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After a brief breather, the Davis Cup resumes - minus a few stars - Tom Tebbutt, The Globe and Mail
U.S. captain Patrick McEnroe is one of the nice guys in tennis. When asked last week about the format that requires his team to begin defending its title so soon, he politely responded, "I'd rather not talk about that at this moment." But he wouldn't have been out line if he had popped off at the absurdity of such a situation. (Three of the past seven champion countries have been eliminated in the following year's first round.)
...Davis Cup is the best of times and the worst of times. Nothing in tennis, maybe not even a Grand Slam final between two great players, creates an atmosphere as intense as an exciting best-of-five Davis Cup match or tie. But the four weeks a year required to win Dwight Davis's silver salver, including travels to parts not always known, have discouraged some players from making room for the event in the already-crowded 11-month season.
...If anyone thinks making a sensible schedule for the men's tour is easy, consider this. A year ago in Australia, ATP executive chairman Etienne de Villiers was talking about the 2009 schedule (2008 was completed) and it seemed it would be done a few months later, surely by Wimbledon in June. It is 13 months later, and nothing has been announced.
It’s impossible to handle the pressure: Sania Mirza - The Hindu
Exactly for this reason, Sania says that her managers advised her not to play in the WTA Bangalore Open (March 3 to 9) because of the controversies that are being raked up every time she is playing in India. “It is very, very difficult to handle these things,” was her repeated comment.
However, Sania said she would be undergoing an MRI scan on the left-hamstring tear very soon and was optimistic of playing in the Dubai and the Doha Opens in another two weeks time.
But it seems the pull-out will fuel the controversy all the more. “Till now we had not received any indication that she would not play,” said Sundar Raju, tournament director of the $600,000 Tier II Bangalore Open. The first whiff the tournament got of Mirza’s decision was when it got the final entry list from the WTA over the weekend.
With the entry deadline expiring on January 20, Mirza had decided quite some time back that she would not be playing in Bangalore. As to just why she chose to keep quiet about it till now is best known to her camp and managers but tennis insiders are quite certain that the issue has more to do with commercial reasons than anything else.
Last year Sania was paid to the tune of $100,000 as appearance money to figure in the then $175,000 prize money event. This year around, it has been reliably learnt, the organisers were not willing to shell out a similar amount. They would rather offer the likes of Serena Williams a sum in the vicinity of $150,000 to boost the credibility of their event.
...Till 2006, the Bangalore event was also run by Bhupathi’s company Globosport before the state association (Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association) decided to do things by itself... There is certainly more than just the possibility of another controversy that keeps Mirza from going to Bangalore a full month later. As to just why the same fear would not make her miss the Globosport-backed Sunfeast Open that begins on October 6 is also an interesting poser.
It was downright un-American. While the rest of the country was busy grinding avocados for guacamole, chilling their Bud Lights or breaking out the Nerf football for a pre-game backyard toss, Lindsay Davenport & Co. were stuck in a rain delay at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, the outcome of their Fed Cup quarterfinal against Germany hanging in the balance.
...Prior to Saturday's start, Davenport joked that, when it came to the all but unknown German team, she didn't have much in the way of a scouting report. Asked how much she knew about her first-round opponent, Sabine Lisicki, Davenport confessed, "About the same as I know about my second-round opponent - which isn't a lot." What you don't know can indeed hurt you. If Davenport - a Fed Cup vet and former No. 1 who was playing a hop, skip and a jump from her Laguna Beach home - was the runaway favorite, Lisicki didn't seem to notice.
...Garrison will now turn her attention to the Russians, who defeated the Shahar Peer-led Israeli squad 4-1. Despite an aversion to red clay and the idea of traveling to Russia in April, Davenport has already given her captain a verbal commitment. Question is: Who will Garrison round out her team with? The Wiliamses? Her new hero, Ms. Harkleroad? Will Raymond be tabbed to play doubles?
"I'm going to do everything possible to get the best team there and go from there," said Garrison, who'll be replaced by Mary Joe Fernandez in 2009. "It's a lot tougher than what people realize because there's months in between. You're still trying to figure out putting the right group of people together, as well. I don't necessarily believe it's always just about the rankings. I mean, you've got to have that right gel."
I love the run up to Fed Cup, because as Nadia Petrova says of the start of a new season: "Everyone thinks they can be No. 1." Unlike in individual competition, not every nation of the eight contenders that will be clawing for the title this year has realistic hopes to raise the trophy. But if, for once this century, all the world's best turned out and played for their teams, this very worthy competition would get a serious shot in the arm.
This is not, as some of my colleagues have been accused of by those involved in the competition, Fed Cup bashing. I don't think it belongs right up there with Davis Cup, as it has nowhere near the tradition of heavenly and historically critical moments that would encourage the top players to consistently take part. There are too many B teams trotted out there to play and fans know that if the top players aren't taking the competition seriously, then they won't either.
"It is true both at the performance level as well as in terms of popularity with the public," Tarpischev told Tennis Europe.org. "It's hardly possible to separate one from another. Yet, we still suffer from an acute shortage of indoor courts which are quite indispensable for a country like Russia, where one can play tennis outdoors only four months a year. And yes, other aspects of the tennis industry do show the same trends. Russian manufacturers increase their equipment sales annually, as do foreign brands such as Babolat, Wilson, and Dunlop, which have long since entrenched themselves in Russia."
Richard's Court: Time-Worn Tradition? - Richard Pagliaro, Tennis Week
Let’s be clear: when you have the top two players in the world playing a combined three Davis Cup ties in the past two years — and remember both Federer and Nadal made their mark in Davis Cup with Federer sweeping three matches to singlehandedly beat the United States, 3-2, in the 2001 first-round tie in Basel and an 18-year-old Nadal beating Roddick to stake Spain to a 2-0 lead in the 2004 final in Seville — then you’ve got a problem even if you’re unable or unwilling to acknowledge it. Can you imagine the world top two restricting their Grand Slam schedule to a combined three majors in a two-year stretch?
...“I would play Davis Cup every two years. You have a defending champion and the winning nation would not play the year after it wins the title,” Drysdale said. “You’d have an American zone that includes North and South America and a European zone that includes Europe and Africa and an Australasian zone that included Australia and Asia, which would be obviously Australia, Japan, China and maybe even Russia. Now can you imagine this? You’ve got the American zone where we’re all on the same time zone. So you’d have three weeks of round-robin every second year with four teams per zone and they’re playing in the same time zone so it’s not a travel issue going around the world. Then, you’d develop Davis Cup rivalries between Chile and the USA or Argentina, Mexico, Canada or whatever.["]
The Movistar Open in Vina del Mar, Chile, had a very eventful finish on Saturday night – a day early.
Juan Monaco of Argentina, who had already won his singles semi-final, injured his left ankle during the second set of the doubles final (after he won his semi-final) when he ran into the umpire’s chair... Gonzalez delighted the home crowd by winning 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 6-2. But that only happened after the match was interrupted by an 18-minute power failure with Gonzalez trailing by a set and 5-6 in the second. When played resumed, he promptly fell behind 15-40 on his serve and faced double match point. He saved both and went on to win the second-set tiebreak after trailing 3-5. An easier third set gave Gonzalez the win, and the title, after the No. 21-ranked Monaco withdrew.
...Stat-the-week: 10:15 p.m. : You’ve got to love the nocturnal lifestyle of the Latin countries.
“Not before 10:15 p.m.” was the starting time for the last match most days at the $462,000 (U.S.) Movistar Open in Vina del Mar, Chile, last week.
Mirza pulls out of Bangalore Open to avoid rows - AFP
"I am not playing in Bangalore Open. I have been advised by my manager not to play because a lot has been happening in the past few months," said Mirza, ranked 29th in the world.
"Every time I have played in India, there has been some kind of problem. So we just thought it was better not to play this time."
..."It is not a permanent decision. It is only this year she will not play in India", said Bhupathi, who also plays mixed doubles with Mirza.
..."I can confirm that the Bangalore Open will have both the (Williams) sisters playing," organiser Sunder Raju told reporters.
ESPN, the dominant channel for sports programming, will announce this week that Web users on college campuses and military bases — anyone in the .edu or .mil domain — will be able to access live programming on its Web site, ESPN360, without charge.
...Mr. Zehr said the Australian Open coverage was especially popular.
“While our linear network can only bring you one court at a time, you can be watching six different courts within the application,” he said.
“I’m not necessarily the biggest tennis fan in the world, but it’s turning me into one because I’ve been able to follow all the matches.”
"I have never thought of retirement," Coria said following a three-set defeat to Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas at Chile's Movistar Open, the opening clay event of the season. "While I had lost my desire to play, I can tell you now that I feel in good rhythm and confident. Little by little I'm recovering my fitness."
A REFRESHED Lleyton Hewitt hit the Taiwanese courts for the first time on Monday as he seeks to lead Australia out of the wilderness in this weekend's Davis Cup tie against Taiwan.
The Australian No.1 and Chris Guccione, who is almost certain to claim the other singles berth, arrived in Kaohsiung on Sunday night to join doubles specialist Paul Hanley and likely reserves Alun Jones and Joe Sirianni for the Asia-Oceania group tie.
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