Kourtin’ Karen’s Tennis Week in Review

(January 2, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – After a hiatus longer than Rafael Nadal’s current one from the tour, Kourtin’ Karen is back with her weekly scoreboards. A brief review of the previous week in the world of tennis news, on and off-court.




Rafael Nadal withdraws from Australian Open

Eleven- time major champion and current world No. 4 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a continuing stomach virus.

The ailment caused Nadal to withdraw from this week’s World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

Rafael Nadal has been off the tour with a knee injury since his second round loss at Wimbledon in June.

Andrea Perkovic  may join Nadal  on the Australian Open sidelines as the German suffered a meniscus tear of her right knee during her Hopman Cup match.


Maria Sharapova pulled out of Brisbane with a right collarbone injury.


Murray at Olympics


“Sir” Murray

Andy Murray has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Murray said in a statement on his website:

“It is with incredible pride that I have been named in the New Year’s Honours List to receive an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to sport.

‘This has been an amazing year for British sport and I am proud to have been able to play my part.

“I reached my first Wimbledon final, competed and won gold at the London 2012 Olympics with Team GB at Wimbledon, and then won my first grand slam title at the US Open.

“Being recognised in such a way at the end of such a great season is the finishing touch on 2012. Thank you all for your support, I hope everyone has a very happy New Year…..and here’s to 2013!”




In Brisbane Caroline Wozniacki was spotted with a large ring on her on her left ring finger.  Her boyfriend, golfer Rory McIlroy had to deny there was an engagement and his management company issued the following statement:

“On behalf of Rory McIlroy, I would like to confirm that he has NOT become engaged to Caroline Wozniacki as was originally reported in Australian press. Rory is in Australia to support Caroline before he heads in January to Abu Dhabi.”

The ring which was a Christmas gift was…just a gift.

”It’s not an engagement ring,” Wozniacki said.  ”Those rumors once again I’ll have to shut down and say we’re not engaged … not yet anyway.”




Love is in the air

Washington Capitals hockey player, two-time NHL MVP and boyfriend of Maria Kirilenko, Alex Ovechkin announced the couple’s engagement via his twitter account.

Hew tweeted ”We are engaged !!!!!!! )))))))))”



Beware the barricades



Novak Djokovic has a scare at Hopman Cup on Monday. A crowd barrier collapsed while he was signing autographs for fans following his singles win over Andreas Seppi.  The barrier hit the Serb’s legs but he said he was fine.



Hello, Goodbye IMG

Novak Djokovic signed with IMG while Rafael Nadal is leaving IMG to begin his own management company.

Also on the business front:

ATP Unveils New Global Promotional Campaign As 2013 ATP World Tour Gets Underway

USA TODAY’s Jon Swartz reports Nadal has a new iPhone app called Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy . Look for it one iTunes.

Emirates Named Official Airline of the ATP World Tour and Rankings Sponsor


Ad – Out of Davis Cup

Juan Martin Del Potro is skipping Davis cup at least in February for Argentina

Spain’s David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro told Sport360 that they may not play the February tie against Canada.



No donkey cheese

Novak Djokovic has not cornered the market on donkey cheese as had been reported by British newspapers.

“I did not expect this story was going to get so much attention, and everywhere in the world, too. It is not completely true that we have bought the whole supply of donkey cheese, even though it was the first time in my life I heard that donkey cheese existed.”



Working in a coal mine

Retired Pros Marcelo Rios and Guillermo Coria will play an exhibition match inside El Teniente, the world’s largest copper mine.


Speaking of exhibitions, Djokovic captured the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this past weekend.


Game, Set, Match – Welcome to the 2013 tennis year!

Tournaments and events this week in Auckland, Brisbane, Chennai, Doha, Perth and Shenzhen.

(Karen Pestaina is the woman behind Tennis Panorama News. She freelances for various media outlets in and out of tennis and has worked for many a broadcast news entity. She witnessed her first live tennis match as a young child at Forest Hills when Guillermo Vilas upset Jimmy Connors to win the 1977 US Open. This branded her as a Vilas fan for life. Follow her on twitter @TennisNewsTPN )


Djokovic Retains Abu Dhabi Crown

Djokovic in press 10072012

By Abigail Hinto

(December 29, 2012) ABU DHABI – In the end, after the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal and the early loss of Andy Murray, Nicolas Almagro proved himself a worthy replacement player to Nadal as he, along with Novak Djokovic treated the fans in Abu Dhabi to the best match of the tournament.

It was an exciting and tight final that both players played with an even mix of light bantering and competitive seriousness.

Djokovic defends his Mubadala World Tennis Championship title 7-6 (4) 6-3 6-4. He now heads to Perth for the Hopman Cup in his continuing preparation for the Australian Open very satisfied with his game and with confidence, surprised after his semifinal match that he’s already at the level he feels he needs to be.

“Nico played an amazing game, ” Djokovic said. “He was hitting strong from the baseline and he wasn’t giving me much time. We had a lot of fun on court but we both wanted to win. Maybe if I had made a break in the first set it may have been different and we may have not played for so. He is always a dangerous player to have on court and he is a complete player. It was a close win match and I am very satisfied with how I played.”

“This is a top level event and we all want to see where we are in readiness for the season. This isn’t your standard tournament. We are all in playing to win and prepare for the season ahead but we can still have fun and smiles. I love Abu Dhabi and the fans. Hopefully I’ll be back to defend my title.”

For Almagro, the replacement player, he heads back to Spain to continue his interrupted vacation before finally starting his new season. But despite the interruption, he was very happy and satisfied to have come to Abu Dhabi, happy with the matches he’s played. His main goal now for next year is to qualify for ATP World Tour Finals after just barely missing out this year.

“I played a really good match so I am very happy but at the end of the day he is the winner, he is number one,” noted Almagro. “I try to improve every time I go on court, today was a great test. If I play the same as today throughout the season, I can start thinking big but I will take it step by step. I’m working on my serve. If you serve well you have a good chance and today my serve was better than I expected.”

“I feel so happy I got invited and hopefully the organizers are pleased also. I think it was a great final and a great tournament. Hopefully I’ll have a longer stay in Abu Dhabi if I’m invited back again. But I’m happy and really enjoyed the match with Novak.”



Janko Tipsarevic said after his win over Andy Murray on Thursday at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships that the future of men’s tennis is about being able to transition from defense to offense. According to him, now, even tall players like Berdych, Tsonga and del Potro are very good at defense, where before, big guys were mostly purely offensive players.


On Saturday, Tipsarevic wasn’t playing a tall player, in fact one of the shorter players on tour, but definitely someone who has mastered the art of transitioning from defense to offense. One of the best defenders in the men’s game today, David Ferrer, in his rise to the top and in his consistency to stay there for over five years now, has also been able to add considerable weapons to his game. He can defend, and dictate the rallies with his forehand.


In the third place match, Tipsarevic, for the entire first set was going toe to toe with Ferrer in punishing baseline rallies mixing offense with defense. It was a very tight first set which ended in a tiebreak which Ferrer won 7-4.


The third game in the second set showed what Tipsarevic was talking about regarding transition. Ferrer, scrambling hard, as he usually does, managed to turn a point around to set himself up to put away a winning volley to earn a breakpoint on Tipsarevic’s serve. He eventually converts it for a 2-1 lead when a finally frustrated Tipsarevic went for a backhand down the line winner that landed wide. It was then one-way traffic for Ferrer who seals his semifinal win over Tipsarevic 7-6 (4), 6-2.

Ferrer now heads to Doha for his first official match of the new season very happy with the game he’s played here in Abu Dhabi.

“It was a very close match and I am playing a great player,” Ferrer said. “When I play with Janko it’s always a close battle. It know it’s only early season but for me I try to focus as if it’s a major championship and I’m happy with my performance this weekend.”

Abigail Hinto was covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News.


Djokovic Dismisses Ferrer To Gain Abu Dhabi Final


By Abigail Hinto

(December 28, 2012) ABU DHABI – David Ferrer could do no wrong on Thursday in his straightforward win against Tomas Berdych in his first match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships. Today, he’s feeling what Berdych must have felt in yesterday’s first set as he was on the receiving end of an onslaught of Novak Djokovic‘s groundstrokes to lose the first set 0-6 in their semifinal match. While Ferrer was dictating rallies yesterday, he now found himself scrambling behind his baseline as Djokovic kept hitting his returns, forehands and backhands deep. There was no place Ferrer could go, that even an attempt to get to the net sees himself lobbed with a winner. What could have been an easy hold for a more respectable 5-1 score saw Ferrer let a 40-0 lead slip away to get broken and eventually lose the first set 6-0 in 28 minutes.


Was Djokovic just fooling with us when he told us in his pre-tournament news conference that he wasn’t at his top level yet? Except for one service game he lost where he broke himself more than the other way around, there didn’t look to be any signs of rust from Djokovic from the off-season break. He gets the lead in the second set with a break in the 6th game to eventually win the match 6-0, 6-3 in 1 hour and 10 minutes.


As if Djokovic needed any more confidence boost, this was the perfect start he was hoping for the new season. As he said in his post-match interview, it was a great performance and a great confidence-boost for him, where confidence is easier to lose than to gain.


It was a flawless start to the new season for Djokovic. With the lessons he’s learned from last year trying to defend all those points from 2011, no doubt he’ll be in a much better place mentally now as he begins his campaign to collect more grand slams, his main goal for 2013.

“This is a great surface when preparing for Australia,”Djokovic said of the exhibition tournament. “We love it here. We come days before to practice and to enjoy the beautiful weather. ”

“Novak is playing very consistent, he is in a very good moment now, very confident,” Ferrer said.

Djokovic will face Nico Almagro in Saturday’s final. The Spaniard rallied to defeat Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.


Tennis Clinics

What’s unique about the Mubadala Tennis Championships is that all the tennis players get to participate in tennis clinics held throughout the three-day event. Not just the kids, but even adults get to participate in a coaching clinic as well.

It’s a welcome sight to see these top players do what they do best but in a much more relaxed atmosphere. You get to see Andy Murray smile with the kids, Novak Djokovic in his element hamming it up, David Ferrer, still giving his best to make sure the kids get the most out of their participation in the event. No doubt not every aspiring young tennis player could get a chance to hit with the best of the best, and the opportunity the Mubadala Tennis Championships give these participants is very much welcomed by the local tennis community.

Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.



Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Australian Open


( December 28, 2012) Eleven- time major champion and current world No. 4 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a continuing stomach virus.

The ailment caused Nadal to withdraw from this week’s World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi.

In a statement Nadal said:

“I am sorry and very sad to announce that I will not play in the Australian Open. My knee is coming along okay, but a stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the rigours of a Grand Slam.

“Because of the virus, I have been unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared. You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open.

“It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event. I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It brings out the best in me. It hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. In the meantime, the focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the tour.”

“It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said. “But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready.

“We just hope he gets better quickly and we see him back on the tour as soon as possible. Tennis fans across the world have been missing him. Our Australian Open staff will very much miss him and his team as he is not only a great player, but also a great guy with good people around him.”

“We wish Rafa all the best. I am confident we will see him back on the tour soon and back in Australia for 2014, no doubt as one of the contenders for the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.”

“It is true we have been quite unlucky with this but there is nothing we can do,” said Nadal’s uncle and coach Toni Nadal.

The Spaniard has been off the tour  with a knee injury since losing in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol in June.

Nadal is scheduled to compete in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel tournament in Acapulco which begins on February 25, 2013.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis for Tennis Panorama News.


Tipsarevic Tops Murray, Ferrer Over Berdych in Abu Dhabi

 Janko Tipsarevic

(December 27, 2012) ABU DHABI – No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic and No. 5 David Ferrer began the Mubadala World Tennis Championship on Thursday  with straight set victories on opening night at Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

In the first match of the three-day tournament, Tipsarevic, making his debut at the exhibition event, stopped the reigning US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-4.

Tipsarevic secured a break in the fourth game of the opening set clinging to the baseline with long rallies.

Tipsarevic kept the momentum going in the second set taking a 3-1 lead and never looking back

“It’s not every day that you get to play a grand slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist, “the Serbian said. “ I know it’s an early season tournament but I can tell you that the six of us take this very seriously. I knew I could beat Andy as I have beaten him before. He’s a totally different animal now as he won a grand slam and Olympic gold so beating him here has given me confidence. Both of us have very similar games so it’s great to come out on top and I’m looking forward to playing Nicolas tomorrow. We’ve only played once so it should be interesting.”

The second match of the evening saw a rematch of the 4th rubber of the Davis Cup Final with the same result – No. 5 David Ferrer of Spain topped No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4.

Ferrer zoomed to a 5-0 opening set lead and never looked back.

“I played well today and I was surprised as it has been a long time without playing a competition,“ said Ferrer. “It’s a fast court and this was the first time I played at night but I played a good game. I will enjoy a victory for now but tomorrow I will have to play my best against Novak (Djokovic).”

Friday’s play will feature two semi-finals both featuring a Serbian versus Spaniard match-up – No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro will take on Tipsarevic.

“I managed to have the best year of my career in 2011 and I knew that it was going to be difficult in 2012 to maintain No. 1 of the world and play consistently, “ Djokovic said to media. “ I did and so this year was an even more successful year from a psychological aspect. Right now I can approach the new season with a lot of confidence because I won the last big tournament of the year in London and I hope that I can continue playing well. Ambitions are always high and I want to win every Grand Slam and major tournament I play and this year is no different.”

All photos by Abigail Hinto.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News


No. 1 Djokovic is Looking Back, Looking Forward To 2013

Novak Djokovic Abu Dhabi

By Abigail Hinto

(December 27, 2012) ABU DHABI – Coming off one of the most successful seasons a player has ever had on tour in 2011, the question for Novak Djokovic for 2012 was how much would a letdown 2012 be? It’s hard to expect a player to repeat the kind of peak performance Djokovic achieved in 2011, but suffice to say, 2012 was not a disappointing year for him. He defended his Australian Open title, won the ATP World Tour Finals,  three Masters 1000 events and ended the year as world No. 1 again.

In a way, it was impressive the way he was able to maintain his consistency, hold off plenty of challengers, and defend as many points as he did to reclaim the No. 1 position he lost in the middle of the year. Despite the bumps and losses along the way, Djokovic’s mentality through 2012 was most impressive. In fact, in the pre-tournament interview he gave today at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, he regards his 2012 year as the more successful year psychologically. “I had to face many circumstances on and off court that were not easy. I overcomed [sic] it and right now, I feel relieved in a way because I got another good year,” assessed Djokovic. And ending the year strongly, winning the World Tour Finals, cementing his world No. 1 status, brings an ever-confident Djokovic to the new year.

Djokovic has been working hard in his pre-season training the past three weeks already, where he started with fitness training before gradually increasing the hours spent on the tennis court. Though he feels he’s still not at a 100% the way he was at the end of the season, he knows he’s slowly getting there. Choosing to play two exhibition tournaments, here in Abu Dhabi and later the Hopman Cup is also all part of the plan to get to the Australian Open in peak form. Explaining his decision not to enter any ATP tournaments at the start of the year, Djokovic said he didn’t want to face right away the stress of winning every single match he plays. He wants to take his time working on his game, a luxury they don’t get during the rest of the year. “I feel very fit right now,” adds Djokovic, and just a couple more weeks and he feels he’ll reach his top fitness level and tennis game again. Just in time for his Australian Open title defense.
Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.
All photos by Abigail Hinto for Tennis Panorama

Berdych Helps to Launch Mubadala Tennis Initiatives

(October, 15, 20012) Czech Tomas Berdych has officially launched this year’s Mubadala Tennis in Schools and Mubadala Community Cup initiatives at the Zayed Sports City, as excitement builds up across the UAE for the fifth Mubadala World Tennis Championship this New Year.

Having been announced to play in this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship alongside Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, and Janko Tipsarevic, Tomas Berdych, the current world No. 6, hosted a series of interactive clinics to share his skills, experience and passion directly with children and PE teachers from schools across the country.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi at the launch of the Mubadala Community initiatives Tomas Berdych said:

“I’m really excited to be back in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to the Mubadala World Tennis Championship the sport is growing so quickly and it’s great to be a small part of that. I love to see young players inspired to pick up a racket for the first time and the younger they are introduced to the game, the better. Through the tournament and Mubadala’s ongoing commitment to developing tennis in the UAE every ingredient is in place to foster local talent as well as promote an active lifestyle to future generations. Sport is all about having fun and staying healthy and that is exactly what these youngsters have been doing today.”

“I can’t wait to get back on court in Abu Dhabi for the tournament from the 27th December and to also see how these kids have progressed. The atmosphere, weather and player line-up are all world-class so I’m sure it will be great for the players and the fans.”

Berdych’s special appearance in Abu Dhabi kick-started the expanded Mubadala Tennis in Schools program, a unique community initiative developed by the tournament organizers and supported by Mubadala to introduce tennis to children of all ages. The program provides expert coaching and free Wilson mini-tennis equipment while promoting the importance of regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Amina Taher, Head of Community Engagement at Mubadala explained:

“These community initiatives are at the very heart of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship and having a player of Tomas’s caliber with us today demonstrates our ongoing commitment to grow tennis. Last year 14,000 children were introduced to tennis for the very first time. This year we plan to expand on this, not only in terms of more opportunities for children to play through the introduction of new after schools sessions but also through the use of inspirational figures such as Tomas.”

“Regardless of skill, age or ambition Mubadala wants to help all children make the most of their talents and make sport an enjoyable part of their daily life. We believe that by sharing time with someone like Tomas today the experience will go far beyond expert tennis tuition and inspire Abu Dhabi’s children to live healthy and active lives.”

This year’s launch saw Berdych also conduct an interactive coaching clinic for PE teachers from schools across the country, designed to help younger children grasp the basic techniques from the very start. A further new addition this year is the introduction of six consecutive ‘After School Sessions’ for all children participating in the program. The free sessions at Zayed Sports City aim to give children a chance to build on their tennis skills outside of school.

Speaking at the launch, John Lickrish, FLASH Entertainment said:

“Today a new generation of tennis players in Abu Dhabi took their first steps in the game alongside an ideal role model, Tomas Berdych. There is no other tournament in the world that gives youngsters the opportunity to learn, play and enjoy tennis with their heroes. Everyone has enjoyed spending time with Tomas I’ve no doubt when he returns to Centre Court for our tournament he’ll have a few more young fans supporting him.”

Having coached kids and teachers from the Mubadala Tennis in Schools Program, Berdych completed an action packed day in Abu Dhabi on court with eight lucky winners of an early ticket competition, further proving the unrivalled access some fans and young players can experience at the tournament.

The visit of Berdych also kick started the Mubadala Community Cup, a series of local tournaments that gives local tennis fanatics the chance to experience the thrill of a competitive tournament with an exclusive spot in a tennis clinic up for grabs. Registration for this year’s Mubadala Community Cup is now open, so all tennis fans eight years and over are encouraged to sign up now at www.mubadalawtc.com to avoid disappointment. Entry is free and the champions of each age group will win a once in a lifetime opportunity to join an exclusive tennis clinic hosted by a tennis superstar at this year’s tournament.

Six of the world’s top ten players will compete for the title in Abu Dhabi with latest Grand Slam winner and No.  3 Andy Murray joined by Mubadala World Tennis Championship defending champion and world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Rafael Nadal, No. 5 David Ferrer and No. 6 Tomas Berdych alongside a debut appearance from No.  9 Janko Tipsarevic.

The Mubadala World Tennis Championship runs from 27th December to 29st December 2012 and tickets are available at www.thinkflash.ae .


Nadal Scheduled to Play Abu Dhabi, Sets Sights on Playing Australian Open

Rafael Nadal will be making his return to tennis in late December. Nadal is scheduled to participate in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, the organizers announced on Tuesday. Also participating in the exhibition tournament which runs from December 27-29 will be US Open and Olympic champion Andy Murray and five-time major winner Novak Djokovic.

Australian Open Tournament director Craig Tiley announced on Tuesday that Rafael Nadal is targeting the 2013 Australian Open for his return from a knee injury. Nadla has been out of action since losing in the first round of the Wimbledon recovering from a tear in his patella tendon.