Sunday, September 30, 2007

Serena Returns to Action in Stuttgart



Serena Williams made a liar out of me. And I couldn't be happier. Somehow I thought after the US Open, she would sit out the rest of the year. But clearly, she wants to qualify for the Season Ending Championships, maybe even improve her ranking so that she doesn't have to draw her archrival in the quarterfinals of all the Slams next year.

What was it Jelena Jankovic said about the Slam draws? Nevermind.

Anyway, in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, which begins tomorrow, she's on the opposite side of the draw from Justine Henin, who also makes her return to competitive action after her run to the US Open title.

I don't usually post draws outside of Slam and Masters/Tier I events, but the field in Stuttgart is such high quality, I'll step outside of the box. Here's the draw:

(1) HENIN, Justine BEL v BYE
SREBOTNIK, Katarina SLO v SAFINA, Dinara RUS
MAURESMO, Amelie FRA v DEMENTIEVA, Elena RUS
SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE v
HANTUCHOVA, Daniela SVK (8)

(3) JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB v BYE
SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA v PEER, Shahar ISR
BONDARENKO, Alona UKR v QUALIFIER
MALEK, Tatjana GER v PETROVA, Nadia RUS (7)

(5) IVANOVIC, Ana SRB v SCHNYDER, Patty SUI
QUALIFIER v QUALIFIER
MULLER, Martina GER v GOLOVIN, Tatiana FRA
BYE v CHAKVETADZE, Anna RUS (4)

(6) WILLIAMS, Serena USA v BOVINA, Elena RUS
QUALIFIER v GOERGES, Julia GER
BARTOLI, Marion FRA v RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL
BYE v KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS (2)

Aside from the top 8 seeds, I've highlighted the first-round matches that caught my eye. Amélie and Elena D in the first round? Loot-SEE-uh and Dani could be a good match out of the gates, as could AnaI and Wacky Patty. And if only there was live feed or television coverage, I'd love to see Maid Marion take on A-Rad. Now, if only these non-Tier I-56-player-or-more WTA events could dispense with first-round byes for any of the seeds, then we'd have something to seriously discuss.

Perhaps Serena and Justine can navigate their way to a final and produce some fireworks. What am I talking about? I already said I was over this rivarly after the US Open. And not because Serena lost, mind you. But because it's clear to me that the quality of tennis from both sides of the net just won't be up to snuff unless or until Serena can exorcise the Justine demon from her psyche.

But anyway.

The tournament director of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix must be having multiple orgasms with this field. Here's hoping none of them pull out at the eleventh hour.



Related Article
Serena starts rare late-season swing through Europe

Gasquet Wins in India



Richard Gasquet didn't drop a set in nagging his fifth career title at the Kingfisher Airlines Open in Mumbai, India. In the final, he dismissed Belgium's Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4.

Venus Victorious at Korea Open






Venus Williams beat Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul today.

When I called them fashionistas, I had no idea we'd see them in traditional South Korean garb for the trophy ceremony. How beautiful. All this pomp and circumstance for a Tier IV event? Perhaps they need an upgrade.

Now if only we could see some of these matches on the Asian swing in the United States. But that's a whole other story and we're not going there right now.

Tursunov Takes Thailand Open



Dmitry Tursunov of Russia is presented with the trophy by President of Thailand Tennis Association Suwat Liptapallop after winning the Thailand Open tennis tournament Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007 in Nonthaburi Province, Thailand. Tursunov thrashed Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-2, 6-1.

Now if only we could see some of these matches on the Asian swing in the United States....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Idle Chit Chat

by Savannah

This just in from totally FAUX NEWS:

From Tennis Entertainment Network reporter Canu Topthis:

Have You Been Offered a Bribe?
It seems that every player not ranked in the top ten has come forward to confess that yes, he has been approached to throw matches but that due to the strong moral fiber built into him by his parents, coaches, agent and publicist, he felt the need to come clean so that those investigating hapless top ten player Nikolay Davydenko don't hear their names whispered by some disgruntled mobster and come knocking at 3 in the morning hauling them out of bed and shining bright lights in their faces.

ET (Etienne de Villiers for those who don't know), has said that his sport is clean and feels encouraged by those stepping up and admitting that mobsters are trying to influence the pristine sport of tennis.

"So what if it gives the impression that every Challenger event is crawling with guys in dark glasses cornering players and poking meaty fingers in their chests while waving bags full of Euros under their noses? Our players will not succumb to bribery and this has been shown by the men stepping up in droves."

You would think Larry Scott, embattled head of the WTA would be happy that so far the only whiff of corruption has been a mere $1 million dollar bet for a match featuring two players many beyond the tennis world (and some in it) have never heard of. Instead he's rumored to be wondering why no one thinks his WTA matches are worth mob attention. I say give Scott a break. It's bad enough that a woman barely out of the birthing room has come back and beaten top twenty players including the World Number 3 and that his Golden Girl seems to be having intermittent shoulder problems, something new to the world of tennis where shoulder injuries are often career ending. A distraction, any distraction would be good right about now malicious tongues are saying.

While some would start "Player Confessions of the Day" watches I think this is good for tennis. The more exposure given to the pressures players are under the more excuses they can come up with for losing to a player ranked No. 450.

"I mean come on. Three guys in black suits and dark glasses cornered me as I walked to the court. Each one had a bag with at least $200,000 Euros in it. Not that I counted and of course I said no but can you imagine what something like this does to your mental preparation?!" a player could say after losing and walking to his Honda to drive to the next event.


The Hoffman Family Chronicles

Once again Mariana Alves is at the center of chaos and mayhem on a tennis court. After a bad call and some alleged gamesmanship by Daniela Hantuchova Gamesmanship in women's tennis? You mean bathroom breaks, outfit changes, turning your back just as your opponent is about to serve and hand raising along with gastric distress aren't part of the game? I am shocked and appalled I tell you. Shocked and appalled.

But I digress. The Hoffmans, husband Rainer and wife, pro player Patty Schnyder, took exception to some of the calls and antics of Daniela Hantuchova and after Patty lost the match Rainer had had enough. It was bad enough that Patty merely slapped hands (and not in a good way) at the net. Rainer gave Ms Alves a piece of his mind before, well, see for yourself. Imagine if Richard Williams or Damir Dokic did this folks. Let's see what happens to Rainer. Will he have to coach Sania Mirza while he's suspended from coaching his wife?



Bait and Switch
The post US Open Asian tournaments continue to be plagued by the withdrawal of marquee names. Roger Federer, citing fatigue withdrew from the ATP event in Tokyo where he is the defending champion. Andy Roddick had also withdrawn due to an ankle injury he sustained while in Bangkok. I'm not sure what James Blake's reason for withdrawal was since I haven't seen an announcement yet. I just know that when the Main Draw for Tokyo came out his name was missing and the top alternate was in.

The thing is unless you're a denizen of tennis fan boards you would have no idea that any of this was going on in Tokyo. When I looked at the tournament site this morning Roger's face was still featured prominently. The WTA does this sort of thing all the time as I've mentioned before. It seems the ATP is now sinking to the same level.

The Year Ending Championships (YEC)


Will Venus make it in? Unlike the TMC where only two spots are open the YEC has only four qualifiers so far as Ana Ivanovic shows below.



Other possible entrants are Marion Bartoli, Daniela Hantuchova but as is usual with the WTA we probably won't know until the day before the tournament is set to begin.

The Tennis Masters Cup (TMC)
With three of the eight positions filled and the next three looking as if they may be on lock down by the men in position to fill them unless something drastic happens the battle for the seventh and eight spots is wide open.
Among the contenders are the following men:

Berdych, Gasquet, Gonzales, Blake, Haas, Robredo, Ljubicic and Moya.

The indoor season will go a long way to determine who gets in among this crowd. Who do I like to make it in? He's already in...oh you mean from this crew? James Blake, the Davis Cup dead rubber specialist? Haas? WTH has Ljubo done this year to even deserve to get in? Carlos has has some good results lately. Gasquet, with new coach Yannick Noah might get in if he manages to make some good runs. Berdych? He made it to a semi where he lost to Benjamin Becker. Gasquet beat Fabrice Santoro, The Magician, easily in Mumbai. This might go right down to the wire but for very different reasons than the YEC.

NOTE: I erroneously stated that six slots had been filled. As Mariya pointed out (and after looking once again at Craig's "Race to the TMC" I amended my comments. Sorry to have mislead people.

This 'n That
Agnes Szavay, the young woman everyone is watching in the WTA, is worrying fans with her injury woes.

Tatiana Golovin was featured in the French sports magazine L'Equipe. Craig already featured the pics. This one is my favorite.



Kim Clijsters made a public appearance on a roller coaster. I think that's in the top ten of things not to do when you're pregnant.


Arnaud Clement doing that thing most French men are good at. Not that silly. Cooking of course.


Sveta at the Great Wall of China



Marat mobbed by fans leaving the DC site in Moscow last weekend.



Couple of great pics from a photoshoot done by LeBron James and Maria Sharapova for The United Nations.




Uhm, apparently Novak Djokovic has been seeing this young woman for a couple of years now. Her name is Jelena Ristic and she's a student. What does this do to Maria and Novak? Was their night of drunken bacchanal just that, a one night stand? How does Ms Ristic feel about her boyfriend getting drunk with Russian Golden Girls?! Ah the plot thickens. Publicists, get to steppin'.


Paradorn and his bride to be bought a luxury home in his native Thailand.


In the category of what the hell were they thinking are these two pics. One of is Gael Monfils channeling his inner androgyne. The other is of Maria Kirilenko wearing the most god awful tennis related apparel I've ever seen.




End Notes
MV wants all of her fans to know she's taken a sabbatical. Now that she and Captain Wasabi are steering of their own ship she hasn't had time to write her blog. I spoke to her last week however and she did say in passing that now that she's gotten rid of the Samurai sword, the space age commode, and all the other junk (her term not mine) the Captain brought back from Japan she'd be damned if she let him enter that country again. I think the last straw was when she wandered into the kitchen - totally by accident she said so Fed fans don't worry, there's no chance of your fave getting food poisoning - and found a bottle of Wasabi in one of the cabinets.
The Captain swore he hadn't just purchased it but our girl was taking no chances. I guess I was the only one not totally surprised that the Captain pulled out of an event where he was defending champion.

I'm also sad to report that she and HFPY are still estranged.

I do hope she'll have time to write a little something for us after the TMC...oh wait, the exo season starts after that. You know about the Exo Season. It's that time of year when all the injuries vanish and players who were last seen hobbling on crutches are suddenly running around the court like jackrabbits. I guess it's something about the do-re-mi of that time of year that heals all wounds.


(If you have to ask why I used the sign for Euros and not the sign for US Dollars have you seen the exchange rate lately?)

Fashionistas Into Seoul Final



Venus Williams and Maria Kirilenko will bring their fashion flair to the court along with their tennis for the Hansol Korea Open final tomorrow.

Williams, who unveiled EleVen, her new line of sportswear at the US Open, made quick work of Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-2. Kirilenko, who sports Stella McCartney originals, sent Eleni Daniilidou packing 7-5, 6-0.

Not bad for a Tier IV final.

Venus has beaten MariaK in their prior two meetings without dropping a set. I'd expect a similar result this time around.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Venus Reaches for the Stars



Venus Williams advanced to the semifinals of the Hansel Korea Open with another straight-set drubbing, this one over Poland's Marta Domachowska 6-2, 6-3. She'll play Italy's Flavia Pennetta who tossed aside Japan's Ayumi Morita 6-1, 6-2.

In the bottom half of the draw, Eleni Daniilidou advanced when red-hot Agnes Szavay retired with a right thigh injury after leveling the match at a set all. Eleni will play Maria Kirilenko who crushed Catalina Castano 6-0, 6-3.

What's with all these non-competitive women's matches?

Even with her right calf heavily taped apparently for precautionary reasons, Venus, in her bid to qualify for the Season Ending Championships, has entered next week's Japan Open. Roger Federer has withdrawn from the men's event in Toykyo citing fatigue.

The Year That Was - 2004

by Savannah

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

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

OCTOBER

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

NOVEMBER

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

DECEMBER

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

MORE DECEMBER TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS

Maria Sharapova on the difficulties of being the 17-year-old future of women's tennis: "One day I can be with my friend talking about the girliest, weird things and the next day I'm in a meeting talking about a deal or sponsorship or doing a photo shoot that are run by all adults that want my opinion," she told The Associated Press. "I make the transition quite well. I always thought I'm more mature than other kids my age, but that's because of the sport I play and the business I'm in. If you're not mature, I don't know how you can accomplish what you do...I'm such a girly girl. I love being stylish and elegant because on court it's mentally and physically draining. You give it all you've got, you don't show your pretty side."...Most brutal headline award from National Nine News in Australia on the Anna Kournikova-Enrique Iglesias coupling: "Tennis failure nets Latin hearthrob"...Justine Henin-Hardenne lost an exhibition match to Nathalie Dechy 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday, then a three-setter to Elena Dementieva the next day...Scott Draper earned his Australasian PGA Tour players' card and plans to play pro golf and tennis in 2005: "I still love tennis but it's frustrating when your body won't do what you want it to do. I'll give them both a try and if I have to give one the flick it will probably be the tennis."...Justine Henin-Hardenne on heading into the Australian Open after her illness-ridden year in 2004: "I will be heading to Australia with a lot of question marks over me. I know that," she told AFP. "But I think there will be less pressure on me than last year, even if I am the defending champion. Above all, it will be the first games back that matter most. They will be very important for me. Physically, it's obvious that I hit rock bottom. Since April with the exception of the Olympics, I have not done much. All the successes I had prior to that was mainly due to the work I put in on building up my fitness. Now it's time to get back to putting in 200 per cent effort and I think I am capable of doing that. I don't have to prove myself to anyone now. I just want to go out and enjoy myself."...Jennifer Capriati missed the Aussie Open last year with a back injury, and now a question mark for 2005 with the shoulder injury...Roger Federer was turned down by Tony Roche for a coaching stint for 2005...Andy Roddick will have his own calendar on the market starting in 2006: "Andy is hands down the hottest male player on the tennis courts today," said John Turner, President of John F. Turner and Company. "We are thrilled to have formed this relationship with him and have only the highest of expectations for his calendar." Andy says 'Show me the cash': "I grew up with calendars of my favorite athletes on my wall, so I am very excited about this opportunity to actually have my own calendar," Roddick said. "John F. Turner and Company has a very impressive record of creating an innovative look for all of their calendar products, and I am looking forward to working with them to create something that I will be proud of."...Marcelo Rios is playing a series of "farewell exhibitions" in December, recently with a win over Goran Ivanisevic...Ever get the feeling that Brad Gilbert would sign up to coach Tatiana Golovin if it didn't mean hanging out constantly at women's tournaments having no one to talk about sports with?...The WTA Auckland event for January 2005 is struggling, with No. 26 Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier as the current top seed -- time to flash more cash...Still no decision in the battle whether Anna is married to Enrique Iglecias or not, with Anna saying yes, but investigators in the media saying no. Anna's publicist wont even touch this one: "We never comment on our clients' personal lives," said her rep Ivy "John Cougar" Mollenkamp. Media outlets have done some digging but failed to come up with a marriage licence. "Anna has a complicated relationship with the subject of marriage," said Us Weekly editor Janice Min. "They do enjoy the cat-and-mouse guessing game they put the media through."...Austrian Stefan Koubek has been handed a three-month ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for a banned substance, failing a drug test at the 2004 French Open. Koubek says he will appeal, and blames it on an injection given to him by a doctor for a wrist injury. "I have acted correctly," the 27-year-old Koubek said in a statement. "A three-month ban would mean that I not only will miss the Australian Open but also the Davis Cup in Australia."...Maria Sharapova will be restricted to just one Australian summer circuit appearance -- the Australian Open -- because of age eligibility restrictions...Venus and Serena Williams are both planning on playing the Australian Open, but have reportedly not entered any pre-Aussie WTA events or exhibitions...The ATP event in Sydney has a new sponsor and has been renamed the Medibank International...Lleyton Hewitt will skip the Hopman Cup exhibition, with his lead-up to the Aussie Open consisting of ATP events in Adelaide and Sydney... Pat Rafter will do commentary for FOX Sports during the Australian Open. Others on the FOX team are Wally Masur, Sandon Stolle, Rachel McQuillan, Josh Eagle, Peter Tramacchi and Liz Smylie. Americans, suffer on as you read of FOX's television viewer options in Australia: "Available to FOXTEL Digital and AUSTAR Digital subscribers, the FOX SPORTS Active Tennis application will put viewers in control like never before, and will be available throughout the Australian Open. Some of the features will include a choice of different live matches, different audio, news and views from press conferences, player interviews, player bios, draws, the latest news, plus a wide range of live and historical statistics." Contrast that to ESPN in the U.S. sticking you with every Jennifer Capriati match...For you Northerners waiting for the thaw: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_23-12-2004_pg9_11...How great is 2005 going to be from a wacky dad perspective? You've got Yuri and Maria with the Newcomer of the Year Award, Damir back with Jelena, Jennifer with Stefano always near, Richard Williams lurking for a strike -- bring it on...Former No. 1 Marcelo Rios ended his career officially in December with a straight-set exhibition win over Guillermo Coria...Lance Armstrong won the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year award for the third year in a row; a tennis player has not won since John McEnroe in 1981...According to the AP, "Madras' sports officials were unsure about the fate the Chennai Open tennis tournament, which is among the year-launching competitions of the elite ATP Tour beginning January 3" due to the tsunami destruction...Anna Kournikova is still suing mom and dad Alla and Sergei over who owns their Miami home.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pacific Coast Portland to Host Davis Cup Final



The USTA announced that it has chosen the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, for the Davis Cup final to be contested November 30 - December 1, 2007. We will battle Russia, the defending champions.

We haven't had contested a DC final on home soil since 1992 in Fort Worth, Texas when we beat Switzerland.

I can't be more excited. I've never been to the Pacific coast Portland, and I've heard nothing but great things about the city.

Great people, great scenery, great restaurants. And to think that the New York Times article just came out yesterday, the same day the USTA formally announced the site for the final. Talk about perfect timing. I'm such a foodie, I'm going to gain ten pounds eating at all the great restaurants!

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was on the final list of considered sites, and after my experience there for the quarterfinals against Spain, I had actually hoped we'd be going back there. But I've always wanted to visit Oregon, so there's nothing better than Davis Cup to bring me there. According to the article published yesterday in the Winston-Salem Journal:

Chris Widmaier, the USTA’s senior director for public relations, said that Portland was selected because of the USTA’s mission of taking Davis Cup ties to various locations around the country.

“It was a tough decision, but it has long been the USTA’s mission to use the Davis Cup as a means of supporting and generating interest around the country,” Widmaier said. “We have not been to Portland since 1984, so it has been two decades. They have a fine facility and a strong group of people who put an impressive bid together. So this is an opportunity for the Pacific section of the USTA to spur interest in the Portland-Seattle are.

“That said, it was a tough decision, because we have great respect for Don Flow and the city of Winston-Salem. They put on one of the most memorable Davis Cup ties ever in April. We appreciate how the entire community supported and embraced us.”

If you want the full skinny about why the USTA chose Portland, click here.

As a NetHead, I'm going to lose my mind screaming for the USA to bring the Cup back to the States for the first time since 1995. Incidentally, we beat Russia on slow, wet, red clay in Moscow, so the Russian team will want revenge o the fast indoor hardcourts in Portland. But this very US team will want revenge for losing to the current Russian team just last year in the semifinals on slow, wet, red clay in Moscow. Is there an echo in here?

Go, USA!

Related Article
Roddick Closes In on Davis Cup Dream

Venus Advances to Quarterfinals in Seoul



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Venus Williams coasted into the Korea Open quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn on Thursday.

Despite wearing strapping on her right leg, the top-seeded Williams made short work of Tanasugarn on an overcast afternoon before heavy rain forced a suspension of play at Olympic Park with two second-round matches remaining.

"It was a good game," Williams said. "It was good to finish when we did, it was about to rain. The rain blowing in different directions made it difficult, but it was a good experience."

The Wimbledon champion played down any problems with her leg.

"From yesterday, my right calf hasn't been feeling great but I was able to play and it's fine," she said.

The Wimbledon champion will meet Marta Domachowska of Poland in Thursday's quarterfinals after defeating Severine Bremond of France 7-5, 6-2.

Defending champion Eleni Daniilidou of Greece also cruised into the final eight with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ahsha Rolle [pictured below] of the United States.

Yahoo! Sports


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Andy Roddick Withdraws from Thailand Open



Half an hour before he was scheduled to play his first-round match, Andy Roddick told reporters at a press conference that he would not play after injuring his left foot upon arriving in Bangkok.

The Thai fans cannot be happy. Nor can Chaipak Siriwat (pictured below), the tournament organizer. Andy's withdrawal follows Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Joachim Johansson, Thomas Johansson, and Hyung-Taik Lee. With the exception of Ferrer and Nadal, all those players were invovled in Davis Cup ties last weekend. Dmitry Tursunov and Tomas Berdych, who won their first-round matches, and Tommy Haas, scheduled to play later, are the only two Davis Cup-ers left in the event. Haas was ill in Russia and couldn't play his reverse singles rubber while Tursunov only played doubles. Berdych did triple duty for the Czech Republic, but this is his favorite time of the year. He's the only remaining Top 10 player in the draw.

"I came straight here to practice but I had to stop, I hurt the bottom part of my foot, I spent the rest of yesterday getting treatment," said Roddick, who lost to Roger Federer in the final of the 2004 tournament aftering injuring his thigh in the semifinals against Marat Safin.

"It felt ok, but I was in my room, something happened and I hurt it again.

"This is part of sport," he added. "It's not fun, no one enjoys it."

American lucky loser Phillip King, Vania's older brother, replaced Andy in the draw. As of this writing, he's down a set to Taipei's Yeu-Tzuoo aka Jimmy Wang.



If Andy's injury is legit and he's not just drained from Davis Cup action like all the others, let's hope it isn't serious enough to keep him from playing a makeup event to qualifry for Shanghai and being healthy for the Davis Cup final in December.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tatiana Golovin in L'Equipe

She caused quite a stir at Wimbledon with her red panties. Now, she's playing with red balls and the French magazine L'Equipe can't get enough of it. Thanks, Savannah.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Davis Cup World Group Playoffs

SERBIA defeated AUSTRALIA 4-1
Venue: Belgrade, Serbia (clay – indoors)



Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Peter Luczak (AUS) 61 64 62
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 62 36 46 61 61
Novak Djokovic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) d. Paul Hanley/Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 36 64 63 62
Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Chris Guccione (AUS) 63 76(3) 76(5)
Boris Pashanski (SRB) d. Peter Luczak (AUS) 46 63 61

The Djokster steals the show, winning three points and leading Serbia to its first World Group in 2008. Hewitt came down with a virus and wasn't able to take the court in reverse singles. Guccione subbed for him and wasn't able to do much to keep Australia in the tie.


AUSTRIA defeated BRAZIL 4-1
Venue: Innsbruck, Austria (carpet – indoors)



Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 64 64 64
Stefan Koubek (AUT) d. Ricardo Mello (BRA) 62 63 63
Julian Knowle/Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Gustavo Kuerten/Andre Sa (BRA) 61 61 64
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Ricardo Mello (BRA) 36 64 75
Andre Sa (BRA) d. Werner Eschauer (AUT) 64 63


No surprise here. Austria was always going to be favored at home on indoor carpet against Brazil. Kuerten made a return to competitive tennis, filling in for Marcelo Melo, Sa's usual doubles partner, who was otherwise engaged over the weekend.


PERU defeated BELARUS 4-1
Venue: Lima, Peru (clay – outdoors)



Ivan Miranda (PER) v Max Mirnyi (BLR) 64 36 76(6) 64
Luis Horna (PER) d. Vladimir Voltchkov (BLR) 36 67(4) 64 64 62
Max Mirnyi/Vladimir Voltchkov (BLR) d. Ivan Miranda/Mateus Silva (PER) 63 75 62
Luis Horna (PER) d. Max Mirnyi (BLR) 64 75 46 76(4)
Matias Silva (PER) d. Andrei Karatchenia (BLR) 64 64


Horna (pictured) becomes Peru's hero after his four-set win over Mirnyi qualified Peru for the 2008 World Group for the first time.


ISRAEL defeated CHILE 3-2
Venue: Ramat Hasharon, Israel (hard – outdoors)



Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Nicolas Massu (CHI) 63 64 67(3) 64
Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) d. Noam Okun (ISR) 46 63 75 64
Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram (ISR) d. Fernando Gonzalez/Nicolas Massu (CHI) 26 76(1) 62 36 10-8
Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 46 76(5) 57 76(7) 63

Paul Capdeville (CHI) d. Noam Okun (ISR) 21 ret.

Sela (pictured) is making quite a name for himself among Israeli male tennis players. Earlier this year, he almost defeated Marat Safin at the Australian Open. Now, he's his nation's hero after outlasting Gonzalez in five tight sets. Another country makes its debut into the World Group in 2008.

GREAT BRITAIN defeated CROATIA 4-1
Venue: Wimbledon, London, Great Britain (grass – outdoors)



Andy Murray (GBR) d. Marin Cilic (CRO) 36 64 62 46 63
Tim Henman (GBR) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 64 63 63
Tim Henman/Jamie Murray (GBR) d. Marin Cilic/Lovro Zovko (CRO) 46 64 76(3) 75
Andy Murray (GBR) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 64 76(4)
Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Jamie Baker (GBR) 64 64


Tim Henman's last hoorah and he's able to go out in style, clenching the tie alongside Jamie Murray against Croatia. Ivan Ljubicic retired from Davis Cup play last year. Henman is all done with competitive tennis on the ATP. A true gentleman, I wish him well in his life's endeavors.

CZECH REPUBLIC defeated SWITZERLAND 3-2
Venue: Prague, Czech Republic (carpet – indoors)



Roger Federer (SUI) d. Radek Stepanek (CZE) 63 62 67(4) 76(5)
Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 76(2) 64 75
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Yves Allegro/Roger Federer (SUI) 36 57 76(7) 64 64
Roger Federer (SUI) d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 76(5) 76(10) 63
Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 76(3) 63 76(4)


Stepanek (pictured) continues his good run of form defeating Wawrinka and clenching the tie for his nation against Switzerland. But it was Stepanek and Berdych's great comeback in doubles that told the tale of the tape for this tie. Raja told the world that his vanquishers were lucky that he couldn't take advantage of the lead and capitilize on some break points late in the match. Okay, Serena.

ROMANIA depeated JAPAN 3-2
Venue: Osaka, Japan (carpet – indoors)



Takao Suzuki (JPN) d. Victor Hanescu (ROM) 76(4) 61 76(4)
Andrei Pavel (ROM) d. Go Soeda (JPN) 63 67(7) 75 63
Satoshi Iwabuchi/Takao Suzuki (JPN) d. Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau (ROM) 64 64 64
Andrei Pavel (ROM) d. Takao Suzuki (JPN) 67(6) 67(1) 61 64 64
Victor Hanescu (ROM) d. Go Soeda (JPN) 63 57 76(6) 76(3)


Japan almost became the fifth nation to make a debut in World Group next year, but Suzuki couldn't hold on to his two set to love lead against Pavel to close out the tie, so Hanescu gets to be the hero for Romania after he beat Soeda in four tight sets.

KOREA. REP. defeated SLOVAK REPUBLIC 3-2
Venue: Bratislava, Slovak Republic (clay – indoors)



Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) d. Martin Klizan (SVK) 63 60 61
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Woong-Sun Jun (KOR) 63 62 76(2)
Kyu-Tae Im/Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) d. Lukas Lacko/Michal Mertinak (SVK) 60 63 62
Hyung-Taik Lee (KOR) d. Lukas Lacko (SVK) 63 63 46 61
Michal Mertinak (SVK) d. Jae-Sung An (KOR) 63 62


In a way, we end where we begin. Like Djoke, Lee wins three points for Korea and becomes his nation's hero in dismissing the Slovak Republic. To bad he couldn't do it in front of a home crowd like Djoke, Stepanek, Sela, and Horna. Yet another country will make its 2008 World Group debut in what promises to be a great year for Davis Cup.

Comment of the Week: Appreciate Her



This week's winner comes from Make It Like It Was:

Vicki said...

I've been a Lindsay Davenport fan for years and I know this is just a tier three event. Instead of saying that the tour is in bad shape because Lindsay won why can't we say that Lindsay had great week, played well and leave at that?

I only read match reports most of the week and saw the semi final and final. Lindsay is a former world number 1 and won 51 career titles before Bail so it [is] not like Lindsay didn't have the track record.

The scary thing about it is Lindsay [is] only going to get better as her comeback moves along and we are lucky to have her back at all so we should appreciate her while she [is] still around.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Heard Around

by Savannah

The Thailand Open
This was going to be a very light-hearted look at the past week in tennis. Instead I find myself a little annoyed about the antics of the ATP and the tournament officials in Thailand. The Main Draw was released early this morning for those of us in the United States. It shows Novak Djokovic as the top seed as opposed to Rafael Nadal who had been seeded first. Rafa, it appears to the average fan, withdrew at the last minute. Here is one fan's reaction posted on Vamos Brigade :

Well, glad that finally it's cleared that Rafa will not show up...

But I'm so pissed about the fact that the organizer waits til the last minute then announce his withdrawal. I mean, Moya has already flew from Spain instead of Rafa...so, it's not possible that they wouldn't know that Rafa would not be at the tournament. They should announce it since yesterday when they are sure that it's gonna be Moya, not Rafa. It's not like Moya coming out of the gate then said..' hi guys, I'm Moya... I'm coming instead of Rafa' it doesn't work that way!! I think Rafa might have told or gave a hint to the organizers that he wouldn't be able to come...but they are just greedy, so they didn't notify the fans.

Now... what appears on the news is that --Rafa last-minute withdrawal 'again'--... sth like that... bad tone... bad for his reputation. I believe there'll be a lot of tennis fans who didn't follow the news, or know Rafa well enough... who will now have negative feeling about Rafa because of this. Poor boy!!!
And another:

Rafa comes here pls!!! I've been waiting for 4 years!!!
It's been no secret that Rafa was not going to play Bangkok. It's also no secret that Novak Djokovic is probably not coming either since he said after his Davis Cup match that his next event is Vienna, the same information that's been up on his official website for sometime now. I think the webmistress at Vamos Brigade, "Mamasue" said it best:

...it is very sad for you fans as well as for Rafa to look bad. The ATP is ultimately to blame for lying to fans. They seem to think they can get away with it and even further strengthened their position to continue to lie by no longer allowing stevegtennis.com to post up-to-date withdrawals from tournament entry lists. Tennis really does need a commissioner or someone to look out for the best interests of fans and players and not just the money hungry.



These are the same tactics used by the WTA and so bravely denounced by Lindsay Davenport a couple of years ago. Way to go, guys. Did anyone stop to think that tennisheads in South East Asia would have come anyway? Why the bait and switch tactics? It's makes it seem that the other players, among them Andy Roddick (at least at the time I'm writing this) are chopped liver and not worth seeing. At the present time your product is much stronger than the WTA's ET. There is no need for this penny ante bullsh**.

Viral Illnesses and the ATP
Richard Gasquet of the famous red shoes had one at the US Open. It rendered him unable to play up and comer Donald Young. Today it struck Lleyton Hewitt making him unable to play his reverse singles match against Novak Djokovic. Maybe that is the reason Novak won't play Bangkok? Updates as they occur.

First There is a Mountain then there is no mountain, then there is...
Those lyrics written by Donovan back in the day came to mind when I read that Marat Safin, instead of riding the bench at the semi final Davis Cup playoff would be off climbing mountains in Nepal. Imagine my surprise (not) when Marat made it to base camp and decided he had other things to do. He showed up on the bench today. A guest columnist is going to do a review of the Germany vs Russia Davis cup tie for me so I'll just keep singing that song to myself.


Karma is a Bitch
The Serbian Diva Jelena Jankovic, after all the drama caused yesterday after a ball she hit over the net in frustration hit her opponent Lindsay Davenport managed a mental meltdown of massive proportions today. With the match on her racquet at 5-1 in the second set over new tour sensation Agnes Szavay Jelena went on to lose the match 6-7, 7-5, 6-2. To my knowledge there were no bad calls, nothing extraneous to distract Jelena. Maybe the reality and responsibility of being the world No. 3 is getting to her. I don't know. I do know that if you can't handle the heat standing outside the kitchen how do you expect to handle it standing inside of it?

Handle your business, Jelena. There are a lot of your fans who want to see you play your way to the top spot by winning, not by being a point whore.


Lindsay Davenport
Three months after giving birth to her first child Lindsay Davenport is back on the tour, and winning. She won Bali, her first event back, and made the semi finals in Beijing where she admitted that all the tennis caught up with her.

If anyone thought motherhood would mellow her out they apparently have another thing coming. Just like Lindsay of old would have done she let Jelena Jankovic have it for accidentally hitting her with an errant shot. It seems Jelena has a history of doing this when "frustrated". She hit Serena once and came close to hitting Marion Bartoli. If this keep up she shouldn't be surprised when an opponent, equally "frustrated" lets her have it one day. And yes, I am talking about tennis not baseball where "head hunting" is an art form.

Idle Chit Chat
There is some. Reports in the Russian press say Anna Kournikova is expecting her first child with long time beau Enrique Iglesias. If true let's hope Anna reacquaints herself with a healthy diet and that both mother and baby stay healthy.

Tommy Robredo is reportedly dating Ana Ivanovic. No she hasn't shown up in his friends box and there are no pictures of them drunkenly singing karaoke.


Which brings me to the latest publicists wet dream. Yes I'm talking about the rumored coupling of Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic. What happened to Andy Maria? You never had any drunken pictures taken with him to my knowledge. Was it not serious between you two? I hope you and Novak make it. From where I sit you two are a match made in, well, someone's idea of heaven.

Picture of the Week


I've never been a Tim Henman fan but I will miss him on the main tour. He's been around for seemingly as long as I've been a tennis fan. It just seemed that he came along at the wrong time. His style of play is not for this time period. I'm sure after he takes some time off we'll see him on the Black Rock Tour.

Enjoy the rest of your life, Tim!

USA & Russia Advance To Davis Cup Final







Wow. I finally got some predictions right. German and Russia do down to the wire, and USA wins 4-1, just as I foresaw.

Think this win didn't mean a lot to Andy Roddick? With James Blake unable to play tennis, Andy handled the pressure, took care of business, and made Jonas Bjorkman, who played rather well, look rather ordinary today. He practically kissed the Teraflex after clenching the tie.

He maintains his perfect winning record of 9-0 when playing to close out a tie for team USA. The best in US Davis Cup history. And this weekend, he was perfect on serve, too.

"If you would have told me going into this weekend that I wasn't going to get broken for the entire weekend, I would have looked at you like you were a little bit nuts, a little bit crazy," Roddick said. "But I kind of found a groove. I guess I was able to just build upon what I did at the [U.S.] Open. … My serve definitely, definitely was able to bail me out at some pretty key moments this weekend."

But Bjorkman gave Andy credit for other elements of his game.

"Sometimes it doesn't look that he moves well, but he does," said Bjorkman. "Sort of the way he moves, long steps, it looks maybe sometimes not so smooth, but he's always there.

"Everyone speaks about his serve, but I think sometimes they forget about the variety of his game. He actually has good movement back from the baseline and also he makes a lot of returns. He's always been a great fighter. I think his backhand is much better now. I would say when I played him three years ago, you felt that if you came in on a good approach, it was really tough for him to make a pass. I think now he's much more confident to hit it."

So much for a one-dimensional, robotic, mindless ball basher.

I didn't watch enough of the Germany - Russia tie to say much about it, but I'm happy as hell Russia pulled it out.

We will host a Davis Cup final for the first time in forever.

Go, USA!


Match Reports
Roddick sends USA to the final
The Russians are coming...to the USA

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Doubles Day: USA & Germany Take The Lead







I've never been one to write well about doubles matches, so I'm not going to try now. All I'll say is that the USA - Sweden tie featured great tennis on the lightning fast carpet, including a dramatic first-set tiebreak won by the USA 13-11. When three of the world's best doubles players are on the court, a high-quality battle is virtually guaranteed.







The Russia - Germany affair was tight but quite spotty. Hero of the day goes to Philipp Petzscnhner, the 262-ranked doubles player making his Davis Cup debut who ended up being the best player on the unsettled clay.

Both host nations are now down heading into tomorrow's reverse singles. If the USA and Germany hold onto their leads, we will travel to Germany in the winter for the final.

Go USA, Go Russia!

Match Reports
Bryans' masterclass a performance for the ages
Germany takes lead against defending champions