Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

Baghdatis set to return in 2009.

baghdatisPopular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis is back from injury and is eyeing-off top honours at the inaugural Brisbane International tennis tournament.

The world No.98, who was once ranked No.8, is not just determined to claw his way back to a top 20 spot after an injury-plagued year – his ultimate goal is to secure a top-five ranking.

“I feel happy being on court again … I feel fitter than ever,” Baghdatis told reporters on Tuesday.

“It was a bad year, and I want to forget about it and just try to come back and get to the top 20.

“My objective is to get to the top five once in my lifetime – so that’s what I’ll try to do.”

The 23-year-old won the hearts of Australians after making it to the final of the 2006 Australian Open, before losing to champion Roger Federer in four sets.

He acknowledges the crowd support, which he credits to Greek and Cypriot patriotism and the Australian laid-back approach to life.

“All Australians are pretty cool, pretty nice, I love coming back every year,” he said.

At 182cm and weighing 82kg, the right-hander is looking fit and healthy, but aside from the other players, the hot Australian summer could prove to be stiff competition.

The Cypriot had to stop and rest a few times during his warm up inside Rafter Arena at the new Queensland Tennis centre.

“It’s a bit more warmer (than home) … that’s why I came early to have one week in front of me to prepare,” he said.

“It’s my second day here, so I feel a bit better than yesterday, so I’ll see how it goes.

“I’m pretty happy I’m here, so I’ll try to win some matches, and why not to win the tournament, that’s my goal.”

Although he’s in Australia for the festive season, Baghdatis’ determination to win and regain his place at the top of the rankings, means he won’t be partying this New Year’s Eve.

Instead opting to visit his dad and grandmother in Sydney.

After the Brisbane International, which starts on January 4, Baghdatis will play at Kooyong before the Australian Open.

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31
Dec
08

Maria still not ready to play!…but Jelena is!

 

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Defending Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from a Hong Kong exhibition tournament because she is still recovering from a shoulder injury just weeks ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

The three-time Grand Slam winner started playing tennis again just over two weeks ago and isn’t in proper condition, organizers of the Jan. 7-10 Hong Kong event said in a statement on their Web site Wednesday.

“It’s with much disappointment that I have to withdraw from Hong Kong. I’ve been using this event for the last five years to get match fit and ready for the new season, in fact Hong Kong has been successful in preparing me for the Australian Open,” Sharapova said. “I am very sorry I won’t be competing, and I deeply apologize to my fans and the sponsors that they won’t see me there this year. I’m just not ready to play against the top class competition in Hong Kong, although I remain hopeful for Australia where I’m the defending champion. Believe me, it’s been a very difficult decision, but I only started practicing 16 days ago. I love playing in Hong Kong, and the organizers attract a world class field.”

The Australian Open is Jan. 19 to Feb. 1.

“Maria needs to get ‘tennis fit’ now and she’s working hard,” Sharapova’s agent, Max Eisenbud, said.

The Russian was examined by a trainer midway through the three-set victory and withdrew from the event before her next match.

Medical tests later found a torn rotator cuff tendon in the 21-year-old’s right shoulder.

Sharapova missed the rest of the just-concluded season, including the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. Open, ending her streak of 23 consecutive major tournaments.

She hadn’t missed a major since her Grand Slam debut at the 2003 Australian Open. Sharapova also won the singles titles at Wimbledon in 2004 and the U.S. Open in 2006.

While she briefly held the No. 1 spot this year, her time off the court led her to slide down before ending the season at No. 9.

Sharapova went 32-4 with three titles in 2008, earning nearly $2 million in tour prize money.

Organizers in Hong Kong have replaced Sharapova with fellow Russian Anna Chakvetadze.

The field at the team-format event also includes top-ranked Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, American Vevus Williams, Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, Zheng Jie of China and India’s Sania Mirza.

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30
Dec
08

Ana Ivanovic to Headline Monday’s play.

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Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic is scheduled to make her Brisbane International debut during the night session on Monday 5 January.

Because of the enormous level of interest in the glamorous former world No.1, tournament organisers have taken the unprecedented step of announcing the schedule for Ivanovic’s first match.

“While this is not unheard of in some of the big tournaments on the tour, this is a first for an Australian event,” Brisbane International Tournament Director Steve Ayles explained.

“We can do it because we know Ana has to play a first-round match some time in the first three days. We think the incredible amount of public interest warrants it.

“The player, the tournament, the referee and tour officials are all in agreement with the announcement, so now the public can buy a ticket to Monday’s night session knowing that Ana is scheduled to play,” Ayles said.

Ivanovic’s opponent won’t be known until the official draw is conducted in a special presentation on the Queens St Mall stage in front of Myer at noon on 3 January.

The world No.5 heads an impressive women’s field for the event that includes Victoria Azarenka, Marion Bartoli, Daniela Hantuchova and former Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo in the women’s draw.

So far the Australian female contingent in the event consists of Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova and Jelena Dokic.

The men’s field is headed by Serbian World No.3 Novak Djokovic and fellow Australian Open 2008 finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga from France.

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29
Dec
08

Murray switching?..dreams of being as rich as Federer.

 

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Andy Murray might be leaving his management company, Ace Group.

Murray’s contract with the agency is due to expire and the Scot would have to have given his agent, Patricio Apey, a notice of an intention not to renew in order to have set off the stampede of agencies desperate for his signature.

Simon Fuller’s Creative Artists Agency (CAA) have emerged as favourites after having apparently made a “very good offer” for Murray. CAA have have tempted Novak Djokovic to their books as well as actor Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg. Murray’s favourite comic actor Will Ferrell is also signed to the company, which may persuade Murray to sign with them.

IMG, rivals of CAA, represents a traditional lure for the top players with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the world No 1 and No 2, on its books on long-term contracts. IMG has helped Federer enter the list of Switzerland’s richest 300 people with a personal fortune estimated at around £127m and this year signed a ten-year with Nike worth up to £130m.

Lagardère, a French company, is is a third option for Murray. It has most of the leading French players, including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon, as clients.

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29
Dec
08

The 2009 ATP Season Openers.

federer-und-nadal

The ATP World Tour 2009 season begins on January 4, with the world’s best players competing at ATP World Tour 250 events in Brisbane, Chennai and Doha. The focus then shifts to Auckland and Sydney ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open from January 19-February 2.

 

BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL – Brisbane, Australia
January 4-11, 2009 – Hard, $484,750

The first tournament of the ATP World Tour 2009 season, the inaugural Brisbane International, begins on Sunday, January 4, at a new $82 million tennis centre. The Centre court at the Queensland Tennis Center has been named ‘Rafter Arena’ in honor of Queensland’s former ATP World Tour No. 1 Patrick Rafter. Sixteen players in the Top 50 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, including Australian Open finalists Novak Djokovic (No. 3) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 6) will attempt to gain valuable match practise and fitness. Fernando Verdasco (No. 16), Robin Soderling (No. 17) and Tomas Berdych (No. 20) also compete alongside Richard Gasquet and Marcos Baghdatis.

CHENNAI OPEN – Chennai, India
January 5-11, 2009 – Hard, $450,000

The 14th edition of Chennai Open will be held from January 5 at the SDAT Tennis stadium in Nungambakkam, Chennai. Eight players in the Top 50 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings compete, including World No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko, Stanislas Wawrinka (No. 13), Marin Cilic (No. 23), Ivo Karlovic (No. 26), Rainer Schuettler (No. 33), 2004-05 winner Carlos Moya (No. 42) and 2006 titlist Ivan Ljubicic (No. 44). Tournament debutants Bob and Mike Bryan compete alongside Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles, Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes in the doubles tournament.

QATAR EXXONMOBIL OPEN, Doha, Qatar
January 5-11, 2009 – Hard, $1,110,250

Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have each captured the title since the tournament was first contested in 1993. Four of the World’s Top 10 including No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal, 2004-05 winner Federer, defending champion Murray and Andy Roddick return to the Khalifa International Tennis Complex, alongside Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mikhail Youzhny.

HEINEKEN OPEN – Auckland, New Zealand
January 12-17, 2009 – Hard, $480,750

Top 10 star Juan Martin del Potro, former titlist David Ferrer, Robin Soderling, Nicolas Almagro, defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber and last year’s finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero will all compete at the historic Heineken Open, held at the ASB Tennis Centre. Auckland has previously welcomed legendary names, such as Rod Laver and John Newcombe, in addition to local favourite Onny Parun.

MEDIBANK INTERNATIONAL – Sydney, Australia
January 11-17, 2009 – Hard, $484,750

Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the World No. 6, and No. 7-ranked Gilles Simon head to Sydney where they will face competition from David Nalbandian, Tommy Robredo and Richard Gasquet and four-time former champion Lleyton Hewitt. Nineteen players in the Top 50 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings feature at the hard-court event, which was first played as a permanent annual event in 1935. The state’s premier tennis stadium at Sydney Olympic Park, site of the 2000 Olympics tennis event, is named in honour of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ken Rosewall.

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28
Dec
08

2009 Hopman Cup Schedule of Play.

 

flavia_pennetta_hot_tennis_girl

Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

cornet1

Alize Cornet of France

hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt of Australia

Group A

(1)
USA
Meghann Shaughnessy and James Blake

(4)
Australia
Casey Dellacqua and Lleyton Hewitt

(6)
Germany
Sabine Lisicki and Nicolas Kiefer

(7)
Slovak Republic
Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty

Group B

(2)
Russia
Dinara Safina and Marat Safin

(3)
France
Alize Cornet and Gilles Simon

(5)
Italy
Flavia Pennetta and Simone Bolelli

(8)
Chinese Taipei
Su-Wei Hsieh and Yen-Hsun Lu

 

Session 1
Sat 3 Jan 09
10:30am
France v Chinese Taipei

Session 2
Sun 4 Jan 09
10.30am
Russia v Italy

Session 3
Mon 5 Jan 09
10:30am
Australia v Germany

Session 4
Mon 5 Jan 09
6.00pm
USA v Slovak Republic

Session 5
Tues 6 Jan 09
10:30am
France v Italy

Session 6
Tues 6 Jan 09
6.00pm
Australia v Slovak Republic

Session 7
Wed 7 Jan 09
10:30am
USA v Germany

Session 8
Wed 7 Jan 09
6:00pm
Russia v Chinese Taipei

Session 9*
Thu 8 Jan 09
10:30am
USA v Australia (Centre Court)
Germany v Slovak Republic (Court 1)

Session 10*
Thu 8 Jan 09
6:00pm
Russia v France (Centre Court)
Italy v Chinese Taipei (Court 1)

Final
Fri 9 Jan 09
6:00pm
Winner Group A v Winner Group B

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28
Dec
08

Maria Tops the list of ‘most popular’ athletes.

Top Searched Athletes of 2008

  1. Maria Sharapova.
  2. Gina Carano.
  3. Danica Patrick.
  4. Cristiano Ronaldo.
  5. Amanda Beard.
  6. Michael Phelps.
  7. Kimbo Slice.
  8. Leryn Franco.
  9. Natalie Gulbis.
  10. David Beckham.shar_wallpaper


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27
Dec
08

Look for a surprise in Birmingham……….

    1. DAVIS CUP 2009. usdaviscupteam

     
    Rank Nation      
    1 Russia      
    2 Spain      
    3 USA      
    4 Argentina      
    5 Sweden      
    6 Germany      
    7 Croatia      
    8 France      
    9 Australia      
    10 Slovak Republic      
    11 Czech Republic      
    12 Serbia      
    13 Switzerland      
    14 Romania      
    15 Chile      
    16 Israel      
    17 Belgium      
    18 Austria      
    19 Netherlands      
    20 Korea, Rep.      
       

The US is ranked third behind Russia and Spain but ahead of Argentine for the 2009 Davis Cup. Switzerland, the first round opponents for the US are currently ranked 13th, and on paper should not pose a threat to the strong US team. But with the addition of Roger Federer to the Swiss National team, the US cannot be considered as a shoe-in to reach the next round. The competition is a best of 5 matches, and Federer should win both his singles matches against Roddick and Blake, and if the Swiss coach decides to enter Federer and Wawrinka, the Gold medal winners in Beijing, as his doubles pair, the US might be eliminated from the competition in the first round.

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27
Dec
08

Another ‘Young Gun’ to watch in 2009.

kei-nishikori1kei-nishikori-2

On Monday (dec 29th.) Kei Nishikori will be 19, he was born in Japan in 1989. He was sent to the Bolletieri Academy in Bradenton Florida to be groomed into a ‘future star of Japanese tennis’ by Sony Electronics, and their gamble may pay off in 2009 as this young sensation finds himself, and settles into the grind of the ATP tour. In 2008 he has rocketed up the rankings from oblivion to #63, and if he gets higher than #46 he will become the highest ranked Japanese male player of all time. He won an event in Delray Beach by beating a surprised James Blake, for his first victory on tour, where he immediately caught the attention of the other players and the critics. At 5′ 10″ he has to rely on his speed, his gracefulness around the court, and his brain. All of which he has shown he can do at a very high level. Keep your eye on this young man, and don’t be surprised if he makes it into the top 20 by years end.

Just last week he had fun in the Bahamas winning the Mark Knowles Invitational. It didn’t improve his ranking, but it improved his social skills!

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26
Dec
08

‘Inside Sport’ needs an Editor!

ana-ivanovic-1

Suzi Petrovski has written an article for the January 2009 edition of Australia’s Inside Sport magazine where she poses the question about the aggressiveness of Ana Ivanovic’s game, and whether she has the temperament to be a ruthless player on court. “Is she too nice to be Number One?” Suzi asks. It’s a question many of Ana’s fans have often asked, and only time will tell.

The caption on the cover reads ‘..the Offensive Ana Ivanovic..’, that’s really insulting, and to be fair it probably wasn’t meant to be, but that’s no excuse for using the wrong English word by an editor who should know better.

I hope they send an apology to Miss Ivanovic!

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