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By Bob Greene

STARS

Andy Murray beat David Ferrer 2-6 6-4 7-6 (1) to win the men’s singles at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, Florida, USA

Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0 to win the Sony Open Tennis women’s singles in Miami, Florida, USA

Benoit Paire beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4 5-7 6-4 to win the Orange Open Guadeloupe in Le Gosier, Guadeloupe

SAYING

“It was a brutal, brutal match. Both of us were kind of on our last legs.” – Andy Murray, following his three-set victory over David Ferrer.

Serena Williams poses with Sony Open winner’s trophy

“I’m happy to be here holding the championship. It definitely wasn’t my best tournament, but those are the moments that count, when you can go and do the best you can and still come out on top and always try to improve. And I finally have a record. It’s really cool. I can’t seem to catch up with Margaret Court or Steffi or anything, so I’m really happy to have something going right now.” – Serena Williams, after winning the Sony Open women’s singles.

“That’s why she’s number one in the world. She’s really capable of doing that. I was controlling a lot of the points in the first set and the beginning of the second. Then toward the end, I wasn’t there.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing for the 11th straight time to Serena Williams.

“Maria played the best I have seen her play. She was moving unbelievable and she was hitting winners from everywhere. I think after the first set I had over 20 unforced errors and I thought to myself, ‘Why am I playing like this?’ And now it’s like, ‘How did I end up winning when I actually wasn’t on top of my game?’ I need that videotape so I can go home and study it and train and try to get better.” – Serena Williams.

“Playing against someone like Novak and coming out on top at this time of my career, it’s unbelievable. These are the moments I appreciate the most, going on those big stadiums, big stages, playing against the best people in the world.” – Tommy Haas, after upsetting two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

“All the credit to him. He played a great match and he was the better player, no question about it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s definitely the worst match I have played in a long time.” – Novak Djokovic.

“Every day is a new day. We were six match points down in our second match. Everything turned around. Sometimes you need some luck to win these big tournaments. The tennis gods were on our side this tournament, but we also worked hard.” – Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who teamed with Jean-Julien Rojer to win the Sony Open men’s doubles.

“It was important for us to start strong. In the second set there were a few deciding points that could have gone either way and we were a bit unlucky there, but we were strong in the tiebreaker. It was very important for us not to let it get to the super tiebreaker.” – Nadia Petrova, after teaming with Katarina Srebotnik to win the women’s doubles in Miami.

“We started off winning Sydney, then apart from losing against the Williams sisters in the Australian Open, every tournament we’ve played we’ve made it at least to the final. After three runner-ups we knew sooner or later we’d win again, but even if we didn’t win today we’d be really happy with the final. We appreciate making finals, we know how tough it is to make it this far. But winning today is great.” – Katarina Srebotnik.

“Serena really had an answer for everything. The first set just went too quickly. In the second set I was really trying to make something happen, but she was playing too well. She served too well – it seemed like nearly three aces every game. I really couldn’t do anything out there today. When Serena’s playing like that, it really doesn’t even matter who’s on the other side of the net.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, after losing to Serena Williams in the semifinals.

“There’s no specific thing that I’d say has happened or is not happening, but I don’t think it really matters. I’m 16th in the world. I can lose in the first round the next two months and I probably would still be top 30. I’m not really too concerned about winning or losing or any of that, I don’t think. My life has changed, yeah, but I wouldn’t say I’m in a panic or anything.” – Sloane Stephens, who has posted a 2-5 match record since upsetting Serena Williams at the Australian Open in January.

“I look crazy because I’m constantly having an argument with myself. We’re going back and forth and trying to figure things out. I’m talking to myself inside, and she’s talking back and giving me lip. I give her a little attitude, and then I tell her she stinks, and she tells me to shut up. We get into it a little bit. Then we get along.” – Serena Williams, explaining her on-court conversations with herself.

STRUGGLE, BUT VICTORIOUS

Battling a tenacious foe and brutal heat, an exhausted Andy Murray prevailed to win the Sony Open Tennis, besting David Ferrer. “I showed good mental strength to get through that match because it easily could have slipped away from me,” Murray said after the 2 hour, 45 minute battle. “It was one of the toughest matches I have had to play in a Masters Series for sure.” Murray was one point from defeat when he hit a forehand that skipped off the baseline. Ferrer appealed the call, but lost. The Spaniard battled leg cramps throughout the final set, and collapsed onto the court after a 28-point exchange in the tiebreak. It was the second time Murray has won on the hard courts in Miami, having captured the title in 2009. This year his path may have been a little easier because Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal skipped the tournament and Novak Djokovic was upset in the fourth round. “I don’t think either of us played our best tennis,” Murray said of the final. “There was a lot of breaks and ups and downs, quite a lot of mistakes from both of us. But what I did do was fight hard.” Ferrer fell to 0-13 against top-five players in finals. And Spaniards have never won in Miami, losing all six times they have reached the title match, with Nadal losing three of those matches. “I don’t think he gets the respect that he deserves within the game,” Murray said of Ferrer. “He’s been in the top five in the world now for at least three years. He’s improved his game every single year. That takes, you know, a great attitude to be able to do that.”

SIXTH FOR SERENA

Serena Williams considers the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, Florida, USA, her home tournament, and she doesn’t like losing at home. The world’s top-ranked woman beat Maria Sharapova for the 11th straight time to take home a record sixth title at the Miami tournament. Sharapova, on the other hand, is now 0-5 in finals on the hard court event. It was the Russian who quickly jumped out front, winning the opening set and taking a 3-2 lead in the second with a service break. That was when Williams stepped up her game. At the age of 31, Williams becomes the oldest female champion at Miami, winning for the first time since 2008 and surpassing Steffi Graf, a five-time champion. “It’s tough to lose in the final stage because you work so hard to get there,” Sharapova said. “But the more I give myself this opportunity, the better chance I have of winning.” It was Serena’s 48th title of her career, four more than any other active player and the 10th most in history. She is the fourth woman – after Chris Evert, Graf and Martina Navratilova – in the Open Era to win the same tournament six or more times. Evert in 1986 was the only other woman to win a title after her 30th birthday. Serena also now has 61 career match wins at the Sony Open Tennis, passing Graf’s previous record of 59.

Serena’s title didn’t come easy. Dominika Cibulkova led 6-2 4-1 before Williams rallied for a 2-6 6-4 6-2 fourth-round victory. Then, in the quarterfinals, she shook off six double-faults and rallied from a 2-5 second-set deficit to overtake Li Na 6-3 7-6 (5). “I realized I was down. It was just one point at a time after that,” Williams said. “The tiebreak was good. It just came down to one point at the end.”

SAXON SHOCKERS

Two Germans pulled off shockers at the Sony Open Tennis. First, Tobias Kamke stunned fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in a second-round battle. That was topped by Tommy Haas, who shocked two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in their fourth-round match. A week away from turning 35, Haas ended Djokovic’s 14-match winning streak in Miami and handed the world’s top-ranked man only his second loss of the year.

“He didn’t play obviously his best tennis, but still I think I did a good job and am pretty satisfied with that,” said Kamke. Del Potro had two set points at 5-2 in the opening set and was up a mini break in the tiebreak. But it was Kamke who reached the third round of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career.

It was the second time Haas has beaten a number one-ranked player. In 1999, he bested Andre Agassi. Haas was ranked number two in the world in 2002, but since then has struggled with injuries, including right rotator cuff surgery later that year, arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2003, a shoulder injury in 2008, and in 2010 underwent surgery on his right hip and his right elbow.

SONY OPEN SWITCH

If you only watched the Sony Open Tennis men’s singles final on Tennis Channel, you saw Andy Murray run away with the victory. That’s because the first 30 games of the 2 hour, 45 minute battle was shown on CBS. The over-the-air network switched to basketball just as Murray and David Ferrer got ready for the decisive third-set tiebreak. Murray won the tiebreak 7-1, a far cry from the hard-fought match the two had engaged in for nearly three hours. Tournament director Adam Barrett said CBS officials had a commitment to show the basketball. While Tennis Channel televised the end of the final, CBS later showed a replay of the final point. “They stayed with our match for as long as possible, forgoing their pre-NCAA tournament coverage and delaying the start of the Michigan-Florida tip-off in an attempt to complete its broadcast of the match,” Barrett said in a statement. “Although we wish the match could have been shown in its entirety, we understand that these situations do arise.”

STEP UP FOR MURRAY

After winning the Sony Open, Andy Murray has regained the number two spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, behind Novak Djokovic and knocking Roger Federer to number three in the world. David Ferrer also moved up a spot, replacing fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in fourth place. According to ATP stats guru Greg Sharko, it is the first time since November 10, 2003, that both Federer and Nadal will be ranked outside the top two. Murray spent four weeks ranked number two in the world back in 2009 when Federer was number one and Nadal number three.

STRONG PAIRING

It was their third and biggest doubles title as Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik have proven to be one of the top teams in women’s tennis. They beat Lisa Raymond and Laura Robson to capture the Sony Open Tennis, and they won in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year. But the pair has reached the final in every tournament they have played in 2013, except the Australian Open where they lost to sisters Venus and Serena Williams. Petrova and Srebotnik now have three WTA doubles titles together, having also won Moscow in 2008. Individually, Petrova now has 23 WTA doubles titles and Srebotnik 32 – and both had already conquered Miami as well. Petrova won the title twice before, teaming with Meghann Shaughnessy in 2004 and with Maria Kirilenko in 2012. Srebotnik won in 2008 with Ai Sugiyama. Now they plan on taking a few weeks off. “We have about three weeks of no tournaments now, which is great, for Nadia too,” Srebotnik added. “Nadia plays singles as well, so this will be very good for her. It’s like a double job playing both singles and doubles. I have to give her a lot of respect, because even after a tough day at the office on the singles side, she comes out and performs 100 percent in doubles. Not a lot of players are capable of that. I’m happy she’s that determined to do well in doubles.”

STAYING THE COURSE

After Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Dutchman Jean-Julien Rojer won their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy by defeating Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4 6-1, the two wanted to celebrate. “I’m going to make a phone call to the Dutch Davis Cup captain to see if I can arrive a day later, because I would like to properly celebrate our win,” Rojer said. Qureshi said, “I’ve heard so much the past two weeks about Miami but I haven’t been out. Jules went to Ultra Fest when Swedish House Mafia were playing and he didn’t take me. I really hope he has something figured out tonight or I’ll be disappointed.” It was their third title together, having won in Estoril, Portugal, and Halle, Germany, last year. And winning the final was much easier than getting to the title match. They staved off six match points in their second-round win over Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot, winning the match tiebreak 14-12. “Sometimes you need some luck to win these big tournaments,” Qureshi said. “The tennis gods were on our side this tournament, but we also worked hard.”

SOUTH AMERICAN SWING

A combined ATP and WTA event will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beginning next year. The biggest tennis tournament in South America, it will replace the combined ATP-WTA event in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Organizers of the Rio Open announced it will be played February 15-23. The men’s prize money will be USD $1.2 million, while the women’s purse will be USD $235,000. It will be the second tournament in Brazil for both the men and women. Rafael Nadal won this year’s ATP event in Sao Paulo, while Venus Williams won the WTA tournament in the southern city of Florianopolis.

SHOULDER INJURY

Tomas Berdych will miss the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Kazakhstan this week. He said he was unavailable for the tie after losing in the Sony Open quarterfinals against Richard Gasquet. “Last night’s match was the last straw for me,” the sixth-ranked Berdych said. “I woke up this morning and my shoulder hurt so much that it was clear I would not be able to play in Kazakhstan.” The defending Davis Cup champions will field a team of Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol, Jan Hajek and Ivo Minar.

SONY OPEN PLANS

The Sony Open wants to get better. Tournament officials said a USD $50 million project to improve the tournament site will begin after next year’s event. The plans include three new stadiums, upgrading the current stadium and adding an acre of green space. The new stadiums would set 3,000 to 6,000. Completion of the project, to be done in three phases, is scheduled before the start of the 2017 tournament.

STOP BICKERING

Non-playing captain S P Misra says India’s top players and the country’s tennis federation AITA should end their fighting for the betterment of Indian tennis. Somdev Devvarman led a players revolt, demanding better conditions, as the country’s top players refused to play against Korea. India lost that tie 4-1 and must beat Indonesia this week or face relegation. AITA agreed to some of the players’ demands and players have agreed to play against Indonesia. Named to India’s squad were Devvarman, Leander Paes, Yuki Bhambri and Sanam Singh. “It (the revolt) was quite unfortunate and most of their demands have been conceded by the AITA, and whatever that remains can be resolved amicably, and (the) sooner we do it, it is better for Indian tennis,” said Misra, who also said he will step down from his position following this week’s tie.

STANDING FOR ELECTION

Twenty-two people have nominated to run for the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board of Directors. Elections for the 13 board members will take place on July 12 at the ITF’s annual general meeting in Paris, France. Those nominated include Sergio Elias of Chile; Ismail El Shafei, Egypt; Jean Gachassin, France; Jack Graham, Canada; David Haggerty, United States; Tarak Cherif, Tunisia; Steven Healy, Australia; Nao Kawatei, Japan; Anil Khanna, India; Chris Kypriotis, Brazil; Ronald Leitgeb, Austria; Suwat Liptapanlop, Thailand; Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer, Sweden; Juan Margets, Spain; Antonio Martinez Cascales, Spain; Roman Murashkovsky, Russia; Stuart Smith, Great Britain; Rene Stammbach, Switzerland; Stefan Tzvetkov, Bulgaria; Karin van Bijsterveld, Netherlands; Jon Vegosen, United States; and Georg van Waldenfels, Germany.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Le Gosier: Dudi Sela and Jimmy Wang beat Philipp Marx and Florin Mergea 6-1 6-2

Miami (men): Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-4 6-1

Miami (women): Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik beat Lisa Raymond and Laura Robson 6-1 7-6 (2)

SURFING
Charleston: www.familycirclecup.com
Monterrey: http://abiertomonterrey.com/
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
Katowice: www.bnpparibaskatowiceopen.com/pl
Casablanca: www.frmt.ma/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)

WOMEN

$795,707 Family Circle Cup, Charleston, South Carolina, USA, clay
$235,000 Monterrey Open, Monterrey, Mexico, hard

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

Canada vs. Italy at Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
United States vs. Serbia at Boise, Idaho, USA
Argentina vs. France at Buenos Aires, Argentina
Kazakhstan vs. Czech Republic at Astana, Kazakhstan

Group I – Second Round

Americas Zone: Ecuador vs. Chile at Manta, Ecuador; Colombia vs. Uruguay at Cucuta, Colombia

Asia/Oceania Zone: Uzbekistan vs. Australia at Namangan, Uzbekistan; Japan vs. Korea at Tokyo, Japan

Europe/Africa Zone: Great Britain vs. Russia at Coventry, Great Britain; Poland vs. South Africa at Zielona Góra, Poland; Romania vs. Netherlands at Brasov, Romania; Ukraine vs. Sweden at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

Group I – Playoffs

Asia/Oceania Zone: China vs. Chinese Taipei at Tianjin, China; India vs. Indonesia at Bangalore, India

Group II – Second Round

Americas Zone: El Salvador vs. Mexico at Ciudad Merliot, El Salvador; Peru vs. Venezuela at Arequipa, Peru

Asia/Oceania Zone: Pakistan vs. New Zealand at Yangon, Myanmar; Philippines vs. Thailand at Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines

Europe/Africa Zone: Ireland vs. Finland at Dublin, Ireland; Monaco vs. Latvia at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Monaco; Bosnia/Herzegovina vs. Moldova at Mostar, Bosnia/Herzegovina; Portugal vs. Lithuania at Lisbon, Portugal

Group II – Playoffs

Americas Zone: Barbados vs. Puerto Rico at St. Michael, Barbados; Guatemala vs. Haiti at Guatemala, Guatemala

Asia/Oceania Zone: Lebanon vs. Sri Lanka at Jounieh, Lebanon; Kuwait vs. Syria at Mishref, Kuwait

Europe/Africa Zone: Bulgaria vs. Estonia at Plovdiv, Bulgaria; Tunisia vs. Belarus at Tunis, Tunisia; Hungary vs. Luxembourg at Budapest, Hungary; Cyprus vs. Benin at Nicosia, Cyprus

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN

$584,400 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, USA, clay
$525,700 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay
$100,000 Jalisco Open Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico, hard

WOMEN

$235,000 BNP Paribas Katowice Open, Katowice, Poland, clay



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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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