Mondays with Bob Greene
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Marcel Granollers 5-7 6-4 6-3 to win the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco
Fernando Verdasco beat Nicolas Almagro 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the Fayez Sarofim & CO. US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas, USA
Alize Cornet beat Camila Giorgi 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-5 to win the BNP Paribas Katowice Open in Katowice, Poland
Caroline Garcia beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-4 to win the Copa Claro Colsanitas in Bogotá, Colombia
“I think we played solid and I made a few mistakes. I didn’t deserve to win the title.” – Marcel Granollers, after losing to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the final in Casablanca.
“I only picked up the racket again on Tuesday, very steadily. But I’ve been in pain since yesterday, and today, after 20 minutes of training, I couldn’t carry on, I could hardly even carry my bag. I thought things would be fine after 15 days without doing anything. But no, not at all.” – Richard Gasquet, announcing he pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters because of a back injury.
“It gives us confidence going into the (European) clay-court season, beating such a tough clay-court team. They kept us off balance all day with great serving and huge forehands.” – Bob Bryan, who teamed with twin brother Mike to beat David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco in Houston, Texas, USA.
“They just made one less error than us. It’s hard to lose like that, but tennis is like this and you just need to keep going.” – Fernando Verdasco, after he and partner David Marrero lost to brothers Bob and Mike Bryan.
“We have played together a few times and had won an ITF title, but never a WTA one. We’re really happy to end the week like this.” – Olga Savchuk, who with teammate Yuliya Beygelzimer won their first WTA doubles title together.
“One of the things I like most about this tournament is that it’s not far from the place where I live; it’s like a 45-minute drive away.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, on playing in Katowice, Poland.
“Winning the title without losing a set gives us a lot of confidence going into the clay-court season. Casablanca is always a great week for me. This is the tournament I’ve won most in my career and I’m happy to celebrate my third title here.” – Horia Tecau, who with partner Jean-Julien Rojer won the doubles title in Casablanca.
“Why poke a stick at that hornet’s nest? Leave it alone. We’ve got enough problems at the state level, let alone getting involved in local politics.” – Alaska State Sen. Kevin Meyer, on the state becoming involved in a controversial tennis project.
SPANISH REIGN I
Spanish men showed off their clay-court dominance by not only winning both ATP World Tour events this past week, but making both finals all-Spanish affairs.
Fernando Verdasco ended a six-match losing streak in ATP World Tour finals, besting countryman Nicolas Almagro and capture his first singles event since 2010 in Barcelona. “I’m so tired I don’t know if I can talk so much,” said Verdasco, who lost in the doubles final. Going into the singles title match, Verdasco had been on the court six hours longer than Almagro, who had a walkover in the semifinals when Sam Querrey pulled out with a back injury. Starting each point far behind the baseline, Almagro had five set points against Verdasco’s serve in the ninth game of the second set. He also was up a mini-break in the tiebreaker. But each time Verdasco rallied. “You are never happy when you lose a final,” Almagro said. “I had my chances. But I credit Fernando.” It was the second straight year Almagro has been runner-up at Houston. Last year he lost the title match to John Isner. Verdasco became the fifth over-30 winner on the ATP World Tour this year.
It was a perfect week for Caroline Garcia. Not only did the Frenchwoman post her first win over a player ranked in the Top 10, Garcia won her first WTA title and also the doubles at the Claro Open Colsanitas. “It was a good week for me,” Garcia said in definitely an understatement. Going into the final against top-seeded Jelena Jankovic, Garcia was 0-6 lifetime against Top 10 players. This time there was no contest. Jankovic broke in the first game of the match before Garcia took over. The 20-year-old Frenchwoman captured six of the next eight games to take the first set and grab a 3-1 lead in the. The next two games with to Jankovic before Garcia won three of the next four games, including consecutive aces to bring up match point. A forehand winner closed out the victory. “It’s never easy playing with the altitude – it’s hard to adapt, and my level was going up and down throughout the week – but I think I adjusted well and I probably played my best match of the week today in the final,” Garcia said. To win a WTA title is always a goal. Today is the best day I could imagine.”
By teaming with Lara Arruabarrena to win the doubles, Garcia became the first players to win both the singles and doubles at a WTA-level event since Serena Williams pulled it off at the 2012 London Olympics.
SPANISH REIGN II
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez became the fourth different Spaniard in the past six years to win the ATP Tour stop in Casablanca, Morocco. Garcia-Lopez beat fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers to join countrymen Juan Carlos Ferrer (2009), Pablo Andujar (2011-12) and Tommy Robredo (2013) as Grand Prix Hassan II champions. “I’m very happy to win this title,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I know Marcel for a long time. We practice together in tournaments. The match was really close.” Granollers took the opening set before Garcia-Lopez narrowly won the rest of the way. He is the eighth Spaniard to win the Casablanca trophy and capture his third title, the first since Bangkok in 2010. He also became the fourth over-e0 winner on the ATP World Tour this year. “It was a tough match for both,” Granollers said. “I think we played solid and I made a few mistakes. I didn’t deserve to win the title.”
The Monte Carlo Masters this week won’t have Richard Gasquet in the lineup. The Frenchman has had problems shaking off a back injury and hoped to return to the ATP World Tour at the clay-court tournament. “I thought things would be fine after 15 days without doing anything,” Gasquet said. “But no, not at all.” Gasquet also missed France’s Davis Cup quarterfinal victory over Germany. Another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, reaped the awards of Gasquet’s withdrawal. Tsonga had been drawn to face Ernest Gulbis in the first round. With the 10th-ranked Gasquet missing, Tsonga, ranked 12th in the world, became the ninth seed in the tournament and, consequently, had a first-round bye.
It was a struggle, but Alizé Cornet finally won the fourth WTA title of her career, besting Camila Giorgi of Italy in three sets at the BNP Paribas Katowice Open. “What a match,” Cornet said. “It was definitely a huge fight, which is what I expected, and I had to save a match point to win the title, so it feels very special. I gave everything I had.” The Frenchwoman led 5-3 in the second set before Giorgi, playing her first career tour final, ripped off the next four games to level the match at a set apiece. In the deciding set, Cornet won the first four games before Giorgi took five of the next six games for a 5-4 lead. In the next game, the Italian had a match point on Cornet’s serve, but missed a backhand return as the Frenchwoman held. Cornet then won the next two games to close out the victory. Giorgi had never reached a WTA quarterfinal before Katowice.
The Bryan brother – Bob and Mike – won their 97th career title as a team when they captured the Fayez Sarofim & CO. US Men’s Clay Court Championship by edging David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco in the final. “It was a match that could have gone either way,” Bob Bryan admitted. “They kept us off balance all day with great serving and huge forehands.” The American twins have thrived at Houston, also winning in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Ranked number one in the world, the Bryans extended their winning streak to 17 straight matches and fourth consecutive title. “They just made one less error than us,” said Verdasco, who consoled his doubles loss by capturing the singles title, beating fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. “We’re ecstatic to leave Houston with another title,” said Mike Bryan, who has 99 career titles, two more than his brother. “We’ve played great tennis in the past and played another this week. That was just a gritty performance against a tough team.”
Quietly, Jelena Jankovic is recording a stellar career. Once ranked number one in the world, Jankovic beat Chanelle Scheepers at the Claro Open Colsanitas, the 550th match win of her professional career. The Serbian star now has the third-most career match wins among active players on the WTA Tour, behind only Venus Williams, who has 651, and her sister, top-ranked Serena Williams, who has 647. The semifinal win over Scheepers also was her 20th WTA-level match win of the year, only the first player to cross that mark this season, following Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska, 21 each, and Dominika Cibulkova and Klara Koukalova, 20 each.
When Agnieszka Radwanska stepped onto the court at the BNP Paribas Katowice Open, she spotted someone very close and very special to her sitting in the crowd. “One of the things I like most about this tournament is that it’s not far from the place where I live, it’s like a 45-minute drive away,” Radwanska said. “I got really excited when I noticed my beloved grandma Wieslawa beside my mother in the stands. She has always been one of my biggest fans and supporters, she has watched all my matches on TV or internet since the very beginning of my career. But never before had she seen me play live, and now she can come to see all of my matches. Her presence gives me positive vibes. I’m so happy.” Radwanska’s grandmother watcher the world’s third-ranked player easily win her quarterfinal match 6-4 6-1 over veteran Yvonne Meusburger. It also was Radwanska’s last victory in her home tournament this year as she was ousted by Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet in the semifinals.
SAVCHUK & BEYGELZIMER
It was a special victory in many ways for Olga Savchuk and Yuliya Beygelzimer. The Ukrainian pair won their first WTA title as a team, besting the top-seeded team of Klara Koukalova and Monica Niculescu at the BNP Paribas Katowice Open. “I think we played against very good opponents today,” Beygelzimer said. “This gives us a bit of confidence for the future, knowing we can beat players like this. And of course, it’s a great feeling to win the final. We’re very happy.” They should be. Beygelzimer and Savchuk were one game from the title at 6-4 5-3 when the favorites rallied, winning four straight games to level the match at a set apiece and force the match tiebreak. The Ukrainian duo regained their composure enough to win the tiebreak 10-7. While it was the first time they had won a WTA title together, Beygelzimer in her career has captured three WTA doubles crowns, while Savchuk has won two titles.
Like Olga Savchuk and Yuliya Beygelzimer, the team of Lara Arruabarrena and Caroline Garcia beat the top-seeded duo to capture a doubles titles. Although they were victorious, it wasn’t easy for Arruabarrena and Garcia at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogotá, Colombia. The duo let a 5-2 first-set lead slip away before winning it in a tiebreak. Then, down 4-3 in the second set, they won the next three games to close out the win over Vania King and Chanelle Scheepers. Playing their first event together, Arruabarrena and Garcia defeated the top three seeded teams on their way to the crown.
Horia Tecau treats the Grand Prix Hassan II tournament as his own personal fiefdom. He won the ATP World Tour 250 clay court tournament doubles title for the third time, this time with Jean-Julien Rojer. Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt had partnered Tecau when the Romanian captured the crown in 2010 and 2011. Rojer and Tecau swept to victory without dropping a set all week, and needed just 56 minutes to win their second ATP World Tour team title. They also won the PBZ Zagreb Indoors in February. “It was a great week for us,” Tecau said. “Winning the title without losing a set gives us a lot of confidence going into the clay-court season. Casablanca is always a great week for me. This is the tournament I’ve won most in my career and I’m happy to celebrate my third title here.”
SAFE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Lucas Sithole, who won a wheelchair event at the US Open last September, and his brother are safe after being dragged out of their car by four armed men in a late-night carjacking in their native South Africa. Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) said neither was unhurt, although they had their cellphones stolen in the incident near Johannesburg. “I am glad my car, wallet and my life are still with me,” the tennis star said in a statement. Sithole’s car was damaged after the armed men got out of a vehicle in front of the brothers on a highway onramp and forced them out of their car. “Although Lucas is shaken and traumatized, he was not physically injured or shot and is recovering well,” the WTSA said in a statement. The 27-year-old Sithole lost both legs and his right arm in a train accident in 1998. He took up tennis and won the 2013 US Open title, becoming the first African player to win a wheelchair tennis Grand Slam tournament event.
SAYS NO TO TENNIS
An Alaska state senator from Anchorage doesn’t want state money going to an indoor tennis facility. Instead, Republican Sen. Lesil McGuire says the money should be used for renovations to the city’s Loussac Library instead. McGuire, who is running against Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, has asked the Senate Finance Committee to reappropriate USD $4.4 million that the assembly allocated to the tennis facility last December. That decision came after an acrimonious debate over whether the state money could be better used to improve city ice areas and whether state legislators had even been aware that there was money for tennis in the capital budget when they voted on it. The state senate last week voted against a separate bill that would have amended the state operating budget to strip the USD $4.4 million from the tennis courts. State Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, one of two co-chairs of the Senate’s finance committee, said he had little interest in discussion again the tennis project. “It’s a terrible precedent to set, to try to reappropriate money that you’ve already granted to a village or a city,” Meyer said. The project is reportedly in the design phase with the city considering a metal building or a metal-framed building with a fabric cover.
Maria Sharapova’s newest thing is skin care. IMG Tennis has announced a new global partnership deal between the tennis star and Supergoop!, a skin care line dedicated to broad spectrum sun protection. In addition to signing on as Supergoop’s brand ambassador, Sharapova will become a co-owner of the company. Supergoop! was founded in 2007 by CEO Holly Thaggard, a sun care industry veteran.
Bogotá: Lara Arruabarrena and Caroline Garcia beat Vania King and Chanelle Scheepers 7-6 (5) 6-4
Casablanca: Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Tomasz Bednarek and Lukas Dlouhy 6-2 6-2
Houston: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco 4-6 6-4 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Katowice: Yuliya Beygelzimer and Olga Savchuk beat Klara Koukalova and Monica Niculescu 6-4 5-7 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Kuala Lumpur: www.bmwmalaysianopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,562,150 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain, clay
$592,239 BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy, Bucharest, Romania, clay
$644,900 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$250,000 Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Marrakech, Morocco, clay