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Oct 18, 2008

Maria Sharapova's Canon commercial photos; Rafael Nadal a potential brand ambassador too?

Maria Sharapova just added a total of 12 new photos of her Canon commercial shoot that was shot earlier of the year in California. Click here for the rest of the photos.


By the way, I'm totally into this photo of Rafael Nadal taking a snapshot with his fans (including a Hugo Boss ball girl) after winning the match against Richard Gasquet at the last sixteen match.

Don't you think digital imaging company should approach Nadal for possible endorsement deal?

Cameras love Nadal. Try ask paparazzis and fans. And his skills speak precision and speed. I thought his energy and passion in tennis can personifies a camera brand.

Oh my, am I too hard to sell Nadal here? :D

(Images via Maria Sharapova's website, Yahoo! Sport)

Zinedine Zidane and son Luca spotted at Rafael Nadal's match in Madrid

Former France soccer player Zinedine Zidane attended the quarterfinal match between Rafael Nadal and compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the Madrid Masters Series tennis tournament in Madrid yesterday.

Together with him is son Luca who is a footballer in the making.


Perhaps Luca will end up to be like his idol Nadal, who chose to switch from football to tennis when he was young too?

It's great to see the Zizou again showing the softer and father figure side of him after the ugly headbutt incident back in the World Cup 2006 final where he rammed his head into Marco Materazzi's chest who had verbally provoked him.

Wonder what the dad and son giggling about?

Perhaps they find Nadal's reaction here rather funny?

Nadal who won the match 6-4, 6-4 took time to meet the football legend and Luca and took a nice memorable picture together.


(Images via Yahoo! Sport, Reuters, Madrid Masters website)

An interview with Mathieu Montcourt at Tashkent Challenger

Giant killer Mathieu Montcourt of France has had a wonderful week so far at Tashkent Challenger recording two upsets in a row against 8th seed Go Soeda of Japan and against 2nd seed and 70th ranked Dudi Sela of Isreal.

Here's a piece of the interview with Montcourt after his win against Sela.


Q: How do you feel after today’s win?

Montcourt: I’m very proud of the way I played today, I played very well. It’s a good win for me. I told myself I had to fight hard and win today and I did it. I’m playing very well and feel nice. Also I’m liking the courts.

Q: Are you surprised with your performance?

Montcourt: Yes, I’m truly surprised, I was not expecting this results. I cam e here with a view to win a few matches. I had lost couple of matches in the last few weeks and feeling low on confidence.

Q: But you are playing relatively well this week?

Montcourt: Like I said, I have nothing to loose, I’m just trying to play fee as I can without expecting too much, that is why I’m probably playing better

Q: It’s believed that the French are essentially clay court players, but your game is much suited for the hard courts?

Montcourt: Very true, I practice at the Rolland Garros which has clay courts, so all of us practice on the clay courts, but if you see today many of the results of French players are coming on hard courts look at Tsonga, Gasquet they are winning on hard courts. Nowadays it doesn’t matter on which surface you practice, one has to learn to win on other surfaces like hard courts and grass too.

Q: How do you look at the future?

Montcourt: I have 2 more events still to go , I’m playing in Korea, I haven’t set any goals , this is the end of the season I want to end it with a high and make lot of points. I want to play well without putting pressure on myself. This way I’m preparing to play better tennis next year.

Q: Your views on the Tashkent Challenger?

Montcourt: It’s my first time in Uzbekistan, and I’m impressed with the organization of the event. I did not expect anything here, but I’m surprised at the way they are doing the event. The people are friendly and the hotel is good, so are the courts and playing conditions. I think it’s a very high and well organized event.

(Via Sunder Iyer on behalf of the media team at Tashkent Challenger)


My money's heading for a big mattress, jokes Federer

Roger Federer, the richest tennis player of all time, joked on yesterday that a "big mattress" could be his salvation from the current world financial meltdown.

The Swiss player revealed at the Madrid Masters that he keeps a close eye on the turbulence in the world money markets.
"I've followed closely to know what's going on. It seems like the markets may come back a bit now, but I think it will take a while for things to calm down."

"I'm not a big risk-taker off the court, I work so hard and travel so much that I don't want to lose money over problems that I cannot control."
Federer called the current upheaval a challenging time for everyone.
"Anyway, I have a big mattress," he joked.
Earlier this week, ATP announced that Federer has surpassed Pete Sampras to become the all-time leader in career prize money earnings in men’s tennis.

The 13-time Grand Slam champion took his career earnings to over $43.3 million at the Madrid Masters this week.

American Sampras earned $43,280,489 in a glittering career that included 14 grand slam titles.
“Obviously it’s nice to have records. I didn’t play tennis because of money, that was never my drive but I have been very successful,” said Federer.

“I’ve had an incredible run in slams lately that racks up the money and also the Masters Cup, there is a lot of money involved there."

“I guess this is also the moment when you can thank the all-time greats from back in the day when it was still amateur to have brought the game to where it is today. They have created the platform for us players today.”
Current world no. 1 Rafael Nadal is the only other active player on the top-10 career earnings list, but he has won less than half of Federer’s total.

Federer has been the season’s leading money winner for five straight seasons but could be displaced by Nadal.

Sampras and Ivan Lendl topped the list six times, but never five straight.

(Via AP and AFP, Image by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic says he needs to work on his physical strength


Novak Djokovic believes the main obstacle standing between him and the No. 1 ranking is physical strength.
“Physical strength is something I’ve been trying to focus on lately,” the 21-year-old Serb.

“I’m aware that this has been one of my issues in that I haven’t been recovering well from long matches and long tournaments.”
He said his tall, lanky frame uses up a lot of energy when running on the court and puts him at a disadvantage against players like the muscular Nadal and the smooth Roger Federer.
“My game is based on the base line, so I’m running all over the court, stretching, with quick moves, putting a lot of pressure on the body,” he said.
With Federer, in contrast, “it’s just beautiful to watch the way he plays, the way everything goes with ease.”

Djokovic, who was eliminated from the Madrid tournament by Ivo Karlovic on Thursday, said his energy-draining style is one of the reasons he has struggled with injuries lately.
“I don’t like how I have got a reputation as a guy who asked for medical timeouts to intimidate opponents,” he said.

“It’s not me trying to provoke my opponent. It’s me trying to win.”
That issue came to the fore at this year’s U.S. Open.

He took offense when Andy Roddick joked about the series of medical issues that afflicted Djokovic earlier in the tournament.

Djokovic’s reaction did not sit well with the crowd at Flushing Meadows.
“One of the worst moments of my career was when I gave an interview after the Roddick match on the center court and 20,000 people whistled at me,” he said.
But while his physical abilities may be lacking, Djokovic said he has developed the mental strength to deal with such setbacks.
“The mental ability that I have at the moment is one of my advantages,” he said.

“What divides top players from the rest is mental calmness and an ability to cope with pressure in certain moments. That’s why you see Rafa, Roger, myself and a couple of other guys at the top."

"If you are mentally able to play the right shots at the right time, then your place is at the top. That’s the key of this game.”
Djokovic attributed some of his toughness to having grown up during trying times in Serbia.

Along with Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic, he has helped make tennis one of the most popular sports in his country and is now trying to bring an ATP Tour event to Belgrade.

That could happen as early as next year, after his family bought the license to the ABM Amro Open.
“We had two wars and lots of economic problems; the image of Serbia was not good. Coming from there made it difficult for me but it made me stronger,” Djokovic said.

“It will be good to see top level tennis there after so much unrest."
(Via AP, Image by AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Oct 17, 2008

Tickets for Kings Cup is up for sale!

Before you head to Stadium Putra in Kuala Lumpur for Showdown of Champions, I suggest you to go up north during the weekend (Nov 14-16) to Penang to catch the Kings Cup.

The tickets for Kings of Tennis' Big Bang Penang are now up for sale at Axcess outlet (offline and online).

Please take not that the price is RM203 per ticket per day. So, for 3 days it's going to be totalled up to RM609. Still worth it to see the first King Cups with all no.1 players in one place, huh?!


During a press conference in New York recently. Notice the lady in the middle is Arianna Teoh, the organiser, former Miss Malaysia and wife of Alex Yoong (former F-1 race car driver).

Eight former world No. 1s, including Americans John McEnroe and Pete Sampras and Swedes Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg, are to square off against each other in a new Ryder Cup-style competition.


Team America: Roy Emerson (Captain), John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios and Pete Sampras.


Team Europe: Ilie Nastase (Captain), Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander.


Called the Kings Cup, Team America and Team Europe will battle over three days in Malaysia in a singles and doubles format.
"Let's just say I'm glad that Sampras is on my team," McEnroe, who topped the rankings for 170 weeks, said at the competition's launch in New York back in August.

"For us it's a great concept. 'Kings of Tennis' sounds awful nice to us because slowly but surely we're becoming legends in our own minds, so the fact that we're going to be going to Malaysia and treated as kings is quite exciting," he said.
"It's easy to say yes to this kind of thing. To get together with a very small group of people who you have mutual respect for because of what we were able to accomplish - there are not a lot of people who can say that," he said.
Borg, who was No. 1 for 109 weeks, will be joined by fellow Swedes Edberg, Mats Wilander and an as-yet unnamed wild card for the inaugural event, which will be held annually.
"I'm delighted to play with these guys once again and to play with John - everyone knows the matches we had in the past," Borg said.

"I believe this could be a very big thing in the future. Just to get all the No. 1s together in the same place has never happened before, so it's going to be a lot of fun.

"Stefan is playing a lot. Mats too, and the same with me. We play because we enjoy playing, but you have to be in good shape, otherwise there is no point. For us Swedes, we are looking forward to it," he said.
Chilean Marcelo Rios, the only men's No. 1 never to have won a Grand Slam, will join McEnroe, Sampras and one wild card in the Team America side.
"I think there really is a place for the team tennis format," McEnroe said.

"The team tennis format would be a very interesting format for the Olympics, for example."
In the 35 years since the inception of the world rankings, only 24 men have had the distinction of being No. 1 including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Tournament organizers said that in future years, other members of the 24-strong No. 1 gang are expected to take part.

(Excerpt from ESPN)

Updates
Click here to read about the event which is now officially cancelled.

Kids battle it out at Mini Tennis event at Tashkent Challenger

The reason why I'm covering a bit of the Tashkent Challenger this week is because Rendy Lu, one of Asia's top 100 player is the top seed here.

Besides that I'm pretty impress with the efforts put in by the organiser and media to make Tashkent Challenger a successful one.

Here's the press release shared by Esther via the media team in Tashkent Challenger.

It was an interesting battle to witness as 32 selected children in the age group of 6-10 years came out to play in a mini tennis tournament coinciding with ongoing Tashkent ATP Challenger in an event organized by the Uzbekistan tennis Federation (UTF).

Akhliyor Abduraimov, Umar Akhmedjanov, Diana Borisenko, Yasmila Karimjanova, Jamila Akmedjanova, Dariya Kungurova, Kamil Dautov, Sitora Kamilova won prizes in their respective events.

Tournament Director of the Tashkent Challenger S. Uthrapathy gave away racquets as prizes for winning the event, which also meant that graduated from the mini tennis courts to the mains courts.

A small gift was also given to all the participants on behalf of the UTF.

The top seed of the event and Asia’s top ranked player Yen- Hsun Lu of Taipei commenting on the kids day event said,
“It’s important to have days like these as it helps to inspire the kids."
According to Andrei Kornilov Coordinator UTF, these programmes involve bringing children from different schools to the courts and expose them to the atmosphere of the event and the sport.
"We will have another few kids coming in tomorrow," he said.
Uzbekistan Tennis Federation Junior Tennis has initiated the event to popularize the sport among children.
“It’s not about teaching them to play tennis but to show them the fun side of it,” Kornilov added.
Almost 17,000 youngsters all over the country are a part of the mini tennis programme initiated by the UTF.

(Credit to Sunder Iyer @ Tashkent Challenger)

Oct 16, 2008

An interview with Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun at Tashkent Challenger

Again, thanks to Esther via the media team at Tashkent Challenger for providing this interview.

Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun of Chinese Taipei currently ranked 77 in the world and Asia’s second top player (after Kei Nishikori who is positioned at 66).

Once ranked as high as 69, Lu twisted his ankle last week, but now he is much fitter and raring to go at the Tashkent Challenger where he is seeded No 1.


The media team spoke to him about his aims, tennis in Asia and his preparations after he put out India’s Rohan Bopanna in a three set encounter 3-6,7-5,6-0.

Q: How has been the year for you so far?

Lu: It’s not bad, I played for my country at the Olympics, though I lost some points and the ranking, I have four more events two in Korea and two in Kazakhstan where I hope to make more points and get into the bigger event. Probably I’m looking at playing in more tour events from the beginning of next year. I had a twisted ankle last week, but I’m okay now and want to do well at the Tashkent Challenger.

Q: You are Asia’s topmost player, isn’t it lonely up there to be the only Asian?

Lu: (Laughs) What I can say that we have so many talented players in Asia who could be the top 100, may be 50, maybe even 10, but we players in Asia should higher goals for ourselves. Asian players are looking positive and are getting close. I surely wish there are more players in the top bracket this will do tennis in Asian countries a lot of good.

Q: What do you think is lacking in Asia?

Lu: I can tell you for my country, we should have more tournaments, so players can get points. We also need to have more professional trainers / coaches. We need quality than quantity.

Q: What about tour events Asia has four of them do you think it is enough?

Lu: ATP was talking to us players as they are also seeing potential and growth in the continent. We told them that Asia should have more events. As of now we have Four Tour events slotted in two weeks. They need to decide and separate the events, as Asian players are comfortable playing in the region due to the food, hotels, language and the people. If we can have four events in four weeks it will easy for Asian players rather than to miss two events.

Q: Coming back to your country the girls’ tennis is doing much better in terms of number of players you have in the rankings?

Lu: I agree that the women’ tennis results have been better; we have 2 players in top 100. The government is supporting us and now we have very good junior boys coming out of the country.
Also one has to remember Men’s tennis I much tougher that the women’s, but in the last 5 years men’s tennis has surely improved in our country. But like I said our federation should have more events for men’s.

Q: Your country is playing with Kazakhstan, but now they have many players who have come over from Russia in their team?

Lu: I know they have imported players in order to make their team strong, last time we defeated them, and I know this time will be tougher outing. Importing of players is also good sign for federations to make their respective team stronger.

Q: How are Asian’s doing compared to the Europeans in terms of fitness?

Lu: Now, everybody realizes importance of fitness and employ trainers on the tour. I’m more fit today than I was 2 or 3 years ago. I’m giving a lot of importance to my physical conditioning. Now when I play it’s a different feeling and feels much stronger. I feel in Asia we are still in a learning process, but we have to get there fast.

Q: What are your thoughts about the Tashkent Challenger?

Lu: It’s a good event, there are players from Europe and Asia have come together because of the geography of the country, as it in the middle of both continents. Also it’s a very strong event with top 4 of the 100 players and a lot of top 150 players from 24 countries participating. Also we have around 10 or 12 players who were earlier in the top 100 here. It’s a tough event for sure. There is great need to focus and fight out every match.

Q. How do you compare the Tashkent challenger to other events?

Lu: Compared to other challengers the tournament is really very nice, the hotel, the people, the courts, the organization is very nice and I have no complaints. I’m enjoying it and also hope to do well.

World no.1 tennis players to battle out in Penang

For the first time ever Kings of Tennis, a team event, will be played between the two leading continents in tennis, America and Europe. And there's no better place to begin with than Penang, Malaysia from November 14-16, 2008.

That means this prestigious event dubbed Big Bang Penang will be held just one week before Showdown of Champions in KL.

This is pretty similar to golf's Ryder Cup. Perhaps even better because Kings of Tennis will only be participated by players who have been ranked as world no. 1 in men’s singles.
When I first heard about the idea, I got immediately excited. It is time for a new big tournament in tennis and I believe it is going to be very successful," says American Captain, Roy Emerson.
Emerson has selected a strong team consisting of John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios and Pete Sampras.

European Captain, Ilie Nastase, has faith in Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander.
"For sure this is no exhibition event. We are eager to bring the Cup to America and we will certainly not be easy to beat," says Pete Sampras, winner of a record 14 Grand Slam singles titles.
The two captains also have the luxury to choose one wild card player each to their teams. The two names will be announced well in time before the event (Come, bring Andre Agassi and Marat Safin!)
"I am considering many options, but for sure it is going to be a former world number one and Grand Slam winner," says European Captain, Ilie Nastase.
The objective of King’s of Tennis is to create the first, biggest and best annual team event for the World no.1 in tennis.

The first year eight former stars will take part, but in the future, active dominants of the game will also battle out for individual and team glory.
"I am proud to be a part of the first European team. I think we have a good chance to win. One of the key matches will definitely be me against McEnroe," says Swedish legend, Bjorn Borg.
Schedule of Play
The first tournament will be played in Esplanade, Penang, Malaysia, the 14th to 16th of November 2008.

Friday 14th of November
1 doubles match and 2 singles matches

Saturday 15th of November
1 doubles match and 2 singles matches

Sunday 16th of November
4 singles matches

Point Schedule and Match Format
The continent who earns most points will win the Cup. Each match win is worth 10 points. Additionally each game won is worth 1 point. A tiebreak game counts as an ordinary game. In the case of a match tiebreak however, every point won is worth 1 point.

The singles matches will be played in best of three sets. The final set will however be played as a Match Tiebreak (to 10 points). The doubles matches will be played in the same format, except for the no-ad scoring which will be employed.

Owners of the Event
The owners of King’s of tennis are Fredrik Alama, Bjarne Borg, Lasse Olsson, Mark Zurevinsky and Urban Johansson. The organiser is Arianna Event Management.

Tickets Availability
The tickets are open for priority booking. Please call Axcess Hotline 603 7711 5000 to place your booking now or to obtain further information. No further information of when you can purchase the ticket yet. But according to source, this event is confirmed.

(Via Kings of Tennis website)

Updates
Click here to read about the event which is now officially cancelled.


More off-court photos at Madrid Masters

Here are more off-court photos on day 4 and day 5 in Madrid.

Let's start off with a series of photos of Andy Murray. I think he look good in a neater haircut like this.

And we also have Nikolay Davydenko and Richard Gasquet with the children in Masters Boutique.

As well photos of David Ferrer and Gilles Simon.

And finally a picture of David Nalbandian and Carlos Moya busy playing foosball.


(Via Madrid Masters official site)

Kei Nishikori's knee OK!


According to a Japanese sports website Daily Sports Online, Kei is receiving treatment on his right knee in Florida.

The good news is, Kei was told that the injury is due to fatigue and won't get any worse.


So we can expect him to return to court next week in Basel!

Updates:
Well, apparently things are not okay and Kei has to take a break from the rest of this season. Get well soon!

(Via menstennisforums, Image via Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images)

Bryan Twins off-court; Dubs results at Madrid Masters

Top seeds and two-time defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan took time out from their first-match preparations at the Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid yesterday to sign autographs and copies of the new ATP Feel the Speed of Doubles book for fans.

The American twins, who have amassed a 60-14 doubles record and clinched five titles this year, will contest their first match since winning the US Open crown last month against Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa in Madrid on Thursday.

In second round action, fifth seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett—who are tied No. 5 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race—boosted their chances of qualifying for Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai after beating Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in 80 minutes.

Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, who are locked in a two-team battle with the Bryan brothers for year-end No. 1 honours, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win over Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.

Polish duo Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski also advanced to the quarterfinals on Wednesday, after edging past French duo and recent Metz titlists Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 7-5, 7-6(14) in 91 minutes.

Rafael Nadal, who had been due to partner compatriot Carlos Moya in the second round against fourth seeds Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles on Wednesday afternoon, withdrew from that match due to slight pain in his lower back.

(Images by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic advances at Madrid Masters; Nikolay Davydenko stumbles

I'm not sure if it's only me. I thought Roger Federer look pale. Hope he's not sick or experiencing fatigue still.

Last night, Federer returned from a 5-week break to beat Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-6 (6) in the second round of the Madrid Masters.
“Happy to be back on tour,” Federer said.

“Happy with this first round. it was always going to be tough against Radek and he played a great second set.”
Federer, playing his first ATP event since winning the U.S. Open last month, will face Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I’m excited. He’s had a rocky season with injuries this year, so I feel for the guy,” Federer said of his French opponent.

“He’s probably one of the guys you wanna be playing out there.”
In an earlier match, Novak Djokovic advanced after Victor Hanescu retired because of an apparent groin injury while trailing 6-7 (8), 7-6 (8), 3-1.
“It’s a big relief to win … this is a big boost up for upcoming matches,” Djokovic said.

“He used his biggest weapon which was his serve. I couldn’t find any rhythm in return, so he used that wisely.”
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal pulled out of doubles with Carlos Moya on Tuesday because of a slight upper leg injury.
“Every match is important, including doubles, but I’ve got priorities,” said Nadal, who will face Richard Gasquet of France in singles tonight.

“You can’t win everything.”
American qualifier Robby Ginepri had the biggest upset of the day, beating fifth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Andy Roddick had little trouble getting past Spain’s Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 6-4.


The 8th-ranked American’s booming serve was never seriously challenged by Robredo and Roddick used breaks in each of the sets to pace out his win.


David Nalbandian won his sixth straight match by defeating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1.

Updates:
6th seed Ferrer suffered a shock defeat to fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in straight sets, recording a 6-4 7-6 triumph.

There will be an all-Argentinean clash in the next round when Nalbandian will meet his Davis Cup team-mate Juan Martin del Potro, who was 6-4 6-2 ahead when his Finnish opponent, Jarrko Nieminen, retired.

(Via AP, Images via Yahoo! Sport)

An interview with Rohan Bopanna at Tashkent Challenger

Thank you Esther for sharing this piece of interview via the media people at Tashkent Challenger.

So here you go:

An interview with Rohan Bopanna

India’s top tennis player Rohan Bopanna who has been performing exceedingly well in the doubles scene on the ATP Tour , is all set to partner leading doubles specialist Max Mirnyi of Belarus at the ATP Tour event at St Petersburg next week.
“I’m looking forward to play with Mirnyi, it’ll surely be a great experience for me to play with someone like him”, said Bopanna after entering the main draw of the Tashkent Open.

“I called up Mirnyi after he broke up with his regular partner Jamie Murray and he instantly agreed to play with me. I can surely learn a lot from his caliber and experience at the highest level”, said an elated Bopanna
Asked whether they will play in the future as well Bopanna replied, there is no commitment, but if they can do well and progress at St. Petersburg they will decide the future steps and hopefully continue partnerships on a long term basis.

Bopanna however added that his partnership with Aisam Qureshi would continue as they will be playing at the German and Slovak challengers in the next few weeks.
“Knowing each other for so long and our off court relationships have helped me and Aisam to pull off some very good matches, he said.
Expressing bitterness over being dropped for the Davis Cup for Romania, Bopanna said
“I was surprised at not being on the Davis Cup team for the tie against Romania, normally we have 5 players traveling on the Davis Cup team for the away tie, but for this tie only 4 players were sent to Romania."
"I’ve been in the team from 2002 and also have played singles all the while. I was told I was dropped because my performance was not good enough in the singles for a place in the squad," he added.
Bopanna, who was among the players who rebelled against the captaincy of Leander Paes, said
"He admitted that we have had differences in April, but I guess some grouses we raised have been sorted out, we need to have high team morale and good camaraderie amongst team members, which helps in close Davis Cup ties, this was missing," he added.

“Now that we are back to Group I and have to keep fighting to get back into the World Group."
On his rankings in the singles, Bopanna replied
“Many don’t know that my singles ranking has been affected because of my doubles performances. Many a times I can’t play qualifying in the singles as I’m playing in the finals of a doubles event."

"I’ve had to miss quite a few singles events as the qualifying is played on weekends, and so are the semifinals and finals of doubles.”

"But I guess that’s part of the profession, I’m playing well and will be playing at the Challengers in Germany and Slovakia , and also qualifying at Tashkent , will surely help my singles rankings. My performance at Newport, where I reached the quarterfinals in singles has been the best so far this year."

"I’m just trying to leave everything behind me and trying to improve my singles rankings and get back my place back into the squad for the tie which will take on the winners of Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei in April 2009."
Bopanna also added that travelling with his trainer Shyamal Vallabhjee, have helped him immensely to overcome his injuries.
“Shyamal who has also been a trainer of the South African cricket team, and also travels with Mahesh Bhupathi has done a great job for me in getting me out of injuries.”
"I’ve realized how important it is to have a trainer on the professional circuit, if I would have had a trainer before it would have been a boon, he said. I feel some times it is more good to have trainer on the tour than a coach," he added.

Oct 15, 2008

Dinara Safina was misinformed, WTA Tour CEO said

Last week, Dinara Safina voiced out that top tennis players might boycott next year's WTA tour if some questions were unanswered.

Finally, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour responded to Safina statement and cleared up the issue.
“Dinara was misinformed when she stated that the Kremlin Cup in Moscow was going to have a limited player commitment in 2009,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott in comments reported by the AFP.

“It is in fact one of five tournaments which falls the week immediately before a Grand Slam or the Sony Ericsson Championships that will have unlimited player commitment, meaning any number of top 10 players can play the event. We have since spoken with Dinara and clarified this detail.”
Safina was mistakenly under the impression that only a limited number of top ten players would be allowed to compete.
“I was given the wrong information and now understand that the Kremlin Cup in Moscow can receive an unlimited number of top players,” said Safina.

“I support the direction the Tour is taking - especially as it relates to steps taken to create a healthier calendar for top players - though I of course want to wait and see how the Roadmap develops before coming to final opinions on the many reforms that will part of the new system.”


“I do hope that I and other top players will have an opportunity to sit with the Tour leadership in the coming weeks to discuss certain elements of the Roadmap where I think there is still room for improvement.”
Hopefully WTA as well as ATP will hold more discussion sand talks to clear up any issues that might lead to miscommunication.

(Via On The Baseline, Down the Line Tennis)

Serena Williams and Common hit the beach in Hawaii

What a way to nurse an ankle injury!

Serena Williams was seen getting some surf action with her rapper boyfriend Common in Hawaii.

Last week she was seen with former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland hitting the Miami Beach together.


(Via tennisforum.com)

Rafael Nadal 2 wins away of ending the year as No. 1

Ernests Gulbis did not survive the grueling match against Rafael Nadal.

I was too tired to wait for that 2 a.m. match last night. I'm glad I didn't because the pay TV Astro did not show Rafael Nadal vs Ernest Gulbis match!

Rafael Nadal is just two wins shy of clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking, defeating Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 last night to reach the third round of the Madrid Masters.

Nadal was forced to work his ass off to win in the second round.

Next up for Nadal, the 2005 Madrid champion, will be 15th-ranked Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet overcame 23 aces by Mardy Fish to win 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3.

Back in Wimbledon, Nadal was taken to four sets by Gulbis, and last night's match was similarly tricky for the Spaniard.

Nadal has never been a fan of the Spanish capital’s high altitude and the extra speed it brings to the hard court.

He had a difficult time keeping up with the Latvian before ended the match in 2 hours and 22 minutes.

The Hugo Boss ball girl dropped a ball during the Nadal vs Gulbis match.

In other second-round matches, U.S. Open finalist Andy Murray advanced while 11th-seeded James Blake and 13th-seeded Fernando Verdasco lost.

Murray moved on when Simone Bolelli of Italy retired with an apparent shoulder injury while trailing 6-0, 2-1.

Murray will next play Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who beat Verdasco 6-2, 6-3.
“I’ve been playing really, really well in practice the last few weeks, better than I was playing throughout the summer,” said Murray, who won his first Masters Series title in Cincinnati in August.

“I’m probably mentally fresher now than the U.S. Open.”
(Images via Yahoo! Sport)

James Blake out in Madrid; Ball girls & off-court photos

James Blake becomes the first seed to lost in Madrid after lost to Gilles Simon 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the second round of the $3 million Mutua Madrilena Masters (Madrid Masters).

Simon will face either 5th-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko or American qualifier Robby Ginepri in the third round.


Headlining today's five 2nd-round matches is top-seeded Rafael Nadal, who will clash with unseeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

This is the first single match for Nadal since claiming a pair of singles victories in Spain’s Davis Cup win over the U.S..

The world no.1 is now leading the ATP with eight titles and a 77-9 record this season.


The world No. 1 and 2005 champion of this hardcourt event, Nadal faced Gulbis for the first time at Wimbledon earlier this year, dropping the first set before taking the second-round encounter, 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, en route to the championship.


Also slated for second-round play is U.S. Open runner-up Andy Murray, the 4th seed, and world no. 15 Richard Gasquet.


That pair will try to avoid the same fate as no. 13 Fernando Verdasco, who suffered a 6-2, 6-3 second-round loss to Marin Cilic of Croatia.


Phillip Kohlschreiber, Gael Monfils, Jarkko Nieminen and Marcel Granollers-Pujol claimed first-round victories Tuesday.


Photos:


Madrid Masters is probably famous for its hot Hugo Boss ball girls. These are the ball girl on the Andy Murray vs Simone Bolelli match. Murray was leading the match with 6-0, 2-1 when Bolelli retired due to an injury.


And here are more off-court photos.

Feliciano Lopez signing autograph for young fans.

Agustin Calleri signing autograph in Diadora's stand.

Marin Cilic was in Air Europa's stand.

Carlos Moya in front of a Mercedes.

(Images via Yahoo! Sport, Madrid Masters official website)


Oct 14, 2008

Photo updates at the Zurich Open 2008

The Zurich Open tennis tournament which started on October 11, has a 28-player draw that includes the four top seeds – Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams and Vera Zvonareva.

As usual, here are some of the photos to check out what the girls are doing.


World no. 1 Jelena Jankovic in Zurich.

Flavia Pennetta, Anna Chakvetadze, Rennae Stubbs and Stefania Boffa
taking part in the Pink Ribbon Charity Walk of Women.

Patty Schnyder and Venus Williams.

Ana Ivanovic at the Zurich Open Kids Day.

Swiss Timea Bacsinszky with the kids.

(Images via Zurich Open website, Jelena Jankovic official website)

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