Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Defenders, New Kids and Streak Stoppers

by Savannah

For the second year in a row Venus Williams won the WTA Dubai/Acapulco double needing three sets to overcome Polona Hercog 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

In a match played over two days Novak Djokovic defended his title in the ATP Dubai tournament defeating Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 5-7, 6-3. The final was delayed due to a downpour in the desert. Just in case you were wondering...

Alisa Kleybanova set back the fitness movement in the WTA by defeating top seed Elena Dementieva at Kuala Lumpur in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Congratulations to Alisa for her first WTA title after making her first final.

Zheng Jie partnered with Chan Yung-Jan to win the doubles title at the Malaysian Open

Juan Carlos Ferrero was looking to win his third title in as many weeks when he took the court against David Ferrer. Ferrer had other ideas though and defeated Juanqui 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

In more doubles play in Acapulco Polona Hercog and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won the WTA Title.
The ATP team of L. Kubot and O. Marach handed the team of F. Fognini and P. Starace a double bagel to win the mens doubles title.

Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley won the doubles title in Dubai second seeds Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-2, 6-3. The match took 57 minutes.

Twins Bob and Mike Bryan won #600 at Delray.

Last but not least Ernests Gulbis won his first ATP title today defeating Ivo Karlovic at Delray Beach. Congratulations on your first title Ernests.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tennis Talk 2/23/2010

by Savannah

He who pays the piper calls the tune...

"Britain's Andy Murray has received such a big clothing contract from adidas — around £15m over five years — that the brand have ditched Novak Djokovic, Marcos Baghdatis and the Bryan brothers to help fund it. So there was understandable meltdown within adidas when Murray turned up for a photoshoot last week at Dubai’s new racecourse wearing a distinctive Hugo Boss-branded polo shirt. Jim Latham, head of adidas tennis, will be making clear his disappointment to the Murray camp."
Thanks Craig!

Ana Ivanovic has hired Heinz Gunthardt as her new coach. Gunthardt is the former coach of Steffi Graf.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend Winners and some news...

by Savannah

Interesting news from the ATP last week.

Julio Silva was disqualified at Costa do Sauipe after throwing a racquet and it hit a linesman in the mouth and he was bleeding.

In Dubai qualies Michael Lammer was disqualified while playing Stefan Koubek. Koubek lost the first set 7-5 and then he won the 2nd 7-5. Lammer got pissed off (I guess at himself) and when he tried to hit racquet against the ad boards it fell out of his hand and hit the linesman. Fines pending?

The big news today is Roger Federer pulling out of Dubai with what is being called a chest infection. Roger blames his hectic schedule away from the courts including a recent trip to Ethiopia for his illness.

The world number one who has not played since beating Andy Murray for the Australian Open title, picked up the problem in recent days after returning to Switzerland after his Melbourne title, heading to Dubai and and then visiting a school his foundations fund in Ethiopia last week.

'I'm hoping to be back for Indian Wells said the 16-time Grand Slam winner. 'But of course there are no promises.

'This is something that with proper treatment will be finished,' said Federer, whose 2008 season was compromised by a case of glandular fever.

'I've been taking it easy, relaxing as much as possible. My breathing is a bit difficult and everything feels a bit slow. I can't take any chances until I'm fit again.

'It could be better, it could be worse.'

The Swiss player's place in the draw for the 500 series event which begins Monday was taken by Spaniard Tommy Robredo.


In case you were wondering why play was suspended a couple of days last week in Buenos Aires due to rain here are some pictures that clear up any questions you may have.

This young man seems to be the only one happy about the situation. To be a kid again.

The Winners Circle

Venus Williams successfully defended her title in Dubai. She is scheduled to play next in Acapulco.

The Spanish team of Nuria Llagostera Vives and M.J. Martínez Sánchez won the doubles at Dubai.

Michael Llodra defeated countryman Julen Benneteau to win the trophy at Marseille.

A title is a title and Maria Sharapova proudly holds the trophy she won at Memphis. She is also dressed better than she has been in recent memory. Keep it simple Maria.

Vania King and Michaella Krajicek won the women's doubles crown.

Sam Querrey, holding the winners trophy, looks at runner up John Isner. Sam also wins the what not to wear award for this week.

Mariana Duque Marino hoists the winners trophy for the WTA Bogota Tennis Championship held in her home country of Colombia.

Juan Carlos Ferrero kisses his second winners trophy in as many weeks. Juan Carlos has battled back from illness and ignored the folks who whispered it was time to hang it up and is playing some of the best tennis of his career.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Apology...

by Savannah

I admit it. I haven't watched any tennis this week. Instead it's been half pipe, luge, roller derby, uh, short track, Super G, and figure skating. Yes I'm an Olympic junkie. I don't discriminate. I watch the summer and winter versions of this event and enjoy both. More than ever this Olympics shows the danger of winter sports and how cheap and dirty isn't always the way to go. It took the death of a young man to ensure the modifications needed on the luge track were made.

But the games, while mourning the Georgian athlete's death, have gone on. How ironic is it that the biggest controversy has come out of men's figure skating? As one fan put it the mens final came down to old school versus new school with new school winning. It highlighted how three years away from a sport can put you behind the eight ball and that time stops for no one. And does anyone think that Johnny Weir was marked fairly? Does anyone think that if he didn't have that show on cable that he would've probably been fourth? I'm just sayin'.

But tennis did happen this week and will happen next week. The top men are in Dubai. Andy Murray, who was too tired to play Marseille will be there. My favorite tournament of the spring South American clay swing, Acapulco, starts next week. Flavia Pennetta who always plays well there is not playing this year. Despite all the appearance fee drama Kuala Lumpur is going to be played with Elena Dementieva as top seed.

So please forgive me if I'm late with the weekend winners photo gallery. I'm just a tad distracted.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This and That

by Savannah

"Some people have that drive more than others who've been #1. Rafa doesn't seem like he cares as much for #1, or he doesn't show it."

The Monogram

Jean-Francois Caujolle, is telling anyone who will listen that he is not happy with Andy Murray.
Caujolle first spoke with L'Equipe, and then to Eurosport France, and THEN the British press, about how furious he was that Murray had withdrawn from next week's event in the south of France.

Murray was due to be top seed in the tournament but pulled out so he could "take an extra week off to recuperate and recover for the long season ahead".

Not a good enough excuse according to Caujolle, who now wants Murray suspended by the ATP, especially as it is the second successive year the Scot has pulled out of his event.

"Murray did the same thing to me last year," Caujolle said with what we imagine was a typically Gallic shrug of the shoulders.

"He can't know what it is to keep his word. A week ago, he asked me for a wildcard to play doubles with his brother Jamie and I gave him one.

"A few days ago he asked me for five hotel rooms and I gave him them. The number one seed of a tournament should have a sense of responsibility. If he does not respect his commitments, he should be suspended by the ATP."

Jean-Francois Caujolle TD Open 13 - Marseille
Caujolle has since modified his comments regarding suspension saying he never said that. The fact that he went off on Murray and didn't mention Juan Martin del Potro leads me to believe Delpo was never going to play here.

Weekend Results

Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova both of the Czech Republic, doubles champions GDF Suez - Paris

Elena Dementieva Singles Champion GDF Suez - Paris

Fernando Verdasco of Spain Singles Champion SAP Open - San Jose

Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey of the United States Doubles Champions SAP Open - San Jose

Robin Soderling Singles Champion Rotterdam

Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia and Daniel Nestor of Canada Doubles Champions Rotterdam

Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain singles Champion Costa do Sauipe Brazil

Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay and Marcel Granollers Doubles Champions Costa do Sauipe Brazil

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seen Around

by Savannah

Hey Savannah, following on from our discussions recently, are you thinking what I am thinking regarding the exceedingly strong field at Charleston and Memphis and the pull outs from Dubai?

One of the regulars here, Karen, posed the above questions about Dubai, Memphis and Charleston. Her comment sent me to look at the draw for Charleston so I'll talk about that last.

Memphis is a very weak draw. The main attraction is Maria Sharapova. Melanie Oudin, who just finished playing Fed Cup and the GDF Suez semi final is the second seed. I'm having trouble deciding whether back in the day this would've been a Tier III or Tier IV. Think I'm kidding? Here's the draw.

[1] Maria Sharapova vs Shenay Perry
[WC] Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs Katie O'brien
Monica Niculescu vs Qualifier
Renata Voracova vs [8] Elena Baltacha

[3] Kaia Kanepi vs Arantxa Rus
Laura Granville vs WC Nicole Vaidisova
Julia Schruff vs Michaella Krajicek
Stephanie Cohen-Aloro vs [5] Petra Kvitova

[6] Kristina Barrois vs Anne Keothavong
Michelle Larcher De Brito vs Qualifier
WC Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kristina Kucova
Karolina Sprem vs [4] Lucie Hradecka

[7] Vania King vs Kathrin Woerle
Qualifier vs Marta Domachowska
Stephanie Dubois vs Lilia Osterloh
Qualifier vs [2] Melanie Oudin

Don't get me wrong, there are some interesting players here but if the top seed doesn't make the final there are serious decisions that will have to be made in that camp. Oudin has a cold and it remains to be seen how fresh she'll be coming into this event.

Dubai is a Premier tournament. This is the draw.

[1] Wozniacki vs Bye
Shvedova vs Cibulkova
Razzano vs WC Sfar
Peer vs [13] Wickmayer

[11] Bartoli vs Q Makarova
Schyder vs Dulgheru
Martinez Sanchez vs Safarova
[8] Na Li vs Bye

[3]Venus Williams vs bye
Lisicki vs Q Chan Y J
Benesova vs Govoertsova
Cirstea vs [14] Schiavone

[9] Stosur vs Garbin
Srebotnik vs Pavlyuchenkova
Hantuchova vs Q Manasieva
[5] Dementieva vs Bye

[6] Jankovic vs Bye
Bammer vs Rezai
Bacsinsky vs Q Flipkens
Vesnina vs [12] Zvonareva

[16] Zheng vs Q Molik
Kleybanova vs Q Groenefeld
K Bondarenko vs Rybarikova
[4] Azarenka vs Bye

[7] Aga Radwanska vs Bye
Q Sevastova vs Dushevina
Petkovic vs A Bondarenko
Czink vs [10] WC Pennetta

[15] Petrova vs WC Vogele
WC Kirilenko vs Q Kulikova
Mirza vs Medina Garrigues
[2] Kuznetsova vs Bye

Dubai is a much stronger field than Memphis as it should be. There are several unseeded players who can get hot and make a run toward the semi's. The Bansidhe's fans say it was smart of her to play Memphis instead of Dubai. As I said we'll see.

The South American clay season is underway and a tournament is being played in Bogota. I haven't seen a MD for this event yet but I wanted to mention it so that no one thinks I'm ignoring South America.

The Family Circle Cup's official website hasn't updated for 2010 yet. So far the official site lists defending champion Sabine Lisicki and Jelena Jankovic as confirmed. Of course the big names are supposed to be entered but nothing official that I've found so far. I'll keep an eye out for an entry list.

A Dish Best Served Cold

Melanie Oudin defeated Elena Dementieva at the US Open last year. After a dramatic come back by the 18 year old Georgian yesterday their matchup today was expected to be close with American hopes pinned on Oudin. When Oudin won the first set it looked as if she might pull off another upset and make the final. What happened wasn't part of the Cinderella script.

Dementieva pulled herself together and systematically wore down her opponent. By the third set Oudin, who does have a cold, was mentally fried and visibly tired. The veteran showed how to put a bad set behind her and go on to win the match. Oudin showed that she is a couple of years away from being able to hang with the big girls and has nothing to be ashamed about.

Karen spoke about the WTA tournaments but there is some fascinating stuff going on in the ATP.

In support of those who believe draws are totally random at Memphis Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, James Blake, Robbie Ginepri and Sam Querrey are all in the same section. The TD must be pulling his hair out.

The TD in Marseille might be in the ICU though. Top seeds [1] Andy Murray and [2] Juan Martin del Potro both pulled out with injuries. Del Potro is said to be out until May. The top seed is now Robin Soderling who has gone deep in Rotterdam. Film at eleven.

Richard Gasquet says he is playing the South American clay swing to improve his chances at the French Open.

End Note

I haven't written a lot about tennis this week but I have been watching. I have to say I haven't been impressed. It's hard to do commentary when you keep falling asleep on the matches don't you think? I'm talking about both tours here.

I'm also annoyed that TennisTV has picked up where it left off last year. It simply dies and there's nothing you can do - clear you cache, log on and off, restart the feed - that brings it back. Ironic that the best feed comes from Russian television isn't it?

Lucie Safarova wins this weeks what not to wear prize. She'll face Elena Dementieva tomorrow in Paris.

It's nice to end on a happy note. Stan Wawrinka and his wife welcomed a new baby girl into the world on Friday. Congratulations to them both.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tennis Talk

by Savannah

As L'il Kim once intoned "It's all about the benjamins."

It used to be taboo for anyone associated with the WTA to discuss appearance fees. Now that that is no longer the case the news out of Malayasia is quite interesting.

Ajitpal Singh reports the following:

AUSTRALIAN Open finalist Justine Henin has decided not to participate in the US$250,000 (RM774,000) Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Malaysian International Open on Feb 22-28.

Justine’s decision comes after the organisers, Carbon Media failed to raise the money for the appearance fee for the Belgian former World No 1.

Maria Kirilenko, the Russian who had earlier confirmed her participation, is now in two minds.

According to a source, the World No 37 is asking for more money to play here and Carbon Media will need to raise the sum if they hope to get her. It is believed the organisers will need to raise between US$100,000 (RM340,000) and US$200,000 for each player.

Carbon Media is not expected to approach any other big names for the tournament.

How do you like them apples? I hope you don't think that WTA tournament officials just started paying appearance fees. If you do I have some prime real estate in Florida you may be interested in.

The other story of interest concerns Jamaican player Dustin Brown. Brown has dual citizenship in both Jamaica and Germany. I first became aware of him when he played a tournament as a German. According to the Jamaica Gleaner
there is a war going on between Brown and Tennis Jamaica. Brown has had a great run and gone from not being a blip on anyone's radar to #144 in the world at the time this article was published.
"Tennis Jamaica only knows me when the Davis Cup comes around, all the other times during the years they don't care how I manage to train and play tournaments. I could have attained a higher ATP ranking much earlier with proper support," Brown told the Gleaner.

Brown's current ranking is a phenomenal achievement as it is no secret that the country has struggled to produce top-class players in the sport of tennis, the last being Richard Russell, who made it to the second round of the Australian Open in 1964.

According to the player, the only way he was able to maintain and eventually improve his ranking was due to the fact that his parents purchased a camper, which enabled the player to travel to various tournaments around Europe.

"To be able to continue my career, my parents bought me a camper in April 2004 in order to travel through Europe and play as many games as possible."

"I would eat and sleep in my camper and I was travelling all over Europe, up and down for seven years to make it in professional tennis, holding the Jamaican flag high week by week, while my parents struggled to pay for the camper.

"I made a name for myself in Europe with my camper, my only chance to make it in tennis. Finally in 2009, I reached 144th in the ATP world ranking as a Jamaican player. I made it."

Brown is now ranked #132 in the world and made the quarterfinals of the South African Tennis Open this year.

Ana Ivanovic reports on her website that she has signed a lifetime contract with Adidas. Keep in mind "lifetime" means length of her career and that the deal probably has incentives related to her ranking built in. I'll just leave that alone.

Idle Chit Chat
For those of you who follow this sort of thing Andy Roddick's wife will be the covergirl for the SI swimsuit issue.

Fernando Verdasco did a photo spread for Calvin Klein recently. I'm not a big fan of Fernando but these pictures sure got my attention.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Who'd A Thunk It?

by Savannah

In a Fed Cup tie that was seen as a toss up by many observers the team from the United States led by Captain Mary Jo Fernandez crushed Team France 4-1. Amelie Mauresmo watched from the stands as the French women went down to defeat. Alize Cornet of France lost both of her rubbers and seems to still be having problems with her confidence. A short time ago she was seen as the next big thing in French women's tennis.

The United States joins the Czech Republic, Italy, and Russia in the next round. The United States will face Russia in the in United States. Some are already asking if Shamil Tarpishev will try and recruit Maria Sharapova to play the tie for Russia. Alisa Kleybanova, while fitter than she was last year still ran out of steam in her match against Jelena Jankovic who did end up playing for Serbia despite reports to the contrary.

Speaking of Serbia Ana Ivanovic played poorly. Like Cornet she has been in a swoon of late and doesn't seem to be coming out of it any time soon.

I should mention that Jelena Jankovic has reportedly fired coach Ricardo Sanchez and will be flying solo for awhile. JJ really needs to listen to the commentary Martina Navratilova did of her last match.

Weekend Highlights

Feliciano Lopez ended his absence from the winners circle by winning the South African Open.

Marin Cilic successfully defended his title in Zagreb.

Tomaz Bellucci won in Santiago.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

It may be the beginning of a new decade but the chit chat is already flowing.

The Bleacher Report provides us with the following comment made by Serena Williams after her Oz Open victory.

"I think everyone was for Justine tonight," Williams said. "But you know what really helped me out? This one guy was like, 'You can beat her Justine, she's not that good.'

"I looked at that guy and I was like, you don't know me," Williams added, wagging her finger. "I think I won all the games after that because that's totally rude."

I wonder why Serena is described as having "plopped" to the ground after her victory and others are usually described as falling to the ground in joy. I'm just sayin'...

By the way is it time to talk openly about Serena being one of the all time greats of women's tennis? I don't believe in GOAT's because each tennis generation is different in terms of equipment, style of play and physical abilities resulting from improved diet and training techniques. That said with Serena knocking on the doors of several past greats I think it's time to start the conversation.

There was a report floating around before the end of the AO saying that Bernard Tomic might decide to play for Croatia. Tomic's father was quoted in the Croatian press as making that statement. Somehow I don't think the Australian Tennis Federation would be pleased with that. They've invested a lot of time and money in young Tomic and I'm willing to bet they won't let him go without a fight.

Lleyton Hewitt has had surgery on his right hip. Lleyton had the surgery right after he lost to Roger Federer at the Oz Open. An article posted on the Australian Open site says Hewitt will be out three months.

Jelena Jankovic sustained an injury working on her service motion and will not play Fed Cup for Serbia according to a translation of her blog which is in Serbian.

Meanwhile Svetlana Kuznetsova will play on the Russian Fed Cup team. This comes from comments posted on her official site which is in Russian.

Please note that I don't read Serbian or Russian so if any of you out there do please click on the links and provide a translation. Thanks.

Goran Ivanesivic is joining Marin Cilic's coaching team according to Croatian press reports. Cilic's current coach Bob Brett is reported to be remaining on the young Croatian's team.