Open just the tip of the year-long tennis iceberg
By Richard Hinds
January 25 2003
Sydney Morning Herald
Every year the Australian Open ends and ... what? Pre-season football begins, a major event such as the cricket World Cup grabs headlines and people start to say "Serena who?" But, difficult as it is to believe, the stars of the open trade forehands at other times of the year. Stay tuned for this.
February: Despite the absence of injured pair Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski for the first-round tie in Sydney, British Davis Cup captain Roger Taylor is encouraged by the practice form of stand-in singles players John Major and Prince Edward. New doubles combination Cliff Richard and Liam Gallagher are taking slightly longer to click.
March: Scandal on the US hardcourt circuit when coach Peter McNamara admits he has been operating Mark Philippoussis by remote control. The scam is revealed when the remote misfires, leaving Scud stranded on the baseline scratching his head as the televisions in the media centre are tuned to Jerry Springer several hours earlier than usual.
April: Flushed with success after her successful picketing of "men-only" Augusta National, American women's advocate Martha Burke turns her attention to the tennis tour demanding the ATP immediately admit women members. At a meeting with ATP officials Burke is shown film of the grand slam performances of several players in the current top 10. She withdraws her complaint.
May: Rejuvenated by his US Open win, Pete Sampras renews his quest for the French Open. After an encouraging build-up at the Italian Open where he takes several points from Jarkko Nieminen, things go awry for Sampras when he is drawn to play Agassi in the first round of the French. Jaden Gil Agassi wins 6-4, 6-2.
June: After three unsuccessful appearances in the semi-finals, Henman fulfils his destiny at the All England Club by losing the final. Henman denies the weight of public expectation was a factor. "No, no, no, I've never felt pressure here," he says. "I would like to thank the thousands of fans who phoned at 3am asking for tickets or who camped on my front lawn. But, at the end of the day, Gustavo Kuerten was always going to be tough to beat on grass."
July: At a tournament in San Diego, Richard Williams declares daughter Serena will win 45 more grand slam tournaments, Venus will win six Oscars, a Norwegian expeditionary force will invade Fiji, the Irish pound is in for a rough ride on currency markets and the large Coke will soon come in a 2.5-litre bottle. He is mercilessly mocked by reporters.
August: In an attempt to match the star power of the women's tour, the ATP provides a series of photo opportunities. The world's press gathers to see Juan Carlos Ferrero fight a bull (Ferrero beats a "tactical retreat" in the third set), James Blake read a book and young Frenchman Richard Gasquet have his first shave. In other news, the Irish pound dips.
September: Due to the demands of the broadcasters, and the limited attention span of the crowd, the US Open final is completed in a shortened format. Serena Williams defeats recent Golden Globe nominee Venus 4-1, 4-2 between a repeat of ER and an NFL pre-season match. Marat Safin beats Agassi on a flip of the coin after their match is locked 2-4, 4-2 when the broadcasters must return to scheduled programming. Meanwhile, the Fijian army goes on full alert.
October: After her victory in the Moorilla International in Hobart, rising Australian star Alicia Molik completes the other three legs of her personal "Alicia Slam" with victories at the "tier five" Budapest Grand Prix, the Internazionali Femminili di Parlermo and the VUP Open in Bratislava. She celebrates with a bottle of the new 2.5 litre Coke.
November: Lleyton Hewitt loses his No.1 crown to Agassi, leading some to believe the reformed Hewitt no longer has the fire in his belly. After carrying his opponent's racquets on to the court, fetching a cushion for the central umpire and insisting several close calls be awarded to Agassi, Hewitt denies he has mellowed during several day-long interviews.
December: Pat Rafter Calls It A Day. The Australian hero releases a statement: "After long consideration, I have decided I will retire. I would like to thank everyone in the world, especially Rochey." When Rafter is reminded he has already retired twice, he pulls a written statement from his pocket and says: "After long consideration, I have decided to retire. I would like to thank everyone in the world, especially Rochey."
thanx to Cilla for posting this on ATP World
just share it with some others