Kvitova Inspires Czechs to Fed Cup:
Petra Kvitova’s incredible 2011 culminated in another major prize as she led the Czech Republic to a tense 3-2 Fed Cup Final win over Russia that went down to the final rubber. Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke defeated Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina in the doubles to clinch the Czechs’ first title as an independent nation since splitting from Slovakia in 1993. Kvitova won her two singles rubbers against Svetlana Kuznetsova and Kirilenko but Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s wins over Lucie Safarova had pushed the tie all the way. “Petra won two points, but we needed one more,” said Czech captain Petr Pala. “I’m glad we’ve managed to [get] the third one. We all won it because victory is made of small pieces you have to put together. It’s team work.” Kvitova’s incredible 2011 saw her lift her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, finish the year as world No.2 and now comes international success with her native Czech Republic.
Djokovic £1m Richer for Just Turning Up:
World number one Novak Djokovic cruised past Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday and collected a cool $1.6m (£1m) for his troubles. The bonus relates to appearing in seven of this year’s ATP Masters Series events and he would have received it even if his shoulder injury that threatened his participation flared up and he had crashed out. He missed the Masters event in Shanghai with the problem and it flared up again during his Basel semi-final defeat to Kei Nishikori last week. “It was really funny to see how people are coming up with this story,” he said of pre-match media reports. “I even heard that I would get on court and just play one game to get this money – I mean,
this is ridiculous. We are all athletes, this is our job and we are all playing to get paid. I don’t see what is unusual about that. On the other hand,” the 24-year-old continued, “I came here to compete and because I want to play a tournament. If I know I am physically in good enough condition to compete I will compete. If I don’t, I will not compete. It is as simple as that. There is nothing else that can affect my decision.” However, Rafael Nadal will not be competing in Paris as he has taken time out to prepare “properly” for the ATP Finals in London and the upcoming Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina in Seville, starting November 28.
Federer Lifts Second Title of 2011:
Roger Federer triumphed once more at his home Basel Open last weekend to secure only his second tournament win of 2011. The 30-year-old overpowered Kei Nishikori, who had shocked Novak Djokovic in the semis, 6-1, 6-3, and it bodes well with his intentions to finish the year strongly. “It’s great to win at home again,” he said. “Kei put up a good fight. I knew when I hit with him as a teenager that he could have a good future. It was a perfect match for me. Now I have big hopes for Paris and London [the ATP Tour Finals]. It’s been a long time since I felt so good physically.” Federer also spoke this week about his early plans for 2012, saying: “I’ve already said yes for Qatar (early January) and Rotterdam (mid-February). I’m talking with Dubai to see whether I’m going to play there as well, and then there will be Davis Cup (against the U.S. in Switzerland from February 10-12). Davis Cup will be announced as soon as I will make a decision for Dubai.” Meanwhile, in Valencia, the Bryan brothers claimed their 75th title together by defeating Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6(9) in the final. It was their eighth title of the year.
Ivanovic can Bali Believe It:
Ana Ivanovic claimed her second consecutive Bali title by defeating Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-0 on her 24th birthday. The $600,000 winner’s cheque will also be a welcome present. She hadn’t won one of the International tournaments used to qualify during 2011 but was given a wildcard as the reigning champion. “I felt like I didn’t do much wrong. It was a great match for me,” Ivanovic said in her on-court interview. “Anabel and I practiced together all week, so it was nice we got a chance to play each other on the last day of the tournament. Thank you so much to the tournament for giving me a wildcard this year.” Speaking of Ivanovic’s hopes of reaching No.1 in the world again, Garrigues said: “It will be difficult, but she has the technique, physique and mentality. Why not?”
Tsonga Closes on Finals:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-4 for his 50th win of the season, the second time he has reached this feat during his career. It also sees him close in on his first ATP World Finals spot since 2008. A win over Andreas Seppi in the next round will guarantee his place in London. Seppi’s victim in round two, Nicolas Almagro, has seen his outside hopes of a London berth quashed by the defeat. Janko Tipsarevic and Gilles Simon are also still in with a chance but as eighth-ranked Mardy Fish has made it past the first round they will have to beat his final posting by going a couple of rounds further. Frenchman Gael Monfils has seen his hopes dashed with an early exit at the hands of Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday, much to the disappointment of the local crowd.
Spanish Flavour Heading for Auckland:
Spanish pair David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco have signed up to play the pre-Australian Open event at Auckland. Ferrer is a two-time winner there, while Verdasco will be making his first appearance at the event, which will run from January 9-14 2012. “The Spaniards seem to like coming to Auckland, and it is great to finally get Fernando to play in the Heineken Open,” said tournament director Richard Palmer. “Not only is he a fresh face but he is also a very accomplished player as his record testifies. Over the years, many people have asked if it was possible to get him here.”
Del Potro Gains Rankings Respite:
His withdrawal from the Paris Masters may have ended his hopes of sneaking in to the ATP World Tour Finals in London later this month but Juan Martin del Potro may take some solace from his re-entry in to the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP World Rankings this week at the expense of Janko Tipsarevic. Stanislas Wawrinka climbs four back in to the Top 20 at No.17. Spaniard Marcel Granollers’ win at Valencia sees him jump 28 places to No.26 in the world, while Nikolay Davydenko jumps 14 to re-enter the Top 50 at No.39. Juan Carlos Ferrero and Marcos Baghdatis also re-enter the Top 50. Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin jumps 21 places to No.85 in the world, while Sam Querrey is up 18 to No.93 and Karol Beck jumps 10 to No.99. Caroline Wozniacki closed out the year as the world No.1 in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings as had already been confirmed, and she was just one-week shy of holding that position for the entire calendar year. Kim Clijsters’ one week at the summit back in February put paid to that feat. The entire Top 10 finished as we were with Petra Kvitova (No.2), Victoria Azarenka (No.3) and Li Na, (No.5) all posting their career-best year-end rankings. Germany’s Sabine Lisicki finishes the year by climbing three to No.15 in the world, while Ana Ivanovic’s Bali win sees her finish at No.22. Ayumi Morita of Japan jumps from No.54 to finish the year in to Top 50 at No.47, and Britain’s Anne Keothavong is up 10 to No.73. Iryna Bremond (No.95), Patricia Mayr-Achleitner (No.99) and Kimiko Date-Krumm (No.100) all make last-minute jumps to finish the year inside the Top 100.
Federer Makes More GOAT Race Points at Season’s Close:
Roger Federer’s win in Basel last week sees him add 200 points to his GOAT Race total for 2011, while he also gains another 10 points for entering the Paris Masters this week. Rafael Nadal’s decision to skip Paris with his eyes on upcoming commitments means he again remains point-less for the week.
Roger: 1320, Rafa: 1930