Roger Federer’s Tales with Tiger Woods and Pete Sampras

Swiss journalist and author Rene Stauffer brings readers back to Roger Federer’s meeting with Tiger Woods and how Federer was not quick to respond to a text message from Pete Sampras after winning the 2006 US Open in his celebrated book ROGER FEDERER: QUEST FOR PERFECTION (New Chapter Press, $19.95, www.RogerFedererBook.com), the first U.S.-published book on the Swiss tennis champion. The excerpt from the 2006 US Open is provided below.

When Tiger Woods achieved the “Tiger Slam” in 2000 and 2001—winning all four of golf’s major championships in a row—Roger Federer was not yet 20 years old. The way that Woods dominated golf and reignited interest in the sport certainly caught the attention of the young Federer. However, he never thought that he would ever be compared to someone as dominant as Woods. “His story is completely different from mine,” he said in the spring of 2006. “Even as a kid his goal was to break the record for winning the most majors. I was just dreaming of just once meeting Boris Becker or being able to play at Wimbledon some time.”

Despite their different developments and the differences between their sports, the commonalities between Woods and Federer became unmistakable through the years. Like the four-time Masters champion, Federer is in full pursuit of sports history. While Woods is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships, Federer is chasing Pete Sampras and his 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Both Woods and Federer are amazing because of their mental resilience, which is evident from the fact that they manage to make the most terrific shots under the greatest of difficulties.

Unlike his parents, Roger Federer is not a passionate golfer, but he follows Woods’ career with great interest. “It would be interesting to meet him and to see what he’s like in person,” Federer said in Key Biscayne in 2006.

Both Federer and Woods are clients of the International Management Group (IMG) and Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, is friends with Mark Steinberg, the agent of Woods. In the summer of 2006, Federer asked Godsick if he could arrange a meeting with Woods. “The next thing I heard was that Woods would be delighted to come to the US Open final,” Federer recollected. “At that time the tournament hadn’t even started. I would have preferred meeting him in a more relaxed atmosphere than on the day of the US Open final—and I still had to get there first.”

The public had no idea that a spectacular meeting was in the making behind the scenes at the US Open. After Federer defeated the Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals, he was informed that Woods was going to make good on his promise. He flew to New York from Florida on his private jet with his wife, Elin, to watch the US Open final in person. To everyone’s surprise, Woods took a seat in Federer’s guest box—which was quite noteworthy given the fact that Federer faced an American, Andy Roddick, in the final. “The fact that Tiger was sitting there put me under extra pressure,” Federer later admitted. “It was just like when I was younger when my parents or Marc Rosset watched me play in person. You want to play especially well.”

Woods’ timing was perfect. He watched and cheered as Federer won his third straight US Open title, defeating the resurgent Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. For the third year in a row, Federer won both Wimbledon and the US Open—a record that he didn’t have to share with anyone.

While Federer briefly met Woods before the final, the two spent well over an hour together in the locker room following the match, drinking Champagne and gazing at the US Open trophy that Federer just won. Woods even talked on the phone to Federer’s parents who were at home in bed as it was nearly three in the morning in Switzerland.

“I was impressed by how much we had in common,” Federer explained when Woods was on his way back to Florida. “He knew exactly what I was going through and I see what he has to go through. I’ve never spoken with anybody who was so familiar with the feeling of being invincible.”

“It was terrific for me to see him go into my player’s box, shake his fist, and enjoy himself,” he recollected a few weeks later. “He was the loudest one in my box. I was surprised how loose he was about it. He was happy as a kid to be able to watch the final. I think we’ll do things together more often.”

The appearance of Woods at the 2006 US Open final sparked more comparisons—and debates—between the two “athletes of the century” as to who was greater and more dominant. With all due respect to Woods, James Blake came out in favor of Federer. “In tennis, it’s a tournament where you have one bad day and you’re out,” said Blake. “That’s what we do every single week. Roger is winning every Grand Slam except for the French, winning every Masters Series tournament. That means he can’t have one bad day—that’s incredible. Not to mention he has to be out here for four hours running as opposed to walking while carrying one club—again not taking anything away from golf. Tiger’s proven himself every Sunday every time he has a lead. But look at Roger’s record in Grand Slam finals, too. In Grand Slam finals, he’s 8-1. That’s unheard of.”

The Woods camp and golf fans pointed out that the American, in contrast to Federer, already won all four major tournaments in his sport and instead of only having to defeat seven opponents at the biggest tournaments, Woods had to fight off around 150 contenders. Tennis aficionados emphasized that Grand Slam tournaments lasted two weeks and not just four days and that in tennis, having an off day is enough to get knocked out whereas in golf, players could always save the day in such a situation.

Still others highlighted the commonalities between the two. “Despite their total dominance, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer show a modest self-discipline that would have impressed the most chivalrous medieval knight,” The Daily Telegraph of Britain wrote. The Calgary Sun stated unequivocally which of the two super athletes it favored—“(Federer) is infinitely more human than Tiger Woods, more precise, more likable, more honest, less robotic, seemingly enjoying his place as a tennis player for the ages.” The Daily News of Los Angeles, by contrast, questioned all of these comparisons. “You say the Swiss dude is definitely the greatest tennis player of all time? Good, then we can switch back to the Bengals-Chiefs. Equating Roger Federer to Tiger Woods isn’t a backhanded compliment, it’s a forehanded insult. An athlete of Federer’s all-around refinement deserves better than to be defined in terms of another athlete.”

After his US Open victory, Federer returned home to Switzerland when he received a surprise phone call. Pete Sampras, whose legacy and records were now one of Federer’s biggest rivals, called to offer congratulations. “He had already text messaged me three days ago and now he was calling me to congratulate me personally,” said Federer shortly after the US Open. “He asked if I had gotten the message. I said I was just about to reply. It was almost embarrassing. Perhaps I should have replied quicker.” Sampras told Federer how much he liked to watch him play and emphasized that he now was more clearly dominant than he was during his prime. “To hear something like this from him was incredible,” Federer said. “It’s never happened to me before that my earlier idol called me to compliment me.”

Sampras and Federer continued their text message relationship, with Sampras offering more good wishes over the following few months. Before the tournament in Indian Wells in March of 2007, Federer then took the initiative and called Sampras, who meanwhile announced he was returning to competitive tennis on the Champions circuit run by his contemporary Jim Courier. Federer asked Sampras if he would like to hit some balls and train together. “I wanted to see how well he could still play because, after all, he was one of my favorite players growing up,” Federer explained. With a wink in his eye and devilish grin, he then said, “beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to try and beat him in his house.”

Federer and Sampras only played once during their careers—the memorable round of 16 match at Wimbledon in 2001. Late in Pete’s career, the two had one brief practice session together in Hamburg. “It started to rain,” Federer recollected. “I was so disappointed, but he was happy to get off.”

After their training session together in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007, Federer expressed his surprise at how well Sampras could still keep up during their practice session. “We played some great sets and tie-breaks. I’m glad to see that he’s actually still enjoying tennis.” The scores of these practice matches? “They’re secret,” Federer said. “Surprisingly, he was very good, but not good enough to beat me!”

Federer found that he and Sampras shared many commonalities and could talk in great detail of their respective lives and pressures on the tour, as well as common experiences, experiences at particular tournaments and even about players who they both played against. With Woods, this was not the case. “Pete and I played the same tournaments and even played against the same opponents,” Federer said. “I have much more in common with Pete than I have with Tiger off court.”

“When I was new on the tour, I hardly ever spoke to Pete,” he continued. “First of all, he was never around at the courts, and when he would come into the locker room, everything was quiet because he was respected so much by all the other players.” Several years later, Federer finally got a chance to find out what made Sampras so unique and what brought him so close to perfection.

 

Annacone

Excerpt from Roger Federer: Back On Top due out Oct. 31,2012.

Roger Federer went through a few coaches for a bunch of different reasons, before locating Paul Annacone, including Peter Carter, Darren Cahill, Jose Higueras and Tony Roche.

But perhaps it was out of necessity – or a bit of desperation – that Federer and Annacone attempted a relationship.

Of course, people might define “desperation” differently. At the time Annacone was hired in a “test period,” as Federer said, Federer had won Wimbledon six times, the US Open five times, the French Open once and four Australian titles.

But in 2010, he lost at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals to Tomas Berdych and to Robin Soderling in the French quarters, dropping Federer to – gasp – No. 3 in the world. It was his lowest ranking in seven years.

And so on came Annacone, 47 at the time as Annacone worked out the remainder of his contract as men’s head coach at the Lawn Tennis Association in Great Britain.

Annacone was no stranger to coaching. He was the former coach to Pete Sampras and British great, Tim Henman. In the days that followed Annacone’s hiring, let’s just say Annacone seemed more excited about the opportunity.

“I’ve been looking to add someone to my team and I’ve decided to spend some days with Paul Annacone,” Federer told his website.

Annacone, meanwhile, told the New York Times, “Sometimes, I wake up and go ‘Wow’, and I do feel kind of blessed to have had this opportunity. But I think part of my good fortune, I hope, is because of my work ethic and personality and the perspective that I view the game with and the history I have soaked up as a bit of a sponge in the last 25 years.”

Annacone was ranked as high as No. 12 in the world during his playing days and was subsequently put in charge of player development for both the United States Tennis Association and the British Lawn Tennis Association. Big jobs.

Yet Annacone’s hiring on the Federer team was historic. It made him the deli meat in the sandwich of two of the most significant eras of tennis in the history of the game. He got to work with Sampras and Federer, after all, who won Grand Slam events like the Yankees win the World Series.

Annacone was a net-rushing player before a herniated disk in his back cut short his career. One of the characteristics in both Sampras‘ game and Henman‘s game was the ability to move forward, thereby giving him an appeal to Federer at the time. Clearly, Federer wanted to end points sooner as he pushed past 30. That was never more evident than at Wimbledon this year and especially in the final against Murray.

“It’s important to question yourself, and that’s what I’ve always been doing since I got to world No. 1 in 2004,” Federer said after losing in the French Open in 2010.

It was nothing new to Annacone to prove himself. He took over as Sampras’s coach on an interim basis in March 1995, when Sampras’ coach Tim Gullickson became ill. Sampras was already No. 1, but with Annacone’s support won eight more Grand Slam titles.

Annacone told the author that Federer and Sampras have more in common than not. He called both, “immense talents and objective evaluators of winning and losing.”

So far, so good for the relationship.

Will Annacone be his most influential coach? Maybe. He will have to go far to outdo Carter, originally from Australia. Carter coached Federer in his formative tenn years and worked with him on his serve volley and slice. He also served as Swiss Davis Cup coach before dying much too young in 2002 at 37 in a car crash. his loss had an enormous impact on Federer.

BNP Paribas Showdown Returns to The Garden This February

The BNP Paribas Showdown will have a 2012 version at new and refurbished Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2012.

Maria Sharapova and world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will make their first appearances in the event in the 7:00 pm opener. That match will be followed by Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick.

Last year Roddick was scheduled to play Andre Agassi,but Pete Sampras ended up playing Agassi after John McEnroe was forced to default to Ivan Lendl due to injury in the first match despite leading 6-3.

Federer has played in the past and won against Sampras.

There will be an opportunity to bid on the event at the International Tennis Hall Of Fame Ball this coming Friday evening at Cipriani in Manhattan.

Tickets will go on sale at The Garden in the Fall.

WTT Results 7-9-11

(Home teams in capital letters)

FINAL RESULTS – All matches complete:

Kansas City Explorers def. SPRINGFIELD LASERS 21-17 (OT)

Men’s Singles – Raven Klaasen (Lasers) def. Ricardo Mello (Explorers) 5-3

Women’s Singles – Madison Brengle (Explorers) def. Lilia Osterloh (Lasers) 5-1

Mixed Doubles – Ricardo Mello\Kveta Peschke (Explorers) def. Carly Gullickson\Paul Hanley (Lasers) 5-3

Women’s Doubles – Madison Brengle\Kveta Peschke (Explorers) def. Carly Gullickson\Lilia Osterloh (Lasers) 5-3

Men’s Doubles – Paul Hanley\Raven Klaasen (Lasers) def. Alex Kuznetsov\Ricardo Mello (Explorers) 5-2

Overtime – Men’s Doubles – Alex Kuznetsov\Ricardo Mello (Explorers) def. Paul Hanley\Raven Klaasen (Lasers) 1-0

ST LOUIS ACES def. Philadelphia Freedoms 25-11

Men’s Doubles – Roman Borvanov\Jean-Julien Rojer (Aces) def. Nathan Healey\Brendan Evans (Freedoms) 5-4

Men’s Singles – Roman Borvanov (Aces) def. Brendan Evans (Freedoms) 5-3

Mixed Doubles – Jean-Julien Rojer\Liezel Huber (Aces) def. Beatrice Capra\Nathan Healey (Freedoms) 5-3

Women’s Singles – Maria Sanchez (Aces) def. Beatrice Capra (Freedoms) 5-0

Women’s Doubles – Liezel Huber\Maria Sanchez (Aces) def. Beatrice Capra\Julia Cohen (Freedoms) 5-1

New York Sportimes def. NEWPORT BEACH BREAKERS 19-17 (OT)

Women’s Singles – Martina Hingis (Sportimes) def. Anne Keothavong (Breakers) 5-2

Mixed Doubles – Marie-Eve Pelletier\Travis Rettenmaier (Breakers) def. Martina Hingis\Travis Parrott (Sportimes) 5-3

Men’s Doubles – Jesse Witten\Travis Parrott (Sportimes) def. Travis Rettenmaier\Pete Sampras (Breakers) 5-0

Men’s Singles – Pete Sampras (Breakers) def. Jesse Witten (Sportimes) 5-3

Women’s Doubles – Anne Keothavong\Marie-Eve Pelletier (Breakers) def. Martina Hingis\Katie O Brien (Sportimes) 5-2

Overtime – Women’s Doubles – Martina Hingis\Katie O Brien (Sportimes) def. Marie-Eve Pelletier\Anne Keothavong (Breakers) 1-0

Washington Kastles def. SACRAMENTO CAPITALS 21-16

Mixed Doubles – Mark Knowles\Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) def. Leander Paes\Serena Williams (Kastles) 5-2

Women’s Doubles – Rennae Stubbs\Serena Williams (Kastles) def. Christina Fusano\Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) 5-4

Men’s Singles – Dusan Vemic (Capitals) def. Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) 5-4

Women’s Singles – Serena Williams (Kastles) def. Yasmin Schnack (Capitals) 5-0

Men’s Doubles – Leander Paes\Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) def. Mark Knowles\Dusan Vemic (Capitals) 5-2

Standings

Eastern Conference MP W L PCT MB

Washington Kastles         5  5  0 1.000  —

New York Sportimes         5  4  1 0.800  1

Boston Lobsters            4  2  2 0.500  2.5

Philadelphia Freedoms      5  0  5 0.000  5

Western Conference MP W L PCT MB

St Louis Aces              4  3  1  0.750  —

Newport Beach Breakers     5  3  2  0.600  0.5

Kansas City Explorers      4  1  3  0.250  2

Sacramento Capitals        4  1  3  0.250  2

Springfield Lasers         4  1  3  0.250  2

Next Matches: 7/10/2011

Boston Lobsters @ KANSAS CITY EXPLORERS, 6:35 PM (CDT)

Springfield Lasers @ ST. LOUIS ACES, 7:15 PM (CDT)

Newport Beach Breakers @ SACRAMENTO CAPITALS, 7:30 PM (PDT)

For live scoring and complete player / match statistics, please visit www.WTT.com

USPTA show, “Footwork Solutions – Moving Backward & Forward,” premieres on Tennis Channel

“On Court with USPTA” is the cable TV show produced by the United States Professional Tennis Association. In this episode USPTA Master Professional Lorenzo Beltrame focuses on moving backward and forward from the baseline. Footwork is an extremely important part of tennis since a player’s feet and legs are instrumental in getting him to the ball and allowing him to recover for the next shot.

Beltrame demonstrates scenarios of hitting backhands and forehands while moving backward. He then shows viewers how to move forward and take the ball off the bounce and also the more aggressive move of taking the ball out of the air.

Beltrame has been involved in tennis all his life, first as a top junior, then as a professional player and ultimately as a coach. Throughout his coaching career, he has worked with dozens of ATP and WTA touring professionals, including Jim Courier and Pete Sampras. He has traveled extensively coaching players in major professional events including the four Grand Slams, Davis Cup, and Hopman Cup. Beltrame has served as director of tennis and director of athletic mental training at the Human Performance Institute Inc., in Orlando, Fla., since 1996. Prior to joining the Human Performance Institute he was responsible for developing programs at the Tennis Club Ambrosiano, one of the largest tennis clubs in Milan, Italy, and at two of the leading tennis academies in the United States.

“On Court” is a half-hour instructional show featuring USPTA-certified professionals as guest instructors. The USPTA became the first tennis-teaching organization ever to produce and air an educational television series on playing and teaching tennis on the Tennis Channel in 2003. Since then, more than 65 shows have been produced that provide instruction about technique, strategy and other facets of the game. All production is done in-house, which includes everything from planning and scripting, to shooting and editing, to graphics and DVD duplication. All episodes of “On Court” are now in high-definition.

Don’t miss out on this episode. Tune in to the Tennis Channel on Tuesday, February 1, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time to see the show. Also, all episodes of “On Court with USPTA” and more than 100 other USPTA-produced DVD titles are also available for purchase online at www.usprotennisshop.com.  For additional show times and other information visit www.oncourtwithuspta.com.

Founded in 1927, USPTA strives to raise the standards of the tennis profession while promoting greater awareness of the sport. USPTA offers 70 professional benefits to its more than 15,000 members worldwide, including certification and professional development. With more than 300 days of educational opportunities throughout the year, USPTA offers the most comprehensive continuing education program in the tennis industry. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit www.uspta.com.

Fish and Isner Put The U.S. In Great Position

Not taking any chances, United States Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe made a switch to the veteran Mardy Fish to replace young Ryan Harrison on day two of the U.S. Davis Cup World Group Playoff with Colombia.

And it worked. Teaming with John Isner, the duo beat Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca of Colombia, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, on Saturday to give the United States a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in Bogotá.

“I just went out and gave my best,” said Farah to reporters in Bogota. “Unfortunately, it was not good enough. They (Fish and Isner) played just too good today. I always knew that Mardy Fish is a great doubles player, but I was surprised just how hard John Isner served. I mean there was some balls that I could not even see. Except for losing, I really enjoyed the experience. The environment was just magical.”

McEnroe took a big risk by leaving the Bryan Brothers off the Davis Cup team. The World No. 1 Doubles team did not make the trip because of the high altitude of Bogota, which is at about 8700 feet.

“The altitude had a lot to do with it (absence of Bryans),” McEnroe said to reporters. “I felt that we might need a couple of extra singles players. Fortunately, Mardy gives us choices as a great singles and doubles player.”

With the win today, the United States needs one win in reverse singles tomorrow to avoid relegation and stay in the World Group.

Fish will go again for the U.S. facing Santiago Giraldo. In the second match, Sam Querrey — or Isner, if the United States captain, Patrick McEnroe, makes a change — will face Alejandro Falla.

Asked if he would be tired Sunday, Fish replied: “Not at all. This is what we train for. That’s why we got here early.”

If Fish wins his match Sunday, it would be the first time an American won three times in a Davis Cup contest since Pete Sampras in 1995.

WORLD GROUP SEMIFINALS

FRANCE defeated ARGENTINA 3-0
Venue: Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon , France (hard – indoors)

Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Juan Monaco (ARG) 75 46 75 63
Gael Monfils (FRA) d. David Nalbandian (ARG) 64 26 64 63
Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (FRA) d. Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 64 75 63
Gael Monfils (FRA) v Juan Monaco (ARG)
Michael Llodra (FRA) v David Nalbandian (ARG)

CZECH REPUBLIC leads SERBIA 2-1
Venue: Belgrade Arena, Belgrade , Serbia (hard – indoors)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 46 62 64 64
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 75 62 26 76(5)
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Novak Djokovic/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) 36 61 64 61
Viktor Troicki (SRB) v Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Janko Tiparevic (SRB) v Radek Stepanek (CZE)

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

COLOMBIA level with USA 1-1
Venue: Plaza de Toros La Santamaria, Bogota , Colombia (clay – outdoors)

Mardy Fish ( USA ) d. Alejandro Falla ( COL ) 46 61 64 36 64
Santiago Giraldo ( COL ) d. Sam Querrey ( USA ) 62 64 75
Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca (COL) v Mardy Fish/John Isner (USA)
Santiago Giraldo (COL) v Mardy Fish (USA)
Alejandro Falla (COL) v Sam Querrey (USA)

* ISRAEL leads AUSTRIA 2-1
Venue: Nokia Stadium, Tel Aviv , Israel (hard – indoors)

Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT) 64 61 63
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Harel Levy (ISR) 64 63 63
Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram (ISR) d. Jurgen Melzer/Alexander Peya (AUT) 76(2) 64 64
Dudi Sela (ISR) v Jurgen Melzer (AUT)
Harel Levy (ISR) v v Andreas Haider-Maurer (AUT)

* being played 16, 17, 19 September

GERMANY defeated SOUTH AFRICA 3-0
Venue: TC Weissenhof Stuttgart, Stuttgart , Germany (clay – outdoors)

Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Rik de Voest (RSA) 64 64 64
Florian Mayer (GER) d. Izak van der Merwe (RSA) 63 36 61 76(6)
Andreas Beck/Christopher Kas (GER) d. Rik de Voest/Wesley Moodie (RSA) 64 36 63 64
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) v Izak van der Merwe (RSA)
Florian Mayer (GER) v Rik de Voest (RSA)

SWEDEN leads ITALY 2-1
Venue: Sparbanken Lidkoping Arena, Lidkoping, Sweden (hard – indoors)

Potito Starace (ITA) d. Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) 62 62 62
Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 61 63 62
Simon Aspelin/Robert Lindstedt (SWE) d. Simone Bolelli/Potito Starace (ITA) 57 67(0) 76(4) 63 75
Robin Soderling (SWE) v Potito Starace (ITA)
Andreas Vinciguerra (SWE) v Fabio Fognini (ITA)

BRAZIL leads INDIA 2-1
Venue: SDAT Tennis Stadium, Chennai , India (hard – outdoors)

Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. Rohan Bopanna ( IND ) 67(2) 76(7) 75 46 108
Ricardo Mello (BRA) d. Somdev Devvarman ( IND ) 46 62 67(3) 62 64
Mahesh Bhupathi/Leander Paes ( IND ) d. Marcelo Melo/Bruno Soares (BRA) 64 76(5) 61
Somdev Devvarman (IND) v Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)
Rohan Bopanna (IND) v Ricardo Mello (BRA)

AUSTRALIA leads BELGIUM 2-1
Venue: Cairns Regional Tennis Centre, Cairns , Australia (hard – outdoors)

Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 76(4) 75 26 64
Olivier Rochus (BEL) d. Carsten Ball (AUS) 64 64 76(5)
Paul Hanley/Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) d. Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus (BEL) 61 62 64
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) v Olivier Rochus (BEL)
Carsten Ball (AUS) v Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)

KAZAKHSTAN defeated SWITZERLAND 3-0
Venue: The National Tennis Centre, Astana, Kazakhstan (hard – indoors)

Andrey Golubev (KAZ) d. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) 64 64 64
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) d. Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 36 61 64 16 63
Andrey Golubev/Yuriy Schukin (KAZ) d. Yves Allegro/Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 64 63 63
Andrey Golubev (KAZ) v Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) v Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

ROMANIA defeated ECUADOR 3-0
Venue: Centrul National de Tenis, Bucharest, Romania (clay – outdoors)

Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. Ivan Endara (ECU) 62 62 62
Adrian Ungur (ROU) d. Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 67(2) 46 63 64 61
Victor Hanescu/Horia Tecau (ROU) d. Ivan Endara/Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 62 62 62
Victor Hanescu (ROU) v Giovanni Lapentti (ECU)
Adrian Ungur (ROU) v Ivan Endara (ECU)

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFFS

SLOVAK REPUBLIC leads BELARUS 2-1
Venue: Republic Olympic Training Center for Tennis, Minsk, Belarus (hard – outdoors)

Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) d. Martin Klizan (SVK) 76(9) 62 62
Lukas Lacko (SVK) d. Siarhei Betau (BLR) 60 64 64
Michael Mertinak/Filip Polasek (SVK) d. Uladzimir Ignatik/Max Mirnyi (BLR) 76(5) 76(6) 36 46 64
Uladzimir Ignatik (BLR) v Lukas Lacko (SVK)
Siarhei Betau (BLR) v Martin Klizan (SVK)

POLAND leads LATVIA 2-1
Venue: Olympic Sports Centre, Riga, Latvia (carpet – indoors)

Michal Przysiezny (POL) d. Andis Juska (LAT) 63 64 64
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 64 64 36 62
Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski (POL) d. Andis Juska/Deniss Pavlovs (LAT) 63 64 76(4)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) v Michael Przysieszny (POL)
Andis Juska (LAT) v Jerzy Janowicz (POL)

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFF

CANADA leads DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 2-0
Venue: Rexall Centre – Grandstand Court, Toronto, Canada (hard – outdoors)

Peter Polansky (CAN) d. Jhonson Garcia (DOM) 76(4) 46 63 63
Milos Raonic (CAN) d. Victor Estrella (DOM) 57 62 36 76(3) 97
Frank Dancevic/Daniel Nestor (CAN) v Victor Estrella/Jhonson Garcia (DOM)
Peter Polansky (CAN) v Victor Estrella (DOM)
Milos Raonic (CAN) v Jhonson Garcia (DOM)

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP I SECOND ROUND PLAY-OFF

KOREA, REP. leads PHILIPPINES 2-1
Venue: Chanwon Municipal Tennis Courts, Changwon , Korea , Rep. (hard – outdoors)

Yong-Kyu Lim (KOR) d. Treat Huey (PHI) 67(8) 62 76(7) 76(4)
Suk-Young Jeong (KOR) d. Cecil Mamiit (PHI) 06 16 63 60 62
Cecil Mamiit / Treat Huey (PHI) d. Hyun-Joon Kim/Jae-Min Seol (KOR) 63 64 64
Yong-Kyu Lim (KOR) v Cecil Mamiit (PHI)
Suk-Young Jeong (KOR) v Treat Huey (PHI)

EUROPE/AFRICA ZONE GROUP II THIRD ROUND

LITHUANIA leads SLOVENIA 2-1
Venue: SEB Arena, Vilnius , Lithuania (hard – indoors)

Richard Berankis (LTU) d. Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 36 62 76(9) 64
Grega Zemlja (SLO) d. Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) 63 76(4) 63
Richard Berankis/Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) d. Grega Zemla/Luka Gregorc (SLO) 57 46 61 63 63
Richard Berankis (LTU) v Grega Zemlja (SLO)
Laurynas Grigelis (LTU) v Blaz Kavcic (SLO)

PORTUGAL level with BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 1-1
Venue: Centro de Tenis Do Jamor, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal (clay – outdoors)

Frederico Gil (POR) d. Amer Delic (BIH) 63 64 67(14) 36 97
Aldin Setkic (BIH) d. Rui Machado (POR) 64 63 16 61
Frederico Gil/Leonardo Tavares (POR) v Amer Delic/Aldin Setkic (BIH)
Frederico Gil (POR) v Aldin Setkic (BIH)
Rui Machado (POR) v Amer Delic (BIH)

AMERICAS ZONE GROUP II FINAL

MEXICO leads VENEZUELA 2-0
Venue: Rafael El Pelon Osuna, Delg. Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico (clay – outdoors)

Daniel Garza (MEX) d. Roman Recarte (VEN) 62 62 62
Cesar Ramirez (MEX) d. Jose De Armas (VEN) 61 63 63
Bruno Rodriguez/Miguel Angel Reyes Varela (MEX) v Jose De Armas/Piero Luisi (VEN)
Daniel Garza (MEX) v Jose De Armas (VEN)
Cesar Ramirez (MEX) v Roman Recarte (VEN)

ASIA/OCEANIA ZONE GROUP II FINAL

NEW ZEALAND leads THAILAND 2-1
Venue: National Tennis Development Centre (LTAT), Nontheburi , Thailand (hard – outdoors)

Michael Venus (NZL) d. Weerapat Doakmaiklee (THA) 63 62 76(1)
Jose Statham (NZL) d. Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) 46 76(5) 61 76(2)
Sanchai Ratiwatana/Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) d. Daniel King-Turner/Michael Venus (NZL) 06 67(6) 60 63 64
Kittiphong Wachiramanowong (THA) v Michael Venus (NZL)
Weerapat Doakmaiklee (THA) v Jose Statham (NZL)

Carroll: Very little U.S. at U.S. Open

It has not been a secret that Americans have not been dominating the world of professional tennis since the days when Andre Agassi would routinely battle Pete Sampras in the finals of Grand Slam events.
American futility on the men’s side was clearly in evidence at the U.S. Open as the fading Andy Roddick and the perpetually mediocre Taylor Dent, Donald Young and Robby Ginepri were all eliminated before Labor Day weekend. James Blake managed to survive until Saturday when Novak Djokovic disposed of him with ease in straight sets.

Things were not brighter for the red, white and blue on the women’s side as Venus Williams was the only American left at the tournament’s halfway point, though it’s safe to say that her sister, Serena, would have been there as well had she not hurt her right foot and missed the tourney. Melanie Oudin, the teenager from Atlanta who went deep into the Open last year, was gone by the second round. This year’s Cinderella story, Maryland’s Beatrice Capra, was slaughtered 6-0, 6-0 by Maria Sharapova in a third round match.

A United States Tennis Association executive looked as if she was about to cry in the press room when 18-year-old Louisiana native Ryan Harrison lost a grueling five-set match that required a tiebreaker to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine. Harrison blew three match point opportunities in the tiebreaker. If he were a more seasoned player, the media would have called it a “choke,” but since he is young, and was quite mature in his post-loss press conference, everyone was charitable.

James Blake is a huge Mets fan, and he frequently wears a Mets baseball cap into Interview Room 1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. He became far more passionate about the Mets’ woes than about his tennis game when he was asked what the team needs to do next year. “I believe that they need to make changes at the top,” he said, referring to Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, General Manager Omar Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel.

Blake chatted with me briefly after the formal press conference. “They need to blow the whole team up and start over,” he added emphatically, meaning that he would not be averse to seeing such core players as Jose Reyes and David Wright traded. When I mentioned that it would highly unlikely Jeff Wilpon would leave anytime soon since he’s the son of team owner Fred Wilpon, Blake replied somewhat forlornly, “I know.”

US Open Mens Preview

(August 28, 2010) In the shadow of Arthur Ashe Stadium, paradise came to the parking lot of the US Open. Clad in a white warm-up, Roger Federer popped out of the back seat of a Mercedes and walked to the red brick building to pick up his US Open player credential at about 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon. Moments later, Rafael Nadal, wearing a white t-shirt and shorts, Babolat racquet in hand, walked by to greet Federer in meeting of two men who have split the spoils in combining to win 20 of the last 22 Grand Slam titles.

World No. 1 Nadal and the second-ranked Federer met briefly in the parking lot drizzle, will their paths cross again in what could be a day of dazzle in the US Open final?

You might think after transforming Grand Slam center courts into their own personal stomping grounds for several years, either man might grow slightly complacent, but both Nadal and Federer figure to be highly motivated to reign in New York.

The top-seeded Nadal, a semifinal casualty in each of the last two years, may be looking at his best shot to capture his first career US Open championship, complete the career Grand Slam and solidify his status as one of the greatest players of all time by becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open crowns simultaneously.

A resurgent Federer, who snapped a six-month title drought in defending his Cincinnati title on Sunday, is aiming for his seventh straight US Open final as he attempts to reclaim the crown he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in five sets last September. Should Federer win the Open he could challenge Nadal for the year-end No. 1 ranking and move closer to his stated goal of winning 20 career majors and surpassing Pete Sampras’ record fo 286 weeks at No. 1.

Two guys who have lapped the Grand Slam field could be racing toward history and each other in two weeks’ time.

Del Potro, who beat Nadal and Federer in succession to win his first major, is out of the Open with a wrist injury, 2007 finalist Novak Djokovic is mired in malaise and fourth-seeded Andy Murray appears to be the only man capable of derailing the first Rafa-Roger US Open final.

The US Open draw was conducted today and while the women’s draw is more wide open that at anytime in recent memory, the men’s draw revolves around three men — Nadal, Federer and Murray — who serve as the tennis equivalent of Manhattan gridlock for aspiring upwardly mobile members of the men’s draw:  paralyzing presence to be avoided at all costs.

Here’s a look at each quarter of the draw.

First Quarter

Nadal opens against Teymuraz Gabashvili and while this year’s Open is hardly a case of now or never for the 24-year-old Mallorcan, former US Open champion John McEnroe says this may well be the best shot the muscular Mallorcan ever has of mastering the Flushing Meadows major.

“I think this is the best chance perhaps he will ever have to win the Open and I don’t think we should forget the fact he has improved his efforts pretty much every year the last two years,” McEnroe said in a conference call with the media today. “Despite having issues physically — the stomach last year and the knees a couple of years ago — he’s gotten to a couple of semis. I think he’s poised. He’s had the time off, he says he’s 100 percent healthy, the body is there and he is much tougher to beat in a best of five set match.”

The biggest issue for Nadal may be beneath his feet. Can he tame the game’s fastest Grand Slam tennis that has left him looking bewildered on some occasions and overwhelmed on others in his US Open losses? Nadal is a more complete player now than he was when he fell to Murray in a four-set US Open semifinal loss played out over two days two years ago.

The best big-match player in the game looked like a solid favorite to finally break through in Flushing Meadows when he rolled Tomas Berdych in straight sets to win his eighth career major at Wimbledon last month. But in losses to Murray in the Toronto semifinals and Marcos Baghdatis in last week’s Cincinnati quarterfinals, Nadal looks more like the guy who endured an 11-month title drought than he does the Flushing Meadows favorite.

Things happen quickly in tennis. Remember the euphoria surrounding Murray’s run to the Melbourne final when many were touting him as the next No. 1 after he bounced defending champion Nadal out of the tournament? The fact is Nadal has not won a hard-court title since the 2009 Indian Wells and looked as capable of adjusting to quick Cincinnati court conditions as a commuter trying to catch up to speeding cab. Julien Benneteau does not serve as big as Boris Becker, but Nadal could not consistently hit deep returns in that match, resorted to chipping his backhand and basically bluffed his way through the second set, saving a match point playing defense and waiting for the Frenchman to crack.

In practice sessions this week, Nadal’s two-handed backhand return has not been consistently sharp, but if he can regain the range on that shot he should get through the top quarter of the draw that features some dangerous players in the form of 10th-seeded David Ferrer, who beat Nadal in the fourth round of the 2007 US Open, 24th-seeded Ernests Gulbis, a talented, but extremely volatile Latvian who pushed Nadal to a 6-4 third set in the Rome semis on clay in May, and the dangerous David Nalbandian, who has thrashed Nadal on hard courts in the past, but has never beaten him in a best-of-five set match.

Coming off an opening-round exit last year, Gulbis has the game to push through to the quarters, but can degenerate into morose moods and periods of flaky play on court.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (24) Ernests Gulbis or (31) David Nalbandian

Second Quarter

Murray has arguably the smoothest path to the semifinals of the top three contenders. The two-time Grand Slam finalist opens against Lukas Lacko with 25th-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka looming as his first potential seeded opponent. Wawrinka’s game is based on a brilliant one-handed backhand, he can serve big and has become a more disciplined match player working with coach Peter Lundgren, who formerly coached Federer and guided Marat Safin to the Australian Open title. But Wawrinka hasn’t been able to sustain himself in running rallies with Murray, a much smoother mover around the court. Murray destroyed the Swiss the last time they met in New York and should dispatch him again should they meet here.

Sam Querrey, who opens against American wild card Bradley Klahn, should reach a third-round match with 14th-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, who can hammer the ball as big as just about any Spaniard on Tour. If Querrey can get past Almagro he could test Murray in what would be a rematch of the Los Angeles final. Querrey fought off a match point to beat Murray in LA, but the best-of-five set format favors the Scot, who is fitter, faster and a better player at this point. If Querrey is landing his first serve, can shorten up the points with his forehand and get the New York City crowd into the match he has a shot should that match come off.

“I think Andy is the better player right now,” McEnroe said. “Sam showed a lot of heart and is is getting into better condition. People are looking carefully at Sam. In a best of five, Andy should be a strong favorite, no question about that. Andy should have beaten Sam in LA, he entered at the last minute, but I wouldn’t discount Sam particularly if he was rested for that match. Certainly, he’s fitter than he’s ever been and is a dangerous player. Things have set up for Andy about as good as he could have hoped for.”

Wimbledon finalist Berdych opens with a potentially tricky opponent in French left-hander Michael Llodra. American John Isner, who upset Andy Roddick last year, is still in the draw, but if he does play, Isner figures to be hampered by the right ankle injury he sustained in Cincinnati. If Isner was healthy, he could test Berdych in the fourth round, but given the tenuous condition of his ankle, Berdych should get through to the quarters to face Murray.

Berdych swept Murray in straight sets in the Roland Garros round of 16. And you could look at the fact another tall, lanky, big hitter, Marin Cilic, bounced Murray out of the Open last year as a sign Berdych could overwhelm Murray, who is prone to periods of passive play at times, this year. But Murray has had a consistently solid Grand Slam season in reaching the Australian Open final and the Wimbledon semifinals, knows he has a real opportunity to return to the semifinals and is coming off his second straight Rogers Cup title.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (4) Andy Murray vs. (7) Tomas Berdych

Third Quarter

This is the most wide open of the four quarters of the field with Djokovic the highest seed in this section, but based on the fact the Serbian showman has shown little confidence and played with a sense of resignation in losing to Andy Roddick in Cincinnati last week, it’s difficult to imagine Djokovic returning to the semifinals unless he pulls out some electrifying wins along the way to ignite some intensity in what has been a timid game recently.

Djokovic takes on Davis Cup teammate and good friend Viktor Troicki in the first round. The four players to watch in this section are sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, a former US Open finalist and ATP World Tour Final champion, Roddick, Mardy Fish and Marcos Baghdatis.

Since reaching back-to-back Masters finals at Indian Wells and Miami where he played some of the best tennis of his career, Roddick has slumped though he did reach the Cincinnati semifinals and failed to serve out the match in suffering a brutal loss to Fish. Roddick could be challenged in the second round against Olivier Rochus or Janko Tipsarevic, but should get to a fourth-round meeting with Davydenko, a player he has owned throughout his career, winning five of their six meetings. If Roddick can play more assertive tennis, his hit backhand up the line to open up the inside-out forehand even more, and use the speed of the court to pressure opponents, he has a solid shot to reach the quarters.

“His tennis earlier on in the year — when he got to the finals at Palm Springs and then he won at Key Biscayne — his tennis was certainly on a different level. He since seems to have lost that touch a little bit and maybe it’s just a little loss of confidence from losing a few matches — I think Wimbledon and his loss at Wimbledon set him back a little bit,” Hall of Famer Jimmy Connors, Roddick’s former coach, said. “I don’t think he ever expected to lose out on Court 2 to Lu. He is strong enough mentally and physically to be able to wipe that aside and to start playing the kind of tennis necessary to win a US Open now. He struggled during the summer. But certainly, he is strong enough and a good enough player to overcome that, especially with the excitement of the US Open and being the only American right now in the top ten. The crowd should give him a boost and help him lift his game to another level. I would look for him to go into the US Open with the right attitude and to play the kind of tennis to create a lot of excitement.”

The 19th-seeded Fish has never looked better, thanks to a nutrional plan that has seen him shed 30 pounds, and has never played better either. Fish sat out the Open last year and could take a quantum leap in the rankings toward the top 10 with a strong run in New York. Two years ago, Fish advanced to the quarters falling to Nadal and is a significantly improved player now. The quarterfinals are within reach, but he’ll likely have to beat Baghdatis, who beat Nadal in Cincinnati, and Djokovic back to back to make it. Fish is a combined 0-7 lifetime vs. those two players, but has never been in better form than he is right now. This could be a career-defining tournament for Fish.

Fish and Baghdatis opened the season playing a tremendous semifinal in Sydney with Baghdatis prevailing, 6-4, 6-7(7), 7-6(5) to raise his record to 3-0 vs. Fish.

“I think Mardy has a good chance,” Connors said. “Mardy Fish if he can handle the three out of five sets and over a two-week period, I think he also has a good chance as he has certainly been playing that kind of tennis over the course of the summer to put him in as a contender.”

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (9) Andy Roddick vs. (16) Marcos Baghdatis or (19) Mardy Fish

Fourth Quarter

Three former World No. 1 Grand Slam champions, Federer, No. 32 seed Lleyton Hewitt and No. 22 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero occupy three of the final eight lines of the draw.

Federer faces Brian Dabul in the first round and should cruise to a possible third-round meeting with Hewitt.

Given the fact Federer has lost just one match in the past six years in New York, he’s a strong favorite to advance to a quarterfinal against fifth-seeded Robin Soderling, who knocked the defending Roland Garros champion out of Paris at the same stage earlier this year.

Can Soderling, who takes mammoth cuts off both the forehand and backhand wings, time the ball effectively enough to beat Federer again here? Certainly, Soderling has enough offensive firepower to bea almost anyone when he’s on, but Federer is a much better defensive player and transition from defense to offense more effectively.

The surface is better suited to Federer’s style. Look for Federer to return to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal Conclusion: (2) Roger Federer vs. (5) Robin Soderling

Read more from Richard Pagliaro at Tennis Now, where this story originally was posted.

The Biofile: Roger Federer

Status: World’s #1 tennis player. Winner of this year’s French Open and Wimbledon.

Tennis Inspiration:  “Watching my idols play back at Wimbledon or at the U.S. Open, wanting to maybe be like them one day. Practice hard. Maybe when I was #1 junior in the world when I was 17 years old, I hoped to maybe one day maybe equal that feat on the men’s tour, also become #1 on the world there. So I’m happy I chose tennis, put it that way.”

Ht: 6-1    Wt: 177

Born On: August 8, 1981    In: Basel, Switzerland

Childhood Heroes: “Stefan Edberg – actually my favorite of all-time. Boris Becker – first favorite when I was small. Pete Sampras.”

Nicknames: Rogie, Federer Express.

Hobbies/Leisure Activities: “Sports in general, cinema, deep sea fishing, relaxing in the beach, friends, music, skiing.”

First Tennis Memory: “I remember always loving to play against the cupboards, against the doors at home. With any kind of ball…soft ball, tennis ball. My mom (Lynette) always got pissed off at me, because, Bang, bang, bang!, all day long [smiles].”

Favorite Movies: “Good Will Hunting, Entrapment, Enemy of the State.”

Musical Tastes: “Anything on top of the charts all over the world, AC/DC, Metallica, Lenny Kravitz.”

Pre-Match Feeling: “As always, before an important match, always very nervous. It’s a good feeling. It shows I think that match is very important to me. Once I’m on the court, that’s not so much the pressure, that’s the easy part. It’s what I love to do. In the beginning of the match, you hope you just play okay. Which is, start to play, get the rhythm and everything. And after two or three games, you’re not nervous anymore.”

First Job: “Never had one. I stopped school at 16 and started playing tennis.”

Early Tennis Memory: “I was playing a friend named Marco (Chiudinelli) when I was 14. Playing in Basel. And it was like six o’clock. And this bird just goes on the net [smiles]. My friend – he didn’t see the bird – and he starts serving. And he serves…and the little bird, Boom! Right on the body. The bird fell on my side of the net. And it was on the ground, like shaking, then, Boom, dead. Feathers all over the court. He didn’t know what happened. I’m like, Stop, stop! There’s a bird on the net. And he goes, Boom, and just hits it. That was unbelievable.”

Childhood Dream: “Always had tennis in my mind. Tennis was my dream. To me, Wimbledon was always the special one. Because my heroes were Becker, Edberg and Sampras. I just hope that I always be healthy and not injured.

Greatest Sports Moment: “I think I have so many [smiles]. I think the four Grand Slams are fantastic and each has a special place for me. Australian – I became number one in the world. Wimbledon – I broke Pete’s record there (for 15 slam titles). The U.S. Open – I won it five years in a row. French Open (became third man in Open era to win all four slams). And the Olympic gold medal in doubles last year. So I think those are the best moments of my career.”

Most Painful Moment: “One good thing about me is that I forget matches, even bad matches, very quickly. I get sad about not having played well but I don’t really get (upset). By the time I get back to the hotel, it’s completely forgotten and I’m fine.”

Favorite Meal(s): “Tomatoes and mozzarella di buffala. And gnocchi and gorgonzola, sausage, cheese, salad.”

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Rice Crispies [laughs].”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Strawberry.”

Closest Tennis Friends: “I am lucky to speak three languages, and this opens many doors to making friends with other players. I reckon I have an excellent contact with many other players on the Tour. I do spend a lot of time with the other Swiss players when they are also at the tournaments.”

Toughest Competitors Encountered: “Nadal.”

Favorite Athletes To Watch: “FC Basel. Zinedine Zidane. Francesco Totti. Michael Jordan. Lennox Lewis – the best. Big and strong. Wladimir Klitschko. I liked his style. Peter Forsberg. More and more hockey. American football was not too interesting to me. Too many breaks in the action. Plus I don’t understand the rules too good.

Favorite Tennis Players To Watch:  “I just like to watch tennis. I’m flippin’ through the channels and see a match – really no matter who is playing – I just like the game very much. One player I would really like to watch is Bjorn Borg. Because I never really had the chance to see him when he was at his best. And from what I’ve seen and heard, he is a very special player and obviously a great champion.”

People Qualities Most Admired: “That they smile a lot. Friendly. Helpful. I have a motto that I like: It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. And don’t lie. I don’t like it when somebody lies. Because I never lie.”

Ashe Ceremony Moved to Sunday

Because of the threat of rain, the ceremony to induct Arthur Ashe into the Wall of Fame has been postponed until Sunday. It will take place before the Men’s Finals. President Bill Clinton, who was supposed to attend tonight will now be at the event on Sunday.

Here’s the original release:

FLUSHING, N.Y., September 7, 2009 – The USTA announced today that Arthur Ashe, the first African American US Open men’s singles champion and one of tennis’ greatest ambassadors, has been named the 2009 inductee into the US Open Court of Champions, a US Open and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center attraction honoring the greatest singles champions in the history of the 128 years of the U.S. Championships/US Open.  Ashe will be inducted during a ceremony on Thursday evening, September 10, and President Bill Clinton will participate in a tribute to this tennis icon and humanitarian, to be broadcast live on ESPN2.

The US Open Court of Champions salutes the tournament’s all-time greatest champions with an individual permanent monument that serves as a lasting tribute. Ashe will join prior inductees Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. A panel of international print and broadcast journalists selected the 2009 inductee from the roster of U.S. champions based on their performances at the tournament and their impact on the growth of the event.

“Arthur Ashe is one of the greatest champions to ever compete at the US Open and we are proud to honor his remarkable legacy,” said Lucy Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA.  “Arthur was a great humanitarian and his legacy and his performance helped the tournament become one of the world’s premier sporting events.”

Following his tenure in the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.  The Foundation has grown into a global 501(c)(3) nongovernmental organization with 1,400 staff and volunteers in more than 40 countries working to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, fight climate change, develop sustainable economic growth in Africa and Latin America, tackle the childhood obesity epidemic, and help expand economic opportunity.

The Clinton Global Initiative, established by President Clinton in 2005, has brought together more than 100 current and former heads of state; 14 Nobel Peach Prize winners; hundreds of leading global CEO’s, heads of foundations, and major philanthropists; and directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations to identify and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.  CGI’s Fifth Annual Meeting will take place September 22-25, 2009 in New York City.

Ashe was the US Open singles champion in 1968, and reached the final again in 1972.  In his career, he captured 33 singles titles and 18 doubles titles, including three Grand Slam championships. Prior to that, he was the first African-American to win the NCAA singles title (for UCLA in 1965), and he represented the United States in the Davis Cup every year from 1965 to 1970, helping his country to the title from 1968 to 1970. Ashe also worked extensively off the court to end poverty and racism worldwide. In 1969, Ashe founded the USTA National Junior Tennis League, now the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) network. Ashe envisioned NJTL as a way of developing the character of young people through tennis and education. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, NJTL has grown to more than 550 chapters nationwide, serving more than 220,000 youths each year. It has become one of USTA’s largest community- based offerings.

The US Open Court of Champions, a 9,000-square foot outdoor pavilion bounded by the South Entry Gate and the Arthur Ashe Commemorative Garden and Sculpture, celebrates the event’s greatest champions with an individual permanent monument to serve as a lasting tribute.  The attraction also features a complete listing of all U.S. singles champions since the competition began in 1881.

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The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level — from local communities to the highest level of the professional game.  A not-for-profit organization with 730,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., is a minority owner and promotional partner of World TeamTennis, and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. The USTA philanthropic entity, USTA Serves, provides grants and scholarships and through tennis, helps underserved youth and people with disabilities to improve academics, build character and strive for excellence. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.