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March 4 - 10

Last updated at Sun, 09 Mar 2008 05:03:25 GMT

  Federer’s Weakness Might Have Been an Illness - Christopher Clarey

But Federer, who complained of feeling sluggish during the Open, said it appeared that the mononucleosis was the more serious issue.

“The doctors said I must have had it for at least six weeks, which went all the way back to December,” Federer said in a telephone interview from Dubai, explaining that he had now been medically cleared to compete... “When I heard it was mono, I was actually even more happy to have made the semifinals of the Australian Open, because probably a doctor would have said, You’re not allowed or can’t play,” Federer said.

...Federer said he was unable to practice for about 10 days in February and received medical clearance to begin training five days before the tournament in Dubai began March 3.

“They weren’t sure I was over it, but now I’m creating antibodies, and this really shows you are over it,” he said. “But I lost a lot of fitness. I was feeling so great in December up until the moment I got sick, so this has been my problem the last couple weeks: really getting back on track. I haven’t practiced and couldn’t really work out the way I wanted to, because you have to be very careful with mono.”

  Roddick parts company with coach Connors - Reuters
"Jimmy resigned, probably about a week ago," Roddick told reporters on Thursday after reaching the semi-final of the Dubai Championships
  Desert twister - Jon Wetheim,
  Red tape not halting Lepchenko's determination to make it on tour - Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN
And that wasn't even the most difficult part of Varvara Lepchenko's journey. The 21-year-old from Uzbekistan defected at age 15 during a junior tournament in Florida, accompanied by her father and older sister, and hoped her mother would follow shortly. The family applied for political asylum, citing prejudice against Christians in the largely Muslim country.

...Allentown might not be the epitome of a tennis hotbed, but Lepchenko decided she liked the people and the landscape in the Lehigh Valley. She and her parents -- her mother finally was able to join them in 2006 -- now rent an apartment there, and Lepchenko trains indoors at the Westend Racquet Club.

..."Miserable" red tape occasionally has kept Lepchenko out of tournaments she intended to enter. She got a green card this past fall and the WTA Web site lists her as being from the United States, but she doesn't yet have formal citizenship or a passport. Every time she wants to travel outside the country to play, she has to wait for special paperwork. She won't venture back to Uzbekistan or anywhere in that region for fear of being detained.

  Hewitt's talents underappreciated but effective - Joel Drucker, ESPN
It's been more than three years since Hewitt reached a Grand Slam final. He's now 27 years old and ranked No. 24 coming into Las Vegas. In the spirit of such battlers as Jimmy Connors and Michael Chang, Hewitt is a warrior to the end. Predictions are far less important to him than the mere act of day-in, day-out competition. When his career is over, Hewitt will bring his car in on empty. He will have explored every possible avenue, squeezed every drop out of his tennis experience. Supreme devotion might not always make the highlight reel, but surely it's yet another of Hewitt's many underrated talents.
  'Lena and the Rings - TennisWorld
This is the kind of win that could also give Dementieva a boost for the Olympics, which she says is her main goal of 2008. Talk about a Chinese wall. Is any Olympic qualifyier tougher than one facing Russia's tennis playing women? With three top 10 players (Kuznetsova, Sharapova, Anna Chakvetadze) and another four in the top 21, many of them are on edge as they try to keep their ranking up in the first half of the season.

"For sure, Maria, Svetlana and Chakvetadze will be there," said Sydney silver medalist Dementieva. "So me, (Nadia) Petrova and Dinara (Safina) are trying to take the last spot and it's not going to be easy. That's why it's important to play well at the beginning of the year for me."

  Andy Roddick announces split with coach Jimmy Connors - Barry Flatman, Times Online
“But communication got tough when Jimmy was not there. Maybe the match wasn’t on television. You came off the court and struggled to explain where your head was at. I think we did the mentor bit as well as we could but when I am going from Australia to Austria to California to Memphis to Dubai like I have done so far this year it becomes difficult.

...“It was as much a matter of logistics as anything and it was tough to ask him to come on the road two or three or four weeks at a time. He’s got a great family and he likes walking his dogs every morning. Plus I was keeping him away from the golf course a little bit too much. I am sad about it, as much from a personal stand point as anything. I really enjoyed my time with him.” ...

“Maybe we didn’t get the results he wanted and it was tough for him to do it part-time but he was retired before we got together,” said Roddick.

“It’s completely amicable and we are still friends. I just have so much respect for him as a person and I’m thankful for what he was able to give to me as well as taking some time out of his retirement to spend it with me. I’m sure the phone number is still there for me if I need to bounce something off him. We’ve not talked about it but I don’t see him hanging up the receiver if I want to ask him a question. It ended up just about as well as something like this can be.”

  Davydenko sees light at the end of the tunnel - Barry Flatman, Times Online
Just along the Arabian Gulf at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, the trend changed dramatically again as Davydenko ended the Murray run with a 7-5, 6-4 win that underlined a new positive attitude. “For me it was important that something changed,” Davydenko said. “Tennis is all about what you have in your head. If you feel crazy then you lose matches. If you keep concentration you can win anything.

“I feel better now. I have no pressure anymore from anyone and that is lucky. So I can concentrate more on my game and do something better for this season. I’m still a top player and will do my best to stay there this year. Things started getting better after Shanghai and now it’s a new feeling and everything is great.”

  Roger Federer's sudden fallibility is fascinating to witness - Simon Barnes, The Times
But now, Federer is at crisis, and I am enthralled.
  Andy Murray is out but not down in Dubai - The Telegraph
Murray sensibly looked at the bigger picture as he packed his bags. "It's been a good week for me," he added. "I beat the world No 1 here so I am not going to get too down on it.

"It's the first tournament of the year on this surface. It's good preparation for [Masters Series events in] Indian Wells and Miami. It is something for me to work on. I have had three tough matches in relatively warm conditions so I'm happy with that."

  Murray counts the cost as break points go begging - Richard 'Jago', The Guardian
Davydenko added: "He started to play faster in the second set. He won three games so fast it surprised me. So I tried to serve faster - new balls helped - and play faster myself. And it worked."

It was a strange performance by Murray, full of beautiful strokes and cleverly worked rallies but with impotent moments, notably on the forehand side, where he sometimes looked uncertain.

  Murray bemoans missed chances in Davydenko loss - The Independent
After playing a ragged game to lose his early advantage in the second set, Murray had two immediate chances to restore it, but hit a backhand out when a down-the-line winner beckoned and then drove a loose forehand beyond the baseline. Davydenko won five games in a row and served out to take the match. "I wasn't disappointed with the way I was hitting the ball, but I was disappointed that I didn't take my chances," Murray said.
  Muhammad must weigh options carefully - Las Vegas Review Journal
I want it so bad," she said.

The Las Vegas home-schooled resident is a month from turning 17 and committed today to pursuing a pro career and bypassing college, a decision that could change in a year should her results suggest enrolling at a university would be a more intelligent choice. It certainly wouldn't be the worst one for her.

  Bryan brothers big on playing in Vegas - Las Vegas Review Journal
The 29-year-old twins, Bob and Mike, lost a staggering 18 straight hands during one session at the host hotel for this week's Tennis Channel Open.

"The dealer said it was the worst shoe he ever saw," Mike Bryan said.

Bob then issued what has become a familiar refrain among some of the players competing in this week's event at the Darling Tennis Center: "We have to win (Wednesday night) to break even."

  Hewitt dealt early knockout - Las Vegas Review Journal
the end, it all caught up with Hewitt, who will not be around to defend his title after the second-seeded Australian was eliminated by Benneteau 6-3, 7-5 in the biggest upset of the tournament.

"Every match is difficult," said Benneteau, who next will face young American Sam Querrey in Friday's quarterfinals. "But I knew I had a chance to win if I didn't give him too many free points."

..."I didn't have my rhythm," Hewitt said. "I played patches of good tennis, but I had too many flat spots. He did a good job of moving the ball around, and he made it difficult for me to attack him. He played smart."

  Healthy Canas seeking more net gains - Las Vegas Review Journal
"I feel great," Canas said. "My wrist is perfect. My conditioning is good. I just need to get some more matches and build my confidence."

..."It was frustrating," Canas said. "I was in a cast for two months, and my doctors didn't want me to rush back. I'm starting later than usual. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and get back to where I was a year ago."

  Zvonareva back to winning ways - The Hindu
But she came back making her first Tier I final at Doha, less than 10 days ago and lost to Maria Sharapova in three sets.

“That put the self belief back,” said Zvonareva. Zvonareva said her goal for the current season was to play as many tournaments as possible. “I want to play at least 20 events and stay injury-free. Getting back into the top-10 should happen if I turn in consistent results,” said the Russian.

  Venus prevails over Peng - The Hindu
The second-seeded Venus defeated Shuai Peng of China 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 in a Canara Bank Bangalore Open second round match on Thursday.

Later in the night, the top-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia defeated Sanda Mamic of Croatia 6-2, 6-2. The left-handed Mamic, slowly finding her way back after a surgery-induced two-year break, was no match for Jankovic.

  Roddick too hot for Nadal to handle - Gulf News
The American also won 23 of the 28 first serve points compared to the 28 from 41 by Nadal.

"His serves made the difference tonight," Nadal felt. "I struggled with my forehand returns and missed many passing shots. That's tough against big servers like Roddick."

...The first quarterfinal barely rose to any dizzy heights with Ferrer showing a little more enthusiasm in carrying through with his shots. "I've had my ups and downs. But Dubai seems to be a lucky place for me," said Lopez, the lowest rank-ed quarterfinalist at No 41. "The key was to stay aggressive as that is the only way to beat David," Lopez said.

  Roddick splits with coach connors - Gulf News
  Andy Murray's winning streak halted by Nikolay Davydenko - Gulf News
  Sure Hit - Gulf News
The British No 1 seed found time for a quick visit to the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS), in Bur Dubai, before heading back to get prepared for the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships 2008.
  No politics in sport - Gulf News
"I've felt very welcome here and I really do not see why I should be [worried] about it [politics]," he said in answer to a question on a growing sense of hostility towards American citizens in this region due to the invasion and the subsequent handling of the situation in Iraq.

"I am not the one making those decision[s], so why should I be affected?" Roddick questioned. "I am not the one involved in those sort of things [politics]."

  Nestor and Zimonjic edge through - Gulf News
  Nadal says no to daredevil sports - Gulf News
The Spaniard was narrating his experiences after his visit to Emaar Properties' Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building.

"I was totally scared as we went up in the temporary escalator," Nadal disclosed. "But once we reached up, it was such an amazing view. It was such a great experience just watching everything around. But getting there was the scary bit."

...Besides a career in tennis, some players on the tour have other passions like Andy Roddick enjoying sky diving or Novak Djokovic skiing once in a while... These activities are way too dangerous for a sport like tennis. I did do some skiing when I was nine or ten years old."

  Smells like team spirit - Gulf News
  Guga announces new tennis tournament, counts on his experience - Xinhua
The latest tournament in the tennis world, the Santa Catarina challenger, was revealed on Wednesday by the host and creator, Gustavo Kuerten. The tournament will be the third one on the list of the farewell tour of Guga. The competition will take place in the city where Kuerten was born, Florianopolis. The tournament will begin on April 14th and will be the last appearance of Guga as a professional tennis player on Brazilian soil. "This tournament will be a privilege. It will be one last opportunity. I am giving myself this present. Being able to play in Florianopolis in front of all my friends and family will be great. The tournament will have a special meaning to me," said the former world No. 1.
  Tennis’ superhero losing a little of his powers - The Hindu
  Serena overcomes Obziler’s challenge - The Hindu
“I am still not 100 per cent and I did make some errors in the first set as she (Obziler) never let me settle into a rhythm but I am happy being here considering what I went through about two and a half weeks back,” Serena said.

...Serena’s and Schnyder’s wins offered some respite to seeded players after fifth-seed Agnes Szavay of Hungary and sixth-seed Sybille Bammer of Austria crashed out of the tournament earlier in the day. Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan continued her giant-killing act — she ousted defending champion Yaroslava Shvedova in Monday’s first round — as she upset Szavay 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.

  Andy Murray works hard for Dubai victory - Neil Harman, The Times
  Fernando Verdasco takes Andy Murray to brink - The Telegraph
Murray survived that pivotal moment in the 11th game of the final set and took the ensuing tie-break on his fourth match point - a rally of 34 tense strokes lasting 51 seconds - to squeeze through 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 into a quarter-final against world No 5 Nikolay Davydenko, a Russian whom he has beaten on the last three of their five encounters.
  Murray admits to knee problem after uncomfortable win - Richard 'Jago', The Guardian
"I have been doing a lot of stuff for it," he said. "I don't know if the muscles are a little bit tired but I get it a lot just after a couple of games. I get it in 50% of my matches. It's just a bit uncomfortable for a few games. If it was really bad I would have had the trainer on."
  Murray follows glory with true grit - Paul Newman, The Independent
While big appearance fees are the major reason for the superb field here, the players also enjoy their time off. Djokovic has been testing his winter skills at Ski Dubai, the indoor ski slope featuring "real" snow, while Nadal went up the Burj Dubai, which will be the world's tallest tower. The building is still under construction, but Nadal took an outside lift to go to the 158th floor, 600 metres above ground level. Roddick has simply been enjoying his hotel, the £900-a-night Burj Al Arab, which is built in the shape of a billowing sail. "It's pretty cool," Roddick said. "I could spend hours just walking around there. It's weird. It's like Star Wars. It feels as though Darth Vader should be walking down the hallway."
  Spanish aces on a roll - Khaleej Times
  Rafa always a gentleman and a fierce competitor - Khaleej Times
“Just wait, Roger who had no big events after the Australian Open, will recover in a week’s time before he goes for titles again,” said Nadal, “he has a strong personality and is a wonderful player on the Tour.”
  Murray struggles to victory - Gulf News
But it was the centre court action between Murray and Verdasco that took prominence. In the opening set, Murray surged ahead with a break in the sixth game to go 4-2 clear and then went on to win the set 6-3 in 39 minutes.

He kept up the tempo in the second while breaking his opponent in the sixth game to go clear 4-2, after which he comfortably won the set 6-3. "I was struggling against the wind and at one point towards the end, I was only looking at putting the ball back inside," Murray conceded.

In the third, Murray led 4-2, thanks to a break in the sixth. But the plucky Spaniard immediately held serve to make it 4-4 and push the encounter into a deciding tie-breaker.

  Zimonjic and Nestor enter doubles quarterfinals - Gulf News/B>
  Barclays expecting to reap rewards - Gulf News
  French youngster driven by Gael force - Gulf News
"The result was really not that important. The idea was to get out there on court and get a feel of a competition match. I am pleased with the way I have played my first match after such a long time."

He said that he is still continuing with rehabilitation work on his knee. However, one week ago he started having a problem with his ankle. "I can now play almost my best game," Monfils said.

"The idea now is to keep on believing in myself and my ability to play at my best level in the near future."

  Qatar to host season finale - Gulf News
  Isner helping carry future of U.S. tennis - Las Vegas Review Journal
  Hewitt takes little time to send Safin packing - Las Vegas Review Journal
"It's obvious I need more matches," the Russian said. "I've practiced plenty, but it's not the same."

Hewitt was the exact opposite. The Australian played brilliant defensive tennis, using his backhand effectively to return Safin's serve. He broke Safin at 2-1 in the first set, then finished him off with a second break at 5-2. "Marat is a tough player to play against," Hewitt said. "He has a lot of firepower. But I had a good return game working and I was able to put back a lot of his good shots."

...While Hewitt had an easy go of it Monday, Querrey was put to the test by Grosjean. Querrey squandered four match-point opportunities in the third-set tiebreaker and was on the brink of being ousted at 8-7. But he pulled even with his serve and won the last three points to advance to the next round against Nicolas Kiefer. "I was getting tired of losing," Querrey said of tiebreakers. His recent history had him dropping a match to Kei Nishikori last month at Delray Beach, Fla., after squandering four match points.

  Roger Federer's lack of coaching exposes flaws - Neil Harman, The Times
“Youngsters play good on the day. It’s if they can play good for the week, that’s the question.”

“All he did was keep the ball in play, moving me around.”

“He’s stayed pretty much the same, over the last, say, nine months or so. He really hasn’t changed.”

All are quotes from Roger Federer immediately after losses in the past 20 months. The first was to Andy Murray in Cincinnati in 2006, then to Guillermo Cañas, of Argentina, at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, a year ago, and finally to Novak Djokovic, the Serb, at the Australian Open in January

  Nadal: Andy Murray has a winning game - The Telegraph
There were no such problems for Novak Djokovic, who deposed Federer as Australian Open champion. He was delighted to enjoy an unexpectedly comfortable passage against Marin Cilic in a Serbo-Croatian tussle and declared that he now felt one of the favourites to win a tournament on any surface.

World No 3 Djokovic also insisted that he expected Murray to add to Federer's 2008 woes.

He said: "Roger doesn't like it when the ball keeps coming back at him and I wasn't surprised that Andy beat him. Andy has been playing well this year."

  Murray's serve is route to the top, says Petchey - Richard 'Jago', The Guardian
Most remarkably of all, Petchey suggested that Murray's peak was almost upon him. "If you look at my quotes when I was working with him I said that the age of 21 was when he will play his best tennis - and he's a few months from his 21st birthday now."
  How relaxed Murray planned a patient victory - Paul Newman, The Independent
Murray felt he could beat Federer from the moment he played him in their only other encounter, when the Swiss won their Bangkok final three years ago 6-3, 7-5. "I was really annoyed with myself because right at the start of the match I lost my serve from 40-15 up and let him go 3-0 ahead," Murray recalled. "It was pretty even for the rest of the match and I realised then that if you're going to try to play too well against someone as good as him you're going to put a lot of pressure on yourself and make mistakes. From the start I realised the best way to play against him." ..."I stayed calm the whole way through," Murray said. "That's something that I've worked on and my life is so much more relaxed now that I'm going on the court just thinking about my tennis. That's all I'm concentrating on now and I think that showed in my performance."
  Murray gets powerful backing after Federer's broadside - Paul Newman, The Independent
  Threat looms large over Bangalore Open’s Tier II status - IANS
The Canara Bank Bangalore Open is facing a serious threat of being downgraded to Tier III status again with Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Larry Scott finding the facilities at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA) as “minimally adequate.”
  India is high on WTA list: Scott - The Hindu
“I am extremely pleased with the way this Tier II event is being run here and it is very important for India to have an event like this in the region, which will really push the game up. The facilities have been really good, especially the Hotel Leela Palace, where the players are being put up. It is world class”, said the WTA chief in a chat with `The Hindu.
  Venus refuses to divulge her choice of Democratic candidate - UNI
...Venus said,''It is nice to see that the candidates belonging to minority segment are making stir in the political circle''.

Magazines this Month

  Roger and out? - ESPN the Magazine

  The man who makes the tennis world nervous - ESPN the Magazine

  January-February issue - Tennis magazine (table of contents plus some links)

  First Serve: The Man Could Not Avoid Beauty - Bill Simons, Inside Tennis

  The Buzz - Inside Tennis

  World Top 10 Stories - Matthew Cronin, Inside Tennis

  Changes - Inside Tennis

  Say It Ain't So - Bill Simons, Inside Tennis

  The Best Damn Tennis Crib Sheet - Period!: Men - Matthew Cronin, Inside Tennis

  The Best Damn Tennis Crib Sheet - Period! - Matthew Cronin, Inside Tennis

  Ana Ivanovic: Leads the Serbian Charge - Alix Ramsay, Tennis Life

  Hall of Fame: Pete Sampra goes home for the first time - Bill Dwyre, Tennis Life

  Roy Emerson Now - Tennis Life

  Cookie Quandry: Superstitions Are Serious Business - Tennis Week

  February issue - Australian Tennis (table of contents)

  Warriors Ready to Battle for Their Honor - Deuce

  Andy Roddick: The Road Ahead - Joel Drucker, Deuce

  Ferrer Steps Out of the Shadows - Deuce

  Kiefer's Comeback & The Getting of Wisdom - Deuce

  ATP's 'FEEL IT' Set for Global Rollout in 2008 - Deuce

  Erlich & Ram Share Dreams On and Off Court - Deuce

  The Last Time... with Tommy Haas - Deuce

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