Maria Sharapova

Enjoy some pics and videos of Maria Sharapova at practice yesterday with coach Sven Groeneveld:

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Click to enlarge:

A look at the 5 warmup tournaments for Wimbledon: who is playing where and when.

Aegon Classic, Birmingham 10-16 June

Previous winners include Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King – who was Birmingham’s inaugural champion in 1982 and collected the last of her 67 Open Era singles titles here in 1983 – and more recently, Jelena Jankovic, Li Na and Maria Sharapova, who in 2004 became the only player to capture Birmingham and Wimbledon in the same year.

Prize Money: $235,000
Defending Champ: Melanie Oudin
Official site
Who is playing: Kirsten Flipkens, Laura Robson, Heather Watson, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki

Aegon Championships, Queens 10-16 June

Andy Murray makes his comeback from the back injury that forced him to miss Roland Garros. The Scot, who reached the Wimbledon final in 2012 (l. to Federer), won the Queen’s title in 2009 (d. Blake) and 2011 (d. Tsonga).
Since its inception in 1979, there have been six different players to complete the Queen’s Club-Wimbledon title double in the same year, including John McEnroe (81, 84), Jimmy Connors (82), Boris Becker (85), Pete Sampras (95, 99), Lleyton Hewitt (2002) and Rafael Nadal (2008).

Prize Money: € 683,665
Defending Champ: Marin Cilic
Official site
Who is playing: Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic

Andy Murray

Check out our Queen’s 2011 recap: part 1, part 2

Gerry Weber Open, Halle 10-16 June

German veteran Tommy Haas beat Roger Federer in Halle last year to capture his 13th career title, his first since 2009. Both eliminated in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, Federer and Haas will compete in Halle again this year, and they also are going to pair up in doubles together.

Prize Money: € 683,665
Defending Champ: Tommy Haas
Official site
Who is playing: Roger Federer, Richard Gasquet, Janko Tipsarevic, Milos Raonic, Tommy Haas, Kei Nishikori

Read Mauro’s report from Halle last year on his meeting with Stefan Edberg

Topshelf Open, s-Hertogenbosch 16-22 June

Launched as an ATP tournament in 1990, it became a joint event in 1996. Champions include Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Mary Pierce, Justine Henin – who won the last of her 43 titles here in 2010 -, Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Rafter and Richard Gasquet.

WTA:
Prize Money: $235,000
Defending Champ: Nadia Petrova
Who is playing: Roberta Vinci, Dominika Cibulkova, Kirsten Flipkens, Kiki Bertens, Francesca Schiavone

ATP:
Prize Money: € 410,200
Defending Champ: David Ferrer
Official site
Who is playing: David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka, John Isner, Jérémy Chardy, Benoit Paire

Aegon International, Eastbourne 17-22 June

Formerly the International Women’s Open, Britain’s biggest international women’s event joined forces with the ATP World Tour to host a combined men’s and women’s tournament at Devonshire Park. In past years the men’s ATP World Tour event had been played in Nottingham.
Sunday June 16 will feature a host of legends competing in a Father’s Day tussle as former British No.1 Greg Rusedski faces off with Mark Philippoussis before they team up with former world No.1 Lindsay Davenport and two-time Wimbledon Doubles Champion Rennae Stubbs in a mixed doubles match.

WTA:
Prize money: $690,000
Defending champ: Tamira Paszek
Who is playing: Agnieszka Radwanska, Sara Errani, Li Na, Angelique Kerber, Sam Stosur, Petra Kvitova

ATP:
Prize money: € 526,060
Defending champ: Andy Roddick
Official site
Who is playing: Gilles Simon, Juan Monaco, Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Bernard Tomic

Thanks to Mauro, enjoy a few videos of Wawrinka, Goerges and Nadal at the Foro Italico:

Stanislas Wawrinka:

Julia Goerges:

Rafael Nadal:

By Mauro Cappiello

At the very last moment, someone must have told Mayor Gianni Alemanno that the Trevi Fountain was not the best location for the draw ceremony of the “Internazionali”, the Rome Masters that will start tomorrow. With all the tourists of a Saturday morning and the people come for tennis, that little square would have risked an explosion. That’s why the event was moved to the Maxxi, the Museum of Arts of the 21st century, which is not very far from the Olympic Stadium and the Foro Italico. Needless to say, the setting was not as suggestive as last year, when a lot more people were attracted by the Spanish Steps, a big media promotion and also by Andy Murray and Ana Ivanovic.

The other Serb Jelena Jankovic, twice a champion here in Rome, was the only international star this year, even though, due to their early exits in Madrid, super champions like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were already in Rome. She arrived at the museum carried by a double-decker city sightseeing bus, along with the journalists and the other players Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci. Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi and ever-lasting local heroes of the last century Nicola Pietrangeli and Lea Pericoli were also there.

Roberta Vinci, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi

Jelena Jankovic

Right from Jelena’s hands came off the news that the organizers were not hoping for. The two best ranked Italian players, Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini, will meet in the first round, just like in Monte Carlo. This time, the winner will play Rafael Nadal… At least we’ll have a packed Centre Court in the first or second day of the tournament, as noticed by Massimo Caputi, master of the ceremony and media officer at the Italian Tennis Federation.

Andreas Seppi

Actually, there was no need for an Italian “derby” in the early days to sell tickets, because the Centre Court and the Supertennis Arena (the new 4000 seat stadium, inaugurated last year) are already sold out, in spite of an aggressive policy by the Federation that has seen the tickets more than double their price since the tournament has been turned into a combined event.

It must be said that the Rome Masters has grown a lot in reputation, compared to the 90’s and the early 2000’s. Some top players skip Monte Carlo and some have criticized Madrid (especially last year), but nobody wants to miss Rome, the last big tune-up event before the French Open and the more probative one, because the conditions of play are very similar to those in Paris. A new free TV channel, Supertennis, owned by the Italian Federation, broadcasts the entire women’s tournament and that contributed to make the event more popular among the young generations.

Roberta Vinci

Andreas Seppi

That’s also why people are willing to pay 50 euros for a Thursday daily session ticket on the Center Court “Tribuna Internazionale Sud” booked via Internet, while they could have that same ticket at the tournament office at the entrance for 20 euros until some years ago, when the event was held over two weeks and the Stadium was not yet “one of the best for tennis”, as some players praised it.
But if you’re looking for that ticket now, your only chance is eBay or to find someone who sells it before the gates. Don’t expect a lower price, though…
Else, you can still find tickets for the grounds, which are always the best place to have a closer view of the players and take better pictures. If you are lucky enough, you can see the big champions practice and even speak some words with them.

More pics of this year’s draw on Flickr. Enjoy some pics and video of Rome Masters 2012 draw ceremony.

Serena Williams captured a record 6th Miami title, her 48th WTA title, by defeating Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0. Serena hasn’t lost to Sharapova since 2004 in Los Angeles, that’s 12 wins in a row!