in eight matches in Istanbul.
Robert Lindstedt and Robin Soderling not only outlasted their Russian opponents to lift Sweden to the title of the 2008 ARAG World Team Cup, the pair also won the tournament’s doubles ranking. Lindstedt and Soderling captured all three of their round-robin matches in straight sets, then capped the week with a 4-6 7-6 (5) 11-9 win over Mikhail Youzhny and Dimitry Tursunov in the decisive match. Their victory in the final was enough to earn the pair an additional $15,700 along with the Rheinische Post Doubles Cup. Soderling won all eight matches he played – four singles and four doubles – during the week, joining John McEnroe and Fernando Gonzalez as the only players in the 31-year history of the tournament to achieve the feat.
James Blake was awarded the Fair Play Trophy at the ARAG World Team Cup for the second time. The honor was voted on by the media representatives and the eight team captains.
Maria Sharapova will have extra sparkle when she takes to the court at Roland Garros. The world number one will be wearing earrings designed by Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti, part of a two-year partnership between the tennis star and the jeweler. Sharapova also will be wearing a “Paris dress” by Nike which will have a luminous Tiffany pearl button closure.
Tennis will take closer look at 45 matches played over the past five years that produced unusual better patterns. An independent panel recommended a closer investigation be made along with creating both an anti-corruption program and an integrity unit in tennis. The four Grand Slam tournaments, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), APT and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour accepted all 15 recommendations of the Environmental Review of Integrity in Professional Tennis, which concluded that “professional tennis is neither systematically nor institutionally corrupt.”
The Barnard Medal of Distinction – Barnard College’s highest honor – was bestowed on Billie Jean King at the school’s 116th commencement ceremony in New York City. King was honored for her being a pioneering athlete and champion for social equality.
United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe is one of nine new members of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Men’s Hall of Fame. Inducted in ceremonies at Tulsa, Oklahoma, were McEnroe, who played at Stanford, Steve Denton of Texas, David DiLucia of Notre Dame, Donald Johnson of North Carolina, Jim Pugh of UCLA, Robbie Weiss of Pepperdine and Chris Woodruff of Tennessee. Also inducted were Tom Jacobs, honored for his longtime contributions while at the NCAA, and Minnesota coach Jerry Noyce. The ITA Men’s Hall of Fame has inducted more than 170 players, coaches and contributors, including the late Arthur Ashe (UCLA), Jimmy Connors (UCLA), John McEnroe (Stanford) and Stan Smith (Southern California).
Stefan Edberg, a six-time Grand Slam champion, including two Wimbledons, will join the BlackRock Tour of Champions later this year. The 42-year-old Swede, who retired from the ATP circuit 12 years ago, will compete in Paris, France, in September and in London, England, in December. Also joining the senior circuit are former French Open champions Michael Chang and Yevgeny Kafelnikov along with 1996 Wimbledon finalist Malivai Washington.
Bangalore is the next stop for the ATP tournament that has been held in Mumbai the last two years. Located in southern India, Bangalore was host to the ATP World Doubles Championships in 2000. The Bangalore Open, which will begin play on Sept. 29, is being promoted by a company owned by Indian tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi.
The first chief executive officer of the ATP Tour, Hamilton Jordan, is dead. The political strategist behind Jimmy Carters successful 1976 run to the White House, Jordan led the formation of the ATP Tour when it began in 1990. Jordan, who died at his home in Atlanta, Georgia, was 63.
Poertschach: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer 7-5 6-7 (3) 13-11
Casablanca: Albert Montanes and Santiago Ventura beat James Cerretani and Todd Perry 6-1 6-2
Istanbul: Jill Craybas and Olga Govortsova beat Marina Erakovic and Polona Hercog 6-1 6-2
Strasbourg: Yan Zi and Tatiana Perebiynis beat Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung 6-4 6-7 (3) 10-6 (tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
French Open (Roland Garros): www.rolandgarros.com/
French Tennis Federation: www.fft.fr/portail/
Ana Ivanovic: www.anaivanovic.com/
Anna Kournikova: http://clubs.sportsmates.com/kournikova/
Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$11,034,805 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay
$10,891,368 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$11,034,805 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay
$150,000 Prostejov Challenger, Prostejov, Czech Republic, clay
$10,891,368 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay
$100,000 Tiro A Volo, Rome, Italy, clay
French show pony Tatiana Golovin won’t play on clay anymore this season presumably due to a failure to recover completely from surgery. Her boyfriend Samar Nasri of Olympique Marseille fame will keep an eye on her while we wait for her triumphant return! (Women’s tennis blog)
A huge tennis forum (I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with sch-wtaworld) was forced to change their name by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. (Women who serve)
Walking in Memphis. Well tennis fans might not anymore. The proposed sale of The Racquet Club fell through. (Commercial Appeal)
Rafael Nadal is still angry about the ATP Tour schedule and slammed the door on talks with Etienne de Villiers, the CEO of the ATP Tour (The Earth Times)
Sharapova faces a hefty fine for not providing a medical reason for her pull out of Berlin and pulling out at the last moment. Then she will be fined for her controversial decision to skip the WTA promo shoot which is set at a maximum of $300.000 however players, like Sharapova, who don’t wear a badge of the WTA Tour on their clothes could face a maximum fine of $700.000 (Daily India)
On The Baseline is having some interesting guests over and aspiring writers voice your opinions for a guest column on On The Baseline (On The Baseline)
ESPN’s poll for Greatest Living Legend puts Bjorn Borg on the number 1 spot (ESPN)
Visit our forums for interesting discussions on the world of tennis (TennisGrandStand Forums)
Photos from the ECM Prague Open Finals:
The challenger circuit last week featured two flashy young players hoisting up winners trophies. Kei Nishikori’s intelligent game and speed allowed him to prevail in Bermuda, while Bethanie Mattek’s aggressive all court game (and fashion sense) saw her triumph in Alabama.
It’s safe to say that Kei Nishikori won’t be on the challenger circuit for much longer. The 18-year-old from Japan won his first ATP title this year in Delray Beach, Fla., and has now won the $100,000 event in Paget, Bermuda. In the final, Nishikori fought back from 1-3 down in the final-set tiebreak to beat Victor Troicki of Serbia 2-6 7-5 7-6. With the win, Nishikori moved to No. 99 in the rankings and became the first Japanese man to break the top 100 since Shuzo Matsuoka in 1996.
At the $50,000 tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, American Bobby Reynolds won his second challenger event in a row by defeating Igor Kunitsyn of Russia 6-3 6-7 7-5. He also won the tournament last week in Tallahassee, Fla. Reynolds also moves to a new career high ranking of No. 77 with his result.
At the $35,000 event in Cremona, Italy, Eduardo Schwank of Argentina won his first challenger of the year with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Bjorn Phau of Germany. The 22-year-old Schwank is also poised to move into a new career high ranking this week. Despite the loss, this was easily the best result of the year for Phau, who sported a 5-7 record coming into Cremona.
On the women’s side, Mattek of the United States won her first title of the year at the $75,000 tournament in Dothan, Alabama, beating fellow American Varvara Lepchenko 6-2, 7-6. Mattek rebounded strongly from her 6-0, 6-0 loss to Maria Sharapova last week by winning the title without the loss of a set. Despite the loss, Lepchenko can take comfort in having another solid week in Dothan; she’s reached the final in three out of the last four years.
Su-Wei Hsieh of Taipei was the heavy favorite to win the $25,000 event in Incheon, Korea, and she didn’t disappoint. The 22-year-old rolled over Yan-Ze Xie of China in the final with a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Hsieh has failed to win a match since coming out of nowhere to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open this year, but finally showed the form that got her to the second week of the first major of the event.
At the $25,000 tournament in Namangan, Uzbekistan, Ksenia Palkina of Kyrgyzstan became the first player from her country to win a challenger title with a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 win over Maria Kondratieva of Russia. Palkina also reached the quarterfinals of the WTA event in Tashkent last fall.
The challenger circuit will be graced by the presence of a top 25 player this week, as Tatiana Golovin competes at the $100,000 event in Cagnes Sur Mer, France. Stephanie Dubois of Canada is the top seed at the $50,000 event in Charlottesville, Virginia, Evgenia Rodina of Russia takes top billing at the $50,000 event in Makarska, Croatia, and Aiko Nakamura of Japan hopes to satisfy her home crowd at the $50,000 event in Gifu. Events on the $25,000 level in Gimcheon, Korea and Balikpapan, Indonesia will also be contested. On the men’s side, Julien Benneteau of France is the top seed at the $125,000 event in Tunis, Tunisia, and Jiri Vanek of the Czech Republic leads the way at the $75,000 event in his hometown of Prague. Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei is the top seed at the $50,000 event in Lanzarote, Spain, and Italian Flavio Cipolla leads the way at the $35,000 event in Rome, Italy.