Our weekly guide to who’s hot and who’s not in tennis
Any Americans visiting the French Riviera would have had two things confirmed for them. The Monte Carlo Country Club is pretending to be in Monaco – it’s over the flowerbed-border in French territory, and should be renamed the Roquebrune Country Club, but that would not sound nearly as interesting or as glamorous. Plus, John Isner knows what he’s doing on clay. When Isner led the victory over Roger Federer’s Switzerland in the first round of this year’s Davis Cup, the complaint from the Swiss was that the red clay was poor, that every other bounce was a bad one, and that the conditions favoured the American.
No one was about to make the same argument after Isner beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to give the United States an unassailable lead over France, and a place in the semi-finals. There’s nothing wrong with the clay on the Cote d’Azur. What’s stranger – that the Monte Carlo Country Club isn’t in Monte Carlo, or that America have a player whose power and game aren’t nullified by the clay granules of continental Europe.
A good weekend for Americans on clay – Serena obliterated Lucie Safarova, of the Czech Republic, for the loss of just one game in the Charleston final. It was her 40th title.
Victoria Azarenka has hired Mauresmo, a former world number one and double grand slam champion, as a consultant. Mauresmo never played her best tennis at the French Open – she did not find it easy appearing in front of a home crowd – but since Belarus don’t have a grand slam, that’s never going to be a problem for Azarenka.
Janko Tipsarevic, a columnist for The Tennis Space, tweeted a picture after his Davis Cup victory over Stepanek which suggested that the Czech was giving him the middle finger. The photograph was accompanied with the comment: “It really is a great shame that a great tennis nation like CZE is represented by someone like him.” Tipsarevic also accused Stepanek of insulting him using a swear word. “I would like you all to know what kind of person Radek Stepanek is,” Tipsarevic said.
“After five hours and 10 minutes of tennis, instead of shaking my hand, he gave me the middle finger and told I am stinking – something bad, it’s a swear word. I can understand that somebody like him can be angry after losing a match, especially after having so many chances. But doing this? I wouldn’t invent something like this. Unbelievable. I never, ever, ever, thought that I would experience this, especially because of my behaviour on court. I’m not saying I’m a golden boy, the Stefan Edberg of men’s tennis, but at least I know what is right and what is not right. There is just one word for this: it is pathetic. Nothing else.”
Tipsarevic’s countryman, Nenad Zimonjic, would later describe Stepanek as “the least likeable guy on the tour, especially on the court”.
It was a 17-year-old, wearing trainers with ‘Believe’ embroidered on the back, that Oudin reached the quarter-finals of the 2009 US Open. But it is only recently that she been able to deal with the expectation on her. “I never expected that to happen when I was 17,” Oudin has said.. “And now I feel like I’m finally in a good place where I’m kind of starting over. The US Open was so much, it took me a couple of years to get over it. After that, everyone expected me to win everything, and that just wasn’t going to happen. This whole year is just about trying to play my game and not worry about wins and losses. If I work hard and play the right way, the wins should come.”
Participation numbers have dropped, so the Lawn Tennis Association have lost half a million pounds of funding from Sport England.