Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Year That Was - 2004

The final three months. It was suggested that I find and post the year 2005. I'll look for it this weekend.

As I read this while editing it all I could do is shake my head.


Credit ATP CEO Mark Miles for taking advantage of the money gushing out of China, this week visiting the construction site for the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai and the Thailand Open in Bangkok after a stop last week in Beijing to meet with government and industry leaders. "The ATP is developing a strategy that will benefit all stakeholders in tennis in Asia," Miles said. That strategy can be broken down into two words: 'Receive money.' "Just as Asia is becoming a growth engine of the world economy, so too will Asia become a growth engine for our sport." You'll really see how much money they have if an Asian CEO replaces Miles next year when he steps down the from the position, which he has held since 1991...Korean sports writer Jong-Seok Kim covering Maria Sharapova in Seoul: "Over 5,000 spectators filled the Seoul Olympic tennis court on a quiet weekday afternoon after a big Chuseok holiday. That's how much the fans felt feverish over the "Tennis Fairy" before them, who was flying around the court with her long legs, aware of herself as the center of attention and motivated by the eyes of the crowd, which followed her every move."...Maria Sharapova reportedly received $300,000 from organizers to play the WTA Seoul event, more than double the $140K the winner receives...USTA President Alan Schwartz stuck his foot in his mouth again Thursday, insinuating he would not want Andre Agassi to play in the Davis Cup final on clay at Spain: "This is a decision of captain PatrickMcEnroe and we will respect it, but with the presence of players of the quality of the Bryan brothers in the double's match, plus Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, we are confident and are proud of them." Wow, haven't heard 'Mardy Fish,' 'clay,' and 'quality' used in the same sentence before. To fully demonstrate his tennis knowledge, Schwartz then added "all those who know something about tennis (said the man who badly bungled Svetlana Kuznetsova's name during the US Open trophy presentation) are aware that Spain has 15 players among the Top 100, while the US has nine and is second." Well, at least you have the USTA staff to feed you stats...Kim Clijsters' doctor(s) have told her the wrist injury is a new one, unrelated to her previously surgically-repaired problem, and will keep her out of action until 2005...Andre Agassi's ninth Grand Slam for Children charity event this past weekend announced a total of $6.1 million from ticket and tables sales and the live auction. Some of the star guests were Robin Williams, musician John Mayer and TV's grating Dr. Phil McGraw. Dinner for two with Williams went for $280,000, while Mayer's guitar went for $140,000...Martina Navratilova has confirmed she will play the 2005 Australian Open, at least in doubles. That was a short retirement...Kim Clijsters on her website says her wrist is back in a brace for the next six weeks, with no surgery required...Aussie singer Delta Goodrem says she and Mark Philippoussis are still an item: "Mark and I sent 20 texts to each other this weekend." True love in the 21st century...Serena and Venus Williams attended the secret Tiger Woods wedding...While Andy Roddick's arm injury and a need for a break is enough to keep him off the ATP European indoor swing, it's not enough to keep him from raking in the exhibition cash in the U.S. -- Roddick played his second consecutive exhibition last night in North Dakota after an outing the previous night in California, losing to Andre Agassi 6-4, 7-6(8)...Andre Agassi says no chance he'll play the Davis Cup final at Spain in November: "My reasons for not playing Davis Cup have nothing to do with winning or losing. I'm growing tired, have a family, and it's time for the young guys who have gotten the team to the final to have the opportunity to win it." Yeah, who needs a former French Open champ on the team while playing on red clay when you have two guys with fast-court games who have never reached the French quarterfinals?...From the Charleston Post & Courier: "News of (Andy) Roddick's elbow injury last Sunday while losing to Roger Federer in the final of a tournament in Bangkok came only nine days after Roddick's blistering 155 mph serve during the Davis Cup semifinal at Family Circle Tennis Center. It also might be worth mentioning that in a meaningless dead rubber match on Sunday of the Davis Cup, Roddick lost control of his racket on a serve, then shook his right hand as if in pain." Don't worry, coach Brad Gilbert has predicted Andy will eventually hit a 160 mph serve -- maybe then you'll see his whole arm fly off. Easy Brad, the kid has limits...Another headline from the entertainingly loose-cannon ATP Masters Series-Madrid website: "Agassi arrives in Madrid while Roddick, Hewitt make their excuses." How will the ATP get a rein on their top players pulling from their top-level events, with some (Hewitt) not even bothering to come up with injury excuses anymore? Back in the day when the tour had bank, that year-end bonus pool sure was handy for keeping players in line. Perhaps once China buys the CEO slot next year they can start waving bills in front of the players again and get them to post for the top-tier events...In a move that would make Billie Jean King go for the throat, next week's ATP Masters Series-Madrid event has announced it is replacing its ball kids with fashion models aged 19-27. "Before taking them on court to practice, we have shown them a bit about the sport, how you play, what a "set" is, what a "game" is, and an "ace,"" explained their ball coach Julio Nieto, speaking to Eurosport. "They will add beauty, but we still have to work on a lot of details so everything works smoothly. The important thing is for them not to disrupt the rhythm of the game or distract the players." Good luck, a lot of hot models stumbling around the court between points, that won't distract players...After her win at Moscow last week, Anastasia Myskina admitted she is still haunted by her tearful Olympic collapse when she led eventual gold medalist Justine Henin-Hardenne 5-1 in the final set in the semis: "It was a nightmare. I couldn't sleep, waking up in the middle of the night for several days just thinking about that match...The Olympics mean more to me that even the grand slams...Yes, my form definitely suffered after Athens, but more than anything it was my mental state as I was still coming to terms with my Olympic failure. But time heals any wounds, so I think eventually I'll be able to recover, although now I still have those nightmares from time to time."...Jelena Dokic will try and stop the bleeding of early-round losses after -- get ready -- reuniting with crazy dad Damir, who she just recently accused of destroying her career. "I'm starting from scratch," Dokic told Belgrade's Sport. "I have two to three months to prepare before my next tournament." Damir, if you've forgotten, had moved his family from Australia to Serbia-Montenegro after accusing Aussie Open organizers of rigging the draw against his daughter, accused his daughter's coach of drugging her, accused her of needing psychiatric help and of being on drugs, and has been kicked out of both WTA and grand slam events, banned for six months from WTA events for abusive behavior. "Whatever happened, happened," Damir said. "Jelena had shown that she's a great player. She was in crisis. The time has come to correct that." Who said 2005 was going to be boring...Lleyton Hewitt and the sweet-natured Kim Clijsters have suddenly ended their relationship. The pair had planned to marry in February. "Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt have jointly decided to put an end to their relationship for private reasons," Clijsters said on her official website. "Both of us distance ourselves from the malicious gossip which inevitably surfaces in this kind of situation."...According to, you could soon be seeing Yevgeny Kafelnikov on ESPN's World Series of Poker. The Y-Man recently won the Moscow Open poker tournament, collecting $10G, outlasting a field of 52...According to Brit pub The Sunday Telegraph, Paris Hilton has boasted that she is having a relationship with Mark Philippoussis: "I've got a new man and I'm head over heels in love. I adore him, he's so hot. His name is Mark Philippoussis."...The Australian, which our Aussie friends tell us is not a tabloid but a respected publication, also dropped the bomb that Paris Hilton was seen "locking lips" last weekend with Andy Roddick, with Paris declining to discuss her current relationship status, only saying she was "Happy, so happy," and "tired of the Hollywood guys. I want a normal nice boy. I want someone, like, 30 (years old), not, like, 50. And I'm so happy I don't really care if people want to say rude things."...Former No. 2 and French Open runner-up Magnus Norman has announced his retirement, with the Swede unable to make a comeback after multiple hip surgeries and knee injuries. Norman won five titles in both 1999 and 2000, and weathered dating Martina Hingis for a time.


Chances of Andre Agassi showing up in Houston if he qualifies in the No. 9 spot at the alternate? Sitting around for a week listening to Mattress Mac? Zero?...Staples Center proprietor Philip Anschutz reportedly is interested in "founding a fifth Grand Slam," to be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California? As tournament organizers in Beijing have shown, that's code for "Don't know much about tennis but we have a lot of cash."... Who puts out press releases calling their own marketing campaigns "edgy"? Why, the WTATour, of course! On Wednesday the WTA announced a billboard campaign based entirely on the looks of Russian Maria Sharapova, with the theme "Got Sharapova!" Could they have done better than to copy a milk campaign? Could the ATP earlier this year have done better than to base a campaign on Pat Benatar's bad '80s song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot?" Do the tours actually have marketing staff, or do they just randomly pick things out of magazines from the '80s? The WTA touts the "Russian beauty," then as an aside in the release mentions that, by the way, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, and other Russians Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, and the apparently unmarketable Svetlana Kuznetsova will also be there. The media release for the "edgy" campaign, which doesn't explain where the edginess will come from, states the effort will include print ads in various Southern California publications, billboards throughout the L.A. area, and radio and TV spots...Mark Philippoussis on the media linking him romantically to Paris Hilton: "It's untrue, we're friends and that all we have been," Flipper told SMH. "I can't tell you how many girls I've 'dated' whom I've never met or only saw once. But that's how it's going to be. I can chance it, but my friends know the truth and that's the most important thing. I hope the public is smarter than to believe everything they read."...Go to the WTA Tour website, and get a load of the "Two Spots Left!" graphic for their WTA Championship section (as of Saturday night). FYI: The final eight was decided two days ago. Time to hire a web person...The WTA has spread billboards of a leggy short-skirted Maria Sharapova all over L.A. in promoting the WTA Championships with the caption "The closer you sit, the hotter she gets." You can't beat tennis porn. Serena Williams says she is all for it: "I love her legs in this picture. Her legs are so sexy. She is not being sold in this picture. This is a hot picture. If you're not ready to sell pictures, then you shouldn't be part of the tournament. Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but sex sells."...In case you've been worrying that Serena Williams' ego has taken a beating in 2004, barely qualifying for the year-end championships and missing out on the race for No. 1, worry not, that 300 lb. gorilla remains intact: "It doesn't matter that I have no real shot at No. 1 because I feel like I have less pressure and it really doesn't matter. It's OK. It's like Tiger (Woods). It's weird when Tiger loses. It's kind of weird when I lose. It's definitely bigger news for me to lose. I make people's careers."...WTA Championships organizers said the event lost money last year, will lose money again this year, and they think they will have the event through at least 2006. Where can we invest in your business model?...According to USA Today, "The WTA will require the Top 50 players to sign agreements at the start of the 2005 season to play in specific tournaments that will be tied to the tour's $4 million bonus pool. If they don't play, they don't earn the bonus." About time. Now the ATP needs to figure out where they can find some scratch to re-institute their bonus pool to get their players to stop playing big-guarantee smaller events and exos, and blowing off the Masters Series events...While Serena Williams fashion designs (and taste) have been roundly pounded by critics, the American has critiqued herself, and the results are in: "I'm an unbelievable designer. I don't know how I know and just do these things. I just start sketching and then I just know the colors and I always know the forecast. I know green and purple are going to be hot. I was born to be a designer. I worked hard to be a tennis player, I don't work hard to be a designer."...Lou Tilley writing for the Main Line Times about Maria Sharapova's semifinal pull-out last week at Philadelphia: "What we knew was this: Sharapova told the driver of her complimentary Porsche at 4:30 p.m. the previous afternoon, to be at her hotel at 5 p.m., as she was catching a plane to Los Angeles. He asked her why, since she had just won her quarterfinal match, and was to play on versus (Amelie) Mauresmo, and maybe get into the finals -- and a shot at the top prize of 93 grand. She reportedly said, "Well, I have gotten my work in for the week, made a nice check and now I can go to L.A., and rest up for a while before the big season ending event.""...So Andre Agassi will not show up as the alternate for the Masters Cup, to be replaced by Guillermo Canas. What a shocker, we didn't see that coming -- can't picture last year's finalist not wanting to sit for a week watching Gaston Gaudio struggle on the hardcourts while sitting next to tournament promoter Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale and hearing about the virtues of four more years of the George W. Bush administration...U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe on inexplicably putting Mardy "Silver" Fish, a net player with a shaky back-court game, on the red clay against Spain over baseline grinder Vince Spadea: "I believe Mardy has the best chance to win the match, based on his ability, based on his experience playing Davis Cup, based on the fact he's played well in the Olympics, he's played well in some big, big matches for us," McEnroe told Tennis Week. "I still believe Mardy's got a tremendous upside as far as his career goes. And I think he's got a lot of game. I don't think he's lived up to his potential yet."...Brickbats to ESPN for not following up on what their camera was reporting after the wild Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova final at the WTA Championships. Maria's dad Yuri runs on the court afterwards for the congratulatory hug, then does some joyful running around accompanied by maniacal arm-windmilling ala Pete Townsend, but then seconds later the ESPN cameras show the dad angrily mouthing f-bombs to someone else in the crowd and being restrained by his posse. Hey Cliff and Pam and Mary Joe, way to pretend that didn't happen. Also among the highlights was someone from the crowd bum-rushing the on-court trophy presentation, much to the entertainment of Serena who was doubled-over with laughter at the WTA staff's inability to stop the intruder...After failing to talk Amelie Mauresmo into playing the Fed Cup semifinals, French captain Guy Forget ripped her in the sports daily L'Equipe: "I can't believe she did this...Until the last minute I tried to make her change her mind but the answer was negative...What frustrates me is that the Fed Cup is no longer a target for her. I'm not interested in leading a squad of players who turn up when they feel like it." Is the Fed Cup a target for any of the top players besides Russia, who have 10 or so players to choose from?... is 20-0 against Top 10 opponents going back to last year's Tennis Masters Cup and 12-0 in finals going back to last year...Roger FedererAndy Roddick on the upcoming Davis Cup meeting with Spain on the red dirt: "It's going to be crazy. We expect that. The good thing is we know what we're getting into when we go over there. It's not going to be a surprise. We know it's going to be tough. But we go in with the mindset that we just have to try our best to deal with it. We're excited. We feel with the group of guys we've been building for three or four years, to have a chance at the title now, it's very exciting."...The USTA has extended Patrick McEnroe's U.S. Davis Cup captain's contract through 2006...Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale has bought a World Team Tennis franchise, signing Steffi Graf for 2005, and is reportedly trying to finagle a Masters Series event for Argentina?...Mark Philippoussis will reportedly return to New York and seek some more help from John McEnroe before beginning his 2005 campaign...Russia Fed Cup coach Larisa Neiland tells Reuters that Maria Sharapova would be a tough fit for the Russian team: "I don't think she'll find it easy being on the same team with all the rest of our girls. Maria's main problem is her father and I just don't see how he would coexist with other girls' parents and team officials. You can't just go by rankings alone in selecting the team. You need great team spirit, togetherness in order to make a really strong squad. Every time Maria was playing a Russian girl (at the WTA Championships), her father's behavior was simply outrageous, nasty and out of control. He basically tells everyone 'to get lost'. I just don't see how he could work with the rest of us."...Monica Seles says she will wait until next year to make a retirement decision: "By January, I will make a decision," Seles told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "If I can't play then I probably will (retire). But not until January. I am trying to get ready to play this year. I don't want to talk about it because I am still trying so hard. I am not going into it with that frame of mind. I am trying to stay in a positive frame of mind. I have been feeling good. I have been hitting in the morning and then in the afternoon about three times a week. It (the foot) is feeling better."...Roger Federer wins the Masters Cup...Anastasia Myskina leads Russia to the Fed Cup over France.


Martina Hingis
will play the WTA Volvo Women's Open in Pattaya, Thailand on Jan. 31, 2005 to raise money for several Thai charities that help women and children who have suffered from abuse, homelessness and illness. "I hope to raise awareness of the support needed for those who are less fortunate and living in impoverished conditions in Thailand and around the world," she said Tuesday in a statement. Sources say she is not planning on playing any other events (unless of course she does well and the ego kicks in) in her first return to the WTA Tour in more than two years...Speaking to the French newspaper L'Equipe on Wednesday, Pete Sampras played down a return to competitive tennis, saying he has made his cash and enjoys sleeping in: "I'm not at all disappointed about what the sport did for my finances and my name. But I was tired of tennis and it consumed me. I spent so many years getting to the top and then keeping my place as No. 1, and it was very stressful. Throughout my career, I never had one perfectly good night's sleep. When it was all over, I started to sleep fine without any concerns in my head, as I didn't have to think about catching a plane or playing a really hard match the following day. I am still calming things down, and that is why I'm not playing any professional tennis."...Gustavo Kuerten is targeting March, right before the claycourt season, for his return from hip surgery...Tennis Australia, under the spotlight for blowing money and not producing much (any?) young talent, has so far said 'no thanks' to an offer by resident blowhard Pat Cash for help: "I have offered my help but, as yet, have not been invited," Cash told FOX Sports Australia. "Oh well, it seems that arrogance and an old boys network at the top level are only slowing the progress down even further. Perhaps they don't like my candidness?" Or the thought of putting an a-hole in a top management position?...Sun Tian Tian and Li Ting, winners of the women's doubles gold in Athens: "Now we have got used to the way international opponents play tennis," Tian Tian said. "For example we didn't know how fast the ball went."...Amelie Mauresmo says she has no regret blowing off the Fed Cup, even after watching France lose in the final: "I came back from vacation on Sunday and I saw the last two matches on television. I don't regret at all not going to Moscow because I took my decision for sporting reasons. I discussed my reasons with (captain) Guy Forget but that will stay between him and me."...Hey ESPN, thanks for buying the Davis Cup rights so you can show SportsCenter re-runs while the Davis Cup matches are being played live. Just give up on tennis and sell your rights to The Tennis Channel...The Guardian from Seville: "(Patrick) McEnroe has obstinately stuck by (Mardy) Fish, who will play the opening singles this morning against Spain's No. 1 Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion. Fish, ranked No. 37 in the world, has apparently not won one practice set since the Americans arrived here and lost the only competitive match he played on clay this year...Independent observers believe that by ignoring (Vince) Spadea the U.S. captain has made a significant error." By "independent observers" you mean inhabitants of the planet Earth?...Crown Prince Felipe was among the 27,000+ fans Sunday who piled into Seville's Estadio Olimpico to see their Spanish team finish off the United States in Davis Cup...Jim Courier defeated Thomas Muster 7-6(4), 6-4, to win the Senior Masters title in London's Albert Hall.


Maria Sharapova on the difficulties of being the 17-year-old future of women's tennis: "One day I can be with my friend talking about the girliest, weird things and the next day I'm in a meeting talking about a deal or sponsorship or doing a photo shoot that are run by all adults that want my opinion," she told The Associated Press. "I make the transition quite well. I always thought I'm more mature than other kids my age, but that's because of the sport I play and the business I'm in. If you're not mature, I don't know how you can accomplish what you do...I'm such a girly girl. I love being stylish and elegant because on court it's mentally and physically draining. You give it all you've got, you don't show your pretty side."...Most brutal headline award from National Nine News in Australia on the Anna Kournikova-Enrique Iglesias coupling: "Tennis failure nets Latin hearthrob"...Justine Henin-Hardenne lost an exhibition match to Nathalie Dechy 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday, then a three-setter to Elena Dementieva the next day...Scott Draper earned his Australasian PGA Tour players' card and plans to play pro golf and tennis in 2005: "I still love tennis but it's frustrating when your body won't do what you want it to do. I'll give them both a try and if I have to give one the flick it will probably be the tennis."...Justine Henin-Hardenne on heading into the Australian Open after her illness-ridden year in 2004: "I will be heading to Australia with a lot of question marks over me. I know that," she told AFP. "But I think there will be less pressure on me than last year, even if I am the defending champion. Above all, it will be the first games back that matter most. They will be very important for me. Physically, it's obvious that I hit rock bottom. Since April with the exception of the Olympics, I have not done much. All the successes I had prior to that was mainly due to the work I put in on building up my fitness. Now it's time to get back to putting in 200 per cent effort and I think I am capable of doing that. I don't have to prove myself to anyone now. I just want to go out and enjoy myself."...Jennifer Capriati missed the Aussie Open last year with a back injury, and now a question mark for 2005 with the shoulder injury...Roger Federer was turned down by Tony Roche for a coaching stint for 2005...Andy Roddick will have his own calendar on the market starting in 2006: "Andy is hands down the hottest male player on the tennis courts today," said John Turner, President of John F. Turner and Company. "We are thrilled to have formed this relationship with him and have only the highest of expectations for his calendar." Andy says 'Show me the cash': "I grew up with calendars of my favorite athletes on my wall, so I am very excited about this opportunity to actually have my own calendar," Roddick said. "John F. Turner and Company has a very impressive record of creating an innovative look for all of their calendar products, and I am looking forward to working with them to create something that I will be proud of."...Marcelo Rios is playing a series of "farewell exhibitions" in December, recently with a win over Goran Ivanisevic...Ever get the feeling that Brad Gilbert would sign up to coach Tatiana Golovin if it didn't mean hanging out constantly at women's tournaments having no one to talk about sports with?...The WTA Auckland event for January 2005 is struggling, with No. 26 Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier as the current top seed -- time to flash more cash...Still no decision in the battle whether Anna is married to Enrique Iglecias or not, with Anna saying yes, but investigators in the media saying no. Anna's publicist wont even touch this one: "We never comment on our clients' personal lives," said her rep Ivy "John Cougar" Mollenkamp. Media outlets have done some digging but failed to come up with a marriage licence. "Anna has a complicated relationship with the subject of marriage," said Us Weekly editor Janice Min. "They do enjoy the cat-and-mouse guessing game they put the media through."...Austrian Stefan Koubek has been handed a three-month ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for a banned substance, failing a drug test at the 2004 French Open. Koubek says he will appeal, and blames it on an injection given to him by a doctor for a wrist injury. "I have acted correctly," the 27-year-old Koubek said in a statement. "A three-month ban would mean that I not only will miss the Australian Open but also the Davis Cup in Australia."...Maria Sharapova will be restricted to just one Australian summer circuit appearance -- the Australian Open -- because of age eligibility restrictions...Venus and Serena Williams are both planning on playing the Australian Open, but have reportedly not entered any pre-Aussie WTA events or exhibitions...The ATP event in Sydney has a new sponsor and has been renamed the Medibank International...Lleyton Hewitt will skip the Hopman Cup exhibition, with his lead-up to the Aussie Open consisting of ATP events in Adelaide and Sydney... Pat Rafter will do commentary for FOX Sports during the Australian Open. Others on the FOX team are Wally Masur, Sandon Stolle, Rachel McQuillan, Josh Eagle, Peter Tramacchi and Liz Smylie. Americans, suffer on as you read of FOX's television viewer options in Australia: "Available to FOXTEL Digital and AUSTAR Digital subscribers, the FOX SPORTS Active Tennis application will put viewers in control like never before, and will be available throughout the Australian Open. Some of the features will include a choice of different live matches, different audio, news and views from press conferences, player interviews, player bios, draws, the latest news, plus a wide range of live and historical statistics." Contrast that to ESPN in the U.S. sticking you with every Jennifer Capriati match...For you Northerners waiting for the thaw: great is 2005 going to be from a wacky dad perspective? You've got Yuri and Maria with the Newcomer of the Year Award, Damir back with Jelena, Jennifer with Stefano always near, Richard Williams lurking for a strike -- bring it on...Former No. 1 Marcelo Rios ended his career officially in December with a straight-set exhibition win over Guillermo Coria...Lance Armstrong won the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year award for the third year in a row; a tennis player has not won since John McEnroe in 1981...According to the AP, "Madras' sports officials were unsure about the fate the Chennai Open tennis tournament, which is among the year-launching competitions of the elite ATP Tour beginning January 3" due to the tsunami destruction...Anna Kournikova is still suing mom and dad Alla and Sergei over who owns their Miami home.

No comments: