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STARS

Caroline Wozniacki beat Samantha Stosur 6-2 4-6 7-5 to win the Kremlin Cup women’s singles in Moscow, Russia

Andreas Seppi beat Thomaz Bellucci 3-6 7-6 (3) 6-3 to win the men’s singles at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russia

Tomas Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-4 6-4 to win the If Stockholm Open in Stockholm, Sweden

Juan Martin del Potro beat Grega Zemlja 7-5 6-3 to win the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria

Venus Williams beat Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-3 to win the Luxembourg Open in Luxembourg

DAVIS CUP

Europe/Africa Group I, 2nd round: Denmark beat Finland 4-1 (Finland relegated to Group II in 2013)

Asia/Oceania Group I, 2nd round: Chinese Taipei beat New Zealand 3-2 (New Zealand relegated to Group II in 2013)

SAYING

Venus Williams wins her 44th career title in Luxembourg

“Coming to the tournament this week I was just trying to play well. I didn’t know if I could win this event, so to stand here as the winner is a wonderful way for me to end the year, and it really makes me look forward to next year as well.” – Venus Williams, after winning the Luxembourg Open.

“I didn’t have a very good start to the match. I made a lot of errors and I was nervous because it was a final. I tried to find a way to play aggressive. In the second set I broke early and that gave me confidence to play the final like I was expected. I was a little lucky to survive from 2-4 down in the first set.” – Juan Martin del Potro, on how he played in the final at Vienna.

“My first semifinal, my first final, it was a great week. I am happy with my tennis. I know now that I can beat everybody.” – Grega Zemlja, a qualifier who lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Erste Bank Open final in Vienna.

“It is very special to win this title as I remember Yevgeny (Kafelnikov) winning so many times here and he was my idol growing up. I saw him a few times this week but I was too shy to ask him anything.” – Andreas Seppi, after winning in Moscow.

“I just did not play at the same level as I was before when I served for the match. Maybe I got too nervous.” – Thomaz Bellucci, who twice served for the match before losing to Andreas Seppi in the final at Moscow.

“When I was 2-4 down in the second set I remained positive and focused on my game. Against Jo you have to stay positive until the last point. I am happy that I was able to turn around the match, and that’s what makes this title special.” – Tomas Berdych, who rallied to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and win the If Stockholm Open.

“I feel bad because it was a good final and a close score. I think we played a great match and had many opportunities, but he played well.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to qualify for Istanbul by winning this important match at the Kremlin Cup. Nadia has been to the Championships before and even won the doubles title, but for me it will be the first time and I’m really looking forward to the experience.” – Maria Kirilenko, who with teammate Nadia Petrova qualified for the doubles competition at the WTA Championships.

“We have known each other for more than 10 years now and are good friends. We even lived together a few years ago. We went different ways at some point but got back together this summer when we played club matches. We decided to play together on the tour too. We got off to a great start and this title is unbelievable for us.” – Andre Begemann, who teamed with Martin Emmrich to win the doubles in Vienna.

“Our last match in Fed Cup I think we played three hours, so I expected a tough match today, and it was. Even thought the second set was 6-0, I really had to fight for it.” – Daniela Hantuchova, after winning 12 of the last 13 games to beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5 6-0 to reach the semifinals at Luxembourg.

STANDING TALL AGAIN

Venus Williams collected a singles title for the first time in more than two years, capturing the Luxembourg Open by beating Monica Niculescu. Now 32 years old and ranked 41st in the world, Williams played steady tennis from the baseline to earn her 44th career singles title, second-most among active players and trailing only her sister, Serena Williams, who has won 45 titles. Niculescu, who has yet to win on the WTA tour, lost in the Luxembourg final for the second straight year. Slowed by injuries and illness over the past two seasons, Williams last won a singles title in early 2010 in Dubai and Acapulco. Because of an autoimmune disease, which leaves her fatigued and with painful joints, Williams started her season in March following a seven-month layoff. Luxembourg was her first tournament since the US Open, where she lost in the second round.

SLOVENIAN STOPPER

When the Erste Bank Open final was over, both players were delighted. “It’s been a fantastic week,” said the winner, Juan Martin del Potro. “I am satisfied,” Grega Zemlja said after losing 7-5 6-3. It was del Potro’s first tournament since being sidelined for more than a month with an injury to his right wrist. And it was only his second time he has captured an indoors title. Zemlja was the first player from Slovenia to reach an ATP Tour final, and it did that by upsetting Janko Tipsarevic in the semifinals. Zemlja took a 4-2 lead before del Potro reeled off 11 of the next 15 games to gain the victory. “It wasn’t a good start, I was nervous because it was a final,” del Potro said. “In the second set I broke him early and that gave me confidence to play the final like everyone expected me to do.”

SET FOR ISTANBUL

Even though they lost in the final at Moscow, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova clinched the final doubles spot at the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. The Russian duo secured a spot in this week’s elite event in Istanbul, Turkey, by defeating the American team of Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in a semifinal match at the Kremlin Cup. Other teams in the WTA Championships include Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, and Americans Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, the defending champions.

The singles field is composed of the top eight players in the world: Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Serena Williams of the United States, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, Angelique Kerber of Germany, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, Sara Errani of Italy and Li Na of China. The first and second alternates, respectively, are Samantha Stosur of Australia and Marion Bartoli of France. It is the first time that the season-concluding event includes eight players from eight different countries – let alone 10 players form 10 separate countries counting the alternates.

SEATS IN LONDON

David Ferrer will be competing in his third straight season-ending championships when the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is held in London November 5-12. Also qualifying for the elite field is Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. The Spaniard reached the final on his debut in 2007 in Shanghai, China, where he lost to Roger Federer. The 30-year-old Ferrer won a career-high five titles on three different surfaces this year and is the fifth qualifier for the eight-player singles field. Berdych also will be making his third consecutive appearance at the season finale. Others who have already qualified are Novak Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Wimbledon doubles champions Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen along with the Spanish pair of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez have claimed places in the season-ending event for the first time. The British-Danish team stunned four seeded tandems, including defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan in the semifinals, as they captured Wimbledon in their first tour-level appearance as a team. The 31-year-old Marray became the first British player to win the doubles at the All England Club since 1936, while the 29-year-old Nielsen became the first Danish man to win a Grand Slam tournament title. Granollers and Lopez won ATP World Tour titles at Rome, Italy, and Gstaad, Switzerland. Earlier doubles qualifiers include the Bryan brothers, Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, and Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek.

SWEET STOCKHOLM

It wasn’t easy, but Tomas Berdych captured the If Stockholm Open and a spot in the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. “It feels pretty good,” Berdych said. “This season has been really solid.” Ranked sixth in the world, Berdych ran his career record to 3-1 against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Frenchman who double faulted on match point. “I just tried to stay positive until the end and tried to take points one by one,” the Czech said. The stronger player for a set and a half, Tsonga was disappointed in the defeat. “I feel bad,” he said. “I think we played a great match and I had many opportunities. I did some wrong things, but I gave my best tennis and I lost.”

SUPER STEADY

Injuries may have hampered his career, but they have not stopped Tommy Haas. The 34-year-old German became the fourth active player to win 500 matches on the ATP Tour when he won his second-round match at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria. Haas is the 38th male player in the Open era to achieve the feat. Jimmy Connors leads the all-time list with 1,243 wins, followed by Ivan Lendl with 1,071, Guillermo Vilas with 923 and John McEnroe with 875. Next comes Roger Federer, the leading active player, with 871 match wins. Other active players ahead of Haas are Rafael Nadal with 583 and Lleyton Hewitt with 566. Boris Becker, who finished his career with 713 match wins, was the first Germany player to reach the 500 mark.

STARS ON PARADE

Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Bjorn Borg and Boris Becker will be on hand for a spectacular evening of tennis entertainment at the Winter Whites Gala at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England, on December 8. Goran Ivanisevic and Tim Henman will reprise their 2001 Wimbledon semifinal, while McEnroe will also compete. The Royal Albert Hall will be transformed into an enchanted Winter Wonderland during the Statoil Masters Tennis. The extravaganza is raising money for Centrepoint, Prince Williams’ patron charity, which helps young homeless people. The charity’s former patron was the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Since 2005 Prince William has continued his mother’s work.

SEEING DOUBLE

Brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the 2012 Olympic men’s doubles champions and winners of 12 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles. Now they’ll play a unique exhibition to kick off the 2012 USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, which will be held December 14-16 in Norcross, Georgia, USA. Five doubles teams from Georgia – taken from the state’s top players, from juniors to teaching professionals – will each play the Bryan brothers in a first-to-four-games competition in what is being billed as “The Battle of George.” Sixteen players – eight men and eight women – will compete in the wild card playoffs, with the two winners earning wild cards into the singles main draw at the 2013 Australian Open.

SORE ANKLE

An injury to his right ankle has forced Kei Nishikori to pull out of the Swiss Indoors tournament this week. “I had an MRI on my right ankle and unfortunately will not be able to play Basel yet,” Nishikori said on Twitter. He complained about feeling pain in his ankle after he lost to Sam Querrey in the second round of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Last year, the Japanese star reached the final of the Swiss Indoors, where he lost to Roger Federer.

SPARKLING DEBUT

Now that she’s Britain’s top female player, Heather Watson is reaping some of the rewards – and responsibilities. The first British woman to win a WTA singles title in 24 years when she captured the Japan Open, Watson will headline “Ladies Night” at the Statoil Master Tennis when she partners Tim Henman against Anne Keothavong and Mark Philippoussis. “I am so excited to have the chance to play at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time, particularly as it will be Ladies Night at the Statoil Masters Tennis and Statoil are one of my personal sponsors,” said Watson. Before Watson, the last British woman to win a WTA singles title was Sara Gomer in 1988.

SEEING WHITE

Andy Roddick is returning to the tennis wars, if only for one night. The recently retired American will take on US Open champion and Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray in an exhibition match played on a white court in Miami. Others who will participate in the inaugural Miami Cup include 2003 French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, Alejandro Falla of Colombia, and top-ranked American John Isner. The court at Crandon Park – home of the annual Miami Masters Series – will be pained white with red lines, surrounded by blue. It is yet another experiment with new color schemes that the sport is undertaking. This year the Madrid Masters was played on blue clay, a move that was unpopular with the players.

SET FOR MEXICO

Mexico is on Rafael Nadal’s itinerary. The Spanish superstar plans to play the Mexican Open, which is scheduled for February 25-March 2. Toni Nadal, the players’ coach and uncle, said the left-hander is focusing on returning in time for an exhibition at the end of the year in Abu Dhabi as part of his preparations for the Australian Open in January. Nadal has been sidelined with a left knee injury since a second-round loss at Wimbledon in June. He has said it was unlikely he will play for Spain in the Davis Cup final against the Czech Republic in November. The Australian Open, which Nadal won in 2009, begins on January 14. The Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi will be played December 27-29.

SUPER SENIORS

Pete Sampras won the PowerShares Series’ Champions Challenge in Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA, by beating Ivan Lendl 8-4. In the semifinals, Sampras stopped Jim Courier 6-4 and Lendl edged John McEnroe 7-6 (6).

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Luxembourg: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu 6-3 6-4

Moscow (men): Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Simone Bolelli and Daniele Bracciali 7-5 6-3

Moscow (women): Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina beat Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 6-3 1-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Stockholm: Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares beat Robert Lindstedt and Nenad Zimonjic 6-7 (4) 7-5 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Vienna: Andre Begemann and Martin Emmrich beat Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek 6-4 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

SURFING

Istanbul: www.wtachampionships.com/

Valencia: www.valenciaopen500.com/

Basel: www.swissindoorsbasel.ch/

Poitiers: www.ifv86.com

Paris: http://bnpparibamasters.fft/

Sofia: http://sofia-tennis.bg/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

MEN

$1,839,850 Valencia Open 500, Valencia, Spain, hard
$1,813,300 Swiss Indoors Basel, Basel, Switzerland, hard
$100,000 Samsung Securities Cup Challenger, Seoul, Korea, hard

WOMEN

$4,900,000 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
$100,000 Internationaux Féminins de la Vienne, Poitiers, France, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

$3,161,630 BNP Paribas Masters, Paris, France, hard

WOMEN

$750,000 Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions, Sofia, Bulgaria, hard



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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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