Mondays with Bob Greene
Carlos Berlocq beat Tomas Berdych 0-6 7-5 61 to win the Portugal Open men’s singles in Qeiras, Portugal
Martin Klizan beat Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-1 6-2 to win the BMW Open by FWU AG in Munich, Germany
Carla Suárez Navarro beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 3-6 6-4 to win the Portugal Open women’s singles in Qeiras, Portugal
Simone Bolelli beat Julian Reister 6-4 6-2 to win the Tunis Open in Tunis, Tunisia
Andrey Kuznetsov beat Miloslav Mecir 2-6 6-3 6-0 to win the Prosperita Open 2014 in Ostrava, Czech Republic
“To come through qualifying – playing eight matches in nine days – is tough. It is difficult to be fit every day. I beat many good players, from (Mikhail) Youzhny to Tommy (Haas). I am very proud of myself that it ended happily.” – Martin Klizan, after winning the title in Munich, Germany.
“It was a great week to have reached a final. Tomorrow is another day.” – Fabio Fognini, after losing to Martin Klizan in the BMW Open final.
“On match point I was only thinking to put the ball in, and that’s what I did, and I felt so good when I finally finished the match. The ceremony was very special for me. I really love this tournament.” – Carla Suárez Navarro, after winning her first WTA title.
“To win a title, and against a Top 10 player, carries double merits. To close the match the way I did was very emotional.” – Carlos Berlocq, who shocked sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych in the final of the Portugal Open.
“The first set looks easy, but it doesn’t show what was going on. Carlos is a big fighter and he completely changed his game, finding a way to win.” – Tomas Berdych, who won the first set 6-0 before losing the Portugal Open final to Carlos Berlocq.
“I feel pressure every day. I think it’s a good thing a little bit because it means I’m still really hungry. If I didn’t, then I would be like, ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter.’” – Serena Williams, in an interview to promote the Madrid tournament.
“If Venus and I ever looked at each other and reflected on what we did, we wouldn’t be here. We would be vacationing on some exotic island somewhere. We can’t become satisfied yet because there are still some things that we want to do. I think there’s some pioneering to be done. Obviously, Venus has done some pioneering of her own with everything that she’s done for equal prize money and things of that nature, so I definitely think there’s still lots of room. We’ve opened so many doors, I have to think about what the next steps are.” – Serena Williams,
“Next year? That’s still a long way away. I have thought at times that enough is enough and wrestled with the idea (of quitting), but I’ve managed to overcome those feelings so far.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, at age 43 still on the WTA Tour.
“I don’t have any problem with people mentioning my age. Of course my recovery time after matches is slower and I feel the fatigue more the next day. On the way back to the hotel, you feel sore and sometimes the ice baths don’t work.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm.
It wasn’t pretty, but Martin Klizan has the second title of his career and a brand new car. Ranked 111th in the world, the Slovakian qualifier dropped the opening set before overcoming top-seeded Fabio Fognini in the BMW Open in Munich. Although he had lost his last three meetings with Fognini, Klizan beat the Italian the only other time he reached a final, at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2012. Klizan called for medical treatment in the opening set, suffering from abdominal pains. The Slovakian continued to complain at each changeover. “I felt very bad and took two tablets because of stomach cramps after the first set,” Klizan said. “That was a crazy game from both of us.” In the third set, Fognini also was treated for a similar complaint. After the match, the Italian told news agency DPA: “Hopefully he’s doing better now than he was during the match.” Asked if he thought Klizan had used the illness to throw off his game, Fognini said: “I think so. Let’s see how many matches he’s won in this manner at the end of the year.” Klizan became the first qualifier to win an ATP World Tour event since Nicolas Mahut captured a Dutch tournament in 2013.
SECOND TITLE FOR BERLOCQ
Like at Munich, the Portugal Open also saw the heavy favorite lose in the final. Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq failed to win a game in the opening set 6-0 rallying to upset Tomas Berdych 0-6 7-5 6-1. “In the second set, when I changed my tactics I saw the ball better, committed less errors and it opened the door,” Berlocq said, explaining the change in fortune. He broke Berdych five straight times to close out the match and join three other Argentinians who have won the Portugal Open, Juan Martin del Potro in 2011 and 2012, David Nalbandian in 2002 and 2006, and Juan Ignacio Chela in 2004. “It’s very nice to know Nalbandian, Del Potro and Gaudio won this title and that I join this list,” Berlocq said. “It is very special for me to be with such great players.” Berlocq won his first game of the match by breaking Berdych to begin the second set. He broke Berdych again in the 11th game to send it into a tiebreak. The deciding set was all Berlocq, who won his second career ATP World Tour title, having captured the SkiStar Swedish Open last year. Berlocq went into the tournament with a 0-19 record against Top 10 opponents, but knocked off ninth-ranked Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals before upsetting Berdych in the title match. “It’s a very strong, very beautiful feeling (to win here),” Berlocq said. “It was a very special match for me. I didn’t have any pressure to win and it’s not my culture to conform to expectations.”
SUCCESS – FINALLY
Carla Suárez Navarro has won more matches this year than anyone else on the WTA Tour. On Sunday, she won her first career title, beating two-time Grand Slam tournament champion Svetlana Kuznetsova to capture the Portugal Open. “I was a little bit nervous today,” Suárez Navarro admitted. “It was a difficult match, too. It was windy today and we were both making mistakes, and we know each other well. But the most important thing for me today was just to be solid all the time.” It was the sixth career final for the Spaniard and she was the top seed. Still, she was not favored in the final since she has lost three of her previous four meetings to Kuznetsova, who once was ranked as high as number two in the world. “I tried to fight, but unfortunately it didn’t happen today,” Kuznetsova said. It was the third year Suárez Navarro had reached the Portugal Open final. This time she emerged the champion. “For me, it’s a very special moment of the season because we don’t have a lot of tournaments on clay,” Suarez said. “Now there’s Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros, which to me is the best tournament of the year.” After this past week, the Spaniard has won 26 WTA-level matches this season, two more than Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova.
SUCCUMBS TO CANCER
Elena Baltacha, Britain’s top female player for nearly three years, has died of liver cancer at the age of 30. Baltacha retired from professional tennis last year and revealed she had liver cancer only a couple months ago, having been diagnosed in January. When she was 19, she was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which compromise3s the immune system. A native of Ukraine who was raised in Scotland, Baltacha won 11 singles titles, reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2002, made it to the third round of the Australian Open in 2005 and 2010, and was a member of Great Britain’s Fed Cup team for 11 years. “We are heartbroken beyond words at the loss of our beautiful, talented and determined Bally,” her husband, Nino Severino, said in a statement. “She was an amazing person and she touched so many people with her inspirational spirit, her warmth and her kindness.” Tennis stars, including Andy Murray, Martina Navratilova, Tim Henman, Greg Rusedski, Jamie Murray and Heather Watson, will participate in “Rally For Bally.” a cancer fundraising event that will be held in Baltacha’s memory on June 15.
Although his ranking has currently dropped to eighth in the world, Andy Murray will be seeded much higher when he defends his Wimbledon title. “We have a surfaced-based seeding system here at Wimbledon,” All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) chairman Philip Brook said. “So we take the ranking points of each player, and add to that the ranking points they hypothetically received last year on grass, and we add to that 75 percent of the best-performing tournament in the previous year. So to put it into context for Andy Murray, as winner of Queen’s last year and winner here last year, and a finalist here in 2012, there will be a significant impact on him. There will also be quite a significant impact on (Roger) Federer and (Novak) Djokovic. There will be some adjustment.” A higher seeding would mean Murray would not have to play any of the other top players until late in the tournament. All four Grand Slam tournaments have the right to change seedings and not follow the rankings, but only Wimbledon has actually done so. This year’s Wimbledon will be played June 23 to July 6.
Thanks to the United States Tennis Association’s reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation, Robby Ginepri has gained a wild card into the main draw at this year’s Roland Garros. The 31-year-old Ginepri clinched the wild card by defeating James McGee 6-1 6-4 in the semifinals of the Wild Card Challenge in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. Players vie for the wild card based on results on the USTA Pro Circuit. “I’m thrilled to go back to Paris, it’s a special place for me,” said Ginepri, who was a US Open semifinalist in 2005. He returned to tennis in 2012 after missing almost two years following a mountain-bike accident in which he broke his left elbow.
Total prize money for this year’s Wimbledon tournament will increase by nearly 11 percent, with a lot of the money going to early-round losers. Still, the men’s and women’s singles champions won’t be hurting. Their prize money will increase 10 percent to 1.76 million pounds (USD $2.9 million). Players who fail to get past the third round will receive 12.5 percent more than they did in 2013. “We’ve placed emphasis on the large group of players who need our help the most, those players who lose in qualifying and in the early rounds of the championships,” Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said. “We also had an eye to being competitive internationally, and we do keep our watch on what is going on in other tennis events and in particular the other Grand Slams.” The French Open champions this year will receive 1.65 million euros (USD $2.3 million).
The right wrist injury that bothered Novak Djokovic when he lost in the semifinals at Monte Carlo to Roger Federer has caused the Serbian star to pull out of the Madrid Open. “I did everything possible in order to play in Madrid, but unfortunately my right arm injury has flared up again,” Djokovic said. Ranked second in the world, Djokovic said he will now work toward playing in Rome, which starts May 11.
Angelique Kerber played in the Madrid Open, but retired with a bad back from her first-round match while trailing Carolina Garcia of France 6-3 2-0. ‘”I’ve been feeling my back for a few days now and felt it again in the first set, and it was getting worse as the match went on,” said Kerber, who was seeded seventh. “I’m disappointed I had to retire from the match. But I’d like to give all the credit to Caroline, who played an amazing match today.”
SET TO RETURN – BRIEFLY
Marion Bartoli retired right after winning the Wimbledon singles last year. Now she’s returning in June to play an exhibition tournament. The 29-year-old Frenchwoman will play in the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament from June 18-22, which will also feature retired players Greg Rusedski and Virginia Wade. While she struggled with all kinds of injuries during her 14-year career, Bartoli said her shoulder forced her retirement because she couldn’t serve properly. She won Wimbledon in her 47th start at a Grand Slam tournament – the most ever played by a woman before winning a major championship. And she won the title without dropping a set.
SITTING DOWN ON THE JOB
Eugenie Bouchard was playing Alisa Kleybanova in an opening round match at the Portugal Open when her feet went out from her on the clay and she ended up sitting on the court. Still, when the ball came close enough, the 20-year-old Canadian was able to hit a looping backhand that barely cleared the net. She then got back on her feet and ended up winning the point with another backhand. The play brought a smile to her face as she ended up with a 6-4 6-1 victory.
Richard Williams says he will never return to the tournament in Indian Wells, California, USA, where he said his family was booed and subjected to racial epithets. The father of Serena and Venus Williams wrote about the incident in his new book, “Black and White: The Way I See It,” which is being published this week. “I would never go back” to Indian Wells, Williams said in a telephone interview. But he said it was up to his daughters to decide if they want to play the southern California tournament again. “She was taught to make terrific decisions,” Richard said of Serena. “Any decision she makes, I would be behind one-thousand percent.” Serena was on the entry list for this year’s tournament but withdrew, citing a back injury.
Six weeks after his surgery, Juan Martin del Potro says he is starting intense rehabilitation on his left wrist. Del Potro got encouraging words from Dr. Richard Berger, when he visited his surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. The Argentine has been using a special splint to support the wrist while the ligaments healed. The player wrote on his Facebook page: “The doctor is satisfied with the recovery and, even though I need to keep using the splint, now I can start the rehabilitation exercises to recover the mobility in my left wrist.” No date has been set on when del Potro will be able return to the ATP World Tour.
Andy Ram of Israel is calling it quits. Ram announced he will retire from the game after the upcoming Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie at home against Argentina in September. The 34-year-old Ram has been half of Israel’s most successful doubles team in both Davis Cup and on the pro circuit. “The time has come, today is the day, it is time to hang up the racquets after a long career,” Ram said. “I have been involved in tennis since the age of five and today I’m 34. It has been a very long path during which I have experienced many things and I would not exchange them for anything … all the injuries, the victories, I will never forget them.” Ram teamed with Vera Zvonareva to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2006 and with Nathalie Dechy to capture Roland Garros in 2007. In 2008, Ram and fellow Israeli Jonathan Erlich won the Australian Open men’s doubles title. With Erlich, Ram also represented Israel at the last three Olympic Games, most notably knocking out Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2012 Games in London before being defeated in the quarterfinals by the eventual gold medalists, American brothers Mike and Bob Bryan.
Karl Meiler, a semifinalist at the Australian Open in 1973, has died at the age of 64. The German had been in a coma since he fell down the stairs at his home last November. Meiler won four ATP World Tour singles titles, reaching a career-high ranking of 20th in the world in 1973. He also won 17 doubles titles, including the WCT World Doubles Championships in 1976 with Wojtek Fibak. He represented West Germany in Davis Cup from 1968 until 1980. After retiring, Meiler coached many German players, including Michael Stich, Carl-Uwe Steeb and Bernd Karbacher.
Munich: Jamie Murray and John Peers beat Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-4 6-2
Ostrava: Andrey Kuznetsov and Adrian Menendez-Macciras beat Alessandro Motti and Matteo Viola 4-6 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Qeiras (men): Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky beat Pablo Cuevas and David Marrero 6-3 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Qeiras (women): Cara Black and Sania Mirza beat Eva Hrdinova and Valeria Solovyeva 6-4 6-3
Tunis: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Adil Shamasdin beat Stephan Fransen and Jesse Huta Galung 6-3 7-6 (5)
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$5,077,700 Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay
$5,077,700 Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay
$100,000 Open de Cagnes-Sur-Mer Alpes-Maritimes, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,000,610 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$117,882 BNP Paribas Primrose, Bordeaux, France, clay
$2,328,050 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$100,000 Sparta Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay