Safina Takes Tokyo; Spain, Argentina Into Davis Cup Final
Women’s Seeds: Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Agnieszka Radwanska, Daniela Hantuchova, Anna Chakvetadze, Caroline Wozniacki
Notes: Former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo unseeded; Dinara Safina withdraws after winning Tokyo title.
Men’s Seeds: David Ferrer, Andy Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez, Richard Gasquet, Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo, Rainer Schuettler, Sam Querrey
Notes: Querrey opens against American countryman Jesse Levine; former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero unseeded.
Hansol Korea Open
Seeds: Maria Kirilenko, Shahar Peer, Kaia Kanepi, Carla Suarez Navarro, Pauline Parmentier, Marta Domachowska, Marina Erakovic, Yung-Chan Jan
Notes: Kirilenko could meet unseeded Lucie Safarova 2nd round.
Seeds: Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych, Gael Monfils, Jarkko Nieminen, Robin Soderling, Marat Safin, Jurgen Melzer
Notes: Novak leverages a main draw wildcard for little brother Marko, who opens against Nieminen; Melzer faces American Donald Young in his opener.
DAVIS CUP SEMIFINALS
Spain d. U.S. 4-1
Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish garner the only point for the U.S. as the host Spain moves into the final. Rafael Nadal secured the tie in the first Sunday singles, overwhelming Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-0, 6-4. “Today I play an almost perfect match and it is very, very exciting,” Nadal said. “Today I played very well. I shocked myself with some of the winners I played, was near perfect tennis.” The U.S. had chances in the opening singles Friday when Sam Querrey led Nadal by a set and a break, and Roddick led David Ferrer two sets to one before falling in five.
Argentina d. Russia 3-2
New star Juan Martin del Potro won the fifth and deciding match 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 over Russia’s Igor Andreev to give Argentina a home final against Spain in search of their first Davis Cup title. Argentine stalwart David Nalbandian had a chance to close out the tie in the first singles on Sunday, but Russian Nikolay Davydenko came back from a set down to send it to a fifth and deciding match. The Russians felt the loss of former No. 1 Marat Safin skipping the tie, with Andreev losing both his singles.
DAVIS CUP QUALIFYING ROUND
Winners advance to the World Group for 2009
Chile d. Australia 3-2
Without the injured Lleyton Hewitt the Aussies get pushed around on the Chilean dirt, getting swept on Friday and Saturday.
Austria d. Great Britain 3-2
The Brits pay for their lack of a solid No. 2 singles player, with Alex Bogdanovic losing both his singles, including the fifth and deciding match in four sets to Alexander Peya on the Wimbledon lawn.
Switzerland d. Belgium 4-1
Behind Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in singles and doubles the Swiss sweep the Belgians 3-0 on the opening two days.
Croatia d. Brazil 4-1
The Brazilians win the Saturday doubles to extend the tie to Sunday, but Mario “Baby Goran” Ancic and “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic are too much in singles.
Israel d. Peru 4-1
Israel seals the deal in the first Sunday singles when Dudi “Where’s My Car?” Sela comes from a set down to defeat Luis “Me So” Horna in four.
Netherlands d. Korea 3-2
The Dutch win the starless tie when Thiemo de Bakker straight-sets Woong-Sun Jun in the fifth and deciding match.
Romania d. India 4-1
India’s Prakash Amritraj and college sensation Somdev Devvarman are no match for the Romanians as the legendary team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes earn India its only point in doubles.
Serbia d. Slovak Republic 4-1
The Serbs behind Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic sweep the Slovaks 3-0 on Friday and Saturday to retain their World Group status.
Toray Pan Pacific Open
Russian Dinara Safina won her fourth title of the year Sunday in Tokyo, steamrolling countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3. “Playing Svetlana today, I knew I had to take my chances and be aggressive from the beginning; and it worked,” said Safina, who lost only one game in the semis against countrywoman Nadia Petrova. “My game just clicked after my match with Kanepi. My coach told me to stick to my game and it has worked.”
TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open
Russian Vera Zvonareva stormed back from a one-set deficit to defeat homecountry favorite Peng Shuai 6-7(4), 6-0, 6-2 for the Guangzhou title. “I wasn’t going for my shots enough in the first set; I think I was playing a bit too passively,” Zvonareva said. “She’s a very good player and fights well, and she took advantage. But I had more experience behind my back and was able to turn the match around by going for my shots again. We had a tough match in our first time playing each other — if she keeps playing like this, she has a great future.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
ATP SOUTH AFRICA EVENT CONFUSION: Earlier this year the Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas was scrapped due to poor attendance and even poorer weather, and the ATP took the opportunity to remove the event from the U.S. and reward major sponsor South African Airlines with a South African event. The tournament will be the first time South Africa has held an ATP event in six years, and writer Johan Lindahl of the Tennis Talk website reports officials in South Africa are less than prepared for the approaching Feb. 2009 event. “We have the date — Feb. 2 — but still haven’t heard which venue they have decided on,” said South African tennis federation head Ian Smith. “They have put Johannesburg up on their website as the venue, but we have not heard that officially from them.” Smith said Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban were sites being considered. The Johannesburg site is reportedly in need of major upgrades and located in a “dangerous area” of town. Sounds like a recipe for success.
MAC SR. STILL WANTS ATP JOB: John McEnroe Sr. is wondering why no one is giving his bid to replace Etienne de Villiers as ATP CEO credence, after the eye-opening statement that he wouldn’t require players to play top events. “I fully understand the importance of television, sponsors, the building of significant stadiums,” McEnroe Sr. said. “But tournament directors should be told that, say, five of the top 10 players would play in the events that are designated as Masters, or whatever they’re going to be called from next year…The current rules that obligate the very top players to play in every Masters event from next year are neither good nor fair…I’d be very disappointed not to be heard by those choosing the new chief executive. I know I don’t have universal approval, but on what issues that is based I’m not sure. No one who truly, objectively looks at the current state of affairs and looks at my credentials can come up with any other conclusion than that I’m the guy for this job.”
ASIANS CREATE OWN MEN’S TOUR: What to do when your players aren’t making an impact on the ATP tour? Start your own tour. Asian tennis officials have unveiled plans for a new tour to boost players from the region in an effort to generate more money for players and possible ATP wildcards. “We are not in conflict with the ATP,” Asian Tennis Federation President Anil Khanna told AFP. “The new tour will in fact complement the ATP.” The 12-tournament swing will have a $50K prize money minimum, and culminate with a Masters Cup-type event featuring the Top 8 players squaring off for $300K in prize money. “Other organizers of the ATP events will also be approached and urged to give wildcards for Asian Tour winners,” Khanna said. An ATP spokesman responded, “We want to see as many countries as possible represented on the ATP World Tour and welcome and support all tennis federation’s efforts to create future champions. We believe the AITA concept of conducting a series of non-ATP tour
regional events will further assist in developing more professional players who hopefully will become regular and successful participants on the ATP World Tour.”
WATCH OUT FOR DAVYDENKO: Russian Nikolay Davydenko’s persecution at the hands of the ATP is over now that the men’s governing body could find no evidence of match-fixing, but Davydenko says it is not over: “I feel certain relief as I hope that no more rubbish and nonsense will be told or written about me,” the Russian told AFP. “However, I’m not satisfied with the result. I feel I still wasn’t cleared completely. And my managers and lawyers are still working on the case…I was living a year under constant pressure. And I still didn’t get any official apologies from the ATP. They just announced that the investigation was finished and they didn’t find any wrongdoing. But this is not enough! I don’t like the formulation. I definitely need to do something to change the situation.”
MISC: Serena Williams (left ankle) and Venus Williams (right elbow) both pulled from Tokyo last week citing injuries…Is the end far for former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, who was dropped by her coach for her poor attitude? Last week in the first round at Tokyo the Frenchwoman beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 in the first set before losing in a third-set tiebreak…Former Australian Open exec Paul McNamee has joined John McEnroe Sr., ATP executive Brad Drewett and U.S. tennis stalwart Butch Bucholtz in pursuit of the ATP CEO/Chairman position that will be vacated by Etienne de Villiers at the end of the year…Notes X-Reader ‘Women play tennis too, you know’: “U.S. Seizes Control of AIG With $85 Billion Emergency Loan — AIG is the sponsor of the upcoming tournament in Japan.”…From X-Reader ‘Von’ on James Blake pulling from the Davis Cup semifinals: “I think Blake suffered a major letdown after his Olympic loss for the bronze medal, which was evident by his body language during the USO. Overall, Blake has been on a decline over the past 4-5 months, and hopefully this rest will rejuvenate him. There is a positive side to all of the current problems — change can at times be a lifeline.”…adidas will re-introduce tennis racquets in the U.S. starting in February 2009 with a new line…Argentina hasn’t lost at home in 10 years, but has never won the Davis Cup…Stefan Edberg topped Sergi Bruguera on clay to win the BlackRock Tour of Champions title at the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy in Paris…Australia has hired former Spanish claycourt specialist Felix Mantilla and will open a training base in Barcelona to help their players.
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Nadal Withdraws from Davis Cup Final
Nadal Leads Spain In Search Of Fifth Davis Cup Title This Weekend
Nalbandian, Argentina Close in on First Davis Cup Title; Roddick Hires a Coach