Category Archives: Tennis

Tennis star says ‘treated like a criminal’ with doping ban

A leading tennis player believes he has been “treated like a criminal” after being hit with an 18-month ban for flouting doping regulations and plans to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

World No. 53 Viktor Troicki was suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Thursday after being found guilty of failing to provide a blood sample in a drugs test during April’s Monte Carlo Masters.

But Serbian Troicki has rejected the charge, alleging the doctor conducting the blood test allowed him to miss the procedure and says he will now appeal the decision.

Read: Tennis serves up new doping measures

“The doctor in charge of the testing told me that I looked very pale and ill and that I could skip the test if I wrote an explanation letter to the ITF about it,” he said in a statement.

Federer: Do more drug testing

Rafael Nadal returns to the court

Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon win

“She dictated the letter to me and let me go without giving blood. She was very helpful and understanding.

“Now I’m being charged for refusing to undergo a blood test without justification. This is a real nightmare.

“I put my trust in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, I really hope they will look for the truth and find it.”

The 27-year-old Troicki confirmed that he underwent a test the following day by the same doping control officer with the result coming back negative.

He also revealed that he had never previously missed a test and had undergone several blood and urine examinations during his career.

But the ITF has taken a different stance on the story, insisting that the doping control officer had told Troicki that “she could not advise him as to whether his reason for not providing a blood sample was valid, and that no such assurances were given by her.”

Read: Murray condemns ‘cover up’

“I feel like I’m being treated like a criminal,” added Troicki as he contemplated the 18-month ban.

“I have a fear of the needle and I always have trouble drawing blood. But I always did. I am clean and will always be clean throughout my career.

“I just had the wrong doctor, who didn’t tell me at all that I was risking anything. She showed me a letter of the ITF saying she is in charge of the decisions and I trusted her completely.

“I wish I had recorded the discussion, there would never have been a case if I had.

Andy Murray inspires Scottish hometown

Andy Murray ‘held his grit’

Magic Murray Magic Murray

“This enormous sanction makes me speechless. It feels like the world that I help building day-by-day has let me down. It is the worst feeling you can imagine.”

Read: Nadal urges tighter drugs control

Troicki reached a career high of 12 in 2011 and has won $4.5 million in prize money during his career.

He is the third tennis player to be hit with a ban for drug violations in 2013.

In May, Brazil’s Fernando Romboli was handed an eight-and-a half-month ban after testing positive for diuretics, furosemide and hydrochlorothiazide.

In February, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic was banned for six months after testing positive for sibutramine, a substance which is often found in weight-loss products.

In March, the ITF confirmed it would introduce biological passports to tackle drug cheats.

Each player will have an individual electronic biological profile and be tested more regularly to monitor their levels and alert the authorities to possible drug use.

The scheme was welcomed by the world’s top players with Roger Federer telling CNN that it was “naive” to think tennis was free of players who use drugs to enhance their performance.

Read: Tipsarevic says tennis is clean

But Troicki believes he was simply misled and insists he has no problem with the current drug regulations.

“The doping rules are strict and they must remain strict. But this was a clear mistake from the on-site doping control officer who was also a doctor and the person in charge to decide,” added the Serbian.

“She let me go and reassured me. In my opinion, once she found out that she didn’t follow procedures she turned her back on me.

“I am destroyed and exhausted. The whole period I have been thinking about this issue and it’s not over, so I can’t really describe it.

“I am not even angry with the doctor. I believe that maybe she was told her organization that she made a big mistake letting me go. She backed up and tried to save her job.

“I am a fighter and I will try to fight together with my team and my lawyers but I am quite destroyed now. I hope this nightmare will come to a good end. I really want to continue playing. I don’t deserve this.”

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Serena Williams beats Johanna Larsson to win Swedish Open

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World number one Serena Williams recovered from her shock early exit at Wimbledon by beating home hope Johanna Larsson to win the Swedish Open.

The American dropped serve twice in the first set but overcame those setbacks to win 6-4 6-1 in Bastad.

Williams, 31, has now won 51 matches and seven titles in 2013.

She had been a strong favourite to win her 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon earlier this month, but lost to Sabine Lisicki in the last 16.

Serena Williams’s titles in 2013

  • January – Brisbane International (hard court)
  • March – Sony Open, Miami (hard court)
  • April – Family Circle Cup, Charleston (clay)
  • May – Madrid Open (clay)
  • May – Italian Open, Rome (clay)
  • June – French Open, Paris (clay)
  • July – Swedish Open, Bastad (clay)

“It was really good to come here and win after a disappointing Wimbledon, so hopefully this confidence will help me for the rest of the year,” said the top seed.

Williams chose to return on clay at the relatively low-key Swedish event, and victory brought her a first ever title at an ‘international’ level tournament, the fourth tier below Grand Slams.

The second seed was Romanian Simona Halep, ranked 30th in the world, so it was no surprise that Williams won all five matches without dropping a set.

She did not have it all her own way in the final, however, struggling in the early stages and letting out a huge scream when she finally slammed a forehand winner at 3-1 down.

Larsson, the Swedish number one and world number 76, had her chances but could not convert as she struggled to make enough first serves.

Williams eventually found her range and from 4-3 down lost just two more games on her way to capturing the 53rd WTA title of her career.

She remains unbeaten on clay this season, having also won in Rome, Madrid and Charleston.

In Hamburg, Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis could not follow up Saturday’s win over Roger Federer with another victory, as Fabio Fognini won the German Tennis Championships final 4-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-2.

Roger Federer bounced in semis

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HAMBURG, Germany — Roger Federer lost to Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) Saturday in the semifinals of the German Tennis Championships.

Federer, a four-time champion in Hamburg, was outplayed by the 114th-ranked left-hander who advanced to his first career final.

“He played well, he was a little more aggressive,” Federer said.

[+] EnlargeFederico Delbonis

AP Photo/Axel HeimkenArgentina’s Federico Delbonis celebrates Saturday after beating Roger Federer in two sets, both of which went to tiebreakers.

Federer took a wild card for Hamburg after losing in the second round at Wimbledon.

In the final, Delbonis will play Fabio Fognini of Italy. Fognini defeated third-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (1).

Federer has dropped to No. 5, his lowest ranking in a decade. The 31-year-old Swiss ace’s only title this year came on grass before Wimbleon in Halle, Germany.

The defending Wimbledon champion, Federer lost to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky — a player who failed to qualify for Hamburg. It was his earliest Grand Slam defeat in 10 years, and his first loss to a player ranked outside the top 100 since 2005.

Federer changed his racket after Wimbledon, going for a bigger frame. But he struggled in Hamburg, going to three sets in two of his previous three matches.

Delbonis was playing only the second semifinal of his career. But he maintained his composure and gave Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion, only two break points, one of which he saved.

Federer broke for a 2-1 lead but was broken right back and had to save two set points to force the tiebreaker. He squandered a 4-2 lead, was unable to convert his one set point and saved three with service winners before Delbonis converted his fourth with a smash after some well-played points.

Complete results

Need the scores from any match played in today’s tournaments? Results

Federer came under pressure immediately in the second set and had to fend off three break points in his opening service game and another in the sixth. Delbonis saved one break point in the next game with a superb volley winner.

In the tiebreaker, Federer made two straight groundstroke errors and he netted a forehand on Delbonis’ first match point.

Delbonis will improve to a career-high ranking of around No. 59, according to the ATP.

Fognini won his first career title in Stuttgart last week and is riding a nine-match winning streak.

“I feel incredible,” Fognini said.

The Italian earned his 24th win on clay this season. Fognini is the second Italian to reach the final in Hamburg after Adriano Panatta lost to Manuel Orantes in 1972.

Almagro is second in career clay-court titles among active players with 12. Rafael Nadal has 42.

John Inverdale’s Bartoli remark prompts Miller letter

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Culture Secretary Maria Miller has raised concerns with the BBC after John Inverdale’s remark about the personal appearance of Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli attracted 674 complaints.

She wrote to BBC director general Lord Hall for “an update on any further action that is likely to be taken”.

Inverdale apologised for saying Bartoli was “never going to be a looker”.

Lord Hall said the BBC had made it clear the presenter’s comments were “unacceptable”.

Replying to Mrs Miller in a letter, Mr Hall wrote: “I agree that the comments made by John (Inverdale) during the build-up to the women’s final were totally unacceptable and fell well beneath the standards we expect of our presenters.

“John sincerely regrets that he made such an inappropriate statement and for the offence caused.”

He said BBC executives had spoken to Inverdale and told him “an incident of this nature must never happen again”.

Inverdale said the remarks, made on BBC Radio 5 live ahead of the Wimbledon women’s final on 6 July, were “clumsy” and “ham-fisted” and had “understandably caused something of a furore”.

Portrayal of women

Extracts from Mrs Miller’s letter of 16 July have been published in the Daily Mail.

Mrs Miller, who is also minister for women and equalities, said she was writing to express her “concerns over the comments”.

Maria Miller Mrs Miller said she was keen to see increased coverage of women’s sport

“I have particular regard for the portrayal of women in the media generally, and I have also identified increased coverage of women’s sport as one of my key priorities,” she said.

“It is therefore a matter of some concern to me that any comment on the looks and stature of a female athlete could be made in the context of one of the highlights of the UK’s, and indeed the world’s, sporting calendar.

“I am sure you will agree with me that it is vital that young women and girls in this country feel motivated both to take part in and to watch coverage of sport, and to know that they are included in the enjoyment of sport, and catered for by the media just as much as the male audience.”

Mrs Miller goes on to acknowledge that Inverdale had apologised both on air and directly to Bartoli in a letter but asks “whether there may be positive steps that the BBC could take in future to ensure that the perception of and commentary on female athletes, and women’s sport generally, are as positive and inclusive as possible”.

The culture secretary has met broadcasters a number of times in the last year to encourage them to improve coverage of women’s sports, her aides say.

‘Amazonian athletes’

While chatting on air about Bartoli’s technique as a player, Inverdale said: “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker.

“‘You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.

“‘You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it,’ and she kind of is.”

After complaints on online social networks, the BBC issued a statement in which it said the remarks had been “insensitive and for that we apologise”.

The following day, at the beginning of the coverage of the men’s Wimbledon final, Inverdale made his apology and added that Bartoli was a “fantastic example to all young people that it’s attitude and will and determination, together obviously with talent, that in the end gets you to the top”.

He said the point he was trying to make was “the public perception of tennis players is that they’re all six-feet-tall Amazonian athletes”.

The director general said there would be “unprecedented coverage” of women’s sport across the BBC this summer.

In his letter to Mrs Miller he wrote: “The BBC has a proud record of supporting women’s sport, as I am sure you will have recognised from the current coverage of Euro 2013.

“We are building on the fantastic success of the Olympics, with a team including many women broadcasters, through extensive day-in, day-out coverage across our TV, radio and online services.

“We have also appointed an editorial lead specifically for women’s sport, which has helped to ensure significantly increased coverage.”

The Open 2013: R&A’s Dawson admits ‘men-only’ club concerns

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Golf chief Peter Dawson says the issue of men-only policies at golf clubs is becoming “increasingly difficult”.

Muirfield, which hosts the Open this week, does not allow women to join.

Dawson, chief executive of the R&A, said: “Obviously the whole issue of gender and single-sex clubs has been pretty much beaten to death recently.

“We do, I assure you, understand this is a divisive issue. It’s a subject we’re finding increasingly difficult, to be honest.”

Last three Open winners

  • 2012: Ernie Els
  • 2011: Darren Clarke
  • 2010: Louis Oosthuizen

He added: “In recent months we’ve been at great pains to try to explain some of the facts about this matter. Single-sex clubs are in a very small minority in the UK. Half of them are women only, half of them are men only. They’re perfectly legal.”

Asked what was the difference between a male-only club and one that allowed whites only, Dawson said: “There’s a massive difference between racial discrimination, anti-Semitism, where sectors of society are downtrodden and treated very badly.”

He continued: “But on the Saturday morning when the guy gets up or the lady gets up and out of the marital bed, if you like, and goes off and plays golf with his chums and comes back in the afternoon, that’s not on any kind of par with racial discrimination or anti-Semitism or any of these things.”

Open venues Royal St Georges and Troon also bar women members but in 2012 the Augusta National Club, which hosts the Masters in the United States every year, allowed women to join for the first time in its 80-year history.

The R&A has confirmed that of the approximately 3,000 courses in the UK, only about 1% of them have a single sex membership policy. 

Slightly more than half of that figure is taken up by women-only clubs.

When quizzed on the subject of single-sex clubs, Northern Ireland’s world number two Rory McIlroy said: “I just don’t think it’s something that is a real issue anymore.

“Obviously it’s an issue in some golf clubs. But in terms of life in general, I think men and women are treated equally for the most part these days. And that’s the way it should be.”

John Inverdale’s Bartoli remark prompts Miller letter

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She wrote to BBC director general Lord Hall for “an update on any further action that is likely to be taken”.

Inverdale apologised for saying Bartoli was “never going to be a looker”.

The BBC said it had made it clear that the presenter’s comments were “unacceptable”.

A BBC spokesperson said: “John sincerely regrets that he made such an inappropriate statement and for the offence caused. As he said on air the following day, he has written to Marion Bartoli to apologise and the BBC has also apologised for John’s remarks.”

Inverdale said the remarks, made on BBC Radio 5 live ahead of the Wimbledon women’s final on 6 July, were “clumsy” and “ham-fisted” and had “understandably caused something of a furore”.

Portrayal of women

Extracts from Mrs Miller’s letter have been published in the Daily Mail but it is not immediately clear when it was sent to the BBC.

Mrs Miller, who is also minister for women and equalities, said she was writing to express her “concerns over the comments”.

Maria Miller Mrs Miller said she was keen to see increased coverage of women’s sport

“I have particular regard for the portrayal of women in the media generally, and I have also identified increased coverage of women’s sport as one of my key priorities,” she said.

“It is therefore a matter of some concern to me that any comment on the looks and stature of a female athlete could be made in the context of one of the highlights of the UK’s, and indeed the world’s, sporting calendar.

“I am sure you will agree with me that it is vital that young women and girls in this country feel motivated both to take part in and to watch coverage of sport, and to know that they are included in the enjoyment of sport, and catered for by the media just as much as the male audience.”

Mrs Miller goes on to acknowledge that Inverdale had apologised both on air and directly to Bartoli in a letter but asks “whether there may be positive steps that the BBC could take in future to ensure that the perception of and commentary on female athletes, and women’s sport generally, are as positive and inclusive as possible”.

The culture secretary has met broadcasters a number of times in the last year to encourage them to improve coverage of women’s sports, her aides say.

‘Amazonian athletes’

While chatting on air about Bartoli’s technique as a player, Inverdale said: “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker.

“‘You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.

“‘You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it,’ and she kind of is.”

After complaints on online social networks, the BBC issued a statement in which it said the remarks had been “insensitive and for that we apologise”.

The following day, at the beginning of the coverage of the men’s Wimbledon final, Inverdale made his apology and added that Bartoli was a “fantastic example to all young people that it’s attitude and will and determination, together obviously with talent, that in the end gets you to the top”.

He said the point he was trying to make was “the public perception of tennis players is that they’re all six-feet-tall Amazonian athletes”.

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “‘The BBC has made clear that John Inverdale’s comments were unacceptable and fell well beneath the standards expected of our presenters.

“The BBC has a proud record of supporting women’s sport with the current coverage of Euro 2013 the most recent highlight in a summer of unprecedented coverage. We have also appointed an editorial lead specifically for women’s sport, which has helped ensure significantly increased coverage across our daily sporting output.

“More generally the BBC, following the Respect at Work Review, is taking steps to clearly communicate to those who work for us what constitutes inappropriate behaviour or language.”

Tennis – Hingis to play first WTA event in six years

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The 32-year-old will play doubles in the Southern California Open with Daniela Hantuchova in Carlsbad after being granted a wild card

Hingis last played on the women’s tour in September 2007 but retired after testing positive for cocaine. She denied using the drug but retired without fighting the ban.

Just last weekend she was inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame.

“I am very much looking forward to making a return to competitive play at the Southern California Open,” Hingis told the WTA website.

“I remember winning the singles and doubles here in 1997 and winning the singles again in 1999. This has always been one of my favorite events to play. I feel in good shape at the moment after playing World Team Tennis. My competitive spirit is still very much alive and I love being out on court.”

Born in Czechoslovakia and named after Martina Navratilova, Hingis announced her arrival on the world stage when she won the 1993 French Open junior title at just 12 years of age.

She turned professional two weeks before her 14th birthday and went on to achieve a series of youngest-ever records.

Hingis won five Grand Slam singles titles – the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Australian Opens, 1997 Wimbledon and 1997 US Open – and held the number one ranking for 209 weeks.

She also won nine Grand Slam doubles titles and a mixed doubles title before injuries forced her into early retirement at the age of 22.

Hingis made a comeback four years later but retired again after her failed drugs test.

Martina Hingis ends retirement to play doubles

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Martina Hingis, fresh off her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will end a nearly six-year retirement to play doubles at next week’s Southern California Open, the WTA said today.

Hingis, a winner of five grand slam singles titles, will partner with Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova at the July 27-Aug. 4 tournament in Carlsbad, California.

“I am very much looking forward to making a return to competitive play at the Southern California Open,” the Swiss former world number one said in a statement on the WTA website.

“My competitive spirit is still very much alive and I love being out on court.”

Hingis, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon at the age of 16, quit tennis for the first time in 2003 at the age of 22, suffering from ankle injuries. She returned in late 2006 and finished the following year ranked seventh.

However, she quit for a second time in 2007 under a cloud after she tested positive for cocaine at that year’s Wimbledon. Hingis served a two-year ban but maintained her innocence.

She also won nine grand slam women’s doubles titles and one grand slam mixed doubles title.

Radwanska in trouble after naked photoshoot

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Wimbledon women’s semi-finalist Agnieszka Radwanska is in hot water after she stripped off for a special ‘Body Issue’ of ESPN Magazine.

Radwanska, a Catholic, has been condemned by youth group Krucjata Mlodych (Youth Crusade), who until now she was a representative for, who described the shoot as ‘immoral behaviour’ and immediately axed her from its campaigns. She had starred in an advertisement for the group where she spelt out ‘Jesus’ with tennis balls and told people not to be ashamed of their faith.

‘It’s a shame that someone who has declared their love for Jesus is now promoting the mentality of men looking at a woman as a thing rather than a child of God worthy of respect and love,” fumed Catholic priest Father Marek Dziewiecki.

“If she meets a man who she can truly love and establish a happy family and raise Catholic children, then she would probably have to hide these pictures from relatives.”

Radwanska was among several athletes who stripped down to pose for the magazine. Other athletes photographed include San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 77-year-old golf Hall of Famer Gary Player, Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings — during and after her pregnancy — and Matt Harvey and Giancarlo Stanton from Major League Baseball.

ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief Chad Millman said the athletes were “proud of the work they put into being strong and powerful and we’re proud that they trust us to capture that”.

The pictures were always likely to divide opinion in Poland where almost 90% of the population are Catholic.

July 16, 2013 Tennis legend King takes in Lobsters’ loss to Washington

MANCHESTER — The Boston Lobsters had the best attendance numbers the team has seen this summeras 1,740 fans packed the Joan Norton Tennis Center last night.

The turnout didn’t come as a big surprise. After all, everybody wants to see the King.

Billie Jean King was on hand to watch the Lobsters fall, 23-18, to the Washington Kastles. The living legend held a clinic for local tennis youths before the match, participated in a Q&A with announcer Steve Calechman during a break in play and signed autographs for fans, who welcomed King with a standing ovation before the match.

In an interview before play began, King discussed the future of Mylan WTT, what makes it so special and what she likes about the facility the Lobsters have set up at the Manchester Athletic Club.

“I must say of all the things I did in my life, this will be one of my greatest contributions,” said the 39-time Grand Slam Champion, who played at nearby Essex County Tennis Club when she was just 17. “When we drove in I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been here before.’”

During her brief Q&A with Calechman, King revealed interesting personal nuggets. Fans learned her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving; her favorite movie is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’; she drinks coffee, but only decaf; and that she’s watched Wimbledon with England’s Royal Couple, Kate and William.

As far as Mylan World TeamTennis is concerned, King has found the next generation of tennis greats to help bring the league into the future.

“We want to start getting younger players involved with the league because I’m going to be 70 this year. We asked (Andy) Roddick, and we asked Venus (Williams), and they both said yes right away,” said King. “They’re into it – their skin is in the game, so they aren’t just celebrity owners. I want them to shape the future because they’re the young ones. They’re the ones who know what’s going on with the younger folks and can shape this league’s future.”

A longtime advocate for gender equality, King points to the example Mylan WTT sets for younger kids when it comes to working alongside the opposite gender. The league is one of very few in pro sports in which men and women play together and against one another.

“There’s contributions from both genders equally. When you get a little 8-year-old girl out here, they’re going through a socialization process that they don’t realize,” explained King. “They’re watching men and women working together and cooperating, which is how things are in real life. It’s very rare to have men and women on the same team in pro sports, so it’s great that we have it.”

Lastly, King hit on the facility at the MAC and why she thinks it’s an ideal place for tennis enthusiasts as well as future standout players.

“This facility is just amazing. They have a new court and everything. It’s also a beautiful area and a lot of people in this area show up and love tennis,” said King. “This is also a great place for the kids, especially in the winter which they’ll need if they want to make it. They don’t have to go down to Florida.”

The match itself started with an ace for Lobsters, marquee player Mark Philippoussis, but the Australian lost 5-4 (5-3 in the tiebreak) to Washington’s Bobby Reynolds.

After the match, Philippoussis spoke about the guest of honor.

“This (Mylan WTT) is what she started, so I think it’s great that she comes out and shows her support,” noted Philippoussis. “She’s been a huge influence in tennis and has done incredible things for both male and female players. She’s as good as anyone in sports — or not in sports — to look up to.”

After Washington’s Martina Hingis dispatched Jill Craybas, 5-3, in women’s singles, Philippoussis and Eric Butorac defeated Reynolds and Leander Paes, 5-3, in what was Boston’s best set of the night. The Lobsters (now 3-5) clinched the set winning a three-all point, but overall struggled in those do-or-die moments.

“With the Kastles (4-2), we have a smaller margin for error. We started with a lot of energy but we didn’t carry it through until the end,” said Boston head coach Bud Schultz. “Three-all points are huge swings in a match and we have to get better. I have to prepare them better.”

Craybas and Katalin Marosi were defeated, 5-2, by Hingis and Anastasia Rodionova before Butorac and Marosi fell to Paes and Hingis, 5-4 in the final set of the night.

Boston will be in New York tonight to play the Sportimes (2-3).