Mondays with Bob Greene
BNP Paribas Open
Lauren Davis beat third-seeded Victoria Azarenka 6-0 7-6 (2)
Roberto Bautista Agut beat fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 4-6 6-2 6-4
Maria Teresa Torro beat fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber 2-6 7-6 (5) 6-4
Eugenie Bouchard beat ninth-seeded Sara Errani 6-3 6-3
Julien Benneteau beat ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4
“I played unbelievable. I was not serving very well, I had to play my best tennis from the baseline to win the match.” Roberto Bautista Agut, after upsetting Tomas Berdych in the BNP Paribas Open.
“Anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong. It (was) definitely my worst match that I had this year.” – Tomas Berdych, following his upset loss to Roberto Bautista Agut.
“It was a very good start. I was happy with how I played. I felt my intentions were good out there. I played well. I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return and that’s really all I can ask for.” – John Isner, after hammering 15 aces in a 7-6 (5) 6-3 victory over Nikolay Davydenko.
“When you win a Grand Slam, people only see the two weeks of the tournament, but they don’t know how hard we’ve been working before these two weeks. You can prepare for these moments for years.” – Li Na, on the work that goes into winning a Grand Slam tournament.
“When I’m playing, I do feel like it’s about me a lot of the time. I play very aggressively, so a lot of times I’m in control. Unfortunately it’s not a happy ending every time.” – Petra Kvitova, when asked if she feels like it is her play that determines her matches.
“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open. Still, when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam, it’s still strange for me. But that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.” – Stanislas Wawrinka, who won the Australian Open men’s singles in January.
“I’m so honored by this incredible recognition. I feel very blessed to have had a wonderful tennis career, and now to be recognized in the Hall of Fame alongside the great champions who have always inspired me is just a tremendous honor.” – Lindsay Davenport, after being elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
“Monica was my favorite player. I think she was pretty much everyone’s favorite player. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to do everything like her. I even styled my grunt after hers – I kind of changed it and made it my own. But Monica always inspired me. I’ve always loved Monica.” – Serena Williams, commenting about Monica Seles.
“They’re tough to compare. Carrying the torch was probably the biggest honor I could have received. It was one of those moments that happened so fast, but I was so happy, even in the lead-up of running into the stadium, the whole atmosphere before in the green room, to see everyone so excited for each other. We were creating a little part of history. It was also the first time I’ve had all my family in the stadium watching me – my grandparents, both of my parents as well. That never really happens.” – Maria Sharapova, when asked to compare carrying the torch in Sochi to carrying the Russian flag in the London Olympics.
“I know they know better. I just don’t understand what good they think they’re doing blasting every move American tennis is trying to make. If these guys are so brilliant and have all the answers, how come the decline in tennis has happened while they have been the unofficial leaders of the private sector? Where are all their players? And don’t make me sick with the finger pointing, blaming the USTA or Player Development or Patrick (McEnroe). We’re all to blame, private and public.” – Michael Joyce, former player and former coach of Maria Sharapova, commenting on the state of tennis in the United States.
“I think a big difference is that Serena’s grown up a lot and has become more and more of her own person. She is the youngest of five, and when you’re the youngest of five you want to be like all the oldest ones. Especially in the last two years, she’s been able to become her own person and really be her own self. I’m really proud of her.” – Venus Williams, on her sister Serena.
Roberto Bautista Agut is trying to prove his Australian Open performance was not a fluke. And he’s doing a good job of it. The Spaniard used his punishing ground game to knock fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych out of the BNP Paribas Open 4-6 6-2 6-4. “I had to play my best tennis from the baseline to win the match.” Berdych reached the semifinals at the Australia Open where Bautista Agut reached the round of 16 by upsetting Juan Martin del Potro. Now he has another Top 10 scalp to his credit. Berdych said his off day started in the warm up. “I just started to feel not tight but not that crisp, like in the last couple of weeks,” he said. The Czech won Rotterdam earlier this year and was a finalist in Dubai, losing to Roger Federer. Berdych broke Bautista Agut in the eighth game to level the final set at 4-4. But the Spaniard broke right back, then held to close out the win.
The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, USA, was the first tournament for Victoria Azarenka since suffering a foot injury at the Australian Open. After one outing, she’s ready for her second tournament. The number three seed will have more time to recuperate after being ousted in her first match by American Lauren Davis 6-0 7-6 (2). Azarenka limped visibly at times, had trouble serving, fell to her knees several times smashed a racquet after double-faulting in the second set. “Basically all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.” The nerve damage between the toes on her left foot required Azarenka to wear a boot for several weeks. Twice an Australian Open winner, Azarenka said she hasn’t made up her mind whether to play the Sony Open in Florida. “I want to be pain-free because it’s not the most fun to be out there like that,” she said.
STAN AND THE MAN
A pair of Grand Slam tournament champions from Switzerland – Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka – are playing doubles at the BNP Paribas Open. It’s not the first time they’ve played together. They won the 2008 Beijing Olympics men’s doubles gold medal for Switzerland, and reached the final at Indian Wells in 2011. The last time they teamed up was a Davis Cup tie versus The Netherlands in September 2012. In their first match, the two knocked off the sixth-seeded team of Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 6-2 6-7 (4) 10-6 (match tiebreak). It was the first match for the “Indo-Pak Express” since they won the doubles title in Dubai, a tournament that saw Federer capture the singles crown.
Steadily Serena Williams is moving up the record book. The American has been ranked number one in the world for 179 weeks, breaking her tie with Monica Seles and moving along into fifth place for most weeks as the WTA Tour’s top-ranked player. Now 32 years old, Serena first reached the number one spot in July 2002 when she was 20 years old. Her current run at the top spot began in February 2013 when she became the oldest women’s number one since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975. The American now trails only Steffi Graf, who held the number one ranking for 377 weeks; Martina Navratilova, 332; Chris Evert, 260, and Martina Hingis, 209.
SELECTED TO HALL
Six-time Grand Slam tournament winner Lindsay Davenport is leading the 2014 class into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHoF) at Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Also entering the tennis shrine will be five-time Paralympic medalist Chantal Vandierendonck of The Netherlands; coach Nick Bollettieri; Jane Brown Grimes, who has held executive leadership roles with the WTA, USTA and the ITHoF; and British tennis broadcaster and author John Barrett. “Lindsay Davenport had a lengthy, successful career in which she reached the pinnacle of our sport as a competitor, world number one and a Grand Slam champion, said Stan Smith, president of the ITHoF. “This summer we look forward to celebrating her many accomplishments and contributions to tennis by presenting her with the sport’s highest honor – enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.” The Class of 2014 Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, July 12, 2014, highlighting the Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend, which will also feature the unveiling of museum tribute exhibits for the new Hall of Famers, celebratory parties and special events, as well as an exhibition match featuring great tennis legends. The ceremony and festivities will be held in conjunction with the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.
Lindsay Davenport. Now 37, Davenport held the world number one ranking for 98 weeks. She is one of four women since 1975 to have held the year-end number one ranking at least four times, in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005. She was also ranked number one in doubles and is one of just six players to have held both top spots simultaneously. She won three Grand Slam tournament singles titles – 1998 US Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open. In 1996, she won the Olympics gold medal at the Atlanta Games. Davenport won the 1996 French Open doubles with Mary Joe Fernandez, the 1997 US Open doubles with Jana Novotna and 1999 Wimbledon doubles with Corrine Morariu. She also posted a 33-3 Fed Cup record for the United States and was a team member for 11 years, including three championship teams.
Chantal Vandierendonck. One of the early stars of Wheelchair Tennis, Vandierendonck, now 49, was the ITF World Champion three times, she won five Paralympic medals and was the world number one player for a total of 136 weeks in singles and 107 weeks in doubles. A national tennis player before being injured in a car accident in 1983, she quickly picked up the sport and became the first in a long line of top-ranked Dutch women. She was crowned the first ITF World Champion in 1991, then won the title again in 1996 and 1997. Between 1985 and 1993, she won seven women’s singles titles and two doubles titles at the US Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships. She won the women’s singles gold medal at the 1998 Seoul Paralympic Games, when wheelchair tennis was a demonstration sport, then went on to win two women’s doubles gold medals, a women’s singles silver and a women’s singles bronze at the 1992 and 1996 Games, after wheelchair tennis was awarded full medal status.
Nick Bollettieri. Widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the world of tennis, Bollettieri has an unparalleled record of discovering and developing champions, having coached 10 world number one players, including Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and Boris Becker. In addition, he has worked with Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Tommy Haas and many more. Four of his players have been enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. After more than 30 years of coaching, at 82 years old, Bollettieri is still active on the tennis courts for more than 10 hours a day, six days a week. In 1978, he founded the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy (NBTA), the first full-time tennis boarding school that integrated intense athletic training on and off the court with academic curriculum. In 1987, IMG purchased the NBTA and evolved it into IMG Academy. Today, the IMG Academy campus spans 450 acres dotted with world-class facilities that support eight sports. More than 900 student-athletes call IMG Academy home year-round, and thousands more flock to the campus annually for training or competitions.
Jane Brown Grimes. Dedicating her life to the growth of tennis around the world for more than 35 years, Brown Grimes has had a major impact on three leading industry organizations: the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, the Women’s Tennis Association, and the United States Tennis Association, having held leadership roles with all three. She has also been highly active with the International Tennis Federation, having served on the Junior Competitions Committee and the Rules of Tennis Committee. She is currently an active member of the Fed Cup Committee, having served since 2004. From 2005 to 2008, she was the USTA’s representative on the Grand Slam Board. Having recently earned an MBA from City University of New York – Baruch College – Zicklin School of Business, Brown Grimes continues to remain active in the business side of the sport, through her roles on the Hall of Fame Board, ITF Committees, and youth tennis programs.
John Barrett. A leader in many areas of tennis, from broadcaster to tournament director, equipment representative to player. Barrett is one of the game’s premier historians and authors. Following a successful playing career as a junior, he became the Royal Air Force’s tennis champion in 1950 and 1951 and competed at Wimbledon for 20 years. In 1956, he was a member of Great Britain’s Davis Cup Team and served as the team captain from 1959-1962. In the world of junior development he founded the BP International Tennis Fellowship, and the BP Cup, which launched the international careers of Martina Navratilova and many others. In 1976 he founded the Pepsi Junior International Series, a points-linked program which was the forerunner of the ITF’s present Junior Ranking lists. From 1969-2001 Barrett edited and contributed to the World of Tennis, acknowledged as the bible of tennis and now the official yearbook of the ITF. The recently published third edition of “Wimbledon – The Official History” is his latest contribution to the history of the sport. He was the tennis correspondent for The Financial Times in London from 1963 to 2007. Now 82, Barrett for 35 years was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971-2006, and has also been on the air with Channel 9 Australia, Channel 7 Australia, ESPN, HBO and USA Networks. He is married to Angela Mortimer Barrett, a former world number one player and a 1993 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fam. The Barretts are the second married couple to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, joining Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.
A left wrist injury forced Juan Martin del Potro to skip the Indian Wells tournament. It was the same injury that forced the world number seven to retire from his first-round match in Dubai last month. “It’s still hurting a lot, I’m not feeling 100 percent, I’m not in good condition to compete,” said the Argentine, who reached the BNP Paribas final last year. “I feel the same pain every day and it bothers me a lot,” del Potro said. “I’m trying to be very careful.” Wrist injuries have plagued del Potro his entire career. After he won the US Open in 2009, he played just three tournaments in 2010 because of a right wrist injury. He earned ATP Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2011 and has raised his ranking to seventh in the world. Del Potro’s spot in the draw – a second-round spot at that following a first-round bye – was taken by “lucky loser” James Ward, who then lost to Feliciano Lopez 3-6 6-2 6-4.
STARS ON PARADE
Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl were presented their International Tennis Hall of Fame rings during World Tennis Day festivities in London, Great Britain. All three former world number ones have been enshrined in the Newport, Rhode Island, facility and the Hall of Fame rings are a symbol of this success. The rings were presented by Hall of Fame chairman Christopher Clouser, ITF President Francesco Ricci Bittii and Ingrid Lofdahl Bentzer, who serves as vice chairman of the Hall of Fame’s Enshrinee Nominating Committee. Introduced in 2011, the personalized rings are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next few years.
Li Na wants the Chinese media to back off the country’s young players. Ranked second in the world, Li said the young stars should be left alone so they can develop both as players and as people. “Every junior has his or her uniqueness,” Li said. “I ask the press to give them space so they can develop as players and to give them encouragement rather than ask for opinions (on them) from me.” Le said some in the Chinese media tried to pry too much into her personal life, and said that was the reason she left the sport in 2002 to earn a degree in journalism at the Huazhong Institute of Science and Technology. “The first time I retired I felt I didn’t have good communication with some journalists,” she said. “So I wanted to learn why they always wrote the wrong thing. But when I studied I learned that this wasn’t always about the journalist; it was about their personality.” Li said she has been encouraged by the recent growth of tennis in China. “You see so many children picking up a tennis racquet,” she said. “It’s not a table tennis one any more, it’s tennis. So that’s good for the game.”
Sixty-seven countries around the world celebrated World Tennis Day. It was a day that saw a Guinness World Record set when the United States Tennis Association’s Play Event at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, brought together 406 children for the “largest tennis less.” Judy Murray, mother of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and captain of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team, helped out with the USTA’s festivities. The event was commemorated with a plaque and presentation at the World Tennis Day event at New York City’s Madison Square Garden featuring Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic as well as the Bryan brothers – Bob and Mike – and the McEnroe brothers – John and Patrick.
SHARAPOVA IN WAX
Tennis fans can check out Maria Sharapova whenever they are in Hong Kong. Not the real Sharapova, of course, but a wax version. Currently ranked fifth in the world, Sharapova joins other top athletes at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. On top of her tennis success, where she has won four Grand Slam tournament titles, the Russian superstar has been the face of many luxury brands and was listed as one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. For Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, Sharapova will be styled in her sports outfit as she appeared when she won the 2012 French Open and striking her winning forehand pose for victory. Kelly Mak, general manager of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong, said: “Sharapova will be the first tennis star to be part of Madame Tussauds Hong Kong and tennis fanatics can challenge her in a game of tennis with the interactive experience. We are excited to welcome Sharapova to the attraction and we hope to bring in many more rising stars from the sports world this year.” Other sports stars honored in the museum include soccer great David Beckham and NBA player Yao Ming. Originally opened in August 2000, Madame Tussauds Hong Kong is the first permanent Madame Tussauds in Asia. There are fifteen Madame Tussauds around the world, located in London, New York, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Washington D.C., Berlin, Hollywood, Bangkok, Vienna, Blackpool, Wuhan, Sydney and Tokyo.
Great Britain’s Elena Baltacha, who retired from the WTA Tour at the end of last year, has revealed that she has cancer. “I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver,” Baltacha said in a statement. “I’m currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have.” At the end of last year Baltacha announced her retirement from pro tennis after a 16-year career that saw her reach four WTA quarterfinals. Great Britain’s top female player, she represented her country at the London Olympics. “Throughout her tennis career Elena was admired for her friendly personality, her passion, energy and tenacity,” Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the WTA said. “We know she will use these qualities to fight this illness and we’ll support her along this process in any way we can.”
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 (second week)
$125,000 Irving Tennis Classic, Irving, Texas, USA
$5,427,105 BNP Parabas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,720,390 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard
$4,720,380 Sony Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard