Mondays with Bob Greene
Caroline Garcia beat Simona Halep 6-4 7-6 (3) to win the China Open women’s singles in Beijing, China
Rafael Nadal beat Nick Kyrgios 6-2 6-1 to win the China Open men’s singles in Beijing, China
David Goffin beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-5 to win the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Japan
Evgeny Donskoy beat Marius Copil 7-6 (0) 7-5 to win the Kaohsiung OEC Open in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Cameron Norrie beat Darian King 6-1 6-3 to win the Stockton Challenger in Stockton, California, USA
Maximilian Marterer beat Bradley Klahn 7-6 (3) 7-6 (6) to win the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico
“It was such an amazing two weeks. It went so fast I have the feeling I started these tournaments yesterday or two days ago.” – Caroline Garcia, after adding the China Open women’s singles title to the crown she won the week before at the Wuhan Open.
“Today, I think my serve worked well, and I was returning a lot of balls, putting a lot of balls inside, then taking the advantage from the baseline a little bit more often than him. I was a little bit more aggressive and that was the key.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning the China Open.
“I obviously didn’t react professionally. Obviously, that’s why I got a warning. But I mean, that didn’t really matter today. He played well, I played terrible.” – Nick Kyrgios, after losing to Rafael Nadal.
“It’s important for me to stay fresh physically and mentally with potentially the ATP Finals ahead and then playing for Belgium in the Davis Cup final. I am ready to fight and I want to keep winning.” – David Goffin, following his second title in successive weeks.
“It’s been a difficult and frustrating year. I obviously wish I could have focused on tennis more rather than chasing help all the time.” – Milos Raonic, who pulled out of yet another tournament, this time with a right calf injury.
“Tennis is very demanding. When I came on tour 15 years ago the 100th-ranked player was not so difficult to beat. Now they are very good, so it’s a big difference.” – Richard Gasquet
“I’ve had success at China Open in the past, so it’s always nice to come back and relive the past memories, and create new ones by winning the trophy once again.” – Martina Hingis, who teamed with Chan Yung-Jan to win the China Open women’s doubles, their ninth title of the year.
“It’s a third title for us this year. Not as many as last year, but I feel like we’re playing even more solid. To get another one in the bag is great.” – Henri Kontinen, after partnering with John Peers to win the China Open men’s doubles.
“In being selected for Japan in the Davis Cup a few weeks ago, I improved and learned to believe in myself. It helped me with my confidence. So this week I was able to believe in myself at important points and didn’t get tight.” – Ben Mclachlan, who with Yasutaka Uchiyama became the first all-Japanese team to win the Japan Open doubles in 12 years.
“It hasn’t really sunk in. We have been the challengers all week and today as well, but I noticed that they were feeling the pressure. and at that point we were able to play well and push our way to a victory. It showed us that if we play at our best, we can beat anyone.” – Yasutaka Uchiyama.
SIXTH TITLE OF 2017
Chalk up yet another trophy for Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard won his sixth title of the year, the China Open, by demolishing Nick Kyrgios. The Australian was able to win just three games in the lopsided contest. “I played, in my opinion, a great level of tennis,” Nadal said after capturing his 75th career title. “Of course, I think one of the best matches of the year.” Kyrgios was upset with a call in the opening game and appeared unable to let it go after that, earning a warning and then a penalty point. “I don’t know, I just got super frustrated,” Kyrgios said. Nadal had break chances in six of Kyrgios’ seven service games. The 22-year-old Australian had to stave off five break points just to hold serve to begin the match. He lost his serve for the first time in the sixth game when he netted a drop shot, then hit consecutive double faults to give Nadal the opening set. Nadal would break Kyrgios twice more in the second set and close out the victory after 92 minutes. “Every title later in your career is more special than when you were younger,” said Nadal, who also won the China Open in 2005.
SPANKS NUMBER ONE
Simona Halep is the new number one player on the WTA tour. But it is Caroline Garcia of France who is a champion for the second straight week. Garcia defeated her Romanian opponent to add the China Open to the Wuhan Open title she collected the previous week. “It was six matches in a row in Wuhan and five in a row here in five days,” Garcia said. “After every match I tried to forget about it and refocus on the present and on the next match. So, I actually can’t remember how my tournament went.” It went well – very well. The two battled evenly until Garcia broke Halep in the 10th game to grab the first set. The second set was closer. Garcia was down love-40 on her serve before holding to go up 4-3. Garcia prevailed in the tiebreak to advance to ninth in the world rankings. Halep refused to let the defeat spoil her week. “I couldn’t sleep very well” after winning her semifinal and ensuring the world number one ranking, Halep said. “It was very good (getting to the top ranking). It was very good step, important step. But still inside I was too happy. … I just felt a little bit over inside because of the happiness.”
David Goffin loves the winning feeling. So much so, he has done it two weeks in a row. This time, the fourth-seeded Belgian captured the Japan Open, beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets. The 26-year-old Goffin was dominant from the start, taking a 3-1 lead in the opening set. After Mannarino moved in front 4-2 in the second set, Goffin broke back in the seventh and 11th games to grab his fourth career title and second of the season. “It’s a really special trophy for me, as I won the tournament last week and now have again today,” Goffin said. “It’s a special feeling at a tournament I like. I have a lot of happy memories in Tokyo. It’s difficult to describe my feelings.” Mannarino has yet to win in four ATP World Tour finals. But the 29-year-old Frenchman pulled off the biggest victory of his career in the semifinals when he upset top-seeded Marin Cilic. “David played really well,” Mannarino said. “The quality of the game was really good, but I wasn’t good enough compared to him.”
SERVING FOR PUERTO RICO
Every time Nick Kyrgios serves an ace, Puerto Rico will be the beneficiary. The Australian has pledged USD $50 for the storm-laced island every time he blasts an ace. The 22-year-old had first said he would give USD $10 for each ace toward emergency relief on the island following Hurricane Maria. But in a tweet, Kyrgios wrote: “You know what? I’m upping my offer … to $50 per ace. Let’s help Puerto Rico.” In his first match after announcing his pledge, Kyrgios pounded 11 aces in beating Germany’s Mischa Zverev at the China Open.
Great Britain’s Dan Evans has been suspended for one year after testing positive for cocaine. Currently ranked 108th in the world, Evans failed the drug test at the Barcelona Open in April. He went public with the result in June. The 27-yearp-old’s ban began with the positive test, meaning he will be eligible to play again on April 24, 2018. The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a statement, said it “accepted Mr. Evans’ account of how the cocaine got into his system and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for the violation.” Evans said the cocaine got into his system via a permitted medication that he had stored in the same pocket of his washbag in which he had previously kept the cocaine. Evans reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in January and reached a career-high 41 ranking earlier this year.
STOP AT THE TOP
This time it was Simona Halep who came away with the victory and the top spot in the WTA world rankings. Halep avenged her French Open final defeat by beating Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the China Open. That win boosted Halep to the world number one spot, replacing Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza and becoming the first Romanian to head the rankings. “It’s very emotional, I think it’s the first time I cried on court,” Halep said. “It’s amazing that I could do this. … It’s my special day.” Halep had come close to topping the rankings on three different occasions earlier this year, but each time lost the match that would have clinched the top spot. WTA CEO Steve Simon and tour president Micky Lawler presented Halep with a memento after the match as she became the 25th player in WTA history to rise to the world number one ranking.
The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) said Spain’s Samuel Ribeiro Navarrete has been banned for eight months and fined USD $1,000 for “betting-related corruption offenses.” The TIU said an investigation revealed the player made 28 bets on matches between January and March 2013, although none of the bets were on matches in which he played. The 24-year-old Spaniard reached a career-high singles ranking of 72 in July 2016. Four months of his eight-month ban is suspended on condition he commits no further breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program.
SHOCKED BY SHOOTING
Great Britain’s Laura Robson was attending the Las Vegas concert where a gunman opened fire, killing 58 and wounding nearly 500. The player tweeted: “I’m okay. We were right there … sounded like fireworks at first, then everyone started running. Scary ****. My friend who was deeper in the crowd has been helping people who were shot. We’re all in shock.” Robson teamed with Andy Murray to win the silver medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics.
Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako was on hand to see the first all-Japanese doubles team in 12 years to win the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships. Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama defeated Jamie Murray of Great Britain and Brazil’s Bruno Soares in straight sets for their first ATP World Tour team title. The New Zealand-born Mclachlan has a Japanese mother. The winning team received a wild card into the tournament. Mclachlan was playing in his first ATP World Tour event. The last all-Japanese duo to win in Tokyo were Satoshi Iwabuchi and Takao Suzuki in 2005.
Milos Raonic has suffered yet another injury. The Canadian, who has withdrawn from five events this year and pulled out of two others, retired from his second-round Japan Open match against Yuichi Sugita after dropping the opening game. “I picked up a strain to the (right) calf,” Raonic said. “It’s hard to know the extent of it … It happened when the score was deuce. I felt a sharp pain at the back of my leg. I will head home now and get medical attention.” Raonic just returned to tennis after missing seven weeks after having surgery on his left wrist. He beat Viktor Troicki in his Japan Open opener before facing Sugita. Following his win over Troicki, Raonic complained that the tennis tour was too demanding. “I believe out of those of us that finished top five last year, I’m the only guy still trying to play this year, and none of the five played the US Open,” the Canadian said. “Maybe it’s testament to some kind of reform being needed for the sake of players’ careers and being able to provide a certain caliber of tennis for spectators.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled out of this week’s Shanghai Masters because of a knee injury. Ranked 18th in the world, Tsonga is set to lead France in next month’s Davis Cup final against Belgium. Tsonga said he first felt pain in his knee in mid-September at the St. Petersburg Open. The injury also caused Tsonga to miss last week’s China Open.
Garbiñe Muguruza retired during her China Open first-round match against unseeded Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. The Spaniard called it quits while trailing 6-1 2-0. Going into the tournament ranked number one in the world, Muguruza called a medical timeout after losing the first two games of the second set. After having her pulse taken, she retired from the match, her fifth retirement this year. “It’s very tough,” Muguruza said. “I got a virus in Wuhan. I couldn’t perform today. … I want to feel like giving the last chance, going on the court, just hit (a) few balls, see how I’m going to feel, try to turn things around. I don’t want to retire before the tournament starts.”
SET FOR CHANGES
Changes in Davis Cup play will occur next year in a bid to make the international team competition more attractive to top players. The changes will be applied only to matches in Zonal Groups I and II, the tiers below the World Group. The best-of-five-matches competition will be held on two days instead of three: Group I ties will be played on Friday and Saturday, with Group II ties on Saturday and Sunday. The change is on the second day when the doubles and two “reverse” singles will be contested. And Group I and II matches will be best-of-three sets instead of best-of-five. David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), said the changes could eventually be applied to World Group matches if the trial is deemed a success.
The Miami Open is getting closer to moving from Key Biscayne to the stadium where the Miami Dolphins play. “I do think it’s imminent,” Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay said of an agreement for the tournament to leave its longtime home. “But it hasn’t been officially made.” The tournament, a major hard-court stop on both the men’s and women’s tours, will apparently be played at the Crandon complex on Key Biscayne next year, with the possibility of the event moving to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in 2019. IMG, which owns the tournament, wanted to spend USD $50 million to upgrade the Crandon complex, but lost a court decision that would give the tournament space to expand.
Boris Becker is reportedly selling his Wimbledon trophies to raise money to pay off his debts. Three months ago, the three-time Wimbledon champion was declared bankrupt over money owed to a bank. Becker now faces having his homes and personal property repossessed. Two German magazines, Stern and Bunte, claim the British bankrupt declaration was merely the start.
UCLA alumni Arthur Ashe will have a scholarship named for the late tennis star at the Los Angeles school. Thanks to gifts from his widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, and the Arthur Ashe Learning Center, an Arthur Ashe Scholarship will be awarded to students who exemplify the ideals Ashe displayed as a UCLA student. The scholarship will be awarded based on merit and need. In addition, the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund will administer programming and exhibit materials highlighting Ashe’s contributions in four main areas: sport and tennis; service and citizenship; health and wellness; and youth and education. “This is a truly special moment for UCLA, and we are grateful to have been entrusted with Arthur Ashe’s towering legacy,” said Patricia Turner, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education. “The scholarship and exhibit materials are tangible reminders of his transformative impact on the world.”
Hall of Famer Chris Evert says Serena Williams may lack some of her trademark intimidation when she returns to tennis. Williams, who gave birth to a daughter in September, has said she plans on defending her Australian Open title in January. Evert thinks things could be different for the woman who has won 23 Grand Slam tournament singles titles. “I think this whole year the level has gone up because Serena hasn’t been dominant and the other players have all felt that they had a shot at it, at the number one ranking,” Evert said. “I think that because of that challenge, they have improved in the physical and the mental part of it because they’ve all had a shot at it and they’ve pushed each other, and that’s why there have been so many different winners. So, I think the level will have improved by the time Serena comes back.” Since Williams beat her sister Venus in the Australian Open final, there have been four players who have held the number one ranking: Angelique Kerber of Germany, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain and Simona Halep of Romania.
Rafael Nadal wound up winning the China Open, but he almost didn’t win his opening match. Frenchman Lucas Pouille pushed Nadal to the limit before the Spaniard narrowly won 4-6 7-6 (6) 7-5. Trailing 4-6 in the tiebreak, Nadal won four consecutive points to level the match at one set apiece. The Spaniard finally broke Pouille in the 11th game of the third set, then held serve to gain the victory. “He played well, I think,” Nadal said of his French opponent. “Very aggressive. He’s serving well. For me was little bit difficult in the beginning. Then I started to play better. But, still, I didn’t have the control of the match for almost all the time.”
Beijing (men): Henri Kontinen and John Peers beat John Isner and Jack Sock 6-3 3-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Beijing (women): Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Time Babos and Andrea Hlavackova 6-1 6-4
Kaohsiung: Sanchai Ratiwatana and Sonchat Ratiwatana beat Jonathan Erlich and Alexander Peya 6-4 1-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Monterrey: Christopher Eubanks and Evan King beat Marcelo Arevalo and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela 7-6 (4) 6-3
Stockton: Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury beat Denis Kudla and Mikelis Libietis 6-2 6-4
Tokyo: Ben Mclachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama beat Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 6-4 7-6 (1)
Hong Kong: www.hktennisopen.hk/en/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$8,092,625 Shanghai Rolex Masters, Shanghai, China, hard
$150,000 Tashkent Challenger, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
$100,000 Northbay Healthcare Men’s Pro Championship, Fairfield, California, USA, hard
$226,750 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open, Hong Kong, hard
$226,750 Upper Austria Ladies Linz, Linz, Austria, hard
$227,750 Tianjin Open, Tianjin, China, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$823,600 VTP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, hard
$774,740 European Open, Antwerp, Belgium, hard
$774,740 Intrum Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
$125,000 Yinzhou International Men’s Tennis, Ningbo, China, hard
$702.900 VTP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, hard
$226,750 BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, Luxembourg, Luxembourg, hard