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STARS

David Ferrer beat Jerzy Janowicz 6-4 6-3 to win the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, France

Nadia Petrova beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-1 to win the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria

Kristina Mladenovic beat Chang Kai-Chen 6-4 6-3 to win the OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open in Taipei, Taiwan

FED CUP

The Czech Republic beat Serbia 3-1 in Prague, Czech Republic, to win the 2012 Fed Cup

SAYING

David Ferrer defeats qualifier Jerzy Janowicz in Paris final

“It was a dream for me to win here in Paris-Bercy. I had never won a Masters 1000 (title), and I took my chance because it was not Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. I played very good these (past) two weeks. It is very important because it was the best season of my career, and I will try to improve my game.” – David Ferrer, following his winning the Paris Masters.

“This was his fifth match; this was my eighth match. I was really tired. I was actually exhausted almost. I’m only human, and I’m still happy about this final.” – Jerzy Janowicz, after coming through qualifying and reaching the final of the Paris Masters.

“It’s hard to describe how I feel. I played an unbelievable game. I desperately wanted to win and I’m really delighted. It’s fantastic to win at home, in Prague. I played one of the best matches of my career.” – Lucie Safarova, after her victory over Jelena Jankovic clinched the Fed Cup title for the Czech Republic.

“I’m really very sorry for my team that I wasn’t able to be at 100 percent today. I tried my best on the court but it wasn’t good enough.” – Jelena Jankovic, following her loss to Lucie Safarova.

“I cannot say I’m playing my best right now, but I’m definitely going in the right direction. I’m trying to bring the good years back right now though. Hopefully with the preparation I’m doing in the off-season for next year you’ll be able to see the old Petrova.” – Nadia Petrova, after beating Caroline Wozniacki to win the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia.

“It’s the first time I get two titles at a WTA event. It’s been a great week and I am very happy. In the doubles final we were down, but I told Hao-Chin we just have to play point by point and the game is not over yet. We played really hard each point and believed in ourselves until the end.” – Kristina Mladenovic, who won both the singles and doubles titles in Taipei, Taiwan.

“The match could have gone either way, but I felt we played really well on the big points. At this level, at this stage of any big event, that is what counts. We have been very consistent at the (ATP World Tour) Masters 1000s. It has been a little disappointing in the (Grand) Slams, but we have made up for it here.” – Mahesh Bhupathi, who teamed with Rohan Bopanna to win the doubles in Paris.

“It’s really important for me to have qualified. With the big four at the moment, it’s not easy to get rewards in tennis, so for me this is one of my rewards.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after qualifying for the season-ending Barclays ATP Tour Finals

STRUTTING AGAIN

Serbia came to town with two players who had once been ranked number one in the world. But it was the Czech Republic which showed it is the top team as it won its second straight Fed Cup title. Lucie Safarova clinched the weekend battle by routing Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-1, prompting a burst of on-court dancing by the Czech players. Safarova’s win gave the Czech Republic an unbeatable 3-1 lead and negated the need to play a doubles match. The Czechs are the third country in a row to successfully defend the Fed Cup title: Russia won the women’s team competition in 2007-08 and Italy in 2009-10. In her first match, Safarova beat Anna Ivanovic. Petra Kvitova beat Jankovic on the first day, and then lost to Ivanovic before Safarova’s win over Jankovic. It was the first Fed Cup singles loss for Kvitova, who had won 11 straight. Serbia was playing in its first Fed Cup final after recording its first World Group victories with away wins over Belgium and Russia.

SPANISH REIGN

When he reached the final of the Paris Masters, Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz ran into a problem faced by many players on the ATP Tour: a Spanish master. By winning his first Masters title, stopping Janowicz 6-4 6-3, David Ferrer became the first Spaniard to capture the Paris indoor tournament. His seventh title of the year, including a win on every surface, is the most on the men’s tour in 2012, surpassing the six won by Roger Federer. “Maybe I won more titles than Federer, but Federer won the important titles. Federer or (Novak) Djokovic or Andy Murray, not me,” Ferrer said. Janowicz, who started the year ranked outside the top 200, beat five top 20 players en route to the final. And, having come through qualifying, the title match was his eighth of the week. “Again, I slept only four hours last night. I’m not a machine. I’m proud of myself,” said the exhausted 21-year-old Pole.

SOFIA CHAMPION

At the age of 30, considered ancient in women’s tennis, Nadia Petrova is playing some of the best tennis of her career. The Russian thrashed Caroline Wozniacki in Sofia, Bulgaria, to win the Qatar Airways Tournament of Champions Sofia, her 13th career title. “It’s a great way to finish the season,” said Petrova, who has been ranked as high as third in the world. Wozniacki began 2012 as the world’s top-ranked player, but had a mediocre season before rebounding late in the year. She didn’t win her first tournament until September at the Korean Open, then added the Kremlin Cup in October. The Dane received medical treatment on her left calf during the match against Petrova. “My injury wasn’t the main reason for my loss today,” Wozniacki quickly pointed out. “I tried to show my best tennis but Nadia was very strong.” Despite the loss, Wozniacki returns to the top 10 in the WTA rankings.

SWEEP

Kristina Mladenovic of France loves the WTA’s new 125 tournaments. The two WTA 125 events are USD $125,000 tournaments designed for young up-and-comers and lower ranked players. The 19-year-old Mladenovic won both singles and doubles at the OEC Taipei WTA Ladies Open in Taiwan. She beat Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen in the singles final, then teamed for the first time with Chan Hao-Ching and ended up capturing the doubles. “It’s the first time I get two titles at a WTA event. It’s been a great week and I am very happy,” Mladenovic said. “In the doubles final we were down, but I told Hao-Chin we just have to play point by point and the game is not over yet. We played really hard each point and believed in ourselves until the end. I’m so glad with the result.”

STOP AT THE TOP

For the second straight year, Novak Djokovic is winding up the season as the top-ranked ATP player. He’s the first player to accomplish the feat in consecutive seasons since Roger Federer wound up number one for four straight years from 2004-07. Djokovic regained the top spot in the rankings when Federer was unsuccessful in defending his Basel, Switzerland, title, then pulled out of the Paris Masters where he was the defending champion. Even if he repeats as Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champion, the Swiss star cannot earn enough ranking points to finish the year ahead of Djokovic, who lost the number one ranking to Federer on July 9. Last year Djokovic became the first Serbian man to finish with the top ranking. Only 16 different players have finished the year ranked number one in the world in the 40-year history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

SET FOR LONDON

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic completed the elite eight-player singles field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, Great Britain. Both earned spots in the year-ending event by reaching the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, France. The rest of the field includes defending champion Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro.

In doubles, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer and the team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour. Finals also booked their spot at the season finale by advancing to the quarter-finals in Paris on Thursday. The winner of Friday’s quarter-final in Paris between Mahesh Bhupathi/Rohan Bopanna and Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski will clinch the last remaining doubles berth.

SAO PAULO-BOUND

For the second straight year Sao Paulo, Brazil, will stage the ATP Challenger Tour Finals. The tournament, featuring the top seven players in the 2012 Challenger Rankings plus one wild card, will again be played at the Ibirapuera Sports Complex and will carry a total prize of USD $220,000. The winner can earn USD $91,200by going through the round-robin portion or the event undefeated. Players must compete in a minimum of eight ATP Challenger tournaments to be eligible for the ATP Challenger Tour Finals.

SERBIAN STAR

Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic is the first player to win two Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Awards in recognition of her performance during Serbia’s semifinal win over Russia in April. The former world number one player led Serbia into this year’s Fed Cup final, where the Czech Republic successfully defended its international women’s team tennis title 3-1. Jankovic, who was unbeaten in Fed Cup play for two years in both singles and doubles, lost both of her singles matches against the Czech Republic. Jankovic, who previously won a Heart Award in 2010, was presented a check for USD $10,000, which will be donated to her chosen charity, the Child Oncology Department at the Clinical Center of Serbia.

SAM SHOCKER

Sam Querrey is known for his big serve. Now he can add a big game. The American shocked Novak Djokovic 0-6 7-6 () 6-4 in the second round of the Paris Masters. The overwhelming favorite, Djokovic won the first eight games of the match before Querrey suddenly turned it all around. “Great tennis at the start but I knew that the main problem today will be the continuity of my energy,” said Djokovic. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be after the second set. And during the second set I already felt that physically I’m down and I struggled every game.” Add to that Querrey’s strong serve and forehand, who saved five break points in the eighth game of the final set, three of them with aces. He closed out the victory on his second match point with a service winner. “It’s my biggest, this win feels great,” Querrey said.

STEPPING DOWN

Patrik Kuehnen will step down as captain of Germany’s Davis Cup team after leading the squad for a decade. He said his move comes because of lack of support from the federation during a year marred by infighting and bad results. Kuehnen has been feuding with Germany’s top player, Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has refused to play in the team’s first-round tie in 2013 against Argentina. “In the past weeks I got the impression that I was missing the necessary support and backing from the German tennis federation (DTB),” Kuehnen said in a statement. “So I have no basis of trust to continue working together and I end at this point the talks for continuing my work at the DTB.”

SISTERLY SPLIT

Was it really a surprise. Serena Williams beat older sister Venus 6-3 6-4 in South Africa after Venus triumphed two days earlier in Lagos, Nigeria. While Venus laughed and joked with the crowd throughout the Johannesburg match, Serena was serious in the first set before lightening up in the second. When Venus left the court for a bathroom break, Serena rallied with a delighted ball girl. Playing with the Venus’ racquet, the youngster ended the rally of gentle shots by slamming a cross-court forehand winner. Serena hugged the girl at the net before getting back to beating Venus. “Did you see the point where I had to hit five volleys and still got passed?” Venus said. South Africa Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula requested the popular sisters return for another visit. “This won’t be their last visit to South Africa,” Mbalula promised the crowd. “’If they don’t want to come back, we’ll chase them on Twitter and find them.”

In Lagos, Nigeria, the sisters said their goal was to inspire local kids to set high goals. “We were really able to break the mold and win a lot of Grand Slams and a lot of tournaments and not only that, but kind of change the face of tennis,” Serena said. … It doesn’t matter what your background is and where you come from. If you have dreams, if you have goals, that’s all that really matters.” The sisters, accompanied by their mother Oracene Price, said they plan on playing at least another four years so they compete in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Olympics. “It’s our main goal,” said the 31-year-old Serena, a three-time Olympic doubles gold medalist with Venus. “We were talking … about how we can’t wait to get to Rio. And obviously, bearing that we’re both healthy, that’s our goal to be there.”

SETTING A GOAL

Currently ranked number two in the world, Maria Sharapova says her goal in 2013 is not regaining the top spot in the rankings but rather winning Wimbledon. “Wimbledon will be my priority next season,” said the Russian. “This year it was different because of the Olympics, but if you ask me about my main goal for 2013, it definitely will be Wimbledon.” Sharapova first rocketed to fame by winning the 2004 Wimbledon title as a 17-year-old. This year she captured the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam. She also won the Olympic silver medal in the London Games, where she carried the Russian flag in the opening ceremonies. Now 25, Sharapova said she hopes to end her winless streak against Serena Williams after losing to the American in all three of their matches this year, including two finals, in the Olympics and the WTA Championships.

SWINGING AWAY

The top-ranked women’s player and the best women’s player will open their 2013 campaigns at the World Tennis Invitation exhibition tournament in Hua Hin, Thailand, beginning late next month. Suwat Lipatapanlop, president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand, said top-ranked Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams will be among those players using the Thai tournament as a warm-up for the Australian Open. Azarenka is the defending champion at Hua Hin, while Williams will be making her playing debut in Thailand.

SAYONARA

Kim Clijsters is not quite through with tennis. The Belgian star will play a ceremonial farewell match against Venus Williams on December 12. The exhibition will take place in the Kim’s Thank You Games, which will be held at the Antwerp, Belgian, Sports Palace. The 29-year-old Clijsters retired from tennis following the US Open in August. She initially retired in 2007, married and had a daughter. Then she returned to the sport two years later. This time she insists her retirement is for good.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Paris: Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna beat Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (6) 6-3

Taipei: Kristina Mladenovic and Chan Hao-Ching beat Chang Kai-Chen and Olga Govortsova 5-7 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

SURFING

London: www.atpworldtour.com/Finals/2012.aspx

Pune: http://royalindianopen.com/

Davis Cup: www.daviscop.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

MEN

$7,110,545 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, London, Great Britain, hard
$109,887 Slovak Open 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia, hard

WOMEN

$125,000 The Royal Indian Open, Pune, India, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

$136,700 IPP Open Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, hard

DAVIS CUP
World Group Final

Czech Republic vs. Spain at Prague, Czech Republic, 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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