EDBERG TO MAKE SENIOR TOUR DEBUT: Former No. 1 Stefan Edberg will play competitive tennis for the first time in 12 years on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in late 2008. Edberg will compete in Paris, France (The Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere on Sept. 18-21) and at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England (The BlackRock Masters Tennis on Dec. 2-7. Pete Sampras, who will also make his debut this year on the European senior tour, says he is excited at the prospect of playing the 42-year-old Edberg. “I’m looking forward to playing against him because I always looked up to him with his serve-volley game, his movement and the attitude that he had,” Sampras said. “I always thought that he was a real gentleman and I’m looking forward to seeing him, talking to him and just seeing how his life is as I haven’t spoken to him for many years.”
BACK TO BANGALORE: Bangalore will replace Mumbai on the ATP calendar and change weeks to Sept. 29. The outdoor tournament will be played at the 7,000 seat KSLTA Signature Kingfisher Tennis Stadium in Cubbon Park.
GASQUET TO SKIP FRENCH?: French head case Richard Gasquet, who famously avoided Andy Roddick in the U.S. vs. France Davis Cup tie earlier this year, says he might skip the French Open due to his fragile mental state: “I am not fit to play tennis — running, moving, everything is becoming difficult. I am going to cut myself off for the week. Forgetting about my racquet can’t do me any harm. For Roland Garros, we will see. Don’t expect a big tournament from me — if I take part in it…Imagine what I would do at Roland Garros, it would not be nice for anyone.”
AGASSI’S BUDDY BOOTED: Perry Rogers has been removed from the ATP Board of Directors by a vote from the 10-man ATP Player Council, comprised of President Ivan Ljubicic, Vice President James Blake, Thomas Johansson, Olivier Rochus, Paul Goldstein, Davide Sanguinetti, Bob Bryan, Kevin Ullyett, Paradorn Srichaphan, and Martin Garcia. Rogers was the manager for Andre Agassi throughout his career and remains Agassi’s best friend, and has been a staunch supporter of ATP CEO Etienne de Villiers. The move was a signal from the ATP players who have felt underrepresented in decisions affecting men’s tennis over the last few years. Many of the top ATP players signed a petition to not have de Villiers’ contract automatically renewed for next year.
NADAL PREDICTS DJOKOVIC NEW NO. 2: World No. 2 Spaniard Rafael Nadal says that Novak Djokovic will overtake him for the No. 2 spot on the ATP Rankings by Wimbledon. Nadal has to defend ranking points from last year’s victory at the French Open, and a runner-up effort at Wimbledon: “Djokovic is very close, there’s no doubt about that. I think, no I’m certain, that the logical thing is that he goes past me here, gets to No. 2 here or at Roland Garros or in Wimbledon. He’s a great player and he’s doing things very well. If I’m No. 3, I’m No. 3. When it happens I just have to accept it and fight to get the position back.”
MISCELLANY: Serena Williams withdrew from the Rome quarterfinals last week with a back injury she sustained in practice, and says is minor…French Open wildcards have gone to Gustavo Kuerten, Eric Prodon, Olivier Patience, Jeremy Chardy, Adrian Mannarino, Jonathan Eysseric, Olivia Sanchez, Severine Bremond, Stephanie Foretz, Mathilde Johansson, Youlia Fedossova, Violette Huck, Americans Madison Brengle and Wayne Odesnik, and Aussies Robert Smeets and Samantha Stosur…Richard Gasquet has left coach Eric Deblicker and picked up with Guillaume Peyre…French Open withdrawals thus far include Andy Roddick (back, shoulder), Justine Henin (retirement), Tatiana Golovin (fatigue), Lindsay Davenport (personal), Meghann Shaughnessy (knee), Meilen Tu (hip), and Sania Mirza (wrist). Possible French Open pulls: Serena Williams (back), Lleyton Hewitt (hip), Bob and Mike Bryan (undisclosed)…Nikolay Davydenko blogging from the ATP event in Austria: “I’ve been enjoying the spas at the tournament hotel here in Austria, but I must say they do things a lot differently than in Russia. Back at home they separate the men and women, but here not only do men and women take spas together, many of the hotel guests don’t have anything on beneath their robes. Which all makes for some interesting sites. At times it’s like watching the Playboy channel. Some of the guests don’t like the idea of us wearing shorts, but I’m not ready to adopt all the local customs just yet! Call me conservative, but I am just not ready to bare all at this point.”…From The Guardian’s Steve Bierley: “The ATP, as ever, bumbles on in its own fashion, assuring everyone who is bothered to listen that all will be well, while producing publicity material, posters and the like, that appear to have been formulated by someone devoid of the least understanding of what the game is about.”
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