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Friday, October 30, 2009

Federer 'disappointed' by Agassi

Andre Agassi's revelations that he took the recreational drug crystal meth in 1997 and then went on to lie about the reasons for a positive test have not gone down well with current tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Both stars voiced their displeasure with Agassi's confession.
Federer, who beat Agassi in the final of the 2005 US Open spoke of his sadness at the eight times major winner's admission in his new autobiography 'Open'.
"It was a shock when I heard the news," Federer said at a meeting at Kilchberg near Zurich.
"I am disappointed and I hope there are no more such cases in future.... our sport must stay clean."
Nadal unimpressed
Nadal was similarly unimpressed:
"To me it seems terrible," world number two Nadal said at an awards ceremony in Madrid.
"Why is he saying this now that he has retired?
"It's a way of damaging the sport that makes no sense.
"I believe our sport is clean and I am the first one that wants that.
"Cheaters must be punished and if Agassi was a cheater during his career he should have been punished"
Rafael Nadal"Cheaters must be punished and if Agassi was a cheater during his career he should have been punished."
However Agassi found support at home with fellow American and Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick saying the 39-year-old remained his hero despite the revelations.
Roddick, the leading US men's player who lost to Federer in this year's Wimbledon final, was one of many compatriots who remained unfazed by Agassi's admissions.
"Andre is and always will be my idol. I will judge him on how he has treated me and how he has changed the world for (the) better," Roddick wrote on his Twitter page.
Roddick said Agassi's letter to the ATP, in which he told the governing body he had failed a drugs test because his drink had been spiked, came at a time when the player was far from his peak.
"To be fair, when Andre wrote the reported letter, he was well outside the top 100 and widely viewed as on the way out," said Roddick.
Mixed reactions
Women's world number two Serena Williams remained fairly ambivalent
"I don't even know what crystal meth is so, you know, that's what my reaction to it is.
"I haven't read anything about Andre Agassi's book," she said at the WTA Championships in Doha.
Serena's sister Venus, the world number seven, added: "His book will probably sell. It seems very interesting, to say the least."
US media has been restrained in its response to Agassi's admissions, which have appeared in excerpts from the book.

Tennis blog: In praise of Wozniacki

World number four Caroline Wozniacki is a role model for the sport of tennis.
After two matches of nearly three hours at the Sony Ericsson championships in Doha, the Danish 19-year-old overcame severe cramping, leaving her writhing on the floor in agony, to record her second victory.
Tears streamed down her face, and no doubt the faces of others caught up in the excitement of this extraordinary match in the end-of-year showdown for the top eight in women's tennis.
There has never been so much drama involved in a tennis match.
Thrills galore
Her opponent, Russian Vera Zvonereva, suffered from a bad nose bleed in the second set and looked to be defeating herself with an attitude better suited to melodrama.
But, from a position of near victory, Wozniacki lost her way and her ability to hit easy shots.
However, rather than let her head drop, her attitude was exemplary.
Her dedication to the victory was second to none. Any lesser player would have thrown in the towel midway through that final set.
It is rare today to find a player smile during a match.
Serbian players Jankovic and Ivanovic are renowned for their cheery disposition, and Wozniacki is mature way beyond her years.
A smile reaches the youngster's face almost every match, and it is clear umpires and fans alike find her charming.
If the Dane reaches her goal of becoming world number one, she will deserve it more than most other players on tour.
The support for her in Doha has been extraordinary, and the WTA tour couldn't ask for a better ambassador to the sport.
She certainly needs to rethink her schedule: 26 tournaments in a year is an excessive number for a youngster of her talent.
Yet with the charisma she brings to the court, fans will be demanding she plays every possible tournament to catch a glimpse of the positivity she radiates through the bleak misery of women's tennis.

Jankovic advances to semis of WTA Championships

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Jelena Jankovic advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Sony Ericsson Championships on Friday after routing a tired Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2 in the last group-stage round.
The former top-ranked Serb broke twice in the first set and then took a 4-0 lead in the second.
Wozniacki won two grueling three-set matches on Wednesday and Thursday and looked like she had simply run out of energy in the hot weather, often a step slow and failing to chase down balls.
“I just came out playing aggressively,” Jankovic said. “I really wanted to dictate the points.”
The 19-year-old Dane can still advance if Victoria Azarenka loses to alternate Agnieszka Radwanska later Friday.
Jankovic lost to Azarenka in straight sets in her first round-robin match, and won her second when the injured Dinara Safina retired in the third game. In total, she had spent 95 minutes on the court before a rest day on Thursday.
Wozniacki won two grueling three-set matches that lasted a combined 5 hours, 48 minutes. When she finally held serve for 4-1 in the second set, she raised her fist in mock triumph and laughed. She then broke Jankovic for the first time, but couldn’t muster a comeback as the Serb answered with her fifth break of the match before serving it out.
Wozniacki struggled with severe leg cramps before beating Vera Zvonareva on Thursday, but seemed to move OK on Friday.
Also Friday, Elena Dementieva played Russian compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova to determine the final semifinalist from the Maroon Group. Dementieva will advance with a win, while defending Venus Williams reaches the knockout stage if she loses.
The lucrative tournament is the last WTA Tour event of the year for the eight top-ranked women. Serena Williams has already secured a spot in the semifinals, along with the year-end No. 1 ranking

Dementieva loss sends Venus into last four in Doha

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—The Williams sisters could be headed for a final matchup at the Sony Ericsson Championships after Venus Williams advanced to the semifinals along with Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki on Friday.
Venus Williams, the defending champion, lost her first two group matches but advanced on sets thanks to Svetlana Kuznetsova’s 6-3, 6-2 win over Elena Dementieva. Unbeaten Serena Williams had already gained the semifinals.
Venus Williams, Kuznetsova and Dementieva all finished with one win and two losses.
Jankovic advanced by routing a tired Wozniacki 6-2, 6-2, but the 19-year-old Dane also advanced when Victoria Azarenka had to retire against alternate Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland while trailing 4-6, 7-5, 4-1. Azarenka would have advanced with a win, and served for the match twice in the second set. She then needed a medical timeout early in the third to treat her left thigh and lower back. She continued playing with the thigh taped, hobbling around the court and in obvious pain. She needed another timeout to treat leg cramps before the final game. She came back out, but called it quits while down 40-15.
Serena Williams will play Wozniacki in on semifinal on Saturday, and Venus Williams will face Jankovic at the same stage for the second straight year.
Both Williams sisters had the day off after playing on the first three days. Serena secured the year-end No. 1 ranking after Dinara Safina pulled out of the tournament with a back injury.
Jankovic broke Wozniacki twice in the first set and then raced out to 4-0 in the second, facing little resistance from Dane, who’s making her debut in the elite event.
“I just came out playing aggressively,” Jankovic said. “I really wanted to dictate the points.”
Wozniacki won two grueling three-set matches that lasted a combined 5 hours, 48 minutes on Wednesday and Thursday, and looked as if she had simply run out of energy in the hot weather.
“I didn’t have anything left,” she said. “I definitely feel like I deserve to get past and make it to the semifinals.”
After struggling with severe leg cramps on Thursday, Wozniacki said aching stomach muscles affected her serve against Jankovic.
Azarenka looked to be in control but struggled to put away Radwanska, who was playing her first match in the tournament. She had replaced Vera Zvonareva, who had taken Safina’s spot. Zvonareva pulled out with an injury after losing to Wozniacki.
Dementieva needed to win to advance, while French Open champion Kuznetsova had nothing to play for but cash. She had her best match of the tournament and never faced a break point.
“I asked Venus before the game, ‘Will you give me something if I win?”’ Kuznetsova said. “She was like, ‘If you win, it’s good for yourself.’ I say, ‘OK, whatever.”’
The Russian qualified for the tournament for the fifth time but has never advanced to the knockout round, with a combined round-robin record of 3-12.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Navratilova shocked; compares Agassi to Clemens

MIAMI (AP)—Martina Navratilova drew a parallel Thursday between Andre Agassi and Roger Clemens, saying she’s shocked the eight-time Grand Slam champion lied about drug use.
Agassi’s upcoming autobiography contains an admission he used crystal meth in 1997 and failed a drug test - a result he says was thrown out after he lied by saying he “unwittingly” took the substance.
“Shocking,” Navratilova said Thursday from Sarasota, Fla., in a phone interview. “Not as much shock that he did it as shock he lied about it and didn’t own up to it. He’s up there with Roger Clemens, as far as I’m concerned. He owned up to it (in the book), but it doesn’t help now.”
Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, repeatedly has denied using performance-enchancing drugs. His former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, claimed in the Mitchell Report that he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times in 1998, 2000 and 2001.
According to an excerpt of Agassi’s autobiography “Open” published Wednesday in The Times of London, he blamed the positive drug test on accidentally drinking a soda spiked with meth. Agassi wrote that the ATP accepted his explanation and threw out the case.
“Andre lied and got away with it,” Navratilova said. “You can’t correct that now. Do you take away a title he wouldn’t have won if he had been suspended? He beat some people when he should have been suspended.”
Navratilova won a record 167 singles titles, including 18 in Grand Slam tournaments. She retired from singles in 1994 and played her last doubles match in 2006.
She said she found Agassi’s decision to come out with the story now peculiar.
“How is it going to play out for him? I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know why he would come out now.”
Agassi retired in 2006. His autobiography will go on sale Nov. 9.

Serena beats Dementieva to clinch semifinal berth

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Serena Williams became the first player to clinch a spot in the semifinals of the WTA Sony Ericsson Championships on Thursday, defeating Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4 for her third straight win in the tournament’s round-robin group phase.
Her sister Venus, the defending champion, stayed alive by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4 for her first win in three matches. She needs Kuznetsova to beat Dementieva on Friday to have a chance of advancing to the semifinals.
Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki overcame severe leg cramps and a tenacious Vera Zvonareva to win 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-4.
After the match, Zvonareva, who replaced the injured No. 1 Dinara Safina on Wednesday, pulled out the tournament citing a right ankle injury. Her place will be taken by the second alternate, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. She will play Victoria Azarenka on Friday but has no chance of advancing. Serena was broken to trail 2-1 in the first set, but then won seven straight games to take control. She converted her third match point when Dementieva sent the ball into the net, then pumped her fist and yelled “Finally!”
Serena, who secured the year-end No. 1 ranking when Safina retired with a back injury, has failed to get out of the round-robin phase of the elite tournament for the last two years.
“I’m happy to finally do well,” she said. “I’m kind of used to the elimination thing: If you lose, you’re out. But I was just trying to do better than I did last year, and compete in all my matches, which sometimes is very hard.”
Dementieva, who rallied from a set down to beat Venus in their opening match, didn’t find her stride against Serena until trailing 2-0 in the second set. The encounter failed to live up to their epic three-set Wimbledon semifinal — billed by many as the best women’s match of the year.
Dementieva won the longest game of the match after converting her fifth break point to make it 2-1, and the set went with serve until the last game.
Venus, who lost another three-setter to Serena on Thursday, broke Kuznetsova at love for a 5-4 lead in the third set and then converted her third match point when the Russian’s backhand landed in the net shortly before 1 a.m. local time.
Venus dominated the first set but again struggled to put the match away, after wasting a one-set lead in both her previous matches.
“Svetlana just started to play really well in the second and third set,” she said. “It’s always great to win these kinds of matches.”
Wozniacki needed two medical time-outs to treat her cramping left thigh in the third set and collapsed to the court sobbing and clutching both legs after netting a forehand at 30-15 in the last game. But she got back up and clinched the win when Zvonareva, who had saved two match points in the second set, netted a forehand on the third.
“I have absolutely no idea how I pulled it through, but I’m very happy about it,” Wozniacki said.
It was the U.S. Open finalist’s second win in the tournament, putting her on the verge of the semifinals.

Agassi book also has revelations about father

(AP)—So much of Andre Agassi’s life has been spent in the public eye—the various highs and lows, on and off the court, during his transformation from tennis brat to elder statesman—that it was possible to wonder how much more there was to be said about it all.
Plenty, it turns out. Excerpts of Agassi’s upcoming autobiography published Wednesday by Sports Illustrated and the Times of London contain graphic depictions of his use of crystal meth, an account of how he wriggled his way out of a suspension by lying to the ATP tour after failing a 1997 drug test, and the jarring contention that he always hated tennis “with a dark and secret passion” because of his overbearing father.
If image is indeed everything, as Agassi used to say to sell a sponsor’s cameras, he has provided new, indelible, behind-the-scenes images—along with raising questions about why he chose to reveal his crystal meth habit.
“Is it cathartic? I don’t know. I think it’s strictly from the heart. That’s the way he has operated in my view, going back to the latter portion of his playing career,” said Arlen Kantarian, who ran the U.S. Open from 2000-08. “I’m sure he feels good about getting it out on the table.”
Agassi, who won eight Grand Slam singles titles before retiring in 2006, is not explaining himself at the moment. His representative referred interview requests to his publishing company, which has set up a “60 Minutes” appearance on Nov. 8, the day before the book’s scheduled release.
After an exhibition match Sunday in China against longtime rival Pete Sampras, Agassi was asked if the book contains major revelations.
“I think I had to learn a lot about myself through the process,” Agassi said. “There was a lot that even surprised me. So to think that one won’t be surprised by it, it would be an understatement.
“Whatever revelations exist, you’ll get to see in full glory,” he added. “But the truth is, my hope is that somebody doesn’t just learn more about me, what it is I’ve been through, but somehow through those lessons, they can learn a lot about themselves. And I think it’s fair to say that they will.”
SI and the Times of London are among four publications that paid for the rights to print parts of “Open: An Autobiography.” Among the material excerpted:
— Agassi calls his father “violent by nature,” and recalls being in the car when his father pointed a handgun at another driver.
— He writes about making money by hustling people on tennis courts and remembers when, at 9 years old, he beat former NFL great Jim Brown in a match to win a $500 bet for his father.
— He poignantly recalls a telephone conversation with his father after winning Grand Slam title No. 1 at Wimbledon in 1992. Dad’s initial reaction? “You had no business losing that fourth set,” Agassi writes.
— He writes about using crystal meth “a lot” and in sometimes-positive terms, including reference to “a tidal wave of euphoria that sweeps away every negative thought in my head. I’ve never felt so alive, so hopeful—and I’ve never felt such energy.”
“Apart from the buzz of getting high,” he says, “I get an undeniable satisfaction from harming myself and shortening my career,” he writes. But the physical aftermath is hideous. After two days of being high, of not sleeping, I’m an alien. I have the audacity to wonder why I feel so rotten. I’m an athlete, my body should be able to handle this.”
— Agassi says he wrote to the ATP tour to explain the 1997 positive test and that “the central lie of the letter” was that he claimed he accidentally drank from a soda spiked with meth by his assistant “Slim.”
U.S. Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez, a former player who was a contemporary of Agassi’s, described the drug revelations as disappointing and “a bit of a shock.”
“It takes a lot of guts and courage to come out and say something that nobody would have really known about,” Fernandez said. “I’ve always admired Andre. He was a huge part of inspiring my generation, and he did a lot of great things and continues to do a lot of great things. He’s opening up now, and that’s his choice. Maybe people can learn from it and not make the same mistakes.”
Agassi turned pro in 1986, reached his first major final at the French Open in 1990, quickly drew plenty of attention and kept drawing it—for his service returns, considered by many to be the best in the game; for his quick-as-could-be reflexes at the baseline; for his denim shorts, Day-Glo shirts, flowing hair and dangling earrings; for his two-year marriage to Brooke Shields and friendship with Barbra Streisand that provided fodder for the tabloids.
He won Wimbledon in 1992, was ranked No. 1 in 1995, won an Olympic gold medal in 1996—and then it all unraveled. He dropped to 141st in the rankings and resorted to playing in tennis’ minor leagues in 1997, the year he says he first tried crystal meth.
After he escaped punishment for the drug test, he writes, his thought was: “New life.”
In addition to returning to No. 1 in the world, and completing a career Grand Slam, Agassi became an influential voice on the tennis tour. He also raised tens of millions of dollars for at-risk youths in his hometown of Las Vegas and opened a preparatory academy there.
He also got remarried, to tennis great Steffi Graf—he calls her “Stefanie” in the book—and they have two children.
Always evolving.
“It fits in with the story arc of his redemption,” said Gene Grabowski, who guides high-profile figures—Roger Clemens is a client—through public relations crises.
“It’s going to make Andre Agassi even richer. This is going to help him sell his book, which is why he wrote it,” Grabowski said.
Agassi reportedly received at least $5 million for the book; the first printing is a half-million copies, a relatively high number in publishing.
“His book will probably sell. It seems very interesting, to say the least,” seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams said Wednesday after playing at the WTA Championships in Doha, Qatar. “But what am I supposed to say about Andre’s life? I can’t really say anything.”
Calling Agassi “an icon of his sport,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said, “If his admission would go together with the message to young athletes that it should not be repeated, then that would be useful.”
The International Tennis Federation said the reference to the 1997 drug test was surprising but noted that it did not oversee anti-doping efforts on the men’s tour back then. The ATP, which did, issued a statement Wednesday about its rules, in general, noting an independent panel makes the final decision on a doping violation.
Jim Fahey, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called on the ATP to “shed light on this allegation.”
The tour declined repeated requests from The Associated Press to address the specifics of Agassi’s account.

Back injury may keep Safina out of Aussie Open

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Dinara Safina finished the best year of her career with tears in her eyes on Wednesday, as a serious back injury ended her season and her hold on the No. 1 ranking she owned for much of 2009.
Safina lasted just 13 minutes in her first round-robin match of the Sony Ericsson Championships before calling it quits while serving at 1-1 against Jelena Jankovic.
Her withdrawal meant she lost the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams, a sour ending to a season that saw her become firmly established as one of the sport’s stars.
“I did everything possible to play here,” Safina said. “As I was chasing this No. 1 (ranking), I was fighting with my body.”
After stopping play in the third game, a teary-eyed Safina walked over to her chair and covered her face with a towel before retiring.
She said one of the disks in her lower back was “starting to fracture,” and that she has been dealing with the pain for three months.
“Maybe I had to stop after the U.S. Open. But then for two tournaments, let’s say Beijing and Tokyo, it was quiet, it didn’t bother me that much,” she said. “But then my body just gave up.”
Now she faces six weeks of rest before stepping back on the court, and a potentially long rehabilitation process.
“I have to work on my muscles, on my core stability,” she said. “As I’m tall, I need to be strong, so I can hold myself. This is going to be a very long procedure.”
In fact, she is worried she might not be fit enough to play in the Australian Open in late January.
“When I speak with the doctors, it doesn’t sound so good,” Safina said. “It is possible I may have to skip it.”
She was the runner-up this year to Williams and lost the French Open final to Svetlana Kuznetsova, leaving her still looking for her first Grand Slam title — a blotch on her record that has led to persistent questions about her claim to the top ranking.
But she has been one of the most consistent performers throughout the year, winning titles in Rome, Madrid and Portoroz, and holding the top spot for 26 weeks.
“Definitely I had my best year so far,” she said. “I mean, I can just be proud of myself.”

Safin, Youzhny advance at St. Petersburg Open

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP)—Former champions Mikhail Youzhny and Marat Safin advanced to the second round of the St. Petersburg Open with straight-sets victories on Wednesday.

Youzhny, the 2004 winner, beat Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2, while Safin, who won consecutive titles in 2000-01, ousted Richard Gasquet of France 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Youzhny, fresh from winning the Kremlin Cup last week for his fifth career title, broke 139th-ranked Golubev early in the first set and jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second.

“Then there was no trouble to bring it to the victory,” said a relieved Youzhny, who admitted to feeling tired.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Safin has almost completed his last season on the ATP Tour. The Russian fired 14 aces and closed the match on his second match point when Gasquet returned wide and long.

“Frankly speaking I was lucky to win the tiebreaker,” Safin said. “Gasquet served hard through the entire match and it was difficult to read his serves, but he lost concentration in the end and it helped me.”

Safin will next meet countryman and fifth seed Igor Andreev for the first time in two years.

In second-round action, second-seeded Victor Hanescu of Romania beat Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4. Hanescu, a semifinalist last year, reached his first quarterfinal in 11 events since July.

Ernests Gulbis of Latvia upset fourth-seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 7-6 (7), 6-3 to secure a spot at the Australian Open.

“I won 28 points on my first serve in the first set. He played well and I was lucky to win several key points on the tiebreaker,” said Gulbis, who won five consecutive games in the second set.

Eighth-seeded Horacio Zeballos of Argentina also progressed, ousting Ukrainian qualifier Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. 6-3, 6-4.

Karol Beck of Slovakia retired because of flu while trailing Bjorn Phau of Germany 6-4, 2-1.

Also, Igor Kunitsyn upset seventh-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4, 6-3, ensuring six Russians passed the first round.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Safina retires, pulls out of Doha with back injury

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Dinara Safina has pulled out of the Sony Ericsson Championships with a serious back injury, handing the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.
Safina was serving at 1-1 in the first set against Jelena Jankovic Wednesday when she had to retire.
She said at the press conference afterward that her back has been hurting for three months and she took cortisone injections to attempt to defend her No. 1 ranking in Doha. Safina said doctors told her she will be sidelined for at least six weeks and may not be ready for the Australian Open.
Safina regained the top ranking this week, but her margin over Williams is so slim that the player who performed best in the tournament was guaranteed to end the year as No. 1.
Williams won her first match on Tuesday.

Wozniacki defeats Azarenka; Safina out of Doha

DOHA, Qatar (AP)—Dinara Safina withdrew from WTA Sony Ericsson Championships because of a back injury Wednesday, handing the year-end No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams.
Safina said the bone structure in her lower back is “starting to fracture” and that the injury has been bothering her for three months. She said doctors told her she will be sidelined for at least six weeks, and she may not be ready for the Australian Open in January.
The Russian said she took anti-inflammatory injections to try to defend her No. 1 ranking in Doha.
“I went yesterday to have injections, cortisone,” she said. “But I just couldn’t handle this pain.” Safina was serving at 1-1 in the first set against Jelena Jankovic of Serbia when she stopped play, walked over to her chair and covered her face with a towel. She then told the chair umpire she could not continue.
Doha is the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. Safina now faces a tough task in the offseason to be fit in time for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament of 2010.
“When I speak with the doctors, it doesn’t sound so good,” Safina said. “It is possible I may have to skip it.”
Safina regained the top ranking this week, but her margin over Williams is so slim that the player who performed best in Doha was guaranteed to end the year as No. 1.
Williams won her first match Tuesday and played her sister Venus later Wednesday.
The tournament features a round-robin stage with four players in each group, before the semifinals.
Earlier Wednesday, Caroline Wozniacki saved a match point in the final set and beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Azarenka was up a break four times in the third set but failed to put the match away, letting the 19-year-old Dane break back each time.
Wozniacki, who had just two winners in the first set, saved a match point with Azarenka leading 5-4 in the third before finally holding serve for the first time in the decider.
“I just felt like I hadn’t lost the match yet,” Wozniacki said. “She still had to win one more point.”
Wozniacki broke again for 6-5 after the Belarusian was docked a point for smashing her racket. Azarenka had already been warned in that game after hitting the ball out of the court following another unforced error.
Wozniacki sealed the win with a service winner after 2 hours, 58 minutes.
It was the 19-year-old Dane’s first match in the tournament, while Azarenka defeated Jankovic in her opener.
Each group stage win is worth $100,000, with the eventual winner taking home up to $1.55 million.
Wozniacki seemed bothered by the sore hamstring that forced her to retire from her first-round match at the Luxembourg Open last week. She wore tape around her left thigh, icing it during changeovers and stretching repeatedly between points.
“The strapping definitely helped,” she said. “You try not to think about it too much, especially in the important moments. … It’s not great for the leg, running this much.”
Wozniacki reached the finals of the U.S. Open in September before losing to Kim Cljisters.

Sister Act 22

For the 22nd time in their pro careers, the Williams sisters went head-to-head Wednesday in Doha. Serena outlasted Venus in three sets to improve to 2-0 in the round-robin stage

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yanini Wickmayer
LUXEMBOURG (AP)—Unseeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland has won her first WTA Tour title, beating sixth-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-2, 7-5 in the Luxembourg Open final.

The 70th ranked Bacsinszky won the battle of the 20-year-olds Sunday with her fourth upset victory this week by beating a player 42 places ahead of her in the rankings.

In the semifinals, she had upset fifth-seededYanini Wickmayer , ending the Belgian's eight-match winning streak.

Lisicki was looking for her second WTA win this year in the wake of her first career title at Charleston in April.

Bacsinszky claims first WTA title in Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG (AP)—Unseeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland has won her first WTA Tour title, beating sixth-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-2, 7-5 in the Luxembourg Open final.

The 70th ranked Bacsinszky won the battle of the 20-year-olds Sunday with her fourth upset victory this week by beating a player 42 places ahead of her in the rankings.

In the semifinals, she had upset fifth-seededYanini Wickmayer , ending the Belgian's eight-match winning streak.

Lisicki was looking for her second WTA win this year in the wake of her first career title at Charleston in April.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)


July 3, 1991
BirthplaceSamara, Russia
ResidenceParis, France
Hight5'9" (1.76 m)
Weight149 lbs (68 kg)

Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR)


August 8, 1986
BirthplaceKrivyi Rig, Ukraine
ResidenceKiev, Ukraine
Hight5'9'' (1.75 m)
Weight132 lbs (60 kg)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mats Wilander (SWE)


January 19, 1966
BirthplaceVastervik, Sweden
ResidenceLondon, England
Hight6'2" (1.87 m)
Weight170 lbs (77 kg)

Michael Stich (GER)


October 18, 1968
BirthplacePinneberg, Germany
ResidenceElmshorn, Germany
Hight6'4" (1.93 m)
Weight175 lbs (79 kg)

Patrick Rafter (AUS)


December 28, 1972
BirthplaceMount Isa, Queensland, Australia
ResidencePembroke, Bermuda
Hight6'1" (1.85 m)
Weight190 lbs (86 kg)

Stefan Edberg (SWE)


January 19, 1966
BirthplaceVastervik, Sweden
ResidenceLondon, England
Hight6'2" (1.87 m)
Weight170 lbs (77 kg)

John McEnroe (USA)


February 16, 1959
BirthplaceWiesbaden, Germany
ResidenceNew York, New York, USA
Hight5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight165 lbs (75kg)

Ivan Lendl (USA)


March 7, 1960
BirthplaceOstrava, Czechoslovakia
ResidenceGoshen, Connecticut, USA
Hight6'2" (1.87 m)
Weight175 lbs (79 kg)

Goran Ivanisevic (CRO)


September 13, 1971
BirthplaceSplit, Croatia
ResidenceMonte Carlo, Monaco
Hight6'4" (1.93 m)
Weight180 lbs (81 kg)

Jimmy Connors (USA)


August 17, 1970
BirthplaceSanford, Florida, USA
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, USA
Hight6'1" (1.85 m)
Weight182 lbs (82 kg)

Jim Courier (USA)


August 17, 1970
BirthplaceSanford, Florida, USA
ResidenceOrlando, Florida, USA
Hight6'1" (1.85 m)
Weight182 lbs (82 kg)

Michael Chang (USA)


November 22, 1967
BirthplaceHoboken, New Jersey, USA
ResidenceMercer Island, Washington, USA
Hight5'9" (1.75 m)
Weight160 lbs (72 kg)

Boris Becker (GER)


March 6, 1989
BirthplaceNovember 22, 1967
ResidenceMonte Carlo, Monaco
Hight6'3" (1.90 m)
Weight187 lbs (85 kg)

Bjorn Borg


June 6, 1956
BirthplaceSodertalje, Sweden
Hight5'11" (1.80 m)
Weight160 lbs (72 kg)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Kleybanova defeats Jankovic in Moscow quarters

MOSCOW (AP)—Alisa Kleybanova upset defending champion Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-3 Friday to advance to the semifinals of the Kremlin Cup.

The upset came a day after the second-seeded Jankovic took the last spot for the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Jankovic dropped serve in the fifth game of each set. Down 5-3 in the second set, Jankovic double-faulted twice to lose the match.

Kleybanova will play Olga Govortsova of Belarus, who crusied past Vera Dushevina 6-3, 6-0.

Eighth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Maria Kirilenko.

Schiavone, the 2005 runner-up, will play Alona Bondarenko in the other semifinal. Bondarenko ousted qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-3.

In the men’s tournament, sixth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic advanced to his first semifinal this season by defeating Robby Ginepri of the United States, 6-3, 6-3.

Tipsarevic will face Ukranian qualifier Illya Marchenko, who rallied to beat Evgeny Korolev 0-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan also rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Pablo Cuevas. Kukushkin will play third-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who downed Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-3.

Down the Line: Looking forward to 2010

With more than a month to go until its official conclusion, the 2009 tennis season already has been one of the most memorable on record. Roger Federer completed the career Grand Slam in Paris, formerly the site of his annual undoing, and claimed a record-setting 15th major title with an epic Wimbledon victory. In stunning plot twists, Kim Clijsters won the U.S. Open in just her third tournament back from retirement, and Rafael Nadal, the four-time defending French Open champ, lost early at Roland Garros. And there was significant controversy as well: Dinara Safina’s extended tenure as world No. 1, despite her underwhelming performances at the Slams, and Serena Williams’ ferocious tirade at Flushing Meadows.You may think that a letdown is inevitable in 2010. But three events in the past few weeks suggest that another fantastic year of tennis lies ahead of us.1. Juan Martin del Potro defeats Roger Federer in the U.S. Open finalSince the summer of 2005, Federer and Nadal have had a nearly exclusive grasp of the Grand Slams – before this year’s U.S. Open, they had combined to win 17 of 18 majors. Del Potro’s five-set tour de force in Queens hardly puts the duopoly’s accomplishments in the rear-view mirror, but the upset was a giant step forward for those chasing tennis’ two titans. Never before had Federer or Nadal lost a Grand Slam final to anyone except…Federer or Nadal. Del Potro showed that it’s possible for another player to beat the Swiss in a major final (he also beat Nadal in the semis).There’s no guarantee that del Potro’s breakthrough win signals the end of the Roger-Rafa hegemony – after Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open in 2008, Federer and Nadal went on to split the next six majors. But the landscape appears different this time around. The ATP’s Top 10 looks hungrier than it has in years, and a number of players, including the Argentine, made significant inroads in 2009. In his third All England Club final, Andy Roddick came as close as he’s ever come to winning Wimbledon. Despite underperforming in Melbourne and Flushing Meadows, Andy Murray rose to No. 2 in the world and made great strides on clay and grass. And Robin Soderling, who shocked Nadal at the French, proved that he’s more than just the answer to a trivia question; he’s developed into a consistent threat to the big guns.Despite their progress, I wouldn’t label any of these players as a favorite to win the Australian Open (look where those expectations got Murray earlier this year), or any other Slam, until they’ve proven that they can sustain their level of play when it counts most. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them collect a major at some point next season, even at Roger’s or Rafa’s expense. Murray, Roddick, Soderling and others will get their first chance in just a few months’ time.

Jasper Junien/Getty ImagesHenin says she's retooling her serve in preparation for her comeback in 2010.2. Justine Henin announces that she’s returning to professional tennisFor most of 2009, the talk surrounding the WTA centered on the endless debate of, “Who’s the true No. 1: Safina or Serena?” Thankfully, Clijsters and Henin, a pair of Belgians returning from sabbatical, shifted our focus onto something else. (And not a moment too soon, as Safina, still ranked No. 1, recently bombed out of yet another major in embarrassing fashion.) Even better, early indications suggest that their comebacks aren’t simply sentimental, but legitimate.Clijsters’ remarkable title run in New York showed that she has plenty left in the tank; it’s logical to think that Henin, a seven-time major champion and still just 27, can also thrive in the current environment. Like Clijsters, Henin will look to dictate points with her potent and picturesque backhand. But Henin is looking to add a new shot to her classic arsenal – an improved serve. That’s a smart decision – players tend to rely on their serve more as they age, and with the lackluster serving currently on display in the women’s game, possessing a formidable first strike is a big advantage.One might think that given Clijsters’ immediately successful comeback, the pressure’s also on Henin to prosper. But the diminutive Belgian is already an all-time great; she’s won every major except Wimbledon, the focus of her return. The pressure is still squarely on the usual Slam-less suspects: Safina, Elena Dementieva, Jelena Jankovic. A free-swinging, newly-motivated Henin? She should be fun to watch.3. Switzerland and Spain are drawn to face each other in the first round of Davis Cup playAs with all things involving Federer and Davis Cup, it’s best to employ a wait-and-see approach. Although the world No. 1 has participated in Switzerland’s Davis Cup playoff matches in each of the past five years, he hasn’t played in a World Group tie since 2004. But should Federer elect to represent his country next March, the potential opening-round matchup is even more tantalizing than the Federer-Roddick rubber that never materialized this March: Federer-Nadal.Still, even if Federer commits, it takes two to tango – and after Nadal’s injury-riddled season, first-round Davis Cup duty is no sure bet.But if the stars align – and head to Spain – we'll have a new context in which to enjoy Roger v. Rafa. Federer and Nadal have met in almost every significant tennis competition, but never in Davis Cup. It would be fascinating to see these two, still in their primes, square off with national pride at stake. And don’t forget the all-important doubles rubber: It’s possible that we could see Roger and Rafa tangle on consecutive days.First-round Davis Cup ties rarely capture the attention of American sports fans – for one, few of these contests are actually broadcast on television. But if Federer and Nadal come to play, Switzerland-Spain is must-see TV here in the States. I hope one of the networks agrees.

Schnyder defeats Clijsters at Luxembourg Open

LUXEMBOURG (AP)—Patty Schnyder beat U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Luxembourg Open.
The Swiss outsider punished Clijsters for her 11 double faults in the two-hour match and handed the Belgian her first loss since she won the Grand Slam tournament last month.
The second-seeded Clijsters struggled throughout with her service, landing only 58 percent of first serves.
Schnyder lost to Clijsters in the latter’s first tournament in more than two years, at Cincinnati in August. But the tour veteran kept a cool head in the decisive tiebreaker to beat Clijsters for the first time since 2005.
The loss was Clijsters’ second in 26 main draw matches at Luxembourg, where she was seeking a sixth title.
Schnyder, the former top-10 player ranked 47th, will play Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the quarterfinals.
Fourth-seeded Daniela Hantuchova defeated Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals. She’ll play Shahar Peer, who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Another Belgian, Yanina Wickmayer, beat France’s Alize Cornet 7-5, 7-6 (6) to earn a match against compatriot Kirsten Flipkens.

Enqvist named caption of Swedish Davis Cup team

STOCKHOLM (AP)—Thomas Enqvist is the new captain for Sweden’s Davis Cup team.
The Swedish Tennis Federation announced Thursday that he’ll replace Mats Wilander, who retired this week.
Enqvist played for Sweden between 1995 and 2004, winning 15 of 26 matches. He was a member of the cup winning teams in 1997 and ’98 and also played in the 1996 final.
Enqvist says he has fond memories playing for Sweden, saying it was special in 1997 to beat the United States 5-0 with Pete Sampras on the team.
Enqvist won 19 titles and reached one Grand Slam final on the ATP tour.
Sweden will host Argentina in a first-round World Group event March 5-7.

Jankovic earns final spot in year-end championships

MOSCOW (AP)—Qualifier Tsvetana Pironkova upset top-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-0, 6-2 Thursday in the second round of the Kremlin Cup, sending Jelena Jankovic to the season-ending WTA Championships.
Jankovic, who is five points ahead of Zvonareva, will fill the final spot at the tournament in Doha, Qatar. Jankovic, the defending champion at the Kremlin Cup, defeated Lucie Safarova 7-6 (5), 6-3 later Thursday to reach the quarterfinals.
“I was really happy when I heard that I’d made it to Doha,” Jankovic said. “It was very important for me.”
Serena and Venus Williams, Dinara Safina, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Elena Dementieva, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka have already qualified for the championships and skipped the event in Moscow. Zvonareva and Agnieszka Radwanska will travel to Doha as alternates.
The ninth-ranked Jankovic was a break down in the first set but broke back to even it at 5-5. Safarova double-faulted on match point to hand Jankovic the win.
In the quarterfinals, Jankovic will play Alisa Kleybanova of Russia. Pironkova will face Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine.
Earlier, Maria Kirilenko of Russia defeated Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4, 6-3. In the quarterfinals, Kirilenko will face eighth-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy, who defeated Monica Niculescu 6-2, 7-5.
In the men’s tournament, Robby Ginepri of the United States advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Marcel Granollers 7-6 (5), 6-0.
“It’s very exciting for me to reach the quarterfinals, especially because I haven’t got this far in a lot of tournaments this year,” Ginepri said. “It was good that I could follow up the great win over Igor (Andreev) with a very solid match.”
Evgeny Korolev ended Marat Safin’s 12th attempt to win his hometown event, defeating the former No. 1 player and two-time Grand Slam champion 6-4, 7-6 (4) in an all-Russian second-round match.
Safin plans to retire at the end of the season.

Tennis authorities investigating Wozniacki match

LONDON (AP)—Tennis authorities are looking into a WTA Tour match involving U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki that apparently sparked bettors to pile money on her opponent when she was on the verge of losing in straight sets.
Wozniacki, a 19-year-old Dane ranked sixth in the world, retired from the first-round match at the Luxembourg Open with a hamstring injury on Wednesday while leading Anne Kremer of Luxembourg 7-5, 5-0.
Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, told his daughter at 3-0 in the second set to retire before winning because her injury would prevent her from playing in the next round. His comments, apparently spoken in his native Polish, were picked up by microphones and heard by viewers watching the match on the Internet. “I went onto the court and said to her: ‘Caro, it does not matter whether it’s going to be 5-0, 4-1 or 3-2. You can not play the next round, so you shouldn’t take the risk,”’ Piotr Wozniacki said Thursday on Danish radio. “I’m very proud of Caroline, because she stopped the fight and gave her opponent a chance.”
The father’s comments during the match led to a surge in online bets for Kremer to win.
The governing bodies of tennis created a Tennis Integrity Unit last year to combat gambling and match-fixing.
“We’re just looking into everything that happened in this match,” WTA spokesman Neil Robinson said, adding that he believed the information would go to the integrity unit. “I would think that would be the way it would go. They are aware of it.”
The Tennis Integrity Unit does not comment on cases, and neither would Betfair, an online gambling site that works closely with tennis authorities.
“Under the terms of our memorandum of understanding with sporting bodies worldwide, it is up to the sporting authorities to comment,” Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin said. “However, it is reasonable to assume that in high-profile cases like this, correspondence has been made.”
Betfair, however, said it did not have any concerns about the match at this stage, and that the money won or lost was not unusual.
In Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, Wozniacki professed her innocence.
“So, people bet on my matches. Some win, others lose. I just know that I am clean. It is most important to me,” Wozniacki said. “And if anyone is in doubt about my injury, I can both produce scan from the hospital and a report from the tournament physiotherapist.”
Although it appears unlikely that Wozniacki conspired to fix the match, she could still be fined for “lack of effort” according to International Tennis Federation statutes.
In 2007, Betfair voided all bets on a match involving Nikolay Davydenko because of suspicious gambling patterns. The Russian withdrew against Martin Vassallo Arguello in the third set of a match in Poland, citing a foot injury. Both players were cleared of any wrongdoing after an ATP investigation.
Since the Davydenko match, other players have said they have been approached by outsiders trying to influence a match, and still more have been fined or suspended for gambling on matches.
Also, Davydenko was fined $2,000 for lack of effort after a loss that same year at the St. Petersburg Open, but the charge was dropped after the Russian won an appeal.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)


June 25, 1982
BirthplaceMoscow, Russia
ResidenceMoscow, Russia
Hight6'0'' (1.82 m)
Weight 160 lbs (72 kg)

Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA)


January 12, 1982
BirthplaceStrasbourg, France
ResidenceGeneva, Switzerland
Hight6'1'' (1.85 m)
Weight163 lbs (74 kg)

Feliciano Lopez (ESP)


September 20, 1981
BirthplaceToledo, Spain
ResidenceMadrid, Spain
Hight6'2'' (1.87 m)
Weight187 lbs (85 kg)

Jeremy Chardy (FRA)


February 12, 1987
BirthplacePau, France
ResidenceBoeil-Bezing, France
Hight6'2" (1.87 m)
Weight165 lbs (75 kg)

Ivo Karlovic (CRO)


February 28, 1979
BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia
ResidenceZagreb, Croatia
Hight6'2" (1.87 m)
Weight165 lbs (75 kg)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ATP Retired Players Sorted by Player's Last Name
Bjorn Borg
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Boris Becker
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Michael Chang
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Jim Courier
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Jimmy Connors
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Stefan Edberg
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Goran Ivanisevic
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Ivan Lendl
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John McEnroe
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