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(August 7, 2016) In a rematch of the 2012 Olympic bronze medal match, unseeded Juan Martin Del Potro surprised No. 1 Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2) in the first round of the Rio Olympics on Sunday.
Del Potro has been sidelined by wrist surgeries on and off, over the past few years is ranked 145th in the world. The big forehand which saw him win the 2009 U.S. Open returned to its former glory in beating Djokovic who was trying to complete a career “golden slam” by winning a gold medal at the Olympics. The Argentina crushed 41 total winners, 29 coming on his forehand side. His Serbian opponent, the 12-time major champion his more errors than winners 32 to 26.
Del Potro’s day started out with him being stuck in an elevator in the Olympic Village before Argentine handball players got him out.
It was a 50-50 day for defending women’s Olympic champion Serena Williams. The 34-year-old world No. 1 and holder of 22 majors titles won her opening singles match under gusty winds 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australia’s Daria Gavrilova.
Later in the day, Serena teamed up with sister Venus for their first round of doubles in Rio. The three-time doubles gold medalists and top seeds lost an Olympic doubles match for the first time ever, falling to the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-4.
Serena said that she and her sister “played terrible.”
Safarova was originally supposed to be playing with Karolina Pliskova, who withdrew.
Another pair of siblings also fell in their first round of Olympic doubles, as Andy and Jamie Murray lost to Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa 7-6 (6), 7-6 (14). Andy Murray won his first round singles match over Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-2.
Rafael Nadal returned to the court for the first time since the French Open with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Argentina’s Federico Delbonis. Nadal, Spain’s flagbearer in the opening ceremony of the games, is coming off a left wrist injury. Nadal won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but missed the 2012 London Olympics.
(August 3, 2016) The ITF has announced the seeds for the Rio 2016 Olympic Tennis Event being held at the Olympic Tennis Centre in Barra Olympic Park on 6-14 August.
The draw for the event will take place at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday 4 August at 11:00 local time (14:00 GMT). Sixty-four players are contesting the men’s and women’s singles, and 32 teams are contesting the men’s and women’s doubles.
Entries for the 16-team mixed doubles event will be determined on site from those players already participating in singles or doubles, with a maximum of two teams per country. Teams have to be nominated by their National Olympic Committee by the deadline of 9 August, with the draw taking place the same day.
(July 31, 2016) Novak Djokovic won his fourth Rogers Cup title on Sunday in Toronto beating Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5. For the Serb, the world’s top player it’s his 30th Masters Series title on the ATP World Tour, adding to his Masters title record. In the event which rotates between Toronto and Montreal, Djokovic also won titles in 2007, 2011 and 2012.
Djokovic, who has nine straight wins against Nishikori, is now 33-1 on hard courts for the year.
“I think he stepped it up,” said Nishikori. “He raise his level I think a lot from these couple days, couple days ago.
“He played really deep, and he didn’t give me any, like, free points. Especially he was serving really well, so I didn’t have many, you know, chance for my return game. So I was really feeling the pressure every game.
“Maybe second set maybe I had some chance, but there was too many unforced errors from me. Well, also he was playing good, but I couldn’t play good tennis today.”
“I think, like I said, I had too many unforced errors especially during important points. Yeah, he was returning really well today, I think. I was hitting some good first serves, but he was making return in deep.
“I hope I can step it up a little more and winning some titles, but I think still Novak is biggest challenge for me to win against him. Especially on hard court he’s been beating me. You know, not easy but two sets. Miami, here, especially big match like here in final.
“So I think I need more experience, you know, of these kind of matches, but I think this is a great week even though I lost Novak. It was second time this year in the final, Masters. I think getting closer and closer. So hope I can get a Masters title as soon as possible.
“I think that’s going to give me a lot of confidence for winning the Grand Slams and those big tournaments.
This is Djokovic’s seventh title of the year which includes victories at two majors – the Australian Open and the French Open with Masters titles at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Toronto, as well as a tournament in Doha.
Djokovic, whose next stop is Rio de Janiero for the Olympic Games was asked about his participation and if he has concerns about playing there.
“No, no. Really, again, I think it’s all in our minds,” he said about people having reservations about playing in Rio. “Depends how you really approach things. I really don’t think about negative stuff and stuff that might cause a fear or concern or something like that, like viruses or security issues.
“Surely they are there. We have to be, in a way, cautious. But I try to look at things from the brighter side. I’m part of the Olympic Games. You know, it’s a very exciting city and country that is very passionate for sports. You know, millions of people will be there. You know, so many other millions will watch it on the TV. That’s the kind of vibe that I feed on, and I look forward to the Olympic Games because I approach it in that way. So I can’t wait to be there.”
Asked about the importance of winning a gold medal to his legacy he commented:
“Well, there is going to be a lot going on with the Olympic Games, and as you mentioned, different sports and different events.
“Well, it’s the biggest sports event in the history of the sport, so to be part of it is already a huge privilege and honor that I will cherish, as I did in Beijing and London Olympic Games.
“I had an honor of carrying the flag for my country in London back in 2012, and that was one of the most unique and unforgettable moments of my life. So I look forward to that, honestly, just being part of it.
“Approaching the Olympic Games as any other tournament, really. Trying to respect the same kind of preparation and routine that I have with my team and that I have respected for so many years, and that has worked well for us this week and as most of the other weeks the last couple of years.
“So of course the overall sensation is not going to be the same as the other tournaments, because it’s Olympic Games. You know, of course you represent your country. You know, you get to feel that you’re part of something much larger than just the tennis event. I look forward to that. I’m going to try to extract that positivity out of that huge attention and energy that will be directed into the Olympic Games and hopefully put myself in a position to battle for a medal.”
“After Grand Slams, these are the biggest events we have in sport of tennis,” Djokovic continued. “Naturally I’m going to be very disciplined, committed, and focused to do well.
“But, you know, obviously Grand Slams you value those, you know, the most because in the history books they count the most. But in the other hand, you know, I love playing in Masters tournaments throughout my career. I have had plenty of success in this particular category of events, and I’m very grateful for that because I always value them as much as I value Grand Slams.
“So, you know, I try to approach every single day, whether it’s a match day or practice day, with the right mindset and knowing that this will eventually pay off down the road.”
Djokovic captured the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic games.
All photos by Nida Alibhai.
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(July 30, 2016) TORONTO – All photos by Nida Alibhai from Saturday.
TORONTO RESULTS, SATURDAY JULY 30, 2016
Singles – Semifinals
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  G. Monfils (FRA) 63 62
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d  S. Wawrinka (SUI) 76(6) 61
Doubles – Semifinals
 J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d  D. Nestor (CAN) / V. Pospisil (CAN) 64 67(5) 10-7
 I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) d  F. Mergea (ROU) / H. Tecau (ROU) 64 63
MONTREAL RESULTS, SATURDAY JULY 30, 2016
Singles – Semifinals
 S. Halep (ROU) d  A. Kerber (GER) 60 36 62
 M. Keys (USA) d [Q] K. Kucova (SVK) 62 61
Doubles – Semifinals
 E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) d C. Mchale (USA) / A. Muhammad (USA) 64 62
[WC] S. Halep (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d A. Klepac (SLO) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 63 26 10-6
TORONTO ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY JULY 31, 2016
CENTRE COURT start 1:20 pm
 I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) vs  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
Not Before 4:00 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
MONTREAL ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY JULY 31, 2016
CENTRAL start 1:00 pm
 M. Keys (USA) vs  S. Halep (ROU)
After Suitable Rest –  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) vs [WC] S. Halep (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU)
By Herman Wood
(July 30, 2016) ATLANTA, Georgia – The BB&T Atlanta Open began with qualifying on Saturday. The BB&T is a ATP World 250 tour event held in downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station with a 28 player main singles draw and a 16 team draw. It is the the third event in the nine tournament series leading to the U.S. Open. This year marks the thirteenth year of the series. The Atlanta stop will also be the last ATP tour event prior to the Olympic games. On a side note, 2016 is the anniversary of the Atlanta Olympic games in which Andre Agassi won gold. The tournament is helping the city celebrate with an Olympic exhibit in Atlantic Station with a variety of athletes from those games stopping in. Andre Agassi was to play an exhibition against his opponent from those Olympics, Sergi Bruguera, but had to withdraw from future tennis events for the foreseeable future due to recurring back problems. John McEnroe will replace him for the exhibition Sunday evening. John Isner returns as a three-time champion, but faces a strong field headlined by eighteenth ranked Nick Kyrgios in his quest to capture a fourth consecutive title.
Kyrgios caused a bit of stir as he checked into the tournament hotel on Saturday, chatting with local players and posing for selfies upon request. It will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to him as could face American Jared Donaldson or fellow Australian Sam Groth, always a fan favorite in Atlanta in his opening match. He will not see former Georgia Bulldog and top ranked American John Isner unless both men make the final. Another Bulldog, Austin Smith, received the annual “college wildcard”, though will face 63rd ranked Taylor Fritz, an eighteen year old American in the opening round of the main draw.
The qualifying tournament has seven American men vying for two slots in the main draw. Their numbers were cut to three at the end of Saturday’s action. Nicholas Meister, Austin Krajicek, and Christopher Eubanks were the only to survive. Eubanks took the hard way in, winning a local “Atlanta Challenge” tournament to earn his place in qualifying. Clearly, it was well earned, with Eubanks playing very well in today’s action.
Eubanks played fellow American . Paul was the 2015 Roland Garros junior champion and was the lone American to make it through qualifying at the 2015 U.S. Open. Eubanks’ experience as a college player at Georgia Tech seemed to help him with the momentum swings that were part of the match. He put pressure on Paul’s serve early and often, forcing long service games. Paul didn’t help his cause, at one point on getting in only 41% of his first serves. Eubanks got the early break in the first set and ran away with the set at 6-2. Paul made some adjustments early in the second set, moving back for Eubanks’ second serve to better get the ball in his strike zone. Eubanks obliged by letting his own first service percentage drop a little, giving Paul the opportunities he needed.
Eubanks “just kind of stuck with it until I got that break back from down 4-1 to give me a little more juice. Then I got a quick hold to consolidate the break, something we always talk about.” “At that point I just said I’ve been breaking him all day, let’s get another one.” Once that match got even, it was mostly a matter of quick holds until Eubanks held to go up 6-5. Paul put up some resistance, bringing his service game to deuce before finally sending one long giving Eubanks the 6-2, 7-5 win. He will take on 104th ranked Thiago Moneiro of Brazil in the next round of qualifying on Sunday at 11 AM.
Nine Americans are already part of the main draw. Play will continue all week, wrapping up with Sunday singles and doubles finals.
(July 29, 2016) TORONTO – All photos by Nida Alibhai from Friday.
RESULTS – FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2016
Singles – Quarter-finals
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d  T. Berdych (CZE) 76(6) 64
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) d K. Anderson (RSA) 61 63
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d G. Dimitrov (BUL) 63 36 62
 G. Monfils (FRA) d  M. Raonic (CAN) 64 64
Doubles – Quarter-finals
 F. Mergea (ROU) / H. Tecau (ROU) d  B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 63 63
 J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d  R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) 36 75 10-4
 I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) d  H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) 36 64 10-8
 D. Nestor (CAN) / V. Pospisil (CAN) d T. Berdych (CZE) / R. Stepanek (CZE) 63 76(6)
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 30 JULY 2016
CENTRE COURT start 12:20 pm
 F. Mergea (ROU) / H. Tecau (ROU) vs  I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
 K. Nishikori (JPN) vs  S. Wawrinka (SUI)
Not Before 5:50 pm
 D. Nestor (CAN) / V. Pospisil (CAN) vs  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  G. Monfils (FRA)
(July 28, 2016) TORONTO – All photos by Nida Alibhai from Wednesday.
RESULTS – THURSDAY, 28 JULY 2016
Singles – Second Round
 N. Djokovic (SRB) d [Q] R. Stepanek (CZE) 62 64
 S. Wawrinka (SUI) d  J. Sock (USA) 76(3) 62
 K. Nishikori (JPN) d R. Ram (USA) 63 64
 M. Raonic (CAN) d [Q] J. Donaldson (USA) 62 63
 T. Berdych (CZE) d [Q] R. Harrison (USA) 64 67(2) 64
 G. Monfils (FRA) d  D. Goffin (BEL) 76(5) 26 64
K. Anderson (RSA) d  B. Tomic (AUS) 46 63 64
G. Dimitrov (BUL) d I. Karlovic (CRO) 63 75
Doubles – Second Round
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d M. Matkowski (POL) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 64
 J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d B. Tomic (AUS) / V. Troicki (SRB) 63 62
 D. Nestor (CAN) / V. Pospisil (CAN) d N. Kyrgios (AUS) / J. Sock (USA) 76(4) 01 Ret. (Sock arm)
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d [WC] P. Bester (CAN) / A. Shamasdin (CAN) 64 76(4)
 H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) d G. Dimitrov (BUL) / S. Wawrinka (SUI) 76(4) 62
SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2016
CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
K. Anderson (RSA) vs  S. Wawrinka (SUI)
G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
Not Before 6:30 pm
 N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  T. Berdych (CZE)
 M. Raonic (CAN) vs  G. Monfils (FRA)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
 B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs  F. Mergea (ROU) / H. Tecau (ROU)
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs  J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
 I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) vs  H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS)
Not Before 7:30 pm
After Suitable Rest –  D. Nestor (CAN) / V. Pospisil (CAN) vs T. Berdych (CZE) / R. Stepanek (CZE)