World No. 2 Rafael Nadal will return to Halle, Germany in 2012 to compete in the Gerry Weber Open after signing a three-year contract with the ATP World Tour grass court event. “The Gerry Weber Open is a fantastic tournament. I’m very happy that I may finally play in Germany and in front of my German fans again,” said Nadal. The 25-year-old Spaniard, who has once before played in Halle in 2005, has won three grass court titles in his career including two Wimbledon titles and has recently chosen the grass-court event at Queen’s Club for his pre-Wimbledon tune-up.
Gerry Weber Open tournament officials also announced late last week that 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Gael Monfils will also join Nadal as participants in the 2012 event, to be held 11-17, 2012. “In all the conversations I have held with the players, it has been confirmed to me once again that our tournament for them is an important mark in their schedules,” said Ralf Weber, Tournament Director. Federer, who has committed to the tournament through a lifetime contract, is a five-time champion in Halle, while Berdych won the title in 2007 over Marcos Baghdatis.
Global Rule Change for Tennis begin on January 1, 2012 in the United States
According to a press release, the USTA recently announced that effective January 1, 2012 the rules of tennis officially will be changed and require that 10 and Under Tennis tournaments be played utilizing smaller, lighter racquets and lower-bouncing balls on smaller courts. The change was adopted by the USTA in the summer of 2010. This rule change signifies the emergence of 10 and Under Tennis as an integral part of the development of young players. The scaled-down equipment and smaller courts better allow kids to rally and play the game earlier in their development, and increase the likelihood that they will return to the court and continue to improve while having fun doing it. “We want tennis to be fun and accessible to kids as they enter the game,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. “Similar to other sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer, kids will now learn and compete on the right-sized court with the right-sized equipment, which will help us grow the game.” “Scaling tennis to the size of children will promote greater participation and ensure that young kids will be able to play tennis by developing their skills much more quickly,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “This rule change to the competition format for kids ages 10 and under is critical to the long-term growth of our sport, and ultimately will help us develop new generations of world-class players.” The specifications for the revised rule hold that all tournaments for those ages nine and 10 be played on 60-foot courts using orange low-compression tennis balls and regulation nets (3- feet at the center) or, for those more experienced and more skilled players, on 78-foot courts with green lower-compression balls. Tournaments for those eight years-old and younger are to be played on 36-foot courts using either red low-compression balls or foam balls and nets at a height of two-feet, 9-inches. In preparation of the rule change, in 2011 the USTA helped install more than 3,000 youth-sized tennis courts in 283 markets in 45 states throughout the country. The courts were either constructed or refurbished by painting permanent 36-foot and 60-foot tennis lines on existing 78-foot tennis courts, or constructing stand-alone 36-foot and 60-foot courts. These courts were built in 502 facilities, which include public parks, school yards, tennis facilities and at local community based youth organizations. For more information on the rule change, visitwww.10andundertennis.com.
Federer commits to Davis Cup tie against United States
16-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Roger Federer has confirmed that he will participate in Switzerland’s World Group First Round tie against the United States in Freiburg, Switzerland from February 10-12, 2012. The tie will be played on indoor clay. The 30-year-old tennis star has not played a non-relegation tie since 2004.
Andy Murray’s mother hired as Britain’s new Fed Cup captain
Judy Murray, the mother of ATP World Tour players Andy and Jamie, has been hired by the Lawn Tennis Association as the new Fed Cup captain for Britain. Murray is a longtime coach and former player from Scotland who has worked with several British junior players in the past as well as her sons. To go along with her new title as Fed Cup captain, she will also mentor other female coaches. “It is a huge honor for me to represent my country in this way,” said Murray. “The role presents a very exciting challenge, given the mix of talent, experience and determination we have in our top female players right now.” Britain’s first Fed Cup tie under Murray will be during the Europe/Africa Zonal Group Competition with 14 other teams the week after the Australian Open in Israel.
Eleven players graduate from ATP University in London
During a recent three-day workshop in London at the Marriott County Hall, eleven up and coming players graduated from the ATP University. The program covered a variety of topics including an overview of the ATP World Tour, rules and officiating, anti-corruption, media relations, giving back and personal finances. Since its inception in 1990, more than 800 players have graduated from the program. The 2011 graduates included Arnau Brugues, Sergei Bubka, Martin Emmrich, Malek Jaziri, Bastian Knittel, Konstantin Kravchuck, Vasek Pospisil, Adil Shamasdin, Andreas Siljestrom, Franco Skugor and Amir Weintraub.
Kuznetsova rehires Olga Morozova as coach
Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, who finished the year ranked No. 19 after only reaching one WTA Tour final in 2011, has rehired Olga Morozova as her coach. British journalist Simon Chambers first reported that the Russian is currently training in Dubai with Morozova. Despite bringing on Morozova as her new coach, the former world No. 2 doesn’t know if her coach will travel with her full-time. Morozova previously coached Elena Dementieva, Kuznetsova in 2008 and some British juniors.
Hantuchova hires Claudio Pistolesi as new coach
The Slovak News Agency (SITA) recently reported that world No. 24 Daniela Hantuchova has hired Italian Claudio Pistolesi as her new coach and they will begin working together on a three tournament trial basis. Pistolesi has coached many players in the past including most recently Robin Soderling, Monica Seles, his former wife Anna Smashnova, Ai Sugiyama and Davide Sanguinetti. “Claudio and I have known each other for many years, so on personal level we both know what to expect, which is a big plus,” Hantuchova told SITA. “Tennis wise it’s very important for me to know that he was coach of a No. 1 already. He has huge experience and can give me lot of things. For example he wants me to play at the net more often, which was one of my goals for a long time already, but I didn’t do it too much in past.”
Bryan Brothers commit to Delray Beach International Tennis Championships
Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-ranked doubles duo on the ATP World Tour, just confirmed that they will participate in the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in South Florida from February 24-March 4, 2012. The Bryan Brothers won back-to-back titles in Delray Beach in 2009 and 2010. “The Bryans are favorites here in Delray Beach,” said Mark Barton, Delray Beach International Tennis Championships Tournament Director. “They’ve got game beyond the court. When they come to town they jam on our music stage and have a good time with the fans.” The former Stanford standouts from Southern California will join Andy Roddick and John Isner in the ATP World Tour event, while Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash and Michael Chang will headline the 8-player ATP Champion’s Tour round-robin tournament to be held at the same time. The Delray Beach event is the only tournament in the world to host both Tours at the same venue during the same week. A holiday ticket special is being offered by the tournament with discounts of 50% off box and reserved seats and 40% off grandstand seats for specific sessions: Opening Night (24 February) and Day Sessions on Monday (27 February) and Wednesday through Friday (29 February-2 March). The discount will be in effect through December 31. To order tickets for the tournament, please visit the official tournament website at www.YellowTennisBall.com or call the ticket office at (561) 330-6000.
del Potro to embark on 2012 season at Apia International Sydney
2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro will begin his 2012 season by playing down under at the Apia International Sydney, which runs from January 8-14. It will be the second straight season the Argentine will start his season playing at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre. Currently ranked No. 11 in the world, del Potro will join Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in the men’s draw. “Sydney is a great city and I like the tournament very much,” said del Potro. “In Sydney they gave me one of the first wild cards after my injury and I appreciate this very much from them. The people at the tournament and also in Sydney were very nice to me and my team and I remember this. I hope I can do very well in January because the tournament has a great history and tradition and a lot of players from Argentina have played in it and done very well. I would love to see all the fans from Argentina come to the tennis to support me.” Tickets to the Apia International Sydney are on sale now and can be ordered by visiting www.ticketek.com.au or by calling 1300-888-104.
World No. 33 Gajdosova to begin 2012 season playing at Moorilla Hobart International in Australia
World No. 33 and Australian No. 2 Jarmila Gajdosova will start her 2012 season by defending her title at the Moorilla Hobart International in Australia, which will be played from January 6-14 at the Domain Tennis Centre. “I’m really excited about coming back to Hobart, and after my success this year I hope to perform well in early January,” said Gajdosova. “The crowds are so supportive in Hobart. I really enjoy playing out there on the centre court.” Gajdosova won the 2011 title just 11 months ago by defeating American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, which was her second career WTA Tour title.
Simon to make first appearance at Brasil Open in February
World No. 12 Gilles Simon of France will make his first appearance at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo from February 11-19, 2012. Simon is the third player to commit to the tournament, joining former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian and former world No. 7 Fernando Verdasco in the main draw. Simon won singles titles in Sydney and Hamburg in 2011.
Soderling withdraws from 2012 Australian Open, aiming for February return
World No. 13 Robin Soderling, a two-time French Open finalist, announced that he has withdrawn from the 2012 Australian Open in Melbourne due to his continued battle with mononucleosis, which has kept him out of competition since July. The former world No. 4 last played at the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad, where he captured his 10th career ATP World Tour title. Soderling insists he is feeling much better, but his recovery has taken longer than expected. The Swede hopes to be back competing in tournaments by February. “My goal is to start with practice in January and I hope for a tournament comeback in February,” said Soderling. “But at this stage, it is hard to know when and where. I hope my body will allow me to do that.” In 2011, Soderling won 20 of his first 21 matches, finishing with a 38-9 record.
Cilic pulls out of 2012 Chennai Open, doubtful for Australian Open
World No. 21 and two-time Chennai Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia has pulled out of the 2012 Chennai Open with a patella tendon injury and is doubtful for the Australian Open in Melbourne, which starts on January 16.