Nadal Wins His First Title Since Return From Injury

Rafael Nadal  photo by Wagner Carmo/Inovafoto

Rafael Nadal photo by Wagner Carmo/Inovafoto

By Barbara Galiza

(February 17, 2013) São Paulo – Today marked an important day for Rafael Nadal. At São Paulo, the former number one took his first title since returning to the tour – after a seven-month injury-lay off. The Spaniard beat David Nalbandian in the final, 6-2, 6-3. This is the first trophy won by Nadal since Roland Garros, in June. Despite the win, Nadal, who looked rusty throughout the week, hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll play Indian Wells and Miami.


“My priority is celebrating today’s title, that was very important for me. I’ll think of Acapulco and nothing else”, said Nadal. The fifth player in the rankings returned to the court last week, at Viña Del Mar, and will play ATP 500 Acapulco next, starting on the 25th March.


“We are not in a position to think about the week ahead. We go day by day, week by week. We’ll see how the knee is responding in Acapulco and when we finish this clay season, we’ll see how things have passed in these three tournaments and decide if we’re prepared to face playing in Indian Wells.”


Since his return, Nadal hasn’t yet faced a player inside the top 30. However, the 11-time Slam champion assures he isn’t worried about possible rivals, but about his knee:


“It’s not a question about (stronger) rivals, it’s a question about the surface. It’s about the evolution of my knee. I have no problems to play better rivals, because I know I can lose and can win. To me, it’s not a problem to lose after not competing for so long.”


Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro and was the Brasil Open  as media in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.


Nadal Says São Paulo Clay Courts are Much Faster Than U.S. Open and Australian Open


Nadal 2 16 2013 Brasil Open William Lucas Inovafoto

By Barbara Galiza

(February 16, 2013) São Paulo – Before this week, Martin Alund had never won an ATP-tour level match before, but today he managed to take a slow Rafael Nadal to a third set. The former number one took two hours to beat the Argentinean and advance to the São Paulo final. After his win, Nadal complained about the conditions, that are too fast for his taste.


“The conditions are not good for me and my game style. I don’t have the feeling of (ball) control or that I can attack. Today, my knee hurt more than it did in the other days”, said Nadal, who recently came back from a seven-month injury lay-off.


Since the beginning of the week, the Spaniard has been very critical of the balls used in the indoor clay tournament. After his win over Alund, Nadal said the conditions in São Paulo were too fast to be considered clay:


“The surface is here is much faster than any hardcourt. It’s much faster than the U.S. Open, much faster than the Australian Open. It’s a court that can’t be considered clay, that’s the truth. The altitude and specially the balls (make it very fast).” São Paulo’s average sea level height is of 760m.


In the final, the world number five will play another Argentinean, David Nalbandian. The two had paired together this week to play the doubles draw, before Nadal pulled out citing “knee overuse”.


“I am physically prepared for the match tomorrow, I don’t know if my knee is,” said Nadal, who he will be trying to win his 51st title.


Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open  as media in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.


Bellucci to Play Up-and-Coming Compatriot in São Paulo’s First Round


Thomaz Bellucci

Thomaz Bellucci

By Barbara Galiza

(February 11, 2013) São Paulo -Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s highest ranked player at number 35 in the world, will face a young compatriot in his first round match at ATP 250 São Paulo: Guilherme Clezar. Last year, Clezar made a splash on the tour, becoming the top player on the under-19 ATP rankings. At 20 years old, he is the youngest player in Brasil Open’s main draw.

“He must be confident at the moment and seems to be very solid from the baseline. I think he will be really strong, really wanting the victory,” said Bellucci ahead of their match-up. Clezar already has three wins under his belt in the Brasil Open, since he got through the qualifying rounds this afternoon.

On Tuesday the Brazilians will clash at 7 pm local time. Afterwards, Rafael Nadal will make his debut in the tournament, alongside David Nalbandian in the doubles.

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

Singles – First Round
[7] P Andujar (ESP) d S Giraldo (COL) 64 76(5)
*[LL] M Alund (ARG) d [WC] R Mello (BRA) 64 64
S Bolelli (ITA) d [WC] T Robredo (ESP) 62 64

*[LL] M Alund (ARG) replaced L Mayer (ARG) – back


COURT CENTRE start 12:00 noon
[6] F Fognini (ITA) vs G Pella (ARG)

Not Before 2:30 PM
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [8] A Ramos (ESP)

Not Before 5:00 PM
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs F Volandri (ITA)

Not Before 7:00 PM
[Q] G Clezar (BRA) vs [5] T Bellucci (BRA)
R Nadal (ESP) / D Nalbandian (ARG) vs P Andujar (ESP) / G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

COURT 2 start 2:00 PM

Not Before 2:00 PM
A Kuznetsov (RUS) vs C Berlocq (ARG)
[3] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs [PR] L Arnold Ker (ARG) / J Monaco (ARG)
[PR] R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
O Marach (AUT) / H Zeballos (ARG) vs [4] L Dlouhy (CZE) / A Sa (BRA)


Notes and Quotes From Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open

Match of the day:

Tommy Haas defeated David Nalbandian 6-7(0), 7-6(4), 6-3 in 3 hours and 22 minutes.

Fun match facts:

– It is tied for the longest non-Olympic match in 2012 on the ATP World Tour with Denis Istomin’s 7-6, 6-7, 7-5 win over Juan Ignacio Chela in the Indian Wells second round.

– It is the second longest match at the Western & Southern Open since such a record keeping began in 1991. Last year Rafael Nadal defeated Fernando Verdasco in a record 3 hours and 38 minutes, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 in the Round of 16.


42 Errors “Unprofessional”

Serena Williams defeated Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 6-3, 6-4 committing 42 unforced errors. Serena called all her errors “Unprofessional.”


Toronto win Important to Djokovic

Q. How important do you think Toronto is gonna be for you for the rest of the year considering that it’s been a few months since you won a previous title?


NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s going to mean a lot to me. It means already a lot to me now because of the circumstances that I’ve had in last month and a half playing a lot matches, a lot tennis on grass courts, and then having the very emotional Olympic Games and coming in late to Toronto and trying to get used to the surface that I haven’t played on for four, five months. Then the time zone and all those things, which take time.


Obviously that’s something that I didn’t have. I had to get used to it in two days and play my first match. It turned out to be a great tournament for me, a tournament that’s going to give me a lot of confidence now.

You know, I love playing on hard courts. It’s my most preferred surface. Hopefully I can try to continue that run.


Venus Rises in 3

Venus Williams survived Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 in 2 hours and 23 minutes.

On coping with her auto-immune disorder:

I’m learning to cope better. I’m trying different things all the time. I keep working with my doctors. You know, nothing can prevent bad days, but the bad days aren’t as bad as they used to be. I am learning it deal with it.

It’s a work in progress. My main goal is to be 100%, but it’s not like it goes a way. It’s still in my body trying to fight against me, but I’m fighting it as well.

I go to practice. I still go. Every day counts. This is my life, so I have to learn to play with it. I can’t say, I’m over it today. Even if it’s a hard day, even if every day is hard, I have to.

If I want to play professional tennis, I have to learn to deal with it.


On her expectations for the US Open:

Of course I’m excited about the Open. I’m still really focused on this event.

I know I can play great tennis. I need some more matches obviously, and I need to execute out there on the court and I need to feel halfway decent.

So there are a lot of things that have to fall in place for me maybe more than other players, but I’m up for the challenge. You know, if I can get more wins, they’re a lot sweeter for me.

Q. You’re saying you’re aiming at playing Rio, which is 2016, 22 years past your first match as a pro. That’s a long time.

VENUS WILLIAMS: That’s an awesome career. I figure I’m going to spend more time retired than pro, so while I’m here I’m going to go for it. If I’m on one leg and I get to Rio, that’s great, too.

That’s my whole goal: continue to work on my health and stay healthy as much as I can. I think if that happens, I can get to Rio.


Back Spasms for Roddick

Andy Roddick developed back spasms during his match against Jeremy Chardy falling to the Frenchman in straight sets.

“I felt fine early on, and then I had one lunge forehand and … you know, we have all had it. The back kind of goes out or spasms a little bit. It got progressively worse.”

Roddick mentioned that his back had been bothering him a few days ago.


First Pitch

Three-time Western & Southern Open champions and the Olympic doubles gold Bob and Mike Bryan threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday  evening’s Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ball Park.


Out of action 

Nadia Petrova retired from her match with Ekaterina Makarova with dizziness.

Tamira Paszek retired from her match with Sofia Arvidsson with a migraine.

Christina McHale retired with a gastrointestinal illness against Chanelle Scheepers trailing 6-3, 3-6, 0-3.

Gilles Simon pulled out prior to his match against Marcos Baghdatis with a shoulder injury. He was replaced by lucky loser Alejandro Falla.


Videos courtesy of Western & Southern Open‘s YouTube page


Isner in Five, Nalbandian Angry over Controversial Call

David Nalbandian of Argentina returns the ball to Rafael Nadal of Spain, second seed, during third-round action at the U.S. Open held at the National Tennis Center on September 4, 2011 in New York. UPI/Monika Graff


MELBOURNE PARK, Australia  – American John Isner rallied form two sets to one down on Wednesday to defeat Argentina’s David Nalbandian 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 10-8 in four hours and forty-one minutes to move on to the third round of the Australian Open.


An angry Nalbandian was upset that his request for a line call was denied by umpire Kader Nouni.

“I asked for Hawk‑Eye and he make an overrule,” said Nalbandian. “Because the lineman call out.  He overrule it.  Was a lot of noises, so I asked what happened, because the lineman called out.

“He told me he overruled it.  And I say, Okay, I see the mark.  I say challenge.  Not a big deal.  He don’t want to do it.

“Too late.  How many times everybody check the mark and ask for the Hawk‑Eye?

“So somebody from the umpires or ATP, somebody can explain to me this situation.  I mean, what is this?  This is a Grand Slam.

“Yeah, it was a great match.  But I think I think I lose another one like that, as well:  semifinals US Open with Andy Roddick was another one, more important this second round today.”

“I don’t really know what was going on,”  said Isner, “but, you know, obviously the ump didn’t think he challenged in time.  But maybe because of the crowd noise the ump, you know, couldn’t hear it or whatnot.

“So I don’t know.  I mean, the only thing ‑‑ I just wanted to get to the changeovers and have a sip of water, so…

“No, that break went in my favor, for sure don’t know.  I mean, I think I played the big points better.  I think I was going for my shots more.

“I mean, for two, three hours of that match I felt like he was just so solid, and he was just too solid for me.  Only thing that was keeping me in was my serve, obviously.  He from the back of the court was, you know, just not missing much and, you know, playing aggressively and playing really well.

“I knew he was capable of that.  I mean, I was hoping he wasn’t going to pull it out today.  I felt like he played well, but I just hung in there.  I mean, I was hanging by a thread, but, you know, I kept pulling even, you know, with my serve and I was going for my shots.

“Eventually it paid off.”



Juan Ignacio Ceballos of ESPN Deportes on Approach Shots

Juan Ignacio Ceballos of ESPN Deportes at US Open

Meet Juan Ignacio Ceballos, the Coordinating Producer for all editions of SportsCenter for ESPN Deportes, ESPN Dos and ESPN Latin America North.

TPN: How did you become a producer, what was the path that led you to ESPN Deportes? Did you always want to work in sports?

JC: I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973. Lucky me: I was part of the tennis boom in Argentina in late 70s, brought to us by Guillermo Vilas. So I started to play tennis at 6, and fell in love with it since then. Actually, I was a natural born sports fan, and that led to my journalism career.

From 1992 thru 2000 I worked for newspapers Clarin and Página 12 in Argentina. I also wrote for El Gráfico, the most renowned sports magazine in Latin America. I covered Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup. And then in late 2000 I jumped to TV, when ESPN launched its first SportsCenter version in Latin America. I kept traveling to Grand Slams as a news producer.

In 2004 I moved to México City, to help launch SportsCenter for ESPN Deportes, the new Spanish speaking ESPN network for the US and never went back to my country. Now I’m Coordinating Producer of all editions of SportsCenter for three networks: ESPN Deportes (US), Latin America North (México, Central America and the Caribbean) and ESPN Dos (same territory). I oversee our daily radio show ESPN Radio Fórmula. I’m also involved in the Spanish speaking version of E:60 (which debuted on July 19th ).  I supervise content for our ESPN The Magazine Mexico monthly publication.

Tennis? I saw Franco Squillari, Mariano Zabaleta, Mariano Puerta, Guillermo Cañas, Gaston Gaudio, Juan Ignacio Chela, David Nalbandian, Guillermo Coria grow up. I wrote their stories back then, and witnessed their success.

Now I write an Insider column in The Mag México and ESPN Deportes La Revista in the US, and I have a blog on ESPNDeportes.com.

Sadly, I can’t travel that much.  But I have a blast each season when I leave my Coordinating Producer duties and become a field producer during the ATP/WTA tournament in Acapulco. Best week of the year, by far.


TPN: How different is it being a producer for tennis versus other sports?

JC: From my perspective, tennis is a very good sport to work as a journalist/producer. You can have nice access to players for one-on-one interviews or special features. Very different to, let’s say, soccer. This year in Acapulco, for example, we got the chance to shoot a piece of Milos Raonic doing jet-ski with his girlfriend. We did exclusive photo sessions with WTA players for our magazine. And so on. But the challenge is the same for any coverage in every sport: to find good content. Original, entertaining, compelling.

TPN: Does ESPN Deportes have a “philosophy” when it comes to covering tennis? Does it differ from ESPN’s philosophy?

JC: Our main focus is on Latin American players along with the stars of the game. Tennis is huge in South America, especially in Argentina. ESPN Latam telecasts down there rate better than all other sports except soccer. We have on-site coverage in all four Grand Slams and some other tournaments during the year. But in United States tennis is not that popular into the US Hispanic population. It is behind soccer, boxing, baseball, football, basketball. So we focus our content on the best ones: (Roger) Federer, (Rafael) Nadal, (Novak) Djokovic, Williams sisters. And we look for good stories to tell.

TPN: You are on Twitter. How important do you think Twitter is to Spanish speaking tennis fans and to tennis fans in general?

JC: Twitter exploded a bit later in Latin America than in the US. But now it is huge. For tennis fans, it is a new way to be in touch with the game: latest scores, news, and lot of opinion and analysis. I think it’s the same for Spanish speaking fans as for the rest of the world. Twitter also allows you the get access to the players. Read what they say. Watch what they do. It is fun. It is great. Let’s see: (Juan Martin) Del Potro has 343 thousand followers. More than (Novak) Djokovic. (David) Nalbandian and (Juan) Monaco are near two hundred thousand each. More than Caro(line) Wozniacki. And Delpo (Juan Martin Del Potro), Nalbi (Nalbandian) and Pico (Juan Monaco) tweet in Spanish! That is big. Who follows them? Spanish speaking tennis fans, for sure. So Twitter is especially engaging for our stars and our fans. It also shows you how massive this sport is in our region.

TPN: What do you see for the future in terms of tennis coverage?

JC: New technologies brought the concept of new media in journalism. Instant access to news and information. Easier ways to shoot and deliver. New platforms other than TV and newspapers. Our readers/viewers/users are hungrier than ever to get more and more, as fast as you can. Even the athlete now delivers without any filter. It’s great for tennis: you can choose online which court do you want to watch in Grand Slams; you can have journos, players, coaches analyzing matches on Twitter; you can know what players are thinking or doing, if they decide to share. But the foundation remains the same: only if you put a great performance, people will watch. And if you tell it like it is, write it like it is… if you explain, report, analyze, in an entertaining and engaging way, your work will be valuable. But now you have more than a mic or a piece of paper to express yourself. Tennis fans know it, and demand you to be good not only in front of a camera or typing with your keyboard, but also telling them what’s going on in 140 characters.

Read Ceballos’ columns on ESPN Deportes: http://espndeportes.espn.go.com/blogs/index?name=juan_ignacio_ceballos&cc=3888 and follow him on twitter at @juaniceballos http://twitter.com/juaniceballos