Mouratoglou – Serena should make Paris


Serena Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou says his charge needed five weeks to be ready, after arriving at his academy April 30.

“After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body. … That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome,” Mouratoglou said in an exclusive interview with the WTA Tour website

“She is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros,” he said.

Williams also was spotted with tape on her left knee.

An Instagram post by Williams Monday had her in Rome Monday.

Gamblers and haters? Shapo sees you


Nearly all tennis players get at least a moderate amount of nasty messages via social media, mostly from the gambler types who have lost a bet.

Once the expectations are set, it usually kicks in. For Shapovalov, it came through first-round losses in both Monte Carlo and Budapest, the 19-year-old’s first career ATP Tour main draw tournaments on the red clay.

After a week off, Shapovalov returned and reached the semis in Madrid. He leaped to a career high No. 29 in the rankings.

Haters? Shapovalov sees you. And he’s happy to prove you wrong.

Madrid trophy passes airport test


There are plenty of opinions about the … unique trophies given out to the  champions at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Opinions range from “unique” to “ugly” to … “a little pervy”.

This year, the men’s trophy went to Alexander Zverev, who had little time to waste before heading to the airport for the ATP Tour’s next stop in Rome.

You have to wonder what the Madrid airport employee in charge of the scanner thought, when he spied this thing in Zverev’s carry-on luggage (pic from Zverev physio Hugo Gravil).

Looks like a king-sized razor blade – the old-fashioned kind.

Ferrer a dad as (another) Leo arrives


David Ferrer has played the Madrid Open 16 straight years.

That streak ends next week, but for a very good reason.

Ferrer’s awaited bundle of joy arrived Friday, as wife Marta gave birth to a son.

The name? Leo. 

That’s the third tennis baby named Leo in recent years.

As it happens, baby Leo Azarenka-McKeague is in Madrid with his mom.

Feels like a Leo Ferrer/Leo Azarenka-McKeague wild card into the men’s doubles would be about right, 20 years or so down the road – to face grizzled veterans Leo and Lenny Federer in the first round.

Stephens re-preps for clay in Toronto


So far, Sloane Stephens’ clay season has had highs and lows.

She defeated both Pauline Parmentier and Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets in Fed Cup two weeks ago.

But in Stuttgart – again on indoor clay – she got just one game against countrywoman Coco Vandeweghe in the first round.

With some extra time on her hands, Stephens returned to North America.

Toronto, to be precise, where boyfriend Jozy Altidore plies his trade for Toronto FC.

With a little help from Canadian Bianca Andreescu, hopefully Part 2 in Madrid this week will be better.

Another bad break for Bacsinszky


In 2016, Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky was top-10 and an Olympic silver medalist.

A year ago, she was this close to the French Open final.

This spring, she was fighting back after a left thigh injury, and right hand surgery cost her the second half of 2017.

Now, another bad break:  Bacsinszky tore her calf warming up for her first-round match in Rabat, Morocco. And she had to withdraw.

She’s defending nearly 1,000 of her 1,132 ranking points from now through the French Open.

If she misses it, she’d drop down to about No. 330.

Americans hit Johnson wedding


If you were wondering where some of the American players are as the European hard-court season begins, they were celebrating.

Steve Johnson got married last weekend, at the Maravilla Gardens wedding venue in Camarillo, California.

Among the attendees were John Isner and Sam Querrey and his fiancée.

And Isner’s new wife Madison McKinley dropped some (very visible) news along the way. The couple, just married Dec. 4, are already expecting.

P.S. – it’s a girl.

Tipsarevic academy to open in June


Former No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic has not played since last year’s US Open. Chronic issues with his legs the last few years led to surgery on both his hamstrings last September.

Cleared to practice in mid-December, he had more surgery – “apparently a minor one” – in mid-March to release his sciatic nerve and clean the fibrosis within the tendon.

At 33, clearly already into post-career planning. Tipsarevic announced his new academy site in the centre of Belgrade is scheduled to open the first week of June.

It will have nine courts and a brand-new gym, he said on Instagram.

Sixth knee surgery for Krajicek


It takes a certain kind of stubbornness to persevere in pro sport.

Spain’s Pablo Andujar is back, after three elbow surgeries in 13 months.

And Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands can double that.

Krajicek, who reached the top 30 as a teenager and is now still just 29,  underwent her sixth knee surgery last weekend.

She missed most of the 2017 season, returning last October and winning a $15,000 Pro Circuit event in singles in February. 

The Dutchwoman hasn’t played since.

She will have even more time to explore her artistic side – not that she wouldn’t trade it for court time in a heartbeat.

Buyukakcay goes adidas —-> Asics


Turkey’s Cagla Buyukakcay wasn’t the most notable player gone from adidas at the end of 2017.

World No. 1 Simona Halep’s contract with them wasn’t renewed. 

But Buyukakcay had been with them for 13 years – her entire career.

The 28-year-old wore stale-dated US Open-vintage Stella McCartney during the Doha tournament in February, which was a giveaway.

But after announcing the end of the long association last week, Buyukakcay presented a new clothing sponsor, Asics, two days later at the WTA event in Lugano.

That’s an excellent rebound for a player currently ranked No. 164.