2015/03/30

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Advance at Miami Open

Nadal at Miami Open Media day

(March 27, 2015) Fourteen-time major champion Rafael Nadal has won almost everything there is to win on the men’s tennis tour. One of the few titles which has escaped him is the Miami Open. Nadal a four-time finalist, began his quest for his first title with an 89-minute victory over Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-2 to move into the third round.

Nadal was asked about his ankle which he hurt during practice earlier in the week.

“I am well, no?,” said the second seed. “I had just a little bit, how do you say, small torn in the beginning, so it was going to be tough.

“The day after I had pain, but after two days I improved 50% and stays the same. It’s not limiting my movements.”

“The real thing is the wind was really high,” Nadal said of the breezy conditions on court. “Very difficult to find a positive feeling on court.

“But in general I think I played a solid match. I played well. I had a good movement. I think I moved myself quick for moments, and when I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes ‑ that was the idea today with that very tough conditions ‑ I did, I think.

“For some moments I went for the points. I worked well with my forehand. I had some good winners.

“Yeah. I’m happy the way that I played. Sure, second round against I don’t know yet, but Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round. I am happy for that.”

Nadal who raised his record against Almagro to 11-1, will face the winner of Fernando Verdasco, and James Duckworth in the third round.

“The court in Miami I think is the same than since 10 years, since I came here,” Nadal said. “I don’t see difference with the court, no?

“The ball is heavier here than in Indian Wells for the humidity, so the ball flies is little bit slower through the air. That’s it.”

Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray defeated Donald Young 6-4, 6-2 in 82 minutes in an earlier match. Murray defeated the American recently – in Glasgow during the first weekend in March, when Great Britain defeated the United States 3-2 to reach the quarterfinals of Davis Cup.

“I played well against him the last couple of times,” said the third seed. “Obviously today was a very different match to Davis Cup; completely different conditions.”

“The tactics that you go into the match with completely change because of the weather and the wind.”

The Scot is just two wins away from reaching a milestone – to become just the ninth active player to win 500 ATP World Tour –level matches.

Murray will match-up against 27th seed Santiago Giraldo in the third round.

Share

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal Advance at Indian Wells

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

(March 17, 2015) World No. 2 and four-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer avenged his Australian Open third round loss to Italy’s Andreas Seppi with a 6-3, 6-4 victory on Tuesday night. Rafael Nadal also advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Donald Young. Both men have moved on to the round of 16.

“It absolutely was an opportunity right away to play him again and sort of erase it to some extent from the memory as the season moves forward,” Federer said of the 82-minute match “It’s one of those matches you’re happy you’re through, and I was happy it was over.”

In the all-lefty match-up, Nadal said: “I feel confident that I am playing much better than one month and a half ago.”

“I feel closer to be what I am, what I want to be, and it’s a positive victory for me, and it’s a positive victory for me, another victory. Every victory is important victory for me. Already six matches in a row winning, and that’s a good number.”

The No 3 player will face Gilles Simon in the fourth round.

“He is playing well. He had a good beginning of the season,” The Spaniard said of his future French challenger. “Is true he had some problem in his neck last couple of years, no? He had some injuries there.

“So he’s playing with injuries, with pain, with no continuity is very difficult for everybody. He’s healthy now. He’s playing well. He’s a very dangerous player.”

Federer will play American Jack Sock next.

“Never played him,” said Sock. “I mean, we are friendly. Friendly guy. Talk in the locker room some. Yeah, I’m more excited than anything if I do play him. Obviously Seppi got him in Melbourne.

“But, yeah, if I get a chance to play him ‑‑ I haven’t played one of those, as some people say, those top 4 guys. I haven’t been able to play one in a match. Yeah, I look forward to it, and especially here in the States it would be fun.”

Share

USA and Great Britain Name Teams for Davis Cup First Round Tie in Glasgow March 6-8

USDavisCup

(February 24, 2015) The oldest rivalry in the history of Davis Cup will continue the weekend of March 6-8, when Great Britain plays host to the United States in Glasgow, Scotland for a first round tie in the Emirates Arena.

On Tuesday both countries named their teams. Team USA will consist of world No. 20 John Isner, No. 45 Donald Young, and the world’s No. 1 doubles team of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

World No. 3 Andy Murray will lead Great Britain’s team in his native Scotland which includes his brother Jamie, James Ward and Dominic Inglot.

Great Britain’s Captain Leon Smith said: “From a selection point of view we’ve been able to choose our strongest possible team which is of course spearheaded by Andy Murray who is significantly ahead of where he was 12 months ago. The tie will be a huge deal for him personally as he returns to play in Scotland for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2013. In James Ward we have somebody who has already proven himself against the US Davis Cup team, and I’d back him again to put in another excellent performance after some consistent recent form has seen him on the verge of cracking the top 100 for the first time. I’ve selected our top two doubles players in Jamie and Dom, and again they’ve showed real consistency this year to earn their place in the team. As a group, all the guys deserve this opportunity and I know we’re all excited to get together in Glasgow and get the tie underway.”

Last year, Murray carried his team to a 3-1 victory over the U.S. in the first round last year in San Diego.

For the best of five series, play begins each day at 1 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET). Friday, March 6, will include two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five sets until one nation clinches the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

In the Davis Cup competition dating back to 1900, the U.S. is 11-8 all-time against Great Britain

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 17-19, and will play either France or Germany. Should the U.S. defeat Great Britain, it will travel to Germany or host France. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 18-20, for the right to play in the World Group in 2016.

Share

Donald Young Reaches Citi Open Quarterfinals

Embedded image permalink

Donald Young photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

By Dave Gertler

(July 31, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Donald Young has bounced back from a four-match losing streak to find redemption at the Citi Open this week, where today’s win over Denis Istomin places him in his second ATP quarterfinal of 2014.

“I had to fight some nerves, and it’s tough to play an opponent who you can visually see was not on top of his game,” said Young of Istomin who appeared exhausted at times throughout the match, “I asked him at the end. He said he was a little tired.”

The 25-year-old American broke his opponent late in the first set, before consolidating the break – and the set – with a love service game, taking the opener 6-3.

Aforementioned losing streak aside, Young has found himself on a mid-career upswing in the last 12 months, and has raised his ranking from outside the top 150 to where it is now at No.73, mostly through wins at Challenger level.

Along with his second-round win against Julien Benneteau yesterday, today’s win against Istomin means Young now has an even 7-7 win/loss record against top-50 players in 2014, a sure sign he himself is heading in that direction.

“It’s been three years since I’ve been in the top 50,” said Young, “It took me a while to get my head together. Next time I get there – which I think I will – I want to stay and be consistent, at least for a good part of the rest of my career.”

Istomin swung the momentum in his favor in the second set, capitalizing on an early break and holding the advantage for 6-3, but with the Grandstand One crowd well and truly behind him, Young outlasted Istomin in the decider, proving more physically equipped than his opponent to gain the advantage in the majority of their long baseline duels.

Closing out the match, however, required a different approach. Young said his strategy on this crucial 5-3 service game was to, “Put some good first serves in, be aggressive, move forward. When I move forward, the nerves don’t have a chance to kick in, ‘cause it’s so instinctive.”

Now enjoying his sixth career appearance in Rock Creek Park, the 6-foot former junior world No.1 from Georgia is hoping to outdo his 2011 run to the Citi Open semi-final, but to reach that stage in 2014, he’ll need to turn the tables on his next opponent, Kevin Anderson, who has beaten Young the last five times they’ve played.

It was a good day for American men at the Citi Open, with Young, as well as Steve Johnson getting through to the quarter-finals, Johnson taking out 9th seed Ivo Karlovic in three sets and two hours.

Share

The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta

 

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 17, 2014) ATLANTA – Preparation for the US Open is underway.  The BB&T Atlanta Open gets things started on Saturday, July 19th for the men.  Qualifying begins at 10 AM.  The BB&T Atlanta Open is an ATP 250 event, with a 28 player draw, four of which come from the qualifying tournament.  The qualifying field will have 32 players.  The doubles draw is a 16 team field.  Last year’s champ, John Isner, is returning, along with fellow Americans Sam Querrey, Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock, and Donald Young.  Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Lleyton Hewitt, and the other half of the Wimbledon doubles championship team, Vasek Pospisil, are also expected in the tournament.  The tournament aspires to be a mini US Open, with the venue set among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station.  Atlantic Station is a community within downtown that provides homes for 10,000 people integrated with shopping, restaurants, and retailers that make it a hit with the players.  Besides the attractive venue, players will get a jump on the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, where nearly $40 million in prize money is up for grabs.  This is the third year the tournament has been held at Atlantic Station.

It is a familiar place for Americans, with Isner winning last year, Roddick in 2012, and Fish in 2011.  It has also been comfortable for big man tennis- last year Isner, at 6’10”, overcame Kevin Anderson at 6’8” in three tiebreaks.  Fans in the first couple of rows certainly had to pay attention with the huge serves coming their way.  It is especially familiar for Isner, who competed collegiately just an hour down the road for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, leading the team to a national championship and winning every possible team title in 2007.  He’s usually a fan favorite, with at least a couple of barks from Georgia fans in his favor at each match.  Isner may not be the only recipient of barks; University of Georgia player Austin Smith has accepted a wild card into the main draw. The sophomore from Cumming, Georgia excelled this season as the Bulldogs captured the 2014 SEC Championship. Smith finished with a 35-12 record, and went 9-1 in SEC matches. He has won four USTA Pro Circuit matches. A tournament qualifier in 2011, Smith will be playing his debut ATP main draw match.

Another American, Jack Sock, could very well get on a roll at this tournament.  After winning doubles with Pospisil at Wimbledon, he rolled into Newport and eliminated Isner in the Newport Hall of Fame event on grass just a week ago.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to keep that momentum and was eliminated by the veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who went on to win the tournament.  Hewitt’s feisty shouts of “C’mon!” have endeared him to the Atlanta fans in past years.  Fresh off his renewed success at Newport, he could very well win Atlanta.  The main draw was just rounded out with the addition of Ryan Harrison and Robby Ginepri.  “We’re ecstatic to welcome back two of our fan favorites in Ryan Harrison and Atlanta metro resident Robby Ginepri,” Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez said. “One of our goals is to highlight American talent and both of these players are great examples of the fine players this country has produced.”  Harrison won the doubles last year, partnering with Matthew Ebden.  Ginepri appears for the fourth time, with a onetime ranking of fifteen.  He is a graduate of Wheeler High School, just a few miles north of Atlantic Station.  He currently resides in Kennesaw, another couple of miles north.

The draw will be finalized over this weekend with the completion of the qualifying tournament.  Promising American junior Francis Tiafoe has accepted his first tournament qualifying wild card. Tiafoe, 16, is a talented young prodigy who rose to No. 2 in the world junior rankings this spring. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Rakitt and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey have also accepted qualifying wild cards. Rakitt, a Marietta native and All-ACC selectee, is competing again for the second year. O’Shaughnessey of Macon, Ga., led the Crimson Tide in singles wins (22) this season.

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

Share

Murray Beats Querrey to Send Great Britain to the Davis Cup Quarterfinals

IMG_9611

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

 

(February 2, 2014) SAN DIEGO – With the Americans’ place in the 2014 Davis Cup World Group on the line, Sam Querrey ran neck and neck with Andy Murray today.  Unfortunately, he only kept pace with the 2-time major champion for two sets. Of those, he won just one. Therein lies the story of the match.  After a valiant effort, Querrey succumbed 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 in 2 hours and 54 minutes at Petco Park In San Diego.  Such is the challenge of playing against a member of the modern game’s “Big Four.”

 

“I had some ups and downs definitely,” Querrey said reflecting on the weekend. “Still bummed I lost that first one…but I’m proud of myself for putting it behind me and coming out strong today.” While Querrey was miles more competitive today than he managed to be on Friday versus James Ward, his loss clinched the tie for Great Britain.

 

Andy Murray, all but singlehandedly wiping the negative recent history of British tennis, guaranteed his side their first berth in the World Group quarterfinals for 28 years.  For your reference, Murray is 26 years old.

 

Despite the loss, US captain Jim Courier found positives in his team’s performance.  “We kept our heads together,” he said.  “I was proud of Sam and the way he competed.  I think Donald (Young) got some valuable experience…. Of Course Bob and Mike (Bryan) did that they do so well, which is compete hard and typically get us the win.”

 

Despite the unpredictable way in which the tie ultimately played out: Isner’s injury, Querrey’s flat opening performance and two ruthless displays by Murray, one questionable call may have played a major part in writing the final script, the Americans’ choice of a red clay surface.  Courier defended the choice at every turn throughout the week, pointing to strong prior performances by his squad on the terre battue. For his part at least, Murray was skeptical, “I was surprised they put it on clay, to be honest,” he said, even noting that the surface may have been helped Britain to victory.  “Yeah, obviously, it did have a bearing in the tie, for Sam especially.  I think his best surface is hard courts….I don’t know if they thought I wasn’t going to play because I had problems on clay last year with my back and coming off surgery.  So I don’t know”

 

Oddly enough, the road for the advancing team, Great Britain, on paper at least, becomes presumably easier than that for the losing American squad.  The Brits will play their next World Group tie away versus an Italian team headlined by Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini.  The United States, in falling to the World Group playoffs for the first time since 2010, could potentially face three teams headlined by major champions: (Spain, Serbia and Argentina) or our surging neighbor to the north, Canada, just to stay in the World Group for 2015.

 

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

Murray’s not quite thinking about the next tie just yet.  Still in the midst of recovery, the Dunblane native is still working his way back to playing his best ball.  “I’m proud of the way I’m playing just now because I had to do a lot of work to get back to where I wanted to be,” said Murray. “I’m still not quite there yet, but winning matches of that length and quality so soon after the surgery is good.”

With a tough challenge behind him and Murray’s mood lightening, he added “I’ll have done 13 weeks consecutively without a break of training and I’m playing tournaments to try and get myself back.  I need a break now, so I’ll take some days off after I get home, because I deserve it.”

 

Related articles:

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

Teams On The Edge

 

 

Share

Teams On The Edge

Courier and Bryans

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(February 1, 2014) SAN DIEGO – With the Southern California sun finally making an appearance and a partisan crowd finally making their presence both seen and heard, it was clearly a new day in this US vs. Great Britain Davis Cup World Group tie.  Nonetheless, the American team was still haunted by yesterday’s failures at Petco Park in San Diego.

 

For a doubles pairing that had just kept the American side alive in this Davis Cup, the Bryan Brothers were in no mood for celebrating—or even smiling—about their win today, neither was US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier.  The Bryans raised their record as a team to 21-4 in the competition on the back of a decisive 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming. Yet, it was clear from the beginning of their press conference that the twins had other things on their minds.

 

“Always feels bad to let the team down,” Bob said.  He was responding to the first question raised.  While the query was about winning this match following two uncharacteristic, five-set Davis Cup losses a season ago, Bryan’s allusion wasn’t lost on anyone.  Bob was as much referencing the still-stinging memories of their 2013 Davis Cup campaign as he was yesterday’s upset loss by Sam Querrey at the hands of James Ward.

 

The Bryans had little mercy on their opponents today, avenging their teammate’s defeat by drawing 45 forced errors from the British pair in a match that didn’t reach the two-hour mark.  Their only hiccup, a loose game on Bob’s serve in the third set, that cost the USA a straight sets triumph. “I think they just take it to you every time,” said Inglot about his opponents. “They always ask a question of you and they’re never going to give you any free points.” “The match can rush away from you,” Fleming added.  “When we got behind in sets, it can become a blur against them.”

 

As uncharitable as the Bryans were on-court, Courier matched in the pressroom.  When asked about Querrey’s chances of springing an upset of 2-time major champion Andy Murray tomorrow, Courier fired with little hesitation, “He’s going to have to play significantly better than he did yesterday to stand a chance.” The British squad, while realistic, wasn’t taking anything for granted.  When asked about Andy Murray’s chances against a player who had just suffered a disappointing loss, another thinly veiled reference to Querrey, British captain Leon Smith stifled the rumor of a smile breaking out on his face and replied “Very good.  Yeah, very good.”

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

Related articles:

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

Share

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

Donald Young

Donald Young

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(January 31, 2014) SAN DIEGO – Donald Young and Andy Murray exist on two different planes of the tennis universe; they left the court Saturday afternoon showing just how far apart they are.  Dunblane’s favorite son, a champion on the fast courts of the US Open and Wimbledon, looked quite at home on the slow, by his words “slippery” red clay court in the outfield of Petco Park.  Murray dismissed his less-heralded American opponent 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in just an hour and 38 minutes.

 

The combatants played the first two games on the match on near-even terms, though Murray would end both occasions the victor.  From there, with the exception of some brief signs of life from Young in the third set, the gulf only widened. “I’ve seen [Murray] do that to a lot of guys,” said Young “So I don’t feel quite as bad…it’s just rough.”

 

With Friday’s victory, Murray increased his winning streak in Davis Cup to 17 consecutive singles matches.  Across the net, Young admitted to feeling nerves in his first outing for the USA.  “Everything seemed like it was in hyperspeed,” Young said, “it was tough for me, but I’m happy I got through it.”

 

A matchup against Murray would have been tough enough under neutral circumstances, but the World No. 6 has some extra motivation coming into this year’s event. “I’ve never started a year in Davis Cup when you could actually win the competition, so this year it’s obviously a little bit different,” Murray pointed out. “I mean, every time I’ve played Davis Cup, I’ve enjoyed it; I’ve played well…it’s not like when I’ve played I just haven’t been motivated. It’s a different mindset, coming in and being in the main competition and being able to actually win it. I’m excited this year.”

 

Murray is giving Great Britain his complete commitment to winning, at minimum, this tie at least versus the Americans.  In addition to the two singles matches, Murray is scheduled to suit up alongside Colin Fleming in the doubles tomorrow.  The British pair will take on fifteen-time major champions Bob and Mike Bryan.

 

Young will have to wait until Sunday for his shot at Davis Cup redemption.  There will be no less pressure though, he could be tapped to play a decisive fifth rubber versus James Ward. For his part, Young is looking forward to the challenge. “I’ll never have this problem again, this feeling of the first time.  I’m looking forward to Sunday if need be,” Young said.  “If I’m needed, I’m definitely looking forward to playing and I’ll feel a lot better and a lot more confident….”

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

Related articles:

Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

Share

Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Three

John-Isner_Miami-Tennis-Cup-e1354390274784

John Isner

By Kevin Ware

(February 14, 2013) SAN JOSE – Here are some more courtside impressions from an eventful Day Three at the SAP Open.  It was mixed bag of fun matches and dramatic wins.  But let’s start with the sad and unsettling loss by Donald Young.

  • I don’t know what to say anymore regarding the sad and curious case of Donald Young. With each shot he makes, you see the talent that took him to No. 1 in the juniors; yet with each unforced error and pained aftermath, you’re reminded of the reasons that his pro career has hit the proverbial wall. His loss to Michael Russell during the day session was about as ugly as it gets. Neither guy played well, but Donald’s lack of confidence at crunch time was the tipping point.  Every gaze over to his box is filled with agonizing pleas for help that isn’t arriving anytime soon.  It’s tough to watch.  Even though us in the “media” should maintain some semblance of neutrality, it doesn’t stop me from hoping that Donald comes back from the brink.
  • Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic are quite an entertaining doubles team.  Lleyton is the clear leader, but Marinko holds his own pretty well. Best part is they look like they’re having a great time playing together.  We should all be so lucky with our partners, right?!
  • Steve Johnson continued to make the most of his wildcard with a stirring 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Ivo Karlovic. After losing a tough first set by playing a horrible tiebreaker, Johnson stood toe-to-toe with one of the best servers in the game and found a way to break for the second set. In the third set tiebreaker, Karlovic served an ace to go up 6-4 in the tiebreak.  With two match points in hand, Karlovic inexplicably ran off the rails; committing three consecutive unforced errors to give Johnson a match point.  Karlovic followed a strong approach to the net, and all Johnson could do was toss up a high defensive lob.  Out of the blue, Karlovic was struck by a case of “tentative overhead-itis”.  He smashed the ball weakly back to Johnson, who happily thundered a hard and low forehand to Karlovic at the net. The big man could only muster a flubbed volley response.  Game, set, and match to Johnson, who had no business winning that match but did anyway.
  • The night session pitted American John Isner against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.  John is 27 and Vasek is 22, but they both look no older than 14 (plus/minus a year or two).
  • Isner was slow in finding his game for the match, but didn’t blame any of it on his knee.  However, he did admit to having back issues because of his flight.  With all of Nemo’s canceled flights, he lost his upgrade seat and had to fly coach in a window seat to San Jose.  The ATP website lists John’s official height as 6′ 9″.  Just think about that the next time you complain about being in a middle seat! FYI, if John flies coach and no exit rows are available, window seats are his only option to save his knees from the battering they’ll inevitably take with the cart going up and down the aisle.
  • Bay area actress Diane Amos was in attendance tonight at the HP Pavilion to watch the evening session at the SAP Open.  Or as I put it more succinctly in one of my tweets at the start of Isner’s match, ” Random fact: the Pine Sol lady is in the house tonight for the Isner match.”
  • When asked what he did to pay back Sam Querrey  for bailing the US team out of trouble in Davis Cup action after his own 5-set heartbreaker to Thomaz Bellucci, Isner said “I think he took some of my money in cards that night actually, and I didn’t do it on purpose.”

The tournament action heats up on Day Four with a day session featuring young Americans Tim Smyczek and Steve Johnson battling for a spot in the quarterfinals, as well as the anticipated match between Sam Querrey and Lleyton Hewitt.  The night session features the return of the defending champion, Milos Raonic, as he takes on Michael Russell; plus more doubles action with the Bryans.  I will save my Raonic/Russell “tall and small” jokes for after the match…

 

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Share

Notes from the Front – SAP Open Day Two

 

Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

By Kevin Ware

(February 12, 2013) SAN JOSE, California – One of the great things about watching live tennis in a tournament setting is that you get a better feel for the character of the match and the players.  Here are some courtside impressions from Day Two action at the SAP Open.

  • I arrived at just after Lleyton Hewitt’s dramatic 3-set victory over Blaz Kavcic to find that no one was surprised to see this match go the distance.  Even though he’s one of the older guys on tour, long grinding matches still seem to be Hewitt’s preferred method of advancing through the draw.  His next opponent is Sam Querrey, making his tournament debut after receiving a first-round bye. It will be interesting to see if Sam’s late tournament start against a cagey veteran who’s “into” the tournament has a factor on the match outcome.
  • Though he was suffering from low energy due to illness, Ryan Harrison lost a winnable 3-set match against German veteran, Benjamin Becker.  It wouldn’t have been a particularly spectacular win under the circumstances, but it was doable.  Unfortunately, Ryan couldn’t keep his focus on the important points in the second and third sets the way he had in the first set tiebreak. This was especially true when he got broken at the end of the second set.Illness aside, Ryan is a talented and thoughtful player who can sometimes makes things complicated for himself in his matches. He’s struggled in 2013, and his ranking has dropped from last year’s high of 43.  Because he’s defending a semifinal appearance in last year’s tournament, his ranking is going to take a pretty big hit. Hopefully he can turn things around in Memphis.
    (NOTE:  He’ll be playing doubles with his brother Christian)
  • As I was watching Jack Sock in his match against Marinko Matosevic, I tweeted, “While Ryan Harrison sometimes thinks too much on court, Jack Sock maybe needs to think a bit more…” That about sums up Sock’s match strategy, or lack thereof.  Sock is a big strong guy who hits a heavy ball, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Even when Sock broke Matosevic to serve for the first set, I had the feeling that the veteran Matosevic would find a way to out-think his younger opponent, and capitalize on the nerves of the moment.  That’s exactly how it played out, with Matosevic going on to take the first set tiebreaker before sweeping the second set 6-1.I don’t begrudge the big hitting, because the younger guys on tour definitely need big games in order to be competitive. But they also need to think clearly and give themselves options.  Sock’s not there yet, and I’m not sure that he sees the need for options and nuance.  I also look at Sock’s football player-like build and can’t help but think that maybe if his fitness were improved, it could pay dividends in the development of his game.  He’s young though, so he’s got time to pull those pieces together.  At least, I hope he does.
  • It was a rough day for young Americans, and Ryan Sweeting’s straight-sets loss against last year’s finalist, Denis Istomin, did little to stop the bleeding.  But then again, Sweeting was always going to have a tough time of it since he doesn’t have the weapons needed to trouble Istomin.
  • The world No. 1 Bryan brothers weren’t as dominant over their younger American opponents as one would expect. Jack Sock and Steve Johnson played well with no signs of intimidation at the Bryans credentials as one of the greatest doubles teams ever. But once again, experience and mental toughness won out over big hitting as the Bryans took the match in two tiebreak sets. I hope the young guys are paying attention to these lessons of strategy/mental fortitude!
  • Fernando Verdasco, with coach/dad by his side, seemed to have a decent on-court warm-up prior to the start of the doubles match.  But something must have happened to him between the warm-up and his match.  That would be the only explanation for his flat performance against an inspired Tim Smyczek.  Fernando played without purpose.  Smyczek, on the other hand, played as though his life depended on the win; and it showed.  The difference between the two couldn’t have been starker, with Smyczek looking much more like a higher-ranked player than Verdasco.There might have been an injury with Verdasco, who seemed to pull up on shots as the match progressed.  But it was still a disappointing match for a former Top 10 player who at one time, challenged for Slam titles against the top guys. Disappointing, that is, except for Smyczek.  At least one American young gun made it through!

That’s all for now.
More after Day Three action with Donald Young, John Isner, and Tommy Haas.

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Share