Flavia Pennetta has been a force on the WTA Tour for over ten years, but she only broke through the top echelons of women’s tennis back in 2009 when she became Italy’s first top 10 singles player in history. I had a chance to chat with the bubbly, pleasant, and smiling Flavia during the Sony Ericsson Open as she shared insights about her unforgettable 2009 U.S. Open match against Vera Zvonareva, dancing, beach volleyball, Monica Seles and Angelina Jolie.
What is your most memorable moment on court?
U.S. Open against Vera Zvonareva in 2009. Was a really nice match. I won 6-0 in the third set with 7, or 6, match points.
Is that the one in which Vera was ripping the tape off her knees?
How was that experience in the moment?
It was intense. It was good for me because I won, but not for her. (Laughs)
What is the best part of being a tennis player?
To have the chance to travel and see different places and meet different people, so that when you stop playing, you have friends everywhere. (Laughs)
If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?
I always like different sports. Maybe I would play volleyball or horse (be an equestrian).
Do you like to cross-train with volleyball?
I love to play beach volleyball when I’m at the beach. (Laughs)
If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?
(Long pause) Maybe … I never played against Monica Seles. I met her because I was at the tour during the last two years she was playing. She was my idol when I was young, and I never played against her, so maybe against her.
She did that show, like “Dancing with the Stars.”
I didn’t see her! But they told me she was really good.
Would you ever want to do that?
Ooof! (Laughs) Maybe one single time, I can do that. But if it’s every Saturday like it is in Italy, would be tough. But one time? Would be fun.
If you are hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite and why?
My friends. Gisela [Dulko] for sure! (Thinking) Gisela … Gisela …….. Gisela! Doubles partners are the best. Of course, Francesca. I like to spend time with different people, but most of the time I like to be with my friends because it would be the most beautiful party.
Do you have any superstitions on court?
No. Well, on court? (Pause) No. I’m not …. No. (Laughs)
If you could have dinner with any three people, who would it be and why?
Brad Pitt. And also Angelina [Jolie]. She’s nice, really nice. I like her a lot.
Did you meet her ever?
No, but I have one friend who is a friend of Angelina’s and she told me Angelina is a really nice person. I really like her when I watch her on TV because I think she is a really good actress, but I’ve never met her. So maybe when you meet someone … they maybe will disappoint. Most of the time it’s like this, because when you feel so much respect for someone, you just think ‘They are going to be perfect’ and then when you meet them, it’s not like this. So you get disappointed.
I think I would also like to eat with Valentino Rossi because he is one of my best friends. So, I love to spend with him. And another one? Wait, I said three.
Well, and my mom. (Laughs)
On This Day In Tennis History Is Latest Book Release From New Chapter Press
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years – written by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.
On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548
People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull, Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan, Robbie Weiss, Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.
New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com
Mondays With Bob Greene: I'm me. I love to show my emotion.
(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
International Tennis Hall of Fame Announces Ballot Names for 2009 Induction
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND, USA -Tony Trabert, President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, today announced the names of the five ballot nominees for possible Hall of Fame induction in July 2009. Nine-time Grand Slam Singles Champion and former World No. 1 Monica Seles heads the 2009 ballot nominations. Joining her on the ballot in the Master Player category is Andres Gimeno. He was one of Spain’s most prominent tennis players of the 1960s, and who remains Roland Garros’ oldest singles champion, winning the coveted clay court title in 1972.
Named on the ballot in the Contributor category are: Donald L. Dell, an industry pioneer and leader in sports marketing, professional sports management and sports television and founder of ProServ; Dr. Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson (posthumously), founder and director of the American Tennis Association (ATA) Junior Development Program, who worked tirelessly for decades assisting young African-American players (most notably Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe) in gaining admittance into previously segregated tournaments; and Japan’s Eiichi Kawatei, for his exceptional leadership and dedication in the development and promotion of tennis in Asia.
“On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I am honored to announce this year’s ballot,” said Tony Trabert, ITHF President and 1970 Hall of Famer. “Monica and Andres both had brilliant careers in tennis, while Donald, Dr. Johnson and Eiichi made important and historic contributions that have significantly impacted and shaped our sport.”
Voting for the 2009 ballot will take place over the next several months leading to the announcement of the official 2009 induction class in January. The Class of 2009 Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, July 11 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
Recent Player Nominees (1) Eligibility criteria for the Recent Player category: Active as competitors in the sport within the last 20 years prior to consideration; not a significant factor on the ATP or WTA tour within five years prior to induction; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.
Monica Seles, now 34, held the World No. 1 ranking for 178 weeks (non-consecutive) and captured nine Grand Slam singles titles – four Australian (1991-1993, 1996), three at Roland Garros (1990-1992) and two US Opens (1991-1992). Her win-loss record at the Grand Slams was a staggering 43-4 at the Australian, 54-8 at Roland Garros, 30-9 at Wimbledon and 53-10 at the US Open. In a career spanning 15 years, she captured 53 singles titles and six doubles titles and collected well over $14 million in prize money. She won three consecutive year-end WTA Championships (1990-1992) and finished as the world’s No. 1 ranked player in both 1991 and 1992.
A natural lefty, wielding double-handed forehands and backhands, she was a determined competitor. Her footwork was impeccable, her groundstrokes powerful and aggressive, and she constantly attacked her opponents with an arsenal of remarkable weapons. Seles was also known for her “ball-impacting shriek”, the grunt heard across the globe.
At age 19, Seles had already won eight of her nine singles slams and was at the top of her game. Then in April 1993, during a changeover of her quarterfinal match against Magdalena Maleeva in Hamburg, a man came out of nowhere, and stabbed her in the back, just below her left shoulder blade. The horror of this event sent shockwaves through the tennis community, and 27 months would pass before Seles played competitively again. When she returned to the courts, she was granted a co-No. 1 ranking (shared with Steffi Graf) and won her comeback event at the Canadian Open, reached the US Open final, and followed up with her ninth Grand Slam singles championship at the Australian Open (1996).
Born December 2, 1973 in Novi Sad, in what was then known as Yugoslavia, she moved with her family to the United States in 1986 at the age of 12 to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. On March 16, 1994, she became a U.S. citizen. Seles would play on the United States Fed Cup team for five years (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002) posting a career 15-2 singles record and a 2-0 doubles record while helping the Americans capture the Cup in 1996, 1999 and 2000.
Seles remains the youngest champion in history to win at Roland Garros (16 years, 6 months) and was the youngest winner of the Tour Championships (16 years, 11 months) beating Gabriela Sabatini in the first women’s match to extend to five sets since the 1901 U.S. National final. In addition, Seles won the Olympic bronze medal in 2000. Throughout her career, Seles won numerous awards, multiple Player and Athlete of the Year awards, and humanitarian awards. She is an Ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and also has a monthly spot on CBS This Morning, where she talks about healthy living and lifestyle.
Master Player Nominees (1) Eligibility criteria for the Master Player category: Competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration; a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.
Spain’s Master Player Andres Gimeno won the French Open in 1972 at the age of 34 years, 10 months, the oldest champion to grace the red clay at Roland Garros. In addition, he reached the final at the 1969 Australian Open; the semifinals at the 1968 French Open and at Wimbledon in 1970; and the quarterfinals at the 1958 Australian Championships, and the 1960 and 1969 French Championships. Gimeno captured seven singles titles and four doubles titles (in the Open era) and reached a career high ranking of No. 9 in the world. As a member of Spain’s Davis Cup team 1958-60, 1972 and 1973, he posted a playing record of 23-10. As an amateur in a country starved for top-ranking sportsmen, he became incredibly popular, as did the sport of tennis, and he became a national hero. In 1960, Gimeno signed on to the professional tennis tour staged by Jack Kramer and was an immediate sensation in the pro ranks – finishing his first series second only to Pancho Gonzalez. Wielding a great overhead smash, strong volleys, a formidable forehand and exceptional grace and balance, Gimeno’s career is highlighted in the sport’s amateur and professional periods, and then crossed into the Open era of tennis.
Contributor Nominees (3) Eligibility criteria for the Contributor category: Exceptional contributions that have furthered the growth, reputation and character of the sport, in categories such as administration, media, coaching and officiating. Contributor candidates do not need to be retired from their activities related to the sport to be considered.
Donald L. Dell has spent his life in the forefront of the sport of tennis. As a player, he was a U.S. Davis Cup team member from 1961-64. As a non-playing captain of the 1968 and 1969 U.S. Davis Cup teams, he became the youngest U.S. captain and the first in 20 years to regain and successfully defend the Cup in consecutive years. He reached his highest U.S. singles ranking of No. 4 in 1961, and made it to No. 1 in doubles in 1962-63. Dell also represented the U.S. State Department on two world tennis tours (1961 and 1965) and was the first American in history to play competitive tennis in the Soviet Union (1961).
During the Open era, Dell’s business career took off as he dove into the sports marketing and management arena and became the first person to represent and manage the careers of tennis players, beginning with Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith. Players faced an uncertain future as tennis became a professional sport, and Dell persevered to develop future player opportunities, recognizing an athlete’s need for sound career management and the development of effective sports marketing programs. He is credited with having developed some of the most significant and long-lasting partnerships between sponsors and sports properties and he has negotiated over a billion dollars in sponsorships and endorsements.
In 1970, Dell’s own private law practice evolved into Professional Services Inc., (ProServ) which quickly assumed a leadership role in a new sports marketing industry and was the first-ever management company to represent tennis players. As Founder and Chairman, in 1999 ProServ was acquired by SFX as an integral part of its organization. Today, residing under the corporate umbrella of BEST – Blue Entertainment Sports Television – Dell currently oversees and advises many of the group’s global television properties, including the French Open, the US Open, the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, of which he is also a tournament founder, in addition to 20 ATP tennis telecasts. After the creation and success of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Dell gave the event to the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation and has assisted in raising over $15 million for children’s tennis programs in the DC area.
In 1972, along with tennis icon Jack Kramer, Dell founded the Association for Tennis Professionals (ATP) as a players’ union and served as its first General Counsel for eight years. An active philanthropist, Dell is the Vice Chairman and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and a member of both the USTA Public Relations Committee and the U.S. Davis Cup Selection Committee.
Dr. Robert Johnson (1899-1971) is considered by many as the man most responsible for launching the careers of world tennis greats Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, the nation’s first African-American tennis champions. During a time of racial separation, Johnson, through quiet diplomacy, was able to open the doors of competition to young African-Americans barred from mainstream competition. He persevered despite the racial barriers of that time and helped pave the way for minorities to gain acceptance and entrance into tournaments. For more than 20 years, he opened his home to tennis development and training for African-American juniors, providing them with food, equipment, financial support and guidance throughout their development. In addition, many of Johnson’s juniors earned college scholarships.
Through the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was formed in 1916, Johnson created the ATA Junior Development Program. In the 1950s and 1960s, he sponsored, trained and nurtured hundreds of African-American Juniors – and several white juniors – at his Lynchburg, Va. home, where he had a tennis court in his backyard. He initiated the integration of black tennis at the junior level, and worked as coach, trainer, sponsor and fundraiser. He was also publisher of the ATA’s annual program, distributed at the national championships, and his vehicle in keeping the membership aware of the progress of his junior players.
The names of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe and their life achievements will long be remembered in the world of tennis; they are the individuals who broke the racial barriers, and they became champions of the sport through their own athletic abilities. However, it was the artful and insightful groundwork pioneered by Johnson, which gave Gibson and Ashe — and all future black champions — the stage to stand upon and be noticed.
Eiichi Kawatei was born December 10, 1933 in Ashiya City, Japan and has been nominated for his contributions to tennis as a leader in the development and promotion of the sport in Asia. For more than 25 years, he has supported national associations (44 in 2003), players, officials, coaches and many official international events (juniors through the pros). He is the former Tournament Director for the Japan Open and Asian Open (both 1977-1986) and founder of the International Club of Japan (1978). In working with the International Tennis Federation (ITF), he has served as a member of the Committee of Management (1981-1997), a member of the ITF Board of Directors (1997-2003) and Vice President (1991-1999). He also served as ITF Representative on Satellite and Challenger Joint Committee (1993-2001), member of the Olympic Committee (1981-2001), and Chairman of the Junior Competitions Committee (1995-2003). He served as ITF Technical Delegate for the Olympic Games (1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008) and has been officially designated an ITF Honorary Life Vice President. He remains the Japanese Olympic Committee’s Asian Council Representative, a member of their Executive Committee (1991-2003) and Vice President (2003-05).
Kawatei was President of the Asian Tennis Federation 1989-2003, and Secretary General from 1978-1989. With the Japanese Tennis Association, he served as Executive Board Member (1977-1993) and since 1993 has been Vice President. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Golden Olympic Ring Award (presented by the IOC), the Chinese National Sports Federation Honorable Award, and the 2005 Golden Achievement Award presented by the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Kawatei has been an active member of the international tennis media, as an international tennis photographer (1968-1981), as a tennis commentator on Japanese TV (1972-1990), and has contributed to numerous books and magazines as a journalist. As a player, Kawatei was a nationally ranked junior and played for Doshisha University (1954-55), where he returned as coach (1960-68, 1990-94).
A panel of International Tennis Media will vote on the Recent Player nominees. A 75% favorable vote is required for induction. The International Masters Panel, which consists of Hall of Fame inductees and individuals who are highly knowledgeable of the sport and its history, vote on the Master Player and Contributor nominees. To be inducted as a Master Player or a Contributor, an affirmative vote of 75% is required.
The date for the Class of 2009 Induction Ceremony is slated for Saturday, July 11th, in conjunction with the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships (July 6-12) in Newport, Rhode Island. The International Tennis Hall of Fame has inducted 207 people representing 18 countries since its establishment in 1954. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of tennis and its champions. For more information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.
An Answer To The Olympic Team Competition Dilemma
When the Olympic tennis competition begins on Sunday, August 9 at Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Centre, there will be one element missing to what is a magical and unique experience in the sport. While players face much different pressures than they have ever felt in the sport (i.e., lose this match and your medal chances are gone forever, or at least for another four years, if you are even still playing top-level pro tennis by then), players never face the pressure – and excitement – of a TEAM competition.
I was fortunate to be the press officer for the last three U.S. Olympic tennis teams for the USTA (1996, 2000, and 2004) and I particularly remember my stint in 2000 in Sydney when the U.S. women’s team of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles, captained by Billie Jean King, was dubbed the tennis version of the “Dream Team.” However, outside of Venus pairing with Serena in winning the doubles gold that year, the “team” concept was nothing more than a “dream.” All four standout future Hall of Famers were playing as individuals. They all wore the same USA sweat jackets, traded the same USA Tennis Olympic pins and appeared together a pre-event “team” press conference, but they were not a “team” competing for the same goal – sharing the thrill of victory and suffering the agony of defeat. Anyone who has played team tennis – whether it be Davis Cup, Fed Cup, World Team Tennis, college tennis, high school tennis or USTA League Tennis, knows that you are not just playing for yourself, but for your teammates and your country, college, school or friends. There’s that additional pressure, the intangible element that causes for a different level of excitement and makes a player dig deeper or feel the heat even more.
Observers have suggested that a separate team competition be added to the Olympic program in addition to the men’s and women’s singles and doubles competition. However, there are two issues that will make this difficult, it not impossible. For starters, the tennis calendar is messed up already as it is (even without the Olympics being thrust into the schedule every four years), so wedging in another, separate team competition and extending the Olympic tennis competition beyond an eight or nine-day event would not be feasible. Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, had a motto for the Games which is “not winning but taking part.” With this in mind, it is a high priority for the International Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation that as much of the tennis globe as possible is represented in the Games, including players in 2008 field, including Komlavi Loglo from Togo and Rafael Arevalo from El Salvador in the men’s field. It’s an important element to increasing the popularity of the game worldwide to have players from as many nooks and crannies be represented – as appropriate – to provide for role models and goal-setting in developing tennis nations. Tennis needs to have its “Jamaican bobsled team” so to speak.
My idea to bring a team element into the Olympic competition – without jeopardizing the tennis schedule and the opportunities for as many nations as possible to compete – is to implement a “points” system to determine the winner of the gold, silver and bronze winners of a team competition. For every singles or doubles match that a player or team wins at the Games, his or her nation would be awarded one point. The nation with the most points at the end of the Olympic singles and doubles competition will be declared the winner of the gold medal in the team competition. The second place team wins the silver and the third place wins the bronze.
This is not a novel concept. Until the NCAA team tournament was implemented in 1979 in American college tennis, this format was used to determine the NCAA team champions. Certain college conference championships, for example the Southeastern Conference (SEC), also used the formula to a degree in determining the team champion up until the early 1990s. High school state competitions also have used the formula. My high school team, New Canaan High School, was declared the Connecticut State High School “Class LL” State Champions with a similar format in 1987.
Here’s how the competition would have turned out in the last three Olympic tennis competitions;
2004 Olympics – Athens, Greece
Gold – Chile (15 points) Gold – France (10 points)
Silver – U.S. (14 points) Silver – Russia (9 points)
Bronze – Spain (8 points) Australia (9 points)
– Croatia (8 points)
2000 Olympics – Sydney, Australia
Gold – Spain (10 points) Gold – U.S. (16 points)
Silver – France (9 points) Silver – Belgium (10 points)
Bronze – Canada (8 points) Bronze – Russia (7 points)
1996 Olympics – Atlanta, Ga. USA
Gold – U.S. (10 points) Gold – U.S. (17 points)
Australia (10 points) Silver – Spain (13 points)
Bronze – Spain (8 points) Bronze – Czech Republic (9 points)
An issue that comes up is a case of “ties” in point totals – which would not be unprecedented in Olympic competition. Perhaps there are appropriate “tie-breakers” that can be used, such as how the nations have fared in head-to-head competitions against each other in the singles and doubles draws or the least number of sets lost (tie-breakers used to break ties in the round-robin competitions in the ATP and WTA Tour year-end championships).
This “points” concept would a singular concept in the sport. No other tennis event (team or individual) would feature this format which would further enhance the “unique-ness” of the Olympic tennis competition. Let’s keep track of how this format works in Beijing and see what nations would win a theoretical “Team Gold.” Perhaps the ITF and IOC will take notice and when the tennis competition for the London Games in 2012 is held at Wimbledon, tennis can feature an added element of excitement that could further increase the sport’s visibility on the Olympic landscape.
Feedback and ideas on the message board below are encouraged!
Weekly Links: Things That Make You Go Hmm…
Here we are with another weekly dose of weekly links. Back from not being far away from my desk for the past few hours.
First of all an announcement:
I have been receiving mails lately from people asking me if I want exchange links with them. I am always open to suggestions but I do have a set of criteria.
First of all, your site has to be up for at least one year. Your site has to be regularly updated. I don’t want to link to dead sites. And last but nevertheless very important: Quality writing.
If your site meets the criteria then feel free to contact me by either using the comment system (no registration required) or leave me a note using our “Contact Us” form.
End of announcement
So with the message out of the way we can move on with the links. This week we have a few special photos from the Rogers Cup.
Mary Pierce has withdrawn from the Olympics with a knee injury. No offense but she shouldn’t have been selected in the first place. It’s been too long that she played and playing at the Olympics should really be someone who is fit, has match practice and actually played well in the past two years! (New York Post)
Another two bite the dust. Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak have been suspended for gambling on matches. (World News Australia)
Boris Becker speaks. And when he speaks we all listen to Boom Boom Becker. He is of the opinion that Rafael Nadal is the real No. 1 and not Federer. I am not sure if I agree. Sure Nadal won that epic Wimbledon final and the French Open in a month but let’s see if Nadal can win Wimby in the next few years. Just don’t write off Fed because he has an off season. (Toronto Star)
At least Iestyn Stevens from Sportingo agrees with me (Sportingo)
Roger Federer is in Toronto and motivated again. Funny how he didn’t read anything about the most epic final of the Open Era. (National Post)
Chris Evert publicly admits that her love affair with Greg Norman was behind the demise of their marriages. That’s just freaky! (News.com.Au)
Sorry boys and girls but Jelena Jankovic has a boyfriend. (Women’s Tennis Blog)
Aaress from On the Baseline has put up her favorite memories of the Olympics. What are yours? Comment below (On the Baseline)
Safin and Safina will make a great team at the Hopman Cup 2009 (The Age)
Monica Seles got interviewed by Indietennis (IndieTennis)
Of course the biggest news this week was the Ashley Harkleroad Playboy issue. Don’t worry, this link IS suitable for work (TennisGrandstand)
Photos by Bob McIntyre.
Bill Mountford: Final Thoughts From Newport
Some final thoughts from Newport, Rhode Island and the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships… It was a treat to see “The Magician”, Fabrice Santoro, defend a title for the first time in his long career. The Frenchman did not lose a set all week at the Hall of Fame Championships. He served well, moved exceptionally well, and treated fans to his usual assortment of quirky, disguised shots.
The grass courts at the Newport Casino played like grass courts from yesteryear. In fact, they played like the courts at the All England Club prior to 2002. After years of complaints that Pete Sampras was boring and the big-serving efforts of Goran Ivanisevic during his improbable run to the title in 2001, the AEC committee changed the texture of the grass (by importing four tons of quicksand) to make sure that longer rallies were more likely. Be careful what you wish for… most matches at Wimbledon 2008 looked like they were being played on medium-paced hard courts. Newly-inducted Hall of Famer Michael Chang spoke of the obvious changes in playability of the Wimby grass. Had the courts been as slow during Chang’s prime as they are these days, then he would have surely contended for a title at the Big W.
If there were more old-style grass courts or lightning-fast indoor courts on the ATP Tour, then Prakash Amritraj would be ranked higher than No. 204 in the world. He volleys decisively and moves aggressively in the forecourt, and these skills are becoming increasingly rare in professional tennis. Vijay Amritraj was a beacon of fair play and sportsmanship throughout his playing career. It was a little surprising to observe his constant and blatant (illegal) coaching during his son Prakash’s semifinal and final round matches.
John Isner took his first ATP Tour doubles title with Mardy Fish. It was great to see these American players working so hard on their fitness on the practice courts after they both lost their first matches in singles. It will be another grinding hard court season this summer, and that fitness work will pay dividends.
Monica Seles ought to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next July. She should surely be joined by her former coach, Nick Bollettieri. The ageless Bollettieri was in Newport last weekend supporting the sport, and has been the most successful coach in the Open era. Michael Stich should also receive serious consideration for the roll of honor.
Lastly, for the thousands of tennis enthusiasts who are eager to feel what it is like to play on natural grass, visit http://www.tennisfame.com/ithof.aspx?pgID=895.
For Bill Mountford tennis instruction videos click here!
Photos by Catherine O’Neal
Lived up to the hype!
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim previewed the Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer Wimbledon final by suggesting that it was the most anticipated championship final in the history of our sport. High praise indeed, but when does the competition outdistance the hype in this day and age? Practically never is when.
Sunday’s match was simply astonishing. Two absolute giants of our great game did battle for nearly five hours on the world’s most important court. As John McEnroe of NBC Sports likened it to his 1980 final against Bjorn Borg, he acknowledged that there were, truly, no losers in this match. No less an authority than Bud Collins called it the “best Wimbledon final ever.”
When McEnroe interviewed Roger Federer as he walked off the court, it was incredibly poignant. They now share a bond, as both lost epic “Greatest Match of All Time” encounters on Wimbledon’s centre court. Federer started to lose his composure and McEnroe offered a hug. It would have been appropriate for Mac to have consoled Federer by telling him that more people have patted him on the back for his efforts in losing the 1980 final then for his three wins at the Big W.
A few weeks ago, Bill Simmons, a writer for ESPN Magazine, took some snarky shots at the sport of tennis. In fact, his article- which was, by the way, abruptly removed from ESPN.com- was based on the premise that if he was offered the promise of the greatest match ever in the Wimbledon final, then he would still not choose to watch it. I admire Simmons, and as a die-hard Boston sports fan, I always appreciate his (warped) perspective. After reading his article, I actually felt defensive for a little while. I thought: What the hell is he talking about!?!? Thankfully, I am confident that if Simmons tuned into “Breakfast at Wimbledon” for Rafa and Roger, then his perspective would be considerably different.
Simmons offered some idiotic “solutions” to what ails our sport. I presume that these were written in jest, because they were pretty lazy ideas. In giving “The Sports Guy” more benefit of doubt, he has purposely written reverse jinx pieces before (such as, the Celtics cannot win this year) that have proved to be good luck for his hometown teams. Maybe that was his true intention. If so, then we all owe him a big Thank You.
Venus Williams did not lose a set in singles or doubles during the 2008 Championships.
Serena did not look happy (big surprise!) after losing in the final. Expect her to dominate at Flushing Meadows in a few weeks.
Congratulations to Canada’s Daniel Nestor for re-gaining the world’s #1 ranking in doubles and completing the career grand slam in doubles. Not bad for a 35 year old!
Farewell to Jonas Bjorkman. Saturday marked his final Wimbledon appearance in The Championships. Of course, guys are already “queuing up” to play in the senior invitational doubles with him next year.
The Bryan Brothers faced off against one another in the mixed doubles final. Reportedly, they evenly split all of their prize money and endorsements. I am guessing that would have been a pretty relaxed final round encounter. Bob and Sammy Stosur straight-setted Mike and Katarina Srebotnik over on Court One while Federer and Nadal were playing their fifth set on Centre Court.
A few final thoughts on The Championships…
Thank heavens that there will be a retractable roof on the Centre Court beginning next year. The delayed start to the gentlemen’s singles final, and the two subsequent rain delays, would have been avoidable. This adversely affects several million world-wide fans. In the end, the sport loses when viewers tune out. I wish that Wimbledon had made- and then acted on- this decision thirty years ago, but it is a sign of progress.
One example of where there has been NO PROGRESS is the middle Sunday of The Championships, the tournament’s traditional “day of rest.” Like millions of tennis fanatics all over the world, an ideal Sunday for me is a good breakfast, hit some balls and maybe even play a few sets, and then watch tennis for the rest of the day. The AELTC sacrifices tens of millions of pounds (double that figure in US dollars!) in sponsorship revenue and international TV licensing fees by refusing play on that prime weekend slot. By 2008 standards, it is outrageous, arrogant, and archaic. It is also hypocritical, because the men’s final has been played on a Sunday for a quarter century. They were lucky that the weather was uncharacteristically pleasant during the first week of the tournament. Relying on luck each year is foolish though.
The Russian women made another huge splash, with 6 of the final 16 players hailing from Russia. There were 17 Russian ladies in main draw of the singles. That is impressive. It is not unprecedented, however, and- in fact- pales in comparison to some years where the Americans reigned supreme. In 1984, 64(!!!!) of the 128 singles players were American men. The Yanks had the champion, the runner-up, two semi-finalists, four quarterfinalists, and 11 who reached the round of 16. As American Frank Sinatra used to sing… it was a very good year.
Does everybody still think that Roger Federer will annihilate Pete Sampras’ all-time records? It says here that he might get to 14 majors, but this is not a mortal lock. The sport has changed before his very eyes. He will need some luck (a Nadal injury, or a Novak Djokovic disappearance in the autumn) to finish as the year-end #1. The expectation that this would be Federer’s fifth straight year at the top is fading, and he would still be one year shy of what Pete Sampras accomplished.
In Pete Sampras’ new book A Champion’s Mind, he lists (in no particular order) himself, Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, and Ivan Lendl as the top-five players of the Open era. After his Wimbledon victory, I would place Rafael Nadal among John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and (probably) Mats Wilander in the next tier (with apologies to Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, John Newcombe, Gustavo Kuerten, and Jim Courier).
Speaking of Pistol Pete, it took him a little while to “solve” grass court tennis. In fact, a surprising number (17) of different players registered wins over the once-and-still GOAT. Our Editor in Chief, Manfred Wenas, has a little swag for the first reader to submit the complete list of players that owned a piece of Sampras’ scalp on grass.
World Team Tennis began its 33rd professional season in the US over the weekend. Go to www.wtt.com for information about players, upcoming matches, standings, etc. It is a great opportunity to watch past, present, and future Wimbledon champions. It is also the only competition in tennis that prioritizes doubles and team-play over singles.
Venus and Serena Williams are shattering the myth that good doubles teams would beat great singles players who pair up together. They won their 7th major doubles title together, and it would be safe to assume that they do not practice the nuances of doubles too frequently.
At the beginning of Rafael Nadal’s ascent up the rankings, I asked Wayne Bryan (whose sons Bob and Mike were ranked #1 in the world at the time) who would win a match between his boys and Federer-Nadal. He hedged his bets, but thought that his boys would pull through. He did suggest, however, that if Federer were to play with Lleyton Hewitt, who had more doubles success at that stage, then he thinks the result would be reversed. So, I will pose these questions to our readers, who would win the follow mythical doubles matches?
1) Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer vs. Bob and Mike Bryan
2) Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi vs. Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde
3) Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg vs. Ken Flach and Robert Seguso
4) John McEnroe and Peter Fleming vs. John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl (yes, you read that correctly)
5) Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors vs. Bob Lutz and Stan Smith
Tennis Week in Newport is always one of my favorite times of the year. This year’s class of inductees is highlighted by Michael Chang, and supported by contributors Mark McCormack and Eugene Scott. Visit www.TennisFame.com for a wealth of information about these new- and, in fact, all- hall of famers.
When Gene Scott died suddenly in 2006, it was an awful loss for our sport. It also, naturally, affected hundreds (more like thousands, actually) of people personally. I had developed a great fondness for Gene Scott and treasured the time I got to spend with him. I believed that- for some unknown reason- he had taken a liking to me, and wished to help me along in my career. During the outpouring of grief, his dear friends at Tennis Week created a Web site (www.EugeneLScott.com) where people were urged to offer their tributes to the great man. Reading some of these tributes, a few years after his passing, left me feeling as sad as the day he died. Back then I wrote:
Gene Scott was like the North Star. Speaking with him or reading his column… he’d always bring you to your senses. Nobody else had his vantage point, and he knew it. That never kept him from sharing though, and his generosity was unparalleled. His departure has already left a terrible void. Goddamn that he is gone. Lucky that he touched so many while he was around.
I wish that Gene Scott had been enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame a decade ago. His induction speech would have been brilliant. Hall of Famer John McEnroe will offer his testimonial and introduce Gene’s wife, Polly, who will accept on his behalf this weekend.
Who else should be inducted into the Hall of Fame? I offer a dozen candidates who I believe ought to be bronzed:
1) Donald Dell.
2) Monica Seles.
3) Andre Agassi.
4) Gustavo Kuerten.
5) Jennifer Capriati.
6) Martina Hingis.
7) Nick Bollettieri.
8) Dennis Van Der Meer.
9) Michael Stich.
10) Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
11) Justine Henin.
12) Todd Woodbridge & Mark Woodforde.
Of course I will be in America’s Resort City (Newport, Rhode Island) this week to watch the best little tournament in the world and then enjoying the induction ceremony of the latest inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. If you are a fan of this great sport, you MUST make a pilgrimage to Newport.
While at the Newport Casino, I will spend a lot of time rehashing points and moments and drama from the “greatest tennis match ever played” with old and new tennis friends. Congratulations Rafa! Congratulations Roger!
Note by the Editor-in-Chief: The little swag for the first reader to submit the complete list of players that owned a piece of Sampras’ scalp on grass only goes for those who use the comment system down below on TennisGrandstand.com. Other submissions will not count.
An Early Look At Pete Sampras Upcoming Book
Written by TennisGrandStand Staff
You can pre-order the book for 39 percent off by clicking the book title link.
Here’s an early look at A Champion’s Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis – the new book written by Pete Sampras (with Peter Bodo) due out on June 10 (Crown, $24.95). This book continues a nice recent run of tennis books in the market – with last year’s title’s Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life by James Blake and The Roger Federer Story: Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer. The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book is also due out later this Spring. There are some excellent quotes already to go with the book. Here are a few…
“Consider this book Sampras’ 15th Grand Slam. A thoroughly compelling read that-apart from retracing a gilded sport career-really probes the ‘hard drive’ of a champion. It’s as if all the emotion and insight that Sampras sometimes seemed reluctant to express during his playing days comes spilling forth.”
-Jon Wertheim, Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated and SI.com
“As the title says, this is a remarkable look into a champion’s mind, and maybe one of the best tennis memoirs ever. Pete captures the pressure a player feels once he’s reached the top. He puts us next to him on the court, and we get a clear sense of what made him extraordinary: he was supremely determined, dedicated to learning the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents, and committed to never ever yielding a point easily. Pete wrote this book the way he plays tennis: full-out.”
“Even playing at a high level, it’s hard to know what the experience of winning-and trying to stay on top-is like for another competitor. We all react so differently to pressure, to the glow of the spotlight. It is brutally hard to stay grounded, and yet this wonderfully candid book shows that it was Pete’s rare ability to compartmentalize and draw strength from his family that allowed him to reach the sport’s pinnacle. Whether championships are in your past or just live in your dreams, you’ll learn a lot from Pete’s story.”
“Pete Sampras was always able to rise to the occasion, winning so many big matches at the biggest events. This book provides the reader a glimpse into Pete’s remarkable career and how he was able attain his vision of being the best player in the world. We can all benefit from the insight he offers.”
Tennis' April issue: a look at the best of the Open Era
The upcoming issue of Tennis looks back at the past 40 years of tennis (the Open Era), which began with an inclusion of professionals into its most esteemed events — the Grand Slams — for the first time. This move revolutionized the sport and brought us some amazing memories in upsets, defeats, victories, and feats. Read on to see what the mag deemed worthy of its list. (Do you agree? Tell us!)
The Best Shots: The invicible serve of Peter Sampras. “No player owed as much to a single shot. Even as he aged, his serve kept winning him Wimbledons.” The runners-up are Steffi Graf’s forehand, Chris Evert’s backhand; Jimmy Connors’ return, and Roger Federer’s forehand.
Crucial Matches: Props to Tennis for not going with the safe choice of Billie Jean King d. Bobby Riggs (no offense, BJK). Instead, they turn our attention to the 1990 U.S. Open meeting between Sampras and Ivan Lendl. “An unknown Sampras ended Lendl’s streak of eight U.S. Open finals, and helped usher in the power era,” according to the magazine. Runners up are McEnroe defeating Borg at the 1981 U.S. Open, the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, Rosewall winning over Laver in Dallas, 1972; and Graf’s victory over Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1988.
Biggest Upsets: Navratilova’s 1983 French Open loss to Kathy Horvath, bringing the American’s win-loss record for that dominant year to 83-1. Runners-up are Doohan d. Becker, 1987; L. McNeil d. Graf, 1994; Yzaga d. Sampras, 1994; and Ashe d. Connors, 1975.
Outrageous Moments: The biggest buhskyooze moment is the 1993 stabbing of Monica Seles. The incident derailed a potentially historic career for Seles (btw, why wasn’t her backhand in the top 5?). Runners-up are McEnroe defaulting in Melbourne, 1990; Connors wiping out a ball mark, 1977; the Ilie Nastase uprising at Flushing Meadows, 1979; and Jennifer Capriati’s drug bust mug shot, 1994. (By the time Martina Hingis effed up at Wimbledon this year, drugs were already passe…)
Biggest Rivalries: “The cold war duals of Navratilova vs. Evert defined the term ‘rivalry’ in tennis,” notes the magazine. Their duels ended up 43-37 in Navratilova’s favor. Other rivalries mentioned are Laver vs. Rosewall, Borg vs. McEnroe, Court vs. King, and Sampras vs. Agassi. It’s early yet, but what about Rafa and Roger?
Records: Steffi Graf’s Golden Slam. Runners-up are Chris Evert’s semifinals run from 1971-1987; Navratilova’s 350 titles (that’s 200 more than almost everyone else, man or woman!); Roger Federer’s 10 Grand Slam Finals from Wimbledon 2005 to the U.S. Open in 2007 (a men’s record), and Nadal’s clay-court streak of 81 consecutive wins.
Best Dressed: Serena Williams takes the title in fashion. “From the cat suit to the soccer socks, Serena has made tennis fashion a sport of its own.” Runners-up are Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Maria Sharapova, and Roger Federer.
Biggest Disappointments: The “ornery and super-smooth” Chinito, Marcelo Rios. He never won a major, and he defaulted a match in Los Angeles back in the early aughts, ruining the one chance I had to see him play. Other losers are Iva Majoli, Anna Kournikova; Dick Stockton, Mark Philippoussis.
Feel-Good Victories: The tearful collapse of Jana Novotna in the 1993 Wimbledon final made her 1998 win against Natalie Tauziat even sweeter. Runners-up: Virginia Wade’s win at Wimbledon in 1977, Yannick Noah’s 1983 win at Roland Garros, Jennifer Capriati’s comeback at the 2001 Aussie Open, and Goran Ivanisevic’s historic Monday final in 2001.