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.
Not a surprise, but the spring/summer 2009 adidas women’s competition line keeps low-key, staying with that bumblebee shade that we’ve been trying to expunge from the tennis palette for two years (Yonex is keeping adidas company during this sit-in).
The bright yellow is broken up by black lines around the back of both the tank and the cap sleeve top, while the standard three-stripe detail makes an appearance on the sleeve of the latter.
There’s a diamond in the rough, though: continuing with the Asian-inspired Australian Open top, adidas has produced this red mock wrap cap sleeve tee to kick of its players’ 2009 campaign. (With Anna Chakvetadze defecting to Fila, Dinara Safina and Patty Schnyder will be the highest-ranked women playing in these pieces.)
Buy: adidas Competition Tank and Cap Sleeve Top, neon yellow/black, starting at $45; Competition Skort, white, $45; all items available at shopadidas.com in January 2009.
Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-3 to win an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. Murray beat Roger Federer in the semifinals of the eight-player event.
“That’s what I’m aiming for. I worked really hard in November, December to give myself the best chance.” – Andy Murray, talking about his chances to win the Australian Open.
“I’m just not ready to play against the top-class competition in Hong Kong, although I remain hopeful for Australia where I’m the defending champion.” – Maria Sharapova, after withdrawing from a Hong Kong exhibition tournament because she is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
“Ken Rosewall is one of Australia’s sporting legends and without question one of the greatest tennis players of all time.” — Tennis New South Wales president Stephen Healy, on naming the Sydney Olympics stadium the Ken Rosewall Arena.
“I accomplished a lot of my dreams as a player, winning at Roland Garros, and now I’ve managed another one, becoming captain of our Davis Cup team.” – Albert Costa, after being named to the helm of Spain’s Davis Cup squad.
“We have chosen two professionals with a lot of experience and long careers in tennis. The AAT based its decision on the technical and leadership qualities of the two coaches.” — Enrique Morea, president of the AAT, after Modesto Vazquez was picked as Argentina’s new Davis Cup captain and Ricardo Rivera was selected as his assistant.
It hasn’t taken long for Andy Murray to show he should be considered one of the favorites for this month’s Australian Open. Although it was just an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, the Brit walked away with the USD $250,000 first-place prize after defeating Rafael Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-3 in the final. Murray also beat Roger Federer in the semifinals and James Blake in his opening match. It was Murray’s second straight win over Nadal and the fifth time he has beaten Federer.
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic will be playing in this year’s Australian Open after winning a wild card spot in the draw. The 25-year-old Dokic was ranked as high as number four in the world in 2002. But a series of injuries and personal problems, many of them involving her father Damir, saw her ranking drop to 617 in 2006. Last year she won three ITF tournaments and improved her ranking to 179, her highest in four years.
Expecting her second child, Lindsay Davenport has taken herself off the WTA Tour indefinitely. The three-time Grand Slam winner learned she was pregnant just a week after agreeing to play in this month’s Australian Open. After returning to the tour following the birth of her first child, Jagger, Davenport won four of her 55 career singles titles. She also has won 37 doubles titles, including Roland Garros in 1996 with Mary Joe Fernandez, the US Open in 1997 with Jana Novotna and Wimbledon in 1999 with Corina Morariu. Her Grand Slam singles titles came at the US Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999 and the Australian Open in 2000.
Sydney’s 2000 Olympics tennis stadium has been named in honor of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ken Rosewall. The 10,000-seat stadium at Sydney Olympic Park will now be known as the Ken Rosewall Arena. Rosewall played in four Wimbledon finals during his career, with a 20-year gap between the first in 1954 and the last in 1974. He won four Australian titles, two French titles and two US titles. He turned 74 last month.
Albert Costa is Spain’s new Davis Cup captain. The 33-year-old replaces Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who stepped down after leading the Spaniards to their third Davis Cup title with a 3-1 win over Argentina. Costa, the 2002 French Open winner, played on Spain’s first Davis Cup winning team in 2000. He will make his debut as captain in a first-round World Group match against Serbia on March 6-8.
Little-known Modesto Vazquez is the new captain for Argentina’s Davis Cup team. The 59-year-old Vazquez replaces Alberto Mancini, who led Argentina to the finals in both 2006 and 2008, only to lose both times. Currently the development director for the Argentina Tennis Association (AAT), Vazquez played two Davis Cup ties for Argentina in 1968 and 1970. The AAT also selected Ricardo Rivera to be Vazquez’s assistant.
SET FOR AUSTRALIA
Two Americans have won wild-card spots for the Australian Open. Christina McHale will be making her first main-draw appearance at a Grand Slam tournament, while John Isner played in all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2008, losing to Fabrice Santoro in the first round of the Australian Open. The US Tennis Association and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement to exchange wild-card berths for the US and Australian Opens.
A shoulder injury is still bothering Maria Sharapova, who will be defending her Australian Open singles crown later this month. The injury forced Sharapova to withdraw from an exhibition event in Hong Kong, where she will be replaced by fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze. Sharapova has not played competitively since pulling out of a tournament in Montreal, Canada, in July following a match in which she double-faulted 17 times. Medical tests found a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder.
Upset that a first-round Davis Cup tie was relocated because of security fears, Pakistani tennis officials are demanding USD $60,000 from the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president Dilawar Abbas said the ITF last month gave his country the option of playing its Group II tie against Oman scheduled for March 6-8 in either Oman or Malaysia. Abbas, denying there are security issues in his country, said the switch will incur losses to Pakistan and the ITF should pay compensation. “If the ITF still wants to switch the tie, we demand it to be played on a neutral venue, either in Singapore or Malaysia and not in Oman,” Abbas said.
China’s Peng Shuai has a new coach. She began training with Tarik Benhabiles last month in Florida and will continue to work together fulltime throughout 2009. The 22-year-old Peng had split with former coach Zhang Depei. Benhabiles, who reached a career-high ranking of 22nd in the world and represented France in Davis Cup, ended his playing career in 1992 and coached a young Andy Roddick. He has worked with other players, including Benjamin Becker, Ivo Karlovic and Gael Monfils.
STEFFI THE TARGET
Andre Agassi’s former agent and longtime friend has filed a lawsuit against the tennis star’s wife, Steffi Graf. In the lawsuit, sports agent Perry Rogers charges Graf, herself an inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, owes USD $50,000 to Rogers and his Alliance Sports Management Co. for services outlined in a 2002 agreement. Graf declined to comment. Her husband released a statement saying he was “saddened and disappointed” by the lawsuit. When Agassi and Rogers split last October, both described the parting as friendly.
The International Tennis Federation has decided to allow Nigeria to remain in the Euro/Africa Group 3 Davis Cup competition. The ITF initially dropped the African nation to Group 4 when the Nigerian team failed to show up in Bulgaria last March for their tie. But the ITF reversed its decision when it learned that the Bulgarian Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, refused to give visas to the Nigerian team.
Oded Yaakov has stepped down as captain of Israel’s Fed Cup team, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. However, Yaakov has not ruled out the possibility of coaching the national team again in the future. “When you have the soul of a coach, you’re wired with an element of competitiveness and adrenaline,” Yaakov said. “These are traits that stay with you, and you can’t get rid of them. I’m sure I’ll feel them again, and that’s why I’m not ruling out returning to the [Fed Cup] team sometime in the future.”
Former USA Davis Cup captain George MacCall is dead at the age of 90. MacCall directed the American Davis Cup teams in 1965-67 that featured Arthur Ashe, Dennis Ralston and Marty Riessen. He is credited with pushing through a rule that allowed the players to be paid USD $28 a day for expenses. MacCall, who won USA senior titles as a player, organized the National Tennis League in 1967 and signed Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Pancho Gonzalez, Fred Stolle among others. He also signed women players, including Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Ann Jones and Francoise Durr, helping force tennis into the Open Era.
SITES TO SURF
Sao Paulo: www.abertosp.com.br/
Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$1,110,250 Qatar ExxonMobil Open, Doha, Qatar, hard
$484,750 Brisbane International, Brisbane, Australia, hard
$450,000 Chennai Open, Chennai, India, hard
$100,000 Prime Aberto de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hard
$220,000 Brisbane International, Brisbane, Australia, hard
$220,000 ASB Classic, Auckland, New Zealand, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$484,750 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$480,750 Heineken Open, Auckland, New Zealand, hard
$600,000 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$220,000 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia, hard
With ATP Tour action really taking off this week at the Masters Series Madrid, the women are getting thoroughly overshadowed. It should not go unnoticed, however, that this week’s WTA event in Zurich, Switzerland boasts an outstanding field, especially considering the draw size is just 28.
World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic is the top seed and she is joined as a first-round bye recipient by Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, and Vera Zvonareva. The top four seeds are surely not taking their free pass to the second round for granted, either, after what has transpired throughout the first few days of play. To say the Zurich Open has seen its fair share of surprises so far would be an understatement.
Little-known Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu stunned seventh-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday. In the second round she will take on Victoria Azarenka, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Amelie Mauresmo. That Azarenka got the best of Mauresmo is not a shock, but the fashion in which she did it has to come as no small surprise.
Niculescu was not the only qualifier to move safely though round one. Petra Kvitova stunned No. 6 seed Patty Schnyder 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 much to the chagrin of the Switzerland faithful. Other first-round upsets included Maria Kirilenko over No. 8 seed and fellow Russian Daniela Hantuchova, and Francesca Schiavone over a previously in-form Caroline Wozniacki. Kirilenko and Schiavone will now do battle for a quarterfinal spot in Zurich.
Several of the top men’s players in Madrid will be looking to fend off the upset bug on Wednesday. Rafael Nadal already escaped a scare from Ernests Gulbis in a grueling three-set triumph, and now it’s time for Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick, and David Nalbandian to get their Madrid campaigns started. Federer meets Radek Stepanek, Nikolay Davydenko faces Robby Ginepri, Roddick tussles with Tommy Robredo, and Nalbandian-who has a brutal draw the whole way through-battles Tomas Berdych, champion in Tokyo two weeks ago.
Men’s Singles: Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 6-2 7-5 6-2
Women’s Single: Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5
Men’s Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10)
Women’s Doubles: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-3 7-6 (6)
Mixed Doubles: Cara Black and Leander Paes beat Liezel Huber and Jaime Murray 7-6 (6) 6-4
Junior Boys’ Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Devin Britton 6-4 6-3
Junior Girls’ Singles: Coco Vandeweghe beat Gabriela Paz Franco 7-6 (3) 6-1
Junior Boys’ Doubles: Nikolaus Moser and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe beat Henri Kontinen and Christopher Rungkat 6-7 (5) 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Junior Girls’ Doubles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Sandra Roma beat Mallory Burdette and Sloane Stephens 6-0 6-2
“I was that close to winning so many of the big tournaments this season … I was disappointed not winning the Olympics. I was disappointed losing the epic at Wimbledon, but this was as big of a goal maybe this season. I mean, going for five US Opens is probably the last time ever in my career I’ll have that opportunity, so to keep it alive … is something I’m very, very happy about.” – Roger Federer.
“Usually after a Grand Slam I feel like I still have another match to play, but I don’t really feel that way today. I feel liked it’s done and it’s all over and I’m so excited.” – Serena Williams, after winning her third US Open singles championship.
“I had a great two weeks. I really fought hard out there every match, and tonight I really gave everything I had.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Serena Williams in the women’s singles final.
“It’s obviously been a very good couple of weeks. And I’ll try my best to work on my game, work harder, and hopefully come back and do better next time.” – Andy Murray, after losing the men’s singles final.
“I accept the losses with the same calm when I win. So I am disappointing? Yes. But at the same time I am happy because I did good semifinals here.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Andy Murray.
“It was in the back of my mind that I hadn’t won this one. I woke up this morning with a purpose. I woke up really fired up.” – Leander Paes, after winning the US Open mixed doubles with Cara Black.
“I would say that we’re probably one of the best doubles teams there has been in a long while, and we feel confident that whoever we lay against that we’ll give them a good run for their money.” – Liezel Huber, after teaming with Cara Black to win the women’s doubles.
“I’m like on cloud nine right now. This is my first junior tournament win in the ITF, and to do it at the US Open is an every greater achievement for me.” – Coco Vandeweghe, after winning the Junior Girls singles.
“I’m happy about the way I lost. I think that when you get into the court, you can win or lose, but at least I gave everything that I could inside the court, so I’m happy about that. I’m not happy about the loss, but that’s the sport, how it is.” – Tommy Robredo, after his five-set loss to Novak Djokovic.
“I’m the first one actually to do everything. I mean, that’s not my goal, to be the best in Luxembourg.” – Gilles Monfils, a qualifier who reached the quarterfinals.
“The people enjoy the match. He’s more happy than me, but I’m not sad.” – Juan Martin Del Potro, after losing a four-set, four-hour quarterfinal to Andy Murray.
“I’ve been playing pretty high-risk, high-reward tennis and I probably wasn’t about to stop. Given the choice again, I’d probably go for them again. That’s what got me back in the match.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Novak Djokovic.
“Devin gave me a hard time in the first set and especially in the beginning of the second. But I found a way to manage my game, and that was the key.” – Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Devin Britton to win the Junior Boys crown.
“I’m not sure whether I should sing the anthem, do a cartwheel or tell you guys to vote, but I’m the proudest American right now.” – Liezel Huber, a South African-born American, after she and Cara Black won the women’s doubles.
“This is the best team we could assemble at the moment.” – Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, whose team does not include Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, French Open runnerup Dinara Safina, former number one Maria Sharapova and top tenner Anna Chakvetadze.
With his victory over Andy Murray, Roger Federer has won an Open Era record five consecutive US Open singles titles and become the first player in any era to win five straight Grand Slam tournament titles at two different events. Federer also won five consecutive Wimbledons before losing the final to Rafael Nadal on the grass of the All England Club in July. It also is Federer’s 13th Grand Slam tournament crown, one behind men’s record-holder Pete Sampras. In a twist of fate, Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam crown on September 8, 2002. This year’s final was scheduled to be held on Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday, September 8, by Tropical Storm Hanna’s heavy rains two days that cut short Saturday’s play.
It took a long time for Serena Williams to win her third US Open title, something she accomplished by defeating Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5. Her other two US Open championships came in 1999 and 2002. Her last Grand Slam title was at the Australian Open in 2007. By winning, she became the number one-ranked player on the WTA Tour for the first time since August 2003, the longest gap at the top for a woman in ranking history. She now has won nine majors, while this was the first year since 2001 that she played in all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Bob and Mike Bryan didn’t drop a set at the US Open as they won their seventh Grand Slam tournament men’s doubles title, defeating India’s Leander Paes and Luka Dlouhy of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10) in the final. The American brothers previously won at Roland Garros in 2003, the US Open in 2005, Wimbledon in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2006 and 2007. By losing, Paes lost a chance at a US Open doubles double, having already won the mixed doubles crown with Zimbabwe’s Cara Black. Paes won a doubles double in 1999 at both Wimbledon and the French Open. With the victory, the Bryans regained their world number one ranking.
Cara Black had an excellent US Open. She teamed with Liezel Huber to win the women’s doubles, the team’s eighth title this year, by beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. Earlier in the final week, the native of Zimbabwe teamed with Leander Paes of India to win the mixed doubles title. In that final, Black and Paes beat Huber and Jamie Murray.
SAMPRAS A CHAMPION
Pete Sampras, a five-time US Open winner, and Molla B. Mallory are the 2008 inductees into the US Open Court of Champions. The tennis shrine is located just inside the South Entry Gate at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Sampras played in eight US Open finals and compiled a 71-9 record, the second-best winning percentage in the tournament’s history, trailing only Bill Tilden’s 71-7 mark with a minimum of 50 matches played.
Alicia Molik of Australia is calling it quits. The 27-year-old Mollik has retired from international tennis after a long run of injuries, including a debilitating inner-ear virus. Molik peaked at a world ranking of number eight after she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2005, but was sidelined for most of the rest of that season because she was unable to balance due to the ear virus. She won the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and played in the Beijing Olympics last month, losing in the first round. During her career, Molik won five WTA Tour singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles, at the Australian and French Opens.
Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischchev will not have his country’s top players when Russia takes on Spain in the final. Six Russians are ranked in the top ten on the WTA Tour, but only Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva will play Fed Cup. They will be joined by Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Olympic champion Elena Dementieva and silver medalist Dinara will miss the final in Madrid in order to chase ranking points at a tournament in Tokyo, Japan. Maria Sharapova has an injured shoulder and Anaa Chakvetadze is not physically fit.
SERENA, SAFINA IN DOHA
Serena Williams and Dinara Safina have clinched spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held November 4-9 in Doha. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the title and a share of the record prize money of $4.45 million. Previously qualified were Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic in the singles. Besides her US Open triumph, Williams lost to her sister Venus in the Wimbledon final. Safina has had her best season so far, going 37-4 since the beginning of the European clay season, including finishing runnerup at both Roland Garros and the Olympics.
The WTA Tour will have 54 tournaments across 31 countries and record prize money of more than USD $86 million in 2009. There will be 20 premier events, down from 26, and four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – will be mandatory. Under the new structure, top-10 players who miss premier events after making a commitment to play will face suspension, and there will be increased withdrawal fines. The rankings system will focus on players’ best 16 results, and the year will conclude at the end of October, giving players nine weeks before the start of the next year. And on-court coaching will be allowed next season.
The All India Tennis Association (AITA) is upset with private promoters canceling tournaments over what it calls bogus reasons. Consequently the AITA wants to have direct control over future tour events. An ATP event, the Bangalore Open, was cancelled for what the promoters said was security reasons. And a WTA Tour event in Mumbai, promoted by a company owned by Indian player Mahesh Bhupathi, also has been cancelled. AITA secretary Anil Khanna said both events were cancelled because the organizers could not find sponsors. India has two other events, the Chennai Open for men and a women’s event in Bangalore.
Rafael Nadal has been named winner of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Sports award for 2008. Eighteen members of the 24-man jury, which was presided over by former International Olympic Committee chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch and which met in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, voted for Nadal, who was selected over US Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Olympic 100 meters champion Ursain Bolt of Jamaica. The Spanish football (soccer) squad, which won this year’s European Championships, was also among the candidates.
The world’s top-ranked player believes outgoing ATP chief executive Etienne de Villiers should have communicated better with the players. De Villiers, who is stepping down when his contract expires in December, has been criticized by Nadal and other players. Asked at the U.S. Open what he’d like De Villiers’ successor to do, Nadal said: “For me, most important thing is, first of all, a little bit more communication than the past. For sure, the second thing is one person who knows a little bit about the tennis, no? And one person who wants to talk about with the persons who knows the tennis well.”
Leader Paes now has a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. The Indian star teamed with Cara Black of Zimbabwe to beat Britain’s Jamie Murray and American Liezel Huber for the US Open title. Paes teamed with American Lisa Raymond to win the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999, and with Martina Navratilova for titles at the 2003 Wimbledon and Australian Opens.
STARK TO NEWPORT
The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, has a new museum director. Douglas A. Stark, a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts, will oversee and manage the museum’s collection, permanent and traveling exhibitions, educational programming, and the activities of the Information Research Center. Stark was formerly with the United States Golf Association Museum, serving most recently as curator of Education and Outreach.
The US Open will have a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium sometime in the future. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” said Arlen Kantarian, the US Tennis Association’s CEO for professional tennis. “It’s the right next thing to do.” Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Hanna caused the final Saturday’s schedule to be curtailed, with the women’s final played on Sunday night and the men’s final pushed back to Monday.
Fresh off winning her third US Open, Serena Williams announced she will participate in the PNC Tennis Classic on November 21 in Baltimore. The Classic is a charity event begun by Pam Shriver. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Since 1986, over USD $4 million has been raised and distributed to many needy non-profits.
Bud Collins was named winner of the ATP Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award during the US Open. Rafael Nadal, the world’s top-ranked player, presented the award to the writer, historian, broadcaster and Tennis Hall of Fame member. His latest book, recently released, is The Bud Collins History of Tennis. The annual ATP award goes to a media member in honor of Ron Bookman, who died in April 1988.
SITES TO SURF
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$416,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay
$125,000 Open d’Orleans, Orleans, France, hard
$225,000 Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, Bali, Indonesia, hard
$100,000 Vogue Athens Open 2008, Athens, Greece, clay
Spain vs. Russia at Madrid, Spain, final, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland
$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard
World Group Semifinals
Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay
World Group Playoffs
Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay
Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass
Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard
Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard
Isral vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard
Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay
Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay
Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group I
Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay
Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group II
Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay
Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard
(U.S. Open first week)
Julie Coin beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-3 4-6 6-3
Katarina Srebotnik beat third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 7-6 (1) 6-3
Kei Nishikori beat fourth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 3-6 2-6 7-5
Gael Monfils beat seventh-seeded David Nalbandian 6-3 6-4 6-2
Tatiana Perebiynis beat eighth-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-3 6-3
Mardy Fish beat ninth-seeded James Blake 6-3 6-3 7-6 (4)
Ekaterina Makarova beat tenth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 1-6 6-2 6-3
“I have the same goal. When I was number two, the goal was the same, was win the US Open. The goal wasn’t win the US Open to be number one. The goal is win US Open, no?” – Rafael Nadal, playing his first tournament as the world’s number one player.
“I don’t realize yet that I beat number one in the world. I don’t realize that I played at the big court. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.” – Julie Coin, after upsetting top-seeded Ana Ivanovic.
“I don’t really play any different on clay than I do on a hard court. It’s not like I’m changing anything when I go out there. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, I lose.” – Sam Querrey, asked if he changes his game plan for different surfaces.
“This is my, I think, fifth US Open, and this time I’m the happiest to be here, so I enjoy every moment of it. And first couple days when I had some afternoons off I went shopping and to Central Park. I really tried to get best out of it.” – Ana Ivanovic, on playing in the US Open as the top seed and before she was upset.
“I’m not going to hide and try to go around and say tennis is fun, it’s so easy, because people will understand it’s not true. … It’s difficult to practice every day.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, admitting it’s difficult to stay inspired to play and practice year-round.
“I guess they call it the yips on your serve. I don’t know where it came from. Probably came from all my years making fun of people that had it. That was my karma coming back.” – Lindsay Davenport, joking about starting a game with seven straight faults in her loss to Marion Bartoli.
“I think that definitely the Wimbledon win helped me a lot to change my mentality, to realize not everything had to be perfect all the time. … Now if I don’t have a perfect practice, I know I can play. I think that helps me to relax.” – Venus Williams.
“I don’t think I’d have as many because she motivated me, especially being young and watching her play. The mistakes she made, I made them with her. So when I actually played, I didn’t make the mistakes that she made. I was able to grow with her on the sidelines, so to say. … If anything, I think she definitely helped my career.” – Serena Williams, about big sister Venus Williams.
“There is nothing bigger. There is nothing more important than Olympic Games for an athlete, for a sports person.” – Elena Dementieva, who won the women’s singles at the Beijing Olympics.
“I always believe that the match is on my racquet. I think every time I lose is because of me, not because of the other person.” – Serena Williams.
“I’m me. I love to show my emotion. I love to do a show because when I was 9, 11, to play in front of a lot of people is for me something amazing. So I like to do it for me. It’s fun. You know, I have to show them I’m enjoying on the court, (that) I enjoy my sport. And then they show me emotion, so it’s great.” – Gael Monfils, after upsetting David Nalbandian.
“Right now I’m very happy. That’s the only word I can say right now. And I couldn’t give up in the fifth set. … I was tired and my legs was almost cramping. But I tried to think, I am playing David, he’s number four in the world, and (I’m) playing five sets with him. I felt kind of happy and more positive. That’s why I think I could fight through everything.” – Kei Nishikori, after upsetting fourth-seeded David Ferrer.
“I’m enjoying the city, the crowd. When you play here it’s a different atmosphere, and you just have so much fun being on the court. Even playing first at 11 (a.m.), it’s not so many people, but you feel special being on central court.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, before losing in the third round.
There have been 40 winners in the men’s and women’s singles in the 40 years of the Open Era – 21 men and 19 women. The 1968 champions – the late Arthur Ashe, who was represented by his wife and daughter, and Virginia Wade, led a parade of past champions onto the court on opening night to help the USTA celebrate the anniversary. Chris Evert won six US Opens, the most of any woman in the Open Era, while Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors led the men with five titles each.
Serena Williams swapped places on the WTA Tour rankings with Svetlana Kuznetsova, moving up one spot to number three in the world behind the Serbian pair of Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. Kuznetsova dropped to fourth, the best showing of the six Russians in the top ten: Maria Sharapova, Olympics gold medalist Elena Dementieva, Dinara Safina, Anna Chakvetazde and Vera Zvonareva. Venus Williams is ranked eighth in the world.
James Blake presented a USD $10,000 check on behalf of Evian Natural Spring Water to USTA Serves and the Harlem Junior Tennis & Education program. USTA Serves is the USTA’s not-for-profit philanthropic entity dedicated to improving the quality of life among the nation’s youth, with a mission to support, monitor and promote programs that enhance the lives of disadvantaged children through the integration of tennis and education.
Spectators at the US Open for the night session have seats for only two matches, those beginning at 7 p.m. in Arthur Ashe Stadium. All other matches still being played elsewhere at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are considered day matches. That was true when Chuang Chia-Jung and Daniel Nestor played a mixed doubles match against Sloane Stephens and Robert Kendrick. Because Kendrick had played a singles match against Novak Djokovic earlier in the day, the mixed doubles “day match” was scheduled to start on an outside court “Not before 8 p.m.”
SELES TO HALL?
Monica Seles heads the list of candidates for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009. Seles won nine major singles titles and was ranked number one in the world. On the ballot in the Master Player category is Andres Gimeno, one of Spain’s most prominent players of the 1960s and the singles champion at Roland Garros, which he won in 1972. Others on the ballot in the Contributory category are Donald L. Dell, a lawyer, founder of ProServ and former Davis Cup captain; Dr. Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson, founder and director of the American Tennis Association (ATA); and Japan’s Eiichi Kawatei, for his leadership and dedication in the development and promotion of tennis in Asia.
Ivo Karlovic served 42 aces in his second-round victory over Florent Serra. The 6-foot-10 (2.08m) native of Zagreb, Croatia, has three of the top seven ace totals at the US Open since 1991. In his 11 career US Open matches, Karlovic has hit 330 aces, an average of 30 aces per match. In his 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5) 6-2 third-round loss to 6-foot-6 (1.98m) Sam Querrey, Karlovic had 24 aces, matching the fewest total he has had in any match at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. He wound up his US Open with a total of 94 aces in three matches. Surprisingly, Karlovic is not in the top ten in the serving speed at this year’s event, that honor going to Andy Roddick, who had a serve clocked at 147 mph (236 kph)
SIX FOR ONE
When the US Open began, six players had a chance to wind up number one in the world in the WTA Tour rankings at the end of the fortnight. The easiest scenario would have been if the two top seeds – Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic – wound up in the final; the winner of that match would take over the top spot, as would Serena Williams if she wins. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva also had a shot at number one when the tournament began, but with a dizzying array of options and outcomes needed. Kuznetsova was knocked out of the running for the top spot when Ivanovic won her opening round match.
Because of security reasons, the Bangalore Open, scheduled to start September 29, has been cancelled. The ATP said it has “accepted a petition from the Bangalore Open to suspend the 2008 event due to the local promoter’s security concerns.” The tournament has been held at Mumbai for the past two years. It was moved to Bangalore in May, but a series of bombs rocked the southern Indian city on July 25, killing one person. The ATP said the total prize money of USD $400,000 would go into the ATP player pension fund.
Gilles Muller of Luxembourg worked overtime to get into the round of 16 for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament. The last qualifier remaining in the draw at the U.S. Open, Muller defeated Laurent Recouderc 6-4 6-0 4-6 6-4 and Tommy Haas 2-6 2-6 7-6 6-3 6-3 in the first two rounds. The Haas victory was the first time he came back after trailing by two sets. He did it again when he beat 18th-seeded Nicolas Almagro in the third round on Sunday.
When Kei Nishikori upset fourth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 3-6 2-6 7-5, he became the first Japanese man to reach the final 16 at the US Open in the Open Era. The only Japanese man to go further in a Grand Slam tournament was Shuzo Matsuoka, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1995. At 18 years, 8 months, Nishikori became the youngest player to reach the last 16 at the US Open since Marat Safin in 1998.
When qualifier Julie Coin shocked Ana Ivanovic in a second-round match, it marked the earliest defeat by a number one-seeded woman at the US Open in the Open Era and the first time a number one seed has lost in the second round of the even since 1956, when top-seeded Billie Jean King lost to Australia’s Kerry Melville 6-4 6-4 in the US Championships. The previous record for the earliest loss in the Open Era came in 1973 when King retired in the third set of her third-round match against Julie Heldman. Only four number one seeds in the Open Era have lost prior to the semifinals: Justine Henin in the fourth round in 2004, Martina Navratilova in the quarterfinals in 1982, King in 1973 and Ivanovic this year. The last time a number one seed has lost in the second round of a Grand Slam tournament was in 2004 when Tathiana Garbin shocked Justine Henin at Roland Garros.
SONG FOR VENUS
Wyclef Jean has written and recorded a song inspired by tennis champion Venus Williams. The song, titled “Venus (I’m Ready),” is a musical fan letter to the 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalist and reigning Wimbledon singles and doubles champion. “Venus’ determination and mental strength inspires me,” said Wyclef Jean, a Grammy Award winner. “Much like Isis, her strength should be celebrated.”
SITE FOR SIGHT
The USTA is creating two USTA-branded channels on YouTube, one devoted to professional tennis and the other dedicated to recreational tennis. The US Open Channel includes daily updates from the US Open, including post-match player interviews. The website will also feature a daily Junior Report on the US Open juniors. The second channel (www.youtube.com/tennis) will be entirely devoted to recreational tennis and is scheduled to launch later this fall.
He may be ranked number two in the world, but Roger Federer is still the top money winner in tennis by far. In the past 12 months Federer has earned USD $35 million, almost twice as much as Rafael Nadal, who has replaced the Swiss star atop the rankings. According to Forbes, the global appeal of tennis is the reason Federer rakes in more endorsement money than American sports stars Derek Jeter, Payton Manning and Dale Earnhardt. Federer, who is fluent in English, French and German, has won 55 tournaments in 17 countries and is a global brand. Forbes says another reason is that tennis players command the prime demographics. Sandwiched between Federer and Nadal is Maria Sharapova, the world’s highest-paid female athlete with earnings of USD $26 million. Tied for fourth is a trio of Americans at USD $15 million: Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena.
Four sets of siblings sought the doubles titles at this year’s US Open, and that doesn’t include Venus and Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon and the Beijing Olympics this year but decided to skip the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, an event they last won in 1999. American twins Bob and Mike Bryan were the number two seeds in the men’s doubles, which also included first-round losers Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana of Thailand. The women’s doubles included Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska of Poland and Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine.
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com
USOpen Channel: www.youtube.com/usopen
USTA YouTube: www.youtube.com/tennis
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (second week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$416,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay
$225,000 Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, Bali, Indonesia, hard
$100,000 Vogue Athens Open 2008, Athens, Greece, clay
$100,000 ITF event, Kharkiv, Ukraine, hard
Russia vs. Spain at Madrid, Spain, final, clay
NEW YORK – The fact he’s number one in the world makes no difference to Rafael Nadal.
“I have the same goal,” he said Monday night. “When I was number two, the goal was the same, was win the US Open, The goal wasn’t win the US Open to be number one. The goal is win US Open, no?”
Coming off yet another title – the latest an Olympic gold medal in Beijing – Nadal opened his first Grand Slam tournament as the top-seeded player by beating back pesky qualifier Bjorn Phau of Germany 7 6 (4) 6 3 7 6 (4).
“He played well today, but I didn’t play with normal intensity,” Nadal said of Phau, who has spent a lot of time playing Challenger tournaments and not on the main tour. “Important thing, finally, is to win.”
One top player failed to make it past the opening day of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Tenth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze was ousted by fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 1-6 6-2 6-3.
Phau was a match for Nadal in speed and quickness. And his penetrating shots kept the Spaniard on the run. Still, while Phau matched Nadal with 37 winners each, the German doled out nine more errors than his higher-ranked opponent and continually had to battle to hold his own serve.
Nadal, on the other hand, held easily and faced only three break points in the match, losing serve just once.
“I am a little bit tired, yes, but it is US Open so I have to try my best here,” Nadal said. “I’m going to try to try my best for sure.”
Playing in only her second US Open main draw, Makarova pulled off the opening day’s biggest surprise by ousting Chakvetadze, who was a semifinalist here last year.
The 20-year-old Makarova, one year younger than Chakvetadze, won only one more point than her opponent. But her points came at the right time as she broke Chakvetadze twice in each of the last two sets.
Also losing her first-round match was Shahar Peer of Israel, who fell to Li Na of China 2-6 6-0 6-1. Peer was seeded 24th.
“She never miss,” Li said of Peer’s first-set play. “And in the second set I just tell myself, `OK, right now you just play your game. Don’t give up.’ I know every first round is tough for the player, so I just try my best.”
Li, who reached the semifinals at the Beijing Olympics, only to lose the bronze medal match, completely dominated after the opening set. She finished with 28 winners, compared to just seven for Peer.
Amira Paszek of Austria surprised 22nd seeded Maria Kirilenko 6-3 3-6 6-4.
In the men’s singes, two seeded players were eliminated.
Feliciano Lopez of Spain, the 27th seed, was beaten by Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in one of the day’s longest matches 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-2 2-6 6-4. And 29th-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina fell to Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-2 5-7 6-2.
“It was a great win, I think, because he’s a good player and seeded,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t think I was going to win, so I’m happy of it.”
Marin Cilic beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 to win the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, Connecticut.
Caroline Wozniacki beat Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven
Lucie Safarova won the Forest Hills Classic in New York City by beating Peng Shuai 6-4 6-2
“There is always a little buzz, even in the middle of the points. That’s the main difference between this tournament and others. It’s good for the crowd to get into. It’s different to Wimbledon, which is very quiet. Here it is the opposite – it’s much louder. It’s good and it’s a different feeling to play. I love coming here.” – Britain’s Andy Murray on playing the US Open.
“I want to dedicate my victory today to all the victims and all the families of the victims in the flight in Madrid and send them all of my support and everything of me that I can help for them. It is my hometown, and when this thing happened I felt so bad.” – Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, playing in the Pilot Pen Tennis but thinking of the Spanair jetliner crash in Madrid, Spain, that killed 153 people.
“I was injured at the beginning of the year and haven’t had my best results, but this week has helped me regain my confidence in time for the US Open.” – Lucie Safarova, who won the Forest Hills Classic.
“I am having fun. I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing for a big crowd. You know, when you’re in the finals, you don’t have anything to lose. You can just win.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning the Pilot Pen women’s singles.
“This was a very important week for me. I don’t think I could have asked for a better week before the U.S. Open.” – Daniela Hantuchova, who is coming off an injury, after losing in both singles and doubles at the Pilot Pen.
“I would love to become number one in the world and win Grand Slams. I think everyone practicing this hard, you know, putting such an effort in it wants to become number one in the world. But there’s only one number one. You know, I still have 21 spots to go. And hopefully after this tournament I have a little bit less.” – Caroline Wozniacki.
“This is my eleventh final and I’ve only won twice. It’s starting to really sting, nine times losing. I’ve got a lot of runner-up trophies in my office in my house. These are the ones I need to get.” – Mardy Fish, after losing the Pilot Pen final.
“I had never faced a serve like that before. I needed to return better, and I didn’t.” – John Isner, the 6-foot-9 (205 cm) American, after losing to 6-foot-10 (208 cm) Ivo Karlovic of Croatia at the Pilot Pen.
“I am looking forward to playing again in January in my home country and using that as a springboard to compete at my best again on the world stage for at least a couple of more years.” – Lleyton Hewitt, who has undergone hip surgery and will miss the rest of 2008.
“It’s very disappointing for me to miss the U.S. Open. I’ve always done well in this tournament.” – Sania Mirza, who pulled out of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament with a right wrist injury.
“We’ve had a great year so far and look forward to finishing the season in Doha and defending our Championships title.” – Cara Black, after she and Liezel Huber became the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
“I have nothing more to say to this man. We spoke to him last year, trying to understand why he is doing these things, but it is impossible, it’s a waste of time.” – Rafael Nadal, talking last spring about Etienne de Villiers, who is stepping down as head of the ATP.
“I understand how much the Olympics means to many people. But for me, as a professional tennis player, it is just a tournament.” -Li Na, who made Chinese history by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams and reaching the semifinals at the Beijing Games.
If Rafael Nadal wins his third straight Grand Slam tournament, he would take home the biggest paycheck in tennis. Nadal clinched the 2008 Olympus US Open Series men’s title, and that would result in a USD $1 million bonus should he win the US Open. Add that to the winner’s purse at the two-week event and Nadal could increase his bank account by USD $2.5 million. Roger Federer won the Open Series title and the US Open last year, pocketing a record USD $2.4 million. Dinara Safina won the women’s Open Series and could also earn a USD $1 million bonus should she win the US Open women’s singles.
A parade of past winners will be in Arthur Ashe Stadium when the US Open’s Opening Night Ceremony celebrates the 40th anniversary of open tennis, including Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Tracy Austin, Martina Navratilova, Stan Smith, Boris Becker, Gabrielle Sabatini, John Newcombe, Ilie Nastase, Guillermo Vilas and Mats Wilander. Virginia Wade, winner of the first U.S. Open in 1968, will be on hand, while the men’s champion, the late Arthur Ashe, will be represented by his widow, Jeanne Moutossamy-Ashe, and daughter, Camera Ashe. Other past champions on hand will include Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Marat Safin and Andy Roddick.
The man from Disney, Etienne de Villiers, is stepping down as executive chairman and president of the ATP, the governing body of men’s professional tennis, when his contract expires at the end of the 2008 season. De Villiers has served as ATP executive chairman since June 2005. A native of South Africa, de Villiers had come under heavy criticism from the game’s top players, including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. In March at the Sony Ericsson Open, every top 20 player signed a letter to the ATP Board of Directors demanding that de Villiers’ contract not be renewed until other candidates were interviewed for the position. An executive at Disney, de Villiers was hired by the ATP with a mandate to make change. He did that while also making enemies. The ATP recently won a court case but spent millions on its defense.
Hip surgery will keep Lleyton Hewitt from playing in this year’s U.S. Open. The 2001 winner at New York’s Flushing Meadows, Hewitt said in a statement published on his web site that he is frustrated at not being able to play but had exhausted every possibility besides surgery. He also will miss Australia’s Davis Cup World Group playoff in Chile later in September. His last tournament was the Beijing Olympics where he lost in the second round to Rafael Nadal.
Leander Paes has stepped down as captain of India’s Davis Cup team. A Davis Cup regular for 17 years, Paes has been named to the Indian team that will play Romania in a World Group playoff September 19, with the winner remaining in the World Group. Sumant Misra has been named non-playing captain for the tie in Bucharest, Romania, with Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj on the squad. In an uneasy partnership, Paes and Bhupathi reached the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics before losing to eventual gold medalist Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland. Once one of the world’s top doubles teams, Paes and Bhupathi split, and Bhupathi and his teammates tried unsuccessfully in February to have Paes removed as Davis Cup captain.
A right wrist injury means India’s Sania Mirza will miss the US Open. Mirza had surgery on her wrist in April, keeping her off the WTA Tour for some time. The injury flared up during her first-round match at the Beijing Olympics, and after tests, she was advised to rest for three weeks. In 2005, Mirza had her best US Open, reaching the fourth round.
Stefan Koubek of Austria has pulled out of this year’s US Open. Ranked 105th in the world, Koubek has not played since being routed by Robin Soderling 6-0 6-1 at the Sony Ericsson Masters in Miami in March.
Ivan Ljubicic is the newest member of the ATP Player Council. The 29-year-old Ljubicic was elected to the vacant position of European Player Board Representative and will fulfill the existing term that ends in December 2009. Ljubicic served as vice president and president of the ATP Player Council in 2006-07.
Having won his last four tournaments, Juan Martin del Potro said he was tired and withdrew from the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut. The 19-year-old Argentine won titles at Stuttgart, Germany; Kitzbuhel, Austria; Los Angeles, California, and Washington, D.C., moving up to number 17 in the world rankings.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball will be held in New York City on Friday, September 5, the last Friday of the US Open. The special night will honor Billie Jean King, Michael Chang, Mark McCormack and Eugene L. Scott along with others. Chang, McCormack and Scott were inducted into the Hall of Fame earlier this summer. A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the third annual Eugene L. Scott Award to King. The award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world.
SONY ERICSSON QUALIFIERS
Cara Black and Liezel Huber are the first doubles team to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, to be played in Doha, Qatar, November 4-9. Black and Huber have teamed up so far this year to win seven WTA Tour titles, giving them 19 career doubles titles as a team. The top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete at the Championships.
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki continued her winning ways in New Haven, Connecticut, capturing the Pilot Pen by knocking off top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the final. It was Wozniacki’s second title of her career, both coming this month. The 18-year-old had never even been in a WTA Tour final until this month, winning her first crown in Stockholm, Sweden, before reaching the third round at the Beijing Olympics where she lost to eventual gold-medalist Elena Dementieva. Her run at New Haven included victories over third-seeded Marion Bartoli, seventh-seeded Alize Cornet and eighth-seeded Dominka Cibulkova.
Two tournaments scheduled to be held in the nation of Georgia have been canceled due to the current political situation. The International Tennis Federation called off a USD $10,000 event to be held at Tbilisi, beginning September 15, and a USD $25,000 tournament scheduled to be held in Batumi, beginning September 22.
Marin Cilic is finally a champion on the ATP circuit. The 19-year-old from Croatia beat Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 6-2 at the Pilot Penn in New Haven, Connecticut, a US Open tuneup tournament. Cilic, playing in a final for the first time in his pro career, broke Fish five times, including three times in the third set. Cilic joines Ivo Karlovic as the only Croats to win ATP titles this year.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will present a gallery exhibition at the 2008 US Open entitled “Home Court: The Family Draw.” The exhibition will be on view at the US Open Gallery in Louis Armstrong Stadium during the two weeks of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The exhibit provides an inspiring look at the relationship of tennis and family and features stories of many remarkable families.
The four governing bodies of tennis have hired a former Scotland Yard detective to run the sport’s new integrity unit. Besides hiring Jeff Rees, the WTA and ATP tours, the International Tennis Federation and the Grand Slam Committee adopted an anti-corruption code to ensure the same set of penalties apply across the professional ranks. Rees, who previously worked for the International Cricket Council’s security unit, was part of an independent panel that issued a report in May saying 45 matches merited further investigation because of irregular betting patterns.
Players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour aren’t the only ones taking it off for the camera. Some of the ATP players are shedding their sports gear for more natural attire in a new calendar. Among those showing off their “muscles” are Fernando Verdaso, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Haas, Juan Monaco, Paradorn Srichaphan and Dmitry Tursonov.
Paraguayan javelin thrower Leryn Franco finished 51st overall in a field of 52 competitors at the Beijing Olympics, but nobody seemed to care. The 26-year-old part-time model and bikini contestant was competing in her second Olympics: She placed 42nd overall at the 2004 Athens Games. It is reported that she is dating Novak Djokovic, who in January became the first player from Serbia to win a Grand Slam tournament and the youngest player in the Open era to have reached all four Grand Slam semifinals. Franco and Djokovic were seen walking hand-in-hand at the Olympic village in Beijing.
One day after he resigned as president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf was playing tennis on the court at his home and relaxing with family and friends. “He was in a good mood, very relaxed,” said Tariq Azim, who was among 30 supporters who gathered at Musharraf’s house outside the capital, Islamabad. “We used to meet him there in the past, but with no official duties, he was completely different.”
Harry Marmion, the 43rd president of the United States Tennis Association, is dead. Marmion, foremost an educator, served as president of St. Xavier College in Chicago and of Southampton College of Long Island University. He also was vice president for academic affairs at Fairleigh Dickinson University. But he was best known as the USTA president when Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, was opened in 1997. Upon his retirement from the presidency, he was credited with playing an integral role in electing Judy Levering as the first female president of the USTA.
New Haven men: Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 7-5 6-2
New Haven women: Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond beat Sorana Cirstea and Monica Niculescu 4-6 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
U.S. Open, Flushing Meadows, New York, hard (second week)
Last week on the challenger circuit, two former top 10 players struggling with injuries and motivation took their first real steps to reclaiming their former glory, while two players on the men’s side continued their hot streaks on the circuit.
Jelena Dokic of Australia has had more than her share of personal problems. The former world No. 4 has defected from her family, switched nationalities several times, and attempted multiple half-hearted comeback attempts. However, it looks like that Dokic is serious this time around after winning her first event in six years at the $25,000 event in Florence, Italy, dominating Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3 in the final. The win moves Dokic up to No. 325 in the rankings (after just four tournaments) and she has contacted the All England Club for a qualifying wild card into Wimbledon.
At the $75,000 event in Zagreb, Croatia, Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden won her first title of the year by beating former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Severine Bremond of France 7-6, 6-2. The 24-year-old Swede, who has recorded high-profile scalps over Anna Chakvetadze and Marion Bartoli this year, used her aggressive groundstrokes to wear Bremond down throughout the match. Despite the loss, Bremond has been on a hot streak as of late with a 10-4 record on the challenger circuit in her last four events.
At the $50,000 tournament in Jounieh, Lebanon, players had to endure the fighting that has plagued the country, confining them to their hotel rooms and the tennis courts for the week. Anne Keothavong of Great Britain weathered her surroundings and won the first clay court of her career, defeating Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain 6-4, 6-1. The win moved Keothavong up to a career high ranking of No. 102 and allows her direct entry into Wimbledon this summer. The last British player to get direct entry into Wimbledon was Samantha Smith in 1999.
In other results on the women’s side, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium won the $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic prevailed at the $50,000 challenger in Bucharest, Romania, and Tomoko Yonemura of Japan won at the $50,000 challenger in Fukuoka, Japan. Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus won at the $25,000 challenger in Antalya, Turkey, Yan Ze-Xie of China took home the winners trophy at the $25,000 event in Changwon, Korea, and Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia prevailed at the $25,000 event in Irapuato, Mexico.
On the men’s side, it’s been a while since we heard from Nicolas Massu. The former top 10 player and reigning Olympic gold medalist has been struggling with injuries, but took a step in the right direction by winning the $30,000 event in Rijeka, Croatia. His 6-2, 6-2 win in the final over Christophe Rochus of Belgium gives the Chilean his first title in over two years.
Ivan Miranda of Peru is continuing to ride his hot streak on the challenger circuit with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Carsten Ball of Australia at the $50,000 challenger in Tunica, Mississippi. Miranda has now reached the championship round in three of the last four challengers he has played. His experience clearly was a factor against Ball, who was competing in the first challenger final of his career.
Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil is a name that has repeatedly come up in this column, but it’s only a matter of time before he moves to the ATP Tour on a full-time basis. He won his fourth challenger title of the year (and third in a row) at the $42,500 challenger in Rabat, Morocco, rolling over Martin Vasallo-Arguello of Argentina 6-2, 6-2. Expect Bellucci to potentially do some damage at Roland Garros in just a few weeks.
In other results on the men’s side, Andreas Beck won the $42,500 challenger in Dresden, Germany, while Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia won the $30,000 event in Telde, Spain. Jiri Vanek also won the $42,500 event in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Fabrice Santoro of France highlights the challenger circuit this week as the top seed at the $75,000 event in Bordeaux, France, while Gael Monfis of France leads the way at the $75,000 challenger in Marrakech, Morocco. Several $50,000 events will also be contested this week; Robert Kendrick of the United States is the top seed at the one in Bradenton, Florida, Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei will lead the way in New Delhi, India, and Denis Gremelmayr of Germany takes top billing in Zagreb, Croatia. Oscar Hernandez of Spain is top seed at the $42,500 event in Aarhus, Denmark, while Santiago Ventura of Spain is the top seed at the $30,000 challenger in San Remo, Italy.
On the women’s side, Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic is top seed at the $50,000 event in Saint Gaudens, France. Melanie South of Great Britain leads the way at the $50,000 challenger in Kurume, Japan, Tetiana Luzhanska of Ukraine is the top seed at the $25,000 challenger in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Jorgelina Cravero of Argentina takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Caserta, Italy. Finally, Renata Voracova of Czech Republic is top seed at the $25,000 event in Szczecin, Poland.
31 March 2008
Qualifier Kevin Anderson upset defending champion Novak Djokovic in the Serb’s opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
Lindsay Davenport continued her comeback by knocking off world number two Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Roger Federer is at least still winning off the court. While the world’s number one player has yet to capture a tournament in 2008, for the fourth straight year he won both the ATP Tour’s Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Additionally, fans voted Federer as their favorite player for the fifth consecutive year.
SAME FOR JUSTINE
For the second time in her career, Justine Henin has been named the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s Player of the Year. She also won in 2003. Last year Henin won 10 of the 14 events she entered, became the first WTA Tour player to win over $5 million (USD) in a single year and finished as world number one.
Other ATP Tour honors went to brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, Doubles Team of the Year for the third straight year; Novak Djokovic, Most Improved; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Newcomer; Igor Andreev, Comeback Player; and Ivan Ljubicic, Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year.
Other Sony Ericsson WTA Tour winners were: Cara Black and Liezel Huber, Doubles Team; Ana Ivanovic, Most Improved; Lindsay Davenport, Comeback Player; and Agnes Szavay (photo) , Newcomer.
Novak Djokovic’s habit of repeatedly bouncing the ball ad nauseum before each serve, caught the attention of the umpire during his Sony Ericsson Open match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson. Serving at 2-0, 30-40, Djokovic bounced the ball so many times that he received a time violation from the umpire. Although he won that point, Djokovic ended up losing the match 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
Svetlana Kuznetsova won off the final 11 games to overcome a 5-2 second-set deficit and a match point to beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6 7-5 6-0 in a third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open.
One week after they won singles titles at the Pacific Life Open, Serbian stars Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic were ousted from the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. South African qualifier Kevin Anderson eliminated Djokovic 7-6 (7-1) 3-6, 6-4 and former world number one Lindsay Davenport crushed Ivanovic 6-4 6-2.
“I can compete with the best in the world. I proved that to myself, whether he was on form or off form.” – Qualifier Kevin Anderson after knocking defending champion Novak Djokovic out of the Sony Ericsson Open 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
“On the last point my shoelace was broken, but I’m not trying to find excuses.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Kevin Anderson.
“Obviously the first time you play against someone, you try to get to know them and try to get rhythm in the beginning. But against her you just don’t get it.” – Ana Ivanovic, who fell to Lindsay Davenport 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
“In this comeback, for lack of better words, I’ve not made a fool of myself. I’ve done pretty well for my age and for what I’ve been through. Obviously days like today just give me more incentive to keep going.” – Lindsay Davenport, who has returned to the women’s tour after becoming a mother, following her victory over world number two Ana Ivanovic.
“For that to happen, he must maintain his hunger for victory, for records, and that is not easy.” – Bjorn Borg, when asked if Roger Federer can become the greatest player in history.
James Blake and Sam Querrey switched sports when they showed up at an exhibition baseball game in Miami, Florida, between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees. Facing batting-practice pitches from Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley, Querrey hit consecutive home runs over the scoreboard in left field. Not to be left out, Blake also cleared the fence.
Shahar Peer was honored by Beth David Congregation in Miami, Florida, for making political history when she became the first Israeli athlete to compete in the Arab world, participating in the Qatar Total Open in Doha in February. Also honored were the men’s doubles team of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, who became the first Israeli duo to win a Grand Slam title, capturing the crown at the Australian Open in January.
Justine Henin says she considered having surgery on her right knee earlier this year. Instead, the world number one chose a more conservative approach and received a cortisone injection after the Australian Open. She also rested last week, skipping the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California.
When the United States takes on Russia in a Fed Cup semifinal in April, sisters Venus and Serena Williams will not be on the squad. Lindsay Davenport, who will play for the Americans, said she had been turned down by both sisters when she approached them about playing. Russia will field a strong squad consisting of Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina.
STILL ON BBC
The BBC will continue to televise Wimbledon through 2014. The new five-year contract stretches the British Broadcasting Corp.’s association with the world’s premier grass court tournament to 87 years. Neither the All England Club nor the BBC disclosed the amount paid for the rights.
SITES TO SURF
- Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com
- Estoril: www.estorilopen.net
- Valencia: www.open-comunidad-valencia.com
- Houston: www.riveroaksinternational.com
- Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
ATP and WTA Tours
$3,770,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Key Biscayene, Florida, hard court
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$370,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$370,000 Open de Tenis Comunidad Valencia, Valencia, Spain, clay
$436,000 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, clay
$600,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, Amelia Island, Florida, clay