SERBIAN POST-IT NOTE: Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic have received the honor of their own Serbian stamps, with the images created by academic painter Marina Kalezic.
EXIT COACH, ENTER THE BAR: Marat Safin is temporarily losing his coach, Hernan Gumy, who is returning to Argentina to be with his pregnant wife, but he is picking up a drinking buddy. Former pro tour player and pro partier Marc Rosset will fill in as Safin’s “coach” during the beginning of the claycourt season. “Marc Rosset was very kind to offer to accompany me in the next few events,” Safin said on his website. “I am very grateful to him and it looks like he will help me out until Gumy comes back.” Rosset, to his credit, did win gold when the Olympics was held on red clay. Safin said his decision to bring on additional help came after a loss to qualifier Bobby Reynolds in Miami.
RIOS v BRUGUERA FOR 1ST TIME ON CLAY?: Former No. 1 Marcelo Rios and French Open champ Sergi Bruguera never played each other on clay in their tour days, but that could change the week of April 24 at the senior tour event in Barcelona. Also in the mix will be French Open champ Albert Costa, Michael Stich, and dirt-loving Swedes Magnus Larsson and Magnus Gustafsson.
ATP/ITF AGREE ON RANKING POINTS FOR DAVIS CUP: OPINION ON: Starting in 2009, ATP players will receive ranking points for competing in Davis Cup at the World Group level. “This is a win/win situation for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the ATP,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The calendar is stabilized for the upcoming years [until 2013] in the model that the top players requested and, for the first time in history, Davis Cup players will receive well-deserved ranking points for their performance in the competition.”
ATP DEFENDING LAWSUITS ON MULTIPLE FRONTS: How much does the ATP have to spend on lawyers since Mercedes is dropping their title sponsorship? The ATP is currently being sued in U.S. courts by the Masters Series-Hamburg event for their 2009 calendar demotion, the top players are reportedly circulating a petition to halt the auto-renewal of CEO Etienne de Villers’ contract, and the five Italian players who have been suspended in association with on-line gambling and considering a lawsuit. Also on the horizon — Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who if the ATP cannot come up with anything regarding their match-fixing investigation, will have a rip-roaring lawsuit in the works regarding the upheaval in his life and his name being dragged through the media mud.
EASTBOURNE GETS COMBINED ATP/WTA EVENT: The ATP is moving the Nottingham Open to the site of the WTA Eastbourne event on the 2009 calendar, making the event the seventh combined event on the pro tennis calendar. After doubts over the future of the women’s event, Eastbourne gets a boost the week before Wimbledon.
MANTILLA RETIRES: Spaniard Felix, who overcame skin cancer in 2006, has announced his retirement. Among his major results were reaching the French Open semifinals in 1998, and in 2003 won the Masters Series-Rome where he beat Roger Federer in the final.
ATP TOURNAMENT CHANGES: According to New Zealand press, Graham Pearce, CEO Tennis Auckland is stepping down as tournament director of the Heineken Open ATP tournament after 14 years. Richard Palmer will take his place as tournament director of the Heineken Open and Brenda Perry will replace Palmer as tournament director of the ASB Classic WTA Tour event.
NADAL HITS OUT AT 2009 ATP SCHEDULE: The 2009 ATP schedule is out, and Rafael Nadal and other European players are angry at calendar concessions given to the U.S. Indian Wells and Miami tournaments, with the European Masters Series events on clay played closer together: “It’s an outrageous way to treat European and claycourt players. The truth is the ATP is making our lives almost impossible. Moving Miami and Indian Wells back because of college basketball is something I understand because it’s very important to them but this is a world tour. We only have three Masters Series events and we have to play them with an important tournament like Barcelona all running together. I’m tired of complaining about this but the people in charge of this don’t share my opinion and I have to respect that.”
RANDOM NOTES: World No. 1 Justine Henin pulled from Charleston citing knee inflammation…Sania Mirza had wrist surgery this week in the U.S. and is expected to be out of action for at least a month…Nicole Vaidisova has hired David Felgate as her new coach, replacing Vaidisova’s step-father Alex Kodat…Tim Henman has joined the BBC’s Wimbledon commentary team…Italian David Sanguinetti has announced his retirement.
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