2014/08/27

Isner Discusses College Tennis Rule Change and Upcoming Davis Cup Tie

ISnerparty with the pros

John Isner photo courtesy of Getty Images, used with permission

By Karen Pestaina

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – John Isner was one of the four tennis pros in attendance along with 150 people at the “Party with Pros event,” a part of Taste of Tennis Week, at the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan produced by AYS.

I asked the 29-year-old Isner who played college tennis at the University of  Georgia, about what he thought about Division I college singles rule change to using the no-ad scoring system.

He replied: “I think in doubles it’s good. Singles – if I had it my way, I’d probably not choose it that way, but at the same time you can argue that it will make players play better under pressure, when it does get to deuce, that no-ad point, there is going to be so much riding on that game, because the is.

“Sometimes college matches can drag on a little bit too much. I can understand what they’re doing, but if I was in charge I wouldn’t have that.”

After the US Open, the North Carolina native will be traveling to the Chicago area to lead the United States Davis Cup team in a critical World Group playoff tie versus the Slovak Republic. The winner will be in the World Group in 2015 while the loser will be relegated to Group 1 in their respective zone.

“Well it’s going to be a tough tie, “Isner said. “I think our chances are very good of moving on, but at the same time, it’s going to be extremely tough.

“I don’t care who we are playing against, I always believe that our team can win. It’s an extremely important tie for the fact that it’s a relegation tie. It’s a must win for both countries, but we do have the home court going for us. We’ll try to get that win to get back in the world group and start fresh next year.”

Isner pulled out of the Winston-Salem Open with a sprained left ankle earlier in the week. He said that he’s “doing very well.”

With the week before the US Open full of parties and photo-ops, I asked him if enjoyed participating in these type of social events before a major.

“It draws attention to our game,” he said. “Obviously we are here at the US Open. The US Open draws enough attention by itself. You know it’s a worldwide event and this city embraces the US Open, some people are watching it from all over the world, that’s why they have record crowds come in every year.

“Events like this draw more attention to the game. I guess people get to meet me. Hopefully they have a good impression of me and they try to watch me on TV cheer me on. If I can gain some fans by interacting a little bit it’s well worth it.”

The 13th seed at the US Open, Isner begins his quest for a US Open title when he faces off against fellow American 21-year-old Marcos Giron in the first round.

 

Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

John Isner Defends Atlanta Open Title

Catching up with David Ferrer and John Isner

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Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

 

AZARENKA party with the pros

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – As part of Taste of Tennis Week, a series of special culinary events and parties leading into the 2014 US Open, the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel played  host to an exclusive party on Saturday night limited to 150 people called “Party with the Pros” an event produced by AYS.  Partygoers were treated to culinary delights as well as a chance to take photos with s few tennis pros. In attendance for the event were No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, two-time Australian Open winner, No. 17 Victoria Azarenka, No. 22 Sloane Stephens and top US men’s player John Isner, currently ranked at No. 15 in the world.

Tennis Panorama News has a chance to speak with Azarenka about her week before the US Open.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: You’ve been on what I like to call “Party Patrol” this week, at Taste of Tennis and now here at Party with the Pros. What do you like about doing these type of events?

Victoria Azarenka: Well Taste of Tennis is always a great opportunity to just get the night out, you know. It’s a great celebration with great food, which all of the athletes like to eat, obviously, and to just get your mind away a little bit and they always place where you can go out and enjoy yourself. It’s not too close to the tournament, an you know when they put me and Gael Monfils in the same room, it’s always going to be fun!

KP: I noticed that you tow were almost dancing when “Happy” came on (at the Taste of Tennis).

VA: We were dancing, we were dancing. I was also dancing with somebody else. We always have a good time. It’s great for other people to us enjoy ourselves off the court. On the court we mean business, but off the court, we are just chill, cool people who like to have a good time.

KP: It seems that tennis players are “foodies.” Would you agree with that?

VA: I am a big foodie. I love food. I appreciate good food. I appreciate healthy food, I’m not too big on junk food and hot dogs and all this stuff and I love to cook so I am definitely a foodie.

KP: I know that this has been a very challenging season for you. What are you looking forward to about playing the US Open?

VA: Just enjoy and really have to give my best and try my hardest. That’s what it’s all about all the time. We go out there to compete and give your best, you face your opponent who tries to do the same. Just to be out there and playing tennis for me, because I wasn’t even able to play four months ago at all so, I’m really going to enjoy that. And for me the process to get back into the playing mode. I’ve been working really hard, it’s all about just getting into the rhythm and then it’s gonna happen.

 

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A Consistent Murray Moves Past Teen Kyrgios in Toronto

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

 

By Dave Gertler

(August 6, 2014) TORONTO – Andy Murray has averted the potential threat coming from Nick Kyrgios at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Wednesday. Back from his hiatus that commenced after he was ousted from the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, the world No. 9 appeared fresh and in rhythm, employing a mixture of rock-solid consistency and relentless pressure to weather the initial onslaught from the explosive Australian teenager, and ultimately move through to the round of 16.

 

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After both players exchanged holds of serve on Stadium Court, cracks began to appear in Kyrgios’ game. An unforced error-laden game saw him get broken for 1-2. “It was a solid match for a first match back after sort of four-and-a-half, five weeks. I was happy,” said Murray after the match, “I  thought I did most things pretty solid. I didn’t make too many errors. I moved well. High first-serve percentage.”

 

After a series of love-holds from both players, Murray struck again with a second break for 5-2, consolidating for the first set. After compound-fracturing his racquet at the tail-end of the first set, Kyrgios set about gaining a foothold in the second set, new racquet in hand.

 

But after both players held twice early in the second set, the 27-year-old wielded his experience over the 19-year-old, breaking him twice, sealing the next four games. The final scoreline of 6-2, 6-2 was achieved in 54 minutes. “He played way too good for me today,” said Kyrgios, who leaves tomorrow morning for Cincinnati to prepare to qualify for the Western & Southern Open, his last stop before the US Open later in August.  “I never felt comfortable out there. I felt awkward and wasn’t serving great, and he made me pay the price, so there’s a lot of things I can take away from that match today.”

 

To reach the second round, Kyrgios had to spring back from a set behind in the first-round against Colombian Santiago Giraldo yesterday, but Kyrgios said about today’s match. “I don’t think I can beat myself up too much,” said Kyrgios,”I haven’t played that much tennis at this sort of level yet. I’ve played a couple of grand slams, and this is only my third tour event, so it’s all new to me still, I’m getting used to it though.”

 

Having won the Rogers Cup twice before, Murray has not made it past the quarterfinals since 2010, and will now play Richard Gasquet in the round of 16, while Novak Djokovic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his third-round match. While Tsonga made it through his opponent, compatriot Jeremy Chardy, in straight sets on Grandstand Court, Djokovic found himself in a dire situation against another Frenchman, Gael Monfils. While it was the Serb world No.1 who made it through in the end, it was not without dropping a set to Monfils, both players electrifying the crowd with highlight-reel tennis over a devastating two hours and 40 minutes on Stadium Court, the final score going Djokovic’s way, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6(2).

 

Other winners to advance to the third round included Ivan Dodig, Marin Cilic, Julien Benneteau, Tommy Robredo and Kevin Anderson.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

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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.

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Nick Kyrgios Saves 9 Match Points in Win over Richard Gasquet

(June 26, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Nineteen year-old Australian, Nick Kyrgios saved nine match points before beating No. 13 Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 10-8 at Wimbledon on Thursday. For the wild card, he has reached the third round of a major tournament for the first time in his young career. He is the youngest player in the draw.

“It was an unbelievable match out there,” said the Australian.  “My first ever two sets love down, coming back and winning.  It’s an amazing feeling.  So proud of yourself the way you hung in and fought it out.

“I played some unbelievable tennis today.  He was coming up with some really good shots as well.  I think I saved nine match points.  There’s plenty of opportunities he could have taken.  I came out on top, I’m really happy.”

For the young Australian beating Gasquet represents the biggest win of his budding pro career, his first against a top 20 player.

So what was Kyrgios thinking about as he was facing match points against him?

“I was just thinking I just need a big serve every time,” he said.  “That’s what I was thinking.

“You know, a couple times where I missed my first serve.  Obviously the challenge kept me in it.  I was just thinking about going through my routine, coming up with something, going after it, playing aggressive.

The match lasted almost four hours and ended when the Aussie hit his 21st ace of the match.

“My goal is to become the No. 1 player in the world,” Kyrgios said.

Kyrgios will face another youngster in Jiri Vesely in the third round. Vesely took out Frenchman seeded 24, Gael Monfils in five sets 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-7 (3), 6-4.

“He had a massive win today, winning in five sets,” Kyrgios said of his next challenger.  “He’s also young.  He’s on the rise.  He’s got a really aggressive game, big serve.  Big hitter as well.

“I think the grass is suiting him nicely.  Well done to him, as well.”

“He is a very talented player and today he was a beast,” Gasquet said in his post match news conference.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga completed his match suspended by darkness on Wednesday night and broke Sam Querrey’s service in the 25th game of the final set to win the match 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 14-12 at Wimbledon on Thursday.

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

 

Related article:

“The Journey Starts Today” An Interview with Nick Kyrgios

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Beat the Darkness to Move into Roland Garros Semifinal

Rafael Nadal

(June 4, 2014) Rafael Nadal  and Andy Murray booked their spots in the French Open semifinals on Wednesday.

Nadal rebounded from a first set loss to dismantle fellow Spaniard Davis Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, wining 13 out of the last 14 games for the win.

No. 7 Andy Murray beat not only 23rd seed Gael Monfils of France and the French crowd, but the sunset in a topsy-turvy match 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-0 in three hours and 15 minutes, which ended in almost complete darkness.

For Murray this will be his second time in the final four of the French Open when He plays Nadal on Friday. Murray lost to Nadal in the semis in 2011.

Murray dominated the first two sets and then the tide turned on in this cast the wind blew.

“I could see that the wind was not blowing as hard as it used to in the two first sets,” Monfils said of his comeback. “In the second set I was thinking, ‘Well, I hope the wind is gonna calm down.’ This is what happened.”

Monfils’ confidence grew as well as his crown support in the third and fourth sets. The 27-year-old Scot Murray totally dominated the fifth set, keep his opponent to a mere 6 points won in the final set.

“I didn’t win the first game when I was in a position to win it, and then I rushed it,” admitted the Frenchman to media. “I tried my forehand and my shots were out, and then it went very fast.”

For Rafael Nadal, his road to the final 8 was an easy one, not facing one seeded player. Ferrer started out playing aggressively, but came up short on drive and shot execution.

After dropping the first set, the 8-time French Open winner’s game went into overdrive, winning 18 of the next 23 games on the second show court, Suzanne Lenglen before darkness could fall.

“I am rather happy to have been able to turn the situation around,” said Nadal in his post-match interview. “I managed to pull through. Even though it was complicated, I managed to find solutions during the second set.”

“Today I was not good enough for this match,” said Ferrer. “I lost my focus. I was too slow, and I think I didn’t play the game of a Top 10. This is why I’m sad. It’s my attitude, my behavior on the court.”

Nadal will play Andy Murray for a place in the final. Nadal holds a 14-5 head-to-head record against the Scot.

“He can play very well on all the surfaces,” said Nadal in press. “It’s nothing new that he plays very well on clay. It’s not the first time he’s in semi-finals of Roland Garros. He’s a candidate to win Roland Garros.”

 

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In All-French Final, Monfils Beats Gasquet for Montpellier Crown

 

(February 9, 2014) Gael Monfils captured his fifth ATP World Tour title in his 21st final, defeating his good friend and defending champion, Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 to win the Open Sud de France in Montpellier for the second time.
“This is unbelievable for me,” Monfils said.”I had some back problems at the beginning of the week and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play, so to now be with the trophy is pretty crazy.

“I have been elevating my game match after match and I am extremely proud in the way I played today. I really enjoy playing here in Montpellier. I love the atmosphere there is in this arena.”

“It was great to be in final here once again,” Gasquet said. I am extremely disappointed to have lost in the final, but that’s tennis. I need to congratulate Gael because he’s played unbelievable all week.

“I wasn’t able to read his serve, he was serving bullets all match. My only way out was to try to push him to a tie-break and wait for him to start making mistakes. But it didn’t happen.”

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Nadal Win Easy as 1-2-3

Nadal fingers

(January 18, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal dismissed Gael Monfils, topping the Frenchman for the 10th time in 12 tries in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. Nadal missed last year’s tournament during his seven-month layoff due to a knee injury.

Nadal won 72% of points on his first serve and  6 for 12 on break points. The Spaniard had only 18 unforced errors to Monfils’ 57 during the match.

Nadal will play Kei Nishikori for a place in the quarterfinals.

Here is Nadal’s post-match news conference:

Q.  Do you think you are unstoppable in the form you performed tonight?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No.  At the end no one is unstoppable.  Tonight I think I played a great match.  Very happy the way that I played against a very tough opponent like Gaël.  So that makes the level that I played tonight better because was against tough opponent.  Good player like Gaël always very difficult to play against.

That’s it.  Just one very good day.  That makes me feel confident, but I am in fourth round.  That’s all.

 

Q.  What are you most happy with in your game right now?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, today I think I have to say that I played well from everywhere, no?  I think I played very well with my forehand.  Very good control of the ball.  Good winners.  Movements were great tonight.

Backhand very good I think.  Very good, close backhands.  That give me the opportunity to open the court.  Then with my forehand, when I able to hit that cross backhand.

And then again today for the first day in the tournament, the forehand down the line worked great.  That’s a shot that give me a lot when this shot is working.  So that’s the most important part of my game.  It worked well.

If we can add to that, I didn’t lose serve during the whole match.  That’s another good thing.

 

Q.  Obviously the game today is really physical.  Do you find it more difficult to get over the mental aspects or the physical yourself?
RAFAEL NADAL:  The tougher thing is the injuries, in my opinion, no?  Mental part is very important.  I think what makes the mental part very hard is we play lot of months.  Lot of players are ready to compete well for all months, no, for every month.  That makes the competition very difficult.

That’s let you play at your 100% from January to November if you want to have the chance to be in the top positions of the ranking.

But most important thing is the health.  Then mental part is something that you can control.  Is in your hands be well mentally, be fresh, be with motivation.  But the injuries is something that you cannot control, so that’s tougher thing.

 

Q.  Could you talk about your next matchup.
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah, Kei is a great player.  He’s able to play very aggressive, make very easy the very difficult things.  He’s very quick on the movements.  Will be a very tough opponent for me.  I think he had a very good victory today.  He’s playing great.  Will be a tough one.

I need to keep playing the way that I played tonight.

 

Q.  You have played against Kei on all different surfaces.  On which surface do you think Kei would be the toughest to play against?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I think Kei is a really complete player that can play on every surface.  But I think hard is the surface for him.  I think when he’s playing on hard he feels comfortable.  Is it favorite surface, I feel.

But you can ask him (smiling).

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In Victory John Isner Surprised By All the Support for Opponent Gael Monfils

862013 16 Isner

(August 29, 2013)  FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In a tennis atmosphere that could have been Roland Garros instead of Flushing Meadows, 13th seed American John Isner defeated former top ten player Gael Monfils of France 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4) in the second round of the US Open amongst a crowd in which many of whom were cheering for Monfils.

“I noticed it,” Isner said of the cheering for Monfils in Louis Armstrong Stadium. “You know, he’s a fun loving guy and an exciting guy to watch no matter where he is playing, but honestly it was a little bit surprising. You know, I know the New York fans, they like to see long matches and fifth sets and whatnot, but, you know, it’s not like there was no one cheering for me. I was a little bit disappointed in that, actually. Not going to sugar coat it. It was certainly, if I was playing him in France, it certainly wouldn’t be like that.”

Asked if he had ever played in an atmosphere like this in the US, the 6’ 10” North Carolinian said:”No. I mean, the crowd support, it was a great atmosphere, it was a lot of fun, I’m not saying it wasn’t. You know, I played a similar match when I played Tommy Haas in Paris. I had about five people cheering for me, and those were the five people in my box. So the French people were cheering for the German there I could say something else, but I’m not going to. No, it was fun overall. It was a lot of fun, and when the match finally ended, to be able to soak it in, was a lot of fun.”

At the end of the fourth set tiebreaker, chants of “USA, USA” could be heard.

I certainly had I just had a lot of crowd support on my side,” said Isner. “I had a college buddy of mine I noticed in the crowd, and in the opening point he was hammered. Every time they were chanting “Monfils” I could hear him, his voice is pretty booming, and he didn’t like that too much, Iner said smiling. “But, you know, no, once I got up I guess it was, yeah, 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the USA chant was pretty cool.”

“He (Monfils) enjoys atmospheres more than anyone else in the world. He wants to soak it up and play to the crowd more than anyone, really. That’s just how he is. Like I said, he’s a fun loving guy and enjoys playing matches like that. For me, I didn’t want to get involved in a little hit and giggle thing with him and try and get going back and forth, where I just wanted to stay focused. I didn’t want to keep it I didn’t want it to be too friendly out there even though he’s a very good friend of mine.”

“It was surprising, actually,” Monfils said of the cheers. “It was surprising — but it was good.”

Next hurdle for Isner is Philipp Kohlschrieber. It’s crazy, playing him in the third round just as I did last year at this event,” said Isner. “That match last year was very disappointing for me how it went about. I sort of lost it I lost it in the fifth set there, but he’s extremely solid. He’s been so solid for so long now. He’s made his way through his first matches pretty easy, as well. Going to be a tough match.”

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Wild Card Monfils Stuns Fifth Seed Berdych at Roland Garros

Monfils in DC

(May 27, 2013) Wild card Gael Monfils of France gave his home country some major excitement  at Roland Garros on Monday when he toppled fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the first round  7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-7 (4), 7-5 on Court Phillipe Chatrier.

The former top ten player and 2008 French Open semifinalist who is coming back from a knee injury lost in the final of the Nice Open this past Saturday.

The world No. 81 Monfils rocketed 26 aces past Berdych and lost his serve only once in the four hour three minute contest. Berdych had 57 unforced errors to Monfils’ 44.

The match which lasted four hours, ended when Berdych hit a backhand long.

“I had one chance in the fifth set, “Berdych said.  “I didn’t make it.  He made one, so he made it.  That’s absolutely what was the difference between us today.”

The Czech has now lost in the first round of a major a total of 10 times, at least once for seven consecutive years.

Monfils will play Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in the second round.

More to follow…

 

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