By Bob Greene
Elina Svitolina beat Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2 6-3 to win the Royal Indian Open in Pune, India
Lukas Rosol beat Bjorn Phau 6-7 (3) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) to win the Slovak Open 2012 in Bratislava, Slovakia
“I knew how Kimiko plays and knew I just had to play every ball, every point and every game as the last one. I had to stay really focused. And it all went pretty well.” – Elina Svitolina, following her win over Kimiko Date-Krumm in the final in Pune, India.
“She has a lot of power but she doesn’t just hit the ball hard. She’s also smart. Now a lot of players just hit the ball, but she was mixing it up, using wide serves and more. I haven’t been winning so much this year, so finally to do so well at the end of the year makes me very happy. IO will try to keep doing well as I have two more ITF tournaments to play in the next few weeks.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, after losing the Royal Indian Open final to Elina Svitolina.
“I had a little, let’s say, crisis … from 4-all first set to 2-all in the second, where I didn’t feel so good on the court, struggling to find my momentum and my rhythm. So you try to be positive and push myself to fight for every point and believe I can come back. That was the case.” – Novak Djokovic, who lost the first set before beating Juan Martin del Potro in the ATP World Tour Finals semifinals.
“He’s so good. Of course, he’s the number one. In these kinds of matches they make the difference between them and the rest of the players.” – Juan Martin del Potro, following his semifinal loss in London to Novak Djokovic.
“To me, age is just a number. I enjoy the time I spend on the court, I enjoy winning and I enjoy fighting in tough matches like today.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 42 the oldest singles player on both the women’s and men’s tennis tours.
“I needed to be fresh and ready for a press conference, as you guys always can be very challenging.” – Novak Djokovic, joking on why he was more than two hours late for his post-match news conference following his semifinal win.
“I knew that if I lose today it’s the end of the season, so I gave everything I had and couldn’t be more happy.” – Roger Federer, after beating Andy Murray to advance to the title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
In the end, it came down to the world’s top two ranked players – Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – meeting to decide who would win the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic reached Monday’s title match by knocking off Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro 4-6 6-3 6-2. Federer advanced with a semifinal 7-6 (5) 6-2 win over Britain’s Andy Murray. It was the eighth time in 11 years that Federer has reached the final of the elite eight-player finale, having won six times, including the last two years. Djokovic, who has secured the year-end number one ranking for the second straight season, won the Finals in 2008. “I love playing Novak,” Federer said. “I think for both of us it’s pretty straightforward. I think we’ve got to press out the last juice that’s left in our body and make it a successful year end.”
SVITOLINA A YOUNG WINNER
The day Elina Svitolina was born in the Ukraine, Kimiko Date-Krumm was ranked seventh in the world on the WTA Tour. Eighteen years later the two met in the final of the Royal Indian Open in Pune, India, where Svitolina beat her much-older Japanese rival 6-2 6-3. At age 42, Date-Krumm is more than twice as old as the 18-year-old Svitolina. In fact, the winner of the hard-court tournament had the least experience of any of the four semifinalists. Besides Date-Krumm, who once was ranked as high as fourth in the world, the others in the penultimate round were Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, at one time ranked ninth in the world, and Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn, whose best ranking was 19th. With the win, Svitolina will surpass her career-high ranking of 133rd in the world.
So much for the luck of the draw. Tournament organizers at the IPP Open in Helsinki, Finland, not surprisingly gave two of their four wild cards to Finland’s top to players: Jarkko Nieminen and Harri Heliovaara. Unrepentantly, the two were drawn to face each other in a first-round match, meaning half of the Finnish contingent will be gone before the second round of the ATP Challenger event even begins. And it didn’t stop there. Two of the three wild cards in the doubles went to Finnish teams Juho Paukku and Herkko Pollanen as well as Nieminen and Hellovaara. Again, the luck of the draw – or “unluck” of the draw – pitted the two Finnish pairs against each other in an opening round match.
STARS ON WHEELS
Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands captured their first NEC Masters men’s singles and women’s singles titles, respectively, at the 2012 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Mechelen, Belgium. Eight men, eight women and four quad players competed in the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) year-end wheelchair tennis singles championships. Kunieda beat Dutchman Maikel Scheffers 6-2 4-6 6-2 and Griffioen stopped Aniek van Koot 6-4 6-4 in an all-Dutch final.
Novak Djokovic has been selected the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for his contributions through the Novak Djokovic Foundation, his role as a UNICEF ambassador and other charitable ventures. The Serbian also received the ATP World Tour number one award for the second straight year, finished 2012 on top of the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Roger Federer also was honored twice at the 2012 ATP World Tour Awards in London. The Swiss master received the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the eighth time and was selected the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favorite presented by Ricoh for a record 10th straight year. American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan were repeat recipients of two doubles awards: ATP World Tour number one Doubles Team and ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favorite. The 34-year-old twins, who have won the most doubles team titles in the Open Era, 82, have now won each award a record eight times.
In other awards, Marinko Matosevic of Australia was selected by ATP players as the Most Improved Player of the Year, Martin Klizan of the Slovak Republic was voted Newcomer of the Year, and Tommy Haas of Germany was named Comeback Player of the Year.
STARS FOR CHARITY
With the world’s top men tennis players on had at the official Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Gala at The Royal Courts of Justice in London, more than USD $676,000 was raised for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Moët & Chandon made a donation for each participating player directly to the charity, while the players themselves helped raise an additional USD $35,783 by offering three guests the chance to join the players on stage for a group photo.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has donated more than USD $400,000 in goods and money to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Clothing, bottled water and other beverages, as well as needed supplies such as shampoos and soap were collected from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the USTA’s White Plains corporate headquarters and loaded on 16 pallets for delivery to the hardest-hit areas in the New York City borough of Queens, the site of the US Open. In addition to USD $300,000 in critical supplies, the USTA is providing a USD $100,000 cash donation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York. One hundred percent of donations to The Mayor’s Fund are being dispersed to relief efforts and organizations. “New York is the US Open’s home, and we want to aid in the rapid recovery of the city, as well as help as many people as we can directly in our home Borough of Queens,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA chairman of the board and president.
SAO PAOLO BOUND
The singles field for the second season-ending ATP Challenger Tour Finals has been announced. Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil received a wild-card into the eight-player singles field for the event being held November 27 to December 1 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Qualifying for the tournament were Victor Hanescu of Romania, Paolo Lorenzi of Italy, Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, Evgeny Donskoy of Russia, Guido Pella of Argentina, Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria and Ruben Ramirez-Hildalgo of Spain.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is launching a Davis Cup Commitment Award as the team competition stages its 100th Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final in Prague, Czech Republic, November 16-18. Conceived as part of the ITF’s 2013 centenary celebrations, the new award will be presented to Davis Cup players who have shown long-standing dedication to represent their country in the prestigious competition. Each award recipient will have to compete in a minimum of 20 home-and-away ties or 50 ties at any level of the competition, including zone group vents, over their career. The first eight awards to be present in an on-court ceremony at Prague on Saturday, November 17. The first recipients will be Tomas Berdych, who will compete for the Czech Republic in the final, and his compatriots Jan Kodes and Tomas Smid, members of Czechoslovakia’s 1980 Davis Cup winning team. Also receiving trophies Saturday will be Manolo Santana, who played a record 46 ties for Spain, and his compatriots Juan Gisbert and Feliciano Lopez, as well as Italy’s Nicola Pietrangeli, who holds the overall record of 66 home-and-away ties, and Domenico Vicini of San Marino, who is the record holder for number of ties at all levels with 87. A total of 299 players have qualified to receive the award, of whom 252 are still alive. The ITF through its national associations will make presentations to award winners at Davis Cup home ties throughout 2013 as part of the ITF centenary celebrations.
More than 5,000 players have participated in Davis Cup, which began in 1900 as a competition between the United States and Great Britain. The event has grown to become the largest annual international team competition in sport with 122 nations taking part in 2012.
Alison Lee has been promoted to executive vice president, International Group, of the ATP. In making the announcement, the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuit said Lee will be based in Sydney, Australia, in the ATP’s International Group headquarters. Before she joined the ATP almost 15 years ago, Lee worked as a journalist in Hong Kong and Sydney. Beginning in 2001, she focused on event management for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup tournaments in Sydney and Shanghai, China. She becomes a member of the ATP management committee and will also continue her roles as a part of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and ATP Commercial teams.
Bratislava: Lukas Dlouhy and Mikhail Elgin beat Philipp Marx and Florin Mergea 6-7 (5) 6-2 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Pune: Nina Bratchikova and Oksana Kalashnikova beat Julia Glushko and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-0 4-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$136,700 IPP Open Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, hard
World Group Final
Czech Republic vs. Spain at Prague, Czech Republic, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$75,000 Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament, Toyota, Japan, carpet