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Archive for April 23rd, 2008

If you couldn’t win Wimbledon, that doesn’t mean that you screw up the name, or is it the other way around?

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Have you heard Ivan Lendl pronounce Wimbledon? Shouldn’t this be on Youtube?

Click here then go to ‘select a video’ and click on ‘Lendl on Wimbledon’.


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International Women of Courage Awards. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008


Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 10, 2008

Secretary of State Confers the International Women of Courage Awards
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky today marked International Women’s Day 2008 by presenting the second annual International Women of Courage Award to eight women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancement. This is the only Department of State award paying tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide and offering a unique opportunity for transformational diplomacy in the field of international women’s issues.

The honorees from Afghanistan, Fiji, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Paraguay, and Somalia have transformed their societies and serve as an inspiration to the international community. They are among over 95 exceptional women of courage nominated by U.S. Embassies worldwide for their diverse contributions to freedom, justice, peace, and equality.

This year, the Department honored the following women of courage from six regions:

Suraya Pakzad (Afghanistan)

Suraya Pakzad founded “Voice of Women,” one of the few organizations dedicated to helping women in the western region of Afghanistan. The non-governmental organization operated under Taliban rule, and continues to provide shelter and counseling to women and girls who have escaped forced marriages.

Virisila Buadromo (Fiji)

Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), advocates for gender equality, legal and political reform, and democracy, despite challenges and threats from Fiji’s military coup-led government.

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory (Iraq)

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory searches hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers for sick and wounded children in need of specialized care that could only be received outside of the country and also works to build capacity to meet their needs in Iraq.

Valdete Idrizi (Kosovo)

Valdete Idrizi, an ethnic Albanian internally displaced person (IDP), crosses frequently into majority Serb areas in northern Kosovo to run women’s and youth projects aimed at reconciliation and peace-building among the various ethnic communities.

Nibal Thawabteh (Palestinian Authority)

Nibal Thawabteh was the first woman to be elected to the Beit Fajjar Village Council, a very conservative village near Bethlehem. She founded a monthly newspaper, Al Hal (“The Situation”) that covers controversial issues including honor killings, polygamy, and the plight of the poor. She also is a published author and is working on a novel dealing with previously unexplored issues concerning women in the Arab world.

Dr. Begum Jan (Pakistan)

Dr. Begum Jan, Chairperson of the Tribal Women Welfare Association (TWWA), works to empower the voice and role of women in traditional communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan.

Cynthia Bendlin (Paraguay)

Cynthia Bendlin has exhibited outstanding courage and leadership in combating the trafficking of women in the Tri-Border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Ms. Bendlin continues her efforts despite forced relocation and repeated death threats by criminal mafia who control the human trafficking trade.

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim (Somalia)

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim, a young Somali woman living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, girls, and refugees and campaigned tirelessly against practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women.


Released on March 10, 2008

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Ivanovic Nominated for Women of Courage Award. From cragger. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia returns a shot against Emilie Loit of France during day six of the Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 29, 2008 in Key Biscayne, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) 


Ivanovic Nominated for Women of Courage Award

The US State Department has nominated Ana Ivanovic for its 2008 International Women of Courage Award. The accolade was created by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in order to recognise exceptional women around the globe.

“This is a big surprise,” Ivanovic commented. “It’s a great honour and I’d like to thank them for paying me such a great compliment like this.”

In addition to reaching No.2 in the world rankings and finishing runner-up at two Grand Slams, in the past year Ivanovic became a UNICEF ambassador for Serbia. Since her inauguration in September 2007 she has not only donated a considerable sum that has enabled 15 schools to join the “Schools Without Violence” programme, she has raised awareness about child safety through her off-court activities, which included writing a newspaper column that benefited UNICEF during the Australian Open. The nomination is the latest in a long line of honours bestowed upon the 20-year-old in recent weeks. Last month she scooped the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s 2007 Karen Krantzcke Sponsmanship award and was simultaneously named the 2007 Most Improved Player. Also, last week a postage stamp with her image was released in Serbia.

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Nadal on rampage? You think!!!!!!!!!

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Croatia's Mario Ancic during their second round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament ,  in Monaco, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Nadal won 6-0, 6-3.  

He served at an almost 90 percent for his first serves despite having just one ace the entire match.

To deliver a bagel at the first set on clay has got to send tremors across the tennis world, specially against Ancic. Ancic is not ranked 137 and is not 30 years old. In fact he has reached as high as No. 7 in the world and stayed among the top ten for a reasonable amount of time before struck by illnesses.

Nadal won freaking first eight games of the freaking match. WOW. That has got to send shivers down the spine of more people than just the joker across the net taking the abuse.

Spain's Rafael Nadal watches the ball as he returns to Croatia's Mario Ancic during their second round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament  in Monaco, Wednesday, April 23, 2008. Nadal won 6-0, 6-3.  

Mentally that has got to be massively deflating to Federer. Misery loves company and in it’s absence it gets even worse.

Nadal’s performance was much higher than what anyone expected against Ancic. To be on fire from the first point and to be relentless throughout, earning eight break points in the process, is beyond excellence. Nadal will need many more of these about one hour matches to keep himself fresh and winning till Roland Garros and who knows beyond. Wimbledon, maybe?

This is the beauty of competition. It brings out the level of play from great players which the fans would have never witnessed if not for some younger joker nipping at their heels for their throne. Nadal’s sent the exact message he wanted the world to get, with this utter destruction of Ancic.

It’s embarrassing anytime you eat a bagel on the tour, but to eat it when you are as highly ranked as Ancic even today (55), is humiliating and deflating. You never forget these matches ever in your life. How helpless you were made to feel despite hours and hours of professional training and practice you have gone through to get there, is baffling and humbling.

Ferrero, Nadal’s next opponent, has to be shivering with fear just imagining the possibility of getting spanked ruthlessly on his favorite surface.

Prepare not to miss any of Nadal’s matches this clay season, to appreciate possibly the greatest clay court player ever.

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Federer barely makes it to the second round at Monte Carlo.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Roger Federer of Switzerland in action during his second round match against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain on Day five of the Masters Series at the Monte Carlo Country Club, April 23, 2008 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) 

Federer obviously was the victim of ‘playing down to the competition’ bug. Other factors that appear to be lending a false sense of security at Federer camp: Winning at Estoril and having a coach.

We are all basically lazy creatures. We tend to do just enough required unless of course we are in a do or die battle. Federer was so comfortably lodged at that ‘unbeatable’ suite for so long, that the above two factors are beckoning him to that complacent chamber.

Anyone who calls this anything close to a win is not reading the blatant writing on the wall. This is NOT a win, by any standards. It’s actually a victory for Ramirez. Despite all the blah blah media is going to come up with about ‘coming from behind, gutting it out, digging out of hole’ victory, this was the most pathetic and embarrassing display of tennis I have ever seen from Federer.

And this is after winning the title at Estoril? What were you freaking planning to do here, if you had lost to Davydenko? Or is that what should have happened for you to have performed at your best, in this opening freaking match against an opponent with both legs in the freaking grave?

Swiss player Roger Federer  returns the ball to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain during their second round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament in Monaco, Wednesday, April 23, 2008.

Look at some of the stats:

1st set: 3 aces, 72% first serves in and 50% B pt conv. Result: 6-1.
2nd set: 1, 50%, 0%. Result: 3-6.
3rd set: 1, 63%, 100%. Result: 7-6.

Translation: Federer’s overall game is non existent. Aces and first serve percentage are two props that’s still holding the structure for appearances. Being down 1-5 in the final set and to come back and win it says jack about your game or resiliency. It speaks volumes of how surprised the guy across the net was, so much so, that he could not close the match despite serving for the match TWICE.

Swiss tennis player Roger Federer plays a return to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo during their second round match of the Monte Carlo Tennis Open tournament in Monaco, Wednesday, April 23, 2008.  

And if these are the wins that are going to be motivating you from now on, you will have plenty of them. It’s just that you will have to play about 30 tournaments every year to get that feeling.

Do you even really want to win a tournament with these results? Estoril was bad enough with journeymen stretching and embarrassing Federer publicly.

Based on the entire year from last year’s Canas loss until this match, the numbers are increasingly getting uglier by the minute. Now, you cringe just seeing him on the court. You don’t know if his pants will be pulled down in front of everyone right here. It’s getting so bad that devoted fans are switching off TV sets when they see Federer get a spanking specially from a virtually unknown.


You think Federer will win a clay court event with the big sharks in the pool, with this paraphernalia? No way, Jose!!!!!!!

What’s Jose thinking right about now? Maybe I have landed in the boat just abandoned by Connors. This ship is headed for the rocks sooner than I expected. Whatever Jose has coached Federer on, is clearly making things worse, despite the Estoril title. Federer is unable to execute even the basic commands for clay.

You think Monfils is feeling a little pumped right about now? You bet!!!!!!!! He destroyed Karlovic in one hour and 27 minutes, but wait that’s not all. He freaking did not allow Karlovic to hit even a SINGLE, YES ONE, UNO, ace in the entire freaking match. To add insult to injury he aced Karlovic twice.

You see a slight discrepancy in the stats for these next round opponents? You freaking bet!!!!!!!! Translation: If Federer is even able to come up with a high first serve percentage and ability to ace, it may not fly against an agile, hyper, motivated out of his mind Monfils. If Karlovic could not fire a freaking single ace, you think Federer can? Maybe, but not to the extent he needs to win on it.

As I have said before, unless Federer addresses his root problem, he is only shooting himself, well, in a lot of places. If it really is the mono, he needs to pack his bags and take the rest irrespective of how many months it takes. Take it like a forced sabbatical. If you continue playing hoping it will all come together suddenly one fine morning, you are not fooling anybody.

Consider this: While you continue playing with a body begging for rest and break, you are closing in on your 27th birthday and beyond, while concurrently younger and hungrier players are being added to the landscape every month, resulting in closing of the window you have to add a cherry to the amazing records you already hold. You are right there. Two more Grand Slams and one Roland Garros will at least make all the effort you have put in so far, worthwhile.

But if you don’t strike at the root NOW and continue while that window continues to slide south, you will have only yourself to blame. You still have at least four more years of decent tennis in you, but you have to get off the drug and step back to move forward.  Otherwise the two trucks will eventually meet sooner than they planned to, causing an avoidable wreck and a halt to a journey that could become the envy of not just tennis players but sports people worldwide.



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Monte Carlo Opening Reflecions. From Anand. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Swiss Roger Federer hits a return to his Spanish opponent Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo during their Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament tennis match, on April 23, 2008 in Monaco. AFP PHOTO VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Anand 101

Monte Carlo Opening Reflecions

Fed scrapes through by a hair (from down 1-5 in the 3rd set), while Rafa starts by giving Ancic a bagel.

Does this reveal their states of mind? Fed feels no pressure to win on this surface, is just going about it in a relaxed manner. While Rafa knows he must perform and stay focused.

If so, this focusing on every point every match will drain Rafa as the clay season progresses.

For Fed, this first match was a Godsend. Spend lots of time on court and still come up with the win, that too from two breaks down. That should give him a lot of momentum going into the second match.

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Fed’s Clay Dominance. From Anand. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Anand 101

Fed’s Clay Dominance


“He has never lost on clay to Guillermo Coria (2-0 when Coria was still Coria), Nikolai Davydenko (3-0), David Ferrer (3-0), Safin (3-0), Carlos Moya (3-0), Fernando Gonzalez (4-0), Gaston Gaudio (2-0), Juan Carlos Ferrero (3-0) and Tommy Robredo (3-0). That’s an astounding 26-0 mark against the best clay-courters of the last six years not named Nadal.

Federer’s never won Roland Garros, but he is a hundred times better on European clay that almost all the other greats who failed to complete a career Grand Slam at the French Open. John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras would have been lucky to take a set off him in Paris or Rome.”

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Federer hoping Higueras’ wisdom rubs off in time for French Open. From Sarah. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008


Federer hoping Higueras’ wisdom rubs off in time for French Open
By Joel Drucker
Special to

A new set of eyes is exactly what Roger Federer needs after an ominous start in 2008.
When it comes to assessing the new relationship between Jose Higueras and Roger Federer, let’s first clear up one major misperception. Yes, Higueras is from Spain, where he learned to play the game in Barcelona on red clay. Yes, Higueras had his best results as a player on clay, reaching two French Open semis and twice winning in the exceptionally thick conditions of Hamburg on his way to a career-high ranking of No. 6 in the world. And yes, two of Higueras’ most notable charges, Michael Chang and Jim Courier, won the French Open under his tutelage.

But he is in no way a clay-court specialist. Says another of his prominent past players, Todd Martin, “Jose understands the entire game. He sees the whole picture. He knows what it takes to help you improve.”

At 55, Higueras — who for the past 25 years has lived in the Palm Springs area — remains trim, alert and most of all, as he puts it, someone who “loves talking tennis with just about anyone.” Whenever he walks onto the court with a student — and Higueras has worked not just with Grand Slam champions but also with dozens of juniors and recreational players — he will say, “I am going to share some ideas with you. If you agree, that’s great. If you don’t, that’s OK, too. Tell me why you think I’m full of it and maybe we’ll learn something new together.”

It’s a remarkable mix of candor, curiosity and security that at first can be disarming but in short order reveals a rich, textured understanding of the game that goes beyond the mere act of striking balls or even the more nuanced but neglected art of grasping tactics.

“This is a game of errors,” says Higueras. “That’s as true for the pros as it is for weekend players. So what you’ve got to do is understand how to minimize yours and force the opponent to miss. I think in America, for example, there’s too much emphasis on pure offense over the ability to play intelligent defense.”

In this country there’s a tendency to polarize offense and defense — as if it was a matter of either playing guns-a-blazing, a la Pete Sampras, or hunkering down, like Michael Chang. Higueras sees a yin-yang relationship between the two, a mind-set that may certainly value patience but also views the game as far more subtle than it’s often taught. As Higueras recently said, “You need to able to adjust the ball, and that requires a lot of work and repetition. In tennis you must learn how to give to the ball and take from the ball.”

Which naturally leads to Roger Federer, a man whose commanding ability to balance defense and offense has earned him 12 Grand Slam titles and put him on a pace to be regarded as the best player in tennis history. It’s an honor he likely would clinch conclusively should he be able to win the only Slam that has eluded him, the French Open. It’s only in Paris, and only versus Rafael Nadal, that Federer’s smooth game has become unglued.

So even if Higueras can indeed aid a player on all surfaces, everything from his roots in clay to his calm, understated manner has brought him into Federer’s orbit in the buildup to Roland Garros.

What can we expect to see? Try this seemingly counterintuitive concept: A defensive shot can put Federer more on the offense. The shot at hand is the slice backhand. This may be a stroke that’s rarely seen in professional tennis, but Higueras over the years has spoken frequently about its neglect — and the genuine opportunities its adroit use can create.

Think back to the three matches Federer has lost to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. In all of them, the deal-breaker shot was Nadal’s forehand, a shot that because he’s left-handed he can hit up and away from Federer’s backhand. All too often, Federer has stubbornly replied with a topspin drive. When hit up near his shoulders, driving a topspin backhand does little but bounce just high enough to give Nadal another friendly whack at his forehand and eventually splinter Federer’s backhand.

But as Higueras points out, “When you slice, the ball stays lower and you force someone with Nadal’s grip to hit up on the ball rather than drive through it. This means there’s more spin and less pace.” A ball that’s less forceful could give Federer time to step in and drive his own powerful forehand.

We all know Federer has one of the best forehands in the game but honing his slice backhand will help immensely on clay.
Even beyond that tactical play, the slice backhand can be used as a foil — knifed through the middle of the court, to a sideline, a drop shot or as an off-pace, low service return. All of these shots can help move Nadal away from the figurative trench he digs behind the baseline, where his defense is extraordinary. Make Nadal move forward into the court and perhaps he will not always be as effective. At the pro level, the key to an effective slice backhand is not just to hack the ball the way recreational players often do, but also to drive through it and generate forward motion. It’s a shot Federer has, but has not deployed as much as he might.

But the slice backhand is only one part of what Higueras will bring to Federer. Most of all, Higueras is enthusiastic and can bring Federer a fresh pair of eyes. Even if he’s not always needed or cared much for constant input, surely Federer will benefit from someone as wise as Higueras. His manner is also a good fit for the low-key Federer, hardly in-your-face, eager but not desperate for the job. “I don’t want to create dependence,” Higueras once said. “I want the player to learn how to be independent.”

Joel Drucker is based in Oakland, Calif., and writes for Tennis Magazine and Tennis Channel.

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Last 16 at Monte Carlo. From Anand. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Anand 101

MC Last 16

Quite a few interesting matchups for tomorrow:
Ferrer – Tipsy
Andreev – Almagro
Ferrero – Nadal
Federer – Monfils
Djokovic – Murray

Funny, on clay it seems upsets are less likely than on the faster surfaces. I guess the better player gets more opportunities to win the point…

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Federer vs Ramirez at Monte Carlo. From arbit. Good work. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008


last few games of fed vs rh

* Higueras cheering

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The Vicht Salute. From Rock. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008



The Vicht Salute

It has been rumored that it was Lleyton Hewitt who first came up with this gesture. But there was this guy Niclas Kroon, who first trademarked this salute. And there was one more story which says, Kroon copied this from another tennis player named Joshua Wilson. It was also said that Mats Wilander first used this gesture.

Though I remember vaguely Hewitt using this salute in one of his matches, it caught my eye only when Janko Tipsarevic with plastic night glasses on, used it when he won the first set against Roger in Aus Open 2008. This gesture looks cool for guys who are cool. It suited Janko in that match.

For those living in a cave and busy sculpting some giant ancient animals like Tyrannosaurus on their walls, this it what the salute looks like.

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Nadal has all he can handle in the opening round in Ancic.

Posted by tennisplanet on April 23, 2008

Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts after he won the first set in a tie break during his Tennis Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinal match against Nicolas Kiefer of Germany in Bremen, northern Germany, Friday, April 11, 2008. 

Nadal has the 2-1 H2H advantage, but they have not played in almost four years.

Ancic has been out for most of last year due to illness, but he is having a pretty decent season this year. He reached the finals at Marseille where he lost to Murray in the finals. More importantly, he has defeated some quality players this year: Tsonga, Baghdatis, Gonzalez, Murray, Monaco, Monfils, Soderling etc. Although all this was done on hard courts, he is still not a typical opening round opponent for Nadal. He is still just 24 with a huge serve.

Nadal’s success this clay court season is such an absolute neccessity for obvious reasons, that he has to watch his minutes on the court to avoid repeating what happened at the Hamburg final last year, where he ate a bagel on CLAY.

Rafael Nadal of Spain gestures during his Tennis Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinal match against Nicolas Kiefer of Germany in Bremen, northern Germany, Friday, April 11, 2008. 

Ancic is one opponent other than Ferrer and Youzhny, in his half of the draw, who can extend Nadal’s stay on the court, thereby limiting his ability to go full throttle on all the big four clay tournaments.

So Nadal not only has to win, which gets him no mileage at all due to his utter domination on this surface for the past three years, he has to get in and get out quickly. Easier said than done, with the pressure and the rise of new talented younger players on the circuit like Djokovic, Murray and Ferrer.

Based on the stats thus far, only Djokovic is equipped to pose any challenge this year on clay. Federer is clearly not in the same league he was last two years, leaving a void which Djokovic is more than happy to fill. If Djokovic lands in Federer’s half of the draw at all four clay events, it will boost Nadal’s chances to take down a tired Djokovic or Federer in the finals, assuming the No. 1 and No. 3 get to their semifinal berth unscathed.

It should be interesting to watch if Nadal can limit his minutes and still get ‘Ws’ this year.

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