Isner defends Newport title

Top seed John Isner defended his Newport title from last year by defeating Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday 7-6 (1), 6-4.

“It feels very good. It’s never easy coming to a tournament where in a previous year you won it, “Isner said.  “There’s a lot of pressure on you. You don’t do well, your ranking’s going to drop… I did well, I defended those points and I kept my ranking where it’s at. More importantly than that, I gained a lot of confidence from this week just as I did last year. I had a great, great summer last year. I hope to have much of the same this year.”

Isner overpowered Hewitt with his serve hitting 16 aces against the Australian.

“With the weapon I have and my serve in a shortened situation for the set, I’m always fortunate to have that weapon on my side,” Isner said. “I kept my head really well this week.”

The win for Isner earned the American his fourth career title. The 6-foot-9 Isner had his serve broken only once in the tournament.

For Hewitt who suffered his first career loss against Isner, lost for the first time in a grass court final.

“It’s done a lot of good [for my confidence], “Hewitt said about his week. “A lot of positives have come out of this week. Grass is a tough surface to come back on after any kind of surgery, and especially foot surgery, where my movement is such a big thing because on grass you’re in the wrong positions a lot of the time. You’ve got to have that confidence in your footwork.

“Even at Wimbledon, I didn’t feel totally comfortable with my footwork and it’s taken matches and practice and a lot of time over the last week-and-a-half here in Newport and I feel like that’s starting to come, which is a good thing, not only for the Olympics in a couple week’s time, but obviously looking forward to the US Open and the rest of the year.”

The former No. 1 Hewitt came into the tournament ranked 233rd in the world, battling multiple surgeries over the past four years. He leaves the tournament ranked in the 150′s. His next tournament will be the Olympics at Wimbledon.

Isner’s next tournament will be in Atlanta which begins on Monday.


Videos by Jennifer Knapp


Isner and Hewitt Reach Newport Final

By Jack Cunniff

NEWPORT, Rhode Island – The 2012 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island had one of the strongest fields in tournament history, and that carried through to the semifinal matches on Saturday.  Former world number one, and a two-time Grand Slam event champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia battled the 2009 Newport titlist Rajeev Ram of United States in the first semifinal. That was followed by an all-American match-up of 2012 Olympic teammates John Isner and Ryan Harrison.

While Hewitt has played sparsely recently, thanks in part to four surgeries over the past five years, he showed he still has his competitive spirit intact. He fell behind early in the match 1-4, but swept the final five games to take the opening set, 6-4.  The second set again found Ram jumping to an early lead. A third set seemed certain as Ram held two set points when serving at 5-3, 40-15. But back-to-back double faults by the Carmel, Indiana resident gave Hewitt the opening he needed to level the second set. Ram, who is ranked No. 118 in the world, showed why he has a winning record on grass courts in his career, and continued to pressure Hewitt with aggressive play.  He reached three more set points as Hewitt served at 5-6, and finally captured the set 7-5 when he forced the Australian into a backhand error.

Hewitt’s ranking of No.233 is a steep drop from the top ranking he held in 2001 and 2002, but he still shows glimpses of the game that took him to the top. Hitting dipping service returns and pinpoint passing shots, he again swept five consecutive games from Ram to build a 5-1 lead in the third set.  As Hewitt served for the match, Ram continued to battle and earned a break point. Hewitt’s accurate groundstrokes forced errors from Ram, and Hewitt battled his way into his first tour final since his 2010 Halle victory, advancing 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

The second semifinal saw the crowd split between rooting for Isner, the top-ranked U.S. player, and Harrison, his fast-rising countryman who turned 20 just two months ago. After early-round losses at the French Open and Wimbledon, Isner is trying to recapture the form that brought him to a career-high No. 9 ranking in April of this year. He was up to the task in the opening set, scoring five aces, and winning 91% of the points when getting his first serve into play. Harrison, now ranked No. 48 in the world, revealed some weapons as well, and neither player could reach a break point in the opening twelve games, reaching a tiebreaker to settle the first set. The top-seeded Isner had the edge throughout the tiebreaker, and a Harrison double fault on set point gave Isner the opening set 7-6, while Harrison could only kick a tennis ball out of the stadium in frustration.

Isner, the defending Newport champion, elevated his game in the second set, and the tenor of the match changed. Harrison grew increasingly irritated by his play, and his inability to make a dent in Isner’s service games. Isner, on the other hand, reached deuce in four out of five Harrison service games. An early break gave Isner the 3-1 lead in the second set, and he broke Harrison’s serve again to end the match, 7-6(4), 6-3.

Notes… Isner and Hewitt have met twice before, and Hewitt leads the head-to-head 2-0, with wins on hard court (Shanghai 2009) and clay (Dusseldorf 2010)…  Isner is looking to become the fourth player to defend his Newport title (Bryan Shelton, 1991-‘92; Greg Rusedski, 2004-’05, and Fabrice Santoro 2007-’08)… Hewitt is playing in Newport for the first time since 1998, but with 80 weeks at No. 1 in his career (9th most of all-time), it’s likely he could return to Newport as a Hall of Fame inductee… Ram’s semifinal result will raise his ranking to No. 104, just outside the Top 100 and his highest rank in two years… Harrison is the second youngest player in the Top 100; only Hewitt’s countryman Bernard Tomic is five months younger…


John Isner Saturday News Conference at Newport


Video by Jennifer Knapp


Lleyton Hewitt Saturday News Conference at Newport


Video by Jennifer Knapp.


Capriati and Kuerten Highlight Emotional Hall of Fame Inductions

Gustavo Kuerten photo by Ben Solomon

By Jack Cunniff

NEWPORT, Rhode Island – The skies in Newport were dry, but the eyes were not, as Jennifer Capriati and Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten headlined the 2012 class of inductees into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held Saturday, July 14th on Center Court at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.  Capriati and Kuerten, former top-ranked players elected to the Hall of Fame under the Recent Player category, gave stirring speeches that touched the tennis fans in attendance.  Other inductees this afternoon were Randy Snow, the late wheelchair tennis champion and advocate; Mike Davies, in the Contributor category; and Manuel Orantes, in the Master Player category.

Monica Seles, a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee, was selected by Capriati to introduce her at the ceremony. It was a fitting selection as both players burst on the tennis scene just months apart as teenagers, and set multiple “youngest ever” records for women’s tennis.  Capriati, a three-time champion at Grand Slam events and Olympic gold medal winner, was emotional throughout her acceptance speech.  While honored by the Hall of Fame recognition, it closes a chapter in her life that Capriati was not quite ready to close. It signifies that there are no more comebacks in store, and her career would end as the result of wrist and shoulder injuries. But as she did throughout her career, Capriati persevered today. She expressed the joy and pain that tennis has brought to her life, and noted that tennis taught her what hard work and commitment mean. She thanked her friends and family for their love and support over the years, and also recognized the fan support she received throughout her career, a comment that was punctuated by someone in the crowd shouting “We love you!”

Alice Kuerten, Gustavo’s mother, had the honor of introducing her son to the crowd. She spoke not of Guga’s French Open titles or number one ranking, but of his intangible qualities, his role as son and brother, and his philanthropy. Guga charmed the crowd with an unscripted speech, sharing his appreciation for all that tennis has provided him. His father introduced Kuerten to the sport, but passed away when Guga was a teenager. It was tennis, Kuerten noted, that provided him two new fathers in the form of his former coach Larri Passos, and older brother and manager Raphael. Kuerten was very close to his late younger brother Guillaime, who suffered from cerebral  palsy and passed away in 2007, and thus found it fitting to be inducted on the same day as Randy Snow. Kuerten also thanked Mariana, his wife and mother to their five-month-old daughter.

Randy Snow passed away in from a heart attack in 2009, so his father Tom accepted the award on his behalf. A successful junior tennis player when he was paralyzed at age 16, Snow found his success as a wheelchair tennis champion and gold medal winning Paralympian.  Tom thanked Brad Parks, a fellow Hall of Fame member who created the concept of wheelchair tennis, and the various federations who have supported wheelchair tennis.

Mike Davies was awarded for his leadership behind the scenes with tennis. He was the driving force behind several changes in tennis targeted at making it more television friendly. Thanks to Davies, we have yellow tennis balls, blue courts, colored clothing, and chairs on changeovers. Each of these advances made tennis more marketable, and contributed to increased popularity of the sport in the 1970s. Davis thanked his fellow pros and co-workers for today’s honor.

The Hall of Fame president Stan Smith introduced Manual Orantes, and noted Orantes was not only a great champion, but a great sportsman.  Orantes looked back on his 1975 U.S. Open title over Jimmy Connors, and semifinal comeback over Guillermo Vilas earlier in that event, as the greatest matches in his career. He expressed appreciation for his Barcelona tennis club for making him into a champion.

While many tears were shed during the ceremony, the newest Hall of Fame members were all smiles when they took a final march around Center Court.


Hewitt and Ram Move into Newport Semis

The first two semifinal spots at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships were set on Thursday by Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Newport’s 2009 singles and doubles champion Rajeev Ram. Hewitt defeated Israel’s Dudi Sela in straight sets to make his first ATP World Tour semifinal since June 2010, when he won the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Ram upset No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori.

In the final quarterfinal matches of the tournament, Ryan Harrison advanced to his second Newport quarterfinal (also in 2010), by defeating fellow American Jesse Levine. This is Harrison’s fourth quarterfinal of the season.


In the semifinals, Harrison will face German qualifier Benjamin Becker, who upset No. 3 seed and world No. 23 Milos Raonic 6-3, 6-3.


“If you qualify you have three good matches under your belt,” explained Becker. “You know the courts, which is a little bit of an advantage.”


Looking to the weekend, the the International Tennis Hall of Fame is gearing up for the annual Induction Ceremony on Saturday, July 14 at 12 pm. The honor of Hall of Fame induction will be presented to former world No. 1′s Jennifer Capriati and Guga Kuerten, Spanish tennis great Manuel Orantes, tennis industry innovator Mike Davies, and the late wheelchair champion Randy Snow.


RESULTS - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Singles – Quarterfinals
R Ram (USA) d [2] K Nishikori (JPN) 76(6) 63
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) d D Sela (ISR) 64 63
Second Round

[Q] B Becker (GER) d [3] M Raonic (CAN) 63 63
[6] [WC] R Harrison (USA) d J Levine (USA) 63 64
Doubles – Quarterfinals
[3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / G Muller (LUX) 76(6) 67(3) 10-7
[Alt] R Klaasen (RSA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA) d J Fruttero (USA) / D Istomin (UZB) 63 62
ORDER OF PLAY – Friday, July 13, 2012
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am

T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) vs [WC] C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS)
[1] J Isner (USA) vs [Q] I Van der Merwe (RSA)
[Q] B Becker (GER) vs [6] [WC] R Harrison (USA)
K Nishikori (JPN) / G Soeda (JPN) vs [2] C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR)
[Alt] R Klaasen (RSA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA) vs [3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA)


Isner vs Mahut on Grass – Part Four – Isner wins


When John Isner and Nicolas Mahut step on court to play each other, it’s natural for fans to wonder how long they will be watching. However, in Newport on Wednesday, the match time was just 1 hour and 18 minutes- a far cry from the 11 hour and 5 minute battle the two competed in at Wimbledon in 2010. Isner took the first set quickly, 6-2 and after a quick tiebreak, he won the second as well 7-6 (2), to advance to the quarterfinals of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. This will be defending champion Isner’s sixth quarterfinal appearance this season.


“From the moment I warmed up today, I knew I was going to play better,” said Isner. “I just felt more comfortable. Getting that first match underneath my belt helped a lot, even though it wasn’t the prettiest of matches. I just felt more comfortable today from the first ball hit on the practice court and I think that translated over to the match score.


Also on Wednesday, Newport’s 2009 champion Rajeev Ram defeated fellow American Michael Russell, while Sam Querrey, 2009 Runner Up, fell to Israel’s Dudi Sela in three sets. Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt earned a quarterfinal spot as well, defeating qualifier Tim Smyczek.


Kei Nishikori earned a spot in the quarterfinals, defeating Newport’s two-time finalist Olivier Rochus in three sets, as well as a semifinal berth in the doubles. Nishikori, the No. 1 ranked Japanese player, will play doubles with his countryman and Olympic teammate, Go Soeda, the country’s No. 2 player. They will face Great Britain’s Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, who will also play doubles in the upcoming Olympic games.


On Thursday, the first two matches on Center Court will decide the final quarterfinalists. First up will pit two Americans against each other- past Newport quarterfinalist Ryan Harrison versus Jesse Levine. The final quarterfinal spot will be determined by a match between No. 3 seed Milos Raonic and qualifier Benjamin Becker. In attempts to earn semifinal spots, Lleyton Hewitt will play Dudi Sela, and Rajeev Ram will play No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori.

RESULTS – Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Singles – Second Round
[1] J Isner (USA) d N Mahut (FRA) 62 76(2)
[2] K Nishikori (JPN) d O Rochus (BEL) 67(6) 64 62
[Q] I Van der Merwe (RSA) d [WC] J Sock (USA) 64 64
D Sela (ISR) d S Querrey (USA) 57 76(6) 62
[WC] L Hewitt (AUS) d [Q] T Smyczek (USA) 64 26 61
R Ram (USA) d M Russell (USA) 76(6) 63
Doubles – First Round
[2] C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) d V Pospisil (CAN) / S Querrey (USA) 76(4) 75
T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) d [WC] S Johnson (USA) / D Kudla (USA) 64 61
K Nishikori (JPN) / G Soeda (JPN) d C Ball (AUS) / A Shamasdin (CAN) 64 26 10-7


ORDER OF PLAY – Thursday, July 12, 2012
Click here for a downloadable PDF of the Order of Play.  


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am  

J Levine (USA) vs [6] [WC] R Harrison (USA)
[3] M Raonic (CAN) vs [Q] B Becker (GER)
D Sela (ISR) vs [WC] L Hewitt (AUS)
R Ram (USA) vs [2] K Nishikori (JPN)


COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
J Fruttero (USA) / D Istomin (UZB) vs [Alt] R Klaasen (RSA) / I Van der Merwe (RSA)
[3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / G Muller (LUX)


ATP Newport – Jack Sock Talks About his First Time Playing on Grass




NEWPORT, Rhode Island – American Jack Sock, who received a wild card into Newport, defeated  Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 to win his first ever match on a grass court, second career win on the ATP tour level. Sock spoke to the media after his victory on Monday. Video by Jennifer Knapp

Jennifer Knapp is covering the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport this week, follow her updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.


Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock advance at Newport


On Opening Day at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, young American Jack Sock, who received a wild card into the tournament, came on strong in the first set, winning 7-5 over Russia’s Igor Kunitsyn. After Kunitsyn dominated the second set, winning 6-1, Sock came back to win 6-4, earning his second career tour-level match. The match was Sock’s first since being sidelined with an injury in March, and his first time ever playing on grass courts.
“Last Thursday was my first time hitting on grass in my life, so it was a new experience. But I think it suits my game well. I really enjoyed it out there,” said Sock.


Ryan Harrison , a prior quarterfinalist at Newport, overcame Ruben Bemelmans in a very close match, 7-6(8), 6-7(5), 7-5.


Newport’s two-time runner up Olivier Rochus advanced, defeating Go Soeda in three sets, and Michael Russell won over Donald Young, also in three sets.


In doubles action, the Aussie pairing of Leyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione defeated James Cerretani and Matt Ebden, who won the 2011 Newport doubles title with Harrison.


The qualifying round concluded with Benjamin Becker, Izak Van Der Merwe, Sergei Bubka, and Tim Smyczek earning spots in the main draw.


The first round of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships continues on Tuesday with some of the draw’s biggest names taking to the courts, including defending champion John Isner, who will play Sergei Bubka; Canada’s No. 1 player Milos Raonic versus Matt Ebden, Kei Nishikori versus Igor Sisling, Lleyton Hewitt versus Vasek Pospisil, and Newport’s 2009 finalist Sam Querrey versus Alex Bogomolov, Jr.


Singles – First Round
[6] [WC] R Harrison (USA) d R Bemelmans (BEL) 76(8) 67(5) 75
M Russell (USA) d [7] D Young (USA) 16 61 64
N Mahut (FRA) d M Chiudinelli (SUI) 60 76(2)
[WC] J Sock (USA) d I Kunitsyn (RUS) 75 16 64
D Sela (ISR) d F Dancevic (CAN) 60 62
O Rochus (BEL) d G Soeda (JPN) 64 36 63

Doubles – First Round
[3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d M Matosevic (AUS) / G Zemlja (SLO) 64 76(4)
[WC] C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS) d [4] J Cerretani (USA) / M Ebden (AUS) 63 64

CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
I Sijsling (NED) vs [2] K Nishikori (JPN)
[3] M Raonic (CAN) vs M Ebden (AUS)
[1] J Isner (USA) vs [Q] S Bubka (UKR)
V Pospisil (CAN) vs [WC] L Hewitt (AUS)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[5] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) vs S Querrey (USA)
[Q] T Smyczek (USA) vs [4] D Istomin (UZB)
G Zemlja (SLO) vs R Ram (USA)
Not Before 3:00 PM
[5] L Dlouhy (CZE) / N Mahut (FRA) vs J Fruttero (USA) / D Istomin (UZB)
R Ram (USA) / M Russell (USA) vs [Alt] B Becker (GER) / I Kunitsyn (RUS)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[Q] B Becker (GER) vs D Goffin (BEL)
[Q] I Van der Merwe (RSA) vs [8] G Muller (LUX)
M Matosevic (AUS) vs J Levine (USA)
Not Before 3:00 PM
D Goffin (BEL) / O Rochus (BEL) vs A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / G Muller (LUX)


Harrison given final Wild Card into Newport Tournament

Ryan Harrison currently ranked No. 48 in the world and No. 4 among Americans, has been awarded the final wild card into the player field for the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. The tournament, which is the only professional tennis tournament played on grass courts in North America, will be hosted July 9 – 15, 2012 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. Last week, Harrison was named to the US Olympic team, along with Newport’s defending champion John Isner, Donald Young, and the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, all of whom will play in Newport. This will be Harrison’s third appearance in Newport, where he won the doubles title last year with Matt Ebden of Australia.
“We first saw Ryan in Newport just two years ago, when he was ranked in the high 200s. It’s been great to see his career take off and his game develop. He has a lot of fans in Newport who will be happy to see him back,” said Tournament Director Mark Stenning. “Ryan’s matches are always exciting to watch, and he’s a fantastic addition to a very strong player field heading to Newport right after Wimbledon and before the Olympics.”


The field will also include former No.1 Lleyton Hewitt; Canada’s No. 1 player Milos Raonic, who is ranked world No. 22 and Kei Nishikori, a Japanese tennis star, who is ranked world No. 20. The tournament draw will feature 32 singles players, 10 of whom are ranked in the world top-60. Fourteen players in the singles draw are bound for the Olympics after Newport, and two of the 16 doubles teams will compete in the London games as well. The tournament’s other wild cards were awarded to Hewitt and to Jack Sock.