2015/03/27

Approach Shots: Meet Andrew Krasny – The Voice of the BNP Paribas Open

Krasny in Paris

Andrew Krasny – The Voice of the BNP Paribas Open as well as many other tennis tournaments and events.

 

INDIAN WELLS, California – For those attending and watching BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the voice you’ll hear introducing the players and conducting on-court interviews on Stadium 1 will be that of jack of all entertainment media trades – Andrew Krasny. Krasny has done everything in the field of entertainment media, from radio to television, from producer to host.

Krasny is the voice of many tennis tournaments which include the Sony Open in Miami, Cincinnati and the Family Circle Cup in Charleston to name a few.  With all of his work in tennis some have dubbed him “the voice of tennis.”

“My first job in Hollywood was answering fan mail for comedienne Joan Rivers.”

How did he get the job? “I grew up in Los Angeles and my friend’s father was the Executive Producer of the Tonight Show and he introduced me to Joan and her family and we became friends and then while I was in college my first job was to work on her show when she was at Fox. Hopefully no one is doing the math that really shows how old I am.

“That was my first job and then I went into producing talk shows, became by choice an audience warm-up guy – where I got my formal training to be in front of crowds and then I continued to produce shows and got a job hosting a dating show in the USA Network called Crush. Which was a TV where if a friend had a crush on you and they were embarrassed to tell you, we told you your friend had a crush on you and then you had to decide which one of these three people in my life has the crush on me.

“And then I produced for Martin Short, Joan Rivers, Leeza Gibbons, John Tesh and then I was at a tennis tournament one day at UCLA. I can’t tell you what year it was but I was producing a radio show for Joan Rivers. I noticed that an older gentlemen was on the court and I was wondering where the energy was, and a friend of mine was working for the tournament at the time, I said to him, ‘do you think there is a need for an emcee and a host?’

“I met Bob Kramer and the next year Bob Kramer let me volunteer on court two and I was such a fan of tennis that to volunteer, to get free clothes, to be able to stand near Agassi, Sampras, Safin – and Joan Rivers gave me the week off every year. So for two or three years I volunteered, that led me to being moved to Stadium 1. And from Stadium 1 at UCLA I got recommended to do the women’s event in Carson. From Carson came the Women’s Championships, from the Championships became Indian Wells, From Indian Wells became Miami, from Miami became Stanford, Stanford became Cincinnati, Amelia Island, San Diego and next thing you know to make a long story short in 2009 I was asked to be part of the team at the US Open. This now I would say has become 60 percent of my livelihood and 60 percent of my career is becoming an emcee and announcer around the world for tennis.

“I’m realistic to the energy and expertise that I bring to the fan experience at a tennis tournament,” when he talked about further goals in tennis. “Everyone always asks me ‘do you want to be on TV more?’ and I go back and forth with that. I’m flattered and honored that many events use my post and pre-match interviews for television and it’s fun to be recognized when I’m out and about by people saying ‘you’re the guy who hands out trophies at tennis tournaments’ or ‘I saw you on ESPN’ or this or that.

“As far as tennis goes, I’m perfectly content doing what I do, and my other television career being a correspondent and a host on a few television shows – working with Marie Osmond currently, that I am pursuing my avenues of hosting and being more on television in that aspect, but as far as tennis goes, I felt I have won the lottery and I am not screwing with it for one single moment.”

So which players give the best interviews? “First of all,” Krasny said, “I’m appreciative and grateful for every player has opened their heart out to me and has said many things to me over the past few years that have made my job the greatest job in the whole wide world.

“I will say by far there is not a better ambassador, more articulate ambassador to the game than Roger Federer. Roger has a great respect for the job that I do, and obviously I am a huge fan of his and love his work.

“No one gives me a better interview than Roger Federer. But that being said I’m grateful for the amazing things Rafa (Nadal) has said over the years, Novak Djokovic, it’s an incredible opportunity to get to know them better and understand and respect them.

“On the women’s side…. the first player who ever said to me ‘I love what you do and you are the first person who has done it the way you do’ goes back to Mary Pierce.

“First person who saw him on TV to know that a dream came true for Krasny in terms of finally being on air for tennis, was Lindsay Davenport who is a good friend. Davenport who will inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 12, was inducted into the Southern California Tennis Hall of fame by Krasny this past summer.

So with all of the very unique names in tennis, do any of them give him any problems in terms of pronunciation? “Some of women’s names tend to be harder than the men’s,” Krasny said.

“In terms of finding the correct way to say a player’s name, he goes straight to the player.

“Names are not so much a problem for me, I need to make sure I do my homework  and know my facts is more important to me than pronunciation names, because that’s a given.”

Krasny does admit that he makes a rare mistake or two. “Saying Fed Cup instead of Davis Cup in front of Tim Henman and he laughed. (I) said Belgian instead of Belgrade, Serbia in front of Novak Djokovic once and he stopped during warm-up to hit me with a tennis ball.”

At the Sony Open, Krasny incorrectly read a scoreboard and said that Ana Ivanovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova were playing doubles together and Serena Williams sent him a text message to make fun of him.

The native Californian who also teaches on-air hosting and public speaking, tells his students, “you are never judged for a mistake you make, it’s how fast you can bounce back and get out of it.”

Tennis players make mistakes, he points out and so do announcers. “I hit a ball out, we make mistakes but at the end of the day, I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

I asked Krasny about what would people be surprised about him behind the scenes.

“I’m a diva when it comes to traveling. I’m not a huge fan of traveling. Once I’m there, I’m OK. But I love to make sure I have a nice hotel, I love to make sure I have transportation.”

“We are all on a mission to make sure that the fan experience is just unmatched and that I feel that I’ve been on the forefront of being part of a team that has really changed the sport in the last 10 years. When I started here at Indian Wells 9 years ago we had no videoboards, we had me on court from 11 in the morning to two in the morning with my iPod and look where we’ve gone. We’ve got a multi-billion dollar facility, we’ve got a new expansion with Stadium 2. Tennis is bigger and stronger than it’s ever been before and I’m so proud to be part of it. Behind the scenes we are just trying to put together the best show possible.”

Follow Andrew Krasny on twitter @AndrewKrasny.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

 

Share

Ready, Set, WTA All-Access at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 5, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – The top eight women’s seeds held court on Wednesday taking questions from the media during roundtable interviews at the BNP Paribas Open. Here are a few notes and quotes from session:

Aga Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska and the Cheesecake Factory

Radwanska professed her love for the Cheesecake Factory. She has inked a multi-year agreement with her favorite restaurant. She’ll be sporting the logo on her visor when she plays.

Radwanska says that she can complain about her season so far – two semifinals including the Australian Open.

Last year Radwanska became a blonde and is back to being a brunette. When asked about the change back to her natural hair color, she said “I prefer the dark hair. It was good to change sometimes.”

LI Na media crush

Li Na is the No. 1 Seed

With Serena Williams absent from Indian Wells, Li Na holds the mantle as the No. 1 seed for the tournament. “Feel pretty good,” Li Na said about having the top spot. This is the first time that she’s been the top seed at WTA Premier Mandatory event.

So what’s life after winner her second major like? She says not much different. “I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts,” she said.

 

Kerber

Angelique Kerber – Germany’s Fed Cup team members get a Porsche

So what does she think makes her game special? She says she has the ability to read her opponent’s game, and her defense – how she runs and fights for every point. “That’s what I have inside,” she said. As to what she thinks she needs to improve, she says that she needs to play more “aggressive” tennis.

Kerber spot fondly of being a member of Germany’s Fed Cup. She says they are all friends so everyone wants to play and there is a nice incentive – each Fed Cup team member gets a Porsche. Porsche is the sponsor of the Fed Cup team in Germany.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova NBC Correspondent

“Carrying the torch was the biggest honor I could have received,” said  former Sochi native Sharapova in choosing between carrying the Olympic torch or Russia’s flag at the Olympic games.

In addition to her torch carrying duty, Sharapova was a correspondent for NBC during the Sochi games. “It was really fun,” said the Russian.

Asked if she would be interested in media in the future she said, ” I am not sure. I had a great time and I don’t know if that’s something I would do for long periods of time. I love that challenge of it.

“We shot for so many hours for a three minute clip.” She emphasized how it takes a lot of time to put a short piece together in television between shooting and travel time.

Her Sochi experience was a great one, but she’s happy to get back to the court.

 

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova

When asked about whether she feels that most of the time her matches are on her racquet, she responded, When I’m playing, I’m feeling it’s about me and I’m playing aggressive myself, that’s most(ly) about me.” Not all of the time is a happy end.” Kvitova admits that she’s OK with her game but she has some  more expectations of herself.

Playing aggressively comes natural to the 2011 Wimbledon champion.

 

Halep

Simona Halep is a first-timer at the WTA All-Access

Simona Halep’s ranking has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year only No. 1 Serena Williams claimed more titles than the Romanian during the year.

To what does Halep attribute that success to? “I was more aggressive starting  with last year in Rome, becasue I played really well there. Before I had (a) back injury and it was very hard and I couldn’t play at my level but after that I did really well.”

” I am very happy to be top ten . It’s amazing. Now I can see that I can play the highest level in tennis so I want to continue to be focused.”

She admits that she enjoys the perks of being in the top ten. “I have the bigger car,” she said. As a top ten player it entitles her to a bigger car at tournaments. She enjoys driving and one of the reasons she loves this tournament is that she can drive.

She recently purchased a Range Rover back home in Romania.

Halep’s biggest triumph came in Doha last month, where she beat three top ten players for the title. ” After Australia I thought I could be at highest level of tennis, now I am really happy that I can play in top ten.”

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic models new French Open Fila dress

Jelena Jankovic walked into her roundtable session modeling her new Fila outfit for the French Open accompanied by the designer Ginny Hilfiger.

Jankovic reacted to her former coach Nick Bollettieri being named for induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “Nick is an amazing person,” Jankovic said. “He’s the one who helped me quite a  lot, you know when it comes to my game brought me a lot at young age.”

“He helped me to believe in myself,” said the former No. 1.

 

 

azarenka-cincy-slider-1

Victoria Azarenka is coming back from a foot injury

By viewing her practices on Monday, one could tell that No. 4 Victoria Azarenka was in some type of pain. She told media that her foot injury had her in a walking boot for three weeks last month. She confessed that she’s only been able to practice for less than a week.

“When you hear for the first time from the doctor that you have to wear a boot for three weeks and the tournament is four-and-a-half weeks away you’re like ‘OK, let’s see how it goes,’” she said. “I just wanted to stay positive and do the best job as possible.”

Share

Juan Martin Del Potro Retires from Match in Dubai

Del Potro retires

(February 25, 2014) DUBAI – Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to retire from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday with a left wrist injury after losing the first set in a tiebreak to Somdev Devvarman.

 

The No. 2 seed had been suffering with the injury before he arrived in Dubai, and he sought medical advice in the United States following his opening round loss at the Australian Open last month. Del Potro missed most of the 2010 season recovering from wrist surgery. Del Potro won the US Open, his only major in 2009.

 

Although he broke for a 2-0 lead, Del Potro immediately dropped his own serve in the next game and after failing to convert three set points on his opponent’s serve at 6-5 he lost the tiebreak 7-3.

 

“My wrist is hurting a lot and it was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it’s very difficult play like in these conditions, you know, playing slices or I cannot be the player what I would like to be,” said the Argentine.

 

“It’s hurting all the time, it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more. But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time.  He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. I have been doing a big effort to play this tournament, and it was not enough to play what I like to play.”

 

Devvarman said that he realized after a few games that Del Potro was having some pain.

 

“After starting the match, I realized that he wasn’t very comfortable hitting backhands obviously, and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasn’t really hitting over it, so I knew that he wasn’t happy,” said Devvarman. “I just tried to fight hard and tried my best to make things tough for him, make things easier for me.

 

“Obviously it’s unfortunate, you know, especially for a guy like him. I think he’s been playing really good tennis to be in the top 5, and I wish him nothing but the best and a good recovery.”

 

Del Potro said that he plans to head straight to the Mayo Clinic for another consultation with his physician Dr. Richard Berger, who operated his right wrist surgery.
The next tournament is in the United States, and I have a couple of weeks off before the tournament and I will be there to see the doctor and what advice he will give to me,“ Del Potro said.

Share

Serena Williams Upset in Dubai Semis by Alize Cornet

 

Serena in press 2

Serena Williams

(February 21, 2014) DUBAI – No. 26 in the world Alize Cornet prevented an all-Williams Dubai Tennis Championships final when she stunned the world’s top player Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals on Friday. Earlier in the day Venus Williams defeated stopped 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-2.

Serena Williams talked about the loss:

“I’m a wee bit embarrassed,” she said with laughter.

“She played really well.  I just, you know, I didn’t play today.  I tried, though.  I just kept hitting errors.  I don’t think I have made that many errors in a match in I think at least three years, maybe four years.”

“I have been playing really, really solid for a long time.  Today just wasn’t my day.

“You know, she played a solid match.  She knew someone was going to hit balls in the stands and just didn’t get the ball in play, kind of.  I think she did that really well.

“I think I just, out of a 10, I was at like a ‑283,” Serena said. “Wow.”

AlizeCornet

Alize Cornet

“I was so excited about this match coming up to tonight, and now that I beat Serena, it’s a dream comes true,” said a stunned yet happy Cornet.  “It’s definitely the biggest win of my career.

“I did it in such a good way, such a good match.  Very, very strong and smart till the end.

“I didn’t try to be more powerful than her, because, anyway, it’s impossible.  I just tried to play with my weapon.  Wow, 6‑4, 6‑4.  I didn’t expect that definitely, and I’m really, really happy and proud of myself.”

“I haven’t felt good this whole week, to be honest, just from my first match,” Williams said.  “I felt I played good yesterday.  I had to play well.  If I’d have played like that today, I probably would have been ‑‑ I don’t know if I would have won, because I think Alize, she played really well, but I definitely think the scoreline would have been a little better.

“I started out extremely slow.  I have been actually looking at a turtle every day.  I think it’s so cute.  Maybe I was too influenced about by it.  It’s a really cute turtle in the hotel.

“I need to be able to play better than that if I want to be playing on this tour, on the professional tour.  Maybe I can go to amateurs.”

“If you don’t pretend to be confident against Serena, she just works on you,” said Cornet.  “I mean, when I won the first set I was 2‑Love up in the second, and then I felt that she wanted to put more pressure on me, to impress myself a little bit, and she started to scream louder on the shots and to hit harder.

“And at one point I looked at my coach.  I was like, She want to impress me, but it’s got going to be like that.  I’m going to put some more myself, too.

“And that’s what I did.  I broke her after.  I just didn’t let myself, you know, beaten by Serena.  From the beginning, I just tried to follow the tactic I did with my coach before.  And like a robot, just following the tactic.  That’s it.  Don’t think about anything else.”

“Now that I beat Serena, it’s a dream comes true.  It’s definitely the biggest win of my career.” This was Cornet’s first win over a current No. 1 player.

Cornet will try to become only the eighth player to beat both Williams sisters in the same tournament when she plays Venus in Saturday’s final. Venus is looking to win her 45th WTA title while Cornet wants to win her fourth.

“Before this match, I was telling my coach that she impress me the whole week, Venus,” Cornet explained.  “She’s, wow, she’s back to her top level.

“I think she feels a little bit at home here in Dubai because she won twice, and I lost against her here in 2009, so it’s going to be the revenge, and, wow, I can’t wait for it.  I don’t know what time is the final tomorrow, but I can’t wait to be there and just try to win the title.”

“I mean, not a lot of French players won here.  I think Amélie (Mauresmo) won and that’s it.  I hope to be the next one.”

Venus Williams has won all three career matches against Cornet.

Related article:

Venus Williams over Wozniacki

Venus Williams Moves into Dubai Final

Share

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

Halep Retires

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI – Fresh off her title victory in Doha on Sunday, Simona Halep was forced to retire with a right Achilles injury from her first round match trailing Alize Cornet 6-1, 1-1 at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday.

No. 9 Halep received treatment after Cornet had taken to lead 4-1.

“I have an inflammation at my Achilles. So when I jump with my serve and when I stop at the rallies, I feel the pain,” said Halep. “I wanted to try, because I like to try to fight for my chance, but here I couldn’t. After one set I realized that it is dangerous to continue.”

Share

Sloane Stephens Crashes Out in Opening Round of Dubai

sLOANE sTEPHENS dUBAI

(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – World No. 18 Sloane Stephens is now winless (0-2) in non-major events this year following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Last year Stephens also lost in the opening round of Dubai and last week, the American also fell in her first match in Doha last week.

Stephens told media that she needs to improve her results at Premier-Level events.

“I think it’s just something I need to work on, Stephens said. “I obviously need next year to try to do better here, and that’s what I need to do.”

She is 3-1 in majors this year and 0-2 in other events. Last year she was 15-4 in Majors and 24-19 on the WTA tour and Fed Cup. Stephens recently hired former Roger Federer and Pete Sampras coach Paul Annacone as her own.

“It was a tough match. She’s a great player and she played really well,” Stephens said. “I didn’t really get a good rhythm today, and she was playing some really good tennis at the end of the match.”

“Last year was a really long year,” she said. “It was tough towards the end, but I came through like a champ, and I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think being obviously American, it’s a much bigger deal because sports is really big in the US, and either way I think the whole thing was a learning experience and it was what it was.”

Also into the second round is recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, who overcame a challenge from Alisa Kleybanova to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. She’ll face No. 1 Serena Williams next.

Also in the day session in the final round of the qualifying matches, Australian Open semi-finalist and world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Annika Beck.

Others to advance to the main draw were 2013 US Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta, who beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Camila Giorgi 7-5, 6-2, and Maryna Zanevska rebounded from losing the first five games to defeat Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4.

Share

Knapp Sacks Riske: Italy Advances in Fed Cup Over USA

DSCN0663

By Steve Fogleman

(February 9, 2014) Karin Knapp followed up on her win over Christina McHale yesterday with a clinching 6-3, 7-5 victory today over Alison Riske in the first round of the 2014 Fed Cup season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Italians defeated the American team in all three live rubbers.

Knapp did had some trouble closing it out over Riske, who was a last-minute replacement for Madison Keys in an effort by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez to get some momentum for the US. Riske acquitted herself well. She elevated her game in the second set, and after drawing even with the Italian, she was broken at 5-5 in the next game. Knapp served it out from here.

Overall, the match was more competitive than it might appear.

“It’s not easy because she came back. I got a little bit nervous. I got a little bit of emotion.”

Knapp told the press that the team made a pact to jump in the Cleveland snow if they won the tie.

“After this, we will all put the jacket on, the scarf on and we will jump in the snow!”, she said.

No word on when and where that photo opportunity will occur, but the snowy tundra of Cleveland Public Square is conveniently located between the venue and the Fed Cup hotel.

The snow didn’t stop the crowd from arriving to cheer on the US team, but it did slow them down. There were many empty seats at the start of the tie, but the fans filled in to create a boisterous cheering section by the beginning of the second set. The Public Auditorium was noticeably louder than yesterday.

Riske

Riske

Riske had a “big group of people from Pittsburgh” to join her for the event. She called the tie “an unbelievable experience” and noted the “awesome” support from the fans.

She’ll be in training in the two weeks leading up to Indian Wells.

Madison Keys and Lauren Davis won the inconsequential doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Italy will advance to the quarterfinals, while the US will be attempting to simply avoid relegation from the World Group in their next outing.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

Related article:

Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland

sphere

Share

Marin Cilic Stops Top Seed Tommy Haas to Win Fourth Zagreb Title

 

Marin Cilic-001

By Florian Heer

(February 9, 2014) ZAGREB – Top seed Tommy Haas and the tournament’s number five Marin Cilic faced each other in the final of the ninth edition of the PBZ Zagreb Indoors. The German had won two of the previous three meetings, including their last encounter in the semi-finals of Hamburg in 2012. It was also the eighth time in the nine-year history of Zagreb that a Croat has reached the final. The tournament’s “dream-final” led to an almost fully packed Dom Sportova with about 5,000 spectators attending the match.

Both players hit a couple of unforced errors in the beginning of the match and consequently lost each of their opening service games. Cilic gained another break in the sixth game when Haas overcooked two forehand shots from the baseline and eventually served the first set out after 35 minutes of play.

In the second set, it was again the German veteran, who struggled to hold his serve and Cilic gained the decisive break through a nice forehand long line winner in the seventh game. The Croat, who is coached by former world number two and ace-hitting-machine Goran Ivanisevic, served big in the following to consolidate the advantage and eventually closed the match out winning 6-3, 6-4 after 80 minutes. Cilic won his fourth ATP title in Zagreb – the tenth in his career – without dropping a set in the entire week and is now holding a tournament best 22-4 win-loss record.

Tommy Haas-001

During the on-court ceremony Tommy Haas, who normally always thanks all the linesmen and umpires at the end of a week, criticized the absence of the Hawk Eye System in Zagreb.

“The hawk-eye was missing,” the top-seed still said on court. “I don’t say that every time I complain about a call that I’m right. It’s tough out there watching the lines all the time but only a few millimetres can be crucial. Hawk Eye just helps to see if a shot was in or out and you’re used to it now as so many tournaments now have it,” Haas added at the news conference.

“Congratulations to Marin, I think he played a very solid match and served very well when he had to,” Haas said about the match. “I wasn’t able to play my best tennis today, in particular at the beginning. Marin played the big points better and deserved to win. Overall I was very happy and excited to be in the final here and now I try to build up from here and to continue staying healthy, which is the most important thing for me,” the 35-year old stated.

The winner was more than happy afterwards. “Today I played really well, probably the best tennis this week. Another positive thing is that I haven’t lost too much energy this week as I played all the matches in two sets. For my next two tournaments, which are in a row it’s an important thing,” Cilic said.

Doubles finalists-001

In the doubles final second seeded team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau won their first title together. Both started their campaign as a new pairing in Brisbane this season and played their fourth tournament in 2014. They defeated another new tandem on the Tour in persons of Philipp Marx and Michal Mertinak, who made their debut as a team. Rojer and Tecau fought back winning the match 3-6, 6-4, 10-2 after 68 minutes. The Dutchman took his tenth ATP World Tour Doubles title and the Romanian won his seventeenth tournament. The pair share € 23.000 in prize money.

 

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

Share

Tennis Canada honors Rene Simpson Collins during Fed Cup tie

(L-R, Valerie Tetreault, Stephanie Dubois, Rene Simpson Collins, Sharon Fichman and Aleksandra Wozniak)

(L-R, Valerie Tetreault, Stephanie Dubois, Rene Simpson Collins, Sharon Fichman and Aleksandra Wozniak)

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin | @earthstroke

(February 8, 2014) MONTREAL – As part of the World Group II Fed Cup tie between Canada and Serbia held in Montreal this weekend, Tennis Canada paid a touching tribute to Rene Simpson Collins, former Fed Cup player and captain, who passed away last October after a relentless one-year fight with cancer.

The Canadian tennis world was deeply saddened in the fall of 2012 when her illness was announced. Multiple words of hope and support were shared by players, journalists and fans, notably through the Inspired By Rene website (http://www.inspiredbyrene.com), where Rene and her husband Jason shared thoughts and news on her on-going battle.

Wozniack patch

Players, as well as staff from both Tennis Canada and the ITF, also found their own way of honoring Simpson Collins on Saturday by wearing patches with the name Rene. It was also announced that a Rene Simpson Collins award will be created and given yearly by Tennis Canada to a player that showed promise, determination, courage, and pride.

Known for her determination, gritty attitude and incomparable fighting spirit, Rene went as high as No. 70 in the world in singles, while her biggest success came in doubles where she won three WTA events and reached a career high ranking of 32. She also took great pride in representing Canada by playing in 24 Fed Cup ties over 11 years and participating in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics both in singles and doubles.

As a Fed Cup captain between 2001 and 2009, Simpson Collins became an inspiration to an entire generation of Canadian tennis players. Stephanie Dubois, who has played numerous Fed Cup events since 2004, had great words for her former captain: ‘Rene was a great leader and a source of inspiration to all of us. We have lost a great part of Canadian tennis, and it was an honor to represent Canada with her as a captain’.

The greatest tribute would certainly come on the court from the Canadian Fed Cup team, who is aiming at reaching the World Group for the first time in twenty years.

Share

Marin Cilic and Tommy Haas to Meet in Zagreb Final

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

By Florian Heer

(February 8, 2014) ZAGREB – Top seed Tommy Haas and the tournament’s number five seed Marin Cilic led Saturday’s semi-final line-up at PBZ Zagreb Indoors. They were joined by qualifier Björn Phau and lucky loser Daniel Evans. This special situation of having a qualifier and a lucky loser in the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour event has been the first one since Prague 1999.

 

In the first match of the day Marin Cilic took on Björn Phau. The defending champion seemed to be in good shape and hasn’t dropped a set yet this week. The German qualifier, No. 358 in the world, competed in his first semi-final since Houston five years ago and is the eighth player in the past five years ranked outside the top 300 to reach the stage of the last four on the ATP World Tour. Cilic made a nervous start to this match. Some shaky serves and a couple of unforced errors led to break points for the underdog in the beginning of the encounter. However, Phau wasn’t able to convert and eventually it was the Croat, who capitalized on his single break point opportunity in the eighth game of the opening set to take the frame in the following.

With Phau losing his opening service game in the second set, Cilic began to dictate the pace but the German, quick on his feet, immediately broke back by running the baseline from coast to coast. In the end, the fourth seeded Croat was the more consistent player and broke Phau’s serve three times in a row. Cilic advanced to guarantee a Croat in the final for the eighth time in nine years in Zagreb winning 6-3, 6-4 in 84 minutes.

“I have never played or practiced with Björn before,” Cilic said afterwards. “It was difficult for me to read his game and in particular at the beginning I was a bit struggling to get into the match but later on I felt much better on the court,” the Croat analysed. “Overall I think, from both of us, the match wasn’t on the best level, especially in the second set with a lot of unforced errors and service losses. Nonetheless I was trying to force the pressure and I really wanted to make into the final. In the end I managed to finish the job, no matter how,” Cilic stated. “Tommy has a pretty good record in the finals, so I think it would be better to face Evans tomorrow,” the local told about his possible opponent for the final.

 

Tommy Haas

Tommy Haas

In the second encounter Tommy Haas faced Daniel Evans for the very first time. The German veteran gained his first victories of the season here in Zagreb after falling in the second round after a bye in Auckland and a first round defeat at the Australian Open. Evans has become the first British player other than Andy Murray to reach the semis in an ATP World Tour tournament since James Ward advanced to the semi-finals at London’s Queen Club in 2011. Haas outclassed his opponent in the first two games of the match and the Englishman needed to wait six minutes to make his first point of the match in the third game. From then on Evans found his way into the match by getting the early break back. The Brit made it an even affair, gained a break in the eleventh game to take the first set in the following. At this point it became clear, that this should become harder work for Haas than he may expected. Nonetheless, Haas remained patient waiting for his chance to break in the tenth game of the second set and therewith took the frame. The 35-year-old German improved his play in the final set, gained the decisive break in the sixth game to eventually reach his 28th career final winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes.

“I didn’t know much about Daniel,” Haas said afterwards. “But what I saw today was very nice to see. I like his game a lot. He plays with a good slice on his backhand and he also has a good serve. It’s always difficult to play against qualifiers, who won a couple of matches before and gained confidence,” Haas admitted Evan’s performance this week. “I’m very excited to be in another final. It’s great to play against an opponent, who is a big star in this country here and he obviously likes it here. A lot of things speak for Marin to do well here again but of course I’ll try everything to make his run stop tomorrow,” Haas said.

 

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

Share