By Bob Greene
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 6-0 to win the Apia International Sydney women’s singles in Sydney, Australia
Bernard Tomic beat Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-7 (2) 6-3 to win the Apia International Sydney men’s singles in Sydney, Australia
David Ferrer beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (5) 6-1 to win the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand
Elena Vesnina beat Mona Barthel 6-3 6-4 to win the Moorilla Hobart International in Hobart, Australia
“In the beginning I think she wanted it too much, and maybe she was also a little bit nervous. This is tennis and this is sport, and sometimes things like this happen. But of course I feel bad. It was a final and it’s always supposed to be a tight, long match – but instead it was 6-0 6-0. She didn’t deserve that score, definitely not.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, after beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 6-0 in the Apia International women’s final.
“I would like to say there was an injury, but there wasn’t – I was feeling fine. Actually I felt I could win every game I lost until 6-0 1-0. But when I lost that 1-0 game, I just completely broke down and stopped thinking about what I had to do out there. It wasn’t easy, because you want to play your best and you want to win.” – Dominika Cibulkova.
“It’s an honor to have won my first tournament in front of you.” – Bernard Tomic, accepting the Ken Rosewall Trophy for winning the Apia International from Ken Rosewall himself.
“It was amazing for me to win here four times. Now I can say this is my favorite tournament.” – David Ferrer, after winning the Heineken Open.
“It’s very hard to play against David, he never gives up. He gives you all the time one more shot to play.” – Philipp Kohlschreiber, who lost to David Ferrer in the Auckland, New Zealand, final.
“Doctors have told me that continuing to play on the knee could result in a more serious injury.” – John Isner, announcing his withdrawing from the Australian Open because of a knee injury.
“I feel such relief right now. Honestly I just want to cry.” – Elena Vesnina, after winning her first tournament title in her seventh final.
“Am I hungry and motivated to wake up, go on the practice courts for hours? There was not one problem. For me, that was good news. … To go on the practice court and try to improve my game there. I also go into the gym and get stronger again. I enjoyed it. As long as that’s the case, that means I love (the game) very much.” – Roger Federer.
“Everybody wants to take your position, be the number one player in the world. When I wasn’t number one, I was feeling the same way. You get more excited. The job gets tougher for us, but also it’s more exciting this way.” – Victoria Azarenka, the defending Australian Open women’s champion who is ranked number one in the world.
“I feel like I have so much more to do in tennis. I will have time to stay at home after my career. I have no reasons to stop. (Anastasia) Myskina stopped because of her baby and the injury. (Elena) Dementieva stopped because she decided it was time. My time is not yet.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, saying she has recovered from a knee injury and is ready to play top-notch tennis again.
Agnieszka Radwanska felt sympathy for her foe, but that didn’t stop the Pole from crushing Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 6-0 in the final of the Apia International in Sydney, Australia. “That’s tennis and these things happen,” Radwanska said. “But I feel bad … because for sure she didn’t deserve that result.” It was a horrible end of a great week for Cibulkova, who beat three Top 10 players on her way to the final, knocking off Petra Kvitova, Sara Errani and Angelique Kerber. “She’s a great player, a top player, and she had some great wins all week, so I really didn’t expect this,” said Radwanska, who won her second tournament in two weeks. Cibulkova held game points in four different games, but Radwanska fought them all off and finished the day by winning 22 of the final 25 points. It was the first double bagel final on the WTA tour since Marion Bartoli beat Olga Puchkova 6-0 6-0 at Québec City in 2006.
SCORE ONE FOR TOMIC
Bernard Tomic lifted a huge burden from his shoulders by winning his first ATP title. It was even more special because the victory came in his home country of Australia. “It’s an honor to have won my first tournament in front of you,” Tomic told the crowd after he defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson to capture the men’s singles at the Apia International in Sydney. With the victory, the 20-year-old Tomic reclaims the Australian top ranking over Marinko Matosevic. He also became the ninth Australian winner at Sydney and the first since Lleyton Hewitt captured the crown in 2005.
It’s becoming old hat for David Ferrer in Auckland, New Zealand. For the third straight year and fourth time overall the Spaniard won the Heineken Open, matching the record of Australia’s Roy Emerson, who won the Auckland singles in 1960, 1965, 1966 and 1967. Ferrer, who won the title for the first time in 2007, captured this year’s title by downing Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (5) 6-1. Just before the final, the Spaniard received an email from Emerson wishing him well in his effort to equal his record. Now with 19 career singles titles and his eighth in the past 12 months, Ferrer said he will return to Auckland next year to try for a record fifth win.
SHELVED BY INJURY
A knee injury has forced John Isner out of the Australian Open. “I am extremely disappointed to announce that I have to withdraw from the #AusOpen,” the big-serving 27-year-old American said in a Twitter feed. “I have been feeling some discomfort in my knee and have recently learned that I have a bone bruise. Doctors have told me that continuing to play on the knee could result in a more serious injury.” Isner is America’s highest-ranked player at 13th in the world. His withdrawal leaves Sam Querry as the only seeded player from the United States in the year’s opening Grand Slam tournament.
Elena Vesnina can finally be called a champion. The Russian won her first WTA title by downing defending champion Mona Barthel 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Hobart International. Ranked 68th in the world, Vesnina had lost her first six trips to title matches – Auckland and New Haven in 2009, Istanbul and Tashkent in 2010, Charleston in 2011 and Budapest last year. The 26-year-old Vesnina won five straight games to go from 2-3 in the opening set to 6-3 1-0 lead in the second. “The biggest difference today was I served better in the key moments,” Vesnina said. “Even with the wind I was just pushing myself to serve harder and with more spin. I was telling myself even if I hit double faults it’s OK, just don’t let her control the points.” Vesnina’s victory means Hobart has had a different champion in each of its 20 years.
It wasn’t easy for Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik to win their second WTA doubles crown as a team. Playing in their fifth tournament as partners, Petrova and Srebotnik won the Apia International Sydney title by beating a number of top players. The winners eliminated former world number one Liezel Huber and her partner Sania Mirza in the quarterfinals. Then they took out former French Open champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the semifinals. In the title match, Petrova and Srebotnik beat current doubles world number two Sara Errani and number one Roberta Vinci 6-3 6-4. “It was a tough draw for our first tournament together since committing to the partnership for the year,” Srebotnik said, “and every match was very, very difficult. But we played well every match. It shows we’re in good form.”
Maria Sharapova has introduced her sweet side to fans in Australia. The Russian launched her candy collection, Sugarpova, at a red-carpet gala in Melbourne, Australia. Sugarpova is a premium candy brand that includes gummies, sours and gum balls. All the packages are stamped with pairs of vibrant lips and names such as cheeky, sassy, sporty, spooky, splashy, smitten, silly, flirty or chic. “I decided to create the type of candy that girls like me crave,” Sharapova said. “I wanted something that could bring the fun and passion of gummy candies to life.”
SENDING NEW FACES
Veteran Leander Paes will lead a group of unknowns when India takes on South Korea in a first-round Davis Cup tie next month. That came about when the country’s eight top players, excluding Paes, demanded changes by the All India Tennis Association (AITA). India’s tennis organization agreed to most of the demands, but it apparently was not enough. AITA chef executive Hironmoy Chatterjee said the players, including Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna, did not commit to playing. “We gave them the opportunity to reconsider their stand. We tried everything, what more could we do? We did our best,” Chatterjee said. VM Ranjeet, Vijayant Malik and Purav Raja – all ranked outside the top 500 in singles – will join doubles specialist Paes against South Korea. Ashwin Vijayaraghavan and Arjun Kadhe were named as reserve players. “We are disappointed to note that instead of engaging in discussion with us, the AITA has selected an inexperienced team to represent the country in this crucial Davis Cup fixture,” the disgruntled players said in a statement.
There will be more money on the line for the women players this year. Prize money for the WTA has risen from USD $53.3 million to USD $58.7 million for 2013 – more than a 10 percent increase over last year’s purse. The WTA tour will return to Poland in April. Last summer, Agnieszka Radwanska became the first Polish player since 1939 to reach a Grand Slam final. Another new tournament this year will be held in Florianopolis, Brazil. The tournament in Tokyo, Japan, will move to Wuhan, China, Li Na’s hometown, next year. Other tournaments that will be added to the WTA tour in 2014 will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Hong Kong.
SLOANE AS AMBASSADOR
American teen-ager Sloane Stephens has been selected to be a brand ambassador for USANA Health Sciences, a global nutritional company. The 19-year-old American will represent the international company alongside fellow WTA players Sam Stosur, Liezel Huber, Aleksandra Wozniak, Zheng Jie and recently retired Kim Clijsters. USANA has been providing its products to more than 150 WTA players since 2006. Last year Stephens was the youngest player in the season-ending Top 50.
Tennis equipment manufacturer Tecnifibre and the ATP World Tour announced a new five-year agreement in which Tecnifibre will provide the official racquet, string, bag and accessories as well as becoming an official sponsor of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic, ranked ninth in the world, will become a program ambassador under the program and serve as a mentor to four selected Tecnifibre Junior Team players.
Auckland: Colin Fleming and Bruno Soares beat Johan Brunstrom and Frederik Nielsen 7-6 (1) 7-6 (2)
Hobart: Garbiñe Muguruza and Maria-Teresa Torró-Flor beat Timea Babos and Mandy Minella 6-3 7-6 (5)
Sydney (men): Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau 6-4 6-4
Sydney (women): Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik beat Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-3 6-4
ATP World Tour: www.atpworldtour.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
MEN and WOMEN
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, hard (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, hard (second week)
$113,662 Heilbronn Open, Heilbronn, Germany, hard
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, hard (second week)