By Herman Wood
(July 25, 2014) ATLANTA – Americans and best buddies Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey got things going on Friday. Yes, they already played- each other. On Friday, they took on Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky in doubles. It was a tight match, with the American pair winning 7-6 (2), 7-5. On an interesting strategic note, Querrey lined up in front of Johnson with Johnson serving and folded his 6 foot 6 inch frame downward in an attempt to… well, I’m not really sure, but that’s a lot of human being to squeeze under a serve. In the other doubles quarterfinals, Chris Guccione and John-Patrick Smith broke a nine match win streak for Guccione in a loss to Nicholas Barrientos and Victor Estrella Burgos 7-5, 3-6, and 10-6 in the match tiebreak. The rest of the quarterfinals were already completed. Pospisil and Sock will take on the Barrientos -Burgos pair while Querrey and Johnson will take on King and Venus, all for a chance in the finals. Those matches will be played Saturday.
In singles action, the No. 1 seed, John Isner surprisingly played at 4 PM rather than in the 7 PM featured time slot. Isner said, “I preferred the 4 PM start.” By the time he and Matosevic took the court, the stadium resembled an oven. Matosevic said, “It was really hot.” We do not call it Hotlanta without a reason. Isner said “I knew he was struggling out there a little bit and he knew I was struggling out there a little bit.” “A lot of people tell me I play possum out there. Sometimes when I’m super tired I play my best tennis. I don’t have enough energy to run side to side.
There’s only one option for me and that’s to sort of play big and play aggressive and just go for it and sometimes it works out.” Isner started the match on the wrong foot- a foot fault. Of course that fired him up a little and the very next ball was an ace. It was a slow start for Isner, as he was immediately broken, though it did not take long to get back on serve. With a break to get to two all, the two traded holds until Matosevic was serving at 5-6. Isner challenged him a bit, but it was time for a tiebreak. Isner is not called “Johnny Tiebreak” without a reason. He is experienced, calm, and collected in the big moment.
Sure enough, Matosevic handed the set to Isner with his second double fault of the tiebreak. The other double fault occurred when Matosevic was up a mini break. In the second set, the two traded service holds until three all, when Isner got a break and that was all he needed. Up 4 – 3, he held easily, saved himself during Matosevic’s service game and then served it out 7-6 (8), 6-4. Isner was happy for the early finish to his day. “I’ll have a little more time. I can walk the dog. It kind of puts me at ease.” He’ll play Jack Sock on Saturday in the semifinals.
In the evening match, American Jack Sock got the featured time slot. He took on Slovakian, Lukas Lacko, in what could be a preview for the Chicago Davis Cup match in September if Sock were to be named to the American squad. Unfortunately, like Isner, Sock got off on the wrong foot as he was broken on his first service game. Lacko at one time had a 4-1 lead, but let it slip away.
Sock said “I had a pretty rough start. He was playing the ball deep and keeping me off the baseline.”
A Lacko double fault at a critical time and an ill-advised strategy that did not include staying away from the Sock forehand let Sock get it back to 4-5 and serving. The crowd was clearly behind sock, urging him on, but he could not manage another break and so the tie breaker was on. Each man had his chances, but Sock pulled it out 8-6.
He kept the momentum early in the second, breaking to a 3-1 lead before he let down just a bit. Lacko took the break back, only to see Sock immediately return the favor at love to get to 4-2. It was clear that Sock wanted to run away with it, moving quickly, serving to 5-2, with Lacko serving to stay in the match. Sock had his way in the decisive game, as Lacko’s first serve percentage had fallen off to only forty five percent. Game, set, match to Sock, 7-6 (8), 6-2.
The Atlanta crowd was very appreciative of the effort and the win. Sock will take on John Isner on Saturday for a chance at the the final. They recently played in Newport where Sock beat Isner. “Newport was pretty ugly for both of us. We both played some shocking tennis there. We practice almost everyday at Saddlebrook in Tampa. I’ll have to use what I know from practice. These courts suit him pretty well with a high bounce and when there is a seven foot guy serving down on you, it’s not going to be easy. I’ll go out there and scrap out some points and see what happens.”
In late action on Friday, Sock’s doubles partner Vasek Pospisil was eliminated in a see saw match by Dudi Sela 7-5, 1-6, 6-2. It was a busy night for the trainer, as he was out three times for Pospisil and once for Sela. Pospisil was clearly injured, as the trainer really seemed to be working him over. Despite the injury, he was able to move very well.
Sela took a medical timeout of his own, though he did not appear in pain. Sela was quoted by another media member -Ricky Dimon of Tennis Grand, as to why he took the timeout; “To do some thinking with myself about what I have to do. To relax.”
Dudi Sela: I took the medical timeout to clear my mind.
— Ricky Dimon (@RD_Tennistalk) July 26, 2014
specific quote from Dudi on why he took a medical: “To do some thinking with myself about what I have to do. To relax.” — Ricky Dimon (@RD_Tennistalk) July 26, 2014
Sela will take on Benjamin Becker Saturday evening. Becker ended the run of lucky loser Thiemo de Bakker 6-4, 6-2.
Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood.
Results for July 25, 2014
Singles – Quarter-finals
 J Isner (USA) d  M Matosevic (AUS) 76(8) 64
D Sela (ISR) d  V Pospisil (CAN) 75 16 62
J Sock (USA) d L Lacko (SVK) 76(6) 62
B Becker (GER) d [LL] T de Bakker (NED) 64 62
Doubles – Quarter-finals
S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) d  S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) 76(2) 75
N Barrientos (COL) / V Estrella Burgos (DOM) d  C Guccione (AUS) / J Smith (AUS) 75 36 10-6
Schedule for July 26, 2014
STADIUM start 12:30 pm
K King (USA) / M Venus (NZL) vs S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
 J Isner (USA) vs J Sock (USA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
D Sela (ISR) vs B Becker (GER)
 V Pospisil (CAN) / J Sock (USA) vs N Barrientos (COL) / V Estrella Burgos (DOM)