While eight of the top ten men are active in the week before Indian Wells, only two of the top ten women have chosen live matches over practice sessions. Two clay tournaments in the Western Hemisphere accompany an Asian hard-court tournament as the last chance to reverse or extend momentum before the March mini-majors.
Acapulco: One of those two top-ten women playing this week, Errani hopes to begin repeating last year’s success on red clay while extending her success from reaching the Dubai final. Little about her section suggests that she should not, although she stumbled unexpectedly on clay against Lepchenko in Fed Cup. Considering that mishap, she might find Arantxa Rus a worthy test in the quarterfinals. Rus once upset Clijsters at Roland Garros and owns a lefty forehand smothered with topspin that cause damage on this surface. She might struggle to survive an all-Dutch encounter in the opening round against Kiki Bertens, though, who broke through to win her first career title at a clay tournament in Morocoo last year.
Gone early in Bogota, where she held the second seed, Alize Cornet will hope for a more productive week in a draw where she holds the third seed. The Frenchwoman lacks weapons to overpower her opponents but will find few in this section who can overpower her. The most notable name here (probably more notable than Cornet) belongs to the returning Flavia Pennetta, who got through one three-setter in Bogota before fading in a second. Tiny Lourdes Dominguez Lino hopes that this first-round opponent still needs to shake off more rust.
An odd sight it is to see an American, a Croat, and a Swede all playing on clay during a week with a hard-court tournament, and yet all of them occupy the same section in Acapulco. Perhaps more notable than Glatch or Larsson is Ajla Tomljanovic, a heavy hitter from a nation of heavy hitters who once looked like a sure rising star before recent setbacks. Facing this Croatian wildcard in the first round, fourth seed Irina-Camelia Begu knows better how to play on clay, as 2011 finals in Marbella and Budapest showed. Begu won her first career title last fall in Tashkent, which places her a notch above the other seed in this quarter. Spending most of her career at the ITF level, Romina Oprandi recorded a strong result in Beijing last fall.
Handed a wildcard to accompany her sixth seed, Schiavone searches for relevance after a long stretch in which she has struggled to string together victories. The sporadically intriguing Sesil Karatantcheva should pose a test less stern than second seed Suarez Navarro, who shares Schiavone’s affinity for the surface. Humiliated twice in one week at Dubai, where she lost resoundingly in both the singles and the doubles draws, the small Spaniard owns one of the loveliest one-handed backhands in the WTA since Henin’s retirement. Schiavone owns another, which should make their quarterfinal pleasant viewing for tennis purists.
Final: Errani vs. Begu
Florianopolis: In the first year of a new tournament, the presence of a marquee player always helps to establish its legitimacy. The outdoor hard courts at this Brazilian resort will welcome seven-time major champion and former #1 Venus Williams as the top seed, and her draw looks accommodating in its early stages. While young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza showed potential at the Australian Open, the American’s sternest challenge may come from a much older woman. Extending Venus deep into a third set at Wimbledon in 2011, Kimiko Date-Krumm could unsettle her fellow veteran with her clever angles and crisp net play, although her serve should fall prey to her opponent’s returning power.
In the quarter below lies Kirsten Flipkens, who lost early as the top seed in Memphis after reaching the second week of the Australian Open. Also a potential semifinal opponent for Venus, Caroline Garcia possesses much more potential than her current ranking of #165 would suggest. Unlike most of the counterpunchers in Florianopolis, she will not flinch from trading baseline missiles with the top seed should she earn the opportunity. Another young star in the eighth-seeded Annika Beck might produce an intriguing quarterfinal with Garcia.
Counterpunchers dominate the third quarter, bookended by Medina Garrigues and Chanelle Scheepers. When the two met at the Hopman Cup this year, endless rallies and endless service games characterized a match filled with breaks. The heavy serve of Timea Babos might intercept Scheepers in the second round, while Medina Garrigues could encounter some early resistance from the quirky Niculescu or Shahar Peer. With her best years well behind her, the Israeli continues to show her familiar grittiness in attempting to reclaim her relevance.
Midway through 2012, the second-seeded Shvedova climbed back into singles prominence by reaching the second week at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Starting with her three-set loss to Serena at the latter major, she has suffered a series of demoralizing setbacks in early rounds since then, often in tightly contested matches that hinged on a handful of points. Shvedova once led the WTA’s rankings for overall pace of shot, though, and her power might overwhelm those around her. Aligned to meet her in the quarterfinals is Kristina Mladenovic, the surprise semifinalist at the Paris Indoors who delivered the first signature win of her career there over Kvitova.
Final: Williams vs. Mladenovic
Kuala Lumpur: With a direct-entry cutoff even lower than Florianopolis, this tournament features only eight players in the top 100. Headlining the list, however, is a former #1 who still occupies the fringes of the top 10. After she produced solid results in the Middle East, reaching a quarterfinal in Doha and a semifinal in Dubai, Wozniacki should feel confident in her ability to secure a first title of 2013. Few of the names in her quarter will strike chords with most fans, although some might remember lefty Misaki Doi as the woman who upset Petra Martic in Melbourne before eating a Sharapova double bagel. Aussie lefty Casey Dellacqua sometimes can challenge higher-ranked foes but has struggled with injury too often to maintain consistency.
Doi’s highest-ranked compatriot, the double-fister Ayumi Morita holds the fourth seed in Kuala Lumpur. Like Wozniacki, she could face an Aussie in the quarterfinals, and, like Wozniacki, she should not find the test too severe. Although she has won the Australian Open wildcard playoff twice, Olivia Rogowska has stagnated over the past few years since winning a set from then -#1 Safina at the US Open. Evergreen veteran Eleni Daniilidou rounds out this section with one of the WTA’s more powerful one-handed backhands—and not much else.
Surely pleased to recruit another player of international familiarity beyond Wozniacki, Kuala Lumpur welcomes Pavlyuchenkova as a third-seeded wildcard entrant. The Russian often has excelled at this time of year, reaching the Indian Wells semifinals before and winning consecutive titles at the Monterrey tournament that has shifted after Miami. This year, Pavlyuchenkova has shown a little of her promising 2011 form by reaching the final in Brisbane to start the season and much more of her dismal 2012 form by dropping three straight matches thereafter. She could end her four-match losing streak here in a section filled with qualifiers. But yet another Aussie in Ashleigh Barty hopes to continue what so far has become an encouraging season for WTA future stars.
When not conversing on Twitter with our colleague David Kane, 16-year-old phenom Donna Vekic has compiled some notable results. Seeded at a WTA tournament for the first time, she will look to build upon her final in Tashkent last year, a win over Hlavackova at the Australian Open, and a solid week in Fed Cup zonal play. Vekic does face a challenging first-round test in the powerful serve of American wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but no match in her section looks unwinnable. While second seed and potential quarterfinal opponent Hsieh Su-wei won her first two titles last year, the late-blossoming star from Chinese Taipei still does not intimidate despite her presence in the top 25.
Final: Wozniacki vs. Pavlyuchenkova
(Actually, can we just combine these last two draws and have Venus play a super-final against Caro?)
One week after the 2013 Davis Cup began, Fed Cup starts with four ties hosted by European nations. We look ahead to what viewers can expect from the women’s national team competition. Having gone 7-1 in Davis Cup predictions, will our hot streak continue?
Czech Republic vs. Australia: The first of the ties features the only two members of the top ten playing a Fed Cup World Group tie this weekend. But they also are the two most abjectly slumping women in that elite group, having slumped to equally deflating second-round exits at the Australian Open after imploding at tournaments earlier in January. The defending champions hold a key trump card if the match reaches a decisive fifth rubber, where their experienced doubles duo of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova should stifle whatever pair the Australians can compile. An ideally balanced team with two top-20 singles threats and a top-5 doubles team, the Czechs thus need earn only a split in singles, while the Aussies must get a victory from Dellacqua, Gajdosova, or Barty. Even in that scenario, they would need Stosur to sweep her singles rubbers, not as plausible a feat as it sounds considering her habit of embarrassing herself with national pride on the line. The boisterous Czech crowd might lift Kvitova’s spirits, similar to last year’s final when she eked out a victory as Safarova donned the heroine’s garb. But she too has struggled early this year, leaving the stage set for a rollercoaster weekend.
Pick: Czech Republic
Italy vs. USA: To paraphrase the producers who initially turned down the musical Oklahoma: no Williams, no Stephens, no chance. Like that show, which became a smash hit on Broadway, this American Fed Cup team has exceeded expectations in recent years when understaffed. Singles #1 Varvara Lepchenko enjoyed her breakthrough season in 2012, edging within range of the top 20, and Jamie Hampton announced herself with a three-set tussle against eventual champion Azarenka at the Australian Open. Hampered by a back injury in Melbourne, Hampton likely will trump the inconsistent Melanie Oudin after she showed how much her groundstrokes and point construction skills had improved. That said, Oudin has compiled plenty of Fed Cup experience, and her feisty attitude that so often thrives in this setting. Doubles specialist Liezel Huber, although past her prime, should provide a plausible counterweight to the top-ranked doubles squad of Errani and Vinci. The bad news for an American team, however, is the clay surface and the fact that their opposition also has proved themselves greater than the sum of their parts. Both inside the top 20 in singles as well, Errani and Vinci look set to take over from Schiavone and Pennetta as women who rise to the occasion in Fed Cup. Home-court advantage (and the choice of surface that accompanies it) should prove decisive.
Russia vs. Japan: Surprised at home by Serbia in last year’s semifinals, the Russians had become accustomed to playing final after final in Fed Cup during their decade of dominance. Even without the nuclear weapon of Maria Sharapova, the ageless Shamil Tarpischev has assembled troops much superior in quality to the female samurai invading from Japan. All of the Russians rank higher than any of the visitors, while Maria Kirilenko, Ekaterina Makarova, and Elena Vesnina all reached the second week at the Australian Open (Makarova reaching the quarterfinals). And world #31 Pavlyuchenkova reached the final in Brisbane when the new season started, although her production has plummeted since then. At any rate, Tarpischev has many more options for both singles and doubles than does his counterpart Takeshi Murakami, who may lean heavily on the 42-year-old legend Kimiko Date-Krumm. Older fans may recall Date-Krumm’s victory over Steffi Graf in Fed Cup, which came in the friendly confines of Ariake Colosseum rather than Moscow’s sterile Olympic Stadium. Kimiko likely will need a contribution of Ayumi Morita, who just defeated her in Pattaya City last week and has claimed the position of Japanese #1. One could see Date-Krumm or Morita swiping a rubber from Kirilenko or Makarova, neither of whom overpowers opponents. But it’s hard to see them accomplishing more.
Serbia vs. Slovakia: This tie in Nis looked nice a few days ago, slated to feature two gorgeous women—and only slightly less gorgeous games—in Ana Ivanovic and Daniela Hantuchova. Adding a bit of zest was another former #1 Jelena Jankovic, who always has represented Serbia with pride and determination. When both of the Serbian stars withdrew from the weekend, then, the visitors suddenly shifted from slight underdogs to overwhelming favorites. Granted, the hosts still can rely on the services of Bojana Jovanovski, who fell just short of the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in a breakthrough fortnight. Beyond the 15th-ranked Cibulkova, Slovakia brings no woman in the top 50 to Nis. A more dangerous talent than her current position of #58 suggests, though, Hantuchova should fancy her chances on an indoor hard court against whomever Serbian captain Dejan Vranes nominates for singles between Vesna Dolonc and Alessandra Krunic. She has shone in Fed Cup while compiling a 27-12 singles record there, whereas even Jovanovski has played just seven singles rubbers. Hand a slight edge to Slovakia in the doubles rubber as well because of Hantuchova’s experience in that format, where she has partnered with Magdalena Rybarikova (also here) to defeat the Serbs before.
Come back on Monday for previews of the ATP and WTA tournaments next week, following the format of last week’s ATP preview.
Our colleague James Crabtree will tell you everything that you want to know about the looming Federer-Tomic collision in a separate article, while we preview the other matches of note as the first week ends.
Berankis vs. Murray (Rod Laver Arena): Recording his best performance to date here, Berankis cruised through his first two matches in straight sets and yielded just six games to the 25th seed, Florian Mayer. The bad news for him is that Murray has looked equally impressive in demolishing his early opponents, and his counterpunching style suits these courts better than the Lithuanian’s high-risk attack. Shorter than the average player, Berankis can pound first serves of formidable pace and crack fine backhands down the line. So far in his career, though, he has not done either with the consistency necessary to overcome an opponent of Murray’s versatility in a best-of-five format.
Simon vs. Monfils (Hisense Arena): Odd things can happen when two Frenchmen play each other, and odd usually equals entertaining in the first week of a major. Monfils should feel lucky to have reached this stage after tossing nearly 40 double faults in a bizarre start to his tournament, where the nine sets that he has played may hamper him against an opponent as fit and durable as Simon. His compatriot has looked fallible as well, meanwhile, dropping first sets to third-tier challengers Volandri and Levine. Against the quirky arsenal of shots that Monfils deploys stands Simon’s monochrome steadiness, which can look unglamorous but has proved superior in three of their four meetings.
Seppi vs. Cilic (Court 2): A second-week appearance at a hard-court major would mark a fine start to 2013 for Seppi in the wake of his breakthrough 2012, accomplished mostly on his favored clay. For Cilic, the achievement would come as less of a surprise considering his semifinal here three years ago and the ease with which his elongated groundstroke swings suit this surface. Near the middle of last season, he too signaled a revival by winning two small titles and reaching the second week at Wimbledon. Cilic has looked more likely than Seppi this week to build on last season, winning all six of his sets as the Italian narrowly escaped his second round in five.
Raonic vs. Kohlschreiber (Court 3): Seeking his second fourth-round appearance at Melbourne, Raonic passed the ominous test of Lukas Rosol with flying colors. That effort improved greatly upon his uneven effort in the first round, allowing him to conserve energy for his meeting with a flamboyant German. Defying national stereotypes, Kohlschreiber loves to throw caution to the wind by unleashing his cross-court backhand and inside-out forehand at the earliest opportunity, which will test Raonic’s vulnerable two-hander. In this first meeting, he may find the rising star’s serve too great a frustration to keep his composure as he battles to match hold for hold.
Vesnina vs. Vinci (Margaret Court Arena): Fresh from her first career title in Hobart, Vesnina has brought that confidence to the brink of the second week. Solid in most areas but outstanding in none, she faces a crafty Italian who coaxes errors from the unwary with unusual shots like a biting backhand slice. Vinci has become the best women’s doubles player in the world by virtue of an all-court game that compensates in variety for what it lacks in power. Her experience also should earn her a mental edge over the notoriously fragile Vesnina if the match stays close.
Kuznetsova vs. Suarez Navarro (Court 2): This match lies very much on Kuznetsova’s racket, for better or for worse. Armed with one of the WTA’s more picturesque backhands, Suarez Navarro upset top-eight foe Errani and then outlasted a feisty assault from newcomer Yulia Putintseva. But Kuznetsova has cruised through her first two matches with the same brand of controlled aggression that fueled her strong week in Sydney. She lost to the Spaniard on a particularly feckless day at Indian Wells, showing her tendency to cross the line from bold to reckless too easily. Showing that Suarez Navarro has no answers for her best form are the routs that she recorded in their other encounters.
Stephens vs. Robson (Court 2): An encore of a match that Stephens won in Hobart, this battle offers Robson a chance to build upon her epic victory over Kvitova—provided that she can recover in time for another draining match. The Brit showed remarkable resilience despite her youth in that 20-game final set against a Wimbledon champion, although her level fluctuated throughout in a way that Stephens rarely does. Steadily climbing up the rankings, the American also has shown self-belief against even the most elite contenders, so a clash of wills awaits when the serves and forehands of the volatile lefty shot-maker meet the smooth, balanced groundstrokes of the counterpuncher.
Date-Krumm vs. Jovanovski (Court 2): The oldest woman remaining in the draw faces the potential next face of Serbian women’s tennis, young enough to be her daughter. A straightforward power baseliner in the traditional WTA mold, Jovanovski once lost a challenger final to Date-Krumm as she probably struggled to solve the sharp angles of the evergreen Japanese star. Many thought that Date-Krumm would have ended her second career by now, but she has proved them wrong this week with two decisive victories that place her within range of a truly remarkable feat: reaching the second week of a major as a 42-year-old. With much to gain and little to lose, each woman should rise to the occasion in a match of high quality.
By Maud Watson
Week one of the Aussie Open is not yet in the books, but already fans have been treated to some dramatic tennis. One of the most thrilling matches was Brit Laura Robson’s victory over No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova. Yes, Robson had already notched some big wins in her young career at the 2012 US Open, and Kvitova hadn’t yet found her form this season. But the manner in which Robson won her second round encounter against the Czech under the lights of Laver Arena represents yet another stepping stone in her journey as a professional. Down 3-0 in the decider, she stormed back and found herself in a position to serve for the match at 6-5 only to falter see the score line set at 6-all. Lesser players would have crumbled at the missed opportunity, but Robson kept it together, broke in the 19th game, and didn’t blink at the second time of asking. These types of wins build character, and she’s going to need to draw on that experience in her third round against the impressive young American Sloane Stephens, who has been playing the better ball in 2013.
That’s the adjective many of Kimiko Date-Krumm’s past rivals use to describe her as she strives to compete in today’s modern game. But rather than crazy, the Japanese veteran represents living proof that sometimes age is just a number. In her opening match, she not only beat seeded Russian Nadia Petrova, she embarrassed her with a 6-2, 6-0 drubbing. She then battled Peer and the sweltering heat on Thursday to advance to the third round, making her the second-oldest woman to reach that stage behind Renee Richards. She has an excellent chance to keep the magic alive as she takes on Jovanovski in the third round. Though the Serb is half her age, Date-Krumm has won their only meeting. Perhaps she can continue to inspire by booking a place in the second week.
Why me? Why this? Why now? All questions that Brian Baker might have understandably been asking himself as he hobbled to his seat in his second round match. The 27-year-old, who lost years of his career to various injuries and surgeries, was competing in his first Australian Open. He’d reached the second round where he was a set to the good against his compatriot and No. 20 seed, Sam Querrey. But then, on a routine play, he came up lame. After a brief evaluation, the inevitable retirement came, and he was wheeled off the court in a wheelchair. Despite never having knee issues before, it was discovered that he’d torn his meniscus and will be out for at least four months. You don’t like to see this sort of injury happen to any player, but Querrey said it best when he noted that Baker, given all he’s been through, was the last guy who deserved this. Hopefully he still has enough fight in him to overcome this latest setback and come back stronger than ever.
On the heels of Hutchins’ announcement that he’d been diagnosed with the Hodgkin’s lymphoma came the sad news that current Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, Brad Drewett, has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig ’s disease. The disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressively debilitating disease that affects voluntary muscle activity, such as walking, talking, breathing, and other general movements of the body. Understandably, Drewett will need all his energies to focus on his uphill health battle, and so he will be stepping down from his post as soon as a suitable successor can be found. Though he’s only been in charge of the ATP for a little over a year, he’s already helped usher in great improvements, such as increased prize money overall, more compensation for the Grand Slam early-round losers, and has put measures in place to try and speed up the game. He will be greatly missed, but everyone in the tennis community wishes him well as he prepares to take on his biggest challenge to-date.
Seize the Clay
While at this point fans could be forgiven for thinking they’ll believe it when they see it, fingers crossed it seems that Nadal will be returning to the game in a matter of weeks. After pulling out of Oz, it at first appeared the Spaniard would stick to his plan of only playing the 500 event in Acapulco. But then earlier this week, he announced that he would be playing in Brazil and has since confirmed that he will also be competing in Chile in the opening week of February. That’s three tournaments in four weeks, but with latest reports being that his knee is doing extremely well, he should hopefully be up to the challenge. Additionally, provided he’s able to quickly wipe away the cobwebs and settle the nerves that come with a lengthy layoff, it could be an opportunity for him to build confidence and repair his aura has he fully dives into the 2013 season.
Age restrictions on the WTA Tour have wrested dominance from the prepubescent prodigies of old. Week-to-week, players of all ages continue making their mark, all products of their generation. The young guns are fiery, full of determination. Those in their mid-twenties are methodical, but looking for a breakthrough or an escape after nearly a decade at the proverbial grind.
Then there is Kimiko Date-Krumm.
The more we see of the ageless wonder, the surer we are of how she spent those 12 years away from the game. She didn’t spend it marrying German racecar driver Michael Krumm. She wasn’t staying in peak physical condition and running marathons. She certainly couldn’t have been playing tennis, save for an aborted comeback attempt in 2002.
No, it is all clear now. Kimiko spent that decade (or longer) in a time capsule.
After all, how else did she leave the game in the mid-90s only to reemerge in 2008 looking younger than her new crop of rivals, many of whom had yet to be born when the Japanesewoman turned pro (in 1989)? How else did she retain her throwback game, those mercilessly flat groundstrokes and all-court efficiency? How else could she, at (allegedly) 42, be improving at a rate outpacing teenaged players young enough to call Kimiko “Mom?”
Whatever the conspiracy, Date-Krumm should bottle it, sell it, and make millions off of it.
(Then she could buy an island, relax on the beach while maintaining her flawless tan.)
There is plenty of hyperbole here, but only because Kimiko is, in her own subtle way, the most hyperbolic player on the Tour. We as fans and writers enjoy entertaining debates of whether bygone generations could compete in today’s game, yet we fail to sufficiently take notice of this fascinating athletic experiment, one that takes place every time Date-Krumm takes the court.
Coming from an ostensibly extinct era where mental fortitude trumped brute strength, Date-Krumm appears to lack the height and technique of shot to bother the modern player. Yet, most matches involving the Japanesewoman begin and end on her own terms. With bulging biceps, her relentless shots spring from her Yonex racquet like a catapult for screaming winners or unfortunate errors.
With that game plan, Kimiko pummels the ball as well as anyone, and has the resumé to prove it. During the last five years of her incredible second career, she has beaten players like Slam champions like Maria Sharapova, former No. 1s like Dinara Safina and participated in classic matches, none more memorable than her titanic effort against Venus Williams at Wimbledon:
For all she has achieved by simply being on the court, Kimiko continues to come back for more, even after an injury ruined her dream of representing her country at the London Olympics. Riding a wave of confidence and good form at the end of last year, she came to Australia ready to reclaim her giant-killing reputation.
Drawing Nadia Petrova, the No. 12 seed, it looked like an inauspicious start for the Japanesewoman. As well as she had ended 2012, Petrova had hit even higher peaks, and looked primed for a big run at a Slam. Tall and powerful, the Russian is a perfect example of the modern game. But Kimiko proved that her 90s sensibilities were still effective in 2013; she was positively ruthless in a thrilling upset and only allowed the in-form Russian two games.
As other big names were falling around her, Date-Krumm sensed opportunity knocking during her second round encounter with Israeli Shahar Pe’er. Once a formidable opponent, Pe’er alludes to those aforementioned twentysomethings who look as eager for a way out as Date-Krumm is for a way back in. Cruising past the former top 20 player with a set and two breaks, Kimiko looked poised for another effortless victory.
In the oppressive heat and against a reinvigorated Pe’er, however, Date-Krumm would not have the remainder of the match all her own way. But unlike those young enough to be her daughters, for whom “the moment” can crush, the Japanesewoman held her nerve and served out the second round on the second time of asking. Nearly five years after mounting this improbable comeback, Kimiko is in the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time since 1996.
But then, we should have expected this from a woman who only recently awoke from cryogenic sleep. In fact, check her hotel room for the fountain of youth, lest we be forced to deal with the fact that yes, we can get better with age.
Our daily preview series continues with six matches from each Tour.
Haase vs. Murray (Rod Laver Arena): When they met at the 2011 US Open, the underdog nearly stunned the Scot by building a two-set lead. Haase then won just six games over the last three sets as he continued a bizarre career trend of disappearing in matches that he started with a lead. This match marks Murray’s first as a major champion, and one wonders whether the tension that he so often has displayed on these stages will abate in proportion to the pressure. Although he won Brisbane, he looked imperfect in doing so and alluded to some emotional turmoil hovering around him.
Tomic vs. Mayer (RLA): Shortly after he reached the Brisbane final, Grigor Dimitrov experience a rude awakening when he became the first man to crash out of the Australian Open. Sydney champion Tomic must guard against the concern of having peaked too soon after winning his first career title, amidst chatter about his upcoming clash with Federer. But Leonardo Mayer should lack the consistency to pose any sustained challenge, while Tomic has excelled on home soil and reached the second week here last year with victories over much superior opponents.
Tsonga vs. Llodra (Hisense): A battle of two flamboyant Frenchmen rarely fails to entertain, no matter the scoreline. Formerly a finalist and semifinalist here, Tsonga embarks on his first season with coach Roger Rasheed, attempting to rebound from a paradoxical 2012 season in which he stayed in the top eight without conquering anyone in it. Across the net stands a compatriot who shares his fondness for hurtling towards the net and finishing points with sharply slashed volleys. Expect plenty of explosive, staccato tennis from a rollicking match filled with ebbs and flows.
Matosevic vs. Cilic (Margaret Court Arena): Like Haase and Murray, their meeting follows in the wake of some notable US Open history. Extending the Croat to a fifth set there last year, Matosevic built upon the best year of his career that saw him reach the top 50 and become the top Aussie man until Tomic surpassed him in Sydney (both on the court and in the rankings). Cilic has stabilized at a mezzanine level of the ATP since his initial breakthrough in 2008-09, when he looked likely to emulate Del Potro’s accomplishments. Of a similar stature and playing style to the former US Open champion, he appears to lack the competitive will necessary to take the next step forward.
Monfils vs. Dolgopolov (MCA): The first week of a major offers an ideal opportunity to check out unusual shot-makers who usually fall before the tournament’s marquee rounds. Recognizing this potential, the Melbourne schedulers have featured on a show court this fascinating pas de deux between two men who can produce—or at least attempt—any shot in the book. Their match should remind viewers of the imaginative quality to tennis, often lost in this era of fitness and raw power. Both men focus more on the journey than the destination, and style than substance: not a recipe for major titles but certainly a recipe for entertainment.
Haas vs. Nieminen (Court 3): Most had abandoned hope in the German when he started last year outside the top 200. Bursting back into relevance over the spring and summer, the 34-year-old Haas should inspire other men near the twilight of their careers. Among them is Nieminen, a veteran Finnish lefty without much polish but perhaps with enough wrinkles in his game to frustrate the easily ruffled Haas.
Wozniacki vs. Lisicki (Hisense): The world #1 at this tournament last year, Wozniacki has plummeted to the edge of the top 10 while losing four of her last six matches at majors. Despite a hopeful fall, the Danish counterpuncher started this year in deflating fashion with early losses at Brisbane and Sydney, still mired in doubt and anxiety. Lisicki has won two of their three previous meetings behind a booming serve that allowed her to seize and retain control of the points before Wozniacki could settle into neutral mode. Outside the grass season, she struggled even more than her opponent did last year, and a surface that seems very slow may dilute her greatest weapon. In theory, though, her huge game could unnerve Wozniacki again by denying her the rhythm that she prefers.
Suarez Navarro vs. Errani (MCA): A pair of clay specialists meet on a slow, high-bouncing hard court that should not feel too foreign to them. Suarez Navarro has become a credible dark horse in Melbourne, defeating Venus in the second round a few years ago and extending the then-formidable Kvitova to a third set in the same round last year. Meanwhile, Errani reached the quarterfinals at last year’s Australian Open, the first significant result that signaled her breakthrough and thus the first key bundle of points that she must defend.
Schiavone vs. Kvitova (MCA): This match could get gruesome quickly if both of them play as they did earlier in January. At the Hopman Cup, the aging Schiavone struggled to find the service box or her groundstroke timing, while Kvitova struggled to find any part of the court in Brisbane and Sydney. Those efforts prolonged a span in which the former Wimbledon champion has lost seven of her last ten matches, suggesting that she will bring little of the confidence necessary to execute her high-risk game. Schiavone nearly ended Kvitova’s title defense at the All England Club last year, suggesting that this match may contain as much upset potential as Wozniacki-Lisicki.
Oudin vs. Robson (Court 3): Phenoms past and present collide in this meeting of careers headed in opposite directions. While Oudin did resurface last summer with her first career title, she has extracted little from her counterpunching game since the US Open quarterfinal that vaulted her to fame perhaps too early. A highly awaited presence as soon as she won junior Wimbledon, Robson progressed significantly last season in both power and consistency, ultimately reaching the second week of the US Open. Will both of their trends continue, or will Oudin blunt the British lefty’s attack?
Petrova vs. Date-Krumm (Court 6): Surely not much longer on display, the age-defying Date-Krumm merits a trip to the outer courts for her sharply angled groundstrokes and the joy with which she competes. As if one needed any further reason to watch this match, Petrova produces ample entertainment with her percussive serves and crisp volleys, not to mention her bursts of classically Russian angst.
Putintseva vs. McHale (Court 7): As she recovers from the mono that sidelined her last year, the young American might have preferred a less intense opponent than the yowling, perpetually emoting bundle of energy that is Putintseva. The junior exudes with talent as well as aggression, so the quiet McHale cannot take her opponent in this stark clash of personalities too lightly.
Ayumi Morita beat Ksenia Lykina 6-1 6-3 to win the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge women’s event in Toyota City, Japan
Martin Vassallo Arguello won the Lima Challenger 2008, beating Sergio Roitman 6-2 4-6 6-4 in Lima, Peru
Go Soeda beat Hyung-Taik Lee 6-2 7-6 (7) to win the Dunlop World Challenge men’s singles in Toyota City, Japan
Grega Zemlja beat Martin Alund 6-2 6-1 to win the Abierto Internacional Varonil Ciudad de Cancun in Cancun, Mexico
“This was our worst defeat. We had a sinister weekend.” – David Nalbandian, who earned Argentina’s lone point in Spain’s 3-1 Davis Cup victory.
“I think he’s my natural successor. He’s very close to this group of players who are integrated into the nucleus of the team and he’s demonstrated his qualities as a coach by leading Feliciano (Lopez), who has shown notable progression in the last while.” – Emilio Sanchez, on Albert Costa’s prospects for becoming Spain’s Davis Cup captain.
“I am like a machine, fit for every match, and I give my best for all my matches. I have a consistent style of play, which is my major strength and keeps me going. I am fine with the current ATP schedule and love playing tennis, which keeps me going.” – Nikolay Davydenko.
“It goes back to what my dad said: I peaked at 12 years old.” – Jimmy Arias, who in 1980 at the age of 16 became the youngest player to make the main draw of the US Open.
“She will have an opportunity but she will have to earn it.” – Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director on Jelena Dokic playing in a wild card playoff for a direct entry into the first Grand Slam tournament of 2009.
His business manager says Jimmy Connors is “extremely disappointed and embarrassed” about an incident that led to the tennis legend being charged with a misdemeanor. Karen Scott says a man tried to pick a fight with Connors and his son before a basketball game between the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina. Police asked Connors to leave, but the eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion was arrested after he said he wanted to wait for his son to finish watching the game. Connors was charged with disrupting campus activities and refusing to leave a university facility.
The day after leading Spain to its third Davis Cup championship, Emilio Sanchez Vicario retired as captain of the victorious team. “I will not be there for the tie against Serbia,” said Sanchez, referring to Spain’s first-round tie in 2009. “I started something three years ago and the cycle is now complete with this reward for all the players, and I hope that whoever replaces me can share all the magical moments I have experienced.” The next Spanish captain is rumored to be Albert Costa, the 2002 Roland Garros champion.
SAME IN ARGENTINA
Alberto Mancini apparently is through as coach of Argentina’s Davis Cup squad. He announced his resignation just hours after Spain clinched its third Davis Cup title, defeating Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five-matches tie. The fifth match was not played. According to reports, Mancini had planned to resign after the final regardless of the outcome.
As an incentive to play better, Chinese tennis players will be able to keep more of their winnings. China’s players will keep 70 percent of the money they win, twice the amount they have been able to put into the bank. But the country’s top players, including Li Na and Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie, are eligible to keep even more if they do well at Grand Slams and other big tournaments. In China, the sports associations have paid for coaches, travel and other expenses for the players. In making the announcement, Sun Jinfang, head of the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA), didn’t say if the players would now have to pay for some of their own expenses.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could resume their rivalry in their opening 2009 tournament. The world’s top two players are scheduled to play the Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar, which begins January 5. According to Nasser al-Kholiafi, Qatar tennis federation president, the star-filled field will also include Andy Murray and Andy Roddick. The Qatar Open is one of three tournaments that will begin the 2009 ATP season, the others being the Brisbane International in Australia and the Chennai Open in India.
Kimiko Date-Krumm’s latest tournament ended quickly in the singles. Once ranked number five in the world, Date-Krumm lost her second-round match in the 2008 Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament in Toyota, Japan, to Russian wild-card Ksenia Lykina 5-7 7-5 6-3. She did much better in the doubles, teaming with China’s Han Xinyun to reach the final, where they lost to Finland’s Emma Laine and Britain’s Melanie South 6-1 7-5.
Dutch tennis player Raemon Sluiter is returning to the ATP tour after a 10-month retirement. He reached his highest world ranking of number 46 in 2003. The right-hander from Rotterdam turned pro in 1996 and earned a little more than USD $1.6 million in his career. Sluiter began his Davis Cup career in 2001 by upsetting Juan Carlos Ferrero as the Netherlands beat Spain and Germany to reach the World Group semifinals before losing to France. He also has a Davis Cup victory over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
SET TO EXPLODE
A live bomb from World War II was discovered when a court at a British tennis club underwent renovation. The bomb was thought to be a piece of old farm machinery and handed to Steve McLean, chairman of the Greenlaw Tennis Club in Berwickshire, who put it in a bin. Six weeks later, he realized it was a bomb and called police. Army bomb disposal experts took the bomb away so it could be detonated safely.
The first event in a closed tour for Asian players was canceled because of the lack of top players. The Asian Tennis Federation said it was planning a closed Asian Tennis Tour to help Asian players make more money. The first two events were to be held in India in December, a men’s tournament in Pune, followed by a women’s event in Indore. But some of the eight countries who had pledged their participation in the tour ended up nominated their third- or fourth-string players for the tournaments.
John McEnroe hasn’t been quiet about his chances at the BlackRock Masters Tennis championships at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The lefthander, who at the age of 49 is by far the oldest in the eight-man draw, sent a video message to his rivals warning them not to underestimate him. McEnroe’s recent victory in Luxembourg has convinced the American that he can still compete. McEnroe is in a group with American Pete Sampras, Frenchman Cedric Pioline and Britain’s Jeremy Bates. The other group consists of Sweden’s Stefan Edberg, Australian Pat Cash, Britain’s Greg Rusedski and France’s Guy Forget. Jamie Murray, Wimbledon mixed doubles champion in 2007 and the brother of Andy Murray, will play doubles, joining, among others, Peter Fleming, Henri Leconte, Mansour Bahrami, Mark Woodforde and Anders Jarryd. Goran Ivanisevic withdrew from the singles field because he will undergo knee surgery.
SITTING ON TOP
For the third consecutive year, France has more players in the year-ending ATP Top 100 than any other nation. This year, however, Spain has tied France with 14 players in the Top 100. With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at number six and Gilles Simon at number seven, it is the first time since 1986 that two Frenchmen have been in the year-end Top Ten. Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte did it then. Twenty-nine countries are represented in the Top 100. After France and Spain, Argentina has nine players in the Top 100, followed by the United States with eight, Germany and Russia with seven each, Croatia with five, the Czech Republic and Italy with four each, and Serbia and Belgium with three apiece.
STARS FOR SALE
The Heineken Open has reportedly been forced to shell out record appearance fees in order to land a couple of top players for the tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, beginning January 12. The headliners will be world number eight Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina and former champion David Ferrer of Spain. Tournament director Richard Palmer would not reveal the exact amount of appearance fees he had to pay to get the two, but said it was considerably less than the sums some top 10 players were demanding.
Organizers of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas, are smiling these days. Because of the changes in the ATP calendar for 2009, Lleyton Hewitt and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, have committed to the US Clay Court. The Houston event now doesn’t bump up against Davis Cup competition or a popular clay-court tournament in Europe. And it directly follows the Masters 100 tournament in Miami, Florida. “This is a perfect example of how we’ve improved our prospects of getting some players we probably wouldn’t have had a shot at before,” said Van Barry, tennis director of River Oaks Country Club, site of the tournament.
The decrepit courts of the Milan Gale Muskatirovic Sports Centre in Belgrade, Serbia, will be restored in time to hold an ATP tournament in May. Tennis Masters Cup champion Novak Djokovic and his family are behind the changes, having acquired the ATP event only a few weeks ago. The Serbian government, city of Belgrade and municipality of Stari Grad will jointly pay more than USD $1 million for the venture. The courts also will be used by the Serbian Tennis Federation for Fed Cup and Davis Cup practice as well as university competition. When completed, the complex will have seven courts with seating for 5,000 at the Central Court. The restoration is scheduled to be completed by mid-April, two weeks before the tournament will begin.
The Medibank International Sydney 2009 tournament will feature a number of top players, including Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, David Nalbandian and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Officials say the competition will be Sydney’s international sporting event of the Australian summer. Also in the field will be Russian Elena Dementieva and Frenchman Richard Gasquet, while Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt will be gunning for his fifth title in the tournament.
STICKING WITH IT
Argentina’s David Nalbandian refuted rumors that he is considering quitting his country’s Davis Cup team because of its loss to Spain. “For me it’s really an honor to represent my country. I’m going to continue defending these colors in the best way possible. For me, playing Davis Cup is the best and I’m upset that people have doubted me.” Nalbandian won the opening singles in the three-day competition, beating David Ferrer. But he and Agustin Calleri lost their doubles match and his “reverse singles” match was never played because Spain had already wrapped up its victory. “We’ve played in two Davis Cup finals in the last three years and I still think we can win it,” Nalbandian said.
SET FOR CHENNAI
India’s two top-ranked singles players, Somdev Devvarman and Prakash Amritraj, have been given wild cards into the Chennai Open tournament scheduled to begin January 5. The third wild card into the main singles draw has been offered to Lukas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic, who will partner India’s Leander Paes in the doubles. India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner, Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, have also entered the tournament. While Paes and Bhupathi are India’s best-known players, neither play singles that much any more.
Anne Pittman, who coached Arizona State’s women’s tennis program for 30 years, died in Tempe, Arizona, after suffering a stroke. She was 90 years old. Pittman guided ASU to a 338-71 record from 1954 through 1984 and led the Sun Devils to national championships in 1971, 1972 and 1974. In 1995, she was selected as one of the charter members and only coach into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. During her tenure, the women’s tennis coach was considered a volunteer position. Pittman refused to retire until funding was approved during the 1983-84 season to make the coach a paid, full-time position.
Toyota (women): Emma Laine and Melanie South beat Kimiko Date-Krumm and Han Xinyun 6-1 7-5
Lima: Luis Horna and Sebastian Prieto beat Ramon Delgado and Julio Silva 6-3 6-3
Toyota (men): Frederik Nielsen and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Chen Ti and Gazegorz Panfil 7-5 6-3
Cancun: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Lee Hsin-Han and Yang Tsung-Hua 7-5 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/
WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
BlackRock Masters Tennis, London, England, carpet
Andy Roddick won the China Open by beating Dudi Sela 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 in Beijing, China
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 6-4 to win the Thailand Open in Bangkok, Thailand
Jelena Jankovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win the China open women’s singles in Beijing
Maria Kirilenko defeated Samantha Stosur to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea, 2-6 6-1 6-4
Alberto Martin beat Julian Reister 6-2 6-0 to win the ATP Challenger Trophy 2008 in Trnava, Slovakia
John McEnroe won the Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg, beating Henri Leconte 6-1 6-4
Jim Courier beat Todd Martin 6-2 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Citadel Group Championships at The Palisades in Charlotte, North Carolina
“I’ve been dreaming about this, so I’m very happy. I played unbelievable tennis against Novak. It’s one of the great moments of my life.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Thailand Open, his first ATP singles title.
“I lost to a great player. Bravo to Jo and his team for his first ATP title. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again often in the future.” – Novak Djokovic.
“This feels really good. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve won one of these events, so many that I can’t even remember the last one I won.” – John McEnroe, after beating Henri Leconte to win the Vivium Victory Challenge.
“At first I couldn’t believe it. I thought that maybe they were joking or something. Me, playing with all these great players like Borg, McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Henri Leconte, is incredible. When I started to play tennis, Borg was my idol, so this is the most fantastic thing for me.” – Johny Goudenbour, who was given a wild card to play in a BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Luxembourg.
“If I was more consistent I think I would be ranked higher, maybe Top 10 or Top 15. But I have time to improve. I’m only 21 and I’ll get more experience in the time to come.” – Maria Kirilenko, after winning her third singles title of the year.
“Svetlana beat me two times this year. I was really motivated to get a win against her, and winning in two sets is very satisfying.” – Jelena Jankovic, after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the China Open.
“I’m disappointed. I wasn’t moving the ball or doing the right things on the court. I love playing here, so it was disappointing to not play well in the final.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“This was a good win for me. It was in China and in front of my home crowd. There were lots of fans supporting me, which gave me even more motivation.” – Zheng Jie, after upsetting Ana Ivanovic in the China Open.
“I was defending a lot. It was like running a marathon out there. She was really aggressive and was dominating a lot. I didn’t even realize how much I was running out there.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Zheng Jie.
“I had a lot of pressure on me during those years and I was too young for it. … This time, win or lose, I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’m going to have more fun. And I think this will be good for Japanese tennis too.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, on her returning to tennis after a 12-year hiatus following her retirement.
“I didn’t feel comfortable on court. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. The other guy was better than me.” – Marat Safin, after suffering a 6-4 7-6 first-round loss to Philipp Petzschner at the Thailand Open.
“Roger (Federer) has said he wants to put the Davis Cup into his calendar, but he wants to see all the details first. He will do anything possible to be there.” – Swiss Tennis spokeswoman Sandra Perez on whether Federer will play in a first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States.
“I will have to digest this one and make sure I go back on the right track for the next few tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo, a former world number one who has lost her last two first-round matches.
“People tend to think athletes have a glamorous life, traveling all the time to international destinations and staying at five-star hotels. But in reality it is not all that great. We do go through some difficult moments in our careers, with struggles, intrigues and fights, like in any other job.” – Fernando Meligeni, who has written a book about his 14-year career as a professional tennis player.
“As an American player it meant a lot to me to break the record. It’s nice to have the opportunity to play so many great pro circuit events in this country. I’ve played most of the pro circuit events held in the US and have met a lot of wonderful people, and have a lot of good memories from the different tournaments.” – Julie Ditty, after becoming the new record-holder of the most career USTA Pro Circuit titles.
SERVING WITH THE STARS
Johny Goudenbour’s day job is with the local tourist board in Luxembourg. But he lived a dream this past week at the Vivium Victory Challenge, a stop on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Goudenbour was Luxembourg’s highest ranked tennis player for six consecutive years in the 1980s, and he reached a career high world ranking of 304. Now 45 years old, Goudenbour still plays inter-club level tennis in neighboring Germany, but his main job these days is putting together cultural films promoting his home town. He was surprised when he received a telephone call offering him a wild card into the seniors tournament being played in Luxembourg. Goudenbour upset both Carl-Uwe Steeb and Cedric Pioline before losing to Henri Leconte 6-2 7-5.
With tennis tournaments scheduled for the country in November, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has expressed its concern to Pakistan about security. A Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) offical said the ITF did not call for cancellation of the events, but asked for details on security arrangements in view of travel advisories issued by the United States, European and other countries. A record number of players from Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Romania, Kazakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and India have entered the first tournament, which will be held in Islamabad.
His lawyer says Nikolay Davydenko is considering suing the ATP to get the men’s tennis organization to pay the Russian’s legal costs following a 13-month gambling inquiry that found no evidence that he did anything wrong. Attorney Frank Immenga said Davydenko wants the ATP to issue a more positive press statement and “maybe apologize,” according to the Bloomberg news agency. Davydenko also is considering taking action against Betfair Ltd., the British gambling site, for making public details of its probe into a Davydenko match.
Andy Roddick says the game of tennis in the United States is in good health despite no American man winning a Grand Slam title in five years. Roddick was the last American man to win a major, the US Open in 2003. But the former world number one notes that the United States has three players in the top 25 and two in the top ten. Plus, he points out that the US won the Davis Cup in 2007 and the fact that the brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the world’s top-ranked doubles team. “If you compare us with other countries, we’re very, very strong,” Roddick said.
Zheng Jie is proving her Wimbledon showing was no surprise. The right-hander upset second-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-4 at the China Open in a quarterfinal baseline slugfest that lasted six minutes short of three hours. It was Zheng’s second straight win over her Serbian opponent in as many 2008 meetings. She beat Ivanovic at Wimbledon to become the first Chinese player to topple a reigning world number one. It also was her first Top 10 win. In the Beijing tournament, she also beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, giving Zheng her second and third career wins over players ranked in the Top 10.
SPORTS HALL INDUCTEE
Billie Jean King is in yet another hall of fame. The tennis great is one of four athletes elected to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). Others included in the 2009 class are baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry, football tight end Dave Casper and quarterback Craig Morton. The four will be inducted at a banquet March 9 in San Francisco.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver has been elected a Life Trustee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Nine new members have been elected to the Hall’s board of directors: Douglas Fonte, Lucy Garvin, Elizabeth Jeffett, Ted Leonsis , Andrew McElwee Jr., David Westin, Allen Brill, David Tyree and Nancy von Auersperg. Returning to the board are Robert Downey, Steve Lessing and Sue Ann Weinberg.
Simone Bolelli has been banned by the Italian Tennis Federation from national team events for skipping the country’s Davis Cup matches with Latvia. Bolelli, ranked 45th in the world, chose instead to play tour events in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Tokyo, Japan. Bolelli said he told Italian Davis Cup captain Corrado Barrazzutti well in advance of the international team competition that he preferred to work on his fast-court game in Asia.
For the second time in nine years, the United States could face a Roger Federer-led Switzerland team when the two countries meet in a first-round Davis Cup match next year. The last time they faced each other, Federer won three points to lead Switzerland to victory in 2001. Spain and Argentina, this year’s finalists, will begin next year’s play at home, Argentina facing the Netherlands and Spain playing host to Serbia. In other World Group first-round matches, France will be at the Czech Republic, Chile at Croatia, Israel travels to Sweden and Austria goes to Germany.
SHRIVER CHARITY CLASSIC
US Open champion Serena Williams and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva will face each other at the 23rd annual Pam Shriver Charity Tennis Classic in November. Williams is ranked number one in the world, while Dementieva is ranked number four. They will meet in a “Battle of Olympic Gold Medal Champions.” Williams teamed with her sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
SAYING IT ALL
Former ATP star Fernando Meligeni has turned author. His book – “Aqui Tem! Vitórias e Memórias de Fernando Meligeni com Andre Kfouri” – was released last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The book was written by Meligeni and Andre Kfouri, a well-known sports journalist in Brazil who currently is working for ESPN. Ranked as high as 25th in the world, Meligeni was a French Open semifinalist in 1999. He said he wrote the book to unveil some funny and stressful behind-the-scenes moments of his 14-year career on the tour.
Julie Ditty is the new record-holder for most career USTA Pro Circuit championships. The 29-year-old swept the singles and doubles titles at a recent ITF Women’s Circuit event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earning her 31st and 32nd career USTA Pro Circuit titles, the most of any player, man or woman. On the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the 29-year-old Ditty’s best result came last November when she reached the semifinals of an event and broke into the Top 100 for the first time. The previous record of 30 titles was held jointly by Paul Goldstein and Nana Smith.
SIXTH SENSE ACADEMY
Justine Henin and Carlos Rodrigez have opened a tennis academy in Florida. The superstar player, who was ranked number one in the world when she retired from the sport earlier this year, and her coach opened their second 6th Sense Tennis Academy, this one in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, located 30 miles northwest of Orlando. Their first academy was opened in Belgium almost a year ago.
When Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins won the doubles at China Open, it was their first title as a team. The 32-year-old Huss had won two other doubles crowns, including Wimbledon in 2005 with Wesley Moodie. Hutchins, nine years younger than his partner, won his first title in just his second ATP final. But Hutchins has done well in Beijing, having reached the semifinals last year when he was teamed with Eric Butorac. Huss and Hutchins became partners in Valencia, Spain, in April where they lost in the first round. Prior to winning in Beijing, their best result had been reaching the third round at Roland Garros.
SHARAPOVA OUT FOR YEAR
Because of her lingering shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova has decided to stop playing tournaments until next year. She is currently in Arizona where she is rehabilitating her shoulder. The injury has kept her from practicing the past several weeks, but she hopes to return to practice soon. She has decided to skip tournaments in Asia, Europe and the season-ending Championships. Sharapova won the Australian Open in January along with two other singles titles and has been ranked number one in the world this year.
Beijing: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Wozniacki beat Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan 6-1 6-3
Bangkok: Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei beat Vera Dushevina and Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-0
Beijing: Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins beat Ashley Fisher and Bobby Reynolds 7-5 6-4
Bangkok: Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 6-4 7-6 (4)
Trnava: David Zkoch and Igor Zelenay beat Daniel Koellerer and Michael Mertinak 6-3 6-1
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard
$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard
$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard
$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,000,000 ATP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
$800,000 IF Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
$755,000 Bank Austria TennisTrophy, Vienna, Austria, hard
$1,340,000 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
BlackRock Tour of Champions, Budapest, Hungary, carpet
Dinara Safina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-3 to win the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan
Vera Zvonareva won the TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open in Guangzhou, China, by defeating Shuai Peng 6-7 (4) 6-0 6-2
Florent Serra beat Albert Montanes 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Open in Szczecin, Poland
Nuria Llagostera Vives beat Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2 6-3, winning the ITF women’s event in Sofia, Bulgaria
Stefan Edberg won the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris, France, by beating Sergi Bruguera 3-6 7-5 10-5 (match tiebreak)
“Today I play an almost perfect match and it is very, very exciting. Today I played very well. I shocked myself with some of the winners I played, was near perfect tennis.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating Andy Roddick 6-4 6-0 64 and giving Spain an unbeatable 3-1 lead over the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals.
“God knows how far I can get! I’ve played the best tennis I’ve ever played this week.” – Dinara Safina, after winning the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, her fourth title this year.
“I had the confidence to do this, and as we say in Russia, ‘If you don’t take risks, you don’t drink champagne.'” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after upsetting Jelena Jankovic.
“I played well at the US Open and it is challenging to keep the intensity up after such a big event.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Pacific Open quarterfinals.
“One of my goals has always been to get as close as possible to the top and to make it to the Sony Ericsson Championships. Making it to Doha just shows me that I’ve been doing a few things right this season, so I am just very happy about my qualification.” – Elena Dementieva, after becoming the fifth player to qualify for the eight-player, season-ending Championships.
“It was an annoying call for me and I just asked him to change them, that’s all I did. Who knows, maybe I overreacted, but I was so irritated by the call because for me it was such an obvious call.” – Roger Federer, asking that the line judges be removed during his Davis Cup match against Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen.
“If Roger himself is complaining about the people, with the umpire and the line umpires … that is a really good sign to me that I was not the only one.” – Kristof Vliegen.
“That point was crucial. I hit a nice shot (on the replayed point), I felt different in the tiebreak, and I could turn it around.” – David Nalbandian, who got a break on a controversial call and went on to defeat Igor Andreev in the opening match of Argentina-Russia Davis Cup semifinal.
“It’s not only we who have the pressure. The chair umpire has the pressure of the crowd as well, and sometimes they make the wrong decision, but he is an experience umpire. I have to call it bad luck for me, but it did change the game.” – Russia’s Igor Andreev, who lost to Argentina’s David Nalbandian after a controversial call in the first-set tiebreak changed the momentum of their Davis Cup match.
“We’re looking for other partners. It’s a shame because we worked hard to try to make it work. It just didn’t quite click.” – Jamie Murray, on the breakup of his doubles partnership with Max Mirnyi.
“Everything you learn can also help you on faster courts and help you change strategies mid-match. I am looking forward to developing Australian youngsters into top tennis players.” – Spain’s Felix Mantilla, who has been hired to teach clay-court tennis to young Australian players.
“The only sport I do follow is tennis. Tennis is much more civilized, and civilization is something I search for in everything, every day.” – singer Tony Bennett.
Dinara Safina won her fourth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the year by beating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1 6-3 in the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan. Since beginning the season with an 11-10 record, Safina has posted a 41-5 mark, reaching seven finals in nine events. With the win she becomes only the fifth Russian to crack the top three in the rankings, joining Anatasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova, Kuznetsova and Nadia Petrova. It also was the fifth all-Russian WTA Tour final of the year.
SHADOW FROM THE PAST
Kimiko Date-Krumm, who has returned to tennis after a 12-year hiatus, will compete in the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships later this month. Once ranked as high as number four in the world, Date-Krumm turns 38 on the eve of the tournament. She has been playing on the ITF women’s circuit in Japanese tournaments only and her ranking has risen to 264th in the world.
Ivo Karlovic had 39 aces and 70 winners in his 7-6 (5) 6-4 6-7 (6) 7-6 (4) win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, a victory that returned Croatia to the World Group for 2009. Roko Karanusic earned his first Davis Cup victory in his fourth attempt, beating Brazil’s Thiago Alves 7-6 (4) 4-6 7-6 (5).
In a rare show of frustration, Roger Federer asked that the line judges be changed after he felt he received a bad call in a Davis Cup match, leading to his losing serve and falling behind Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen 2-0 in the second set. The team of nine officials stayed on court until the next changeover, and they were booed by the partisan Swiss crowd as they left. After the new line judges were brought on, Federer won the next five games to take the set en route to his 7-6 (1) 6-4 6-2 first-day victory.
A controversial line call in another Davis Cup semifinal helped Argentina’s David Nalbandian defeat Russia’s Igor Andreev 7-6 (5) 6-2 6-4 in the opening match of the tie. Andreev was leading 4-2 in the first-set tiebreak when Nalbandian’s forehand hit the net cord and was called out. Andreev walked up to the mark in the clay and ringed it, but umpire Carlos Bernardes came down from his chair, inspected the mark and agreed with the line call. Instead of Andreev leading 5-2 with two minibreaks, they replayed the point, which Nalbandian won. The Argentine went on to win four of the next five points and the opening set.
Gigi Fernandez and Wendy White Prausa are among the four newest members of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Women’s Hall of Fame. Also inducted were Alice Luthy Tym, the former head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Janice Metcalf Cromer. Tym started the women’s team and served as its captain while an undergraduate at the University of Florida before playing internationally. Fernandez won 17 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals, while Prausa is the only women’s tennis player to turn pro during college and still graduate on time. Cromer was the first woman to play on the men’s team at the University of Redlands, helping lead the team to NAIA national championships in 1973 and ’74.
Jelena Jankovic keeps missing that top rung of the WTA Tour rankings. The Serb was ranked number one in the world for the first time in her career on August 11, but stayed there for only one week. She had another chance at the US Open, but lost the final to Serena Williams, who took over the top spot. The second-ranked Jankovic would have replaced Williams if she won the Pacific Open in Tokyo. But she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 7-5 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
SPOT IN DOHA
Elena Dementieva is the latest player to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar. Others who have qualified for the November 4-9 event are Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Ana Ivanovic. The top eight singles players and top four doubles team will compete for the Championships title. Dementieva, the Olympic singles gold medalist, was a semifinalist at the US Open and is currently ranked number five in the world.
Alexander Peya defeated Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 in the decisive fifth match to return Austria to the World Group for the sixth straight year. The tie was played at Wimbledon and it was Pey’s first Davis Cup win on grass in four attempts. Andy Murray had leveled the tie for Great Britain when he began the final day with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-1 win over Austria’s Jurgen Melzer.
Thiemo De Bakker lifted the Netherlands back into the World Group for the first time since 2006 by beating South Korea’s Woong-Sun Jun 6-2 6-1 6-3 in the decisive fifth rubber. Korean veteran Hyung-Taik Lee had leveled the tie 2-2 in the first reverse singles by stopping Jesse Huta Galung 1-6 6-1 7-6 (5) 6-2.
The doubles partnership of Jamie Murray and Max Mirnyi has ended after winning just one ATP title, that coming at Delray Beach, Florida, in February when they beat brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The team of Murray and Mirnyi had a 15-17 record for the year, including first-round losses at three of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The country that produced Rod Laver and Margaret Court among many tennis stars in the past is turning to Spain for its future. Tennis Australia has hired Felix Mantilla of Spain as a clay-court coach to work with its young players. The governing body also will add a clay-court facility in Barcelona, Spain, to its training bases in Canberra and London. Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione are the only Australian men currently ranked in the top 100, while number 48 Casey Dellacqua and number 73 Samantha Stosur are the country’s top women.
The United States government’s takeover of American International Group Inc. won’t affect the sponsorship of the AIG Japan Open tennis tournament in Tokyo. AIG is the title sponsor of the men’s and women’s event that offers nearly USD $1 million in prize money. The US government received 80 percent of AIG’s shares in the USD $85 billion deal to rescue America’s largest insurer by assets.
The International Tennis Federation and Wilson Racquet Sports have extended their sponsorship agreement to include Wilson as the Official Ball of Davis Cup, Fed Cup and other ITF initiatives in a multi-year deal. Wilson has been involved in Davis Cup since 2002. Under this expanded agreement, Wilson will be the official ball for Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the ITF’s junior team competitions at the under-14 and under-16 level. In addition, Wilson will be the exclusive supplier of tennis rackets, shoes, clothing and accessories to the ITF Development Coaching Team.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is breathing much easier now that AEGON has signed on to sponsor the sport over the next five years. The Scottish pensions and life assurance company has acquired the naming rights to tournaments in London, Eastbourne and Edgbaston. Beginning next June, the combined men’s and women’s event at Eastbourne will be renamed the AEGON International. Queens Club, formerly the Stella Artois, will be renamed the AEGON Championships, while the AEGON Classic will be played at Edgbaston.
Romanians Irina-Camelia Begu and Laura-Iona Andrei are doubles partners and opponents. And they’re successful at both. The 18-year-old Begu beat the top-seeded Andrei 7-5 6-1 to win the singles title at a recent USD $10,000 ITF tournament in Budapest, then teamed with Begu to win the doubles. Begu successfully defended her singles title and joined with Andrei to win the doubles at another ITF women’s event the week before in Brasov, Romania. In fact, Begu has won the doubles in her last five tournaments, teaming with Andrei at Budapest, Brasov and Bucharest, Romania; pairing with Elora Dabija at Hunedoara, Romania, and playing with Ioana Gaspar in another Bucharest tournament. All have been USD $10,000 clay-court events.
Three fans have been charged with riotous behavior and assaulting police at the Australian Open in January. According to police, the three men became aggressive when police attempted to remove one of them for shouting obscenities at Chile’s Fernando Gonzales during his match against Konstantinos Economidis of Greece. One of the men, a 24-year-old from a Melbourne, Australia, suburb, was also charged with resisting arrest and discharging a missile. The confrontation in the stands caused the match to be suspended for 10 minutes.
The Maria Sharapova Foundation Scholarship for Youth from the Chernobyl-Affected Areas of Belarus will award five-year scholarships to 12 students so they can study at two leading universities in Belarus. The program is a joint initiative of the tennis star’s foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), where she serves as Goodwill Ambassador. Sharapova’s foundation has already contributed USD $100,000 to youth-oriented projects in the regions of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine that were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. Three incoming students will be awarded scholarships each year over an initial four-year period. The first scholarship recipients will begin their studies in September 2009.
Known for its shoes and clothing, Adidas is getting ready to include racquets in their line of tennis goodies. The first of the three racquets, the Adidas Barricade, will go on sale in February. The other two are called Response and Feather, as all three are named for the company’s tennis shoes. The three racquets will provide a racquet for every player level: tour player, club player and recreational player.
Tokyo: Vania King and Nadia Petrova beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-1 6-4
Guangzhou: Mariya Koryttseva and Tatiana Poutchek beat Sun Tiantian and Yan Zi 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Sofia: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Lourdes Dominguez-Lino and Arantxa Parra-Santonja 7-6 (4) 7-6 (9)
Szczecin: David Marrero and Dawid Olejniczak beat Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 7-6 (4) 6-3
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$576,000 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard
$524,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard
$120,000 ATP Challenger Trophy, Trnava, Slovakia
$600,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard
$145,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard
The Citadel Group Championships at the Palisades, Outback Champions, Charlotte, North Carolina, hard
Viviam Victory Challenge, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard
$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard
$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard
$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet
Andy Murray edged Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters at Cincinnati, Ohio
Dinara Safina won the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-1
Caroline Wozniacki beat Vera Dushevina 6-0 6-2 to win the Nordic Light Open in Stockholm, Sweden
Filippo Volandri beat Oscar Hernandez 6-3 7-5 to win the Zucchetti Kos Tennis Cup in Cordenons, Italy
Dudi Sela defeated Kevin Kim 6-3 6-0 in Vancouver, Canada, to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open men’s singles
Urszula Radwanska won the women’s singles at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open by beating Julie Coin 2-6 6-3 7-5
Patrick Rafter beat Michael Stich 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the s-Tennis Masters in Graz, Austria
“Since I was a young girl it has been my dream to become number one in the world. When you get older, at least one day you can say you were number one and no one can take that away from you. You are in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour history books, and it’s a great achievement.” – Jelena Jankovic, who will take over the number one spot on August 11.
“Right now I know I’m going to be number one and I’m very, very happy to be number one. It’s a present for a lot of work in the past.” – Rafael Nadal, who will replace Roger Federer as number one on August 18.
“I secured the world number one ranking spot. I’ve never been number one in the world before, so finally I made that.” – Michael Stich, who replaced Goran Ivanisevic atop the BlackRock Tour of Champions rankings.
“It’s huge to win your first sort of major tournament, and to do it in a match like today makes it more special … I put in a lot of work off the court to be able to win these sort of tournaments, and it makes it all worthwhile.” – Andy Murray, after beating Novak Djokovic to capture the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati.
“He was playing a lot of slice and changing pace to my forehand. I just lost the rhythm. Overall I wasn’t really happy with the way I played today. I could have played better.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Andy Murray.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve won back-to-back tournaments. I used to win a tournament then lose first round the next week. But now I’m always just taking it one match at a time. It’s a new experience for me and really just amazing.” – Dinara Safina, after winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
“This was a great experience. Every round I beat a better player than me. I played really well in this tournament. Hopefully in my next final I will be more relaxed and not be scared about it.” – Dominika Cibulkova, after losing to Dinara Safina in Montreal.
“It’s been a fantastic week. But it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I was a little bit nervous in the second set when she came back.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning her first WTA Tour title, the Nordic Light Open, in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We’re going into the Olympics playing, I think, the best we have all year. To beat a great team like Andy (Ram) and Jonathan (Erlich), who have had a tremendous year, it bodes well.” – Mike Bryan, after he and his brother Bob won the doubles title in Cincinnati.
“It hurts me so much to miss the Olympics and the U.S. Open, you have no idea.” – Maria Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam tournament winner who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury.
“Rainer Schuettler claims that he should be allowed to compete in the Games, considering that he has been entered by the German NOC [National Olympic Committee] and that he is eligible as a result of his position in the ITF computer ranking, due to the withdrawal of some players who were qualified for the Olympic tournament.” – Court of Arbitration for Sport, in a statement.
SET FOR NUMBER ONE – 1
Even though his match win streak was ended, Rafael Nadal will replace Roger Federer on top of the ATP rankings. He just has to wait a little bit for his crown. Nadal, who spent a record 158 weeks as the world’s number two player, assured himself of the top ranking when he beat Nicolas Lapentti in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters. But because he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, Nadal won’t move ahead of Federer until August 18, the day after the Beijing Olympic tennis ends. Federer has been ranked number one in the world for a record 235 consecutive weeks. Nadal’s loss to Djokovic snapped his 32-match winning streak, but he will become the 24th player in the history of the ATP rankings to hold the number one spot. He also will be the third Spaniard to be number one, joining Carlos Moya (1999) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003).
SET FOR NUMBER ONE – 2
Jelena Jankovic will take over the number one ranking in women’s tennis, replacing countrywoman Ana Ivanovic. The switch will occur on August 11 when Jankovic will have 3,620 points – eight more than Ivanovic, the French Open champion. Ivanovic was the first player from Serbia to be ranked number one. Now Serbia will have back-to-back number one players. While Jankovic will become the 18th player to be ranked number one in women’s tennis, she will be the first to reach the top without ever having played in a Grand Slam tournament final. Besides Jankovic and Ivanovic, others to be ranked number one are Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles, Amelie Mauresmo, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova.
Caroline Wozniacki needed two victories on the final day to capture her first WTA Tour title. Because rain washed out the semifinals on Saturday, the fourth-seeded Dane began Sunday in Stockholm, Sweden, by upsetting top-seeded and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-1. Wozniacki then completed the best week of her career by crushing Vera Dushevina 6-0 6-2 to win the Nordic Light Open. Wozniacki didn’t lose a set in her five matches as she became the first Danish player to win a WTA Tour singles title. Tine Scheuer-Larsen of Denmark won seven doubles titles in the 1980s and 1990s.
Maria Sharapova will miss both the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. Open because of two small tears in her right shoulder muscle. An MRI revealed the tears after she withdrew from the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Doctors said time would heal the injury. The Russian righthander won the U.S. Open two years ago and was ranked number one in the world going into the French Open in May. She has since dropped to number three in the rankings. Sharapova has played in each of the past 23 major championships, winning
Wimbledon in 2004 and the Australian Open in January as well as the U.S. Open.
Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein are the latest withdrawals from the Olympic tennis tournament because of injuries. Chela was replaced by countryman Agustin Calleri, while Vogt was replaced in the women’s singles by Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand.
SPOT FOR SCHUETTLER?
Rainer Schuettler wants to participate in the tennis competition at the Beijing Olympics. Ranked number 33 in the world, the German has asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to order the International Tennis Federation to enter him in the men’s singles competition at the Beijing Games. The ITF used the ATP and WTA rankings as a guide to determine who gets the 56 direct spots in the men’s and women’s singles competitions. Six of the remaining eight spots in each tournament were given out by the ITF’s Olympic Committee. Each country, however, is limited to a maximum of six players in each tournament, with up to four competing in singles and up to two teams in doubles.
SMASHING FOR CHARITY
Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport and James Blake will be among those playing at a charity event hosted by America’s top doubles team. The Bryan Brothers’ All-Star Tennis Smash will be held in Los Angeles on September 27 and will benefit local and national charities. “We were thrilled when Andre committed to play at our event,” Bob Bryan said. “On the court, he’s of course long been a hero of ours. Off the court, he’s been a mentor to us as we’ve watched him build the Andre Agassi Foundation.”
Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg will team up for a special doubles event on November 20 in Macau. The two five-time Wimbledon winners will face John McEnroe and either Rafael Nadal or James Blake at The Venetian Macau Tennis Showdown in a Tour of Champions event. McEnroe’s partner will come from the country that loses the Davis Cup semifinal between the United States and Spain in September. The Showdown will also feature two singles matches – a one-set match between Borg and McEnroe, followed by a best-of-three sets between Federer and either Nadal or Blake.
Dinara Safina just keeps winning. The Russian right-hander won her third tournament title in her last six events by crushing Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-1 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Safina, the sister of two-time Grand Slam tournament champion Marat Safin, improved her record to 27-3 since the start of May. Nine of those victories have come against top ten players, including handing Justine Henin her career-ending loss.
With the key part of the hard court season beginning, Andy Roddick has been felled by a shoulder injury. Roddick was forced out of the Cincinnati Masters because of the injury, which he said he got from sleeping in the wrong position. The American decided to skip the Beijing Olympics so he could prepare for the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open. But Roddick has suffered a series of disappointing results this summer, including a second-round loss at Wimbledon.
His match interrupted at times by torrential rain and lightning storms, Pat Rafter nevertheless captured his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title in Graz, Austria. The Australian produced some impressive serve-and-volley tennis to beat Michael Stich 6-4 7-6 (4). Despite the loss, Stich, by reaching the final, moved to the top of the South African Airways rankings, replacing Goran Ivanisevic as number one.
Kimiko Date-Krumm ran her winning streak to three straight tournaments when she captured a $25,000 International Tennis Federation tournament in Obihiro, Japan, beating Suchanun Viratprasert of Thailand 6-3 7-6 (5) in the final. The 37-year-old Date-Krumm also won two other titles in Japan in recent weeks, in Myazaki and Tokyo.
Cincinnati: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 4-6 7-6 (2) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Montreal: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-1
Stockholm: Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4
Cordenons: Marco Crugnola and Alessic Di Mauro beat David Skoch and Igor Zelenay 1-6 6-4 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Vancouver: Eric Butorac and Travis Parrott beat Rik De Voest and Ashley Fisher 6-4 7-6 (3)
Vancouver: Carley Gullickson and Nicole Kriz beat Christina Fusano and Junri Namigata 6-7 (4) 6-1 10-5 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Los Angeles: www.countrywideclassic.com
Vale do Lobo: www.grandchampions.org
Olympics: www. Itftennis.com/Olympics/
Bryan brothers: www.bryanbrosfoundation.org/invite/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$483,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, hard
$100,000 ATP Challenger, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$175,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard