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.

Oggi l’ allenamento in palestra e’ stato più divertente…ero in buona compagnia

Today training at the gym was more entertaining… I was in good company

Follow Flavia @flavia_pennetta

Let’s begin with a little bit of self promotion: Tennis Buzz recently reached 400 followers on Twitter and 100 on Facebook. So join us!

Here is our Best and Worst of June 2012. (Read here our Best and Worst of Roland Garros 2012).

Best:

Tamira Paszek:
5-3 down in the third set, she saved 5 championships point to win her first title since 2010, defeating Angelique Kerber 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, in Eastbourne. A few days later, she upset former number one Caroline Wozniacki in the first round at Wimbledon 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 in an encounter lasting 3 hours and 12 minutes.
After an easy second round win over Alizé Cornet, she defeated Yanina Wickmayer in another gruelling match 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in two hours and 40 minutes

Kim Clijsters:
Last Wimbledon for Kim who beat Jelena Jankovic, Andrea Hlavackova and Vera Zvonareva. Next opponent: Angelique Kerber.

Sania Mirza‘s reaction to the Indian Olympic team mess:

“As an Indian woman belonging to the 21st century, what I find disillusioning is the humiliating manner in which I was put up as a bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis.”

“While I feel honored and privileged to have been chosen to partner Leander Paes, the manner and timing of the announcement wreaks of male chauvinism where a two time Grand Slam champion, who has been India’s number 1 women’s tennis player for almost a decade in singles and doubles is offered in compensation to partner one of the feuding champions purely in order to lure him into accepting to play with a men’s player he does not wish to play with! This kind of blatant humiliation of Indian womanhood needs to be condemned even if it comes from the highest controlling body of tennis in our country.”
Well said.

Tommy Haas:
German veteran Tommy Haas beat Roger Federer in Halle to capture his 13th career title, its first since 2009.

Andy Roddick:
Roddick ended a 16 months title drought by winning his 31th career title in Eastbourne. He entered the event as a wild card after losing his opening match at Queen’s Club the week before, a defeat that stretched his losing streak to six matches dating to mid-March.

Arnaud Clément:
Arnaud Clément is France new Davis Cup captain. He was hired to replace Guy Forget, who resigned after 14 seasons in charge.

Arnaud Clément

The WTA says NO to grunting, finally!
The WTA is developing a “sport-wide plan” to keep future players from grunting by educating them and instituting rule changes. USA Today reported the plan includes developing a device for umpires to measure grunting during matches, and a rule to set limits on how much noise is acceptable.

Maria Sharapova

ATP says NO to blue clay:
ATP President Brad Drewett has announced blue clay courts will not be allowed at tour events next season.
He said that while the new color, in place of the traditional red clay, “may have offered better visibility on television, there were clearly issues with the quality of the courts in Madrid this year, which were not acceptable.”

Tournament winners:

Bad Gastein: Alizé Cornet
Birmingham: Melanie Oudin
‘s-Hertogenbosch: Nadia Petrova, David Ferrer
Queen’s: Marin Cilic
Halle: Tommy Haas
Eastbourne: Tamira Paszek, Andy Roddick

Worst:

David Nalbandian: disqualified at Queen’s and ousted by Tipsarevic in the first round at Wimbledon.

Venus Williams:
For the first time since her debut appearance at the All England Club 15 years ago, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams failed to get past the first round of Wimbledon. She was beaten by doubles specialist Elena Vesnina 6-3 6-1.
I must say I don’t get why she keeps playing. Perhaps retirement is the best option right now.

Gilles Simon:
He totally has the right to express what he thinks about women’s tennis and equal money, but offence people and say stupid thing like there was 20 spectators attending the women’s Rome final, it’s simply stupid.

I really liked Bartoli‘s reaction:

He should wake up earlier (to have a practice court)

and Sloane Stephens comments:

“Whatever he says means nothing to me. He hit me with a ball when I was ball kid for the first time. He hit me right in my chest because he lost a point and set he turned around and slammed the ball and it hit me,”

Stephens told a small group of U.S. reporters.

“Whatever he says, that means nothing to me. We had discussion about it on the court last year because he was trying to kick me off the practice court in Estoril and I’m like dude you don’t have this court. His coach was nice and he asked me, ‘Why don’t you like him?’ and I said because when I was 10 he hit me with the ball and he didn’t even say sorry and kind of walked off. So I was like, ‘I don’t like him.”

And for all of you who have no idea who Simon is, that’s him:

2012 French Open adidas outfits

Flavia Pennetta:
The first seed eliminated at Wimbledon was No. 16 Flavia Pennetta, who fell 6-4, 6-3 to fellow Italian Camila Giorgi. With the recent achievements of Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone, nobody remembers that in 2009, she became the first female Italian player to reach the top 10.

The whole Indian olympic team mess, Paes, Bhupathi and co: none of them deserve a medal

After Dulko/Suarez win and Sam Stosur‘s practice session, I made my way to Court 15 for Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta practice session:

Then I go to Court 17 for the first round match between Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Greta Arn:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
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Flavia Pennetta

Flavia Pennetta

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