By Bob Greene
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Sara Errani 3-6 6-2 6-3 to win the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France
Ekaterina Makarova beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3 7-6 (7) to win the PTT Pattaya Open in Pattaya City, Thailand
Czech Republic beat Netherlands 3-2 at Ostrava, Czech Republic
Japan beat Canada 4-1 at Tokyo, Japan
Germany beat Spain 4-1 at Frankfurt, Germany
France beat Australia 5-0 at La Roche sur Yon, France
Great Britain beat the United States 3-1 at San Diego, California, USA
Italy beat Argentina 3-1 at Mar del Plata, Argentina
Kazakhstan beat Belgium 3-2 at Astana, Kazakhstan
Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 at Novi Sad, Serbia
Americas Zone Group I: Ecuador beat Venezuela 3-2 at Guayaquil, Ecuador; Dominican Republic beat Uruguay 4-0 at Santo Domino, Dominican Republic
Asia/Oceania Zone Group I: China beat New Zealand 3-1 at Tianjin, China; India beat Chinese Taipei 5-0 at Indore, India
Europe/Africa Zone Group I: Poland beat Russia 3-2 at Moscow, Russia; Slovenia beat Portugal 3-2 at Kranj, Slovenia; Ukraine beat Romania 3-1 at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine; Slovak Republic beat Latvia 5-0 at Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Americas Zone Group II: Barbados beat Chile 3-2 at Bridgetown, Barbados; El Salvador beat Paraguay 3-2 at Asuncion, Paraguay; Peru beat Bolivia 3-2 at Trinidad, Bolivia; Mexico beat Guatemala 3-2 at Guatemala City, Guatemala, hard
Asia/Oceania Group II: Philippines beat Sri Lanka 3-1 at Colombo, Sri Lanka; Kuwait beat Indonesia 3-2 at Mishref, Kuwait
Europe/Africa Zone Group II: South Africa beat Monaco 3-2 at Centurion, South Africa, hard; Lithuania beat Norway 5-0 at Oslo, Norway; Finland beat Bulgaria 3-2 at Helsinki, Finland; Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Greece 3-1 at Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Belarus beat Ireland 4-1 at Minsk, Belarus; Moldova beat Egypt 4-1 at Chisnau, Moldova; Luxembourg beat Morocco 3-2 at Rabat, Morocco; Denmark beat Cyprus 4-1 at Copenhagen, Denmark
“When I lost seven games in a row I don’t really know what happened. Maybe I was a little stressed because I was missing some shots and she was so solid. Also, I was serving so well throughout the tournament and there were times today where I was struggling on serve. But I knew it was from my side, so if I just focused and kept fighting I could get it back.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after beating Sara Errani to win the Open GDF Suez title.
“The pressure is always on me to win both singles matches. This time I was able to help win three matches.” – Kei Nishikori, who led Japan’s Davis Cup victory over Canada.
“I pulled a stomach muscle. I hurt it on a serve in the second set. There was no way I could continue against a player like Kei in that condition.” – Frank Dancevic, after retiring from his match against Kei Nishikori, giving Japan an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Canada.
“The most important thing is that I won the match in straight sets.” – Roger Federer, who trailed 2-5 in the second set before downing Ilija Bozoljac in their Switzerland-Serbia opener.
“My head dropped a bit after I squandered a golden opportunity to level the match and he punished my resultant errors ruthlessly. But I can take some positives from this match because I played pretty well at times.” – Ilija Bozoljac.
“I think she played better than me the whole match. The last two matches I won from two match points down and from 0-3 in the third, so I just tried to stay in the match in the second set and just tried to fight, because I thought it might happen again. But in the end it didn’t.” – Karolina Pliskova, after losing the PTT Pattaya Open final to Ekaterina Makarova.
“We’ve got to take time to enjoy this win, we’re in the quarters again. In our next tie we play in Switzerland. The last time we played them we won 5-0 here in Astana and they might be willing the same revenge on us, but we’ll be up for the challenge.” – Doas Doskarayev, Kazakhstan Davis Cup captain.
“I had to serve well. I had no choice today, because Maria has one of the best returns on the tour. We played a few years ago and she broke me a lot of times, so that was a key for her to win again today, and I just tried to serve the best I could today. It was working well, so I’m very happy with it.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after upsetting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the PTT Pattaya Open.
“I started the match really well, but as the match continued I wasn’t doing the things that really helped me in the first set. I wasn’t being aggressive, I wasn’t in the court. She was playing with a lot of confidence in the match and I gave her that opportunity to step in and play her game.” – Maria Sharapova, following her semifinal loss to fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Between them the two stars of Switzerland’s Davis Cup team have won 18 Grand Slam tournament singles titles and one Olympic doubles gold medal. And Serbia was playing without its top players, including Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki. Switzerland easily clinched the first round victory with reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer taking the opening day singles and Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer winning the doubles. With Wawrinka and Federer skipping the reverse singles, Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic gave Serbia the final two points. On the first day, Federer rallied from a 2-5 second-set deficit to down Ilija Bozoljac 6-4 7-5 6-2 before Wawrinka overpowered Lajovic 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7).
It was a great week for Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian knocked off four seeded players during the week and in the final rallied from behind to beat Sara Errani for her sixth WTA career title, the Open GDF Suez in Paris. In the final, Errani won seven straight games to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the first set and lead 2-0 in the second. But Pavlyuchenkova steadied her game to end an amazing week that saw her beat three Top 10 players, including fifth-ranked Maria Sharapova, ninth-ranked Angelique Kerber and Errani, who is ranked seventh in the world. It was Pavlyuchenkova’s first Premier-level title, her first five titles coming at International-level tournaments. After Errani’s seven-game streak, Pavlyuchenkova immediately responded with a seven-game string of her own to take command of the match, hitting 48 winners to just 18 for Errani. “I’m still very happy I could make the final,” Errani said. “… I was a little bit more tired than normal in the match today because of yesterday. It was very tough to recover. But it was still a very good week for me.”
STAYING THE COURSE
Ekaterina Makarova withstood the bombardment provided by her opponent and wound up with her first tournament title in almost four years, the PTT Pattaya Open. The Russian’s only other title was on grass at Eastbourne in 2010. “I had to focus on my return to make the points,” Makarova said after beating Karolina Pliskova. “I’m really happy as it’s my second title.” Pliskova slammed six of her 10 aces in her first service game. As it turned out, 20 of the 21 games went to the server, the only service break coming in the eighth game of the opening set. “I was a little bit angry in the tiebreak because she served really well twice and then returned one just on the line, and then it was 5-all again,” Makarova said. “Then I missed an easy ball and it was set point. Luckily she hit her first double fault of the match then.”
Japan is in the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time after defeating an injury-hit Canada 4-1. Not only did Canada go into the first-round tie without its top player, Milos Raonic, but Frank Dancevic was forced to retire with an injury while trailing Kei Nishikori 6-1 1-0, giving Japan an unbeatable 3-1 lead. Go Soeda then completed the tie with a 6-1 6-1 win over Canada’s Peter Polansky. The tie’s biggest surprise came in the doubles when Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama upset Canada’s Daniel Nestor, one of the best doubles players in the world, and Dancevic 6-3 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-4. Raonic withdrew from the tie with a foot injury. Vasek Popisil, who was originally scheduled to play doubles with Nestor, also was out with an injury suffered at the Australian Open. Dancevic, who pulled a stomach muscle in the second set against Nishikori, said: “I played a lot this weekend. I don’t play much doubles on the tour. If this wasn’t Davis Cup, I probably would not have even stepped on the court today.”
The WTA’s first employee, Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, will be inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame later this year. She will be the first inductee from the sport of tennis to receive the honor. “What a surprise and honor,” Kellmeyer said. “If I haven’t learned anything in this lifetime, it is that no one gets anywhere alone and I have been one lucky lady to have others there to help me along the way. It’s extra special, also, to be honored in my hometown.” At the age of 15 Kellmeyer became the youngest woman at the time to compete in the US Nationals – now the US Open – at Forest Hills. She went on to play number one at the University of Miami, becoming the first woman to play on a Division I men’s team. Kellmeyer was the first employee and director of the WTA in 1973 and still serves the organization as an Executive Consultant of WTA Operations. The WTA Player Service award is named after her – the Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award – and she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall Of Fame in 2011.
SKIPPING FED CUP
The Czech Republic will take on Spain in a first-round Fed Cup tie this week without its highest-ranked player, Petra Kvitova. Ranked sixth in the world, Kvitova announced on the team’s Facebook page that a virus will keep her out of the clay court event in Seville, Spain. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova will take Kvitova’s spot on the roster, joining Lucie Safarova, Klara Zakopalova and Andrea Hlavackova.
It made no difference that Germany easily won its Davis Cup World Group tie against Spain. The team’s captain, Carsten Arriens, was still booed and jeered by fans in Frankfurt, Germany. The booing came just one day after Arriens was considered a hero for his decision to partner Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the doubles. They made a perfect team, winning the doubles and clinching the tie. But the fans were upset when only one of the dead rubbers was played on the final day. Kohlschreiber, who won a singles match on the opening day, pulled out of his reverse singles with a shoulder injury he suffered at the Australian Open. That gave Feliciano Lopez a walkover, Spain’s only point in the tie. Haas and Florian Mayer also were ruled out of playing the reverse singles because of injuries. That left only Daniel Brands, who beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (5) 6-4. The Spaniard afterwards admitted he had “zero motivation” for the match. “I could understand the crowd’s reaction, but I was surprised it was that bad,” Arriens said. “It was a very difficult situation because they were all injured and there was nothing I could do. It’s truly not what we wanted, but Tommy’s fitness was questionable the whole week and even the doubles was in the balance. And ‘Kohli’ had two long matches, which cost a lot of power, and he also has to contend with a painful arm. I really do not know what I would have done if it had been 2-1. I just hope that the great Friday and Saturday will be remembered by all the fans.”
All of China is proud of Li Na’s latest victory, capturing the women’s singles title at the Australian Open, her second Grand Slam tournament crown. But there has been grumbling in the world’s most populous country about their tennis star. “I would say most people (in China) were just happy to see her win, although state media probably was a little disappointed that she didn’t mention her country” in her victory speech, said Liz Carter, assistant editor of Foreign Policy/Tea Leaf Nation, who monitors Chinese media. “I didn’t see any reaction among regular people of displeasure or criticism.” But what did upset many in China was a cash bonus of $132,000 Li received from the government when she returned home. The official Xinhua news agency, calling the event “embarrassing” and “money-worshipping, cited Xiao Huanyu, a sports professor in Shanghai, as saying” “The government deems sports achievement a kind of political achievement. Therefore it needed to hand out the bonus to ‘show its face’ even though Li Na’s triumph had little to do with the government.”
SIGNS NEW COACH
Tommy Haas has a new coach. The 35-year-old right-hander has hired fellow German Alexander Waske with a specific goal in mind. “We have set the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals as our mutual objective.” Haas almost made the year-end championships more than 12 years ago when he finished in the Top 10 for the first time. In 2012, Haas was named the Comeback Player of the Year. “I want to win titles again this season,” Haas said. “That of course requires physical fitness, and also in this area Alex is a meticulous worker.” When he played on the ATP Tour, Waske was ranked as high as 16th in the world in doubles. He had Haas teamed to win the 2005 ATP World Team Championships.
Paris: Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke beat Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic 6-7 (7) 6-4 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Pattaya: Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang beat Alla Kudayavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova 3-6 7-6 (5) 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
Viña del Mar: www.royalguardopen.cl
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
Buenos Aires: http://copaclaro.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
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
Asia/Oceania Group II: Thailand vs. Hong Kong China at Nonthaburi, Thailand, hard; Vietnam vs. Pakistan at Da Lat City, Vietnam, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,846,010 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam, Netherlands, hard
$568,805 U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$488,890 Copa Claro, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
$2,440,070 Qatar Total Open 2014, Doha, Qatar, hard