Sunday, February 28, 2010

Murray Continues To Get Tournament Heads Offside

Dubai is the latest tournament to be offended by the post-Australian Open antics of Scotland's Andy Murray. Murray withdrew from Rotterdam and Marseilles and put his foot in his mouth in Dubai. The two tournaments he withdrew from, he cited fatigue after five weeks Down Under as his reason for not playing. He has now said that he had some leg pain after the AO that needed time to heal. This explanation would have been more appropriate before the event, not after creating a storm.

The tournament organizers at Marseilles have suggested the Andy Murray should be suspended after Murray did the same thing last year. He has accused Murray of asking for a wild-card to play doubles with his brother, and 5 hotel rooms in the days leading up to the tournament. His requests were granted only for him to pull out.

In Dubai Murray has suggested that he was essentially practicing new serve and volley techniques which he wouldn't have done at a Grand Slam or Masters 1000 event. He has offended tournament officials by suggesting that the tournament was his practice grounds despite being paid at least a $250,000 appearance fee and being put up in a 6 star that cost in excess of $3000/night. Murray has once again been accused of a lack of respect.

"If it was a Slam or something, my tactics and my game style would have been a bit different... I'm not using the match as a practice session. But I said at the start of the year that, you know, when I'm getting ready for the Slams and the big events, you know, that you need to try some things."... And then it got worse... "You know, i could have withdrawn from the event, but I'd get a lot of stick for not playing. Then obviously I come. The stuff that I was doing in the matches here are similar to what I'd be doing if I was training this week. I'd be playing practice sets and working on serve-and-volley and coming forward, you know and taking more risks." He went on to suggest that Federer does the same thing. Whether Federer does the same thing or not is not the issue, the issue is Federer is not stupid enough to say it out loud and disgrace the tournament who signs his cheques.

The response from the tournament stated that while Murray's public image and game had improved recently they were disappointed with his faux pas, but would continue to support him as long as he was a top player. "Andy's public person has improved so much over the last 18 months, in tandem with his dramatically improved tennis. It's just unfortunate that remarks like these slip out. At least you know he's being honest. Possibly a more experienced player would think this but wouldn't say it for fear it would hurt the tournament." Nice burn.

Tomic and Hewitt Resolve Dispute

The dispute between Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic, that started in Wimbledon last year, has been resolved under the guidance of Tennis Australia's Paul McNamee. McNamee encouraged Hewitt, who is currently recovering from a hip surgery, to call the Australian youngster to clear the air. In the absence of Hewitt, Tomic has been named in the Australian Davis Cup team, a move that wouldn't have been possible a few days ago if Hewitt was on the team such was the hostilities between the two camps.

 Hewitt said "I thought it was important for the future of the Australian team that Bernard and I resolved this issue.We had a good discussion and we look forward to playing Davis Cup on the same team for Australia one day." Essentially the older and wiser Hewitt has recognized that Tomic will be an important component of Australia's Davis Cup team in future years and the issues could not continue. As with all issues surrounding Tomic, his father John is at the center.

The incident that occurred at Wimbledon didn't help Tomic's image in Australia, which had already been dented after he served a suspension for withdrawing mid match, at his fathers insistance, after his father accused the umpire of being biased. John Tomic then put his foot in his mouth again early this year by suggesting that the Hewitt camp were drawing out the issue, harming Bernard's chances at getting a Davis Cup invitation and suggesting that Hewitt should have done more for his son.

While the accusations that Bernard did nothing wrong have only added fuel to the fire, the original insult to Hewitt occurred at Wimbledon when both Tomic and Hewitt were practicing. Tomic was playing the Juniors tournament. Hewitt invited Tomic to join him, Tomic declined, later citing Swine Flu as the reason he didn't. However, at the time Tomic did not give Hewitt this reason saying he "couldn't have told anyone. People would run away from me." 

Tomic's agent was reported to have been the one to reject the invitation, saying "No, he's not hitting with Lleyton, Lleyton's not good enough."

Tomic was also accused of approaching Juan Carlos Ferrero for a hit, which he denied, but the accusation was confirmed by Ferrero's team who came to tell Hewitt that Tomic was looking for someone to hit with. When Ferrero's team heard that Tomic had rejected Hewitt they were outraged and made calls to try and find a Spanish junior to hit with Hewitt.

''Then we told Juan Carlos what had happened and his coach said that if a leading player in Spain asked a junior to practice and the junior said no, that he would never get to hit with a senior player again, they would make sure he had all his funding and support from the national federation cut and that he would be, in the coach's words, 'strung up from a tree by his balls'.'' - David Drysdale (Hewitt's manager)

The general opinion has been that if Tomic was genuinely suffering from Swine Flu he shouldn't have been playing at Wimbledon, or at the very least he could have explained the situation and stayed away from Hewitt down the other end of the court so as to avoid infecting him. The kiss-ass denials released from Tomic's camp only further harmed Tomic's image with the Australian public.

"The situation was that, one, Bernard has the most respect for Lleyton and is the reason why Bernard became a tennis player. And, two, from what I understand that the kid he was playing the next day had a different style to Lleyton and Team Tomic felt that by playing Lleyton it wasn't beneficial for the next day's match. Not that he did not want to hit with Lleyton Hewitt … they just felt that it wasn't beneficial, and that's just a call from the coach and from the tennis team that is around Bernard.'' - Lawrence Frankopan, (Tomic's agent) - Not no mention of swine flu!

Venus Battles To Win Acapulco Title

Venus Williams has successfully defended her title in Acapulco beating Polona Hercog (WTA rank 60) 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Williams was the clear favourite, being more experienced and highly ranked than her opponent, but Williams stalled at the start of the match before doing what only the Williams sisters are capable of, and stepping it up and running away with the match, and the title.

Venus has had to do it the hard way though, being challenged in some of her earlier matches, almost being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Laura Pous Tio of Spain when she was down 1-5 in the third set where she again showed that Williams resolve and aggressive play, winning the next 6 games to take the third set 7-5.

Winning Acapulco gave Williams her 43rd career title. Last week she also defended her title in Dubai.

Ferrer Gets His Revenge, Prevents Ferrero From Winning 3rd Consecutive Title

In a replay of the Brazil finals match last week, Spaniard David Ferrer got his revenge on compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero in Acapulco winning the final 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Unsurprisingly some fatigue from Ferrero, after winning his last 14 matches, including two tournaments, played a role in the final, with Ferrero faltering in the third set.

The win marks Ferrer's 8th ATP title.

Venus Williams claimed the women's title beating Polona Hercog 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to successfully defend her title from last year.

Rain Forces Djokovic To Wait In Dubai

With rain on the forecast for the evening Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny walked on court to do battle for the Dubai title. The first set opened with an in-form Djokovic releasing his forehand, swinging freely and confidently. At 2-2, 15-30 Youzhny had Djokovic on stretch and then misfired his forehand into the net missing a golden opportunity to go up 2 break points. He got another chance after putting away a defensive lob from Djokovic and didn't miss his opportunity, breaking Novak for a 3-2 lead over Serbia's number 1.

Continued intense play from Novak and a slight slip in concerntration from the Russian saw Novak break straight back to level at 3-3.

In the next game a desperate overhead lob to stay alive in the point was followed by a forehand error on what should have been a passing shot from Youzhny to give Novak a 30-15 and set the crowd alight giving the Serb time to suck in air and recover from the point. Novak's superior court speed and accuracy bringing up break points to give him a 5-3 lead to give him the opporunity to serve for the first set.

The conditions were so humid and hot ahead of the storm that Djokovic ran to his chair after 2 errors serving for the set to get some saw dust to combat his sweaty hands on his grip. An amazing point at 0-30 with Djokovic's supreme court speed somehow keeping him in the point long enough to pass Youzhny at the net before again stopping to suck in air and recover. Unfortunately he followed the effort with a double fault giving the Russian 2 break points only one of which he needed to get things back on serve at 5-4.

As Youzhny held to level the score at 5-5 a few drops of rain started to fall, causing the umpire to get out of his chair and and check the lines which can become slippery on a hard court with very little rain. After some amazing groundstrokes Djokovic took the first set 7-5.

At 40-15 in the first game of the second set, on Djokovic's serve, play was suspended for just over 20 minutes with lightning lighting up the sky. Play then resumed after a quick warm up with a downpour forecast within 45 minutes, Novak was in a hurry to get things done. With totally different playing conditions Novak had the advantage of Youzhny having to serve under these new conditions giving Novak the chance for the early break and a 2-0 advantage.

At 30-15, with gusty winds and Djokovic serving, play was suspended and has not yet resumed.

If Djokovic goes on to win the match, and therefore the title, it will be the first time in his career that he has successfully defended at title.

Del Potro Feels Chilean Earthquake In Argentina

At 3.34 am an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the richter scale hit Chile sending shockwaves throughout South America and a Tsunami out across the Pacific Ocean where it eventually hit the Japanese coastline. The quake was 500 times stronger than the 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti a month ago. While 6 of the 15 regions of Chile were declared "catastrophe zones" the difference is that in Haiti builders are not forced to adhere to the strict building codes that have been set by the government of Chile. Both Chile and Haiti sit on fault lines.

Across the other side of South America in Argentina Juan Martin del Potro was asleep in his apartment, recovering from his wrist injury when he was awoken by the shockwaves.

“I was sleeping when at approximately 3:30am I started feeling dizzy and also hearing loud noises. The first thing I thought was that I had left the windows open and the wind was making the noise when it hit against the walls. I live on a high floor of an apartment building so I didn't think this was out of the ordinary. 

The noise was quite loud and it woke me up, so I decided to see what was happening. I was feeling very dizzy and soon realised it wasn't the wind making all the noise.  Everything in my apartment was shaking and when I walked into my living room, the curtains and the decorations on the walls were shaking as well. This went on for 5-6 minutes. 

I am very saddened that the second natural disaster has taken place in such a short amount of time in the Americas, affecting so many people. I have traveled to Chile many times in my life and love the people and the country. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile today and I pray that as many people as possible will escape this terrible disaster safely.” - Juan Martin del Potro

Friday, February 26, 2010

What's Happening With Marat Safin?

It looks like Marat Safin might have got bored in his nearly 4 month retirement. It didn't take long for the Russian giant to return to play, despite him going to great lengths to make a point that he didn't want to continue playing tennis. He wanted a 'normal' life, or so he said. He will play his first match on the seniors tour in Rio de Janeiro March 12-14. Also participating in the tournament are Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Mark Philippoussis, Cedric Pioline, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors and Fernando Meligen.

Safin is also working on the Russian Olympic committee, and has been in attendance at the winter Olympics in Vancouver and hasn't rule out a move to the IOC down the track.

"I'm getting to know people, I'm trying to know who's who and to understand things. It's not always obvious. It's only my second day of work here, but it's already very interesting... I'm more focused on tennis in Russia. Of course, I watched several Australian Open matches but I'm looking mostly at home to try to improve the facilities and training in Russia. I haven't played for four months now." - Marat Safin

Battle Of The Juan's

Juan Carlos Ferrero and Juan Monaco will face off in tomorrows semi final match in Acapulco after both successfully survived their quarterfinal encounters.

Ferrero defeated fellow Spaniard, and two time defending champion Nicolas Almagro 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, notching up his 13th consecutive win and leaving him just 2 games short of his goal of winning three tournaments in a row.  Ferrero dominated Almagro from the first set, racing to a 6-1, 1 set to love lead. Almagro then raised his game, making the second set more competitive, with both players at times struggling to hold serve. Almagro eventually converted his break point chance at 5-5 and managed to serve out the second set.

The third set was a similar to the first with Ferrero racing off with an early break before getting another break in the eigth  game to seal the deal and send Almagro packing.

Juan Monaco improved his lifetime record against Fernando Verdasco to claim his 6th win in 8 attempts over the Spanaird. Monaco defeated Verdasco in 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 45 minutes, leaving the tournaments first seed to contemplate what went wrong and how to improve his record against the talented Argentine.

After losing the first set Fernando seemed to lose his way in the match and begun misfiring from the baseline, perhaps in an attempt to do more with each shot than he is capable of doing while carrying an injury to his leg (apparently a nerve injury). The Spaniard has been left out of Spain's Davis Cup line up because of the injury.

The Juan's have only played one time before, in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago, with Ferrero winning in straight sets. I favour Ferrero to come out on top again.

The other semi final in Acapulco will be played by Fernando Gonzalez and David Ferrer.

Player Profile: Juan Carlos Ferrero

Full Name: Juan Carlos Ferrero Donat

DOB: 12th February 1980

Height: 183cm

Weight: 73kg

Turned Pro: 1998

Highest Rank: 1

Current Rank: 16

Career Prize Money: $12, 770, 127


Juan Carlos, one of three children, was born in Onteniente, Spain began playing tennis at age 7 under the guidance of his father, Eduardo, who still frequently travels with him today. Juan Carlos has often said that his inspiration for his career was the death of his mother, Rosario. His mother died of cancer when he was just 17.

He had a successful junior career, making the finals of Roland Garros Juniors event in 1998 where he lost to Fernando Gonzalez. He turned pro later that same year. In 1999 he won his first ATP title, in his fifth tournament as a professional, in Mallorca, Spain (home to Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya). He was also named Newcomer of The Year in 1999.

By the end of 2000 Ferrero had entered the top 20. He had also debuted in the Davis Cup for Spain and played a significant role in their victory over Australia in the finals.

2003 saw Ferrero hit peak form with numerous semi final appearances in masters events in the lead up to Roland Garros. He then went on to win Roland Garros, his first and only Grand Slam. That year he also made the 4th round of Wimbledon and lost to Andy Roddick in the US Open final, but took with him the number 1 ranking. He didn't maintain the rankin until the end of the year, despite good results, eventually falling to number three behind Roger Federer and Andy Roddick.

A run of injuries and illnesses began creating problems for Ferrero from 2004 starting with chicken pox. After he recovered from chicken pox he fell in training and injured his ribs and wrist which contributed to him failing to defend Roland Garros, losing in the second round to Igor Andreev.

Although healthier in 2005, Juan Carlos began to meet with a young man who would become the King Of Clay, Rafael Nadal, losing to him in a semi final in Beijing and a final in Barcelona. Ferrero was again to suffer defeat at the hands of Nadal on clay in Monte Carlo in 2008. Ferrero got his revenge against the then world number 2 at the 2008 Rome Masters, outplaying Nadal, who was suffering from terribly blistered feet, on his favourite surface. Ferrero is now one of the very few men who can claim a victory against Nadal on clay.

After his victory over Nadal the rest of 2008 was a white wash for the ailing Spaniard. He withdrew from Roland Garros with and leg injury and from Wimbledon with a hamstring injury. A shoulder injury followed which kept him off the tour for 3 months.He finished 2008 ranked 55.

Mid 2009 a stronger Juan Carlos Ferrero made his way on to the circuit making the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the 4th round of the US Open where he lost to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. Ferrero was once again a force on the tour, ending the year at 23 in the world. He also contributed to the wins Spain enjoyed in the early rounds of Davis Cup when Nadal was unable to compete due to injury. Spain went on to win the Davis Cup that year, however, Ferrero did not play in the finals.

2010 was another poor start for the Spaniard who injured his ankle in the first tournament in Aukland, New Zealand and then failed to impress at the Australian Open. Since then he has won 2 consecutive tournaments (Buenos Aires and Brazil) and is looking to win a 3rd in Acapulco where he plays a semi final match tonight (Australian time).

To date Ferrero has won 14 tournaments.

He also owns a Hotel which he refurbished into luxury suits and renamed Hotel Ferrero.

Shakira Video Featuring Rafa Nadal Released

The much hyped video for Shakira's new song Gyspy featuring Rafael Nadal has been released. The clip was being called steamy after images of the two embracing, and of Rafa shirtless surfaced, but now footage of the two kissing and Shakira dancing for Rafa have been seen in the clip sending tennis media into overdrive. The clip starts with Shakira playing harmonica and Rafa washing his face before the two lie beside each other holding hands and laughing - footage that was previously released earlier this week.

The end of the video shows Shakira shaking her booty for a watching Rafa as well as Rafa throwing a giggling Shakira around before they lay in the dirt together so Nadal could kiss Shakira gently.

While the images and footage continue to seem out of character for the Spaniard they have certainly had the desired effect, dramatically increasing interest in Shakira's song. As far as Shakira's concerned, with the amount of media interest in her clip that has been created by the images, any amount that she paid Nadal to appear in the clip was money well spent.

While Nadal and Shakira have both denied a romance, with Nadal's team going to great lengths to explain that it was just work, you'd have to think their spouses might feel their skin crawl watching the two look so comfortable together.

Shakira has talked about her decision to include Nadal in the clip, saying “I thought that maybe I needed someone I could in some way identify with. And Rafael Nadal is a person who has been totally committed to his career since he was very young, since he was 17, I believe. I’ve been on the road since I was very young, so that’s where the gypsy metaphor comes from.”

In other, non-shirtless-rolling-in-the-dirt news, Davis Cup coach Albert Costa has been quoted saying that Rafael Nadal has concerns about his repeated knee injuries and the effect it will have on his playing longevity. “He is worried about his physical state but he's working every day to get better.” Hopefully Nadal will get fit, and stay fit. However, if this is how he spends his off-time, I guess his fans will be happy even if his girlfriend isn't.

More Seeds Fall In Dubai

Marin Cilic is the latest seed to bite the dust in Dubai. Cilic was originally leading 4-1 in the first set before Jurgen Melzer fought back to take the match 7-6, 7-5 in just over two hours. Melzer initially struggled with his length of shot but after a bit of luck he managed to hold serve before finally mixing it up and starting to attack Cilic. The Austrian baffled Cilic with a bit of serve and volley play.

Melzer has been collecting scalps at the tournament, beating Spaniard Tommy Robredo in his last match. Tomorrow's match will be Melzer's second semi final of the season and he will face Mikhail Youzhny who defeated Janko Tipsarevic. Novak Djokovic also won his match against Ivan Ljubicic. Djokovic will play Marco Baghdatis in his semi final match up.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Almagro Defeats Richard Gasquet In Marathon

Spaniard Nicolas Almagro defeated Frenchman Richard Gasquet in their third round match up in Acapulco 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 in 2 and half hours.

It should have been Gasquet's match when he had a 4-0 lead in the third set but a few clumsy service games, and an improvement in the Spaniards aggression saw Nico crawl back into the match. Almagro must now play Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarterfinals. Nico is attempting to defend his title.

Photos Of Nadal And Shakira Continue To Cirulate

More photos have been released of a shirtless Rafa Nadal rolling around with Shakira for her new video clip for Gypsy, which is supposed to be released in its entirety by the end of the week. While the photos, and 30 second teaser video have created a great deal of interest, what has been most interesting is fan reactions. The vast majority of reactions seem to be shock that Nadal would participate in something of this nature, when he usually refuses to even commit to which female tennis star he'd most like to play mixed doubles with, to sympathy for his long term girlfriend, Xisca, who is back home in Mallorca.

What hasn't really been pointed out is how much media promotional efforts and modelling other tennis stars have done previously. What seems to be the issue is that, for the most part, Nadal has previously been a more conservative in selling his name (and body), but he has seemingly had a change of heart in the last few months.

Nadal lost his number 1 ranking when he was unable to attempt a defence of his Wimbledon title last year and spent 10 weeks off the tour injured and even longer trying to find his rhythm again before injuring himself AGAIN at this years Australian Open. It seems that with the loss of his number 1 ranking and a larger amount of time to twiddle his thumbs than he would normally have, Nadal's PR team have gone into overdrive to a) keep their charge entertained and busy and b) to keep Nadal in our minds and in our faces.

You can't really blame him for finally cashing in on what everyone else always has, and for her part Shakira shouldn't be labeled a home wrecker, more than anything she's incredibly smart. Not only has this move given her more interest in her clip than she otherwise would have got but she also got to spent some time rolling round and giggling with a shirtless Nadal - always a good days work if you can get it.

Murray Defeated In Dubai

Andy Murray has been defeated in three sets by Janko Tipsarevic 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours and 29 minutes. Tipsarevic started off the dominant players taking the early break before meekly serving for the first set at 5-4 and gifting Murray the break back.

Murray then got off to a quick start by breaking Tipsarevic to go ahead 1-0 in the second set with a forehand winner but the momentum was not to stay with the Scot.

The Serbian again broke for the early lead in the third and final set, going ahead 2-0 after Murray gifted him with a poor service game. Before long Tipsarevic was serving for the match at 5-3 where he buckled under the pressure by serving weakly again to give Murray the break back after Murray produced an incredible backhand passing shot to convert his break point.

Murray's final service game saw 3 errors off his forehand wing with the nail in the coffin coming at blistering pace off Tipsarevic's forehand. Murray then smashed his racket into pieces to in the face of defeat.

Throughout the match Murray had only served 54% of 1st serves in and had double faulted 4 times. There were 13 aces for each player. Murray still appeared bothered by his back at times, poking himself and rotating periodically like he did at the Australian Open. Murray put the defeat down to trying to play more aggressively and using a serve and volley tactic.

Both Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic survived to gain quarterfinal berths in the Dubai tournament. Nikolay Davydenko also fell along side Murray and Federer who withdrew with a chest infection. Davydenko retired with a wrist injury against Michael Berrer. The Russian is now in doubt for the Davis Cup.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Behind The Scenes At Fernando Verdasco's Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot

See footage (below) of the world number 10, and second ranked Spanish tennis player, Fernando Verdasco posing for his Calvin Klein underwear campaign 'X marks the spot'. In the video Nando talks about how he got his body ready for the shoot and his family and friends reactions to the photos.

The video is in English (with Spanish subtitles) takes a look and Verdasco wandering around the set in his undies and posing for the photos and subsequent teaser videos which have since been released.

Here is the teaser video for the campaign.

Roger Federer Discusses Lung Infection

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has spent some time with the media in Dubai apologizing for his withdrawal from the tournament with a lung infection. While he doesn't sound particularly unwell he does look a bit pale. He will take a 2 week break from play to recover with the hope of playing again at Indian Wells. He is supposed to participate in the charity event Hit For Haiti (the second round after the first one at the Australian Open) in Indian Wells along with Rafa Nadal, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Nadal And Verdasco To Sit Out Davis Cup

With Rafa Nadal still out of action, recovering from a knee injury sustained in this years Australian Open, and fellow top ten player Fernando Verdasco also sitting out the first meet of the year, Spain has named Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and Marcel Granollers to play the Swiss. The two time defending champions are set to play the Swiss team (minus Roger Federer) on the red clay at Plaza de Toros de la Ribera in Logrono, Spain.

Fernando Verdasco has not been picked due to an injury, apparently a nerve injury in his leg, however he continues to play in Acapulco where he will next play Kubot after defeating Fabio Fognini in 3 sets in his opening round match. Juan Carlos Ferrero is also playing in the same event hoping to win 3 tournaments in a row.

30 year old Ferrero will lead the Spaniards in the tie.

Bernard Tomic Named In Davis Cup Squad - His Father Told To Butt Out

Australian Bernard Tomic has been named as a member of the Davis Cup squad in the absence of Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione, both of whom are injured. However, Tennis Australia have only invited Tomic after first speaking to Tomic's father John and telling him to keep his mouth shut.

If Tomic does indeed end up playing he will be the youngest ever play to play David Cup for Australia at 17 and 135 days, 42 days younger than John Alexander was in the 1968 final.

Davis Cup Coach Todd Woodbridge today said  "Like any other father, or parent, or personal coach, he will not have any input into the team. Like any other parent, he will be welcome to attend the tie and support the team." He also stated that all other meetings had nothing to do with Bernard himself, i.e. his dad is a royal pain in Tennis Australia's backside.

Bernard will join team mates Peter Luczak, Carsten Ball and Paul Hanley. With this line up against Chinese Taipei, the Australian team consists of only one player born in Australia.

With Bernard's history with Lleyton Hewitt, it is doubtful that Tomic would've had a chance to play if Hewitt was healthy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ferrero Defeats Ferrer To Win Second Title In Two Weeks

Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the finals of Buenos Aires 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to win his second tournament in two weeks. Last week Ferrero also won the Brazil Open, and after winning his second consecutive tournament, Ferrero says he's in excellent form due to his strength and conditioning. 

"It is a great feeling. I think the key to my current success is the physical work I have done. I have been working very hard and I know that I can be on the court forever. That helps my game a lot because I get to the ball much early and can be more aggressive. This also helps me mentally. I feel very strong and know that I have more resources now when playing important points."

Although Ferrer managed to to win the first set, he failed to match Ferrero's aggressive play going down an early break in the third after failing to put away a backhand volley. Both Ferrero and Ferrer are good friends on and off the ATP circuit, this was a typically intense match for the two who are both very familiar with each others games and able to read each other well. It was the seventh career meeting with Ferrer still leading despite the loss at 5-2.

The win not only marks Ferrero's 14th career title, but also pushed him past $7 million in prize money. His recent accumulation of points also sees him jump 6 places on the ranking chart up to world number 16. Spain now has 4 players in the top 20 and 7 in the top 30.

“My goal is to get back to the Top 10. This victory makes me believe in this goal. I don’t have much to defend in Acapulco, Indian Wells and Miami so I hope I will do well, get extra points and move up in the rankings.” - Juan Carlos Ferrero

Roger Federer Withdraws From Dubai With Chest Infection

World number 1 Roger Federer has withdrawn from this weeks Dubai tournament with a chest infection. The Swiss star has been advised by a doctor to not play for the next two weeks with the intention of playing next in Indian Wells. Anyone who has ever had, or treated, a chest infection knows that the fatigue that accompanies the recovery will likely affect Federer for more than two weeks.

Last time Federer was sick he continued to play through it and while he only had fairly mild mono, compared to other people who can't get out of bed, and he still had excellent results, it didn't help him, or speed his recovery, as he has openly said. It is a possibility that Roger learnt from his mistakes and is resting rather than making it worse which bodes well for his recovery. He certainly does seem more willing to have time off since the arrival of his twin daughters in the middle of last year.

According to Roger's official website states that he begun having issues with the infection last week. Given that he has recently returned from traveling in Africa one has to wonder what caused the chest infection, how fast and how well he'll recover.

"My breathing is a bit difficult and everything feels a bit slow. I can't take any chances until I'm fit again. It could be better, it could be worse. I'm hoping to be back for Indian Wells, but of course there are no promises. This is something that will be finished only with proper treatment." - Roger Federer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Happened Today?

- Venus Williams successfully defended her Dubai title beating Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5

- Andy Roddick is not listed in the official draw from Dubai. No reason has been given for his withdrawal.

- According to his Facebook site, Rafael Nadal has successfully resumed training and will return to the ATP circuit for Indian Wells. No word when Juan Martin del Potro will play next.

- John Isner will play the man who defeated Andy Roddick, Sam Querrey, for a chance at the mens Memphis title. It is Isner's second final this year, having already won in Auckland earlier this year.

- Maria Sharapova defeated Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1 in the WTA Memphis final.

Serena Pulls Out Of US Open Rematch With Clijsters

The Billie Jean King Cup was supposed to include a selection of matches between current and former champions, with one of the most appetising match ups being a rematch of the infamous semi fimal match between Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters. Instead it will now be a match between Ana Ivanovic and Kim Clijsters with Serena pulling out with a leg injury.

This same leg injury also forced Williams to miss tournaments in Paris and Dubai but didn't stop her from attending class to become a nail technician or, according to her twitter site, from going to Africa for a school opening... Is it possible that her leg injury, which didn't stop her from being runner up in Sydney and champion of the Australian Open, is not really all that bad and the withdrawal has more to do with the fact Serena would prefer to be elsewhere? She would probably prefer to be doing anything that stops the media questioning her about the US Open incident again.

For anyone who missed the US Open incident (unlikley) it's posted below.

Spaniards Claim The Clay Of Buenos Aires

The finals of the the 250 point clay court tournament in Buenos Aires will be won by a Spaniard. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ATP rank 22)and David Ferrer (ATP rank 19) will battle it out for the title on Sunday.

Ferrero seems unstoppable at present, making it through to his second final in as many weeks and again (also within two weeks) dismissing Juan Monaco 6-2, 7-6 in the semi finals. Monaco had a chance to even the match up on serve at 5-3 to force a third decisive set, but Ferrero managed to break. However Monaco had been forced to play two matches on the same day, first completing his rained out quarterfinal match.

David Ferrer also had to play two games in one day but came out on top of his match in a decisive win over Albert Montanes, winning 6-1, 6-1 in just 71 minutes after first finishing with Igor Andreev. The match also brought up Ferrer's 300th ATP win.

The two Spaniard will face off on Sunday with Ferrer leading their head to head 5-1. I still think the in form Ferrero will come out on top of his compatriot - even if the odds are against him.

Ferrero has 13 ATP titles including one French Open title from 2003. Ferrer has just 7 titles to his credits.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What Happened Today?

- Shakira released more footage of her video clip featuring Rafa Nadal today to continue to feed the media monster that has been created. Rafa does what Rafa does best in his media appearances, appearing awkward and not entirely at ease but enough to get the job done (probably much to the relief of his girlfriend). The video can be seen in English or Spanish on You Tube

Nadal's media onslaught in his injury time out doesn't stop with the much hyped video. Rafa also graces the cover of SOBeFiT magazine.

- Roger Federer's brain child, Hit For Haiti, will have a second match up at Indian Wells. The charity match with feature Roger, Rafa, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in an attempt to raise $1 million for the efforts in Haiti. The match will be played on March 12.

- The injury woes continue for Argentine David Nalbandian who will not contest his quarterfinal match in Buenos Aires due to an adductor tear (inner thigh).

- Andy Roddick continued playing well making it through to his second quarterfinal (in Memphis) in as many weeks were he will again face Sam Querry for the second time in two weeks.

- First previews of Fernando Verdasco's 'X Marks The Spot' Calvin Klein ads can be found on You Tube.

- Venus Williams and Shahar Peer will play in the semi finals in Doha tomorrow. Williams has been vocal in her support of Peer who was last year not able to play the tournament after being denied entry into the UAE, adding to the tension between Israel and the Middle East.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Serena Williams Shocks Us All By....

Wearing no make up or diamonds... Wait I  mean by becoming a nail technician. The winner of 12 singles Grand Slams and over $30 million in prize money has decided to branch out and buy some overalls and a back pack for her new day job (apparently Nike don't supply for this sort of event). She left her diamonds at home to complete 3.5 hours of her required 240 hour course to become a certified nail technician.

The tennis star admited to getting a manicure every 3 days and a pedicure ever 7 days and therefore thinking that the next logical step is to take steps towards a career that will pay only slightly less than her current one.

Serena said on her blog that the first customers nails turned out well and that she even went as far as offering the girl a drink, even though she did have access to any drinking water. It seems that the woman who threatened to shove a tennis ball down the throat of a lines woman for calling a foot fault in last years US Open is a little obsessed with feet. Although if I was that lines woman I wouldn't want Serena anywhere near me with a file or scissors.

But at strange as it may seem, because she fluctuates so wildly on court at times that you could almost question her desire to be there, Serena appears quite dedicated to the cause, studying for a few hours so she could be top of the class, true to her competitive form.

Maybe it will help Serena's anger management issues to be working on someone else's feet rather than having her own kissed all the time.

"The night before my class I made sure I had all my tools, books and gear organized. I went to the hello kitty store and bought plenty of containers as well as a backpack to keep my belongings. If I'm not the best, I sure do want to look like it." - Serena Williams

David Nalbandian Back In The Game

After struggling to conservatively manage a hip joint injury in the early stages of last season, Argentine David Nalbandian eventually gave in and underwent surgery in Barcelona in May. Nalbandian had hoped to make his Grand Slam comeback at this years Australian Open but tore his abdominal muscles while warming up in Auckland before the AO.

Torn abdominals are not uncommon on tour, particularly when a player is returning for a lengthy time off due to injury (think Rafa Nadal at US Open 2009). The problem with torn abs is that not only is it extremely painful but it affects the serve and power development of the player while putting their back at greater risk of injury.

Nalbandian, currently playing his first tournament in almost a year, has notched up two consecutive wins to find himself in the quarterfinals in Buenos Aires where he will face Albert Montanes of Spain. The Argentine hold a 4-0 lead over the Spaniard in their head to head match up and will be the firm favourite with his home crowd.

Recent Brazil Open Champion Juan Carlos Ferrero also continued his good form and is through to the quarterfinals of the same event.

Rafa Nadal And Shakira Photos

For a man who refuses to answer questions about which female tennis star he'd most like to play with because answering seems to get you into trouble by being blown out of proportion, he's making an odd move to be photographed topless with Shakira. Admittedly the two are friends and Rafa was probably paid for his shirtless efforts but it does seem strange, given the rumours about the two and given the fact he's never done anything like it before.

In the photo a shirtless Rafa wraps his arms around Shakira's waist while she perches on top of him. The photos were released by Sony Records and are certainly having the desired impact of drumming up interest in the Columbian's song Gypsy.

Shakira has been seen court side at one of Rafa's matches in Abu Dhabi in 2008 and also offered to teach him how to sing if he teaches her how to play tennis and was spotted at dinner with the Spaniard in 2009. She has also publically referred to him an an "animal on court".

While Team Nadal have firmly denied it is anything for Rafa's girlfriend of 4 years or Shakira's fiance to worry about, Shakira's camp have refused to comment,. Their refusal to comment combined with the release of these images a day after footage of them rolling around laughing together certainly does little to dismiss rumour of flirting between the two that have been circulating for some time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rafa Nadal Stars In Shakira Video

Spanish tennis star, who has spent some time in the company of Shakira recently, restarting rumours of a romance between the two, was today seen in preview footage for the Columbian singers video. The video shows the two of them giggling together and is unlikely to do much to quiet rumours that the two are more than just friends, despite the fact both have long term partners.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Andy Roddick Loses To Fernando Verdasco In San Jose

It was Andy Roddick's match to lose. Roddick won the first st 6-3 and came into the match as the crowd favourite and knowing that last year Verdasco came close to beating a lot of top ten but didn't often manage to pull the trigger. Roddick had also won 9 of the pairs previous 11 meetings.

In the second and third set the Spaniard started serving better the American continued to serve poorly by his standards - although both men eventually served at around 80% for first serves in the beginnnig of the third set. Verdasco ultimately came out on top 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

"He stepped up and hit some pretty good backhands there. I didn’t serve well today. I didn’t get much on anything, which made it an uphill battle." - Andy Roddick

Juan Carlos Ferrero In Devastating Form In Brazil Final

Juan Carlos Ferrero destroyed Lukasz Kubolt in the Brazil Open finals winning 6-1, 6-0. Ferrero has house near the Costa do Sauipe site, helping him feel at ease in the tournament, but not explaining the ease with which he defeated his Polish opponent. Kubolt also lost the doubles finals of the same tournament.

The win marks Ferreros 13th ATP title. This is the first sign of good form, and good luck, from Ferrero after he lost both of his opening round matches in New Zealand and at the Australian Open, also spraining his ankle in New Zealand.

Ferrero dominated the match, winning 56 or 80 points.

“You never expect to play a one-sided final like this. One is always nervous in the beginning of a final, and it wasn’t different today. I thought I played well from the beginning and with two breaks of serve ahead quite early in the match I never looked back." - Juan Carlos Ferrero

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Happened Today?

- With Rafael Nadal set to lose 300 points and Andy Murray to lose 500 points because neither showed up to Rotterdam it looks as though Rafa with once again rise above Murray in the rankings with only 130 points separating them at the moment.

- Novak Djokovic was beaten by Mikhail Youzhny in the semi finals in Rotterdam in straight sets. After Youzhny's 7-6, 7-6 win, the Russian next faces Robin Soderling in Sunday's final.

- Fernando Verdasco and Andy Roddick have set up a finals meeting in San Jose with Verdasco surviving a second set loss of concentration and Roddick getting off to a slow start in their semi final matches.

- Juan Carlos Ferrero has also set up his first ATP final of the season in Brasil where he will meet Lukasz Kubot for the first time.

- Elena Dementieva fought her way back from being one set down against Melanie Oudin to make it to the finals of the Paris Open where she will face Lucie Safarova. Safarova defeated the number 2 seed, Flavia Pennetta 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in her semi final match up. Dementieva beat Oudin 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Soderling Downs Davydenko In Rotterdam

Swede Robin Soderling is through to his first ATP final of the season in the 500 point event in Rotterdam where he will face Mikhail Youzhny on Sunday after defeating Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets 7-6, 6-4.

Soderling showed no signs tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis that kept him off the tour for 3-4 weeks late last season and appeared to bother him at the Kooyong Classic this year. After his first round defeat at the Australian Open Soderling went to Austria to continue treatment on his elbow.

Despite the number of break points Davydenko had on his serve it was a high quality game with both players smacking hard flat forehands repeatedly. Soderling is most famous for his 4th round defeat of 4 time defending champion Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros last year.

The second game of the first set saw Soderling have 3 break points on the Davydenko serve. A little bit o luck with a let cord gave Davydenko to serve the first break point and his strength from the baseline saving the other two. The flat hitting, scrappy Russian managed to save another break point, eventually holding serve.

Throughout the match Soderling clearly preferred his forehand, repeatedly running around his backhand to his more powerful shot (and the shot that would be least affected by tennis elbow). The Swede looked sharp and precise, pummeling hard flat forehands into Davydenko's backhand the same way he did against Nadal last year only to left handed Nadal's forehand.

At 3-2 Davydenko was again down 3 break points against his serve, serving at 42% for first serves. He double faulted to give Soderling the break. Before long it was 5-2 and things weren't looking good for Davydenko until he picked up his game and forced a tie break, which Soderling went on to win.

An awkward fall in the second set at 4-4 on Davydenko's serve at 0-30 saw Davydenko call for the trainer. He didn't call for the trainer for what could have a lateral ligament sprain but for a band aid on a grazed hand. It didn't make any difference. He dropped serve and with that the match.

Soderling and Youzhny have played twice before with each player winning once.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oudin On Fire, Mauresmo Honoured, Dementieva In Semi's... It's All Happening In Paris

Top seeded Russian Elena Dementieva narrowly escaped defeated and books her passage into the semi finals of the Paris Open on Friday. Andrea Petkovic challenged the world number 7 but eventually went down 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to the more experienced Russian who took control of the match in the third set.

"It was a tough one for me to win today. And I do have to give Andrea credit, she played really well yesterday against Aravane Rezai and against me today as well. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at the beginning of the match as we had never played against each other before. I was impressed with how aggressive she played, and she also has a great serve and baseline game." - Elena Dementieva

American Melanie Oudin also made it through to semi finals after coming back from a one set and a break in the second set deficit while battling a cold at the same time. The plucky American credited her will to win for the comeback in the match she eventually beating Agnes Szavay 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Oudin, who has had the cold since the Fed Cup tie, next faces Demetieva in her first WTA level semi final.

Earlier in the week the Parisian fans paid tribute to the recently retired Amelie Mauresmo. With an emotional Mauresmo receiving tribute from players such as Dementieva and Schiavone as well as a message from her fans through Michel Boujenah.

'Your hopes were our hopes. Your disappointments were ours, too. When you cried after your victory at Wimbledon, so did we.' - Michel Boujenah

"I feel sad today. Amélie, you're one of the very best, and you're leaving. Younger players will always remember 'the Mauresmo years.' And I'm not even sure that anyone can replace you here." - Elena Dementieva

Federer's Charity Work In Ethiopia

Roger Federer is currently in Ethiopia with the Roger Federer Foundation assessing the impact of the foundation on the lives of children in the area. The kids enjoyed having fun with the world number 1, following him and chanting his name and singing "Roger, Our Father" around the emotional Swiss champ.

Roger, who's mother is South African, and the inspiration for his African focus of Foundation, also participated in a 1km fun run with some of the local schools best runners, eventually finishing the run towards the end of the pack.

Juan Martin Del Potro The Latest ATP Injury Victim. Murray Continues To Lick His Wounds.

Juan Martin del Potro has had a niggling wrist injury since October last year which led to his retirement from Shanghai at the end of last season and this years Kooyong exhibition tournament. del Potro will now be sidelined for 4 weeks as he recovers, meaning his withdrawal from Marsaille and Davis Cup play.

This news comes at the same time as news that Andy Murray plans to also sit out Marsaille as he continues to lick his wounds after his Australian Open final defeat, claiming fatigue after 5 weeks of play. You have to wonder if it's not so much the 5 weeks of play in Australia that has taken it's toll on Murray, one of the fittest men on the tour who would be more than used to playing 5 weeks in a row. Murray seemed quite troubled by his knee and back during the AO final, as well as quite emotional in defeat and it has to be questioned if he is really recovering from injury and emotional issues instead. Federer also took considerable time to return to the tour last year after crumbling and weeping in the AO final that was eventually won by Nadal.

Speaking of Nadal, Rafa is due to return to training on Monday. Rafa's coach and uncle has said that the possiblility of Rafa playing in Davis Cup remains uncertain but that the Spanish champ intends to go to Indian Wells to mount a defence for his title from last year.

"He has greatly changed the way he plays, but do not forget that he is a clay court player and it is not easy to change a playing style.

He has to play with insoles that force him to change his support and that cause pain, but it is a part of his game and we have to admit that this is what exists. Right now we have to regain the physical and athletic work, all the rest is good. Clearly he’s had more injuries than usual and that’s affected his workouts and consequently his game, because if you have the chance to train as normal, things are much better – as happened in 2008." - Toni Nadal

Maybe it's a better ideal to play with insoles that don't create more problems.

Paradorn Srichaphan Becomes A Movie Star

Paradorn Srichaphan, Thailand's former world number 9, has become a movie star. He stars in Bang Rajan II but doesn't actually speak. However, Srichaphan plays a good guy, an incredibly ripped guy, who fights to save his family from the invading Burmese Army. Despite the silence of his character he seemed to have trouble with his lines saying, "the hardest part is remembering the dialogue, because you cannot just read it, you have to feel it and express the emotions with gestures."

In real life Srichaphan is married to a former Miss Universe and was heavily criticised in 2005 for only donating the equivalent of $250 to the Thai Red Cross after the Tsunami despite earning over $3 million in prize money during the course of his career.

Paradorn hasn't played a professional match in almost 3 years after being forced to retired with a reoccurring wrist injury that eventually required surgery.

Image from Phranakorn Film

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Happened Today?

- Andy Roddick's wife Brooklyn Decker graced the cover of Sports Illustrated 2010 swimsuit edition looking a beautiful as ever. Ana Ivanovic also appeared in the same issue rolling around on pink tennis balls in a pink bikini. Ivanovic has also signed a lifetime contract with Adidas this week.

- Rafael Nadal announced via his Facebook page that he would soon be returning to training.

- Juan Carlos Ferrero won his first match of 2010 in Brasil beating Eduardo Schwank 7-6, 6-3. He next faces Nicolas Massu. Also in winning form in Brasil is Santiago champion Thomaz Bellucci.

- Lleyton Hewitt's choice of coach has been critized by fellow Australian John Alexander. Alexander has suggested that Hewitt's coach, who has not been anywhere near the top 100 professionally, is merely a glorified hitting partner who is just a year older than Hewitt and can't have much to contribute. Unsurprisingly Alexander went on to suggest himself as an appopriate replacement. Doesn't really matter much when he can't play because he's just had a second hip operation does it?

- Djokovic has made it into the next round of the tournament in Rotterdam after his opponent retired with a knee injury. Djokovic appears to have over come his stomach complaint that bothered him in Australia. Gael Monfils, on the other hand, seems to have been struck down by some bug as well, complaining regularly on his Twitter site about feeling ill and sleeping badly.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Player Profile: Tommy Robredo

Full Name: Tommy Robredo Garces

DOB: 1 May 1982

Height: 180 cm

Weight: 75kg

Turned Pro: 1998

Highest Rank: 5

Current Rank: 15

Plays: Right handed

Career Prize Money: $8, 111, 874


Named after The Who song "Tommy", Robredo was born in Hostalric (Girona), Spain in 1982. As a young boy Tommy was introduced to tennis by his parents who both played. Robredo would go on to practice by himself at their tennis club, Montnegre Tennis Club in Sant Celoni, for hours alone. In 1987 the Robredo family moved and Tommy's father took a job in charge of the tennis school of Club Natació Olot where Robredo began regular training.

In 1992 ten year old Robredo caught the eye of the Catalan Tennis Federation who then supported his development. As with most Spaniards, Tommy's preferred surface is the red clay and his best results have always been on the dirt.

In 2006 Robredo won his first Masters level tournament in Hamburg beating Radek Stepanek in straight sets. 2007 saw Robredo start the year off well, reaching his first Australian Open quarterfinal where he lost to Roger Federer. The same thing happened in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros later that year. Robredo has never made it past the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam.

2007 also marked an increase in Robredo's media exposure with Tommy posing nude in Cosmopolitan to raise awareness for cancer in men. Fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco also posed in the same magazine. Robredo has also done extensive modelling in Spanish magazines and is popular with fashion magazines because of his photogenic face and piercing blue eyes (which I personally got to see when catching a train in Madrid while standing beside Robredo). Tommy currently models for Ermenegildo Zegna.

In total Tommy has won 9 ATP level tournaments and has twice won the Hopman Cup, this year taking home the diamond encrusted tennis ball trophy with team mate Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Robredo has also played for Spain in the Davis Cup frequently, having a 7-11 win-lost ratio. He contributed to Spain winning the Davis Cup, playing in various ties, in 2004, 2008 and 2009

In 2010 Robredo successfully organised an international wheelchair tournament

Tommy is due to play the second round of the Rotterdam tournament today.