Sunday, April 12, 2009

Veterans Day


Even though it's Easter Sunday, I'm calling it Veterans Day because it featured the resurrection of two veteran players, former world No. 1's and Slam champions virtually left for dead.

No. 88-ranked Lleyton Hewitt, back from hip surgery, won his first title in nearly two years with a US Clay Court Championship title over first-time ATP finalist and American Wayne Odesnik, who was clearly overwhelmed by the occasion. Hewitt, on the other hand, threw in a couple of over-the-top, manufactured "C'mons!" and lawn mower celebrations to punctuate his return to the winner's circle. A demoralized Odesnik, despite a second-set display of nerves from the 28-year-old Aussie who dropped 5 straight games, was never in the match, struggling to hold serve throughout, losing 2-6, 5-7. That's why all the outbursts from Hewitt were so annoying. Alas, some things never change. But he gets credit for winning in his Houston debut over a decimated field where the quarterfinals featured not a single seed.

Australian Lleyton Hewitt shares his prize with his 3-year-old daughter Mia after beating Wayne Odesnik, of the United States, to win the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship on Sunday, April 12, 2009, in Houston. Hewitt won the tennis match 6-2, 7-5.

But the day belonged to Juan Carlos Ferrero, pictured above with Nawal El Moutawakil, Moroccan Minister of Sports. He won the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca without dropping a set to clinch his first victory in 5 1/2 years and 111 tournaments. Florent Serra, who'd never lost a final or a macth to his opponent, was certainly the favorite. But after a break-fest to open the match, Ferrero was more solid on the big points, his 29-year-old feet a bit more fleet, his groundstrokes more precise. The final verdict: 6-4, 7-5. The Spaniard hasn't raised a trophy in victory since the 2003 Madrid Masters when he was still the world's best player. Now ranked No. 115, he's a winner once more. I'm sure someone has the data, but his has to be one of the longest title droughts in recorded history.

"This is a special tournament for me," said Ferrero. "Ten years ago I played my first ATP World Tour tournament here and now I'm back winning the title. I'm very happy, it was a great week for me."


Jelena Jankovic of Serbia holds her winner's trophy after defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain in the final at the Andalucia Tennis Experience WTA tournament in Marbella, near Malaga, southern Spain, April 12, 2009.

Over on the WTA, Jelena Jankovic celebrated her own comeback of sorts with a tough three-set victory over Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to take the Andalucía Tennis Experience title in Marbella, while Caroline Wozniacki won her firth WTA title and second of the year with a 6-1, 6-2 rout of Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak at the MPS Group Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach.



pompelmo said...

I also read on Yahoo! that this was Hewitt's first clay court final and title. I don't know if it is true, but it's a 2-cent contribution from me for the topic :)

Craig Hickman said...

I'm sure it is, pompelmo. It's not like clay suits his game.

Graf_sampras said...

Very nice for Jankovic to have a title again!

GREAT news from JUAN CARLOS FERRERO!! i missed him for so long. so many years that NO SMILE has come from his face...and it's nice to see him get this win and recognition after such a LONG struggle since 2003!! do you all recall how CLEAN his playing used to be? how nice his whiplash of a forehand was and how improved his serve had become EVEN in his loss to Roddick in the USO Finals of 2003? that was so exciting to see that match between him and roddick because it was - until the last crucial points - a real battle of exacting striking of the ball between them and STEEL NERVE serving from both. and ferrero did himself proud that day even in his loss to the better player on that day.

I was always keeping an eye out for his return to some good form to win a title again!





b said...

Apparently this is his 2nd title -

Interestingly, the first was also in the US (Delray beach)

Thanks for the post Craig - always nice to hear about comebacks.... even for people as annoying as LH.... And I had had no idea about JCF... that's amazing....

Craig Hickman said...

Thanks for that detail, b. Delray Beach was played on green clay till 2000.

Graf_sampras said...

b said...

Apparently this is his 2nd title -

Interestingly, the first was also in the US (Delray beach)

Thanks for the post Craig - always nice to hear about comebacks.... even for people as annoying as LH.... And I had had no idea about JCF... that's amazing....

Sun Apr 12, 08:02:00 PM


YES !!!

Lleyton is still Annoying !!!



Graf_sampras said...

Also ==

MARAT SAFIN should announce

"I am RETIRING , effective as of TODAY"....very MOnte Carlo....

and then the week after --

"I AM making my FINAL return from Retirement"

and WIN EVERYTHING in sight -- and end the year as Number one -- and then


"I am going to be do the Lead Role in the Next James Bond Movie -- Russian version".

and retire for the second time.

loltennis said...

"so many years that NO SMILE has come from his face"

Did you miss it when he beat Rafa in Rome last year? He was so giddy he couldn't even admit that Rafa's blisters had anything to do with his victory.

Yay Caroline! She sucks on clay*, so this title is a bit of a surprise, weak field and all. (* She shouldn't, considering her style, but her footwork is off.)

Pamela said...

Graf_Sampras, you have to help me cheer Marat on to win one title before he retires. I don't care what surface or what level the competition, I just want one title for him in singles before he smashes his last racquet.

I like Caroline, so I'm pleased that she won. Good for her. Too bad for Carla Suarez Navarro though. She made glitter girl work in the 3rd set, after she went up 5-1.

Craig Hickman said...

Pamela, Safin can draw inspiration from Ferrero and Hewitt, no?

And now that his sister will be No. 1, maybe that will put some fire in his belly.

Graf_sampras said...

Pamela -- even if I'm making bad jokes about players and with Safin right now..

I'm Cheering him on as often as any player i've liked.

may the better player win on the we say...

but Marat is TOO talented to end his career with NO new titles, even biggies!


you can still do it, like the BIG TALENT that you are!

and like Craighickman says:

LOOK AT HEWITT, and FERRERO -- these were YOUR own big rivals where you had some of your most intense top-form battles!

if they CAN come back like this after so long and WIN !

hey -- Safina won't let you have her CAR KEYS if you break that speedster of yours again - if you come home without a TITLE!

it's time to let a little JEALOUSY motivate you , Marat!

Graf_sampras said...

and players should look at Andy Roddick.

granted he hasn't had the type of injuries or illnesses like hewitt and ferrero that sapped them dry for years --

BUT roddick has had his own share of what SHOULD be "energy-sapping" and "motivation or inspiration" ending losses , disappointments ...and all that

AND has had HIS share of some bothersome injuries TOO

but doesn't COMPLAIN....

and just continues to put his heart out and NEVER being a quitter.

"One Thing Andy Roddick is NOT -- A Quitter"...STeve Tignor (

THAT"s something to be inspired by -- if marat NEEDS to look CLOSER right around him. addition to hewitt and ferrero as his closest contemporaries.

Graf_sampras said...

i'm just really amazed, awed even, at how hewitt and ferrero KEPT AT IT - through their struggles so far BELOW their former glories -- and just sucking it up -- working back no matter how often the setbacks pushed them down.

RESILIENCE and determination and belief in themselves.YAY!!

marat can and should do it too -- and NOT RETIRE


Pamela said...

G_S and Craig: From your typed text to Marat's racquet!

Graf_sampras said...

Pamela -- i always had one rule for myself about players:

until the day they hang their raquet up and say "no more" -- i keep an open mind that they have a chance, no matter how slim it becomes.

after that -- that's just the way it is.

but the important thing is - as a fan -- keep supporting...this is the least we can do for all the pleasures and excitement they gave while participating in the tour.

and even if marat never again wins a single match:

he was a champion before and always will be.

Graf_sampras said...

here's TWO more OLDIES....


playing a very nice clay-court tennis and each holding on for life on every shot...

Stepanek just broke back at 3-4 and serves to even up to 4-4.


MARAT -- are you listening and watching?



by order of PAMELA

co-signed by G_S and EVERY fan of tennis.

we will HUNT YOU DOWN to the ends of the earth if you BREAK this RULE!!

and STRIP you of those unnecessary attire..

and you will BURN under the sun all over and Pamela and Beth and Karen will CHECK every inch to make sure it's all PROPERLY toasted before sharing lunch....