Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

He's Really Injured People
...Then again...
There seem to be a lot of questions about Roger Federer's back problem that caused him to pull out of Dubai and Davis Cup next weekend. His normally reticent entourage is now feeling the need to speak out about the situation. These two, lets say interesting, quotes speak volumes.
Debate about the extent of Roger Federer's back problem has prompted responses from his entourage. Federer cited the after-effects of the injury when pulling out of this week's event in Dubai and Davis Cup next week.

Severin Luthi, the Swiss Davis Cup captain who is also serving as Federer's coach these days, defended the absence of his top player. "People who think that Roger is faking an injury don't know anything. He really wanted to show himself in Davis Cup this year," Luthi said to Sportinformation.

In an interview with Blick, Federer's physical trainer Pierre Paganini said the pullouts were a preventative measure: "I want to make this clear: Roger is not injured. What we are doing is purely precautionary. We will be training in Dubai for the next two weeks. Roger has flown in two sparring partners to work with him on court."

Paganini said Federer was over the back injury he suffered last November but the setback meant that he needed extra recovery time after Australia. "Roger was not impeded in his game but it is a factor that he did not have [enough] training beforehand. The travel, the pressure, other things. The body's reaction during a match, in stressful situations, is different. He felt it, and that's why we decided to take a break to prevent further injury."


Let the Sun Shine
Per Tennis Week The USTA has made the following decision.

At his peak, Arlen Kantarian was inarguably one of the most influential power players in the sport. More than two months after Kantarian's nine-year run as USTA CEO of Professional Tennis it's become evident the White Plains, N.Y.-based Tennis Association will not turn to a single figure to fill his role.

Instead, USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith tells Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal that Kantarian's duties will be redistributed among current staff with four executives — Harlan Stone, incoming chief marketing officer of pro tennis; Jim Curley, managing director of tournament operations; Pierce O’Neil, chief business officer; and Danny Zausner, head of facilities — reporting directly to Smith. During Kantarian's tenure the four exes would have reported to him with Kantarian reporting directly to Smith.

After Kantarian's departure it was believed the USTA might try to fill his role with two executives. However Smith said the USTA has opted against hiring a replacement for Kantarian due to two primary reasons:

1. Cost — Kantarian was one of the highest-paid USTA employees so the Tennis Association saves money in redistributing his duties

2. Capability — Smith told Kaplan he believes the current staff is capable of performing Kantarian's duties.

More interesting (not that the above isn't interesting) is that the USTA still hasn't made a decision about installing a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium. Costs are cited as the main concern but as I've often ranted, uh, said, Ashe Stadium is horrid. It's too big and ironically that is playing into the decision to add a roof.

...the immense cost of financing such a project, the fact historically rain has not been a major factor in US Open play and the notion that the existing stadium is not exactly conducive to a roof may be giving the USTA second thoughts.
In a sense, the USTA's interest in adding a roof now may be an attempt to right that wrong committed when the stadium was first built and while a roof would give the USTA the option to host non-tennis events, including concerts and other sports, it's long been said the open construction of the stadium would make adding a roof too costly and complex.

Rain isn't a factor huh? I guess I'm back to beating that dead horse about the 2003 US Open. And don't even mention the 2008 US Open where the USTA, with a hurricane poised to hit New York City, decided to go ahead and start play anyway. A roof would take away all the issues surrounding acts of nature and the US Open. It might also make it easier for the fans who pay to sit in Ashe during the Dog Days of August in the sun. And here's a thought. They could institute a heat rule like they do in Melbourne closing the roof when the heat index is of Saharan proportions.
Rant over.
Davis Cup
In reviewing the list of countries and players who will be taking the court you have to be struck by the fact that tennis is truly a world wide sport. People tend to think of it in terms of Europe and the United States but countries on every continent participate. All of the nominations can be found HERE
As for the United States team Captain Patrick McEnroe defended his choice of James Blake over Sam Querrey or Mardy Fish citing Blake's ranking and past participation during a conference call to announce the team members.

There will be a lot of attention on the tie between Argentina and the Netherlands. Juan Martin del Potro will not be on the team "by mutual agreement" according to press reports. David Nalbandian will anchor the Argentine team. The tie will be played in Argentina on clay.

Dudi Sela made the following statement regarding his countrywoman Shahar Pe'er:
"I think it's a pity they didn't let Shahar play, but it's also the fault of Shahar,'' said the 65th-ranked Sela, who received a special exemption to play in this week's Delray Beach International Tennis Championships. "Because she asked for the visa a few [days or two weeks] before. The average person, if you want to go, you do it [several] months before.

"Even though, it's still bad. It's sports, not war. Everybody should play.''


Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Blame "Slumdog Millionaire". Oh I know! Blame Brangelina! Mickey Rourke? You can blame him for just about anything. I was kind of pulling for him to win but after his nasty remarks about Sean Penn after the nominations were announced I knew he was out of the running.
See? There's a reason I didn't post on Sunday. I have to see the Red Carpet at the big award shows and this time I stuck around to actually watch the award show. Sound plausible? Good.

Tommy Robredo 2009 Champion Buenos Aires

The Controversy Part II
So after all the drama surrounding the UAE and Shahar Pe'er not to mention fines and all that imagine my surprise when I read this on The Ticker this morning.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he feels Andy Ram should boycott this week's tournament in Dubai. "I was a bit surprised to discover that Andy Ram did intend to go there," Olmert was quoted as saying by Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. "It would be highly worthwhile for someone to advise him to demonstrate patriotism and solidarity and boycott the tournament."

The UAE government granted Ram a visa in the face of international pressure following its decision to deny one to Shahar Peer for the women's event last week.

If this is how the Israeli government feels why didn't it comment last week before everything went down the way it did?

In other Middle East related tennis news The Ticker also reports that the city of Stockholm has offered to replace Malmo as the host city of the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie next week, which would allow the matches to be open to the public.

The city council of Malmo had decided not allow spectators into the arena during the tie, citing security concerns over planned protests against Israel's actions in Gaza.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2009 Champion Marseilles

This and That
With the changes in how ranking points are doled out it seems paying attention to who is playing where and when is going to be very important this year. Exhibit A is what happened to the ATP 500 event scheduled in Dubai this week. The original draw looked like a who's who of the top ten men. The tournament that is actually being played features a field minus Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Nikolay Davydenko,
Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco. As I mentioned before Roger Federer will not play a 500 event before the US Open and will receive "0" points for each event not played. Clarification is needed. All of the men who withdrew will receive a "0" for the missed event with no chance of making it up. If they had come and all lost in the first round they'd still get a "0" but that could be erased by playing in another event. Clear? Here's a look at how the men stand this week.

D = Dallas
DE= Delray Beach
A= Acapulco

Thanks to ""Judio" for putting this information together and updating it every week.

New Old This Project Low
Rank Rank Player Week Points Opt
1 1 Nadal 0 14360
2 2 Federer 0 10910
3 3 Djokovic 0 8920 D
4 4 Murray 0 7310 D

5 5 Davydenko 0 4715
6 6 Roddick 0 4440
7 7 Del Potro 0 4290 220
8 8 Simon 0 3745 D
9 9 Verdasco 0 3330
10 11 Tsonga 0 3300 200
11 10 Monfils 0 3250 A
12 13 Blake 0 2990 150
13 12 Nalbandian 0 2895 A
14 14 Ferrer 0 2725 D
15 17 Wawrinka 0 2660 0
16 18 Gonzalez 0 2650 120
17 15 Robredo 0 2620 A
18 16 Stepanek 0 2530 50
19 19 Cilic 0 2420 D
20 20 Fish 0 2305 50 De

21 23 Berdych 0 2230 100
22 24 Andreev 0 2060 D
23 25 Safin 0 2040 D

24 22 Soderling 0 2015 90
25 27 Lopez F 0 1995 45
26 26 Gasquet 0 1920 D
27 29 Karlovic 0 1880 D
28 28 Tursunov 0 1875 D

29 30 Ancic 0 1795 45
30 21 Almagro 0 1780 A

Mark Knowles and son Graham celebrate Mark and Mardy Fish' Doubles Victory in Memphis

What makes a match must see? Well Marat Safin faces Richard Gasquet tomorrow in Dubai. Train wreck or instant classic? Won't you kick yourself if you miss it?

Victoria Azarenka 2009 Women's Champion Memphis

Andy Roddick overcame the challenge that is Radek Stepanek and eked out a victory over the man known in some circles as Mack Daddy. I saw the Roddick temperament - I mean what's a Roddick match without a racquet throw or two - but I didn't see the maniacal panicked back and forth, the groin picking (well maybe once or twice) and the arguing for arguments sake from Andy. What I did see was a game plan, stuck to and well executed. He obviously still wants it because he's listening to what new coach Larry Stefanki is telling him and seems to have incorporated what his prior coaches were trying to teach him as well. It is true that the field at Memphis didn't feature any of the big boys - they're over in Europe but will be here for the BNP Paribas Indian Wells and Miami - but it was still a good out of town tryout for Andy. The proof of the pudding will be during those back to back Masters events.

Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2009 Doubles Champions Marseille

Maria Sharapova is hitting at Nicky B's place in Florida. There's video on YouTube to prove it. Will she come back for Indian Wells? Maybe. She's not a big fan favorite in Florida - many still remember the incident with Tatiana Golovin a few years back - but her fans are beating the bushes everywhere you turn for her to come back and "stop" Venus and Serena Williams.
Why does someone have to "stop" Venus and Serena when they're the biggest draws on the tour? A lot of these screeds are written by American "fans" of women's tennis. Wonder why the Russian's aren't baying for Maria's return since she carries Russian, not American citizenship? Maybe it's because the Russian women - minus Maria - seem to be doing very well on the tour thank you very much? I claim no inside knowledge as to what Maria will do and make no predictions as to when she will come back. I just wish some of these "fans" would get behind the top American women as vociferously as they do a Russian woman.

Marcel Granollers and Albert Martin 2009 Doubles Champions Buenos Aires

By the way they're still writing essays on how Roger can beat Rafael just in case you thought that cottage industry had gone away. Roger has now stated that he will only play when he's totally fit.

Liezel Huber and Cara Black with Princess Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein 2009 Doubles Champions Dubai

Yet another tennis player is making the pilgrimage to Las Vegas. The Times of India" is reporting that Sania Mirza will spend a week with Gil Reyes at his training center. She will also get to work with Sven Groeneveld who has made working for Adidas famous. Sania is hoping for wild cards into both Indian Wells and Miami.

Andy Roddick 2009 Men's Champion Memphis

There was a women's event in Bogota Colombia last week that seemed to be the tournament that time forgot. I'm sure the winner, María José Martínez Sánchez (seen below) will remember it. There was also a women's event in Memphis. If you're a casual fan you can be excused for not being aware of it. Two of the top new generation women, Caroline Woznicaki and Victoria Azarenka duked it out for the championship. Ms Wozniacki also had a go at this years feel good story star Jelena Dokic at the beginning of the tournament. There was a lot of interest in the women's side of the event but I guess the wiz kids of the WTA missed that memo. There was absolutely no coverage of the women's event to be found. Zero. Zip. Nada. The entire world, except for the United States, could see the men's event via TennisTV for a fee. Great marketing there too kids. You could, if you looked hard enough, find coverage of the men's event, including the final, if you looked hard enough.

Some tennis heads reported that the camera's were turned off during the women's events in Memphis. The only reason I didn't think this was a joke was because there was really a media blackout for the women. One would think with the WTA only holding on to die hard fans right now they'd look for every chance to put their product out there not hide it. It's not like people were going to descend on Memphis in droves to see the new kids but the tennisheads really wanted to see the play here. Instead they were reduced to scoreboard watching and wild guesses as to what was taking place on court. For a tour that consistently ignores it's top players in favor of one, for a tour that is more the butt of jokes among tennisheads instead of being known as a bastion of good play I find it amazing that every chance isn't taken to push the new generation. I know they're looking for a "savior" but in the meantime push the good product you've got. For every final where one contestant has thirteen double faults(that's you Gisela) there is play like that seen in the Dubai quarters, semis and Final. I'm just sayin' guys. Come on already.

Serena Williams was in the stands for her sister's win at Dubai but wild horses (and several time zones) wouldn't keep her from an Oscar's event. She may be bleary eyed. She may be dog tired but here she is attending Elton John's party. I remember those days when mere mention of the word "party" revived the spirit and sleep could be made up tomorrow. Good times.

Meanwhile, in the "Caption This" photographs of the week Venus was seen working out with her (unidentified) coach.

End Note
I leave you with this question. Why do people laugh when Richard Williams is mentioned as a potential Davis Cup coach for the United States? To steal a phrase enquiring minds want to know.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Final Verdict - WTA Levies Fines on Dubai Tournament


ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA, USA – Following a special meeting of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Board conducted earlier today in connection with the decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this past week to deny the visa application of Israeli Tour player Shahar Peer, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced that effective immediately it is taking the actions described below.

Commenting on today’s actions, Larry Scott, Chairman & CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour stated: “The actions taken today are intended to redress the wrongs suffered by Shahar Peer, who was victimized by an unjust policy of discrimination by the UAE. These actions are also intended to send a clear message that our Tour will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and that we will never allow this situation to happen again, in UAE or elsewhere. Thanks to the courage of Shahar, and all those individuals and organizations – including her fellow players – that supported her, the UAE has changed their policy and another barrier of discrimination has fallen.”

Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Actions in re Shahar Peer, Anna Lena Groenefeld and Dubai Tournament:

· Shahar Peer Ranking Points - The awarding of 130 ranking points to Shahar Peer – an amount equal to the points that she earned during the same week in 2008 (week of Memphis) that she was unable to defend this past week in Dubai as a result of the denial of her entry visa by UAE. Such points will remain on Ms. Peer’s ranking until such time as she has had an opportunity to earn equivalent points at the next tournament offering ranking points equal to the Dubai tournament.

· Shahar Peer Prize Money – The awarding of US$44,250 to Shahar Peer – an amount equal to the average prize money that she earned per tournament (singles and doubles) in 2008, grossed up to take account for the increased prize money on offer at 2009 tournaments.

· Anna Lena Groenefeld Prize Money – The awarding of US$7,950 to Anna Lena Groenefeld, who was to be Shahar Peer’s doubles partner in Dubai and who was unable to compete in doubles with Ms. Peer as a result of the denial of Ms. Peer’s entry visa by UAE. This amount is equal to the average prize money that she earned per tournament in doubles in 2008, grossed up to take account for the increased prize money on offer at 2009 tournaments.

· Dubai Tennis Championships Financial Penalty – The fining of the Dubai tournament US$300,000 for breach of Tour Rules, By-Laws and conditions of membership related to the denial of entry to Shahar Peer. This fine amount represents the highest fine ever levied against a Tour member. Proceeds from the fine shall be used to compensate each of Ms. Peer and Ms. Groenefeld, with the balance to be donated to a charity or charities, to be determined by the Tour in consultation with Ms. Peer.

· Dubai Tennis Championships Financial Performance Guarantee – The posting by the Dubai tournament of a US$2 million financial performance guarantee by July 1, 2009 that the conditions described below will be satisfied.

· Dubai Tennis Championships Conditions for Continued Membership – The establishment of a series of conditions to be met by the Dubai tournament in order to maintain its membership and be included on the Tour’s 2010 calendar, including: (i) confirmation of the written assurances already received that all players who qualify for the tournament shall, regardless of nationality, or any other reason, be allowed to play in the Dubai event and shall be issued entry visas or permits, (ii) proof of approved UAE entry permit to enter the UAE for any Israeli player a minimum of eight (8) weeks prior to the start of the 2010 Dubai tournament, and (iii) guarantee that Ms. Peer shall be offered a wildcard to play the Dubai tournament in 2010 in the event that she does not qualify by ranking.

Les Artistes Part Three - Jacques Roumain

by Savannah

Jacques Roumain (June 4, 1907 – August 18, 1944)

Roumain was born on June 4th, 1907, in Port-au-Prince to wealthy parents. His grandfather, Tancrède Auguste, served as the President of Haiti from 1912 to 1913. He was educated in Catholic schools in Port-au-Prince, and, later, in Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany and Spain. At twenty years old, he returned to Haiti and formed La Revue Indigene: Les Arts et La Vie (The Indigenous Review: Arts and Life), along with Philippe Thoby-Marcelin, Carl Brouard, and Antonio Vieux.

He was active in the struggle against the United States' occupation of Haiti. In 1934 he founded the Haitian Communist Party. Because of some of his political activities, his participation in the resistance movement against the United States' occupation, and most notably, his creation of the Haitian Communist Party, he was often arrested and finally exiled by then President Stenio Vincent.

During his years in exile, Roumain worked with and befriended many prominent pan-African writers and poets of the time, including Langston Hughes. During this time he was also affiliated with Columbia University in New York City, where he conducted ethnographical research. With a change in government in Haiti, Roumain was allowed to return to his native country. Upon returning, he founded the Office of Ethnology. In 1943, President Elie Lescot appointed him chargé d'affaires in Mexico, where his newly found creative freedom permitted him to complete two of his most influential books, the poetry collection Bois Debene (Ebony Wood) and the novel, Gouverneurs de la Rosée (Masters of the Dew).

Much of Roumain's work expresses the frustration and rage of people who have been downtrodden for centuries. He included the mass of the people in his writing and called on the poor union to move against privation.

On August 18th, 1944, Jacques Roumain, one of Haiti's most respected and complex writers, died of still unknown causes at age 37. Roumain created some of the most colorful, dynamic, and moving poetry of his generation. His writings continue to influence and shape Haitian culture and the pan-African world of today.

By the time of his death, Roumain had become an acclaimed writer in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe. His great novel, Gouverneurs de la Rosée, has achieved a permanent place among great Caribbean and Latin American literature. It is a novel that is still studied at universities, read by new generations, and acted out by theatrical groups.

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Veteran coach Nigel Sears, speaking to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, on the WTA on-court coaching rule:

"What if a coach is doing something properly? He will expose the weaknesses of the opponent, not just to your own player but to the locker room, the whole of the tournament. That cannot be popular with the players. Yes, it sorts out the monkeys from the good coaches. And there are plenty of monkeys out here, OK? But I think it's purely a commercial exercise.

"When they're under stress and start being irrational or whatever, you've got an inflammable situation. When players get their games dissected by coaches in front of everybody, they're not going to like it. It'll become more and more cutthroat: 'So-and-so's coach said my forehand was crap, so-and-so said I was a choke, so-and-so said I had no talent at all.' You'll get to that stage.
Some coaches don't turn on their mikes while counseling their player which is a violation of the rules regarding on court coaching. I think the whole thing should be scrubbed. It's idiocy and takes away from the sport.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Tennis Channel was widely applauded for deciding not to broadcast any coverage of the WTA Dubai Open due to the Shahar Pe'er situation. In doing so however unless you paid for TennisTV you missed three great women's matches, all involving Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

In yesterdays quarter final match against Elena Dementieva Venus Williams showed why her rank really doesn't matter. Venus, totally dialed in dominated Elena who has been playing very well of late. There was no second set walkabout, no spraying the ball all over the court. Instead there was just an awesome display of Big Babe Tennis by the older of the sisters Williams. A distraught Elena left the court and the arena so quickly her mother couldn't even find her after the match. Along the way Elena cursed out someone or everyone in her box but not speaking Russian I can't tell you what she said. It was a pretty long jag she went on too.

Not to be outdone Serena Williams took the court against media favorite Ana Ivanovic. These days you never know which Ana will be taking the court but the version that showed up yesterday came to play. It was unfortunate that she ran into a determined World Number 1 who was not going to miss the chance to play her sister in the next days semi final. Ana's work with her new coach is already paying dividends. She played confidently and refused to let Serena intimidate her. In the end it didn't matter.

The semi-final match was a roller coaster affair. Venus rode Serena's unforced errors to a 6-1 first set lead in twenty one minutes. Serena returned the favor and powered her way to a 6-2 second set victory. I came in on the middle of the second set with Serena up 3-2 and a murderous look on her face. Two sets had been played in 51 minutes. There was no clear favorite going into the third set.

Serena's left knee was giving her problems but she refused to give into the pain or complain about it. Venus meanwhile decided she wanted to win the match and proceeded to impose her will on the set. Staying focused and making her sister run Venus was hitting winners seemingly at will. Not that Serena was standing there letting her do this. The shot making at one point was vicious and beautiful. It was fitting that the match be decided by a tiebreak which Venus won.

Tomorrow Venus will play Virginie Razzano for the title.
I'm not downplaying Razzano's chances. You never know which Venus will show up.

Venus will be ranked number five in the world after this tournament, her highest ranking since 2003.

ATP Dubai

Rafael Nadal is out.
Roger Federer is out.
Nikolay Davydenko is out.
Fernando Verdasco is out.
Andy Roddick is out.

Replacing them are Ivan Ljubicic, Fabrice Santoro, Teimuraz Gabashviil, Jan Hernych and Sergiy Stakhovsky. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are the top players remaining. Murray is already in Dubai. Djokovic is playing a 250 at Marseille.

Did the ATP really think that schedule would hold? I mean Roddick pulled out for what amounts to general principles and is taking the "0" against his ranking. I mean he won this last year. There are back to back Master's 1,000 events coming up in the States. On hardcourts. Davis Cup is next week.
Verdasco has pulled out of Davis Cup and Rafael says he's playing. Roddick, who is now playing in Memphis, would've had to play in Birmingham Alabama, fly to Dubai and then fly back to California for what is now the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. Federer has pulled out of Davis Cup as well.
What was that line about shortening the season and making things easier for the players?

Speaking of ranking points part of Brave New World requires a player ranked in the top 30 to play a total of four "500 Series" tournaments, three before the US Open. Roger Federer isn't playing any before the US Open and is scheduled to play Tokyo and Basel after the US Open. He seems to be relying on doing well at "1,000 Series" events and Slams which give winning points of 2,000.

End Notes

Anne Keothavong (above) is quietly having a pretty successful first part of the season for Britain. She plays Caroline Wozniacki for a spot in the Memphis final.

Victoria Azarenka is in the Final at Memphis.

Venus strikes a pose for her sister before a photo shoot for Marie Claire magazine.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Breaking Financial News

by Savannah

"Kourtin Karen" posts the following news item on her board.

Stanford Financial's Fraud Allegations Mean Less Money for Tennis Sponsorships

From the New York Times web site:

HOUSTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Robert Allen Stanford, the chief of the Stanford Financial Group, on Tuesday of conducting “a massive ongoing fraud” in the sale of about $8 billion of high-yielding certificates of deposit held in the firm’s bank in Antigua. Also named in the suit were two other executives and some affiliates of the financial group.
So what does this mean in terms of tennis? Stanford Financial is the "Official Investment Adviser" of the ATP through 2011, at least according to their web site. In addition, Stanford Financial sponsors some ATP tournaments and the Outback Champions Series. Stanford Financial is also slated to be the "Host Sponsor" for the upcoming Sony Ericsson Open Tournament. Miami is considered the "Fifth Slam" in tennis circles. More tennis sponsorships lost. How do you replace them in these tough economic times? Will we see a "shrinking" of both the ATP and WTA tours due to this economic environment? Time will tell, let's see who the next major tennis sponsor is to fall on hard times.

The link to the complete NY Times article is on her site.

Reuters also reports the following:

The fraud case against Texas billionaire Allen Stanford may raise new questions about the aggressiveness of U.S. securities regulators, who according to an earlier lawsuit had begun examining the financier's sales practices in 2007 or earlier.

A complaint filed last year against Stanford's firm by two former employees contended they were aware of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry into the firm's sales practices while they worked there.

The employees, Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl, said in their Texas state court lawsuit that they left rather than participate in unlawful business practices. They departed in late 2007.

They said the SEC was looking at the marketing of certificates of deposits and that the Stanford firm had purged files and destroyed documents "with knowledge of an ongoing SEC inquiry."

These high-yielding CDs were at the heart of the SEC's fraud case on Tuesday, when regulators accused Allen Stanford and three companies he runs of operating a worldwide fraud of "shocking magnitude" involving $8 billion in securities that were allegedly falsely marketed to customers.

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Roger Federer has issued the following statement:


Dear Fans,

Today I am disappointed to announce that I am withdrawing from both Dubai and the Davis Cup tie in the United States. This was a hard decision to make as I am missing not only one of my favorite events on tour in Dubai but I am also missing out on an opportunity to help my country try and move on to the next round of Davis Cup. After injuring my back last fall, I did not have enough time to strengthen it completely. As a precautionary measure, I will use the next few weeks to make sure the back injury is fully rehabilitated and I am ready for the rest of the 2009 season.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

The sound of champagne corks popping and loud cheering is coming from the United States Davis Cup team. When last seen Patrick McEnroe was doing the Snake a la Radek Stepanek.
Seriously though I see two big reasons for Roger's withdrawal - Indian Wells and Miami.

It seems that the tennis establishment is questioning it's love affair with Serbian tennis players. I found this interesting blog entry on ESPN
Each member of the Serbian super trio has established himself or herself as a legitimate top-tier player -- in fact, two of them (Ivanovic and Jankovic) have held the No. 1 ranking, and Djokovic himself was poised to snatch No. 2 -- displacing a fair little player named Roger Federer.

But the beginning of the year has also raised the question of whether any of the three is really comfortable with and/or equipped to handle his or her exalted position. Of the three, Djokovic is the one who's most consistently held his own instead of yielding ground, but with the sudden maturation of Andy Murray and that disappointing showing at the Australian Open -- where Djokovic was defending his first and so far only major -- Djokovic has people wondering if his drive toward the top hasn't stalled. He was 6-3 through the Australian Open, on his hard-court surface of choice, and hasn't played since.

If it sounds like Djokovic blew a big chance to challenge Nadal, pile on Federer and put Murray in his place in January, how about Jankovic? She finished the year No. 1 with, in some minds, an asterisk pasted there by the fact that she did it without winning a Grand Slam event. A strong January, capped by a win in Australia, would have asserted her legitimacy. Instead, she played miserably right up to and through Melbourne, and this week in Paris she lost to Amelie Mauresmo, a psychological enigma who traditionally stinks the joint out when she's playing in her home nation.

All three of the Serbian top players are in action this week: Djokovic is playing in Marseille while both Ana and Jelena are in Dubai.

Speaking of Dubai Shahar Pe'er released a statement regarding her situation.
Statement from Shahar Peer

February 17, 2009

In response to the tremendous outpouring of support and empathy over the UAE decision to deny me a visa that would allow me to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my friends and fans around the world, and my fellow players. While this is a very difficult moment for me personally and professionally, and the fact that the visa denial was issued at the last moment, I firmly believe that my fellow competitors should not be harmed the way I was - they were in or on their way to Dubai and denying them the right to play in this year’s tournament at the last moment would not make the wrong right. In fact, it troubles me greatly that my doubles partner Anna-Lena Groenefeld from Germany will not be able to compete as we had planned. Going forward, I am confident that the Tour will take appropriate actions to ensure that this injustice is not allowed to occur in the future, and that the Tour will make sure I will not be further harmed in the short and long term. There should be no place for politics or discrimination in professional tennis or indeed any sport.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

Thanks to "LaBamba" over on menstennisforums for putting together this handy little cheat sheet of the schedules for the top 30 men. Andy Murray has pulled out of Marseilles already.

\_/Rotterdam\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/\_/\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/\_/Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
Del Potro
\_/San Jose-Memphis\_/Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
Johannesburg-Rotterdam-Marseille\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/San Jose-Memphis-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/San Jose-Memphis\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami

\_/\_/Buenos Aires-Acapulco-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
Johannesburg-Rotterdam\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Marseille-Acapulco-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
Vina del Mar\_/Memphis\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/\_/\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/\_/\_/\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Memphis\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Costa do Sauipe-Buenos Aires-Acapulco-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
Zagreb-Rotterdam-Memphis-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
Zagreb\_/\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami

\_/Rotterdam-Marseille\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
Vina del Mar-Costa do Sauipe-Buenos Aires-Acapulco-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/San Jose-Memphis\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/San Jose-Memphis-Delray Beach-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
Zagreb-Rotterdam\_/Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/\_/Marseille\_/Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
\_/Rotterdam-Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami
Zagreb-Rotterdam-Marseille-Dubai-Davis Cup?-Indian Wells-Miami
Zagreb-Rotterdam-Marseille\_/Davis Cup-Indian Wells-Miami

\_/ = week not playing

Kind of lays out the difficulty of the schedule doesn't it?

Rafael Nadal gets treatment on his right knee

The United Arab Emirates has refused to issue a visa to Israeli player Shahar Pe'er that would allow her to play Dubai. Here is Larry Scott's official statement.
Statement from Larry Scott, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer - Sony Ericsson WTA Tour

Regarding: United Arab Emirates decision to deny a Visa to Israeli Tour Professional Shahar Peer to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships

We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) denying Shahar Peer a Visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships. Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right.

Following various consultations, the Tour has decided to allow the tournament to continue to be played this week, pending further review by the Tour’s Board of Directors. Ms. Peer and her family are obviously extremely upset and disappointed by the decision of the UAE and its impact on her personally and professionally, and the Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking.

Uh huh, right on Mr. Scott. It's not that this was unexpected but it's kinda hard to bite the hand that feeds you isn't it Larry? I'm sure you've heart the expression he who plays the piper calls the tune.

Congratulations to Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor Rotterdam 2009 Doubles Champions

Amelie Mauresmo won the Paris Indoors over Elena Dementieva. With both mothers watching from the stands both women played well but it was Amelie who held it together longer. She'd better buy her new coach Hugo Lecoq whatever his little heart desires. He brought her into the season both physically and mentally fit. Let's see what happens come Roland Garros time. At 29 this may be Amelie's last realistic chance to win the title that has eluded her all these years.

Radek Stepanek won the SAP Open in San Jose.

Stepanek, partnered with Tommy Haas, also won the doubles crown. Nice weekend for Radek.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Seen and Heard Around

by Savannah

From the French language tennis site TENFEM comes the following statement from Jelena Jankovic's coach Ricardo Sanchez to French chair umpire Kader Nouni aka The Voice.
Pour anecdote, on a même entendu son coach espagnol Ricardo Sanchez, dans les couloirs du stade, prendre à parti l’arbitre de chaise du match, Kader Nouni, en lui disant “Tu as complètement cassé le match, c’était n’importe quoi”.

Ricardo Sanchez of Spain stopped chair umpire Kader Nouni in the corridor after the match and told him that he had completely destroyed the match.

I saw the match. Did he mean that the match wasn't called fairly? Was he upset at the fan support for Amelie ( I mean it was a French crowd) and that the chair didn't ask them to be silent? They weren't loud during points and if they were restless Nouni did what any chair does and told them not to shout or move around during play. Was he upset at the lukewarm support for his charge? I guess what he did to Venus during her match at Stuttgart against Jelena doesn't count as completely destroying the match huh?
Amelie's fans have to be happy about her comeback from that seven game walkabout to completely shut Jelena down. She hasn't played like that since she became ill with appendicitis. Could it also be that since Alize Cornet is now the French number one Amelie has something to prove?

Gael Monfils deserves a shout out. He had every chance to throw in the towel during his last two matches but declined. I mean it's hard to watch a guy play and wonder if at any second he's going to be voiding from both ends. Anyone who has ever had a stomach virus knows what I mean. Instead he played on. If Nikolay Davydenko got called for "malingering" last year what should
Julien Benneteau be called out for? He played as if winning his match yesterday was the furthest thing from his mind. Tennis. Sometimes you have to be a fan to understand the crap that gets pulled and who gets called on it.
By the way at one point during the match Monfils played a bruising multi shot rally and lay down on the floor. Chair ump Gerry Armstrong gave him a warning. I'd love to see this guy call a match involving one of the Method Actors.
There was another more telling moment when during the changeover between the first game of a new set and the second - you know the one that's now a mini break - Monfils sat down on his chair as if to say "I'm so tired". It only lasted a few seconds but I thought he was going to throw in the towel then.

James Blake also played through discomfort completing a match he would've been forgiven for retiring on. He twisted an ankle during a previous match but played out his match against Mardy Fish losing in straights. Just sayin'.

What's the cutoff age for geezerdom in tennis? Tommy Robredo will turn 27 this year and is being counted among the Old Guard of the ATP. However you define the cut off age Robredo won the Brasilian Open. Congratulations Tommy. Your AARP card is in the mail.

End Notes
The new WTA/ATP online service, TennisTV launched this past Thursday 2/12/2009. The first day went smoothly for me. The second day I experienced some technical difficulties that were quickly rectified after I sent an email to their tech support group. The picture quality is excellent and the commentary is as well. The price is rather high for many but if you can afford it it'll be a good addition to your viewing habits especially if you're in an area of the States that doesn't have Tennis Channel access like I am.

Serena Williams withdrew with a knee injury from her semi final match against Elena Dementieva but is still listed to play Dubai next week. Both the Paris Indoors and the Barclay's Dubai tournament are Roadmap Premier events.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Les Artistes Part Two - Jacob Lawrence

by Savannah

Jacob Lawrence (September 7, 1917 – June 9, 2000)
Pictured with his wife painter Gwendolyn Knight ((20 April 1914 - February 18, 2005)

Throughout his lengthy artistic career, Lawrence concentrated on depicting the history and struggles of African Americans. Lawrence's work often portrayed important periods in African-American history. The artist was twenty-one years old when his series of paintings of the Haitian general Toussaint L’Ouverture was shown in an exhibit of African American artists at the Baltimore Museum of Art. This impressive work was followed by a series of paintings of the lives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, as well as a series of pieces about the abolitionist John Brown. Lawrence was only twenty-three when he completed the sixty-panel set of narrative paintings entitled Migration of the Negro. The series, a moving portrayal of the migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the rural South to the North after World War I, was shown in New York, and brought him national recognition. In the 1940s Lawrence was given his first major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and became the most celebrated African American painter in the country.

Shortly after moving to Washington State, Lawrence did a series of five paintings on the westward journey of African American pioneer George Washington Bush. These paintings are now in the collection of the State of Washington History Museum.

He illustrated an adaptation of Aesop's Fables for the University of Washington Press in 1997.

Lawrence taught at several schools, and continued to paint until a few weeks before his death in June 2000 at the age of eighty-two. His last public work, the mosaic mural New York in Transit, was installed in October 2001 in the Times Square subway station in New York City.

Toussaint L'Ouverture Series "Contemplation"
Lawrence was honored as an artist, teacher, and humanitarian when the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal in 1970 for his outstanding achievements. In 1974 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a major retrospective of his work, and in 1983 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998 he received Washington State's highest honor, The Washington Medal of Merit. He was awarded the U.S. National Medal of the Arts in 1990.

His work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum.In May 2007, the White House Historical Association (via the White House Acquisition Trust) purchased Lawrence's The Builders (1947) for $2.5 million at auction. The painting now hangs in the White House Green Room.[7]

When Lawrence died on June 9, 2000, the New York Times called him "one of America's leading modern figurative painters" and "among the most impassioned visual chroniclers of the African-American experience.[8]" His wife, artist Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, died several years later in 2005.[9] In the wake of their passing, the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation was formally established. The Foundation not only serves as both Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence's official Estates, but its online presence contains a searchable archive of nearly 1,000 images of their work. The U.S. copyright representative for the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation is the Artists Rights Society.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

Seems like everyone has something to say lately no?
For instance Jelena Jankovic is handing Roger Federer a rather large cup of what the man pictured at the top is offering. She is quoted as saying the following by Yahoo Sports

“To be honest, I do not like to talk about players, I really prefer to focus on myself,” Jankovic told Reuters in an interview at the Paris Open.

She said she could not understand why Federer felt the need to hit out at women’s tennis while his great rival Rafa Nadal, who took over from the Swiss as world number one, was so “humble”.

“Why should he even care? I don’t like putting my nose in other’s business.

“I mean, one thing I like about Nadal is that he is such a great champion, he is so humble, always has kind words for everybody, he is a role model for everybody,” said Jankovic.

“Federer is a great champion, I don’t want to get in a fight with him but why does he care, I really don’t understand. Why does he need to do that?”

Federer also led the charge against Jankovic’s compatriot Novak Djokovic when he quit because of the heat in his Australian Open quarter-final match against Andy Roddick.

“I’m almost in favour of saying, you know what, if you’re not fit enough, just get out of here,” the Swiss said.

Jankovic said Federer should not criticise fellow players. “I don’t think it’s nice to attack other players.

“If he retired, he probably had his reasons, he knows better. You cannot attack someone when you don’t have proof, when you don’t have a piece of evidence.

“There is no reason to offend him that way.”

To my knowledge Mr. Djokovic has not spoken up in his defense.

Next up is Andy Murray who continues his criticism of the new WADA drug testing policy implemented by the ATP.

Andy Murray reiterates his complaints about the stricter whereabouts requirements of the anti-doping program. "This is the third time I've been tested over the past 16 or 17 days," he said at Rotterdam. "We have ten-and-a-half months of tennis and we're getting tested at least 25 times... I don't understand why we have to do it during tournament weeks when we're being tested anyway.

"'Why is is that only the Top 50 have to do this whereabouts thing. What about number 51?"

Murray had previously given the following details about a visit from the gestapo - uh, make that drug testers.

"I got a visit at 7 a.m one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I’d been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open.
“The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7 a.m."

It's what our mother's always told us - one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. There has to be a happy medium, somewhere between people busting in on you at 7a and ignoring the guy shooting up in the bathroom. Just sayin'.

The French Press reported that Agnieszka Radwańska of Poland did not want to play the Paris Indoors taking place now. It's not fair to quote a loose translation but she says that she didn't want to play Paris she wanted to play Pattaya City in Thailand. The current WTA rules didn't allow her to do so because Vera Zvonareva decided to play there and she is ranked higher than Agnieszka. Tennis is an individual sport. Each player is an independent contractor. In my very humble opinion each player should be able to play wherever he or she wants. For instance there was talk about Serena Williams pulling out of Paris but it was pointed out that if she did she'd HAVE to play Stuttgart. Nonsense.

They're still yammering away about the Australian Open in the tennis press. I just wonder why everything I've read follows the following script: Roger has to do blah-blah-blah to beat Rafael Nadal.
If he had just done "x" or worked on "y" this situation wouldn't exist. Oh, and yeah, Rafa is a great player. Here are two examples.

Pete Sampras: "I've seen them play on every surface now, and I was really curious to see this hard court match.

"If I were Roger I would try to come in a little bit more, especially on my serve -- Rafa stays so far back. Just serve volley every now and again, just to put it at the back of his mind. [They] get into these rallies and as soon as Rafa hits the ball to his backhand, he's in control of the point and it's tough for Roger to keep up. And he came in and mixed it up less than what I thought he was going to try to do.

"He's close just the way he's doing it, he's a few points way from winning these matches, but I'm sure he's frustrated. He's playing fine, Rafa's just an animal. He guy can play all day, he can play at a high level for hours. To do what he did in Australia, play five hours two days before and come back and win the finals is incredible. You've got to tip your hat."

Andy Roddick (on Federer's emotional post-match reaction): "I think in sports you can certainly, you know, everyone can relate to being disappointed. I think the thing about, you know, kind of having to stay on for an awards ceremony and from what I read, I think Roger touched on it. Kind of going after a match, taking a shower, stretching, that's kind of all part of your routine to kind of cool down and to kind of almost try to grab a sense of perspective and get away from everybody watching for a second.
"When you have to go straight into the awards ceremony, you know, it's not easy especially after losing a Grand Slam final. I've been on the other end of that with Roger a couple of times. So I don't think it's surprising or out of the ordinary."

Martina HIngis acutally tried to do what Andy is suggesting here a few years back. Earned her the undying love of the French fans.

Kind of old news but Dinara Safina is setting up a training facility in the Croatian town of Varazdin starting in March, reports Sportske Novosti. Safina will finance the building of tennis courts that the town will also use as a training centre. This location is the hometown of Zeljko Krajan, Safina's coach.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday 2/8/2009 Winners

by Savannah

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Champion Johannesburg 2009

Marin Cilic Champion Zagreb 2009

Brian Dabul and Pablo Cuevas Doubles Champions 2009 Vina del Mar

Fernando Gonzalez 2009 Champion Vina del Mar

Friday, February 6, 2009

Black History Month - Les Artistes Part 1

by Savannah
Katherine Mary Dunham June 22, 1909-May 21, 2006 Dancer, Choreographer

Ms Dunham in 1956

From Wikipedia

Katherine Mary Dunham (22 June 1909 – 21 May 2006) was an American dancer, choreographer, songwriter, author, educator and activist who was trained as an anthropologist. Dunham had one of the most successful dance careers in American and European theater of the 20th century and has been called the Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance. During her heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, she was renowned throughout Europe and Latin America as La Grande Katherine, and the Washington Post called her "Dance's Katherine the Great." For more than 30 years she maintained the Katherine Dunham Dance Company, the only permanent, self-subsidized American black dance troupe at that time, and over her long career she choreographed more than 90 individual dances. Dunham was an innovator in African-American modern dance as well as a leader in the field of Dance Anthropology, or Ethno choreology (see also Dance Studies). In 1992, at the age of 82, Katherine Dunham went on a highly publicized 47-day hunger strike to protest what she condemned as the discriminatory U.S. foreign policy against Haitian boat-people. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Katherine Dunham on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans. She died in her sleep in New York City on 21 May 2006.

While doing graduate work in 1935-1936, she was awarded Travel Fellowships from the Julius Rosenwald and Guggenheim Foundations to conduct ethnographic study of the dance forms of the Caribbean, especially as manifested in the Vodun of Haiti, a path also followed by fellow anthropology student, Zora Neale Hurston [1]; Professor Melville Herskovits of Northwestern University helped to provide the tutelage and preparation for her voyage. Dunham's ground-breaking "field work helped to develop a now recognized subdiscipline of anthropology and also led to Ms. Dunham's own understanding - both intellectual and kinesthetic - of the African roots of black dance in the Caribbean" and the USA. In 1939 she submitted her thesis, entitled "Dances of Haiti, Their Social Organization, Classification, Form and Function.

Her stay in the Caribbean began in Jamaica, where she went to live several months in the remote isolated Maroon village of Accompong, deep in the Cockpit Country, and she later wrote a book, "Journey to Accompong" describing those experiences. Then she traveled on to Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago for short stays (primarily to do an investigation of Shango, the African God who remained an important presence in West Indian heritage) before arriving in Haiti, where she remained for several months, the first of her many extended stays in that country throughout the rest of her life.

While in Haiti, she investigated Voodoo rituals and years later, after extensive studies and initiations, she became a mambo (priestess) in the Vaudon religion. She also became friends with, among others, Dumarsais Estimé, then a high level politician, who later became President of Haiti in 1949. Somewhat later, she assisted him, at considerable risk to her life, when he was persecuted for his progressive policies and sent in exile to Jamaica after a coup-d'état.

When she returned to Chicago in 1936 she was awarded her Bachelor's degree in Social Anthropology. As a result of her academic research "she acquired the title of 'dancing anthropologist' and actually founded the field of dance anthropology because of her intense study of African-influenced dance in the western hemisphere. This academic undertaking would also lead to the emergence and codification of the Dunham Technique, a dance technique utilizing African drums and rhythms as well as ballet and modern dance."

While working on her masters degree, she was told by her advisers that she had to choose between anthropology and dance. Much to their regret, although she was offered another grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, she decided to choose dance, left her graduate studies before finishing her doctorate, and departed for the bright lights of Broadway and Hollywood.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This and That

by Savannah

It completely got by me that Iran sent a women's team to Perth for Fed Cup. This is the first time in 37 years that Iran has participated. The women lost badly in singles but made a respectable showing in doubles.

Madona Najarian of Iran
A lot of folks are upset that the women played in the heat of the Australian summer covered head to toe as seen in the picture of Ms Najarian. As a Westerner I go nuts when I see women covered head to toe as well but in this case I think we'd be missing the bigger point here by focusing on their dress.
Islamic women are being allowed to compete internationally again. This shows that when all else fails sports becomes the language of detente. I'm glad the Iranian women are there. They may not be ready to compete on the pro level yet but where were the Chinese ten years ago?
I'm sure the women fought long and hard to be allowed to make this trip. If you look closely the Nike swoosh is evident. Congratulations to the women on the team:

In other news...

The Australian Press is reporting that Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play Halle this spring.

Jelena Jankovic has been granted a Wild Card into the Paris Indoors next week. The tournament will feature three of the top five women: Number 1 Serena Williams and Number 4 Elena Dementieva will also play. Jelena is playing Fed Cup this weekend along with Ana Ivanovic.

Serbian Fed Cup Team Captain Dejan Vranes, Bojana Jovanovski, Ana Jovanovic, Jelena Jankovicand Ana Ivanovic.

China's Zheng Jie has withdrawn from Fed Cup play due to injury. Chinese captain Qi Zhang is without a replacement and will field a three woman team made up Yan Zi,, Zhang and Sun Tian Tian. They will face Team Russia - Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Chakvetadze and Alisa Kleybanova.

Australia's Jelena Dokic has been granted a qualifying wild card into Memphis.

There have been some fantastic pictures coming out of South Africa featuring players in their first ATP main tour tournament.

David Ferrer at a game preserve.

Marcos Baghdatis at The Apartheid Museum

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with South African children

Rafael Nadal and his entourage, his father, Sebastian, uncle Toni, fitness trainer Rafael Maymo, PR manager Benito Perez-Barbadillo, Jordi Robert from NIKE and manager Carlos Costa, made at least 10 visits in the fortnigh ate ten times at a Japanese restaurant in Melbourne including his last day there. The chefs were invited to sit in Rafael's box during his quarter final match. In case you want to know what a championship meal is here is what he ate: tooth fish, sushi, fried rice with seafood rice and noodles served with teriakyi sauce.

Hard on the heels of Kim Clijsters announcing that she will play an exho or two comes the news that Justine Henin will play the Belgian Tennis Trophy exhibition in Charleroi on 5-6 December, report Belgian press per

The same site reports that Betfair has released wagers on the first-round match between Croatian wildcard Antonio Veic and Guillermo Canas.