2014/11/29

Roddick Wins Second Title of Season at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – Under a brutally hot July sun in the deep south 29-year-old Andy Roddick raised the BB&T Atlanta Open championship trophy into the air before a capacity crowd after defeating Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. It was a gesture he has repeated many times in his professional tennis life with 31 ATP World Tour titles already under his belt, but at this stage in his career, titles taste sweeter and number 32 felt like a steady cool breeze on a summer day.

 

“Being a tennis player, a lot of people, they see it on TV. They think about it in terms of one match but it’s almost like a lifestyle. You’ve got to eat right, sleep right. It’s a constant kind of battle when you are out there by yourself a lot,” said Roddick. “To kind of now be approaching numbers that basically tell the story of consistency over time… it’s something I’m proud of. I work pretty hard. I don’t know that I have been able to pull off the shots that Roger or Rafa or someone like that can pull off. But I feel like I’ve done pretty well with what I was given. I sleep well knowing I haven’t really cheated myself.”

 

This title came no easier than many others in a match that lasted two hours and 13 minutes in 91 degree humid conditions under a blazing sun. Roddick had to get past a competitive match with No. 1 seed John Isner that went late into the night to make it to the final. Muller, a left handed player whose highest world ranking reached 42 has experienced an incredible run among marquee players with career victories over Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Roddick in 2005. Despite jumping out fast with a 6-1 victory in the first set forcing two service breaks he lost a close battle in the 2nd when Roddick was able to edge him out in second serve points won and second return points.

 

“I played very well in the first two sets. At the end of the second set, I got very tight,” Muller said.  “I felt like I was in a position to win that match. I was too nervous to close it and then Andy started to play better. He started to return my serves and put a lot of balls in the court. And I started to miss a lot. Maybe I lost the belief in myself to win that match too quickly.”

 

By the third set Roddick became more aggressive, forcing errors and placing balls at speeds and angles difficult to get to. Service points won reached 84 percent while Muller managed only 50. “I know by now the score of a set is irrelevant,” Roddick said. “Whether it’s 7-6 or 6-1, it still counts the same. With most other sports, you get way up in the first quarter and it actually means something in regards to the rest of the game. In tennis, it’s not really the case too often, with the exception of momentum. You just try to start over and put some holds together. I was able to out the second set and I think he might have gotten a little tired in the third.”

 

Roddick won his second title of the season and his second ATP World Tour victory in Atlanta, the last coming in 2001 on clay. He has an early points lead in the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge Standings earning 70 in the tournament. He will head to London to join fellow USA teammates in singles and is paired with rival John Isner for doubles, a sight he admits few opponents want to see coming.

 

The BB&T Atlanta Open doubles title went to Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) who defeated Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. Both teams knocked off talented top seeded duos to reach the finals. Ebden said it took confidence to pull off the win. “We had a few chances in the second set and felt like we weren’t playing our best tennis. We were pretty confident if we lifted our level a little, we’d come through. We’re very good friends. I think it helps on the court. It’s great to find someone you really enjoy playing with. You get a lot out of it. Not just the wins, but you get improvements in your game.”

 

Harrison, who is also headed to London to join Team USA Tennis, said aggressive play made the difference. “The way we play, we always try to push forward and play aggressive. That’s the way both of us are comfortable playing. It comes down to execution for us. It doesn’t matter if its singles, doubles, triples or whatever it is. If you win titles, you can always build off of it, so we’re really fired up.”

 

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Audraine Jackson covered the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. She is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Roddick Halts Isner’s Third Run for a Title at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – In 2001 Shirley Franklin was elected Atlanta’s first female African-American mayor.  The Braves defeated the Houston Astros in the National League Division Series and an 18-year-old aspiring tennis champion named Andy Roddick  won his first ATP World Tour title in the city when the tournament was played on clay. Eleven years later with a former No. 1 ranking under his belt, a wiser, more experienced 29-year-old Roddick defeated top seeded John Isner  6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to move a step closer to earning the title a second time at the BB&T Atlanta Open. “I think it’s good. It was a long time ago, a different surface, a different time of year,” Roddick said. “There are not a lot of parallels but I can say certainly it’s nice to be back in the finals here.”

Both players had loud and vocal fans present as they took the court in a packed, sold out arena under threatening skies that caused a 30 minute rain delay. Isner managed 26 aces to Roddick’s six but the difference was his opponent’s ability to convert points off serves. “I took care of my serve. I did what I was supposed to do. You’re not going to beat John if you get broken a lot.  I was able to play off a little bit of trouble there at the net in the first set. I just competed well. I stayed in it even when I wasn’t real happy about whatever was going on. I kept it together and competed well.”

Isner has made the finals for the past two years losing to Mardy Fish while missing the finals this year in a loss to Roddick. “It didn’t go my way. He was the better player tonight. That’s why he won,” Isner said. “It’s pretty disappointing. Three years in this tournament I lost to two Americans, good friends of mine and it’s tough. I’ve always wanted to win this tournament but it wasn’t to be. It’s really no shame to losing to either one of those guys.”

Roddick will compete for the singles title against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, a lefty with a big serve that defeated 8th seeded Go Soeda of Japan 6-4, 6-3 to gain a spot in the finals. Muller’s serve dominated the match with 17 aces, winning over 90 percent of his first serve points in only 74 minutes over his 54th ranked opponent.  Muller said he had no plans to watch the semis but understood he would face a good player in the championship match. A victory would mark his fist title at the Atlanta tournament.

At stake is a trophy along with an $86,270 check for the winner with the runner up receiving $45, 435 and 150 ranking points. Roddick has faced Gilles at least three times losing once in 2005 but readily admitted that loss was a long time ago. “I’m going to have to put a lot of returns in play against him. He will probably try and come to the net more often than John (Isner) and his serve will be coming from a different angle.”

Two American players will compete on opposing teams in the doubles final. Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) defeated 1st seeded Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) 6-4, 6-4. Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) earned a spot in the finals by defeating Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) 6-7(2), 6-4, 10-5.

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Isner, Roddick to meet in BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – John Isner moved closer to reaching the finals for the third straight year at the BB&T Atlanta Open winning a hard fought battle over 19-year old wild card Jack Sock 7-6 (7), 6-4. Isner’s opponent made the first set a grueling match with powerful forehand winners that landed him into a tie break after an hour rain delay. “I came out really flat after the rain delay and that made the set anybody’s set,” Isner said. “I think had it not rained maybe I could have won that set a little bit easier.”

 

The two were only 27 minutes into the match before it was halted by rain. Conditions became more humid as they resumed the first set with Isner up 4-1 and Sock serving. The first set alone helped pushed the match to over 2 hours, adding in the rain delay it finished well beyond midnight.

 

“That took a little bit out of me. I focused so hard to try to win that second set. I let it slip away a little bit. The second set, it was gross out there. We were both sweating like pigs. Honestly, it was just disgusting. I can’t imagine playing a third set right now.”

 

Isner thanked fans for hanging around under tough conditions late into the night. “I never want to be the last match,” Isner said. “And it’s raining. Thanks for staying until the end. I probably would have left.” With Mardy Fish out due to a turned ankle, Isner will not get the much anticipated rematch with last year’s champion he’d hoped for but will face rival Andy Roddick in a marquee match up to advance to the finals.

 

Roddick made the semis by defeating fellow American Michael Russell 6-3, 6-4 in a two set match that lasted only an hour and 12 minutes. Two-time Olympian Roddick, clad in American stars and stripes tennis shoes, used his powerful serve landing 12 aces to dominate Russell in the match. “I felt good. The hot weather helps. It gives you different options.” Roddick said. “You can kind of go with kicks, slices because everything works in this hot weather. I felt like I could make some speeds pretty accurately. I compare it to pitching a good ballgame. I felt like I could throw any pitch for a strike tonight.”

 

Number 8 seed Go Soeda upset fellow countryman 3rd seed Kei Nishikori in a historic match to advance to the semis 6-2, 6-1. The two players met for the first time in Open Era history (since 1968) with the match broadcast live in Japan during the wee hours of the morning. The only other time two Japanese players met was in 1973 when Jun Kuki defeated Takeshi in Osaka.  Playing with nothing to lose, Go Soeda, 27, overpowered his higher ranked opponent with aggressive ground strokes that pushed Nishikori, 22, far beyond the baseline.  He will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg who defeated Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-4, 6-4. In doubles action, Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) will square off with Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) while Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) will see Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) to determine who will advance to the finals.

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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Blake Outlasts Harrison in BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

 

Atlanta, GA  USA – In a contest pairing a seasoned veteran with a rising power player, experience prevailed as James Blake outlasted 6 seed Ryan Harrison 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the BB&T Atlanta Open Tuesday.  Blake, still adjusting to knee surgery last year to correct a problem with tendentious, found a way to pull it out after only winning one game in the first set. “The first set was closer than it seemed. There were a lot of break points in the first game. I think I had a lot of break points later and a lot of game points I couldn’t close out,” said Blake.

 

“I think I was doing a great job defending. I wasn’t as accurate with my shots. I wasn’t putting balls away. I wasn’t closing points. He can run away with it then. His serve is big enough to get free points. Luckily I’ve been in matches like that before. I’ve been down before. I didn’t let it get to me. Once its one set whether its 6-0 or -7-6 it’s over. I tried to fight back and got a lead in the second set and tried to hang on to that.”

 

Harrison, who is heading to the Olympic games after this event used a power serve to dominate the first set but was not able to capitalize on breaks in the 3rd. “He played a pretty good game. I missed a couple of returns and he made some first serves,” said Harrison. “The 4 all game, I held a good game and then he played a good game at 4-5.  It’s a tough spot.  When you put yourself in that type of position the game can go either way. It’s been going my way some this year. Tonight it didn’t. It’s not devastating. I still have confidence in myself. I still had a pretty good season. It’s one match. I’m going to learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes again. I guess there are some times in there I lost concentration but ultimately in the match I kept it together and I was trying to do my best and it didn’t go my way.”

 

Blake acknowledges he is young in the real world but aging in the tennis world. “32 is old in tennis years. I definitely try to keep that in perspective. I’m one of the lucky ones who get to retire when I can still enjoy playing golf and throwing a ball with my kids so I’m definitely lucky in that regard.”

 

He was clearly the crowd favorite but recognizes the potential in the talent of a younger player. “As they get to know players like Ryan, he’s on been on tour for a couple of years, they might not know as much about him. He’s a good kid so I’m sure they will start cheering for him a lot more. He’s improved a lot. He’s matured a lot. He’s doing a lot of the right things. And that’s what I’ve said before about him. I’m terrible at judging talent. I hate making predictions about someone going to be top ten, top 100.  But one thing I will predict about him is he will get the most out of his talent. He is a hard worker.  Wants to learn. Is curious. He’s doing things the right way. Tonight he lost a close match and I’m sure he will learn from them. I’m sure he will figure out what maybe he could have done better. He’ll get the most out of his talent and his career and that’s all you can hope for.”

 

 

He may be correct in that assessment. As Blake left the lockeroom a few fans waited outside for autographs and photos. One lady who lagged behind held a photo of Harrison in her lap. She was waiting for him to come out so he could autograph it. Play continues today with 4th seeded Andy Roddick and men’s doubles.

 

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

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