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Category: Tennis

Manufacturer comments on Marcos Baghdatis' racket-breaking outburst

 

Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis has become quite the Internet sensation after destroying four of his tennis rackets during a temper tantrum in his second-round loss to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Friday, the company that makes his rackets spoke out. And it turns out they don't officially make his rackets anymore.

Tecnifibre, the France-based company that made the rackets he broke, dropped its sponsorship of Baghdatis at the end of 2011 but never publicly announced that it had done so.

Well, everyone knows now.

"The attention is not necessarily all negative," Tecnifibre Project Manager Sebastien Grimaud told Forbes.com of Baghdatis' outburst. "This may have actually been some good marketing for [us]." 

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--Houston Mitchell

 

 

Rafael Nadal overcomes distractions for win in Australian opener

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal made news on the eve of the Australian Open for his sharp criticism of Roger Federer. The next morning he nearly dropped out of the first Grand Slam event because of a sudden and very painful tendon problem in his right knee.

But it was business as usual after he got going on the court. The Spaniard had no problem defeating Alex Kuznetsov of the U.S., 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, even with a heavily taped knee.

Nadal said he really doesn't understand how the injury occurred.

“I was sitting on a chair in the hotel, I felt like a crack on the knee … really strange,” Nadal said. “I stand up. I felt the knee a little bit strange. I moved the leg like this two times to try to find the feeling. After the second time, the knee stays with an unbelievable pain completely straight. I have no movement on the knee.”

The 10-time Grand Slam champion considered forfeiting the match but decided to give it a shot after an MRI exam showed no major damage.

“I started with a little bit of a scare at the beginning, and nervous because I was really disappointed yesterday,” Nadal said. “But after the first 10 games … I started to play with normal conditions."

With the win Nadal advanced to the second round, as did Federer, who defeated Alexander Kudryavtsev, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Nadal and Federer said there is no rift between them, despite Nadal's criticism of Federer a day earlier for not publicly speaking out in support of changes in scheduling and prize money.

“Things are fine between us, you know. I have no hard feelings towards him,” Federer said. “It's been a difficult last few months in terms of politics within the ATP.”

Nadal said: “I always had fantastic relationship with Roger. I still have fantastic relationship with Roger. Just I said we can have different views about how the tour needs to work. That's all.”

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 -- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Rafael Nadal hits a return against Alex Kuznetsov. Credit: Torsten Blackwood / AFP / Getty Images

Serena Williams withdraws from Brisbane with ankle sprain

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Serena Williams said her first thought as she crashed to the court during the second round of the Brisbane International was, "Not again."

Yes, again.

Hopes of avoiding the injuries that plagued Williams since 2010 were dashed Wednesday when a sprained left ankle forced the U.S. tennis star to withdraw from the Australian tournament after defeating Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, 6-2, 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals.

“I'm going to take a couple of days off — not too many — and see how I feel,” Williams said in a statement later in the day. “I'm still hopeful of playing the Australian Open.”

Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, who would have faced Williams in the quarterfinals, advances directly to the semifinals.

Williams, who has not played since the U.S. Open final in September due to injuries, was serving for the match with a 6-2, 5-3 lead when she twisted her ankle and fell to the ground. After lying near baseline for several minutes while getting medical attention, Williams was helped to a chair at courtside and had her ankle re-taped.

She limped through the rest of the match, at times wincing in pain, and later hobbled into a post-match news conference, where she told reporters she anticipated her heavily wrapped ankle would be OK. But in her statement later in the day, the 13-time Grand Slam champion said that tests “confirmed that I have a left ankle sprain (and) that I probably shouldn't play on.”

Williams missed about a year of tennis after Wimbledon in 2010 due to two operations on her foot and blood clots in her lungs. She returned to the court last summer and won a pair of tournaments before finishing second in the U.S. Open.

The Australian Open starts Jan. 16 in Melbourne.

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— Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Serena Williams collapses after twisting her left ankle in Brisbane, Australia, Wednesday. Credit: Tertius Pickard / Associated Press

Rafael Nadal bursts out of slump at Davis Cup final

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Rafael Nadal admitted to being "a little nervous" before his Davis Cup final match Friday against Juan Monaco -- but that's a lot better than feeling less passionate about the game, which is how he said he felt last week after a subpar performance at the ATP world finals.

Turns out Nadal had little to be nervous about and showed plenty of passion in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Monaco to give Spain a 1-0 lead over Argentina.

“I was a little nervous at the start but after I broke him, I started playing well,” said Nadal, who dropped the first game before winning the next seven.

Nadal has not dropped a set in Davis Cup play in over three years and is 19-1 overall in singles play.

“The best part of my game was I didn't make mistakes," he said. "The most important thing is we're up 1-0."

It definitely helped that Nadal was playing on his favored clay surface in front of a home crowd of about 27,000, including King Juan Carlos, at Olympic Stadium in Seville. Nadal improved to 12-0 in the Davis Cup on clay, a surface on which Spain hasn't lost in 22 ties at the event.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Rafael Nadal. Credit: Daniel Ochoa de Olza / Associated Press

Rafael Nadal's cliches are music to ears of tennis fans in Spain

Rafael Nadal told reporters he and his teammates are "very excited" heading into the Davis Cup final against Argentina
Rafael Nadal's comments at Monday's news conference in advance of the Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina were enough to put most of us to sleep. The Spaniard talked about being "very excited," trying his best and wanting to win.

Yawn.

But for tennis fans in Spain, those words were reason to celebrate. They were in stark contrast to the comments he made just a few days earlier after a tough time at the ATP world finals.

Following back-to-back losses to Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week, Nadal told reporters, "I had little bit less passion for the game probably because I was a little bit more tired than usual," when asked why he hadn't appeared up to his usual form since losing to Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.

Nadal has been defeated by Djokovic in six finals overall this season and also lost his No. 1 world ranking to the Serbian player.

"This year was a tough year for me," the 10-time Grand Slam winner said last week.

So it was nice to hear some upbeat words -- as unoriginal as they might have been -- coming out of his mouth on Tuesday as he and his teammates prepared for the Dec. 2-4 event in Seville.

"It's a pleasure playing in front of my crowd, in front of the Spanish people," Nadal said. "Always the feeling is very special when that happens. We're all very excited, and we’ll try to play our best and win."

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Rafael Nadal gestures during a training session Tuesday. Credit: Cristina Quicler / AFP/Getty Images

Roger Federer continues year-end surge with win at Paris Masters

Roger Federer celebrates his Paris Masters win

Roger Federer has set some pretty high standards for himself over the years. And for the first time in 2011, he finally seems to be living up to them.

The Swiss tennis star won his first Paris Masters title Sunday, defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, 6-1, 7-6 (3), in Federer's first-ever appearance in the tournament's final. It is the 18th Masters title of his career but first of the year.

“I'm just ecstatic to have played so well this week,” said Federer, who pulls ahead of Andre Agassi and one behind all-time leader Rafael Nadal on the Masters win list. “I have had many attempts to win Paris, and for some reason I wasn't able to. It's a special victory.”

This will be the first year since 2002 that Federer has not won a Grand Slam title -- he has 16 in his career -- and he has dropped to No. 4 in the world rankings, falling out of the top three for the first time since 2003.

But he has been playing better since taking six weeks off after the Davis Cup playoff against Australia in mid-September, winning the Swiss Indoors last week and 12 straight matches overall.

“I have had some really tough losses this year, but I kept believing the year wasn't over,” said Federer, who has won only three tournaments in 2011. “I'm not playing to prove anything to anybody. I play for myself, I play for Switzerland [and] just to enjoy myself.”

The former world No. 1 will play in the eight-man ATP World Tour Finals in London next week. “I can still finish this year on a high,” he said. “Now I have a massive highlight coming up in a week's time.”

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Roger Federer after winning his final match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Sunday. Credit: Ian Langsdon / EPA

Bryan brothers have big charity weekend

Bryan

The World Affairs Council is presenting Bob and Mike Bryan, the tennis-playing twins from Camarillo, with its Global Humanitarian Award on Friday night at Spanish Hills Country Club in Camarillo.
 
The Bryan brothers, the world's winningest-ever professional doubles team, also play in a band that will perform Friday. Tickets are $125 per seat and will benefit the Bryans' own charity.
 
On Saturday at the Malibu Racquet Club, pro Trey Waltke will host the Bryan Bros. Jam Fest, where there will be exhibition tennis beginning at 2 p.m. followed by an outdoor concert at 6 p.m. Tickets are $195.

And Sunday at Spanish Hills there will be wine tasting and tennis. America's top-ranked male player, Mardy Fish, along with former doubles stars Ken Flach, Rick Leach and Tracy Austin will participate in the pro-am and exhibition doubles.
All proceeds from the weekend go to the Bryan Bros. Foundation, which funds Ventura County Junior Tennis Assoc. and Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons.
 
-- Diane Pucin
  
Photo: Bob Bryan, left, returns a shot as Mike Bryan, right, looks on during their match at the U.S. Open on Aug. 31. Credit: Julio Cortez / Associated Press.

Pete Sampras big winner at Staples Center

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Pete Sampras outlasted longtime rival Andre Agassi, 8-6, to win the HSBC Tennis Cup at Staples Center on Friday night. The HSBC Cup is part of the new Champions Series, a 12-event tennis circuit that offers the top three point earners a chance to split a $1 million bonus pool.

Sampras is the leader by 1,000 points over Michael Chang with four events remaining.

Friday night, Sampras advanced to the final with a 7-6 (3) semifinal victory over Jim Courier. Agassi opened the evening’s action with a 6-3 semifinal win over John McEnroe.

Agassi’s win coupled with Courier’s loss moved both players into a tie for third place in the standings. Chang, Courier and Agassi are separated by only 100 points.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Pete Sampras in a previous exhibition match this fall. Credit:Dieo Azubel / EPA

Dinara Safina has retired, her brother says

Dinara Safina retires
Former top-ranked tennis player Dinara Safina has retired, her brother, Marat Safin, told Russian sports agency R-Sport on Friday.

Safina, who turned pro in 2001, has won 12 titles on the WTA Tour and brought home silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She spent 26 weeks at the top of the rankings, beginning in April 2009.

Safina, 25, took an indefinite break from the sport in May after injuring her back early last year. At the time, she said she didn't want to "torture myself and my body any longer."

Her brother said her future plans are unknown.

“An athlete has lived with sports for 20 years," he said. "Now she needs a year to pull herself together, then she will decide."

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Photo: Dinara Safina. Credit: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press

Serena Williams behaving like a grown-up as she turns 30

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Serena Williams turns 30 Monday. Although she recently received plenty of attention for her childish behavior during the U.S. Open final, Williams will have a chance to show her grown-up side in her new role as international goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

The organization announced the appointment last week, saying Williams' status will help promote UNICEF's mission to provide a quality education for vulnerable children through the Schools for Africa and the upcoming Schools for Asia initiatives.

Williams said the new role would give her an opportunity to work on children's issues, which have always been important to her.

"I believe all children deserve the chance to make something of their lives," said Williams, who started playing tennis at age 4 while living with her family in Compton. "I am committed to helping UNICEF provide a quality education to children to help them build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities."

Williams joins a list of UNICEF ambassadors from the past and present that includes soccer star David Beckham and figure skater Kim Yuna. The 13-time Grand Slam winner first worked with UNICEF in 2006, when she visited Ghana on a health campaign.

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Photo: Serena Williams. Credit: Geoff Robins / AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Open: Novak Djokovic the champion over Rafael Nadal

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For more than four hours Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal played punishing tennis that was also beautiful. They grunted and groaned and sent tennis balls straight at each over, over each other, around each other.

And after it appeared Djokovic was down and out, when he had lost the third set and was groaning on the sidelines while a trainer stretched and pulled and pounded on his aching back, the 24-year-old from Serbia came out for more.

Djokovic played the final games as if pain didn’t matter and, after making a sign of the cross, Djokovic bounced the ball 10 times, hit a serve and then a forehand winner, a massive thing that left Nadal almost immobile.

For the sixth time in a row Djokovic beat Nadal 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-1, in 4 hours 10 minutes. The win made Djokovic 64-2 this year, gave him his first U.S. Open title and also placed him among the all-time greats.

He became the sixth man to win three of the four major titles in the same year since tennis' open era began in 1968. He won the Australian Open over Andy Murray in the final and beat Nadal in the Wimbledon final.

Overall, this was Djokovic's fourth major title. His first was at the Australian Open in 2008.

“It’s been an incredible year,” said Djokovic, who put on a blue baseball cap with FD/NY on it in honor of New York City firefighters, a day after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The second-seeded Nadal, the defending champion, said, “Obviously I am disappointed now. This guy is doing unbelievable things.” Then he looked toward Djokovic and said, “What you did this year is probably impossible to repeat, so well done.”

After dropping the first two games of the first set, Djokovic began opening up the court with his swift movement and Nadal started to grow frustrated at watching some of his shots get shifted by a swirling, late-afternoon wind. Djokovic began making Nadal run corner to corner and from baseline to net and won six games in a row.

After 53 minutes, Djokovic served a love game and Nadal dropped his head as he walked to his seat on the changeover. The Spaniard had his serve broken three times in a row to end the set.

The third game of the second set encompassed enough ovation-causing tennis for an entire match. It lasted 17 minutes 15 seconds, and while trying to defend a sixth break point, Nadal, who appeared positioned for a winning overhead, slammed the ball into the net into the net.

If Nadal had held serve, he would have grabbed a 3-0 lead. Instead it was Djokovic who pumped his fist, came out after the changeover and held serve at love.

It was a game of momentous physical tennis, with both players grunting loudly. Djokovic has a two-toned sound, Nadal’s grunt is deeper and at the end of points and it made that single game sound symphonic.

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