Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 7-6 (1) 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in Barcelona, Spain
Maria Sharapova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-4 to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany
Gilles Simon beat Fabio Fognini 6-4 6-3 to win the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest, Romania
Kiki Bertens beat Laura Pous-Tio 7-5 6-0 to win the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Fès, Morocco
Go Soeda beat Tatsuma Ito 6-3 6-0 to win the OEC International Tennis Challenge in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Asia/Oceania Group III at Tehran, Iran (round-robin): Syria and Kuwait promoted to Group II in 2013; Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan relegated to Group IV in 2013
“’This is the hardest match I had on clay court this season. David always takes you to the limit. A bit of it was lottery; luck fell on my side today.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating David Ferrer to win the Barcelona title for the seventh time.
“Like always, Rafa. I’ve lost four times. but four times against a great.” – David Ferrer, after losing the Barcelona title match for the fourth time – all against Rafael Nadal.
“I’m excited. I’m going to play more tournaments now and try to win more.” – Kiki Bertens, a qualifier after winning her first WTA Tour singles title, the Grand Prix de Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem.
“It is only my second tournament on clay, so I’m still happy with the result.” – Laura Pous-Tio, who lost to Kiki Bertens in the Fès final.
“I’m just happy to be the champion. I came to Europe this year a bit earlier than I usually do. I added this to my schedule and was going to use it as a warm-up tournament for the clay court season. But maybe I should start doing it every year since it’s obviously working for me.” – Maria Sharapova, after winning in Stuttgart, Germany.
“Obviously I’m not happy I lost in the final, but congratulations to Maria, she did a really good job this week. It was still a good week for me. I was really happy to come to Stuttgart and I hope to do better next year.” – Victoria Azarenka, after losing to Maria Sharapova in the title match of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
“’Clay’s not his best surface, but he consistently does well on it. Last year he reached the semifinals at the French Open, Monte Carlo and Rome, so he can play really well on it. For me, it was a big win, regardless of the surface.’” – Milos Raonic, after beating Andy Murray 6-4 7-6 (3) in the quarterfinals in Barcelona.
“The time of the match is not important. You could be spending two hours on the court but barely working hard and having no rallies, but you could spend one hour and it’s so intense. I don’t pay attention. I just try to stay focused.” – Victoria Azarenka, following her quick 77-minute semifinal win over Agnieszka Radwanska.
“Another semifinal this year at a very strong tournament is not a bad result, of course, but playing against the same player all the time is not really fun. She is just playing great tennis this year and played another good match against me today. I’ll be back to try and win the car next year.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, after losing to top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
“We hadn’t won a title in our last seven finals. We were very lucky I’d say in the final. (Marcel) Granollers and (Marc) Lopez played a very good match, but couldn’t finish it. We fought hard and in the end it paid off by winning. The whole week’s been like this for us, very lucky. But we played some good quality tennis, especially in the semifinals against (Max) Mirnyi and (Daniel) Nestor, and today we got lucky and won.” – Marcin Matkowski, after he teamed with Mariusz Fyrstenberg to win the doubles in Barcelona.
“I had to run a lot today. You really have the feeling that you are never in control of the game. I’m always happy when I win a tournament like this because sometimes people think it will be easy when you’re the number one seed, but on the court it’s very close every time.” – Gilles Simon, after winning the Bucharest, Romania, tournament for the third time.
“I’m upset because I lost the final. I had my chances, but he has played more finals than me and is more experienced. Maybe next time I will have the chance to win the tournament.” – Fabio Fognini, who lost to Gilles Simon in the Bucharest final.
It may not be routine, but Rafael Nadal sure makes it seem that way. The Spanish great won the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell for the seventh time and becoming the first player in the Open Era to win two tournaments seven times. Ranked second in the world, Nadal won his eighth straight Monte Carlo title a week earlier. Nadal has won 21 straight matches on clay, while only Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have beaten the Spaniard in a clay court final. Nadal now has won 48 tournaments in his career and ran his winning streak in Barcelona to 34 straight. It was the fourth time the sixth-ranked David Ferrer has reached the final at Barcelona. Each time he has lost to Nadal. “It’s almost unimaginable to win here seven times,” Nadal said. “It’s a special tournament for me, at home in my club. To win at home in front of the people you know is always more special.”
Maria Sharapova finally figured out a way to beat top-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the final of a tournament. While her advantage over Sharapova was only 5-3 in their career meetings, Azarenka owned a 4-0 record in finals, winning them all in straight sets, including this year’s Australian Open. Sharapova turned that around in Stuttgart, Germany, winning her 25th WTA career title by simply overpowering her opponent. The Russian was dominating on her serve, losing just 17 points in her nine service games in the match and not being broken at all. Sharapova had 31 winners to just 13 unforced errors. “I had lost the last few previous encounters with Victoria, so I was extremely motivated today,” Sharapova said. “When I got the chance to go out and play her again I knew I had to change a few things. Before I was maybe a little bit impatient and went for a bit too much sometimes, but this time I was really patient. I was aggressive but consistent when I had to be against her. I felt I played quite smart in the important moments in the match.” It was Sharapova’s sixth career win over a player ranked number one in the world. She beat Lindsay Davenport in 2005, Justine Henin in 2008, Amélie Mauresmo in 2006 and Caroline Wozniacki last year.
STICKING TO THE SCRIPT
When Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska reached the semifinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, it sent the WTA Tour officials to the record book. It was the first time the top four players in the world reached the semifinals of an event since July 2009 at Wimbledon. That was when Dinara Safina, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva made up the final four. The Williams sisters battled their way into the final, with Serena eventually capturing the title. “On the men’s side it’s normal to have the top four in the semis,” Kvitova said. “It’s great for the tournament, the sponsors and the people. It has been a long time since the last time, but hopefully it will happen in more tournaments soon.”
Playing in only her second WTA Tour main draw, young Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens came away with the title at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Fès, Morocco. Last year she played her first WTA tournament in her home event in ‘s-Herogenbosch, losing in the opening round. And she had to qualify to get into the main draw in Fès, rallying from 3-1 down in the third set to Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino and 4-1 in the third set to Kristyna Pliskova. And that was in qualifying. Once she got into the main draw, Bertens beat Urszula Radwanska, Chanelle Scheepers, Garbiñe Muguruza Blanco and Simon Halep before taking on Laura Pous-Tio in the title match. It was the first final for Pous-Tio also, although she had been in three semifinals before. After falling behind 0-3, Bertens rallied. Knotted at 5-5 in the opening set, Bertens won the last nine games for a 7-5 6-0 victory. “In the beginning I was very nervous and she started well, but after I won the first set all my nerves were gone,” Bertens said. “I love it here. I was here for one week because I played the qualies too, so I’m a little bit tired now.”
In the semifinals, Pous-Tio lost her serve five times to Mathilde Johansson, but broke her French opponent seven times to win 6-1 2-6 7-5.
Petra Cetkovska and Alexandra Panova had a hard time winning the doubles title match in Fès, Morocco. The pair rallied from 6-3 5-3 down and fought off five match points in their win over Irina-Camelia Begu and Alexandra Cadantu. Cetkovska and Panova actually missed six match points of their own, losing a 9-3 lead in the match tiebreak before closing out the victory 3-6 7-6 (5) 11-9 (match tiebreak).
It’s getting to be old hat for Gilles Simon. The Frenchman won the Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest, Romania, for the third time, this time besting Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-4 6-3. Simon also won the tournament in 2007 and 2008. Fognini was playing in his first ATP World Tour final.
Until now clay came in two colors: red in most of the world and green in the United States. The Mutua Madrid Open is being played in Madrid, Spain, this week and the players will be traipsing on a blue clay surface. “If they have changed how the courts play, as well as the color, and the courts play better, that’s great,” said Australian Samantha Stosur. “I think it worked well when the Australian Open changed the color of the courts from green to blue, but that’s just a case of painting cement. This is changing the color of the dirt, and it will be interesting to see how it changes the court.”
STOPPING AT THE TOP
Lisa Raymond has joined her partner Liezel Huber at the top of the WTA doubles rankings. And at 38 years old, Raymond is the oldest player in WTA history to hold the coveted number one spot in either singles or doubles. The Americans also became the eighth pair to share the top spot. Raymond is not unfamiliar with that role. She has been a part of three of those duos, teaming with Rennae Stubbs 12 years ago and with Samantha Stosur in 2006-07. This is the fifth time Raymond has been ranked number one, and the first time since July 2007. Other duos who have shared the top ranking include Virginia Ruano Pascual and Paola Suárez, Cara Black and Huber, Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, and sisters Venus and Serena Williams.
The top-seeded team of Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau won their seventh ATP World Tour doubles title when they beat Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot in the final in Bucharest, Romania. “I wasn’t 100 per cent before the first match. I had a knee issue,” Lindstedt said. “To get through that one really got us set on our tracks. The semifinal was the most rewarding match for us as a team. It was a very difficult match the way it evolved. It was very important for us. Today’s match is the icing on the cake for a great week.” It was the 13th career doubles title for the 35-year-old Lindstedt, while the 27-year-old Tecau captured his 10th career title.
SKIPS HOME EVENT
Because of the death of his grandfather, Novak Djokovic has pulled out of this week’s Serbia Open. “I’ve made a decision to take part in the tournament this year,” said Djokovic, who was the defending champion in the Belgrade, Serbia, clay-court event. “This is certainly one of the toughest decisions in my career but it is impossible for me to play in the next few days and to think about tennis when there are some other things in my head.” The top-ranked Djokovic lost to second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the Monte Carlo Masters final a week ago, just three days after his grandfather’s death
SIDELINED BY INJURY
Andrea Petkovic will be sidelined for three months after tearing ligaments in her right ankle at the Porsche Grand Prix. The German hurt her ankle in a second-round match against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka. The Stuttgart, Germany, tournament was Petkovic’s first since January, having been sidelined with a lower back injury. She also has been nursing a right knee injury. Currently ranked 11th in the world, Petkovic was the first German woman to finish a year in the top 10 since Steffi Graf in 1998. But in the second set against Azarenka, Petkovic stepped awkwardly and twisted her right ankle. She didn’t even try to continue playing and had to be helped off the court.
Svetlana Kuznetsova hurt her leg and had to retire from her second round match in Fès, Morocco. The two-time Grand Slam tournament champion had won the first set 6-1 against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu. The Russian star then lost the second set in a tiebreaker and trailed 3-2 in the third set when she pulled out.
A huge serve has been Milos Raonic’s calling card. It works on clay also, as Andy Murray found out. The Canadian crushed 14 aces as he ousted Murray 6-4 7-6 to grab a spot in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open. Playing an aggressive game, Raonic took the initiative from the start against the second-seeded Murray and held off a fightback from the Scot at the end of the second set to record one of the best wins of his career. Murray managed just one break of Raonic’s serve. “Clay’s not (Murray’s) best surface, but he consistently does well on it,” Raonic said. “Last year he reached the semifinals at the French Open, Monte Carlo and Rome, so he can play really well on it. For me, it was a big win, regardless of the surface.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
When the All England Club announced it has increased the prize money for this year’s Wimbledon, it noted that the majority of the cash will go to players who lose in qualifying or the early rounds. That doesn’t mean the top players aren’t helping fatten their bank accounts. The men’s and women’s singles champions will each receive USD $1.85 million. The purse will increase by USD $2.4 million to a total of USD $26 million. The increase for the lower-ranked players, some of whom struggle to cover the costs of training, traveling and competing at major tournaments, was requested by the world’s top four players – Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – in a meeting with Wimbledon officials in Indian Wells, California, USA. “’Wimbledon continues to be successful and we are delighted to share that increase with the players,” said All England Club chairman Philip Brook. “At the same time, we appreciate the need to help players meet the rising costs associated with professional tennis.” Wimbledon also will begin ply 30 minutes earlier on the outside courts, hoping that will cut down on the number of matches held over by darkness.
A 16-year-old from Stockbridge, Georgia, USA, is the first American girl to be named number one in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) World Junior Rankings since the ITF combined singles and doubles rankings in 2004. Taylor Townsend won the girls’ singles and doubles titles at the Australian Open, becoming the first American to sweep both junior titles at a Grand Slam tournament since Lindsay Davenport did the same at the 1992 US Open. She also won the prestigious Easter Bowl singles title in April, where she also reached the doubles final. Donald Young is the last American male to reach the number one spot in the boys’ rankings in 2005. Perhaps not coincidentally, Young’s parents were also Townsend’s first tennis coaches.
Serena Williams has altered her diet to support sister Venus Williams. Serena said she’s cut down on eating chicken and fish and is eating more raw foods. Venus changed her diet to help her body cope with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. Serena said that since she lives with Venus, she eats foods that won’t tempt her older sister. “I don’t want her to come home and see a piece of chicken and be like, ‘Oh, I want it,’ and she can’t have it,” Serena said. “It would be like a stumbling block for her.”
Prince Albert II of Monaco presented International Tennis Hall of Fame rings to four great tennis champions and contributors to the sport during the ATP World Tour stop in Monte Carlo. Honored were Ilie Nastase of Romania, Françoise “Frankie” Durr of France, Nicola Pietrangeli of Italy and Italian tennis journalist Gianni Clerici. All four have been inducted into the Newport, Rhode Island, USA, shrine. During the Monte Carlo ceremony, the official Hall of Fame rings were presented as a symbol of their International Tennis Hall of Fame induction. Prince Albert has served on the board of director for the Hall of Fame, a non-profit institution dedicated to honoring the greatest legends of tennis and preserving the history of the sport. Also participating in the ring presentation was International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum chairman Christopher E. Clouser and CEO Mark L. Stenning, and Zeljko Franulovic, director of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Since 1955, 220 of the greatest champions and contributors to the sport have been inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The men’s tennis tour is leaving northern California. The 123-year-old event in San Jose, California, USA, currently called the SAP Open, is moving to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2014. The Memphis tournament is being sold and moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The ATP Board of Directors approved the sale of the Memphis tournament to IMX for operation of the 500-level event in Brazil. The ATP will determine the calendar and format for the events in 2014 and 2015 later this year. The SAP Open began as the Pacific Coast Championships in Monterey in 1889 and has been played indoors recently. The WTA Tour still has an annual event at Stanford, California.
SWITCH IN NAMES
The Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, DC, USA, is changing its name to the Citi Open. The 500-level event has been known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic since 1994. In addition to the new title sponsor, this year’s tournament will also include a lower-level WTA event played at the same time and place, July 28 through August 5.
Barcelona: Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 2-6 7-6 (7) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Bucharest: Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau beat Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot 7-6 (2) 6-3
Fès: Petra Cetkovska and Alexandra Panova beat Irina-Camelia Begu and Alexandra Cadantu 3-6 7-6 (5) 11-9 (match tiebreak)
Kaohsiung: John Paul Frutter and Raven Klaasen beat Daniel King-Turner and Frederik Nielsen 6-7 (6) 7-5 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Stuttgart: Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-4 7-5
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
Sao Paulo: www.grandchampionsbrasil.com.br
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$523,619 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay
$523,619 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
$484,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay
$125,000 Tunis Open, Tunis, Tunisia, clay
$220,000 Budapest Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay
Seguros Bolivar Tennis Champions, Medellín, Colombia, hard
Europe Zone Group III at Sofia, Bulgaria, clay (round-robin, 13 nations in four pools): Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, San Marino
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,088,000 Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay
$112,446 Strabag Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay
$5,189,000 Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay
$100,000 Open GDF SUEZ de Cagnes-sur-mer Alpes-Maritimes, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, clay
Grand Champions Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil, clay