ROTTERDAM (Feb. 11, 2013) — World No. 2 Roger Federer and Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer took part in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament opening ceremony in Rotterdam today. All suited and dressed up, the two hit some balls on court amid pyrotechnics on center court.
Earlier in the day, defending champion Federer paid a visit to the media for a pre-tournament press conference. “I feel at home in Rotterdam. This is one of the best indoor tournaments in the world with a very strong field and always lots of spectators.” Later in the day he joked about hoping to “win some match this week,” before having a hit with David Goffin and congratulating Benoit Paire on reaching the final in Montpellier last week.
In first round match play, No. 3 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was frustrated by and eventually lost in three sets to wildcard Igor Sijsling, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4.
“I’m very happy”, said Sijsling after the match. “This is perhaps my best victory ever. To beat a top-10 player in my own country in front of such an audience. Thank you all.”
In similar fashion, Martin Klizan also took out Paul Henri Mathieu, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. “I’m very happy with this victory,” beamed Klizan. “It was a tough first round fight. It was fun with many spectators in the stands. I hope I can keep this level.”
(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)
In his 2013 Australian Open debut, world #1 Novak Djokovic took a crisp step forward toward his goal of becoming the first man in the Open era to win three straight major titles Down Under. Facing the unheralded but talented Paul-Henri Mathieu, the world #1 wasted little time under the Melbourne sun in confirming his position among the favorites in the men’s draw.
The two-time defending champion wasted no time in signaling his intent with a vicious backhand winner down the line. A meek forehand error by Mathieu yielded his first service game to the Serb, who seemed content to play solid but not spectacular tennis. While the Frenchman looked nervous for much of the set, Djokovic emitted an air of calm confidence as he sauntered along the baseline. The qualifier struggled to take control of baseline rallies against his opponent’s suffocating defense, often attempting too aggressive a shot too early in the point.
When Djokovic broke Mathieu to start the second set, having taken the first 6-2, the Frenchman finally started to loosen the tension in his game and swing more freely. He earned double break point in the top seed’s first service game, only to see the Serb wriggle out of trouble. Mathieu managed to stay within range better in the second set than he had in the first, partly because he found his first serve more regularly. After the first two games, both men held serve without difficulty as Djokovic continued to keep his nose front before closing out the set with a love service game.
If the task had looked insurmountable for Mathieu when the match began, it looked even more so once he trailed by two sets to love. In contrast to the first two sets, though, he kept the third interesting at first by holding his first service game. The two men then held serve smoothly in a series of short points as the Serb’s focus appeared to wane. Under slight pressure at 4-5, he brushed away the prospect of a fourth set with a quick service game that allowed Mathieu no ray of hope. Brilliant court coverage by the Serb in the following game opened a 0-30 door with an inspired lob-pass hybrid that left the Frenchman frozen at the net. Soon afterwards, Djokovic held the match on his racket and served out the straight-sets victory 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.
With one comfortable victory behind him, Djokovic will continue his quest for the historic three-peat against rising American Ryan Harrison, who defeated Santiago Giraldo in four sets to reach the second round. Djokovic has an undefeated record against Harrison so far, and his current form suggests that this trend will not change when they meet on Wednesday.
By Maud Watson
It was an upset at a major, and it was an upset of major proportions. Whether you call it shocking, stunning, or even stupefying, the defeat Serena Williams suffered for the first time in the opening round of a major marked an epic win for Virginie Razzano and an epic loss for Serena. Much credit should go to Razzano, who played a fantastic match to seal victory. But the bigger storyline of this encounter was the collapse of Williams. Up a set and 5-1 in the tiebreaker, it seemed almost certain the American would advance. But then nerves struck. She lost six straight points to lose the tiebreaker and quickly found herself in a 0-5 hole in the third. She finally did settle down while Razzano tightened up, and after rattling off three consecutive games, it looked like another historic Serena comeback was in the cards. But it was not to be. In the final nail-biting game of the match, Serena had five chances to get back on serve, and by her own doing, squandered most of them. Her unwillingness to grind and play the score cost her. More than once on the big points, she failed to even put the return in play. The loss certainly puts a different perspective on Serena’s upcoming grass court season. Even Serena, as evidenced by her tears, knows this one was different. This was a loss against a former top 20 player struggling to win matches. This was a loss where the finish line was plainly in sight. This was a loss where the words “choke job” could so easily be applied. It will test Serena’s resolve in the weeks to come. For now though, the race to become Roland Garros champion suddenly became a lot more open.
It won’t be remembered in the same manner as Isner’s historic defeat of Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, but Paul-Henri Mathieu did give home fans plenty to cheer about when he defeated the towering American 18-16 in the fifth set of their second round encounter at Roland Garros. For Mathieu, this was a moment long overdue. He showed plenty of promise early in his career, but he struggled to regain his form after blowing a 2 set lead in the fifth and deciding rubber of the 2002 Davis Cup final against Russia. Four years later, he found himself playing Rafael Nadal in the third round of Roland Garros. It was a fairly tightly contested match that lasted just shy of five hours, but once again, it was the Frenchman who got the short end of the stick. What followed were years of injuries and inconsistent play, so that by the time he entered this year’s French Open, his ranking was outside of the top 200. An upset over Isner seemed unlikely, but Mathieu, now aged 30, turned back the clock and exhibited some of the raw talent that had made him a top prospect a decade ago. It’s unlikely the victory is a precursor of positive results to come, but how wonderful to see him come out on the right end of one of these epic matches, and at his home major to boot.
The first week of Roland Garros is nearly done and dusted, and already we’ve seen two fairytale stories. The captivating case of Brian Baker has been discussed in length. After numerous surgeries and six years out of the game, he qualified in Nice last week and reached the final. He then got to play his first match as a pro at the French Open, where he defeated Xavier Malisse in straight sets. His reward was the opportunity to play on Court Philippe Chatrier against Frenchman Gilles Simon. Baker put forth a heroic effort, coming back from 2-0 down to force a fifth before succumbing to defeat. At age 27, he still has a few good years left, so let’s hope what we saw in France is a sign of good things to come. Virginie Razzano has been the story on the women’s side. After losing her former coach and fiancé to a brain tumor just eight days before the start of Roland Garros last year, she was due for some good fortune. Playing on the main show court in front of her home crowd against one of the most dominant women of the Open Era, Razzano wrote herself into the history books with her upset of Serena Williams. Much like Baker, the fact that she lost her second round match doesn’t diminish the value of her achievement. Even if she just ends up a footnote in a tennis encyclopedia or never wins another match, you get the sense that it won’t matter. Whatever happens in her career going forward, she’ll always have Paris.
Another Day, Another Record
Though not as impressive as Nadal potentially breaking Borg’s record of six Roland Garros titles or Djokovic becoming the first man since Laver to simultaneously hold all four Slams, Roger Federer did make history earlier this week. By reaching the third round, the Maestro surpassed Jimmy Connors’ Open Era record for most wins at the majors. While recognizing that the bar would have been higher had Connors not opted to occasionally skip majors, the fact that Federer was able to surpass the American’s benchmark in nearly a decade’s less time is very impressive. Federer would undoubtedly prefer another Slam title come with the record, but the achievement is still a deserved honor for a player who has so consistently produced sublime play over the course of his career.
A New Voice
After a failed experiment with Ricardo Sanchez earlier in the year, Caroline Wozniacki has decided to once again add an additional coach to her team. The new member is 2002 Australian Open Champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden. Johansson reportedly had been working with the Wozniacki camp in the weeks leading up to the French Open and will be prepared to work more closely with them upon Wozniacki’s return from Paris. From the sound of it, Johansson will not be a constant presence in the Wozniacki camp, but he has signed a contract to work with the Dane through the US Open, which will hopefully ensure he’s given more of an opportunity than Sanchez to have a positive impact on Wozniacki’s game. Wozniacki may also be looking to put in extra effort to make this relationship work, as her decline in the rankings may have spurred on recognition that she’s in need of a fresh voice with new ideas to propel her back towards the top. It will be intriguing to see how the new pupil/coach relationship plays out over the next few months.
It was a thrilling day in Rotterdam as the top three seeds, including Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro all claimed a spot in the second round of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, including a first ever win for del Potro at this event – but not without some drama.
Top seed Roger Federer picked up where he left off seven years ago, as the 2005 champion won 13 of the last 14 points with his win over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 6-4. Federer’s expected second round opponent Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a foot problem sending the Swiss straight into the quarterfinals on Friday against Jarkko Nieminen, who beat Lukasz Kubot earlier in the day.
“Any win is a good win,” stated Federer. “Frankly I’m glad to be in the quarterfinals. It’s always tough to make the change from clay but after losing my last two singles matches [for Davis Cup], a win is great.”
For more exclusive Roger Federer content on his top three grand slam wins, mental strength, his toughest opponent, and thoughts on retirement, go here.
Second seed Tomas Berdych also had a routine win over fellow Czech countryman Lukas Rosol, 6-4, 6-2. Berdych also didn’t shy away from admitting it was “a tough transition from Davis Cup. Our court was much faster with lower bounce. I didn’t really have much time to train, but I coped with it pretty well. I was able to find my rhythm quite fast and was able to play my game.”
Juan Martin del Potro struggled to close out the second set in a tiebreaker and was forced to win in three, against 2008 champion Michael Llodra, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4. “I was really nervous, especially in the last game, so it was nice”, Del Potro said durin his interview. He underlined that he was very pleased to be in Rotterdam and to see so many people coming out to support him.
Cheerful Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (looking surprisingly great in Adidas’ lastest fireball orange and blue kits, below) defeated qualifier Matthias Bachinger, 7-6(2), 6-2.
Nikolay Davydenko was also take to three sets before overcoming the “comeback kid” Paul-Henri Mathieu who had received a wildcard into the qualifying. After two-and-a-half hours of play into the evening hours, Davydenko prevailed, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1.
But another qualifier, Karol Beck, made a commotion as he took out Philipp Petzschner, 7-6(3), 6-3.
Alex Bogomolov, Jr. won when Sergiy Stakhovsky was forced to retire.
In doubles action, top seed Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor were ousted by Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, while the tandem of Richard Gasquet and Ivan Ljubicic were defeated, as was the duo of Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen.
Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day three action, and the Davydenko-Mathieu match was shot with a 200mm f/2 lens Canon Nederland provided to our photographe Rick for the match. The photos are of the highest quality. Thank you, Canon!
(All photos © Rick Gleijm)
Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day one action.
Three top players were surprised to find themselves on the losing end of their first-round matches.
- Paul-Henri Mathieu came to Rotterdam as a wildcard into the qualifying draw only to find himself in the second round of the main draw, after stunning Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
- Jesse Huta Galung dispensed of former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(6), 6-3.
- Sixth-seed Alexandr Dolgopolov also saw his time in Rotterdam come to a premature end as he was defeated by Lukasz Kubot 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
- Richard Gasquet also came through in three sets beating Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
For a full recap of Roger Federer‘s and Juan Martin Del Potro‘s press conferences from earlier today, go here.
Full Tuesday schedule below.
SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] R De Voest (RSA) vs A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] I Sijsling (NED) vs J Nieminen (FIN)
Not Before 1:30 PM
 V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] T de Bakker (NED)
F Cermak (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs J Del Potro (ARG) / P Petzschner (GER)
Not Before 7:30 PM
R Haase (NED) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
M Youzhny (RUS) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)
COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / D Norman (BEL) vs  M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND)
Not Before 3:30 PM
 M Granollers (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)
Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day two qualifying matches highlighting Paul-Henri Mathieu, Simon Greul, Thomas Schoorel and Rik De Voest.
Earlier in the day, Matthias Bachinger defeated Dusan Lojda 7-6(1), 6-3, while Karol Beck came from a one-set deficit to beat Jan Hajek 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu then defeated Thomas Schoorel 6-1, 6-4, and Rik De Voest overcame Simon Greul 7-5, 7-6(4).
The four winners will all try to make their presence known in the main draw beginning tomorrow as Mathieu is set to take on fourth-seeded Feliciano Lopez. Full Monday schedule is below.
SCHEDULE – MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY, 2012
CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
F Cipolla (ITA) vs  R Gasquet (FRA)
Not Before 1:30 PM
 F Lopez (ESP) vs [Q] P Mathieu (FRA)
Not Before 7:30 PM
[WC] J Huta Galung (NED) vs I Ljubicic (CRO)
L Kubot (POL) vs  A Dolgopolov (UKR)
Jelena Jankovic beat Nadia Petrova 6-4 6-3 to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany
Tomas Berdych won the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships men’s singles, defeating Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 6-4 in Tokyo, Japan
Caroline Wozniacki beat Kala Kanepi 6-2 3-6 6-1 to win the women’s singles at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Japan
Sorana Cirstea defeated Sabine Lisicki 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4) to capture the Tashkent Open in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Dmitry Tursunov beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (6) 1-6 6-4 to win the Open de Moselle in Metz, France
Teimuraz Gabashvili won the Ethias Trophy by beating Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4 6-4 in Mons, Belgium
Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic 7-6 7-5 to win the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven, Netherlands
“There are some days you wake up and you know it’s not going to be your day.” – Nadia Petrova, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final.
“Doubles is like marriage. It has to be good from the first day.” – Mischa Zverev, who teamed with Mikhail Youzhny to win the doubles at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
“She is having a great year and I knew it would be hard to beat her. But the game went according to plan.” – Venus Williams, after beating Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2.
“It feels great to be back at number one, but my goal is to finish the year as number one. I’m playing better and better, I am improving. I don’t feel any extra pressure.” – Jelena Jankovic, on her return to the top spot in the WTA Tour rankings.
“I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the number one ranking again.” – Roger Federer, after pulling out of the Stockholm Open.
“I need to take a break now to get it back to 100 percent, which is why I have to regretfully take this decision and withdraw. I have played a lot this year and my body needs to recover.” – Serena Williams, after withdrawing from the Kremlin Cup with an ankle injury.
“After I lost the first set I checked the clock and saw it was only 20 minutes, so I told myself I had to make it at least an hour. Of course I’m very happy about my win today, and for both of my wins over the Williams sisters this year.” – Li Na, after beating Serena William 0-6 6-1 6-4 and knocking the US Open champion out of the number one ranking.
“I think I have to come to Germany more often.” – Victoria Azarenka, who has reached the semifinals in both tournaments she has played in Germany this year.
“People want to see me because I was once the number one in the world and won Grand Slam titles. People want to see the guys who they idolized. Now, as we get older, we’re really thankful that people want to see us. It’s really wonderful, and we’re going to try to give our best back.” – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, playing his first competitive tennis match in five years, the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
“I have played one match with her here and I have won. Not bad.” – Goran Ivanisevic, saying his 5-year-old daughter Amber, who was watching her father play for the first time, is his lucky charm.
“I still cannot fully realize that I’ve won. In the middle of the match I thought my chances of winning were about 40 percent.” – Ksenia Palkina, a teenager from Kyrgystan ranked 203rd in the world, after she upset second-seeded Olga Govortsova in the first round of the Tashkent Open.
“Our success in these junior team events against the world’s best competition is a good indication of where our players stand amongst their peers at this state. Of course there is a lot of work to be done for these kids to become world-class professionals. But, if these results are any indication, the future is very promising.” – Patrick McEnroe, on the United States sweep of the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup competitions.
In the game of musical chairs that is called the WTA Tour rankings, Jelena Jankovic is once again in the top spot. The Serb moved up to number one when Serena Williams was upset by China’s Li Na. Jankovic held the top ranking for one week in August. Since Justine Henin retired in May, four players have been number one: Williams, Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova. Williams held the top spot for four weeks after defeating Jankovic in the US Open final. Overall, Jankovic has won more matches than any other player on tour this year.
Adrian Mannarino had a ball in Metz, France. Ranked 181st in the world, the French qualifier didn’t lose a set in his run to the semifinals at the Open de Moselle. Then he ran into Paul-Henri Matheu, who barely escaped Mannarino 7-6 (8) 7-6 (1). The 20-year-old Mannarino had not won an ATP-level match before he upset sixth-seeded Andreas Seppi in the opening round at Metz.
China’s top two players are making a lot of noise on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this year. At Wimbledon, Zheng Jie became the first Chinese player to beat a reigning world number one when she shocked Ana Ivanovic on her way to the semifinals. At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, last week, Li Na matched that feat, knocking Serena Williams out of the tournament and the number one ranking, 0-6 6-1 6-4. It was Li’s 11th career win over a top 10 player but first over a number one.
An El Al plane carrying Israeli tennis star Dudi Sela had to make an emergency landing in Beijing when a bird flew into one of its engines. Sela was returning to Israel after losing in a tournament in Tokyo. While the plane was heading back to Beijing, Sela called his brother Ofer in Israel to let him know what was happening. El Al sent a replacement jet to fly the 150 passengers to Israel.
An ankle injury has forced Serena Williams to withdraw from the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The American withdrew two days after being upset by China’s Li Na in Stuttgart, Germany. The winner of four tournaments this year, Williams said her left ankle has been bothering her since the US Open last month, which she won.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov admits he is delighted to be back playing competitively after a five-year layoff. “It was quite exciting,” the Russian said after losing to Michael Chang in a BlackRock Tour of Champions match at Eindhoven, Netherlands. “I haven’t had this feeling in a long time.” Once he decided to play again, Kafelnikov worked hard to lose the weight he had gained after retiring. Then he asked to play in the AFAS Classics tournament in Eindhoven. He came away winless in his return, losing also to Paul Haarhuis and Goran Ivanisevic.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became only the eighth player in the last 20 yeas to win his first ATP title by defeating a top-five opponent in the final, knocking off third-ranked Novak Djokovic to capture the Thailand Open in Bangkok. Greg Sharko, senior editor of ATPTennis.com, says Tsonga is the first to accomplish the feat since fellow Frenchman Michael Llorda did it four years ago when he beat Guillermo Coria, who was number three in the world at the time. In 1988, Mikael Pernfors won his first title in Los Angeles, beating fourth-ranked Andre Agassi. Jim Courier’s first title, in 1989 in Basel, Switzerland, came when he beat third-ranked Stefan Edberg. Others who beat top five players to capture their first tournament titles were Omar Camporese in 1991, Alberta Costa and Filip Dewulf in 1995, and Hyung-Taik Lee in 2003.
SET FOR KOOYONG
Two Swiss players – US Open champion Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka – will warm up for the 2009 Australian Open by playing at the invitational Kooyong Classic. Weakened by mononucleosis, Federer missed the tournament in 2008. Also scheduled to play in the event are Marat Safin, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis, James Blake and Ernests Gulbis. The eighth spot for the tournament, which guarantees each player three matches on the same surface as that used at the Australian Open, will be named later.
Saying he needs a break, Roger Federer will not play in the upcoming Stockholm Open. Federer has not played since winning his fifth consecutive US Open last month. “(This) has been a tough year for me as I was always playing catch-up after being diagnosed with mononucleosis at the beginning of the year,” said Federer, who lost his number one ranking to Rafael Nadal in August after holding it for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
Paradorn Srichaphan is thinking about switching sports, perhaps becoming a race car driver. Beset by injury for almost two years, Thailand’s best player has been busy promoting motorsports in his country. “I’ve been really bored and it would be huge challenge to move from one sport to the next,” Srichaphan said. “I’m involved in a racing team and my sponsors are interested in having me racing for them, but only when I retire from tennis. I still plan to return to the tour.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has penalized Croatia for playing Davis Cup matches against Brazil on a court that was considered too fast. As part of the Davis Cup Committee’s ruling, Croatia will lose 2,000 points and pay an undisclosed fine. Marina Mihelic, head of the Croatian Tennis Federation, said she was “surprised and annoyed” by the decision. The ITF said Croatia violated the federation’s “court pace rating rule,” which assesses the speed of surfaces other than grass and clay. It’s the first such case involving the rule, which was implemented this year. The ITF rejected Brazil’s appeal to have Croatia disqualified, the victory awarded to Brazil and financial compensation paid to Brazil.
The United States Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup teams captured the 2008 World Finals without dropping a single match. The international team competition for players age 16 and under held in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, continued the American domination of junior events. The American boys’ and girls’ squads won the World Junior Tennis Championships for 14-and-under in August in Prostejoy, Czech Republic. It is the first time the same country has won all four titles in the same year. The American Junior Fed Cup team beat Colombia, Chinese Taipei, Serbia, Hungary and Great Britain. The American Junior Davis Cup squad beat Latvia, Chinese Taipei, Sweden, India and Argentina.
Mark L. Stenning has been awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The Chairman’s Award recognizes outstanding service by a Hall of Fame board member. Stenning joined the ITHOF in 1980 and currently holds the position of chief executive officer. He also currently serves on the Davis Cup and Fed Cup Committees of the United States Tennis Association.
TENNIS.com is the new title sponsor of the Zurich Open, a stop on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The Tennis Company, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, calls itself the world’s leading website for tennis fans. Aside from TENNIS.com, the company publishes Tennis Magazine and Smash Magazine. The Tennis Company is also a managing partner in the Indian Springs, California, tournament. Among others, The Tennis Company’s partners include Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and Pete Sampras.
Stuttgart: Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Patty Schnyder beat Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 6-2 6-4
Tokyo (men): Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-3 6-4
Tokyo (women): Jill Craybus and Marina Erakovic beat Ayumi Morita and Aiko Nakamura 4-6 7-5 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Tashkent: Ioana Raluca Olaru and Olga Savchuk beat Nina Bratchikova and Kathrin Woerle 5-7 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Metz: Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Mons: Michal Mertinak and Lovro Zovko beat Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau 7-5 6-3
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,450,000 Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid, Madrid, Spain, hard
$125,000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
$600,000 Zurich Open, Zurich, Switzerland
$100,000 Internazionali Tennis Val Gardena, Ortisei, Italy, carpet
In the final of AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Tomas Berdych defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 6-4. Del Potro was trying to be the first player since Sjeng Schalken who won first five finals on ATP circuit. The young Argentinian who has been playing impressive tennis since Wimbledon (won 29 out of the last 30 matches before the Tokyo’s final) had some stomach problems and was close of being destroyed by Berdych. After losing the first set Del Potro saved triple break point at 1:3 in the second set. Berdych managed to hold the only service break in the second set, won his first title in Asia and first title on a hardcourt outdoors. The 23 year-old Czech has won 4 titles so far and each of them in the different conditions (Palermo 2004 – clay; Paris 2005 – indoor hardcourt; Halle 2007 – grass; Tokyo 2008 – outdoor hardcourt).
Dmitry Tursunov captured 5th title in career after beating 7-6(6) 1-6 6-4 the crowd-favourite Paul-Henri Mathieu in Metz. The Frenchman was leading 6:3 in the first set tie-break (after saving set point on Tursunov’s serve in the 12th game) but The Russian saved triple setpoint in a good style (2nd serve service winner, ace, forehand winner) and took the first set on his second chance. Mathieu leveled up to one set apiece thanks to 3 breaks of serve but lost his own serve at 2:2 in the final set. It was a crucial break. Tursunov wasted admittedly double match point in the 9th game but in the following game he quickly obtained another three match points and finished the match with 2nd serve service winner. It’s the first European title for Tursunov.
Gilles Simon won the BCR Open Romania title by beating Carlos Moya 6-3 6-4 in Bucharest, Romania
Patty Schnyder beat Tamira Paszek 6-3 6-0 to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in Bali, Indonesia
Nicolas Mahut beat Christophe Rochus 5-7 6-1 7-6 (2) to win the Open d’Orleans in Orleans, France
Lourdes Dominguez-Lino beat Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 in Athens, Greece, to win the Vogue Athens Open 2008
“I have the belief right now that I can do it as long as I’m healthy, really. That’s the way I feel. I’m going to believe till the end of my tennis days that I probably can win a Grand Slam. And if it’s not the case, or I don’t believe in it anymore, then I’ll probably retire.” – Roger Federer.
“It’s the end of the year, it’s the last Grand Slam. He didn’t have a bad year, but for his standards, not as good as he would have liked. It’s a great thing going into next year. It gives him a lot of hope to get ready for next season, and I think it’s a great feeling for him.” – Jose Higueras, on Roger Federer winning the US Open.
“These days I feel like my opponents have to play really well to beat me. … I felt good on court and I’m happy about the result. It’s nice to defend the title here in Bucharest.” – Gilles Simon.
“I am having my best season ever and qualifying for (Tennis Masters Cup) Shanghai is a great reward. It was one of my goals at the beginning of 2008 and I look forward to competing there for the first time.” – Andy Murray, the first Briton to qualify for the season-ending tournament since Tim Henman in 2004.
“It wasn’t one of my goals at the beginning of the season, but of course it would be very nice if I made it.” – Gilles Simon, on the possibility of him qualifying for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China.
“This is kind of a surprise for us,” confessed Nicolas Devilder. “We came here focusing on our singles matches and end up winning the doubles. It feels great to win the title here.” – Nicolas Devilder, after teaming with Paul-Henri Mathieu to win the doubles in Bucharest, Romania.
“It’s not the easiest tie to start off your Davis Cup career with. I would probably prefer a home tie on hard court. To jump in there against Spain in the semifinals, in a way though it’s a nice introduction to the Davis Cup. It will be tough.” – Sam Querrey, who will make his United States Davis Cup debut against Spain on clay.
“I always felt I could be number one if I put in the effort. It’s been great. I enjoyed the journey because it wasn’t overnight, and life’s a journey, not a destination.” – Serena Williams, who won the US Open women’s singles.
“Missing the U.S. Open and the Olympics was really tough for her, but she’s resolved not to try to work through the pain. She’s not coming back until the problem is corrected.” – Agent Max Eisenbud, on Maria Sharapova’s rehabilitation schedule.
“The ATP has now exhausted all avenues of inquiry open to it and the investigation is now concluded.” – The ATP in announcing it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Nikolay Davydenko and has ended its investigation of a match he lost in August 2007.
“The site on which we bet a few euros didn’t have the right to reveal that data because it was prior to the agreement made with the various sporting associations. And the ATP was not allowed to make public other information, like the bets on football and other sports. We’ll go all the way to the highest court.” – Giorgio Galimberti, one of four Italian players given suspensions by the ATP for betting on matches, saying they intend to sue the ATP for violation of privacy.
With 4-0 clobbering of Spain, Russia won its second straight Fed Cup title and its fourth international women’s team championship in the last five years. Playing on clay in Madrid, Vera Zvonareva beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-4, Svetlana Kuznetsova stopped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 6-1 before beating Medina Garrigues 5-7 6-3 6-4, and Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina teamed up to down Spain’s Nuria Llagostera Vives and Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-1. Since the best-of-5 tie was already decided, the fourth singles match was not played.
Frenchmen Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu won three fewer points than their opponents, but outlasted top-seeded Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak) to win the BCR Open Romania doubles in Bucharest. It was their first team title. In fact, they had never won a match in their two previous tournaments, and it was the first ATP doubles title for both players. The winners saved six match points before finally winning on their tenth match point. Besides beating the top-seeded Polish team, Devilder and Mathieu also knocked off the third-seeded team as well as the 2005 champions.
When Patty Schnyder won the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic in her third attempt, she reached several milestones. It was the Swiss left-hander’s 500th singles victory of her career and her eleventh title, her last one coming in Cincinnati in July 2005. Since that win, Schnyder had lost seven straight finals before defeating 17-year-old Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3 6-0 in Bali, Indonesia.
By reaching the US Open final, Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which will be held at Shanghai’s Qi Zhong Stadium in November. Murray, who reached his first Grand Slam tournament final before running into Roger Federer, joins the elite eight-man field that already includes Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram became the third team to qualify for the eight-team doubles event in Shanghai.
The Bali Classic is being transformed next year into a real Tournament of Champions. That will be the new name for the Indonesian event, which will see increased prize money from USD $225,000 to $600,00, plus a possibility of a USD $1 million bonus. Next year’s tournament will be played indoors from November 4-8 at the Bali International Convention Centre with 12 players in four round-robin groups. It will be open only to players who have won at least one of the season-long International Series events, a series of 30 tournaments played in Australia, Asia, north Africa, the Americas and Europe. The top ten WTA Tour players who have won at least one International Series tournaments and are not participating in the year-end championships in Doha, Qatar, will qualify, along with two wild cards. A player who wins three International Series events and the Tournament of Champions will collect an additional USD $1 million bonus.
There were some major shifts in the top ten of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles rankings following the US Open, led by Serena Williams taking over the top spot with her winning the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Williams is the fourth player to take over the number one spot since Justine Henin retired in May. Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina took over as the top two Russians, Dementieva moving from number six to number four, while safina moved up two spots to number five after both were semifinalists in New York. US Open finalist Jelena Jankovic is second and her Serbian countrywoman Ana Ivanovic is third.
Hsieh Su-Wei of Chinese Taipei and Peng Shuai of China teamed up to win the Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic doubles title in Bali, Indonesia, rallying from the brink of defeat to down Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova. The losers held three match points on Petrova’s serve at 5-4 in the second set only to hae Hsieh and Peng come away with a 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak) victory. The win was the first for the team. “I’m really happy to win with my partner,” Peng said. “We have been good friends for eight years now and she’s always been helping me and giving me advice, so to share this with her, it really doesn’t get any better than this.”
Dennis Van der Meer and the late Howard Head are the first two inductees into the new Tennis Industry Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by the Tennis Industry Association at a special reception honoring the two men and their contributions to the sport of tennis. Van der Meer founded the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), based in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 1976 to certify tennis teaching professionals. He also has coached world-class players on both the women’s and men’s professional tours. Howard Head first transformed the ski industry in the late 1940s when he designed a new type of ski that combined metal, plastic and plywood that was more durable, lighter and easier to turn. In 1969, he designed a metal racquet. He then joined Prince Manufacturing, where he helped redesign and improve a tennis ball machine, then later designed and patented a racquet with a 20 percent larger head.
SHARAPOVA TO RETURN
Maria Sharapova hopes to begin her comeback the second week in January when she plays an exhibition event in Hong Kong. She hopes to follow that by defending her title at the Australian Open. Sharapova, who missed the Olympics and the US Open because of a shoulder injury, has been in Phoenix, Arizona, for the last month working with fitness trainer Brett Fischer, who is working to strengthen the area around the torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder. No surgery is indicated and Sharapova’s doctors have described the tear as “very moderate.” Sharapova hasn’t played since retiring from a second-round match against Ai Sugiyama at the Canadian Open in early August.
Miguel Margets, captain of the Spanish Fed Cup team, has been given the 2008 Fed Cup Award of Excellence by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF). Francesco Ricci Bitti, ITF president, and 1984 International Tennis Hall of Famer Manolo Santana presented the award to Margets during the Fed Cup World Group final in Madrid, Spain. Miguel has captained four Spanish teams to Fed Cup championships. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence, which was inaugurated by the ITHF and the ITF in 2001, is presented to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Fed Cup competition and must be a member of a past or present Fed Cup team.
SISTERS TO AFRICA
The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, are scheduled to visit Nigeria in November in what reportedly will be their first joint visit to Africa. Godwin Kienka, who runs the International Tennis Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, and publishes a tennis magazine – Tennis Africa – said the sisters will be accompanied by their mother Oracene as well as sister and manager Isha Price, trainers and other staffers. Kienka said Venus and Serena would play an exhibition and run a clinic. It will be Venus’ first visit to Africa, whereas Serena has been to Ghana and Senegal.
SAM TO THE RESCUE
Sam Querrey will make his Davis Cup debut when the United States travels to Madrid, Spain, for a semifinal. United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe said Querrey is replacing James Blake, who McEnroe said, is “physically and mentally exhausted.” Querrey won his first ATP title in March, reached the quarterfinals on clay at Monte Carlo, and reached the fourth round of the US Open earlier this month. Other members of the American squad are Andy Roddick and the doubles team of brothers Mike and Bob Bryan. The world’s number one player, Rafael Nadal, leads the Spanish squad.
SERENA, THE WRITER
Serena Williams is reportedly planning to write her memoir. Publishing industry sources report the nine-time Grand Slam tournament champion could be close to signing a USD $1 million dollar book deal. The news of a pending Williams autobiography was initially reported by Matthew Flamm, a senior reporter at Crain’s New York.com.
After a year-long investigation into suspicious betting patterns, Russian star Nikolay Davydenko has been cleared by the ATP. The governing body of men’s tennis said it found no evidence of wrongdoing by Davydenko, his opponent, Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, or anyone else associated with their match in Sopot, Poland, on August 2, 2007. Then ranked number five in the world, Davydenko, citing a foot injury, retired in the third set of his match against the 87th-ranked Vassallo.
Four Italian tennis players banned for betting on matches are planning on suing the ATP Tour for violation of privacy over its handling of their cases. The ATP handed Potito Starace, Daniele Bracciali, Federico Luzzi and Giorgio Galimberti bans ranging from six weeks to 200 days between December 2007 and February this year. Galimberti told La Gazzetta dello Sport that a Miami law firm “will defend us for violation of privacy.” He also said the four were planning on suing the betting agency that gave the ATP the information about their wagers. Galimberti said another Italian player, Alessio di Mauro, who was banned for nine months for betting, is not taking part in the legal action.
The Vogue Athens Open ITF women’s tournament was played on hallowed ground. It was the first USD $100,000 ITF women’s circuit event to be held in Greece and included eight players ranked in the WTA Tour’s top 100. Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain won the singles, beating Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 at the Athens Lawn Tennis Club next to the famed Temple of Olympian Zeus. The 109-year-old tennis club, the largest and oldest in Greece, also was the site for the tennis event at the first Olympic Games in 1896. Davis Cup and Fed Cup ties also have been played at the club.
Turismo Madrid has become an international sponsor of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said the three-year sponsorship began with the 2008 Fed Cup final between Russia and Spain held at the Club de Campo in Madrid, Spain. Turismo Madrid is the tourism arm of the region of Madrid with the aim to attract international visitors not only to its capital city Madrid, but also to the many cultural, leisure and entertainment activities within the region.
Dr. Dharmendran Navaratnam, the tournament physician in Bali, Indonesia, has been awarded the Dr. Glick Award by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The award is named for Irving Glick, who was chief medical officer at the US Open for more than 20 years. Dr. Glick founded and chaired the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the USTA, served on the Medical Commission for the ITF, was the science coordinator for Tennis Sports Medicine at the Olympics, and was the ITF medical representative to the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics.
SPA AND ACADEMY
Jimmy Connors has made his first trip to India where a tennis academy named for the tennis great is being set up. Club Solaris, which has a chain of fitness centers, is developing the Jimmy Connors Tennis Academy at a 250-300 acre resort spa located between Pune, Mumbai and Goa. The facility will include 100 villas.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) says the 2008 tournament was the biggest and most successful US Open in its 40-year history as revenue, attendance, website traffic, and concession sales hit all-time highs. More than 720,000 fans attended the 15-day event, topping last year’s record as Arthur Ashe Stadium was sold to a record 99 percent of capacity for the first time, with 23 of 26 sessions sold out. The US Open remains the highest-attended annual sporting event in the world.
Anna Kournikova will compete in mixed doubles exhibition matches at The Stanford Championships, a stop on the Outback Champions Series circuit which will be played October 22-26 in Dallas, Texas. Once ranked in the top ten in the world, Kournikova will play during both the day and night sessions on Saturday, October 25.
SETS AN ASIAN TOUR
The Asian Tennis Federation has unveiled plans for a new tour to boost players from Asia, but is quick to insist it is not in competition with the ATP tour. Anil Khanna, president of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF), says the sole objective is to provide opportunities for Asian players to earn more money and win wild-cards for ATP events. The Asian Tour will feature 12 tournaments in different cities in Asia and will have minimum prize money of USD $50,000. The tour will begin in New Delhi, India, in December with an Asian Championship and will culminate with an eight-player Masters tournament offering prize money of USD $300,000. Khanna said the winner of the Asian Championship will be given a wild card into the ATP Qatar Open.
Bucharest: Nicolas Devilder and Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 7-6 (4) 6-7 (9) 22-20 (match tiebreak)
Orleans: Sergiy Stakhovsky and Lovro Zovko beat Jean-Claude Scherrer and Igor Zelenay 7-6 (7) 6-4
Bali: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Marta Domachowska and Nadia Petrova 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Athens: Sorana Cirstea and Galina Voskoboeva beat Kristina Barrois and Julia Schruff 6-2 6-4
SITES TO SURF
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland
$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard
$100,000 ITF Tournament, Sofia, Bulgaria, clay
Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Black Rock Tournament of Champions, Paris, France, clay
World Group Semifinals
Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay
World Group Playoffs
Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay
Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass
Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard
Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard
Israel vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard
Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay
Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay
Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group I
Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay
Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard
Europe/Africa Zone Group II
Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay
Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$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
After three days of play in the tennis competition at the 2008 Olympic tennis competition, it is the French men and the Russian women who leading in the team competition in Beijing. Both nations are seeking their nation’s first gold medal in the team competition in tennis….eerrr….uh…wait…a minute. Team competition? Is there one?
In my column posted last week (click HERE to read), I suggested that a team competition at the Olympics consist of each singles and doubles victory earning one point for a nation in a “team competition” and the nation with the most points at the end of the competition, be awarded team gold, silver and bronze. If this was indeed the case at the Games (there is only individual medals at stake in men’s and women’s singles and doubles), then after two rounds of singles and one round of doubles play, the men’s standings would be as follows
France – 8 points
Russia – 6 points
Switzerland – 4 points
Argentina – 4 points
Spain – 4 points
Czech Republic – 3 points
USA – 3 points
Germany – 3 points
Chile – 3 points
Belgium – 3 points
Serbia – 3 points
Austria – 3 points
France is paced by its depth as three players – Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Paul Henri Mathieu – all reaching the round of 16, and Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra reaching the round of 16 in doubles. Russia has two players in the round of 16 of singles – Michael Youzhny and Igor Andreev – and two doubles teams – Nikolay Davydenko and Andreev and Youzhny and Dmitry Tursunov into the round of 16 of doubles. Switzerland is, of course, paced by Roger Federer, who is the round of 16 of both singles and doubles (with Stan Wawrinka). David Nalbandian is the only Argentine still remaining in the men’s field as he is into the round of 16 of singles. For men’s singles and doubles draws at the Games, click here.
In women’s play, the team point standings would be as follows;
Russia – 8 points
China – 6 points
USA – 6 points
Belarus – 4 points
Ukraine – 3 points
Czech Republic – 3 points
Italy – 3 points
France – 3 points
Slovakia – 3 points
Russia has three women remaining in women’s singles – Dinara Safina (the U.S. Open Series women’s winner), Vera Zvonareva (who replaced the injured Maria Sharapova in the Olympic field) and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Elena Dementieva, who are all into the round of 16. In doubles, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Safina, the No. 1 seeded team, are into the round of 16 as are Zvonareva and Elena Vesnina. The Chinese women have Jie Zheng, the Wimbledon semifinalist earlier this year, and Li Na, the first-round conqueror of No. 3 seed Kuznetsova, into the round of 16 of singles, while Zheng and Zi Yan are into the round of 16 of doubles. The United States is, of course, paced by the Williams sisters – Venus and Serena – who are into the round of 16 of singles – and vying for all-sister Olympic gold medal match – and through to the round of 16 of doubles. Lindsay Davenport and Liezel Huber are through to the round of 16 of doubles as well for the Americans. For men’s singles and doubles draws at the Games, click here.
Let’s keep close tabs on how the rest of the tournament shapes up as far as our “mythic” team competition goes.