November 29, 2015

At Queen’s Club Wawrinka Loses, Simon Ends Kokkinakis’ Long Journey


By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 17, 2015) LONDON, England – The big emotional high notes of the first two days at Queen’s – Monday, Lleyton’s Hewitt’s 16th and final appearance, Tuesday, Rafael Nadal’s loss – have given way to mid-tournament flatness. The biggest news of the day is that Hewitt, who is currently ranked 117, has been granted a wild card into his 17th and final Wimbledon. Until or unless British favorite Andy Murray loses, that may be it for major excitements until the final. True, two current Grand Slam champions are still in the draw – Stan Wawrinka, facing Kevin Anderson, and Marin Cilic, facing Adrian Mannarino – but neither is famed for his grass court game.

There were hopes – if not high ones, at least of the “new! kid! big! chances!” variety – for the second round match between the veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon and newcomer Thanasi Kokkinakis. For two games, this seemed justified as Kokkinakis quickly went up 2-0. And then…those hopes faded quickly despite some nice moments: a dink volley here, a well-executed drop shot/lob combination there. The match lasted an hour and 16 minutes and went 6-4, 6-2 to Simon.

“I liked it yesterday,” Kokkinakis joked about the grass. “I didn’t like it so much today.”

Afterwards, Kokkinakis tweeted, “Feel bad for the spectators tbh about that one….😐 yuck. Hope to redeem myself on the doubles court with Rusty”. To the press, he explained, “I felt like I had to say something. I felt like it was one of my poorest performances in a while.”

Jet lag can sometimes be worse a couple of days later than it is at first. Kokkinakis had planned to play the qualifying here, but instead went home to Adelaide to pay a quick visit to his sick grandmother. He was on the way back when he got the news Queen’s had awarded him a wild card. He arrived back Monday at noon, and although he declined to blame the “something like 48 hours in [the air in] three days”, he admitted to waking up “pretty tired” this morning and to getting distracted by spotting Top Gear TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson in the crowd.

Wawrinka vs Anderson which ended 7-6, 7-6 in Anderson’s favor, was a more tense affair but, much like the grass-court contests of 20 years ago, came down to serve and return. “Maybe [I] didn’t return great,” Wawrinka said afterwards, “but he was serving big”.

Yesterday, after his win against a coughing Nick Kyrgrios, Wawrinka said he thought he’d be better able to manage the aftermath of winning his second major title; after the first, the 2014 Australian Open, he took six weeks off, and then struggled to get his form back for some months.

“Australia, everything was new and I didn’t know what to expect,” he said yesterday. “Everybody was saying it’s going to change your life and change your career. And that’s true. You win a first Grand Slam, especially in that era and you have only the big four winning Grand Slam since 10 years. So that was a big thing for myself. I did few mistakes after. I had a lot of ups and downs. I had to learn and to change the way I was and trying to adapt myself to my new life. ” This time, although he thinks the achievement is bigger, “what’s coming after, I have more under control”. And, of course, no chance to take off much time: Queen’s and Wimbledon awaited.

Today’s losses, put together with Nadal’s, leave the bottom half of the tournament draw looking a little anemic: Milos Raonic, seeded 3, and Simon, seeded 7, are all the remaining seeds, and they play each other in the quarter-finals on Friday. For the right to face the winner of that match in the semi-finals, Anderson will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who put out Alexandr Dolgopolov, whose win against Nadal carried him no further. In the top half, tomorrow top-seeded Murray faces Fernando Verdasco, Grigor Dimitrov faces Gilles Muller, fourth-seeded Marin Cilic faces Viktor Troicki, and, in probably the most interesting match-up of the four, John Isner plays eighth seed Feliciano Lopez, who is an exceptionally strong grass-court player.


Rafael Nadal Upset by Fernando Verdasco in Miami

Fernando Verdasco

Fernando Verdasco

(March 29, 2015) Rafael Nadal’s quest for a first Miami Open title was stopped by countryman No. 24 Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the third round on Sunday.

It’s Verdasco’s second straight win over the current world No. 3, with the last victory coming back in 2012 at the Madrid Masters. Verdasco lost to Nadal 13 straight times before that.

“Of course is a huge victory, and it’s always really nice to feel, you know, in a packed stadium or almost packed stadium in a very important tournament like this one and playing against one of the best players in history,” Verdasco said

“Today was a good day. I played good and I won… I’m very happy, and now I just need to try to rest and be ready for the next one.”


Rafael Nadal Miami

“I played some good games at the beginning, bad games at the end of the second set; some good games on the second; not bad at the beginning of the third,” Nadal said.

“But he played well the third, so he deserved to win more than me without any doubt tonight. Just congratulate him for the victory.”

“Today my game in general improved since a month and a half. But at the same time, still playing with too much nerves for a lot of moments, in important moments, still playing with a little bit of anxious on that moments.”

Verdasco had 29 winners breaking Nadal’s serve three times. Nadal was 3-12 on break points with 32 unforced errors with 18 winners.

“Obviously always beating a player like Rafa is the same like if you beat, I mean, (Andy) Murray or (Roger) Federer or these guys,” Verdasco said. Is one of the biggest victories that you can have in tennis.

“Of course is a huge victory, and it’s always really nice to feel, you know, in a packed stadium or almost packed stadium in a very important tournament like this one and playing against one of the best players in history.

“You know, at the end you just try to enjoy the moment also. Not even winning or losing. You always try to win, but enjoy the moment.”


Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic Advance at BNP Paribas Open

Djokovic thumbs up to fans while leaving

(March 11, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Novak Djokovic was tested in the middle set against Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez, but the Serbian pulled out a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win to move into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

Other men advancing were 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3; 30th-seeded Fernando Verdasco  who beat No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (5), 6-1 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6- and Roberto Bautista Agut stopped  Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6).

On the women’s side. 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic defeated 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 in the battle of former No. 1s. Also Advancing on the women’s side were No. 6 seed Simona Halep who stopped Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 1-6, 6-4; Casey Dellacqua of Australia moved on due to Lauren Davis pulling out of the tournament due to gastrointestinal illness and Maria Sharapova conqueror Camilia Giorgi was dismissed by her Italian countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in 56 minutes 6-2, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Two-time Indian Wells champion Djokovic had 28 winners in the match against Gonzalez. The Colombian before this week had never won an ATP Tour level match until Indian Wells.

“I honestly haven’t seen him play ever before that,” Djokovic said of his opponent.  “I got information from some other players, and my coach did preparations also for the match.  You know, asked also a few players what his weaknesses and strengths are in the game.

“It took me a little bit to get used to it, you know, but I thought I played really well from the start.  6‑1, and then his opening few games, service games, I had break points, and then suddenly I just had a big loss of concentration and allowed him to win the second set for no reason.

“Bounced back better in the third, but I obviously cannot allow myself to have these particular concentration lapses in the match at this level ‑ especially in the next match when I’m playing Cilic, you know, a guy who is in really good form and I think has gotten better in last couple of months working with Ivanisevic.

“So I’m going to have to be on top of my game throughout the whole match in order to win it.”

Djokovic plays Mari Cilic next.

“I’ve played him (Cilic) several times on different surfaces,” Djokovic said.  “We haven’t played each other for quite a long time.

“He started working with Goran, and as I said before, you can feel and you can notice the improvement in his game.  He’s more aggressive.  He comes to the net.  He’s a big guy, and that’s what you expect from him is to serve big and to come to the net.

“He’s using his serve as a big advantage nowadays, and also I feel like he’s moving better on the court.  He did before ‑‑ obviously he had this injury and then was absent from the tour for several months, but since he came back he’s a stronger player.

“I have been watching him playing some big matches.  He won against Murray in Rotterdam in straight sets.  He can definitely can play.  And not just play, I mean, he can win against top players.  That’s why I do not even for a second underestimate him.

“I’m coming into the match knowing that I’m going to have to be playing on top of my game in order to win that match.  I’m going to get myself ready for it.”

Jankovic fh volley

Djokovic’s countrywoman Jelena Jankovic routed Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Depending on how other players perform, Wozniacki’s ranking could fall to No. 15 in the world.

“I lost to her the last I don’t know how many times, but I think right now I am playing some pretty good tennis,” Jankovic said of finally ending a five-match losing streak against the Dane.  “I went on court, you know, trying to wait for my chances.

“Against her, if you go sometimes for too much you just make so many errors and you beat yourself.  A lot of times it happened in the past.

“So I try to play solid and aggressive at the same time, wait for the right shots, and then execute.  I did that pretty well.  3‑1 I kind of found my way, found my rhythm, and I was striking the ball very well out there and took control of the points.

“You know, I just did not let her play what she plays.  That was very important.  So I was pretty pleased with the way I played and how composed I stayed throughout the whole match.

“I kind of surprised myself, especially because of my back.  Two nights ago I hurt my back, and yesterday did not hit at all.  Had a lot of treatment.  Could not put my shoes on and all these kind of things.

“So I went on court today not knowing how I was going to feel.  You know, if I was going to be limited with my movement or if I was going to play my game.

“But I did, and I was surprised.  I was so happy and pleased with how everything went.”

Jankovic will play second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.


Berlocq Upsets Verdasco in Sweden for First ATP Title


(July 14, 2013) Carlos Berlocq won his first ATP World Tour title at the SkiStar Swedish Open to become the ninth over 30 winner this year by stunning Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-1.


“I’m really excited with my achievement this week,” said the Argentine. “I’ve been working hard to fulfill this dream and today I made it. You have to be patient to get a title. I think the key was the mind-set I had from the first to the last match. Mental toughness was the key. I went through hard times, but I kept working hard and finally I did it. You have to never give up. It was my dream week.”


Berlocq pocketed €78,300 in prize money and earned 250 ATP ranking points. He also finished as a finalist in the doubles.


Murray Rallies From Two Sets Down; Janowicz wins Battle of Polish Power at Wimbledon

Murray at Olympics

(July 3, 2013) Scotland’s Andy Murray came back from being down two sets to none to stop Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6,6-1, 6-4, 7-5 to move into the semifinals of Wimbledon. In the quarterfinal between two Polish players, No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz defeated Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to become the first Polish male semifinalist at Wimbledon.

Murray will face Janowicz in the semifinals on Friday.

What looked like a straightforward match on paper against No. 54 Verdasco was a struggle on Centre Court for the No. 2 Murray who is trying to be the first man from Great Britain since Fred Perry in 1936 to win The Championships.

Verdasco’s steady and powerful serving kept Murray off his game in the first two sets. Murray made his was back into the match, easily capturing the third set 6-1. In the sixth game of the fourth set, Murray survived two breakpoints and broke Verdasco three games later and served out the fourth set 6-4.

This was Murray’s second time rallying from two sets down at Wimbledon. He did it back in 2008 against Richard Gasquet.

“Like I was playing there, the more times you’re in those positions and the more times you can come back, you understand the way you need to think and the way you need to sort of negotiate your way through the last few sets,” Murray told media.

”Did a good job with that.  You know, sometimes it can be easy to get back to two sets all.  The fifth set, the final set, often the guy who won the first two comes back and wins that one.  It’s normally the toughest set of the three to win.

“I was expecting it to be tough and hung in well.”

After Janowicz beat his countryman, both men hugged each other and exchanged shirts as soccer players do.

“Right now I’m the most happy person in the world,” Janowicz said of making his first major semifinal.  “I made semifinal of Grand Slam, my best result ever.  Also I have in my mind last year Paris Bercy.  I was there in the final.”

Janowicz said of playing Andy Murray “I hope Andy will feel some kind of pressure. I’m sure he’ll feel some kind of pressure because Great Britain is waiting for the English champion in Wimbledon.”

“It will be a very tough match,” Murray said about his opponent his semifinal.  “He has a big serve.  He’s a big guy with a lot of power.  He also has pretty good touch.  He likes to hit dropshots.  He doesn’t just whack every single shot as hard as he can.

“It will be a very tough match.  He’s played extremely well here, I think.  He had a tough match in the last round against Melzer, but apart from that he’s been pretty convincing.  He’s a tough player.”


Thursday’s Roundup at Eastbourne

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2013) EASTBOURNE, England – The playing conditions on Thursday started in the murk of a mist coming in off the sea, a complete contrast to the hot sunny conditions the day before.


No sooner had the first players made their way out and finished knocking up, a persistent bout of rain saw play suspended for over an hour.


When play did resume, it was in a backdrop of mist or, as we learned, a sea-fret [a wet mist or haze coming inland from the sea].


Either way, visibility was poor for the first set or so, causing issues in the early matches.


Feliciano Lopez def. Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(6)

Verdasco had not been happy about the restart even before the match started, complaining to ATP tour supervisor Tom Barnes.


The conditions better suited Lopez, who dialed into his serve well today, taking advantage of the muggier conditions to put his slice to effective use.


Verdasco was less than pleased with the decisions made after the match, claiming: “(If) I was Rafael Nadal, I can say, I don’t play, and I’m pretty sure that the ATP will say, Okay, we wait till the court is good.


“But because I’m not Nadal or Federer or any of these guys, I need to do what the ATP wants, because if I said, I go, the tournament will not say, we wait.


“Then I will get a fine from the ATP because I didn’t want to play in the bad conditions.”


Verdasco went on to describe the close friendship that he shares with Lopez, and how he was able to joke about hating him (not to mention a description that would send the elderly of Eastbourne to an early grave).


Lopez agreed that conditions today had been difficult with the humidity but took Verdasco’s comments at the end in good humor.


Lopez will face Ivan Dodig in the semifinals.


Jamie Hampton def. Lucie Safarova 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-4

Another player who had to contend with the unusual weather was Jamie Hampton who took a couple of tumbles on her way to winning a taut three-setter against Safarova.


The haze over Court 1 was quite considerable when they resumed play, as Hampton explained.


“We were basically playing in a cloud.  There was so much moisture in the air, and the court was slick so I was having a hard time with my footing and my movements.”


Hampton will become the No. 3 American on Monday when the new rankings come out, behind Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens.


Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina

Elena Vesnina def. Li Na 7-6(4), 6-3

Another top seed was heading up to SW19 early, as Li Na headed out of Eastbourne, care of Vesnina.


By her own admission, the match had been a little in and out for her: “Sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court.


“Of course I would like to do more matches [and] still looking forward for Wimbledon.”

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki def. Ekaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3

Caroline Wozniacki made sure a lines-judge felt her wrath after being called on a foot fault in the second set.


First arguing with the umpire, then demonstrating to the judge in question how her heel bone was connected to the anklebone, or at the very least explaining the rules.


Finally the umpire had to intervene and redirect Wozniacki’s focus back to playing the match.


Whatever the issue was, it irked here enough to rip through the second set without dropping a game, leaving Makarova looking stunned at the changeover before losing the deciding the set.


Wozniacki was unrepentant in her press conference about perhaps the lines judge wanting to feel “important”:


“I don’t see a reason other than that why you wanted to call a foot fault on a second serve that isn’t a foot fault.”


Wozniacki is the sole surviving seed, and faces Jamie Hampton in the semi final.


Gilles Simon def. Bernard Tomic 7-6(8), 6-3

The last match of the day saw France’s Gilles Simon advance to the semifinals over Bernard Tomic.


Tomic seemed to have lost heart after losing a tight tie-break, down 1-4 after a brief rain shower but managed to regroup a little.


Rounding out the singles action, Yanina Wickmayer knocked out the sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.


Ros Satar is a British Journalist – an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She’s covering the AEGON International this week as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports ( Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.


On the Green Carpet – Photos from the 2013 BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

"Austin Powers" and Caroline Wozniacki

“Austin Powers” and Caroline Wozniacki

(March 7, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, California – The BNP Paribas Open held their players’ party at the IW club on Thursday night. The tennis players drove up to the “Green Carpet” in classic cars included  Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Redfoo, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sam Stosur, James Blake, David Ferrer,  and a host of others including Austin Powers.

Photos by Curt Janka and Maria Noble. Follow Tennis Panorama News’ BNP Paribas Open coverage here and on our twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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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

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

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

Kudos to 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












Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

View the slideshow

by Craig Hickman

Tuesday night, the players chose their fashion-forward best for the “Oscars” of the player party circuit. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Kournikova were the biggest stars of the tennis world in attendance, as well as world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, and pretty boy Feliciano Lopez, who made one of the photographers weak-kneed.

Robin Soderling
, along with his girlfriend, were among the first to show up and they were already walking out when we arrived. Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova were the last to arrive on the red (blue) carpet. An adorable couple close up, their chemistry was palpable. Tomas has always had the look of an angel and Lucie’s baby-doll face was all aglow. I was thrilled to see Anastasia Myskina who arrived with the self-proclaimed “Russian Mob,” led by Svetlana Kuznetsova in another one of her head-scratching get ups.

Mixed in with the players were a few actors, a couple professional gamers, some well-known local DJ’s, and a few mystery men.

Venus Williams arrived about midway through and when Serena Williams wasn’t far behind, it was clear the superstar wasn’t coming. Also noticeably absent was Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Kim Clijsters.

Tweeting the photos was a stroke of genius suggested by photographer  JD Blom. I was all set to tweet my best descriptions of the outfits when he looked over my shoulder and said, “Just snap a photo.” Ah, technology. I’m not a wizard with the latest toys, so I had no clue you could do such a thing. Once I got the hang of it, it was all over. Would love to do that again someday.

Right before the paparazzi packed up equipment to leave, one of the Getty photographers asked my to identify most of the players he’d just captured for he only recognized a few big names. Who knew?

More photos from the live tweets – here.

On the Red (Blue) Carpet of the Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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