July 28, 2015

Why Slowed Down Courts are Hurting Tennis

Britain’s Andy Murray returns the ball to Andy Roddick of the U.S. during the Paris Masters tennis tournament, November 10, 2011. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)


By Tumaini Carayol

(November 8, 2011) PARIS – Over the last three months, we have watched as Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have go on the warpath against the various tennis governing bodies. It all started at the US Open when Nadal, Murray and company were put on-court in New York while the conditions were still damp. Following that incident, the pair both threatened strike action as they listed off all the ATP, ITF and USTA’s policies they deemed detrimental to the tour and the players – from the length of the season to the amount of mandatory tournaments, and so on. Interestingly however, neither player mentioned perhaps tennis’ biggest issue in 2011 – surface homogenization and the slowing down of all playing surfaces in sight.


The slowing down of certain surfaces is hardly a new issue. For the past ten years, Wimbledon and other grass tournaments have all taken steps to reduce the speed of their courts. The ATP and WTA recognized the All England Club’s steps to slow down their treasured grass courts and followed suit, annexing the carpet surface to nothing but a memory of a distant past. None of the organizations have ever given a concrete reason for the dramatic change we have seen over the years and it has been left up to the masses to speculate – many believe it was to dilute the Federer and Williams dominance of the early-mid 2000s and/or in order to promote the defense-based baseline style of play that is all the rage in 2011.


This year in Paris, Bercy, the same has happened. In recent years Bercy has always been the anomaly in the ATP tour, with its super-fast indoor courts often producing surprise champions. But after last year saw Robin Soderling crowned as champion, the organizers made the deliberate decision to slow down the surface allegedly based on complaints from players that the courts were too fast. And not just a little bit either. In his pre-tournament news conference, second seeded Andy Murray described the courts as “very, very slow” with Fernando Verdasco later echoing those thoughts. Moreover, it’s also plain for spectators to see, with the ball bouncing high and moving painfully slowly through the Bercy courts.


Of course, many will automatically ask what the problem is. Since most of the players are said to have specifically asked for the courts to be slowed down, surely there’s nothing else to discuss, right? Wrong. Instead, the tour is becoming increasingly backwards as the ATP’s own decision to slow down the courts cripple their very sport.


First, there are issues from a purely entertainment and traditional point of view. What makes tennis so unique is the variety of surfaces and the way in which the surfaces compare and contrast against each other. It forces players to come up with different game-plans on different surfaces against different players and means that total domination is next to impossible due to the rigors and difficulty of adapting to each and every surface. Even Federer at his very best was routinely beaten by many a player on his least favorite surface. And it comes as no surprise that Novak Djokovic’s spectacular year – arguably one of the best and most consistent seasons in history – has come in 2011 as most major surfaces have become almost identical.


But it is far from just an aesthetic and cosmetic problem. Traditionally, clay is by far the most grueling and toughest surface on the body, and the faster surfaces have always provided a heavy contrast to the red dirt – allowing players to shorten points, attack and somewhat protect and preserve the body. The slowing down of the courts has taken this away, with most courts coming glorified clay court. It means that players are having to put their bodies under immense pressure day in and day out and it’s leading to increasingly more injuries. Again, it’s no surprise that after a long and grueling season, this US Open broke the record for most withdrawals and retirements in a single tournament.


Thus, that the players specifically demanded the court surface to be changed is where the biggest problem lies. While many are hailing Murray and Nadal’s decision to speak up against the ATP tour and calling for the players to bond together to have a bigger say in the goings-ons of their tour, the problem is that even those players don’t always make the decision that will best-benefit their bodies and their sport. With the grinding baseliner style of play dominating tennis in 2011, when given the choice – as they were here in Bercy – players will naturally pick the decision that will benefit their own games and tennis results over anything else. And backwards the tour goes.

Tumaini Carayol is in Paris/Bercy covering the BNP ParIbas Masters  for Tennis Panorama News. He is a  contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his BNP Paribas Masters coverage here and on our twitter account @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter at @FootFault_.


The Year of Andrea Petkovic?


Tennis Channel's Cari Champion interviews Andrea Petkovic at 2011 Sony Ericsson Open

By Tumaini Carayol

STUTTGART – So far, 2011 has been a year filled with great highs and new progress for Germany’s Andrea Petkovic. In January, the 23 year-old wowed spectators at the Australian Open as she demolished 2008 champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round to move into the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.


As if to prove that her Australian Open run was no fluke, Petkovic replicated that blistering form at the second biggest tournament so far in 2011, storming into the semi-finals and taking the scalps of current number one and former number one Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic back-to-back en-route.


Though a favorite amongst die-hard fans for far longer, Miami also happened to be the place where Petkovic was transformed from a fairly unknown player into a superstar. As her success continued throughout the week, more and more reporters took notice of her stellar performances and charismatic personality off-court. She quickly became the story of the tournament as her trademark ‘Petko Dance’ grabbed US and European headlines alike and propelled her into the new.


Following her 3-6 6-2 6-2 first round win over Tamira Paszek in Stuttgart, Petkovic sat down to address her newfound fame.


“I felt the pressure, the expectations rising from the audience, from the media. But I think I handled it well in Fed Cup”


“Now the only new problem was to redo it in a normal tournament situation only two days later.”


When asked whether she felt like a superstar, she giggled.


“No, I don’t feel like a superstar. In my town Darmstadt, when I walks through the city nobody ever talks to me, only one guy and he always tells me ‘you parked wrong” she laughed.


“I’m still normal. I’m not Paris Hilton.”


Petkovic is set to play Jelena Jankovic in the second round on Wednesday.

Tumaini Carayol is in Suttgart covering the Porsche Tennis  Grand Prix  for Tennis Panorama News. He is a  contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his Stuttgart coverage here and on our twitter account @GVTennisNews. Follow him on twitter at @FootFault_.


Tuesday in Stuttgart

By Tumaini Carayol

STUTTGART- Sam Stosur, Julia Goerges and Sabine Lisicki all moved into the second round of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Tuesday with straight sets victories.


It was far from plain sailing for Stosur, who after speeding to an early lead against Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, was quickly pegged back to 5-5 by Martinez Sanchez. However, last year’s finalist hung on to take the first set and eased through the second with the loss of only two games.


“I am pretty pleased with that, I have been practicing well on clay and it’s good to get a win.” She said afterwards.


“It [her stellar claycourt play] just happened over the last few years, something clicked and I got used to playing on clay,”


Germany’s Julia Goerges quickly followed suit, fighting back from an early break to overwhelm Holland’s Michaella Krajicek and advance to the second round in her first year of direct entry into her home tournament with a 6-3 6-0.


Next up for Goerges is Miami champion Victoria Azarenka. She was excited about the prospect of playing such a highly-ranked player;


“I look forward to [playing] Victoria Azarenka. These are the matches we work towards.”


Finally, Sabine Lisicki upset world number 27 Dominika Cibulkova with a 7-5 7-6 victory to record her third top thirty victory since Miami.


“There were the nerves, and at times my hands shook, But in the tiebreak I played confidently” She said.

Andrea Petkovic defeated qualifier Tamira Paszek in a tough match 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Quote of the day from Andrea Petkovic: “I am not Paris Hilton”

Stuttgart results and order of play.

Tumaini Carayol is  in Suttgart covering the Porsche Tennis  Grand Prix  for Tennis Panorama News. He is a  contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his Stuttgart coverage here and on our twitter account @GVTennisNews. Follow him on twitter at @FootFault_.

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Photos from WTA All-Access Hour at Family Circle Cup in Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC – Rachel Vinson of  Onthegotennis is  at the Family Circle Cup tournament in Charleston this week reporting for Tennis Panorama News. Here is a gallery of Monday’s photos taken by her which include Caroline Wozniacki, Samantha Stosur, Jelena Jankovic, Shahar Peer, Marion Bartoli, Yanina Wickmayer in addition to photos from around the grounds and practice courts. Follow her twitter coverage on @GVTennisNews and her twitter account @Onthegotennis.


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Kourtin’ Karen’s Sony Ericsson Open Week 1



Welcome to Miami

Tennis Panorama News was in Miami this week covering the Sony Ericsson Open. Craig Hickman of Craig Hickman on Tennis and JD Blom were on site covering all the on-court and off-court action.


Breaking News at WTA All Access

Due to Craig Hickman’s and JD Blom’s skills with the Flemish language they broke the “Clijsters won’t play in Asia” story on twitter first and with a complete translation later in the day.  Heads up to Chris Chase for recognizing this in Yahoo’s tennis blog Busted Racquet. It was interesting to see media outlets report the story without verification or source attribution.

Of  War and Radiation: Kim Clijsters Speaks



Soccer/Football Jinx

Photo courtesy of Onthegotennis.com

Has anyone noticed that most of those players who participated in the charity soccer match for Japan earlier in the week have already lost in Miami?  The list so far includes Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Marcos Baghdatis, Stanislas Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.


Look out for Falling Seeds

On Saturday alone 10 seeds including Andy Roddick lost in Miami – 6 men  and 4 women.


Serena Sighting

From Serena Williams‘ twitter account, Williams and Caroline Wozniacki took in a Miami Heat game earlier in the week.



Losing Streak

Andy Murray (Photo of Onthegotennis.com)

Andy Murray is officially in a slump. He was a second round victim to Alex Bogomolov Jr. This marks his fourth consecutive loss beginning with the final of the Australian Open. Despite the loss, Murray will climb to No. 4 in the world due to Robin Soderling’s third round exit at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Doubles Point of the Week!




Swimming with the Fish(es)

Mardy Fish has a sense of humor to volunteer to participate in two photo-ops this week – swimming with the dolphins..

Mardy Fish and Dolphins Cheerleaders (Getty Images)

and posing with the  Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. Good news for Fish – not official yet but a Fish win in the next round, paired with Andy Roddick’s early loss will make Fish the top ranked US male.



Dance of the Week

Video and photo courtesy of Forty Deuce

Ana Ivanovic has paired up with Andrea Petkovic in doubles this week at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Needless to say Petkovic has shown her how to do the victory dance.


Photo-Op of the Week

NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat perfomed the coin toss at Saturday evening’s Rafael Nadal-Kei Nishikori match at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Do you wanna ride in my Mercedes boy?

Photo courtesy of Onthegotennis.com

Kudos to Onthegotennis.com who caught Roger Federer driving to the Sony Ericsson Open in a Mercedes.  Mercedes is one of Federer’s sponsors.


Parties and Events of the Week

Tennis Family Unites To Raise Funds for Japan Disaster Relief

Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

New Experience with Sharapova and the Hot Shots

GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Slideshow: GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser

Game, Set, Match, Videos and Photo Galleries!

JD Blom and Craig Hickman were all over the Sony Ericsson Open  from the matches to the “Party Patrol” events this past week. Here are links to videos and photo galleries. Also check out the live tweeting of the red carpet events they covered thorughout the week– here

Articles with Videos:

Videos – GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Video – Roger Federer Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open

Video – Andy Roddick Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open


Photo Galleries












Maria Sharapova Enjoys ‘That Latin Flavor’

All Photos © JD Blom for Tennis Panorama News.
Article by Craig Hickman


Thursday night, I attended by first-ever night session on Stadium Court at the Sony Ericsson Open. Outside of the Slams, this is among my favorite tournaments. I’ve always considered it the fifth Slam, even though recently, I’ve heard Indian Wells referred to as such. What I love about this slam is the high-energy crowds that come out at support Central and South American players. When JD asked me what the biggest tournament in South America actually was, I drew a blank. In my mind, this is it.

Which is why I ought to have gotten out to Court 1 a lot earlier and watched the compelling drama unfold between Paul Capdeville of Chile and Frederico Gil of Portugal. By the time I arrived, the match was at a few points shy of the final set tiebreak, which Capdeville let 4-1 and 6-3, only have the match stolen from him by the tencacious “Fred” (his fans where chanting his name after almost every point) who struck two outrageous passing shots to save two of the four match, deflating the Argentine who was gutted after the match.


Back on Stadium Court, Maria Sharapova played her first match in Miami match in three years. After she cruised to victory 6-3, 6-2 over Croatia’s Petra Martic, I was the only writer, along with five photographers, who showed up for her news conference. Because it was late and she appeared to be a bit insulted by the empty room, joking that more children showed , I kept my one-on-one with the former No. 1 and face of the WTA succinct.

Craig Hickman for Tennis Panorama News: How are you feeling?

Maria Sharapova: Good. Great.

TPN: When was the last time you played in Miami?

MS: Three years ago.

TPN: That’s what I thought. How does it feel to be back?

MS: Way too long.

Feels really good. This is one of my favorite events. It’s crazy that I’ve missed it this many years because of injuries. So I’m just so happy to get back on that court today and just I love playing in front of the crowd. They’re so enthusiastic. They love their sports and have that Latin flavor about them. You know, it’s fun.

TPN: How is your shoulder?

MS: Doing good. Yeah, stable.

TPN: Are you healed?

MS: Healed? Tough to say an athlete is healed, but, yeah, I’m doing really well. Thank you.

TPN: You are pretty popular in Asia. Can you talk a little bit about how you felt when you heard about the Japan earthquake?

MS: Yeah, it was a tragedy. You know, you still see all the coverage in the papers and on video. It’s crazy to think that something like that could just happen so quickly and destroy so many lives, so many emotions.

Japan is one of my favorite places to visit, to go to. I’ve had incredible memories ever since I think I was maybe 13, 14 years old my first time I went there. I love so many things about it. I love the people. I love the food. I love the culture. I mean, I have been to so many different parts of it, as well, I’ve got to experience. I mean, you go to a different town, people live differently. It’s so unique there. I draw so much inspiration all my life from there and from those people. It’s devastating to know what they’re going through. Yeah, but I hope that it doesn’t continue and become worse.

TPN: Where do you see yourself in the game right now?

MS: Um, you know, I see myself building from what I can. You know, my goal this year is to consistently stay healthy and just really build on you know, last week I got to the semifinals. I was really happy, because I hadn’t played a tournament in a while. So just, you know, play a lot more tournament in a while. So just, you know, play a lot more tournaments, you know, play a lot more matches, and I feel like my form will get to where I want it to be when I do that.

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News.

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Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams


Gracias, Bogota


By Junior Williams
I had a lot on my mind as my flight from Miami touched down at Bogota,Colombia’s El Dorado Airport Wednesday afternoon. Most prominent was whether or not I would regret my maiden voyage to South America.
A number of my tennis fan friends chose to skip the Davis Cup World Group Play-off between the United States and Colombia, citing U.S. State Department travel warnings and Bogota’s reputation for crime which goes back to the drug wars of the late 20th century.

When a driver from my hotel picked me up and engaged me in conversation -being nice enough not to ridicule my lack of fluency in Spanish – it was definitely a sign of things to come: Bogota is one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.

I decided to spend my six days and five nights in the La Candelaria section of central Bogota, full of 300-year old colonial buildings,university students and narrow streets. My room at the Hotel Ambala was only $42 a night in U.S. currency, and the staff at the hotel made me feel very much at home.
The trade-off: A very small room with a bathroom you have to squeeze into,and the pulsating beat of bars and nightclubs into the wee hours of the morning. A far cry from the upscale JW Marriott in northern Bogota where the U.S. Davis Cup team is staying, but I’ll take the charm of La Candelaria any day of the week. 



National Capital building at Plaza de Bolivar




My American friend and I have been walking all over Bogota, from the Plaza de Bolivar – home of the national capital building – to the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria, the bullring hosting the Davis Cup. In this city that’s more than 8,600 feet above sea level, I can understand why many cited altitude as a big challenge for the U.S. team. We did lots of huffing and puffing in the hilly parts of Bogota.



Transmilenio/Museo de Oro station



When we weren’t walking, we took the Trans Milenio — a rapid transit bus system masquerading as a subway. It’s a good way to see other parts of the city, with mountain tops looking down over the metropolis.

Bogota is also the home of cheap and tasty eats, where you can get breakfasts and lunches for as little as $2 to $5 US (1800 Colombian Pesos= $1United States). Empanadas, tamales in banana leaves, and sizzling meats are just the tip of the iceberg. Dinners are also inexpensive, but don’t wait too late to go out for a meal. Very few restaurants are open past8pm.
Carrera 7 was a pleasant surprise on Friday night . No cars allowed. It was like a street fair for several blocks.

As far as safety is concerned, there is a heavy police presence in Bogota.It’s not unusual to see officers with muzzled dogs patrolling the streets.

The homeless are very savvy. Expect one of them to come to you and ask for change right after you purchase something on the street.



View of Bogota from Monserrate peak



While dining in a restaurant, I met a retiree who left Chicago to live in Bogota. I asked him for the must-see spots in the city. He mentioned Monserrate, a mountain top where a white church overlooks the Colombian capital.

I took his advice, and the views were breathtaking.


Monserrate Sanctuary



Since we were dining, he also gave me some “tips” on tipping, which is not customary in Bogota (though some eating establishments have service charges). He said if you want to give a tip, give it directly to the waiter or waitress. If you leave it on the table, anyone can take the money.
He also said Colombians are some of the nicest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. “If you ask for one thing, they’ll give you two or three.”
He went on to say that Bogota’s reputation as the most dangerous capital city in the world is unjustified.

I couldn’t agree more. Even when I was walking down crowded streets wearing clothes that screamed out I am an American, I’d get smiles,welcoming gestures and strike up friendly conversations with Bogotanos. 



I didn’t get a chance to see all of the hot spots here, such as the Museo del Oro which I hear is wonderful, but I’ll have plenty of fond memories of Colombia, and not just because of the tennis.
Gracias, Bogota! 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.

Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group By Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams




Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group By Junior Williams

Davis Cup: Fish Keeps U.S. in World Group
Clinches Victory in 5-set Thriller Over Colombia
By Junior Williams


BOGOTA – Mardy Fish wore red, white and blue today — but red wasn’t part of the plan.
The American’s blood-stained shirt was indicative of the battle he was in, as he led the United States to a 3-6 6-3 7-5 4-6 8-6 victory over Santiago Giraldo and Colombia at the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria,giving the U.S. a 3-1 lead and clinching its return to the Davis Cup World Group
Fish, who injured his hand during a fall in the match, played almost 11 hours of tennis total against the Colombians, and is the first American to win three rubbers in a Davis Cup tie since Pete Sampras in 1995’s championship against Russia.
The result also gives outgoing U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe his final victory after ten years at the helm, while denying Colombia its first-ever advance to the top tier.
The first set was controlled by Giraldo, who was winning the long rallies, going from serve to serve at a rapid pace, and dancing on the baselines like a boxer going for the knockout. Fish ended up double faulting away the set.
The momentum switched to Fish in the second set, as his overhead smash broke Giraldo’s serve to give the U.S. a 2-1 edge. Fish went on to win the set as he baffled Giraldo by mixing up the pace of his serves,and his drop shots exposed Giraldo’s weaknesses at the net.
Things really heated up in the third set with Giraldo serving at 5-6, when the umpire’s controversial overturn of a line call resulted in a double set point for Fish instead of 30-30. After protesting the call along with his captain Felipe Beron, an angry Giraldo promptly double faulted, giving the set to Fish.
Still fuming over the call while playing in the fourth set, Giraldo eventually shook it off and got his game back on track, helped in part by Fish constantly knocking backhands into the net. The bullring crowd erupted into a frenzy when Giraldo tied the match at two sets apiece.
The fifth set was intense, with long rallies and great shot making by both players. Fish tried to shake things up by coming to the net, but Giraldo’s impressive passing shots foiled the American’s strategy.Fish’s erratic serving and backhands into the net eventually resulted in a 6-5 lead for Colombia, giving Giraldo an opportunity to serve out the match and set up a fifth and deciding rubber.
But Giraldo disappointed the hometown crowd by failing to close the deal, and Fish broke back, tying the set at 6-6. He held serve by staving off a pair of break points, and clinched the tie by breaking Giraldo in the final game.
Just minutes after the Americans celebrated on the court, it started pouring rain, as if the clouds were crying for the home team.The dead rubber was canceled.Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams


Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup by Junior Williams

Bogota Bonus: Some Observations on Davis Cup
By Junior Williams

Fenway Park comes to Colombia: The bullring scoreboard consists of cards with numbers on them, and if you want to know the in-game score, you’ll have to memorize the umpire’s count. This is kind of funny when you consider the time of match clock is electronic.
If you want to know how fast players’ serves are, that’s just too bad. There is no serve speed display at this Davis Cup. Could it be because the power of Querrey and Isner creates a psychological disadvantage for the Colombian team?

One U.S. fan on waiting long for his food: “They had to grow the pizza”
The bullring has not been close to being filled to capacity either Friday or Saturday. Friday was not a surprise to me because it was a work day. I was expecting a bigger crowd today. I asked one 11-year old if she was coming Sunday. Her answer was “No.”The reason? “Church.”

If you’ve been watching this Davis Cup competition on television, certainly you’ve been hearing the vuvuzelas made famous (or infamous depending on who you ask) by this year’s soccer World Cup. They are not being sold here … fans are bringing them on their own. I’m sure they’ll be exceptionally loud on Sunday.

Thumbs up to the fans in Colombia who have been giving their American counterparts some good-natured ribbing while being very nice and gracious. It’s time to throw away the “peligroso” stereotyping of Bogota and its people.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He’s in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News and will tweet using the GVTN twitter account over the weekend.

Previous entries:

Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

“Uncle Sam is in Trouble” – USA and Colombia at 1-1 on Day One of the Davis Cup World Group Play-offs by Junior Williams


Switch to Fish Completes a Winning Dish by Junior Williams

Davis Cup: Switch to Fish Pays Off for U.S.
Four-Set Doubles Victory Gives Americans 2-1 Edge Over Colombia
By Junior Williams

Bullring in Bogota Colombia

Bullring in Bogota Colombia

BOGOTA – The United States Davis Cup team is one win away from returning to the World Group, and denying Colombia its first-ever climb to that level.
Captain Patrick McEnroe switched out Ryan Harrison for the more experienced Mardy Fish, who teamed up with John Isner to defeat Colombia’s Robert Farah and Carlos Salamanca 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-3, giving the U.S. a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday’s final day of play at the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria in the Colombian capital.
The Americans broke the Colombians early in the first set and held on to win it. Fish got off to a stronger start with his service game compared with his Friday performance, while Isner bent, but did not get broken by Farah and Salamanca.
The turning point in a victorious second set for the U.S. was an Isner cross-court backhand winner on break point for a 3-2 lead.
The Colombians would not go away quietly. They raced out to a 3-0 lead in the third set, on strong serving by Salamanca and stellar net play by Farah. But the U.S. went on to win the next two games, punctuated by a Farah double fault that put both teams back on serve.
Later in the set, lots of drama surrounding a pair of Fish service games. The U.S. held on despite 3 double faults and a break point in one game, and set points in the other game.
It was only fitting that we finally saw the first tiebreak set of this Davis Cup. Urged on by an extremely loud hometown crowd in the bullring chanting ” Sí Se Fue!” (“Yes We Can!”), Farah and Salamanca jumped out to a 6-2 lead and went on to win the third set tiebreak 7-5.
Umpire Carlos Bernardes had his hands full trying to silence the crowd, which at numerous times during the set wouldn’t stop shouting while the Americans were serving. Just prior to the beginning of the fourth set, the crowd was warned the Colombian team could face a point penalty if such behavior continued.
But the Americans’ play in the fourth set was enough to quiet the crowd, as they sealed the victory after almost three hours of playing time.
Sunday’s first match features Friday’s two singles match victors: Mardy Fish versus Santiago Giraldo. If Fish clinches the win for the United States, he would become the first American to win three live rubbers in a Davis Cup tie since Pete Sampras propelled the U.S.to a Davis Cup title in 1995 against Russia.
If Giraldo wins and forces a fifth and deciding rubber, the Colombians will go to battle with Alejandro Falla, who lost to Fish in Friday’s five-setter. The watch is on to see if Patrick McEnroe will go with Sam Querrey – who suffered a Friday defeat at the hands of Giraldo — or Isner.
The Americans would most certainly prefer a dead rubber featuring newcomer Ryan Harrison.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He’s in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News and will tweet using the GVTN twitter account during the weekend.

Photo Bonus- Around the Bull Ring