Mondays with Bob Greene
Grigor Dimitrov beat David Goffin 7-5 6-4 to win the Garanti Koza Sofia Open in Sofia, Bulgaria
Alexander Zverev beat Richard Gasquet 7-6 (4) 6-3 to win the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, France
Victor Estrella Burgos beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-7 (2) 7-5 7-6 (6) to win the Ecuador Open in Quito, Ecuador
Zhang Ze beat Vasek Pospisil 7-5 3-6 6-2 to win the Kunal Patel San Francisco Open in San Francisco, California, USA
Czech Republic beat Spain 3-2
United States beat Germany 4-0
Belarus beat Netherlands 4-1
Switzerland beat France 4-1
World Group II
Russia beat Chinese Taipei 4-1; Belgium beat Romania 3-1; Ukraine beat Australia 3-1; Slovakia beat Italy 3-2
Americas Zone in Metepec, Mexico: Canada promoted to World Group II playoffs in April; Mexico and Bolivia relegated to Americas Zone Group II in 2018
Asia/Oceania Zone in Astana, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan promoted to World Group II playoffs in April; Philippines relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone Group II in 2018
Europe/Africa Zone in Tallinn, Estonia: Serbia and Great Britain promoted to World Group II playoffs in April Bosnia/Herzegovina and Israel relegated to Europe/African Zone Group II in 2018
Italy beat Argentina 3-2 in Buenos Aires, Argentina
“It was a very successful tournament for the Zverevs. We only dropped one set.” – Alexander Zverev, after he won the Open Sud de France singles title, then teamed with his brother Mischa to take the doubles crown.
“Sometimes I can play really good, sometimes I can play really bad, but today was my day.” – Aliaksandra Sasnovich, after winning both of her Fed Cup singles matches to lead Belarus over Netherlands 4-1.
“The score was 6-0 6-1 but it felt a lot closer than that in the games.” – Heather Watson, after beating Ipek Soylu by that score as Great Britain went on to advance to the World Group II playoffs in April.
“I’ve known Serena since we were 8 or 9 years old. To see her go from the girl I used to practice next to all the time to become this icon – and not just one of the great women athletes of all time but one of the greatest athletes of all time, it’s amazing.” – Andy Roddick, saying he believes Serena Williams stands alongside Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali as one of the greatest athletes ever.
SUCCESS AT HOME
Happy to be playing at home, Grigor Dimitrov gave the crowd what they wanted – a title. Dimitrov defeated David Goffin to claim his sixth career title, but his first at the Sofia Open. The two battled in the opening set, but it was Dimitrov in the second as he raced out to a 5-0 lead. Goffin broke Dimitrov twice to make it 5-4 before the Bulgarian closed it out on his fourth championship point. The 25-year-old collapsed to his knees, burst into tears and kissed the court. “Without you, I could never win this tournament,” Dimitrov told the crowd. “This title means a lot to me. Today, after the last point, I felt again like a kid playing in front of a home crowd.” At the end of the first set, Goffin complained to the umpire about the hostile crowd.
SURGERY FOR UMPIRE
Umpire Arnaud Gabas underwent surgery after he suffered a fracture of the orbital bone under his left eye when he was hit by a ball struck by Canada’s Denis Shapovalov. “I am now concentrating on rest and rehabilitation so I can be back on court in the near future,” Gabas said following the surgery. Shapovalov was fined USD $7,000 and defaulted when he struck the ball which ended up hitting Gabas in the eye. “I remember hitting the ball, and I didn’t even realize where it went, and then I see the official bending down holding his eye,” Shapovalov said after the incident. “I was in complete shock and regret right away.” The default came in the decisive fifth rubber, giving Great Britain a 3-2 first-round victory.
An embarrassed United States Tennis Association (USTA) apologized for playing the Nazi version of the German national anthem before the opening match of the USA-Germany Fed Cup competition in Maui, Hawaii. “It was the worst experience that has ever happened to me,” Germany’s Andrea Petkovic said. “Horrifying and shocking. This is the year 2017 – that something like this happens in America, it can’t happen. It’s embarrassing and speaks of ignorance.” The tune is the same, but the original version, which became associated with the Nazi regime, has not been used in decades. The first verse of the original anthem has basically been banned in Germany and only the third stanza of the song is used in today’s anthem. After the USTA quickly apologized and said, “This mistake will not occur again,” the German tennis federation responded, “We hope so.”
Alexander Zverev took home all the titles from the Open Sud de France. He beat two-time defending champion Richard Gasquet to capture the singles, then teamed with older brother Mischa to win the doubles. It was the second ATP World Tour championship for the younger Zverev as he denied Gasquet a 15th career title. “It was a very tough tournament, only one straight-sets match in the whole tournament, and it was not an easy one,” Zverev said. The teen-ager’s only straight-set win came in the final. Gasquet was playing in his fifth straight final in Montpellier. “He hits the ball really hard on both sides and has a pretty incredible service,” Gasquet said of his conqueror. “He deserves his victory.”
Sloane Stephens has undergone surgery on her left foot and hopes to return to the WTA tour by Wimbledon, “but I’m not pushing it,” she said. Stephens suffered a stress fracture of her foot after the Rio Olympic Games. The 23-year-old American went to Australia at the beginning of this year, but instead of playing she had to undergo surgery.
SOUTH AMERICAN WINNER
Victor Estrella Burgos loves Quito, Ecuador, even though he has to work overtime on the South American clay courts. Estrella Burgos saved a match point before he won the Ecuador Open for the third straight hear. But that wasn’t his only escape during the week. He also saved three match points in his second-round win over top-seeded Ivo Karlovic. “The recipe for my success here will be revealed when I retire, but for sure I’ll come back here next year,” the champion said. “I’ll play in Quito every year until I retire.” Estrella Burgos is the only player in ATP World Tour history to win at least three titles in one event and none anywhere else. He beat Feliciano Lopez in the 2015 final and Thomaz Bellucci last year. All three of his finals have been three-setters. “Without any doubt, this final has been the toughest,” Estrella Burgos said. “Paolo doesn’t give away anything because he is a great fighter.” The winner saved a match point when he was down 5-6 in the third-set tiebreaker, then won the next two points to successfully defend his title.
Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky had more to contend with than just her opponent in her first-day Fed Cup singles match against Alize Cornet of France. In the seventh game of the first set of her 7-5 6-4 win over Cornet, Bacsinszky was strung on her arm by a wasp. She immediately dunked her left elbow in a courtside bucket of water before leaving the court for further treatment. “Who would have thought that we would have wasps in Switzerland in February,” Bacsinszky said. When she returned to the court, she broke Cornet’s serve and went on the win the opening rubber on her fourth match point. “It hurt a lot, but maybe it will give me super powers on Sunday.” Maybe it did. On Sunday Bacsinszky beat Kristin Mladenovic in the reverse singles, then teamed with Martina Hingis to win the doubles as Switzerland upset the second-seeded French team 4-1.
Missing its two-time Grand Slam tournament champion, Victoria Azarenka, Belarus advanced to the Fed Cup semifinals behind Aliaksandra Sasnovich and 18-year-old Arya Sabalenka. Sasnovich won both of her singles, knocking off Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the reverse singles. That set it up for Sabalenka, who was playing in her first Fed Cup singles rubbers, and the teen-ager clinched the victory by stopping Michaella Krajicek, giving Belarus an unbeatable 3-1 lead. “My plan was to involve her in long rallies and play more to her backhand, to return better, move better – to play smart, of course,” Sasnovich said. “I tried to serve hard with my first serve. Sometimes it was a double fault, but anyway I tried.” Olga Govortsova and Vera Lapko then teamed up to win the doubles as Belarus toppled the Netherlands 4-1. It was the first time in four Fed Cup clashes that Belarus had beaten the Netherlands.
Toni Nadal says he will soon stop coaching his nephew, Rafael Nadal. “From next year, I will no longer follow Rafael on the circuit and I will focus exclusively on our (tennis) academy,” said Tony, who has coached Rafa throughout his career. Nadal has won 69 ATP World Tour singles titles, the sixth most in the Open era. “Relations with my nephew are still excellent,” Toni Nadal said. “During all these years we have never been through a crisis. Until he was 17 years old, it was me who decided everything. Then Carlos Costa arrived as manager. Then his father became closer, each having his opinions. And the truth is that every year I had less decision-making, until the day when I decide on nothing.”
For the ninth straight year, the Czech Republic is in the Fed Cup semifinals. Karolina Pliskova overpowered French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza 6-2 6-2 before Barbora Strycova stopped Lara Arruabarrena 6-4 6-4 to make up for the absence of the injured Petra Kvitova. Strycova dedicated the win to Kvitova, who suffered a serious hand injury during an attempted robbery at her home late last year. “Of course, we are thinking about her every day and we were talking to her,” Strycova said. “Of course, this was for her. We hope she comes back and we will welcome her with open arms.”
Montpellier: Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev beat Fabrice Martin and Daniel Nestor 6-4 6-7 (3) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Quito: James Cerretani and Philipp Oswald beat Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos 6-3 2-1, retired
San Francisco: Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith beat Gong Mao-Xin and Zhang Ze 6-7 (4) 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Sofia: Viktor Troiki and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mikhail Elgin and Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4 6-4
Buenos Aires: http://argentinaopenatp.com/atp/
Rio de Janeiro: www.rioopen.com/
Delray Beach: http://yellowtennisball.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$1,999,120 ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam, Netherlands, hard
$720,410 Memphis Open, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$624,340 Argentina Open, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
$710,900 Qatar Total Open, Doha, Qatar, hard
Group I – First Round
Asia/Oceania Zone: Chinese Taipei vs. China at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,603,940 Rio Open presented by Claro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, clay
$735,969 Open 13 Provence, Marseille, France, hard
$599,345 Delray Beach Open, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard
$2,365,250 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hard
$226,750 Hungarian Ladies Open, Budapest, Hungary, hard