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Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS

Damir Dzumhur beat Ricardas Berankis 6-2 1-6 6-4 to win the VTP Kremlin Cup men’s singles in Moscow, Russia

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3 7-5 to win the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium

Juan Martin del Potro beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-2 to win the Intrum Stockholm Open in Stockholm, Sweden

Julia Goerges beat Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-2 to win the VTP Kremlin Cup women’s singles in Moscow, Russia

Carina Witthoeft beat Monica Puig 6-3 7-5 to win the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open in Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Mikhail Youzhny beat Taro Daniel 6-1 6-1 to win the Yinzhou International Men’s Tennis in Ningo, China

 

SAYING

“I was a bit lucky, but that’s tennis. We need to be lucky to win some games.” – Damir Dzumhur, after winning the VTP Kremlin Cup.

“I played the best match of the week against Grigor today. Unlucky for that, sorry Grigor.” – Juan Martin del Potro, following his straight-set win over Grigor Dimitrov in Stockholm.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring a lot more fight today. But again, Juan totally deserved it.” – Grigor Dimitrov.

“It’s been six years now and I’ve been working hard for this moment here, and I’m just so happy and so emotional now.” – Julia Goerges, following her first WTA title since 2011.

“To play the last tournament of the season and finish the season winning your first title is just perfect.” – Carina Witthoeft, after becoming a WTA titlist for the first time.

“To the people of Puerto Rico, this tournament is for you.” – Monica Puig, after reaching the final in Luxembourg.

“Before I started to be a professional I saw him on TV, and now I am playing against him. It’s very nice for me. I am learning a lot and playing good tennis.” – Diego Schwartzman, talking about his opponent in the European Open final, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

“Qualifying for an elite year-end event is a great reward at the end of what has been an incredible year for me. I can’t wait to compete hard against those other great players and try and end this season on a high.” – Sloane Stephens, who has qualified for WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in Zhuhai, China.

“London is my priority now and I really want to win the World Tour Finals. I am very excited to have had the year that I have had and everything that comes from here is a bonus.” – Roger Federer

“Just the depth in the game. The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.” – Venus Williams, when asked what has been the biggest change in women’s tennis during her career.

 

SPECIAL COUNTRY

“There’s something special here in Russia,” Damir Dzumhur said after winning his second ATP title, outlasting Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in three sets in Moscow. Last month, the 25-year-old Damir became the first Bosnian to win an ATP Tour title when he won in Saint Petersburg. He added the Kremlin Cup men’s singles title in one hour, 39 minutes. “Today I tried to make good serves and it worked well,” Dzumhur said. “I also made some amazing backhands.” The victory was Dzumhur’s second in four career meetings with Berankis. The Kremlin Cup was his third final in his last seven tournaments as he has climbed to a career-high ranking of 31st in the world. After the two split the first two sets, Dzumhur trailed love-40 at 3-4 in the deciding set. But he won the next five points to hold serve, broke Berankis in the next game, then fell behind love-40 again. Again, Dzumhur won the next five points, this time to clinch the title.

Lightning didn’t strike twice in Moscow for Dzumhur, however. He and partner Antonio Sancic lost the doubles final to veteran Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald.

It was an extraordinary week for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Moscow when Dzumhur and Mirza Basic played in the first all-Bosnian ATP World Tour semifinal.

 

STOCKHOLM TRIUMPH

The Stockholm Open proved to be just the place for Juan Martin del Potro to find his game. The Argentine beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to successfully defend his title. “It’s amazing to come back and hold this big trophy. And hopefully I can come next year as well. I love to be in Stockholm,” del Potro said. This was his first title since the Stockholm Open a year ago. He used his power game to stop the top-seeded Dimitrov, serving nine aces and dominating with his big forehand. He saved all four break points he faced. It was del Potro’s 20th career title and his first victory over Dimitrov in three meetings this year. Overall, del Potro leads their head-to-head 6-2. “I couldn’t have lost to a better gentleman on and off the court,” said Dimitrov, who won the Stockholm title in 2013.

 

SIX-YEAR WAIT OVER

It took six years after Julia Goerges won her last WTA singles title to triumph again. This time the German clobbered Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup women’s singles final. Goerges’ last title was in 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany. Before her Moscow triumph, she had lost six straight finals. Goerges jumped on top of her opponent to begin the match, winning the first five games. Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second set, but couldn’t convert three break points as Goerges continued her domination. “It just feels amazing,” Goerges said of her long-awaiting victory. The win also qualifies Goerges for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai. The German finished with four aces, making her only the third player to serve over 400 aces in a season since 2008. Goerges also becomes the top-ranked German on the WTA tour, surpassing former world number one Angelique Kerber.

 

SECURES FIRST TITLE

Carina Witthoeft captured her first WTA tournament, the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, by stopping Olympic champion Monica Puig in straight sets. “Winning my first WTA title feels unbelievable,” the German said. “I’m so happy now. It’s been a tough week, a tough final today. I’m just happy.” Puig, who rocketed to fame when she was the surprising gold medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, appeared to be in control of the match with a break to go up 3-2. But the big-serving Witthoeft reeled off four straight games to take the opening set. The 22-year-old German, taking advantage of Puig’s mistakes, led the second set 4-1 before Puig won three consecutive games and was two points away from forcing a third set. Serving for the match for a second time, Witthoeft finally closed out the victory. “It was so close in the second set and I was really struggling with my serve,” Witthoeft said. “But I just told myself to focus and be aggressive, and I was happy to win it in two sets.”

 

STRONG YEAR

For Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 2017 has been a very good year. The Frenchman won his fourth ATP World Tour title of the year – a career best – by beating Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman at the European Open. “It’s always good to win tournaments,” Tsonga said. “I played really good tennis this week.” The title was Tsonga’s 16th of his career. It was the second straight year Schwartzman has reached the final in Antwerp, only to lose. Last year he fell in the title match to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

 

SHARAPOVA STUMBLES

Maria Sharapova’s trip home was cut short by Magdalena Rybarikova. Playing in Moscow for the first time since 2007, Sharapova looked tired and committed several unforced errors as she fell in the first round to her Slovakian opponent 7-6 (3) 6-4. With the large crowd chanting “Masha! Masha,” Sharapova played the Kremlin Cup just two days after she won her first WTA title in more than two years. She returned to the WTA tour in April after serving a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. While some players have criticized the WTA for allowing her to play, Sharapova in Russia has been portrayed as a victim of unfair targeting of the country by international sports bodies that regulate anti-doping.

 

SECURES SPOT

China’s top player, Peng Shuai, will be staying at home to play in the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, a tournament for the eight players ranked outside the top eight in the world. “It’s a great honor for me that I will be able to represent China at the tournament and play in front of the Chinese fans and I will give my best on court,” said Peng, who was awarded a wildcard into the 12-player event. “It will be my first time competing in Zhuhai and I am really looking forward to playing at this great event.” Last year, Peng was in Zhuhai as an alternate, but never played.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens has also qualified for the season-ending tournament in Zhuhai, along with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Vesnina and Anastasija Sevastova.

 

SET FOR LONDON

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut have qualified for the season-ending doubles competition at the Nitto ATP Finals in London next month. The Frenchmen join the teams of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo; Henri Kontinen and John Peers; Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau; Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares; brothers Bob and Mike Bryan; and Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus. It is the third time Herbert and Mahut have qualified for the event. One spot remains open for the doubles play.

 

SKIPPING BASEL

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal is skipping this week’s Swiss Indoors because of a knee injury. “I am suffering from an over-stressing of the knee, and the problems were already present at the tournament in Shanghai, which now forces me to take a time off on advice of my doctor,” Nadal said. Nadal’s withdrawal giver Roger Federer a boost in his bid to end the season ranked number one in the world. “Finishing the year as world number one is a long shot, and I don’t think it will happen, but if I play like this, who knows? Maybe I will get close again,” Federer said. Besides the Swiss Open in Basel, Federer is expected to play an indoors Masters event in Paris and the season-ending ATP Finals in London.

 

SEASON ENDED 

Great Britain’s top WTA star, Johanna Konta, has split with her coach and shut down her season. “After careful thought and discussion, Wim Fissette and I have mutually decided to end our working relationship,” Konta said in a statement. “Things ended very amicably and I wish Wim all the best.” After reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon in July, Konta won just four matches the rest of the season. She was hampered by a loss of form and a foot injury. Under Fissette’s guidance, Konta raised her ranking to fourth in the world. Going into last week, she had dropped to ninth.

STOPPING

Two more top players are stopping their seasons because of injuries. Nick Kyrgios of Australia has been struggling with a hip injury, while Czech Toms Berdych has an injured back. “I have been playing with back pain since Wimbledon and in my last match in Beijing I felt like it was getting worse,” Berdych said in announcing his plans. “I was advised by my medical team to give it a few weeks rest and to have treatment in order to be completely healthy and pain-free and to be ready to compete at the start of 2018.” The 22-year-old Kyrgios failed to get past the second round in all four Grand Slam tournaments this year. “This year hasn’t been as successful as I would have liked, especially at the Slams, although it has been positive in some other areas,” Kyrgios said. “I will do all I can to improve for 2018.

Five players who were ranked in the Top 10 this year – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic – have shut down their 2017 seasons because of injuries.

 

SAN JUAN-BOUND

Maria Sharapova will join Monica Puig in Puerto Rico this week to help with recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria. The two will distribute portable stoves, medicine and other supplies to the island. Sharapova is a five-time Grand Slam tournament champion while Puig won Puerto Rico’s first Olympic gold medal in any sport at the Rio de Janeiro Games last year.  The agency that represents both players said Puig has raised more than USD $125,000 to help storm victims, while Sharapova is donating proceeds from her candy company for the rest of 2017.

 

STARS

Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain is the WTA Player of the Year, while US Open winner Sloane Stephens has been named Comeback Player of the Year. The annual awards, voted on by members of the media, were announced by the women’s tour. Others winner were French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, Most Improved Player; Catherine (CiCi) Bellis, Newcomer of the Year; and Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan, Doubles Team of the Year.

 

STARTING AGAIN

Canada’s Rebecca Marino, who quit tennis almost five years ago because of depression, has returned to the sport. Now 26 years old, Marino of Canada hoped to play this week at a USD $60,000 International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Saguenay, Quebec, Canada. She also is entered in another USD $60,000 ITF event in Toronto next week. “I made the decision to return to professional tennis a couple of months ago and started training again during the first week of September,” Marino said. “I’m doing it because I enjoy it. I don’t have any ranking goals or result goals right now. I just want to go in and enjoy the process and come at it from a different place than I was before. I want to be happy to be on court and compete. That’s all that matters to me.” In 2011, Marino reached a career-high WTA ranking of 38th in the world. The following year, she reached the final of a WTA event in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, and the third round at Roland Garros.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Antwerp: Scott Lipsky and Divij Sharan beat Santiago Gonzalez and Julio Peralta 6-4 2-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Luxembourg: Lesley Kerkhove and Lidziya Marozava beat Eugenie Bouchard and Kirsten Flipkens 6-7 (4) 6-4 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Moscow (men): Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald beat Damir Dzumhur and Antonio Sancic 6-3 7-5

Moscow (women): Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova beat Nicole Melicher and Anna Smith 6-2 3-6 10-3 (match tiebreak)

Ningbo: Radu Albot and Jose Statham beat Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan and Christopher Rungkat 7-5 6-3

Stockholm: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic beat Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 3-6 7-6 (6) 10-4 (match tiebreak)

 

SURFING

Vienna: www.erstebank-open.com/

Basel: www.swissindoorsbasel.ch/de-de/

Brest: www.openbrestarena.fr/

Singapore: www.wtafinals.com/

Poitiers: www.lfv86.com

Paris: www.rolexparismasters.com/

Zhuhai: www.wtaelitetrophy.com/

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

MEN

$3,099,020 Erste Bank Open 500, Vienna, Austria, hard

$2,708,970 Swiss Indoors, Basel, Switzerland, hard

$125,292 Open Brest Arena Credit Agricole, Brest, France, hard

 

WOMEN

$7,000,000 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, Singapore, hard

$100,000 Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne, Poitiers, France, hard

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

 

MEN

$5,705,930 Rolex Paris Masters, Paris, France, hard

 

WOMEN

$2,280,935 Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy, Zhuhai, China, hard

 

Damir Dzumhur

Damir Dzumhur



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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