By Bob Greene
Mondays with Bob Greene
Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic 6-2 6-2 to win the China Open women’s singles inBeijing,China
Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-4 to win the China Open men’s singles inBeijing,China
Juan Martin del Potro beat Milos Raonic 7-6 (5) 7-5 to win the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships inTokyo,Japan
Radek Stepanek beat Igor Sijsling 6-3 7-5 to win the Ethias Trophy inMons,Belgium
Donald Young beat Tim Smyczek 7-5 6-3 to win the Sacramento Pro Circuit Challenger inSacramento, California,USA
“I needed this win today. I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013. It’s very important for my confidence. It’s very important mentally and emotionally for me.” – Novak Djokovic, following his win over Rafael Nadal in the China Open men’s final.
“I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon. This afternoon he was too strong for me. I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve.” – Rafael Nadal.
“Everyone is beatable at some point. I know I am. I’ve lost several times this year.” – Serena Williams, after winning her 10th title of the year.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better start. We’ll be playing together next year, so this is a pretty good start for that. We’re looking forward to giving it a shot and playing the whole year.” – Cara Black, after teaming with Sania Mirza to win their second straight doubles title together.
“We only started playing together last week. We try to win, of course, but we never expected to win, especially since we started at two of the biggest tournaments. To play so well with a new partner and to win two titles on the trot, it doesn’t happen every day. It’s tough to top this one.” – Sania Mirza.
“You have to be focused and wait for the chance. I took his serve in the last game to break. In the tie-break, he hit a double fault in the most important part of the match and then my chance came, which I knew I had to take.” – Juan Martin del Potro, on breaking the hard serves of Milos Raonic in the final inTokyo.
“There is not really much to be down about. I created opportunities and barring a double fault and a few points, I could not have done much better.” –MilosRaonic.
“Almost everything worked well and we are very happy. We were close to losing in our first match and saved one match point in our quarterfinal.” – Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who teamed with Rohan Bopanna to win the doubles inTokyo.
“I am back at the number one, something that I really thought that I would never have the chance to be back there. I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career, probably one of the more emotional years, if not the most for so many facts.” – Rafael Nadal, who moved past Novak Djokovic and take over the top spot in the rankings despite losing to Djokovic in the Beijing final.
“It’s definitely one of the best seasons I’ve had in my career. I don’t know if it’s the best – for me, winning three Grand Slams in one season is pretty amazing. And also winning two Grand Slams and two gold medals in one season is pretty amazing, too. So I think those are the top three of my career.” – Serena Williams.
“I’m not thinking about the future beyond my present state.” – David Nalbandian, when asked if he would one day become captain of Argentina’s Davis Cup team.
At least Novak Djokovic came away from Beijing with a win over arch-rival Rafael Nadal and the China Open title. Even in defeat, Nadal came away with the world’s number one ranking. Nadal only needed to reach the final in Beijing in order to replace Djokovic as number one in the rankings, but the Serb handed his Spanish opponent his first hard court loss this year. “I managed to stay tough and not drop my concentration, which I think (happened) in both Montréal and at the US Open in the important moments,” Djokovic said. “I learned my lesson. It was a few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa on hard courts, especially the last one in the US Open final.” Djokovic has never lost a match at the China Open, winning his fourth title in five years in the Chinese capital. It was Nadal’s first loss since he was upset in the opening round atWimbledonin June. Since returning to the tour following an injury layoff, Nadal has been dominant, reaching 12 finals and winning 10 tournaments, including the French Open and US Open. But Djokovic controlled this match with his serve. “I was not able to have any chance when I was returning through the whole match,” Nadal said. “When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead.”
Serena Williams continued her winning ways by overcoming Jelena Jankovic to capture the China Open, her 10th WTA title of the year and 56th of her career. She even seemed to win the battle of injuries. Williams was grimacing in pain when she lost her serve to trail 2-1 in the second set. But the trainer ended up working on Jankovic. When play resumed, Williams ripped off the next five games to break the tie of 55 career titles she had with Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport. Williams now stands alone in seventh place on the all-time list, trailing Martina Navratilova (167), Chris Evert (154), Steffi Graf (107),Margaret Court (92), Evonne Goolagong Cawley (68) and Billie Jean King (67). Serena’s 10 titles this year is the most on the WTA Tour since Justine Henin won 10 tournaments in 2010. “I really love tennis so much and it’s fans like the ones here inChina who are so exciting to come to,” Williams told the crowd. “The fans make me want to play; they’re so great here, so coming here is such a great opportunity.”
Even though she lost, Jankovic continued her climb back up the rankings and has returned to the top 10. In 2008, she was ranked number one in the world when she reached her only Grand Slam tournament final, falling to Serena Williams at the US Open. Jankovic also becomes the 15th player in WTA history to surpass USD $15 million in career prize money.
SERVING UP A WINNER
In a battle of big-servers, it was Milos Raonic who blinked.Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro earned the only service break of the match to edge his Canadian foe 7-6 (5) 7-5 inTokyo. “I played really well in the last two games of the match,” said del Potro, who won his third title of the year. “I broke his serve and closed out in a fantastic way and hopefully I can keep it going for the rest of the season.” The only break in the match gave del Potro a 6-5 lead in the second set. It was the second straight year Raonic came up short in the Japan Open. Last year he lost the title match toJapan’s Kei Nishikori. The Tokyo tournament was a late addition to del Potro’s schedule. He was added after Andy Murray withdrew due to a back injury. “I decided to come here because I lost early in the US Open and had several weeks off,” del Potro said. “I’m glad I decided to come here.”
SET FOR ISTANBUL
The lineup of teams playing in the doubles competition in the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships has been completed. The top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete in the Turkish capital for a record-setting USD $6 million prize money purse. Besides the top-ranked team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, others qualifying include Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, and Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. Hsieh and Peng have won four doubles titles this year, including Wimbledon, where Hsieh became the first player from Chinese Taipei to win a Grand Slam title of any kind. The pair is a perfect 8-0 when they’ve played doubles finals together.
Jonas Bjorkman is coming out of retirement and says he’s serious about winning the doubles title at the If Stockholm Open. The 41-year-old Swede retired from the ATP World Tour in 2008 and is currently marketing director of the Stockholm event. He will team with Robert Lindstedt and go after his fourth If Stockholm Open doubles crown. He was part of the winning team in 2003, 2007 and 2008. “Robert is being humble saying we have a good chance to win a couple of matches,” Bjorkman said. “My goal is to win the whole tournament. It’s the mind frame I always need, I cannot do anything without being fully committed. … I’ve been practicing since the beginning of September and prepared myself in the best possible way. The strokes feel good but it will be a big difference to go from practice to match.”
It has been a perfect Asian swing for Cara Black and Sania Mirza. The two won their second consecutive doubles title, this time in Beijing, in two weeks. Playing their first tournament together, the pair captured the title in Tokyo before moving to the Chinese capital. Seeded eighth, Black and Mirza powered their way through the week without dropping a set, and that included a straight-set win over the top seeded team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the semifinals. In the title match, they stopped Vera Dushevina and Arantxa Parra Santonja, dropping just four games. “We’ll try to top this, though,” Mirza said. “We’ll try to do an off-season together, maybe in India, work on some things together. Because in tennis you always have to keep improving to keep winning, and always trying to take it to the next level. It’s something we both want. We’re going to make a collective effort.” Black, a mother, has now won three WTA doubles titles since returning to the tour. She has won 57 doubles titles in her career, making her 13th on the all-time list.
SECURES FIRST TITLE
The team of Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin won their first title by capturing the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. The fourth-seeded team stopped Jamie Murray and John Peers to keep alive their chances reaching the season-concluding Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. “We started playing together after Wimbledon, so we knew that the battle to qualify for (the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in)London would be hard,” Bopanna said. “We would have to do well at the big tournaments and (ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events) in Shanghai and Paris. We will take the confidence we have from here.” The winners are in 16th place in the Emirates ATP Race To London.
SEEKING LONDON SPOT
Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau are moving nearer to a berth in the year-ending championships. “Reaching London is one of the main goals at the beginning of the season, that’s what makes us go to the practice court and the gym every day,” Tecau said. “I’m really happy we’re getting close to that. Winning this week helps. We’re playing every week from now till the end, so hopefully we can keep up this level that we had this week and reach London.” Mirnyi and Tecau beat the Italian pair of Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi in the China Open final in Beijing. “It was certainly a good week, considering how the past couple of weeks went,” said Mirnyi, referring to four opening-round defeats the duo had endured in their past five tournaments. “Unfortunately, the Grand Slam results weren’t something to be proud of this year, but we’re happy to have found good form.” Beijingwas Tecau’s 16th ATP World Tour title, while Mirnyi improved his finals record to a 48-41.
SAY HOW MUCH?
The Australian Open is hiking its prize money 10 percent for next January’s tournament – or is it? Organizers said the purse will be increased Australian $33 million (USD $30.07 million), taking in consideration a slide in the worth of the Australian dollar. Last year’s total prize money was worth about Australian $30 million (about USD $31.2 million).
But the Australian dollar has since retreated by about 10 percent in US dollar terms since then. Tournament director Craig Tiley said top players had already been informed of next year’s prize money and had responded positively. “We’ve got great feedback and support from them,” Tiley said. “What other Slams do is their decision.”
Carlos Moya reportedly will take over from Alex Corretja as captain of Spain’s Davis Cup team. The Spanish tennis federation (RFET) has decided not to extend Corretja’s contract when it expires at the end of this year. Instead, Moya, a former world number one who retired at the end of 2010, will take over the reins as Spain begins preparations for its opening World Group tie at home to Germany. Local media reported that another former world number one player, Juan Carlos Ferrero, had also been considered for the job. Corretja succeeded Albert Costa as captain after Spain defeated Argentina in the 2011 Davis Cup final. Spain was runner-up to Czech Republic last year, then, playing without Rafael Nadal, suffered a surprising defeat to Canada in the first round this year. Having recovered from a leg injury, Nadal returned to the team and helped Spain win its relegation round to remain in the World Group for next year’s competition. Following that victory, Corretja said he would like to continue as captain, but the federation has decided to make a change.
The Australian Open will bar the father of Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic from next year’s Grand Slam tournament. John Tomic has been suspended from the ATP tour for assaulting his son’s former training partner. The senior Tomic was sentenced to eight months in prison by a Spanish court last month for head-butting Frenchman Thomas Drouet in the face and breaking his nose. Since his sentence as under two years, Tomic was not required to serve any time in jail. The ATP banned Tomic’s accreditation for all tour events earlier this year and will decide next May whether to lift the ban. “The Grand Slams as well as the ATP work together on this,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said. “The rule is he’s not accredited and does not have permission to purchase a ticket.”
After a career that saw him reach the final at Wimbledon in 2002,Argentina’s David Nalbandian is quitting tennis. He said the reason he is leaving the ATP Tour is because of physical problems that have sidelined him for most of the year. “It’s not easy what’s happening to me now, my shoulder is not helping me to train as I should for the circuit,” the 31-year-old Nalbandian said. Ranked as high as third in the world, Nalbandian won 11 ATP Tour titles, including the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai,China, in 2005, when he beat Roger Federer in the final. Nalbandian underwent surgery on his right shoulder in May, and said he would play two exhibition matches against Rafael Nadal in Argentina next month before retiring completely.
Beijing (men): Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau beat Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi 6-4 6-2
Beijing (women): Cara Black and Sania Mirza beat Vera Dushevina and Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-2 6-2
Mons: Jesse Huta Galung and Igor Sijsling beat Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen 4-6 7-6 (2) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Sacramento: Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith beat Jamere Jenkins and Donald Young 7-6 (1) 4-6 14-12 (match tiebreak)
Tokyo: Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Jamie Murray and John Peers 7-6 (5) 6-4
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,894,445 Shanghai Rolex Masters,Shanghai,China, hard
$125,000 Tashkent Open,Tashkent,Uzbekistan, hard
$100,000 First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger,Tiburon,California,USA, hard
$235,000 Generali Ladies Linz,Linz,Austria, hard
$235,000 HP Japan Women’s Open Tennis,Osaka,Japan, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$746,750 Kremlin Cup by Bank of Moscow,Moscow,Russia, hard
$719,100 If Stockholm Open,Stockholm,Sweden, hard
$680,028 Erste Bank Open,Vienna,Austria, hard
$795,707 Kremlin Cup by Bank of Moscow,Moscow,Russia, hard
$235,000 BGLBNPParibas Luxembourg Open,Luxembourg, hard