2014/04/19

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 [slide] 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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Isner Advances, Fish Withdraws in BB&T Atlanta Open

John Isner photo by Audraine Jackson

By Audraine Jackson

ATLANTA, Georgia – Three of the four top seeds advance in the BB&T Atlanta Open. Hometown favorite John Isner gave fans what they came to see by handling Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 advancing to the quarterfinals. A few unforced errors by his opponent allowed the former UGA All-American to go up 5-4 before closing out the first set. Bemelmans of Belgium gave Isner all he could handle at times but it was his consistent serving scoring 16 aces in the match that made the difference.  “This event helped me build my confidence a lot going into the Olympics”, said Isner.  “I don’t like playing lefties. He’d won four matches already. It’s never easy playing a qualifier. I knew it was going to be tough.”

While most players experienced rain delays, one lasting more than five hours Wednesday, the featured singles match had a 25 minute lighting delay when a circuit breaker overheated. Fans took the opportunity to start an impromptu wave while Isner took the time to adjust his game and his attire. “I was sort of rushing prior to the lights going out. I had changed my clothes completely. I was gross. What took the longest was redoing my socks and ankle bracelets. That takes forever, and I felt bad. When the lights came off, it gave me a lot of time. But I’d rather deal with that than deal with rain.”

Two-time defending champion Mardy Fish will not have an opportunity to earn a third consecutive Atlanta tour title after being forced to withdraw due to injury.  Fish was leading Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 3-2 when he stumbled going for a drop shot injuring his left ankle. “I didn’t have my complete balance and I was coming so close to the net. I was going to go head first into the post,” said Fish. “So I did everything I could to bring my head back. That brought my right leg out sort of sliding, jarring it back.  It was going to be my knee or my ankle or my head.” Fish will await the results of an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.  This year has been a challenging one for the 12th ranked player who recently rejoined the tour after undergoing surgery to address severe arrhythmia.

Australia’s Matthew Ebden advanced after defeating James Blake in their first ever match 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4. Ebden referred to Blake as a dangerous offensive player that you sort of have to get on the attack against because if you let him attack too much, he’s too good to beat himself. Blake seemed to struggle in the hot and humid conditions appearing to cramp a few times during play.

Jack Sock faced fellow American Steve Johnson showing incredible resiliency prevailing 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in a battle of two wild cards. Two Japanese players will face each other for first time in an ATP quarterfinal as number 3 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan plays Go Soeda, the 8th seed.

All players, including those with a bye have had an opportunity to play on the in town courts with the back drop of a city skyline surrounded by hotels, shops, restaurants and exhibits. “Nothing against the past two venues,” said Isner. “But this is just spectacular. Especially for a 250 event, it’s just cut pretty much right into the city and its right in this great area here in Atlantic Station and there’s a lot going on. When I first saw it on Monday I was pretty impressed. I had seen pictures of it but I really didn’t expect it to be this nice.”

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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.

RESULTS

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores

Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. James Blake, U.S., 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4

Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, def. (2) Mardy Fish, U.S., 4-6, 2-3, retired

(wc) Jack Sock, U.S., def. (wc) Steve Johnson, U.S., 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)

(1) John Isner, U.S., def. (q) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Thursday’s Doubles Scores

Raven Klaasen, South Africa-Donald Young, U.S., def. (2) Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico-Scott Lipsky, U.S., 6-2, 7-6 (5)

Colin Fleming, Great Britain-Ross Hutchins, Great Britain, def. Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic-Nicolas Mahut, France, 7-6 (2), 6-2

Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. Ryan Harrison, U.S., def. (3) Treat Huey, Philippines-Dominic Inglot, Great Britain, 6-3, 7-5

Kevin Anderson, South Africa-Rik De Voest, South Africa, def. Paolo Lorenzi, Italy-Rajeev Ram, U.S., 6-3, 6-7 (3), 10-6

Xavier Malisse, Belgium-Michael Russell, U.S, def. (4) Jamie Delgado, Great Britain-Ken Skupski, Great Britain, 7-6 (0), 6-4

Colin Ebelthite (AUS) / Marinko Matosevic (AUS) def. [WC] Kevin King (USA) / Ignacio Taboada (USA) 7-5, 7-5

Friday’s Quarterfinal Schedule

Matthew Ebden, Australia, vs. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg

Go Soeda (8), Japan vs. Kei Nishikori (3), Japan

Andy Roddick (4), U.S., vs. Michael Russell, U.S.

John Isner (1), U.S., or Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, vs. (wc) Jack Sock, U.S.

Matthew Ebden, Australia-Ryan Harrison, U.S. vs. Kevin Anderson, South Africa-Rik De Voest, South Africa

Colin Ebelthite, Australia-Marinko Matosevic, Australia  vs. Raven Klaasen, South Africa-Donald Young, U.S.

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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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Notes & Quotes from Day 2 of Qualifying at the BB&T Atlanta Open

Atlanta, GA USA – Notes & Quotes from the BB&T Atlanta Open Day 2 Qualifying

Hot Arrival

Two time champion Mardy Fish arrived today at the BB&T Atlanta Open a little early as planned to get acclimated to the heat. Before leaving Los Angeles he talked about why he decided to arrange an early trip from the west coast for this tournament:

 

“I’m doing everything I can, getting myself into the best shape I can, took a few days off after Wimbledon and then started to get back at it and grind again. It’s tough being in LA because the weather is 70 degrees and sunny out here, and it’s 100 degrees everywhere else. So it’s kind of hard to train in that type of stuff. But I’ll get to Atlanta as early as I can and try to get into that climate and that weather and try to deal with it as best I can.”

 

 

Alex Kuznetsov

Last Man Standing

Number 7 seed Alex Kuznetsov is the last American left standing of the eight who advanced in Day 2 of qualifying.  The former Ukrainian moved to the US when he was three settling near Philadelphia. He defeated Luca Margaroli of Switzerland 6-2, 6-0 in the last round of matches played today. He talked about what it was like being scheduled last two days in a row:

 

“It’s kind of how it goes. I played late yesterday as well and kind of got used to it. But it’s kind of what we have to deal with as players you know. You get scheduled at a certain time and you have to prepare as well as you can.”

 

Kuznetsov talked about the level of competition at the Atlanta tournament and if the top players ever provide advice:

 

“You have great players playing here. You got Roddick, Fish, Isner, you know. These guys have won tons of tournaments so it’s a very tough field but at the same time getting through qualitys would be a lot of confidence for players like myself you know and you just kind of see how it goes. You’re out there and you give it your all and that’s what you do. James Blake and John Isner train at the same place I do in Tampa…I get to practice with those guys a lot and sometimes at these events you get to practice with them as well. They give a little bit but not too much. We are competitors against each other and that’s how it goes. They are very friendly and if I needed advice against a player not from the states, I’m sure they will give me that. They’re very nice.”

 

 

Rik de Voest

Victory Over Crowd Favorites

Rik de Voest of South Africa, seeded 5th, knocked down two popular locals to advance, defeating former Georgia Tech standout Kevin King 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the only three-set match played. Yesterday he defeated University of Georgia’s Nathan Pasha, rising to victory over both players before a crowd of passionate local fans. He once ranked as high as 110 in the world and talked about what it was like to face hometown favorites on their own turf:

 

“Being a local guy he had the support. I had the same thing in my match yesterday. The player I played also had some hometown support. I’ve been out there long enough on tour to know that’s going to happen and I can handle it. But you know I think he played pretty well and unfortunately he had his chances and wasn’t able to capitalize and I was pretty lucky to get through at the end of the day.”

 

He talked about the competition he will face in the next round:

 

“Tomorrow I play a good player Richard Berankis who has been inside the top 100. He’s got a little bit of injury as of late but now he’s coming back and he’s playing pretty well. I expect another hot match. Obviously with all the eight seeds going through I guess it’s good how things worked out in the seeding. I’m kind of, I guess, a little lucky I happen to be into the final round and I’ve come through two tight matches which I was behind in. Hopefully I can continue to use that and get another one tomorrow”

 

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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.

 

Sunday’s Second-Round Qualifying Scores
(8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil, def.  Olivier Sajous, Haiti, 6-4, 7-5
(1) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, def. (wc) Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic, 6-1, 7-5
(2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, def. (wc) Drake Bernstein, U.S., 6-4, 6-1
(6) Tim Smyczek def. Olivier Sajous, Haiti, 7-5, 6-3
(4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, def. (wc) Mbonisi Ndimande, Zimbabwe, 6-4, 6-2
(3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, def. Catalin-Ionut Gard, Romania, 6-4, 7-6 (6)
(5) Rik De Voest, South Africa, def. (wc) Kevin King, U.S., 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-4
(7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S., def. Luca Margaroli, Switzerland, 6-2, 6-0
Monday’s Order of Play
Stadium Court Starting at 1 p.m.
Qualifying final: (2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, vs. (5) Rik De Voest, South Africa
Not before 4 p.m.
(wc) Jack Sock, U.S., vs. (7) Alex Bogomolov, Russia
Not Before 7 p.m.
(wc) Steve Johnson, U.S., vs. Donald Young, U.S.
Followed by
Igor Kunitsyn, Russia, vs. (wc) Brian Baker, U.S.
Grandstand Court Starting at 1 p.m.
Qualifying final: (3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, vs. (6) Tim Smyczek
Not before 4 p.m.
Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) vs. Marinko Matosevic, Australia
Followed by
Paolo Lorenzi, Italy, vs. Kevin Anderson, South Africa
Followed by
Paul Capdeville, Chile, def. Nicolas Mahut, France
Court 3 Starting at 1 p.m.
Qualifying final: Ruben Bemelman, Belgium, vs. (8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil
Followed by
Qualifying final: (4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, vs. (7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S.
Followed by
Xavier Malisse (Belgium) / Michael Russell (U.S.) vs. John Paul Fruttero (U.S.) / Dmitry Tursunov (Russia)
Followed by
Olivier Charroin (France) / Adil Shamasdin (Canada) vs. (4) Jamie Delgado (Great Britain) / Ken Skupski (Great Britain)

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Notes & Quotes from the First Day of the BB&T Atlanta Open

 

By  Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – Collegiate rivals and even a high school student dominated the first day of qualifying in the BB&T Atlanta Open. Here are some notable quotes and events from the first day of qualifying.

 

Kevin King photo by Audraine Jackson

Georgia Tech’s Kevin King talked about how he was able to finally defeat rival University of Georgia’s Wil Spencer 6-4, 6-3 after losing in three previous collegiate matches:

 

“I was able to be a little more patient and wait for my opportunities to attack and just take advantage of some of those close games. It could have gone either way. Today I was fortunate enough for it to go my way”, said King. He admitted the atmosphere was a bit different from college play with the absence of fans rooting for a particular team. He broke a string but appeared to play better despite the temporary setback. It happened right after the first set but appeared to help him loosen up and play better. “It was bad luck. I mean it could have happened at anytime. There’s nothing I could do about it so I just kind of moved on past it.”

 

King talked about the heat, indicating it was a bit different from other heat he’s played in before. “It was hot but the past couple of weeks have been hot here, you know, over 100 a lot of days so that’s been great to get me prepared for the heat today. It’s very humid here as well. It’s just a different environment.”

 

Nathan Pasha photo by Audraine Jackson

University of Georgia’s rising sophomore and Atlanta native Nathan Pasha who experienced a successful freshman year talked about the difference between collegiate tournaments and the BB&T Atlanta Open and factors that may have led to his 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-5 defeat to 5th seeded Rik De Voest of South Africa:

 

“It was a long, physical match. I won a long first set. The second set was a bit shorter, he won. Third set I was doing pretty well and ended up cramping. I sweat a lot. I’m a heavy sweater so I’m guessing it was from that. It was little bit from nerves too. It’s unfortunate, I couldn’t pull it out even if I wasn’t cramping.”

 

Pasha talked about the difference playing collegiate tournaments and with the pros:  “It depends where you play. If you play high in the lineup at Georgia in a good conference, there are a lot of good guys who can play these tournaments and do well. So it’s not a huge difference. The only difference that I would say is pros are a lot more emotionally leveled and college people are a little bit more up and down emotionally and that could give you games here and there.”

 

Pasha talked about playing in an urban environment for the first time: “The venue’s really cool. It’s really unique, you know. It’s not often that I get to play and I get to see downtown buildings you know, right above the stadium. It’s a really urban area. You look up and people are on bridges, just random people walking by watching matches. It’s unique and cool.”

 

Tim Smyczek photo by Audraine Jackson

Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Tim Smyczek talked about how his experience over his opponent helped him in his defeat of Judd Motz, a nationally ranked high school player from metro Atlanta, winning 6-0, 6-1:

 

“With these tournaments especially in this heat the less time you spend on the court, the better. I didn’t know a whole lot about him going into it but I gathered that he was a younger guy and this might have been one of his first events. So I wanted to go out there and work on some things and take care of business. I don’t want to say get out of there quickly because he is a good player and I know he didn’t play his best today. I was happy with the way I took care of business.”

 

About playing in a very urban venue, Smyczek found it quite interesting:

 

“I had heard earlier in the year that they were going to build it on top of one of the parking structures and it didn’t work out. I think it’s a really neat idea. I think depending on what kind of turn out they have this week they might start doing more stuff like this cause I think it’s pretty interesting. It was a little uncanny watching up from the court and see skyscrapers in the back.”

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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.

 

Saturday’s First-Round Qualifying Scores
(1) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, def. (wc) Erik Graves, U.S., 6-2, 6-1
(wc) Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic, def. (wc) Christopher Eubanks, U.S., 7-6 (3), 6-0
Olivier Charroin, France, def. (wc) Luiz Inaimo, Brazil, 6-3, 6-4
(8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil, def. Philip Simmonds, U.S., 7-6 (6), 7-5
(2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, def. (wc) Ignacio Taboada, U.S., 6-2, 6-1
(wc) Drake Bernstein, U.S., def. Bradley Cox, U.S., 6-3, 5-0 Ret’d
(wc) Kevin King, U.S., def. (wc) Wil Spencer, U.S., 6-4, 6-3
(5) Rik De Voest, South Africa, def. (wc) Nathan Pasha, U.S., 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-5
(3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, def. (wc) Jack Anton, U.S., 6-1, 6-0
Catalin-Ionut Gard, Romania, def.  Juan-Carlos Spir, Colombia, 7-6 (4), 6-1
Olivier Sajous, Haiti, def. Pierre- Ludovic Duclos, Canada, 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3
(6) Tim Smyczek, U.S., def. (wc) Judd Motz, U.S., 6-0, 6-1
(wc) Mbonisi Ndimande, Zimbabwe, def. (wc) David Span, U.S., 6-3, 6-0
(7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S., d Dean O’Brien, South Africa, 6-2, 6-2
(4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, def. Mikhail Ledovskikh, Russia, 7-5, 7-5
Luca Margaroli, Switzerland, def. (wc) Eric Sock, U.S., 6-4, 5-7, 6-2
Sunday’s Second-Round Qualifying Schedule
Stadium Court Starting at 11 a.m.
(2) Ricardas Berankis, Lithuania, vs. (wc) Drake Bernstein, U.S.
Followed by
(wc) Kevin King, U.S., vs. (5) Rik De Voest, South Africa
Followed by
Luca Margaroli, Switzerland, vs. (7) Alex Kuznetsov, U.S.
Grandstand Court, Starting at 11 a.m.
(1) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, vs. (wc) Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic
Followed by
Olivier Sajous, Haiti, vs. (6) Tim Smyczek, U.S.
Followed by
(4) Ricardo Mello, Brazil, vs. (wc) Mbonisi Ndimande, Zimbabwe
Court 3, Starting at 11 a.m.
Olivier Charroin, France, vs. (8) Ricardo Hocevar, Brazil
(3) Sergei Bubka, Ukraine, vs. Olivier Sajous, Haiti
Main Draw Singles
First Round
[1] John Isner (U.S.) d. Bye
[SE] Rajeev Ram (U.S.) vs. Qualifier
[WC] Steve Johnson (U.S.) vs. Donald Young (U.S.)
[WC] Jack Sock (U.S.) vs. [7] Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS)
[4] Andy Roddick (U.S.) d Bye
Paul Capdeville (CHI) vs. Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Michael Russell (U.S.) vs. Qualifier
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) vs. [5] Kevin Anderson (RSA)
[8] Go Soeda (JPN) vs. Xavier Malisse (BEL)
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) vs. [WC] Brian Baker (U.S.)
Qualifier vs. Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
[3] Kei Nishikori (JPN) d Bye
[6] Ryan Harrison (U.S.) vs. James Blake (U.S.)
Qualifier vs. Matt Ebden (AUS)
Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Marinko Matosevic (AUS)
[2] Mardy Fish (U.S.) d Bye

Main Draw Doubles

First Round
[1] Colin Fleming (GBR) / Ross Hutchins (GBR) vs. Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) / Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / Gilles Muller (LUX) vs. Steve Johnson (U.S.) / Jack Sock (U.S.)
[3] Treat Huey (PHI) / Dominic Inglot (GBR) vs. Matt Ebden (AUS) / Ryan Harrison (U.S.)
Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) / R Ram (U.S.) vs. Kevin Anderson (RSA) / Rik De Voest (RSA)
Xavier Malisse (BEL) / M Russell (U.S.) vs. John Paul Fruttero (U.S.) / Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
Olivier Charroin (FRA) / Adil Shamasdin (CAN) vs. [4] Jamie Delgado (GBR) / Ken Skupski (GBR)
Colin Ebelthite (AUS) / Marinko Matosevic (AUS) vs. [WC] Kevin King (U.S.) / Ignacio Taboada (U.S.)
Raven Klaasen (RSA) / Donald Young (U.S.) vs. [2] Santiago Gonzalez (MEX) / Scott Lipsky (U.S.)

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Atlanta, a tennis town?

By Audraine Jackson

ATLANTA, Georgia – Deep south USA is usually thought of as (American) football country where high school, professional and especially college football is king! But tennis?

 

Few may immediately think of this country club game as a main staple of Georgia sports, until now.   The BB&T Open in Atlanta is in its third year and drawing some notable names from the tennis world. All four Americans scheduled to play singles at the London Olympics will play in the main draw including local talent Donald Young and John Isner along with Brian Baker and Ryan Harrison. Other notables include Marty Fish and Andy Roddick.

 

Two time Atlanta series winner Fish is looking forward to defending his title and enjoys playing in front of this fan base. “We get great support in Atlanta. Atlanta is actually one of the more fun weeks, fun cities that we go to all year. They are extremely knowledge in the game of tennis. I think there are more USTA members per capita in Atlanta than in the entire country.… It’s more natural, very easy for us to play there in front of fans like that. I certainly enjoy playing there.”

 

For the first time in the Atlanta series it will be held in an urban setting with a highly commercial background attracting more inner city patrons that previous suburban events. “As an avid sports enthusiast, I am thrilled that the BB&T Atlanta Open will be held at Atlantic Station,” said Mayor Kasim Reed.  “This unique setting will provide spectators the opportunity to enjoy world-class tennis in an urban environment with dramatic views of the Midtown and Downtown skyline.  This tournament will help solidify USTA’s designation of Atlanta as one of America’s best tennis towns.”
The Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA), a non-profit organization devoted to recreational tennis, is a United States Tennis Association (USTA) affiliate and boasts between 70-80,000 members in the metropolitan area. When it registered in 1934 with the United States Lawn Tennis Association it was designed to promote tennis tournaments and junior tennis development.  “We are the tennis town,” said ALTA president Diane Barker. “ALTA is the largest community based tennis organization in the US. There is nothing close to the passion of the ALTA tennis player. I talk to people from around the country and from Europe and they all know about ALTA. We were the model that USTA used when they developed league play.”

 

Organizers moved the tournament from the suburbs with the goal of offering more than just a tennis experience with a commercial atmosphere of restaurants and shopping including the addition of several tournament vendors. Tickets sales are reportedly up 30% this year with the venue change.

 

“That is very important” said Barker. “It makes it an entire experience. There’s more than just the city atmosphere. The players will be amazed at what is available to them being in such a thriving metropolitan area. It’s like a self contained village within the city.”

 

Barker believes Atlanta is not as known globally as a tennis town due to limited media coverage, but she is hoping this series will change that. “Smaller tournaments period receive less coverage in the media. CNN is right down the street. I think it is tennis. Don’t know why tennis has the connotation that it is not a team sport. It’s amazing. More media coverage is the best way to get this out and change this image. If you are not from the southeast how would you know? I think Atlanta can be a forerunner in a lot of things. We are from New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. We have everything here. We are not a small sleepy southern city. We are a melting pot, the best of everywhere and the weather to prove it. ALTA makes the game for the average person and the whole family can do this sport. A father, son, grandparents and parents can all play. It’s a sport you can play until your 80’ s and in Atlanta, year round!”

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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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BB&T Atlanta Open Begins

By Audraine Jackson

ATLANTA, Georgia – The first men’s event of the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series begins July 14-22 with the BB&T Atlanta Open. Mardy Fish will return to defend his title after winning the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series winning twice in Atlanta playing competitive matches with local favorite John Isner who is also scheduled to play. They both will be joined by former world No. 1 ranked Andy Roddick.

 

Fish said he would like to try to pull off a third victory in Atlanta, “This is my favorite time of the year so obviously this is an exciting time. I’m really looking forward to it,” said Fish.

 

“Obviously I love the weather, the heat. Playing in that type of heat is not just about being fit as well. It’s about convincing yourself you like it more than the other guy, pushing your body further than you think it will go…I love it. I grew up in it. I grew up in that weather and I played my best tennis in that type of heat. There’s going to be a lot of great players there as there has been in the past two years…I’ve had two very very close matches in the finals both to Isner and I am sure he will be looking to win one of those titles as well.”

 

Roddick acknowledges the tournament kicks off with a good field that includes Fish and Isner. “I think they’ve been in the last two finals. I’m one of the guys who is trying to make sure it’s not three in a row for those guys….I enjoy playing tennis anytime I step on the court. Motivation hasn’t been a problem of mine. As for the heat, I spent the majority of my life in Florida and Texas. I’m used to it. As far as heat goes, when I’m on court, I only have to be more comfortable than one person. I try to look at it that way.”

 

All four Men’s US Olympic team members are scheduled to play including hometown favorite Donald Young. Kei Nishikori, a Japanese native, makes his first appearance in Atlanta this year. He became the highest ranked male Japanese player in history last October. Unseeded Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Matthew Ebden of Australia edged out the unseeded German team of Matthias Bachinger and Frank Moser 3-6, 7-5, [10-8] in a third-set match tiebreak to earn the 2011 Atlanta tournament doubles crown. Last year, Fish and Serena Williams swept the Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles, the first time two Americans won the Series Bonus Challenge in the same year.

 

Qualifying for this ATP World Tour 250 event runs July 14-15 with the main draw scheduled July 16-22 with prize money totaling $531,000.  Full seating capacity is 4,508 for the Atlanta venue in this eight tournament series leading up to the US Open. Players will compete during the entire series for $40 million in prize money.

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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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