Mondays with Bob Greene
By Bob Greene
Andrea Petkovic beat Jana Cepelova 7-5 6-2 to win the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Ana Ivanovic beat Jovana Jaksic 6-2 6-1 to win the Abierto Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico
Czech Republic beat Japan 5-0 at Tokyo, Japan
France beat Germany 3-2 at Nancy, France
Italy beat Great Britain 3-2 at Naples, Italy
Switzerland beat Kazakhstan 3-2 at Geneva, Switzerland
Americas Zone: Brazil beat Ecuador 3-1 at Guayaquil, Ecuador; Colombia beat. Dominican Republic 4-1 at Cali, Columbia
Asia/Oceania Zone: Uzbekistan beat China 3-2 at Tianjin, China; India beat South Korea 3-1 at Busan, South Korea
Europe/Africa Zone: Croatia beat Poland 3-1 at Warsaw, Poland; Israel beat Slovenia 3-1 at Portoroz, Slovenia; Ukraine beat Sweden 4-1 at Malmo, Sweden; Slovak Republic beat Austria 4-1 at Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Americas Zone: Barbados beat El Salvador 4-1 at St. Michael, Barbados; Mexico beat Peru 3-1 at Puebla, Mexico
Asia/Oceania Zone: Pakistan beat Philippines 3-2 at Manila, Philippines; Thailand beat Kuwait 4-1 at Nonthaburi, Thailand
Europe/Africa Zone: Lithuania beat South Africa 3-2 at Centurion, South Africa; Bosnia/Herzegovina beat Finland 3-2 at Helsinki, Finland; Moldova beat Belarus 4-1 at Chisinau, Moldova; Denmark beat Luxembourg 5-0 at Hillerod, Denmark, hard
“It’s funny how destiny plays, how I’ve come to reach the final of such a big tournament, and here in South Carolina where my father went to college. It’s nice. It’s an honor. It’s a blessing.” – Andrea Petkovic, following her victory at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, USA.
“Stan gave me the chance to play again today. It was a pleasure.” – Roger Federer, after Stanislas Wawrinka and Federer both won their reverse singles match to give Switzerland a come-from-behind 3-2 Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal victory over Kazakhstan.
“I knew it would be a tough one but unfortunately I wasn’t quite able to play well enough.” – Andy Murray, after he lost his reverse singles match as Italy rallied to beat Great Britain in Davis Cup World Group play.
“This victory is logical and was expected, but we know nothing is logical in the Davis Cup.” – French Davis Cup captain Arnaud Clement when France, after losing the first two singles matches, rallied to beat Germany 3-2.
“A great feat, a great success for all Italian tennis. It was time we got back to the semifinals. It’s credit to everyone, to a team which has a great character. It was a victory of character.” – Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti after Italy won its two reverse singles matches to beat Great Britain.
“Today I just played better than Andy and that’s tennis. … This was a very important victory, it’s certainly my best match in Davis Cup. I just stayed focused on my game and I managed to win.” – Fabio Fognini, who upset Great Britain’s Andy Murray in the reverse singles as Italy won its Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal 3-2.
“They are Olympic champions, but honestly it doesn’t matter who I beat, I’m just proud of my team and proud of my country. Against those guys you have to play an almost perfect match and I’m happy we did that today.” – Andrey Golubev, who teamed with Aleksandr Nedovyesov to upset Beijing Olympic doubles champions Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (6) and give Kazakhstan a 2-1 lead over Switzerland in Davis Cup World Group play.
“I have 5-0 and I was a little bit nervous, but I did it. You know, you play against number one player and you never know. It was a tough situation for me, but I’m really happy that I keep the set.” – Jana Cepelova, who saw her first-set lead almost disappear before she went on to upset top-ranked Serena Williams 6-4 6-4 in Charleston.
“I’m really just dead. I need some weeks off where I don’t think about tennis and kind of regroup, I’ve had a long couple of years, and I’m really a little fatigued.” – Serena Williams, following her loss to Jana Cepelova.
“She (Jankovic) did a good job of stepping in and controlling, and she changes directions a lot, so I was really on the run. That’s not where I want to be most of the time. I needed to get back to my game. I had to move forward. It was important to have short-term memory.” – Eugenie Bouchard, after outlasting Jelena Jankovic 6-3 4-6 6-3 in Charleston.
“We were told it was going to rain, and if we stopped we would have to come back on another court. So we were happy to stay on the center court, even though it was raining in the beginning. I think the whole set it was drizzling, but we didn’t complain. We had to finish because I have a flight to catch later today.” – Yaroslava Shvedova, after teaming with Anabel Medina Garrigues to win the Family Circle Cup doubles title.
“Everyone was always asking me about making the Top 10 and everything. I would just say to them, “OK, if I should be there, I will be there. If I shouldn’t be there, I won’t be there. Now I’m there, so it’s finally over.” – Dominika Cibulkova, who was ranked 10th in the world last week.
For the first time in history, three Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals came down to the fifth match. In all three cases, the winners – France, Italy and Switzerland – captured both reverse singles to come from behind and advance to the semifinals.
Roger Federer easily won the decisive singles match to boost Switzerland into the semifinals for the first time in 11 years. But it was Stanislas Wawrinka, who struggled the first two days, who knotted the tie at 2-2, giving Federer the opportunity to clinch the victory. “We’re very relieved and very happy,” said Federer, who has never won a Davis Cup title. “It was a long weekend with a lot of tennis.” Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five matches competition after losing the doubles, Switzerland drew even when Wawrinka beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 6-4, closing out the battle with his 25th ace of the day. That left it to Federer, and the 17-times Grand Slam tournament winner had very little problem stopping Andrey Golubev 7-6 (0) 6-2 6-3. “It’s great. I was hoping so much I was going to get a chance to play and not just watch Stan play,” Federer said. “I got the opportunity and I’m happy I lived up to the hype and the expectations and was able to get the boys through. So very happy for them.” Switzerland will host Italy in the semifinals on September 12-14.
Fabio Fognini shocked two-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 6-4 to level the quarterfinal before Andreas Seppi defeated James Ward 6-4 6-3 6-4 to give Italy its come-from-behind victory over Great Britain. “This is really a great victory,” Italian captain Corrado Barazzutti said. “We started the day with two difficult matches. My players played two great matches. It’s difficult to believe that we won six sets.” Playing on clay, Fognini’s favorite surface, the Italian handed Murray his first Davis Cup defeat since 2005. “He played very well, that’s for sure,” Murray said of his conqueror. “He’s a very good player, especially on this surface. I knew it was going to be a tough one and I wasn’t quite able to play well enough.” It was Fognini’s 12th straight Davis Cup clay-court singles victory, and set the stage for Seppi. Ward has had some big Davis Cup wins, but not this time. Seppi rarely struggled against a player ranked 127 places below him and comfortably served out for the match. “I think I was for sure more nervous than a match in a normal tournament,” Seppi said. “Here you are playing for your team, for Italy, not just for yourself, so you have a lot of responsibility”
After waiting until the final day to see action, Gael Monfils capped France’s rally from a 0-2 first-day deficit to beat Germany. In winning the 3-2 tie, the Frenchmen equaled the achievement of Yannick Noah’s French team in 1996 who rallied from 2-0 down to beat Italy. Monfils finished the three-day competition with a decisive 6-1 7-6 (0) 6-2 win over Germany’s Peter Gowjowczyk, who had shocked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the first day. Tsonga began the reverse singles by stopping Tobias Kamke 6-3 6-2 6-4, setting the stage for Monfils, who began his decisive victory by winning the first five games of the match. In the semifinals, France will take on the Czech Republic, which routed Japan 5-0. “We said it last year and we said it at the beginning of this year: our goal is to win the Davis Cup,” French captain Arnaud Clement said. “’Reaching the semis is not enough for this ambitious group.” Germany, which has surprised Spain in the first round, did not have its four best players for the tie: Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer and Benjamin Becker.
One after the other the top players in the field were eliminated. By the end of the week, Andrea Petkovic was the Family Circle Cup champion, her third and biggest WTA title of her career. In the final, the 14th-seeded Petkovic defeated unseeded Jana Cepelova 7-5 6-2. It was Cepelova who shocked top-ranked Serena Williams early in the week. Second-seeded Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Sloane Stephens, Samantha Stosur and Sabine Lisicki all were eliminated, as was Venus Williams. Going into the tournament ranked 40th in the world, Petkovic knocked off three seeded players – Lisicki, Lucie Safarova and Eugenie Bouchard – on her way to the final, where she found the 20-year-old Cepelova, who was playing in her first WTA final. Cepelova was one point away from capturing the first set when her German opponent turned the match around. Petkovic won eight straight games, winning the first set and grabbing a 5-0 lead in the second. “I have to let loose and play like I can,” Petkovic said. It was the German’s first title since Strasbourg in 2011, and it was the first time a WTA tournament has included three semifinalists 20 years old or younger since Amelia Island in 2008.
Jana Cepelova not only knocked Serena Williams out of the Family Circle Cup, she also forced the world’s top-ranked player off the WTA Tour, at least for a little while. “I’m really just dead,” Williams said after losing to Cepelova 6-4 6-4 in the second round of the clay court tournament. “I’ve had a long couple of years, and I’m really a little fatigued.” The 20-year-old from Slovakia won the first five games in the match. Williams rallied to capture the next four games, but Cepelova regrouped and beat Williams in straight sets before eventually reaching the final where she lost to Andrea Petkovic. “Definitely a little bit of both,” Williams answered when asked if she felt emotionally or physically spent. “I think Jana played really well for her today. The good thing is I know I can play a lot better. So it’s always really positive for me.”
They were Olympic champions in Beijing. But that was six years ago and Switzerland’s “dream team” of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka played a nightmarish Davis Cup match. Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam tournament winner, and Wawrinka, the reigning Australian Open champion, were no match for Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, falling 6-4 7-6 (5) 4-6 7-6 (6). “It feels special. That was my first match for the Kazakhstan Davis Cup team,” said the 27-year-old Nedovyesov, whose only previous Davis Cup appearance was for his native Ukraine in 2005. “They are Olympic champions, but honestly it doesn’t matter who I beat, I’m just proud of my team and proud of my country.” Federer and Wawrinka were playing Davis Cup together for the first time this season. They had lost their three previous Davis Cup matches in 2011 and 2012. In fact, Federer had not won a doubles title since the Beijing Olympics in 2008. “Against those guys you have to play an almost perfect match, and I’m happy we did that today,” the 26-year-old Golubev said.
Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is rapidly proving she belongs among the top players on the WTA Tour. A semifinalist at the Australian Open in January, Bouchard knocked off two former world number-one ranked players at the Family Circle Cup. One round after beating Venus Williams, Bouchard eliminated Jelena Jankovic in a three-set match that lasted just over two hours. “I knew in the second set my game wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” Bouchard said. “She (Jankovic) did a good job of stepping in and controlling, and she changes directions a lot, so I was really on the run. That’s not where I want to be most of the time. I needed to get back to my game. I had to move forward.” The battle between Bouchard and Jankovic, two of the best movers in the women’s game, featured a dazzling display of marathon rallies and brilliant retrieving. “I tried my best out there, but it just wasn’t enough,” Jankovic said. “She’s very solid. She stays so low and takes your balls so early off the ground, so even if you hit hard, she just picks them up so easily and kind of directs them. That’s her biggest strength.”
Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka headed the latest group of players to be presented with the Davis Cup Commitment Award. The award is presented to players who have shown long-standing dedication to representing their country in the international team competition. Each recipient will have competed in a minimum of 20 home-and-away ties or 50 ties at any level of the competition. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) began the award ceremonies in 2012 with the first seven recipients, including San Marion’s Domenico Vicini, who holds the record for the most ties played in all levels of the competition with a total of 89, and Italy’s Nicola Pietrangeli, who played 66 ties for his country. Besides Wawrinka, others honored at Davis Cup World Group and zone group sites this past weekend included Go Soeda, Japan; Lee Hyung-Taik, South Korea; Miguel Gallardo-Valles, Santiago Gonzalez, Leonardo Lavalle, Mario Llamas and Jorge Lozano, Mexico; Jan-Frode Andersen, Norway; Michal Mertinak, Slovak Republic; Rik de Voest, South Africa; and Vittaya Samrej, Paradorn Srichaphan and Woraphol Thongkhamchu, Thailand. A total of 317 players have already qualified to receive the award.
STAYING IN PLACE
Jacques Dupré will remain as president of Tennis Europe. Unopposed in the presidential election, Dupré received the overwhelming endorsement of the assembly and will serve his third consecutive term as president.
In other action at the group’s 40th annual general meeting, elections were held for members of the Board of Management, who will serve until 2017. James to the board were Jacques Dupré, France; Martin Corrie, Great Britain; Igor del Busto, Spain; Luisanna Fodde, Italy; Günther Lang, Germany; Attila Richter, Hungary; Aleksei Selivanenko, Russia; Stefan Tzvetkov, Bulgaria; Karin van Bijsterveld, the Netherlands; and Olli Mäenpää, chief executive officer of Tennis Europe.. Michele Brunetti of Italy was selected as Honorary Life Vice President, while Philios Christodoulou of Cyprus and Peter Bretherton of Great Britain were named Honorary Life Counsellors to the organization.
STYLISH WITH SUBSTANCE
Not only is Dominika Cibulkova finally ranked in the Top 10 in the world, she also has her own clothing line, Domi. Her ranking came after a phenomenal first three months of 2014, including a spot in the women’s singles final at the Australian Open. The clothing line was also a lengthy process. “We launched right when I got back from Australia,” said the native of Bratislava, Slovakia. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh, now she does a clothing line,’ but we were planning the clothing line for a year and a half. It wasn’t easy.” On hand at the launch of the clothing line was last year’s Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli. Cibulkova said some of the profits from Domi will go to her foundation, Aby Hviezdy Nehasli, which in English rough means Keep The Stars Bright. “We help former athletes who haven’t been as lucky as I’ve been,” Cibulkova said, “athletes who were really good, but maybe 30 years ago, and now they don’t have the life they deserve to have.”
Charleston: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova beat Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan 7-6 (4) 6-2
Monterrey: Darija Jurak and Megan Moulton-Levy beat Timos Babos and Olga Govortsova 7-6 (5) 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Kuala Lumpur: www.bmwmalaysianopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$586,650 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay
$474,005 Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men’s Clay Court Championship, Houston, Texas, USA, clay
$250,000 BNP Paribas Katowice Open, Katowice, Poland, hard
$250,000 Copa Claro Colsanitas, Bogota, Colombia, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,952,670 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, clay
$100,000 Sarasota Open, Sarasota, Florida, USA, clay
$250,000 BMW Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard