Sports Outside the Beltway

Despite earthquake, Chile to host Davis Cup match

Israel is scheduled to play Chile this weekend. From AP-

Chile is still planning to host its Davis Cup series this weekend against Israel despite the devastating earthquake that has killed at least 700 people in the South American country.APTOPIX Chile Earthquake

Singles player Nicolas Massu arrived on Monday from Miami and expressed concern for the Chilean people but said he was ready to play.

Jose Hinzpeter, president of the Chile tennis federation, also said he wants the series to go ahead as scheduled in the northern port town of Coquimbo, which suffered little damage.

I don’t know about you. A tennis match seems unimportant when large amounts of people are dead or homeless. National pride from any win will just be transitory.


Venus Williams defeats Israel’s Shahar Peer at the Dubai Tennis Championships

It was a year ago that Peer was denied a visa to enter the United Arab Emirates. From AP-

Venus Williams has ended Israeli Shahar Peer’s run at the Dubai Tennis Championships with a 6-1, 6-4 victory in the semifinals.

The defending champion and third seed needed 1 hour, 23 minutes Friday to defeat Peer, who was not allowed to play in the tournament a year ago when she was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates government, citing security reasons.

The win by Venus Williams comes as no surprise. Peer was unranked for this tournament.

I hope Peer received more than the polite applause she was getting in earlier rounds. Sports should be about who is the best athlete at a particular point in time. A winning performer deserves to be congratulated by fans watching him or her.


Roger Federer wins his 4th Australian Open

It was also his 16th grand slam title. From AP-

Roger Federer dismantled Andy Murray in the Australian Open final Sunday to extend his own record to 16 Grand Slam titles and prolong the British drought.Roger  Federer

Federer collected his fourth Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11) win at Rod Laver Arena that, apart from the tiebreaker, lacked the drama and raw emotion of his five-set loss here last year to then No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal.

Last year, Federer sobbed when Rod Laver presented the winners’ trophy to Nadal, having missed a chance to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 career majors.

This time, Murray was on the verge of tears, drawing deep breaths as he apologized for failing to end a 74-year-old drought for British men at the Grand Slam tournaments.

Fred Perry was the last in 1936. I’m not a big tennis fan, but recall who the last British woman is to win a Grand Slam title. It was Virginia Wade in 1977.

I did that without checking Wikipedia first. The only defect in my memory was I had Wade’s victory being in 1978 rather 77.


Serena Williams wins the Australian Open

It is her 12th major title, tying her with Billie Jean King. From AP-

Serena Williams put an end to Justine Henin’s hopes of a Grand Slam title on her return from retirement with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win in the Australian Open final on Saturday.serena Williams

Williams withstood a determined challenge from Henin before securing her fifth Australian Open title and 12th Grand Slam singles championship.

Henin, who had most of the crowd support at Rod Laver Arena, couldn’t match her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters’ feat of winning in her Grand Slam comeback tournament. Clijsters won last year’s U.S. Open on her return from a two-year retirement after getting married and having a daughter.

Williams won the last four games Saturday to clinch the championship in just over two hours, falling on her back in celebration after match point before shaking hands with Henin at the net.

Still, it was an impressive run by Henin. She lost in the final of the Brisbane International tournament to Clijsters two weeks ago.

Henin, who defeated four seeded players on the finals, is in the midst of an impressive comeback. Should players with a past track record like hers really be unseeded? I understand a player who steps away is going to drop ranking wise but when they begin a comeback and aren’t seeded, distortions in the pairings is going to happen.

Today’s win was Serena’s 4th Australian triumph in the last six years. The French Open is up in 4 months. Can she win there for the second time? Her only triumph at Roland Garros took place in 2002.


For the birds- Andy Roddick trips over line judge at Australian Open

Roddick joked that he ran into a inmovable object and that the judge had a career in professional wrestling ahead of him. From AP-

Andy Roddick took a tumble on his way to a first-round win Monday, tripping over the foot of a line judge.

Roddick rolled to the ground and angrily reproached the man when he stood.

“Move out of the way when you see a player coming,” Roddick told the official before resuming the match with Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands and winning 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.

Roddick, who is just coming off a knee injury, said he was all right after the collision. I do like that he felt good enough to joke about it afterwards.

In other Australian Open news-


A seagull walks on the court as French Fabrice Santoro looks on during their men’s singles first round match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia Monday.

Where was the stadium police when this was happening? That trespasser should have had his wings clipped!


Comeback kids- Kim Clijsters defeats Justine Henin to win Brisbane Intl. title

It was a battle of two Belgians down under.AP-

Kim Clijsters hung on to win a momentum-swinging all-Belgian final at the Brisbane International in a vintage finish Saturday in Justine Henin’s tour comeback.Australia Brisbane International Tennis

Clijsters, only five tournaments into her own comeback which has already netted the U.S. Open title, saved two match points and then wasted three before winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6) over the seven-time Grand Slam titlist.

Clijsters started strongly and led by a set and 4-1 before Henin staged a dramatic rally.

Need the scores from any match played in today’s tournaments? Results

Henin, playing in the top tier for the first time since she quit while holding the No. 1 ranking in May 2008, won eight of the next nine games to take a 3-0 lead in the third.

Clijsters rallied to 3-3, then gave up a break and gave Henin match points in the 10th game.

She held her nerve and, 15 minutes later, held her arms in the air, celebrating what she thought was a championship-winning backhand down the line in the tiebreaker when the umpire overruled.

Henin got back to 6-6 in the tiebreaker but then double-faulted to give Clijsters a fourth match point. She made no mistake this time, with a forehand that Henin couldn’t get.

“Huh, what a match!” Clijsters told the crowd at Pat Rafter Arena. “I think we set the bar pretty high for ourselves for the rest of the year.

What a return for both these players. Clijsters left the game to get married and have a child. She then became the first mother to win a Grand Slam event in almost 30 years at last year’s U.S. Open. Hennin is much earlier in the comeback process but on the way to the Brisbane finals she defeated both the #2 and #3 seeds in the tournament.

Clijster’s daughter and husband were in the crowd on Saturday, when she donated her tournament winnings to Brisbane’s Royal Children’s Hospital, which she had visited earlier in the week.

A very nice gesture by Clijster. One I’m sure will ingratiate her with Australians, whether they like tennis or not.

Update- Henin has suffered a leg injury which has caused her to withdraw from a tournament to be played in Sydney next week. No word as of yet if this will keep her from playing in the Australian Open slated to begin January 11th.


Russian tennis player Ekaterina Bychkova banned for 30 days

She is currently ranked 121st in the world. From AP-

The Tennis Integrity Unit has fined Ekaterina Bychkova $5,000 and barred the Russian from playing for 30 days, saying she failed to report that she was asked to provide inside information and throw matches.

The ruling was announced Friday and takes effect immediately.

An anti-corruption hearing officer said there was no evidence Bychkova accepted any compensation. She was penalized because she didn’t disclose the offer until being questioned by investigators from the Tennis Integrity Unit, which was formed by the Grand Slam committee, International Tennis Federation, and the ATP and WTA tours.

There has been more than one recent incident of betting irregularities involving a tennis match. There is also the case of Czech player Jan Hernych who said he was asked to lose a match. The integrity of professional tennis is still solid at this moment, but the sport has the potential for a serious problem. Aggressive action needs to be taken or the sport’s image will be tarnished if incidents like those that I link to occur again.. The Tennis Integrity Unit IMHO took the right actions with Ekaterina Bychkova


WTA given written assurance of Shahar Peer getting a visa to play in Dubai

In 2009, the UAE only gave verbal promises to the Israeli tennis player which they later tried to renege on. From AP-

The United Arab Emirates assured the WTA in writing it will allow Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to play at next month’s Dubai tournament after barring her last year.

Peer had been denied a visa apparently because of anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following a three-week war between Israel and Islamic militants in Gaza. The UAE does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Dubai Tennis Championships start Feb. 15, and the WTA said Wednesday it received word from the UAE Ministry of Interior that Peer may compete.

The tournament was fined $300,000 last year and told to meet certain requirements – one of them written confirmation about Peer.

Should the UAE renege on their written promise, the Dubai event should be canceled and no WTA event again scheduled for that country. The host country of a open sporting event shouldn’t be able to determine who can and can’t participate.


Tennis Channel accuses Comcast of bias

TTC’s chief executive called the case ‘a litmus test’. From AP-

The Tennis Channel has filed a complaint with federal regulators accusing Comcast of discriminating against its programming.

The Tennis Channel alleges that Comcast isolates the network on a premium sports tier that reaches only a small fraction of subscribers, even as it carries Comcast-owned networks such as the Golf Channel and Versus on basic tiers that reach many more customers.

The Tennis Channel filed its complaint with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday.

I have both Comcast(Our homeowner’s association has a deal with the cable company) and Directv. TTC(and NHL network) is on a high tier with Comcast and one I rarely go to. Golf Channel, FSN Florida, and NFL Network are on lower tiers but in NFL’s case, it is part of Comcast’s digital package.

On the other hand, Directv has NFL, NHL, GC, and TTC all in a row right after ESPN. Versus is up in the stratosphere along with all the FSN channels. Is Comcast biased? Probably. Should they be forced to move TTC downward? I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but why didn’t TTC just ask Comcast? The Cable company has to have many tennis fans, and with competition from satellite providers, should have a desire to keep them happy.


Tennis stadium evacuated for bag scare

Was it just a coincidence that a peace group was protesting against one of the players? From AP-

The stadium where the ASB Classic women’s tennis tournament is being played was briefly evacuated Tuesday after an unattended bag was found.Shahar Peer

The discovery of the bag coincided with a protest against the presence at the tournament of Israeli player Shahar Peer, but organizers said the events were apparently unconnected.

Players and spectators were forced to leave the tennis complex and streets around the central Auckland stadium were sealed off while emergency services dealt with the incident.

The evacuation occurred shortly before the scheduled start of play.

The New Zealand protest group Global Peace and Justice earlier Tuesday said it had written to the 22-year-old Peer asking her to withdraw from the tournament “as a demonstration of your commitment to peace.”

Some of the off the court tennis news in 2009 involved involved a Israeli tennis player being denied a visa to enter Dubai and a Israel-Sweden Davis Cup match played in Sweden without spectators present.

Global Peace and Justice doesn’t like the way Israel treats Palestinians. So they protest athletes in tennis tournaments. What will that accomplish? In a way the peace organization is choosing targets the same way terrorists do. They look for easy victims. One tennis player or a bus full of unarmed civilians. Their goals are also alike- to disrupt people’s lives who have little or no connection to their causes.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.