Olympics High Ranking for Women:
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced that for the third-straight competition ranking points will be available to all women competing at 2012 Olympics in London. They hope the move will entice all the top players to participate. Entry criteria has also been altered to allow four singles players and two doubles pairings to partake from each competing country. ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “More top women will be eligible to compete in London, which is good.” The ITF is now in talks with the ATP to strike a similar deal for the men’s players.
Henin “Mourning” Her Career:
Former world No. 1 Justine Henin has described her feelings following her second retirement from the sport as being in “mourning.” An elbow injury suffered at last year’s Wimbledon failed to heal properly and forced the 29-year-old to announce her leaving after her defence of the Aussie Open ended in round three against Svetlana Kuznetsova. “I regard ending my career more like a sentence that’s been handed down than a decision I’ve made,” said the seven-time Grand Slam winner. It is also ironic that the injury which ended her career was suffered whilst playing her long-time nemesis turned friend Kim Clijsters. “The will is there, but physically I can’t [carry on]. Now I have to mourn the end of my career. I’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout my career but this time, at 29, I just can’t go on. You have to be reasonable about things. When I came back from Australia, I had consultations with three different doctors. It got to the point that I needed 10 minutes in the morning just to get my elbow functional. The ligament wasn’t solid enough to handle the intensity of the game. I’m going to miss all the great feelings you have as a professional tennis player. I hope I’ll pick the racquet up again one day, but more than anything I want to live a normal life.” We wish one of the greatest talents to grace the women’s game luck in whatever ventures she now chooses to pursue.
Raonic Nips Debut Title:
The star of 20-year-old Milos Raonic continues to rise after the Canadian shocked Fernando Verdasco and much of the tennis world to lift the SAP Open in San Jose last week. The 20-year-old secured a 7-6(6), 7-6(5) victory in a tightly contested final to become the first Canadian since Greg Rusedski to lift an ATP Tour title. It also makes him the youngest victor since a 19-year-old Marin Cilic triumphed at New Haven in 2008. The match ended in somewhat controversial circumstances. Raonic hit a blockbuster 138mph serve which Verdasco got his racquet too. However, just before string met ball a spectator screamed “yes” and the Spaniard netted the return. The umpire refused to replay the point leaving the world No. 9 furious. “It came quicker than expected and it was amazing, I can’t stop smiling” said Raonic of lifting an ATP title. “I hope I can keep it going more than six weeks, for a full year schedule, and see where I am at the end of the year. I can play at this level. It’s going to be tough to jump into the top 10 right now but I think I’m on the right way. I have some things I want to work on but I’m happy with my week and I’ll always remember this. This is what I’ve always dreamed of.” Verdasco was surprisingly gracious in defeat given the final proceedings: “I saw the big potential he had in Australia,” Verdasco said of Raonic’s fourth-round achievement at the Aussie Open. “He deserved the victory here. He was hitting big serves but he also had so many forehand winners. I tried it all but couldn’t do anything more. He played too well.” Raonic yesterday (Wednesday) repeated the result at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis.
Soderling Finally a Defender:
Swedish star Robin Soderling successfully defended an ATP title for the first time in his career last weekend as he overcame Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the final of the ABN AMRO World tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Soderling has now clinched two titles this year (he also took Brisbane) equalling his season best total from 2010. “I had many tough matches this week,” said the 26-year-old. “I had to fight a lot for every match. I was lucky, I had the margins on my side. I think to win tournaments like this, you need to of course play well, but you need a little bit of luck as well.” Rotterdam is proving a fruitful city for Soderling who also reached the final here in 2008, losing to Michael Llodra. “I’ve had two wins and one final, it’s very good, I like it here a lot,” he said. “It suits my game and when you come to a place where you’ve played well before it brings out good feelings. Of course it’s tough trying to defend the title, it adds some extra pressure, but I felt good and had only positive feelings.” Full fallout can be read at the ATP website.
Pennetta to make History:
Doubles beauty Flavia Pennetta will make history on Monday when she climbs above her partner Gisela Dulko to claim the No. 1 ranking in doubles. It will be the first time ever that an Italian, male or female, has sat at the top of the pile in either singles or doubles. This week last year, Dulko won the Bogata Championships alongside Edina Gallovits-Hall. As she is not playing this week those points have fallen off her total and so Pennetta will climb above her. This follows on from the pair’s maiden Grand Slam at Melbourne Park where they overcame Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko in the final.
Kvitova Stuns Supermum:
Petra Kvitova lifted her third, and biggest, WTA Tour title with a shock 6-4, 6-3 win over Kim Clijsters at the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris last weekend. “I’m very happy to win my second title of the year, and it doesn’t get much better than beating the new No.1 in the final,” said the No. 4 seed. “I thought I played very well. I played my game, fast and aggressive, as I couldn’t let her dominate. It’s very special to defeat Kim in the final. I’d like to thank my team and I would like to dedicate this victory to my grandfather, who passed away last week.” Clijsters was gracious in defeat: “My opponent was just better today,” she said. “I couldn’t play my best because she put so much pressure on me. I had to go for it because if I put it in her hitting zone, she was dominating. If she continues to play like that, she will be Top 10 before long. She is so much fitter and moves better than last year.” More can be read at the WTA website.
Hantuchova Back in Business:
Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova was celebrating last weekend after her first title in nearly four years at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand. After overcoming the top seed Vera Zvonereva in a mammoth semifinal encounter she faced Sara Errani in the title decider. It was slightly more straightforward for her as she ran out a 6-0, 6-2 victory in just an hour and 16 minutes. “I was really hungry to get another title,” the 27-year-old said. “I was focused and aggressive from the start. I won the whole tournament in straight sets, which is a good sign. After the injury at the start of the year, this feels great. I had a good pre-season and now it’s paying off. I just never doubted myself. The match with Vera was a little final I would say, but I have to give credit to Sara, she played well the whole tournament. I hope to come back to Pattaya City. I didn’t have time to see anything of Thailand, so hopefully I come back not just for the tournament, but also holidays!”
Zvonereva Living the Dream:
In a column for the Gulf Times world No. 3 Vera Zvonereva has been discussing life as a tennis celebrity. “I believe there is a big side of talking to the media which isn’t about getting column inches,” wrote the Russian. “Sometimes I think we have to do interviews, sign autographs and have pictures taken as a way of giving back to the fans. That’s important. I also think it’s a two-way thing. The media must respect when enough is enough and give us our privacy. You learn how much to give as you get older. When you are young you give too much. It has to be a balanced relationship. You have to know where to draw the line because everyone wants a piece of you. I will always be a girl who doesn’t need the attention but I’ll always give what I can for my fans. They want to know who I am, see I’m a normal person who does normal things. I have a personality and I’m not afraid to show it.”
Murray Not Mint for Dubai:
Andy Murray has withdrawn from next week’s Dubai Championships with a wrist problem, his official website has confirmed.
Sharapova Back at The Priory:
World No. 13 Maria Sharapova has once again committed to playing the AEGON Classic at the Edgbaston Priory this summer as preparation for Wimbledon. It is the eighth time in nine years she will play the event, having previously won it in 2004 and 2005. “I’m excited to be playing once again,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s one of my favourite pre-slam tournaments. I always get such a warm welcome in Birmingham at the event and from the people in the city.” Sharapova was also a finalist here in 2007 and 2010.
Gasquet Orders An Italian:
French star Richard Gasquet has hired the Italian Riccardo Piatti as his new coach after splitting with Eric Deblicker recently, reports L’Equipe. Piatti is the man responsible for guiding the giant Croat Ivan Ljubicic to No. 3 in the world. “Everybody knows Richard’s an excellent player,” Piatti said. “He’s still young and had to live with huge expectations because of his early success. He has to be given time to grow and better manage his emotions.” Gasquet will also continue to take advice from former Top 10 player Sebastien Grosjean.
Bhupathi Gets the Universe:
Doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi has married for a second time, wedding former Miss Universe Lara Dutta in a ceremony attended only by the two families.
Mauresmo Dismayed with Roland Garros Decision:
Former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo has voiced her dismay at the French Tennis Federation’s decision last Sunday to keep the French Open at Roland Garros past 2016, reports Reuters. The areas of Versailles, Gonesse and Marne-la-Vallee also bid to hold the tournament but were beaten off despite all offering areas larger in size for development. “I think that in Paris today we don’t have the possibility to have the necessary space to develop Roland Garros,” said the two-time Grand Slam winner. “We are the smallest of the four Grand Slams and I think it is important to have the chance to grow, and for the public to have more room.”
WTT No.1 Heaven:
Ten current and former world No. 1s will compete in this year’s World Tennis Tournament with Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova agreeing to compete in the competition beginning in July. Hingis will play for the John McEnroe-led New York Sportimes alongside Kim Clijsters. Serena and Venus Williams as well as Sam Querrey will represent the Washington Kastels while Kournikova and Lindsay Davenport will turn out for the St. Louis Aces alongside competition debuting Mark Philippoussis. Melanie Oudin will also make her WTT debut this year, starring for the Philadelphia Freedoms. Pete Sampras will play for the Newport Beach Breakers, competing for the first time since 2007, and Bob and Mike Bryan again play for the defending Champions Kansas City Explorers. Mardy Fish will battle for the Sacramento Capitals and John Isner and James Blake will represent the Boston Lobsters.
Third Time Lucky For Blake?:
James Blake is now making a third and final attempt at a return to the ATP Tour following yet another long injury lay-off. The injury-prone 31-year-old missed most of 2010 but was back in action last week at San Jose. Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters fame caught up with him to find out his thinking behind the decision. Read the great article over at the Fox Sports site.
The Austrian Jurgen Melzer is the new world No. 10 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings following close of play in Rotterdam. He leapfrogs the Russian Mikhail Youzhny. The Serbian Viktor Troicki leaps five to No. 19 while Andreas Seppi of Italy is in to the Top 50 at No. 47. Milos Raonic’s maiden title at San Jose sees him leap 25 places to No. 59 in the world and Simone Bolelli and the Argentinean pair of Brian Dabul and Leonardo Mayer are up in to the Top 100. In the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings Kim Clijsters has climbed above Caroline Wozniacki to become world No. 1 for the first time since she came out of retirement. It is the fourth time in her career she has sat on top of the sport. Petra Kvitova’s shock win over Clijsters in Paris sees her climb 4 to No. 14. The Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko is in to the Top 50 with Anna Chakvetadze dropping out. Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan jumps from No. 72 to No. 64 and Jelena Dokic, Laura Pous-Tio and Ksenia Pervak enter the Top 100, Dokic climbing from No. 120 to No. 91.
GOAT Race Update:
Again, neither Roger Federer nor Rafa Nadal was in action last week so the scores remain as they were.