By Mike McIntyre
What a week it has been in the world of professional tennis, both on and off the court. There is normally a lull in the middle of July after Wimbledon concludes but for some reason this year there have been plenty of headlines worth noting. While champions have been crowned in Atlanta, Gstaad and Umag, it is news eminating from outside of the lines on the court that have to be addressed first and foremost.
From a tennis writers perspective, the shocking admission of plagiarism from one of the sports most recognized writers has lit up social media. Neil Harman, the lead tennis correspondent for the Times of London admitted this week that he has been passing off the work of his peers for several years in the official Wimbledon yearbook which takes a look back on the results at the All England Club each year. While some on Twitter are admonishing writer Ben Rothenburg for revealing the story and (as some claim) taking pleasure in Harman's fall from grace, I feel strongly that whatever repercussions come Harman's way are completely deserved. Being a professional in any line of work means adhering to the code of conduct of that establishment. Passing off the work of others as your own is simply inexcusable. Harman didn't just rip off any old tennis writer either - he stole from esteemed colleagues and some of the sport's most well known authors such as L. Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated. Harman tweeted an apology to those he hurt on Twitter on Wednesday but has since deleted his Twitter account and is currently suspended from his job with the Times.
Elsewhere and on the WTA Tour, Sloane Stephens has parted ways with respected tennis coach Paul Annacone. The split was amicable by all accounts and the two were singing each other's praises on Twitter this past week. Stephens has already turned to Thomas Hogstedt for help starting at the Citi Open in Washington D.C. this coming week. Hogstedt has coached the likes of Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki and Tommy Haas in the past. The Stephens news that really caught my eye however was the following article in Elle magazine. The American who is currently ranked 22nd in the world made several statements that portray her as a total space cadet. Among the most jaw-dropping include:
- “I saw my gyno today, and she’s like, ‘I can’t wait for Indian Wells,’...I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! She’s looking in my vajay!’ ”
- “I got the college experience without going to college. I don’t miss it. When my friends are like, ‘I’m going to class,’ I’m like, ‘I’m going to take a nap.’ ”
Perhaps Stephens did not realize that all of her statements made to author Lizzy Goodman were on the record and I'm being to harsh in my critique. You read the article in its entirety and feel free to make your own opinion.
Now let's look at what transpired on the tennis court this week and who has earned some well earned recognition for their accomplishments.
BB&T Atlanta Open
It should come as no surprise that number one seed John Isner capture his second consecutive title in Atlanta. The big man always plays a hectic summer schedule and warming up against a weaker field like the one in Atlanta worked wonders last year by helping him reach the finals of the Masters event in Cincinnati. Isner took out surprise finalist Dudi Sela in the championship match and got revenge against Jack Sock (who defeated him at Newport) in the semis. Credit to Benjamin Becker who also made the semis thanks to three straight0et wins in a row.
Canadian Vasek Pospisil failed to live up to his fourth seeded billing in singles (loss to Sela in QF) but did manage to win another doubles title with Sock. The duo are now undefeated as partners and seem to be having a lot of fun with each other on and off the court. Pospisil is going to be feeling the heat pretty soon playing in Toronto where he has semi-final points to defend from a year ago at the Rogers Cup.
Crédit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad
Pablos Andujar emerged victorious in Gstaad with a straight sets victory over Juan Monaco. It is the third title of Adjujar's career (2011 and 2012 in Casablanca) and should give him a nice ranking boost before the clay court season all but disappears.
This tournament was a solid step for Juan Monaco to correct an otherwise disappointing season. Currently ranked 105th in the world, Monaco had failed to win more than two matches in a row all year long. Monaco was in the top twenty just about a year ago but with only one more clay court tourney on the ATP schedule this year I'd say his chances of moving upwards are slim.
Gstaad also marked the return of Serbia's Viktor Troicki to the ATP World Tour after a year long ban for avoiding a blood test. Troicki won his first two matches before falling to Fernando Verdasco in three sets. I wonder how many more tournaments will be willing to offer Troicki a wildcard as he received this past week? It is likely that he will have to grind it out on the challenger tour for a while in order to re-establish his ranking.
Vegeta Croatia Open Umag
Pablo Cuevas hoisted the trophy in Umag over veteran (and defending champ) Tommy Robredo in two sets. Cuevas has now won back-to-back tournaments as he won a week ago in Bastad. The Argentinian has now won an impressive 31 matches on clay this year (including challengers) and the only non-clay event he has played was Wimbledon (1st round loss). He started the year ranked 224th in the world, was 111th prior to Bastad and went into Umag ranked 60th. That will be pushed forward even more so when the new rankings come out on Monday, but the question is - will Cuevas play any hardcourt events now?
Another player to watch was seventeen year old Alexander Zverev who could not continue his hot streak from a week earlier in Hamburg and fell in the opening round to Albert Montanes. This is still a kid to keep a close eye on in the months and years to come.
The ATP World Tour now switches to Kitzbuhel on clay and Washington D.C. on hard courts. Keep checking back for updates and be sure to follow us on Twitter as well.