Jan 27, 2009

Sport - Tennis;Australian Open venue to get a facelift

MELBOURNE: A multi-million dollar facelift of the ageing Australian Open venue was unveiled on Monday to stop rival cities poaching the opening Grand Slam of the season.

The move is also designed to help end calls to shift the tournament to February when the weather in Melbourne is cooler.

Part of the plan will involve putting a roof on the Margaret Court Arena, the tournament’s third main court, and a cover over the public square outside Rod Laver Arena.

Other planned work includes improved player facilities, more practice courts, an international broadcast centre and a better media centre, along with increased seating capacity and improved connections to public transport.

Soviet era inspiration

Svetlana Kuznetsova is gaining motivation from her new coach, Soviet-era star Olga Morozova.

“She’s very positive. She’s always fun to work with,” 2004 U.S. Open champion Kuznetsova said of Morozova, who has coached her since last October.

“Every day she has so much motivation. Sometimes I come to practise — you know, every day you cannot bring 100 per cent of yourself. I see her, how she’s motivated. I think this is great thing about her.”

Kuznetsova trained for years in Spain but decided to return to Russia last year and hired former Wimbledon finalist Morozova.

Hall of Famer

Former No. 3-ranked Wendy Turnbull — known as “Rabbit” for her quick footwork on the court — was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame on Monday.

Turnbull made the final of every Grand Slam except Wimbledon and held a top 10 year-end ranking for eight consecutive years (1977-1984) and top 20 for 10 years (1977-1986). In doubles, she won the titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Roland Garros.

Overall, Turnbull won 13 singles and 55 doubles titles before retiring in 1989.

China’s Zheng Jie retired after five games from her fourth-round match with a wrist injury on Monday, an inauspicious start to the Year of the Ox.

No. 22 Zheng, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals last year after beating then-No. 1 ranked Ana Ivanovic, injured her left wrist when she fell awkwardly against eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova.

She had treatment immediately but retired two games later at 4-1 in the first set.

Zheng’s injury came on Lunar New Year, the biggest holiday for Chinese.

“This is my first time in the fourth round in Australian Open,” said 25-year-old Zheng. “I’m so happy for it. Today is Chinese New Year. I hoped I can win this match. It’s so bad I’m injured.”

She said the pain in her wrist affected her backhand. She had not yet seen a doctor to determine what was wrong, but had a self diagnosis: “Just very sore pain and cannot use the power.”


Serena Williams says that while tennis is her forte, she has a passion for many other things.

“I can do it all. I cook, I clean, I write, I make jokes, I tape,” she smiled, referring to taping an ankle during her Monday match. “I just pretty much do everything.”

Williams, who advanced to the quarterfinals after Victoria Azarenka withdrew from their match with a virus, said she pursued other interests in order to broaden her horizons.

“I can’t hit a ball in a box for the rest of my life,” she said.

Williams already designs a clothing line and said she also plays a baby-blue Gibson Stratocaster guitar — favouring “power-chord punk rock” like Green Day.

“I’ve always tried to do other things that I really enjoy, that I have a passion for,” she said. “For me that makes me enjoy tennis more because I’m really, really good at tennis.” — AP

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