By Bob Greene
19 August 2013
Rafael Nadal beat John Isner 7-6 (8) 7-6 (3) to win the men’s singles at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 2-6 6-2 7-6 (6) to win the women’s singles at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
“It means a lot winning two straight titles on hard (courts). It’s just amazing for me. I never did something like this in my career. So it was an emotional moment.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning the Western & Southern Open.
“There were no giveaways. It was pure fight.” – Victoria Azarenka, after beating Serena Williams to win the Western & Southern women’s singles.
“She’s a great player. There’s a reason she’s winning Grand Slams and doing so well.” – Serena Williams, following her loss to Victoria Azarenka.
“My body was really starting to fall apart and I was able to keep it together, go through the pain — with a lot of pain — throughout this Wimbledon and make it happen. That was probably the last little bit of something that was left inside me.” – Marion Bartoli, announcing her retirement five weeks after winningWimbledon.
“No offense to the other guys I’ve beaten prior to this, but like you just said, I’ve beaten three top-10 guys in a row. I have been playing well, really in pretty much all facets of my game. – John Isner.
“I’m planning on playing a lot of matches inNew York, and just for the body it’s tough to play a week before if you’re planning on doing extremely well in that event. I’ve just never done it in my career, so why start now?” – Maria Sharapova, explaining why she turned down a wild card entry into this week’s tournament inNew Haven,Connecticut,USA.
Rafael Nadal is known as the king of clay. He’s not too shabby on hard courts either. The Spaniard captured the Western & Southern Open to add to his hard-court title in Montreal the week before, making it the first time he has won back-to-back hard-court championships. “It is a nice feeling to arrive to the US Open with two victories in two very difficult tournaments,” Nadal said. “And it is nice arrive there knowing that, if I am able to keep playing like this, hopefully, I have the chance to have a good result.” Since returning to the ATP World Tour after being sidelined with a knee injury, Nadal has posted a 53-3 record this season and reached the final in 11 of his last 12 tournaments, winning nine. Nadal also moved up to number two in the ATP rankings, second only to Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard played the entire match without a single break opportunity against Isner, but came up big in both tiebreakers. “He kept on coming up with the goods,” Isner said of Nadal. “I thought he played a very smart match, and I knew he would. That’s what he does. That’s why he’s so good. He’s constantly adjusting to every circumstance, and he did today with me.”
Victoria Azarenka made sure Serena Williams didn’t duplicate Rafal Nadal’s feat of two titles in two weeks. The second-ranked Azarenka outlasted her top-ranked opponent and ended Williams’ 14-match winning streak. Like Nadal, Williams came into Cincinnati off a title-winning trip to Canada. And like Nadal, Williams had never won in Cincinnati before. She still hasn’t. After being dominated in the first set, Azarenka, aided by her opponent’s mistakes, rallied to capture the crown. “Obviously a big win,” Azarenka said. It was a great match. Really, really pleased with the way I pulled it out. It was a great battle.” It was Azarenka’s third WTA title of the year. Sixteen of her 17 career titles have come on hard court. And it was her second career win over a reigning world number one. She also beat Williams in the final of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami,Florida,USA, in 2009. Despite the victory, Azarenka was quick to point to Williams as the player to beat at the upcoming US Open. “I will not be a favorite,” she said. “We’re in the United States and Serena is number one in the world, a great champion, the defending champion, so I still think that she’s going to be a favorite there. Second favorite, third favorite, I don’t care about that. But this is a great boost of confidence.”
Marion Bartoli, the reigning Wimbledon champion, shocked the tennis world by announcing her retirement, saying she could no longer deal with the continuous pain on the court. “I’ve been playing for a long, long, long time, and it’s time for me now. It is,” Bartoli said. She reached a career-high ranking of seventh in the world at the start of the 2012 season, a spot she reclaimed after winning Wimbledon. She won the grass court major in her 47th Grand Slam tournament, the most by any woman before winning one. After that title, her ranking moved back to seventh. Bartoli has been hampered by an injured left foot, right ankle, right hamstring and Achilles tendon. “I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play,” the Frenchwoman said. “I’ve been doing this for so long. And yeah, it’s just body-wise I can’t do it anymore.”
SAME OLD ISNER
John Isner keeps living up to his reputation: He has problems getting off a court quickly. The man who played the longest match in tennis history battled for 2 hours, 47 minutes before outlasting Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (5) 7-6 (9) 6-3 in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. Thanks to the luck of the draw, the 6-foot-10 (2.06m) Isner took on the 6-foot-6 (1.98m) delPotro in a hard-serving, bruising baseline battle. Del Potro, who won the US Open in 2009, reached match point at 5-4 in the second set, only double-faulting and opening the door for Isner. “I had my chance to beat him in the second, serving for the match,” the Argentine said. “I made too many errors for these kind of matches.”
After trying out a new racquet, Roger Federer is going back to his old one. “I just felt like, you know what, I’m going to play with the old racquet through the US Open right now, and I’m going to do more racquet testing when I have, again, some more time after the US Open,” Federer said. After suffering his worst loss at a Grand Slam tournament in more than 10 years at Wimbledon, losing to 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky, the Swiss star began practicing with a 98-square inch racquet frame. He played with the racquets at two clay court tournaments – losing in Hamburg,Germany, and Gstaad,Switzerland, to lowly-ranked players. “Yeah, I was playing for a month with the black one, but it’s a prototype,” Federer said. “At the end I just felt like, you know what, right now I feel like I need to simplify everything and just play with what I know best.”
It’s as if Novak Djokovic has had a spell cast on him. The world’s top-ranked player can’t win in Cincinnati. Djokovic was attempting to make ATP World Tour history when he was ousted by American John Isner 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-5 in a quarterfinal match. Cincinnatiis the only Masters event that has eluded Djokovic, who has reached the final four times, including last year to Roger Federer. If he had won theOhiotournament, he would have become the first player to win all nine Masters events in their career. “It’s disappointing that I played this way,” Djokovic said. “For me, it’s very disappointing.”
SKIPPING US OPEN
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. Tsonga pulled out of the year’s final major with a left knee injury. Ranked eighth in the world, Tsonga hasn’t played since his second-round Wimbledon match against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. Reporting on his website that he plans to return in time for the Moselle Open in Metz,France, in September. The 28-year-old Tsonga missed the Rogers Cup in Montreal,Quebec,Canada, earlier this month due to the injury.
SHORT, BUT NOT SWEET
Jimmy Connors coached Maria Sharapova for just one match. “It’s not the right fit for this time in my career,” Sharapova told TENNIS.com. After she lost at Wimbledon, Sharapova dropped her coach of two and half years, Thomas Hogstedt, and hired Connors. Sharapova and Connors worked together in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks prior to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. There, she lost her opening round match to American Sloane Stephens – and Connors lost his job. “It’s great to have his support,” Sharapova said of working with Connors. It was enjoying being part of his experience and him, just the understanding of certain situations. He’s been there, done that. It’s just nice to have. But when you’re out on the court, if it gets to 5-all or 6-all in the third set, you’re worrying about you and your opponent and, to be honest, not so much what’s around you or your coach or the crowd. You’re so into the match. That’s how I always hope to be, is when I go on the court, everything that I did, just have to go out and trust that and not really think about anything else.”
Former US Open champion Samantha Stosur says she has split with her long-time coach. David Taylor had helped Stosur switch from a doubles specialist into a Grand Slam tournament singles winner. “We’ve had a tremendous working relationship and I owe so much of my success to Dave’s hard work and enduring support,” Stosur said in a statement. “His dedication during the many highs and lows of my career has been unwavering both on and off the court. I wish Dave all the very best for the future.” Stosur will work with Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik at the upcoming US Open.
Because they refused to play on Yom Kippur, the Israel Tennis Association has been fined more than USD $13,000. Israel was scheduled to play a World Group playoff against Belgium in Antwerp on September 14, which is Yom Kippur. After the Belgian Tennis Association turned down Israel’s request to postpone the game, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) intervened and changed the date of the match to September 15. At the same time, the ITF ordered the Israeli national team to pay the Belgian team for the inconvenience of adding a day to the tournament.
The US Open is not just going to finally get a roof; it’s going to get two roofs. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said the Arthur Ashe Stadium and a rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium will have retractable roofs installed at America’s premier tennis tournament. The move will bring the US Open into line with Wimbledon and the Australian Open, which both have retractable roofs on their center courts. The French Open has announced plans to cover its main court. Besides the roofs, two new stadiums will be added to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The project is to be completed by 2018, although the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof is hoped to be ready for the 2017 US Open.
The US Open tennis official has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office after charges that she had killed her husband were dropped. In her suit, Lois Goodman alleges false arrest, civil rights violations, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is seeking unspecified damages. Goodman had been accused of beating her husband Alan to death with a coffee mug. She was arrested in New York City a year ago just as she was about to serve as a line judge in a US Open match. Prosecutors decided to drop the murder charge against Goodman and the district attorney’s office says it believes Alan Goodman’s death was accidental.
Brian Baker, Ryan Harrison, Bradley Klahn and Rhyne Williams are among those receiving wild card entries into the 2013 US Open. Other American men receiving main draw wild cards are Rajeev Ram, Collin Altamirano as well as Australia’s James Duckwoth and France’s Guillaume Rufin.
In addition, eight players were awarded wild card entries into the men’s singles qualifying: Jared Donaldson, Bjorn Fratangelo, Christian Harrison, Jarmere Jenkins, Mitchell Krueger, Dennis Novikov, Noah Rubin and Tennys Sandren.
Two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs received a wild card entry into the US Open women’s singles draw. Others to gain direct entry include Americans Vania King, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Maria Sanchez and Sachia Vickery, along with Australian Ashleigh Barty and France’s Pauline Parmentier.
Eight others were given wild card entries into the women’s singles qualifying. They are Americans Jan Abaza, Brooke Austin, Louisa Chirico, Victoria Duval, Allie Kiick, Jamie Loeb, Brianna Morgan and Taylor Townsend. Townsend is the first American girl in 30 years to hold the year-end number one world junior ranking.
SHARING THE SPOILS
The Bryan twins – Bob and Mike – continuing rewriting the record book. By capturing the doubles at Cincinnati, the terrific twosome won their 10th title of 2013 and 92nd career crown as a team. The American brothers beat the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez. “It feels amazing to win our fourth Cincinnati Masters,” Mike Bryan said. “We had great support from the crowds all week and our games improved with every match. Today was a battle against a very tough team and we feel fortunate that our shots fell on the big points.” Since early May the Bryans are 28-1 as they won consecutive titles at Madrid,Rome, Roland Garros, Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, finally falling in the quarterfinals in Montreal. Their 25-match winning streak during the span was the longest of their careers.
When Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai reach a title match together, they are unbeatable. The third-seeded team needed six match points before they finally prevailed over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke at Cincinnati. “They started playing well in the first set and it put a lot of pressure on us,” Peng said. “Also, it was our first time playing them together as a team, so we also didn’t know how to play them a little bit. We called our coach at the start of the second set and from there we just tried to fight, and we’re really happy we could come back and win the second set and of course win the match in the end, as well.” The Taiwanese-Chinese pair has never lost in a final as a team, posting a 7-0 record.
SMALL IS BETTER
There are fewer seats at the New Haven Open this year. Hopefully that will result in more fans. Tournament director Anne Worcester said the tournament is closing the upper bowl at the Connecticut Tennis Center in order to create a more intimate atmosphere and make the stadium seem less empty than it has in recent years. Four of the top-10 players in the world will compete in the New Haven Open, the final hard-court warm-up event before the US Open.
Jennifer Capriati will face trial in December for allegedly stalking and battering her ex-boyfriend. Authorities claim Capriati stalked Ivan Brannan for several months prior to the assault, which allegedly occurred a year after the couple separated. She is accused of punching Brannan while he worked out at a gym in North Palm Beach,Florida,USA. Capriati’s lawyer, Richard Lubin, denied all charges. Now 37, Capriati won a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Roland Garros and the Australian Open. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year.
Bob Hewitt, a Grand Slam tournament doubles champion, has been charged in a South African court with two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault on minors in cases that date back as far as the early 1980s. Prosecutors charged the 73-year-old Hewitt with raping a girl under the age of 16 in 1981 in Sun City in northern South Africa, raping another girl under 16 in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, in 1982, and committing sexual assault on a girl under 18 in Boksburg in 1994. Defense lawyer Alwyn Griebenow said Hewitt denies all the charges. Hewitt won 15 Grand Slam tournament doubles titles and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. However, he was removed from the shrine after the rape charges were first announced.
The death of her grandfather caused fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open. “I’m very sorry that I have to withdraw from the tournament. Unfortunately, my granddad passed away last Sunday,” Radwanska said in a statement. “The funeral is going to be Saturday and I need to be there. I am disappointed to not continue with the tournament, especially because of my form so far this week. It was a difficult decision, but I need to be going home and be with my family.” Radwanska had won her first match, crushing Russian Elena Vesnina 6-0 6-2, then withdrew before playing Li Na in the quarterfinals.
Cincinnati (men): Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-4 4-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Cincinnati (women): Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke 2-6 6-3 12-10 (match tiebreak)
New Haven: www.newhavenopen.com/
US Open: www.usopen.org
ATP World Tour: www.atpworldtour.com/
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$625,000 Winston Salem Open atWakeForest, Winston Salem, North Carolina, USA, hard
$637,000 New Haven Open at Yale,New Haven,Connecticut,USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
MEN & WOMEN
US Open,New York,New York,USA, hard