Tuesday, September 15, 2009

US Open Champion del Potro Qualifies For Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who captured his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open on Monday, has become the fifth singles player to qualify for the prestigious Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, scheduled to take place at The O2 in London from 22-29 November.

The 20 year old will compete at the season climax for the second successive year, joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and defending champion Novak Djokovic at the elite eight-man event, the world’s biggest-ever indoor tournament.

Del Potro regained a place in the Top 5 of the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings on 14 September 2009, after beating Federer 3-6, 7-6(5) 4-6, 7-6(4) 6-2 in the US Open final on his fourth appearance in New York. He is the second Argentine, after 1977 winner Guillermo Vilas, to lift the US Open title and the fifth youngest man to lift the trophy in the Open Era.

"It's been a dream winning the US Open and beating Roger in the final and to qualify for London so early is amazing,” said del Potro, at 6’6” the tallest Grand Slam winner in history. “I played in Shanghai last year and it is such a special tournament. I look forward to playing at The O2 arena."

The Tandil native, who is the youngest player in the Top 20, has captured three tour-level titles this year including the Heineken Open in Auckland (d. Querrey) and the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington (d. Roddick). The Argentine also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals and Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Federer both times).

Del Potro’s qualification leaves just three spots up for grabs between now and November, with the likes of Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko all in contention to complete the eight-man line-up.

Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - The Contenders

Rank Player Points
Rank Team Points
1. R. Federer (SUI) 11,240
1. Bryan/Bryan 9,010
2. R. Nadal (ESP) 8,845
2. Nestor/Zimonjic 8,745
3. A. Murray (GBR) 8,390
3. Dlouhy/Paes 5,740
4. N. Djokovic (SRB) 7,480
4. Bhupathi/Knowles 5,590
5. J.M. del Potro (ARG) 6,825
5. Mirnyi/Ram 3,550
6. A. Roddick (USA) 5,310
6. Moodie/Norman 3,115
7. J-W. Tsonga (FRA) 3,950
7. Kubot/Marach 3,050
8. N. Davydenko (RUS) 3,535
8. Cermak/Mertinak 2,320


9. F. Verdasco (ESP) 3,430
9. Soares/Ullyett 2,220
10. G. Simon (FRA) 3,090
10. Damm/Lindstedt 2,125

Players in bold have qualified.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will feature the world’s top eight singles players and eight doubles teams competing to be officially crowned 2009 ATP World Tour Champions. Each of the top eight players and doubles teams will be drawn to play three round-robin matches to determine which four players and teams advance to the knockout semi-finals.

With a capacity of 250,000, less than 20,000 tickets remain on sale to tennis fans across the group sessions at The O2, which will host the eight-day singles and doubles tournament. Tickets are available online through www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com or by calling 0844 847 2495 within the UK. Overseas customers should call +44 161 372 0025.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/09/London-Finals-del-Potro-Qualifies.aspx)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Murray Overcomes Del Potro To Win Masters 1000 Title

Andy Murray had ended Juan Martin del Potro’s exceptional summer run last year at the US Open, and stemmed the start of a similar streak this season. The No. 3 seed battled past last week’s Washington champion 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-1 on Sunday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal to capture his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, also becoming the first British winner in tournament history.

Murray, who will replace Rafael Nadal as the World No. 2 following his effort in Montreal, earned $443,500 and 1000 South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings points – further boosting his chances of qualifying for the elite Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in November at the O2 in London. He also moved up to No. 3 in the US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings, trailing del Potro at No. 1 by 40 points.

Del Potro, playing his ninth match in 13 days, looked visibly spent compared to Murray in Sunday’s final. While Murray was making his first appearance since Wimbledon and had used the last two weeks getting acclimated to North American hard courts in Miami, del Potro had come to Montreal straight from last Sunday’s successful title defence in Washington, D.C. Additionally, whereas Murray had eased through the week without the loss of a set, del Potro had needed to save one match point Saturday in his win over Andy Roddick.

In spite of a fresher set of legs, Murray came within three points of a straight-sets loss as he struggled to control del Potro’s forehand returns during the opening two sets. The sixth-seeded del Potro – playing in his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final – took the mini-break in the first set tie-break to go up 5-4 when Murray placed a return wide, and served it out with an ace and blistering forehand winner past the Brit.

After trading early breaks of serve in the second set, del Potro made crucial saves to stay in the set but could not close out the match as Murray got back on level ground by clinching the tie-break. Del Potro said: “I felt my chance in the second set, tie-break second set, and I didn't take them. I was trying until the final, but it was so complicated for me. Andy is a good player. I think he's a very good winner of this tournament.”

After two hours and 17 minutes of evenly played tennis, Murray finally wore down the Argentine in the 27-minute third set as his opponent managed to win just nine points total – including four on serve.

"He was just making it really tough because of the way that he was playing and serving, and he was always giving himself a chance," said Murray. "I had to keep fighting and believing in myself, and that was enough in the end."

Murray, who is now 4-1 lifetime against del Potro, fired 16 aces in the match and won 67 per cent of second serve points compared to del Potro's 11 aces and 48 per cent.

The 22-year-old Scot became the first player to post 50 match wins this season (50-7), and also joined Nadal as title leaders after lifting his fifth ATP World Tour trophy in 2009. He also titled at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha (d. Roddick), the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Nadal), the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (d. Djokovic) and the AEGON Championships in London (d. Blake). He improved to 13-6 lifetime in finals (4-1 in ATP World Tour Masters 1000) by winning five ATP World Tour titles for the second year in a row.

He said about his prospects for the remainder of the summer swing: "I feel like I've got a good chance of doing well at the US Open, but each week is a different week, and I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself. I'll just focus on Cincinnati."

Murray will be the first player other than Federer and Nadal, who both lost in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on Friday, to rank No. 2 since Lleyton Hewitt on 18 July 2005. Already the highest-ranked Briton in ATP history, Murray will be the 12th player in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973) to reach No. 2 with a 585-point advantage over No. 3 Rafael Nadal’s total haul of 8,665 points.

He compared his two accomplishments in Montreal: "I've won a couple of Masters [1000 tournaments] now, so it still feels great, but the No. 2 - maybe because it's something different - that means maybe a little bit more, but winning a tournament here is still great."

World No. 6 Del Potro, who had won 10 straight matches coming into the final, was attempting to earn his third ATP World Tour title of the season and second in as many weeks after defeating Roddick last Sunday in Washington. The 20 year old fell to a 6-2 mark in ATP World Tour finals and a 42-11 season match record.

Despite the loss, del Potro was pleased with his effort in Montreal: “I never play a final in Masters, and the crowd and this tournament and everything, it's so good for me and for my future. I'm very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I'm happy. I don't have to think in the past and now see the future.”

Del Potro had emerged as a serious contender last summer, when he won his first four ATP World Tour titles in successive tournament appearances at Stuttgart, Kitzbuhel, Los Angeles and Washington. He missed the summer’s two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournaments, not ranked high enough at the time of entry, and extended his winning streak to 23 straight matches going into the US Open quarter-finals before losing to Murray.

The two players now head to next week’s Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard-court tournament in Cincinnati, where they are in the same quarter of the draw. Murray won the title last year in Cincinnati with victory over Novak Djokovic in the final.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/08/Montreal-Sunday-Murray-Overcomes-Del-Potro-In-Montreal.aspx)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Gonzalez Gathering Pace; Roddick Cuts Down Karlovic

Fernando Gonzalez maintained his perfect record in tour-level quarter-finals this season as he edged out the in-form Tommy Haas 7-5, 6-4 Friday to book his spot in the semi-finals of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, an ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament in Washington, D.C.

The fourth seed, who is now undefeated in five tour-level quarter-finals this year, was made to work hard for his 27th victory of the season against a resilient Haas, who was bidding to reach his fourth tour-level semi-final in a row.

Dominant serving from both Gonzalez and Haas in the first set – they surrendered just two and three points respectively behind their first serves – led to a lack of break point chances. But Gonzalez was quick to pounce with the one chance he created in the 11th game, breaking to lead 6-5 before closing out the one-set lead after 45 minutes.

Watch live web streaming of Saturday's semi-finals (not available U.S.A or Brazil)

Gonzalez looked to be on his way to a more comfortable second-set score line as he broke twice to race out to a 5-2 lead. The No. 23-ranked Haas gave the Chilean food for thought as he recouped one of the breaks, but Gonzalez held strong to close out victory at the second time of asking, after 83 minutes.

The 29-year-old Gonzalez is one win away from reaching his second final in Washington, D.C., having defeated then World No. 1 Andre Agassi in the 2003 semi-finals before falling to Great Britain’s Tim Henman in the title match. He captured his 11th ATP World Tour title earlier in the season as he successfully defended his trophy in Vina del Mar (d. Acasuso).

Haas, 31, suffered his third quarter-final exit in Washington, D.C. as he dropped to a 26-12 mark on the season. The former World No. 2 has been rejuvenated of late, clinching his 12th ATP World Tour title in Halle (d. Djokovic) and reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals (l. to Federer) before opening his Olympus US Open Series campaign with a semi-final showing in LA (l. to Querrey) last week.

In the semi-finals Gonzalez will face defending champion Juan Martin del Potro, who advanced with a walkover over Robin Soderling when the Swede was forced to withdraw with a right elbow injury. The Roland Garros finalist will have an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury and whether he will play in the Rogers Masters, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Montreal, beginning Monday.

Looking ahead to his clash with del Potro, Gonzalez said, “We are really good friends. We have a few years in age difference, but we are really good friends.”

Gonzalez revealed that he took an extended break from the practice court immediately after Wimbledon to rest his right knee, which is affected by tendinitis.

Del Potro said of his walkover from Soderling: “It is very unfortunate Robin couldn’t play today. I was looking forward to this match against Robin as he has been playing incredibly well in the past months. I am sure it would have been a close match.”

Gonzalez takes a 3-0 career lead into the clash with the second-seeded Argentine, although the pair has not met since the 2007 Australian Open. The 20-year-old del Potro has since risen to No. 6 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings after a major breakthrough last summer, when he went on a 23-match winning streak that included four successive ATP World Tour titles and finished in a quarter-final loss to Andy Murray at the US Open.

“I played a very long match against Hewitt yesterday so this day off will help me to recover better for my semi-final match tomorrow against Gonzalez. I’ve lost to him three times in my career and I hope I can get my first win tomorrow,” said del Potro.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/08/Washington-Friday-Gonzalez-Edges-Haas.aspx)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tursunov Launches Indianapolis Title Campaign

Top seed Dmitry Tursunov of Russia began his quest to reach the final for a third straight year at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships presented by Lilly, defeating German Michael Berrer 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 on Tuesday to reach the second round at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament.

Tursunov was up a set and a break, but conceded the lead as he lost all three break points faced on serve in the second set. He decisively recovered in the third set, however, limiting the German to just 10 points total as he clinched the win in one hour and 36 minutes.

Tursunov won the Indianapolis title in 2007 with victory over Canadian Frank Dancevic in the final, and finished runner-up to Frenchman Gilles Simon last year. The 27 year old recently won his sixth ATP World Tour title at the grass-court tournament in Eastbourne, once again defeating Dancevic in the title match. His other five titles have all come on hard courts.

Fifth-seeded German Benjamin Becker posted his 10th tour-level win of the season, easing past Japanese qualifier Go Soeda 6-2, 6-3 in 56 minutes. The 28-year-old Becker won his first ATP World Tour title last month as a qualifier in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (d. Sluiter), capping off an impressive six-tournament stretch that began in April with four straight Challenger finals (3-1 record) and a quarter-final appearance at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Halle (l. to O. Rochus). He has risen from a No. 131 ranking on 6 April, 2009, to his current position of No. 45.

Israeli Davis Cup hero Dudi Sela, the No. 2 seed, had no problems getting though his opening match as he beat American Vince Spadea 7-5, 6-1. Sela had led his country into the Davis Cup semi-finals for the first time with a home victory over Russia two weeks ago, and entered the week ranked a career-high No. 29. Spadea, the oldest player in the draw at 35 years of age, had reached the Indianapolis final in 1999 (d. Sampras in QF, l. to Lapentti).

American qualifiers Jesse Levine and Alex Bogomolov Jr. had better luck than their countryman, advancing to the second round with respective straight-sets wins over Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke and Italian Flavio Cipolla. The 21-year-old Levine is coming off a third round showing at Wimbledon (d. Safin) and quarter-final effort in Newport (l. to Ram), while Bogomolov Jr. defeated Arnaud Clement two weeks ago in Newport to win his first tour-level match since March 2006.

Argentine Eduardo Schwank snapped an 11-match losing streak beginning with a quarter-final exit in February at Costa do Sauipe as he ousted No. 6 seed Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and six minutes. Schwank will next confront 2005 Indianapolis champion Robby Ginepri, who advanced with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 win over French qualifier Sebastien de Chaunac.

Meanwhile, Russian No. 4 seed Igor Kunitsyn converted four of his six break point chances to defeat Argentine Brian Dablu 6-4, 6-1 in 71 minutes. He will face American Wayne Odesnik for a place in the quarter-finals.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/07/Indianapolis-Tuesday-Tursunov-Opens-Title-Campaign.aspx)

Tour de France 2009 : Armstrong attack highlight of Stage 16

Lance Armstrong looked exhausted at the end of Sunday's Stage 15. After his teammate Alberto Contador launched what would be a winning attack, Armstrong couldn't follow attacks through the gap by Wiggins, Nibali, Sastre, or Evans, and finished 9th at 1:35, hanging onto 2nd place, but by a bare 9 seconds.

What a difference a (rest) day makes! On today's Stage 16, when Andy Schleck went off the front, Armstrong was again dropped, this time by teammates Contador and Andreas Klöden, the Schleck brothers, Bradley Wiggins of Garmin-Slipstream, and Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas.

Armstrong rode within himself, and found shelter briefly in a group of GC hopes, including Vande Velde, Sastre, Evans, and Kreuziger. With a little less than 5k to ride, Armstrong launched a very 2003-era Armstrong attack. Kim Kirchen and Christian Vande Velde briefly tried to follow, but couldn't. When he flew by Frank Schleck, Schleck gave it just about one second's thought before he thought better of it.

With Armstrong back alongside Contador, Astana had 3 riders in a 6-man group, and once again, they were content to conserve energy and wait for Schleck or Nibali (or Wiggins, but he doesn't really need the time) to attack, but neither wanted to take on Contador, Armstrong, and Klöden. At the lower pace, all the GC candidates but Cadel Evans rejoined, and then coordinated to put serious time into Evans.

Astana continues to ride a very smart race, running out the clock for the climbing specialists, with just two big Alpine climbing stages left.

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Tom Watson, 59 years young, captivated the golf world for four days at British Open

This is what it's all about: losing. Really. You're going to win some and lose more. That was the point of last week's British Open at Turnberry. Everyone paid more attention to the loser than the winner, right? The loser, an old man — nearly 60! — lost with class and heart and serenity and tired legs. He tried to turn back time. It was a gallant effort, and he almost pulled it off.

True, somebody won on Sunday. Somebody always wins, and the newest name on the claret jug belongs to 36-year-old Stewart Cink, a native son of Huntsville, Ala., with a half-million tweeps following his Twitter page and a long, elegant, Georgia Tech-honed swing.

His shaved head covered by a Kermit-green hat, and wearing bright white pants out of a Marine Corps recruiting ad, he played a wild final nine holes, with only two pars but a closing birdie that got him a spot in a playoff with Tom Watson, a 59-year-old Hall of Famer with an artificial left hip, five British Open titles and an honorary guest bed in a million Scottish homes. In the four-hole playoff Cink overwhelmed the wee mon, two under to four over. Congratulations, Mr. Cink. You won your first major. Maybe you'll win others. You're a bright, considerate man with serious talent. You earned it.

In victory Cink thanked his caddie, his swing coach, his junior-golf teacher, his wife, his two boys, his Savior. He gave a heartfelt shout-out to Watson too. Cink most likely couldn't remember Watson in his early prime. Little Stewie was four when Watson won his epic Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977 over Jack Nicklaus. But the new winner is well familiar with the Watson legend: the handful of Opens, the two green jackets from Augusta, the U.S. Open he stole from Nicklaus in '82 at Pebble Beach, the winning Ryder Cup captaincy in '93.

On Sunday at Turnberry, the Duel in the Wind was at first about the promise of sporting history, and later about defeat. There was something gorgeous and sad and exhilarating about Watson's play and finish, with his wife, Hilary, his grown kids, Meg and Michael, and close friends watching in person or on TV. Watson had one cast left, and he had the fish hooked but could not reel it in. The old man and the seaside links.

Oh, he'll win Senior events, and maybe he'll even contend next year when the Open returns to St. Andrews, although he's already saying he won't, not if the wind blows out of the west. He says he can't play the course in that wind. He's a hyperrealist.

When it was over, a hundred or more reporters gathered solemnly in a white tent and listened to Watson open the session by saying, "This ain't a funeral, you know?" He laughed, and everybody else did with him.

Still. All Watson needed was a par on the last to become, by 11 years, the oldest winner of one of golf's four major championships. If he had shot 277 instead of 278, he would have won his ninth major and tied Harry Vardon, a mustachioed Englishman born in 1870, with a record six British Open titles. In the Age of Tiger, how can a largely retired golfer, seven weeks short of 60, grow his legend? Watson did. He said, "One of the things I want out of life is for my peers to say, 'That Watson, he was a hell of a golfer.'" His peers have been saying that for decades. From here on out, they'll be saying it even more.

Tiger Woods likes to say "second sucks," and he acts as if he means it. When Steve Williams, Tiger's caddie, implored Woods to hit a provisional ball after a horrid way-right shot off the 10th tee last Friday, Tiger kept walking and muttered, "F--- it," before finally making a U-turn.

Thirty-two years earlier, when Watson nipped Nicklaus at Turnberry, the two walked off the final green arm-in-arm, the winner and the loser. Golf never looked better. When Sunday's playoff was over, Watson kept grace alive. There was his long handshake with Cink, which came only after Watson allowed the champ time to acknowledge the applause and savor the moment. There was his fifth straight session in the press tent, where, his voice hoarse after a long day in the wind and the sun, he offered no excuses. Not his age, not his man-made hip, not his infrequent play. Of his poor putt out of fluffy rough from behind the 72nd green, he said, "I gunned it." Of his ensuing 10-footer for par that would have won him the title, he said, "Made a lousy putt." Asked if he ran out of gas in the playoff, he replied, "It looked like it, didn't it?" Congratulations, Tom. You're what it's all about.

He's the same as he ever was, or better.

This will sound crazy, but it's true: His metronomic swing, always a joy to behold, has never looked this good. It goes up, it goes down, it goes through. Boom-boom-boom. A study in efficiency. (You cannot say the same of his close-range putting stroke. It is short and stubby and nothing like his circa-1977 action, which makes his runner-up finish last week even more extraordinary.)

As a man, Watson has never been more appealing, which is not to suggest there's something easy and endearing about him, because there's not and never has been. He's wound tight and he can be painfully brusque. He once asked Davis Love III for a putting lesson, and Love gave him his best stuff, to which Watson responded, "That's wrong." Watson will, at times, show no patience for reporters with questions or kids with programs to sign or tournament officials who can't give him rain-delay information quickly enough. After his first marriage ended in divorce in 1998, there was a long period when his relationships with his daughter and son were strained. Over the years, there have been dinners where he drank too much, angering his friends and family and worrying them too.

If real life were a VH1 special, we could cite a date when Watson's life changed and the road to last week began. But life of course is messy, and all we can offer are some recent milestones. He married Hilary Watson, former wife of golfer Denis Watson, in September 1999. He won the Senior British Open at Turnberry on July 27, 2003, spending a happy and wistful week with his wife and their great friends Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, while keeping tabs on his longtime caddie, Bruce Edwards, who was battling ALS at home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Edwards, 49, died on April 8, 2004. (Watson has been raising money for ALS research ever since.) He stopped drinking several years ago on a date known to him and not many others. His relationship with both kids, Meg especially, has improved steadily over the past half-dozen years. He got a new hip last Oct. 2. He missed the cut at the Masters on April 10 by a dozen shots. (He says, not happily, that he's a "ceremonial" golfer on the lengthened Augusta National course.)

Then came last week, when he led the 138th British Open after the second and third rounds and seized the outright lead one last time at the 17th on Sunday. He smoked his tee shot on the par-4 18th and clipped a downwind eight-iron from 187 yards that landed short of the hole, took a big bounce and went over the green. Three shots from there and the playoff was on. Watson was spent. His opponent was not.

Watson traipsed up and down Turnberry's dunes without a limp. As he managed his way around the course, a stunning links designed by God and some lesser-known architects, he was the picture of contentment, even as the wind whipped about. Watson, as well as anybody, could move his ball through it. In interviews, he kept talking in different ways about his serenity, and you could see his comfort all week long. He played a practice round with Charles Howell and Brandt Snedeker and told them old Tour stories, the likes of which they had never heard. Last Saturday night, Watson passed his close friend Andy North, the longtime ESPN golf commentator and, at 6' 4", the tallest winner of the U.S. Open, punched him on the hip, looked up and gave him a grin that seemed to say, Can you believe this?

After the playoff was over, and while waiting for the prize ceremony to begin, Watson stood beside his golf bag and stared at his clubs, lost in thought, his wife's arm firmly around his waist, both of them so still and focused and centered you knew they knew: You lose more than you win. The fight was over, and Watson was accepting the outcome, even as he thought about what could have been.

In real life Watson is more fun than he sounds here. He has a nice sense of humor. Asked how his old friend Sandy Tatum, the 89-year-old former USGA president, was handling his run at the title, Watson said, "It's giving him a heart attack!" He has lived in the Kansas City area all his life, and spurred on by his friend George Brett, he used to own a small piece of the Royals. He goes with friends to baseball games often. He hunts regularly, sometimes with Michael. He designs courses. He devours the news and argues politics, often taking Rush Limbaugh's side of things when debating his caddie, Neil Oxman, a well-known Democratic political strategist.

But, like Arnold Palmer and Nicklaus before him, Watson has become a sentimentalist. Oxman is on the bag because he was a friend of Edwards's; it was Oxman who first encouraged Edwards to ask Watson for work, way back in 1973. As Watson stood on the 18th fairway on Saturday, he said to Oxman, "Bruce is with us today." After his opening round on Thursday, in which he shot 65 — the same score he put up in his last two rounds in the '77 Open — he said he was inspired by a text message he had received from Barbara Nicklaus. She wished him good luck, and it opened a floodgate of Turnberry memories: his triumph over Jack in the Duel in the Sun; his 11th-place finish in the '94 Open, won by Nick Price, after which Tom and his first wife, Linda, and Jack and Barbara commiserated over dinner and a couple of bottles of wine; his Senior British win in 2003, with Oxman caddying and nightly dinners with Hilary and the Nicklauses.

That victory, he said at the time, meant as much as any of his others, because he was winning for "somebody other than myself" — Edwards, his wife, his kids. On those VH1 specials, everybody seems to talk like that. For Watson, it's about as easy as pulling his own tooth, but at least you know he means it.

On Sunday night he spoke affectionately of the Scottish galleries, who have been cheering him on for 34 years now, since he won his first Open at Carnoustie, on the country's east coast, in 1975. They stood for him as he came up the 18th the first time on Sunday, when victory was in reach, and they stood for him the second time, when the promise of victory was extinguished. "That warmth makes you feel human," Watson said. Outside, it was cool and windy, but the green hillsides and white chimneys of the Turnberry Hotel were bathed in yellow by the late evening sun. "It makes you feel so good."

The Watsons were staying in the Tom Watson Suite at the hotel, but this time the Nicklauses were not around. They were at home in Florida, just as Woods was by Sunday, after missing the cut (by a shot) for the second time in a major since he turned pro in late 1996. Some of Watson's contemporaries were at Turnberry, but only as commentators: North, Isao Aoki, Bernard Gallacher, Sam Torrance. Tom Lehman, the 1996 British Open winner, 91/2 years younger than Watson, finished his Sunday round and followed Watson all the way around on foot, hoping to see history. The two of them, along with CBS announcer David Feherty and swing coach Butch Harmon, made a goodwill visit to U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007. Watson listened as Lehman, a fellow Ryder Cup captain, chatted with a veteran suffering from severe depression. Afterward, Watson said to Lehman, "That was impressive, the way you talked to that man." Lehman was stunned. It was the most personal thing Watson had ever said to him. People change.

Golf games do too. Watson's game, he acknowledges, is aided by a titanium driver and hybrid iron-woods and graphite shafts and today's ball that goes straighter in the wind. Seven weeks shy of 60, he played Turnberry in rounds of 65, 70, 71 and 72. Two-seventy-eight, two under par. Nobody shot a lower score.

A day before the claret jug was hoisted by the new champion, Barbara Nicklaus sent a text to Hilary Watson. The first part of the message was golfer's wife to golfer's wife. The second part was golfing icon to golfing icon: "Jack says to tell Tom he still knows how to win."

Maybe that's why Watson looked serene as he stared at his clubs on Sunday night. Jack had it right. The man does still know how to win. Sure, he lost a four-hole playoff. But he won everything else.

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1911886,00.html#)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The story so far - Red Bull's mid-season report

With the brains of Adrian Newey, a small army working back at their UK base in Milton Keynes and the generous patronage of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull Racing have been threatening to step up to the front of the field ever since they bought out Jaguar in 2004.

This season they have finally made it into the big time, thanks in no small part to the combination of new signing Sebastian Vettel, who has chalked up three poles and two wins, and experienced runner Mark Webber, who finally clinched a maiden victory in Germany. Here’s the story of their season so far…

Red Bull
World championship points: 92.5
Best qualifying result: 1st (4x)
Best race result: 1st (3x)

After being upstaged by junior team Toro Rosso in 2008, Red Bull started the year vowing it was their turn to shine. The RB5 certainly turned heads during pre-season testing, with its clever interpretation of the stringent 2009 rules. But while it looked the most complete car, its pace (and reliability) was less convincing.

There were even murmurs that Red Bull had built themselves a pretty, but ineffectual, machine. In qualifying for Melbourne’s season opener, however, Vettel showed the true promise of the RB5, taking third on the grid behind the controversial double-diffuser Brawns. Both the German and Webber were equally strong in the race and, were it not for two collisions, may have scored a podium.

In Malaysia too, luck was not on their side and the car’s obvious pace received scant reward as Webber and Vettel struggled with their tyres. But at a soaked Shanghai, the RB5 was dominant, with Vettel and Webber clinching a richly deserved maiden one-two. In dusty Bahrain and sweltering Spain, however, the tyre degradation issues were back with a vengeance and solo podiums at each were a letdown.

Hoping for a boost, the team brought a Brawn-inspired double diffuser to Monaco (no mean feat given the packaging restrictions of the car’s pull-rod rear suspension), but ultimately dropped to third in the pecking order behind a resurgent Ferrari. In Turkey, they were reasonably satisfied with a two-three result, but for another win they would have to wait for June and the British Grand Prix. Again it fell to Vettel, but the real hero was the heavily upgraded RB5.

After what team principal Christian Horner called ‘superhuman efforts’ at the factory, the car was unassailable at Silverstone. In a reversal of fortunes it was Brawn who were struggling with tyres and Red Bull ran riot to score a majestic one-two. Matching it with more of the same in Germany, the team has proved their pace has staying power. And after unlocking the car’s potential so comprehensively, Horner believes the team can retain their grip at the top.

“Putting aside our performance and two dominant one-two finishes in the last two races, the team’s determination to continue to improve and not to take anything for granted is very important. There are no obvious weaknesses in our armoury, but as a group we must continue to push ourselves in all areas all the time."

Battle of the team mates - Sebastian Vettel v Mark Webber
Qualifying: Vettel (7-2)
Race: Webber (6-3) Vettel retired in Monaco
Points: Vettel 47, Webber 45.5

Up until the last round in Germany, Vettel had largely ruled the roost at Red Bull. Taking the team’s first-ever pole and victory and qualifying higher than Webber in all but two of the season’s nine outings, Vettel’s youth seems to be outclassing the Australian’s experience. But if you throw Webber’s pre-season cycling accident and consistency into the mix, the duo have been closer in performance than the stats suggest, with team principal Horner even stating that at the opening rounds Webber was somewhat below par, and it’s “only now we are seeing Mark at the level of fitness he was at prior to his injury”. Certainly with just 1.5 points separating the duo, they are the closest pairing on the 2009 grid. And with the team ruling out favouring one driver, for the moment at least, prepare to see them battle it out for supremacy over the coming races.

In summary - With the RB5 a three-time race winner, the stakes at Red Bull couldn’t be higher. Both drivers have the talent to do the car justice, but will Webber’s experience or Vettel’s ambition win the day? Watch this space...

(From Website : http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2009/7/9640.html)

Past Indianapolis Finalist Dancevic Avenges Loss; Isner Returns

Canadian Frank Dancevic returned to the site of his first tour-level breakthrough, the Indianapolis Tennis Championships presented by Lilly, and successfully avenged last year’s loss to Bobby Reynolds at the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament. Reynolds had knocked out the returning finalist in three sets in the 2008 first round, but Dancevic prevailed 6-2, 7-6(5) on Monday to post his first win in three matches against the American.

Dancevic made a surprise run to the Indianapolis final in 2007, upsetting top-seeded Andy Roddick in the semi-finals to become the first Canadian to reach an ATP final in 12 years (l. to Tursunov). The 24 year old recently faced a re-match with Russian Dmitry Tursunov in the grass-court final at Eastbourne, but once again fell short of his first ATP World Tour title.

Third-seeded American Sam Querrey, making his first appearance since a runner-up finish in Newport two weeks ago (l. to R. Ram), opened his title campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Frenchman Arnaud Clement in one hour and 13 minutes. The 21-year-old Querrey is a two-time Indianapolis semi-finalist, falling to eventual champion Tursunov in 2007 and Gilles Simon in '08.

French No. 7 seed Marc Gicquel made a strong debut at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, dismissing Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 6-3. The 32 year old won 85 per cent of his first serve points, and broke his opponent twice in each set to comfortably close out the match in one hour. Gicquel, who entered the tournament ranked No. 82, achieved his best hard-court showing this season as a qualifier in Rotterdam, where he split sets with then-World No. 4 Andy Murray before retiring in the third set with a groin injury.

Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin also posted a win in his first Indianapolis appearance, edging past American Kevin Kim 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes. Istomin had also defeated Kim in their opening match at Eastbourne last month, going on to reach the quarter-finals before falling to Tursunov. Istomin next faces 6'9" American John Isner, who fired 15 aces in a 6-1, 7-6(6) win over Frenchman Josselin Ouanna.

Isner is making his first tour-level appearance since a quarter-final run in April at Houston (l. to Odesnik), having been sidelined with mononucleosis the past two months. He has a 10-6 season record, also reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland (l. to Soderling) and the fourth round at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l. to del Potro).

American Wayne Odesnik earned his first tour-level match win since April in Houston by ousting 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and 15 minutes. The 100th-ranked Odesnik reached his first ATP World Tour final in Houston (l. to Hewitt), but then lost in the first round on his next three main draw appearances.

Qualifying rounds also concluded Monday with the top four seeds - Jesse Levine, Alex Bogomolov Jr., Go Soeda and Sebastien De Chaunac – all securing their places in the Indianapolis main draw.

In doubles action, Gulbis and Tursunov upset No. 3 seeds Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky 6-3, 3-6, 11-9, while James Cerretani and Travis Rettenmaier accounted for Jeff Coetzee and Jonathan Erlich 6-1, 6-3.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/07/Indianapolis-Monday-Dancevic-Avenges-Loss.aspx)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tour de France 2009 Stage 15: Contador flies into yellow

Spanish rider Alberto Contador attacked on the final climb into Verbier today, securing the overall lead in the Tour de France and asserting himself as Team Astana's leader.

Arriving in 9th place today and 1:35 behind Contador, Lance Armstrong now sits in 2nd place for the overall race at 1:37 behind his team leader.

The attacks began in full after Garmin's David Millar led the group with the GC contenders into the left-hand turn onto the climb to Verbier.

Highlights of the climb included:

  • Contador's attack (and punching two aggressive fans who invaded his space)
  • Andy Schleck's valiant chase
  • 2008 winner Carlos Sastre's acceleration, suggesting he remains a contender
  • Saxo Bank's Cancellara and Voigt killing themselves setting tempo for the Schleck brothers
  • The fans--what an unbelievable mass of energy

When asked about today's outcome, Lance noted that Contador was the strongest rider today and pleased that Astana had the yellow jersey.

As for being out of the yellow and possibly out of contention for an overall win now that Contador has established himself Astana's leader, Armstrong remarked "I've got seven (jerseys) at home."

Top 10 Stage 15 Results:

1. Alberto Contador Astana in 5:03:58
2. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank at 00:43
3. Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas in 5:05:01 at 01:03
4. Frank Schleck Team Saxo Bank in 5:05:04 at 01:06
5. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream in 5:05:04 at 01:06
6. Carlos Sastre Cervelo Test Team in 5:05:04 at 01:06
7. Cadel Evans Silence - Lotto in 5:05:24 at 01:26
8. Andréas KlÖden Astana in 5:05:27 at 01:29
9. Lance Armstrong Astana in 5:05:33 at 01:35
10. Kim Kirchen Team Columbia - Htc in 5:05:53 at 01:55

Top 5 Overall GC Standings:

1. Alberto Contador Astana in 63:17:56
2. Lance Armstrong Astana at 01:37
3. Bradley Wiggins Garmin - Slipstream in 63:19:42 at 01:46
4. Andréas Kloden Astana in 63:20:13 at 02:17
5. Andy Schleck Team Saxo Bank in 63:20:22 at 02:26

(From Website : http://www.examiner.com/x-6070-Philadelphia-Cycling-Examiner~y2009m7d19-Tour-de-France-2009-tips-for-following-live)

Tour de France 2009 : Sorensen adds some sizzle in Stage 12 win

Saxo Bank's Nicki Sørensen used his head and his legs to outfox 7 breakaway compatriots and take Stage 12 of the 2009 Tour de France.

The breakaway that mattered featured Sørensen, Sylvain Calzati of Agritubel, Milram's Marcus Fothen, Franco Pellizotti of Liquigas, Laurent Lefevre of Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Egoi Martinez of Euskaltel-Euskadi, and Remi Pauriol of Cofidis. Each rider took out one team for chase purposes, and it soon became apparent that Columbia-HTC, which has been chasing breaks to set up Mark Cavendish, had no interest today, so the pool of riders to drive the capture was pretty small, and never brought the gap inside of about 3:30.

With 22.5k to ride, Sørensen decided he didn't like his chances against his breakmates, attacked, and was joined by Calzati. The pair rotated smoothly and built a gap of almost 20 seconds, but the 5 behind slowly closed the split.

Nearly caught with around 5.5k to ride, Sørensen turned his guts absolutely inside out, dropping Calzati, and briefly throwing the chase into disarray. Within a kilometer by himself, he had built a 22-second lead, which he stretched to 34 seconds with 1k to ride. At that point, it was a done deal, and Sørensen saluted the crowd as he crossed the line with a victory for the often-unheralded “pack fodder” of the Tour.

Sørensen's primary role for Saxo Bank at the Tour was expected to be taking long pulls on the front of the peloton, hunting down breaks to protect Andy Schleck's race lead. Today, he took a turn as the hunted, and took home the stage win.

With no General Classification risks being taken, the green and polka-dot jerseys each took a turn in the limelight today, with Cavendish and Hushovd going head to head at the day's 1st intermediate sprint, won by Cavendish, and in the field sprint, led out by Cervelo, but still won by Cavendish. Cavendish had been reluctant to name the green jersey as a goal here, but if he's chasing intermediate points, there's no doubt.

Pellizotti and Martinez engaged in a few rounds of sprint the mini-mountains, with Pellizotti getting the upper hand, and moving within 18 points of Martinez in the competition. It's still very possible that someone else entirely takes the climber's jersey with a long Alpine escape, but it looks like Pellizotti and Martinez plan to cover those moves.

Levi Leipheimer was involved in a late crash that also claimed Michael Rogers and Cadel Evans, but all three continued. Leipheimer was banged and scraped up, and should be able to continue, but there could be lingering effects as the Tour heads to the Vosges tomorrow.

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Tour de France 2009 : Stage 11 on the road

The course profile for today's stage looks a lot like yesterday's. It's 2.5 kms shorter, with 2 instead of 3 4th Category climbs, but it definitely looks like a stage for the sprinters. A slight uphill finish might take some of the snap out of Mark Cavendish's finishing kick, favoring Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, or Oscar Freire, but it may take more than simple physics to stop the Cav-alanche.

Only Kurt-Asle Arvesen didn't make the start this morning, so 170 riders rolled out of Vatan. Race officials voided a 15-second gap that was charged in the finish yesterday, when a small break appeared in the field. The gap had dropped Levi Leipheimer and Brad Wiggins down the standings a bit, but they've been awarded the same time as Cavendish for yesterday now.

Only two riders in today's break -- Johan Van Summeren of Silence-Lotto and Marcin Sapa of Lampre. They've taken the day's first two intermediate sprints and the first categorized climb of the day.

Quincy Intermediate Sprint:
1) Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto, +6 pts
2) Marcin Sapa, Lampre, +4 pts
3) Lloyd Mondory, AG2R-La Mondiale, +2 pts

4th Category Côte d'Allogny
1) Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto, +3 pts
2) Marcin Sapa, Lampre, +2 pts
3) Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +1 pt

Martinez led the field through to pad his King of the Mountains lead by a point.

Saint-Ceols Intermediate Sprint:
1) Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto, +6 pts
2) Marcin Sapa, Lampre, +4 pts
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R-La Mondiale, +2 pts

Christian Vande Velde was involved in a crash early this morning, but there have been no signs of lasting effects.

Suilly-La-Tour Intermediate Sprint:
1) Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto, +6 pts
2) Marcin Sapa, Lampre, +4 pts
3) Cyril Dessel, AG2R-La Mondiale, +2 pts

Ryder Hesjedal was the 2nd Garmin-Slipstream rider to find the pavement today. He appeared to rejoin the field with no problems. AG2R's Vladimir Efimkin has been with the race doctor with scrapes to his cheek and chin from another crash today.

On the day's last climb, Egoi Martinez again came to the front, but Franco Pellizotti sprinted to the KoM point to deny him the cheap point.

4th Category Côte de Perreuse
1) Marcin Sapa, Lampre, +3 pts
2) Johan Van Summeren, Silence-Lotto, +2 pts
3) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, +1 pt

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Tour de France 2009 : Stage 10 Preview: Limoges to Issoudun

Back to relatively flat roads over 194.5 k or 120.9 miles today. The radio ban protest came to nothing, and riders started as expected.

It's almost a tradition that a French-flavored breakaway forms on Bastille Day, but Team Columbia may very well spoil the party. They've got their sights set on the green jersey, and today looks like a stage that sets up well for Mark Cavendish, so today's drama is likely to center on whether Columbia can make the capture without radio assistance, and whether Cavendish can make it three stage wins in this Tour.


Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R

Thor Hushovd, Cervelo Test Team

Egoi Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi

Tony Martin, Team Columbia-HTC

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Tour de France 2009 : Stage 9: Fedrigo makes it three for France

Pierrick Fedrigo outkicked Franco Pellizotti in the last 200 meters in Tarbes to take Stage 9 of the Tour de France.

Fedrigo and Pellizotti were all that remained from a big breakaway that had swelled to 9 riders, including Jens Voigt, Egoi Martinez, David Moncoutie, and others. The pair were well clear at the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, but a chase by Columbia-HTC, then by Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank, pulled back all but 34 seconds of their lead by the line.

Yellow jersey Rinaldo Nocentini had no problems with the pace, and will hold the yellow jersey through tomorrow's rest day and Tuesday's Stage 10.

New King of the Mountains Brice Feillu, on the other hand, lost his polka-dots to Egoi Martinez, who was 5th on the Col d'Aspin and 7th over the Tourmalet.

Stage 9 Top 10:
1) Pierrick Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, 4:05:31
2) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, same time
3) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, at :34
4) Serguei Ivanov, Team Katusha, same time
5) Peter Velits, Team Milram, s.t.
6) Jose Rojas, Caisse d'Epargne, s.t.
7) Greg Van Avermaet, Silence-Lotto, s.t.
8) Geoffroy Lequatre, Agritubel, s.t.
9) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.
10) Nicolas Roche, AG2R-La Mondiale

General Classification after Stage 9:
1) Rinaldo Nocentini, AG2R-La Mondiale, 34:24:21
2) Alberto Contador, Astana, at :06
3) Lance Armstrong, Astana, at :08
4) Levi Leipheimer, Astana, at :39
5) Bradley Wiggins, Garmin-Slipstream, at :46
6) Andreas Klöden, Astana, at :54
7) Tony Martin, Columbia-HTC, at 1:00
8) Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Slipstream, at 1:24
9) Andy Schleck, Saxo Bank, at 1:49
10) Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas, at 1:54

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Tour de France 2009 : Stage 9 on the road

It was a very active start today, as a big group formed that Astana thought was dangerous, and Lance Armstrong and Rinaldo Nocentini bridged up, encouraging an escape by Jens Voigt, Franco Pellizotti, Pierrick Fedrigo, and Leonardo "L." Duque.

This break collected the sprint points in Sarrancolin, with Col d'Aspin looming ahead.

Sarrancolin Intermediate sprint:
1) Duque, Cofidis, +6 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +4 pts
3) Voigt, Saxo Bank, +2 pts

On the Col d'Aspin, Duque was shed by the leaders, and a 2nd group tried to escape the field. In it were Jurgen Van Broeck, Laurens Ten Dam, Sergio Paulinho, Egoi Martinez, Amets Txurruka, Juan Manual Garate, and David Moncoutie.

1st Category Col d'Aspin
1) Pellizotti, Liquigas, +15 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +13 pts
3) Voigt, Saxo Bank, +11 pts
4) Duque, Cofidis, +9 pts
5) Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +8 pts
6) Ten Dam, Rabobank, +7 pts
7) Van den Broeck, Silence-Lotto, +6 pts
8) Garate, Rabobank, +5 pts

The gap from Pellizotti's group to the field was 3:17 at the summit, with Nocentini riding comfortably at the head of the pack.

Pellizotti attacked his breakmates early on the Tourmalet, and Jen Voigt couldn't match the pace, and began slowly falling back through the chase groups. Maxime Bouet of Agritubel tried to go the other way, briefly bridging to Martinez and Moncoutie's group, but quickly fell away, riding for many miles alone.

HC Tourmalet
1) Pellizotti, Liquigas, +40 pts
2) Fedrigo, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +36 pts
3) Garate, Rabobank, +32 pts
4) Voeckler, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, +30 pts
5) Moncoutie, Cofidis, +24 pts
6) Van den Broeck, Silence-Lotto, +20 pts
7) Martinez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +16 pts
8) Paulinho, Astana, +14 pts
9) Ten Dam, Rabobank, +12 pts
10) Txurruka, Euskaltel-Euskadi, +10 pts

Atop the Tourmalet, the field came through about 4:49 behind Fedrigo and Pellizotti.

On the run-in to Tarbes, Pellizotti and Fedrigo rotated smoothly, and it looked like the win had to go to one of them, with the break much closer to the field than the breakaway. Then, Columbia picked up the pace, and the breakaway was quickly recaptured. Caisse d'Epargne and Rabobank joined in, and the gap started to fall.

At 10k, it was down to 1:22; at 5k, just :44. Fedrigo and Pellizottie refused to play cat-and-mouse games, continuing to share the work and looking more and more like they would hold off the field.

Entering the final k, the gap was 36 seconds, and Pellizotti refused to come through and take a pull, sitting on Fedrigo's wheel. Fedrigo continued to work, and they rode on until Pellizotti launched toward the last turn in the stage, a 90-degree righthander just 200 meters from the line. Pellizotti was first to the corner, but when they came around, it was into a stiff headwind, and Fedrigo found himself sheltered, and came hard to the line, to take the 3rd French stage win of the 2009 Tour.

Rabobank's Oscar Freire won the field sprint 34 seconds back, at the front of a group that included all the overall contenders for Tour victory.

(From Website : http://www.tdfblog.com/)

Stewart Cink ends Tom Watson's bid for history

TURNBERRY, Scotland — At 6:19 p.m. Sunday, on a spit of land hard by the Firth of Clyde, an old man with a new hip strode down the center of a dusty fairway. The summer sun was bathing Turnberry in gold, exactly as it had 32 years ago, the very first time Tom Watson conquered these storied, ancient links.

Watson's moment had come again, it seemed, and all of Turnberry felt it. The grandstands at the 18th hole creaked with the weight of the young and old. A silver trophy that Watson had won five times before was waiting in a trailer off the green.

A par would make the 59-year-old Watson the 138th and most improbable Open Champion. But destiny and the languid swing of Stewart Cink would deny him.

On the 72nd hole Watson finally, heartbreakingly, started to look his age, hitting his birdie putt from behind the green 10 feet past the hole, and then leaving his par putt for the championship inches short. The next hour, and a four-hole playoff, belonged to the 36-year-old Cink, who topped Watson by six shots and won the British Open for the first major of his career.

"It would have been a hell of a story, wouldn't it?" said Watson, who nearly claimed a record-tying sixth British Open. "It wasn't to be. It tears at your gut, as it always has torn at my gut. It's not easy to take."

Instead, it was Cink — who three-putted the 72nd hole at the 2001 United States Open to miss a playoff by a shot — claiming the oldest major championship in golf.

"This week, for some reason, I just believed that I had something good," Cink said. "I felt like I was just totally at peace."

Before Watson's bogey at the 72nd hole, Cink had made a furious run to catch him, offsetting three back-nine bogeys with four birdies, including one at 18, to reach two-under 278.

Cink looked spry and focused in the four-hole playoff over the fifth, sixth, 17th and 18th holes. Watson appeared tired.

After both players hit into different greenside bunkers on No. 5, Cink got up and down for par while Watson bogeyed. After matching pars at No. 6, highlighted by Watson's brilliant up and down from a patch of rough 60 yards right of the hole, Cink pulled away. He birdied No. 17 while Watson drove into the left rough and made double bogey.

"I hit a chubby 5-iron for my second shot on the first playoff hole," Watson said. "The hybrid I hit on the second [playoff] hole, I got stuck. My legs didn't work at the drive at 17. By that time Stewart had it pretty well in hand."

In 2009, the major championship golf season has been about sentimental stories that almost were. Kenny Perry at the Masters, nearly winning a green jacket for himself and his cancer-stricken mother before two late bogeys derailed him.

Phil Mickelson at the United States Open, trying to win a trophy for his wife, Amy, who is battling breast cancer.

Watson's week was about pure nostalgia, about a former champion who had undergone a hip replacement in October, channeling his younger self on a golf course where he had defeated Jack Nicklaus in the famous Duel in the Sun in 1977.

Cink realized quickly that he would not be the crowd favorite in the playoff. Afterward, he said he was familiar with the role.

"I've played plenty of times with Tiger and hear the Tiger roars and Mickelson," said Cink, who closed with a final-round 69. "I'm usually the guy that the crowd [appreciates], but they're not behind me 100 percent of the way.

"I feel like whether Tom was 59 or 29, he was one of the field, and I had to play against everybody in the field, and the course, to come out on top."

Cink's victory was the culmination of a wild day atop the leader board. Both England's Lee Westwood and Chris Wood bogeyed their final holes to finish a shot out of the playoff. England's Ross Fisher, whose wife, Joanne, is expecting the couple's first child, held a two-shot lead through four holes but melted down on the par-4 fifth.

After hitting his drive into tall fescue on the right, Fisher swiped at his second shot but barely moved it. His third swing dislodged the ball, but it shot across the fairway into an even worse lie to the left. Fisher took an unplayable lie, which cost him a stroke, hit his fifth into the wispy rough to the right, knocked his sixth onto the green and took two putts for an 8.

On the back nine, the leader board continued to tighten, with Watson and Westwood jostling for the lead, with Cink staying within shouting distance. Even the golfers who had finished their rounds walked back onto the course to watch the conclusion, including the 1996 Open champion, Tom Lehman, and 1997 Open Champion, Justin Leonard.

Clinging to his one-shot lead on the final hole of regulation, Watson found the fairway with his drive and then hit an 8-iron toward the flagstick, where a par appeared likely. The ball bounded off the back of the green. It was one club too many.

"In retrospect, I probably would have hit a 9-iron rather than an 8-iron," said Watson, who nearly became the oldest major champion by 11 years. "I caught it just the way that I wanted to and, sure enough, it went too far."

Once in the playoff, Watson didn't have much left. As his game deserted him, the crowd began to murmur and, finally, grow silent. Cink kept peppering fairways and greens.

On the final hole of the playoff, Cink hit an iron to a few feet and made birdie to finish at two under for the playoff to Watson's four over.

Afterward, the two men embraced on the green, just as Watson and Nicklaus had 32 years before. Watson was on top of the world then, young and powerful and a master of links golf.

Once more, Watson was walking in his old footsteps, one stroke short of completing a remarkable circle.

"It was 'almost,'" he said as gray clouds obscured the summer sun. "The dream almost came true."

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1911611,00.html)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Robredo Advances; Soderling, Vinciguerra To Meet In All-Swedish SF

Third seed Tommy Robredo closed on a third final appearance at the Catella Swedish Open by dismissing Teimuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Bastad on Friday.

The No. 16-ranked Robredo won 31 of 40 points on serve and converted five of 12 break point chances to wrap up victory in the pair’s first meeting after 77 minutes. The Spaniard improved to a 23-6 tournament record after reaching the semi-finals for the sixth time. He went on to capture the title in 2006 (d. Davydenko) and reclaimed the trophy last year with victory over Tomas Berdych.

The 27-year-old Robredo has enjoyed strong results on clay this season and lit up the South American clay-court season in February with back-to-back titles at Costa do Sauipe (d. Bellucci) and Buenos Aires (d. Monaco) to mark the second time he has won two titles in a year (also 2006). The right-hander was also a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros (l. to del Potro) and has compiled a 36-14 match record in 2009.

For a place in his 17th ATP World Tour final, Robredo will meet Juan Monaco after the Argentine advanced when top-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco retired with a right calf injury trailing 1-6, 1-3.

"In the first game of the match I pulled a muscle in my calf. It was really hard to play after that. I had real pain when serving, especially since the injury was in my my right leg," explained World No. 9 Verdasco. "Monaco played well and didn't make any mistakes. It was not easy for me, I tried to continue playing but when I saw that I had no chance to win I retired before injuring myself further. Bastad is one of my special tournaments of the year. It's hard for me to retire here."

Robredo and Monaco have split their previous four meetings, with Monaco winning their most recent clash in straight sets at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo.

World No. 61 Monaco is bidding to reach his second ATP World Tour clay-court final of the season after finishing runner-up to Robredo in Buenos Aires in February. The 25 year old, who has also reached the quarter-finals at two further clay-court tournaments in 2009, improved to a 24-16 match record on the season after reaching the Bastad semi-finals for the first time in four appearances.

Swedish No. 2 seed Robin Soderling advanced to the Bastad semi-finals for the first time since 2004 after defeating fifth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-3. Despite losing an early lead in the first set, Soderling hit back to take the one-set lead as he broke the Spaniard to love in the 12th. The top Swede broke through once more in the eighth game of the second set before closing out victory after 74 minutes. Soderling also defeated Almagro recently in the third round at Wimbledon.

The 24-year-old Soderling, currently a career-high No. 12 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings after reaching his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros (l. to Federer), improved to 23-12 mark on the season.

The Tibro native, who is coached by two-time former Bastad champion Magnus Norman, captured the doubles title last year with Jonas Bjorkman, but is yet to reach the singles final in seven previous appearances. He has twice before reached an ATP World Tour final on home soil, finishing runner-up in Stockholm in 2003 (l. to Fish) and 2008 (l. to Nalbandian).

In an all-Swedish semi-final, Soderling will take on wild card Andreas Vinciguerra, who recovered from a set down to defeat Austrian doubles partner Jurgen Melzer 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. After being broken twice to surrender the first set, the No. 460-ranked Vinciguerra hit back to break once in the third game of the second set to level the match at one-set-all. The left-hander then won the final three games of the match from 3-3 in the third set to seal victory after one hour and 45 minutes.

Vinciguerra Makes Fairytale Comeback

The 28-year-old Vinciguerra, who has been plagued by a succession of injuries since 2001 – when he reached a career-high of No. 33 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, is through to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since October ’01 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris (l. to Kafelnikov).

Vinciguerra will look to reach the Bastad final for a third time when he takes on Soderling in the pair’s first meeting on Saturday. He finished runner-up in the 1999 and 2000 title matches.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/07/Bastad-Friday-Robredo-Closes-On-Third-Final.aspx)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ask the Expert - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

What was the McLaren team’s first Grand Prix car called? Who was the oldest driver to have won the world championship? What was the Pussy Cat Dolls’ first Number One record? And at which race did Ayrton Senna score his first Formula One victory? These are just some of the questions we thought Lewis Hamilton would take in his stride after he agreed to be the latest participant in our personal trivia test, ‘Ask the Expert’...

Q: Your team mate Heikki Kovalainen is Finnish. What is the capital city of Finland?
Lewis Hamilton:

Q: What was the Pussy Cat Dolls’ first Number One record?
Don’t Cha. I should know that one, shouldn’t I!
Correct - Hamilton’s girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger is lead singer of the US group.

Q: How much does it cost to join your official fan club?
With this question you really caught me on the wrong foot. Sorry, no idea.
Incorrect - adults £65 / €90 / $140; children: £20 / €40 / $60

Q: You were born in Stevenage. Can you name three other famous people to have come from the Hertfordshire town?
Let me think: Ashley Young and Jack Wilshere, both footballers. Sorry, but then my memory passes out.
Two out of three ain’t bad - an easy third would have been actor Rupert Grint, otherwise known as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

Q: When, where and in what series did you enjoy your first single-seater victory?
I should know that - it’s my life! It was Formula Renault at Thruxton in 2002.
Full marks - 16 June 2002, to be precise.

Q: Can you explain oversteer in fewer than 15 words?
When the front turns in so sharp that the rear steps out.

Q: What was long-time McLaren team principal Ron Dennis’ first job in Formula One racing?
He started as a mechanic.
Correct - with the Cooper team in the mid 1960s.

Q: Whereabouts on your car’s livery is team partner SAP advertised?
This is my workplace! On the nose.

Q: What was the McLaren team’s first Grand Prix car called?
Must be something beginning with an M, but sorry, I don’t know.
Incorrect - McLaren Ford M2B.

Q: How many constructors’ championships and drivers’ titles have McLaren won in total?
That part of the team history I know: 12 drivers’ and eight constructors’ titles.

Q: Bruce McLaren scored his team’s first victory at which race?
Spa? Don’t know exactly the year, 1967 or ‘68…
Good enough - the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix.

Q: Last year you became the youngest-ever world champion. Who remains the oldest?
Was it Fangio? Ascari? No? No idea.
Incorrect - Nino Farina was 43 when he won the 1950 championship.

Q: You clinched your first pole position and your first win at the same event - the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix. Which other current F1 drivers managed the same feat, albeit at different venues?
Webber, of course. The other one, let me think. Was it Felipe?
Correct - Felipe Massa at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix and Webber at the 2009 German Grand Prix.

Q: Can you guess how many test kilometres you covered last year?
Must have been a lot. Over 8000?
Half marks - pretty close. The actual answer is 9090.

Q: How many points, wins and pole positions have you scored so far during your Formula One career?
216, 9 wins and 13 poles.
Full marks

Q: Fresh from winning the drivers’ title in 1996, your fellow British driver Damon Hill moved teams and endured a tough follow-up season. What team did he move to and where in the standings did he finish that year?
He moved to Arrows and I believe he finished quite far back - was it ninth?
Half marks - he finished 12th.

Q: One of your driver heroes is Ayrton Senna. At which race did Senna score his first Formula One victory?
I should know that one. Must have been 1985 in a John Player Lotus, in Portugal.
Spot on

Q: In what year was the McLaren team founded?

Q: Your team mate Kovalainen has so far won one championship during his motorsport career. In which series did he claim the title?
World Series (by Nissan)
Correct - in 2004.

Q: Can you guess how many laps you led races for during the 2008 season?
Must have been around 300.
Close enough - 294 to be precise.

Final score: 22.5 points from a possible 28
Ask the Expert rating: 80%

Current leader board:
1. Heikki Kovalainen - 86%
2. Mark Webber - 84%
3. Lewis Hamilton - 80%
4. Kazuki Nakajima - 73%
5. Sebastien Buemi - 72%
6. Robert Kubica - 70%
7. Jenson Button - 69%
8. Giancarlo Fisichella - 68%
9. Nico Rosberg - 66%
10= Sebastian Vettel - 64%
10= Rubens Barrichello - 64%
12. Jarno Trulli - 58%
13. Nick Heidfeld - 57%
14. Adrian Sutil - 54%

(From Website : http://www.formula1.com/news/interviews/2009/7/9617.html)

Tiger Woods gets to know Turnberry as British Open week begins

TURNBERRY, Scotland (AP) — Walking up to the 15th green at Turnberry, his ball safely in the middle, Tiger Woods turned to his left and pointed to a spot a few yards off the putting surface.

``Is this where Watson made the putt?'' he asked Monday morning.

Indeed, it was. Tom Watson holed a putt from some 60 feet for birdie in the final round of the 1977 British Open, pulling into a tie with Jack Nicklaus and sending him to a one-shot victory in one of the great duels in major championship history.

Two holes later, as gray clouds gathered at sea over the Ailsa Craig, a gust came up over the dunes. Woods then asked about the time Greg Norman shot 63 at Turnberry in similar conditions in 1986, which some believe was the best of the 23 scores at 63 in any major.

Woods is hardly a history buff, certainly not in the same league as Ben Crenshaw, from another generation, or Geoff Ogilvy, from this one. He does have a working knowledge of where he is playing, however, which is why his thoughts on Turnberry sounded ominous.

``It's a lot more difficult than people are letting on,'' he said after his second practice round.

Turnberry has the least amount of history of any British Open venue, a links course gutted by the Royal Air Force Coastal Command, which used it as an air base during World War II.

Not until 1977 did it host its first British Open, and the 138th edition of golf's oldest championship will be only the fourth visit to Turnberry. Even so, the scores stand out. Watson set a record when he won at 268 in 1977. Nick Price matched that score in 1994. In blustery conditions, Norman won at 280.

``Sorry, I just don't see 12 under winning,'' Paul Goydos said. ``Maybe that's just me.''

Turnberry has been lengthened significantly, and a wet spring has created lush conditions, which can be fearsome for those who can't seem to keep it straight off the tee. Colin Montgomerie told of a tournament for club members within the last few weeks in which 480 golf balls were lost in the rough.

``Except for Carnoustie in 1999, it's as good as any of them,'' Rod Pampling said with a chuckle, referring to the history he made 10 years ago when he went from the first-round lead to missing the cut.

Pampling only got into the British Open on Sunday when no one from Loch Lomond qualified for the one spot available, and it went to him as the next alternate. He drove down to this tiny golf town about an hour south of Glasgow and played his first practice round.

The rough got his attention, but he found it to be fair.

``This is right there with the best of them,'' he said. ``If you get yourself out of shape, you're in big trouble. But you've got to hit a pretty bad shot. You can lose a golf ball.''

Pampling did just that on the 16th hole, waiting for a gust off the Firth of Clyde to push his ball toward the fairway. It never happened, and while the ball landed only a few yards from the marshals, it was never found.

``I know where not to go,'' Pampling said.

But he realized this was the place to be, especially on a pleasant day of stunning sights.

The lighthouse is the signature landmark at Turnberry, perched along the rocks at a bend in the shore, reminiscent of the stretch at Pebble Beach from the fifth hole until the coast straightens at the ninth hole.

Josh Geary and Mark Brown walked up the 10th fairway and turned back toward the water. Monday was a time to gaze, with patches of sunshine and clouds, enough light in the morning to shine on the far corner of the Ailsa Craig, the 1,100-foot mass of island that rises out of the sea. The rain came in the afternoon, and more is expected throughout the week.

``They can say what they want about the weather,'' Pampling said. ``They won't know until Thursday.''

That's when the British Open begins amid much fanfare. Padraig Harrington will be going for his third straight claret jug, a feat no one has matched since Peter Thomson in 1954-56.

Woods returns after missing the British Open last year with knee surgery. This is the first time since 2004 that the world's No. 1 player has been without a major title in his possession.

The last year Woods was not eligible for the British Open was in 1994, which was also the last time it was held at Turnberry. Woods did not arrive at the course until Sunday morning, and already he has played two practice rounds.

It is nothing new for him to see a major championship course for the first time, even in the United States. Remember, no one had seen Royal Liverpool from this current generation when the Open returned there in 2006.

``I've done that before,'' Woods said, referencing his victory at Royal Liverpool. ``You've just got to do your homework.''

The study session began in earnest Monday, with several U.S. tour players arriving on a charter flight from the John Deere Classic, many of them heading to the range to begin adjusting to the time difference.

Goydos arrived Sunday to play a practice round, with his 18-year-old daughter Chelsea in tow. He arranged for her to have an instructor's badge, reasoning that she was taking photos of his golf swing.

That was the idea, anyway.

``We got down by the lighthouse and she probably took 100 pictures,'' Goydos said, nodding to the spectacular scenery. ``It's got a Pebble Beach feel, especially down by the 11th tee, which is right out there on the rocks. The only thing missing are the otters.''

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1910172,00.html)

Swedish Wild Card Surprises No. 6 Seed Serra

ATP World Tour No. 460 Andreas Vinciguerra surprised sixth seed Florent Serra by rallying from a set down to defeat the Frenchman 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Catella Swedish Open – an ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Bastad.

The Swede saved 15 of 16 break points and fired nine aces to wrap up the win in two hours and 25 minutes. The 28 year old is playing in an ATP World Tour main draw for the first time since reaching the Stockholm second round in October 2006, although he represented Sweden in Davis Cup action and at the ARAG ATP World Team Championship earlier this season.

The wild card is a two-time former finalist in Bastad, finishing runner-up to Juan Antonio Marin in 1999 and Magnus Norman in 2000. On his last appearance in 2006, the former World No. 33 lost in the first round to Lukas Dlouhy.

The No. 50-ranked Serra suffered his third successive first-round tour-level loss, after making early exits at ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. to Becker) and Wimbledon (l. to Kohlschreiber). The 28 year old dropped to a 15-19 match record on the season.

Belgian Christophe Rochus became the second seeded player to fall in first-round action, bowing out to Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. After breaking his opponent three times in the opening set, the seventh-seeded Rochus failed to convert on his eight break points in the following sets as he lost his fifth straight tour-level match.

Gabashvili, who had also entered the match looking to snap a four-match losing streak on the ATP World Tour, improved to a 9-16 season record. Two weeks ago, he finished runner-up at the clay-court Challenger tournament in Braunschweig (l. to Hernandez).

Victor Crivoi, currently a career-high No. 85 in the South African Airways 2009 ATP Rankings, booked his place in the second round with a resounding 6-0, 6-4 victory over Denis Istomin in 76 minutes.

In the only doubles match Monday, top seeds Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley fought for a 3-6, 7-6(6), 15-13 win over the Russian-German team of Michail Elgin and Frank Moser. Elgin and Moser had saved all nine break points faced on serve.

Aspelin and Hanley made their team's debut in April at the clay-court tournament in Casablanca, and reached the final (l. to Kubot-Marach). Aspelin is a two-time champion at his home country tournament, winning in 2003 (w/Bertolini) and in '07 (w/Knowle). Hanley reached the final in his only previous event appearance seven years ago with fellow Aussie Michael Hill.

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/07/Bastad-Monday-Serra-Rochus-Upset.aspx)

Monday, July 13, 2009

PGA Tour Confidential: John Deere Classic

Our insiders give their picks for the British Open and the new LPGA commissioner, plus reaction to the U.S. Women's Open and Cristie Kerr's collapse

Every week of the 2009 PGA Tour season, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group will conduct an e-mail roundtable. Check in on Mondays for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: We have a new U.S. Women's Open champ. We had a shootout at the Deere. We have a father caddying for his son. And we have a golfing association in search of new leadership. But before we get to all that, it is British Open week. Let's hear everyone's picks.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: I like Martin Kaymer, who won this week at the Scottish Open on the European Tour. He's the best player across the pond right now.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Kaymer is hot but links golf is a different kettle of birds. That's why it is so hard to predict Open winners. But it won't be Garrity's buddy, Robert Karlsson, because he withdrew. So did Trevor Immelman.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'll take Stricker. He's the American Kaymer.

Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Just when you least expect it ... senors and senoritas, riding out of Spain to redeem his wayward season ... (trumpet flourish) ... Sergio!! Especially if conditions are such that driving is paramount.

Van Sickle: Links golf requires more imagination and shotmaking. Tiger is the best shotmaker in golf, by a mile. You have to like his chances every time he tees it up, even more so in a major. I would not bet against him at Turnberry, or at Hazeltine for the PGA.

Jim Herre, editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: So, Gary, you're picking Tiger, as always.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Definitely NOT Greg Norman. How about Ben Curtis? He does nothing to catch your eye, what with that funky Furyk-esque swing, except make lots of money, win once in a while and contend under insufferable pressure. Ben would become the Andy North of the British Open.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: How about this for a sucker pick: Padraig Harrington for the hat trick. I know it's crazy, because Paddy's sucked all season while working on his swing. But he's just won the Irish PGA for the third straight time, and the European Club is a classic links course with really thick rough, exactly like Turnberry will be this week. Harrington himself doesn't sound like a believer — he was very skeptical of his prospects despite winning by seven shots — but Jack Nicklaus wasn't exactly puffing up his chest when he showed up for the '86 Masters. So give me Paddy.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm with John: I like Paddy. My real pick — everyone's real pick, I would think — is Tiger. If you were betting your own money, you'd take Tiger, right? But if Tiger doesn't win, I like Paddy. Links golf — Open golf — is not for everyone and repeat winners are common: Harry Vardon, Peter Thomson, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I'll take Lucas Glover, for no real reason other than the fact that he drives it well and he may as well win that Open, too.

Herre: I like the Stricker pick, but I'm going with Geoff Ogilvy. Seems like the dude would really want to earn this merit badge.

Ryan Reiterman, producer, Golf.com: Look out for Lee Westwood. He's finished in the top 10 in the last two events, and he's been playing pretty solid for more than a year.

Garrity: Our Irish friend Dermot Gilleece, writing in the Sunday Independent, points out that Tiger's three Open wins all came on dry, burned-out links courses. Turnberry's rough is lush and long, more like Carnoustie and Muirfield, where Tiger hasn't had as much success.

Friedman: Brandt Snedeker (T2 this week, T5 last week) is on a nice run.

Hack: Carolyn Bivens, who only weeks ago was in the offices of Sports Illustrated trumpeting her vision for the LPGA, was taken down in a dinnertime coup by the biggest names in women's golf. Her tenure was short, eventful and rife with tension. What's everybody's take on what went wrong with Carolyn?

Friedman: Losing the Kapalua was the obvious tipping point. In more general terms, Bivens had very grand ambitions for her game, but by not sticking to her knitting — that is, failing to maintain traditional stops like Corning, even at a reduced prize structure — she alienated her base.

Morfit: Her lack of golf background hurt, and her brash style. And the economy prevented her from leveraging what everyone agrees is a very promising bunch of personalities.

Evans: The LPGA Tour players who went after Bivens don't understand the golf business or the history of women in sports. I don't care if you had Pete Rozelle or P.T. Barnum or Jack Welch to cut the fat and streamline the business, selling female athletes in one of the worst economies in recent memory is a very difficult proposition. Carolyn Bivens is not a great commissioner, but how can anyone be a great leader of a sports league without great stars to attract marketing and sponsorship dollars?

Those disgruntled LPGA players need to get a grip on the realities of sports marketing or let the business people take care of the business of the Tour. They should just play golf and try to learn lessons from the women who came before them.

Van Sickle: Bivens had the right idea at the wrong time. She wanted to upgrade and enrich the tour at a time when a recession/depression hit. It just wasn't going to happen, and she didn't adjust her hardball tactics. Having not gone out of her way to build support among players, media or sponsors during her tenure didn't help. She clearly didn't know anything about public relations. Every time an issue came up, she ran and hid.

(From Website : http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1910077,00.html)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Federer & Top Doubles Teams Qualifies For Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

Qualifiers set to renew rivalries, battle for No. 1 Ranking at season finale

Arch rivals Nestor-Zimonjic & Bryan Brothers clinch berths

London, United Kingdom – Roger Federer has qualified for the prestigious Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after winning a record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title on Sunday at Wimbledon. Starting 22 November at The O2 in London, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is the climax of the men’s professional tennis season and will feature the world’s top eight singles players and eight doubles teams competing to be officially crowned as the 2009 ATP World Tour Champions.

Federer joins reigning ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal as the singles players to have clinched their Barclays ATP World Tour Finals berths, and the two are expected to renew their rivalry and the battle for the year-end No. 1 South African Airways 2009 ATP Ranking. With his triumph at Wimbledon, the 27-year-old Federer reclaimed the No. 1 Ranking – a position he had surrendered to Nadal for 46 weeks on 18 August, 2008.

“I think it's great to have the event in London in a massive city like this,” Federer said. “I think it's very fitting; this is one of the great tennis cities around the world. People in this country love sports and they love tennis. It's great to be already qualified so I'm happy to be part of that elite group again, and challenging the other players in the round robin. It's going to be fabulous I'm sure, and I've only heard good things about the arena.”

Starting with his first title of the 2009 season in mid-May at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, Federer has been invincible – winning 19 straight matches and three successive tour-level titles. He became the sixth man in history to achieve a career Grand Slam with victory over Robin Soderling in the Roland Garros final, and then prevailed against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in the longest men’s Grand Slam singles final (16-14 fifth set) to break his and Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors won.

The 27-year-old Swiss will be making his eighth straight appearance in the season finale, where he is a four-time champion. He won successive titles in 2003-04 when the tournament was held in Houston and reclaimed the title in 2006-07 in Shanghai.

Defending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals doubles champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, who on Sunday won their second consecutive Wimbledon title, have become the first doubles team to qualify. They will be joined in London by the team they beat in Sunday’s final, two-time finale champions Bob and Mike Bryan. In Shanghai last year Nestor and Zimonjic defeated the Bryans in the final in a match that also determined which team finished ATP World Tour Doubles Champions.

The Bryans, who won the finale in Houston in 2003 and 2004, have won four titles this year, including their seventh Grand Slam title, in January at the Australian Open. “Qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is always one of our key goals each year as it’s a reflection of consistent success throughout the season,” said Mike Bryan. “It was an amazing finish last year when the No. 1 Ranking came down to the final match of the year when we played Nestor and Zimonjic. I wouldn’t be surprised if the No. 1 Ranking was again decided in London.”

The tournament will be the world’s biggest-ever indoor tennis event, where each of the top eight players will be drawn to play a minimum of three round-robin matches to determine which four players advance to the knockout semi-finals. Tickets are available online through www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com or by calling 0844 847 2495 within the UK. Overseas customers should call +44 161 372 0025.

(From Website : http://www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com/en/news/federerqualifies.asp)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Murray Bursts Into Semi-finals

Roger Taylor and Tim Henman will know how Andy Murray feels right now. They will hope Murray can become the first British man since Henry “Bunny” Austin in 1938 to reach The Championships final.

Both Taylor and Henman reached the semi-finals but could not reach the 'Holy Land', which for British tennis fans is a shot at snapping a 73-year men’s singles title drought. Taylor fell in the 1967, 1970 and 1973 semi-finals, while Henman’s four duels with Pete Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt and Goran Ivanisevic in recent years have been well-chronicled. Mike Sangster, who died in 1985, reached the 1961 semi-finals.

Now two wins away from emulating Fred Perry, who won the last of his three titles at the All England Club in 1936, Murray is riding a 10-match winning streak after defeating Spanish wild card Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 43 minutes on Centre Court Wednesday. It was his 200th match win.

Murray, who has a long-standing clothing agreement to wear Perry’s laurel wreath logo in his 1950s retro kit, lifted the AEGON Championships trophy three weeks ago to become the first Briton since Austin in 1938 to win at The Queen’s Club. On Friday, against sixth seed and two-time runner-up Andy Roddick, he will attempt to match Austin again.

‘Henman Hill’, officially known as Aorangi Terrace, was a sea of fans with Union Jacks and Scottish flags. Many have begun queuing, camping out, 36 hours before the start of his matches at The Championships. With each win the expectations of the British public increase, just as tickets sold by touts along Somerset Road are priced in the thousands.

After Murray’s tense five-set epic victory over Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday, his quarter-final victory over 29-year-old Ferrero – appearing in his second Wimbledon quarter-final – was comprehensive. "I felt fine," said Murray. "I slipped once on the court, but apart from that I was not stiff at all from the match before. The court today was playing very quick, so not that many long rallies, which was nice."

Ferrero recovered from 0/30 in his first service game and faced his first break point in the second game, but was given a reprieve as Murray sliced a forehand long of the baseline. Forceful throughout, Murray was able to break serve with his third break point opportunity in the 11th game, when Ferrero hit his first double fault.

Ferrero capitalised on a lapse in concentration from Murray to break the Scot’s serve in the first game of the second set. Murray went on to win 20 of 21 points, which included two service breaks to love. “In 10 minutes, he beat me,” admitted Ferrero. “He won the second set very fast. [At] two sets to love, [it] was a little difficult to come back. Physically I felt a little bit tired at the end.”

Ferrero saved a break point in the third game of the third set, but Murray earned another three break point opportunities in the fifth game – winning the last of the points with a forehand winner. He secured another service break before wrapping up victory to stand one win away from reaching the final.

“He has two matches to play, so we cannot say he’s the winner yet,” Ferrero warned. “Of course, he’s playing very well. He’s moving well in this court. He’s serving very well. But he has two matches left. He will suffer, for sure.”

(From Website : http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2009/06/Wimbledon-Wednesday2-Murray-Beats-Ferrero.aspx)