2014/04/16

Knapp Sacks Riske: Italy Advances in Fed Cup Over USA

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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

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Italy Sweeps USA on Day 1 of Fed Cup to Take 2-0 Lead

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By Steve Fogleman

(February 8, 2014) CLEVELAND – Team Italy blanked the USA on Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio, to take a 2-0 lead in Fed Cup first round action.

Christina McHale played a horrendous first set, ceding second serves to Karin Knapp. Knapp’s powerful backhand threatened to make the match a runaway for the Italian. McHale settled down in the second and broke twice to level the score at 6-4.

The ultimate result was a big bang for Italy with a victory by Karin Knapp in three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. McHale ran her Fed Cup career record to 5-3 with the loss.

After the match, McHale admitted that “by giving her that lead she really relaxed and started playing much better.”

The Italian team was especially loud and supportive. Karin Knapp acknowledged that she feeds off of them and predicted that they would feed off of her win.

“We are not a lot, but we are loud. They helped me”, she said.  “They gave me confidence”.

“If I get the point, maybe Camila goes on the court a little relaxed.”

Maybe you’re right, Karin Knapp.

As predicted by Knapp, Camila Giorgi did come out relaxed…and focused.

Giorgi thrashed Madison Keys 6-2, 6-1, notching a victory for the Italian in her first Fed Cup rubber. Keys seemed to be confused and having one of those days, and she was unable to hold serve on a regular basis.

Giorgi said it did help her composure knowing that her nation was already on the board before she hit her first ball in a Fed Cup.

Keys summed it up best. “She was playing amazingly. I can only control so many things. Great job to her today”, she said.

The Americans are now in danger of losing a fourth straight tie to the Italian team dating back ten years. They’re 0-10 in ties where they’ve started with a pair of singles losses.

But US Captain Mary Joe Fernandez has every reason to believe that this team, at least on paper, should have a realistic shot at pulling a sweep of their own tomorrow. I agree.

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.

 

Video Bonus:
Fed Cup Cleveland: Better Than the Winter Olympics

 

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Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland

.@RISKE4REWARDS: Close to Home, But Still Not Messin’ Around With Those Cleveland Browns
By Steve Fogleman

(February 7, 2014) CLEVELAND – Alison Riske grew up in Pittsburgh, a mere two hours from Cleveland, but this week marks the first time the 23-year-old has ever been to this nearly-neighboring fair city.

As a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Riske is jovial and simultaneously serious about her love of the Steelers spoiling her desire to camp out in Cleveland.

“Never came. It is Browns territory, so I’m like ‘I’m not setting foot over there’.

I wouldn’t want to come to Cleveland for any other occasion than Fed Cup.”

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The World No. 46 admitted this without hesitation when I caught up with her outside of the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott at Key Center on the eve of her maiden Fed Cup voyage as a player.

Riske was a designated hitting partner six years ago as a 17-year-old at the US Fed Cup tie in Moscow and appreciated the experience.

“I got my feet wet. I think that was the whole point of being a ‘Future Fed Cupper’.

US Fed Cup Team 2014 Cleveland

Riske joins Cleveland native Lauren Davis in the fifth and final rubber on Sunday in doubles against Alice Matteucci and Nastassja Burnett. It could be crucial.

Fed Cup Doubles: Alison Riske, Lauren Davis, Nastassja Burnett, Alice Matteucci

Though she can cross ‘Fed Cup’ off of the old Bucket List for now, she says she’ll gladly come back and play singles anytime.

FUN FACT: Riske is the only regarded WTA player who lists Washington, DC as her address. But she’ll be filling out a change of address form sometime soon.

She’ll head to Toronto to rejoin her coach, Yves Boulais, who she followed to the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland a year ago. She will train full-time in Canada. Boulais left Maryland and returned to College Park late last year. She credits him for much of her success.

“I feel like my game has transformed into something I can build on. It’s really exciting and I think the best is yet to come.”

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.

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

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Draw Set for US-Italy Fed Cup in Cleveland

Draws and Results for Fed Cup for February 7, 2014

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Draw Set for US-Italy Fed Cup in Cleveland

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By Steve Fogleman

(February 7, 2014) CLEVELAND – The US and Italian Fed Cup Team match ups are all set in Cleveland, having been determined during an afternoon draw ceremony on Friday at a downtown hotel two blocks from the site of the tie the Public Auditorium.

The second-highest ranked American on the team, Christina McHale, will open against top Italian Team player Karin Knapp at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, followed by Madison Keys and Camila Giorgi.

On Sunday, Keys and Knapp will meet at 12:00 p.m., followed by McHale and Giorgi.

Alison Riske and Lauren Davis were enlisted for doubles, and they will square off on Sunday against Nastassja Burnett and Alice Mateucci in the fifth rubber.

At the post-draw press conference, the members of the American team expressed elation at having been chosen to participate on behalf of the US. Only one of the players—McHale—has previously represented her country in Fed Cup play and she was designated a captain for her experience.

“Whether I play or not, it’s great to be here”, said Alison Riske.

Mary Jo Fernandez spoke out in support of her designation of McHale as the leader of the team.

“It’s a different experience playing for your country. Christina has been there before. She knows what’s coming her way.”

McHale’s past participation aside, this group is Generation Next. The Americans hope to end an 0-3 slump to the Italians, after beating the Azzuri nine times in a row between 1963-2003.

 

DAY/LOCAL TIME      MATCH             PAIRING

Saturday, 1:00 p.m.          Singles A:         Christina McHale (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)

Singles B:         Madison Keys (USA)  vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Sunday, 12:00 p.m.           Singles C:         Madison Keys (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)

Singles D:        Christina McHale (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)

Doubles: Lauren Davis/Alison Riske (USA) vs. Nastassja Burnett/Alice Matteucci(ITA)

 

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US Hopes Youth Will Triumph When They Face Italy in Fed Cup this Weekend

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(February 5, 2014) The USA will face Italy for the fourth time in the last six years when both teams meet again in Cleveland this weekend in Fed Cup quarterfinal play.

Neither team will have its “A” team so youth will be served, especially for Team USA. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez named the team last month – Madison Keys (18), Alison Riske (23), Christina McHale (21) and Cleveland native Lauren Davi (20).

“It’s exciting to have young members, new members on the team, said Captain Fernandez to media on Wednesday in a pre-draw news conference.  “Christina (McHale) is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?

“And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23.  So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it’s your first time.  You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses.  I don’t really see any negatives.  Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
“I think that’s a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it.  For me’s really it’s all positive.”

“I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they’re big hitters,” said Fernandez. “They hit the ball hard and they’re aggressive.  Good indoors.  Probably one of their favorite surfaces.”

Team Italy who will be sporting a team of mostly first-timers are up to the challenge.

“I think will be a tough match, very talented match,” said Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti.  “They are young team against, so we come here to try hard to win this match and we know that will be difficult.”
“I think it’s pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it,” Fernandez said of the US squad.  “This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
“When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100.  I believe we’re at 11 or 12 now.  So everybody is improving and pushing each other.  We’re seeing the results.
“We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it’s very positive.  It’s extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.

As the lone member of the Fed Cup team with any Fed Cup experience, Christina McHale offer some advice to her teammates:

“I’ve had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I’m really excited to be back on the team.
“I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
“I mean, I think just, you know, it’s such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do.  I think that’s the best advice.”

Italy beat the US in the first round of Fed Cup last year. Overall, the US has a 9-3 record versus Italy in Fed Cup play. The US has the record for the most Fed Cup titles at 17, while last year’s winners Italy have now won the cup four out of the past eight years.

 

 

 

 

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US Names Keys, Riske McHale and Davis to Fed Cup Team

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(January 29, 2014) U.S. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez announced that up Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Christina McHale and Cleveland native Lauren Davis will represent the United States in the 2014 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas First Round tie against reigning Fed Cup champion Italy. The best-of-five match series will be played at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Feb. 8-9. Keys, Riske, and Davis will be making their Fed Cup debuts.

 

The winner advances to face either Spain or the Czech Republic in the semifinals, April 19-20.

 

Italian Captain Corrado Barazzutti announced earlier this week that Italy’s Fed Cup team will consist of world No. 45 Karin Knapp, No. 84 Camila Giorgi, Nastassja Burnett, and Alice Matteucci.

 

“We have a fresh group of young talent competing in this Fed Cup tie against Italy,” said Fernandez, who resides in Cleveland. “They’ve already won big matches on Grand Slam stages and are a reason why the future of American women’s tennis is so bright. Both Alison and Lauren had strong showings at the Australian Open earlier this month, Madison is the youngest player in the Top 40, and Christina has had valuable Fed Cup experience as well as solid showings in tournaments around the world. I have complete confidence in this team to step up and play great tennis in front of a patriotic crowd in Cleveland.”

 

Top Americans Serena Williams (back) and Sloane Stephens (wrist) will not compete due to injury.

 

The first-round showdown begins Saturday, Feb. 8, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player.  Sunday’s schedule features two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off and the No. 2 players meet, followed by a doubles match. Play on Saturday begins at 1:00 p.m. ET and play on Sunday begins at 12:00 p.m. ET. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

 

Single-day tickets for $25 per day remain available at www.usta.com/fedcup or by calling 888-334-USTA (8782). Collection Auto Group of North Olmstead, Ohio, will serve as a Fed Cup Tie Sponsor. Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage.

 

Ohio will be hosting Fed Cup for the first time. This match will mark the fourth meeting between the U.S. and Italy in the last six years. While Italy has won the last three matchups, the U.S. leads the overall series, 9-3. The U.S. defeated Italy in its first-ever Fed Cup tie, in 1963, and last defeated the country in 2003. The U.S. is 37-4 all-time in Fed Cup ties played at home.

 

World No. 37 Madison Keys, 18, is making her Fed Cup debut. Keys broke into the Top 40 in the world in 2013 after reaching the third round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon. In 2011, she became the youngest player to win a main draw match at the US Open since Nicole Vaidisova in 2005. And in 2009, she became the youngest player (14 years, 48 days) since Martina Hingis in 1994 to win a WTA match. Entering the 2014 season, Keys qualified for and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open tune-up event in Sydney, and she then advanced to the second round of the Australian Open. She trains with the USTA Player Development program at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.

 

Alison Riske, 23, is also making her Fed Cup debut. She is ranked a career-high No. 47 in the world after reaching the third round of the 2014 Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the WTA event in Hobart, Australia, at the beginning of the year. Riske gained national attention after advancing to the fourth round of the 2013 US Open, where she defeated former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round. Also in 2013, she reached the semifinals of the WTA grass-court event in Birmingham, England, and advanced to the third round at Wimbledon.

 

World No. 59 Christina McHale, 21, made her debut for the U.S. Fed Cup team in the 2010 quarterfinals and has a 4-3 record in Fed Cup play (all singles), winning her last four matches (all in 2012). McHale was the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic tennis team and reached the third round of three Grand Slam events that year. In 2011, she established herself as the second-highest-ranked American behind Serena Williams and became the youngest player in the WTA Top 50 after defeating then-world No. 9 Marion Bartoli en route to the third round of the US Open. She also won the bronze medal in singles and the silver in doubles at the 2011 Pan Am Games. As a junior player, she swept the singles and doubles titles at the 2009 USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships to earn wild cards into the US Open. Like Keys, McHale trains with the USTA Player Development program in Boca Raton.

 

World No. 60 Lauren Davis, 20, a Cleveland native, will also be making her Fed Cup debut. She reached the third round of the 2014 Australian Open for her career-best Grand Slam result. Davis competed in all four Grand Slam events in 2013 and started the year by reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open tune-up event in Hobart, losing to Stephens. After the Australian Open, Davis returned to the States and won the $100,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Midland, Mich. Davis broke into the Top 100 for the first time in her career in 2012, qualifying for and reaching the second round of the French Open and advancing to the quarterfinals in Quebec City, Canada. Davis also ended the 2012 season strong on the USTA Pro Circuit, winning the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas, sponsored by music mogul Redfoo of LMFAO. Davis peaked at No. 3 in the ITF World Junior Rankings in 2010, when she won the Orange Bowl and reached the final of the Easter Bowl. She trains at the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton.

 

Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international women’s team competition (96 countries have entered for 2014).  The U.S. and Italy are among the eight nations eligible to win the 2014 title as part of the elite Fed Cup World Group. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, the last coming in 2000, and holds an overall 143-33 record. For more information, including access to player and historical Fed Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/fedcup or www.fedcup.com. Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Fed Cup Team

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American Wild Card Alison Riske Upsets Seventh Seed Petra Kvitova at US Open

 

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

 

(August 31, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – American wild card, Pittsburgh native Alison Riske demolished 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0 to reach the round of 16 at a major for the first time.

The world No. 81 Riske, who is 23, won the last eight games against the seventh-seeded Kvitova for her first win over a top ten player.

“It was really emotional for me,” said Riske of the win.  “It’s just really cool because I feel like I’m playing within myself.  I’m not doing anything crazy.  It just feels really comfortable.  It’s exciting.”

“It was just really cool to see hard work kind of be put together, you know, to kind of happen,” Riske continued.  “It was really cool for me.  I have such a great support team behind me.  They’re kind of like my family.  So for them to be there with me was really special.”

Kvitova had seven double faults and 27 unforced errors to Riske’s mere 7 errors.

“I beat her last week in New Haven,” Kvitova said.  “Unfortunately, I couldn’t play really long rallies, like more than three shots in the rallies.  So I try to play my aggressive game, first or second shots, to have a winner.

“But she moved quite well.  She pushed me to the back.  So, I mean, that was tough for me.”

Kvitova admitted that she was ill during the match: “My body didn’t help me today to move little bit.  So unfortunately I tried to play, tried to fight.  But, yeah, my body wouldn’t let me to fight.”

The Czech thinks that she suffering from the same virus she had during Wimbledon.

“Is unlucky on the Grand Slam” said Kvitova.  I will take it for this year and next year will be better.”

Asked about who is the best player ever from Pittburgh is Riske said: “I’d like to think I’m up there.  I mean, I know Bjorn Fratangelo, a junior, doing great.  Gretchen Rush I believe had a pretty good career.  Yeah, hopefully I’m working my way up.”

Riske will meet Daniela Hantuchova for a spot in the quarterfinals.

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Mixed Results for Americans – Sam Querrey Upset, while Alison Riske Knocks Out Mona Barthel, Jack Sock Advances

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

(August 29, 2013)FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- No. 26-seeded Sam Querrey was upset in the second round of the U.S. Open while, other Americans Alison Riske and Jack Sock advanced in the draw.

No. 63 in the world Adrian Mannarino beat Querrey 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 on Thursday. The 63rd-ranked Frenchman reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

“I’m pretty bummed,” Querrey said.  “I don’t know the stats, but I probably went 1 for 10 on breakpoints.  I need to do a little better there, just play better tiebreaks.  My first‑serve percentage dropped in the tiebreakers, which hurt.  I think those two things were kind of it.”

 

Meanwhile, Riske stunned 28th seeded German Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round of the US Open. Up until this week, Riske had never won a main draw hard court match in her career until last month. Riske has done very well on grass over the past two years.

“I’m definitely excited,” said the Pennsylvania native.  “I mean, being in the clouds, I’m not really in the clouds because, I mean, I only won a couple matches.  Obviously, you know, I came here to do more than that.

It’s definitely exciting.  I’m looking forward to being here for another day.

Jack Sock has also moved into the third round with a win over Maxnimo Gonzalez Thursday 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

“I thought I did things well,” Sock said.  “The things I do well, I thought I did well today.  Serve came in handy for me at big times.  Used my forehand in aggression at key moments really well.

 

“Yeah, was fortunate enough to get through.”

 

Sock will play Janko Tipsarevic next. “Obviously a very good player.  Been in the top 10 before, I believe.  Got a good serve, solid off both sides, moves well.  I think it should be a good match.

 

“Just go out and do the things I do well, see how it goes.”

 

 

 

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Mattek-Sands, Hantuchova and Davis Receive Main Draw Wild Cards into Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI (August 6, 2013) — Four of the nine women’s wild card recipients for the 2013 Western & Southern Open have regional ties to Cincinnati and the surrounding area.

 

Two of the three main draw wild cards were born in the Midwest – Lauren Davis from Cleveland and Bethanie Mattek-Sands from Rochester, Minn. The third wild card went to Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova.

 

Qualifying wild cards were awarded to back-to-back NCAA singles champion and Cincinnati native Nicole Gibbs, as well as Pittsburgh’s Alison Riske. The remaining four qualifying wild cards went to New Jersey’s Christina McHale, Georgia’s Melanie Oudin and California’s Maria Sanchez along with Slovenian Polona Hercog.

 

“We take great pride that we have ticket buyers from all 50 states, and so much of that support comes from around the region because of the number of tennis fans who live within driving distance of the event,” said Tournament Director Vince Cicero. “We’re excited about this talented group of wild card recipients, and we hope that the Western & Southern Open can be a ‘home’ tournament for these players from this region.”

 

Davis, 19, who is from the Cleveland suburb of Gates Mills, won the 2008 Ohio High School Division II singles title while playing at Gilmour Academy. Early this season she reached her second WTA quarterfinal in Hobart.

 

Mattek-Sands will be making her fifth appearance at the Western & Southern Open. A semifinalist here in 2005, she also won the doubles title in 2007. In 2013, she has reached the final at Kuala Lumpur, the semifinals in Stuttgart and the fourth round at the French Open.

 

Hantuchova, who is playing Cincinnati for the sixth time, reached the 2005 semifinals here and was a quarterfinalist on two other occasions. She owns six career titles, including a win earlier this summer in Birmingham.

 

The six qualifying wild cards will begin play Saturday in a two-round tournament to earn one of 12 spots in the main draw.

 

Gibbs, 20, just completed her junior year at Stanford by winning her second straight NCAA singles title. In addition to her collegiate success this year, Gibbs has reached a pair of ITF event finals, winning the title in Yakima.

 

Riske, 23, reached the semifinals at the grass court event in Birmingham earlier this summer for the second time in her career. She has reached the semifinals or better in three ITF events this season.

 

McHale, 21, has had previous success in Cincinnati, reaching the main draw third round two of the last three years, including in 2011 when she defeated World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

 

Oudin, 21, reached the US Open quarterfinal in 2009, and in 2012, she won her first career WTA title. This year she has successfully qualified at WTA Premier events in Rome and Brussels.

 

Sanchez, 23, was an All-American at the University of Southern California. In 2013, she has reached the third round at the WTA event in Birmingham as well as two ITF quarterfinals.

 

Hercog, 22, owns two career WTA titles and this season has claimed two ITF tournament titles. She has been ranked as high as No. 35 in her career.

 

The draws for both the main draw and qualifying will be made on Friday. Qualifying begins Saturday, which is also AdvancePierre Foods Kids Day, and tickets start as low as $5. WTA main draw play begins Monday. All matches will take place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

 

The Western & Southern Open hosted 176,000 fans in 2012, recording a record 10 sellouts over the 16 total sessions spanning nine days. The event drew fans from all 50 states and 19 countries. Cincinnati is one of the last stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series leading up to the US Open, and often critical points and bonus money are on the line adding drama to the week.

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Brodsky Surprises as Levine and Ginepri Set Up Finals Clash for Australian Open Wildcard

Madison Keys (Photo by Tom Grason)

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – Semifinals Day at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs held at the Racquet Club of the South had the feel of a community tennis event with kids practicing their serves on outer courts while spectators wandered around the merchandise and food vendor areas inside the indoor court complex of the club. With all this activity going on around them, the semifinalists must have had to concentrate even twice as hard to keep focus on their main goal – a coveted wildcard berth into next month’s Australian Open.

Both Women’s semifinals went the distance but the tone and decibel level of each match was decidedly different. Madison Keys looked sluggish and distracted during the first set in her semi against No. 2 seed Alison Riske who used her low crosscourt forehand to great effectiveness taking the first set. But Keys found her huge serve and didn’t look back for the rest of the match as she went on to secure a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

The second semi featured No. 1 seed Coco Vandeweghe against Gail Brodsky. Despite Vandeweghe’s ability to hit heavy flat winners at will, Brodsky handled Vandeweghe’s pace and supplied plenty of her own in their rallies. Both women split the first two sets 6-3, 3-6 and as the third set started, the vocal outcries from both players showed how much they wanted it. Brodsky jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but Vandeweghe fought to pull even at 4-4. The next game proved to be a marathon with multiple deuces, but with a break point opportunity, Vandeweghe found herself at net with several chances to end the point. Instead it was Brodsky who chased down a short volley and hit a stunning pass that brought the crowd to its feet. Brodsky finally claimed the game to go up 5-4, first with an ace that was called a fault then corrected as good by the umpire and then the ad point when Vandeweghe hit long.

Both players questioned what seemed to be poor line calls late in the match, but Vandeweghe appeared to be the more frustrated of the two, even at one point engaging in a long conversation with the umpire before the start of a game. That frustration, plus having to serve from behind in the final set proved too much for Vandeweghe as Brodsky passed her at net on her first match point to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 9-7 win.

Afterwards, Brodsky talked about the issues with the officiating saying, “I wasn’t that upset about the calls because I can understand the situation as it was pretty dark inside and we both hit the ball pretty fast so I can understand where the mistakes would come from. But obviously it’s hard to deal with obvious errors when the match is that close.” Brodsky later credited her recent off-season training with the USTA for giving her the stamina she needed to pull off the upset.

On the men’s side, both semifinals saw convincing wins with the same scoreline. No. 2 seed Jesse Levine defeated No. 3 seed Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-2 that saw Levine close out the match with an ace. Levine, who since September has climbed 300 spots in the ATP rankings to No. 164, credited his new fitness trainer Austin Brock and a new coaching team that includes Tarik Benhabilies with helping him stay healthy.

 

Robby Ginepri (Photo by Tom Grason)

Levine will now face in the finals local favorite Robby Ginepri who defeated Rhyne Williams 7-5, 6-2 in the other semifinal. “It’s going to be a really tough match, said Levine, “I’ve never played Robby in a competitive match before. He’s a great player and he moves extremely well and it’s best three out of five tomorrow too so I’m going to rest up tonight. Obviously there’s a lot at stake for both of us. Three out of five sets is always a physical and mental battle so I will prepare myself the best way that I can.”

Sunday’s finals schedule will start at 1pm EST with Gail Brodsky against Madison Keys followed by Robby Ginepri against Jessie Levine.

Erik Gudris writes and moderates Adjustingthenet.com, a tennis news site. Follow him on Twitter @adjustingthenet.

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