Mondays with Bob Greene
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Roger Federer 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Venus Williams 6-4 6-2 to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Marcos Baghdatis beat Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7) 6-4 to win the Comerica Bank Challenger in Aptos, California, USA
“I’ve always liked Canada, but now I think I just love Canada.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, following her Rogers Cup victory, his first title of 2014.
“I played well all this week, I beat many good guys. It’s a big achievement because I worked really hard to come back from my knee injury last year. Unfortunately there is no secret. Behind this there is a lot of work.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, following his title-winning victory over Roger Federer.
“He beat great players along the way and backed it up with another great final. No excuses. I think he played really solid and well when he had to.” – Roger Federer, on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I had an amazing week. I was playing much better with each match. I didn’t start that well from my first match, but every match was much better. That is why I am sitting right here.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, after winning in Montreal.
“I ran out of energy because I was winning too many matches. I haven’t had that problem in a long time.” – Venus Williams, following her loss to Agnieszka Radwanska in the final at Montreal.
“Big sister taught little sister a lesson.” – Serena Williams, after losing her semifinal match to older sister Venus.
“I totally wanted to be in the top 20 like earlier this year. I’ve been having goals. It’s always a goal in mind for myself and hopefully most tennis players. I would love to hit the top 16 and just keep going forward after that. Obviously, if I can continue this level of tennis, it will be something that can happen for me.” – Venus Williams
“I feel more laid back today than I ever have because I don’t have to defend like 12 tournaments a year. I only won one last year, so I feel I don’t really have to prove anything to anybody – although people are always going to disagree with that, For me, it’s about how do I feel at practice, how’s my motivation, how am I actually playing, how do I feel rather than everyone else thinking they know. I can analyze it much clearer today than I ever have, and from that standpoint I’m not in a hectic place.” – Roger Federer.
STARRING IN TORONTO
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga capped a week of upsets by stopping second-seeded Roger Federer to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto. En route to the title, the Frenchman beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round, eighth-seeded Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the semis. “I was looking for my best level. Today I had it and it’s great,” Tsonga said. Federer was seeking his 80th career title. Instead, Tsonga earned his first ATP World Tour title of the year and 11th of his career. His victims during the week included players who had won seven of the last 10 Rogers Cups. History was on the side of the Frenchman. Three of Tsonga’s five victory over Federer in their 16 career meetings have come on hard courts in Canada. Against Federer this time, Tsonga was superb. He never had a break point on his serve and pulled off the only service break of the match in the first set. In the second-set tiebreak, Tsonga broke away from a 3-3 deadlock by winning the last four points of the match. “What is achieved is achieved and I will just continue on this way, continue to work hard,” Tsonga said. “This win gives me a lot of hope for the rest of the year, of course.” Even in defeat, Federer remained positive about his game. “There were things I could have done better, but, overall it was a positive week,” he said. “I go away from this feeling good about my chances next week and also at the US Open.”
STEADY AGGIE STOPS VENUS
In a week of surprises, it was steady Agnieszka Radwanska who wound up with the winner’s trophy in Montreal. Radwanska knocked off Venus Williams to win the Rogers Cup, her first title of 2014 and 14th of her career. “One of my biggest titles,” Radwanska said. “As you can see in the draw had pretty all top players. So very, very special title for me.” The third-seeded Pole deserved the title after quietly knocking off a slew of top players, including Sabine Lisicki, Victoria Azarenka and Ekaterina Makarova. And, while she trails Venus Williams in their career head-to-head 5-4, Radwanska has now handedly won their last three meetings. “I think she (Williams) played great tennis whole week, playing and beating a lot of good players on the way to the final,” Radwanska said. “I think I’m even happier to beat Venus when she’s really on fire.” And the elder Williams had been on fire the entire week, no more so in the semifinals when she upset younger sister Serena, the world’s top-ranked player. “I just fell a little short today,” Venus said. “I wanted to give more but I just didn’t have it. … She just was a little too good today.” Radwanska took control early, breaking Williams twice to grab a 4-1 lead in the opening set. The broke her opponent again to start the second set, then broke the American again to take a 5-3 lead. Radwanska capped the victory with an ace, her third of the day.
Fifteen-year-old CiCi Bellis has a spot in the main draw of the US Open. Ranked second in the work in the juniors, Bellis earned the wild card by winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship, beating 16-year-old Tornado Alicia Black in the final 6-3 6-1. Bellis is the youngest USTA Girls’ 18s national champion since Lindsay Davenport won the crown in 1991, also at the age of 15. Black earned a wild card into the US Open qualifying. Last year, Black reached the junior girls singles final at the US Open and was a quarterfinalist in the Wimbledon junior girls earlier this summer.
Noah Rubin won the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships to earn a main draw wild card into the US Open. The 18-year-old from Rockville Centre, New York, USA, beat Collin Altamirano 6-4 6-4 6-3. Rubin also earned a wild card into the US Open doubles main draw when he teamed with 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov of Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA, to win the Boys’ 18s title. Rubin won the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in July.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori had a cyst removed from his right foot and may not be ready to play in this year’s US Open. Nishikori had the operation in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, then flew to Florida to begin his recovery. He pulled out of this week’s tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, but it is not known if he will have recovered in time to compete in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, which begins its two-week run on August 25.
It has been a while since Venus has beaten her younger sister – a long while. In a battle of the Williams sisters, Venus shocked Serena in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada. “You can’t win every match,” Venus said, explaining the 6-7 (2) 6-2 6-3 outcome. “You can’t win them all.” It had been five years since Venus had come out on top of the family tennis wars, that also being a three-setter in Dubai. “Serena is at her top level,” Venus said. “Nobody wants to play her. If you do, you have to play the match of your life.” Venus did have help, however. Serena pounded 19 aces, but had nine double-faults. And Venus jumped all over her sister’s second serve, winning 56 percent of those points compared to just 36 percent for Serena. Venus finished with six aces and just two double-faults. “I made many mistakes today. When I make so many mistakes it is impossible to win against her,” Serena said. “I haven’t been able to get into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam this year. At this point, really just looking forward to next year, to be honest.”
Once banned after getting caught with human growth hormone, Wayne Odesnik is now in the US Open, courtesy of a wild card. The 28-year-old American was off the tour from April 2010 to August 2011 after pleading guilty to importing HGH into Australia in January 2010. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) banned Odesnik for two years, but the ITF later cut that in half, saying it was because Odesnik had cooperated with its investigators. He had denied using HGH and never tested positive. Odesnik last played in the US Open in 2009. He earned the wild card this year for his results at USTA Pro Circuit events.
SEEKING SUPER SLAM
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci are hoping to become just the third doubles team to win all four Grand Slam tournament titles and the year-ending WTA Finals during their career. The Italian due completed the career doubles Grand Slam when they captured Wimbledon earlier this summer. They won Roland Garros and the US Open in 2012 and the Australian Open in 2013 and 2014. And they have qualified for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global for the third straight year. But they have never won the season-ending event, which this year will be held in October. Only two doubles teams have accomplished that feat – and all four players have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver won their first of 10 WTA Finals and the first of five Wimbledons in 1981, the first of their seven Australian Opens in 1982, the first of their four US Opens in 1983 and the first of their four French Opens in 1984. In 1984, Navratilova and Shriver won all four Grand Slam tournament doubles titles as well as the WTA Finals. The other pair to capture all five events during their career was Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva. Besides Errani and Vinci, two other pairs have won all four Grand Slam tournament titles but have failed to capture the WTA Finals. They are Kathy Jordan and Anne Smith and sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
This week’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, is missing a young Australian player. Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the qualifying for the Masters 1000 event because of a bone stress in his left arm. Kyrgios shot into the headlines earlier this summer when he upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. He lost to Andy Murray in the second round at Toronto before undergoing an MRI on his arm. The youngster tweeted that the injury will not keep him from playing in the US Open later this month.
STOPPED BY DRUG TEST
Eighteen-year-old Australian Bradley Mousley is facing a two-year ban from tennis after a positive drug test showed ecstasy was in his system. An amateur, Mousley was tested following a first-round qualifying match in March. The Australian newspaper reported that Mousley’s legal team is seeking a shorter ban since the “would not have derived any performance benefit from it.” However, Tennis Australia is pushing for the full two-year ban from all competition as part of a broader campaign to rid its elite junior ranks of what it sees as a reckless party culture. Mousley already has missed this year’s Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior tournaments after receiving formal notification of the positive test. He has a strained relationship with Tennis Australia, having received warnings for breaking curfew and swearing at tennis officials. He reached the junior boys’ semifinals at this year’s Australian Open before losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev of Germany. He has won two Junior Grand Slam titles in doubles.
SET FOR LONDON
Billie Jean King and longtime friend Elton John will be on the sidelines at a tennis match at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The World TeamTennis Smash Hits event will be held December 7 and benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation. King and John will coach the teams that will feature former world number ones Kim Clijsters and John McEnroe, Britain’s Tim Henman and 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki.
Because of the current Israeli-Hamas conflict, the inaugural Negev Israel Open to be held in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been cancelled because of security concerns. The tournament had been moved from St. Petersburg, Russia, and was to be the first ATP World Tour event in Israel since 1996. “We regret the ATP World Tour event in Tel Aviv, Israel, will not take place this year,: ATP president Chris Kermode said. “Sadly, we do not feel we can proceed as planned given the situation in the region. Ensuring the security of our players, fans and all those involved in organizing a world-class event, is our number one priority. We hope to be back in Tel Aviv next year. In the meantime, and much more importantly, we hope for a swift return to peace in the region.” In a statement posted on the tour’s website, the Israel Tennis Association (ITA) chairman, Asaf Tochneir, said he was unhappy with the ATP’s decision.
SET FOR NEW EVENT
The 2014 NCAA singles champions – Marcos Giron of UCLA and Danielle Collins of the University of Virginia – will headline the American college players competing in the inaugural American Collegiate Invitational, which will be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the second week of the US Open. In making the announcement, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said the winners of this new event will receive wild cards into the 2014 US Open. The winners of the eight-player draws in both men’s singles and women’s singles will also get wild cards into two USTA Pro Circuit events, while each runner-up will get one wild card. As NCAA champions, Giron and Collins received wild cards into this year’s US Open, which begins on August 25.
Back in 1974, when he was just 15 years old, Bill Godfrey lost in the doubles final at the Ann Arbor City Tennis Tournament. “I don’t remember the scores,” Godfrey said of that match 40 years ago, “but it was fun because I got to play with the older guys.” Now 55, Godfrey once again reached the doubles title match this year. This time he and his partner Craig Capelli lost a three-setter. Still, Godfrey was thrilled with his accomplishment. “It meant way more because I’ve had health issues, so I’ve come way back from not being able to hit the ball to playing at that high level,” he said. “When I was 15, it was taken for granted.” Godfrey has had Bell’s palsy, causing paralysis to half of his face and vertigo. He underwent six months of physical therapy before being sidelined with knee trouble. Playing the Ann Arbor tournament this year was important for Godfrey, who has competed in the event the majority of the last 40 years. He has reached the singles and doubles final a combined 21 times, winning four singles and five doubles. “I love tennis, I love people who play tennis and I hope to play until I’m 100 years old,” he said. “I’m still competitive at this level (and I’ll play) until that’s not the case.”
SOLD TO USTA
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and the local owners of The Racquet Club in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, have purchased the US National Indoor Tennis Championships and will keep the professional tournament in Memphis. According to David Brewer, the USTA’s chief professional officer and tournament director of the US Open, the sale was completed two weeks ago. The USTA will be the majority owner of the US Indoor, an annual stop on the ATP World Tour. The USTA is majority owner of two other events played in the United States – the BB&T Open in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brewer said the USTA wanted “to help, in some way, keep this tournament in the United States and, more importantly, keep it in the market it’s been all these years.” Memphis is one of 11 ATP tournaments held in the United States – down from 36 in the early 1980s.
Aptos: Ruben Bemelmans and Laurynas Grigelis beat Purav Raja and Sanam Singh 6-3 4-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Montreal: Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci beat Cara Black and Sania Mirza 7-6 (4) 6-3
Toronto: Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 6-4 6-3
New Haven: www.ctopen.org/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$598,260 Winston-Salem Open, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA, hard
$644,900 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard