July 28, 2015

Paire, Stosur, Thiem, Tsurenko and Tomic Win Tennis Titles This Week

Samantha Stosur

Samantha Stosur

(July 26, 2015) Benoit Paire, Samantha StosurDominik Thiem, Lesia Tsurenko and Bernard Tomic were the singles winners on the tennis tour this weekend.

France’s Paire joined the winner’s circle for the first time, claiming the ATP World Tour title at the SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad when he turned back Spain’s Tommy Robredo 7-6(7), 6-3. Paire is the sixth first-time winner on the men’s tour this year.

“It’s a perfect week,” Paire said. “The conditions today were not easy, but I’m really happy to win against Tommy. He’s a very good player. To play against him in the final and to beat him is a dream, so I’m very happy.

“It was a lot of pressure…  I hope it’s not the last one for me.”

Samantha Stosur rallied to win her second WTA title of the year and eighth overall after defeating Karin Knapp of Italy 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the final of the Gastein Ladies on Sunday. The Australian and former US Open champion also won the Strasbourg event back in May.

In a final which featured two unseeded players, Lesia Tsurenko won her first WTA title, besting Urszula Radwanska 7-5, 6-1 to win the Istanbul Cup.

“I’m so happy I could win here and show good tennis,” said the Ukrainian.

“That’s my goal, getting good results and showing good tennis.”

Austria’s Dominik Thiem won his second career ATP World Tour title, besting Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-1 to win the Croatia Open

“Today was very special day,” Thiem said. “We were watched by world’s number one Novak Djokovic,” Thiem said. “Usually he is the one who entertains us with great tennis and today we turned it around.”

“It is really special to win here after playing juniors matches in this stadium,” said Thiem who became the first Austrian to win this title since Thomas Muster did it twenty years ago. “I will have a nice dinner with my friends tonight to celebrate. It won’t be a big party for me as I have to drive eight hours to go to Gstaad tomorrow.”

Second seed Bernard Tomic defended his Claro Open Colombia title in Bogota, beating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

“It’s been a very good year,” Tomic said. “I started at No. 70 and am now close to No. 20. It’s been a good seven months. I’ll try to play well the next three months and have the chance to be in the Top 15.

“Every title you remember. I’m very happy to have won my third title and to defend it here was amazing. I’m really happy with myself… This is my most consistent year.”

The 22-year-old Australian, ranked 29th,  is now 9-0 at the tournament.

 

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The Road to the US Open Begins This Weekend at the BB&T Atlanta Open

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2015)ATLANTA, Georgia – The road to the US Open starts in Atlanta with the BB&T Atlanta Open this weekend with qualifying.  The BB&T is a ATP World Tour 250 event, with a 28 player singles and 16 player doubles draw.  Total prize money this year is $585,870.00.  The venue is set in downtown Atlanta, amongst the sky scrapers and shopping of Atlantic Station.  Two time champion and former University of Georgia all-time leader in singles and doubles wins, John Isner returns in search of a historic three-peat.

Arguably the best doubles team of all time, Bob and Mike Bryan make their debut in the BB&T.  They got their first tour win in an Atlanta event in 1998.  Defending doubles champ and singles semifinalist Jack Sock, along with doubles partner Vasek Pospisil, are looking to take another step in their development.  The doubles draw could be very interesting if a showdown between the Bryan brothers and “Popsock” materializes.  It was only a year ago that Pospisil/Sock denied the Bryans the Wimbledon 2014 title.

Marco Baghdatis is already turning heads in the ATL.  As he dropped off his racquets for stringing by the Prince Team at the Serious Tennis tent with Deana Buzzy Mitchell, he was reportedly, “very sweet and winked at me!”  That kind of behavior is sure to make him a fan favorite with at least half of the crowd.  Americans Steve Johnson, Tim Symzek, and Donald Young are also looking to make a statement.   In what could be a big story line, two time champion Mardy Fish is returning to the tour in this tournament.  He has struggled with health issues almost since the last tournament win in Atlanta.  He’ll also be teaming up with another former Atlanta champion, Andy Roddick.  Roddick will not play in the singles main draw, but is playing an exhibition match against another young American, 17 year old Frances Tiafoe on Monday night.  Tiafoe created a stir in the qualifying last year and has been granted a wild card into the main draw.  Other crowd favorites returning include Dudi Sela, last year’s finalist, 2013 finalist Kevin Anderson, and 2012 finalist Giles Muller.  The draw will also include 4 players from a 32 draw qualifying tournament to be played this weekend.

2015 French Open Boys’ champion Tommy Paul and this year’s Wild Card Challenge winner Trent Bryde have accepted two wild card spots into that BB&T Atlanta Open qualifying tournament.  Paul is the No. 5-ranked American junior. Bryde had to make his way through 5 matches in the Wild Card Challenge.  Georgia Tech also is providing a wild card to sophomore Christopher Eubanks.  Eubanks was named all Atlantic Coast Conference as a freshman last spring and finished ranked number 47 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Ticket sales have been on a record pace according to Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez.  Atlanta has always been a tennis town, with the largest local doubles league in the United States.  There will be several special events that are part of the tournament scene, including the above mentioned exhibition with Roddick, a kids weekend with special ticket promotions during the qualifying tournament, a Commodores concert, College Night, another concert featuring LoCash, Ladies Day, USTA member appreciation day, and a Family Zone presented by Prince at Atlantic Station where kids can play tennis.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Ram, Schmiedlova and Larsson Win Tennis Titles This Week

Rajeev Ram won the Van Alen Cup for the second time in his career today. The trophy is named for International Tennis Hall of Fame founder Jimmy Van Alen, who invented the tennis’ tiebreak system. Photo by Jennifer Carter

(July 19, 2015)Three surprise winners took titles this week on the tennis tour – Rajeev Ram, who knocked out top seed John Isner on Tuesday took home his second Newport title. The top Swedish woman took home her country’s  title in Bastad while Anna Karolina Schmiedlova knocked out top seed Sara Errani to win in Bucharest.

Ram stopped No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(2), the 31-year-old American ranked 161st coming into this week will move into the top 100 as of Monday. He became the third American to win multiple titles at this ATP World Tour grass-court event, this includes John Isner 2011-12 and Bryan Shelton 1991-92.

“To say that I felt like I’d be the winner at the end of the week… I had no idea,” Ram said. “The first one was more elation, this one is more satisfaction just because I did it again.”

Ram also won in Newport in 2009.
Seventh seeded Anna Karolina Schmiedlova upset No. 1 seed Sara Errani 7-6 (3), 6- to win the Bucharest Open final on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Slovak won the match in 97 degree heat, avenging a loss to the Italian in the Rio Open earlier this year.

“I still cannot believe I won, because it was a really tough match and Sara Errani is an amazing player,” Schmiedlova said to media. ”

“It’s tough to play against her anywhere, but especially on clay.” she said.

Johanna Larsson made her home country proud collecting the title at the Swedish Open, downing defending champion Mona Barthel 6-3, 7-6(2) for her first WTA title.

“I’m extremely happy,” Larsson said after the match. “I think I played really well today and I tried to concentrate on taking it point by point.

“I’m just really living in the moment right now and I’m happy with this victory today. Hopefully this can pay off later in the season, but right now I am just going to enjoy my first career WTA title.”

 

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Baghdatis Takes Down Top Seed Ferrer in Nottingham Opening Round

marcos Baghdatis-001

(June 23, 2015) Marcos Baghdatis knocked out top seed David Ferrer at the Aegon Open Nottingham on Tuesday.

Baghdatis said after beating 2013 French Open finalist Ferrer: “The best thing is that I’m feeling good on court. It was his first match on grass and at the beginning he didn’t have much rhythm. I think I played it smart not to give him any rhythm. I’m very happy about my win today but I have to keep my feet on the ground. There’s still a long way to go. But I feel good here, there are a lot of good vibrations, good vibes, positive energy.”

Ferrer admits that he was second-best on his return to the grass surface. He said: “Marcos was better than me. He played more hours on court and had more confidence in his game. For me, the first set was difficult because it was the first set back on grass. I didn’t have too many days of practice on this surface. I hope next year I’ll have more days here. It’s important to play more matches. Now I have to focus before Wimbledon. I will have four or five days of practice and I hope to play better.”

Third seed and two-time winner of the Aegon International at Eastbourne Feliciano Lopez also reached the third round beating junior World No. 1 Taylor Harry Fritz 6-3 6-3. He will be joined by second seed Gilles Simon who came through a three hour epic to defeat Spaniard Marcel Granollers, 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-7(0).

Meanwhile, world No. 16 Lopez knows that he faces a tough task to get past Lu and reach the last eight.Lopez said: “He’s a great player who can do very well on grass. He’s dangerous. I’ll try to play my game, be aggressive and hold serve. This is the way I have to play.”“Grass court season is good for me. It has been good for the last 10 years. It’s the surface where I play my best tennis, so I take advantage of that. My game is good for the grass, so hopefully I can have a great run here and also at Wimbledon next week.”

Fritz had already beaten World No. 66 Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the day in what was his ATP World Tour main draw debut. “He was not shy at all,” Lopez said. “The fact that he won his first match this morning gave him a lot of confidence and he went in with nothing to lose – he’s 700th in the world, I’m 16th – so it’s a great match for him to play. I think he has a great future.”

First on Centre Court was British No. 4 Ward, who resumed his rain-interrupted first round match up by one set against American Tim Smyczek but lost 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-1, before sixteenth-seed Czech Jiri Vesely defeated Smyczek 6-1, 6-3 in less than an hour in the second round.

On the outside courts, 18-year-old former junior world No. 1 Alexander Zverev came from a set down to beat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-4 and set up a third round meeting with Baghdatis. Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, who toppled Rafael Nadal at The Queen’s Club last week, overcame 11th seed Spaniard Pablo Andujar in 2 hours 20 minutes 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4, while world No. 23 Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas got past Dudi Sela of Israel in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4. Cuevas will next face big-serving American Sam Querrey, who took down Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 7-6(4), 6-4.

 

Results for June 23, 2015

Singles – Second Round
M. Baghdatis (CYP) d [1] D. Ferrer (ESP) 62 76(4)
[2] G. Simon (FRA) d M. Granollers (ESP) 46 76(3) 76(0) – saved 3 M.P.
[3] F. Lopez (ESP) d [WC] T. Fritz (USA) 63 63
[4] L. Mayer (ARG) d H. Chung (KOR) 63 61
[5] P. Cuevas (URU) d [Q] D. Sela (ISR) 75 64
S. Stakhovsky (UKR) d [6] V. Troicki (SRB) 64 62
[7] D. Thiem (AUT) d M. Jaziri (TUN) 63 61
[8] A. Mannarino (FRA) d A. Bedene (GBR) 76(4) 64
D. Istomin (UZB) d [9] J. Monaco (ARG) 61 62
S. Bolelli (ITA) d [10] M. Klizan (SVK) 63 67(4) 61
A. Dolgopolov (UKR) d [11] P. Andujar (ESP) 76(5) 67(5) 64
[12] S. Querrey (USA) d S. Giraldo (COL) 76(4) 64
[WC] A. Zverev (GER) d [13] T. Bellucci (BRA) 67(7) 63 64
[14] J. Sousa (POR) d S. Groth (AUS) 67(5) 63 76(3)
Y. Lu (TPE) d [15] A. Seppi (ITA) 64 63
[16] J. Vesely (CZE) d T. Smyczek (USA) 61 63

Singles – First Round
T. Smyczek (USA) d [WC] J. Ward (GBR) 16 76(3) 61
Y. Lu (TPE) d [Q] R. Bemelmans (BEL) 64 64
[WC] T. Fritz (USA) d P. Carreno Busta (ESP) 61 64
S. Groth (AUS) d [Q] M. Zverev (GER) 76(1) 76(3)

Doubles – First Round
[2] P. Cuevas (URU) / D. Marrero (ESP) d P. Andujar (ESP) / O. Marach (AUT) 63 64
[Alt] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d [4] D. Inglot (GBR) / J. Murray (GBR) 64 62
C. Guccione (AUS) / A. Sa (BRA) d J. Monaco (ARG) / D. Schwartzman (ARG) 64 76(3)
[WC] E. Butorac (USA) / C. Fleming (GBR) d M. Fyrstenberg (POL) / S. Gonzalez (MEX) 63 62
[WC] K. Skupski (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) d G. Duran (ARG) / L. Mayer (ARG) 61 64
R. Lindstedt (SWE) / A. Sitak (NZL) d R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) 36 76(5) 10-8
SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2015

CENTRE COURT start 12:00 noon
M. Baghdatis (CYP) vs [WC] A. Zverev (GER)
[5] P. Cuevas (URU) vs [12] S. Querrey (USA)
[14] J. Sousa (POR) vs [2] G. Simon (FRA)
Y. Lu (TPE) vs [3] F. Lopez (ESP)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
S. Bolelli (ITA) vs [8] A. Mannarino (FRA)
[4] L. Mayer (ARG) vs [16] J. Vesely (CZE)
[1] M. Granollers (ESP) / L. Paes (IND) vs T. Huey (PHI) / S. Lipsky (USA)
S. Bolelli (ITA) / A. Qureshi (PAK) vs [WC] E. Butorac (USA) / C. Fleming (GBR)
After Suitable Rest – R. Lindstedt (SWE) / A. Sitak (NZL) vs [2] P. Cuevas (URU) / D. Marrero (ESP)

COURT 2 start 12:00 noon

D. Istomin (UZB) vs S. Stakhovsky (UKR)
[WC] K. Skupski (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) vs [Alt] L. Kubot (POL) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)
[7] D. Thiem (AUT) vs A. Dolgopolov (UKR)

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Notable Quotables from the Queen’s Club Tennis Tournament

315Kyrgiosserve-001

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 21, 2015) LONDON, England – Notable quotes from 2015 Queens Club tournament:

Nick Kyrgios, asked about buying a scooter: “I don’t know, mate. I just bought a scooter because I felt like buying a scooter. I can’t tell you if it’s linked to tennis or anything like that. I just bought a scooter.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka, asked after their match about Nick Kyrgios’s comment that he doesn’t want to think about tennis for a couple of weeks: “I think he’s saying a lot of things every day, so it’s quite interesting for journalists to hear that. I’m sure he’s not going to switch off…If he switch off two weeks of tennis, then he can go home and not play Wimbledon…When I read his interview, it’s always funny, a lot of things you can take. When I read before the match he was ready, excited for the challenge, and now he was sick.”

Nadal

Rafael Nadal, asked if he’d look for advice from Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese manager of Chelsea Football Club, who attended Queen’s on Tuesday: “He’s a football manager. He’s one of the best of the world. And I have my team. I will not give him never an advice of football and probably he will not giving me never advice of tennis.”

315dimitrov fh-001

Grigor Dimitrov, asked about being defending champion: “It’s one of the tournaments for me that every time I step on that court I feel like I own the court.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked if he’d rather watch a guy with big aces or a match with lots of rallies: “Sometimes it would be interesting to see both.”

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray, asked after his three-set Muller match if he was having as good a time as it looked like: “I was when I was winning.”

 

Milos Raonic, on this year’s extended grass schedule: “I think just from the start of [Wimbledon] the quality of tennis will be better just because of time. You can’t really cheat time, spending time on court and so forth.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked how much of an impression Kevin Curran, Wimbledon runner-up 30 years ago, made on him growing up: “Wayne Ferreira was the influence when I was growing up.”

 

Andy Murray, asked what shot he would pick if he could have a shot from any other player on the tour: “Probably would be Isner’s serve, I think. I mean, it makes the game a whole lot easier when you can serve like that.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked to name the best servers in the world at present: “If you just look at the serve itself, I think – if you just looked at numbers, I think you’d have to look at [Ivo] Karlovic or [John] Isner. I mean, just in terms of stats…But I feel like Raonic, I feel like myself I think probably would round out the top four in terms of serving.”

Raonic trophy (1 of 3)

Milos Raonic, asked who he thought was the best server in the world: “I believe myself.”

 

Gilles Simon, asked if he thought he was reading Milos Raonic’s serve better in the second set: “I was guessing. There is nothing to read.”

 

Andy Murray, in response to the comment that the last time he won at Queen’s he went on to win Wimbledon: “Yeah, but that means nothing, really. You know, it’s great preparation obviously, but, you know, I think it has only happened six times where someone has won Queen’s and gone on to win.”

 

Andy Murray, in response to a comment about his nine-match winning streak since Jonas Bjorkman joined his team: “I also have to give a lot of credit to Amélie, because a lot of the work I have done with her is paying off. All of the things I have worked on with her, like using my variety is something I have spoken about a lot in the past, that’s things I have been working on with her for quite a while now.”

 

And finally, this exchange…

Question (after Kevin Anderson talked about being given Jack Nicklaus’ three grass courts in Florida to use for training): What’s your favorite Jack Nicholson film?

Anderson: Jack Nicholson?

Question: Or Jack Nicklaus.

Anderson: I don’t know. Is he in any films?

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Andy Murray Wins Fourth Queen’s Club Crown

(June 21, 2015) Top seed Andy Murray won his fourth title at Queen’s Club on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded Kevin Anderson. This was the Scot’s 36th career ATP World Tour tournament title. He joins John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as the only four-time winners of the London event.

Due to Saturday’s rain, Murray was forced to win two matches on Sunday. He won his semifinal 6-3, 7-6 (4) over Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in the morning with the final in the afternoon.

“I served extremely well and then, thankfully, when the chances came I managed to come up with some kind of instinctive shots,” Murray said about his match against the South African.

“I felt like once I got into the rallies I was doing really well, but it was obviously tough to do that some of the times. He served an extremely high percentage of first serves and was serving big. But it was a good performance.”

“It was tough today,” Anderson said. “I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis today, but I think that’s a lot to do with the way Andy played. I felt he served really well. I tried to be aggressive… It’s tough grass-court tennis like that; just a couple of breaks, and then [the] match feels over. It was pretty tough out there today.”

For Murray it was his third title of 2015, he won events in Munich and Madrid.

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Roger Federer Wins Record-Setting Eighth Halle Crown

(June 21, 2015) Roger Federer won a record eighth title in Halle, Germany, defeating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6 (1), 6-4 on Sunday to Gerry Weber Open tournament. For the Swiss, it was his tenth final at the event. He has now won 86 career ATP World Tour tournaments, four so far this year. This was his 15th tournament win on a grass court.

“Of course it’s a special moment for me, to win here for the eighth time before Wimbledon. It doesn’t happen without making an impression,” Federer said after the match.

“This week has been great when I look at the whole thing. I don’t think I was broken in the last four matches I played. It gives me confidence in the crucial moments to know my game was right there.”

“I think one big secret on grass is when to hit which shot and playing the score the right way. You might be playing perfect but then in one moment you take a bad decision and grass makes you pay for it all,” Federer said. “So, this week has been great if I look at the whole thing. I don’t think I got broken the last four matches I played. The first match was extremely close but I won all the tie-breaks this week, which gives me big confidence knowing that in the crucial moments my game was right there.”

“He played better at the decisive moments and deserved to win in the end,” said Seppi “I’ll take some good memories with me.”

“It was a fantastic week for me. A first final in a [ATP World Tour] 500 tournament. I had some chances in the first set with two set points but I can be happy with the level I played and congrats to Roger for winning another title here in Halle. In the important moments he stepped up his serve.”

The 33-year-old, 17-time major champion joins an exclusive club, becoming just the third player in the Open era to win at least eight titles at a single tournament. Rafael Nadal has nine Roland Garros titles, eight from Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and Tennis Hall of Famer Guillermo Vilas has eight from Buenos Aires.

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Federer Reaches Tenth Halle Final, Murray-Troicki Semi Rained Out in London

(June 20, 2015) Roger Federer is looking for a record eighth Gerry Weber Open title on Sunday when he takes on Andreas Seppi. Seppi reached the final when Kei Nishikori retired from their match with a left calf injury. Nishikori said he hurt yesterday and felt a bit of pain today and did not want to take a chance with Wimbledon approaching.

 

In London, rain has forced the Andy Murray Victor Troicki match to be completed on Sunday morning. The match was at 3-3 when Troicki fell and injured his left shoulder, received treatment but the rain stopped the contest.

Gerry Weber Open

Halle, Germany

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 20 JUNE 2015

Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R. Federer (SUI) d [8] I. Karlovic (CRO) 76(3) 76(4)
A. Seppi (ITA) d [2] K. Nishikori (JPN) 41 ret. (calf injury)

Doubles – Semi-finals

[2] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) d E. Butorac (USA) / S. Lipsky (USA) 76(10) 46 13-11
SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 21 JUNE 2015

STADION start 13:00
[1] R. Federer (SUI) vs A. Seppi (ITA)
16:00
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs [2] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU)

 

 

Aegon Championships

London, Englnd

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 20 JUNE 2015

Singles – Semi-finals
K. Anderson (RSA) d [7] G. Simon (FRA) 63 67(6) 63
SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 21 JUNE 2015

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[1] A. Murray (GBR) vs V. Troicki (SRB) 33

Not Before 2:25 pm
[1] A. Murray (GBR) or V. Troicki (SRB) vs K. Anderson (RSA)
[4] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs [3] D. Nestor (CAN) / L. Paes (IND) or [2] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[3] D. Nestor (CAN) / L. Paes (IND) vs [2] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB)

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At Queen’s Club Wawrinka Loses, Simon Ends Kokkinakis’ Long Journey

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 17, 2015) LONDON, England – The big emotional high notes of the first two days at Queen’s – Monday, Lleyton’s Hewitt’s 16th and final appearance, Tuesday, Rafael Nadal’s loss – have given way to mid-tournament flatness. The biggest news of the day is that Hewitt, who is currently ranked 117, has been granted a wild card into his 17th and final Wimbledon. Until or unless British favorite Andy Murray loses, that may be it for major excitements until the final. True, two current Grand Slam champions are still in the draw – Stan Wawrinka, facing Kevin Anderson, and Marin Cilic, facing Adrian Mannarino – but neither is famed for his grass court game.

There were hopes – if not high ones, at least of the “new! kid! big! chances!” variety – for the second round match between the veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon and newcomer Thanasi Kokkinakis. For two games, this seemed justified as Kokkinakis quickly went up 2-0. And then…those hopes faded quickly despite some nice moments: a dink volley here, a well-executed drop shot/lob combination there. The match lasted an hour and 16 minutes and went 6-4, 6-2 to Simon.

“I liked it yesterday,” Kokkinakis joked about the grass. “I didn’t like it so much today.”

Afterwards, Kokkinakis tweeted, “Feel bad for the spectators tbh about that one….😐 yuck. Hope to redeem myself on the doubles court with Rusty”. To the press, he explained, “I felt like I had to say something. I felt like it was one of my poorest performances in a while.”

Jet lag can sometimes be worse a couple of days later than it is at first. Kokkinakis had planned to play the qualifying here, but instead went home to Adelaide to pay a quick visit to his sick grandmother. He was on the way back when he got the news Queen’s had awarded him a wild card. He arrived back Monday at noon, and although he declined to blame the “something like 48 hours in [the air in] three days”, he admitted to waking up “pretty tired” this morning and to getting distracted by spotting Top Gear TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson in the crowd.

Wawrinka vs Anderson which ended 7-6, 7-6 in Anderson’s favor, was a more tense affair but, much like the grass-court contests of 20 years ago, came down to serve and return. “Maybe [I] didn’t return great,” Wawrinka said afterwards, “but he was serving big”.

Yesterday, after his win against a coughing Nick Kyrgrios, Wawrinka said he thought he’d be better able to manage the aftermath of winning his second major title; after the first, the 2014 Australian Open, he took six weeks off, and then struggled to get his form back for some months.

“Australia, everything was new and I didn’t know what to expect,” he said yesterday. “Everybody was saying it’s going to change your life and change your career. And that’s true. You win a first Grand Slam, especially in that era and you have only the big four winning Grand Slam since 10 years. So that was a big thing for myself. I did few mistakes after. I had a lot of ups and downs. I had to learn and to change the way I was and trying to adapt myself to my new life. ” This time, although he thinks the achievement is bigger, “what’s coming after, I have more under control”. And, of course, no chance to take off much time: Queen’s and Wimbledon awaited.

Today’s losses, put together with Nadal’s, leave the bottom half of the tournament draw looking a little anemic: Milos Raonic, seeded 3, and Simon, seeded 7, are all the remaining seeds, and they play each other in the quarter-finals on Friday. For the right to face the winner of that match in the semi-finals, Anderson will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who put out Alexandr Dolgopolov, whose win against Nadal carried him no further. In the top half, tomorrow top-seeded Murray faces Fernando Verdasco, Grigor Dimitrov faces Gilles Muller, fourth-seeded Marin Cilic faces Viktor Troicki, and, in probably the most interesting match-up of the four, John Isner plays eighth seed Feliciano Lopez, who is an exceptionally strong grass-court player.

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“I was not lucky enough today,” Rafael Nadal Falls in Opening Round of Queen’s Club

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 16, 2015) LONDON, England – On Monday, Lleyton Hewitt had a match point and lost it and, soon afterwards, the match. Today, Alexandr Dolgopolov, up against Rafael Nadal in the first round at Queen’s Club, found himself in the same situation: a single match point, on his own serve, in the second set tiebreak. A game, later, having held serve to open the third set, Dolgopolov was still shaking his head. In that second set tiebreak, he led 5-4 with two service points to come. The match point itself, on the Nadal serve, was always a trickier ask.

 

“Here is the right place to be for me today, and that’s my decision.” Nadal said on Monday, and “I feel myself ready to play well, and I gonna try.” noting that as long as his knees as fine he has “chances to compete well”. Today, he said, he doesn’t have the physical limitations he had in 2012 and 2013. Still, the first half of the year was poor, by his standards, and he said his main goal now is to qualify for the year-end championships. “Fourteen are enough,” he said, when asked if he felt himself ready to start winning Grand Slam titles again.

 

It’s three years since Nadal last played at Queen’s, largely, as he admitted in his opening press conference, for tax reasons. Most countries charge foreign athletes taxes on their local earnings; you (or your accountant) claim back what you’ve paid if it’s under a certain threshold. But a few years ago, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs began claiming that foreign tennis players owe Britain taxes on all their worldwide income, including endorsements, for the days they are in this country, on the basis that it’s appearing at Wimbledon that enables them to earn those monies. Andre Agassi took a case to court – and lost. For most players this is likely more nuisance than vast expense (although they’re likely paying higher accountants’ fees), but for the top few the difference could be a substantial chunk.

 

“I think changed a little bit the last ‑‑ still not the ideal situation for us, but is better than a few years ago,” Nadal said Monday. “I had to stop playing here for a while. But I like playing here. You know, I think is the best thing possible to try to play well and for my game. Is obvious that I have to say thanks to Halle for they give me during that years, but is obvious that in Halle I didn’t play well, no? Stuttgart, of course, were good. Here the courts are good.”

 

This was a great match for fans of spins, angles, and all-court play; both players are, after all, at their most comfortable on clay.

 

“I like it more the last few years,” Dolgopolov said of grass after the match. “I never played in my junior life on grass, so the first years was tough for me to figure out the movements.” He grew up on clay, and had to learn the hard way that sliding on grass was a bad idea. “You just fall down.” Asked about his sidespin backhand, a shot shown off to great effect toward the end of the second set, he said, “I just know it’s uncomfortable.” He added, “My father tried to teach me all my shots. Then I try to use them as I need to win matches.”

 

Indeed, Halle did not work out too well for Nadal: In 2014, he lost his first (second-round) match to wild card Dustin Brown; in 2013 he withdrew and then lost in the first round at Wimbledon to Steve Darcis; in 2012 he lost in the quarterfinals in both singles (Philipp Kohlschreiber) and doubles (partnered with Marcel Granollers) – and then lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol. What Nadal may have forgotten is that other than 2008, when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final to win the title, his showings at Queen’s haven’t been quite so stellar either: he lost in the quarters in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011, and withdrew in 2009. Still: two Wimbledon titles, 2008 and 2010. As he says, grass is “probably the second surface where I had more success in my career, no?”

 

When Dolgopolov lost his next serve game, giving Nadal a 2-1 lead in that third set, it looked like yes, indeed, yesterday was repeating itself. With Nadal serving at 4-3, Dolgopolov lost his first break point with an inside-out forehand that landed wide – but took his second with an angled volley Nadal could do nothing about. Four-all, Dolgopolov serving. A double-fault gave Nadal two break points. The first was saved with a series of wide angles to outrun the Spaniard. The second, Dolgopolov hit a curling backhand with such wicked spin to Nadal’s backhand that all the latter could do was hit it into the net. Deuce. With Nadal coming in, Dolgopolov attempted a lob that went wildly wrong. An ace saved that third break point. Nadal then netted an attempted backhand approach shot to give Dolgopolov a game point, which he won when an attempted Nadal lob dropped just long. Back on serve, 5-4, Dolgopolov, with Nadal now serving to stay in the match.

 

A superb angled response to a Nadal drop shot secured the first point for Dolgopol. Nadal leveled with a forehand winner, but then netted a shot for 15-30. A return winner gave Dolgopolov two match points, the first of which he snatched with a well-executive passing shot, taking advantage of a slightly tentative Nadal foray to the net to win 6-3,6-7,6-4.

 

Afterwards, Nadal was disappointed but stoic. “I played against uncomfortable player in the first round here, and I had my chance. I didn’t play a bad match, but matches sometimes here decide in just a few things, and I was not lucky enough today. I probably didn’t play enough aggressive when I had the break up in the 4-3.” He will stay on to play the doubles with Marc Lopez, then will return home to Mallorca for a few days before coming back to practice for Wimbledon.

 

Dolgopolov was, of course, happier: “Overall I’m really happy with the match. You know, not even because I beat Nadal but the way I played and the way I fought back after a disappointing second set.” He meets Kevin Anderson, Hewitt’s conqueror, in the next round.

 

 

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