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Serena Loses In Her Return, But USA Is Victorious - Mondays with Bob Greene



Lucas Pouille beat Richard Gasquet 7-6 (2) 6-4 to win the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, France

Mirza Basic beat Marius Copil 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-4 to win the Diema Xtra Sofia Open in Sofia, Bulgaria

Roberto Carballes Baena beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 4-6 6-4 to win the Ecuador Open in Quito, Ecuador

Jason Jung beat Dominik Koepfer 6-4 2-6 7-6 (5) to win the Kunel Patel San Francisco Open in San Francisco, California, USA



First Round


Germany beat Belarus 3-2 at Minsk, Belarus

Czech Republic beat Switzerland 3-1 at Prague, Czech Republic

France beat Belgium 3-2 at La Roche-sur-Yon, France

United States beat Netherlands 3-1 at Asheville, Tennessee, USA



Slovakia beat Russia 4-1 at Bratislava, Slovakia; Australia beat Ukraine 3-2 at Canberra, Australia; Romania beat Canada 3-1 at Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Italy beat Spain 3-2 at Chieti, Italy



Americas Zone at Asuncion, Paraguay, clay: Paraguay advances to World Group II playoffs in April; Venezuela and Guatemala relegated to Americas Zone Group II in 2019.

Asia/Oceania Zone at New Delhi, India, hard: Japan advances to World Group II playoffs in April; Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong relegated to Asia/Oceania Zone Group II in 2019.

Europe/Africa Zone at Tallinn, Estonia, hard: Latvia and Great Britain advance to World Group II playoffs in April; Austria and Portugal relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II in 2019.



Asia/Oceania Group at Isa Town, Bahrain, hard: Indonesia and Pacific Oceania advance to Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in 2019



“It’s a dream come true.” – Mirza Basic, a qualifier who won the Sofia Open title.

“It was really special to be back out here with Venus, and we’re so happy Team USA won today.” – Serena Williams, who lost her doubles match with sister Venus Williams after the USA clinched its Fed Cup first-round tie over the Netherlands.

“To play the two Williams sisters, it’s amazing because we won the match.” – Lesley Kierkhove, who teamed with Demi Schuurs to beat Serena and Venus Williams for the Netherlands’ lone point in its Fed Cup loss to the United States.

“In the end we still lost 3-0. That’s not what we came here for.” – Richel Hogenkamp, whose Dutch team lost to the United States in a first-round Fed Cup tie.

“It’s amazing. This is what you play tennis for, to play for your country in matches like this. To take the tie in this way makes it so special. It’s unbelievable.” – Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who teamed with Tatjana Maria to win the doubles and lift Germany to a 3-2 Fed Cup win over Belarus.

“The team is feeling great, so happy and proud. It was our goal to win after three matches, but really it’s never easy.” – Irina-Camelia Begu, who won both of her singles matches and clinched Romania’s 3-1 Fed Cup win over Canada.

“I learned today that we had never beaten Russia in either Fed Cup or the Davis Cup in 25 years, so this is a great day for Slovakian tennis and a perfect start for this new generation of players.” – Matej Liptak, captain of the Slovakian Fed Cup team that beat Russia 3-1.

“I’ve reached a moment in my career where I need to make some choices about when I play.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after retiring from a match in Marseille because of a left hamstring injury.

“One beautiful tennis era is over.” – Tomas Berdych, announcing he no longer will play Davis Cup for the Czech Republic.



Even though Serena Williams’ return to tennis was a crushing loss, older sister Venus Williams led the United States to a first-round Fed Cup victory over the Netherlands. Venus won both of her singles matches, but was on the losing side with sister Serena in the only point the Netherlands was able to earn. The Williams sisters, who have combined to win 22 doubles titles, fell 6-2 6-3 to the Dutch duo of Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs who were playing together for the first time. “I honestly feel better than I thought I was gonna feel,” Serena Williams said. “I feel like I didn’t expect to play, you know, like that for me. So I feel like that I’m on the right track.” It was the first competitive match Serena has had since she won the Australian Open in 2017, her 23rd major title. She then took time off to have a daughter and get married. Both attended the Fed Cup competition in Asheville, North Carolina. Venus Williams was in top shape, beating Richel Hogenkamp 7-5 6-1 to clinch the tie after downing a straight-set win over Arantxa Rus for the first point in the tie. CoCo Vandeweghe gave the USA a 2-0 lead with a three-set victory over Hogenkamp. “Honestly, I like to think that CoCo wore her down some,” Venus Williams said after the tie-clinching win. “It gave me an opportunity to be able to close this out for the USA. It was a lot of pressure for me to close it out and a lot of pressure for her to stay in and I handled it a little bit better.”



Bosnian qualifier Mirza Basic won his first ATP World Tour title, The Diema Xtra Sofia Open, by edging big-serving Marius Copil of Romania in a three-set final. Basic had earned his trip to the title match with wins over top-seeded Stan Wawrinka and fourth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber. “Every match I was playing better and better, and in the end I played good,” said Basic, who won seven matches during the week to become only the second Bosnian to win an ATP title. The 26-year-old’s toughest match came in the opening round of qualifying, when he rallied from behind to stop Bulgaria’s Alexandar Lazov 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 6-4. “I started very slowly,” Basic said. “I was a set and a break down, so at that point I (saw) that it was not going to be an easy week. So I was just focusing match by match.” It worked to perfection.



Given a reprieve in the semifinals, Lucas Pouille won his fifth ATP World Tour title, brushing aside fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Open Sud de France. The second-seeded Pouille wrapped up his first title of 2018 on his fourth match point. Gasquet was playing in his sixth consecutive final in Montpellier, but suffered his second straight defeat. Pouille trailed another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-1 5-5 in the semifinals when Tsonga suddenly retired with a hamstring pull. Tsonga had match points in the ninth game and actually served for the match in the 10th game, only to have his serve broken. That put Pouille into the title match, where he was solid on serve throughout, never facing a break point against Gasquet. “The first set was very important and taking the tiebreak led me to the victory,” Pouille said. “I’m very happy with the way I played. It was a great week for me in Montpellier, winning the title in the city where I got my first wild card on tour at 18.”



Roger Federer could take over the number one spot in the men’s rankings at this week’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands. After successfully defending his Australian Open title last month, Federer is just 155 points behind top-ranked Rafael Nadal. But the Spaniard is not scheduled to play until the end of this month in Acapulco, Mexico, leaving the door open for the 36-year-old Federer to become the oldest man to be ranked number one in the world. The Swiss great can do that by reaching the semifinals at Rotterdam. “The tournament is special for me,” said Federer, twice a winner in Rotterdam. “I remember playing for the first time in 1999 as it was one of the first events where I got the chance to play at the highest level.” Federer holds the men’s record for both the most time spent at number one (302 weeks) and the longest consecutive run at number one (237 weeks). If he reaches the top spot again, Federer would surpass Andre Agassi’s record as the oldest top-ranked men’s player in history. Agassi achieved the feat at age 33 years, 131 days in 2003.



Rafael Nadal has entered the Queen’s Club Championship in an effort to sharpen his grass game in time for Wimbledon. Nadal has not reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon since 2011. That was three years after he outlasted Roger Federer in a five-set thriller to win his only Wimbledon title. “I am very excited to communicate that I am going to come to Queen’s in 2018,” Nadal said. “It is going to be the 10th anniversary of my victory in 2008. It’s a great memory, winning there and three weeks later winning Wimbledon. It was an unforgettable year.”


Germany’s Dustin Brown was three points away from knocking off Frenchman Nicolas Mahut when he suddenly fell to the court clutching his lower back. Brown was leading 7-6 (2) 5-2 and serving to the first-round victory when he collapsed. After being treated in the locker room, the German limped back out to the court and conceded the match. “It’s the first time I’ve experienced an end to the match like this,” Mahut said. “Dustin was completely dominating me in the second (set). When you see him in tears you can’t celebrate such a win.”



Simona Halep was sitting on the sidelines when Romania won its Fed Cup World Group II tie against Canada. Ranked second in the world, Halep has yet to fully recover from the injury she suffered in last month’s Australian Open. “After spending the last week resting and rehabbing my injury from the Australian Open, unfortunately it has not recovered quickly enough,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m sad as playing for Romania is very important to me.” With Halep there cheering her teammates on, Romania stopped Canada 3-1 behind Irina-Camelia Begu, who won both of her singles matches, and Sorana Cirstea.



An independent tribunal has reduced the sanctions levied against Ilie Nastase by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The 71-year-old Nastase, who had been captain of Romania’s Fed Cup team, was banned from acting in an official capacity at ITF team competitions until Dec. 31, 2020, and from attending them until Dec. 31, 2018. The independent tribunal reduced the bans by eight months each, meaning Nastase can attend ITF events from April 23, 2018, and work at them beginning April 23, 2020. However, the tribunal doubled his fine from USD $10,000 to USD $20,000. The ITF had found Nastase guilty of making a “highly inappropriate a racially insensitive” comment about Serena Williams’ then-unborn child, of making “advances of a sexual nature” towards Great Britain’s Fed Cup team captain Anne Keothavong and directing “abusive and threatening comments” at Keothavong and British player Johanna Konta, match officials and a member of the press.



Davis Cup will no longer be a priority for Tomas Berdych. The Czech Republic star led his country to consecutive Davis Cup titles in 2012 and 2013. “I’m happy I was there and helped the Czech Republic win the Salad Bowl twice,” Berdych said in announcing he is quitting the Czech Davis Cup team. “I have played 29 Davis Cup ties for the Czech Republic since 2003, but at age 32 I cannot play nonstop without resting.” Berdych has not played since helping the Czech Republic to a 3-2 first-round win in Germany in 2016. In all, he won 50 of his 67 Davis Cup rubbers, and from 2003 to 2013, he missed only two ties.



Night matches will be held at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium during the 2018 US Open. It will be the first time America’s Grand Slam tournament will have two arenas with both day and night sessions. Like the main arena, Arthur Ashe Stadium, the new Louis Armstrong Stadium will also have a retractable roof. In making the announcement, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said Ashe will no have only two matches scheduled during each day session, instead of three, and the day session will begin at noon. Other courts, however, will continue to begin play at 11 a.m.



Montpellier: Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski beat Ben Mclachalan and Hugo Nys 7-6 (2) 6-4

Quito: Nicolas Jarry and Hans Podipnik-Castillo beat Austin Krajicek and Jackson Withrow 7-6 (6) 6-3

San Francisco: Marcelo Arevalo and Roberto Maytin beat Luke Bambridge and Joe Salisbury 6-3 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Sofia: Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop beat Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)




Doha: www.qatartennis.org/tournaments/index/123

Rotterdam: www.abnamrowtt.nl/en/

New York: www.NewYorkOpen.com

Buenos Aires: https://argentinaopenatp.com/atp/es/

Rio de Janeiro: www.rioopen.com/ingressos

Marseille: www.open13.fr/

Delray Beach: https://yellowtennisball.com/

Dubai: www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/

Budapest: www.hungarianladiesopen.com/





$2,485,960 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam, Netherlands, hard

$748,450 New York Open, New York, New York, hard

$648,180 Argentina Open, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay



$710,900 Qatar Total Open, Doha, Qatar, hard





$1,842,475 Rio Open presented by Claro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, clay

$880,434 Open 13 Marseille, Marseille, France, hard

$622,675 Delray Beach Open, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard



$733,900 Dubai Duty Free Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hard

$226,750 Hungarian Ladies Open, Budapest, Hungary, hard


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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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