Djokovic King of the World:
Rafael Nadal’s third-round exit at the Shanghai Rolex Masters this week has ensured that Novak Djokovic will end the year as the number one player in the world for the first time. He becomes the 16th star to have that honour and the first Serbian to achieve the feat. He is also the first player other than Nadal or Roger Federer to end the year number one since Andy Roddick in 2003. It caps an almost perfect year for Djokovic in which he became world No.1 for the first time after his maiden win at Wimbledon in July.
Shanghai Boss Calls for “Summit Talks”:
Michael Luevano, tournament boss at the Shanghai Masters, has added his weight to the recent debate on making changes to the ATP Calendar. Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Rafa Nadal, among others, have recently voiced concerns over the length of the calendar and the detrimental effect that it can have on the form and career-length of the top stars. Andy Murray even caused something of a stair when he suggested players would be willing to strike if their concerns weren’t noted. “They need a summit with the Grand Slam present, the ITF present, the WTA present and of course the ATP,” said Luevano in an interview with BBC Sport. “Lock them in a room and throw away the key until they come out.” Speaking of the fact both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are missing this year’s event through injury, he said: “Especially with someone like Roger, we want him in the game for five more years. If he’s not comfortable with how his body is feeling, and we just happen to be the tournament he can’t make, then so be it.” Talks had been mooted to take place at the event but are yet to happen.
Nadal Denies Tour Improvement:
World No.2 Rafael Nadal denies Andy Murray’s claims that the ATP Tour has gone up a notch in quality this year, claiming it was his own and Roger Federer’s lapse in form that contributed to Novak Djokovic’s exemplary year. The Spaniard admits that he has failed to live up to his 2010 form and that work has to be done to once again achieve the level which saw him take the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. “I believe Rafa 2010 had something more special than Rafa 2011, especially in tough situations,” he admitted. “Winning or losing depends on very, very, very small things. And probably these very, very small things I did a little bit better in 2010 than 2011. It is hard to win big matches. I lost a lot of finals this year. This year I lost 7 out of 10.” He continued: “Djokovic this year already won a lot of tournaments, three Grand Slams, he didn’t lose matches. I don’t believe that he changed his game unbelievably. He did a few small things better than a few years ago and that’s why his big success [was] this year. That’s what I am going to try.”
Nishikori to Break Japanese Record:
Reaching the semi-final of the Shanghai Rolex Masters this week means that Japan’s Kei Nishikori is sure to become his country’s highest-ranked player ever. The world No.47 will play second seed Andy Murray in the semis and his performances will surely see him surpass the previous record of No.46 set by Shuzo Matsuoka in 1992. “Shuzo Matsuoka has been a great mentor and teacher for me,” said Nishikori. “It is an honour to be able to break his record and become the number one tennis player in Japan.”
Safina Not Done Yet:
Former world No.1 Dinara Safina has refuted claims by her older brother, former French and Australian Open champion Marat Safin, that she had been forced to retire because of her continuing problems with a back injury. Safin had claimed that Safina was set to call it a day, but she has refuted this, saying: “I didn’t make any official announcement. Give me please some time and I’ll let you know,” on her Twitter account. She later added: “Right now I want to take care of my back. On Tuesday I am having treatment. Once I decide something you’ll be the first to know I promise.” The 25-year-old has not won a tournament since Rome, Madrid and Portoroz in 2009 and hasn’t been seen since the Malaysian Open in February this year.
Nadal Wants London Tax Break:
Rafael Nadal warns British tennis that the high tax rate enforced by the government could lose London the ATP Finals. The five-year contract the arena signed to host the event is up for renewal in 2013 and the 25-year-old, 10-time Grand Slam winner believes that if the high tax rate placed on athletes currently by the British government continues than London could lose out to another country. At the moment foreign athletes face a 50% tax on appearance fees and winnings as well as having to hand over a proportion of the money earned in worldwide endorsements. The rate also stands for both male and female players even if they are just here for training. Nadal also hinted that he chose to play at the Halle event in Germany next year rather than his usual pre-Wimbledon warm-up stop at Queen’s Club because of the issue. “It is really tough what is happening today in the UK with the tax. There are a lot of things that are really positive. This [tax] thing is probably really negative,” said Nadal. “The tax regime [in the] UK is complicating a lot of things because to go and play at Queen’s, the problem is not to win. The problem is I can lose money because I go there. I play for one week, and they take out money from my sponsors. That’s a lot. I’m going [to] play at Wimbledon,” said the two-time winner. I’m going to play in the World Tour Finals. So that is a lot of weeks, a lot of tax. It is becoming more and more complicated to play in the UK at the moment.”
Sydney Taking Shape:
The 2012 Apia International Sydney is taking shape both on and off the court. The damage caused by the flooding earlier this year led to the organisers taking the opportunity to renovate facilities, while two-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt has been made tournament ambassador. As well as Hewitt competing next year, US Open Champion Sam Stosur has confirmed she will compete, as will record-breaking Chinese star Li Na and former tournament winner Marcos Baghdatis. “I won the event two years ago so I am just excited to go back there and feel the heat, get in some good matches and have some fun with the crowd,” Baghdatis said. “Sydney is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world and the fans there just love the sport and they are so relaxed and respectful. They always give me a lot of positive energy.”
Zimonjic Celebrates 500th Win:
Nenad Zimonjic celebrated his 500th ATP Tour Level doubles win on Wednesday when he partnered Michael Llodra to a 5-7, 6-3, 10-6 victory over the Italian duo Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini. The Serb star has won 42 doubles titles and boasts an almost 2:1 winning ratio during his career. “It’s a really nice achievement,” he said in an interview with the ATP website. “You appreciate every win in any competition, so to get to 500 match wins is amazing. I have to thank all my partners over the years.”
American Double Act:
American stars Andy Roddick and Serena Williams have announced that they will play mixed doubles together at the 2012 Australian Open, while Williams junior has also announced she will warm up for the Open at Brisbane, alongside Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova.
Koellerer Gets Court Date:
Daniel Koellerer has been given a date by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against his lifetime ban for match fixing; November 28th-29th. Back in May the 28-year-old became the first ever tennis player to receive such a ban for fixing offences.
Wawrinka in Hospital:
Swiss star Stanislas Wawrinka took time out of his training at the Shanghai Rolex Masters this week to visit the Shanghai United Hospital where he met and spoke to staff and patients alike. “It is important for us to be able to give back to the community,” he said. “We get to travel all around the world and stay in nice hotels, eat well and play tennis in front of thousands of people. So taking a bit of time out of our schedules to visit the kids is a nice thing to do.”
Roddick Moves in to ATP Finals Contention in Rankings Watch:
Andy Roddick and Alexandr Dolgopolov have made themselves outside contenders to make the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Good performances in Shanghai alongside a raft of upsets this week will see them climb high in next week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings. Spain’s David Ferrer has already clinched his place with his third-round win against compatriot, close friend and business partner Juan Carlos Ferrero. Those to lose ground and put their place in jeopardy included Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, who suffered early exits. Czech star Berdych had climbed three to No.7 in the world this week and will be hoping he can hold on to a top-eight spot come November. Austria’s Jurgen Melzer climbed back in to the Top 20, while Santiago Giraldo and Bernard Tomic are in to the Top 50 at No.48 and No.49 respectively. Ivo Karlovic and Juan Carlos Ferrero both climb 15 to No.61 and No.69 respectively, while Israel’s Dudi Sela and Chile’s Paul Capdeville are in to the Top 100. Petra Kvitova’s amazing year continues as just a week after setting a new personal best of No.5 in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings and qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time, she has now moved up to No.4 in the world. Victoria Azarenka is back up to No.3 and Sam Stosur is up to No.6. Agnieszka Radwanska is benefitting from her recent title spree as she has equalled her career-best No.8 in the world, while her conquest in the Beijing final, Andrea Petkovic, climbed two slots to a career-high No.9. Flavia Penetta and Svetlana Kuznetsova are in to the Top 20, while Tamira Paszek and Carla Suarez Navarro are in to the Top 50. France’s Virginie Razzano jumps from No.110 to No.86, and Vesna Dolonts climbs one in to the Top 100.
Rafa Adds Ten More Points:
With Roger Federer’s injury keeping him out of Shanghai this week Rafael Nadal had another opportunity to extend his lead over the Swiss in the 2011 GOAT race. But his early exit to Florian Mayer means he only adds 10 points to his total, making the scores:
Roger: 1100 Rafa: 1930