October 27, 2016

US Open – Nishikori Beats Murray; Pliskova Reaches First Major Semifinal


Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

(September 7, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Kei Nishikori upset No. 2 Andy Murray in five sets while 10 seed Karolina Pliskova dominated final eight newcomer Ana Konjuh to reach the semifinals of the US Open during Wednesday’s day session.


Sixth seeded Nishikori rallied to beat three-time major winner Andy Murray 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 to reach the final four of the US Open for just his second time. The man from Japan was a losing finalist in the 2014 US Open final.


Pliskova and her serve dominated her opponent 6-2, 6-2. For the Czech, it will be her first major semifinal. She’ll play the winner of the Serena Williams – Simona Halep match, which takes place on Wednesday evening.


The turning point in the Murray – Nishikori match seemed to have come when a loud gong-like sound echoed in the middle of a point during the fourth set. Murray lost seven straight games after a let was called on that point.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Murray argued with the umpire Marija Cicak’s decision to stop the point and replay it.

Murry then spoke to a tournament supervisor.

“Wayne McKewen told me that it happened four times during the match that the speakers had gone off like that,” Murray said. “I had only heard it one time before, which was on set point in the second set. That was it.”

A similar event took place on Monday night between Ana Konjuh and Agnieszka Radwanska. The point was not stopped.

The USTA said that the digital audio processor was at fault. Here is the official statement:



One of the three digital audio sound processors in Arthur Ashe Stadium malfunctioned early in the fourth set of the Kei Nishikori – Andy Murray match. The malfunctioning unit is located at the court level. The three processors are linked, and work as a single unit. The malfunctioning unit could not be taken off-line without interrupting play. The malfunctioning unit will be replaced between the day and evening sessions. The replacement of the unit, which requires the shutting down and then re-booting of the system, can take up to thirty minutes.


The men’s match had been halted for rain in the second set and the roof was soon closed.


In the fifth set, Nishikori initially taking the break advantage until serving at 4-3, when after going up 40-0, he made several errors to give back the break. Both men held for 5-5 and Nishikori grabbed back the advantage breaking the Brit in the 11th game and holding for the victory.


Murray came into the US Open as the hottest player on the men’s tour, winning Wimbledon and the Olympic gold medal, going 26-1.

“I have not let anyone down,” he said.  “I tried my best. I fought as hard as I could with what I had today. I didn’t let anyone down. Certainly not myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could over the last few months, and I’m very proud of how I have done.

“You know, if someone had offered me the summer that I have had before Wimbledon, I probably would have signed for that. You know, asking me right now is pointless. I’m not going to have the best perspective on things right this minute, but, you know, after a few days, you know, away and stuff, I would imagine I’d be very happy with how I have done and, you know, learn from this match today and the summer as a whole, because, you know, it’s been tough. It’s been a hard summer.

“And, yeah, I’m happy with how it’s gone. There’s just a few things I could do differently next time.”


“I’m not disappointed in a way,” Murray said. “Obviously I would have loved to have won, but I have had a good run every match. I would have loved to have gone further, but it wasn’t to be today.”



“Yeah, it was really difficult match.,” Nishikori said. “I didn’t quite start well and lost 6-1. I felt it was really quick and I was rushing a little bit and missing too much unforced errors.

“But after rain delay I think I improve little bit with my coach, and I tried to change a little bit my tennis and start working a little bit better. I started get my rhythm back. Yeah, many breaks today.

“Especially fifth set it was really tough. I was up 4-3, 40- love and lost the game. So there was many up and downs, but I tried to calm. I think that’s the most important thing I did today. Even though there was many up and downs I tried to stay tough.

“Yeah, last couple games I took little chance, and, yeah, win the whole thing. So it was really tight game, but happy to win today.”


Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova

Pliskova came into the US Open as the only Top 20 player never to have been past the third round of a major.


“I don’t care at what time it came,” she said. “I’m just happy that it’s now and that it came. There are people saying that I could be there earlier, but right now I feel great and I feel it’s the right time for having the results like this.


“Obviously the title from Cincinnati helped me a lot. I was waiting for the bigger title for a few years, let’s say two, so that was next step.

“I think just everything is on time. I was practicing hard this year, and even the results in the beginning of this year were not that good as the last year. I’m happy that I could, you know, play my game on the biggest tournaments, which I didn’t play last year.”


Pliskova talked about the possibility of playing Serena Williams next:

“I played her once only, actually. I was in Stanford I think two or three years ago.

“I was completely different player at that time, so I am I improve a lot and obviously she probably as well. She’s a big hitter and she can, you know, have 50 winners and you cannot do much about it.

“But I still gonna hope that there is gonna be some chance in the match where I can get my chance and be the one who is playing aggressive. Obviously I played Venus this week, which is not probably that good as she is, but it’s very similar game.

“So I’ll just have to be ready for it, I think.”


If it’s Halep: “I have played her a few times. That would be probably — I don’t want to say easier for me. They are both really good. It’s going to be probably very close match tonight.

“But she’s not hitting that big and she’s not that dangerous as Serena is, so I would have more chances probably in the match to play my game and attack her serve and to going for the shots.

“But as I saw some statistics, she won last — from 24 matches, I think she won 22 or something like this, so she’s playing very good tennis right now. Probably she feels confidence. Will be tough to play her, as well.”


Ana Konjuh Wins First WTA Title at Nottingham Open

NOTTINGHAM - ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Ana Konjuh of Croatia celebrates winning the Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Niculescu of Romania with the Elena Baltacha Trophy on day eight of the WTA Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 15, 2015 in Nottingham, England.  (Photo by Jon Buckle/Getty Images for LTA)

NOTTINGHAM – ENGLAND – JUNE 15: Ana Konjuh of Croatia celebrates winning the Aegon Open Nottingham against Monica Niculescu of Romania with the Elena Baltacha Trophy on day eight of the WTA Aegon Open Nottingham at Nottingham Tennis Centre on June 15, 2015 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Jon Buckle/Getty Images for LTA)

(June 15, 2015) Croatian teen Ana Konjuh won her first WTA tour title on Monday defeating Monica Niculescu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 in a rain-delayed Nottingham Open final.

For the 17-year-old, former winner of junior titles at both the Australian and U.S. Opens, it was her third match in two days after playing both her quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Sunday.

Konjuh, who is the only under-18 player in women’s top 100, broke Niculescu’s serve four times in the final two sets at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.


“It means a lot, especially because it’s the first year here,” the world No. 87 Konjuh said. “It feels great, I didn’t expect it. I came here two days before to acclimatize on grass, and after five matches I’ve won the tournament, so it feels great.


“The first set wasn’t going my way but I had to stay calm. I just knew that my game was going to come and I did it much better in the second set. I’m really glad to get that win today.”


“She’s an uncomfortable player, especially on grass with that many slices,” Konjuh said of her opponent. “It’s so frustrating. She had that experience and took the first set because I wasn’t ready for it.”


“I had a perfect week and I hope to see everyone next year.

“I will remember it. It’s going to hold a special place in my heart, this tournament.”


World No. 61 Niculescu said: “Maybe I was not at my best in the final, I was a bit tired. She was serving and hitting the ball very hard. My return was not great, I was struggling a little bit. I’m happy to be here because I had so many tough three-set matches and came straight from Marseille in the heat and had to come to a new surface. But I’m really happy about this week and I’m really positive. My ranking will be better after this final hopefully. Life goes on.

“I don’t want to take away from her title because she played amazing.


“She played well, she deserved it. She’s a young, up and coming player. To have a title at 17, it’s amazing. I see her going very far in the rankings. This is just the beginning for her.”


On Court 17 Youth is Served and Gets Served On Day 2 of the US Open Qualies


Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

Setfan Kozlov, USTA International Spring Championships, Carson, CA

(August 20, 2014) Court 17, played host to a combination of veterans, college players and juniors on day two of the US Open qualifying tournament on Wednesday.

The day led off with a three-set women’s battle between former world No. 29, Poland’s Urszula Radwanska and last year’s Australian and US Open junior champion, Ana Konjuh of Croatia.

The younger sister of Agniezska Radwanska rocketed to a 6-1 first set, but the 16-year old Konjuh rebounded in the second set which consisted of mostly service breaks between to the two women.

The match took a turn the youngster’s way when the Croatian jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start off the third set. Unforced errors, which Konjuh fell victim to throughout the match crept back into her game and Radwanska won six out of the next seven games to claim the set and the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-4. Konjuh made 52 unforced errors in the match.

Second match on the fourth largest show court in Flushing Meadow saw 16-year-old junior Stefan Kozlov face off against former University of Virginia player Mitchell Frank. After a slow beginning from the two-time junior Grand Slam finalist, who lost the opening set 6-3, the match turned. Koslov took the next set 6-0. Frank had a medical time out for a trainer to work on his back. His movement appeared hampered and Koslov finished off his opponent by claiming the third set 6-2.

The third match on Court 17 saw former US Open quarterfinalist from 2009 and Mixed doubles champion from 2011, American Melanie Oudin play Sesil Karatantcheva, born in Bulgaria, but now representing Kazakhstan. The 22-year-old Oudin needed just 70 minutes to stop the 25-year-old, breaking her serve five times.

To round-up the evening, American junior 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe fell to No. 11 seed Tatsuma Ito in a two hour and 22 minute contest 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3.

Related article:

A Q & A with No. 1 US Junior Tennis Player Stefan Kozlov


Serena Williams and Li Na Move into Australian Open Third Round


(January 15, 2014) Serena Williams upped her record at the Australian Open to 60-8, equaling 11-time winner Margaret Court’s 60 match wins in the Open Era at the Australian Open with a drubbing of Vesna Dolonc 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes.

Williams put up 10 aces and 24 winners in the victory over the No. 104th player in the world under the 104F heat. The 17-time major winner wanted to make the match as short as possible.

“I think it was tough conditions out there,” Williams said.  “I think it keeps getting hotter.  Every day is really hot.

“So it wasn’t the plan, but it just so happened like that.”

“I thought about it, but it definitely was not in my game plan.  So it wasn’t really something that I was trying to do, is to go for winners.

“I just try to hit a bunch of aces and a bunch of winners – that’s all you can do because it’s too hot to get into long rallies,” she said.

Williams get the winner of Karolina Pliskova or Daniela Hantuchova next in the third round.

Fourth-seeded Li Na  took another teenager to school on Wednesday defeating 16-year-old Belinda Bencic, 6-0, 7-6(5). Li’s first-round win was over the youngest player in the tournament teen Ana Konjuh,

“She played exactly like Martina Hingis, I feel,” Li said.  “Yeah, it’s very tough to play a decent player I never see before, because I cannot get any information.

“When comes to the court, it’s like, Okay, is similar like first round.  It’s like, Okay.  Yeah, I think today she give me very tough time end of the second set.

“But I was really happy in the end I can use my experience to win the match.”

The almost 32-year-old Li yielded a mere 10 points in the 22 minute first set.

“I think in the first set it was quite a lesson, but in the second set I played better and I tried to be more aggressive,” Bencic said.

She’ll face No. 26 Lucie Safarova in the third round.

One upset on the women’s side so far on Wednesday – 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, the 15th seed fell to Monica Niculescu  2-6, 6-2, 6-2.