2014/11/01

Americans in Paris – Day Three at Roland Garros

USdcfclogo

(May 28, 2013) . Americans went 1-3 in Paris on the day 2 of the French Open. Here is a look at how they all fared:
(27) Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 60 36 62
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Lauren Davis (USA) 60 75
[Q] J Sock (USA) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 62 62 75
[WC] L Pouille (FRA) d [WC] Alex Kuznetsov (USA) 61 76(2) 62

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

World No. 118 Jack Sock was the only U.S. player in the win column on Day three of the French Open.

During his post- match news conference Sock, who made it into the main draw as a qualifier, shared the story on why he has two sets on initials on his sneakers.

“I grew up playing junior tennis with one of the kids named Alex Rovello, played a bunch of junior tournaments with him.

“His family came out to the US Open last couple of years and watched, and gave them tickets and everything.  They were just good family friends.  He was a good friend from juniors.  He passed away in a tragic car accident a couple weeks ago.

“And then a guy I played high school tennis with, Brian Boyd, also passed away in a car accident in the last couple of weeks.  And, yeah, spent a year or two playing high school tennis with him.  I mean, team parties, team dinners, all that, I mean, we were friends.  Just sucks to see someone go that soon.  They were both 21, I think, sophomores, juniors in college.

“So, yeah, it’s definitely been ‑‑ kind of hits you out of nowhere.  So I put the initials on my shoes and definitely thinking of them out there.”

As for the match, Sock was very excited about playing on the clay in Europe.

“First time competing over here in Europe, so, I mean, I was definitely excited coming over here to play, “ said Sock.  I love playing on clay, so I was even more excited coming out here and competing on the clay.

“And to come through quallies and have some momentum and confidence definitely and come in the main draw and then playing him, playing Garcia‑Lopez, who I played in Bordeaux last week or the week before, it was nice to have a little insight on his game, and was able to play well today and get the win.”

Sock made his debut in a major just last August at the US Open where he made the third round.

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Meet Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, USTA Pro Circuit French Open Wild Card Challenge Winners

Shelby_Rogers_Semis_9-29Kuznetsov

The USTA held a conference call with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge winners, who each earned a wild card into the 2013 French Open based on results over the past three weeks on the USTA Pro Circuit. Here is the official transcript of the call from the ASAPSports site:

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

May 6, 2013

Alex Kuznetsov

Shelby Rogers

AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks for joining us on the call today with Alex Kuznetsov and Shelby Rogers, the men’s and women’s winners of the Har‑Tru U.S. Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, winning a wild card into the 2013 French Open later this month.
The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French Open and US Open are exchanged.  This is the second year the USTA has held the Wild Card Challenge using the U.S. Pro Circuit events to determine the recipients.
The winner of the Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who accumulated the greatest number of ATP and WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit events.  Alex earned 115 points in the challenge, winning the title in Sarasota, reaching the quarters in Savannah and Tallahassee.  Shelby earned 88 points winning the Charlottesville title and reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan.  She clinched the wild card this weekend.
Both Alex and Shelby will be making their French Open main draw debuts.  Alex reached the finals of the French Open juniors in 2004, losing to Monfils in the final.  Shelby’s last appearance in a Grand Slam was in 2010 when she won a wild card into the US Open by winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships.
We’ll open it up for questions.

Q.  Alex, could you think back to 2004 when you were a finalist in the boys tournament at Roland Garros, give us an idea at that point where you felt your career was and maybe were you thinking back then that relatively soon you’d be in the main draw there at the French Open and what it means to you now to earn that chance to play in the main draw there.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously, yeah, back then it was a great time for me.  I was in the finals of the juniors.  I was playing some good tennis.  Going up against Gaël Monfils, I think he was ranked No.1 in the world at that time.  We were going to be playing on Court1.  I remember I was really excited.  Had my parents and grandparents over there with me, some coaches.
Yeah, obviously it was a great time for me.  But I knew it was a long road ahead of me.  I think I had a couple ATP points at the time.  I knew after that tournament I was going to be playing a lot of futures and challengers events.
But, honestly, to think I guess it’s been almost 10 years that this will be my first French Open main draw, I would have said I’d liked to have been in a couple before now, to be honest with you.

Q.  What does it mean to you to get that chance now?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  It means a lot.  It means all the hard work that I’ve put in is paying off.  I continue to keep working hard.  I know this is kind of the first step of many, I hope.  I look forward to continue playing some good tennis.  I look forward to getting over to Nice next week to start playing some tournaments over there, hopefully get some matches under my belt there.  Hopefully I continue playing well leading up to Roland Garros.

Q.  Alex, obviously we saw last year someone who had some major injuries, not exactly the same situation with you, the car accident.  I’m wondering if Brian Baker offered any inspiration for you in the last few months?  Obviously he was also a French Open junior finalist a long time ago, came back and made a big impact last year.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Brian offered a lot of encouragement to me just to see kind of what he’s been through throughout his whole career.  I had that one major injury with the car accident, but he’s a guy who has had numerous major issues with his knees and his hip and his elbow.  This is a guy that pretty much stopped playing professional tennis, became a coach in college tennis.
To see him come back the way he did, get to the final of Nice last year, go to the French Open and win a round, then play Simon tight in five sets, that gave me a lot of inspiration to see Brian do that.
I’m good friends with Brian.  He’s come down to Saddlebrook to train in the off‑season.  To see how hard he works, how much he loves the game, it’s a great thing.  I wish him more success and I hope he recovers quickly, hopefully we can do some good things on the ATP Tour together.

Q.  At 26, do you feel like there’s still a lot of road ahead of you as a professional tennis player?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Definitely, definitely.  I feel, honestly, that I’m playing some of the best tennis of my life.  I feel strong.  I feel fit.  I’m really looking forward to the future.  I feel like I’m on the right path right now.  I feel I’m really focused on what I need to do.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard.  Hopefully I can continue some good success.

Q.  What is your coaching situation right now?  You said you’re training aft Saddlebrook primarily?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Primarily at Saddlebrook.  I work with a guy named René Moller.  He played on the tour.  He’s from NewZealand.  He also played at the University of Auburn.  Also I’m working with Craig O’Shannessy.  He’s been helping me out these last couple months not necessarily at tournaments but over the phone.  We’ve done some video.  He’s actually going to be in Paris with me this year.

Q.  Alex, looking back at your results this year, there wasn’t too much of a sign that the big breakthrough was going to come through for the three tournaments, particular in Sarasota.  How were you able to turn it around and what was your mindset going into this whole playoff system?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  My mindset, I wasn’t thinking about the wild card at all, to be honest with you.  I got the email from the USTA saying they were going to be doing this playoff for it with these three tournaments.  I didn’t think much of it.  I think I lost five or six matches first rounds coming into Sarasota.  I didn’t make the main draw.  I had to play qualifying.
To be honest with you, I was looking to go to Sarasota, get some confidence back.  With every match, I gained a little bit more, started playing some really good tennis midweek.  That continued even through the three weeks.  Even in Savannah, I lost to a good clay player in Hidalgo.  I was unfortunate to have a shoulder injury in Tallahassee.  I beat some good players along the way and am feeling really confident with my game right now.

Q.  Was there any particular win that you had maybe in Sarasota that you think really kind of spurred you on towards this run?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  You know, I played a lot of good players there.  I think with every match I just gained a little more confidence.  I beat Ben Becker, who is a top 100 player.  He’s been there for a while.  I beat a good friend of mine playing some good tennis this year, Tim Smyczek, in a tight three‑setter.  Then I beat Stevie Johnson, also a really good player who has been playing some good tennis this past year.
With every match, I just got more and more confident.  I think the final really showed how well I think I’m capable of playing.  I feel I still need to work really hard to attain that level with every match.
To beat Wayne Odesnik 6‑0, 6‑2, was something I definitely didn’t expect.  I was really happy with the result.  I’m really looking forward, as I’ve been saying, to the future and continuing to work hard.

Q.  You said you went into it without thinking about the wild card.  At what point did you realize that it was within your grasp?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Honestly, even after I won Sarasota, I didn’t think I was going to have the wild card.  I still knew that Wayne, he’s a great clay court player, all he really needed to do was win Savannah or Tallahassee.  I think he was capable of doing that.  Also with the fields that we had in those tournaments, there’s a number of guys that could have won two weeks back‑to‑back.
Even after Sarasota, I wasn’t thinking much about it, to be honest with you.

Q.  Shelby, can you talk a little bit about your run through the three tournaments, how you were able to get things together and pull this off.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  Going into Dothan, I was in a similar situation at Alex.  I lost six matches this year.  I hadn’t won a round since November of last year or something.  I was just trying to get some confidence back, get some matches, get some clay court tennis in.
I thankfully carried the moment over into Charlottesville.  I was playing solid tennis, I was confident with what I was doing.  Unfortunately I had to play one of my friends I think every round at that tournament, so that was a little bit tough, playing the Americans.
But, yeah, all the cards fell in my favor that week.  I came out with the title.
Then going into Indian Harbour, I lost second round there, but it was a tough situation at the end because I was just kind of waiting for people to lose because I was at the top of the points.  I was just hoping somebody wouldn’t take the title that week and pass me.
At the same time I wanted my friends to do well there.  So hopefully I’m never in that situation again.  But I got the wild card in the end and I’m really happy about it.

Q.  Historically how comfortable are you on clay?  Have you played on European red clay before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I grew up on the green clay in the States.  I grew up in Charleston.  I was pretty much taught on the green clay.
I’ve only played two tournaments on red clay before.  I played one ITF junior event there which I won the singles and doubles, so that was a pretty special week in Costa Rica.  I played in Acapulco earlier this year and lost first‑round quallies there.
I feel pretty comfortable on the clay.  I’m confident in my game and my movement right now.  I’m just hoping for the best.  I’m ready for a good experience in France.

Q.  Have you been to Paris before?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No, I haven’t.  This will be my first time.

Q.  What’s the first thing you’re going to want to do?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think I have to go to the Eiffel Tower, right?  A couple other sites, I guess.  Maybe see the city a little bit.  Hopefully stay on the red clay as long as I can.

Q.  Shelby, what do you contribute all the success you’ve had in the last three weeks or so?  Has there been a change in your game, coaching, anything like that other than just hard work?
SHELBY ROGERS:  No.  I honestly haven’t changed a thing.  I had a rough start to the year.  I had a lot of tough matches against good players.  I felt like I was right there in each one of them.
I guess just sticking with it, keep believing in yourself, not giving up is the hardest part.  When you’re in a slump, you can get a little frustrated, want to not work as hard, stop what you’ve been doing to get you where you’re at.
I just kept believing in the process and I knew it was going to come, but maybe not so soon, maybe not for a French Open wild card.  But you have to keep working hard every day and something good’s bound to happen.

Q.  Are you currently working with someone in particular with the USTA?
SHELBY ROGERS:  My main coach is Sylvan Guichard.  He’s a French guy that works here in Boca with the USTA.

Q.  One of the USTA coaches will be with you in Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Unfortunately, Sylvan will not be able to go this year.  But I think two or three of the other USTA coaches will be over there.  They do a great job with the whole player development.  Everybody knows all the players’ games.  They can all help me out.  All the coaches are great so I’ll be in good hands.

Q.  You’ve done well in singles, but you’ve done almost as well in doubles.  What do you contribute that to and what do you think about doubles?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think doubles is really fun.  Singles obviously is a little more important to me.  But when I go on court for doubles.  I have good partners, we have a lot of fun on court.  It’s a little more relaxed than singles.  It’s just a good time.  You get to work on your serve, you get to come in more, a little more variety in doubles.  It’s a little bit different game, but I love it.  It’s a good time.

Q.  What about your switch to training with the USTA from training at Family Circle in Charleston?  Was that a big boost for you?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I guess it’s been a couple years now since I made that decision.  It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life, leaving my family and everyone at home, the coach I’d been with since I was seven.
But there just weren’t any players to train with in Charleston.  I had a good setup with coaching and fitness and stuff like that.  But moving to Boca, you have world‑class players every day to practice against, a nice gym, fitness trainers.  Everything is right at your fingertips.
I think it was a good move and something that I needed to do.  It definitely helped my game.  The results show that, I think.

Q.  When are you leaving for Paris?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I’m leaving Wednesday.  I’m playing a tournament before and then I’ll head over to Paris the following week.

Q.  Shelby, looking at your results the last couple years, you’re playing a lot of challengers, having some good results, cracked top 200.  I’m sure you see a lot of WTA main draw.  Do you feel in the next year or two you can get yourself to the point where you’ll be playing regular WTA events?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Absolutely, yeah, that’s definitely a goal of mine.  Going into this year, I want to be top 100 by the end of the year.  I think as a player, getting to the WTA is pretty important because you get more points in those tournaments, you can keep your ranking up a little bit easier.
Yeah, I mean, hopefully that happens as soon as possible.  But just got to take it one match at a time, one tournament at a time, hope for the best.

Q.  Game‑wise what do you feel you need to do to get to that level?
SHELBY ROGERS:  I think a big thing for me recently has been patience, not trying to do too much with my game.  I tend to pull the trigger a little bit too much.  Patience and strategy, just grinding away every point.

Q.  Alex, can you talk a little bit about what it will take for you to get the top 100 and then maybe top 50 or so?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I think, first off, I need to stay healthy.  That’s number one.  But then after that, kind of like what Shelby said, being consistent, playing at a consistent level week in, week out.  Obviously, nowadays with the men’s game, fitness is a big part of it.  I need to get stronger.
For me I think mentally, like I said, I just need to stay in it mentally week in, week out.  The year, it’s a long one.  I think in previous years I’ve had a few good results, then after that I’ve kind of gone away for a month or two before I had another one.  I think the main thing for me is staying in it mentally week in and week out.

Q.  Alex, I know you spend a lot of time at Saddlebrook, traveling around.  Do you get much chance to go home to Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Yeah, I try to get up there as much as I can.  My parents and grandparents are still up there.  My best friends are up there.  I try to get up there at least once every couple months, even though it’s hard.

Q.  When you were growing up, learning how to play, who were your influences in Pennsylvania?
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Mainly it was my dad.  My dad was kind of my main influence.  Also I worked with a guy by the name of Jason Katzer (phonetic).  He played at Ohio State.  He grew up in the area and was kind of my first tennis coach.

Q.  Could I have your thoughts on this particular process of deciding a wild card.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I think it’s a great way of picking a wild card recipient.  It shows a little bit more the player that can be consistent with results instead of just having one good weekend or one good week.  You really have to prove yourself over three weeks, which I think is a great process.
You have to be mentally tough.  You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks.  I mean, it’s the same players, but you just have to win the most matches.  Ultimately, yeah, I think it’s a better way.  I’m for it.  I like it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  Obviously I’m for it as well because I didn’t get to play for the one in Australia.  I think they chose the players they wanted in that one.  I think this is an opportunity for the player who is playing the best tennis at the time.  You’re also competing against players from different countries, so you’re not only competing against Americans.  Obviously there’s players from South America and from Europe who grew up playing on clay, so they have a lot of experience.  You deserve the wild card if you’re able to do that.

Q.  Shelby, you beat Nicole Gibbs at the 18‑and‑under championships to get your wild card into the US Open in 2010.  You didn’t go to college.  Can you talk about that decision and what the last two or three years have been like for you grinding it out on the Pro Tour.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, I had a couple good pro tournaments and decided to officially turn pro and not go to college right out of high school.
I did the whole college visit.  I went on my official visits, went to a couple schools.  I actually probably would have gone to Clemson maybe.  I was pretty set on that.
But I really had to give myself a chance on the tour.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.  I can always go back to school, get my degree, take classes, but I can’t always play on tour.
We have a pretty short window of time, I’d say.  And I had to give myself a chance.  I think I would have regretted it a lot if I didn’t, especially seeing some of my friends going out and trying it, as well.
I think I would have always been wanting to play for (indiscernible) in college.  I’m happy with my decision every single day.  I don’t regret a thing.

Q.  Shelby, who do you get to train with and see on a regular basis down in Boca?
SHELBY ROGERS:  We have Madison Keys, Grace Min, Jamie Hampton, Taylor Townsend, Kim Crawford, Sachia Vickery.  I hope I don’t leave anyone out.  That would be bad.

Q.  Do you train alongside them or play against them in practice matches frequently?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah, we’re always rotating.  We’re drilling together.  Playing matches together.  Fitness, as well.  It depends on who is in town.  We’re always traveling, playing tournaments.  Wherever we’re here, we help each other out.  All of us girls get along pretty good.  It’s a good environment, a good peer group for all of us to improve.

Q.  You said you’ve been at Boca for two years now.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yes.

Q.  Have you noticed in the last couple of years whether or not the tenor or intensity has changed?  A lot of recent success coming from players down there.
SHELBY ROGERS:  Yeah.  I mean, I think, you know, we’re constantly getting better as a team.  The USTA is making a lot of improvements down here.  Everybody’s working really hard.  We give 100% every day.  All the girls are putting themselves out there.
Like I said, we help each other every single day we’re here training.  We encourage each other, push each other, because we want to be the best we can be.
I think it’s really neat that we have a lot more girls training down here now.  Before there were just a few.  We were spread out all over the U.S.  It’s nice to be able to train with them and play matches because, like I said, in Charleston, I had nobody to hit with.  I had good coaches, resources, but nobody to play against.  So it’s really important to have a good group around you and people to play with.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Har‑Tru, the surface.  As a player, would you be interested in more American tournaments on Har‑Tru?
SHELBY ROGERS:  Like I said, I grew up on the green clay, so I’m pretty comfortable with it.  I guess if I grew up on the West Coast, I’d be more of a hard court player.
I don’t know.  I mean, the women have one tournament on green clay in Charleston, which is where I’m from, so that’s nice to have that in my hometown.
I’d be all for having more tournaments on the Har‑Tru.  I think it’s a great surface.  Brings out different parts of your game.
I guess we have an advantage being on the East Coast.  I don’t know.  Everybody can travel around the country and have an equal opportunity to play on it.
ALEX KUZNETSOV:  I would be for it, but I also think being that our main Grand Slam is on hard court, there also needs to be obviously an equal amount of hard court tournaments.
Like Shelby, I also grew up playing on clay on the East Coast.  I played at a club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which had indoor red clay.  I hit on it a lot.
I don’t mind playing on clay, obviously.  I think it’s a good surface to start younger kids on.  I think they develop better on a clay court than they would a hard court.
But, yeah, I’d also be for it if they had a few more events.  But I’d like for them to keep some hard court tournaments, as well.
AMANDA KORBA:  Thanks today to Alex and Shelby for taking the time to talk with everybody.  Thanks for everybody on the call.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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Shelby Rogers Nabs USTA French Open Wild Card

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

Shelby Rogers by Craig Glover / Party Rock Open

(May 4, 2013) USTA Player Development announced that Shelby Rogers, 20, of Charleston, S.C., has earned a main draw wild card into the 2013 French Open by winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. The USTA awarded one women’s singles main draw wild card into the French Open to an American player based on her results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French and US Opens are exchanged.

 

The winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who accumulated the greatest number of WTA ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 clay-court events: the Dothan Pro Classic in Dothan, Ala., the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Va., and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

 

Rogers rose to the top of the standings by winning the Charlottesville title, reaching the quarterfinals in Dothan and the round of 16 in Indian Harbour Beach. Rogers clinched the wild card on Saturday when Alison Riske, the only player who could have overtaken Rogers, by winning the Indian Harbour Beach title, lost in the semifinals.

 

After her title in Charlottesville, Rogers, who trains at the USTA National Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., is currently ranked a career-high No. 190. Rogers claimed one additional singles title on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2012, beating US Open junior girls’ champion Samantha Crawford in the final of the $50,000 event in Yakima, Wash. Despite missing much of the spring and summer of 2011 due to injury, Rogers managed to reach the quarterfinals at three USTA Pro Circuit events that year. As a junior player, she won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championship to earn a wild card into the main draw of the 2010 US Open for her only appearance in a Grand Slam main draw.

 

Alex Kuznetsov, 26, of Richboro, Pa., and Tampa, Fla., clinched the men’s Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge earlier this week. Kuznetsov, a former French Open boys’ finalist, collected the most ATP ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and two $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and in Tallahassee, Fla.

Former US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker won last year’s USTA wild cards into the French Open.

 

WOMEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – FINAL

*The women’s wild card is awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

 

Player Name

$50K Dothan

$50K Charlottesville

$50K Ind. Harbour Beach

Total*

Shelby Rogers

18

70

10

88

Alison Riske

32

10

32

64

Allie Kiick

10

50

0

60

 

MEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – FINAL

*The men’s wild card is awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

Player Name

$100K Sarasota

$50K Savannah

 

$50K Tallahassee

Total
Alex Kuznetsov

100

15

15

115

Wayne Odesnik

60

15

7

75

Donald Young

0

29

15

44

 

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Former French Open Boys’ Finalist Alex Kuznetsov Claims USTA French Open Wild Card

Alex Kuznetsov

Alex Kuznetsov

(May 1, 2013) USTA Player Development announced that Alex Kuznetsov, 26, of Richboro, Pa., and Tampa, Fla., has earned a main draw wild card into the 2013 French Open by winning the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. This year, the USTA awarded one men’s singles main draw wild card into the French Open to an American player based on his results on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA and the French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild cards into the 2013 French and US Opens are exchanged.

 

The winner of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge was determined by the player who amassed the greatest number of ATP ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit clay-court challengers—a $100,000 event in Sarasota, Fla., and two $50,000 events in Savannah, Ga., and in Tallahassee, Fla. Kuznetsov has earned at least 115 points in the Wild Card Challenge, winning the title in Sarasota to collect 100 points and earning 15 points by reaching the quarterfinals in Savannah. (Kuznetsov has also earned 15 points thus far in Tallahassee and could add to that number if he defeats fellow American Tim Smyczek in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.) Wayne Odesnik, who was in second place behind Kuznetsov in the Wild Card Challenge entering Tallahassee, lost today to Facundo Arguello, 6-3, 6-3, eliminating Kuznetsov’s lone remaining challenger from contention.

 

“It was hard not to think about the wild card this week,” said Kuznetsov, following his win today. “I’ve been focusing on my matches and just playing my tennis. I have never played the French Open main draw before, only in the qualifying. Anytime you play in a Grand Slam, it is a really special event, it is always a great experience playing three of five sets in front of tons of people. It will be a lot of fun.”

 

Kuznetsov was a qualifier in Sarasota and won seven consecutive matches to take the title. The Sarasota Challenger was Kuznetsov’s fourth career USTA Pro Circuit Challenger crown. With his win in Sarasota, Kuznetsov climbed back into the Top 200 and is currently ranked No. 176—his highest ranking since February 2012. Kuznetsov finished 2012 strong, reaching two USTA Pro Circuit finals at the $75,000 Charlottesville (Va.) Challenger and the $15,000 Futures in Mansfield, Texas. However, prior to competing in Sarasota last month, Kuznetsov had not won a match in five straight tournaments and fell to No. 267 in the world.

 

A native of Kiev, Ukraine, where his grandfather was a handball champion, Kuznetsov was a standout junior and the boys’ runner-up at the 2004 junior French Open, where he lost to Gael Monfils. Following a severe leg injury suffered in a 2005 car accident, Kuznetsov came back to play in his first US Open main draw in 2006. In 2007, he won his first Grand Slam match at the Australian Open, reached the round of 16 in doubles at the US Open and posted career-best rankings of No. 158 in singles and No. 78 in doubles. Kuznetsov qualified for the 2012 Australian Open for his first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw since 2007 and faced Rafael Nadal in the first round. Kuznetsov has played in French Open qualifying on four occasions.

 

Kuznetsov joins Brian Baker as the second consecutive French Open junior boys’ finalist to earn a USTA wild card into the French Open. Baker, who reached the boys’ final of the French Open in 2003, advanced to the second round at last year’s French Open after earning the USTA wild card and subsequently broke into the Top 100. He followed up his clay-court run on the USTA Pro Circuit by reaching his first ATP Tour final at the French Open tune-up event in Nice, France, as a qualifier, and advancing to the fourth round of Wimbledon and the second round of the US Open.

 

Shelby Rogers is currently atop the standings for the French Open women’s wild card after winning the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend and is currently ranked a career-high No. 190 after her win in Charlottesville. Rogers claimed one additional singles title on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2012, beating US Open junior girls’ champion Samantha Crawford in the final of the $50,000 event in Yakima, Wash. Despite missing much of the spring and summer of 2011 due to injury, Rogers managed to reach the quarterfinals at three USTA Pro Circuit events that year. As a junior player, she won the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships to earn a wild card into the main draw of the 2010 US Open for her only appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. Rogers trains at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Former US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin won last year’s USTA wild card into the French Open.

 

 

MEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – FINAL

*The men’s wild card is awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

Player Name

$100K Sarasota

$50K Savannah

 

$50K Tallahassee

Total
Alex Kuznetsov

100

15

15^

115

Wayne Odesnik

60

15

7

75

Donald Young**

0

29

15^

36

 

^Advanced to quarterfinals in Tallahassee and will receive at least 15 points.

**Unable to surpass Kuznetsov

 

WOMEN’S HAR-TRU USTA PRO CIRCUIT WILD CARD CHALLENGE STANDINGS – THRU TWO EVENTS

*The women’s wild card will be awarded from the best combined results in two of the three events below.

 

Player Name

$50K Dothan

$50K Charlottesville

$50K Ind. Harbour Beach

Total*

Shelby Rogers

18

70

Held this week

88

Allie Kiick

10

50

60

Madison Brengle

10

32

44

Irina Falconi

32

10

44

Alison Riske

32

10

44

 

 

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Oz and Ends – Day One at the 2013 Australian Open

Melbourne park grounds

Oz and ends  and bits of news from the Australian Open for January 14, 2013

 

Bagels and breadsticks

Maria Sharapova won her first match of the Australian Open 6-0, 6-0 in 55 minutes over fellow Russian Olga Puchkova. It was her third career “double bagel” in a major tournament. She only needs a double bagel at Wimbledon to complete a “double bagel slam.”

Three women have completed the “double bagel slam” – they are Hall of Famers Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.

Venus Williams added to the bagel set count with a 6-1, 6-0 demolishing of Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva.

 

Win streak continues

Agnieszka Radwanska has extended her 2013 win streak to 10 by defeating Australian wild card entry Bojana Bobusic of 7-5, 6-0 on Monday.
Twitter News

Maria Sharapova has officially joined twitterverse. Follow her at @MariaSharapova

[tweet https://twitter.com/MariaSharapova/status/290778598774829058]

 

Tweets of the day

 

 

Lucky Loser is a winner
Tim Smyczek is lucky loser was a winner on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Ivo Karlovic. The American it into the draw thanks to housemate John Isner who pulled out of the tournament with a right knee injury.

 

Tough day for Aussies

Matthew Ebden, Ashleigh Barty, Olivia Rogowska, Sasha Jones,  John Millman, Lleyton, Hewitt and Casey Dellacqua all exited on day one of Australian Open. Sam Stosur was the only victorious Australian on Monday.

 

Two seeds falls

The 11th seed Juan Monaco was the only seeded played not to win on Monday. The Argentine who withdrew from last week’s Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament with a hand injury was clearly stuggling clearly struggling on the court in his straight set loss to Alex Kuznentsov, was applauded by spectators for not retiring from the match.

Monaco told Reuters: “My leg tightened up at the start of the second set and it was very tough for me,” pointing to his right leg.

On the women’s side Ksenia Pervak  stopped 32nd seed Mona Barthel 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

Federer out of Davis Cup

Roger Federer will not participate in Switzerland’s first round Davis Cup tie versus the reigning champions, the Czech Republic

 

Five set marathons

[22] Fernando Verdasco def. David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
[10] Nicolas Almagro def Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 6-7, 6-2
Edouard Rogers-Vasselin def. Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-7, 2-6, 7-5, 11-9
Daniel Gimeno-Traver def. Lukasz Kubot 6-7, 6-4, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4
[23] Mikhail Youzhny def. Matt Ebden 4-6, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-3
[28] Marcos Baghdatis def. Albert Ramos 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Roberto Bautista Agut def. Fabio Fognini 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
[31] Radek Stepanek def. Viktor Troicki 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5;
Brian Baker def. Alex Bogomolov 7-6, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-2.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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