Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seen and Heard Around

by Savannah

Anne Keothavong who has fought hard this year to improve her both her ranking and play was injured last evening at Stanford. She ran into a wall going after a ball and injured her knee. Reports are she was taken from the court in considerable pain. The above picture appeared on Twitter where Anne said she was taking a scan today but she pretty much knew what the result would be. Here's to a speedy recovery.

US Open Series

The men are on their second tournament while the women kicked things off in Stanford. There was a much anticipated exhibition match held between Pete Sampras and Marat Safin which surprise of all surprises Marat won. He then followed up with a win over Robby Ginepri and faces Ernests Gulbis in the next round. I'm hoping Marat stays focused for another round or two before the bright lights seduce him away from the tennis courts.


Meanwhile the WTA started off with a bang. A powerhouse draw featuring most of the top ten and not a bye in sight lived up to expectations. Last year Alexandra Wozniak of Canada won this event. She's already out. Li Na, whose coach/husband made it sound as if she were on her last legs just a few days ago came back from a first set drubbing at the hands of Serena Williams to force the World #2 into a second set tiebreak that Williams won 8-6. Think Serena wanted it?

Maria Sharapova was taken to three sets by Sugiyama Ai before winning her opening round match. She next plays Nadia Petrova.
Venus Williams won in straight sets over Stephanie Dubois of Canada while promising American junior Melanie Oudin won her first round match over Hillary Barte also of the United States.

The WTA Ranking System

During a recent presser Marat Safin roused himself to give a spirited defense of his sister's ranking indicating that she needs time to grow into being the top ranked player. This week essays on the subject are appearing.

There was a lot of stage whispering last week about Dinara Safina's choice to play Portoroz bypassing Stanford. She is scheduled to play Los Angeles next week. What's the difference in the two events? Neither Williams sister is scheduled to play L.A. After Dinara the next highest ranked player is number seven rankedVera Zvonareva who is just coming back from an injury. Nicole Vaidisova has made it into the Main Draw thanks to withdrawals. It's going to be very interesting to see what the MD will look like.

Miscellany

Rafael Nadal has made it clear that while he sincerely hopes to be able to play Montreal he has still not started the hard work he needs to in order to test out his knees. The Canadians do not appreciate top players not showing up for their tournaments. I'd be careful of dark vans and shifty looking characters if I were Rafa.

Speaking of Montreal I haven't heard a peep out of The Monogram's camp as to whether or not he'll appear there. I have to admire how he and his wife managed to keep things a secret until after their daughters were born. I may snipe at and criticize the public man he is to be commended on keeping his private life just that. Of course there may be some magazine that has the exclusive rights to the first pictures and that is fine given the Monogram's stature in the sports world. Maybe that will give bored younger fans something else to obsess about other than the strength of the Monogram's seed in siring twins. I wish I was kidding about that last bit. I guess the little buggers either went on a search and destroy mission for that second egg or they were strong enough to blast one egg in two. Again, I wish I was kidding.

I repeat that the Canadians do not like it when the top players don't show up. Beware of vans and shifty looking characters Mr. Federer.


When your shorts are so baggy it takes more than one glance to figure out if you're a male or female player they're too baggy. Frank Dancevic is the man pictured above. His ponytail didn't help much either.

Novak Djokovic and his brother Markko Djokovic got a wild card into the doubles draw at Umag this week. They crashed and burned in the first round. Is it still the new racquet that's being blamed for the issues there?

I'll end with this quote by the one and only Elena Dementieva.

When asked about the WTA Roadmap and Jelena Jankovic’s contention that she wants more flexibility to be able to play more tournaments, Elena Dementieva said with a laugh, “ I don’t know what to say. It looks like she's playing every week. If she can play six tournaments in a week she’ll do it.”

Source. Scroll all the way down.

The TVE Rafael Nadal Interview

by Savannah


Rafael Nadal sat down with TVE of Spain and talked about his knees, his personal life, and what the future holds. This transcript is taken from Rafa's official site and I've reproduced it in it's entirety. A video of the interview in Spanish is embedded below.

JULY 29 | 2009 TVE: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH RAFA NADAL

Lorenzo Mila and Rosana Romero from TVE (the leading news channel in Spain) interviewed Rafa Nadal yesterday at his summer house in Porto Cristo.

During the show, Rafa spoke about his days away from the tennis courts, about his recovery, his return to the tennis circuit, but most importantly, how he is...

So how is Rafa Nadal?

“Good, the truth is that I feel good. But also, I have to wait and see how I continue to recover because I’ve only been back training for a week and a half and you always feel a bit better anemically. You start with lots of hope, but again, the real test would be to see how I go when I really push my knees and I think that is likely to happen in the upcoming days. So I hope it’s all good,” said Rafa.

What happened?

“What happened was that I was in a lot of pain for a while, when I came back from Miami and I was training in Manacor, I started to feel a strong pain, especially in my right knee. It was a different kind of pain [to what I’ve experienced before], so I took off the bandages in my knees,” he explained…”and everyone thought that it was because I felt great, but the problem was that it didn’t hurt there anymore, now it hurt in the superior end of the knee cap. And well, the bandages weren’t helping me at all and that’s when it all started to get worse, little by little.”

Rafa said that he should have rested after Rome to play at his best in Roland Garros, but he wanted to play the Masters Series Tournament in Madrid, which turned out to be a big mistake. At the same time, he admitted that he had “been playing almost every day with an anti-inflammatory and I had too much pain to play well at both tournaments that were important for me, Roland Garros and Wimbledon."

"I decided it was best to stop and recover," because "you lose the drive to go back to train and compete, because you are not with the same energy, little by little it destroys you," he explained.

According to Rafa, it is "knowing how to overcome difficult situations or face them with a positive mindset and learn to enjoy suffering," that has kept him going. "It is a virtue that I’ve always had, I like to suffer, I have learned to enjoy suffering and I believe that is what helps me."

At the same time, the support and love he has received from his fans and family has been the one highlight out of this painful experience. “Without doubt, the best memory in the last two months has been the support I have received from everyone. From my website, where they’ve sent me tons of messages. I have nothing but gratitude for their gesture”.

So what has Rafa been doing in the last two months?

"I have spent more hours on the couch these past two months than in the past four years", he confessed.

This time away from competition has also allowed Rafa to follow other aspects of the sport today, politically and economically, "I've been able to follow many things, to see how colleagues have won some very important things, such as Contador at the Tour of France, or Pau Gasol in the NBA when he won 'the ring'. Of course I'm interested in the [economic] crisis and also in politics, but I never like to talk about those things".

The four-time Roland Garros champion said that his "dream" is to return to the ATP for the August 9 start of the Montreal Masters Series event, "I would like to come back in Montreal in a week and a half. I [will] have to force the knees and just see how far I can go."

"My main objective is not to regain the number one ranking. My main goal is to be well and happy to be playing tennis," Rafa said.

"I’m mentally ready to return now!"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Winners 7/26/2009

by Savannah

New champions and some returns to the winners circle are featured this weekend.
Bad Gastein

Andrea Petkovic won her first title
The doubles team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka won the doubles crown

Hamburg

Nikolay Davydenko won his first title of the year after a long injury layoff.

Paul Hanley and Simon Aspelin are the Doubles Champions

Portoroz

Dinara Safina won at Portoroz.

Julia Gorges and Vladimira Uhlirova are the Doubles Champions

Indianapolis (US Open Series)

Robby Ginepri 2009 Indianapolis Champion.

New doubles pair Ernests Gulbis and Dmitry Tursunov win the Doubles Crown at Indianapolis

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah


ESPN's writer Kamakshi Tandon wrote the following in her column on the state of the WTA focusing on Venus Williams rousing defense of her sport and Dinara Safina's number one ranking after their match at Wimbledon.

Wasn't it a little embarrassing for the tour, Venus was asked. But she wasn't having any of it. "I respect Dinara Safina immensely, and I think you should, too," she replied coolly.

But the result only reinforced the conspicuous absence of a legitimate dominant player in the women's game, a void that has been in place since Justine Henin retired while holding the top spot in May 2008. In practice, Serena has filled the gap by winning three of the past four majors. But the perception has taken on a life of its own, helped by the revolving door of No. 1s.


Ms Tandon is entitled to to her opinion on the matter and I'm not referencing her because of her opinion. My problem is the title given to her post on the ESPN home page. Superimposed on a picture of Venus is the title "Missing Link". If you're under twenty you may not understand how offensive those words are to people of African descent in the United States. The phrase was used as a derogatory reference to American Blacks for many many years. Should the benefit of the doubt be given to the editor of the tennis home page? Are these things not checked prior to posting? Does Ms Tandon subscribe to the views inherent in the use of those words accompanied by the picture of Venus or is she ignorant of the implied message given to her otherwise normal post? The problem Ms Tandon is addressing, that another slamless number one sits atop the WTA, should have been accompanied by a picture of the current number one not the number three player. In fact Ms Tandon's piece is actually titled "WTA Missing Only One Ingredient". Why couldn't that be used over a picture of Dinara instead of a blatantly racist phrase that has nothing to do with the column.

I guess that people in some quarters think that people won't be paying attention to little things like this. Newsflash. We are.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Twins

by Craig Hickman

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Wimbledon 2009 men's singles champion Roger Federer and his wife Mirka Federer attend the Wimbledon Winners Party at Hotel Intercontinental on July 5, 2009 in London, England.
Getty

Myla Rose and Charlene Riva Federer were born last night.

Wow.

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

Tamira Paszek has turned herself into Austrian anti doping authorities after treatment for her back. During the treatment blood was taken out, enriched, and then reinjected. This is known as blood doping. Paszek was alerted by a reporter and promptly contacted the proper authorities. Shouldn't someone on her team have known the procedure was illegal? Anyway here's the full report.

Maria Sharapova returned to the courts last night. Playing for World Team Tennis team the Newport Beach Breakers she teamed with Julie Ditty to win women's doubles, 5-2; paired up with Kaes Van't Hof to capture mixed doubles, 5-2; and in singles played against Meghann Shaughnessy winning 5-4 (5-1) in women's singles. She is quoted as saying "I am a hundred percent," prior to the start of play yesterday. For the complete story please go Here

Kim Clijster's also made her return to the courts this week. Playing for the St Louis Aces WTT team Kim lost her mixed doubles match but won her doubles and singles.

Blogger HCFoo reported yesterday that Mirka Federer checked into the Klinik Bethanien in Zurich. As women who have given birth know first babies are notorious for taking their sweet time entering the world.

Dinara Safina's coach Zeljko Krajan is quoted as saying the following about Serena Williams:

“If she thinks she can only play 4 tournaments a year & will be #1 in the world she is wrong and has problems with mathematics.”
I guess it's fun playing tournaments like Potoroz where, no offense to the tournament organizers, Dinara is top dog in a field of little known and low ranked players. It helps pile the points on and right now that's the way ranking is determined in the WTA. Tennis purists dogged Jelena Jankovic for taking the "I'll play everything" route to the top so I hope Krajan doesn't think less vitriol will be headed his charge's way for doing the same thing. Dinara is not playing Stanford next week thus avoiding the Williams Women for the time being. Her fans point out she is scheduled to play the next three tournaments after Stanford so it makes sense for her to play what would be called a Challenger in the ATP and skip the big guns the following week. Whatevs. The source of the quote is @dinaupdates on Twitter.

Staying with the Safin family unless you're hosting a Fight Club ( I know. The first rule of Fight Club is there is no Fight Club) don't invite Marat Safin and Mats Wilander to the same party. Marat is reported in the Swedish press to be livid about remarks Mats made during the French Open final about his younger sister Dinara.

"I was shocked when I saw the Paris final on TV and heard how Wilander on Eurosport totally put her down. He only points out how good he was and how simple he thinks it is to play a GS final and I was very indignant.

"His career was over a long time ago and now he is only a commentator. I can't understand how he can speak like he did. He didn't show Dinara the smallest respect and didn't say a word about how she became number one".


Wilander, who reportedly said of Safina's French Open final effort "She was embarrasingly bad" has, to no one's surprise, not backed off one bit from his comments.

"I don't really understand why Marat is pissed off. I have the right to an opinion as anyone else.

"The fact is Safina can't handle the pressure. It's Ok, not to be able to handle the pressure, but at least come with a game that is fairly good and don't look at your coach after every fucking point" says Mats Wilander.

"She is very skilful at tennis and is world number one, but her mentality is too poor. It's embarrassing to look at. I think it's so fantastically bad that someone had to say something".

I absolutely don't regret what I said. The facts are that she has been involved in three poor finals, when all said and done, but I am the only one who dared to say it aloud".

"I am a professional media reporter and when I see a match where the players toil away and fight and not when she is half crying through the whole match".


Come on Mats. Blood is thicker than water after all so you know damn well that Marat has to defend his sister. If you are Swedish here is the Source


Top Chinese woman Li Na may not be able to play any of the summer hard court events including the US Open per ESPN. Li's husband and coach Jiang Shan says that they are prepared to travel to the States but that if the injury proves serious they will go to Germany to rehab his wife's knee. Li is currently ranked eighteen in the world.

It's summer so it's hard reading some fanboards since they're full of speculation and ridiculous comparisons and flame wars. Therefore it was nice to see a post by tennishead "StephenUK" pointing out that there are only two teens in the WTA top 100, Melanie Oudin of the United States at 71 and Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal at 76. Age restrictions as well as the more physical requirements of the women's game have made sure that players like Laura Robson and Madison Keys aren't throwing their still developing bodies into the fray right now. Younger players will be thankful as their bodies, minds and games mature and they can compete longer.

Nathalie Dechy of France is expecting her first child and has retired from the Tour at the age of 30. I always enjoyed watching her play.

Tennis Week reports that WTT has imposed further fines on the participants in the brawl between the Sportimes and the Kastles:
Following a League investigation, including review of the video and the umpire’s report, the League issued fines to the Kastles and Sportimes for the unprofessional conduct of several players — Leander Paes, Rennae Stubbs and Olga Puchkova from the Kastles; and John McEnroe, Robert Kendrick and coach Chuck Adams for the Sportimes. In addition, Puchkova and Kendrick received individual fines for their actions. Puchkova was fined for leaving the bench to come onto the opponents’ side of the court and verbally confronting another player. Kendrick received a fine for his unsportsmanlike conduct when he hit a serve at the Kastles’ Leander Paes as he stood at the net while Paes’ partner was set to receive serve.
Guess that means no more brawls for awhile...

End Note

I have to confess that I haven't watched tennis for the last couple of weeks. I've been enjoying life as a real person instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to watch the match play from Europe. I got to the movies to see the latest "Harry Potter", I've been watching swim and track meets on television, and even caught some baseball. I also made several trips into the City, what residents of New York City's outer boroughs call Manhattan and just did some walking around and sightseeing the tourists. I've also been paying attention to politics again and I do hope to see the new African and Oceanic Art wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before the US Open starts.
However I watched the first set of Dinara's match yesterday before heading out to see the recreation of Chef Diva Ina Garten's new kitchen and there's this match between David Ferrer and Juan Monaco I'm getting ready to watch on ESPN 360. My vacation is over.


Monday, July 20, 2009

"Pamela" Files Suit Against Richard Gasquet

by Savannah



The woman identified only as "Pamela" in the ITF report that in effect exonerated French tennis player Richard Gasquet for cocaine use has filed a lawsuit citing "defamation" of her character.

French press reports cite the following case as presented by the woman's lawyer, Maître Yassine Bouzrou in Paris.

Maitre Bouzrou says that his client did not engage in any make out session with Gasquet. Instead she says she greeted several people, Gasquet among them, with a kiss. She in no way implicated anyone as being in possession of cocaine her lawyer goes on to say.

As for Gasquet the French lawyer says that the fact remains that he tested positive for three times the level deemed acceptable by tennis authorities and says that his client is taking the fall for behavior she had no part in.

Here is the link to the French article.

Thankfully everyone in the American tennis press isn't asleep at the wheel. Bob Greene posts the following in Tennis Grandstand:

SNOW WHITE
Frenchman Richard Gasquet escaped a two-year ban when an independent panel agreed with him that the reason he tested positive for cocaine was because he had kissed a woman in a Miami, Florida, nightclub who had been using the drug. The panel also ruled that while Gasquet’s test was officially in competition, this was a technicality as he had decided the day before his first match to pull out of the Sony Ericsson Championships. Cocaine is not banned out of competition. Fearing a dangerous precedent, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sought a mandatory two-year band and may yet appeal the ruling, as may the World Anti-Doping Agency. Gasquet’s test showed traces of a tiny quantity of cocaine, about the size of a grain of salt. Gasquet missed the French Open and Wimbledon, but could return to the tour at the Montreal, Canada, Masters that starts on August 10.


Greene is reporting what was said in the Brazilian article I referenced last week. The implications of this acquittal, for that is what it is, go far beyond tennis. The lawyer is asking that independent lab tests be performed implying that he and his client do not feel the private lab used in the case can be relied on.

Is this a ploy by the young woman, who reportedly lives with her boyfriend in Paris, to extort money ? Some would say yes. I don't see anyone as totally clean in this situation. The question is who does she expect a payout from? Gasquet's personal finances? The FFT? The woman has submitted to the hair testing Gasquet did and her results also came back clean.

This story is not over yet.

An Interview with Rafael Nadal

by Savannah

I found this interview with Rafael Nadal posted on the blog Gototennis.com. The interview takes place in 2008 prior to the Australian Open for the BBC's "Hardtallk" program. It's very interesting hearing the questions that were being posed to Rafa then in view of how 2008 turned out for him.





Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

The US Open Series

The summer hard court season is now officially underway. Labeled the US Open Series, the WTA and ATP sponsor a series of tournaments leading up to the final Grand Slam of the tennis season, the US Open which is held in New York City's borough of Queens.

I've always liked the US Open Series. There is plenty of television coverage and you get to see players you don't normally see. Why do I say that you see players you don't normally see? The reason will become clear.

The first tournament in the series is played at Indianapolis, Indiana. The defending champion, Gilles Simon, is playing at Hamburg instead of defending his crown in the MIdwest of the United States. You remember Hamburg? It was a Masters Series clay tournament that got busted down to an ATP 500 series event by the tennis powers that be and was rescheduled. Simon is the top seed in Hamburg. Indianapolis featured Andy Roddick, newly returned to top five status, as the top seed. Roddick would be an excellent draw for American tennis fans especially after his showing at Wimbledon but it was not to be. Andy withdrew due to a hip injury he suffered during his Wimbledon run leaving the folks running the tournament with Dmitry Tursunov, ranked number twenty seven in the world, as the top seed. Tursunov has a large fan base because of his humorous and entertaining blogs so all is not lost. Fans who bought tickets are going to come and I suspect they'll see good tennis.

The situation with Simon highlights the problems the US Open Series faces. Just as the American players whine that going to Europe to play the clay court events leading up to Roland Garros takes them away from home too long the Europeans say the same thing this time of year. Why subject their bodies to the pounding meted out by hard court play now when they can come in August and play a a few events leading up to the hard court Grand Slam? Don't forget that the Europeans do come from Australia to play the Spring hard court series in the States. That swing, like the Summer swing, features back to back Masters Events and that is a lot of physical and mental wear and tear for the players.

As for the women their events start the week of July 27 with the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford. Stanford usually draws a strong field. The defending champion is Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak who had a good run in Europe. Following the trend set by the men the woman ranked number one in the world, Dinara Safina is playing in Europe this week at Potoroz, a WTA International level event. She will show up in the States for the LA Women's Tennis Championships which begin August 3. Safina is the defending champion at Los Angeles.

The women then play Cincinnati followed by the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Nadia Petrova is the defending champion at Cincinnati and Dinara is the defending champion in Canada.

There are those who say that it makes no sense to have clay court play after Wimbledon and that the grass court season should be extended. Hamburg, they argue, should be a grass court event not a clay court event. The European players deliver a collective "whatever" and play in Europe as long as they can. The big dogs will stay in Europe until they come to Montreal for the Rogers Cup Masters. The Cincinnati Masters event takes place the following week. Calls for the schedule to be changed have fallen on deaf ears with Tennis Canada sticking firmly to it's guns. The argument could be made that the entire rescheduling of the ATP calendar was done to secure that the Canadian events maintained their place in that calendar. Forget that the women hate to come to Canada for whatever reason and that playing back to back majors for both tours is hard work. For a country with no players in the upper echelons of tennis the Canadians seem to have a lot of power in tennis politics.

For a list of all the tournaments and the television schedule please go to the US Open Series website.

World Team Tennis

It seems that lately World Team Tennis matches are becoming more like WWE events. I haven't heard of Vince McMahon sitting courtside as of yet but the event between the Kastles and the Sportimes the other night seemed to be right up his alley. In this case a picture is worth a thousand words so without further ado here's video of what happened.



Initial reports said that John McEnroe was playing peacemaker. Doesn't look like that to me. Should Leander Paes have apologized? Yes. Was Robert Kendrick wrong for what he did? Remember that the US is a baseball nation and that retaliatory tit for tat action is expected. All I know is that when Hunter Hearst Helmsley appears across the net from Shawn Michaels remember that you read about it here.

Idle Chit Chat

Fallout continues from Pete Sampras' comments about the GOAT situation. Some of the grand poobahs of tennis media have even backtracked and seem to think Sampras' opinions have some validity. The Worshipful are not having it though.

Those Williams Women are still everywhere. Their improved hair and makeup not to mention attire speaks volumes about what stylists can do for women of means. The rest of us have to do the best we can. Here are pictures of those Williams Women at a movie premier last week. So glad Venus lost the bathrobe.


Uh, Okay...

London, July 12 : Tennis ace Andy Murray's life story is all set to be turned into a Hollywood movie.t least three major studios are in the run to grab the rights to the star's life story for millions of pounds.

The rush for the rights began when studio bosses found out that the 22-year-old tennis player survived the Dunblane massacre.

Andy was just eight when Thomas Hamilton shot dead 16 pupils and a teacher at Dunblane Primary School on March 13, 1996, before killing himself in the gym.

Andy, who reached the Wimbledon semi-final last month, rarely speaks of the nightmare that unfolded before his eyes that day.

However, the Glasgow-born battler, who is now the world's No. 3, might just reveal the story in return for millions of pounds.

A senior executive at Fox said his studio would "easily match" Andy's career earnings of 4.7million pounds to acquire the film rights to his life story.

"This guy is an absolute inspiration," the Daily Star quoted him as saying.

It is believed that Universal and Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks are also hoping to sign him up.

Source

Recent sighting of David Nalbandian

Mario Ancic and friend
The Champions


Jeremy Chardy Champion 2009 Stuttgart. It's his first title.

Robin Soderling Champion Bastad 2009


Sybille Bammer defeated Francesca Schiavone at Prague.


Flavia Pennetta 2009 Champion Palermo

Doubles play is taking place at the men's events. I'll update the blog this evening with pictures and results.

The Bondarenko sisters Alona and Kateryna won the doubles at Prague.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

Trolling on one of my fave gossip sites I found this post by "entelodent" re the Gasquet situation:

LOL back when I drug-tested people I heard the following excuses for positive results:

They were dusting the top of a cabinet and stirred up some cocaine that somebody else had left up there (unbeknownst to them, of course);

Somebody had put cocaine in their drink, but they thought it would be all right because "alcohol kills cocaine";

and the ever popular, "I don't do coke but my boyfriend does and I gave him a blowjob and swallowed". Multiple people have tried that one, sadly. At least this guy was slightly less shameless.


And it's not only gossip sites that are talking about this. An article appeared in the Brazilian press that said the Gasquet case has serious implications for drug testing in the sports world. This translation was supplied by "Safinafan" over on MensTennisForums

Excellent article in Folha de S. Paulo today, signed by Fernando Itokazu and José Eduardo Martins, shows the disbelief of several experts in the subject. Marco Aurelio Dornelles, from the Brazilian Olympic Committee, described like "impossible" the acquittal, the sport lawyer Luciano Hostins , calls "absurd", and says would be hard to Gasquet keep this verdict in the CAS. The specialist Eduardo de Rose, a great world authority on the issue, believes that Wada has a special eye in this case.

Scientifically, the doctors consulted by Folha says that it is possible the transmission of benzoylecgonine by saliva, but for this the kisser must have much cocaine in your mouth or that the examination made in Gasquet has been extremely sensitive to detect the substance. Worst of all, I believe that this trial may open a dangerous precedent in future appeals on unintentional doping.


There is a hue and cry on all fanboards about Richie's "I kissed a girl" defense that the ITF swallowed whole and the treatment of Martina Hingis. Hell what about Guillermo Canas who had his career taken away during it's prime while Greg Rusedski, in the same situation as Canas, barely got a rap on the knuckles? Canas situation is worse in my opinion because he followed the instructions of an ATP physio not some random dude (or dudette) he met in the street. If I'm him I'm seething right now. If I'm Mariano Puerta I want to appeal as well. He came up with the excuse he drank a banned substance that was in his wife's water or something. No one believed him. I thought his excuse was pretty creative back then.

As for Hingis she chose not to fight her suspension. It didn't come at the height of her power but during a return that had begun to sputtter. Don't get me wrong, I understand the comparisons and feel that they are valid. Martina didn't have the Swiss tennis federation fighting for her though and being left out there on her own I can understand her not wanting to go to the expense involved in fighting the charges. Besides the "known party girl" thing was bubbling through tennis media sources and sometimes it's best to go on about your business instead of fighting anonymous assertions.

As I said a couple of days ago Richie owes the French Tennis Federation big time. They fought for their golden boy and got his possible sentence reduced to time served, time that ironically ended July 15. If he comes back and pulls the stunts he pulled before - the sore throat thing at the US Open, refusing to play during a critical Davis Cup match against the United States, and generally behaving as if he really is just too sexy for tennis then the FFT will have done nothing more than extend the career of a spoiled brat they've invested millions of Euro's in. Will the case go to the CAS where WADA has jurisdiction? Who knows? Monsieur Gasquet's performance over the next few months will be closely watched.

They're Everywhere

Venus Williams and Serena Williams are suddenly everywhere. They're on the Red Carpet at the Espy's. Venus shows up on a late night talk show in a beautiful fuschia cocktail dress. Serena got to meet President Obama at the White House wearing five inch heels the President commented on. So why is it I'm ready to out Venus lights because she did an exhibition for EA sports in the Vancouver area with Duane Howard, my new favorite NBA player and had the nerve to look like she was having fun while doing so? Talk about a charmed life.


Back to the Future ATP Style

Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich says he will return to the tour after a ten year absence. He plans to partner with Mischa Zverev in Hamburg next week. Didn't he make some pretty controversial statements a few weeks ago? Whatever.

Hold the Anointing Ceremony

Pete Sampras managed to ruffle a few feathers during a presser he did to hype his exhibition match against Marat Safin at the Los Angeles tennis open by throwing fuel on the fire of the GOAT debate and The Monogram. Here's an excerpt.

Q. I listened to your comments after the Wimbledon final. I don't know if you were asked this, how much Federer's record against Nadal affects your opinion? You were widely called the greatest ever by so many different people, had a positive record against your main rival, Andre.

PETE SAMPRAS: Very good question and tough question to answer. I do understand the argument as far as being the best ever. You have to be the man of your generation. He has come up short against Nadal. I can see the point.

It's hard to answer that. I don't know how to answer it. You know, it's not done yet. Roger's career isn't done yet. He's going to play Nadal a number of times over the next number of years, and he has to beat him. He has to beat him in the finals of majors. To be considered the greatest ever, he certainly in my book is. But he has to figure this kid out. He has to beat him. He's lost to him a number of times. You know, you got to be the man of your generation. He certainly is the man of his generation; he just has to figure out Nadal.

Q. Personalize it a little bit. When you retired, if you had that type of record against Andre, had a negative record against him in the majors, would you have been satisfied, been able say I'm going away from this, I have my 14, Andre got the better of me in a lot of my great matches, but no big deal because I won the most titles anyway?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, God, you're giving it some thought, huh (laughter)?

Q. Yes.

PETE SAMPRAS: It would have bothered me if I had a losing record against Andre in majors. It wouldn't have sat well with me. Did it mean I was the greatest or not the greatest? I don't know. It's the debate of greatest of all time. We so badly want to pin it on someone. With the numbers you have to give it to Roger. His record against Nadal, okay, you might not give it to him.

I mean, if I was 7 15 against Andre and I was done, it's hard to say I was the player of my generation just because he got the best of me. Like I said, the story's not over yet. We have another probably three, four years of these two guys competing against each other. If anything, I think Nadal is going to be hungrier now seeing Roger getting back to No. 1.

It's hard to give you a definitive answer when it's not done yet. I think Roger knows he's got to figure out this kid. It's a tough, tough matchup. Nadal is one of the few guys that believes in himself that he's better than Roger.


Not a big Sampras fan but it's good to hear someone keeping it real. Pete and his wife Bridget talked to each other throughout the entire match and I said then he looked less than enthusiastic about being there but that's just me. If you are a Sampras fan and would like to read the entire interview the good folks at TalkAboutTennis have posted the transcript. It's an interesting read.


Meanwhile the Monogram was present at a ceremony unveiling his addition to the Basel Hall of Fame.

Back off Bitches

Antoni Nadal is stepping out front once again and putting his nephew's health first.

The sage Uncle Toni Nadal tried to dampen expectations, speaking recently over Spanish radio as reported in Marca (google translation.)
“‘The important thing is to go slowly, see how it evolves and recover completely,’ said Toni, who confirmed that Nadal is still not 100%.”
“Asked about the possible pressure that his ward may have to recover the number 1 position he lost to Roger Federer, Toni said that ‘there is no such pressure. Rafa will return with the intention of going step by step, tournament by tournament and adding points.‘”
Toni also thanked fans for “The show of affection received by all. Watching the Davis Cup on television, we saw the signs encouraging Rafa in Marbella. He and I are very grateful for that.”

Thanks to the folks at GoToTennis for the information.

Meanwhile Toni's nephew is busy being twenty three during his injury time out. What young man his age wouldn't want to own a hog like the one in the picture?

Miscellany

From TennisReporters.net
The struggling Ana Ivanovic will head to LA the week before the tournament and work with her new coach, Darren Cahill, who has broadcasting duties at the men’s LA Open at UCLA….

Cahill, who lives in Las Vegas, is part of the Adidas coaching team. Will this be a one off or will he drop his other clients, including Sorana Cirstea, to work with Ana who needs massive doses of self confidence right about now?

Five Italian players suspended for gambling offenses by the ATP have filed suit against the mens tennis organization. Federico Luzzi, Giorgio Galimberti, Alessio DiMauro, Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali have brought an action against the ATP.
Information about the filing can be found HERE. Thanks to @lynnlovestennis for bringing this to my attention.

Fourteen year old Madison Keys defeated Serena Williams in a World Team Tennis event the other night. The youngster has an IMG contract and is being managed by Maria Sharpova's agent. She's fourteen people. Shouldn't her parents be telling the powers that be to slow their roll? Once again I have two words for them - Donald Young.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gasquet Gets Time Served

by Savannah

The ITF has ruled as follows in the case of Richard Gasquet.

ITF Press Release
Decision in the case of Richard Gasquet
London, England, 15 Jul 2009 - The International Tennis Federation announced today that an independent Anti-Doping Tribunal convened under the 2009 Tennis Anti-Doping Programme has found that Richard Gasquet, a 23-year-old French tennis player, has committed a Doping Offence.

Following a two-day hearing in July 2009, an independent Anti-Doping Tribunal found that a sample provided by Mr Gasquet on 28 March 2009 at the ATP event in Miami, USA, had tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine. Cocaine is a substance that is banned In-Competition under WADA’s 2009 List of Prohibited Substances, and is therefore also prohibited under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme on the same basis.

The Tribunal rejected the suggestion made by Mr Gasquet that, by virtue of his withdrawal prior to playing a match in the Miami event, the sample provided by him on 28 March should be treated as having been collected Out-of-Competition. In that regard, it upheld the applicability, and the legality, of Article F.4 of the Programme, which provides that a player who withdraws from an event may be target-tested and that such test is to be treated as an In-Competition test, even if the player withdraws before playing a match. The Tribunal therefore found that Mr Gasquet had committed a Doping Offence under Article C.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in player’s sample).

With regard to sanction, the Tribunal accepted Mr Gasquet’s plea of No Significant Fault or Negligence, on the basis that he was able to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities how the cocaine entered his system (through inadvertent contamination in a nightclub the night before his scheduled match), and that, while he was at fault in exposing himself to the risk of such contamination, that fault was not significant. It further ruled that, in the exceptional and “probably unique” circumstances of the case, it would be unjust and disproportionate to impose a 12-month sanction on Mr Gasquet. Instead it ruled that Mr Gasquet be suspended from participation for a period of two months and 15 days, commencing on 1 May 2009, and thus ending at 08:00 GMT on 15 July 2009. It also ruled that his results, ranking points and prize money from events subsequent to Miami should remain undisturbed.


For the entire document click the above link.

I hope that Richard realizes he dodged a real bullet here and that he appreciates all the work his Federation and others did on his behalf. Richard has a lot of fans out there who want to see him live up to his potential.

Monday, July 13, 2009

More of the Same for the WTA?

by Savannah
Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Daily has interviewed Stacey Allaster, new Chairman and CEO of the WTA

New WTA Tour Head Stacey Allaster Planning No Major Changes

New Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster plans no major shakeups at the women's tour, saying her ascension "was a vote of confidence in the senior management team" at the group. The former head of Tennis Canada, Allaster was WTA President since '06 but became the odds on favorite for the top job once Larry Scott announced he would resign earlier this year. Allaster conceded the process went on longer than perhaps she would have liked, but said she learned from it. In an interview this morning, Allaster outlined no major initiatives, unsurprising given the hectic pace of change over the last few years at the tour. She said tweaks would come to the recently instituted calendar changes, and said discussions would begin soon with title sponsor Sony Ericsson, whose contract expires at the end of next year. Allaster defended the much criticized on-court state of the women's game, but conceded there were ebbs and flows in the allure of the game. She was notified last Thursday by the board that she had been selected, and negotiated a contract over the weekend that was finalized at 11:00pm ET last night.


More as it becomes available

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

July 13, 2009

SONY ERICSSON WTA TOUR APPOINTS STACEY ALLASTER NEW CHAIRMAN AND CEO


ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announced today the appointment of Stacey Allaster, the Tour’s President since 2006, as the new Chairman and CEO of the world’s leading global sport for women. Allaster will begin her new role immediately and will continue to be based at the Tour’s U.S. headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. The naming of Allaster culminates an international search undertaken by the Tour’s Board of Directors and led by leading global executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International.

Commenting on her appointment as Chairman and CEO, Stacey Allaster said: “I am honored to lead the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, which since its founding by Billie Jean King 36 years ago has continued to break barriers and grow into a premier global sporting league. The Tour and our sport have enjoyed unprecedented success over the past years, and we are poised for even greater heights in the years to come. Our primary and enduring focus will be our fans, our players and our tournaments, and continuing to build a premium sport and entertainment brand.”

“Women’s tennis and the Tour have never been stronger as a business, and Stacey has been at the center of this business success over the past years,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour World No. 3, seven-time Grand Slam champion and Player Council member Venus Williams. “Stacey has helped to lead the development of a stronger Tour product through the passage of a healthier and streamlined circuit structure. I believe that Stacey will be a great leader for the Tour, understands how players can help drive our business, and has all the tools to take our sport to even greater heights.”

“Stacey Allaster is one of the most talented and respected leaders in our sport,” said Steve Simon, Tournament Board Representative and Tournament Director of the BNP Paribas Open women’s event. “Stacey brings to the role a track record of success in the areas of sales, marketing and television, possesses a deep understanding as to the needs of tennis fans, and has the respect of our players, tournaments and entire tennis industry. Stacey’s appointment is great news for both the organization and the sport.”

Allaster, 46, succeeds Larry Scott, who held the position for six years prior to becoming the Commissioner of NCAA’s PAC-10 Conference. Recognized as one of the most internationally successful female sports executives, Allaster came to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour on January 1, 2006 in the newly-created role of President, responsible for the Tour’s operations, business development, television, new media and tournament and player relations. Since joining the Tour, Allaster has played an integral role in a number of groundbreaking Tour achievements and is credited with helping to take the business of women’s professional tennis to unprecedented heights, including: (i) passage of the Tour’s landmark Roadmap reform plan, which has resulted in a 40% increase in prize money, $750 million of new stadium investment and a healthier calendar better able to ensure that fans see top players competing more often on the Tour’s biggest stages, (ii) implementation of more fan friendly innovations to the sport than in its prior history, including working with leaders of other tennis governing bodies to bring electronic line calling to the sport, as well as on-court coaching, pre-match player interviews, interviews with coaches during matches and a new doubles scoring format, (iii) expansion of the Tour’s global television footprint and launch of groundbreaking digital initiatives, including TennisTV.com in partnership with the ATP World Tour, bringing live streaming of matches from the world’s top women’s and men’s Tour events to a global online audience, along with a brand new fan friendly official Tour website, (iv) playing a lead role in the prior renewal of the Tour’s biggest three sponsorship deals - Sony Ericsson, Whirlpool and Dubai Duty Free, (v) achievement of the Tour’s longstanding quest to grant equal prize money for women tennis players at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, along with the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships and five of the biggest events on the Tour and (vi) reestablishment of the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships as a premier season ending event.

Prior to joining the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Allaster served as Vice President and Tournament Director at Tennis Canada where she is credited with leading a professional tennis resurgence during her tenure. She was instrumental in generating record revenues and attendance at the Canadian Open (currently known as the Rogers Cup), and turning each of the tournaments in Montreal and Toronto into premier global sporting properties. Allaster played an instrumental role in the building and fundraising for Toronto's world-class Rexall Tennis Centre, and led a team that generated over $165 million in sponsorship and stadium revenues for the development of the sport.

A consummate tennis professional, Allaster has held every position in the sport of tennis, from a junior to a collegiate player, to a Tournament Director of prestigious Masters Series and Premier Events, to Tour President.


Tennis Canada has long been the iron fist in the velvet glove of North American tennis. When common sense pointed to moving the ATP and WTA Canadian events fierce resistance resulted in them staying put on the calendar. While it is true that the women have made far less noise, at least publicly, against the institution of the Roadmap it's going to be interesting to see what Ms Allaster does now that she holds the reins of power.
  • Will we see the tour promoted instead of one player?
  • Will we see the end of the farce known as on court coaching?
  • Will we see revisions to Roadmap?
  • Will the tour continue on it's two tiered way with the "A" event final in Doha and the "B" event "championship" in Bali?
  • Will the ranking system be revised so that the tour no longer rewards "consistency" but good play against the top players?

Those are just a few of the real world issues facing the WTA at the end of Larry Scott's tenure. At this point I can only say "Welcome" to Ms Allaster. The road ahead is bumpy.

The Week That Was

Davis Cup

I didn't intend to take as much time away from the blog as I ended up doing. I usually make a big deal about the United States Davis Cup team and it's chances but for the first time in years I scoreboard watched instead of following live online. Have I mentioned that I don't have Tennis Channel as part of my cable package, not even if I want to pay for it? I have? Whatevs.

This gentleman seems to have gone to the matches in Croatia with more enthusiasm than some members of the US Team. There is no need to go into the why of the loss to Croatia. The scores speak for themselves. Instead it's time to look ahead and anticipate what Captain Patrick McEnroe is going to do going forward.
It seems to me that the old team of Andy Roddick, James Blake, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan is history. Blake simply can't handle the pressure of carrying the team. Add to that his antipathy towards clay, the surface of choice for all teams that play the Unites States, and it's clear he has to go. Dare I say that Andy Roddick 2.0 may want spend more time concentrating on his resurgent singles career for the foreseeable future and not be willing to be available for Davis Cup? The Bryan twins are still winning but they're not getting any younger either.

Maybe PMac should take a page from Mary Jo Fernandez book and start working with the younger players. I'm not saying juniors although giving the younger players a chance at being more than practice partners might be a good idea, but guys like Sam Querrey could be brought onto the team. Querrey for one does not seem to think he'll turn to stone if he walks onto a clay court. Until the United States gets over it's clay court bias we're going to be in trouble when we go overseas.

The semi finals will see Spain vs Israel and Croatia vs The Czech Republic. Don't let anyone tell you they saw Israel beating Russia 4-1. No one saw that coming. As for Argentina they seem to be in a rebuilding phase right now.

Juan Carlos Ferrero was the hero for the Spanish Davis Cup Team this go around. Spain will be the prohibitive favorite against Israel especially playing on their home turf.

The Czech's will travel to Croatia for the September semifinals. The Croatians are trying to persuade Ivan Ljubicic to return to DC competition but that is up in the air right now.

A Death in the Family
Twenty four year old French player Mathieu Montcourt was found dead in the stairwell of his apartment building by friends. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. May he rest in peace.

The Champions

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez Champion Bastad 2009

Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko 2009 Doubles Champions Bastad

Agnes Szavay 2009 GDF Budapest Champion
Doubles - Final
Alisa Kleybanova and Monica Niculescu won the Doubles Championship at Budapest

Lucky Loser Rajeev Ram 2009 Champion Newport. Rajeev scored a double victory pairing with Jordan Kerr to win the Doubles Championship.
There was an induction into the Hall of Fame located at Newport.

There was absolutely no controversy about Monica Seles joining tennis immortals at the Tennis Hall of Fame. Her career speaks for itself. Congratulations Monica.
The other inductee was Donald Dell. Known as the "tennis agent supreme" Dell has an interesting story to tell about the 1983 US Open that went widely unreported in US tennis media.

Connors was diagnosed with a blood blisters and the morning of the Open final and could not run or practice. He said he was going to default the final to Lendl. Dell, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this week in Newport, R.I., wrote “The growth of tennis really started to plateau, and I could see this non-finals really hurting the game.” So, the day of the final, Dell got in touch with a trainer with the New York Jets who recommended Connors take a shot of xylocaine, a sort of “souped-up novacaine.” Dell presented Connors with this option and he agreed not to forfeit the final to Lendl. The only problem with the shot was that it only lasted about 90 minutes before the effects would wear off and the pain would return. Should the match go longer than 90 minutes, Connors had to somehow get off the court so the trainer could administer another pain-killing shot. Players are authorized to leave the court for one bathroom break during a match, so when the pain-killer would begin to wear off, Dell orchestrated for Connors to take a bathroom break, where the trainer would be secretly hiding in the bathroom to administer another pain-killing shot. After Connors won the first set 6-3, he lost the second set 6-7, and at 2-1 in the third set, he began to limp noticeably on court. Dell signaled for the trainer to make his secret move to the bathroom to wait for Connors. While Lendl protested in vain that Connors should not receive medical treatment, no tournament officials followed Connors off-court into the bathroom. Another shot was administered and Connors went on to beat Lendl 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-0 to win his fifth Open title.

Wrote Dell, “Afterward the official doctor for the Open came up to me and said “Donald, I don’t know what you did, and I don’t want to know,” I said, “If that’s the way you feel, fine. But I can live with what I did.”

Connors, in his post match press conference, was asked why he left the court, and answered “I had a horrible attack of diarrhea.

Thanks to Tennis Grandstand for the information.

Sloane Stephens won her WTT match over Venus Williams. Sloane had a very good run at Wimbledon playing juniors making it to the semifinals where she was annihilated by Kristina Mladenovic of France.

End Notes

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils on their way to the memorial service for Mathieu Montcourt. Montcourt's father requested that friends show up in casual attire.




Rafael Nadal relaxing

Sania Mirza at her engagement ceremony

Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker at one of the Apple stores in Manhattan