While eight of the top ten men are active in the week before Indian Wells, only two of the top ten women have chosen live matches over practice sessions. Two clay tournaments in the Western Hemisphere accompany an Asian hard-court tournament as the last chance to reverse or extend momentum before the March mini-majors.
Acapulco: One of those two top-ten women playing this week, Errani hopes to begin repeating last year’s success on red clay while extending her success from reaching the Dubai final. Little about her section suggests that she should not, although she stumbled unexpectedly on clay against Lepchenko in Fed Cup. Considering that mishap, she might find Arantxa Rus a worthy test in the quarterfinals. Rus once upset Clijsters at Roland Garros and owns a lefty forehand smothered with topspin that cause damage on this surface. She might struggle to survive an all-Dutch encounter in the opening round against Kiki Bertens, though, who broke through to win her first career title at a clay tournament in Morocoo last year.
Gone early in Bogota, where she held the second seed, Alize Cornet will hope for a more productive week in a draw where she holds the third seed. The Frenchwoman lacks weapons to overpower her opponents but will find few in this section who can overpower her. The most notable name here (probably more notable than Cornet) belongs to the returning Flavia Pennetta, who got through one three-setter in Bogota before fading in a second. Tiny Lourdes Dominguez Lino hopes that this first-round opponent still needs to shake off more rust.
An odd sight it is to see an American, a Croat, and a Swede all playing on clay during a week with a hard-court tournament, and yet all of them occupy the same section in Acapulco. Perhaps more notable than Glatch or Larsson is Ajla Tomljanovic, a heavy hitter from a nation of heavy hitters who once looked like a sure rising star before recent setbacks. Facing this Croatian wildcard in the first round, fourth seed Irina-Camelia Begu knows better how to play on clay, as 2011 finals in Marbella and Budapest showed. Begu won her first career title last fall in Tashkent, which places her a notch above the other seed in this quarter. Spending most of her career at the ITF level, Romina Oprandi recorded a strong result in Beijing last fall.
Handed a wildcard to accompany her sixth seed, Schiavone searches for relevance after a long stretch in which she has struggled to string together victories. The sporadically intriguing Sesil Karatantcheva should pose a test less stern than second seed Suarez Navarro, who shares Schiavone’s affinity for the surface. Humiliated twice in one week at Dubai, where she lost resoundingly in both the singles and the doubles draws, the small Spaniard owns one of the loveliest one-handed backhands in the WTA since Henin’s retirement. Schiavone owns another, which should make their quarterfinal pleasant viewing for tennis purists.
Final: Errani vs. Begu
Florianopolis: In the first year of a new tournament, the presence of a marquee player always helps to establish its legitimacy. The outdoor hard courts at this Brazilian resort will welcome seven-time major champion and former #1 Venus Williams as the top seed, and her draw looks accommodating in its early stages. While young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza showed potential at the Australian Open, the American’s sternest challenge may come from a much older woman. Extending Venus deep into a third set at Wimbledon in 2011, Kimiko Date-Krumm could unsettle her fellow veteran with her clever angles and crisp net play, although her serve should fall prey to her opponent’s returning power.
In the quarter below lies Kirsten Flipkens, who lost early as the top seed in Memphis after reaching the second week of the Australian Open. Also a potential semifinal opponent for Venus, Caroline Garcia possesses much more potential than her current ranking of #165 would suggest. Unlike most of the counterpunchers in Florianopolis, she will not flinch from trading baseline missiles with the top seed should she earn the opportunity. Another young star in the eighth-seeded Annika Beck might produce an intriguing quarterfinal with Garcia.
Counterpunchers dominate the third quarter, bookended by Medina Garrigues and Chanelle Scheepers. When the two met at the Hopman Cup this year, endless rallies and endless service games characterized a match filled with breaks. The heavy serve of Timea Babos might intercept Scheepers in the second round, while Medina Garrigues could encounter some early resistance from the quirky Niculescu or Shahar Peer. With her best years well behind her, the Israeli continues to show her familiar grittiness in attempting to reclaim her relevance.
Midway through 2012, the second-seeded Shvedova climbed back into singles prominence by reaching the second week at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Starting with her three-set loss to Serena at the latter major, she has suffered a series of demoralizing setbacks in early rounds since then, often in tightly contested matches that hinged on a handful of points. Shvedova once led the WTA’s rankings for overall pace of shot, though, and her power might overwhelm those around her. Aligned to meet her in the quarterfinals is Kristina Mladenovic, the surprise semifinalist at the Paris Indoors who delivered the first signature win of her career there over Kvitova.
Final: Williams vs. Mladenovic
Kuala Lumpur: With a direct-entry cutoff even lower than Florianopolis, this tournament features only eight players in the top 100. Headlining the list, however, is a former #1 who still occupies the fringes of the top 10. After she produced solid results in the Middle East, reaching a quarterfinal in Doha and a semifinal in Dubai, Wozniacki should feel confident in her ability to secure a first title of 2013. Few of the names in her quarter will strike chords with most fans, although some might remember lefty Misaki Doi as the woman who upset Petra Martic in Melbourne before eating a Sharapova double bagel. Aussie lefty Casey Dellacqua sometimes can challenge higher-ranked foes but has struggled with injury too often to maintain consistency.
Doi’s highest-ranked compatriot, the double-fister Ayumi Morita holds the fourth seed in Kuala Lumpur. Like Wozniacki, she could face an Aussie in the quarterfinals, and, like Wozniacki, she should not find the test too severe. Although she has won the Australian Open wildcard playoff twice, Olivia Rogowska has stagnated over the past few years since winning a set from then -#1 Safina at the US Open. Evergreen veteran Eleni Daniilidou rounds out this section with one of the WTA’s more powerful one-handed backhands—and not much else.
Surely pleased to recruit another player of international familiarity beyond Wozniacki, Kuala Lumpur welcomes Pavlyuchenkova as a third-seeded wildcard entrant. The Russian often has excelled at this time of year, reaching the Indian Wells semifinals before and winning consecutive titles at the Monterrey tournament that has shifted after Miami. This year, Pavlyuchenkova has shown a little of her promising 2011 form by reaching the final in Brisbane to start the season and much more of her dismal 2012 form by dropping three straight matches thereafter. She could end her four-match losing streak here in a section filled with qualifiers. But yet another Aussie in Ashleigh Barty hopes to continue what so far has become an encouraging season for WTA future stars.
When not conversing on Twitter with our colleague David Kane, 16-year-old phenom Donna Vekic has compiled some notable results. Seeded at a WTA tournament for the first time, she will look to build upon her final in Tashkent last year, a win over Hlavackova at the Australian Open, and a solid week in Fed Cup zonal play. Vekic does face a challenging first-round test in the powerful serve of American wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but no match in her section looks unwinnable. While second seed and potential quarterfinal opponent Hsieh Su-wei won her first two titles last year, the late-blossoming star from Chinese Taipei still does not intimidate despite her presence in the top 25.
Final: Wozniacki vs. Pavlyuchenkova
(Actually, can we just combine these last two draws and have Venus play a super-final against Caro?)
What to Watch in the WTA This Week: Previews of Dubai, Memphis, and Bogota
Shifting down the Persian Gulf, eight of the top ten women move from Doha to Dubai for the only Premier tournament this week. In North and South America are two International tournaments on dramatically different surfaces. Here is the weekly look at what to expect in the WTA.
Dubai: Still the top seed despite her dethroning last week, Azarenka can collect valuable rankings points at a tournament from which she withdrew in 2012. She looked far sharper in Doha than she did for most of her title run in Melbourne, and once again she eyes a potential quarterfinal with Sara Errani. Although the Italian has rebounded well from a disastrous start to the season, she lacks any weapons with which to threaten Azarenka. Between them stands last year’s runner-up Julia Goerges, an enigma who seems destined to remain so despite her first-strike potential. If Sloane Stephens can upset Errani in the second round, meanwhile, a rematch of the Australian Open semifinal could loom in the quarterfinals. The top seed might expect a test from Cibulkova in the second round, since she lost to her at Roland Garros last year and needed a miraculous comeback to escape her in Miami. But Cibulkova injured her leg in Fed Cup a week ago and has faltered since reaching the Sydney final.
Having won just one match until Doha, Stosur bounced back somewhat by recording consecutive wins in that Premier Five field. The Aussie may face three straight lefties in Makarova, Lepchenko, and Kerber, the last of whom has the greatest reputation but the least momentum. While Makarova reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, Lepchenko displayed her newfound confidence in upsetting both Errani and Vinci on clay in Fed Cup—a rare feat for an American. Vinci herself also stands in this section, from which someone unexpected could emerge. Azarenka need fear little from either Kerber or Stosur, both of whom she has defeated routinely in most of their previous meetings, so a semifinal anticlimax might beckon. Not that Doha didn’t produce a semifinal anticlimax from much more prestigious names.
Atop the third quarter stands the greatest enigma of all in Petra Kvitova, who won four straight matches between Fed Cup and Doha before nearly halting Serena’s bid for the #1 ranking. Considering how far she had sunk over the previous several months, unable to string together consecutive victories, that accomplishment marked an immense step forward. Kvitova can capitalize immediately on a similar surface in the section occupied by defending champion Radwanska. In contrast to last week, the Czech can outhit anyone whom she could face before the semifinals, so she will determine her own fate. If she implodes, however, Ivanovic could repeat her upset when they met in last year’s Fed Cup final before colliding with Radwanska for the third time this year. Also of note in this section is the all-wildcard meeting between rising stars Putintseva and Robson.
Breaking with her usual routine, Serena has committed to the Middle East hard courts without reserve by entering both Doha and Dubai. Whether she plays the latter event in a physical condition that looks less than promising may remain open to question until she takes the court. So strong is the draw that Serena could open against world #11 Bartoli, who owns a Wimbledon victory against her from 2011 but has not sustained that success. The eighth-seeded Wozniacki proved a small thorn in her side last year by defeating her in Miami and threatening her in Rome, so a quarterfinal could intrigue if the Dane can survive Safarova to get there and if Serena arrives at less than full strength.
Final: Azarenka vs. Kvitova
Memphis: Overshadowed a little by the accompanying ATP 500 tournament, this event has lacked star power for the last few years. Rather than Venus, Sharapova, or Davenport, the top seed in 2013 goes to Kirsten Flipkens, a player largely unknown in the United States. This disciple of Clijsters may deserve more attention than she has received, however, rallying to reach the second week of the Australian Open in January after surviving blood clots last spring. Former finalist Shahar Peer and 2011 champion Magdalena Rybarikova attempt to resurrect their careers by returning to the scene of past triumphs, but lefty Ksenia Pervak may offer the most credible challenge to Flipkens in this quarter.
Of greater note is the hard-serving German who holds the third seed and should thrive on a fast indoor court. Although Lisicki has struggled to find her form away from grass, she showed flickers of life by charging within a tiebreak of the Pattaya City title earlier this month. Kristina Mladenovic, a potential quarterfinal opponent, delivered a key statement in the same week at the Paris Indoors, where she upset Kvitova en route to the semifinals. Before then, though, this French teenager had displayed little hint of such promise, so one feels inclined to attribute that result more to the Czech’s frailty for now.
Part of an elite doubles team with compatriot Andrea Hlavackova, Lucie Hradecka has excelled on surfaces where her powerful serve can shine. Like Lisicki, she should enjoy her week in Memphis amid a section of opponents who cannot outhit her from the baseline. Among them is the largely irrelevant Melanie Oudin, who surfaced last year to win her first career title before receding into anonymity again. Neither Oudin nor the fourth-seeded Heather Watson possesses significant first-strike power, so their counterpunching will leave them at a disadvantage on the indoor hard court. But Watson has improved her offense (together with her ranking) over the last few months and should relish the chance to take advantage of a friendly draw. Interestingly, Hradecka’s doubles partner Hlavackova could meet her in the quarterfinals if she can upset Watson.
Finishing runner-up to Sharapova here in 2010, Sofia Arvidsson holds the second seed in this yaer’s tournament as she eyes a potential quarterfinal against one of two Americans. While Chanelle Scheepers anchors the other side of the section, Jamie Hampton could build upon her impressive effort against Azarenka at the Australian Open to shine on home soil. Nor should one discount the massive serve of Coco Vandeweghe, which could compensate for her one-dimensionality here.
Final: Lisicki vs. Hradecka
Bogota: Like the ATP South American tournaments in February, this event offers clay specialists an opportunity to compile ranking points in a relatively unintimidating setting. Top seed and former #1 Jankovic fits that category, having reached multiple semifinals at Roland Garros during her peak years. She has not won a title in nearly three years, but a breakthrough could happen here. In her section stand Pauline Parmentier and Mariana Duque Marino, the latter of whom stunned Bogota audiences by winning the 2010 title here over Kerber. As her wildcard hints, she never quite vaulted from that triumph to anything more significant. Serious opposition to Jankovic might not arise until the semifinals, when she faces the aging Pennetta. Once a key part of her nation’s Fed Cup achievements, the Italian veteran won their most recent clay meeting and looks likely to ensure a rematch with nobody more notable than the tiny Dominguez Lino blocking her.
The lower half of the draw features a former Roland Garros champion in Schiavone and a French prodigy who nearly broke through several years ago before stagnating in Cornet. Testing the latter in a potential quarterfinal is Timea Babos, who won her first career title around this time last year with a promising serve. For Schiavone, the greatest resistance could come from lanky Dutch lefty Arantxa Rus. Known most for her success on clay, Rus won a match there from Clijsters and a set from Sharapova, exploiting the extra time that the surface allows for her sluggish footwork. Also of note in this half is Paula Ormaechea, a rising Argentine who probably ranks as the most notable women’s star expected from South America in the next generation. Can she step into Dulko’s shoes?
Final: Jankovic vs. Schiavone
Check back shortly for the companion preview on the three ATP tournaments this week in Marseille, Memphis, and Buenos Aires!
Kimiko Date-Krumm: The Finest Wine in Tennis
Age restrictions on the WTA Tour have wrested dominance from the prepubescent prodigies of old. Week-to-week, players of all ages continue making their mark, all products of their generation. The young guns are fiery, full of determination. Those in their mid-twenties are methodical, but looking for a breakthrough or an escape after nearly a decade at the proverbial grind.
Then there is Kimiko Date-Krumm.
The more we see of the ageless wonder, the surer we are of how she spent those 12 years away from the game. She didn’t spend it marrying German racecar driver Michael Krumm. She wasn’t staying in peak physical condition and running marathons. She certainly couldn’t have been playing tennis, save for an aborted comeback attempt in 2002.
No, it is all clear now. Kimiko spent that decade (or longer) in a time capsule.
After all, how else did she leave the game in the mid-90s only to reemerge in 2008 looking younger than her new crop of rivals, many of whom had yet to be born when the Japanesewoman turned pro (in 1989)? How else did she retain her throwback game, those mercilessly flat groundstrokes and all-court efficiency? How else could she, at (allegedly) 42, be improving at a rate outpacing teenaged players young enough to call Kimiko “Mom?”
Whatever the conspiracy, Date-Krumm should bottle it, sell it, and make millions off of it.
(Then she could buy an island, relax on the beach while maintaining her flawless tan.)
There is plenty of hyperbole here, but only because Kimiko is, in her own subtle way, the most hyperbolic player on the Tour. We as fans and writers enjoy entertaining debates of whether bygone generations could compete in today’s game, yet we fail to sufficiently take notice of this fascinating athletic experiment, one that takes place every time Date-Krumm takes the court.
Coming from an ostensibly extinct era where mental fortitude trumped brute strength, Date-Krumm appears to lack the height and technique of shot to bother the modern player. Yet, most matches involving the Japanesewoman begin and end on her own terms. With bulging biceps, her relentless shots spring from her Yonex racquet like a catapult for screaming winners or unfortunate errors.
With that game plan, Kimiko pummels the ball as well as anyone, and has the resumé to prove it. During the last five years of her incredible second career, she has beaten players like Slam champions like Maria Sharapova, former No. 1s like Dinara Safina and participated in classic matches, none more memorable than her titanic effort against Venus Williams at Wimbledon:
For all she has achieved by simply being on the court, Kimiko continues to come back for more, even after an injury ruined her dream of representing her country at the London Olympics. Riding a wave of confidence and good form at the end of last year, she came to Australia ready to reclaim her giant-killing reputation.
Drawing Nadia Petrova, the No. 12 seed, it looked like an inauspicious start for the Japanesewoman. As well as she had ended 2012, Petrova had hit even higher peaks, and looked primed for a big run at a Slam. Tall and powerful, the Russian is a perfect example of the modern game. But Kimiko proved that her 90s sensibilities were still effective in 2013; she was positively ruthless in a thrilling upset and only allowed the in-form Russian two games.
As other big names were falling around her, Date-Krumm sensed opportunity knocking during her second round encounter with Israeli Shahar Pe’er. Once a formidable opponent, Pe’er alludes to those aforementioned twentysomethings who look as eager for a way out as Date-Krumm is for a way back in. Cruising past the former top 20 player with a set and two breaks, Kimiko looked poised for another effortless victory.
In the oppressive heat and against a reinvigorated Pe’er, however, Date-Krumm would not have the remainder of the match all her own way. But unlike those young enough to be her daughters, for whom “the moment” can crush, the Japanesewoman held her nerve and served out the second round on the second time of asking. Nearly five years after mounting this improbable comeback, Kimiko is in the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time since 1996.
But then, we should have expected this from a woman who only recently awoke from cryogenic sleep. In fact, check her hotel room for the fountain of youth, lest we be forced to deal with the fact that yes, we can get better with age.
WTA Strasbourg Day 3 recap and photos: Francesca Schiavone, Sloane Stephens reach quarterfinals
By Romana Cvitkovic
Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is in Strasbourg, France covering the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament live all week.
The second round was underway with victories by Francesca Schiavone, Anabel Medina Garrigues, and American Sloane Stephens.
Schiavone made quick work of Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic with a solid 6-1, 6-2 win in just an hour. Medina Garrigues fought a tougher battle against Su-Wei Hsieh and won in two tiebreaker sets, 7-6(9), 7-6(2). Stephens beat a former juniors player foe in three rollercoaster sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and saved 10-of-14 break points.
Other winners include French players Pauline Parmentier and wildcard Alize Cornet, qualifier Alexandra Panova, Japanese player Ayumi Morita and Swede Johanna Larsson who brought number eight seed Tamira Paszek of Austria tumbling out of the tournament.
Likewise, the doubles semifinals are set:
 Grandin/Uhlirova (RSA/CZE) d. Chang/Chuang (TPE/TPE) 75 64
 Govortsova/Jans-Ignacik (BLR/POL) d. Gámiz/Hermoso (VEN/MEX) 62 75
 Babos/Hsieh (HUN/TPE) d. Naydenova/Pereira (BUL/BRA) 63 64
Cadantu/Keothavong (ROU/GBR) d. Adamczak/Bengson (AUS/AUS) 63 63
ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012
CENTRAL Start at 11:00 am
1. Ayumi Morita vs. Sloane Stephens
2. Johanna Larsson vs. Francesca Schiavone (NB 1:00 pm)
3. Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. Alizé Cornet (NB 3:00 pm)
4. Pauline Parmentier vs. Alexandra Panova
COURT 1 Start at 2:00 pm
1. Cadantu/Keothavong vs. Govortsova/Jans-Ignacik
Check back each day to catch all new action direct from the courts by our photographer Rick Gleijm! Scroll down for today’s full gallery of over 90 photos below.
Sabine Lisicki, Maria Kirilenko, Pauline Parmentier practice in Strasbourg
By Romana Cvitkovic
Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is in Strasbourg, France covering the WTA Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament live all week. Check back each day to catch all new action direct from the courts! Today’s set highlights main draw players Sabine Lisicki, Maria Kirilenko, Pauline Parmentier and Shahar Peer as they hit the practice courts over the weekend.
Set in picturesque Strasbourg, the tennis club itself is set across the street from European Parliament and is the last stop on the red clay prior to next week’s Roland Garros. The players are gearing up for the start of main draw matches on Monday, with wildcard and #1 seed Sabine Lisicki taking on French player Pauline Parmentier on center court. Over the weekend, players were seen training hard on the courts among adoring fans and the venue is sure to only get more crowded. Only time will tell to see which lady will hold up the trophy this year, after defending champion Andrea Petkovic was unable to play due to injury.
With the temperature expected to be near 80* degrees all week, it’s sure to be a great tournament for fans and players!
ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, MAY 21, 2012
CENTRAL start 11:00 am
M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) vs M Lucic (CRO) – Qualifying – Final Round
Not Before 12:30 PM
E Baltacha (GBR) vs S Foretz Gacon (FRA)
 [WC] S Lisicki (GER) vs P Parmentier (FRA)
 A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs A Tatishvili (GEO)
COURT 1 start 11:00 am
M Minella (LUX) vs L Davis (USA) – Qualifying – Final Round
S Hsieh (TPE) vs I Begu (ROU)
 T Paszek (AUT) vs A Brianti (ITA)
 M Erakovic (NZL) vs A Morita (JPN)
COURT 2 start 11:00 am
A Panova (RUS) vs S Dubois (CAN) – Qualifying – Final Round
Not Before 12:30 PM
J Hampton (USA) or L Jurikova (SVK) vs A Sevastova (LAT) – Qualifying – Final Round
S Aoyama (JPN) / H Chan (TPE) vs  O Govortsova (BLR) / K Jans-Ignacik (POL)
A Naydenova (BUL) / T Pereira (BRA) vs S Stephens (USA) / J Woehr (GER)
K Chang (TPE) / C Chuang (TPE) vs A Vrljic (CRO) / K Woerle (GER)
Mondays With Bob Greene: Thanks to your Royal Highness for coming
Venus Williams beat Vera Zvonareva 6-7 (5) 6-0 6-2 to win the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha Qatar
Anne Keothavong won the Salwator Cup in Krakow, Poland, beating Monica Niculescu 7-6 (4) 4-6 6-3
Jan Hernych beat Stephane Bohli 6-2 6-4 to win the Tatra Banka Open in Bratislava, Slovakia
John McEnroe won the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Arizona, by beating Todd Martin 3-6 7-6 (3) 11-9 (Champions tiebreaker)
“Thanks to your Royal Highness for coming. Wow!” – Venus Williams, after being presented the Sony Ericsson Championships trophy by the first lady of Qatar, Sheika Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned.
“Venus is very powerful. She came up with some great serves when she needed. It was tough on me.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing the final at Doha, Qatar.
“I just don’t like the ring of it. It sounds a bit awkward to me. It is a challenge to get back to number one.” – Roger Federer, on being ranked number two in the world.
“I didn’t even look like a top-eight player today. Maybe top 600 in the juniors.” – Serena Williams, after losing 5-7 6-1 6-0 to sister Venus in a round-robin match at the Sony Ericsson Championships.
“Competing at so many events might have harmed, especially at the end of the season, my physical condition, taking away the freshness needed to play at the top level of the game on these last events.” – Rafael Nadal, writing on his web site about his right knee injury.
“Being a professional tennis player is about a lot more than just hitting tennis balls and winning matches. The off-court side of things is also very important, and it’s essential that we as athletes do what we can to promote the sport.” – Ana Ivanovic, after winning the ACES award.
“It’s the first time I’ve got the chance to play against top 10 players five matches in a row. And I was able to come up with four wins, so, of course it’s a good week.” – Vera Zvonareva.
“It’s really a tough format here, just because there are four teams and the way the draw is. It’s really hard to just come out and be ready to play like in the semifinals. So we were just really happy with our performance.” – Cara Black, who teamed with Liezel Huber to win the doubles at the Sony Ericsson Championships.
“I haven’t thought too much about next year yet, but I have high and wonderful hopes for it, and at the appropriate time I’ll start working hard again.” – Venus Williams, after winning the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
“I thought this may have been the best I played all year and I think a lot of that had to do with the crowds. I was able to feed off of their energy all week.” – John McEnroe, who won a seniors tournament in Surprise, Arizona.
“Sometimes I really enjoy playing not at home. I don’t think about any pressure.” – Nikolay Davydenko, on why he won his opening match at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.
“When you play against (Rafael) Nadal, (Roger) Federer or (Novak) Djokovic, you have just one chance or two. I had a break point. I didn’t get it.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after losing to Djokovic in his opening Tennis Masters Cup match.
“I can’t play singles competitively any more, but like to play doubles up to three times a week, although sometimes injuries do not permit that frequency.” – Michael Henderson, who at age 76 is still playing and winning matches.
Tendinitis in his right knee caused world number one Rafael Nadal to pull out of the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. It is hoped that a week of rest and treatment will mean Nadal will be able to lead Spain in the Davis Cup final against Argentina later this month. The injury forced Nadal to retire from his Paris Masters quarterfinal against Nikolay Davydenko. Nadal blamed the injury on the busy tennis calendar, saying it took its toll on his body. Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, a Spanish Tennis Federation doctor, said Nadal was being treated with anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and ice packs.
US Open champion Serena Williams and French Open winner Ana Ivanovic both withdrew from the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha with injuries. Williams suffered from a pulled stomach muscle while Ivanovic had a virus. Serena beat Dinara Safina in her first round-robin match, then suffered a strange 5-7 6-1 6-0 loss to her sister Venus. Serena said she only felt the problem develop after she returned to her hotel. Ivanovic played two round-robin matches, losing both. Nadia Petrova replaced Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska replaced Ivanovic in the eight-player competition.
The WTA Tour is changing next year’s rules to reinstate byes in two big tournaments. Several players complained that they were being asked to play two high-intensity events in a row with no opportunity to rest between tournaments. WTA CEO Larry Scott said the problem came because twice in the year there are two big tournaments played in consecutive weeks: Rome being followed by Madrid and, in the fall, Tokyo followed by Beijing. The four players reaching the semifinals at Rome and Tokyo will get first-round byes in the following events. Scott said adjustments also were made to allow players to participate in at least two of the following tournaments: Paris Indoors, Charleston, Stuttgart, Stanford and Los Angeles.
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and his fiancée of three months have separated. The 40-year-old Becker and Sandy Meyer-Woelden, who is 16 years younger, became engaged in August. She is the daughter of Becker’s former manager, Axel Meyer-Woelden. Becker has been divorced from Barbara Becker for seven years. They have two children. He also has a daughter with London-based model Angela Ermakova.
SAYS NO WAY
Andy Roddick said he was only joking when he said he would give a tennis lesson in the nude. That offer brought a USD $11,200 bid from a woman at a charity auction earlier this year. “First and foremost, I am not going to be playing naked tennis,” Roddick said. “It was said in jest and the lady who bid was really cool afterwards.” The offer from Roddick was auctioned off to help Elton John’s AIDS Foundation fundraiser.
Ana Ivanovic is the 2008 winner of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour ACES Award. The award is given to the player who consistently goes above and beyond to promote women’s tennis to fans, media, in the community and beyond. The French Open champion said her most enjoyable off-the-court activities this year were playing doubles with amateur players in Tokyo and participating in a photo shoot by the WTA Tour players in Dubai. Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, said: “Ana is not only an incredible athlete and champion, but also a player who has earned the respect and admiration of fans, media and sponsors by continuously giving back. Throughout the 2008 season, Ana has given of herself selflessly and been a true ambassador in promoting our sport.”
Formula One auto racing is moving its 2009 date in Shanghai to make room for a Tennis Masters tournament. The 2009 Chinese Grand Prix will be run in April, following the Australian Grand Prix on March 29 and the Malaysian Grand Prix on April 5. The Chinese Grand Prix had previously been run in Shanghai in October. But with the new tennis calendar set for next year, the ATP tournament will be held in Shanghai October 12 to 18.
John McEnroe saved three match points and finally beat Todd Martin in a wild final to win the $150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise, Arizona, in suburban Phoenix. After losing to Martin in three previous finals on the Outback Champions Series tour, the 49-year-old McEnroe outlasted Martin 3-6 7-6 (3) 11-9 (Champions tiebreaker) to win his second career title on the tennis circuit for champion players over the age of 30. Martin served for the match and led 6-3 6-5 40-0 before McEnroe rallied for the victory.
Israel’s top women’s player, Shahar Peer, has got a new coach. Peer is now working with Pablo Giacopelli, a Peruvian-born British citizen. She will begin her training with Giacopelli in South Africa, accompanied by her physical trainer, Muli Epstein. According to published reports in Israel, Peer will train for two weeks at high altitude in the Johannesburg area, followed by two weeks in the Durban area. She will compete in the Israeli Championships in December.
Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association has honored Dennis and Doris Lloyd with the LTA’s meritorious service award. The two met during World War II and have been members of Westcliff Hardcourts tennis club for 62 years. As a player, Dennis Lloyd won numerous titles and was district doubles champion six times with partner Howard Stone. Dennis became a coach and helped develop many players, including his own children. Attending the ceremony was two of their sons, David and Tony, and their daughter Ann, who was a strong club player. Their third son is John Lloyd. David Lloyd is a former Davis Cup captain.
It will be “old home week,” with the emphasis on old, when the Grand Slam Winners Classic is held in the Sarasota, Florida, area next month. The competition will help raise money and awareness for The Wellness Community, a national not-for-profit organization that offers free education, support and hope for patients diagnosed with cancer. Among those scheduled to participate in the tennis are Eddie Dibbs, Fred Stolle, Virginia Wade, Hana Mandlikova, Johan Kriek, Owen Davidson, Robbie Seguso, Ken Flach and Kathy Rinaldi.
Billie Jean King has been appointed a Global Mentor for Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She was named to the post at a ceremony in Doha, Qatar, during the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour season-ending championships. As part of the appointment, the Billie Jean King Leadership Internship program will be set up to give young women experience in the sports industry through internships at the Women’s Sports Foundation and then job placement opportunities in the sports business. Besides winning 12 Grand Slam singles titles between 1966 an 1975, King has been a vocal advocate against sexism in sports. She also founded the WTA Tour and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
The man who coached Bjorn Borg for 12 years and captained Sweden to its first Davis Cup title has died. Lennart Bergelin was 83 when he died from heart failure at a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. As a player, Bergelin won nine Swedish singles titles between 1945 and 1955, and captured the French Open doubles in 1948. But he was more famous for coaching Borg from 1971 to 1983, helping him win eleven Grand Slam tournament titles. Bergelin coached the Swedish Davis Cup team from 1971 through 1976, giving a 15-year-old Borg his Davis Cup debut in 1972 against New Zealand’s Onny Parun. Borg won the match.
STARTING THE HALL
The three new inductees into the Nevada Tennis Hall of Fame includes Andre Agassi’s father, Mike. Also being inducted later this month are community leader Ann Rockwell and twins Catrina and Christian Thompson. Mike Agassi gave free lessons to the children in his neighborhood, including his son Andre. “What Mike Agassi has doe for the world of tennis is immeasurable, his kindness is limitless and this is our community’s chance to thank and recognize him,” said Ryan Wolfington, executive director of USTA-Nevada. Rockwell played on the United States Wightman Cup team and won the USPTA National Championships in singles and doubles. The Thompson twins were junior standouts and, while at Notre Dame, were ranked number one in doubles by the NCAA.
With a combined age of 156, Michael Henderson and Tony Bennett are doubles partners who are still playing winning tennis. Bennett won the British Veterans’ grass court over-80 doubles title at Wimbledon with another partner in the summer. Henderson, the younger of the two at 76, played in the Wimbledon Junior doubles in 1949. He was set to return 50 years later after qualifying for the 70-year-old singles, but pulled so many muscles in the qualifier he couldn’t play in the event.
Doha: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 6-1 7-5
Krakow: Angelique Kerber and Urzula Radwanska beat Olga Brozda and Sandra Zaniewska 6-3 6-2
Bratislava: Frantisek Cermak and Lukasz Kubot beat Phillipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 6-4 6-4
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,700,000 Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, China, carpet
$125,000 PEOPLEnet Cup, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Argentina vs. Spain at Mar Del Plata, Argentina, hard
$125,000 IPP Open, Helsinki, Finland, hard
$100,000 Nordea Danish Open, Odense, Denmark, carpet
Blackrock Tour of Champions, Macao, China
US Open – Day 1: The Goal Is To Win US Open, no ?
NEW YORK – The fact he’s number one in the world makes no difference to Rafael Nadal.
“I have the same goal,” he said Monday night. “When I was number two, the goal was the same, was win the US Open, The goal wasn’t win the US Open to be number one. The goal is win US Open, no?”
Coming off yet another title – the latest an Olympic gold medal in Beijing – Nadal opened his first Grand Slam tournament as the top-seeded player by beating back pesky qualifier Bjorn Phau of Germany 7 6 (4) 6 3 7 6 (4).
“He played well today, but I didn’t play with normal intensity,” Nadal said of Phau, who has spent a lot of time playing Challenger tournaments and not on the main tour. “Important thing, finally, is to win.”
One top player failed to make it past the opening day of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Tenth-seeded Anna Chakvetadze was ousted by fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 1-6 6-2 6-3.
Phau was a match for Nadal in speed and quickness. And his penetrating shots kept the Spaniard on the run. Still, while Phau matched Nadal with 37 winners each, the German doled out nine more errors than his higher-ranked opponent and continually had to battle to hold his own serve.
Nadal, on the other hand, held easily and faced only three break points in the match, losing serve just once.
“I am a little bit tired, yes, but it is US Open so I have to try my best here,” Nadal said. “I’m going to try to try my best for sure.”
Playing in only her second US Open main draw, Makarova pulled off the opening day’s biggest surprise by ousting Chakvetadze, who was a semifinalist here last year.
The 20-year-old Makarova, one year younger than Chakvetadze, won only one more point than her opponent. But her points came at the right time as she broke Chakvetadze twice in each of the last two sets.
Also losing her first-round match was Shahar Peer of Israel, who fell to Li Na of China 2-6 6-0 6-1. Peer was seeded 24th.
“She never miss,” Li said of Peer’s first-set play. “And in the second set I just tell myself, `OK, right now you just play your game. Don’t give up.’ I know every first round is tough for the player, so I just try my best.”
Li, who reached the semifinals at the Beijing Olympics, only to lose the bronze medal match, completely dominated after the opening set. She finished with 28 winners, compared to just seven for Peer.
Amira Paszek of Austria surprised 22nd seeded Maria Kirilenko 6-3 3-6 6-4.
In the men’s singes, two seeded players were eliminated.
Feliciano Lopez of Spain, the 27th seed, was beaten by Austria’s Jurgen Melzer in one of the day’s longest matches 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-2 2-6 6-4. And 29th-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina fell to Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-2 6-2 5-7 6-2.
“It was a great win, I think, because he’s a good player and seeded,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t think I was going to win, so I’m happy of it.”
Mondays With Bob Greene: The First Week of Wimbledon
(Wimbledon first week)
Zheng Jie beat top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-4
Marat Safin beat third-seeded Novak Djokovic 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-2
Alla Kudryavtseva beat third-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-4
Mario Ancic beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 7-6 (3)
Janko Tipsarevic beat sixth-seeded Andy Roddick 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4)
Frank Dancevic beat seventh-seeded David Nalbandian 6-4 6-2 6-4
Ranier Schuettler beat ninth-seeded James Blake 6-3 6-7 (8) 4-6 6-4 6-4
Shahar Peer beat ninth-seeded Dinara Safina 7-5 6-7 (4) 8-6
“Sport isn’t the priority at the moment. … I think food would be.” – Cara Black, discussing her native country, Zimbabwe.
“There’s only one winner in the tournament, and everyone else is disappointed. I’m one of them.” – Maria Sharapova, after her 6-2 6-4 second-round loss to Alla Kudryavtseva.
“I don’t like her outfit. It was one of the motivations to beat her.” – Alla Kudryavtseva, on Sharapova’s tuxedo-style ensemble.
“I just didn’t make anything happen out there. Zero, zero, zero.” – Andy Roddick, following his 6-7 (5) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (4) loss to Janko Tipsarevic.
“This means the world to me. I’m just glad that I won and Serbia will have more representatives in the men’s singles draw.” – Janko Tipsarevic, following his upset win over Roddick.
“Jocks win Wimbledon, and those are clearly two of the best athletes in the game. They can make the adjustments. They can play physical tennis. They can think on the move.” – Television analyst Mary Carillo, predicting Venus and Serena Williams will face each other in the Wimbledon final.
“I felt like I was about 25, maybe 30 percent. In a first-, second-round match, it’s just not good enough. It’s not going to get better the more I play on it.” – Lindsay Davenport, who withdrew from Wimbledon hours before her second-round match because of a knee injury.
“He’s trying to become number one in the world and he had a lot of pressure on him and I really didn’t have any pressure at all.” – Marat Safin, after beating third-seeded Novak Djokovic.
“It was a bad day for me.” – Novak Djokovic.
“Yeah, 127 is a good way to end it.” – Venus Williams, after hitting a 127-mph ace on match point in her third-round match.
“At the end of ther match it was pretty tough because we both, I think, couldn’t see the ball anymore.” – Marat Safin, who completed his victory over Andreas Seppi in virtual darkness.
“Maybe when you are my age you are happier as a tennis player than when you’re in the 20s. I’m happy right now even if I’m the oldest in the draw.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, who at 31 is the oldest player in the Wimbledon women’s draw to reach the second week.
“I look forward to the rest of my 2008 season, which hopefully will include the Olympic Games in Beijing. It would be the most incredible way to finish my career if I could win a medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who will retire at the end of this year.
“Tomorrow is the only day that I can think of. I never thought I could play this long. This is my 16th Wimbledon, and it’s been great. … But I just don’t want to just be here. I still need to play good.” – Ai Sugiyama, who is playing in a record 57th consecutive Grand Slam tournament.
“I put so much pressure on myself for the (Olympic) goal that I was traveling for almost three months and I couldn’t find my game. Somehow in the last moment I qualified. I catch the last train.” – Dinara Safina, who was picked for the Russian Olympic tennis team after reaching the French Open final.
“Among the targets of my comments was Anna Kournikova, not to mention a general disregard and disrespect toward women. They all deserve and have my deepest apologies. While I see how it could be implied by my remarks, I assure you that I have the utmost respect for women.” – Justin Gimelstob, apologizing for remarks he made on a radio chat show broadcast in the Washington, DC, area.
“The ATP cannot condone any form of intolerance and Justin Gimelstob’s comments last week were unacceptable. However, Justin has done the right thing in taking full responsibility for his comments by apologizing publicly to Anna (Kournikova) for what he has rightly described as his disappointing and disrespectful comments.” – The ATP, in a statement.
“I really don’t want to get into any of the off-court stuff. I’m just going to take the high road and not get into this discussion.” – Anna Kournikova.
“We’re disappointed at Justin’s remarks, which are inappropriate and contrary to what our sport should stand for.” – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, in a statement.
Venus Williams closed out her third-round victory over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez with a record-breaking serve. The American ended a love game with a 127-mph delivery, the fastest recorded by a woman at Wimbledon. It was her 11th ace of the match, which she won 6-1 7-5. Williams also holds the WTA Tour record for fastest serve at 129 mph.
SHUT YOUR MOUTH
When Justin Gimbelstob was interviewed for a radio chat show in the Washington, DC, area, his comments sent shock waves throughout tennis. The former player and newly-elected ATP board member, later apologized to Anna Kounikova, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chief Larry Scott, World Team Tennis co-founder Billie Jean King, the ATP and just about everyone else. In the interview, Gimbelstob called Kournikova a “bitch” and said he wanted to make her cry, called French players Tatiana Golovin and Alize Corent “sexpots,” and said Czech player Nicole Vaidisova was a “well-developed young lady.” Gimbelstob said there was “no excuse and I am extremely disappointed in myself. I take full responsibility for all the words that came out of my mouth, and while I can’t take them back, I hope my heartfelt remorse can begin to heal the woulds felt by many.”
SEEING THE END?
Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport has hinted strongly that this is her last year on the tour. The 32-year-old recently returned to the tour after giving birth to her child. She withdrew from her second-round match because of a knee injury, then told BBC Sport: “I would be surprised if I was back here playing. I am looking forward to the Olympics and playing the U.S. Open. After that there are not a lot of plans.” Davenport won the U.S. Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999, the Australian Open in 2000, and a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Because she missed most of 2007 with an ankle injury, China’s Zheng Jie saw her ranking slip from number 27 in the world to 133. So she wrote to the All England Club asking for a wild card since she had qualified for the French Open and reached the third round, had won the women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2006 and that China was staging the Olympics this year. She got the wild card, and turned it into history when she upset the world’s top-ranked player, Ana Ivanovic, to advance to the fourth round. Four years ago at the French Open, Zheng became the first Chinese woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. Two years ago, China’s Li Na gained a quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon.
SAFINA TO BEIJING
French Open finalist Dinara Safina will play singles at the Beijing Olympics in August. The Russian Tennis Federation added Safina when Anna Chakvetadze decided to skip the Games. Also heading to Beijing are Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Dementieva. En route to the final at Roland Garros, Safina beat Sharapova, Dementieva and Kuznetsova. Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpishchev said the men’s team will be picked according to the rankings, meaning Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Dmitry Tursunov and Igor Andreev will play singles in Beijing.
By playing at Wimbledon this year, Ai Sugiyama of Japan set a record for most consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearances by a man or woman. This is her 57th straight Grand Slam tournament, which she began with a victory over Belgian Yanina Wickmayer. Sugiyama, who turns 33 years old on July 5, said she has never had a serious injury, travels with a trainer and has a massage every day to prolong her career. Currently ranked number 38 in the world, Sugiyama started her unbroken stretch of majors at Wimbledon in 1994 before she had graduated from high school. South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira previously held the record at 56 straight.
SET FOR BEIJING
Two sisters and two brothers will be key players on the United States Olympic tennis team in Beijing. Serena and Venus Williams will lead the women’s squad, while Bob and Mike Bryan will be favored to win the men’s doubles. Others named to the nine-player squad include Lindsay Davenport, Liezel Huber, James Blake, Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri. The Williams sisters will play both singles and doubles, while Davenport will play singles and team with Huber in doubles. Blake, Querrey and Ginepri will play singles and Blake and Querrey will join the Bryans in doubles. Zina Garrison will coach the women’s team, while the men’s coach is Rodney Harmon.
Anna Chakvetadze’s recent bad form is the result of an armed robbery at her Moscow house late last year. While she escaped unharmed, Chakvetadze admits she is still suffering mental stress from the ordeal. Her father, Jamal, a wealthy Russian businessman, was badly beaten during the robbery.
Nikolay Davydenko said he may have inadvertently become embroiled in a betting scandal by talking too loudly to his wife during a tournament in Poland last year. An online bookmaker, Betfair, voided all bets on a match between Davydenko and Argentina’s Martin Vassallo Arguello in Sopot, Poland, last August after the Russian retired in the third set, citing a foot injury. Davydenko said his wife was in the stands when he told her something like, “I don’t want to play or I can retire.” He feels someone may have overheard him and misunderstood what he meant. Denying any involvement in illegal betting, the 27-year-old Davydenko says he will be vindicated when the ongoing investigation is complete.
The Swedish junior team indefinitely suspended a 15-year-old player after he and two others reportedly vandalized several clay courts in Bastad, site of the Swedish Open. According to a newspaper, the vandalism occurred during Midsummer celebrations in the Swedish seaside town. The other two players are former members of the junior team. None of them was named.
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that has been played at Amelia Island Plantation, Florida, since 1980 may have a new home. Residents of Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, have received a notice that the Sawgrass Board of Governors has approved in principle a proposal from Octagon Enterprises to have Sawgrass play host to the tournament. The tournament has been known as the Bausch & Lomb Championships.
STOPPED BY COPS
Two rowdy fans were ejected from Wimbledon for unruly behavior during a match between Lleyton Hewitt and Albert Montanes. While police could not confirm if the two unidentified fans were detained, they did say six people were arrested at Wimbledon for various offenses, including the possession of pepper spray.
STOPPED FROM VOTING
Serena Williams says their Jehovah’s Witness religion will keep her and sister Venus from voting for Barack Obama or anyone else in this fall’s United States presidential election. “So I’m not going to necessarily go out and vote for him. I would if it wasn’t for my religion,” Serena said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, condemning the treatment of pigeons at Wimbledon. All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins confirmed media reports that contract pest controllers had used marksmen to shoot at pigeons around the club.
Those who live in the community of Wimbledon receive free parking permits that enable them and their guests access to streets and driveways during the tennis tournament’s fortnight at the All England Club. But it seems as if some of those permits are showing up on eBay for USD 120 dollars. And it seems as if some permit holders have been making copies of the originals since one resident offered for sale no fewer than 17 permits.
The first round at Wimbledon wasn’t kind to seeded doubles teams. Among the men’s teams that lost were fourth-seeded Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, fifth-seeded Simon Aspelin and Julian Knowle, and sixth-seeded Martin Damm and Pavel Vizner. Gone from the women’s doubles at the end of the first round were fourth-seeded Chan Yung-Jan and Chuang Chia-Jung, along with eighth-seeded Peng Shuai and Sun Tiantian.
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
$125,000 Cordoba Challenger, Pozoblanco, Spain, hard
$100,000 Turin Challenger, Turin, Italy, clay
The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
$100,000 ITF Cuneo, Cuneo, Italy, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Scheveningen Challenger, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay
$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
ECM Prague Open Photos – The Spotlight on Shahar Peer
Rollin’ Ralf Reinecke , our funky photographer in precious Prague, has sent a bunch of flashy photos of none other than the sensational Shahar Peer!
But first off a bunch of lucious links linking to your favorite articles!
Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, who fans could lick as the subjects of official Serbian postage stamps, are complaining about not having the same values on their stamps. (Women’s Tennis Blog)
Sesil Karantcheva is trying to revive her career and is right on course I think. (Yahoo!)
The first pull outs but ones with valid reasons. Hantuchova and Sharapova pull out of this year’s Qatar Open in Berlin. Hantuchova has a stress fracture in her foot while Sharapova never cited a reason for the pull out. (AFP on Google)
Jelena Dokic loses in the first round and is struggling to make a comeback. Perhaps she should take an example of Sesil Karantcheva. (Sporting News)
Ok now this is the weirdest reason ever to endanger people’s lives! A pilot decided to take the plane to take his son to tennis class because of the possibility that his son might actually be late for class. (Chicago Tribune)
The Arthur Ashe Foundation does it again: They raised a lot of funds for the children in need (The Bulletin)
Awww Anastasia Myskina gives birth to a baby boy Zhenya. Good luck to mother and son (Sony Ericsson WTA Tour)
Michaella Krajicek , yes sister of Wimbledon legend Richard Krajicek, keeps crashing out in the first rounds (Women who serve)
Now for the flashy photos of the sensational Shahar Peer, as I promised before.
Extra added bonus:
Photos of the BMW Open ATP Tournament Player’s Night. (Photos by the ATPtour.com)
Mondays With Bob Greene
31 March 2008
Qualifier Kevin Anderson upset defending champion Novak Djokovic in the Serb’s opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
Lindsay Davenport continued her comeback by knocking off world number two Ana Ivanovic 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
Roger Federer is at least still winning off the court. While the world’s number one player has yet to capture a tournament in 2008, for the fourth straight year he won both the ATP Tour’s Player of the Year and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. Additionally, fans voted Federer as their favorite player for the fifth consecutive year.
SAME FOR JUSTINE
For the second time in her career, Justine Henin has been named the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s Player of the Year. She also won in 2003. Last year Henin won 10 of the 14 events she entered, became the first WTA Tour player to win over $5 million (USD) in a single year and finished as world number one.
Other ATP Tour honors went to brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, Doubles Team of the Year for the third straight year; Novak Djokovic, Most Improved; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Newcomer; Igor Andreev, Comeback Player; and Ivan Ljubicic, Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year.
Other Sony Ericsson WTA Tour winners were: Cara Black and Liezel Huber, Doubles Team; Ana Ivanovic, Most Improved; Lindsay Davenport, Comeback Player; and Agnes Szavay (photo) , Newcomer.
Novak Djokovic’s habit of repeatedly bouncing the ball ad nauseum before each serve, caught the attention of the umpire during his Sony Ericsson Open match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson. Serving at 2-0, 30-40, Djokovic bounced the ball so many times that he received a time violation from the umpire. Although he won that point, Djokovic ended up losing the match 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
Svetlana Kuznetsova won off the final 11 games to overcome a 5-2 second-set deficit and a match point to beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6 7-5 6-0 in a third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open.
One week after they won singles titles at the Pacific Life Open, Serbian stars Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic were ousted from the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida. South African qualifier Kevin Anderson eliminated Djokovic 7-6 (7-1) 3-6, 6-4 and former world number one Lindsay Davenport crushed Ivanovic 6-4 6-2.
“I can compete with the best in the world. I proved that to myself, whether he was on form or off form.” – Qualifier Kevin Anderson after knocking defending champion Novak Djokovic out of the Sony Ericsson Open 7-6 (7-1) 3-6 6-4.
“On the last point my shoelace was broken, but I’m not trying to find excuses.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Kevin Anderson.
“Obviously the first time you play against someone, you try to get to know them and try to get rhythm in the beginning. But against her you just don’t get it.” – Ana Ivanovic, who fell to Lindsay Davenport 6-4 6-2 in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open.
“In this comeback, for lack of better words, I’ve not made a fool of myself. I’ve done pretty well for my age and for what I’ve been through. Obviously days like today just give me more incentive to keep going.” – Lindsay Davenport, who has returned to the women’s tour after becoming a mother, following her victory over world number two Ana Ivanovic.
“For that to happen, he must maintain his hunger for victory, for records, and that is not easy.” – Bjorn Borg, when asked if Roger Federer can become the greatest player in history.
James Blake and Sam Querrey switched sports when they showed up at an exhibition baseball game in Miami, Florida, between the Florida Marlins and the New York Yankees. Facing batting-practice pitches from Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley, Querrey hit consecutive home runs over the scoreboard in left field. Not to be left out, Blake also cleared the fence.
Shahar Peer was honored by Beth David Congregation in Miami, Florida, for making political history when she became the first Israeli athlete to compete in the Arab world, participating in the Qatar Total Open in Doha in February. Also honored were the men’s doubles team of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, who became the first Israeli duo to win a Grand Slam title, capturing the crown at the Australian Open in January.
Justine Henin says she considered having surgery on her right knee earlier this year. Instead, the world number one chose a more conservative approach and received a cortisone injection after the Australian Open. She also rested last week, skipping the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California.
When the United States takes on Russia in a Fed Cup semifinal in April, sisters Venus and Serena Williams will not be on the squad. Lindsay Davenport, who will play for the Americans, said she had been turned down by both sisters when she approached them about playing. Russia will field a strong squad consisting of Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Dementieva and Dinara Safina.
STILL ON BBC
The BBC will continue to televise Wimbledon through 2014. The new five-year contract stretches the British Broadcasting Corp.’s association with the world’s premier grass court tournament to 87 years. Neither the All England Club nor the BBC disclosed the amount paid for the rights.
SITES TO SURF
- Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com
- Estoril: www.estorilopen.net
- Valencia: www.open-comunidad-valencia.com
- Houston: www.riveroaksinternational.com
- Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
ATP and WTA Tours
$3,770,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Key Biscayene, Florida, hard court
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$370,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$370,000 Open de Tenis Comunidad Valencia, Valencia, Spain, clay
$436,000 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, clay
$600,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, Amelia Island, Florida, clay