ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Seeds: 1. Rafael Nadal, 2. Andy Murray, 3. Nikolay Davydenko, 4. Gilles Simon, 5. Gael Monfils, 6. David Ferrer, 7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 8. Robin Soderling
Watch for: (2) Murray opening against former Top 10er Ivan Ljubicic; all-unseeded former Top 10ers Mario Ancic vs. Rainer Schuettler first round; all-French Richard Gasquet vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu first round, winner to likely face (8) Soderling.
San Jose, Calif., USA
Seeds: 1. Andy Roddick, 2. Juan Martin Del Potro, 3. James Blake, 4. Radek Stepanek, 5. Mardy Fish, 6. Sam Querrey, 7. Igor Kunitsyn, 8. Robby Ginepri
Watch for: (1) Roddick vs. Gulbis 2nd round; (7) Kunitsyn vs. Tommy Haas 2nd round; Chris “Penthouse” Guccione vs. Guillermo “The Juice” Canas 1st round, winner to face (4) Stepanek; all-American in Taylor Dent vs. Bobby Reynolds, winner to face (8) Ginepri; (6) Querrey vs. (WC) Marcos Baghdatis; (3) Blake vs. Vince “Ain’t Afraida Ya” Spadea; (5) Fish vs. Lleyton Hewitt, winner to possible face (WC) John Isner; Kei Nishikori vs. Gilles Muller, winner to face (2) del Potro.
Brasil Open 2009
Costa do Sauipe, Brazil
Seeds: 1. Nicolas Almagro, 2. Tommy Robredo, 3. Al Montanes, 4. Jose Acasuso, 5. Marcel Granollers, 6. Eduardo Schwank, 7. Nicolas Devilder, 8. Potito Starace
Watch for: (1) Almagro vs. Nicolas Massu 2nd round; (3) Granollers vs. former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero; (4) Acasuso vs. Juan Monaco in an all-Argentine.
Open GDF SUEZ
Seeds: 1. Serena Williams, 2. Jelena Jankovic, 3. Elena Dementieva, 4. Agnieszka Radwanska, 5. Alize Cornet, 6. Patty Schnyder, 7. Anabel Medina Garrigues, 8. Amelie Mauresmo
Watch for: (5) Cornet vs. (WC) Daniela Hantuchova in the second round, winner to face Jankovic.
PTT Pattaya Women’s Open
Pattaya City, Thailand
Seeds: 1. Vera Zvonareva, 2. Caroline Wozniacki, 3. Dominika Cibulkova, 4. Sybille Bammer, 5. Shuai Peng, 6. Tamarine Tanasugarn, 7. Shahar Peer, 8. Magdalena Rybarikova
Watch for: Unseeded Sania Mirza in a likely second-round meeting against (3) Cibulkova; (8) Rybarikova opening against former Top 10er Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Starless U.S. Squad Tops Argentina in Fed Cup
Surprise! A U.S. star was born on Sunday in Surprise, Ariz., when U.S. Fed Cup rookie Melanie Oudin came from a set down to defeat Argentine rookie Betina Jozima. The win evened the tie at 2-2, allowing U.S. doubles specialist Liezel Huber and Julie Ditty to clinch with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Gisela Dulko and Jozima.
The tie was deadlocked at 1-1 after Saturday when Craybas beat Argentina rookie Betina Jozami, and the U.S. rookie Oudin was beaten by the Argentine veteran Dulko in straights. On Sunday Dulko put the Argentines up 2-1, rolling past Craybas who looked a step slow and had trouble finding a consistent ground game. That put pressure on the U.S. rookie Oudin to keep the home squad in the match, posting her first Fed Cup win.
The U.S. advances to the semifinals where they will travel to the Czech Republic, which defeated Spain 4-1.
Advancing to the semis in the top half of the draw over the weekend were Russia, which blanked the injury-ridden China team 5-0, and Italy which shocked an Amelie Mauresmo and Alize Cornet-led French team 5-0. France is protesting the match after Flavia Pennetta used an obscene hand gesture toward the umpire, which Mauresmo said upset her when she held a match point.
Vina del Mar, Chile
Top-seeded Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez successfully defended his home title in Chile with an easy 6-1, 6-3 win in the final over No. 4 seed Jose Acasuso. It was the eighth time Gozalez has beaten the Argentine Acasuso in 10 meetings.
PBZ Zagreb Indoors
Marin Cilic wins his second title of the season after Chennai, beating Croatian countryman Mario Ancic 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday. “Last night I played over three hours and physically I was not at that level,” Ancic said. “I would have been OK if he hadn’t performed so well, I would have had a chance. I think he showed why he’s a future Top 10 player.”
SA Tennis Open
Johannesburg, South Africa
Top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-6(5) in the all-French final for his third ATP title. Chardy was appearing in his first ATP final. “I think I played a very good match, I’m very happy with my match and I have no regrets,” Chardy said. “I thought he played well on the important points. I had so many break points and I missed every time, I think that was the difference today.”
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
RAFA WANTS THE CUP: Rafael Nadal was forced to sit out last year’s Davis Cup final with knee problems, but Spain went on to defeat Argentina due to the heroics of Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco. Now in February 2009, Nadal still sits atop the ATP Rankings with an Australian Open under his belt, and has targeted his next conquest: the 2009 Davis Cup title. “My objective is the Davis Cup, which I wasn’t able to play last year. To win it is my dream this year,” Nadal told Spanish media during an interview from Melbourne. Spain will face Serbia in the first round in early March. “It’s a dream more than an objective,” Nadal said.
FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH — Arthur Ashe was a vocal opponent of apartheid, the South African system of legal racial segregation from 1948 and 1994, becoming the first black man to compete in the South African Open in 1973 and eventually opening the doors for blacks in tennis. Ashe’s legacy carried on this year when the ATP debuted a new tour event in South Africa, an event that is being used to attract more blacks to the sport. “Professional players coming to Soweto is a dream come true,” 27-year-old coach Kgotso Matshego told Bloomburg. “Seeing black people coming through and being so successful. It’s an inspiration.” Ashe was originally turned down for a visa to play the South African Open, and responded by founding a tennis academy near Johannesburg in the late ’70s. The top seed for the event this year was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose father is from the Congo, worked with local players in clinics during the event to mark the turn-around for South African tennis.
DON’T DRINK THE WATER PETE — Pete Sampras will join the six-player field at the Outback Champions Series’ Del Mar Development Champions Cup on March 18-22 at the Palmilla Tennis Club in Los Cabos, Mexico. Fellow former No. 1s Jim Courier and Patrick Rafter are also in the field, with the final three competitors yet to be determined.
PASS THE BONG, AND THAT SPONSOR CASH — Yo, don’t bogart that dude. Pass me the mellow. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps get caught hitting a bong and his biggest concerns are keeping his sponsors? Nice sport.
GOLLI-BAD REMARK — Roving reporter Carol Thatcher, daughter of former British premier Margaret Thatcher, was dumped from her job by the BBC after she allegedly described one of the Australian Open competitors privately to another commentator as a “golliwog.” The term “golliwog” refers to a black doll character once widely used in Britain, but dropped in recent decades after protests that it was racist. According to Britain’s The Mirror, the player in question was French-Congo player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose mother Evelyne (from a “white French background”) said the comments “brought shame on Britain…Nobody deserves to be called a golliwog, least of all my son. Such language is extremely unwelcome, but not surprising considering the background Carol Thatcher comes from. Mrs. Thatcher was famous for her imperial, Britain-is-best view of the world and Carol clearly still holds true to that. She’s a high-profile figure and if she uses nasty terms like golliwog it sends out a message for everyone to do it.”
MORE GONZO THAN YOU — In the second round at the ATP stop in Vina Del Mar last week, top-seeded Fernando Gonzalez defeated Argentine qualifier Maximo Gonzalez 7-5, 7-6(7), settling for the time being who is max gonzo…
STOP HASSLIN’ ME MAN — Andy Murray is not a fan of the new super-strict drug testing program instituted by the ATP that came into effect at the beginning of the year, requiring players to let the international doping body WADA know where they are for one hour per day, every day on the year. “These new rules are so Draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life,” Murray told London’s Times. “I got a visit at 7am one morning at my home right after I had travelled home from Australia. I woke up not really knowing where I was and suffering badly from jet lag. It seemed ridiculous to me as I’d been tested just four days earlier, straight after the match I had lost in the Australian Open. The official who came to my home wanted me to produce identification to prove who I was. He insisted on watching me provide a sample, literally with my trousers round my ankles, and then insisted that I wrote down my own address, even though he was at my private home at 7am. Tennis has not got a big problem with drugs. I support drug testing and strongly condemn any use of drugs in sport, but there has to be a more realistic and practical way to deal with the problem with tennis players.”…Just don’t text in your whereabouts to WADA like Michael Phelps, ‘Tuesday, 10pm, will be at frat house hitting the bong…’…
Former USTA marketing whiz Arlen Kantarian, who they could apparently not afford to keep, is now a member of the board of directors for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc…
Maria Sharapova has pulled from Paris and Dubai with her shoulder injury, yet to make her 2009 debut…
Pete Sampras will play Lleyton Hewitt in an exhibition at the ATP event this month in Memphis (Hewitt is also playing the main draw)…
Digital sports web-televisor Perform has launched a pay-per-view sports portal and says it will broadcast WTA Tour events…and darts! No joke. Wake us when that is over…
Andy Roddick has taken a wildcard into the ATP Memphis field for February, joining James Blake, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, Robby Ginepri, Top 10er Juan Martin del Potro, Robin Soderling and Fernando Gonzalez among others…
Sports Illustrated tennis writer Jon Wertheim on being an advocate of violence against streakers at tennis or other sports events: “Seems to me once you trespass onto a playing field naked, you’ve forfeited your boarding pass. This isn’t a sadistic high school bully attack; and we’re not talking about a savage beating here. A stiff forearm shiver to deter other streakers? I have no problem with that.”…
German Anna-Lena Groenefeld has switched from adidas to Italian sportswear manufacturer Lotto Sport Itali…
Rafael Nadal ate at the same Melbourne restaurant 10 times during his victorious run at the Australian Open…
Sam Stosur speaking to The Australian on the WTA Tour’s on-court coaching rule: “I think it is stupid. I don’t like it at all. I am not convinced it is a good move.”…
Mike Bryan will be suspended if he misses another doping test before April due to past tests missed…
Andy Roddick is the lone American ranked in the Top 10, and the Williams sisters the lone American women in the Top 35…
Sania Mirza couldn’t play Fed Cup for India over the weekend with injury, but can play Pattaya City beginning Monday? Huh?…
The ATP will team with Pitch International to start a weekly highlight show, available in August 2009. Hopefully it will do better than the show the ATP did with TWI, that was so bad ESPN refused to air it…
From Marketing Daily on celebrity retail clothing brands taking a hit in the tanking economy: “Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bitten line of clothing — perceived to have been a hit — was left without a retail partner when Steve and Barry’s went bankrupt, also stranding Amanda Bynes’ Dear line, Venus Williams’ Eleven and surfer Laird Hamilton’s Wonderwall. “Even before the economy went bad, the market became oversaturated with celebrity brands,” says Victoria Brynner, CEO of Stardust Visions, which brokers celebrity endorsements for corporate clients such as Louis Vuitton (Scarlett Johansson), Stetson (Matthew McConaughey) and Nautica (Katherine Heigl).”…
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