Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 7-5 6-7 (3) 6-3 to win the Hamburg Masters in Hamburg, Germany.
Jelena Jankovic defended her Italian Open title by beating Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2 in Rome
Michael Stich beat Marc-Kevin Goellner 6-2 7-6 (4) to win the BlackRock Tour of Champions in Hamburg, Germany.
Eduardo Schwank beat Igor Kunitsyn 6-2 6-2 to win a $132,523 ATP Challenger event in Bordeaux, France.
Gael Monfils beat Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6) to win a $132,523 ATP Challenger event in Marrakech, Morocco.
“I am happy that I won and that I beat the number one in the world (Roger Federer) and the best player of the year (Novak Djokovic), and that should give me some more confidence for the French Open.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating both Djokovic and Federer en route to winning at Hamburg.
“I wish I could have won today, then I would have an even better feeling.” – Roger Federer, after losing to Nadal in the Hamburg final.
“My goal and dream is to become Number One in the world, and at the moment I think I’m on the right track. If I continue like this, I have a big chance.” – Jelena Jankovic, who beat qualifier Alize Cornet in the Rome final.
“Right now I’m just disappointed. I couldn’t do my best tennis today because of my physical condition, because I was tired because of my six matches before.” -Alize Cornet, who came through qualifying before losing in the final in Rome.
“I think we have a great future … I’m looking forward now to Roland Garros. I think this is a great boost.” – Nenad Zimonjic, who teamed with Daniel Nestor to win the doubles at the Hamburg Masters, beating twins Bob and Mike Bryan in the final.
“I had a lot of great opportunities, and I made a lot of opportunities for myself. But then I made a mistake.” – Venus Williams, after losing to Jelena Jankovic at Rome.
“I really struggled with my intensity today, and obviously that caused a lot of errors. It’s something I have to work on. Now I have ten days to prepare for the French Open.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing early at Rome.
“I don’t expect this to cause any problems with my preparation for the French. It just happened all of a sudden.” – Serena Williams, who pulled out the Italian Open when her back froze up while warming up for her quarterfinal match.
In a shocking end to a short but highly successful career, Justine Henin retired from tennis while ranked number one in the world. The 25-year-old Belgian has won seven Grand Slam singles titles in her career and 10 tournaments in 2007. She had been in a slump this year, her last title coming at her home tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, in February. Henin’s retirement came just one year after another Belgian, Kim Clijsters, retired from the sport at the age of 23. Clijsters had won a Grand Slam title and had also reached the number one ranking.
“I thought long about this. I started thinking about it late last year. I was at the end of the road. I leave with my head held high.” – Justine Henin, announcing her immediate retirement from tennis.
“It is rare that an athlete leaves at the very top of her game in this day and age, but Justine has always played by her own rules.” – Larry Scott, WTA Tour chief executive.
“Justine is an extraordinary player, a special person and a true champion in both tennis and in life.” – Billie Jean King.
“Her victory at the 2004 Athens Olympics was Belgium’s only gold medal at the Games and we are sorry that she won’t be able to defend her title in Beijing.” – Francesco Ricci Bitti, International Tennis Federation (ITF) president.
“It is a new beginning for me. I feel like I already lived three lives. I gave the sport all I could and took everything it could give me.” – Justine Henin.
“I couldn’t imagine deciding out of the blue to retire, especially if I was number one. I would prefer to take a year off if it was all getting too much for me.” – Roger Federer.
“She gave me a world of trouble.” – Serena Williams.
“She’s 25 years old and she’s achieved so much in her career. If I was 25 and I’d won so many Grand Slams, I’d quit too.” – Maria Sharapova.
“I take this decision without the least bit of regrets. It is my life as a woman that starts now.” – Justine Henin.
“It can sometimes be very difficult, many years playing and traveling around the world. Being there, being at the top, can be very difficult. We will miss her.” – Jelena Jankovic.
“She was a great champion. She always challenged herself to play her best tennis no matter what the circumstances. She was just a real fighter.” – Venus Williams.
“(Tennis loses) another champion. She was a great player and she achieved so much. She bought a lot to the women’s game.” – Ana Ivanovic.
“I don’t understand it. She was number one and she retires … Maybe it’s a woman thing. I don’t understand women.” – Goran Ivanisevic.
“It’s a lot of pressure to keep playing at that level. Certain players, like Bjorn Borg, retired early, and you can’t blame them.” – Pat Cash.
“She was one of the most complete players of the last 10 years, winning seven Grand Slams. She was small compared to the other girls, but she had a very complete game. She made up for her size with her tennis.” – Michael Stich.
“At the end of the match in Berlin, (retirement) all of a sudden was there as something evident. I decided to stop fooling myself and accept it.” Justine Henin.
“She never craved fame and money. All she wanted to do was play and win.” – Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin’s coach.
“This is the end of a child’s dream.” – Justine Henin.
SITTING ON TOP
Due to circumstances not of her own making, Maria Sharapova is sitting on top of women’s tennis today. When Ana Ivanovic failed to reach the final of the German Open, the Serb lost her world number two ranking to Sharapova, who at the time had not played since losing a match in April. Then, when Justine Henin shocked the sport by announcing her immediate retirement, Henin was replaced as number one in the world by Sharapova.
Rafael Nadal became only the third player since 1990 to win the three ATP Masters Series clay-court tournaments in the same year, joining Gustavo Kuerten and Marcelo Rios, when he defeated Roger Federer in Hamburg, Germany. A year ago, Federer had won Hamburg while snapping Nadal’s 81-match winning streak. This year, Federer took a 5-1 lead in the first set, only to see Nadal win six consecutive games. Federer led the second set 5-2 before Nadal rallied, forcing the world’s number one player into a tiebreak, which Federer won. It was Nadal who jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set before finally winning the match 7-5 6-7 (3) 6-3. Since April 2005, Nadal has won 108 of 110 matches on clay.
Alize Comet came out of qualifying to reach her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Tier One final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. And while she lost the title match to defending champion Jelena Jankovic, Comet became only the second qualifier to reach a Tour singles final this year. The Frenchwoman, at 18 years, 3 months, had been seeking to become the youngest Tour champion this year. The first female qualifier to reach the final at the Foro Italico in the Open Era, Comet beat third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova before fifth-seeded Serena Williams withdrew from the quarterfinals with a back problem. Comet then advanced with a semifinal win over sixth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze.
Twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana of Thailand, with wet towels wrapped around their faces, helped the wife and son of Argentine doubles specialist Lucas Arnold Ker escape a smoky fire that broke out on the third floor of the tournament hotel in Bordeaux, France. The twins, top-seeded in the doubles in the Challenger Series tournament, fell in the quarterfinals to Tomasz Bednarek and Dusan Vemic 6-2 7-6 (5). South Africa’s Rik De Voest fled the fire by crawling on his hands and knees. Argentine Eduardo Schwank, whose room was destroyed in the blaze, lost his passport, equipment, clothes, laptop computer and his Rome Challenger winner’s prize money in the fire. Schwank went on to win the Bordeaux tournament.
First, Maria Sharapova reached a compromise with the WTA Tour and did a promotional photo shoot before the Italian Open began. The women’s tour had threatened to fine her $300,000 if she refused. Then the Russian pulled out of the semifinals at Rome because of a strained left calf, but said the injury wouldn’t affect her preparations for the French Open. And, thanks to a series of events, Sharapova wound up the week as the number one player in the world.
SAMPRAS DEBUT DELAYED
Pete Sampras won’t make his debut on the BlackRock Tour of Champions circuit until June 19, one month than originally scheduled. That’s because the senior event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was changed until next month.
India’s top player, Sania Mirza, may be forced to skip the French Open. Her father, Imran Mirza, said his 21-year-old daughter, currently ranked number 33 in the world, has not yet fully recovered from wrist surgery performed in April. The 21-year-old Sania is expected to return to the tour at the $200,000 DES Classic in Birmingham, England, next month.
When Anne Keothavong won an International Tennis Federation tournament in Jounieh, Lebanon, she ended up qualifying for Wimbledon. The tournament title boosted Keothavong up to number 104 in the world rankings, enough for her to become the first British woman to automatically qualify for Wimbledon since 1999. “I thought I was going to withdraw from the tournament because of all the problems in Lebanon,” Keothavong said. “I was ready to get on a bus to Syria, but five minutes before I was due on court for my quarterfinal they told us that the border was closed and there was no way out.” The rest is history.
Once ranked as high as number four in the world, Jelena Dokic won her second consecutive tournament on the comeback trail. Dokic beat Patricia Mayr 6-3 6-1 to capture a $25,000 clay-court event in Caserta, Italy. The week before, Dokic won a $25,000 tournament on clay in Florence, Italy.
Roger Federer wants to celebrate his 27th birthday on August 8 by carrying the Swiss flag in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games. “It’s my birthday on the day of the opening ceremony,” Federer said. “Maybe I will carry the flag again for Switzerland. I’d be very honored.”
SPOTLIGHT UNDER THE LIGHTS
The Australian Open women’s singles final will be played at night starting next year. The men’s singles title match has been a night event since 2005. Defending champion Maria Sharapova says the cooler conditions at night will make for a better match. The U.S. Open women’s singles title match is also held at night.
Ending his career where he won three times, Gustavo Kuerten was given a wild-card entry into this year’s French Open. The Brazilian clay court specialist, once ranked number one in the world, won Roland Garros in 1997, 2000 and 2001. Other wild cards into the men’s draw went to French players Eric Prodon, Olivier Patience, Jeremy Chardy, Adrian Mannarino and Jonathan Eysseric. French players given spots in the women’s draw are Olivia Sanchez, Severine Bremond, Stephanie Foretz, Mathilde Johansson, Youlia Fedossova and Violette Huck. Other wild cards were won by Americans Madison Brengle and Wayne Odesnik, and Australians Robert Smeets and Samantha Stosur.
SPEAKING IN TONGUES
It’s a wonder members of the University of Arkansas women’s tennis team can speak to each other. The Lady Razorbacks include Aurelija Miseviciute of Lithuania, Audrey Bordeleau of Canada, Maryori Franco of Colombia, Ela Kaluder of Croatia, Nanar Airapetian of Germany, Delia Damaschin of Romania, Fien Maes of Belgium, Anouk Tigu of the Netherlands and Melissa Hoffmeister, who comes from Joplin, Missouri, about a 90-minute drive from the campus in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The coach is Michael Hegarty, a native of Australia.
After a 25-year run, the USA Network is losing its US Open cable television coverage to ESPN and Tennis Channel, beginning in 2009. The six-year deal was announced by the U.S. Tennis Association. ESPN now owns TV rights to parts of all four Grand Slam tournaments. The broadcast network rights are still held by CBS, which has a contract through 2011. Besides the US Open, the new contract means ESPN2 will also be the lead cable carrier for the US Open Series, the circuit of hard-court tournaments leading up to the US Open.
Florida drivers may be able to show their love for tennis in the near future. The Florida legislature passed a bill enabling drivers to support tennis through a new specialty license plate. The money raised from the sale of the plates would be used for grants to nonprofit organizations operating youth tennis programs and adaptive programs for special populations of all ages, as well as for building, renovating and maintaining quality public tennis facilities. The tennis plates, with the phrase “Play Tennis” on the bottom, should be available starting October 1.
Hamburg: Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor beat Bob and Mike Bryan 6-4 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Rome: Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung beat Iveta Benesova and Janette Husarova 7-6 (5) 6-3
Bordeaux: Diego Hartfield and Sergio Roitman beat Tomasz Bednarek and Dusan Vemic 6-4 6-4
Marrakech: Frederico Gil and Florin Mergea beat James Aukland and Jamie Delgado 6-2 6-3
SITES TO SURF
French Open (Roland Garros): www.rolandgarros.com/
French Tennis Federation: www.fft.fr/portail/
Maria Sharapova: www.mariasharapova.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$1,500,000 ARAG ATP World Team Championship, Duesseldorf, Germany, clay
$576,866 The Hypo Group Tennis International 2008, Poertschach, Austria, clay
$576,866 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay
$200,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay
$175,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$11,034,805 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay
$10,891,368 Roland Garros, Paris, France, clay