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By Bob Greene

 

STARS

Australian Open

Men’s singles: Stanislas Wawrinka beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3

Women’s singles: Li Na beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (3) 6-0

Men’s doubles: Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt beat Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 6-3 6-3

Women’s doubles: Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-4 3-6 7-5

Mixed doubles: Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor beat Sania Mirza and Horia Tecau 6-3 6-2

Boys’ singles: Alexander Zverev beat Stefan Kozlov 6-3 6-0

Girls’ singles: Elizaveta Kulichkova beat Jana Fett 6-2 6-1

Boys’ doubles: Lucas Miedler and Bradley Mousley beat Quentin Halys and Johan Sebastien Tatlot 6-4 6-3

Girls’ doubles: Anhelina Kalinina and Elizaveta Kulichkova beat Katie Boulter and Ivana Jorovic 6-4 6-2

Men’s Wheelchair singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Gustavo Fernndez 6-0 6-1

Women’s Wheelchair singles: Sabine Ellerbrock beat Yui Kamiji 3-6 6-4 6-2

Men’s Wheelchair doubles: Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda beat Gordon Reid and Maikel Scheffers 6-3 6-3

Women’s Wheelchair doubles: Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley beat Marjolein Buis and Jiske Griffioen 6-3 6-7 (3) 6-2

Quad Wheelchair singles: David Wagner beat Lucas Sithole 3-6 7-5 6-3

Quad Wheelchair doubles: Andrew Lapthorne and David Wagner beat Dylan Alcott and Lucas Sithole 6-4 6-4

OTHERS:

Peter Gojowczyk beat Igor Sijsling 6-4 7-5 to win the Heilbronn Open in Talhelm, Germany

 

SAYING

“I still think that I’m dreaming. It’s a strange feeling. I’ve seen so many finals. I always try to watch the final of Grand Slams because that’s where the best players are playing. Before today for me, it wasn’t (even) a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it.” – Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion.

“Finally I got her. Last two times was very close.” – Li Na, holding the Daphne Akhurt Memorial Cup given to the Australian Open women’s singles winner.

“I’m so proud of you, and it’s only the beginning.” – Carlos Rodriguez, Li Na’s coach, to the Australian Open champion.

“It has been a very emotional two weeks – I’m sorry to finish this way. I tried very, very hard. This year was one of the more emotional tournaments in my career.” – Rafael Nadal, who injured his back during the men’s final.

“I was surprised how well I started the match. In the beginning he was good, he was fit, he wasn’t injured. And I was playing amazing tennis.” – Stanislas Wawrinka, after beating Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open men’s final.

“It was my first Grand Slam final and I’m just proud with the way I handled it. It wasn’t easy against her because she was playing extremely well. So I’m quite happy.” – Dominika Cibulkova, after losing to Li Na in the women’s title match.

“So thanks for him give up everything just traveling with me to be my hitting partner, fix the drinks, fix the racquet. So thanks a lot, you are a nice guy. Also you are so lucky, find me.” – Li Na, thanking her husband, Shan Jiang, during on-court ceremonies after she won the Australian Open singles title.

“He’s an amazing champion, he never gives up. I’m really, really, really, really, really, really happy.” – Stanislas Wawrinka, after upsetting defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

“These are kind of matches that you work for, you live for, you practice for. Unfortunately somebody has to lose in the end. This year it was me. I lost to a better player.” – Novak Djokovic, following his loss to Stanislas Wawrinka.

“It’s not easy playing such a champion … but she is also just a human. I just went out there swinging.” – Ana Ivanovic, after upsetting top-ranked Serena Williams in a fourth-round match.

“I don’t want to blame anything. I feel like Ana deserves all the credit. I feel she played unbelievable today. I think she went for her shots. It’s not like I gave her the match.” – Serena Williams, when asked if a back injury was responsible for her upset loss to Ana Ivanovic.

“When we were starting the match and they were talking about all her Grand Slam titles, it was quite impressive. But I didn’t think much about the occasion and who I was playing, because it can get overwhelming.” – Ana Ivanovic, on her thoughts before her match against Serena Williams.

“It’s tough. I will be genuine about it. It’s never easy (but) it’s moments like this that ultimately shape you and make you who you are.” – Maria Sharapova, following her 3-6 6-4 6-1 fourth-round loss to Dominika Cibulkova

“I was so lucky.” – Rafael Nadal, after getting past Grigor Dimitrov in a quarterfinal, 3-6 7-6 (3) 7-6 (7), 6-2.

“I’m a bit shattered. It’s tough losing that match, my first (Grand Slam) quarterfinal. I came out expecting nothing less than to win.” – Grigor Dimitrov, after losing to top-ranked Rafael Nadal.

“It’s not the end of the world, but I’m not happy with what I did today.” – Victoria Azarenka, after losing in the quarterfinals to Agnieszka Radwanska.

“It’s frustrating. We like coming down here and starting the year hot. I don’t think we played terribly, just the margins are really small. We’re a front-running team and (if we won the tiebreak) we probably win that in straight sets. But all credit goes to those guys. They served tough.” – Mike Bryan, after he and brother Bob were upset in the third round by Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen, 7-6 (9) 6-4.

“It’s been by one point and one break, that’s it.” – Tomas Berdych, following his semifinal loss in which Stanislas Wawrinka won 143 points and Berdych 142.

“She’s brave. She’s young. She has nothing to lose. I think she’s a very great player with a bright future.” – Ana Ivanovic, explaining her quarterfinal loss to 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard of Canada.

“I wouldn’t say I exceeded my expectations, but I’m happy with how I did. I always want to do better. To me it’s not a surprise. I’ve been working hard my whole life to do this – play at Grand Slams and do well. It’s not an overnight thing.” – Eugenie Bouchard, after her semifinal loss to Li Na.

“I miss the game, but I don’t miss the stress of it. I feel like I walked away at the right time.” – Pete Sampras, a 14-time Grand Slam tournament singles winner who presented the trophy to the men’s champion.

 

STAN THE MAN

With his first Grand Slam tournament title, Stanislas Wawrinka proved he belongs. Wawrinka beat defending champion and second-ranked Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals and top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the final to capture the Australian Open men’s singles title and become Switzerland’s top player, jumping ahead of Roger Federer. “I never expected to win a Grand Slam,” Wawrinka said. “I never dreamed about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys.” But the 28-year-old did beat everyone he faced Down Under and became the 36th man in the Open Era to win his first major title in his maiden final. Playing an aggressive brand of tennis, Wawrinka took the opening set and was up a break when Nadal hurt his back. Despite that, however, Nadal won the third set before Wawrinka closed out the victory. “It was bad luck what happened to me today, but he really deserved it,” Nadal said of his conqueror. By winning his first major title in his 36th Grand Slam appearance, Wawrinka is behind only Goran Ivanisevic in most Grand Slam appearances before winning. It also was the first time in his career that Wawrinka had recorded three consecutive wins over Top 10 players.

 

SUPER JOB

In her third trip to the final Down Under, China’s Li Na finally came away as the Australian Open women’s singles champion. The 31-year-old became the oldest woman to capture the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup as she won her second Grand Slam tournament title, her first coming at the French Open 2011. “At last I made it,” Li said. “Not like the last two times, always feeling one more step. But this time I did it, so I’m really so proud of myself.” Li lost in 2011 to Kim Clijsters and to Victoria Azarenka last year, both times after winning the first set. This time she struggled to a first-set tiebreak, where she jumped out to a 5-1 lead. But it was a relaxed Li who zoomed through the second set by pounding winners off both sides. Cibulkova beat four Top 20 players en route to the final, including former champion Maria Sharapova.

 

SOMETHING SPECIAL

In winning the Australian Open men’s title, Stanislas Wawrinka became the first man to defeat the top two seeds at a Grand Slam tournament since Sergi Bruguera did it at Roland Garros in 1993. It was also only the ninth time it has happened in the Open Era. In 1993, Bruguera beat Pete Sampras (ranked No. 1) and Jim Courier (No. 2). At the 1991 Wimbledon, Michael Stich beat Stefan Edberg (1) and Boris Becker (2). At 1990 Wimbledon, Edberg beat Ivan Lendl (1) and Becker (2). At Wimbledon in 1989, Becker beat Lendl (1) and Edberg (2). At Roland Garros in 1985 Mats Wilander beat John McEnroe (1) and Lendl (2). Wilander did the same thing at the 1983 Australian Open, beating McEnroe (2) and Lendl (1). On his way to the 1976 Australian Open title, Mark Edmondson beat Ken Rosewall (1) and John Newcombe (2), and Manuel Orantes captured the 1975 US Open with victories over Guillermo Vilas (2) and Jimmy Connors (1).

With his win, Wawrinka will rise to a career-high third in the world in the Emirates ATP Rankings and will usurp Roger Federer as Switzerland’s top player for the first time. Federer has slipped to eighth in the world after losing in the semifinals at Melbourne. Federer had held the top Swiss ranking since 2001.

Wawrinka is the first player outside the Top 4 to win the Australian Open since 18th-ranked Thomas Johansson captured the year’s first Grand Slam tournament title in 2002, and he is the first player to win his maiden major title by defeating a World number one player since Juan Martin del Potro upset Federer in the 2009 US Open final.

 

SIGNED BUT PLAYING?

Serena Williams has entered the Indian Wells, California, tournament this year for the first time since 2001, when she vowed never to return. It was in 2001 when older sister Venus withdrew with an injury just 20 minutes before she was to play Serena in the semifinals. Serena went on to win the tournament as fans booed them. Serena recently said she was considering returning to Indian Wells after she watched a movie about the late South African president Nelson Mandela. Venus Williams is not on the list of entries released for the BNP Paribas Open, which will be played March 3-10. Other women who have entered include Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, while leading the men’s entries are defending champion Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

 

SWAT-MEISTER

Roger Federer is continuing to rewrite the record books. By reaching his 41st Grand Slam quarterfinal, Federer has equaled a record set by Jimmy Connors. His 6-3 7-5 6-4 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put Federer into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the 11th straight year. He ended up reaching the semifinals before losing to Rafael Nadal.

 

SURGE TO VICTORY

Just when it appeared they would not repeat as Australian Open winners, Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci rallied to win the women’s doubles and retain their co-world number one ranking. Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina had beaten the Italian pair in their last two meetings. And in the doubles final, Makarova and Vesnina took a 5-2 lead in the decisive third set. “It was very strange, very difficult,” Errani said. “We went from 2-0 up in third set to 5-2 down in the third set, and we weren’t really playing very well at that time. But from there we knew we had to keep going and we were able to make it.” Errani and Vinci won the next five games to capture their 17th doubles title as a team and their fourth Grand Slam tournament title together.

 

SET FOR PLAY

Five teams will be home to the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), which is scheduled to begin this season. According to Mahesh Bhupathi, a doubles specialists from India and co-founder of the league, cities that will be host to the new league will be Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur and a city in the Middle East. The players’ draft for the league will be held March 2 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The league will play November 28 through December 20. Australian Lleyton Hewitt, a former number one, confirmed that he will play.  Bhupathi said every team will have six to 10 players and there will be a USD $10 million team salary cap. The league’s structure will be similar to the World TeamTennis league held every July in the United States.

 

SAYS WHO?

Ana Ivanovic listened while the announcer told the crowd about her opponent, Serena Williams. “When we were starting the match and they were talking about all her Grand Slam titles, it was quite impressive,” said Ivanovic, who had never won a set against Williams in four previous meetings. A five-time Australian Open champion, Williams was also introduced as the winner of 17 major singles titles, playing in her 70th match at the Australian Open, an Open Era record, and the fact that she had won 78 of her 82 matches in 2013. “I didn’t think much about the occasion and who I was playing, because it can get overwhelming,” Ivanovic said. And she wasn’t overwhelmed. In fact, she won the fourth-round match, beating the top-seeded Williams 4-6 6-3 6-3. “I think she’s done so much for the sport, and she’s still doing it,” Ivanovic said in praise of Williams. “She’s such a great athlete and a great person to have on tour. We want her because it pushes us.”

 

SITTING TARGETS

Both defending champions – Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka – were bounced from the Australian Open in the quarterfinals, Djokovic to eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7 and Azarenka to Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1 5-7 6-0. It was the first time in the Open Era that both defending champions have lost in the Australian Open quarterfinals. The last time the two defending champions lost in the quarterfinals at any Grand Slam tournament was at Roland Garros in 1997 when Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Steffi Graf were both eliminated. It also happened at the 1991 US Open with Pete Sampras and Gabriela Sabatini being ousted, and at Wimbledon in 1974 when Jan Kodes and Billie Jean King both lost.

 

SQUEEKER

Rafael Nadal lost the Australian Open men’s final to Stanislas Wawrinka. But the Spaniard almost didn’t get to the final. Earlier in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament he was almost eliminated by 22-year-old Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. “I was so lucky,” Nadal admitted after squeezing past Dimitrov 3-6 7-6 (3) 7-6 (7) 6-2 in a quarterfinal match. “I’m a bit shattered,” Dimitrov said. “It’s tough losing that match, my first (Grand Slam) quarterfinal. I came out expecting nothing less than to win.”

 

SHARED TITLE

Playing in just their third tournament as a team, Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt and Poland’s Lukasz Kubot won the men’s doubles crown, defeating the surprising duo of American Eric Butorac and South African Raven Klaasen. “I think everybody could see after the match what it means to me,” Lindstedt said. “I cried like a schoolboy. It means the world to me. I even messed up the speech and everything.” The champions had never won a match together before the Australian Open. As individuals, they both won their first Grand Slam tournament doubles title. Lindstedt had lost three consecutive Wimbledon finals. “It’s a childhood dream come true, and I’m probably not going to believe it until I finish my career,” Lindstedt said. “It means absolutely everything to me.” Butorac and Klaasen were playing their sixth tournament together and made huge waves as they battled into the final. They started with a first-round victory over Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter, then upset defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan before surprising Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.

A 31-year-old, Kubot became the first Polish man to win a Grand Slam tournament doubles title since Wojtek Fibak at the 1978 Australian Open. The 36-year-old Lindstedt is the first Swedish player to win a major doubles title since Simon Aspelin teamed with Austria’s Julian Knowle to win the US Open in 2007.

 

SHOWING UP

Marion Bartoli is considering playing at Wimbledon this year. But she is not planning on defending her title. Bartoli said she may play in the invitational legends’ doubles event, “so I will play the second week,” the 29-ye3ar-old Frenchwoman said. Bartoli retired suddenly just weeks after winning Wimbledon last year. She was in Melbourne for the Australian Open doing commentary for French television. “I’m still so passionate about tennis,” she told a news service. “Unfortunately I can’t play anymore because of my body, but the passion is still inside, definitely.” Bartoli said her shoulder is the reason she stopped playing. “The shoulder is basically damaged forever and I can’t serve anymore,” she said. While she loves the game, she has no regrets about her decision to retire. “Don’t expect me to cry or have tears in my eyes,” Bartoli said. “I have the luxury to say I walked out of the game as t4he Wimbledon champion, and believe me, that’s not happening to everyone.”

 

SHOVE

Spain’s David Ferrer played down the fact he shoved a line judge during his quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych. “It was nothing,” Ferrer said. After losing the first two sets, the Spaniard had just broken Berdych to take a 4-2 lead in the third set. Ferrer wiped his face with a towel and started to toss it onto a courtside chair. A line judge was in the way, so Ferrer pushed him, causing the man to stumble a few steps. “It was a nervous moment, but nothing,” Ferrer said about the incident, which prompted a negative reaction from the crowd. “I said ‘Excuse me’ to him after that. Nothing special.”

 

SOWETO OPEN

The Soweto Open tennis tournament is off again because of a lack of sponsorship. The department of sport and recreation, which sponsored the revived tournament at the Arthur Ashe Complex in Jabavu, South Africa, last year, will not bankroll the Soweto Open in 2014. “The department of sport have informed us that the hosting of the current Chan (African Nations Championship) tournament … had drained their finances and they were unable to carry on sponsoring the Soweto Open,” said Bruce Davidson, the South Africa Tennis Association’s media consultant. The tournament for both men and women was considered pivotal in the development of tennis in South Africa. The Soweto Open was first held in 2009, but was not played in 2012. Government money enabled it to be revived in 2013. “There is simply no sponsor to foot the bill, no matter how important it is to ensure the future of the sport in the country in a wider sense,” Davidson said.

 

STAYING HOME

Great Britain’s top women’s player, Laura Robson, will missed the team’s Fed Cup tie in Hungary because of a wrist injury. Replacing Robson will be 22-year-old Jocelyn Rae, who will join Heather Watson, Johanna Konta and Tara Moore. Great Britain has been drawn against Hungary, Latvia and Romania in the Europe/African Group Zone I competition in Budapest. The Fed Cup will be held February 4-9.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Talhelm: Tomasz Bednarek and Henri Kontinen beat Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski 3-6 7-6 (3) 12-10 (match tiebreak)

 

SURFING

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com

Paris: www.opengdfsuez.com/

Pattaya City: www.pentanglepromotions.com

Montpellier: www.opensuddefrance.com/

Zagreb: www.zagrebindoors.com

Viña del Mar: www.royalguardopen.cl

Dallas: www.challengerofdallas.com

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

WOMEN

$710,000 Open GDF Suez, Paris, France, hard

$250,000 PTT Pattaya Open, Pattaya City, Thailand, hard

DAVIS CUP

First round

World Group

Czech Republic vs. Netherlands at Ostrava, Czech Republic, hard

Japan vs. Canada at Tokyo, Japan, hard

Germany vs. Spain at Frankfurt, Germany, hard

France vs. Australia at La Roche sur Yon, France, clay

United States vs. Great Britain at San Diego, California, USA, clay

Argentina vs. Italy at Mar del Plata, Argentina, clay

Kazakhstan vs. Belgium at Astana, Kazakhstan, hard

Serbia vs. Switzerland at Novi Sad, Serbia, hard

Americas Zone Group I: Ecuador vs. Venezuela at Guayaquil, Ecuador, clay; Dominican Republic vs. Uruguay at Santo Domino, Dominican Republic, hard

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I: China vs. New Zealand at Tianjin, China, hard; India vs. Chinese Taipei at Indore, India, hard

Americas Zone Group II: Barbados vs. Chile at Bridgetown, Barbados, hard; Paraguay vs. El Salvador at Asuncion, Paraguay, clay; Bolivia vs. Peru at Trinidad, Bolivia, clay; Guatemala vs. Mexico at Guatemala City, Guatemala, hard

Asia/Oceania Group II: Sri Lanka vs. Philippines at Colombo, Sri Lanka, hard; Thailand vs. Hong Kong China at Nonthaburi, Thailand, hard; Kuwait vs. Indonesia at Mishref, Kuwait, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group II: South Africa vs. Monaco at Centurion, South Africa, hard; Norway vs. Lithuania at Oslo, Norway, hard; Finland vs. Bulgaria at Helsinki, Finland, hard; Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Greece at Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, carpet; Belarus vs. Ireland at Minsk, Belarus, hard; Moldova vs. Egypt at Chisnau, Moldova, hard; Morocco vs. Luxembourg at Rabat, Morocco, clay; Denmark vs. Cyprus at Copenhagen, Denmark, hard

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

$577,845 Open Sud de France, Montpellier, France, hard

$577,845 PBZ Zagreb Indoors, Zagreb, Croatia, hard

$426,605 Royal Guard Open Chile, Viña del Mar, Chile, clay

$100,000 Challenger of Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA, hard

FED CUP

First Round

World Group

United States vs. Italy at Cleveland, Ohio, USA, hard

Spain vs. Czech Republic at Seville, Spain, clay

Slovak Republic vs. Germany at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard

Australia vs. Russia at Hobart, Australia, hard

World Group II

Canada vs. Serbia at Montreal, Quebec, Canada, hard; Sweden vs. Poland at Boras, Sweden, hard; France vs. Switzerland at Paris, France, hard; Argentina vs. Japan at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Europe/Africa Zone Group I at Budapest, Hungary, hard; round-robin with two nations advancing to World Group II playoffs in April: Pool A: Belgium, Croatia, Luxembourg, Netherlands; Pool B: Great Britain, Hungary, Latvia, Romania; Pool C: Austria, Israel, Ukraine, Slovenia; Pool D: Belarus, Bulgaria, Portugal, Turkey

Americas Zone Group I at Lambare, Paraguay, clay: round-robin with one nation advancing to World Group II playoffs in April: Pool A: Mexico, Paraguay, Venezuela; Pool B: Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I at Astana, Kazakhstan, hard: round-robin with one nation advancing to World Group II playoffs in April: Pool A: Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Thailand; Pool B: China, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Uzbekistan

 Asia/Oceania Zone Group II at Astana, Kazakhstan, hard: round-robin with one nation advancing to Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in 2015: Hong Kong China, India, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Vietnam

Europe/Africa Zone Group III at Tallin, Estonia, hard: round-robin with two nations advancing to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2015: Armenia, Botswana, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Madagascar, Malta, Moldova, Namibia, Norway

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka



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Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY (http://www.tennishistorybook.com/).

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