Amelie Mauresmo flew in at short notice, straight from winning a diamond-encrusted racket in Antwerp, to help save the reputation of a damaged tournament with her celebrity profile and some surprisingly forthright words.
The Wimbledon champion from France answered a rescue call at such short notice after the withdrawals of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams that it will be tough for her to win back-to-back tournaments.
But it was also tough for Mauresmo to comment frankly on the situation which has been inflicted upon the US$1.5 million Dubai Open -- which is loaded with potential controversy -- and she made a fair stab at that.
"I think most players, 80 percent of players are honest about when they can and can't play," Mauresmo said, when asked what was the solution to problem of so many leading players pulling out.
"It's just because of 20 or 10 percent of players you are going to penalize all the others. That's not so fair. So, tricky," Mauresmo added.
Croatia's indoor ace Ivan Ljubicic reasserted his dominance after a first-round loss a week ago, hammering ahead at the Rotterdam Open with a 7-5, 6-3 defeat of Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker on Tuesday.
The eighth-ranked Croatian, winner of three indoor titles under the roof in the past 16 months, held his own against the hard-hitting junior Wimbledon winner. De Bakker, 18, was unable to impose upon the experienced Ljubicic, who won his seventh career ATP title in Doha in January over Andy Murray.
The 27-year-old lost in the Marseille first round last week after playing the Zagreb final indoors three weeks ago.
Ljubicic earned the first set in 42 minutes with a break of the number 433, then broke for 5-3 in the second before closing out the victory.
Fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych fell victim to recovered Russian Mikhail Youzhny, with the Czech crashing out 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1.
Berdych, playing in only his third ATP tournament of the season, took to the court for the first time since his nation was beaten 4-1 in the Davis Cup by the US in Ostrava.
But the hardcourt at the Ahoy arena provided little solace, with Youzhny riding the confidence of reaching the quarter-finals or better in three of four ATP tournaments this season.
Belgian Kristof Vliegen handed Jarkko Nieminen a 6-1, 6-4 disappointment as the Finn, a semi-finalist last week in Marseille, slumped badly.
Meanwhile, the event suffered another blow as 2004 winner Lleyton Hewitt pulled out as a strained hamstring from last week failed to heal in time for his opening match.
Haas defeats Spadea
Second seed Tommy Haas launched his title defense by defeating American Vince Spadea 6-4, 6-1 in Memphis on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old German improved to 9-2 on the year and booked a second-round date with Amer Delic, who won an all-American matchup with Pual Goldstein 7-5, 7-6 (7/0).
Israeli teen top seed Shahar Peer ousted Finland's Emma Laine 6-4, 6-3 on the women's side while seventh seed Venus Williams eliminated qualifier Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 6-4.
Williams had been idle for four months due to a wrist injury and has played as many matches to reach the third round as she had since last July.
Taiwan national team manager Henry Vom on Sunday had a successful debut in charge of Taichung Futuro, winning 3-2 against league leaders Taipower with a goal deep in stoppage-time, which combined with the results from the other matches saw the gaps close at the top of the Taiwan Football Premier League table. Besides the big win for Futuro, Hang Yuan edged Taitung 1-0, Taiwan Steel dominated National Taiwan University of Sport 4-1 and the Red Lions held Ming Chuan University to a 1-1 draw. Vom took over Futuro after previous coach Toshiaki Imai returned home to Japan. Imai, who also managed the national
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Coming from the business world, New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) did not understand why his WNBA franchise did not have a chief executive officer similar to the team’s NBA counterpart the Brooklyn Nets, which Tsai also owns. For Tsai, it was about equality, so he did something about it. The 56-year-old Taipei-born billionaire businessman and philanthropist promoted Keia Clarke to the position last week — making her the first chief executive officer in the team’s history. The WNBA veteran became the third black woman to currently be in charge of a franchise in the league, joining Los Angeles Sparks president
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational