Americans Sweep Women’s Titles, Spaniards the Men’s Events
Mondays with Bob Greene
Feliciano Lopez beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-7 (5) 7-5 to win the Aegon International men’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain
Madison Keys beat Angelique Kerber 6-3 3-6 7-5 to win the Aegon International women’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain
Roberto Bautista Agut beat Benjamin Becker 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-4 to win the Topshelf Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands
Coco Vandeweghe beat Zheng Jie 6-2 6-4 to win the Topshelf Open women’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands
“I’m so incredibly happy.” – Madison Keys, after earning her first WTA title, upsetting Angelique Kerber in the Aegon International women’s final.
“It’s always not easy when somebody is serving like she did the whole match.” – Angelique Kerber.
“I was trying to not think too much and play my game point by point. It was the same nervousness as every match.” – Roberto Bautista Agut, after winning his first ATP World Tour level title.
“I feel like I’m a contender for the tournament. I feel like if things click here, I should be able to win the tournament; whereas at Roland Garros I feel like I’m slightly more dependent on (Nadal). – Roger Federer, on his chances to win Wimbledon.
“I do feel different having Boris (Becker) on my side, having a player who made a mark in this sport, especially in this tournament. This is his surface. This is his home. This is where he feels most comfortable. I think here where he had most success in his career, we can have a great two weeks together.” – Novak Djokovic, talking about his coach Boris Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion.
“I don’t see farther than today. I have a tough first round against (Martin) Klizan. For the last two years I lost in the first and second round … I start from the first round in every surface. You can imagine even more here on grass.” – Rafael Nadal, when asked who would be his biggest threat at Wimbledon.
“Personally I feel that I am doing things better. It is true that for the last couple of years I didn’t play lot of matches on grass, but I am confident that I can do it again. I am not talking about winning, (rather) talking about play better than what I did the last couple of years on grass.”
“Eventually age will catch up. It just hasn’t happened to her yet.” – Martina Navratilova, talking about Serena Williams, who Navratilova picked to win Wimbledon.
“Just to be across the net from him, just handling the ball is an exciting day for me.” – Francis Tiafoe, America’s top-ranked junior after practicing with world number one Rafael Nadal.
“That was a lot of fun. Serena and I had a good time with some of our other friends.” – Caroline Wozniacki, who joined Serena Williams for a break in Miami, Florida, USA, with family and friends after suffering early defeats at Roland Garros.
“Now, after being 10 months with you, falling asleep, waking up in your arms, looking in those beautiful Bambi eyes, I know I want to spend the rest of my life with you. … So now today I have taken all my courage together to go down on my knee in front of you. I love you to the moon and back, and I promise to be always faithful and honest with you. So I ask you in front of all these people: do you want to marry me?” – Martin Emmrich, proposing to Michaella Krajicek following her first-round victory at the Topshelf Open.
“Yes.” – Michaella Krajicek’s response.
“It means the players trust me hopefully and it means something was done right in the past two years with the previous Council. Hopefully we can work forward in the same way.” – Sergiy Stakhovsky, who was re-elected to the ATP Players Council for another two-year term.
American Madison Keys surprised fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber to win her first WTA title at Eastbourne, Great Britain. “It’s incredible to be able to win here,” said a delighted Keys, who became the first American to win the Wimbledon grass-court warm-up tournament since Chanda Rubin did it in 2003. “Hopefully there will be many more to come,” the 19-year-old from Florida said. Not only was it her first title, it was the first time Keys had reached a final on the WTA circuit. And she did it with power, hammering 17 aces, including one serve timed at 126 miles per hour, the fastest on the WTA circuit this year and in the all-time top five. Keys ended with 60 winners in her victory over the favored German. Kerber was playing in her 11th final; she has won four titles. “It was a tough final,” Kerber said. “Of course I’m disappointed. I’d be lying if I said no. I’ll now just take my energy by myself and focus on Wimbledon.” Keys needed four match points in the final game before grabbing the title when Kerber netted a shot with her 48th unforced error of the day. “I had great matches, I had these battles,” Kerber said. “I need to speak with my coach about this match, take the positive things and make sure that I will make a better result next time. It was really just like two, three points at the end.”
At 19 years old, Keys is the first teenager to win a WTA title since Caroline Wozniacki captured New Haven, Connecticut, USA, in 2009. She is the youngest player ranked in the top 50 and is the youngest American to win a singles title since Vania King in Bangkok, Thailand, in October 2006.
STARS AND STRIPES
Talk about surprises. Joining Madison Keys as a first-time winner on the WTA tour was Coco Vandeweghe, who took the Topshelf Open grass-court title by beating China’s Zheng Jie in the final. It was the first time two American women have won titles in the same week since February 2002. Vandeweghe had to qualify for the main draw and ended up reaching her second WTA final. The first came at Stanford two years ago when she lost to Serena Williams. Ranked 69th in the world, Vandeweghe fired eight aces and was dominant on serve, breaking her Chinese opponent in the third and fifth games of the first set, and again in the third game of the second set. The match took 70 minutes. “I got the first set and I thought to myself: one set to the good, one more to go,” Vandeweghe said. “Try and get the early break now and keep the pressure on her.” She did just that.
Feliciano Lopez had a couple firsts in successfully defending his Aegon International title at Eastbourne. It was the first time in his career that he had won a tournament in successive years and the first time he had beaten Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who was top-seeded in the grass-court Wimbledon warm-up event. “The way I play here is completely different from when I play on the other surfaces around the world,” Lopez said. “That’s really one of the most important things.” The 32-year-old Lopez is the first player since 2001 to reach consecutive grass-court finals prior to Wimbledon. He was runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov at The Queen’s Club. Gasquet was seeking his third Aegon International crown, having won in 2005 and 2006 when the event was held in Nottingham, Great Britain. There was little to separate the two players, with two breaks giving the Spanish left-hander the opening set and Gasquet winning the tiebreaker in the second. The third set went with serve until Lopez broke to lead 6-5, then served it out for his fourth career title.
While two Americans won the women’s events last week, it was two Spaniards who captured the men’s singles, with Roberto Bautista Agut winning his first title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch by beating Benjamin Becker. It was the German who dominated early in the battle, breaking Bautista Agut twice behind his big serve. But the Spaniard took control in the second-set tiebreak and consistently won rallies in the decisive set. Bautista Agut had to be tired coming into the final. The previous day he had finished the remainder of a quarterfinal match against defending champion Nicholas Mahut before triumphing over Jürgen Melzer in a three-set semifinal. “I feel so happy because I’ve been playing very well this year, but I didn’t have a trophy at home,” Bautista Agut said. “I was focused on taking it.”
STEADY ON COURSE
Novak Djokovic played down his wrist injury and says he will definitely be seeking his second Wimbledon title. The Serb had been troubled by the right wrist problem since Monte Carlo in April and recently pulled out of a Wimbledon warm-up event. The 27-year-old said he felt the injury may have been in danger of flaring up due to his moving from a clay surface to grass courts, and that that was the reason he pulled out of an exhibition match in London. “It’s the first time that I have problems with the wrist,” Djokovic said. “I started feeling it before Monte Carlo tournament started. I played Monte Carlo under strange conditions, under a lot of pain. I decided to skip Madrid, which was a good decision because I played pain-free in Rome and Roland Garros. Right now I don’t feel any pain. But I felt like when I’m changing surfaces, especially from clay to grass, in the opening few days of the practice here got a little bit of a strange sensation in the wrist. Now its fine, so hopefully it can stay that way.” Ranked second in the world behind Rafael Nadal, Djokovic was bumped up in the Wimbledon seeding to the top spot. Nadal was seeded second. However, Djokovic has won just one Grand Slam tournament title in the last two years and has lost in five of his last six major finals, including earlier this month at Roland Garros.
SISTERS SLIP, BUT SURVIVE
The Chan sisters – Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan – survived a stunning second-set loss to capture the women’s doubles in Eastbourne. The Taiwanese pair were leading 6-3 5-1 when their opponents, Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta, rallied to fight off four match points before finally leveling the match at a set apiece. The Chan sisters, however, regrouped and took the deciding match tiebreak 10-5. “Today was a tough match and even though we were leading 5-1 in the second set, they were fighting a lot to come back and I think we did well to get through the final set,” Chan Yung-Jan said. “It was an amazing tournament and we had a great week. It’s a great feeling to win a second title with my sister,” Chan Hao-Ching said.
Marina Erakovic and Arantxa Parra Santonja failed to win a game in the opening set in their doubles final at the Topshelf Open. But they rallied to capture the title, beating Kristina Mladenovic and Michaella Krajicek, pulling even at a set apiece when they captured the tiebreaker 7-5, then winning the match tiebreak 10-8.
It was the fourth doubles title of the season for Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, but this one was different and very special. “To win an ATP World Tour title in front of the Dutch crowd is very nice,” said Rojer, a Dutch native. “We’ve been working hard – that’s the main thing. We try to keep improving every time.” Rojer and his Romanian partner also have won in Zagreb, Casablanca and Bucharest this year. They also reached the final in Rotterdam. For Tecau, winning the Topshelf Open is becoming a habit. He won last year’s tournament with partner Max Mirnyi and had previously teamed with Robert Lindstedt to win in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2009 and 2012.
Simona Halep says she has recovered from the right shoulder muscle injury that forced her to withdraw from a warm-up grass-court tournament and is ready for Wimbledon. She is seeded third at the All England Club after reaching the final at Roland Garros. “I’m looking forward to go very far in this tournament,” the Romanian said of the year’s third Grand Slam event and the only one played on grass. She has never been past the second round at Wimbledon. But she has reached the second week of the last three majors – getting to the fourth round at last year’s US Open, the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January and the title match at Roland Garros earlier this month.
SERENA STILL UPSET
Serena Williams may be favored to win her sixth Wimbledon title, but she is still fuming about her short stay in Paris. Plus, she has had a habit of slipping in big venues this year. Williams last won Wimbledon in 2012, but has yet to increase her major total this year, losing a fourth-round match to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open in January and suffering an embarrassing second-round loss to young Garbiñe Muguruza at Roland Garros. The latter was one of the worst defeats of Serena’s career. Asked how quickly she had put the French Open loss behind her, Serena said: “Who says I was over it? Yeah, I doubt it. Knowing me, no.” She also was snubbed by the All England Club when it picked the person to play the first match on Centre Court on Tuesday. Traditionally that honor goes to the defending women’s champion. But last year’s winner, Marion Bartoli of France, retired right after winning, so it was thought that the committee might pick its 2012 champion. Instead, the tournament picked Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, who beat Serena in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year en route to the final, where she lost to Bartoli. “She was in the final last year, so she was two sets closer than I was. So why not?” Williams said of the committee’s selection. “For me, you have to be ready to play on any day.”
In her first match on English grass since winning Wimbledon last year, Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli was losing to a 15-year-old junior in an exhibition in Liverpool on Thursday when she quit the match because of a right shoulder problem. The 29-year-old Bartoli, who retired from tennis a month after her Wimbledon triumph, agreed to play in the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis exhibition. She was trailing 15-year-old Jodie Burrage 7-5, 3-2 when she called it quits. Bartoli will be doing commentary for BBC at this year’s Wimbledon.
Agnieszka Radwanska may not have considered it an upset when she was toppled in the opening round at Eastbourne by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. After all, Radwanska’s trips to the Wimbledon grass-court warm-up event have been dramatically shortened since she won the tournament in 2008. She has now lost in the first round four times and has not won a match at Eastbourne since she reached the quarterfinals in 2011. She apparently hasn’t needed the work on grass. Last year she reached the Wimbledon semifinals; the year before she lost to Serena Williams in the title match of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament. “The first match (on grass) is always tricky,” Radwanska said. “Well, it was a great match before Wimbledon to get used to it … I just hope I can do the same good results (at Wimbledon) this year.”
SAY YES, MICHAELLA
Michaella Krajicek may have been on the losing end of the doubles final at the Topshelf Open, but she left the Dutch tournament with the best trophy of all – an engagement ring. A Netherlands native, Krajicek had won her first-round singles match when German doubles specialist Martin Emmrich stepped onto the court. Emmrich and Krajicek have been an item since they met at the same tournament last year. This time, Emmrich took a microphone, got down on one knee and proposed. Krajicek, whose half-brother Richard won Wimbledon in 1996, said yes. “It was a huge surprise,” Krajicek said. “We met here one year ago and I think it’s such a very special place to do it. I just knew I was for sure going to say yes. That was all I knew in that moment.”
Once again Tommy Haas has had his career halted by injury. The German right-hander has had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder performed by Dr. David Altchek in New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. “It’s been a struggle since the beginning of the year, obviously, and I’ve already had to retire in matches, which is never fun,” Haas said. “Unfortunately it’s an injury I’ve already had before that was fixed, but my sub-scapular tendon is torn again. It’s a big step backwards in a long process, but I want to hopefully come back again at some point and finish my career on my own terms when I’m ready for it. I’ll try everything I can.” Haas has been ranked as high as second in the world during his career, which has seen him win 15 titles. The 36-year-old German twice has won the Comeback Player of the Year award and is currently the oldest player ranked in the Top 100. He has reached four Grand Slam tournament semifinals, including Wimbledon in 2009. He won the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It will be the fourth operation on his right shoulder and he is expected to not return until next year. “I’m still totally convinced I’ve good matches and tournaments ahead of me,” Haas said.
A wrist injury has caused Great Britain’s Laura Robson to miss the WTA tour while she recovers. “I went through a very, very depressed stage,” said the 20-year-old Robson. “I didn’t go on any tennis websites because I was so jealous of everyone able to play.” Now, she said, she’s “past that stage” and plans on starting to hit sponge balls by August. “At the moment it’s kind of a day-to-day thing in terms of pain and how the inflammation is going, but rehab seems to be coming along nicely,” she said. Robson has only played one full match this year, losing to Kirsten Flipkens at the Australian Open in January. And she plans on playing the Australian Open next year. “I’d still like to be able to play some matches at the end of this year and get some competitive tennis in before Australia,” Robson said. “I’m basically going to be playing some very small tournaments to try and get my ranking up again.” She will be at Wimbledon this year, but only as part of the BBC commentary team.
Garbiñe Muguruza has been tabbed as an up-and-comer after posting several big wins this season, including one at Roland Garros over Serena Williams where she eventually reached the quarterfinals. And the young Spaniard is beginning to reap the rewards. She just signed a deal to become a brand ambassador for the Japanese car manufacturer Mazda.
SAYS MAURESMO WRONG CHOICE
Virginia Wade is the last Brit to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title. Now she disagrees with the coaching choice made by the last Brit to win the Wimbledon men’s singles crown. “Mauresmo was a total shock,” Wade said of Andy Murray’s decision to hired Amelia Mauresmo as his coach. “I thought they were all fooling around. “I think again he’s maybe trying to mess with everybody. … She was a great player, she’s a great person. I think she was a little fragile mentally because she had the capabilities of beating everybody. She’s laid back, she’s a very nice, mature person. But I can’t work it out at all.” Wade seems to be alone in her assessment as a vast majority of players approve of the move.
Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and American John Isner have been elected to the ATP Player Council for the first time. Elected to a two-year term, the council is comprised of a number of returning members as well. Players ranked in the top 50 who were elected are Kevin Anderson of South Africa, Isner, Wawrinka and Frenchman Gilles Simon. Those ranked from 51 to 100 are Jürgen Melzer of Austria and Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine; ranked in top 100 in doubles: Raven Klaasen of South Africa and Bruno Soares of Brazil; at-large: American Eric Butorac and Andre Sa of Brazil; alumni: Yves Allegro; and coach: Claudio Pistolesi. The council’s first meeting will be held in New York City prior to the US Open where the president and vice president will be elected. Roger Federer, who has served as council president since 2008, decided not to run for a fourth consecutive term.
Eastbourne (men): Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot beat Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 7-5 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Eastbourne (women): Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan beat Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta 6-3 5-7 10-7 (match tiebreak)
‘s-Hertogenbosch (men): Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky 6-3 7-6 (3)
‘s-Hertogenbosch (women): Marina Erakovic and Arantxa Parra Santonja beat Michaella Krajicek and Kristina Mladenovic 0-6 7-6 (5) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Wimbledon Tennis: www.wimbledontennis.co.uk/
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
MEN and WOMEN
Wimbledon, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Wimbledon, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass (second week)
$144,861 Sparkassen Open, Braunschweig, Germany
Wimbledon, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass (second week)
$100,000 Lorraine Open 88, Contrexeville, France, clay