Flavia Pennetta captured the biggest title of her career at Indian Wells last week, a moment she has been waiting for all her life.

Interview by Iolanda Gambuzza for Corriere del tennis, translated by Tennis Buzz.

Q: Have you ever won a trophy so hard to lift?
No. I tried to lift it, but it is heavy.

Q: How do you feel?
Happy, very happy.

Q: A few days ago you said you did not think you’d reached the final, and now you’re the champion.
Yes, I actually did not believe it. Now I’ll need a few days to understand what happened. I think I’m too calm now. I called my dad and he was out of breath, so I told him: “Dad, breathe!”

Q: Did you call someone else?
My father and my mother.

Q: They were tired?
Yes

Q: I know that for you it is still too early to understand what happened, but do you think that has a special meaning in the light of the long career you’ve had and the fact that just last year you were close to retirement?
After so many years and after a lot of hard work this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. It happened when I didn’t expect it, in fact, at the beginning of the week I would have never said that I would be in the finals or semi-finals, or even that I would have won. I waited for a long time and I finally won a trophy that counts.

Q: How hard was it psychologically?
That’s tennis. Tennis gives you some good times, but it doesn’t last long. I mean you can not enjoy a moment too much because the next day you have to go out there and play another match. Luckily now I have a few days to enjoy this moment and to concentrate again, because in four days I will play in Miami. Of course, tomorrow will be a rest day, maybe I’ll go to dinner with some friends in Miami, given that there are many Italian players coming. The captain of the Fed Cup is also coming, so I think that we’re going to dinner together. Tuesday I’ll have to start over.

Q: After winning a million dollars, will you pay the dinner?
It touches me (smiles).

Q: Before the injury you were in the top 10. Is it still a goal? Did you ever think to win a Premier tournament?
It was a dream, but I think every player has one. I think the first dream is to win a Grand Slam, but Indian Wells is one of the best tournaments in the world and now it’s mine (smiling).

Q: After two weeks of tournament, how are you physically?
I’m fine, but probably tomorrow I will have pain everywhere.

Q: How important is this result considering the fact that exactly one year ago you thought of retirement?
It ‘s amazing. I perfectly remember that last year, the day after the match against Francesca, I was talking with my physiotherapist, Max, and I cried because everything was going wrong. Now, a year later, I have this trophy. Everyone in my team is happy because we worked very hard and without my physiotherapist, my coach and my family I probably would not be here.

Q: Now you’re number 12 in the world.
Yes.

Q: What do you think of the fact that many of the top players today have passed the age of 30?
Even if we are “old” we are still top athletes, we also have experience from our many years in the circuit, so we know how to manage ourselves better and how to control better our emotions. But no one is as Francesca (Schiavone): 34 years old and she is one of the most powerful players on the circuit. When your body is fine, you can do great things.

Q: So the most difficult part is to keep your body in shape?
Yes, you have to.

Q: Will you update your autobiography?
No, no, that’s okay (smiles).

Q: For example, Na Li did translate her autobiography in English and then won the Australian Open, a Grand Slam that is played in an English-speaking country. That said, when comes out the English version of yours?
Really? I don’t know, I’ll ask.

Q: People have spoken well of your book
Well, the setting is not that of a book, but rather a diary of my life. Everything is there: there’s tennis, but not too much, because it’s Flavia more as a person than a player. Everyone knows me as a player, but for the fans it is hard to know you as a person.

Q: Tell us about when you’re racing to your box and Fabio watered you?
It was hot, so it was nice (smiles).

Q: Have you asked him to stay or did he?
I asked him to stay but it was not a big sacrifice because he had decided to leave today, so he only had to change the scheduled flight time.

Czech Republic defeats Netherlands: 3-1

Robin Haase def Radek Stepanek 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1
Tomas Berdych def Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-3 6-0
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek def Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5 1-6 7-6 7-6
Tomas Berdych def Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-4 6-3

The Czechs have not lost since suffering a huge upset against Kazakhstan in the first round in 2011. The last time the Dutch won a World Group tie was in 2005 against Switzerland. That’s quite a long time ago…

Japan defeats Canada: 3-1

Kei Nishikori def Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4
Franck Dancevic def Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 6-1
Kei Nishikori/Yasutaka Uchiyama def Franck Dancevic/Daniel Nestor 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
Kei Nishikori def Franck Dancevic 6-2 1-0 ret

Lead by 18th ranked Kei Nishikori, Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-1 victory against an injury-plagued Canada: Milos Raonic pulled out with a left-foot injury on Thursday while Frank Dancevic retired with a stomach injury in the fourth rubber.

Germany defeats Spain: 3-0

Philipp Kohlschreiber def Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2
Florian Mayer def Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 1-6 5-7 6-3
Tommy Haas/Philipp Kohlschreiber def Fernando Verdasco/David Marrero 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3

Five-time champion Spain will face a World Group playoff in September for the second year in a row. Playing without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, Spain was ousted by Germany 3-0.

France defeats Australia: 3-0

Richard Gasquet def Nick Kyrgios 7-6 6-2 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-2 7-6
Richard Gasquet/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Chris Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt 5-7 7-6 7-5 6-2

Arnaud Clément relied on his two top players Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to get past Australia, lead by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Guccione were previously undefeated in the Davis Cup as a doubles team, but they were overpowered by the French pair.

Great Britain defeat USA: 3-1

Andy Murray def Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward def Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan def Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray def Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3

Great Britain are into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935! The hero of the tie is James Ward, ranked 175, who beat former top 20 Sam Querrey on Friday.

Italy defeats Argentina:

Carlos Berlocq def Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-0 6-2 6-1
Fabio Fognini def Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 6-2
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini def Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4
Fabio Fognini def Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4

With his third victory of the weekend, Fabio Fognini sent Italy through to its second quarterfinal since 1998. It is Argentina’s first opening round defeat in 13 years.

Kazakhstan defeats Belgium: 3-2

Mikhail Kukushkin def Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3
Andrey Golubev def David Goffin 7-6 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10
Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus def Evgeny Korolev/Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 6-7 6-3 7-6
David Goffin def Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
Andrey Golubev def Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1

Switzerland defeats Serbia: 3-0

Roger Federer def Ilija Bozoljac 6-4 7-5 6-2
Stanislas Wawrinka def Dusan Lajovic 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6
Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer def Filip Krajinovic/Nenad Zimonjic 7-6 3-6 7-6 6-2

Roger Federer made last-minute decision to play the Davis Cup tie in Serbia and he joined forces with recent Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and doubles pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to oust Djokovic-less Serbia 3-0.
The Davis Cup has never been a top priority for him and it remains a true hole in Federer’s impressive curriculum vitae.

The quarterfinals:

Japan – Czech Republic
France – Germany
Italy – Great Britain
Switzerland – Kazakhstan

Which team will win the Davis Cup this year?

  • Switzerland (67%, 31 Votes)
  • France (20%, 9 Votes)
  • Czech Republic (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Great Britain (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Italy (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Germany (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Japan (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Kazakhstan (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 46

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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.

Monte Carlo 2013 recap

This is a guest post by Ruari Grant. This post was also published on the AndBeThere blog. You can connect to us via:

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As always, I would like to thanks Tennis-Buzz.

Following Nadal’s unexpected win in Indian Wells a month ago, as I said here it was beginning to look ominous for the rest of the tour regarding the fast-approaching clay court season. However on Sunday Djokovic beat him 6-2 7-6 in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters. It was the first time the Spaniard had lost there since 2003, having since racked up eight straight titles.

After coming into the tournament with a slight injury cloud over him, Djokovic very much played his way into form, dropping sets in his first two matches, before dispatching the tournament’s giant killer Fabio Fognini in the semis. The first set against Nadal showed just why Djokovic must surely have at least one Roland Garros crown in him at some point. He raced to a 5-0 lead, effortlessly hitting winners left right and centre, in a way that no one has ever done against Nadal on clay before. Indeed the Serb said himself after the match that it was the best he is capable of playing on the surface.

The second was a much tighter affair, with Nadal twice going up a break, but not managing to consolidate, and once it reached the breaker it had that sense of inevitability as Djokovic stepped it up a gear. The victory was really big news for both camps. As far as Nadal is concerned, he basically owns this tournament. No one has had a look in for almost a decade, but as he keeps stressing, the streak couldn’t go on forever so it’s not a disaster! For Djokovic, it was a big one ticked off the list – he’s lived in Monaco for a fair few years now so of course his home tournament has been high up in his priorities for a while. It also means that he only has to win the masters in Cincinnati to complete the set of masters 1000 titles.

Where from here…

Well obviously it seems easy to say but these two are clearly the men to beat on the clay. We won’t see what Federer is looking like until Madrid in a couple of weeks’ time when he kicks off his campaign, and Murray looked completely off the pace in his 6-1 6-2 defeat to Stan Wawrinka. Nadal is also playing Barcellona this week, and so with and extra week of match practice I’d say that he should be more competitive come the next meeting between the two of them. However with their current rankings that doesn’t mean that will necessarily be in a final. Regardless, if they did meet in a semi, surely the winner of that match would go on and take the tournament.

I’m backing Djokovic for another win in Madrid. At altitude, it’s never been prime hunting ground for Nadal given the fast clay courts there, though he has won there in the past. However it could also suit a relative outsider with a big game like Del Potro or Berdych if they get on a run. Come Rome, I’m seeing Nadal back to his absolute best, and I think he will take the win there before moving on to target yet more history at the French Open. Lets just hope they will be in opposite sides of the draw there!

The ones to watch out for…

Fabio Fognini was the surprise package in Monaco. Beating Berdych and Gasquet back to back without dropping a set was massively impressive and just highlights the hand skills the Italian possesses. If he can just stop moving so lazily about the court he court really challenge the best on this surface.

Richard Gasquet is arguably at his best on the clay and despite that shock loss to Fognini, he is having a good year. Without the burden of pressure and expectation from which he suffered earlier in his career, I do expect him to go deep into one of these tournaments soon and possibly overtake compatriot Tsonga as world number 8.

Jo Wilfried Tsonga is himself improving on the red dirt though. A couple of years ago I would’ve laughed at the prospect of him reaching the semis in Monaco, but he came back from a set down to defeat Wawrinka in the quarters which was particularly impressive. These two have had their fair share of battles in the past, but you would generally class the Swiss as the superior clay courter, backed up by that win over Murray. But however impressive Tsonga was there, he was just as disappointing against Nadal in the semis, failing to trouble the Spaniard at all. Still if he gets a good draw on the quick courts of Madrid he could do some damage.

Grigor Dimitrov had the beating of Nadal in the quarters in Monaco. I see him as a super-hybrid-cross with Federer’s shots and Djokovic’s movement and flexibility. At times he was just unplayable, and of course, he plays that variety of tennis which the crowd love, so once he can just get to the next level of consistency and hold it together mentally, he could start beating the big dogs.

Back from my third day at Roland Garros. My first day was all about old and future stars, my second day was all about women’s tennis, and today was all about French players and Sam Querrey.

First, on Court 9: Paul-Henri Mathieu at practice with Fabio Fognini

Paul-Henri Mathieu

Paul-Henri Mathieu

Fognini saved 2 match points two match points to beat No. 28 seed Viktor Troicki in three hours and 30 minutes, in a match that started on Wednesday but was carried over due to rain.

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

And PHM? Well, he outbattled John Isner in 5 hours and 41 minutes to reach the third round.

Paul-Henri Mathieu

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