The Hong Kong Tennis Classic is Hong Kong’s premier tennis event. The 2011 event features 12 stars in 4 teams from all corners of the globe battling it out over 4 action packed days of tennis. January 5-8 at Victoria Park
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Led by Venus Williams, who never lost a set, Team America easily defeated Team Russia to win the JB Classic in Hong Kong. Venus used this tournament as her warm-up for the 2009 season, and she looks to be in great form. Her team mates Gisela Dulko and Coco Vandeweche won in singles and doubles matches to help Team America win.
World No.1 Jelena Jankovic has fired a warning to her rivals ahead of this month’s Australian Open, saying she is fitter than ever as she continues her bid for Grand Slam glory.
The 23-year-old Serbian tops the bill at this week’s Hong Kong World Team Challenge, which also features Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, as the players gear up for the year’s opening Grand Slam.
Jankovic, who ended 2008 as number one after a see-saw battle for the top spot, has yet to win one of the four majors. Her best performance so far saw her lose in the final of the US Open last year.
“My main goal is to stay number one as long as possible and one of the priorities is to win a first Grand Slam,” she said, adding that she was expecting to reap the rewards from her demanding off-season fitness regime.
“It gives me a lot more confidence because I know I have worked very hard,” she said.
Jankovic, whose regime included high-altitude training in Mexico, said she was forced to run distances she had not attempted before, including a 10-kilometre (six-mile) effort.
“When my fitness trainer told me I had to run that much I thought I was going to stop in the middle but I was improving little by little,” she said, adding that she had never been in better shape.
“I have never paid so much attention to being fit. Many people thought I was very fit because I look fit but in general I was never really fit and I always had problems when I had to play tough matches.”
Jankovic said she was looking forward to getting on the courts in the World Team Challenge.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to play many matches and to get my rhythm and get match fit. It’s really great preparation for the Australian Open,” she said.
The event, which runs from January 7-10, features four teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
The Australian Open starts on January 19.
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.