Mondays with Bob Greene
Milos Raonic beat Vasek Pospisil 6-1 6-4 to win the Citi Open men’s singles in Washington, DC, USA
Serena Williams beat Angelique Kerber 7-6 (1) 6-3 to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA
David Goffin beat Dominic Thiem 4-6 6-1 6-3 to win the bet-at-home Cup in Kitzbühel, Austria
Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Kurumi Nara 6-3 4-6 6-4 to win the Citi Open women’s singles in Washington, DC, USA
Jarmila Gajdosova beat Lesia Tsurenko 3-6 6-3 7-6 (3) to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open women’s singles in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Marcos Baghdatis beat Farrukh Dustov 7-6 (6) 6-3 to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open men’s singles in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
“Every week is a new week and all I can do is try and improve. For me it’s all mental: being there, being positive and being good to myself.” – Serena Williams, after winning the Bank of the West Classic for the third time in four years, beating Angelique Kerber in the final.
“I gave everything I could out there. When she was down she started hitting the ball better. It’s a special thing she has. On the important points, she goes for it.” – Angelique Kerber, explaining how Serena Williams keeps winning.
“I couldn’t have asked, really, for more. I had a chance to break in every single game in that first set. Then I continued to play solid after that. All in all, a very good performance and an important moment for me.” – Milos Raonic, after beating fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil to win the Citi Open.
“He came out strong. He caught me off guard. He played so strong. I wasn’t 100 percent, but it wouldn’t have made much difference.” – Vasek Pospisil.
“It’s just an amazing feeling right now. I don’t believe it. Maybe in a few days I’ll realize what happened today.” – David Goffin, after winning his first ATP World Tour title.
“Frankly, if common sense won in this one, I passed 14 years of tests during my career. Common sense? It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s nonsensical.” – Andy Roddick, who will not be allowed to play doubles at the US Open because of drug rules that affect players who officially retire.
“Depending on the evolution of the injury that will be carefully followed by the doctors, including MRI tests, it will be decided then the return to competition, initially scheduled for the US Open.” – Rafael Nadal’s publicist, announcing a right wrist injury will force the Spaniard to miss two major US Open warm-up events.
“Unfortunately I injured myself … during practice and after checking with my doctors I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks.” – Rafael Nadal.
“Well at least I broke the world record for fastest serve.” – Sabine Lisicki, who hit a record-breaking 131 mph serve in a first-round loss to Ana Ivanovic at the Bank of the West Classic.
“I think it’s time it was broken. It’s a good thing.” – Venus Williams, after Sabine Lisicki hit the fastest serve ever recorded in women’s tennis, breaking the mark held by Venus.
“Thanks to Henri for playing great again. We haven’t had many chances to play together on the (ATP World) Tour level, but we’ve played many Davis Cups and hopefully we’ll get many more attempts to play together. It was fun.” – Jarkko Nieminen, after teaming with Henri Kontinen to win the doubles in Kitzbühel, Austria.
“I get the rule in place, the three-month rule. I feel like there should maybe be an appeal process. Listen, if I’m going to do performance-enhancing drugs and make a comeback, I promise you it’s not going to be for one doubles tournament at the US Open. That’s for sure.” – Andy Roddick, who will not be allowed to play doubles in this year’s US Open because of drug-testing rules and the fact that he officially retired.
“It’s great to still be feeling well enough to be playing on this tour, which is much more competitive than it was 20 years ago. To be looking pretty solid, too, that’s great. It’s been a long journey. I don’t know if at that age I would have envisioned I would still be playing now, but I’m glad I am. Because you get one shot at it, and then you fade to grace when someone else is better. So while I’m here, I’m going to go for it.” – Venus Williams, who played in the Bank of the West Classic, the same tournament where she began her career 20 years ago.
“I went out on my terms, playing high quality tennis. For me it was very good to know that I can still compete against these younger, stronger, fitter players who are playing well. Thanasi’s (Thanasi Kokkinakis) been doing really well lately. It was more of a celebration and enjoyment of a good career.” – Rik de Voest, announcing his retirement.
SERENA IS BACK
Playing in her first tournament since she had to retire during a doubles match at Wimbledon, Serena William won the Bank of the West title for the third time, stopping Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final. But the world’s top-ranked player had to overcome a huge deficit to capture the match in straight sets. “I blinked my eye and I was down 1-5,” Williams said. “Angelique was playing well and I thought ‘What’s going on?’ I tried to relax, not think about anything and just do the right thing.” It worked. Kerber forced the tiebreaker, but Williams ripped off the first five points, winning it 7-1. Then, just like she did in her semifinal win over another German, Andrea Petkovic, the American put her A-game on display in the second set. “When I’m not playing great I know I can make some kind of comeback,” said Williams, who didn’t play well in any of the first sets during the week but always found a way to win. Williams extended her winning streak on the hard courts at Stanford to 13 matches as she captured the event for the third time in four years. “It just says how much I love to play here,” she said.
SIXTH TITLE A ROMP
In the ATP World Tour’s first all-Canadian final, Milos Raonic dominated the Citi Open to win his sixth tour title. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to lead into my most important part of the year,” Raonic said after crushing Vasek Pospisil 6-1 6-4. “I’m fortunate to have played so well at the starting stages. It’s tough after a few weeks away.” The Washington, DC, tournament was Raonic’s first event since reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon, his best Grand Slam tournament showing. It was his first title since last September in Bangkok, Thailand. Pospisil was playing in his first ATP World Tour final, having upset top-seeded Tomas Berdych in the third round and Richard Gasquet in the semifinals. “I felt a little more pressure not to lose because of the situation, and I’m happy with how I handled it,” Raonic said, noting he felt the pressure of the historic moment for Canadian tennis. “All in all a good performance in a very important moment for me.” It was only the second ATP final between players born in the 1990s. At 23, Raonic is one year younger than Pospisil, who was the dominant player when the two played in the juniors. Pospisil teamed with American Jack Sock to win the Wimbledon doubles title last month.
SCRUBS NEW YORK TRIP
Australian Open champion Li Na will not be playing in the US Open this year because of a knee injury. Ranked second in the world, China’s biggest tennis star also has pulled out of hard court warm-up tournaments in Montreal, Canada, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Li wrote on her Facebook page that she has “been struggling” with her knee since March “and it is just not where I need it to be in order to play at the highest level.” Li won the Australian Open in January, but suffered a first-round loss at the French Open in May and was eliminated in the third round at Wimbledon in June. “My medical team has advised me that I need to take some time off to rest my knee,” Li said. She also won the French Open title in 2011, the only native of Asia to capture a Grand Slam tournament singles crown.
STATUS UP IN AIR
A wrist injury could cause defending champion Rafael Nadal to miss this year’s US Open. The Spaniard has pulled out of two tune-up events, the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, because of the injury to his right wrist. Nadal suffered the injury during practice and is scheduled to wear a cast on his wrist for two to three weeks. His publicist said Nadal felt pain during practice in Mallorca and tests revealed the injury. “I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my Rogers Cup title this year,” Nadal said. “Unfortunately I injured myself … during practice and after checking with my doctors I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks.” Nadal also is the defending champion at Cincinnati.
David Goffin is on a roll. The Belgian wild card won his 20th consecutive match and his first ATP World Tour title by beating hometown favorite Dominic Thiem in Kitzbühel, Austria. “It’s a great day for me, to win an ATP (World Tour) 250,” said the 23-year-old Goffin, whose winning streak began with three consecutive titles on the second-tier Challenger circuit. “You work so much in the fitness room and on the court for a moment like today. You play so many practices and so many matches to have this emotion, so when you win the match point you can’t control it.” Goffin is the first Belgian to win an ATP World Tour event since Xavier Malisse captured the title in Delray Beach, Florida, USA, seven years ago. His winning streak will put Goffin in the top 50 in the rankings after being outside the top 100 just a month ago. His last loss was to Andy Murray in the first round at Wimbledon. Both Goffin and the 20-year-old Thiem were playing in their first ATP World Tour final.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori has withdrawn from the Rogers Cup in Toronto because of an infected toe. Ranked 11th in the world, Nishikori appeared to have problems moving around the court when he lost to Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the Citi Open quarterfinals in Washington, DC. At the time, he insisted there was no health problem. In announcing his withdrawal from Toronto, the ATP World Tour gave the reason as an infected toe.
STOPPED BY DRUG RULES
In a strange twist of drug rules, Andy Roddick won’t be allowed to come out of retirement and play doubles at the US Open this year. That’s because Roddick, once ranked number one in the world, wasn’t in the sport’s drug testing pool for the required three months prior to this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Roddick said he and his friend Mardy Fish had hoped to fulfill a dream they have had since they were 15 years old. But their plan was halted on a technicality. According to Roddick, Fish was only associating tennis with negative things. To break that cycle, Roddick suggested they play doubles. Fish agreed and Roddick went about trying to get a wild card into the Open. But Roddick learned he was ineligible for a wild card because players who come out of retirement have to be in the drug testing program for at least three month. The US Open begins its two-week run on August 25. Roddick is particularly displeased because by officially filing his retirement papers last year he was dropped from the rankings. If he had simply stopped playing and not retired, Roddick says he would have been eligible for the wild card.
SILENT HE ISN’T
Yevgeny Kafelnikov failed to read the entire letter before he told the world about being nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2015. If he had, he would have noticed the last paragraph asked that he “keep this information private” until the official announcement was made during the upcoming US Open. Not only did the Russian “out” himself, he also told the world the other candidates on the ballot will be Amélie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce and Sergi Bruguera, David Hall in the wheelchair category and Nancy Jeffett in the contributor category. The 40-year-old Kafelnikov won two Grand Slam tournament titles and was ranked as high as number one in the world. Mauresmo, currently the coach of Andy Murray, won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. Pierce captured the singles title at the Australian Open in 1995 and Roland Garros in 2000. Bruguera captured Roland Garros in 1993 and 1994.
SVETLANA A WINNER
It’s been a while since Svetlana Kuznetsova ended up with the biggest prize and a title. By beating Kurumi Nara of Japan at the Citi Open in Washington, DC, Kuznetsova won her 14th career title, but only her first since San Diego, California, in August 2010. She won the US Open in 2004 and Roland Garros in 2009. It was the first time the sixth-seeded Russian had played the hard-court warm-up event in Washington, DC.
Nara also came up second best in doubles as she and countrywoman Hiroko Kuwata lost the final to Shuko Aoyama and Gabriela Dabrowski 6-1 6-2.
Jelena Jankovic holds a unique record in women’s tennis. She’s the only player to have beaten both Serena and Venus Williams in the same tournament without having also won a Grand Slam tournament title. The Serbian right-handed knocked off the American sisters on the clay courts in Rome in 2010, being the last player to pull off the rare feat. Only six other players have beat both Williams sisters at the same tournament. Five of the six are already in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, and the sixth – Kim Clijsters, who did it twice – is almost a sure bet to be inducted. In order, they are Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario in Sydney in 1998; Steffi Graf, Sydney, 1999; Martina Hingis, 2001 Australian Open; Lindsay Davenport, Los Angeles, 2004; Justine Henin, 2007 US Open; and Clijsters, at the 2002 WTA Championships and the 2009 US Open. Only Graf beat both sisters by the quarterfinals, a testament to how dominant the two Americans have been in their careers. Graf won 22 Grand Slam tournament singles titles, Henin seven, Hingis five, Sánchez-Vicario and Clijsters four each, and Davenport three.
Sabine Lisicki is now the holder of the fastest-recorded serve in women’s tennis. The Germany blasted a 131 mph (211 kph) serve during a first-round loss at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA. The huge serve came in the 11th game of the first set against Ana Ivanovic, who won the match 7-6 (2) 6-1. The old record of 129 mph (208 kph) was set by Venus Williams at the 2007 US Open. “Well, at least I broke the world record for fastest serve,” Lisicki said. Williams, who is playing the same tournament, said she was happy she no longer held the record. “I’m not out there really trying to serve hard,” Williams said. “I used to, but now, when I really want the point, I try a medium serve somewhere above 110. I try more for placement these days. It take a lot of energy to serve. So if you can take 10 miles off and place it, it’s smarter.”
SEVERE AND BIZARRE
When Serena Williams retired under bizarre circumstances from her second-round doubles match at Wimbledon, she didn’t realize the severity of her condition. “It kind of reminded me of when I had my other illness a while ago,” Williams said, referring to her hospitalization in 2011 for a pulmonary embolism. “When you’re in the moment, you don’t realize how sick you are until you step back and you look at everything.” Williams appeared listless and disoriented at Wimbledon. The start of the match was delayed as doctors examined her and took her blood pressure. She then hit four consecutive double-faults while serving in the third game, some of her serves landing before the ball reached the net. The official reason given for the withdrawal was a viral illness, a diagnosis that was challenged by some commentators. Speaking to the media at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA, Serena said her doubles partner, sister Venus Williams, urged her to stop. “She was totally like, ‘Serena, walk off the court.’ I think she almost punched me,” Serena remembered, laughing. “And I’m like, ‘No, it’s just half the court. I can do it, I can do it.’” After looking at replays of her performance, Serena said: “It’s weird. It’s like, ‘Is that me?’” Under doctor’s orders, she remained in London until the end of the tournament, then went to Croatia for a working vacation. The Stanford event was her first tournament since Wimbledon.
Surgery on his right shoulder has caused Tommy Haas to withdraw from this year’s US Open. Currently ranked 26th in the world, the German right-hander is out for the remainder of the year after undergoing his fourth operation on his shoulder. The withdrawal by Haas opened up a spot in the main draw for Marcos Baghdatis, who was the runner-up at the Australian Open in 2006. Baghdatis’ best showing at the US Open was last year when he reached the third round.
The players know that Venus Williams isn’t making it just on her history. For example, check out her second-round match at the Bank of the West Classic when the veteran out-slugged former world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-6 (1). While Azarenka has struggled this year, she showed off a strong game against Williams. It wasn’t strong enough, however. “Obviously, it’s always great to get a win against a player like Victoria because she’s a champion,” Venus said. “So it feels good. But she also hasn’t been playing as much, so I think she’s still looking for her range. But I think both of us played at a high level, and it just got better as the match went on.” Azarenka agreed completely. “It was a pretty good match, I think the level was pretty high,” Azarenka said. “We both came out with some great points and great fighting. I think Venus came out with a little bit better execution at the important moments.”
It didn’t take long for Henri Kontinen and Jarkko Nieminen to win their first ATP World Tour doubles title. The two Finns needed just 58 minutes to beat Daniele Bracciali and Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-4 to capture the bet-at-home Cup Kitzbühel crown. The two also won the 2013 Helsinki Challenger together and team up on Finland’s Davis Cup team. It was Nieminen’s fourth title in eight tour-level finals, while Kontinen is celebrating his first victory. It was also Bracciali and Golubev’s first doubles final as a team. Oh, yes. Finland is the Swedish name for the county; the Finnish name is Suomi, and Suomalianen means Finnish.
SET FOR MARATHON
Caroline Wozniacki will be taking a tour of New York City the hard way this November. The former world number one tennis player says she will compete in this year’s New York City Marathon. The 24-year-old Dane will run as a Team for Kids Ambassador along with reigning Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi. “When I cross the finish line in Central Park, it will be one of the most rewarding days of my life, not only because of the personal accomplishment, but also because it will help thousands of kids to get healthy and fit through sports,” Wozniacki said in a press release. She will be a rare non-runner athlete to compete in a marathon while still in her prime. Several others, including Amelie Mauresmo, Lance Armstrong and Apolo Anton Ohno, have run the marathon, but each after they had retired from their respective sports.
Rik de Voest has called it a career. The 34-year-old South African retired after losing to Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-4 in the second round of the Odlum Brown Van Open in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he lives. “It had been a decision I thought about for a while. I knew it was coming and now that it’s here and done, I’ve had some time to accept it,” de Voest told ATPWorldTour.com. “I’ve been playing on tour (for a long time) and I see the game is changing and evolving and becoming more physical. I was struggling to keep up with the demands of a full schedule, combined with the fact that my wife and I had our first child, a little boy in March, and I just wanted to not be travelling as much. I didn’t want to be that guy on court that everyone is saying, ‘Why is he still playing?’ It ended up being here in Vancouver where I met my wife and I decided this would be a good spot to call it a day.” Born in Milan, Italy, de Voest moved to Pretoria, South Africa, at the age of one and eventually settled down in Vancouver. He specialized in doubles, where he won 37 ATP Challenger Tour titles and two ATP World Tour crowns, the China Open in 2007 with Ashley Fisher and Dubai in 2009 with Dimitry Tursunov.
Kitzbühel: Henri Kontinen and Jarkko Nieminen beat Daniele Bracciali and Andrey Golubev 6-1 6-4
Stanford: Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro beat Paula Kania and Katerina Siniakova 6-3 4-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Vancouver (men): Austin Krajicek and John-Patrick Smith beat Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak 6-3 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Vancouver (women): Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez beat Jamie Loeb and Allie Will 6-3 1-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Washington (men): Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Sam Groth and Leander Paes 7-5 6-4
Washington (women): Shuko Aoyama and Gabriela Dabrowski beat Hiroko Kuwata and Kurumi Nara 6-1 6-2
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,146,920 Rogers Cup, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, hard
$100,000 Comerica Bank Challenger, Aptos, California, USA, hard
$2,139,320 Coupe Rogers présentée par Banque Nationale, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,079,555 Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
$2,266,250 Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
$100,000 Seguros Bolivar Open, Bogotá, Colombia, clay