By Bob Greene
Stefanie Voegele beat Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (3) 6-4 to win the Dunlop World Challenge Tennis Tournament in Toyota, Japan
“I think I am feeling better, the knee is improving the right way and I am happy to be on court another time after a few months outside. I am just enjoying the feeling to be playing tennis another time and, well, it will be another period of my recovery.” – Rafael Nadal, who has returned to the practice court after recovering from a knee injury.
“Well, finally, tonight he’s in prison. We are all very moved, and drained.” – Natalie Demongeot, after her former tennis coached was convicted and sentenced for rape and sexual assault against other players.
“I don’t look at me being great or me being good. I just am a player and I know I’m good at tennis. And I get nervous, I get apprehensive, I have all those feelings. I do (hide them). I’m a good actress. But I have all those emotions and feelings, which I think is completely normal. And then sometimes I think really what helps me is I’m really strong mentally, so it helps me get through it.” – Serena Williams.
“When you start tournaments, you always hope to win. I don’t know if I can do that, but after this season, which has been for me my best season, I have to do my best. The main thing for me is to enjoy this new Masters.” — Paolo Lorenzi, one of the favorites to win the second ATP Challenger Tour Finals in São Paulo, Brazil.
“I’m always just looking to play my game, not worry about who I am playing or what their ranking is.” – Madison Keys, who is seeking to win a second straight wild card entry into the Australian Open women’s singles main draw.
Rafael Nadal has returned to the practice court for the first time since losing a second-round match at Wimbledon in June. The Spanish star started hitting balls again on an indoor hard court in his hometown of Manacor on the island of Majorca. The 26-year-old left-hander hopes to be back to full fitness in time for the Australian Open in January. “I start very slow and I go day by day,” Nadal said. “I will work hard in my comeback and hopefully the knee will be ready soon. Always you have to be careful. A few months outside of competition the body has to re-adapt to everything on court and all the muscles need to start very slow.” Nadal’s latest injury was diagnosed as a partial tear of the patella tendon and an inflammation of the Hoffa’s fat pad in his left knee. Because of the injury Nadal missed the Olympics, where he was the defending champion, the US Open, the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and Spain’s Davis Cup final defeat to the Czech Republic.
A former tennis coach in France has been convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison for raping young students at his academy. The conviction ended a seven-year case that began when Isabelle Demongeot, who was ranked as high as number two in France, wrote a book describing years of abuse at the hands of her coach, Regis de Camaret. Some 20 of his former pupils have accused him of rape, attempted rape or fondling between 1977 and 1989. De Camaret, who is now 70, denied all the accusations and insisted that the atmosphere at his academy was “conducive to flings.” The statute of limitations had run out on all but two, who testified against De Camaret.
Because she testified for De Camaret, her former coach, Nathalie Tauziat will be asked to step down from the French tennis federation’s (FFT) management committee. “Nathalie Tauziat’s statement at the trial was deeply disturbing. … we will ask her to resign from the management committee,” FFT director general Gilbert Ysern told reporters. A former world number three who reached the Wimbledon final in 1998, Tauziat testified that she had not seen anything at the time De Camaret was coaching and that she did not believe his accusers, especially Demongeot, her former doubles partner.
SHOWDOWN OF MARTINAS
The two Martinas – Navratilova and her namesake, Hingis – could engage in the “Battle of the Martinas” at a pre-Australian Open exhibition in Adelaide, Australia. Both former number ones, the 56-year-old Navratilova and 32-year-old Hingis will be the first women to play in the World Tennis Challenge, which will be held January 8-10. Tournament organizer Mark Woodforde said Navratilova was a “must-have” for the event, which has had a men-only format. Signing Hingis guaranteed a showdown between the two generations of champions. “We’re absolutely delighted to be welcoming two of the biggest names in the history of women’s tennis,” Woodforde said. “Showcasing the greatest tennis legends at Memorial Drive has always been an aim, and with the event’s popularity growing it was the perfect time to introduce female legends as we celebrate our fifth year in 2013.” Previous Adelaide editions have featured a mix of current men players and former greats in a mix of singles and doubles. This year’s traditional men’s field includes Alexandr Dolgopolov, Stanislas Warwinka, Viktor Troicki and Australia’s current top-ranked player, Marinko Matosevic. “Legends” will be Pat Cash, Henri Leconte, Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah and Mansour Bahrami.
SEEKING WILD CARD
Madison Keys is seeking her second straight wild card entry into the women’s singles at the Australian Open. Keys is one of eight women who have entered the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, which will be held December 14-16 in Norcross, Georgia. The winner earns a spot in the women’s main draw. Also in the field are several veteran Americans, including Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Irina Falconi, Julia Cohen, Alexa Glatch and Allison Riske. Two former college stars playing are Mallory Burdette and Maria Sanchez. The entire men’s field has not yet been named, but in the hunt for a wild card into the men’s singles main draw will be Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Denis Kudla, Daniel Kosakowski, Tennys Sandgren and Rhyne Williams.
Novak Djokovic will receive a special Centrepoint award on Saturday, December 8, at the Winter Whites Gala in London’s Royal Albert Hall. The world’s number one-ranked player will be presented the honor by the charity’s patron, the Duke of Cambridge (Prince William). The Centrepoint Great Britain Youth Inspiration Award honors those whose contributions to youth inspires young people around the world. The Novak Djokovic Foundation raised USD $1.4 million for early childhood education through its fundraising dinner in New York in September. A week later, the Serb player visited the “Beneath the Linden Trees” kindergarten, a UNICEF initiative in Lesnica, Serbia. In October, Djokovic collaborated with his clothing sponsor UNIQLO to develop and launch “Clothes for Smiles,” a new program that aims to give children of all ages a chance for a better future. “This is one of the biggest awards I could ever receive because it recognizes the contribution of my foundation to the lives of young people around the world, which is a big part of our work,” Djokovic said. Prince William has been Centrepoint’s patron since 2005, continuing his late mother Princess Diana’s work. Proceeds from the gala will go to Centrepoint to further its work in supporting homeless young people in the United Kingdom.
Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic didn’t even have to take to the court to win the Clash of Continents tennis exhibition in Singapore. Japan’s Kei Nishikori was due to play Tipsarevic, but withdrew from the match because of a strained wrist. Tipsarevic, who was representing the continent of Europe, had won both of his matches against Argentina’s Juan Monaco, representing South America, and American Sam Querrey, representing North America. Organizers placed Monaco second in the competition, while Nishikori, representing Asia, finished in third place.
SWISS WINS TITLE
Kimiko Date-Krumm has had no problems winning lately – except on the final day. The 42-year-old Japanese lost the title match for the second straight week when she fell to Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele in the Dunlop World Challenge in Toyota, Japan, 7-6 (3) 6-4. The week before, Date-Krumm lost in the final in Pune, India. Against Voegele, Date-Krumm was up a break in the first set. But she was unable to serve it out and ended up losing the match.
SAYS I DO
Known best for his doubles play, Rohan Bopanna has taken on a new partner. This time the Indian player has tied the knot with Supriya Annaiah, the daughter of a retired military officer. The couple was wed at Madikeri, Coorg district, in India. Bopanna first became known as the partner of Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. The two were known as the “Indo-Pak Express.” This year, Bopanna teamed with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi so they could play in the Olympics. After the pair qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, Bopanna announced that he would team up next year with American Rajeev Ram.
Australian national men’s coach and former doubles standout Todd Woodbridge says Australia’s Davis Cup team must stop being overly dependent on 31-year-old Lleyton Hewitt. The veteran owns the Australian Davis Cup record for most wins with 50, but he is now finding it difficult to play three matches during a tie because of injuries. In Australia’s loss to Germany in September, Hewitt teamed with Chris Guccione to win the doubles match, but Hewitt lost both of his singles matches. “Lleyton needs to strategize now in Davis Cup to see what’s the best outcome for the team,” said Woodbridge. “Playing the three matches is going to be very difficult for him. That workload needs to be shared around some of the younger members of the team. We need to get a new (doubles) partnership formed so you can leave Lleyton and Bernard (Tomic) to fill the singles. Then you’ve got a pretty solid team going.” Australia will face Taiwan in the Asia/Oceania Zonal Group to open the 2013 campaign.
SECOND CHALLENGER FINAL
Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi is one of the favorites in this week’s ATP Challenger Tour Finals, which is being played in São Paulo, Brazil, for the second straight year. At the age of 30, Lorenzi has posted his best season, compiling a 37-10 match record on the ATP Challenger Tour. He reached eight finals and won two: at Cordenons, Italy, and Medallion, Colombia. The right-hander reached a career-high 63rd in the world rankings. Also in the eight-man field are Thomaz Bellucci, Victor Hanescu, Aljaz Bedene, Evgeny Donskoy, Guido Pella, Andreas Haider-Maurer and Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo. Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe won the inaugural ATP Challenger Tour Finals last year.
The Farmers Classic men’s tennis tournament held in Los Angeles, California, is no more. The Southern California Tennis Association announced the ATP sanction for the tournament has been sold to a group in Bogotá, Colombia. The Farmers Classic began in 1927 at the Los Angeles Tennis Club. Among the winners through the years have been Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Pancho Gonzales, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. In recent years the event has struggled economically. Its two principal sponsors, Farmers Insurance and Mercedes-Benz, both failed to renew their sponsorships. American San Querrey won three of the last four Farmers Classics, which was held on the UCLA campus.
Carsten Arriens has been named captain of Germany’s Davis Cup team. The hiring of the former ATP tour player was announced by the German Tennis Federation. Arriens replaces Patrik Kuehnen, whose 10-year run as captain ended when he quit in October, citing a lack of support from the federation. Arriens, who had been working as a coach for the Germany Tennis Federation since 2002, reached a career-high ranking of 109 during his playing days from 1991 to 1999. He played in four Grand Slam tournaments and won one tournament in his career. Germany plays Argentina in the opening round of the World Group in February.
The professional tennis tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, has been renamed. The former Regions Morgan Keegan Championships on the ATP World Tour and Memphis International on the WTA tour, have been rebranded and will now be known as the US National Indoor Tennis Championships. The events will be played February 16-24 at The Racquet Club of Memphis. Former winners in Memphis have included Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Pete Sampras and Venus Williams. Last year’s champions were Jurgen Melzer and Sofia Arvidsson. The US National Indoor Tennis Championships is both an ATP 500 level event as well as a WTA International level event.
Several American players came together in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Competing in the first Ryan Harrison Invitational were Harrison, Bob and Mike Bryan, Ryan Sweeting, Scott Lipsky and Christian Harrison. The Would Warrior Project aims to support injured service members. Several hundred people turned out for the charity event, which raised approximately USD $20,000.
Toyota: Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat Miki Miyamura and Varatchaya Wongteanchai 6-1 6-2
São Paulo: www.challengerfinals.com.br/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$220,000 ATP Challenger Tour Finals, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hard
$75,000 Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hard