Mauricio Paiz

It has not been the happiest year for Rafael Nadal, with his recent appendicitis attack being just the latest setback.

Returning after a right wrist injury that kept him out of action from Wimbledon until Beijing four weeks ago, he won two rounds at the China Open before losing to Martin Klizan. Then he had his appendicitis attack and got out of sickbay, enabled by antibiotics, in Shanghai and was beaten in his first match by Feliciano Lopez.

Full disclosure here: I had my appendix out 11 years ago and it ain’t no fun. There was no excruciating pain but considerable dull discomfort in the lower abdomen. I suffered for about 14 hours before heading for a hospital at 2 a.m. and having my appendix removed within 12 hours.

Many people have been surprised that Nadal took to the court in Shanghai and that he played again last week in Basel – winning two rounds before looking pretty sketchy in a 6-2, 7-6(4) loss to precocious 17-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia – even with medication to alleviate his condition.

After the Coric match, Nadal announced that he was done for the season. “I’m not going to play Paris and London,” he said. “I’m not enough competitive. I’m going to have the surgery on the third of November (next Monday). I will have treatment on my back next (this) week. That needs a few days.”

Who knew the back was also an issue? It, of course, was the reason for more misfortune in 2014 when it flared up during the Australian Open final in January – resulting in him losing to Stan Wawrinka, an opponent he was 12-0 against, and to whom he had never even lost a set.

As for his appendix (see appendage above which is appendix), it seemed strange that he kept playing but one assumes he had solid medical advice and did not risk having it burst, which can lead to a serious abdominal infection and other nasty consequences.

In a final note on appendixes, here’s a tip. The British actress Kate Beckinsale once appeared on a TV talk show and told about she had her appendix out. She offered some advice that can be useful to anyone who has not had their appendix removed – namely that if you feel discomfort, press down on your lower right abdomen where the appendix is. If it hurts more when you remove the pressure, it may very well be appendicitis.

On an unrelated health note, Canadians Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic also have not been lucky lately. It appears Bouchard (above in a tweet by American great Chris Evert last week) was limited in her preparation for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore by an upper left leg injury and that contributed to her poor form in straightset losses to Simona Halep, Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams.

Bouchard will end up No. 7 in the WTA year-end rankings, but would have been No. 5 if she had managed to win just one of her round-robin matches.

In the end, Williams wound up with her fifth season-culminating championship, although not without some missteps – particularly a shocking 6-0, 6-2 second round-robin match loss to Halep.

That resulted in a situation where if Halep lost to Ivanovic in two sets in their final round-robin match, both she and the Serb would have reached the semifinals with Williams left on the outside.

Eventually, Ivanovic defeated Halep 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, but not in the two sets required for her to make it to the semifinals.

Based on past history, you don’t give Williams a second chance and she certainly proved that, squeaking out a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) victory over Wozniacki in the semis, displaying the resolute, unyielding competitive spirit that allows her to play so impressively in the pressure moments. In the final, after struggling in the first few games, she elevated and mercilessly destroyed Halep 6-3, 6-0.

Halep must have wondered, “what if?” What if she had lost to Ivanovic in two sets in that third round-robin match and kept the redoubtable Williams from a spot in the final four.

Doing commentary on Tennis Channel, three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport suggested that Halep, once she lost the first set in a competitive display against Ivanovic, should have lost the second.

It’s hard not to agree with Davenport, but it’s also hard not to respect Halep for making the effort to come back and win the match. The next day she made the final by easily dispatching Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.

Williams took home $2.084 million (US) for winning the title, while Halep got $1.008 million as runner-up. That’s more than a $1 million difference, which brings up the tricky question of whether a calculated two-sets loss to Ivanovic would have simply been a strategic decision by Halep, or out-and-out tanking?

When a non knock-out format is used, a situation like that can arise, as it could during the men’s ATP World Tour Finals in London in two weeks.

Raonic’s chances for a spot at the O2 Arena in London, and not as an alternate as one year ago, essentially depend on going one round better than David Ferrer this week at the BNP Masters in Paris.

He had a good start to the fall season in Tokyo beating four decent players – Bernard Tomic, Jurgen Melzer, Dennis Istomin and Gilles Simon – in straight sets before losing the final to host nation star Kei Nishikori in a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 thriller that may have hinged on a semi-miraculous Nishikori service return with Raonic serving at 5-4 in the first set tiebreak.

Raonic then suffered from a virus and was ill in Shanghai, retiring at 2-5 against Juan Monaco in his first match. In Moscow a week later, still rusty, he lost to qualifier Ricardas Berankis and then, after winning two rounds in Basel last week, was eliminated 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 by one of the hottest players on tour (No. 106 after Wimbledon to No. 22 this week), David Goffin.

Raonic will play qualifier Jack Sock in his opening match on Wednesday in Paris, and then potentially the winner of Richard Gasquet and Roberto Bautista Agut.

He has an interesting history with the No. 44-ranked Sock. He’s 5-1 and has won five times since an initial loss in Memphis where he was playing his first match following a victory at the now-defunct San Jose event three days earlier.

Raonic and Sock have played four times – Miami, Wimbledon, Washington and Toronto – already in 2014. Of their last five sets, four have been decided by tiebreaks, and all have been won by Raonic.

Ferrer’s first two rounds are against Goffin and then Fernando Verdasco.

Goffin, after beating Raonic in the Basel quarter-finals, went all the way to final in Basel before losing 6-2, 6-2 to his idol, hometown favourite son Roger Federer.

The great Swiss had a good event but struggled against the lofty launcher – Ivo Karlovic – in a 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-3 semifinal win. Karlovic hit 33 aces and had Federer looking unusually agitated. And it has to be noted that the Basel home crowd was disappointing, applauding Karlovic’s faults at crucial stages of the decisive third set.

That was not nice. What was nice was the way the crowd in Valencia was fair-minded when its compatriot Tommy Robredo was beaten 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(8) by Andy Murray in arguably the best two-of-three sets match of the year.

© Queimadelos/Valencia Open

Both players were at the brink of, or at, sheer exhaustion as the dramatic match reached its climax.

But each of them somehow summoned the energy to hit some sensational shots. Murray, who had saved five match points in beating Robredo in the Shenzhen (China) final five weeks ago, saved five again – finishing the three-hour and 20-minute marathon with a backhand down-the-line winner.

The crowd had been fantastic, applauding Murray’s good shots with almost as much gusto as Robredo’s.

The handshake at the net was preceded by a wry gesture (above) on the part of Robredo, feeling star-crossed after failing to convert a total of 10 match points against the gritty Scot in their last two encounters.

There are not too many times in a year when matches extend into the realm of delirium. Murray-Robredo last Sunday in Valencia went that far and it was mesmerizing to watch.

Gracias Andy and Tommy, and gracias to the sporting spectators in the architecturally-spectacular ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencas Valencia’



Mauricio Paiz

Vasek Pospisil captured his third (after Wimbledon and Atlanta) ATP doubles title of 2014 when he combined with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Swiss Open in Basel with a 7-6(13), 1-6, [10-5] victory over Marin Draganja of Croatia and Henri Kontinen of Finland last Sunday.

Daniel Nestor, who has split with Zimonjic for 2015 but will play in the ATP World Tour Finals next month with the Serb, was partnering his prospective new partner, Rohan Bopanna, in Basel. They were beaten in the first round by Draganja and Kontinen.

Pospisil and Zimonjic arranged to play together three weeks ago in Shanghai and their win earned them $66,080 (US) apiece. Pospisil’s usual partner, Jack Sock, was playing singles at the Valencia ATP 500 last week.

There were some amusing repercussions of the Pospisil-Zimonjic victory – with the win Zimonjic edged ahead of Nestor (No. 4) to No. 3 in the ATP individual doubles rankings while Pospisil moved up into the No. 13 spot, one place ahead of No. 14 Sock.

Pospisil and Sock, who won Wimbledon and Atlanta together, are partnered this week in Paris at the BNP Paribas Masters. As long as Robert Lindstedt and Lukas Kubot, the Australian Open champions, don’t go a round further, Pospisil and Sock will qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals in London in two weeks.

Nestor, playing with Bopanna again this week, will reunite with Zimonjic for the London wind-up extravaganza. 



Some of the best up-and-coming women’s tennis players will be in action at the $50,000 (US) Tevlin Challenger tournament at the Centre for Excellence at Rexall Centre in Toronto this week.

Top seed is Taylor Townsend, the 2012 World Junior Champion and Wimbledon junior doubles titlist that year with Genie Bouchard. Currently ranked No. 109, she is on the cusp of direct entry into the 2015 Australian Open.

Seeded second is Jovana Jaksic of Serbia while the sixth seed is Francoise Abanda. The 17-year-old Montrealer plays her opening match on Wednesday against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

The eighth seed is Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa, who is already into the second round after beating junior Katherine Sebov of Kleinburg, Ont., 6-2, 7-6(4) on Monday.

Other recognizable names in the draw include Heidi El Tabakh of Toronto, 1999 Wimbledon semifinalist Alexandra Stevenson of the U.S. and the often-injured An-Sophie Mestach of Belgium, winner of the 2011 Australian Open junior title.

Admission is free.




The 2014 Davis Cup final between Switzerland and France will be played in the impressive Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.

The retractable-roofed stadium has a capacity of 50,000 for the French Ligue 1 football club Lille. It will be re-configured to seat at least 27,000 for the November 21-23 final.

Richard Gasquet is expected to be on the French team and on Monday, after his firstround win at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, he said about the number of tickets he is getting for family and friends, “40, 45? like at the French Open, the same.

“Many people want to come. I think it creates a lot of enthusiasm. You can see that in the streets everywhere. But people don’t even maybe know that there’s a tournament at Bercy (the BNP Paribas Masters). Everyone is talking about Davis Cup and there’s a major tournament to be played here.

“(I’ve got) 45 tickets a day. But the seats are not all warm. You will need to have a coat.”

Sounds like November in Lille, even indoors, won’t exactly be balmy.






A photo posted by Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) on

A certain Canadian tennis star has definitely looked better than she does here sporting a Halloween horror look.