By Bob Greene
Novak Djokovic beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 3-6 7-6 (3) to win the Shanghai Rolex Masters in Shanghai,China
Angelique Kerber beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4 7-6 (6) to win the Generali Ladies Linz inLinz,Austria
Samantha Stosur beat Eugenie Bouchard 3-6 7-5 6-2 to win the HP Open inOsaka,Japan
Dudi Sela beat Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-1 6-2 to win the Tashkent Challenger 2013 inTashkent,Uzbekistan
Peter Polansky beat Matthew Ebden 7-5 6-3 to win the First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger inTiburon,California,USA
“You are ordered not to play against the Israeli player.” – Email sent by Tunisia’s tennis federation ordering its top player, Malek Jaziri, not to play Israel’s Amir Weintraub in the quarterfinals of an ATP Challenger event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“What is certain is that it was not Malek who decided not to play this match. Malek was taken hostage.” – Jonathan Chaouat, president of the Sarcelles Tennis Club in France where both Malek Jaziri and Amir Weintraub are members.
“It was a really tough match today. I’m very, very happy to win. I thought Genie played very well. She had game point at 5-all in the second set and went for the drive volley and missed it wide, and then I played a very good service game to win the set. That was probably the turning point.” – Samantha Stosur, following her win over Eugenie Bouchard in the HP Open.
“Sometimes when your opponent plays really well, you just have to congratulate them.” – Eugenie Bouchard, after losing to Samantha Stosur in theOsaka, Japan, final.
“There were a lot of turnarounds from both sides, but she played better in the important moments. I feel like I had more chances but just didn’t use them. I hit some errors when I really needed the point. But it was a great match, and though it’s disappointing to lose in a final, I had lots of good matches this week and lots of good wins, and overall it was a very positive week for me.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Angelique Kerber in the Generali Ladies final.
“It’s just important not to worry too much, to be honest. It’s important to keep on doing what I’m doing. Obviously I might get tougher draws as we move along with my ranking not being in the top four anymore. But that’s OK. I don’t really care that much about the rankings if I’m not world number one.” – Roger Federer, after losing to Gael Monfils in the Shanghai Rolex Masters.
“When he’s on the court, he’s still Roger. He can rip it from anywhere. He can do stuff that not many players can do. Maybe it helps a little bit because you know he has had a couple of losses. So it’s less fear, but still, you know, you’re not going, ‘OK, I play Federer, it’s an easy draw.’ No, definitely not.” – Gael Monfils, on playing Roger Federer.
“We are in finals of Davis Cup. Masters Cup in London is also very important for me individually. But for the team and for our nation, having an opportunity to win another Davis Cup title at home is a huge chance. I mean, God knows if we are going to have this good and successful generation again. We are trying to grab every opportunity that we are presented.” – Novak Djokovic, on Serbia winning its second Davis Cup title.
SUCCESS IN CHINA
There’s something special about Novak Djokovic when he’s inChina. Although he has dropped to number two in the world rankings, Djokovic has been spotless inChina, winning his second big tournament in two weeks, this time beating Juan Martin del Potro in a third-set tiebreak. He captured the Shanghai Rolex Masters just seven days after he won the China Open inBeijing. In both tournaments, Djokovic successfully defended his titles and extended his winning streak inChinato 20 matches. “My motivation is always there, especially when I’m playing (in the) finals of such a big event,” Djokovic said. “I wanted this title as much as my opponent. That’s what’s going to stay forever.” The Serb had two match points at 6-5, only for Del Potro to come up with big forehands to hold serve and force the tiebreaker. Del Potro, who also was coming off a title the week before – he won inJapan, seemed to tire as Djokovic dominated the tiebreak. “The match was really close and I think Nole played unbelievable points in the tiebreak,” said del Potro, who reached the title match by upsetting Rafael Nadal in the semifinals. “The match was so exciting. I was really close to beating him after beating Nadal.”
The Tunisian tennis federation ordered Malek Jaziri not to playIsrael’s Amir Weintraub in the Tashkent Challenger. As a result, the ATP is considering possible sanctions against Jaziri, who cited a knee injury when he withdrew from the second-round match. According to the player’s brother, Amir, Malek Jaziri was under orders from the Tunisian Tennis Federation not to play his Israeli opponent. A spokesman for the Tunisian Sports and Youth Ministry, Ahmed Gaaloul, told Agency France Presse that the Tunisian government had no official position on the matter, adding: “The authorities make no demands either on the federation or the players. The ministry of sports and youth and its minister Tarek Dhiab did not order Malek not to play this game.” However, another sports ministry spokesman, Sadok Touati, told The Associated Press that the federation, after consulting the ministry, sent an email to Jaziri that stated “you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player.” Both Jaziri and Weintraub are members of the Sarcelles Tennis club in France and have known each other for years through their sport. Jonathan Chaouat, president of the Sarcelles tennis club, said Jaziri “explained to me that he could not play the match, and when I asked him where the pressure not to play was coming from, he replied ‘my country.’ What is certain is that it was not Malek who decided not to play this match. Malek was taken hostage,” Chaouat said.
Another Israeli player, Dudi Sela, won the tournament, beating Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia in the final, 6-1 6-2. It was Sela’s third Challenger title of the year and moves the Israeli into the top 70 in the rankings. “I’m thrilled with my win and the points will help to move into playing major events in the coming year,” Sela said. “I’m also happy that I won the title here after five years. I congratulate Teymuraz for a good week, but he looked tired today.” Gabashvili teamed with Mikhail Elgin to capture the doubles, downing Purav Raja and Divu Sharan 6-4 6-4.
Just when it looked as if Eugenie Bouchard might win her first WTA title, Samantha Stosur found her game and won the HP Open inOsaka,Japanfor the second time. The Australian survived some tense moments in the second set to capture her second title of the year and fifth of her career. “It’s obviously great to win, but it feels better knowing you really had to fight for it,” said Stosur. “I’m really excited about my second title here, and also the first time to win two titles in a year. It’s just great.” The Australian also won inOsakain 2009 and is the first player to conquer the International-level tournament twice. Bouchard was playing in a WTA final for the first time. “I’m disappointed because I always want to win, but I’ll take the lessons from this and keep working hard,” the young Canadian said. “I definitely tried my best today. I feel like I was playing the right way in the first set, but she raised her level in the second set and started playing much better in the third.”
SET FOR ISTANBUL
Not only did Angelique Kerber win her first title of 2013, she also clinched a spot in the season-ending TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships. And she had to battle to get past Ana Ivanovic in straight sets to capture the Generali Ladies inLinz,Austria. “At the end it was pretty close,” Kerber said. “I am very happy to have won because Ana is an exceptional player. I focused on myself, but I should have been calmer about taking my chances for winning the match.” Kerber raced out to a 4-1 lead, only to lose her serve twice as Ivanovic, seeking her third title inLinz, battled back to level the set at 4-4. Kerber broke back and held to close out the opening set. Then things got really tight. Trailing 5-4 in the second set, Ivanovic saved three match points, then had two chances to force a third set before it went into a tiebreak. “At the end I was just focusing point to point and not thinking about the match points I already had,” Kerber said.
By beating Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in the quarterfinals, Kerber clinched the eighth and final spot in the WTA Championships. With Kerber in the field, for the second straight year – and only the second time in the WTA Championships’ 43-year history – each player in the singles draw will represent a different country: Serena Williams (United States), Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland), Li Na (China), Petra Kvitova (CzechRepublic), Sara Errani (Italy), Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) and Kerber (Germany). Maria Sharapova had qualified for the elite field, but had to withdraw because of a shoulder injury.
Twin sisters Karolina and Kristyna Pliskova won their first WTA doubles title, capturing the crown in Linz by besting the top-seeded team of Gabriela Dabrowski and Alicja Rosolska 7-6 (6) 6-4. Not only was it their first title as a team, it was their first doubles title as individuals for the 21-year-olds from Louny,Czech Republic.
Andy Murray will be missing the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals. Britain’s top player and reigning Wimbledon champion will skip the London tournament as he recovers from back surgery. He had qualified for the elite eight-player singles field. Murray underwent a minor operation in September to correct a disc problem in his lower back. “I’m really disappointed not to be playing this year,”Murray said. “I love playing in front of my home crowd, it’s a great atmosphere. I’ll be doing my best to qualify again for the tournament next year.”Murray pulled out of the French Open in May because of the injury, then recovered in time to become Britain’s first Wimbledon men’s singles champion since 1936. “It’s unfortunate Andy will be unable to play in this year’s tournament,” said tournament director Andre Silva. “He’s had a historic year on the tour and of course he’ll be missed.”
A right shoulder injury is keeping Maria Sharapova from playing in the end-of-season WTA Championships in Istanbul,Turkey. “I am very disappointed that I will not be able to play,” said Sharapova, who hasn’t seen action since she lost to Sloane Stephens in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, in August. “On the bright side, my shoulder has really improved in the last week and I can finally begin my strength rehab before getting back on the court again. I will start my off-season preparations early and use my exhibition matches in the month of December in Bogotá, Mexico City and Thailand to get some matches going.”
SPOT IN LONDON
Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro will be playing in his fourth Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this November. He clinched a berth in the men’s season finale by shocking world number one Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. “I’m so, so happy to be back in London for the Finals,” said del Potro, who was a finalist in 2009, losing to Nikolay Davydenko. “Only eight players have the chance to be there, and I’m one of them. The most important thing is the way I qualified. I’ve been playing really well. I’m so glad to show good tennis and I’m looking forward to closing a good year inLondon.” Others already in the elite field include Nadal, Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer. Four singles and five doubles team berths remain up for grabs.
When Juan Martin del Potro shocked Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters, it was only the second time this year that the world number one player had failed to reach a final. Nadal lost 6-2 6-4 to del Potro, who beat the Spaniard for only the fourth time in 12 career meetings. The Argentine raced to a 4-0 lead to begin the match, closing out the first set with an ace. Nadal thought he had broken del Potro to level the second set at 2-2. But Hawkeye showed his shot had missed the court and del Potro eventually held to make it 3-1. From then on it was all del Potro, who moved into the final when Nadal said a service return long on match point. It was the first time since 2009 that del Potro had beaten his Spanish opponent. The only other time Nadal has failed to reach a final this year was at Wimbledon, where he was upset in the first round.
Roger Federer can’t win for losing. This time, it was to Frenchman Gael Monfils, who ousted the former world number one from the Shanghai Rolex Masters 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-3. With a fourth-round loss at the US Open and a second-round exit at Wimbledon, Federer has slipped to seventh in the rankings. It was only the second time in eight career meetings that Monfils has beaten Federer, who still feels he can qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. “I can still finish strong. I believe that,” Federer said. “There’s not much time left. But if I do qualify for London, that gives me an extra shot there. I usually play well indoors. So I hope this year’s going to be one of those years again.”
The New Haven Open is becoming a Connecticut affair. The state is planning to buy the rights to the women’s tournament and keep it from moving to North Carolina. Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said the Capital Region Development Authority will vote on purchasing the sanction for the WTA event from the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The authority’s board has been actively involved in the negotiations. The USTA had reached an agreement to sell the tournament and move it to Winston Salem, North Carolina. However, the ATP, which holds a men’s event during the same week in August the women play inNew Haven, rejected the plans for a combined men’s and women’s tournament. The state of Connecticut was given a short window to buy the WTA sanction and keep the event at the Connecticut Tennis Center, which was built with state funds. An economic impact study conducted in 2008 found that the tournament generated approximately USD $26 million in regional economic impact, including almost 300 jobs and USD $1.1 million in state tax revenue. The tournament also announced that it has received renewals from its top five sponsors, that Anne Worcester will continue on as tournament director, and that the tournament will keep its name as the New Haven Open.
Randy Villanueva, the vice president of the Philippine Tennis Association, has been named treasurer and member of the board of the Asian Tennis Federation (ATF). The move came during the ATF’s annual meeting inTehran,Iran. The 38-year-old Villanueva is the youngest ATF board member.
Paul Annacone is no longer coaching Roger Federer. “After a terrific three-and-a-half years working together, Paul and I have decided to move on to the next cheaper in our professional lives,” Federer said in a statement. “When we started together we had a vision of a three-year plan to win another Grand Slam title and get back to the number one ranking. Along with many other goals and great memories, those two main goals were achieved. After numerous conversations culminating at the end of our most recent training block, we felt like this was the best time and path for both of us.” Since the pair joined forces in July 2010, Federer has won 13 titles, including Wimbledonin 2012. Severin Luthi, who shared coaching duties with Annacone, is now the 32-year-old Federer’s only coach.
SAYS IT ALL
In his new autobiography, Boris Becker says his extramarital affair with a model came about because he was “looking for love, a feeling of security,” adding, “when you do not have that at home then you may look for that elsewhere, when the opportunity presents itself.” Becker was the subject of a tabloid frenzy when he cheated on his pregnant wife and fathered a child with the model in the back room of a trendy London restaurant in 1999. Becker said his new book, “Like Is Not a Game,” takes on “those who took the opportunity to judge me and sometimes to condemn me and my family.” The book was drawn from interviews conducted over two years with German journalist Christian Schommers. Becker said it was “a need to express my opinion, my truth, my views.”
Golfer Rory McIlroy reportedly has ended his relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Reports are that the 23-year-old Danish star, who once described McIlroy as her “ideal boyfriend” is “absolutely devastated” by the split. One published report said McIlroy decided to end the relationship because he wants to concentrate on his golf in the hope he can regain his world number one ranking.
Linz: Karolina Pliskova and Kristyna Pliskova beat Gabriela Dabrowski and Alicja Rosolska 7-6 (6) 6-4
Osaka: Kristina Mladenovic and Flavia Pennetta beat Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang 6-4 6-3
Shanghai: Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo beat David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (2) 6-7 (6) 10-2 (match tiebreak)
Tashkent: Mikhail Elgin and Teymuraz Gabashvili beat Purav Raja and Divu Sharan 6-4 6-4
Tiburon: Austin Krajicek and Rhyne Williams beat Bradley Klahn and Rajeev Ram 6-4 6-1
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$746,750 Kremlin Cup by Bank ofMoscow,Moscow,Russia
$680,028 Erste Bank Open,Vienna,Austria
$795,707 Kremlin Cup by Bank ofMoscow,Moscow,Russia
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
1,496,095 2,086,850 Valencia Open 500,Valencia,Spain, hard
1,445,835 1,988,835, Swiss Indoors Basel,Basel,Switzerland, hard
$4,900,000 TEBBNPParibas WTA Championships,Istanbul,Turkey, hard
$100,000 Internationaux Féminins de la Vienne,Poitiers,France, hard