October 24th, 2014
Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Advances; Will Rafa Go Under the Knife?
RAFA vs. APPENDIX — Rafael Nadal has shown himself to be an ironman with nine French Open titles thus far in his career, but can he outduel an inflamed appendix? The Spaniard is looking to join his fellow Top 8-ranked players at the ATP year-end championship in London, but he may be forced to go under the knife before then and end his season prematurely. The 28-year-old has been taking antibiotics for roughly two weeks, this week competing at the Swiss Open in Basel. “I had some doubts that I would be able to compete well,” Nadal told reporters. “With my summer-long wrist injury and now the appendix, it’s not been a great season.” Nadal dropping out of the year-end tournament could be a boon for the year-end championships held in London if Andy Murray finishes in the No. 9 position. Nadal today in Basel will meet 17-year-old Croatian Borna Coric, who upset Ernests Gulbis to reach his first ATP quarterfinal.
TEEN KOZLOV CONTINUES TO MAKE MARK — Pembroke Pine’s 16-year-old Stefan Kozlov, who last year lost in the Wimbledon juniors final, is continuing to make his mark on the lower levels of the main tour. Earlier this month he lost to Sam Querrey in a Challenger-level final, becoming the third-youngest player to advance to a Challenger final after Michael Chang and Andre Agassi. Following his Challenger success, he is the first 16 year old from the U.S. to break into the Top 500 since Chang in 1989. This week at the ATP event in Valencia, Spain, Kozlov received a wild card and lost 6-3, 6-3 to Slovakia’s Martin Klizan, impressively holding his own during the match. “For the rest of the year, I’ll play some Futures and Challengers and see where it takes me,” he tells the ATP website.
FLORIDA JUNIORS AT NEW NATIONAL MASTERS — Fifty of some of the top juniors in the U.S. converged on Boca Raton, Fla., beginning yesterday for the inaugural USTA National Masters Championships, a combination clay court tournament and training camp held at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters. Developed from a past USTA model of junior national team training camps, the experience will put juniors through a “progressive” tournament format combining 18-and-under, 16-and-under and 14-and-under age groups for boys and girls. Each junior will have access to the training center’s resources, receiving on-court instruction from the USTA national coaching staff, as well as strength and conditioning and mental skills training. Along with a handful of Florida players, the camp boasts world Top 100-ranked junior Sameer Kumar (17, Carmel, Ind.), recent Junior Davis Cup champion Gianni Ross (15, La Grange, Ill.), and Claire Liu (14, Thousand Oaks, Calif.), the No. 1 girls’ recruit in the Class of 2018.
Serena Into WTA Finals Semis Round
After a wacky day of tennis and calculations at the WTA Finals in Singapore on Friday, world No. 1 Serena Williams snuck into the semifinals thanks to Simona Halep, and Maria Sharapova has eliminated from the semis despite winning.
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic could have gained the semifinals and eliminated Serena, but she needed to defeat Halep in straight sets on Friday, eventually winning in three sets.
Sharapova, despite defeating Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 on Friday, was eliminated from the semifinals. Sharapova (0-2 in round robin play entering the match) needed to win in straight sets, and Caroline Wozniacki’s later 6-2, 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova put Radwanska into the semis rather than Sharapova in the tightly-contested group round robin.
Sharapova’s loss means Serena clinches the year-end No. 1 ranking, her fourth year-end No. 1 and the first time she has done it in consecutive seasons.
The Saturday semifinals in Singapore will see Halep vs. Radwanska, and Wozniacki vs. Serena.
On the men’s side the last American made his exit on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel where unseeded Donald Young came up short in a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) loss to No. 4-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada.
They Said It
“I didn’t want to offend any athlete with my words. I regret that this joke…has garnered so much attention. I don’t think this incident deserves so much fuss.”
— Russian tennis federation head Shamil Tarpischev after referring to the Williams sisters as “brothers” and “scary.” He eventually wrote a letter of apology to the sisters.
“I’ve been very, very, very worried about it for a long time. First of all, they have no Li Na and even if she didn’t retire now, it was only going to be a matter of time until she did, and I think you need star players to help grow the tournaments. And I just wonder, where is it going to stop? The whole tour could be in China soon, so I think a lot of people are chasing money.”
— Maria Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud on the WTA’s expansion in China alone, which in 2015 will comprise seven women’s tour events, speaking to the New York Times
“Embarrassing describes the way I played today. Very embarrassing.”
— Serena Williams after losing 6-0, 6-2 to Simona Halep in round robin play at the WTA Finals
Tennis on TV This Weekend
1:30-3:30am — WTA Finals (live), Tennis Channel
7:30-11 am — WTA Finals (live), Tennis Channel
11am-4pm — ATP Basel/Valencia (live), Tennis Channel
4-6pm — ATP Valencia (delay), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — ATP Basel (delay), Tennis Channel
midnight-1:30am — WTA Finals Doubles (live), Tennis Channel
2:30-4:30am — WTA Finals (live), Tennis Channel
6-8am — WTA Finals (live), Tennis Channel
8-9:30am — WTA Finals Doubles (live), Tennis Channel
9:30am-2pm — ATP Basel/Valencia (live), Tennis Channel
2-4pm — ATP Valencia (live), Tennis Channel
4-6am — WTA Finals Doubles (live), Tennis Channel
7-9:30am — WTA Finals (live), ESPN2
9:30am-1:30pm — ATP Basel/Valencia (live), Tennis Channel