Williams Sisters Return to Tennis:
Both Serena and Venus Williams returned to competitive tennis this week after lengthy injury lay-offs at the AEGON Championships in Eastbourne. Reigning Wimbledon Champion Serena, 29, had not played since lifting her fourth crown at the All England Club last July after first seriously cutting her foot on a piece of glass celebrating that triumph and then suffering health problems, including blood clots on her lungs, as a result of wearing a heavy cast on her leg for some time. Venus, 31 today, hadn’t been seen since the Australian Open in January after suffering from hip problems. Serena came from a set down to beat Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round before falling to Vera Zvonereva in the second, while Venus made it to the quarter-finals before finally succumbing to Daniela Hantuchova. Both were understandably delighted to be back on the courts. “I’m a little rusty, but I really enjoy playing here and being back on grass,” said Serena after her win over the Bulgarian. “I’m just taking it one day at time, I hope you guys enjoyed the match and come back out and give me a little cheer [in the second round], because I really need it and I’m so happy to be back.” She had previously spoken of how she had been “on her death bed” at the depths of her health issues: “I had several clots bilaterally, in both lungs,” said the 13-time Grand Slam winner, who suffered from a pulmonary embolism. “A lot of people die from that because you don’t recognise it. Me being an athlete, I couldn’t breathe. I honestly just thought I was out of shape. I thought I needed to get on the treadmill or something. [The doctors] just said it could have gotten a lot serious a day later or two days later. It could have been really not good. It could have possibly been career-ending…I’ve had some serious health problems and I was literally on my deathbed at one point in my career or my life. This is like a totally different road where I’m more or less thinking, okay, I have nothing to lose at this point.”
Injuries Mount before Wimbledon:
World No.40 Sam Querrey has pulled out of Wimbledon with an arm complaint. The American was complaining of pain in his elbow last week at Queen’s, where British No.2 James Ward shocked him, and he has decided not to compete. In the women’s game, world No.2 Kim Clijsters has also withdrawn from the event with a foot injury. The Belgian ace sprained her ankle while dancing at a friend’s wedding in April and has struggled for form since, crashing out of the French Open at the second round last month to world No.114 Arantxa Rus. “At this moment I feel frustrated that it has to happen now before one of my favourite tournaments,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed being a part of the Wimbledon atmosphere but I have no other choice now but to rest.” Former Champion Lleyton Hewitt is also a doubt for the event after retiring from his first-round match at Eastbourne on Tuesday.
Mum’s not the Word for Li Na:
New French Open Champion Li Na has revealed that her mother did not watch her maiden Grand Slam win in Paris recently because she doesn’t really like tennis. “I’ve asked her many times. She always answers, ‘No, I have my life, and I don’t want to change,’ and also she really doesn’t enjoy the sport,” Li told Time magazine. “So even after the French Open, I didn’t call her. I sent a text message saying, ‘I’m good. Now in Paris, on my way back to Munich.’ And she said, ‘I heard you won a tournament.’”
Borg picks R-Fed or Muzza for Wimbledon:
Five-time Wimbledon Champion Bjorn Borg believes that nobody outside the top four seeds, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, has a chance of winning this year’s event. He believes that 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer is still the main man at the All England Club, but says that he also believes Murray has a chance to break his major maiden. “People always talk about one or two great players, and now we’ve got four,” Borg told the Daily Telegraph. “I cannot see anyone winning Wimbledon apart from those four guys. There’s such a big gap between the top four and everyone else, they have been playing so well over the last few months, so consistently. Looking over the years, you had two rivalries, or maybe three, but now you have four guys. I don’t know how long you would have to go back for four great guys but probably a long, long time. This is great for tennis. After having the best clay-court season he’s ever had, [Murray] played great tennis at Queen’s, so he is playing with a lot of confidence and he feels happy with himself,” Borg continued. “Just a couple of months ago, when he went to Monte Carlo, he was playing poorly, he had no confidence and nothing was working. Now I think he is right up there, both physically and mentally, with the others. This is a tough time to be trying to win Slams, but he’s beaten these guys, so he knows when he walks on court that he can beat them again. He’s never been as ready to win Wimbledon as he is now…[but] I would go for Federer because of the way he played in Paris. That was his best tennis ever at the French Open. From the first match to the last, it was unbelievable to see. And he prefers the grass to the clay.”
Nestor backs Raonic for Wimby:
Canadian doubles ace Daniel Nestor believes world No.26 Milos Raonic is one to watch at next week’s Wimbledon Championships. Raonic had never played on grass before his third-round loss to German Philipp Petzshner at Halle last week but Nestor believes he has the game to make a stir in London. “He has a great chance to reach the quarters or even the semis with his style,” Nestor told the Canadian press. “He has the ability to mix in a slice serve which is a key on grass. The rallies will be shorter which is better for an aggressive guy like him who doesn’t want to get into long rallies anyway. But he has to learn to be patient because he can run into opponents who are serving well and will give him no rhythm. So, he has to be prepared to play tiebreakers, which shouldn’t be a problem with his record [16-7] in tiebreakers this year.”
Murray, Soderling, Monfils sign up for Bangkok:
Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and Gael Monfils are three of the world’s Top 10 stars to sign up for this year’s PTT Thailand Open which starts September 24. Soderling competed at the ATP 250 tournament in 2008 and is enjoying a successful year, picking up three titles at Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille. “We are looking forward to an amazing tournament at the PTT Thailand Open 2011,” said Executive Committee Chairman, Mr. Suwat Lipatapanlop. “We will be announcing more exciting players to compete in the event in the near future. I am confident that this year’s tournament will be the biggest and best ever.”
LA Completes Line-up:
Nineteen top ATP stars have completed the initial line-up for this year’s Farmers Classic to be held in Los Angeles from July 25-31. Two-time defending Champion Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish and 2009 US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro were already penciled in for the event and now Australian Open finalists Marcos Baghdatis and Fernando Gonzalez, as well as Somdev Devvarman, Benjamin Becker and Janko Tipsarevic, have added their names to that list. Thomaz Bellucci, Xavier Malisse and Kei Nishikori are also on the card. “We are looking forward to welcoming this very deep field to Los Angeles in July for the Farmers Classic,” said Tournament Director Bob Kramer. “The players in this field have all enjoyed success at many different levels of the game. Having five players who have spent time ranked in the Top 10 in the World coming to LA promises to make the tournament as competitive as ever. There should be very few easy matches for anyone during the week.”
Milestone for ‘Indo-Pak’ Express:
Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi’s win over Pablo Andujar and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at the AEGON International in Eastbourne was their 100th together as a doubles partnership.
Azarenka taking Sicknote Status:
Bulgarian Victoria Azarenka is quickly becoming the unhealthiest player on the tour. Her retirement from Eastbourne on Thursday was her fourth in eight tournaments, and her twelfth since the start of 2010.
Robson and Mouratoglou Part Ways:
Laura Robson and coach Patrick Mouratoglou have parted ways after only six months working together. The former Wimbledon junior Champion has had a poor 2011 and has seen her ranking slip to No.257 in the world. On Monday, the 17-year-old crashed out of the first round of the Unicef Open in Holland, serving 13 double faults in the match. “We are parting ways by mutual agreement and I really appreciate all that Patrick and his team have done for me,” she said. “We both felt the time was right to make a change.”
There has been little movement in the build-up to Wimbledon in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings, but one big mover is Philip Kohlschreiber who celebrated his win in Halle last week by climbing ten places to No.39. Dudi Sela climbs 13 to No.81 while Holland’s Thomas Schoorel, Nicolas Mahut of France and Spaniard Albert Ramos all climb in to the Top 100. In the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings Ana Ivanovic was the only mover in the Top 20, climbing one place to No.18. Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino climbs in to the Top 50, while Sabine Lisicki’s AEGON win takes her from No.100 to No.62 in the world. France’s Pauline Parmentier climbs 13 to No.75, while Croatia’s Petra Martic enters the Top 100.
Rafa still Surging Ahead in GOAT Race:
A few points to catch up on after Tennis People’s short break. At the French Open, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer competed the final, with Rafa continuing his love affair with Roland Garros by coming out on top in four sets. With points totals doubled for Grand Slams, Roger earned himself 200 for his finals appearance, while Rafa picked up 400 for lifting his sixth French Open title. Then, with Roger pulling out of Halle to rest for Wimbledon, Rafa first picked himself up 10 points for entering Queens, before then taking another 25 for reaching the quarterfinals where he lost to eventual finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Roger: 885 Rafa: 1445