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Each year David Ferrer comes to the
Heineken Open and each year he tends
to win it.
It is what he has done the last three
years --- he has won four times overall
in nine visits --- and highlights his
consistency on the men s tour.
He has spent nine years in the world s
top 20 and more than three of those in
the top 10.
Last year he won only two titles
(Auckland and Buenos Aires) but played
in seven other deciders including the
French Open final which he lost to
world No 1 Rafael Nadal.
In 2012 he won an impressive seven
titles (the best on tour) and played the
most singles matches of anyone (91) and
he has made the last eight in the last nine
grand slam tournaments.
It is a phenomenal record and victory at
the Heineken Open this year would see
him eclipse the great Roy Emerson and
hold the record for the most wins at the
Emerson, the former world No 1
amateur and holder of 12 grand slam
singles and 16 grand slam doubles titles,
won it four times in the 1960s.
Ferrer is currently world No 3 and does
not command the same sort of reverence
as the Big Four (Nadal, Djokovic,
Murray and Federer) and he probably
needs to win a first grand slam title to
occupy a spot at the top table of men s
But the 31-year-old finally admits he
deser ves to be world No 3.
Even 12 months ago, he struggled to
see how he could muscle his way in and
break up the Big Four.
"Tennis is justice," he said.
"I know it s difficult to be top 10 or to
be No 3 in the world. I am lucky because
Andy Murray was injured for three or
four months, but I had a very good year
"I finished the year No 3 because I
deserved it, I think I deserve to be No 3
in the world."
He has made a few changes this year.
He recently changed his coach after
15 years with Javier Piles and it was a
sometimes fractious relationship ---
Piles reportedly once locked Ferrer in
a cupboard as punishment for a poor
performance on the practice courts.
Few could really, however, question
Ferrer s work ethic.
He is incredibly fit, and his speed
around the court is one of his greatest
assets, and also highly motivated.
"It s an ATP tournament," he said.
" ey are all important and Auckland
is very important for me because I
have come a lot of times and I know a lot
of people. I am 31 now and I have seen
a lot of tennis tournaments and played a
lot of matches but it s the same for me.
I have the same passion to fight every
e Spaniard will once again be
favourite to take out this year s Heineken
e field is still a strong one, despite
the withdrawals of both Gael Monfils
(fatigue) and world No 18 Tommy
Robredo (wrist), with Tommy Haas,
John Isner, Kevin Anderson and
Philipp Kohlschreiber the biggest
New Zealand No 1 Rubin Statham
was handed a wildcard and will play a
qualifier in the first round.
ree other New Zealanders ---
Artem Sitak, Michael Venus and
Sebatian Lavie --- will play the final
round of qualifying today but none are
expected to progress given they are up
against players ranked significantly
higher. e top four seeds receive a
first-round bye and will play their first
matches on Wednesday. --- APNZ
Monday, January 6, 2014
ASB CLASSIC TENNIS
It is seemingly the tournament three
of the biggest names in women s tennis
want to play at but it is unrealistic to
expect the trio to feature in next year s
New champion Ana Ivanovic said
courtside she will "definitely" be
back and that it was "already in the
calendar". Venus Williams said she
would "love" to return. Venus said
Serena, her sister and world No 1,
already wants to come in 2015 because
she had such a great experience.
In reality, it will not happen.
In the scheme of things, the ASB
Classic is small-fry on the women s
tour. Its greatest asset is its proximity
in terms of both geography and timing
to the Australian Open because
players want match practice heading
into the first grand slam tournament
of the year.
But with a purse of only $US250,000
($NZ302,279) and equally small
budget to entice players with
appearance fees, it can sometimes
be a hard sell. It is believed Venus
cost in the vicinity of $US50,000
($NZ60,457) to play in Auckland,
with her fee increasing the deeper she
went into the tournament, and that
Ivanovic was more expensive.
Tournament director Karl Budge
said on Friday his goal was to secure
Serena and Venus for next year s event
and that Serena had contemplated
playing in Auckland this year before
settling on Brisbane.
Ivanovic s win, however, complicates
the picture because ordinarily he would
not be able to afford the appearance
fees for both Serena and Ivanovic to
play at the same tournament.
"I might need to talk to the
Government to give me some money,"
he said, only half jokingly. "It would be
a dream scenario to get to that position
(where all three want to come). I think
any tournament director would love to
have one of them let alone the remote
possibility of two or even more.
"I am a big believer in that you have
to get your defending champion back.
Ana has been brilliant for us all week
and it would be remiss of me not to go
after her again next year. I would do it
today if I possibly could."
Defending champions do not always
return and Agnieszka Radwanska was
a notable absentee from this year s
event. She was offered more money to
play elsewhere and the ASB Classic
could not match that figure.
Ivanovic was more circumspect
when questioned by media about her
intentions than she had been straight
after the match.
"Ask Karl," she said when questioned
on whether she will return. "He s in
charge. I really felt very comfortable
here. I love this place. I really, really
want to come.
"Novak (Djokovic) always wants me
to play (Hopman Cup) in Perth with
him and that s always a very special
week. I love it here and to be able to
come back and defend the title and to
actually come back earlier and enjoy
the beach would be amazing."
e fortunes of the top players in
women s tennis might also change
considerably over the next 12 months.
WTA rules mean the ASB Classic
is restricted to just one top-10
player each year, which seems overly
constricting, and Ivanovic might find
herself in the top 10 again by the end
of 2014 along with Serena. She is
presently ranked 16.
If Venus Williams can stay fit and
healthy for the rest of the year, she too
has the potential to jump considerably
from her present ranking of 47.
"She was excited and said, I wish
I was there ," Venus said of her
conversations with Serena about the
ASB Classic. "She wants to come at
this point because I have had such a
great experience. I hope that becomes
Many more people hope that
happens, too. --- APNZ
It might be just the first tournament of
the year, when players are a little rusty after
the off-season, but there are positive signs
that both Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams
might be getting closer to regaining a spot in
the upper echelons of women s tennis.
On Saturday, Ivanovic won her first
tournament since 2011, when she beat
Williams 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in two hours 19
minutes at Stanley Street.
She played some impressive tennis
throughout the week and deser ved the title.
At times she was ruthless, and was largely
untested on her way to the final, and put
considerable pressure on Williams in what
turned out to be one of the best finals in the
tournament s history.
She is likely to move up from her current
ranking of 16 and is not that far behind
Caroline Wozniacki in 10th. Williams is
much better than her present ranking of
47 but it is a symptom of her inactivity and
injury worries over recent times.
Both players have already taken a different
approach this year to the past and it could
Williams appearance in Auckland was the
first time she had played a tournament in
the lead-up to the Australian Open since
2002 and she acknowledges she needs to play
matches after a badly disrupted season last
"I haven t played as much as everyone
else," she said. "I just pray I will be healthy
throughout the year. I think I will be able
to covert more points. I am controlling a lot
of points and then I don t make the shot. I
think that comes down to match play and
experience. I would have loved to have got
the win but I couldn t have lost to a better
player this week."
Ivanovic has tended to play at the Hopman
Cup in recent years, which is little more than
exhibition tournament, and said prior to the
ASB Classic she wanted serious match play
this time around.
Something had to change. Since winning
the 2008 French Open title, Ivanovic
has made the last eight of a grand slam
tournament only once (2012 US Open).
At the Australian Open, where she was
beaten finalist in 2008, she has failed to go
deeper than the fourth round.
"Every victory is special but this one even
more so because it s been a while since I won
a tournament," she said.
"I felt like I deserved it but to actually
make it happen, and especially in a final
like this against such a good player, it s very
" is is the best preparation I could have
asked for (heading into the Australian
Open). I now have next week to train and
recover and to get ready for the Aussie Open.
But I don t want to make any predictions."
Williams, at 33, is in the twilight of her
career but Ivanovic is still only 26 and five of
the top eight players are older than the Serb.
She was only 20 when she topped the world
rankings but has admitted she over-thought
her game and failed to cope with the pressure
at a younger age.
ere is now a maturity about her but also
a newness about her current setup, given she
is working with a new coach.
e Australian Open will be a significant
step up for both players and the draw will
be important, especially for Williams who
will be unseeded, but both will have left
Auckland feeling optimistic about the year
ahead. --- APNZ
Whanganui trainer Kevin
Myers had his stable firing at
Omoto on Saturday, picking
up the major spoils of the
afternoon with success in both
feature races on the card.
Myers saddled up Our
Alchemist to win the feature
middle distance race, the
$20,000 Monteith s Brewing
Company Greymouth Cup, and
his exciting galloper Scapolo
was a comfortable winner of
the feature sprint, the $15,000
Greymouth Businesses Sprint.
Our Alchemist raced handy to
the pace in the hands of David
Walsh and was always travelling
well on the outside of pace
maker and stablemate, Sonny
Walsh sent the five-year-old
Lucky Unicorn mare for ward
nearing the home turn and
the final outcome was never in
doubt, but the senior rider says
he did have concerns.
"We were travelling good,
in fact far too good as Sonny
Wellington didn t have the
foot down as I thought and my
horse was a bit fresh," Walsh
"I had to hold her up long
enough and then let her roll
from the 400, and she won very
well in the end. She s a nice
mare --- a lot stronger than last
year when I was riding her."
Myers won the Greymouth
feature last year with stable
runner Negotiate and according
to stable foreman Ken
Harrison, depending on how
Our Alchemist comes through
her race she will follow a
similar programme to her
"Kevin (Myers) is on the
road at present bringing a float
down but depending how Our
Alchemist pulls up we will
more than likely follow the
programme Negotiate had last
year and will line up at Kumara
Stable runner Scapolo came
to Greymouth with a huge
reputation and impressed all
on course with an easy five-
length win in the Greymouth
e son of Bachelor Duke
was given the perfect trip in the
small field by apprentice jockey
Samantha Wynne and it was
a stroll in the park in the run
Scapolo had scored a
strong all-the-way win in the
Couplands Bakeries Mile at
the New Zealand Cup Carnival
in November prior to success
at Greymouth, and was using
Omoto as a stepping stone to
rich pickings on offer at the
Wellington Cup meeting at
"He will be straight in the
float and on the road in the
morning and head back home,"
"Trentham will be his next
assignment and at this stage
Kevin is favouring a start in the
mile ( orndon) up there."
PICTURE: Paul McBride
Apprentice rider Samantha Wynne lets the brakes off on the classy four-year-old Scapolo with just under 200m to run in the
Greymouth Businesses Sprint at Omoto.
Nor thern stable fires at Omoto
Stars keen to return to NZ for 2015 ASB Classic
PICTURE: Getty Images
Ana Ivanovic, right, and Venus Williams with their trophies after Ivanovic won the
singles final on Saturday at the ASB Classic.
on the rise
When John Wright coached
the New Zealand cricket team he
owned a dog-eared 1B5 exercise
book heavily inked in facts and
figures monitoring progress.
Something similar probably exists
on a series of Excel spreadsheets
One of Wright s statistical
morsels jogged the memory
watching New Zealand ease to
victory over the West Indies, albeit
via Duckworth-Lewis, at Nelson
"Our aim is to be no more than
three wickets down after 35 overs,"
Wright had said as he leafed
through the 1B5 pages during an
inter view in Ahmedabad at the
2011 World Cup.
Wright s theory holds merit as a
strategy for 50-over cricket, even
in an age of Twenty20 blitzkrieg.
As happened in Nelson, Jesse
Ryder, Kane Williamson, Ross
Taylor and Brendon McCullum
play shots around an anchor like
Martin Guptill to build their
total. Guptill was not necessarily
designated for the role on Saturday
as he scratched for form --- he had
two runs off 29 balls initially ---
but it demonstrated the concept
New Zealand has completed
19 ODI matches since the start
of 2013. In five of those they did
not complete 50 overs batting
due to rain. In the other 14 they
reached the 35-over mark with
three wickets down six times,
winning four, losing one narrowly
in Bangladesh and having the rest
of the order implode in the final
15 overs to give them too few
runs batting first in Napier against
Four wins out of six ain t bad.
Compare that to the eight matches
in which they lost more than three
wickets in 35 overs; they won three
and lost five. As Kenny Rogers
once sang: "Every gambler knows
that the secret to surviving is
knowing what to throw away and
knowing what to keep."
A gambling cricket captain like
Brendon McCullum, to paraphrase
Kenny again, might have found an
ace that he can keep.
McCullum appreciates the
theory but says it cannot become
Speaking after New Zealand
had taken a 2-1 lead in the five-
match series with a game to play
in Hamilton on Wednesday, he
said: "It s great to be one or two
down by 35 overs but you can t
waste those overs solely to get
into a launch position. You need
momentum to build a platform."
Still, those Nelson circumstances
provided surety despite Guptill
receiving taunts via the crowd
and Twitter about inducing
"I think people expect too much
sometimes," Guptill said.
" ey don t know what the
conditions are like in the middle.
To get through the initial period,
adjust and end up with 81, well,
I m happy."
e cricketing fanbase must
appreciate innings like Corey
Anderson s world record 36-ball
century and Jesse Ryder s 46-ball
ton in Queenstown are rarities.
ey were created under special
circumstances with the match
shortened to 21 overs by rain.
In a bizarre way they are almost
counter-productive because they
create false expectations. e team
is not suddenly malfunctioning
because sixes aren t hit every 5.73
balls. e upshot is knowing such
an arsenal exists when required.
Anderson completed his world
record across 13.2 overs on New
Year s Day.
ere nothing to stop him doing
that from the 36th over in a full
"An innings like Corey s (world
record ODI innings) doesn t
happen every day," Guptill said.
"Shahid Afridi held that for (17)
years. It s unrealistic to expect it all
Consideration must be given
to tempo. Yes, pitches are often a
pleasure to bat on in the shorter
formats but seldom is a team not
competitive after compiling 286
Such a score adds a psychological
edge to a chase as required run
HEINEKEN OPEN TENNIS
Ferrer on verge of breaking
Heineken Open record
PICTURE: Getty Images
David Ferrer plays a shot at last year s Heineken Open.
Black Caps win
easily in Nelson
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