Tsonga Unhappy But Eases Through to Australian Open Third Round

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga at 2011 Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga at 2011 Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

By Jaclyn Stacey

(January 17, 2013)  MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fought through Melbourne heat to defeat Japan’s Go Soeda in straight sets 6-3 7-6(1) 6-3 in the first match of Australian Open day four on Margaret Court Arena ahead of a packed house.


With the mercury tipped to top 39°C (102.2°F) on Thursday at Melbourne Park, Tsonga clearly struggled with with the rising temperatures early on in the match. He became openly frustrated with his inability to get moving on the court and looked like he had just stepped out of the shower throughout the duration of the match.


The 2008 Australian Open runner-up needed just one break in the sixth game of the first set to claim the lead in the match.


He immediately went down a break at the beginning of the second set. He managed to break back with Soeda serving for the set at 5-3 30-40 by coming into the net and forcing his opponent to make the error. The set went to a tie-break which Tsonga rolled through to take a two sets to love lead in the match.


The final set played out identical to the first and Tsonga progresses into a third round meeting with either Australian wildcard James Duckworth or world number 93 Blaz Kavcic.


Tsonga said in his post match press conference that he was not happy with his performance.


“Well, I was not like in the good attitude for me. That’s it. And on the next match, like I said, I will

try to be a bit more aggressive, try to play more than my game than what I did today.”


On the soaring temperatures Tsonga said “Oh, it was hot today, of course. Was not easy because the ball was flying a lot because of the heat. You know, it’s like this. Anyway, you have an opponent, you have everything around, and you have to deal with it. That’s it.”


Tsonga reached the final of the Australian Open in 2008 losing to first time champion Novak Djokovic in four sets. When asked whether he feels closer to winning his first Grand Slam Tsonga said, “I did some good results already, but, you know, I want to join the next step.

It’s maybe to win one. Today I’m just working for that. I’m doing everything, you know, to achieve these things. So, yeah, I mean, I don’t have too much goals. The only goal is to play well in that kind of tournament.”


In other one day four men’s action Ricardas Berankis required only 77 minutes to defeat twenty-fifth seed Florian Mayer 6-2 6-3 6-1 and will play Andy Murray in the third round on Saturday.


Thirteenth seeded Canadian Milos Raonic defeated Czech Lukas Rosol in straight sets and will play 17th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.


Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.


Isner, Roddick to meet in BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – John Isner moved closer to reaching the finals for the third straight year at the BB&T Atlanta Open winning a hard fought battle over 19-year old wild card Jack Sock 7-6 (7), 6-4. Isner’s opponent made the first set a grueling match with powerful forehand winners that landed him into a tie break after an hour rain delay. “I came out really flat after the rain delay and that made the set anybody’s set,” Isner said. “I think had it not rained maybe I could have won that set a little bit easier.”


The two were only 27 minutes into the match before it was halted by rain. Conditions became more humid as they resumed the first set with Isner up 4-1 and Sock serving. The first set alone helped pushed the match to over 2 hours, adding in the rain delay it finished well beyond midnight.


“That took a little bit out of me. I focused so hard to try to win that second set. I let it slip away a little bit. The second set, it was gross out there. We were both sweating like pigs. Honestly, it was just disgusting. I can’t imagine playing a third set right now.”


Isner thanked fans for hanging around under tough conditions late into the night. “I never want to be the last match,” Isner said. “And it’s raining. Thanks for staying until the end. I probably would have left.” With Mardy Fish out due to a turned ankle, Isner will not get the much anticipated rematch with last year’s champion he’d hoped for but will face rival Andy Roddick in a marquee match up to advance to the finals.


Roddick made the semis by defeating fellow American Michael Russell 6-3, 6-4 in a two set match that lasted only an hour and 12 minutes. Two-time Olympian Roddick, clad in American stars and stripes tennis shoes, used his powerful serve landing 12 aces to dominate Russell in the match. “I felt good. The hot weather helps. It gives you different options.” Roddick said. “You can kind of go with kicks, slices because everything works in this hot weather. I felt like I could make some speeds pretty accurately. I compare it to pitching a good ballgame. I felt like I could throw any pitch for a strike tonight.”


Number 8 seed Go Soeda upset fellow countryman 3rd seed Kei Nishikori in a historic match to advance to the semis 6-2, 6-1. The two players met for the first time in Open Era history (since 1968) with the match broadcast live in Japan during the wee hours of the morning. The only other time two Japanese players met was in 1973 when Jun Kuki defeated Takeshi in Osaka.  Playing with nothing to lose, Go Soeda, 27, overpowered his higher ranked opponent with aggressive ground strokes that pushed Nishikori, 22, far beyond the baseline.  He will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg who defeated Matthew Ebden of Australia 6-4, 6-4. In doubles action, Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) will square off with Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) while Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) will see Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) to determine who will advance to the finals.


Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.


Isner Advances, Fish Withdraws in BB&T Atlanta Open

John Isner photo by Audraine Jackson

By Audraine Jackson

ATLANTA, Georgia – Three of the four top seeds advance in the BB&T Atlanta Open. Hometown favorite John Isner gave fans what they came to see by handling Ruben Bemelmans 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 advancing to the quarterfinals. A few unforced errors by his opponent allowed the former UGA All-American to go up 5-4 before closing out the first set. Bemelmans of Belgium gave Isner all he could handle at times but it was his consistent serving scoring 16 aces in the match that made the difference.  “This event helped me build my confidence a lot going into the Olympics”, said Isner.  “I don’t like playing lefties. He’d won four matches already. It’s never easy playing a qualifier. I knew it was going to be tough.”

While most players experienced rain delays, one lasting more than five hours Wednesday, the featured singles match had a 25 minute lighting delay when a circuit breaker overheated. Fans took the opportunity to start an impromptu wave while Isner took the time to adjust his game and his attire. “I was sort of rushing prior to the lights going out. I had changed my clothes completely. I was gross. What took the longest was redoing my socks and ankle bracelets. That takes forever, and I felt bad. When the lights came off, it gave me a lot of time. But I’d rather deal with that than deal with rain.”

Two-time defending champion Mardy Fish will not have an opportunity to earn a third consecutive Atlanta tour title after being forced to withdraw due to injury.  Fish was leading Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 3-2 when he stumbled going for a drop shot injuring his left ankle. “I didn’t have my complete balance and I was coming so close to the net. I was going to go head first into the post,” said Fish. “So I did everything I could to bring my head back. That brought my right leg out sort of sliding, jarring it back.  It was going to be my knee or my ankle or my head.” Fish will await the results of an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.  This year has been a challenging one for the 12th ranked player who recently rejoined the tour after undergoing surgery to address severe arrhythmia.

Australia’s Matthew Ebden advanced after defeating James Blake in their first ever match 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4. Ebden referred to Blake as a dangerous offensive player that you sort of have to get on the attack against because if you let him attack too much, he’s too good to beat himself. Blake seemed to struggle in the hot and humid conditions appearing to cramp a few times during play.

Jack Sock faced fellow American Steve Johnson showing incredible resiliency prevailing 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) in a battle of two wild cards. Two Japanese players will face each other for first time in an ATP quarterfinal as number 3 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan plays Go Soeda, the 8th seed.

All players, including those with a bye have had an opportunity to play on the in town courts with the back drop of a city skyline surrounded by hotels, shops, restaurants and exhibits. “Nothing against the past two venues,” said Isner. “But this is just spectacular. Especially for a 250 event, it’s just cut pretty much right into the city and its right in this great area here in Atlantic Station and there’s a lot going on. When I first saw it on Monday I was pretty impressed. I had seen pictures of it but I really didn’t expect it to be this nice.”


Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.


Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores

Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. James Blake, U.S., 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4

Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, def. (2) Mardy Fish, U.S., 4-6, 2-3, retired

(wc) Jack Sock, U.S., def. (wc) Steve Johnson, U.S., 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5)

(1) John Isner, U.S., def. (q) Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Thursday’s Doubles Scores

Raven Klaasen, South Africa-Donald Young, U.S., def. (2) Santiago Gonzalez, Mexico-Scott Lipsky, U.S., 6-2, 7-6 (5)

Colin Fleming, Great Britain-Ross Hutchins, Great Britain, def. Lukas Dlouhy, Czech Republic-Nicolas Mahut, France, 7-6 (2), 6-2

Matthew Ebden, Australia, def. Ryan Harrison, U.S., def. (3) Treat Huey, Philippines-Dominic Inglot, Great Britain, 6-3, 7-5

Kevin Anderson, South Africa-Rik De Voest, South Africa, def. Paolo Lorenzi, Italy-Rajeev Ram, U.S., 6-3, 6-7 (3), 10-6

Xavier Malisse, Belgium-Michael Russell, U.S, def. (4) Jamie Delgado, Great Britain-Ken Skupski, Great Britain, 7-6 (0), 6-4

Colin Ebelthite (AUS) / Marinko Matosevic (AUS) def. [WC] Kevin King (USA) / Ignacio Taboada (USA) 7-5, 7-5

Friday’s Quarterfinal Schedule

Matthew Ebden, Australia, vs. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg

Go Soeda (8), Japan vs. Kei Nishikori (3), Japan

Andy Roddick (4), U.S., vs. Michael Russell, U.S.

John Isner (1), U.S., or Ruben Bemelmans, Belgium, vs. (wc) Jack Sock, U.S.

Matthew Ebden, Australia-Ryan Harrison, U.S. vs. Kevin Anderson, South Africa-Rik De Voest, South Africa

Colin Ebelthite, Australia-Marinko Matosevic, Australia  vs. Raven Klaasen, South Africa-Donald Young, U.S.


Japanese Players to meet in Quarterfinals for first time in Open Era

Kei Nishikori

ATLANTA (July 19, 2012) – For the first time in Open Era history (since 1968), two Japanese players will meet in the quarterfinals as Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda have advanced after two rounds of play at the BB&T Atlanta Open taking place at Atlantic Station.


The 22-year-old Nishikori meets his countryman Soeda, age 27, on Friday in the second match on not before 4 p.m. on Stadium Court.


Only one other time in tour history since 1968 have two Japanese players met in the Round of 16, one round lower than It took place in 1973 when Jun Kuki defeated Takeshi is Osaka. Nine times since 1968 have two Japanese players met in the Round of 32 at a tour-level event.


Nishikori is currently ranked No. 19 in the world and Soeda is No. 54. It will be the first meeting between the two players.


Nishikori, who was born in Shimane, Japan, currently resides in Bradenton, Fla., and trains under the guidance of Nick Bollettieri at IMG Academy. He is the tournament’s No.  4 seed and received a first-round bye. In the second round he beat qualifier Ricardas Berankins of Lithuania in three sets, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4, on Wednesday in a match delayed by rain, which didn’t finish till after 1 a.m.


Soeda, born and still living in Kanagawa, Japan, is the No. 8 seed and he beat Xavier Malisse in the first round in three sets before taking down Igor Kunitsyn of Russia, 6-1, 7-5.

By Steve Pratt