Serena On Again Today at Cincy, Slumping Safin Sad

Posted on July 20, 2006

Sad Safin Slump Continues With Indy Loss

A charitable Marat Safin, the former No. 1-ranked Russian perhaps best remembered for mercilessly pounding Pete Sampras in his first Slam final at the US Open, handed No. 512-ranked South African qualifier Wesley Whitehouse, who had only won one ATP-level match in his nine-year career, a 6-1, 6-4 victory in his opener Wednesday at Indianapolis.

Even with his little experience at the tour level over the years, Whitehouse knew the drill with the temperamental Russian.

"You never know with him," said Whitehouse, the Wimbledon junior winner in 1997. "He can play really well or badly."

Safin, who sat out six months between August 2005 and February of this year with a knee injury he refused to have surgically repaired, is now 12-12 this year, advancing to the quarterfinals or better only once when he lost to Nicolas Almagro in the claycourt semis at Valencia.

"I never felt comfortable on the court," Safin said. "This kind of a loss hurts. I don't really know what to do. You can only look for better times. I'm not even close to my tennis."

Top-seeded James Blake basked in the glow of the headliner night session, beating Thailand's Danai Udomchoke 7-6(5), 6-4.

No. 6 seed Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty was the other upset victim on the day, taking only five games against the fast-court-loving veteran Kenneth Carlsen.

Other seeded winners Wednesday were (5) Tommy Haas (d. Bastl), (7) Dmitry Tursunov (d. Becker who retired in the third with heat illness), (8) Paradorn "The Thai Fighter" Srichaphan (d. Arthurs in three), (9) Xavier Malisse (d. H.-T. Lee), (10) Nicolas Mahut (d. Alves in three), (12) Gilles Muller (d. Capdeville), and (15) Igor Kunitsyn (d. Burgsmuller).

"This is all a build up to the US Open," said Haas, laying out the basics of the US Open Series, and the weather, for reporters. "It is hot here, and then we go to another (Los Angeles) where it is also hot."

Haas, having an up-and-down year after two shoulder surgeries, says these are the conditions that could produce another run.

"I really feel like I'm in my second career," the former No. 2-ranked German said. "If I'm healthy, I'm tough to beat under these conditions (heat and hardcourts). You go from hardcourts, to clay, to grass, back to hardcourts, it is tough to get used to. This is the first hardcourt tournament and you just have to get used to it. The footing, I like it and I think I can move better on it."

Thursday's line-up in Indy is (1) Blake vs. (Q) Whitehouse, (2) Roddick vs. Morrison in an all-American, (3) Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez vs. (14) "Rappin'" Vince Spadea, (8) Srichaphan vs. (11) Goldstein, (15) Kunitsyn vs. (4) Ginepri, (12) Muller vs. Carlsen, (7) Tursunov vs. (9) Xavier "X-Man" Malisse, and (5) Haas vs. (10) Mahut.

Schnyder and Mirza Book Date, Serena Featured Thursday at Cincy

Defending champion Patty Schnyder, looking for her first 2006 title, sent a message concerning the uber-struggling next generation of American players Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of qualifier Abigail Spears at the WTA stop in Cincinnati.

"Short matches always help as the tournament goes on," Schnyder said. "It feels great. Today was a whole new match -- a whole new feeling. I just felt ready."

Her next hurdle will be the struggling Indian superstar and No. 9 seed Sania Mirza, who survived a brain fart in overcoming Finn Emma Laine 6-1, 0-6, 6-1.

American Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier had the upset of the day, taking out No. 8 seed Gisela Dulko, while Russian Vera "The Crying Game" Zvonareva ousted the recovering-from-injury No. 7 seed Tatiana "Hot Pants" Golovin, and No. 4 seed Katarina Srebotnik moved on with a straight-set win over China's Yuan Meng.

Serena Williams headlines the Thursday line-up against countrywoman Bethanie "World Cup" Mattek, with Zvonareva vs. Lepchenko, Camerin vs. Jankovic, and Bardina vs. Bartoli.

Top-Seeded Gaudio Leads Seed Exodus at Stuttgart

Three times runner-up Gaston Gaudio led the exodus of seeds, following second round action at the Mercedes Cup on Wednesday.

Top-seeded Gaudio joined No. 6 seed Kristof Vliegen, No. 8 seed Juan Ignacio Chela, No. 9 seed Gilles Simon, No. 11 seed Mikhail Youzhny, No. 12 seed Max Mirnyi, No. 15 seed Bjorn Phau and No. 16 seed Richard Gasquet on the sidelines.

Gaudio was beaten 6-4, 6-0 by fellow Argentine Mariano Zabaleta, winning just 33 of 69 service points and 20 of 58 points on return. Zabaleta won their seventh career meeting and first since the 2004 Bastad final.

"It's great for me to win matches again, after being out with a knee injury for about ten months," Zabaleta said. "I've played many times again Gaston but it never went like today. He was playing well in the first set but got a bit angry in the second. I start feeling confident and I'm looking forward to my next match. I like this tournament very much and it's great to be in the third round."

Zabaleta will next meet No. 13 seed Luis Horna, the Acapulco champion, who knocked out Spanish veteran Albert Portas 7-6(4), 6-2.

Munich finalist Vliegen retired with a right shoulder injury, while trailing Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3, 1-0, walking to the net to shake hands after 39 minutes.

Monaco will play Austrian Jurgen Melzer, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Mirnyi.

Another member of the Independiente Tennis Club in Tandil, Argentina, advanced in Stuttgart.

Having played solely on clay this season, Juan Martin Del Potro won his third ATP-level match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 over No. 8 seed Juan Ignacio.

Playing only his eighth ATP-level match, qualifier, Del Potro led 6-2, 3-0 only to see Chela fight back. Despite eight double faults, 18-year-old Del Potro broke on six of 13 opportunities -- including three-out-of-three in the final set for victory in two hours and three minutes.

"I'm very happy, this is an important step in my career," Del Potro said. "After winning against such a strong player as Chela is, I have to keep fighting and try to go as far as possible."

Gasquet, winner at Nottingham and last week in Gstaad, lost to Austrian Oliver Marach 6-4, 6-2. Marach will meet compatriot and lucky loser Stefan Koubek, a 7-6(6), 6-2 winner over Teimuraz Gabashvili.

Stanislas Wawrinka overcame Phau 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 in a shade over two hours. Stanilas Wawrinka overcame Phau 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3 in a shade over two hours. There the Swiss will take on third-seeded David Ferrer, who restored order with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Jiri Novak.

Fifth-seeded Jose Acasuso required one hour and 40 minutes to beat Andreas Seppi 6-4, 7-6(2) for a third round meeting with Simon Gruel, a three set winner over Youzhny.
-- ATP

Mathieu Upset; Moya, Massu Win at ATP Amersfoort

Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo caused the upset of the second round at the Dutch Open Tennis in Amersfoort on Wednesday.

The Spaniard, currently No. 62 in the INDESIT ATP Rankings, knocked out second-seeded Paul Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-2 in 81 minutes.

Ramirez Hidalgo converted all five of his break point opportunities, winning 23 of 31 points on first serve.

Mathieu, who enjoyed a straight sets victory over Italian Alessio di Mauro on Monday, holds a 16-18-match record this season.

Ramirez Hidalgo advances to his third ATP-level quarterfinal of the season, improving his win-loss record to 15-10. The 28-year-old has reached the Vina del Mar semifinals and Buenos Aires quarterfinals during February's South American swing.

He will next meet sixth-seeded Alberto Martin, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Edgardo Massa in one hour and 26 minutes. Martin gained revenge for Massa's 6-4, 6-4 victory at Buenos Aires in 2003.

Fourth-seeded Nicolas Massu beat Costa Rican Juan Antonio Marin for the second time this year for a place in his sixth ATP-level quarterfinal.

Costa do Sauipe winner Massu backed up his victory over Marin in Vina del Mar, needing two hours and 26 minutes for a 6-4, 7-6(2) victory.

The Chilean, currently No. 37 in the INDESIT ATP Rankings, has also reached the Casablanca and Vina del Mar finals this season.

The Chilean, currently No. 37 in the INDESIT ATP Rankings, has also reached the Casablanca and Vina del Mar finals this season.

He will play former World No. 1 and Buenos Aires champion Carlos Moya, who edged past Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-3.
-- ATP

No 1,3,5,6 Seeds Lose at WTA Palermo

PALERMO, Italy -- The third day at the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo featured a quartet of surprising upsets. No.1 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.3 Michaella Krajicek, No.5 Anna Smashnova and No.6 Klara Koukalova were sent packing at the $145,000 event.

After leading Italy to its first Fed Cup final, Pennetta suffered a bitter first round upset loss against unseeded Julia Schruff on Wednesday. Schruff prevailed 61 75 to enter her fifth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour quarterfinal. The 23-year-old German will face another tough Italian, Romina Oprandi, in the second round. Oprandi just recently made her career breakthrough at Rome. As a qualifier, she made the quarterfinals, held match point against Svetlana Kuznetsova and broke into the Top 80.

In second round action, French qualifier Aravane Rezai knocked out Krajicek, 63 64, to make her first Tour quarterfinal. The 19-year-old from St.Etienne captured her fifth career ITF Circuit singles title in March and then posted a career-best Grand Slam performance at Roland Garros, upsetting Ai Sugiyama en route to the third round and pushing eventual semifinalist Nicole Vaidisova to three sets.

Also in the second round, Italian wild card Tathiana Garbin scored the third upset of the day by eliminating Anna Smashnova 75 63. The 29-year old from Mestre has posted several impressive results on clay, including final appearances at Modena and Bogota. In 2004, she became the first Italian woman in the Open Era to defeat a world No.1, ousting Justine Henin-Hardenne in the second round of Roland Garros. Garbin next faces either Schruff or Oprandi in the quarterfinals.

Roberta Vinci was responsible for Koukalova's departure. The unseeded Italian defeated last year's finalist, 62 76(6), to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Rezai. Vinci also reached the quarters here last year but lost to Pennetta.

On Thursday, three-time champion and No.2 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues returns to action against Anastasiya Yakimova.
-- WTA

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Larry Scott
speaking with the Cincy Enquirer after watching Serena Williams win her opening-round match at Cincy Tuesday and scoping out the site for a potential future calendar move to align it with the ATP as  men's/women's combo event: "I was thrilled with the reaction. It was an electric type of atmosphere, a very enthusiastic crowd and a bigger crowd. For a Tier III event, it's as big a crowd as we'd ever have at this level. The bottom line of my visit tonight is I will leave here feeling encouraged and optimistic about what women's tennis can achieve in Cincinnati."...16-year-old six-foot American Alexa Glatch is suffering from shin splints after recovering from a broken elbow and wrist suffered in a bike accident...What's with the ATP/ITF banning web-only media from attending the year-end Masters Cup in Shanghai? Way to not promote the sport, while underestimating and slighting internet tennis fans...The Merrill Lynch Tour of Champions announced a partnership with South African Airways (SAA) that will see the leading carrier of the African Continent become the 'Official Airline of the Merrill Lynch Tour of Champions' and the 'Official Sponsor of the Champions Tour Rankings.'...Andy Roddick on his coaching sessions with Jimmy Connors: "Jimmy had some real good ideas, which I think I'll keep to myself. The workouts were fun. They were intense. I was a lot more prepared this time. I'm more physically and mentally ready for this than I have been in some time."...From "Less than a month-and-a-half after commencing work with Adam Peterson, Shahar Peer yesterday fired the American coach. Peer took on Peterson, who had previously worked with former World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, after six years with Oded Ya'akov and broke up the engagement shortly after having won two clay court tournaments and reaching the round of 16 at the French Open. Under Peterson, Peer went out in the first round at Eastbourne and in the second at Wimbledon. "They just didn't click and there were a number of professional issues," Peer's father Duvik said yesterday. In the meantime, Peer will work with Dan Hanegbi, an Israeli tennis coach studying in the United States, before choosing a new trainer. Peer begins her U.S. tour next week at Stanford as she prepares for the upcoming U.S. Open."'s Matt Cronin ripping on the Cincy press as they struggle to cover tennis for their one week of the year: "So I'm reading the voluminous copy coming out of Cincinnati and thinking -- isn't it great when so many reporters are covering a Tier III (soon to be Tier 1?) tournament. Then I'm struck by how wrong much of the analysis is. Jessica Kirkland is making steady progress? No she's not. Alexandra Stevenson's shoulder is okay? No. Then to the players: Sania Mirza "has a billion fans watching" every time she steps on court? A slight exaggeration maybe? Now beyond Cincy. How about Justin Gimelstob blogging for, spinning wildly about Mark Philippoussis: "He has faced stiff criticism throughout his career for his wide array of off-court interests, but his journey is one of determination and perseverance." Only an American player would say that. Imagine what the Scud's onetime Davis Cup teammates would say if they were asked about his "perseverance?" Someone go ask Lleyton Hewitt, immediately."...NBC in he U.S. will kick off the US Open Series coverage this weekend at Indy, with Ted Robinson, Jim Courier and Bud Collins on the mike...From "Rapper/actor Ludacris took a break from recording his newest album Release Therapy and attended a weekend of charitable events in Los Angeles and Miami to raise funds for his nonprofit charity organization, The Ludacris Foundation. Ludacris raised over $25,000 during a four-day weekend that saw the rapper take home an award during GM's Auto Fashion Show, which was hosted by the Miami Heat's Shaquille O'Neal. The Atlanta native's 1967 Green Chevy Bel-Air earned the prize for Best Exterior in the competition, which was judged by tennis star Serena Williams and actor/rapper Nick Cannon." -- Serena judging auto shows? Sweet, getting a jump on those post-career activities...Belgium's Fed Cup captain Carl Maes urging Justine Henin-Hardenne back into the Fed Cup nest for the final, in an open letter: I always thought that had Justine been injured in a more obvious way the public would have found this a more adequate excuse. Unfortunately, we live in a small country where opinions vary and particularly in Flanders and Wallonia things are viewed differently. Hopefully, we can forget all the polemic of the last weeks and think about positive sporting matters. I only have the sporting interest of the team at heart and it is clear that we have a greater chance of success with both top world players."

Also see:
Lansdorp Looking for Another Ace