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Archive for December, 2006

Murray talks about Brad

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

This sounds so much like what Andy Roddick used to say…they should compare notes!

It was not what you might have expected in a job interview, especially if you were the one doing the recruiting. Andy Murray was thinking of hiring Brad Gilbert as his new coach and was in the middle of their first meeting, at this year’s French Open in Paris, when the American asked him to take off his shirt, so that he could get a better idea of his physique.

“For most people I wouldn’t have done that, but because it was him I took it off,” Murray said. “That was what I liked. He has very strong opinions. And when you get two people together like me and him with very strong opinions, you either get on or it blows up.

“He didn’t really listen much, but that was another of the things I quite liked. I felt I needed someone who could tell me what to do. If I was going to go and run for 10 miles, I’d go and run for 10 miles.” Gilbert has been doing most of the talking ever since, but Murray - who decided at that first meeting that the American was the coach he wanted - has no complaints. If the first turning point in the 19-year-old Scot’s breakthrough year, his maiden tournament victory in San Jose in February, came when Mark Petchey was still his coach, it has been under Gilbert that Murray has established himself as a major player on the international stage. Independent

Murray gets a new sponsorship

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

ANDY MURRAY has signed one of tennis’ highest shirt sponsorship deals after agreeing a £1million-plus deal with bottled water company Highland Spring.

As part of the contract, the British No 1 will act as an ambassador for the company — based in Blackford, only 10 miles from Murray’s home town of Dunblane — and back a campaign for kids to drink more water.

Murray, 19, said: “I’m proud to wear the Highland Spring logo at tournaments around the world since I love the product and it’s a fantastic Scottish brand from my home in Perthshire.” The Sun

But he can’t pay Brad.

Hewitt’s sponsorship actually costs him publicity

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

THE top drawcard of Australian tennis, Lleyton Hewitt, is no longer one of the faces of the Australian Open after an embarrassing administrative bungle by Tennis Australia.

Hewitt’s quest to win his home grand slam is compulsive viewing every January, guaranteeing massive television ratings, ticket sales and revenue for Tennis Australia, but his image was pulled from promotional material on Hewitt’s orders because the photo it chose did not show the name of his sponsor, Yonex.

Roger Federer, Marcos Baghdatis, Maria Sharapova and Amelie Mauresmo are the headline acts in Hewitt’s absence.

“It was a simple case of human error in terms of using Lleyton’s image in unbranded clothing,” Hewitt’s manager, Justin Cohen, told The Sun-Herald. “A window of opportunity was missed as far as him going out in all the headlined print material. He will still be used in television commercials and will be used to promote the Sydney and Adelaide events at the start of next month.

“An image was selected of Lleyton but he was wearing unbranded apparel, which was in conflict with his sponsor Yonex. That was the issue.”

The picture of Hewitt chosen for the nationwide print campaign was taken during the one event of his 10-year career at which he did not have a clothing sponsor: the Masters Series event in Cincinnati last year.

He had just left Nike and was yet to sign with Yonex, which was already his racquet supplier, in a multimillion-dollar deal. The photo was taken just before his contract with Yonex was unveiled at the US Open in New York. A phone call to Tennis Australia from Hewitt’s former manager, Rob Aivatoglou, in October demanded that Hewitt be taken off the posters. One day he was in the ads, the next he was not. Sydney Morning Herald

They should have used some of my photos of Lleyton. :)

Ivanovic receives backhanded HIngis compliment; discusses Belgrade bombings, modeling

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Lots of interesting info in this article about Ana Ivanovic - it is too bad Hingis yet again delivers one of her “compliments” to take up space in this article. :) She’s probably right - Ivanovic could use some big wins this year. It is ncie to see she gets more publicity in Europe - she really isn’t covered much here in the US.

MARTINA Hingis says there are many players as good as tennis pin-up Ana Ivanovic, but who don’t have the public profile of the emerging Serbian teenager.

Ivanovic was so tennis crazy as an 11-year-old that she went out to practice after NATO bombs had stopped falling on her home city of Belgrade.

She is unflappable and does not shy from the attention which follows her tennis success and her dark good looks.

Ivanovic, seeded third in a field headed by world No.7 Hingis for the Mondial Australian Women’s Hardcourt Titles, which start today at Royal Pines resort, improved her ranking 80 places this year to No.14.

The 19-year-old’s best tournament was a maiden WTA Tour tier-one title in which she beat Hingis in straight sets in the final in Montreal, a result that led Ivanovic to say she would have a psychological advantage over Hingis next time the two Switzerland-based players met.

Of Ivanovic, Hingis said: “There are a lot of players equally as good, but not as talked about. But she has potential. She had a good season and she’s a talented up-and-coming player. If I said I was scared of anybody, I’d be false.”

Ivanovic, who happily helped promote the Gold Coast tournament and herself on Friday with a press photo call at a local theme park, said the Montreal win could give her a psychological advantage at their next meeting, which may come on the Gold Coast.

Ivanovic’s rise to tennis prominence and her lucrative appearances in advertising campaigns in Europe for the WTA Tour’s sponsor and the sporting clothing multinational she endorses, is a wonderful success story.

When the Western military alliance NATO bombed Belgrade in 1999, Ivanovic and her coach curtailed one practice session and started to hit in the mornings, when the locals found the raids were less likely.

“It was scary, but I got used to it,” Ivanovic, who has relatives in Melbourne, said.

“My parents tried to be protective, but you could see on the news what was happening.

“We would start coming to practice the next morning and talk about the bombs the night before. It was a difficult time.”

Ivanovic’s coach David Taylor, the Australian Fed Cup captain, said he had confidence in her continuing ability to concentrate on essential tennis matters and not be distracted by the other opportunities and requests.

“Sure, she’s a pretty girl. But what motivates her is tennis and in no way has she made a decision which makes tennis come second to her other interests,” Taylor said.

“If it ever did, I’d be worried. I can’t ever see it happening.”

Ivanovic, who served notice of her improvement in Sydney last January when she beat Amelie Mauresmo, the subsequent Australian Open champion, said she enjoyed the variety offered by the glamour photo shoots she has done for sponsors.

“It’s a nice way to get away from tennis and I enjoy getting my make-up and hair done,” she said.

“I spend a lot of time in a tracksuit or tennis clothes. The sponsorships are coming from my results and how you look doesn’t help you win points.

“I got some confidence that I can actually beat top players and compete for a big title.” The Courier-Mail

Cahill is keeping his options open - but it sounds like Australia has him

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Maybe it is that fantastic summer Australians are enjoying right now…?

THE former coach of Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi is keeping future employment options open as he works casually with Mark Philippoussis. Darren Cahill, who recently returned to Adelaide from his Las Vegas base, will work as a commentator at the Australian Open.

Cahill is expecting good things from Philippoussis and Hewitt this summer. “I’m helping Mark out a little bit, but nothing I wouldn’t do for any Australian player. He’s working hard and making sacrifices and I think he’s on the right track.” Cahill said it would be a mistake to write off Hewitt.

Cahill plans talks to Tennis Australia soon. “There’s no particular job in mind. I’m not sure where my coaching career is going. I had the greatest job in tennis working with Andre for five years and now I’m sitting back and looking forward to doing a little commentating,” he said. The Age

Clearly he is already talking to TA, and probably is on the verge of announcing he’s going to be working there.

Gilbert is never far from controversy

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

This time? Who is paying him…

Brad Gilbert has defended the Lawn Tennis Association’s decision to foot his £700,000 a year bill for coaching Andy Murray rather than have the player pick up the tab himself.

After the news on Friday that the British No 1 had signed a sponsorship deal which could see him earn as much as £80 million, the LTA’s generosity could come under fire again, not to mention their decision to sack 95 employees to help fund such expense.

“You guys pay other coaches,” Gilbert told The Sunday Telegraph. “France pay other coaches, the United States pay their coaches. I mean, when a federation coach works for the USTA he’s paid by the federation, not by the player. All the French coaches who go with them are paid by the federation. Wasn’t the soccer coach here, the Swedish guy…who was he paid by? And paid a lot more!”

Federation coaches, however, work exclusively for that body while they are being paid by them; Gilbert is only spending 15 weeks a year with other British players, otherwise he works exclusively for Murray. Many believe the LTA are setting a precedent by paying a player’s coaching bill; Gilbert was paid by Andy Roddick when he coached him.

The LTA have even been criticised from within by their decision. David Lloyd, who is being paid £500,000 over three years to run independent academies for the association, said: “It sets a dangerous precedent. Let’s say I am able to produce five youngsters in the top 50 in the world in five years’ time. Are the LTA then going to fork out £5m for specialist coaches at that stage? I’m not sure that is the right way forward. It’s fine paying him for the weeks he is doing for the LTA, but Andy Murray is now a multi-millionaire.” Telegraph

There are OTHER British players!?!? ;)

New Year party plans in Australia

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Mark Philippoussis and Tommy Robredo will be among the international tennis stars rubbing shoulders with Perth’s glitterati celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Hopman Cup Ball.

More than 750 people are expected to attend the ball held at the Burswood Casino tonight, which is among a number of exclusive Perth New Year’s Eve parties.

This year’s ball will have a jungle theme, with safari suit chic or wild black tie the dress code for the men and leopard skin prints sure to make an appearance among the more daring fashionistas. The West

Hingis wins opener at Gold Coast

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

She’s about to get 2007 off to a good start - of course, expectations will be a bit higher than last year. Martina really has to beat some big names at big events this year.

Martina Hingis beat Sybille Bammer 6-0, 6-2 Sunday at the Australian Women’s Hardcourt Championship, where she started her successful comeback year.

The former top-ranked Hingis returned here last season after three years on the sideline and reached the semifinals. She later reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, an event she won three straight times beginning in 1997. SI

Nadal’s modest goals for 2007

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Nadal has to stop giving interviews. I’m tired of him praising Federer, and now he sets a dumb goal like this:

Rafael Nadal of Spain on Sunday said his primary aim for 2007 was to remain among the top eight to be able to play in the Masters Cup in Shanghai.

“My goal is to finish the year in the top eight and play the season-ending Masters Cup. If I finish in the top eight, it would be nice,” top seed Nadal said. “(Although) I will also try to retain the number two position. It will be very tough with so many youngsters emerging,” the 20-year-old said.

Nadal had a highly impressive 2006 during which he won five titles, four of which came against world number one Roger Federer of Switzerland. He also said that Chennai Open had a special place for him and it was a very good tournament to start the season. India Times

I’m really starting to wonder if what he says in interviews is a sign of mental weakness. At first I thought he was being polite, but this is getting a little old from someone n the #2 spot. Is he afraid of pulling an Andy Roddick?

Details on the engagement: Hingis

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Hingis said 28-year-old Stepanek proposed to her in Prague last month, but it was not until she arrived in Australia that anyone noticed her diamond ring.

She told reporters: “I was surprised when it was spotted right away because in Switzerland I’ve been walking around for a month and no-one’s said anything. I guess people here pay more attention to things.” iTV

I think the month off gave people time to ignore these things. She should probably be happy that the engagement wasn’t under the microscope then - it will be from now on!