Mondays with Bob Greene
Elina Svitolina beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-2 to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dominic Thiem beat Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5 6-4 to win the Rio Open presented by Claro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Lucas Pouille 6-4 6-4 to win the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, France
Jack Sock won the Delray Beach Open in Delray Beach, Florida, USA, when Milos Raonic withdrew with a leg injury
Timea Babos beat Lucie Safarova 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-3 to win the Hungarian Ladies Open in Budapest, Hungary
“I played some amazing tennis this week.” – Elina Svitolina, after winning the Dubai Open and moving into the WTA’s Top 10.
“I’d be a little more excited and full of energy if I had gone out and won it on court, but on the flip side, a title is a title.” – Jack Sock, who won in Delray Beach, Florida, when Milos Raonic pulled out of the final with a leg injury.
“I thought it might just be wear and tear, but I woke up this morning not really able to walk. We did about two hours of therapy (Sunday) morning trying to calm it down and saw it wasn’t making much progress, so we came to the conclusion it was a hamstring strain.” – Milos Raonic, who withdrew from the Delray Beach final with a leg injury.
“I’m really, really happy. It’s an unbelievable feeling and an incredible moment for my career … it’s unbelievable that I could come out with a win in front of my home crowd.” – Timea Babos, after winning the inaugural Hungarian Ladies Open.
“I tried my best. That is how I am, and I’m always trying my best until the end.” – Angelique Kerber, following her semifinal loss in Dubai to Elina Svitolina.
“Obviously, I’m very happy after a week like this. Winning the title in doubles and reaching the final in singles is great.” – Pablo Carreno Busta, after a successful week in Rio de Janeiro.
“I hope we’re going to get into the problem that I will have to play every day; that means I’m winning matches. – Roger Federer, who says he’s still “riding the wave” after his surprising Australian Open victory.
Elina Svitolina’s success isn’t a surprise to the top WTA players. The 22-year-old Ukrainian won the biggest title of her career, the Dubai Open, by beating two former world number ones, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki. With the win, Svitolina moves into the WTA Top 10 rankings for the first time. “I dreamed all my life to be in the Top 10, so it’s an amazing feeling to enter the Top 109 by winning the tournament,” Svitolina said. “I am very excited for the season.” She should be. She beat Kerber for the third straight time and second this year to gain a spot in the final. Then Svitolina, who has never lost to Wozniacki, beat the Dane 6-4 6-2 for the title. “When I’m playing well, I can play top tennis,” the winner said. “I try to always find this in myself. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I try to accept it and work and work and work.” Although she has lost in the final for the second straight week, Wozniacki still felt confident. “It has been a good two weeks – two finals, lots of matches. I’m already excited to be back.”
Svitolina’s 6-3 7-6 (3) semifinal win over Kerber kept the German from regaining the top spot in the rankings. Kerber remains behind Serena Williams, who returned to the number one spot when she won the Australian Open in January.
SOCK WINS ON WALKOVER
Jack Sock won the Delray Beach Open without taking the court. The American was awarded the when top seed Milos Raonic withdrew before the final with of a hamstring tear in his right leg. It was Sock’s second ATP World Tour title of 2017 and the third of his career. “It’s very unfortunate for him and I hope he has a speedy recovery,” Sock said of Raonic. “We’ve had a lot of good battles and I was looking forward to the challenge.” Sock sailed through the week without dropping a set and improved his record this season to 11-1. He said Raonic notified him personally about the withdrawal right before the American was about to warm up for the match. Sock said he was surprised because he had watched the Canadian beat Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. “I’m sure Milos would have loved to play, but you’ve got to look ahead with some big tournaments coming up,” Sock said. “If you try to play with something that’s tweaked or a little hurt, it can only get worse.” Raonic said he first felt a sharp pain early in the second set of his match against del Potro, then his injury got worse overnight. “It’s been three tournaments in a row where I’ve sustained some sort of muscle damage,” Raonic said. “And it’s disappointing for the sole fact that you’re one match away from a title. It’s not easy to accept.”
SUCCESSFUL GOLDEN SWING
Austria’s Dominic Thiem may have found a home in Latin America. Thiem knocked off Pablo Carreno Busta to capture the Rio Open in Brazil, his eighth ATP World Tour title and third on the Latin American Golden Swing. He won in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Acapulco, Mexico, last year. “I am feeling really great,” Thiem said. “This is the best feeling you can have, winning a title. I’s all you practice for. I played five very good matches, especially in the semis and final against amazing players.” Carreno Busta took the early lead, breaking his opponent in the fifth game of the match. But Thiem broke right back and eventually converted his third set point. The Austrian lost his serve again in the second set, but wound up breaking Carreno Busta in the final game of the match.
Carreno Busta wound up with a title on the Brazilian clay courts. He teamed with Pablo Cuevas to beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the doubles final.
SWEET HOME VICTORY
Timea Babos picked the perfect time to begin winning matches. The Hungarian had failed to win a match all year until she went home to play the inaugural Hungarian Ladies Open. That’s when she won five straight matches and her second WTA title, besting Lucie Safarova in the final. “It’s not easy being the number one seed in your home country without winning a match this year,” Babos said. “This is its own kind of pressure, but I just tried to stay focused and calm to do my bet and give everything I had. Match by match I started to play better, but it’s still incredible what happened.” Safarova took the opening set before Babos began her winning run. She converted the only break point of the second set. Then, serving for the match, Babos lost her serve. Undaunted she broke right back to grab the title. “It was just about a few points the whole time,” Safarova said. “It was a very close match.”
Francesca Schiavone could play her final Fed Cup tie at home now that Chinese Taipei has given up its right to stage its World Group II playoff tie against Italy. The 36-year-old Schiavone, Italy’s most successful Fed Cup player in terms of overall wins and singles wins, earlier this year announced she would retire at the end of 2017. Chinese Taipei had been granted hosting rights for the tie, but requested to forfeit the choice of ground. The best-of-5 tie will be held April 22-23.
Nick Kyrgios just can’t help himself. During his semifinal loss to eventual winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Marseille, France, Kyrgios was not allowed to challenge a line call by the umpire, who said he made the request too late. The 21-year-old Australian, who was leading 5-4 in the first set at the time, argued with the umpire. “I’ve seen referees wait 5, 6 seconds even when the ball’s gone out,” Kyrgios said. “And for them it’s OK, but when I do it once it’s not OK. So don’t talk to me saying it’s one time, because I’ve seen it. You guys are biased as s—t.” Although Kyrgios dropped the first set, he won the second before Tsonga took the third 6-4 to advance to the final. At last year’s French Open, Kyrgios cursed during his rant towards umpire Carlos Ramos, accusing him of “unbelievable bias.”
When Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gets on a roll, others can get trampled. Ask fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille. Tsonga’s ninth straight match win gave him his third Open 13 Marseille title as he whipped past Pouille in 69 minutes. It was Tsonga’s 14th career title and his second in 2017. “It’s my 14th title and I hope it won’t be the last,” said, who never faced a break point in the match. “It’s amazing to win two titles in a row.” He also won the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam a week earlier. This was his third victory in Marseille, the others coming in 2009 and 2013. With the win, Tsonga returns to the Top 10 rankings.
John Patrick McEnroe Sr. is dead at the age of 81. Cause of death was not announced. The father of tennis legend John McEnroe Jr., doubles star Patrick and Mark, John Sr. was a partner at the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP law firm where he practiced corporate law, including acquisitions, mergers and public and private financings. Later, he represented John Jr. and Patrick in their contract negotiations and endorsement deals. After their playing days ended, both John and Patrick became tennis commentators.
Budapest: Hsieh Su-Wei and Oksana Kalashnikova beat Galina Voskoboeva and Arina Rodionova 6-3 4-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Delray Beach: Raven KIaasen and Rajeev Ram beat Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi 7-5 -7-5
Dubai: Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina beat Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai 6-2 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Marseille: Julien Benneteau and Nicolas Mahut beat Robin Haase and Dominic Inglot 6-4 6-7 (9) 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Rio de Janeiro: Pablo Carreno Busta and Pablo Cuevas beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-4 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Sao Paulo: www.brasilopen.com.br/
Kuala Lumpur: www.alyawtamalaysianopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$2,858,530 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hard
$1,633, 690 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, hard
$520,285 Basil Open, Sao Paulo, Brazil, clay
$100,000 Wroclaw Open 2017, Wroclaw, Poland, hard
$226,750 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, hard
$226,750 Alya WTA Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$7,913,405 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard, first week
$6,99,450 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard, first week