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STARS

 

Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 7-5 6-4 to win the men’s singles at the Mutua Madrid Open in Madrid, Spain

 

Petra Kvitova beat Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (3) 6-4 to win the Mutua Madrid Open women’s singles in Madrid, Spain

 

Lukas Rosol beat Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-6 (1) 5-2 retired to win the Strabag Prague Open in Prague, Czech Republic

 

Sorana Cirstea beat Pauline Parmentier 6-7 (5) 6-2 6-2 to win the Open GDF Suez in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal

 

SAYING

 

“Under the circumstances, I’ve played probably the best match of my life on clay against the world number one and the player to beat on this surface. The way I played was just fantastic. I’m definitely satisfied with the performance and the overall tournament.” – Novak Djokovic, after beating Rafael Nadal to win the Mutua Madrid Open men’s singles.

 

“I think it was who will play faster, who will be the more aggressive. And I was the first. It’s nice to win the tournament and to be in the Top 10 at the same time. But it’s just a number. I want to improve my game and we’ll see. I don’t want to be only number 10.” – Petra Kvitova, who won the Mutua Madrid Open women’s singles by beating Victoria Azarenka.

 

“Petra had such a great week and totally deserved to win today. She showed some impressive tennis. I had some opportunities and there are a few things I should have done better, but that’s how tennis works.” – Victoria Azarenka, after losing to Petra Kvitova.

 

“What really matters is the French Open.” – Ivan Lendl, discussing Novak Djokovic’s match winning streak.

 

While the rest won without problems, Federer had to come through a huge battle to wear down Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (15/13), 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (9/7), taking nearly three hours and firing 25 aces outside a Grand Slam event for the first time in his career.

 

“I’m relieved to get through,” said the Swiss, who has only hours to recover for a meeting with Xavier Malisse. “It was not easy at all.

 

“But it all came together for me in the end nicely. It didn’t feel like a clay match, it was bang-bang. I was playing OK. It got more and more difficult to return his serve.

 

“It was a tough match. I guess it will help me for the French Open. I did spend three hours on clay.” – Roger Federer, after hitting 25 aces in his 7-6 (13) 6-7 (1) 7-6 (7) victory over Feliciano Lopez at Madrid.

 

“I wanted to play Roland Garros and Wimbledon one more time, but I won’t make it. Once you’ve decided to quit, you lose your motivation.” – Stefan Koubek, announcing his retirement from tennis.

 

“I will not play in Rome next week. And I don’t know if I can play Nice or Roland Garros. I have a very annoying pain, I feel it all the time.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who returned home to Argentina to see doctors about his hip pain.

 

“We had something in common in that we made minority sports popular, which was key in Spanish sport. Once we played a round of golf and he gave me a beating. But, of course, if we had played tennis I would have been the one handing out the thrashing.” – Manolo Santana, a Tennis Hall of Famer, reminiscing about the late golf great Seve Ballesteros.

 

SUPER SERB

 

Novak Djokovic is taking aim on the number one spot after winning his 34th consecutive match – 32 in a row in 2011. The Serbian superstar’s latest victory snapped Rafael Nadal’s clay-court winning streak at 37 as Djokovic captured the Mutua Madrid Open 7-5 6-4. The last time the 23-year Djokovic lost was to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November. He won both of his singles matches last December to lead Serbia to its first Davis Cup title and hasn’t been stopped since. His 32-0 streak to start the season is second only to John McEnroe, who began 1984 by winning his first 42 matches. Djokovic has won six tournaments this year: the Australian Open, Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Belgrade and now Madrid.

 

SIXTH CZECH

 

Petra Kvitova joined a great group while winning her third tournament of the season. She became the sixth Czech player to reach the women’s top 10 and defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (3) 6-4 in the Mutua Madrid Open final. Her performance in Madrid ensures that she will be ranked number 10 in the world when this week’s rankings are released. Other Czech players who have reached the top 10 include Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Helena Sukova, Jana Novotna and Nicole Valdisova. Despite the loss, Azarenka becomes the first Belarusian to reach number four in the world. Natasha Zvereva, who represented the Soviet Union and later Belarus, was ranked as high as fifth in the world.

 

SINGULAR MOMENT

 

When this week’s rankings are released, it will be the first time in the 38-year history of tennis rankings that no American man or woman will be in the top 10. Serena Williams has been ranked 10th but hasn’t played since Wimbledon last year and will plummet in the rankings this week. Mardy Fish dropped from the men’s number 10 spot a week ago. The men’s rankings began in 1973 and the women’s list in 1975. The last time there were no American women in the top group was May 20, 2007.

 

SADNESS FOR SEVE

 

Rafael Nadal brushed away tears as he watched a video tribute to Spanish golfing star Seve Ballesteros, who died during the week of the Mutua Madrid Open. “It’s a sad day in general for Spain, for the world of sport,” Nadal said of the man who won five major golf titles and a record 50 European Tour tournaments. “He was one of the best athletes that this country has ever had. He was a pioneer. Wearing a black ribbon on his bright yellow shirt in memory of Ballesteros, Rafael defeated Roger Federer 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 in their semifinal.

 

SKIPPING PARIS

 

Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, who won the last two Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open and Australian Open, is unlikely to play the French Open later this month. Clijsters, who has been sidelined with shoulder, wrist and ankle injuries, returned to training this past week. “I held a tennis racquet in my hands for the first time in about five weeks. It felt good,” she said on her website. But she ruled out playing any tournament before the year’s second Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros, pulling out of this week’s Italian Open. Clijsters is a two-time runner-up at the French Open and slow clay is generally considered her weakest surface. She has already signed up to play a grass court Wimbledon warm-up event in Rosmalen, Netherlands. Ranked second in the world, Clijsters has been sidelined since hurting herself at a wedding party last month.

 

SIGNED UP

 

Venus Williams is close to returning to the court. The five-time Wimbledon champion will warm up for the grass court Grand Slam event by playing at Eastbourne, Great Britain. The 30-year-old right-hander has been out of action with a hip injury since reaching the third round of the Australian Open in January. The AEGON Classic will have a strong field this year, with Vera Zvonareva, Francesca Schiavone, Li Na and Samantha Stosur all signed up to compete. In the past, both Venus and sister Serena Williams have preferred to prepare for Wimbledon by practicing on fast hard courts in the United States. Between the two sisters, they have won nine singles titles in the past 11 years. The last time Venus played at Eastbourne was in 1998.

 

SETBACK

 

Juan Martin del Potro has gone home to Argentina to see doctors about the hip pain problem that forced him out of the Mutua Madrid Masters. Del Potro was scheduled to play Rafael Nadal, but pulled out before the third-round match. Since winning the US Open in 2009, del Potro has missed most of the 2010 season recovering from wrist surgery. He won a hard court tournament at Delray Beach, Florida, and at Estoril, Portugal, on clay. But he hurt his hip during the semifinals in Estoril.

 

SWITCH AT TOP

Michael J. Dolan has been named president and chief operating officer of IMG. The move was made after owner Ted Forstmann underwent surgery for brain cancer. While he is continuing medical treatment, Forstmann is reportedly still a regular visitor to the company’s two major offices in Cleveland, Ohio, and New York City. Forstmann purchased IMG, then known as International Management Group, in 204 for USD 750 million after the death of company founder Mark McCormack. Dolan had been IMG’s chief financial officer for the last five years.

SWITCHES COACH

 

Danish Fed Cup captain Michael Mortensen is Li Na’s new coach. He replaces Li’s husband, Jiang Shan. A former Davis Cup player for Denmark and a technical coach for top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, Mortensen began working with China’s top player last week in Madrid, Spain. “We will continue next week in Rome and as much as time allows,” Mortensen said. “I will help her during the French Open as well. After Paris we will sit down and talk things through.” Mortensen also works as a commentator for Eurosport. Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, is her primary coach, but she also received assistance from the adidas Player Development team.

 

SHORT-LISTED

 

Four players – Andrea Petkovic of Germany, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain, Olga Savchuk of Ukraine and Polona Hercog of Slovenia – have been short-listed for the latest Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award. All four competed for their nations in either the World Group playoffs or World Group II playoffs in April. A public vote is being held on FedCup.com and FedCup.com/es to decide the winner who will receive a check for USD $3,000 to be donated to her chosen charity. The Fed Cup Heart Award is a joint initiative between BNP Paribas and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and recognizes players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.

 

STADIUM STATUS

 

The Forest Hills tennis stadium – site of the US Open for a number of years and the first Beatles concert on American soil – has been denied landmark status by New York City. The decision was a setback for local residents, who hoped that a landmark designation would halt development plans for the site, including a controversial proposal to transform the crumbling 15,000-seat structure into luxury condos. A brief email from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission said that while the stadium has “some historic significance,” it will not be considered because of the “deteriorated state of the building’s architectural features.” The West Side Tennis Club owns the horseshoe-shaped stadium.

 

SODERLING SWITCH

 

After a five-month trial, Robin Soderling has dropped coach Claudio Pistolesi of Italy. The Swede won three of his first four tournaments – Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille – but has stumbled since on clay. Soderling ended his relationship with Pistolesi only hours before his first match at the Mutua Madrid Open. He reached the quarterfinals at the Spanish tournament before falling to Roger Federer.

 

SWISS SCHEDULE

 

Roger Federer will return to the ABN-AMRO World Tennis tournament next February for the first time in seven years. The Swiss master captured the title the3 last time he played the Rotterdam, Netherlands, event, besting Ivan Ljubicic in 2005. Since then, Federer has spent February training at his base in Dubai. Federer also reached the Rotterdam final in 2001, losing to Frenchman Nicolas Escude.

 

STRAIGHT IN

 

Casey Dellacqua has been awarded a wild card into the French Open where she will join four other Australians in the main draw, including 2010 finalist Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova, Anastasia Rodionova and Jelena Dokic. The men’s wild card went to Bernard Tomic. The wild cards are part of a reciprocal agreement between the French Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia in which the FFT chooses two French players for the Australian Open.

STAYING TOGETHER

Ana Ivanovic will stick with adidas Player Development coach Darren Cahill for the time being. Besides the adidas coaches, the Serb has worked with five private coaches since 2006: Zoltan Kuharsky, David Taylor, Craig Kardon, Heinz Gunthardt and Antonio van Grichen. She also has had a number of fitness trainers, including Pierre Paganini, Scott Byrnes, Damian Prasad and Marija Lojanica. Cahill has been working closely with Olivier Morel, Ivanovic’s hitting partner who travels with her fulltime.

STALKER

 

A 40-year-old man has been arrested and charged with stalking Serena Williams. Police in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA, said Patenema Ouedraogo told officers he was going to the tennis star’s home “because he loves her” and “he knows the feelings are reciprocal.” Serena’s lawyer said he had recently obtained a restraining order after Ouedraogo tried three times to contact the player and followed her to a meeting with her agent in Los Angeles, California, USA, in October. The lawyer, Malcolm Cunningham, told police Ouedraogo also posed as Williams’ assistant while she was at the Home Shopping Network in Tampa, Florida, USA, this year and gained access to her dressing room before he was escorted from the building. Police said Ouedraogo told them he knew Williams’ whereabouts because he followed her on Twitter.

 

SAYS YES

 

They may have changed the name of the tournament, but the reigning champion plans on attempting to win for the fourth straight year. Caroline Wozniacki will return to New Haven, Connecticut, in August to play the inaugural New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara. The Danish star, who is ranked number one in the world, has won the event the last three years when it was called the Pilot Pen. The women’s tournament, now that the men’s event has been moved, will be held Aug. 18-27 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

 

STAR-STUDDED SUMMER

 

With Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi leading the way, a Champions Series will be played in 12 cities over five weeks this summer. Four of the tour’s seven players will compete at each event, playing one-set semifinals before the winners meet in an eight-game, pro-set championship match. “It makes sense for us, because our bodies can sort of withstand the tennis,” Sampras said. “I can still serve pretty hard, pretty well and sort of paint the lines. That’s what people want to see. I’ll do my best to prepare and go out and not embarrass myself.” Also on the tour are John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Michael Chang. Between them, they have won 50 Grand Slam tournament singles titles. The season begins Sept. 22 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with visits to Washington, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and St. Louis before finishing in Buffalo, New York, on Oct. 22.

 

SHARAPOVA $$$

The USD $250,000 donation by Maria Sharapova to the United Nations to aid continuing relief for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster may be just the start of things. “I hope that I’m able to raise more awareness around the world,” said Sharapova, who was born in Siberia after her parents fled the Ukraine while her mother was pregnant with the future star during the nuclear plant explosion in April 1986. “The 25th anniversary of Chernobyl got a lot of global coverage. It made people realize that although it happened so many years ago it’s still affecting so many people’s lives over there in those regions.”

 

SAYONARA

 

Stefan Koubek is calling it quits. The Austrian tennis player, who was ranked a career-high 20th in the world in 2000, is currently ranked number 261. He will end his career with an exhibition match July 30. Organizers of the tournament in Kitzbuehel, Austria, said the 34-year-old Koubek turned down a wild card for their ATP tour event in August. Koubek won three tournaments and was a part of Austria’s Davis Cup team for 13 seasons.

 

SELF-IMPOSED SANCTIONS

 

Boise State has proposed a three-year probation for several of its sports teams, including both men’s and women’s tennis. A total of 22 alleged violations in several sports led the NCAA to charge Boise State with lack of institutional control. The NCAA can accept or reject the proposed self-imposed sanctions. The school proposed the heaviest penalties for women’s tennis, suggesting the team erase all records for matches in which ineligible athletes competed in 2008-09. It also proposed a USD $5,000 fine and reduction of scholarships and practice hours. The NCAA charged the head women’s tennis coach and assistant coach with providing a prospective student-athlete with “impermissible transportation, cash, lodging, educational expenses and entertainment” in 2010. It also said both coaches conducted illegal practice sessions with the prospect and allowed her to compete before she was enrolled. Boise State self-reported the violation and fired the coaches in November. Another allegation accuses Boise State of allowing a women’s tennis player to practice and compete in 2008-09 after her fourth season of competition.

 

SPOTLIGHT

 

Danny Birchmore, Georgia’s first men’s tennis All-America, former Mercer College head coach Gloria Payne and Frank Willett are this year’s inductees into the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame. The ceremony takes place Thursday at the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Birchmore was named an All-American in 1971 and repeated the follow year. Willett, a former national singles semifinalist at Georgia Tech, will be honored posthumously.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

 

Cagnes-Sur-Mer: Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Petra Martic beat Darija Jurak and Renata Voracova 1-6 6-2 11-9 (match tiebreak)

 

Madrid (men): Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic 6-3 6-3

 

Madrid (women): Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko beat Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4 6-3

 

Prague: Frantisek Cermak and Lukas Rosol beat Christopher Kas and Alexander Peya 6-3 6-4

 

SURFING

 

Rome: www.internazionalibnlditalia.com/

Prague (women): www.spartapragueopen.cz

Bordeaux: www.atp-primrosebordeaux.com/

Brussels: www.wta-brusselsopen.com/

Strasbourg: www.internationaux-strasbourg.fr/

Dusseldorf: www.world-team-cup.com/

Nice: www.opennicecotedazur.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

(All money in USD)

 

MEN

 

$4,086,000 Internazional BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$126,300 BNP Paribas Primrose Bordeaux Challenger, Bordeaux, France, clay

 

WOMEN

 

$3,046,000 Internazional BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$100,000 Sparta Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

 

MEN

 

$1,187,000 Power Horse World Team Cup, Dusseldorf, Germany, clay

$501,000 Open de Nice Cote d’Azur, Nice, France, clay

 

WOMEN

 

$618,000 Brussels Open by GDF Suez, Brussels, Belgium, clay

$220,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, clay

 



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About Bob Greene
Bob Greene, the esteemed former Associated Press tennis writer, wraps up the week that was in international tennis with his “Monday’s With Bob Greene” column – a revival of his popular weekly feature at the AP.

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