Tennis-X: Best of News, Notes and Quotes 2004

Posted on December 28, 2004

December is the "off-season," the dead month for tennis, right?

Except when Andy Roddick is firing his coach Brad Gilbert for Dean Goldfine, or the ITF is naming No. 3-ranked Anastasia Myskina their "World Champion," or Justine Henin-Hardenne is losing exhibition matches left and right in an attempt to rebound from her "mystery illness," or Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova and Monica Seles are toying with comebacks for 2005, or Roger Federer is putting classifieds in the paper for an available coaching position (Title: No-Win Situation, looking for a coach to improve upon my 2004 effort, call 555-ClubFed, ask for Roger), or Anna is getting secretly married (again), or Martina Navratilova is playing another full year after saying she was hanging it up (again), or that Lleyton Hewitt would be back on the public dating circuit after his abrupt phone dumping at the hands of former fiance Kim Clijsters, or that the wrist-addled Clijsters would even attempt a trip to Melbourne to face the Aussie fans after the break-up, or when Jennifer Capriati is pulling from exhibitions with new injuries, or the WTA propositioning Playboy magazine for a Maria Sharapova spread.

Wait, that last one didn't happen, that was just a WTA Tour Championships flashback.

Judging by the discussion boards, the 2005 season can't start soon enough for tennis fans, so here's a little holiday present to tide you over, a trip down memory lane for some of the most noteworthy and wacky occurrences during 2004:

Kim Clijsters
on skipping the Athens Olympics later this year: "Tennis does not feel like an Olympic sport. I don't think they get the publicity or the crowds they get at grand slams."...James Blake debuted his shaved head at the Hopman Cup, and will raffle of his shorn locks at the Australian Open, with the proceeds to benefit his friend's inner-city basketball team...Pat Rafter, playing doubles in Adelaide this week, reiterated that a singles comeback is not in the making...Marat Safin says his time off has done wonders for his attitude in 2004: "I decide to come in to play, to come back strong and prepare myself, and I really want to be the No. 1 in the world at the end of this year."...After getting pasted by Aussie teen wildcard Todd Reid at Adelaide, the injury-ridden Wayne Ferreira says he will retire this year after the US Open and once he has secured Stefan Edberg's record of 54 straight slams...After getting dumped by her race car boyfriend, Jelena Dokic has now reconciled with her nutty dad Damir, who told Australia's The Age that Jelena will not play any Aussie tournaments in January because of past experiences. "We still think the match to play against Lindsey Davenport (in the opening round of the 2001 Australian Open) was rigged," said Damir. On Jelena returning to the family fold: "She saw that she made a mistake and has come back to the family -- they were saying that she shouldn't be with her crazy father. Now see the results." Cuckoo!...Britain's Greg Rusedski has tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone from the 2003 ATP event in Indianapolis...Pat Rafter with the 411 on golf as a sport: "...that's not a sport, that's fun."...Pat Rafter on Roger Federer: "I think he's the greatest, most complete player I've ever seen. He's going to be awesome."...Serena Williams says she will skip the Aussie Open to let her knee heal more...Greg Rusedski's lawyer wants other players who have tested positive for nandrolone to come forward -- good luck, nice defense...Petr Korda says 'What comes around goes around' after Greg Rusedski was busted for doping. The Brit spoke out against Korda after the Czech was busted for doping in 1998: "I hated suggestions I was a cheat, although some players were very vocal about me," Korda told the BBC. "Greg Rusedski was one of those. I do not know exactly what he said but I am aware it was not particularly nice."...Amelie Mauresmo is not happy with the No. 3 special seeding granted to the No. 11-ranked Venus Williams at the Aussie Open: "I feel like I am being penalized because she was injured. It is a strange feeling and one I don't really understand but something I have to deal with. This is just the way it is. But I would like the WTA to show some consistency."...John McEnroe admitted he unwittingly took steroids for much his career. "For six years I was unaware I was being given a form of steroid of the legal kind they used to give horses until they decided it was too strong even for horses," McEnroe is quoted on Monday in The Daily Telegraph. So that explains the Ben Johnson lower body and Petr Korda upper body...Jennifer Capriati has officially pulled from the Aussie Open with a back injury...Andy Roddick says that since he was drug tested "17 or 18" times last year, he thinks the sport is clean. "If someone tests positive, it is announced to the public," Roddick said, apparently unaware of the "Mystery Six" that tested positive and the ATP failed to announce last year. "If there really were 47 positive drugs tests (ed. note: as Greg Rusedski claims), then a third of the tour would have been announced. I think those are just numbers." As Butt-head said to Beavis, "I Hate numbers." Beavis: "Yeah, there's like, too many of them and stuff."...After dealing with the break-up with her race car boyfriend and the stress involved in reuniting with her estranged wacko dad, Jelena Dokic says she will now miss her third consecutive Australian Open...John McEnroe has reportedly signed a deal with CNBC to host a primetime talk show, which will probably not be titled "The Chair."...Maria "Orgasmo Grunt" Sharapova is still growing, now over 6 feet tall: "Last year my legs grew so long, and it was tough on me," said Sharapova, whose parents are both under 6 feet, to USA Today. "Now my upper body is growing. Must be the carrot juice." Or the steroids they're feeding you...Sweden's Magnus Norman is to undergo further surgery on his hips and will be out of action for up to two months...2003 Australian Open runner-up Rainer Schuettler loses in the first round...Robby Ginepri is no longer dating actress Minnie Driver, and has a new Georgia girlfriend...Yevgeny Kafelnikov has not played an event in 2004, and Russian countryman Marat Safin says he is fat and happy being retired: "Guys, he quit. Finished. You will not see him anymore. He is 105 kilos now. It's a lot of kilos, huh?"...Pat Cash has riled Roger Federer, saying he is ill-prepared without a coach, and that his girlfriend/manager/former player Miroslav Vavrinec has too much influence on his career: "What Pat Cash really says, you know, I don't really care," Fed said...Instead of the super-juiced racquet technology causing more injuries, the WTA says it is the increased media coverage that makes it appear that everyone is injured -- nice spin...Brad Gilbert says world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne could not beat the No. 1,000-ranked male player on tour: "Justine Henin is a good little player, but she's about 5 foot 5 inches and about 125 pounds. She couldn't come close to beating one guy in the draw."...Will Mandy Moore post in Australia? Tennis-X says "No."...ESPN commentator Patrick McEnroe says Andy Roddick will own "between six and 10" slams before his career is through...Marat Safin knocked Andy Roddick out of the No. 1 spot with a defeat at the Aussie Open...Aussie newspaper The Australian on the fleshy WTA Tour: "A women's double match (at the Australian Open) yesterday featured 18-year-old Myriam Casanova who appeared out of condition. The girl most likely of 2001, American Ashley Harkleroad, does not have the figure of an elite sportswoman, yet she can maintain a ranking of 46 in the world. It is not a good look for the sport."...Mark Philippoussis called Pat Cash on the phone and ripped him a new one after Cash's allegations that Flipper lost at the Aussie Open because he was "getting busy" with his new companion: "I've had a lot of...abuse hurled at me, rightly or wrongly. There have been arguments and fights...but I've never ever been abused and threatened like I was," Cash said on Channel 9. Asked if it would be safe for him to see the Scud, he said: "That, unfortunately, that I'm not sure." We could surely see him giving you a long-deserved ass-beating Cashy.

Justine Henin-Hardenne
wins the Aussie Open final, with Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters throwing in a key double fault to give up the break at 3-4 in the third set...For the second straight slam, Justine Henin-Hardenne's name got butchered in the post-match ceremony. This time, the announcer pronounced her last name "Hard-deen." Not once, but twice. Nice, who is coordinating these slam trophy presentations?...Former No. 1 Marcelo Rios had back surgery and will begin training in a month, with the surgeon saying the operation was "totally successful."...Roger Federer pounded a weary Marat Safin for the Aussie Open men's title...After shooting off his mouth then getting the "I'm-going-to-beat-your-ass" phone call, tough-guy-turned-whuss Pat Cash says he is thinking about getting the police to issue a restraining order again Mark Phillipoussis...The World Anti-Doping Agency is poised to re-open cases against seven ATP players who last year tested positive to the steroid nandrolone, but were cleared by the ATP on a technicality...Marat Safin says no one will win all four majors in one year: "Tennis is too equal, and everybody can beat everybody. Maybe two a year but not all four of them. It takes a lot of energy. It's too difficult. Too many matches."...Amelie Mauresmo moved to a career-high No. 3 ranking after the Aussie Open according to the WTA, but don't tell that to CNN/SI's Jon Wertheim: "Poor Amelie Mauresmo, who was playing as well as anyone before her back injury. Her career is looking increasingly doomstruck." Injuries heal, take it easy...According to, "there was a manifesto circulating the Aussie Open locker room last week allegedly complaining about WTA staffing and the outsized influence of a certain management group on the women's game as well as a dearth of fall events for lower-ranked players."...Belarus D-Cup captain Sergei Teterin says his World Group rookie team will have some surprises for Russia this weekend: "The Russians are much more experienced, while we're appearing in the World Group for the first time, but we know Russian players abilities very well and we will be playing at home."...The defending champ Aussies are stunned by Sweden in the first round of the Davis Cup and sent out to World Group qualifying later in the year...Thomas Muster was named as Austria's new Davis Cup captain, replacing Guenter Bresnik, who stepped down after losing the World Group tie against the U.S...France Davis Cup captain Guy Forget went freaky after his win over Croatia, saying his job was in jeopardy and going off on the French Federation: "I felt under's something I can't let go. If we had not won the tie, there would have been only one person responsible for it -- me. And this is despite the results I've had. I'm getting hopping mad. There is a campaign against me..."...Tommy Haas on playing this month for the first time since 2002: "This is a second career for me. I still believe I have a lot of tennis left in me."...China's capital Beijing has applied to hold the season-ending WTA Tour Championships AND the ATP Masters Cup together from 2005 to 2007, organizers said Tuesday, because they've got the cash...Kim Clijsters says she and Lleyton Hewitt have still not set a wedding date: "To fix a date is not easy with our tight schedules. And we must make up our minds on the place. We visited various locations in Belgium and Australia, but whether it's one or the other country, it will be a problem because our grandparents are old and cannot face a 24-hour journey. Because of all this, the wedding will probably not take place this year."...Serena joins Anna K. in this month's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, on stands now...Monica Seles, who has had her foot in a cast for two months and has another two months to go, took heart from Marat Safin's comeback at the Aussie Open: "The way he was able to play so many matches was amazing."...Andre Agassi uncharacteristically slammed the ATP Thursday for not addressing the question of what players can consume during matches in hot weather: "The ATP needs to do something. They've removed themselves from the problem and left the players alone. We've had to speak about the issue, most of the time uninformed. To leave it all on the players' shoulders, only drink water...that's not an answer. That's not leadership."...Paul Haarhuis, Andrea Gaudenzi and Renzo Furlan retired...Mardy Fish on beating Andre Agassi in their first meeting in the San Jose semis: "It's a huge win for me. It's probably one of the biggest I've had, if not the biggest."...Alex Corretja is on the anti-ATP warpath again, saying that most players support Greg Rusedski, and that if the Brit loses his court case, the Spaniard would participate in a boycott: "I'd sign a petition for him. This could happen to any player and I would like to have my fellow player doing that for me...This is tennis, everyone does what he wants, you have a lot of different interests and cultures working against each other."...Roger Federer wants a coach, but even though he has expressed an interest in Andre Agassi's coach Darren Cahill, he would not poach on another's coach: "It would be like approaching the girlfriend of another guy and asking her to go out with, I wouldn't do that."...The Bryan brothers have reached five straight tournament finals: Tennis Masters Cup doubles, Adelaide, Sydney, Australian Open, and Memphis...The Belgian press is coming own hard on Kim Clijsters for bailing on last year's Fed Cup semifinal, and now bailing this year on representing Belgium at the Athens Olympics...Svetlana Kuznetsova's finalist effort at Dubai (l. to Henin-Hardenne) will put her into the Top 20 next week on the WTA Rankings for the first time.

TV commentator Martina Hingis on the Williams sisters: "People ask me about a comeback, but look at Venus. I don't want to end up like that even if I was healthy. The train is moving fast. Venus hasn't shown anything right now."...Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty won his tour-leading third title of the year Sunday indoors at Marseille...The ATP announced the formation of an ATP Task Force on Supplements to develop short- and long-term solutions designed to help players manage the risks associated with taking vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements...International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci "Itty" Bitti isn't hesitating to take credit for the ATP putting together a doping task force: "It's very positive that the players want to be educated. I was complaining to the ATP and WTA for some time that they weren't doing enough to inform the players."...14-year-old Czech Nicole Vaidisova debuted at No. 264 on the WTA Tour Rankings after winning the ITF/Columbus-USA event...How much cash are top seeds such as Roger Federer getting handed under the table in appearances fees this week in Dubai? Consider that when Tiger Woods tees off tomorrow in Dubai, he has already pocketed $6 million from the oil-rich organizers just to get on the plane. Just open the suitcase and tell them to fill it with oil money. And you wonder why George W. wants to march across the Middle East...Unseeded 18-year-old Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova handed world No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne her first loss of the year at Doha...Take note Lleyton, 20-year-old fiance Kim Clijsters is rarin' to bust out some kids: "It's something that I really look forward to as well. I have a very young mom as well and I think that's something that I would like to be as well. I'm not going to say that I may quit completely. Who knows? I may try to come back. I don't know."...In Scottsdale, American Vince Spadea overcame a bout of choking and torment from an angry Nicolas Kiefer to win his career-first title 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3, ending an 11-year title drought in his third career final...Russia's Anastasia Myskina broke into the Top 5 on the WTA Rankings with her win at Doha, the first Russian to rank in the Top 5...Greg Rusedski was cleared of his doping charges levied by the ATP...The BBC hammering the ATP after their boy is found not guilty: "The 'not guilty' verdict on Greg Rusedski may have been great news for the player, but it has left men's tennis in crisis. The game's governing body, the Association of Tennis Professionals, faces its nightmare scenario: the world's top players keep testing positive for banned drugs, and it doesn't have the faintest idea why."...Defending champion Kim Clijsters has withdrawn from Indian Wells with a left wrist injury that occurred during her opening-match pounding of Germany's Angelika Roesch...Rainer Schuettler has lost in the opening round in five of the six events he has played in 2004. Houston, you no longer have a problem...A security guard who didn't recognize Roger Federer at Indian Wells denied him entrance to the players' locker room because he couldn't produce his credential following a practice session...22-year-old Serena Williams apparently has a new boyfriend in 33-year-old film director Brett Ratner...According to the latest Sports Business Journal, Serena Williams opted out of the WTA Qatar event with "illness," but then shot scenes for the television show "The Division" on Lifetime. "I was definitely ill," Williams said in a telephone press conference, perhaps doing another bit of acting? "I couldn't get out of bed. It was a nightmare."...The ever-lovable Jelena Dokic on the decline of the Williams sister's dominance: "Even Venus has been very beatable. That story is over."...Justine Henin-Hardenne says she is skipping Miami to prepare for the claycourt season and the Amelia Island (Florida) event...TV reports from Indian Wells have Andy Roddick and Mandy Moore breaking up, which seems to be a monthly "exclusive"...What's up with James Blake rocking the bald head with the white fuzzy headband? That look doesn't work in the NBA either, that's the won't-get-asked-for-anymore-modeling-spreads look...No. 1s Roger Federer and Justine Henin-Hardenne won at Indian Wells...World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Chairman (the unfortunately porn-star-like named) Dick Pound has suggested Greg Rusedski's drugs case should be reopened: "This is not a 12-year-old told to go to bed on time. This is a 30-year-old professional tennis player who is clearly aware of all these cases, yet persists with the behavior that led to the positive tests and then says 'Well, you didn't tell me.' It defies imagination."...Lindsay Davenport says that like Justine Henin-Hardenne, she has pulled from Miami, not one of her favorite stops: "I've gotten hurt there about six of the last nine years. I'm not fond of the conditions."...Andy Roddick says he nixed the reality show because it would be too intrusive, and refuses to talk about his reportedly on-the-rocks relationship with Mandy Moore...Serena Williams debuted her new look in an outfit designed in a collaboration with Nike in Miami: "I met with Nike and shared some of my ideas and they were able to design a beautiful custom dress that has a breathable silver corset and satin skirt and I love it...Its corset design makes me look very, very slim and trim in the waist."...Whatever Anna Kournikova is smoking, we want some of that: "My target is to be fully fit and then to start winning major matches again...If you saw me with my clothes off you'd see that my body is in great shape and ready to take on the world...I could snap my fingers and have any man I wanted but I have too much respect for myself for that...I was offered a part in a Bond film but had to turn it down because of my sporting commitments. I'd still love to be a Bond girl though. Perhaps that will come after my tennis...People can look then wonder about the taste and the sensuous delights of the dish, but when it comes down to it they simply can't afford such an expensive luxury." So take those clothes off, we'll be the judge. We'll give the Playboy spread about two years...Marat Safin railed at the ATP's non-ability to get tennis on TV in the U.S., and at the sport's sad state of popularity: "Nobody (in the U.S.) shows tennis, and if they show it, there are some matches that nobody cares about. So who is going to watch? People don't know who is who and they don't really care because it's not interesting."...Jennifer Capriati on her not-so-favorite places to play: "Even with Indian Wells, I have my issues with that place. I really do not want to play there, but I'm not going to say why." Small portions?...Taylor Dent on his split with coach Brad Stine: "I had one of the best times of my tennis career with Brad. It was nothing personal. Ask anyone that has worked with me. I'm willing to work as hard as necessary and do whatever it takes." Think again chunky-style.

14-year-old Sesil "The Mouth" Karatancheva in an interview with Bulgaria's Sofia News Agency on her experience at Indian Wells: "Once they even mistook me for (Anna) Kournikova while I was doing my practice. I am okay with that, although the first time they compared me to her I thought, 'Am I really such a bad player?' Now I know what they mean is I'm just as pretty. This is a compliment, but really no big deal." The precocious youngster says she is close to signing a contract with Nike...Fabrice Santoro has made up with French Davis Cup captain Guy Forget and the French team, opening the door for representation after their April match against Switzerland. Forget had accused Santoro of creating tension on the team, but they all made nice after a meeting in Miami. "I had already spoken with Fabrice but this was the first time it went so well," Sebastien Grosjean said in L'Equipe. "He told us what he really thought."...Serena was thankful she didn't have to play her semifinal in Miami at night -- so she could watch TV: "I was nervous, I thought I was going to have to play tonight, but I didn't. I was going to watch 'The Apprentice,' that's my show. I'm a reality freak...I was really into 'Top Model.' I started out with 'The Bachelor' a few years ago here. And ever since then, I don't know, I just like, 'You're fired!' I've watched it since the first episode. I was like, 'Oh, wow, this is a good show.' I'm really into all the reality shows." Why is that Serena? "I don't know, just, I guess, because it's like you can really see the reality of things, how it's going. I mean, a lot of stuff is cut out, and you really -- can't really see it all. But I just think it's fab. It's not good for us actresses and stuff, it's tough, but I figure we can enjoy it while we can."...Serena wins the Miami event in her first tournament back after an eight-month injury lay-off...Martina Navratilova will also play singles at Charleston, following her singles appearance at Amelia Island: "I'm going to give it my best shot and just have fun. I'm playing singles to help my doubles. In singles you're covering every angle of the court. It'll help me get a better rhythm." Navratilova said she hopes to play singles at Eastbourne again on grass, and possibly at Wimbledon. "I'm going to take it week by week."...For the first time in the history of the WTA Rankings, three Russians rank in the Top 10 in Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, and Nadia Petrova...The lower-ranked WTA players are grumbling about the top seeds receiving byes at WTA events. When is the WTA going to wake up and initiate a bonus pool/penalty plan (or something) so they can get the top players to play the top events? First-round byes are the best incentive you can do?...Venus Williams has not won a title in her past eight tournaments, her longest streak since winning her first title in 1999...According to the Miami Herald's Edwin Pope, Serena Williams is not the horn-blowing ego maniac with the gem-studded "Serena" headbands and inappropriate tight-fitting ensembles, far removed from reality, but rather a humble, intellectual role model: "(Serena) Williams will go a long way to deny her gifts. Asked if she could identify with the old TV series Wonder Woman, she ducked the question. Such poise is among her many wonders. She seems totally bereft of any self-consciousness, or a single nervous mannerism."...Andre Agassi says that the current crop of young Americans can be such best buds because Andy Roddick is good, and the rest suck: "I came along in a generation where me, (Michael) Chang, (Jim) Courier, Pete (Sampras), we're fighting for No. 1 in the world. I think that got in the way of us having the fellowship that we really could have shared -- the enjoyment we could have shared."...The U.S., Belarus, France and Spain advance to the Davis Cup semifinals...Valencia is the return event for Juan Carlos Ferrero, who missed the Masters Series stops in Indian Wells and Miami with the smallpox...Argentina has filed an official protest after their Davis Cup loss to Belarus, saying the Taraflex indoor carpet surface was too fast - boo hoo, time to take your own medicine after putting countries on your watered-down red clay courts at home...Marat Safin has canned another coach, buddy Denis Golovanov...Justine Henin-Hardenne pulled from the Family Circle Cup, citing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) causing lightheadedness, and will return to her home to Belgium for tests. H-H said she had been experiencing the symptoms for two weeks. "I have felt bad for two weeks now and that's enough," Henin-Hardenne said...Mark Philippoussis has not won a set in his eight matches since his fourth round Australian Open defeat in January...Belarus is the first nation to progress to the semifinals in their Davis Cup World Group debut...Justine Henin-Hardenne says she will skip the Fed Cup due to her dizzy spells, while Serena says she will skip it to prepare for the French Open, but others say differently. "Serena approached (Zina) Garrison and told her she was concerned about her knee, and that's why she withdrew," a tennis source familiar with the circumstances told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity...Gustavo Kuerten is still standing by his Davis Cup boycott of Brazil after watching the Guga-less team lose to Paraguay: "It (the defeat) was concrete proof that these last seven or eight years have been wasted in terms of our tennis," Kuerten told Globo television on Wednesday. "I'm increasingly convinced that I want nothing to do with this administration. I hope there's a change as soon as possible so I can go back to competing."...Marat Safin will begin working with heart-attack-waiting-to-happen Peter Lundgren, former coach of Roger Federer, on a trial basis starting in Barcelona...The official diagnosis for Serena Williams is that she is not very bright, scheduling four events in a row after coming off knee surgery: "The official diagnosis by the doctor was that he was shocked I was playing this many tournaments in the beginning," Serena said. "He said normally when you're coming back from a procedure like me, you should play one week and then maybe take a week or two weeks off."...Just when you thought things were getting a little boring, here's John McEnroe firing off some salvos on the state of men's tennis: "As a result of Greg's (Rusedski) case the sport has come out even worse than before. It's as if the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy are running the ATP -- if it wasn't so serious it would be funny," McEnroe told the BBC. "Let's make some serious changes here and do something...This is a great sport in dispute with itself."...World No. 1 Roger Federer and Andre Agassi are skipping next week's Masters Series-Monte Carlo, with no penalty from the financially-challenged ATP, which seems to have given up on leveraging players with fines or a bonus pool to get them to play the top-tier Masters Series events. Welcome to the WTA's world...Kim Clijsters plays an exhibition match against Lleyton Hewitt with her wrist heavily taped but not wearing a brace, while still not playing WTA events -- not too smart, eh?...Venus Williams wins her first title in 14 months at Charleston...WTA spokesman Jim Fuhse, like WTA CEO Larry Scott in the past, says don't blame us for all the injuries: "It's not something that we take lightly. But I think if you look at the injuries that have happened this year, you'll see there's not a pattern."...Andy Roddick pulls from the Masters Series-Monte Carlo on the heels of playing five events in a row. Now the ATP needs to figure out how to get their top players to have allegiance to their Masters Series events rather than little tournaments like the Houston U.S. Claycourts. "He has informed the ATP that the reason for the pull-out is schedule incompatibility," said an ATP spokesman...The USTA will announce today that 10 summer U.S hardcourt tournaments will be packaged together as the US Open Series for TV this year and offer bonus money for players...Justine Henin-Hardenne has pulled from all her tournaments prior to the French Open...Turns out Rafael "The Prodigy" Nadal's foot is broken and he will miss the French, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, tough break for the kid with "Guaranteed Top 10" stamped on his forehead...The Guardian summing up the ATP's inability to get all its top players at its Masters Series events: "The Monte Carlo Open, or the Tennis Masters Series Monte Carlo as it is branded, is supposed to be one of the nine leading men's tournaments outside of the four grand slams. So, it might be assumed, all the leading players will be here. Indeed the ATP, the men's ruling body, considers entry to be mandatory. It is a joke. Prior to the tournament starting yesterday Andre Agassi, No. 5 in the world, had already made his excuses, which were no excuses at all...Roger Federer, the world No. 1, is also absent because he is apparently "fatigued," and yesterday came the news that Andy Roddick would not be arriving because of "schedule incompatibility." In other words, he could not be bothered to fly from Houston, Texas, where he lost the final of the U.S. Clay Court Championship on Sunday, to Europe. And what is the ATP going to do about it? Nothing."...That Andre Agassi will skip the ATP's top tier of Masters Series events in Monte Carlo, Hamburg and Rome, but play the tiny St. Poelten, Austrian event speaks to the renewed power of under-the-table guarantees paid to players during this time when the tour is struggling financially...Anna Kournikova is being sued by her parents, who say the tennis starlet has taken over the waterfront home the three jointly own...Apparently the formerly-retired Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario will play doubles at the tour stops beginning in May in Berlin, Rome, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon with Spanish countrywoman Anabel "Funky Cold" Medina Garrigues as tune-ups for the Athens Olympics...Masters Series-Monte Carlo Tournament Director Patrice Dominguez, speaking to the AFP on the US Open Series: "We don't want a tour inside the tour...We have enough problems having two rankings today (ATP Champions Race and Entry System), not to have a third one for six tournaments during the year. We want to have a global vision, not a regional tour...(ATP CEO Mark Miles) went to the negotiating table without telling us anything."...Former No. 1 Pat Rafter married his longtime girlfriend and underwear model Lara Feltham...Why is WTA CEO Larry Scott failing to push Wimbledon and the French Open for equal prize money? And why are the top players just sitting on their hands?...Tim Phillips, Wimbledon chairman, says the ladies need to avoid getting their panties in a knot over the prize money differential at Wimbledon, because equal prize money is just not going to happen: "We have not been persuaded. We are just trying to be fair to men and women. Don't forget, the ladies' prize pot is over four-and-a-half million dollars." Who says England isn't mired in the 19th century? As Cartman would say, "Now get back in that kitchen and bake me some pie!" Wait until Martina Navratilova hears of this, get ready to be ripped.

In a carefully-worded statement, we'll note that top Americans Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi and Mardy Fish have yet to set foot on the European red clay during the ATP pre-French claycourt swing, currently in its third week...Yevgeny Kafelnikov, still pretending he's not fat and could make a comeback at any moment, withdrew from the French open this week...Andy Roddick helped evacuate guests onto the roof of a blazing hotel Saturday at the Parco dei Principi, where three people died in the blaze. Around 30 players were staying at the hotel, and no players were injured. "Roddick helped people onto the roof," said Nicola Arzani, European communications director for the ATP. "Several of the players had a real fright. I talked to a few of them this morning, and I know that (Marat) Safin, his trainer and his girlfriend were quite shaken up." Two players, Filippo Volandri and Sjeng Schalken, were both evacuated from the hotel using firefighters' cranes. An American guest died after trying to lower himself to the street using a sheet, and an elderly Canadian couple also died...Justine Henin-Hardenne's camp says she will not play an event before the French Open while recovering from her viral infection...Kim Clijsters is playing again this week in Berlin but with a wrist brace: "I cannot put as much spin on my backhand as I want and that's a problem. I guess claycourt is not the best surface to come back on because you need a lot of spin but I have to be careful. I must not overuse my backhand."...Wheelchair tennis player Miles Thompson of the U.S. was suspended for three months by the International Tennis Federation on Tuesday after testing positive for cocaine. Way to skip the nandrolone and go straight for the blow...Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario is back on the doubles court this week in Berlin, practicing in a bid to become the first tennis player to take part in five Olympics: "It's a personal challenge and something I'm really looking forward to," the 32-year-old said. "I'm not planning a comeback on the tour. After the Olympics I will probably play a few exhibitions but that will be it."...Andy Roddick loses first round at the MS-Rome then pulls from the MS-Hamburg citing a knee injury...Kim Clijsters announced on her website she is pulling from the French open due to her injured wrist, and will rest up to then concentrate on the grasscourt season...American James Blake slammed into the net post during practice Thursday in Rome, sending him to the hospital with head and spine injuries that will sideline him two to five weeks...Lleyton Hewitt will apparently boycott the Masters Series-Rome tournament next year after what he considered poor scheduling, and with tournament officials giving his coach Roger Rasheed the brush-off after he made complaints...John McEnroe is at it again, throwing out some out-of-the-box ideas that actually make sense in making the men's game more exciting: "I don't see the sport of tennis using their older players in the way that golf does, for example. Arnold Palmer is 75 years old, or something like that, and he is still welcomed with open arms. You know, it's still 'Arnie is the greatest'. It's a tradition people like. And yet, if, God forbid, I went up there and said I'd like a wildcard at Wimbledon, the ATP would be up in arms because I'd be taking the spotlight away from the No. 115th guy in the world who could still get in by qualifying."...From South Africa's News24 on the top American exodus from Hamburg: "(Andre) Agassi and (Andy) Roddick have decided that the Northern seaport event, which starts on Monday, and which sometimes produces damp conditions, heavy balls and a gruelling week, is not the best preparation for Roland Garros. Agassi is competing only once on clay before the French Open -- surprisingly, at the modest event next week at St Poelten. However, that tournament is taking place in Austria's highest per-capita-income town, which suggests that the ageing legend may be receiving generous appearance money for his efforts." You think?...Lindsay Davenport is still in the U.S., and won't head to Europe and the red dirt until Strasbourg, the week prior to the French Open. "The French is not something I put a lot of emphasis on or think about," Davenport told Charlie "Brick" Bricker of the Florida Sun-Sentinel. "There's just something about Roland Garros. Some places I just walk in and love it. Not Roland Garros."...Goran Ivanisevic continues to suffer shoulder problems, losing in the first round of the Zagreb Challenger doubles, playing with a 15-year-old fellow Croat, saying his serve is now so weak that he would struggle to beat the Williams sisters. "My serve is not as good as it used to be. Other guys hit much harder...Now I am ideal for women's tennis. Serena, Venus and me -- what a fight that would be."...Marat Safin talking about going into the tank against Jurgen "Tuna" Melzer in Hamburg: "I didn't feel like playing today...I just didn't feel like being on the court. The hour they put me and all that together took over my motivation."...Now that the WTA has dropped the ball on the injury issue, with the rising tide it's not a matter of if they'll look into the injuries, but when. And when they do, look for a triumphant media release, something like "WTA Forms Independent Super Tribunal Commission Focus Group to Look Into Increased Injuries, That Incidentally Aren't Our Fault."...Guillermo Coria has won his last 30 matches on the dirt...The Guardian on the ATP and the US Open Series deal: "But certain European tournament directors were immediately up in arms. Not only had Mark Miles, the chief executive of the ATP, the men's ruling body, seemingly rubber-stamped the deal, it had also been done behind their backs. Here was yet another example, they argued, of the American-based ATP taking a unilateral decision for the benefit of Americans only."...Roger Federer wins the MS-Hamburg, ending Guillermo Coria's 31-match win streak on clay...World No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne says she has sufficiently recovered from the viral infection that has kept her out of action since April, and will defend her title at the French Open...Rapper Snoop Dogg was asked by Sports Illustrated which sport people would be surprised to know he liked: "Tennis. I used to like Ivan Lendl. He was sharp. An old schooler. Make it happen and roll out. Now I like Venus and Serena, but Ivan was the truth."...Serena Williams, who last year left the French Open in tears after being booed off the court: "The only thing I remember about last year is that I didn't win," she said, with an uncomfortable laugh. "I've been reading some articles about African-American history and a lot of worse things have happened. When I look at it like that, I'm spoiled." Umm, so you're an African-American groundbreaker because your haughty self got booed in France? You're right up there with Rosa Parks!...Despite back-to-back claycourt titles in Berlin and Rome, not many people seem to see Amelie Mauresmo winning the French, eh?...Serena Williams will debut her custom-designed Nike apparel collection on Saturday in Paris for the French Open -- hopefully she can one-up the heinous frilly "corset outfit" that was her last attempt. Nike to Serena: 'Try to, uh, design something that tennis players would actually want to, uh, wear.'...An emotional Andre Agassi welled up with tears while answering questions Monday after his shocking first-round exit to a No. 271-ranked qualifier at the French Open. "It's hard to say," said Agassi, his eyes welling up, asked whether he would return to Roland Garros in 2005 as a 35-year-old. "You want to come back, but you just don't know."...Coach Peter Lundgren says taking on Marat Safin has its own unique ups and downs: "His personality is very different to that of Roger's (Federer) but he's great. He listens to what I tell him. I really like him very much. Sometimes I wish he would be a bit more motivated."...Guillermo Coria says Andre Agassi avoided him on the practice courts after his experience last year: "Last year we had trained together, and before the draw I trained with him, and I realized that I could beat him. I found out about his weaknesses. This year he didn't want to repeat the experience. He wanted to wait for the draw."...Hey Amelie Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati, before mouthing off to the press about Martina Navratilova "penalizing young French women players" by taking a wildcard at Roland Garros, how about pausing to think about the greater good of the sport, about the international audience tuning in to see the former No. 1 legend rather than some no-name French 14-year-old?...Jennifer Capriati on hiring Heinz Gunthardt, the former coach of Steffi Graf: "We really don't talk about things he did with her (Graf) because we're just two totally different players. I don't wake up at 6 in the morning to go practice, that's for sure." How about 3 in the morning hitting the 'fridge?...At 6 hours 33 minutes, the Arnaud Clement-Fabrice Santoro match is the longest ever played, beating out by two minutes the Vicki Nelson-Dunbar d. Jean Hepner clash at the Virginia Slims-Richmond in 1984 which went 6:31. The 71 games played was also the most in Roland Garros history...The difference between American and Canadian tennis -- from the Tennis Canada newsletter: "Sharon Fichman of Toronto made it to the quarterfinals at the Italian Junior Open. In a nail-biting three-set match, she came close to upsetting #14 seed Viktoria Azarenka, but came up just short, losing 6-4, 6-0." See, in American losing 6-0 means you got your ass kicked; in Canada, it means you almost upset someone. Also in America, a three-set match also has a three-set score...The 2004 French Open marks the first time in the Open Era there's been no American man in the third round of a Grand Slam...For the first time in French Open history, both defending champions are eliminated prior to the third round...Marat Safin, screaming after missing easy volley No. 58 against Felix Mantilla in the fifth set at the French: "So burned out! So fucking burned out!"...Marat also had a hard time understanding getting a penalty point for pulling his pants down on court: "Nobody complained. Everybody was okay. It wasn't like really bad. But I don't understand why. The people like the chair umpire, the supervisor on the court, they should to come and they should destroy this just to show that they are there. Really, they have no clue about tennis."...With the inevitable announcement that the ATP will be moving the year-ending Masters Cup to Shanghai (China, that is), Masters Cup-Houston organizer Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale couldn't contain himself any longer, and finally cut loose on ATP CEO Mark Miles: "I don't mind telling the truth about the guy -- he's worthless," McIngvale told the Houston Chronicle. "Mark Miles has done nothing for tennis. All he wants to do is propagate his $700,000-a-year salary and keep flying first-class tickets all over the world. I don't think he's good for the game at all...We had no relations last year so it couldn't be any worse. The guy never called me, not one time all year until he showed up (at the Masters Cup). Then all he wanted to do was whine about how we hadn't spent enough money to entertain their clients. Sure, Mercedes spends a lot of money, but it all goes to the ATP."

Tuesday at Roland Garros was the first time that both Williams sisters have lost at a tournament on the same day...Serena Williams' loss to Jennifer Capriati in the French Open quarterfinals means she will drop to No. 11 when the new WTA rankings come out next week. It is her first slide out of the Top 10 since August 1999...Tim Henman is the first Brit to reach the French Open semifinals since the Open Era began in 1968...Anastasia Myskina-Elena Dementieva will play in the first Russian final in Slam history at the French, while Gaston Gaudio-Guillermo Coria will contest the first all-Argentine Roland Garros final...ESPN commentator Mary Carillo: "Fitness is huge, and I wish the women's game had a higher fitness level."...Anastasia Myskina showed up at Roland Garros this year with a 1-4 career record...From the Washington Post: "But speaking to reporters afterward, (Elena) Dementieva evoked empathy as she tried to explain her poor performance and the serve she couldn't control. She was no longer the professional athlete who couldn't get a basic skill right. With her visor off and long, blond hair draping her shoulders, she seemed more like a teenager who, try as she might, couldn't learn to parallel park. "I don't know how to serve," she finally conceded, as her eyes welled with tears."...Asked what it might be like to struggle with serving the way Elena Dementieva did in the French Open final, Martina Hingis smiled, then said: "Ask Anna Kournikova, I don't know." Ouch!...With two match points, the 2-0 set lead, the cramps and his failure to put the match away, it's pretty safe to say that Guillermo Coria choked away the French Open: "I became nervous. It was new for me," Coria said. "I had the experience of other tournaments, of other matches, but I couldn't control this nervousness at that moment. I hope that I will be able to work a bit more on that...I was thinking about the victory. It seemed very close, a couple of games to achieve my dream. Maybe that was against me."...Gustavo Kuerten has pulled from Wimbledon with his hip injury...Andre Agassi is looking at a fat fine for failing to show at his post-match press conference after the embarrassing grasscourt loss to lawn-rookie Igor Andreev at Queen's...Boris Becker says Tim Henman has no shot at winning Wimbledon: "He's not the No. 1 player in the world but he plays above his level every year when Wimbledon comes. On his very, very best day, he's going to reach the semifinal."...Matt Cronin of questions the selection of Shanghai as the new host of the Masters Cup: "Should the above-mentioned tennis leaders, all of whom hail from democracies, be auctioning off a prestigious tournament to a non-democracy? Is North Korea next?"...Kim Clijsters underwent surgery on her left wrist effectively ending her hopes of playing this summer. The Belgian is hoping to return in late September...Andre Agassi has pulled from Wimbledon citing a bad hip...Estranged father Damir Dokic says he is ready to proceed with an intervention against his daughter, apparently in response to her losing ways: "I want the WTA to ask for additional psychiatric and doping tests for my daughter to confirm whether she uses illegal substances," Damir told The Telegraph. "I will approach her in a civilized way. If she won't listen, I predict it will be the end of her career."...Amelie Mauresmo says she is ready to put her French Open choke behind her and find some success on the grass: "I think I'm capable of volleying pretty well so I have a lot of hope for the next few weeks."...Jennifer Capriati and Heinz Gunthardt are no more...There has been a Williams sister in the Wimbledon final over the last four years...Martina Navratilova is the defending mixed doubles champ at Wimbledon...An American woman has won Wimbledon the last five years...Serena on her budding acting career: "Everyone says I'm a natural actress, but I need to be more expressive with my eyes. You have to use every facial thing you can muster up in emotional roles. Crying -- it's difficult. I can, though." We've seen some good acting in post-match conferences...Amanda Coetzer announced her retirement from tennis on Friday...Former No. 1 Mats Wilander says the Andy Roddick-Brad Gilbert pairing has run its course: "Andy Roddick, he's gotten a lot of help from Brad Gilbert," Wilander said at Davis Cup in April. "But at the same time, I'm not sure he's doing anything for him anymore. What he taught Roddick didn't take too long -- it's just that somebody told him...I'm not sure he's developing his game anymore."...John McEnroe is once again calling out the Williams sisters for a head-to-head: "I believe I could beat them playing them either individually or at the same time. In fact it would probably be easier playing them together because they would confuse each other."...Goran Ivanisevic says he's ever harder to beat at this Wimbledon because he doesn't give a rat: "If I play well, nobody's going to beat me easy, especially since I don't have any goals. I'm retiring after this Wimbledon. I'm going to enjoy myself every minute on the court. If somebody wants to beat me, he's going to have to play really good tennis."...Marat Safin's foul mood after getting spanked by a young Russian Tuesday extended to his opinion of tennis at the Olympics: "Tennis doesn't need the Olympic Games. We have four grand slams. We have (the Masters Series). We have a lot of tournaments. We have a pretty tough schedule. And now we are going to have the Olympics. I have to (go). But it is not my goal in life to win the Olympic Games."...Former Soviet Wimbledon finalist Alex Metreveli on Marat Safin's Wimbledon effort: "He was playing like he was doing everyone a big favor by being here. He was acting as if he played here every day, it was just ordinary for him. It was totally unprofessional on his part."...On the "Weakest Link", Andy Roddick had no answer when Anne Robinson queried the American star on who what former tennis player was nicknamed "Fraulein Forehand" was. Nice sense of history, Andy...So what happened at the end of the Karolina "The Spreminator" Sprem-Venus Williams match? At 1-2, with The Spreminator serving in the second set tiebreak, chair ump Ted Watts announces 2-2 after a service fault. Sprem proceeded to hit a second serve which Venus pounded down the line for a winner. Watts then called 3-2 Venus. Both players looked a bit confused, but neither queried. Venus wins the next point for 4-2 (really 4-1) and then they cautiously switched sides. Once that happened, both players basically acknowledged it was too late to turn back...For the first time in the 14-year history of the ATP Tour, no American has been elected to the 12-member Players Council. And CEO Mark Miles' contract ends in 2005. And the ATP's headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has been on the skids for a long while. Do the math...Writes the Glasgow Sunday Herald: "John McEnroe, never a man to mince his words, offered a cutting critique on the ATP amid their recent drugs scandal. 'It is as if the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy are running the ATP. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny.' Financial meltdown followed by threats of player revolts, suspicions over betting patterns and a doping fiasco, the last few years have seen so many self-inflicted wounds it is amazing the governing body of the men's game hasn't bled to death.'"...Michael Stich on the decline of Wimbledon: "Let's take a guy like Carlos Moya, who I like and respect. He refused to come to Wimbledon early in his career but now he is here because he believes the surface and the balls are set up for him to do well, maybe not to win the championship but to get through a few matches. It is good for the game that those guys are here, but not good for the game that they are only here because the surface has changed."...Greg Rusedski brought the hammer down about not getting support during his drug case from certain individuals: "Some people -- including players -- said I made a mistake in going public about my test, but I had no choice. It was starting to leak out. Two of those players who criticized me were Todd Martin and Todd Woodbridge. They didn't even read the facts about the situation or the press statement."...Serena on her acting ability: "Well, I'm real dramatic, as well. I just have a good scream, but I'm also really funny and have a great personality on the camera and also have a really good laugh. At any given moment, I can just laugh. It doesn't matter." As Jon Lovitz used to say, "Acting!"...Iva Majoli, who beat Martina Hingis in the 1997 French Open final, is quitting tennis at 26 after getting out of shape and plunging in the rankings: "It's over. I will not play tennis any more. Maybe I will play some exhibition or doubles but my career is over. I realized that I fell too low. I am practically at the beginning and I would have to work like a maniac to get back to the top. I am not ready to do that." Nice work ethic.

A fragile Jennifer Capriati snapped at the media following her loss to Serena Williams at Wimbledon, hearing the word "rivalry" one too many times: "Maybe if you (journalists) wouldn't talk about it so much, it would have been a better match," a perturbed Capriati said. "From the first press conference, it's like, you know, already talking about the quarterfinal match. It's like, you know, you shouldn't. Each match at a time." Like, sorry, sorry you're such a head case...Venus and Serena Williams will now skip representing the U.S. in Fed Cup play next month against Austria, no reason given...NBC analyst Tracy Austin says Jennifer Capriati was too fat to beat Serena on grass: "In order to win, Jennifer would have needed to serve huge and play inside the baseline to try to jump on Serena's big kick second serves. Instead, she was gasping all match. Jennifer admitted after the match that's she not in top shape. That's a big part of her problem."...Here's the contradictory Serena on if she would change anything in her tennis career: "Yeah, there's some days I actually sit down, I think to myself, 'Wow, if I could do it all over again, I would just -- I'd stay on the court a little longer when I was younger and work a little harder.' Not that I didn't work hard. I don't know if I could have worked any harder, but I would have tried. So I wouldn't change anything."...Maria "Grunt-o-meter" Sharapova is the first Russian to ever win Wimbledon, and the second straight Russian Slam winner after Anastasia Myskina at the French Open...Serena had won 20 straight matches at Wimbledon, and now with elder sister Venus, has no Slam titles in last 12 months...Maria Sharapova is also the lowest seed (No. 13) to win Wimbledon...Serena earned just five games in the final, that's the fewest she has ever won in a Slam loss...Andy Roddick on what he needs to beat Roger Federer: "He's more flash, feel, artistry. The one advantage I have over him is just hitting the crap out of the ball. I mean, that's pretty much what I'm going to have to do. I'm going to have to try to play to my strengths." In other words, I'm going to Babolat him...Part of Lindsay Davenport's decision to retire is the new generation turn-over: "I look around a locker room with 20 or so people, and maybe 10 of them are Russian. It's not that it's better or worse, only different. I don't have many people I can talk to."...Pam Shriver writing for the ESPN website: "There's a brand-new superstar in women's tennis. Maria Sharapova has the game, the presence and the look. What a final!" Our middle school journalism teacher told us to save the exclamation points for passing notes during class. And what is that sexist "and the look" comment? When Anastasia Myskina won the French we didn't read any "Myskina has the game, the presence and...fix that ugly-ass overbite!"...Here's NBC's Tracy Austin blowing her own horn: "I won't say I told you so, but I really did believe that Maria Sharapova was going to beat Serena Williams in the Wimbledon ladies' singles final to win her first Grand Slam title. I wrote in my preview of the match that the 17-year-old Russian is so mentally tough and she's not awed by anyone."...From The Telegraph: "During Lleyton Hewitt's matches, why had his fiancee, Kim Clijsters, not sat in the players' box with the rest of his entourage, including his mother, Cherilyn? She was also seen, on the afternoon of one of his matches, eating at a separate table in the players' restaurant. This has confused, as the Belgian has always been joined at the white-tracksuited hip of the Hewitts."...Todd Woodbridge earned a record ninth Wimbledon men's doubles title Sunday, toppling English brothers Hugh and Reggie Doherty who won eight titles between 1897 and 1905...Sweden's Stefan Edberg, Germany's Steffi Graf and American Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney will be inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame on Sunday at Newport...Maria "Grunt-o-meter" Sharapova rose to a career-high No. 8 after her Wimbledon win, while both Serena and Venus are out of the Top 10...Mats Wilander on Serena: "She's not real any more. She doesn't really like tennis. You can tell. She's not playing from the heart. It's all contrived. She just wants to look good."...Is it just our imagination, or is Fed Cup not too high on the priority list of the top players? Exhibit A: Spain losing to a Henin-Hardenne/Clijsters-less Belgium team -- in Spain...Roger Federer wins Gstaad on clay, his third successive tournament title after winning on grass at Halle and Wimbledon...Andre Agassi had lost his last four matches prior to winning last night in Los Angeles. Agassi joins Jimmy Connors (1,222), Ivan Lendl (1,070), Guillermo Vilas (920), John McEnroe (867) and Stefan Edberg (806) in the 800-win club...Taylor Dent and his Cousin Misty May will both be at the Olympics next month. May and her partner Kerri Walsh are the No. 1 ranked beach volley team in the world...Pam Shriver and husband George Lazenby, age 63, announced the birth of their son, George Samuel Lazenby. The baby was born at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, and weighed in at eight pounds, two ounces, or about the same as the complete James Bond DVD Collection. Congrats to the parents...Marcelo Rios announced on Friday that due to a bad back he is retiring from the game. Rios was a former No. 1, won 18 titles and arguably was one of the most gifted players the game has seen...Serena on watching tape of her Wimbledon final loss to Sharapova: "I think with that one, in particular, I thought to myself, 'What was I thinking out there?' It's kind of funny, because I realized I didn't do anything that I planned on doing, you know, or that I had done maybe in a few other matches before. It was really actually positive, because, I thought, 'Wow, I was playing at five percent.'"...Jelena Dokic on wacky dad Damir: "I don't know what his aim is -- if he's trying to screw me up, I think that's pretty sad. In an ideal world, everybody would like to have a family that's all together, but I think this is asking for too much in my situation. I don't talk to him and I have nothing to do with him anymore."'s Jon Wertheim: "Speaking of tennis, you haven't experienced pain until you've watched an episode of John McEnroe's show on CNBC. Magic Johnson looks like (NPR's) Terry Gross by comparison."...Venus Williams, who along with sister Serena attended the "Catwoman" movie premier: "Halle (Berry) epitomizes what it means to be Catwoman: strong, sexy and smart," said Venus, wearing canary-yellow Dior. She also epitomizes stars choosing bad roles...WNBA star Diana Taurasi was a bit on edge with agreeing that Serena Williams would dress her for the ESPYs: "You get nervous real quick. You see what she wears and she's, uh, out there."...Daniela "The Former Walking Stick" Hantuchova has put on 11 pounds of muscle since hiring professional hockey fitness trainer Marian Gejdos from her homeland in December...Don't see any US Open Series logo on the front of the ATP website, nor on the WTA website (not even under the partners logo section, ouch)...Serena on getting a souvenir bobblehead doll created in her likeness: "It's amazing. But I guess that happens when you become overly famous. Every week now, I get more famous."...In addition to going for the gold on court in Athens, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer will apparently be encouraged to put in an Olympic performance in the bedroom with their girlfriends. Roddick, Federer, and the rest of the athletes at this year's Olympics will be given approximately 130,000 free condoms (not each). "The condoms will come in an individual pack, with an instruction leaflet in various languages," said a spokeswoman for Durex Greece...The ATP announced that Diego Hipperdinger, the world No. 491-ranked player, received a two-year suspension after he tested positive for cocaine and metabolites. Hipperdinger's test occurred on February 9, 2004 after a qualifying match at the ATP tournament in Vina del Mar, Chile. Doesn't the ATP pamphlet warn against mixing the Coke and Gatorade?...Andre Agassi dropped out of the Top 10 to No. 11 in this week's ATP Rankings...Russian Elena Dementieva said that Maria Sharapova is "not really Russian" while Anastasia Myskina suggesting the Wimbledon winner's mentality was American. "We've had totally different ways of growing up and developing our careers," Sharapova said. "Even though I train in America, I'm still Russian. That's where I come from. No one is going to tell me where I'm from because I know where I'm from."...Serena Williams: "I'm playing to around 30% of my potential -- you'd be shocked at what I could do."

Anastasia Myskina
said she would apologize to Maria Sharapova after critical comments attributed to her in a Russian publication: "I really respect Maria. It said I didn't respect her as a tennis player. I think she's a great person."...Roger Federer is the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1979 to win consecutive titles on three different surfaces after beating Andy Roddick in the MS-Canada final...Former Mark Philippoussis/Monica Seles coach Gavin Hopper faces jail after he was found guilty of child sex charges. A court jury found Hopper guilty of nine counts stemming from a sexual relationship with a teenage girl in the mid-1980s...The ATP announced Tuesday that Roger Federer has clinched a spot for the year-end Masters Cup, marking the earliest announced qualification since the inception of the ATP in 1990. "I'm very happy to qualify for the Tennis Masters Cup for the third time in succession," Federer said. "I always play well at the Tennis Masters Cup and last year's title was one of the best tournament wins of my career."...Justine Henin-Hardenne has recovered enough from a viral infection to play in the Athens Olympics: "Justine made good progress," her website announced Tuesday. "The last few days she has been able to work out as before the virus hit her."...The German Olympic Committee has decided to exclude the country's top two female tennis players from the upcoming Athens Olympics, prompting talk of an Olympic tennis boycott. Anca Barna and Marlene Weingartner met the qualifying criteria set forth by the International Tennis Federation, but the duo failed to qualify under the German committee's standards which included a semifinal berth in a Grand Slam event or reaching the finals of a Tier I event. ATP player Florian Mayer did not meet the German criteria as well, but he was granted an exception...Andy Roddick meanwhile says he would be no part of supporting the women or other men players with a boycott: "If people want to boycott, that's fine with me. I'm closer to the gold. My issue isn't with someone else's federation. That seems like it has nothing to do with me. It's not my federation. That's not really my issue. That sounds like someone's personal battle." Way to support the team Andy...Andre Agassi on his hip problem: "It's a slightly torn laborum over the course of years. It wasn't sort of one move that tore it, it was just the wear and tear every year. So the area is susceptible to getting inflamed and creating a pretty biting pain for me."...An arrest warrant was issued for Roscoe Tanner on Monday, according to ESPN. Tanner failed to appear for sentencing on Monday, and faces a maximum sentence of 18 months, less time already served of approximately five months for failure to pay child support...Dutchman Martin "Berzerk" Verkerk has pulled from the Athens Olympics with a chest muscle injury...Guillermo "El Fragile" Coria has undergone surgery on his right shoulder and will be out 3-4 months...Serena Williams has pulled from the Athens Olympics today due to her ongoing knee problem: "She was ready to fly to Athens, but stopped to see surgeon David Altcheck before heading to the airport," said U.S. Olympic team spokesman Randy "Sky" Walker. "He said she would risk injury by competing and advised her to withdraw."...Jennifer Capriati was also forced to withdraw yesterday from the U.S. Olympic team with a hamstring injury...In a letter sent to International Tennis Federation chief (ITF) Francesco Ricci Bitti and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge on Wednesday, ATP chief Mark Miles explained why they would be backing down and awarding points for the 2004 Olympics, even though they had stipulations were countries not to elect players who qualify under the ATP Rankings, as in the case of "Everybody Loves" Raemon Sluiter of The Netherlands who will miss the Olympics even though his ranking qualifies...When it was announced that Maria Sharapova was to compete in the China Open this September, according to a newspaper in China, tournament officials proudly announced her arrival by hanging up a poster of Anna Kournikova by mistake (yeah, the ATP is sending the Masters Cup there)...The WTA website announced that Anastasia Myskina pulled from the Sopot event Friday with a rib sprain (even though she hurriedly hopped on a plane to compete at the Athens Olympics), while the Sopot website said she pulled with a shoulder sprain. You guys need to calibrate your fake stories...Favorite turn-around of the month: Marat Safin saying chasing points and trying to qualify for the year-end Masters Cup is "bull****," then the next week in Sopot (where he accepted a hefty appearance fee) saying he was there to collect ranking points in an effort to qualify for the Masters Cup...France's Marion "The Former Rolly Poly" Bartoli dropped 35 pounds in 2-1/2 months earlier this year: "Before, I would play the first set at a high level and lose easily in the second or third set. Now, I feel like I can play three hours and still be fresh. Now, everybody's asking me, 'Marion, how did you do it?'" Liposuction? Stomach stapling? Fruit juice diet? Atkins? The All-Bread Diet? We give up...Lindsay Davenport is on a 14-match winning streak, including titles at Stanford, Los Angeles and San Diego...The WTA Tour put out a somewhat-embarrassing media release Tuesday, announcing they had finally made head-to-heads and player activity histories available on their website. Someone remind us, what era is this? Has anyone invented the computer yet? The inter-what?...The U.S. women will not be on the medal stand in tennis for the first time since the sport was reintroduced at the Olympics in 1988...Justine Henin-Hardenne beats chokers Anastasia Myskina and Amelie Mauresmo for Olympic gold, while Nicolas Massu beat the plan-less Mardy Fish...Todd Martin was given the mic after announcing his retirement, but the mic wasn't working at first; fitting that TM retired in front of about 200 day session hold-overs, while Andre Agassi was playing in front of an announced 23,019 -- always in his fellow American's shadows, even in retirement...What was more annoying on USA Network's Monday night coverage: commentator Tracy Austin's incessant bragging about picking Maria Sharapova over Serena in the Wimbledon final, or Serena's look-at-me-I-need-attention Nike "boots" stunt? The taped "tribute" to the ever-annoying Michael Barkan, or Serena's dominatrix outfit with the micro-mini denim skirt?

Wayne Ferreira
has retired, saying the US Open was his last tour event but he will play a final Davis Cup match...World No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne on Serena's dominatrix outfits: "That's my last problem right now."...Jennifer Capriati hit it on the head after her win Friday, saying today's women's game is all bam-bam and no finesse or variety: "It's pretty one-dimensional now. Everyone's pretty much solid off the ground, so much power off the ground. Maybe you had more different styles of play (in the past)...It makes it harder for you to come to the net and kind of mix it up because, you know, you can't get to the net as much, you'll be passed more easily, things like that."...Nicolas "The Golden Child" Massu was justifiably pissed off after he showed up for the US Open opening night for the tribute to the Olympic medal winners, but was then rewarded with an early start to his singles match the next morning. The USTA's response was 'Oops, we didn't think about that.'...ATP CEO Mark Miles convened a small roundtable of friends and journalists Friday night to officially announce his retirement from the ATP upon the end of his term in 2005...Maria "Shriek-o-licious" Sharapova on whether she'll ever develop a slice or approach shot to compliment her one-gear baseline-bashing: "Yeah, but that's not going to happen overnight. It's a long-time process, and that's one of the things I have to work on. I wouldn't say I'm going to all of a sudden become a chip-and-slice person."...For American junior "The" Donald Young it was "You're fired!" Sunday when the 15-year-old lost in the first round of the US Open juniors to No. 7 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine. That kid needs more time in the oven...Venus Williams had a book signing of her children's tome "How to Play Tennis," co-authored with sister Serena, Sunday at the US Open bookstore. Chapter 1: Just hit every ball with topspin as hard as you can. Chapter 2: The End...Amelie Mauresmo can still become No. 1 for the first time during the US Open, overtaking Justine Henin-Hardenne, but the WTA Rankings system is so convoluted that the WTA still have yet to produce an official announcement, and are waiting until the latter rounds until things become clearer. Not a great look...Kim Clijsters is still set to return to play later this month at a lesser Tour event in Belgium: "I'll only return when I am fully fit. At first I was disappointed not to play (the US Open). Afterward it turned out to be the best decision."...Could there be more bad line calls at the Open? How about Serena getting screwed on that baseline call with Jennifer Capriati serving for the match Tuesday night? Or the second serve being out? Four bad calls in all in one game, that will be the match that brings the Hawkeye to the chair umpire's stand -- even if the technology is not 100 percent, isn't it better that the linespeople who seem to miss a handful of important calls per match?...Richard Williams responding to USA Network commentator Tracy Austin, who said the Williams sisters need to hire a real coach to fix such things as technical problems with their groundstrokes: "I couldn't care what Tracy or anyone says. When Venus and Serena were winning, there was something wrong. When they're losing, there's something wrong. Very honestly, it's a disgrace. I think it's a disgrace at how the system is against those two black girls. If they win, everything is wrong; if they lose, it's get rid of the parents." Someone says fix a forehand and you pull out the race card and the break-up-the-family card? Easy Richard...Poor Jenny Capriati, could anyone in women's tennis benefit more from a Life Coach? Someone who could constantly be at her side and whisper things in her ear like "Don't say you deserved the bad calls against Serena, in front of these 50,000 fans live on TV," or "Don't request they play the profane rap song 'Bombs Over Baghdad' for your intro music at a tournament while the U.S. is invading Iraq," or "Take that out of your pocket and pay for that," little things like that...Amelie Mauresmo says reaching only one slam final with her high-powered game is not a choke: "It's just the game. You ask all the players. We all had, at some points, matches we should have won and we didn't, and that's the game. That's just the way sport is."...The WTA announced their "Roadmap 2010" plan yesterday, a long-range structure designed to "significantly increase the global popularity of women's tennis through the development of a tennis season that is packaged in a way that is more appealing to fans, players, tournaments, sponsors and the media, and that will better highlight the game's most engaging rivalries." Key elements include an off-season extended from 5 to 7 weeks, more easily identified top events (does that mean not running crap events the same week as Tier I's?), a "mandatory" tournament commitment from players (as opposed to the "rest and recovery" pull card players currently use?), an easier-to-understand ranking system (about time), a tighter TV package, coordinating with other tennis bodies, an "enhanced WTA Tour Championships" (could it currently be more un-enhanced?), and getting rid of the horrendous Tier V events...After Andy Roddick's loss at the US Open, coach Brad Gilbert hung his head, and super-agent Ken Myerson began stomping his feet in some crazy display of rage, nice show of support. Roddick left the court so upset that he proceeded to run laps inside the stadium hallways trying to burn the bad energy off...The last time the US Open men's and women's finals were played without an American-born player was 1988, when Steffi Graf faced Gabriela Sabatini and Mats Wilander faced Ivan Lendl. For the first time in the Open Era (since 1968), none of the four top women's seeds reached the semis at the US Open...CBS Sports commentator John McEnroe on one of Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson's forehands: "No one's every hit a bigger forehand in the history of the men's game, trust me."...That double fault while serving at 6-5 in the third set against Elena Dementieva, how does that stack up for Jennifer Capriati against last year's semifinal choke against a cramping, exhausted Justine Henin-Hardenne?...The last time three women from one country won three slams was 1979 when Americans Barbara Jordan (Australian Open), Chris Evert (French Open) and Tracy Austin (US Open) completed the triumvirate...Roger Federer imposed his considerable will on former champ and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the US Open final, destroying the Aussie 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0 for an astounding ninth title of 2004. The numbers put up by the Swiss are mind-boggling: first No. 1 seed since Pete Sampras in 1996 to win the US Open; has already clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking with three months yet to play; first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three of the four slams in one calendar year; 24 of 25 sets won in slam final-four matches; first player to win his first four slam finals; 17 wins in a row over Top 10 players; first US Open champ to win two 6-0 sets in the final; first man to win Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back since Sampras in 1995; first man to win consecutive slam titles since Andre Agassi won the 1999 US Open and 2000 Australian Open; and winning in his last 11 tournament finals...Lleyton Hewitt was the first man to reach the US Open without dropping a set in almost 15 years, since Jim Courier in 1991...Three US Open "gold badge" chair umpires were dismissed early from the tournament because of their involvement in a credential-forging scheme at the Athens Olympics...Extra funk to Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suarez, who have won three US Opens in a row, and 10 of the last 11 slam finals...After Svetlana Kuznetsova won the US Open title, and after doing her media, she hit the practice court: "After the match, you have to clean up your game. It doesn't matter if you win the title."...Kim Clijsters says on her website that she and Lleyton Hewitt will marry in February, rock up Lleyton...With all the success of the Russian women in 2004, Marat Safin says don't look for the same on the men's side: "There is no one coming through. There is not one person we can say is the potential for the future. The girls and much better than the guys. I am really happy for the girls."...Svetlana Kuznetsova says keeping her word to play the Bali tournament (unlike countrywoman Elena Dementieva) was important: "I know I need a break but if I give my word I have to do it, no matter what. I know everyone would understand if I didn't come but it's important that I keep my word and I want people to respect me."...This is the first week that two Russians (Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva) have ever ranked in the Top 5 on the WTA Tour Rankings. Serena Williams is back in the Top 10 at No. 10...The South Australian Supreme Court has given Lleyton Hewitt the OK to proceed with his multi-million dollar anti-defamation and breach of contract suit against the ATP regarding the media incident at the 2002 Masters Series-Cincinnati, can't shake off the bulldog...From Kim Clijsters' website: "In December 2003 Kim and Lleyton Hewitt got engaged. A year later the beautiful love story will have its logical extension with a marriage in February in Australia."...Kim Clijsters writing on her website on returning to play next week: "Good news from the doctors. The wrist should now be completely recovered. When I am practicing with more intensity, I still feel some pain, but that is quite normal..."...Word is that Martin "Berzerk" Verkerk will undergo shoulder surgery...Alexandra "Dr. A" Stevenson had surgery Tuesday on her right shoulder. "Hopefully she'll be back on the court in six to eight months," Stevenson's mother, Samantha, told the AP. "She'll definitely miss the clay season and probably the grass season and maybe come back for the summer." Stevenson is the child of former basketball legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving...Marat Safin at one point got a little tearful after winning the title at Beijing, his first in two years: "I know that it doesn't help me at all to get crazy with myself on the court. In the past sometimes I did that, threw my racket or whatever. It's no good."...Gustavo Kuerten won't play again until at least January or February of 2004 after successfully undergoing hip surgery in Pittsburgh...Lleyton Hewitt won his first Davis Cup match over Morocco, beating hapless Moroccan substitute Medhi Tahiri, in the process becoming the winningest player in Australian Davis Cup history with 25 singles wins, surpassing Adrian Quist who played between between 1933-39 and 1946-48...Germany, Britain lose in the Davis Cup Qualifying round, relegated to zonal play for 2005...Steffi Graf confirmed that husband Andre Agassi will play for another full year on the ATP tour...Spain is in its third Davis Cup final in the past five years...U.S. Davis cup coach Patrick McEnroe says Andre Agassi remains in the back of his mind for the Davis Cup final on red clay in December versus the high-powered Spaniards: "There's a lot of options. I'm never going to say never about anything."...Mardy "Silver" Fish doesn't seem to get the criticism from Patrick McEnroe and Cliff Drysdale that he is not in peak shape: "That's unfair," he told Florida's Tennis Life magazine. "I haven't done anything differently than I've done in the past."

Credit ATP CEO Mark Miles for taking advantage of the money gushing out of China, this week visiting the construction site for the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai and the Thailand Open in Bangkok after a stop last week in Beijing to meet with government and industry leaders. "The ATP is developing a strategy that will benefit all stakeholders in tennis in Asia," Miles said. That strategy can be broken down into two words: 'Receive money.' "Just as Asia is becoming a growth engine of the world economy, so too will Asia become a growth engine for our sport." You'll really see how much money they have if an Asian CEO replaces Miles next year when he steps down the from the position, which he has held since 1991...Korean sports writer Jong-Seok Kim covering Maria Sharapova in Seoul: "Over 5,000 spectators filled the Seoul Olympic tennis court on a quiet weekday afternoon after a big Chuseok holiday. That's how much the fans felt feverish over the "Tennis Fairy" before them, who was flying around the court with her long legs, aware of herself as the center of attention and motivated by the eyes of the crowd, which followed her every move."...Maria Sharapova reportedly received $300,000 from organizers to play the WTA Seoul event, more than double the $140K the winner receives...USTA President Alan Schwartz stuck his foot in his mouth again Thursday, insinuating he would not want Andre Agassi to play in the Davis Cup final on clay at Spain: "This is a decision of captain Patrick McEnroe and we will respect it, but with the presence of players of the quality of the Bryan brothers in the double's match, plus Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, we are confident and are proud of them." Wow, haven't heard 'Mardy Fish,' 'clay,' and 'quality' used in the same sentence before. To fully demonstrate his tennis knowledge, Schwartz then added "all those who know something about tennis (said the man who badly bungled Svetlana Kuznetsova's name during the US Open trophy presentation) are aware that Spain has 15 players among the Top 100, while the US has nine and is second." Well, at least you have the USTA staff to feed you stats...Kim Clijsters' doctor(s) have told her the wrist injury is a new one, unrelated to her previously surgically-repaired problem, and will keep her out of action until 2005...Andre Agassi's ninth Grand Slam for Children charity event this past weekend announced a total of $6.1 million from ticket and tables sales and the live auction. Some of the star guests were Robin Williams, musician John Mayer and TV's grating Dr. Phil McGraw. Dinner for two with Williams went for $280,000, while Mayer's guitar went for $140,000...Martina Navratilova has confirmed she will play the 2005 Australian Open, at least in doubles. That was a short retirement...Kim Clijsters on her website says her wrist is back in a brace for the next six weeks, with no surgery required...Aussie singer Delta Goodrem says she and Mark Philippoussis are still an item: "Mark and I sent 20 texts to each other this weekend." True love in the 21st century...Serena and Venus Williams attended the secret Tiger Woods wedding...While Andy Roddick's arm injury and a need for a break is enough to keep him off the ATP European indoor swing, it's not enough to keep him from raking in the exhibition cash in the U.S. -- Roddick played his second consecutive exhibition last night in North Dakota after an outing the previous night in California, losing to Andre Agassi 6-4, 7-6(8)...Andre Agassi says no chance he'll play the Davis Cup final at Spain in November: "My reasons for not playing Davis Cup have nothing to do with winning or losing. I'm growing tired, have a family, and it's time for the young guys who have gotten the team to the final to have the opportunity to win it." Yeah, who needs a former French Open champ on the team while playing on red clay when you have two guys with fast-court games who have never reached the French quarterfinals?...From the Charleston Post & Courier: "News of (Andy) Roddick's elbow injury last Sunday while losing to Roger Federer in the final of a tournament in Bangkok came only nine days after Roddick's blistering 155 mph serve during the Davis Cup semifinal at Family Circle Tennis Center. It also might be worth mentioning that in a meaningless dead rubber match on Sunday of the Davis Cup, Roddick lost control of his racket on a serve, then shook his right hand as if in pain." Don't worry, coach Brad Gilbert has predicted Andy will eventually hit a 160 mph serve -- maybe then you'll see his whole arm fly off. Easy Brad, the kid has limits...Another headline from the entertainingly loose-cannon ATP Masters Series-Madrid website: "Agassi arrives in Madrid while Roddick, Hewitt make their excuses." How will the ATP get a rein on their top players pulling from their top-level events, with some (Hewitt) not even bothering to come up with injury excuses anymore? Back in the day when the tour had bank, that year-end bonus pool sure was handy for keeping players in line. Perhaps once China buys the CEO slot next year they can start waving bills in front of the players again and get them to post for the top-tier events...In a move that would make Billie Jean King go for the throat, next week's ATP Masters Series-Madrid event has announced it is replacing its ball kids with fashion models aged 19-27. "Before taking them on court to practice, we have shown them a bit about the sport, how you play, what a "set" is, what a "game" is, and an "ace,"" explained their ball coach Julio Nieto, speaking to Eurosport. "They will add beauty, but we still have to work on a lot of details so everything works smoothly. The important thing is for them not to disrupt the rhythm of the game or distract the players." Good luck, a lot of hot models stumbling around the court between points, that won't distract players...After her win at Moscow last week, Anastasia Myskina admitted she is still haunted by her tearful Olympic collapse when she led eventual gold medalist Justine Henin-Hardenne 5-1 in the final set in the semis: "It was a nightmare. I couldn't sleep, waking up in the middle of the night for several days just thinking about that match...The Olympics mean more to me that even the grand slams...Yes, my form definitely suffered after Athens, but more than anything it was my mental state as I was still coming to terms with my Olympic failure. But time heals any wounds, so I think eventually I'll be able to recover, although now I still have those nightmares from time to time."...Jelena Dokic will try and stop the bleeding of early-round losses after -- get ready -- reuniting with crazy dad Damir, who she just recently accused of destroying her career. "I'm starting from scratch," Dokic told Belgrade's Sport. "I have two to three months to prepare before my next tournament." Damir, if you've forgotten, had moved his family from Australia to Serbia-Montenegro after accusing Aussie Open organizers of rigging the draw against his daughter, accused his daughter's coach of drugging her, accused her of needing psychiatric help and of being on drugs, and has been kicked out of both WTA and grand slam events, banned for six months from WTA events for abusive behavior. "Whatever happened, happened," Damir said. "Jelena had shown that she's a great player. She was in crisis. The time has come to correct that." Who said 2005 was going to be boring...Lleyton Hewitt and the sweet-natured Kim Clijsters have suddenly ended their relationship. The pair had planned to marry in February. "Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt have jointly decided to put an end to their relationship for private reasons," Clijsters said on her official website. "Both of us distance ourselves from the malicious gossip which inevitably surfaces in this kind of situation."...According to, you could soon be seeing Yevgeny Kafelnikov on ESPN's World Series of Poker. The Y-Man recently won the Moscow Open poker tournament, collecting $10G, outlasting a field of 52...According to Brit pub The Sunday Telegraph, Paris Hilton has boasted that she is having a relationship with Mark Philippoussis: "I've got a new man and I'm head over heels in love. I adore him, he's so hot. His name is Mark Philippoussis."...The Australian, which our Aussie friends tell us is not a tabloid but a respected publication, also dropped the bomb that Paris Hilton was seen "locking lips" last weekend with Andy Roddick, with Paris declining to discuss her current relationship status, only saying she was "Happy, so happy," and "tired of the Hollywood guys. I want a normal nice boy. I want someone, like, 30 (years old), not, like, 50. And I'm so happy I don't really care if people want to say rude things."...Former No. 2 and French Open runner-up Magnus Norman has announced his retirement, with the Swede unable to make a comeback after multiple hip surgeries and knee injuries. Norman won five titles in both 1999 and 2000, and weathered dating Martina Hingis for a time.

Chances of Andre Agassi showing up in Houston if he qualifies in the No. 9 spot at the alternate? Sitting around for a week listening to Mattress Mac? Zero?...Staples Center proprietor Philip Anschutz reportedly is interested in "founding a fifth Grand Slam," to be played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California? As tournament organizers in Beijing have shown, that's code for "Don't know much about tennis but we have a lot of cash."...Who puts out press releases calling their own marketing campaigns "edgy"? Why, the WTA Tour, of course! On Wednesday the WTA announced a billboard campaign based entirely on the looks of Russian Maria Sharapova, with the theme "Got Sharapova!" Could they have done better than to copy a milk campaign? Could the ATP earlier this year have done better than to base a campaign on Pat Benatar's bad '80s song "Hit Me With Your Best Shot?" Do the tours actually have marketing staff, or do they just randomly pick things out of magazines from the '80s? The WTA touts the "Russian beauty," then as an aside in the release mentions that, by the way, Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, and other Russians Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, and the apparently unmarketable Svetlana Kuznetsova will also be there. The media release for the "edgy" campaign, which doesn't explain where the edginess will come from, states the effort will include print ads in various Southern California publications, billboards throughout the L.A. area, and radio and TV spots...Mark Philippoussis on the media linking him romantically to Paris Hilton: "It's untrue, we're friends and that all we have been," Flipper told SMH. "I can't tell you how many girls I've 'dated' whom I've never met or only saw once. But that's how it's going to be. I can chance it, but my friends know the truth and that's the most important thing. I hope the public is smarter than to believe everything they read."...Go to the WTA Tour website, and get a load of the "Two Spots Left!" graphic for their WTA Championship section (as of Saturday night). FYI: The final eight was decided two days ago. Time to hire a web person...The WTA has spread billboards of a leggy short-skirted Maria Sharapova all over L.A. in promoting the WTA Championships with the caption "The closer you sit, the hotter she gets." You can't beat tennis porn. Serena Williams says she is all for it: "I love her legs in this picture. Her legs are so sexy. She is not being sold in this picture. This is a hot picture. If you're not ready to sell pictures, then you shouldn't be part of the tournament. Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but sex sells."...In case you've been worrying that Serena Williams' ego has taken a beating in 2004, barely qualifying for the year-end championships and missing out on the race for No. 1, worry not, that 300 lb. gorilla remains intact: "It doesn't matter that I have no real shot at No. 1 because I feel like I have less pressure and it really doesn't matter. It's OK. It's like Tiger (Woods). It's weird when Tiger loses. It's kind of weird when I lose. It's definitely bigger news for me to lose. I make people's careers."...WTA Championships organizers said the event lost money last year, will lose money again this year, and they think they will have the event through at least 2006. Where can we invest in your business model?...According to USA Today, "The WTA will require the Top 50 players to sign agreements at the start of the 2005 season to play in specific tournaments that will be tied to the tour's $4 million bonus pool. If they don't play, they don't earn the bonus." About time. Now the ATP needs to figure out where they can find some scratch to re-institute their bonus pool to get their players to stop playing big-guarantee smaller events and exos, and blowing off the Masters Series events...While Serena Williams fashion designs (and taste) have been roundly pounded by critics, the American has critiqued herself, and the results are in: "I'm an unbelievable designer. I don't know how I know and just do these things. I just start sketching and then I just know the colors and I always know the forecast. I know green and purple are going to be hot. I was born to be a designer. I worked hard to be a tennis player, I don't work hard to be a designer."...Lou Tilley writing for the Main Line Times about Maria Sharapova's semifinal pull-out last week at Philadelphia: "What we knew was this: Sharapova told the driver of her complimentary Porsche at 4:30 p.m. the previous afternoon, to be at her hotel at 5 p.m., as she was catching a plane to Los Angeles. He asked her why, since she had just won her quarterfinal match, and was to play on versus (Amelie) Mauresmo, and maybe get into the finals -- and a shot at the top prize of 93 grand. She reportedly said, "Well, I have gotten my work in for the week, made a nice check and now I can go to L.A., and rest up for a while before the big season ending event.""...So Andre Agassi will not show up as the alternate for the Masters Cup, to be replaced by Guillermo Canas. What a shocker, we didn't see that coming -- can't picture last year's finalist not wanting to sit for a week watching Gaston Gaudio struggle on the hardcourts while sitting next to tournament promoter Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale and hearing about the virtues of four more years of the George W. Bush administration...U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe on inexplicably putting Mardy "Silver" Fish, a net player with a shaky back-court game, on the red clay against Spain over baseline grinder Vince Spadea: "I believe Mardy has the best chance to win the match, based on his ability, based on his experience playing Davis Cup, based on the fact he's played well in the Olympics, he's played well in some big, big matches for us," McEnroe told Tennis Week. "I still believe Mardy's got a tremendous upside as far as his career goes. And I think he's got a lot of game. I don't think he's lived up to his potential yet."...Brickbats to ESPN for not following up on what their camera was reporting after the wild Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova final at the WTA Championships. Maria's dad Yuri runs on the court afterwards for the congratulatory hug, then does some joyful running around accompanied by maniacal arm-windmilling ala Pete Townsend, but then seconds later the ESPN cameras show the dad angrily mouthing f-bombs to someone else in the crowd and being restrained by his posse. Hey Cliff and Pam and Mary Joe, way to pretend that didn't happen. Also among the highlights was someone from the crowd bum-rushing the on-court trophy presentation, much to the entertainment of Serena who was doubled-over with laughter at the WTA staff's inability to stop the intruder...After failing to talk Amelie Mauresmo into playing the Fed Cup semifinals, French captain Guy Forget ripped her in the sports daily L'Equipe: "I can't believe she did this...Until the last minute I tried to make her change her mind but the answer was negative...What frustrates me is that the Fed Cup is no longer a target for her. I'm not interested in leading a squad of players who turn up when they feel like it." Is the Fed Cup a target for any of the top players besides Russia, who have 10 or so players to choose from?...Roger Federer is 20-0 against Top 10 opponents going back to last year's Tennis Masters Cup and 12-0 in finals going back to last year...Andy Roddick on the upcoming Davis Cup meeting with Spain on the red dirt: "It's going to be crazy. We expect that. The good thing is we know what we're getting into when we go over there. It's not going to be a surprise. We know it's going to be tough. But we go in with the mindset that we just have to try our best to deal with it. We're excited. We feel with the group of guys we've been building for three or four years, to have a chance at the title now, it's very exciting."...The USTA has extended Patrick McEnroe's U.S. Davis Cup captain's contract through 2006...Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale has bought a World Team Tennis franchise, signing Steffi Graf for 2005, and is reportedly trying to finagle a Masters Series event for Argentina?...Mark Philippoussis will reportedly return to New York and seek some more help from John McEnroe before beginning his 2005 campaign...Russia Fed Cup coach Larisa Neiland tells Reuters that Maria Sharapova would be a tough fit for the Russian team: "I don't think she'll find it easy being on the same team with all the rest of our girls. Maria's main problem is her father and I just don't see how he would coexist with other girls' parents and team officials. You can't just go by rankings alone in selecting the team. You need great team spirit, togetherness in order to make a really strong squad. Every time Maria was playing a Russian girl (at the WTA Championships), her father's behavior was simply outrageous, nasty and out of control. He basically tells everyone 'to get lost'. I just don't see how he could work with the rest of us."...Monica Seles says she will wait until next year to make a retirement decision: "By January, I will make a decision," Seles told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "If I can't play then I probably will (retire). But not until January. I am trying to get ready to play this year. I don't want to talk about it because I am still trying so hard. I am not going into it with that frame of mind. I am trying to stay in a positive frame of mind. I have been feeling good. I have been hitting in the morning and then in the afternoon about three times a week. It (the foot) is feeling better."...Roger Federer wins the Masters Cup...Anastasia Myskina leads Russia to the Fed Cup over France.

Martina Hingis
will play the WTA Volvo Women's Open in Pattaya, Thailand on Jan. 31, 2005 to raise money for several Thai charities that help women and children who have suffered from abuse, homelessness and illness. "I hope to raise awareness of the support needed for those who are less fortunate and living in impoverished conditions in Thailand and around the world," she said Tuesday in a statement. Sources say she is not planning on playing any other events (unless of course she does well and the ego kicks in) in her first return to the WTA Tour in more than two years...Speaking to the French newspaper L'Equipe on Wednesday, Pete Sampras played down a return to competitive tennis, saying he has made his cash and enjoys sleeping in: "I'm not at all disappointed about what the sport did for my finances and my name. But I was tired of tennis and it consumed me. I spent so many years getting to the top and then keeping my place as No. 1, and it was very stressful. Throughout my career, I never had one perfectly good night's sleep. When it was all over, I started to sleep fine without any concerns in my head, as I didn't have to think about catching a plane or playing a really hard match the following day. I am still calming things down, and that is why I'm not playing any professional tennis."...Gustavo Kuerten is targeting March, right before the claycourt season, for his return from hip surgery...Tennis Australia, under the spotlight for blowing money and not producing much (any?) young talent, has so far said 'no thanks' to an offer by resident blowhard Pat Cash for help: "I have offered my help but, as yet, have not been invited," Cash told FOX Sports Australia. "Oh well, it seems that arrogance and an old boys network at the top level are only slowing the progress down even further. Perhaps they don't like my candidness?" Or the thought of putting an a-hole in a top management position?...Sun Tian Tian and Li Ting, winners of the women's doubles gold in Athens: "Now we have got used to the way international opponents play tennis," Tian Tian said. "For example we didn't know how fast the ball went."...Amelie Mauresmo says she has no regret blowing off the Fed Cup, even after watching France lose in the final: "I came back from vacation on Sunday and I saw the last two matches on television. I don't regret at all not going to Moscow because I took my decision for sporting reasons. I discussed my reasons with (captain) Guy Forget but that will stay between him and me."...Hey ESPN, thanks for buying the Davis Cup rights so you can show SportsCenter re-runs while the Davis Cup matches are being played live. Just give up on tennis and sell your rights to The Tennis Channel...The Guardian from Seville: "(Patrick) McEnroe has obstinately stuck by (Mardy) Fish, who will play the opening singles this morning against Spain's No. 1 Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion. Fish, ranked No. 37 in the world, has apparently not won one practice set since the Americans arrived here and lost the only competitive match he played on clay this year...Independent observers believe that by ignoring (Vince) Spadea the U.S. captain has made a significant error." By "independent observers" you mean inhabitants of the planet Earth?...Crown Prince Felipe was among the 27,000+ fans Sunday who piled into Seville's Estadio Olimpico to see their Spanish team finish off the United States in Davis Cup...Jim Courier defeated Thomas Muster 7-6(4), 6-4, to win the Senior Masters title in London's Albert Hall.

Maria Sharapova
on the difficulties of being the 17-year-old future of women's tennis: "One day I can be with my friend talking about the girliest, weird things and the next day I'm in a meeting talking about a deal or sponsorship or doing a photo shoot that are run by all adults that want my opinion," she told The Associated Press. "I make the transition quite well. I always thought I'm more mature than other kids my age, but that's because of the sport I play and the business I'm in. If you're not mature, I don't know how you can accomplish what you do...I'm such a girly girl. I love being stylish and elegant because on court it's mentally and physically draining. You give it all you've got, you don't show your pretty side."...Most brutal headline award from National Nine News in Australia on the Anna Kournikova-Enrique Iglesias coupling: "Tennis failure nets Latin hearthrob"...Justine Henin-Hardenne lost an exhibition match to Nathalie Dechy 6-2, 7-5 on Saturday, then a three-setter to Elena Dementieva the next day...Scott Draper earned his Australasian PGA Tour players' card and plans to play pro golf and tennis in 2005: "I still love tennis but it's frustrating when your body won't do what you want it to do. I'll give them both a try and if I have to give one the flick it will probably be the tennis."...Justine Henin-Hardenne on heading into the Australian Open after her illness-ridden year in 2004: "I will be heading to Australia with a lot of question marks over me. I know that," she told AFP. "But I think there will be less pressure on me than last year, even if I am the defending champion. Above all, it will be the first games back that matter most. They will be very important for me. Physically, it's obvious that I hit rock bottom. Since April with the exception of the Olympics, I have not done much. All the successes I had prior to that was mainly due to the work I put in on building up my fitness. Now it's time to get back to putting in 200 per cent effort and I think I am capable of doing that. I don't have to prove myself to anyone now. I just want to go out and enjoy myself."...Jennifer Capriati missed the Aussie Open last year with a back injury, and now a question mark for 2005 with the shoulder injury...Roger Federer was turned down by Tony Roche for a coaching stint for 2005...Andy Roddick will have his own calendar on the market starting in 2006: "Andy is hands down the hottest male player on the tennis courts today," said John Turner, President of John F. Turner and Company. "We are thrilled to have formed this relationship with him and have only the highest of expectations for his calendar." Andy says 'Show me the cash': "I grew up with calendars of my favorite athletes on my wall, so I am very excited about this opportunity to actually have my own calendar," Roddick said. "John F. Turner and Company has a very impressive record of creating an innovative look for all of their calendar products, and I am looking forward to working with them to create something that I will be proud of."...Marcelo Rios is playing a series of "farewell exhibitions" in December, recently with a win over Goran Ivanisevic...Ever get the feeling that Brad Gilbert would sign up to coach Tatiana Golovin if it didn't mean hanging out constantly at women's tournaments having no one to talk about sports with?...The WTA Auckland event for January 2005 is struggling, with No. 26 Amy "Joltin' Joe" Frazier as the current top seed -- time to flash more cash...Still no decision in the battle whether Anna is married to Enrique Iglecias or not, with Anna saying yes, but investigators in the media saying no. Anna's publicist wont even touch this one: "We never comment on our clients' personal lives," said her rep Ivy "John Cougar" Mollenkamp. Media outlets have done some digging but failed to come up with a marriage licence. "Anna has a complicated relationship with the subject of marriage," said Us Weekly editor Janice Min. "They do enjoy the cat-and-mouse guessing game they put the media through."...Austrian Stefan Koubek has been handed a three-month ban by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for a banned substance, failing a drug test at the 2004 French Open. Koubek says he will appeal, and blames it on an injection given to him by a doctor for a wrist injury. "I have acted correctly," the 27-year-old Koubek said in a statement. "A three-month ban would mean that I not only will miss the Australian Open but also the Davis Cup in Australia."...Maria Sharapova will be restricted to just one Australian summer circuit appearance -- the Australian Open -- because of age eligibility restrictions...Venus and Serena Williams are both planning on playing the Australian Open, but have reportedly not entered any pre-Aussie WTA events or exhibitions...The ATP event in Sydney has a new sponsor and has been renamed the Medibank International...Lleyton Hewitt will skip the Hopman Cup exhibition, with his lead-up to the Aussie Open consisting of ATP events in Adelaide and Sydney...Pat Rafter will do commentary for FOX Sports during the Australian Open. Others on the FOX team are Wally Masur, Sandon Stolle, Rachel McQuillan, Josh Eagle, Peter Tramacchi and Liz Smylie. Americans, suffer on as you read of FOX's television viewer options in Australia: "Available to FOXTEL Digital and AUSTAR Digital subscribers, the FOX SPORTS Active Tennis application will put viewers in control like never before, and will be available throughout the Australian Open. Some of the features will include a choice of different live matches, different audio, news and views from press conferences, player interviews, player bios, draws, the latest news, plus a wide range of live and historical statistics." Contrast that to ESPN in the U.S. sticking you with every Jennifer Capriati match...For you Northerners waiting for the thaw: great is 2005 going to be from a wacky dad perspective? You've got Yuri and Maria with the Newcomer of the Year Award, Damir back with Jelena, Jennifer with Stefano always near, Richard Williams lurking for a strike -- bring it on...Former No. 1 Marcelo Rios ended his career officially in December with a straight-set exhibition win over Guillermo Coria...Lance Armstrong won the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year award for the third year in a row; a tennis player has not won since John McEnroe in 1981...According to the AP, "Madras' sports officials were unsure about the fate the Chennai Open tennis tournament, which is among the year-launching competitions of the elite ATP Tour beginning January 3" due to the tsunami destruction...Anna Kournikova is still suing mom and dad Alla and Sergei over who owns their Miami home.