Mondays with Bob Greene
Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych 3-6 6-4 6-3 to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Grigor Dimitrov beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (5) to win the men’s singles at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, Mexico
Federico Delbonis beat Paolo Lorenzi 4-6 6-3 6-4 to win the Brasil Open in São Paulo, Brazil
Klara Zakopalova beat Garbiñe Muguruza 4-6 7-5 6-0 to win the Brasil Tennis Cup in Florianopolis, Brazil
Dominika Cibulkova beat Christina McHale 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-4 to win the Abierto Mexicano Telcel women’s singles in Acapulco, Mexico
“Things definitely went my way out here tonight, but I have had a lot tougher matches in the last one and a half years, so this is nice to get a lucky break again.” – Roger Federer, after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“I’m quite good in that I don’t keep the losses in my head for a long time. I will definitely try to learn from the mistakes in the second set. I will just try to take positives from that and just leave all the negatives behind.” – Tomas Berdych, following his loss to Roger Federer in the final in Dubai.
“You just stand on the baseline, try to hit a few good shots and hope he doesn’t keep hitting the big serves.” – Roger Federer, on playing Tomas Berdych.
“Belief is the only thing that kept me going today. I didn’t think I was going to come back after last night’s match. I’m really happy. This title means a lot to me. Every match I played was really tough, especially the last three where I played three sets.” – Grigor Dimitrov, following his triumph in Acapulco, Mexico.
“I know it’s difficult but it’s not an easy sport. You have got two options – either to get down or get even more motivated.” – Kevin Anderson, after losing in the title match for the second straight week.
“I was losing the whole match, but anything can happen in a final. I think I got a little bit lucky here and there and I’m very happy I could make it through and win the third set and win the title.” – Klara Zakopalova, who won the last 11 games of the match to beat Garbiñe Muguruza and win the Brasil Tennis Cup.
“We are happy to be back to winning ways and winning a title. We got back this year hoping to continue the streak and doing well. We started off well in Sydney. We lost to (Nestor) Zimonjic and (Daniel) Nestor there in the final and happy to win this title against them and get a little sweet revenge back.” – Rohan Bopanna, after he and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Zimonjic and Nestor in the Dubai doubles final.
“We had in our mind we had to go all out, because the last time we lost to them, and this time we just had to go out aggressively. I think we had a very aggressive mindset, and luckily it just paid off. I’m really happy that we ended up getting a win today.” – Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.
Playing from behind, Roger Federer showed that he is still to be reckoned with this season as he won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the sixth time, beating Tomas Berdych in the final. “It was a tough match,” Federer said, stating the obvious. “Tomas had the advantage and could have, should have, brought it home, but maybe I got a little lucky.” In the semifinals, Federer also lost the opening set before rallying to knock off top-seeded Novak Djokovic. Against Berdych, Federer lost the first set and was a break down in the second at 3-2. But the Swiss star immediately broke back, then held at love to begin his winning surge. “I was able to break back right away, which was key. I stayed calm and once I got even I started to play better,” Federer said. The 32-year-old Federer won his 78th tour-level title, moving him ahead of John McEnroe to stand third alone in the all-time titles leaders list. He has won as least one ATP World Tour title every year since 2000 and has passed the USD $80 million mark in career earnings. Berdych had an 11-match winning streak snapped. “I would say many things [went wrong],” Berdych said. “The match started pretty well. I had really many chances, and then I basically just gave him the game and that’s it. It’s very disappointing for me the way I handled that situation. I was in the better shape and playing really well and made my chances, but unfortunately I didn’t execute it in the end.”
SIZZLING IN MEXICO
Grigor Dimitrov has been tagged the “new Federer.” He proved it in Acapulco, Mexico, by knocking off Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in the semifinals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, then outlasting South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the title match. The 22-year-old Dimitrov became the first Bulgarian to win on the ATP World Tour when he captured Stockholm last year. With the win in Acapulco, Dimitrov becomes the second player born in the 1990s to win multiple titles, joining Canadian Milos Raonic. It was the second straight week Anderson has suffered a heartbreaking. The week before, the South African lost to Marin Cilic in the Delray Beach Open final. “Right now it’s really disappointing … to come so close. It was possibly a match where I felt I was going to get it,” Anderson said. “I’m going to have to move on, need to take positives and take belief.”
Anderson was able to leave Acapulco with a winner’s trophy, however. He and Matthew Ebden defeated Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi for their first ATP World Tour team title. It was Anderson’s first doubles crown on the ATP World Tour, while Ebden has now won four titles. “It was the first time for us playing together,” Ebden said. “I’ve known Kevin since we were kids. We grew up playing junior tennis together. I was just really thankful that he was able to play through the doubles and the singles. It’s a massive effort by him. I really owe it to him.”
STOPPED BY INJURY
A shoulder injury forced Tommy Haas to retire during his semifinal match at the Brazil Open and could affect his future. Haas said he “felt a lot of pain” in his right shoulder when he slammed his racquet to the ground in frustration after losing his serve at 3-3 in the opening set. He received several medical treatments but continued to play until he retired while trailing 6-3 3-2 to Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. “After I threw my racquet when I got broken at three-all, I felt a lot of pain in my shoulder and it never really got away,” the 35-year-old German said. “The pain was getting worse. And the smart player’s decision has to be not to continue, unfortunately.” Haas said the latest injury could be a factor in his decision on when to stop playing. “I’ve had three shoulder injuries and one elbow injury, so my shoulder is not the youngest, not the way it needs to be,” Haas said. “I’m very happy that I can still play at a high level, but sometimes the shoulder is very, very tired, very, very stiff, and it tells me not to continue. But I’ll try to play as long as I can, hopefully for the rest of the season, then we will see.”
In Acapulco, Mexico, top-seeded David Ferrer withdrew from his quarterfinal against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the second set because of a left leg strain. The Spaniard was leading 6-4, 2-2 when he suffered an inner thigh strain in his left leg. After seeking treatment in the locker room, Ferrer returned to the court but lost the next two points before retiring. “I’m very sad because I was playing great.” Ferrer said. “The day was going so well for me and then this happened.”
It took one streak to break another for Klara Zakopalova. Ranked 32nd in the world, Zakopalova had lost 12 straight finals before reaching the title match of the Brasil Cup. Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain was serving for the match8 at 6-4 5-2 when Zakopalova went on an 11-game streak to capture the title 4-6 7-5 6-0. “I was playing well in the first set but she was just playing a little bit better, but in the second set she was just playing amazing,” Zakopalova said. “But then maybe she started making a few mistakes and I was a little bit more patient. After I won the second set I told myself that anything could happen.” It was Zakopalova’s third WTA title, but first title in more than eight years. “Winning this title is just incredible. I really have no more words for it,” she said.
By winning the Mexican Open women’s singles, Dominika Cibulkova is one step away from the WTA Top Ten. Top-seeded in Acapulco, Mexico, Cibulkova beat American Christina McHale and secured a new career-high of 11th in the world. Cibulkova was runner-up to China’s Li Na in January’s Australian Open. Against McHale, Cibulkova had all she could handle. “I expected a really tough match and this was over my expectations,” Cibulkova said of the 2-hour, 54-minute battle. “I have to say, it was an extremely tough match. Her defense was amazing today. We had so many long rallies and the match was so up and down, but I was fighting for every point and I’m really happy I could win this. I’m really, really tired right now because I had to dig so deep, physically and mentally.” It was also a breakthrough week for McHale. “It was really nice to make my first WTA final here,” the American said. “II was happy with the way I fought today.”
Perhaps it was the quicker surface that suited Roger Federer’s game. Maybe it was the crowd getting behind him. Whatever, Federer played some of his best tennis in years to upset Novak Djokovic 3-66-3 6-2 in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships. From midway through the second set, the 32-year-old Federer dominated his opponent. “There was a buzz out there tonight. I was fully able to enjoy myself,” Federer said in a courtside interview after he knocked off the top seed. “It’s never easy against Novak. Today I had a difficult start that put me on the back foot, but the crowd kept pushing me on. It’s a quick court and I’m always going to play aggressively.” Djokovic had won nine of his previous 12 meetings with Federer and had not lost to the Swiss star in 18 months. Until now. “This is a big step in the right direction for me, gives me a lot of confidence,” Federer said.
You can now refer to Federico Delbonis as a champion. In a battle of unseeded players, Delbonis defeated Paolo Lorenzi to capture the Brasil Open. The Argentine failed to convert on three match points in the Hamburg, Germany, final last year. But this time he didn’t waste the opportunity, firing 12 aces and winning 84 percent of his first-serve points in besting Lorenzi in three sets. “All the matches were complicated,” Delbonis said. “I remember moments from each one of them, especially the one I had with Nico (Almagro) when I lost the first set. It was a hard moment, but I was able to come back. I think that everything happened because of the calm attitude I had when facing the key moments. That allowed me to always find a solution and find again my best game.” At 32 years old, Lorenzi was seeking to become the oldest first-time winner since Wayne Arthurs won in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, in 2005 at the age of 33. Until now, Lorenzi had never advanced past the quarterfinals of an ATP World Tour event. “For me, it felt like my home,” Lorenzi said of the tournament. “It has been incredible and I’m very happy. I tried to win the final, but he played the important points better, and that’s tennis.”
Tennis star Serena Williams and Jamaican sprint act Usain Bolt are on a star-studded short list for this year’s Laureus Award. Others nominated for the prestigious “Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award” are Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal, British distance runner Mo Farah, American basketball star LeBron James, Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and German Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel. Besides Williams, the “Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year” nominees include German soccer player Nadine Angerer, American swimmer Missy Franklin, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia and Slovakian skier Tina Maze. American golfer Tiger Woods has been nominated for “Laureus World Comeback of the year” along with Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, Naday, Isinbayeva and two others. The awards will be announced at a ceremony on March 26 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The winners of the awards are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, whose jury is made up of 46 sports stars.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal is teaming up with soccer great Ronaldo in Brazil. Ronaldo’s sports marketing agency announced it will manage Nadal’s advertising contracts in Brazil. The agency said the “non-exclusive” agreement was reached with Goramendi Siglo XXI, which handles the tennis player’s image rights worldwide. “Nadal is a lot more than just a new partner, he’s an idol that all of us learned to admire for his talent on the courts and for the kind of person that he is,” Ronaldo said in a statement.
STARS ON PARADE
The top names in tennis – Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams – have been drafted to compete in the new International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) this December. The draft was held Sunday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where USD $23,975,000 was spent on players for four teams which will be based in Bangkok, Mumbai, Dubai and Singapore. Nadal will be joined on Team Mumbai by 14-time Grand Slam tournament winner Pete Sampras, while Novak Djokovic will have fellow Serb Janko Tipsarevic and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on Team Dubai. Serena Williams will play for Team Singapore. “We’ve got some unbelievably strong teams. I think out of the 28 players that got drafted we have about 21 Grand Slam champions. We have 14 present and past number ones. It’s a pretty blockbuster field,” said Indian doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi, who is managing director of the league. Andy Murray was selected for Team Bangkok, where he will be joined by former world number one Carlos Moya. The Spanish star is also the league’s vice president of player relations. The league will play during the tennis off-season, between November 27 and December 14, and will feature 24 matches across the four host cities. Each match will have a best-of-five format comprised of separate sets contested in men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and past champions singles. Play is scheduled to start in Singapore, followed by Bangkok, Mumbai and Dubai.
The much-talked about league will take place during the off season of the tennis calendar, between November 27 and December 14, and will feature 24 matches across the four host cities in the Middle East and Asia.
Each match will follow a best-of-five format comprised of separate sets contested in men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and past champions singles, with the home team choosing the order of play prior to each match.
Play is scheduled to start in Singapore, followed by Bangkok, Mumbai and will finally conclude in Dubai.
Team Singapore will include: Serena Williams, Tomas Berdych, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Bruno Soares, Patrick Rafter, Daniela Hantuchova and Nick Krygios.
Team Bangkok: Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Victoria Azarenka, Daniel Nestor, Carlos Moya and Kirsten Flipkens
Team Mumbai: Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Pete Sampras. Rohan Bopanna, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza and Fabrice Santoro
Team Dubai: Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic, Malek Jaziri and Martina Hingis
Acapulco (men): Kevin Anderson and Matthew Ebden beat Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi 6-3 6-3
Acapulco (women): Kristina Mladenovic and Galina Voskoboeva beat Petra Cetkovska and Iveta Melzer 6-3 2-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Dubai: Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4 6-3
Florianopolis: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova beat Francesca Schiavone and Silvia Soler-Espinosa 7-6 (1) 2-6 10-3 (match tiebreak)
São Paulo: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Philipp Osward beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 5-7 6-4 15-13 (match tiebreak)
Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.com/
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$6,169,040 BNP Parabas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard
$5,427,105 BNP Parabas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$6,169,040 BNP Parabas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)
$125,000 Irving Tennis Classic, Irving, Texas, USA
$5,427,105 BNP Parabas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)