November 27, 2015

The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta



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


Rafael Nadal Dismisses Ivan Dodig at US Open


Nadal wins 89

(August 31, 2013) Rafael Nadal dismissed another opponent in straight sets on Saturday at the US Open and has now raised his hardcourt win streak to 18 with his 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 over Ivan Dodig in the third round.

The Spaniard ranked No. 2 in the world has lost just 21 games through three matches.

“I think I played a correct match today,” Nadal said.  “Happy 6‑4, 6‑3, 6‑3 against a player who came to this tournament winning against tough opponents like Davydenko and Verdasco.

“To be able to win against him in straight sets is great news.  I played better today than in the previous matches.  Always a positive thing.”

No. 38 Dodig, who had beaten Nadal once in Montreal in 2011, failed to convert either of the two break points he had against Nadal.

“My motivation is keep playing for a long time,” Nadal said.  “I don’t know if three, four, five, six years.  I don’t know that.  I go day by day.

“Important thing is be happy.  I’m happy today.”

“I feel very happy to be in the round of 16.  Be in fourth round is great news for me without losing a set.” Nadal will face-off against Philipp Kohlschreiber next.


Top Seed Raonic Upset at Eastbourne

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Ros Satar


(June 19, 2013) The seagulls had much to squawk over on Wednesday, as another top seed tumbled out of the competition, after Agnieszka Radwanska’s exit at the hands of Jamie Hampton yesterday.

The next person on the train back to the Big Smoke was Milos Raonic, who came unstuck at the hands of Ivan Dodig 6-2, 7-6(7)

Raonic, by his own admission, started badly, and although he forced a tie-break in the second set, he couldn’t take advantage of some double-fault jitters from Dodig.

“Obviously the surface doesn’t make it easy,” he said, “I think it’s easier for me to figure out things on hard courts, per se, but I think it’s all on my shoulders.

“[I] can’t play much worse, so it’s only going to get better.”

10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

Li Na, the highest seed left on the women’s draw had a walkover via Marion Bartoli’s withdrawal due to a viral illness.

“I started to feel a it this way on Monday,” she said in a statement.

“Each day it has gotten worse.

“After a few days of res, hopefully I will be back on the court to get ready for Wimbledon.”

Na found out while they were warming up so spent the time practicing, and musing over whether she could deviate from her favorite restaurant and try out some traditional fish and chips, when her coach is not watching.

“Maybe I will try one day even without the coach.”

Bernard Tomic Toronto

Bernard Tomic battled his way through a tough three-setter with Julien Benneteau.

Tomic regained his focus and registered his first back-to-back in since February.

“It’s been a Roller Coaster, I tell you.

“But now I’m happy I won these two matches, so it’s a lot of confidence.”

But the seagulls had reason to squawk their disappointment as the remaining Brits in the women’s draw all exited.

Caroline Wozniacki

First up, Laura Robson put up a better fight against Caroline Wozniacki a couple of weeks after facing her in the first round at Roland-Garros.

Her score line was slightly better – Wozniacki defeated her in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 (it was 6-3, 6-2 in France), but it could still have been a winnable match for the British No. 1.

“Today there were a lot of points where I set everything up and did all the right things and then just missed the last forehand,” Robson said.

Robson also found herself perhaps shocking the dentures off the typical Eastbourne populous with a few words of earthy Anglo-Saxon, picked up by the on-court BBC microphones.


Heather Watson

Heather Watson

Next up, and on their way to London was Heather Watson, who lost a topsy-turvy three-setter against Elena Vesnina.

She admitted that it was not necessarily a physical issue, still on her comeback after recovering rom glandular fever.

“I didn’t have much focus, and I thought it was a good opportunity wasted.

I’ve just got to sweep that one under the rug, get back on the practice court, work hard and make sure it’s a good week next week.”

These half-on half-off days are becoming few and far between, and Watson said that she works with a sports psychologist (when she is in Florida), and may be overdue a visit.


Elena Baltacha also dropped out of the draw in a grinding three-setter at the heat of the day (the ice-cream van did great trade today).

Baltacha has improved key areas in her game, and takes positives from every game she gets under her belt since coming back from a long injury lay off.

She had identified that the top players move well, and serve well – all elements she has worked to improve, crediting the LTA’s Louis Cayer who has focused on her how she sees herself as a player.

“I’ve realized I’m more skillful,” she said, “tweaking certain areas like my serve, understanding what I need to do in certain parts on the court, where I recover to, and certain movement patterns.”SimonCincy

The evening finished with a close tussle between Gilles Simon, who had been struggling with injury this week, and the new young British hope Kyle Edmund.

“Even though I’m looking at positives, I’m not like, Oh, I’m happy I lost.

“I’m disappointed I lost.”

Edmund pushed the world no. 16 to two tiebreak sets.

“I thought the first one was close and I played a pretty good tiebreak.

“The second one was a little bit sloppy at times.

“There were just some really long rallies towards the end, and, yeah, he just came out on top.”

British hopes still fly in the men’s doubles, along with the seagulls.


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.


Eastbourne, England
June 17-22, 2013

Results – Wednesday, June 19, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(2/WC) Li Na (CHN) d. Marion Bartoli (FRA) w/o (viral illness)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (3) Angelique Kerber (GER) 63 64
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. (4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 64 75
(5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Laura Robson (GBR) 64 64
(6) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. (WC) Elena Baltacha (GBR) 46 64 63
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. (WC) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 76(5) 63
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 61 36 62
(Q) Jamie Hampton (USA) d. Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 64 76(2)

WTA Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Petrova/Srebotnik (RUS/SLO) d. Hsieh/Lucic-Baroni (TPE/CRO) 62 75
Niculescu/Zakopalova (ROU/CZE) d. (2) Huber/Mirza (USA/IND) 63 36 119 (Match TB)

WTA Doubles – First Round
(3) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Keothavong/Murray (GBR/GBR) 64 63

ATP Singles – Second Round
I Dodig (CRO) d [1] [WC] M Raonic (CAN) 62 76(7)
[2] G Simon (FRA) d [WC] K Edmund (GBR) 76(5) 76(3)
R Stepanek (CZE) d [3] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 75 63
F Lopez (ESP) d [4] J Monaco (ARG) 64 64
[7] A Seppi (ITA) d [Q] R Harrison (USA) 36 75 63
[8] F Fognini (ITA) d M Klizan (SVK) 67(6) 62 62
F Verdasco (ESP) d A Ramos (ESP) 64 60
B Tomic (AUS) d J Benneteau (FRA) 62 57 76(4)

ATP Doubles – Quarterfinals
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Klizan (SVK) / M Matosevic (AUS) 64 75
J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) d [3] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) 16 63 10-5
[4] C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) d [PR] E Butorac (USA) / A Ram (ISR) 75 76(2)
M Matkowski (POL) / F Nielsen (DEN) d P Hanley (AUS) / K Skupski (GBR) 75 76(3)

Order Of Play – Thursday, June 20, 2013

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
F Lopez (ESP) vs F Verdasco (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
E Vesnina (RUS) vs [2] [WC] N Li (CHN) – WTA
E Makarova (RUS) vs [5] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA

Not Before 4:00 PM
B Tomic (AUS) vs [2] G Simon (FRA) – ATP
[4] C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) vs M Matkowski (POL) / F Nielsen (DEN) – ATP

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[Q] J Hampton (USA) vs L Safarova (CZE) – WTA
I Dodig (CRO) vs [8] F Fognini (ITA) – ATP
[7] A Seppi (ITA) vs R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
[6] M Kirilenko (RUS) vs Y Wickmayer (BEL) – WTA
O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL) vs [3] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA

COURT 2 start 2:00 PM

Not Before 2:00 PM
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) – ATP
[4] F Pennetta (ITA) / E Vesnina (RUS) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Safarova (CZE) – WTA – After Suitable Rest