Mondays with Bob Greene
23 September 2013
Ernests Gulbis beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 3-6 6-4 6-0 to win the St. Petersburg Open in St. Petersburg, Russia
Gilles Simon beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-3 to win the Moselle Open in Metz, France
Agnieszka Radwanska beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7 (6) 6-3 6-4 to win the KDB Korea Open in Seoul, Korea
Zhang Shuai beat Vania King 7-6 (1) 6-1 to win the GRC Bank Guangzhou International Women’s Open 2013 in Guangzhou, China
Oleksandr Nedovyesov beat Pere Riba 6-2 7-5 to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland
Lu Yen-Hsun beat Yuki Bhambri 6-4 6-3 to win the OEC Kaosiung ATP Challenger in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
“I cannot become a father every week.” – Gilles Simon, noting his second son was born 13 days before he won the Moselle Open for the second time.
“The main key why I’m not yet a top player is consistency. Everybody knows I can play well for a tournament or a match and then I go downhill. I just need to bring this consistency to bigger tournaments, especially Grand Slams.” – Ernests Gulbis, following his St. Petersburg Open victory.
“Despite losing today, I played some unbelievable tennis all week, so I have to be happy overall with the week.” – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, after losing the St. Petersburg Open final.
“It was a very close match – tight sets, all of them – but I was just a little bit better in the important moments today.” – Agnieszka Radwanska, following her victory inSeoul,Korea.
“It’s tough losing this match after fighting so long and coming so close. It’s difficult and frustrating, but in tennis you can be up then down and you lose some and you win some.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who lost to Agnieszka Radwanska in the KDB Korea Open final.
“I’m not a person who often gets excited, but today I feel really happy. This is the biggest moment of my career. I look at this like a new starting point, not a final destination.” – Zhang Shuai, after winning the Guangzhou Open.
“France has been really good to us this year.” – Johan Brunstrom, who with partner Raven Klaasen has reached three finals this year, all coming inFrance.
“I think we should just enjoy watching him while we can. He’s the best player that has ever lived and it’s going to be a long time before we see another player like him. Roger is 32 now and it doesn’t get any easier to bounce back. However, he’s won so many titles and has so much experience, it’s far too early to be writing somebody like that off. He hasn’t had the best year but he’s still motivated and he loves playing the game. He’ll be back soon.” – Tim Henman, saying it’s too early to write off Roger Federer as a top player.
SURGERY FOR MURRAY
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray’s season is probably over.Great Britain’s top player is undergoing back surgery and is expected to miss the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.Murrayhas already qualified for the elite eight-player event which will be held November 4-11 inLondon. In a statement,Murray’s management team said: “Andy is set to undergo minor back surgery in an effort to clear up a long-standing back problem. … The aim is to be fully fit for the new season.” The 26-year-old missed this year’s French Open because of his back. However, he recovered to be the first British man to winWimbledonsince Fred Perry did it in 1936.Murraythen lost toSwitzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals at the US Open, where he was the defending champion.
Gilles Simon would have been extremely happy even if he hadn’t won the Moselle Open for the second time. His upset victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Metz, France, came just 13 days after the birth of his second son, Valentin. “I cannot become a father every week,” Simon said. “It’s a beautiful story for sure. Unfortunately my wife and children couldn’t be here today. It was a great moment for me because I missed the birth of our first child and this time I was able to be there. I was very happy about that.” Simon has now won nine straight matches at Metz as he posted his 11th career ATP World Tour crown and extended his streak to seven consecutive years with at least one title. Simon also won the Moselle Open in 2010. His victory stopped Tsonga’s bid for his third straight title inMetz.
Saying she is “in bad condition,” Serena Williams has pulled out of this week’s Pan Pacific Open tournament inTokyo,Japan. “Unfortunately with the number of matches I have played throughout the summer I need more time to properly recover,” Kyodo news agency quoted Williams as saying. The world’s top-ranked female player is still scheduled to play next week at the China Open inBeijing.
Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from bothTokyoandBeijingbecause of bursitis in her shoulder. It’s the same injury that caused the Russian to skip the US Open. In an interview with Larry King, Sharapova said she is aiming to play the TEBBNPParibas WTA Championships inIstanbul,Turkey, which begins on October 22. Her participating, however, is doubtful since the injury is in the same shoulder that required surgery in 2008. If she doesn’t play any more this season, Sharapova could drop to as low as fifth in the world in the rankings. She could be surpassed by both Agnieszka Radwanska, who is currently ranked fourth, and fifth-ranked Li Na.
Two other players have also withdrawn from the Pan Pacific Open:Wimbledonfinalist Sabine Lisicki and Russian Maria Kirilenko.
Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis had never lost a final. But trailing Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3 4-1, it appeared that streak was over. Not so fast. Gulbis didn’t drop another game, winning 11 straight to capture the St. Petersburg Open 3-6 6-4 6-0. “It’s my second title of the season, the fourth one of my career,” Gulbis said. “I’ve been very consistent, especially in finals. I’ve never lost in a final. I’m proud of that record.” It also was the first tournament Gulbis has won outside theUnited States. He has captured crowns atDelray Beach,Florida,USA, twice – in 2010 and earlier this year – and two years ago inLos Angeles,California,USA. In his complete domination of the third set, Gulbis dropped just five points.
Agnieszka Radwanska was pushed to the limit before she captured her third title of the year. The top seed fromPolandhad to rally to edgeRussia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-7 (6) 6-3 6-4 to win inSeoul,Korea. “Especially after a great match, almost three hours of great tennis at a really high level, of course I’m very happy,” Radwanska said. She should be. Pavlyuchenkova rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win the first set, which took an hour and 11 minutes. But Radwanska took control after that to win a tournament for the first time since January, when she won in the first two weeks of the year, inAuckland,New Zealand, andSydney,Australia. Only Serena Williams and Simona Halep have grabbed more titles this year, while second-ranked Victoria Azarenka also has won three tournaments in 2013.
By the time the final was played at Guangzhou, China, the only ones left were a wild-card entry and a qualifier. Zhang Shuai, who gained entry into the tournament with a wild-card, came away with her first WTA title, beating qualifier Vania King 7-6 (1) 6-1. “I saw the tournament listed out the nine champions in their history on the giant promotional ads at center court,” Zhang said. “I’ve beaten some of those nine champions before, and that gave me a lot of confidence.” While King rallied from 4-1 down in the third set in both her last qualifying match and her second-round match, Zhang made sure the American couldn’t do it in the final, winning 16 of the last 17 points of the match. “All those days, every time I passed by that big poster, I told myself I wanted to be the 10th champion at the Guangzhou Open,” said Zhang, who became the third Chinese player to win the Guangzhou Open, but first since Yan Zi in 2005. “Having faith is so powerful. It can really make your dream come true.”
King had two chances to win a title – losing both. She and Galina Voskoboeva lost the doubles final to the top-seeded team of Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. The Taiwanese-Chinese pair has never lost a WTA final, winning all eight title matches they have played as a team. However, they needed six match points in the match tiebreak to close out the victory.
SET FOR ISTANBUL
Although they have proven to be roadblocks in her career, injuries have not stopped Maria Sharapova from putting up impressive numbers. The Russian along with Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska are the latest singles players to qualify for the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will be competing for USD $6 million in prize money when they meet in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 22-27. By capturing tournaments in Indian Wells,California, andStuttgart,Germany, Sharapova has won at least one title annually for the last 11 years. Only three players – Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf, all members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame – have enjoyed longer streaks. Qualifying forIstanbulin doubles is the Italian team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
SAME OLD FOES
When Dwight Davis in 1900 began the international team tennis competition now known as the Davis Cup, it was the United States vs. Great Britain. In 2014, the two nations will resume their rivalry in a first-round competition. With reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray leading the way,Great Britainhas returned to the World Group for the first time since 2008. The United States has won the Davis Cup a record 32 times, the last time in 2007.Great Britain is tied with France for third place with nine titles each, but hasn’t won since 1936.Australiais second with 28 victories.
In other first-round matchups,Switzerland will take on Serbia,Argentina will play Italy,Japan will play Canada and Germany will playSpain. First-round matches will be held January 31-February 2.
Italy’s Claudia Coppola has been suspended for six months after being found guilty of fixing the outcome of a match and soliciting a player not to give his or her best effort. The Tennis Integrity Unit said the 18-year-old Coppola admitted to breaking the rules and was also fined USD $4,000. The fine will be reduced to USD $3,000 if Coppola completes an anti-corruption training program. The Italian is ranked a career-high 869th in the world and has career earnings of USD $8,301.
As part of an exhibition event, China’s Li Na will play Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in what is being billed as “Battle of the Sexes.” The event – which also will apparently include Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Rafael Nadal – will coincide with the China Open’s 10th-anniversary tournament in Beijing.
SON FOR CLIJSTERS
Kim Clijsters’ family has gotten bigger. The former world number one and her husband, Brian Lynch, have a son, Jack Leon Lynch. Clijsters retired for the second time following the 2012 US Open. She announced the birth on Twitter and said she, dad and big sister Jada are all happy and healthy.
India has turned to a former star player to lead its Davis Cup team. The All India Tennis Association has named Anand Amritraj as its new Davis Cup captain. Amritraj is replacing Shiv Prakash Misra, who lost his job after a number of the country’s top players protested his captaincy.
Jill Craybas has announced her retirement from pro tennis after 17 years on the WTA tour. The 39-year-old Craybas won one singles title and five doubles crowns in her career, which saw her ranked as high as 39th in the world in 2006. In her career, she earned more than USD $2,552,000. When she was a senior at the University of Florida, Craybas won the 1996 NCAA women’s singles.
Guangzhou: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Vania King and Galina Voskoboeva 6-3 4-6 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Kaohsiung: Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah beat Yuki Bhambri and Wang Chieh-Fu 6-4 6-2
Metz: Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klaasen beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut 6-4 7-6 (5)
Seoul: Chan Chin-Wei and Xu Yi-Fan beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 7-5 6-3
St. Petersburg: David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco beat Dominic Inglot and Denis Istomin 7-6 (6) 6-3
Szczecin: Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski beat Andrea Arnaboldi and Alessandro Giannessi 6-4 1-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Kuala Lumpur: www.malaysianopentennis.com
Tokyo (women): www.toray-ppo.co.jp
Tokyo (men): www.rakutenopen.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$875,500 Malaysian Open,Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia, hard
$567,530 Thailand Open,Bangkok,Thailand, hard
$2,369,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open,Tokyo,Japan, hard
$125,000 Yinzhou Bank International Women’s Tennis Open,Ningbo,China, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,315,250 China Open,Beijing,China, hard
$1,297,000 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships,Tokyo,Japan, hard
$144,317 Ethias Trophy,Mons,Belgium, hard
$100,000 2013 Sacramento Challenger,Sacramento,California,USA, hard
$5,185,625 China Open,Beijing,China, hard