Tennis-X Wrap: Murray, Safina Win; ATP in Trouble
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Andy Murray beat a weary Novak Djokovic for the second time in two weeks 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the final at the Masters Series-Cincinnati. Murray will rise to a career-high No. 6 after defeating the world No. 3. “By the start of the second set the standard dropped a bit,” said Murray, who also struggled with the heat on the hardcourts. “At the end it was very tough, physically tough.”
In the doubles final the world No. 1 Bryan brothers captured the title with a 4-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 victory over No. 3 seeds and defending champions Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram. The Bryans improved to 4-6 in finals on the year.
Russian Dinara Safina continues her spring run into the summer, on Sunday crushing Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-1 for her third title of the year. it is the fifth final in the last six events for Safina. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve won back-to-back tournaments; I used to win a tournament then lose first round the next week,” Safina said. “But now I’m always just taking it one match at a time.”
The world No. 1 doubles pair of Cara Black and Liezel Huber collected the Montreal trophy, easing past the unseeded team of Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-1.
Nordea Nordic Light Open
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki wins her first career title, with the 18 year old topping both No. 1 seed and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanka, and then Vera Dushevina 6-0, 6-2 on a rain-backed-up Sunday. “It’s always tough to play two matches on the same day, but Vera had to do it as well,” Wozniacki said. She is the first Danish player to win a WTA singles title.
In the all-Czech doubles final, No. 4 seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova defeated Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova 7-5, 6-4.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
SHARAPOVA OUT OF OLYMPICS, US OPEN, MAYBE ANNA TOO: Maria Sharapova reinjured her dodgy shoulder last week at the WTA event in Montreal, and announced that the injury would keep her out of both the Beijing Olympics and the US Open. “I’m currently packing up real quick to hop on a plane to New York for a second opinion (on the injury) but I wanted to let you all know first that there is no chance of me competing in Beijing,” she wrote on her website, before results forced her to announce that she would also miss the US Open. “The timing is so unfortunate and this makes me more sad than anything.” World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic may be forced to pull after injuring her thumb last week in a loss at Montreal. “It was very frustrating because I didn’t know how it’s going to pull up. I was in pain through whole match,” Ivanovic said. “The pain wasn’t so sharp as I felt so weak in my right arm, couldn’t hold my racquet on the forehand side. It was very frustrating in the first set. I was really down by it, you know, really felt like I couldn’t do nothing.”
From a Blackrock Tour of Champions interview with Patrick Rafter: “Q: What is the best piece of advice you would give to a junior tennis player, hoping to become a professional? (Michael Stich walks into the room saying: ‘Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll!’) There we go, Michael Stich just came up with some crackers right there…It might be ok for a while…I know Michael Stich tried that and he won Wimbledon…Best advice? Well, I think you have to learn to be very patient and learn how to play on clay. I think it’s a very good grounding for players.”…
Graeme Hamilton of Canada’s National Post on the Montreal women’s event: Stacey Allister of the Women’s Tennis Association credits Montreal for making the tournament an unmissable event in the summer calendar, and also for a “social climate” more open to women’s sports. Another theory comes to mind after analyzing pre-tournament coverage in the Montreal papers: The city has a weakness for gorgeous women. The top third of La Presse’s front page today is taken up with a colour photo of a smiling Ana Ivanovic, world No. 1 and very easy on the eyes. Inside the news pages there are pictures of a leggy Maria Sharapova and fellow Russian beauty Anna Kournikova, who never won a major tournament and is no longer on the tour. Ashley Harkleroad, an American player ranked 72nd in the world, merits a full article on the strength of her appearance in the current issue of Playboy magazine. Coverage continues in the sports pages with a full page of photos from the Player Party Sunday night, showing the women in high heels and high fashion. The Journal de Montreal has Sharapova on the front page with the headline, “The queens of tennis parade,” and inside there are three pages of photos from Sunday’s fashion show. “Fashion is really a way for me to express my personality,” Sharapova is quoted as saying in La Presse. You just don’t get that kind of incisive analysis of the men’s game…
BRING THE HAMMER DOWN: The WTA Tour’s Road Map 2010 (to be implemented in 2009) includes a 40% hike in prize money, but also threatens larger fines and suspensions for players skipping out with fake doctor’s notes on tournament responsibilities. Women’s tennis will get a 40 percent pay raise next year along with bigger fines, suspensions and responsibility for the leading players. “The 2006 season was a disaster,” WTA President Stacey Allaster told the media. “We failed to deliver on our player commitment to any of our Top 10 events. We just felt something needed to be done now. We’re trying to change a culture, where it’s not an option but a commitment when you enter a top-level event.” Under the new scheme, players must compete in at least 10 of the 20 “Premiere”-level tournaments, with four events — Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing — mandatory for all players, and five events — Canada, Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati and Tokyo — of which players must compete in at least four. “[Players] asked to put the best events in the right dates and we’ve done all of that,” Allaster said. “We’ve given them breaks. Now we’re saying, there’s going to be a little less flexibility on where you play and if you don’t play, then there’s going to be really significant ramifications.”…
SERVICE WINNER: American John Isner won his first round in Cincinnati, beating Italian Andrea Stoppini and winning all 39 first-serve points. Since the ATP began keeping match statistics in 1991, no player had won more than 35 consecutive points on first serve.
GETTIN’ IGGY WITH IT: According to Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, covering the ATP vs. Hamburg trial, former ATP employee and current ATP board member Iggy Jovanovic has a number of side jobs that violate his ATP board bylaws: “…the trial threatens to go longer than its scheduled two weeks now, if it gets to the jury, because of delays last Thursday regarding a witness issue and break for settlement talks. Friday’s court session revealed that ATP board director Iggy Jovanovic had a contract while on the board to broker a sponsorship for Emirates Airline with Tennis Canada, owner of one of the elite ATP events. This appears to violate the ATP bylaws that player representatives on the board not work for a tournament member. He also worked for Abu Dhabi in trying to secure an ATP event. He was accused by the Hamburg tourney of using insider information to pass on to Abu Dhabi, especially as it related to Doha, Qatar, being available. The Qatari Tennis Federation owns 25% of the Hamburg event, and owns a tournament in Doha that applied for the second tier of the new ATP calendar but was turned down. Questioned if he had read the bylaws when he took his post in January ’06, Jovanovic testified he could not recall…he signed a contract with Tennis Canada, according to a trial exhibit, that entitles to him 10% of Emirates sponsorship fee, which is nearly $500,000.”…
MISC: Entering Montreal last week, Jelena Jankovic had not beaten a Top 6 player this year and has never reached a Slam final, but could have taken the No. 1 ranking for the first time…Roger Federer will carry the flag for Switzerland during the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, also the day of his 27th birthday…Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled from New Haven with a knee issue…Marcos Baghdatis (wrist) and Maria Sharapova (shoulder) are out of the Beijing Olympics…Rainer Schuettler is petitioning the Olympic committee for a spot in the draw.
Also Check Out:
On-Court Coaching Saves Safina in Stuttgart Semis
Jankovic Remembers Former No. 1 Days, Beating Safina for Cincinnati Title
Kuznetsova Tops No. 1 Safina, Ends Title Drought at Stuttgart
Safina, Kuznetsova Reach 2nd Final in Two Weeks at Rome
Safina Wins 2nd Straight Title at WTA Madrid