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Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS                       

Gael Monfils beat Andrey Rublev 6-2 6-3 to win the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, Qatar

Elina Svitolina beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-1 to win the Brisbane International women’s singles in Brisbane, Australia

Simona Halep beat Katerina Siniakova 6-1 2-6 6-0 to win the Shenzhen Open in Shenzhen, China

Gilles Simon beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (4) 6-2 to win the Maharashtra Open in Pune, India

Nick Kyrgios beat Ryan Harrison 6-4 6-2 to win the Brisbane International men’s singles in Brisbane, Australia

Julia Goerges beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 7-6 (4) to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand

Switzerland beat Germany 4-3 (3) 4-2 to win the Mastercard Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia

Belinda Bencic beat Alja Tomljanovic 6-4 retired to win the Al Habtoor Tennis Challenger in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 

SAYING

“It’s a good feeling.” – Nick Kyrgios, after winning his first tournament title in Australia.

“I’m just taking it tournament by tournament and of course I will give my best in every match I play and my dream is to win a Grand Slam.” – Simona Halep, who told she was one of favorites to win the upcoming Australian Open.

“I can compete, but I don’t want to just compete. I want to do far better than that, and to do so I will need a little more time.” – Serena Williams, deciding not to try to defend her Australian Open title after giving birth to her daughter.

“Serena transcends the sport in the way she approaches all aspects of her life. It was never going to be good enough for her to just compete.” – Craig Tiley, Australian Open tournament director.

“I’m really looking forward to being on the court again in front of you, to feel your support, especially in Paris of course, in Roland Garros in my home country, but also in the Fed Cup and Wimbledon.” – Marion Bartoli, announcing she plans to play tennis again.

“It’s going to be a bit of fun. That’s what the Australian Open is about.” – Lleyton Hewitt, announcing he will play doubles with Sam Groth at this month’s Australian Open.

“In a calendar that focuses heavily on individual events, the ITF team competitions, which include Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, give players a different perspective on the game and a rare opportunity to represent their country.” – David Haggerty, International Tennis Federation president, on the ITF’s official mixed team competition, the Hopman Cup.

“It was tough coming back, but I enjoyed it. I have to watch my diet, cut out the alcohol and take recovery supplements, but I feel leaner and I feel renewed vigor when I wake up.” – Jensen Hiu, who will represent Singapore in Davis Cup 13 years after he first retired from tennis.

“It’s surreal to play against someone who had played in the Davis Cup before I was born.” – Shaheed Alam, 19, on being a Davis Cup teammate of 36-year-old Jensen Hiu.

“As the voice of generations of fans, Dick (Enberg) was a masterful storyteller, a consummate professional and a true gentleman. He was one of the true legends of our business.” – Sean McManus, CBS Sports chairman, on the death of Dick Enberg.

 

STRAIGHT-SET WIN

Nick Kyrgios finally won at home. The 22-year-old Australian battered American Ryan Harrison to win his fourth World ATP Tour title, his first since 2016. “As the week went on I started serving better and hitting the ball better,” Kyrgios said. “There was pressure on me today because I was the favorite and most people expected me to win, so I was proud of the way I handled that expectation and pressure.” Harrison had five break points in the first set, but failed to convert. The third-seeded Kyrgios finished the match with his 17th ace.

 

STRONG START

Julia Goerges began 2018 just like she ended 2017 – with a title. The 29-year-old German stopped Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets to win the Auckland Classic, her third straight title. Goerges won in Moscow and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai to wrap up last year. Against Wozniacki, Georges rarely had problems, using a powerful serve and blistering forehands to keep her Danish opponent pinned deep. It extended her winning streak to 14 matches. “It feels amazing, but it’s not just about winning here but about my consistency over the last few months,” Goerges said. “I have become much more mature. That’s thanks to my team who have really changed my brain.”

One problem exists, however. Following her title win, Goerges withdrew from this week’s Sydney International with a right knee injury.

 

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It took Gael Monfils four trips, but he finally wound up capturing the Qatar Open. The Frenchman lost to Roger Federer in 2006, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2012 and Rafael Nadal in 2014. This time, it was Monfils who reigned while playing in his first tournament since a knee injury forced him to retire during his third-round US Open match in September. “I had a long rest and I’m a lot stronger for 2018,” Monfils said after winning his seventh career title. “I didn’t expect to win the first tournament, but I’m happy I did.” Monfils reached the final when his semifinal opponent, top-seeded Dominic Thiem, withdrew because of illness.

 

SIMON’S A WINNER

Gilles Simon wound up his special week with the Maharashtra Open title. The Frenchman was in supreme form, stopping defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, stunning top-seeded Marin Cilic in the semifinals and beating second-seeded Kevin Anderson in straight sets in the final. It was the first time Simon had beaten Anderson in four career meetings on hard courts.

 

SUPREME SIMONA

Simona Halep took her act indoors where it worked wonders as well. The Romanian defeated defending champion Katerina Siniakova in a rain-delayed match that was moved to the indoors court. “We had a great match today. I tried everything to win,” Halep said. “I just try to enjoy the moment even if it’s a little bit different indoors.” It was Halep’s first title since she captured the Madrid open last May. “It’s a great beginning of course to start the year with a title, but thinking about the Grand Slam title is too far,” she said.

 

SCORECARD

Only one week before the year’s first Grand Slam tournament begins there’s a lot of movement on who’s in and who’s not going to play.

Serena Williams won’t be defending her women’s singles title after playing just one match in the past year. A 23-time Grand Slam tournament winner, the 36-year-old Williams said, “Although I am super close, I’m not where I want to be.” It is the first time since 2011 that Williams has missed the Australian Open.

Three-time Grand Slam tournament champion Andy Murray pulled out of the Australian Open after failing to recover from an ongoing hip injury. “Sadly, I am not yet ready to compete,” the 30-year-old Scot said. Once ranked number one in the world, Murray has not played a competitive match since last year’s Wimbledon. He had hoped to return at last week’s Brisbane International, but withdrew 48 hours before his first match.

Because his right wrist is not fully recovered, Japan’s Kei Nishikori will miss the Melbourne tournament. “My rehab is going well, but I am just not ready 100 percent to come back yet in best-of-5-set matches,” said Nishikori, who was the first man from Japan to reach a major final, losing to Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and two former Australian Open champions – Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka – are listed as questionable, although both Nadal and Djokovic were entered into an exhibition event played this week. Nadal decided to play in Kooyong after he withdrew from last week’s Brisbane International because of bothersome right knee. “Rafa was looking for match play and of course we were more than happy to oblige,” Kooyong tournament director Peter Johnston said.

Djokovic has been dealing with pain in his right elbow. The 30-year-old Serb, who has won the Australian Open six times, withdrew from the Qatar Open but won’t make a decision on Melbourne until after the exhibition event.

Australian Bernard Tomic will sit out the Australian Open after Tennis Australia decided not to award him a wildcard into the main draw. Tomic has refused to compete in qualifying.

US Open women’s singles champion Sloane Stephens has withdrew from the Brisbane International with a knee injury. Her participation in the Australian Open is not certain.

Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta and Canada’s Milos Raonic all have recently been sidelined with injuries.

 

SET FOR COMEBACK?

Will she, or won’t she? Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has been given a wildcard entry into the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said every assistance would be provided to the former world number one from Belarus so she can compete at the Melbourne event. “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can,” Tiley said. Azarenka returned to tennis in the middle of last year after giving birth. But she was forced to miss the US Open when a Los Angeles judge ruled her son Leo could not leave California until a custody case had been settled.

 

SVITOLINA SOARS

Elina Svitolina started her season in top form, capturing the Brisbane International women’s singles title by crushing qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final. Ranked sixth in the world, Svitolina fired 10 aces and never faced a break point as she won her 10th career tour title. “To start with a trophy is always very, very special,” Svitolina said. Sasnovich ran out of gas in her eighth match of the week. She had upset Kristina Mladenovic in the first round and last year’s runner-up Alize Cornet in the quarterfinals. “Sorry for my play today,” Sasnovich told the crowd. “It was a good week for me.”

 

SERENA STUMBLES

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko took the shine off the return to tennis of Serena Williams. Despite the defeat, Williams called her 6-2 3-6 10-5 (super tiebreak) loss a “wonderful” match played in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. After winning the Australian Open last January, Williams took time to give birth her a daughter and get married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. “I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there,” Williams said. “I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with my team before deciding.”

 

SWISS CHAMPIONS

Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic gave Switzerland it’s third Hopman Cup title, beating Germany’s Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber 4-3 (3) 4-2 in the deciding mixed doubles. Federer won his fourth straight singles match, beating Zverev 6-7 (4) 6-0 6-2. After Kerber stopped Bencic 6-4 6-1, the mixed doubles determined the championship. Switzerland last won the Hopman Cup in 2001 when Federer teamed with Martina Hingis. “It caps off a great week as a team,” Federer said, “but personally for me as a singles player, I played great.”

 

SAYS NO FAULT

Police say neither Venus Williams nor the other driver was at fault in a two-car accident that resulted in the death of the passenger in the other car. “Based upon this investigation and relevant Florida state statutes, no charges will be filed in this case,” Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA, police concluded in a report. A third vehicle had cut Williams off when the tennis star was crossing a six-lane highway. A car driven by Linda Barson ran into the passenger side of Williams’ vehicle, which was stopped in the intersection. Barson’s husband died 13 days after the crash and the Barson family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams.

 

SELECTED

For a record fourth time, Roger Federer has been named BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year. The Swiss star was selecting after he won the Australian Open and became the first man to win eight Wimbledon singles titles. With his selection, Federer broke his tie with three-time winners Muhammad Ali and Usain Bolt. Federer last won the Sports Personality award in 2007 after matching Bjorn Borg’s feat of five successive Wimbledon titles and coming within one victory of completing a calendar Grand Slam.

 

SHE’S BACK

Marion Bartoli, who retired from tennis after winning Wimbledon, is returning to the sport. The 33-year-old Frenchwoman plans to begin her comeback at the Miami Open in March. “It’s gong to be a huge challenge,” she said in a video, “but I’m hoping to be ready for March and the Miami Open.” Bartoli won Wimbledon in 2013, beating Sabine Lisicki in the final. Two months later, she retired.

 

SO IS HE

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt is coming out of retirement again to play doubles in this month’s Australian Open. A US Open and Wimbledon singles champion, Hewitt retired after the 2016 Australian Open, when he played doubles with fellow Australian Sam Groth. Last year, Hewitt played doubles in Davis Cup and at Wimbledon. Groth, who will team with Hewitt this year, announced that he will retire after this year’s Australian Open.

 

SPORT’S LEADERS

The International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards for 2017 went to Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Garbiñe Muguruza. At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion and is the oldest player to finish the year ranked number one since the rankings began in 1973. In 2017, Nadal won a 10th French Open and a third US Open. Muguruza won Wimbledon and finished the year ranked second behind Romania’s Simona Halep.

 

STARTING AGAIN

At the age of 36, Jensen Hiu is returning to competitive tennis. Thirteen years after retiring, Hiu will compete for Singapore in Asia/Oceana Zone Group IV Davis Cup later this month in Muscat, Oman. Other countries participating will be Bahrain, Bangladesh, Guam, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Oman, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates, with two nations advancing to Asia/Oceana Zone Group III in 2019. After he retired from competition in 2004, Hiu started an academy that now has 11 schools and more than 1,000 students.

 

SUSPENSION CONTINUED

Piotr Gadomski of Poland had his suspension lengthened by another 18 months after he violated the terms of his earlier suspension by attending the Wimbledon qualifying tournament. In 2015, Gadomski was fined USD $15,000 and given a seven-year ban for match-fixing. Now 26, Gadomski admitted he attending the matches at Roehampton in London in June 2016 in violation of his ban. The Integrity Unit suspended the 18-month ban extension is suspended providing Gadomski does not commit any further violations. Gadomski’s highest ranking was 338th in the world in April 2014.

 

SWITCHING BACK

After being rebuffed in his attempts to play Davis Cup for Great Britain, Aljaz Bedene is returning to play tennis for his native Slovenia. Ranked 49th in the world, Bedene notified the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that he will compete for Slovenia beginning this year. He moved to Great Britain in 2008 and became a British citizen in 2015, but the ITF refused to allow him to play Davis Cup for his adopted country. “At this stage in my career I don’t want to miss the opportunity to compete in the Davis Cup and the Olympics, two events that mean so much to me,” the 28-year-old Bedene said. He had played Davis Cup for Slovenia in 2010 through 2012.

 

SORRY

A German lawmaker has apologized to the son of Boris Becker after a racist outburst was posted on Twitter. Jens Maier claims the tweet directed at Noah Becker was posted by a member of his staff, who he says has been disciplined. Maier is a judge who is regarded as being on the far-right wing of the nationalist party. A lawyer for the 23-year-old Noah Becker said a criminal complaint has been filed against Maier.

 

SAD NEWS

Broadcaster Dick Enberg, who summed up the big moments by say, “Oh my,” has died at the age of 82. Raised in Armada, Michigan, USA, Enberg broadcast Wimbledon, Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and the Breeders Cup, as well as baseball and college basketball. He won 13 Sports Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg. In 2015 he was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Auckland: Sara Errani and Bibiane Schoofs beat Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato 7-5 6-1

Brisbane (men): Henri Kontinen and John Peers beat Leonardo Mayer and Horacio Zeballos 3-6 6-3 10-2 (match tiebreak)

Brisbane (women): Kiki Bertens and demi Schuurs beat Andreja Klepac and Maria José Martinez Sanchez 7-5 6-2

Doha: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-2 7-6 (6)

Dubai: Mihaela Buzarnescu and Alena Fomina beat Lesley Kerkhove and Lidziya Marozava 6-4 6-3

Pune: Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Gilles Simon 7-6 (5) 7-6 (5)

Shenzhen: Irina-Camelia Begu and Simon Halep beat Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 1-6 6-1 10-8 (match tiebreak)

 

SURFING

Auckland: www.asbclassic.co.nz/

Sydney: www.sydneyinternational.com.au/

Hobart: www.hobartinternational.com.au/

Melbourne: https://ausopen.com/

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

MEN

$561,345 ASB Classic, Auckland, New Zealand, hard

$528,910 Sydney International, Sydney, Australia, hard

 

WOMEN

$733,900 Sydney International, Sydney, Australia, hard

$226,750 Hobart International, Hobart, Australia, hard

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

Australian Open (first week), Melbourne, Australia, hard

 

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios



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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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