2014/12/21

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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Marin Cilic and Tommy Haas to Meet in Zagreb Final

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

By Florian Heer

(February 8, 2014) ZAGREB – Top seed Tommy Haas and the tournament’s number five seed Marin Cilic led Saturday’s semi-final line-up at PBZ Zagreb Indoors. They were joined by qualifier Björn Phau and lucky loser Daniel Evans. This special situation of having a qualifier and a lucky loser in the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour event has been the first one since Prague 1999.

 

In the first match of the day Marin Cilic took on Björn Phau. The defending champion seemed to be in good shape and hasn’t dropped a set yet this week. The German qualifier, No. 358 in the world, competed in his first semi-final since Houston five years ago and is the eighth player in the past five years ranked outside the top 300 to reach the stage of the last four on the ATP World Tour. Cilic made a nervous start to this match. Some shaky serves and a couple of unforced errors led to break points for the underdog in the beginning of the encounter. However, Phau wasn’t able to convert and eventually it was the Croat, who capitalized on his single break point opportunity in the eighth game of the opening set to take the frame in the following.

With Phau losing his opening service game in the second set, Cilic began to dictate the pace but the German, quick on his feet, immediately broke back by running the baseline from coast to coast. In the end, the fourth seeded Croat was the more consistent player and broke Phau’s serve three times in a row. Cilic advanced to guarantee a Croat in the final for the eighth time in nine years in Zagreb winning 6-3, 6-4 in 84 minutes.

“I have never played or practiced with Björn before,” Cilic said afterwards. “It was difficult for me to read his game and in particular at the beginning I was a bit struggling to get into the match but later on I felt much better on the court,” the Croat analysed. “Overall I think, from both of us, the match wasn’t on the best level, especially in the second set with a lot of unforced errors and service losses. Nonetheless I was trying to force the pressure and I really wanted to make into the final. In the end I managed to finish the job, no matter how,” Cilic stated. “Tommy has a pretty good record in the finals, so I think it would be better to face Evans tomorrow,” the local told about his possible opponent for the final.

 

Tommy Haas

Tommy Haas

In the second encounter Tommy Haas faced Daniel Evans for the very first time. The German veteran gained his first victories of the season here in Zagreb after falling in the second round after a bye in Auckland and a first round defeat at the Australian Open. Evans has become the first British player other than Andy Murray to reach the semis in an ATP World Tour tournament since James Ward advanced to the semi-finals at London’s Queen Club in 2011. Haas outclassed his opponent in the first two games of the match and the Englishman needed to wait six minutes to make his first point of the match in the third game. From then on Evans found his way into the match by getting the early break back. The Brit made it an even affair, gained a break in the eleventh game to take the first set in the following. At this point it became clear, that this should become harder work for Haas than he may expected. Nonetheless, Haas remained patient waiting for his chance to break in the tenth game of the second set and therewith took the frame. The 35-year-old German improved his play in the final set, gained the decisive break in the sixth game to eventually reach his 28th career final winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes.

“I didn’t know much about Daniel,” Haas said afterwards. “But what I saw today was very nice to see. I like his game a lot. He plays with a good slice on his backhand and he also has a good serve. It’s always difficult to play against qualifiers, who won a couple of matches before and gained confidence,” Haas admitted Evan’s performance this week. “I’m very excited to be in another final. It’s great to play against an opponent, who is a big star in this country here and he obviously likes it here. A lot of things speak for Marin to do well here again but of course I’ll try everything to make his run stop tomorrow,” Haas said.

 

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Dan Evans Stuns Philipp Kohlschreiber in Zagreb to Reach Semis

Dan Evans

Dan Evans

By Florian Heer

(February 7, 2014) ZAGREB – After an exciting opening month of the season in Australia and Asia as well as the first round of the Davis Cup, ATP World Tour action returns to Europe. Leading the way at the PBZ Zagreb Indoors is world number twelve Tommy Haas, who is making his tournament debut and world number fourteen Mikhail Youzhny. Four of the top five seeds were in action on Friday at Dom Sportova. Two unseeded quarterfinalists met in the first encounter of the day when Dudi Sela took on Björn Phau for the fourth time. The German qualifier could only win one match before between the two but seems to be on a roll at this tournament. Phau advanced into the stage of the final eight by battling through the qualification and with victories over Ante Pavic and Mikhail Youzhny. The German is playing his first ATP World Tour event since falling in third round at Indian Wells in March last year losing to Juan Martin Del Potro. This is the German’s first quarterfinal since Stuttgart in July 2012. Sela, who played one quarterfinal this year before in Chennai was without any chance today. Phau, who already reached some good indoor results on Challenger level in the past, took the match winning 6-4, 6-3 in 69 minutes

 

The second match of the day guaranteed a Croatian semi-finalist for the eighth time in nine years in Zagreb when three times champion Marin Cilic faced Ivan Dodig. Cilic fired down fourteen aces on his way to victory over compatriot Mate Delic in the first round and he hit another twelve aces in a straight sets win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic in second round. Fourth-seeded Dodig opened his campaign with a 7-6, 6-3 win over countryman Ivo Karlovic but today he had to accept the fact that Cilic was the more consistent and luckier player in the decisive moments winning 7-5, 6-4 after one hour and 32 minutes.

 “Today against Marin it was a different match compared to yesterday,” Dodig said. “For me it was a little bit tough today to adopt Marin’s game. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for me, especially with my serve I am not happy at all today,” the fourth-seeded added. Cilic on the other hand celebrated his eighteenth victory out of his last nineteen matches in Zagreb. “I think that the key points were going on my side,” the winner analysed. “Especially in the end of the first set and at the beginning of the second when Ivan was not able to confirm his break. After that game we had new balls and it was tougher for him to gain the break back and in the final stage of the match I was also a bit lucky,” the defending champion admitted. “Of course playing with Ivan involve a lot of emotions, which sometimes is tough to deal with but I think I handled it very well today,” Cilic was satisfied with his performance as well as his mental strength.

 

A very first meeting took place with the match between Philipp Kohlschreiber and Daniel Evans. The German, who made his Zagreb debut yesterday defeating Andrey Golubev in straight sets, had to face a highly motivated British number two. The world number 147 entered the main draw by replacing the tournament’s seventh seeded Radek Stepanek, who withdrew due to a right heel injury. From then on Evans cruised past Jan Hajek and defeated qualifier Michael Berrer. The 23-year-old from Birmingham also made the better start into today’s encounter breaking Kohlschreiber’s serve in the third game to eventually take the set in tenth. The man from Augsburg, fought his way back into this match, breaking serve in the fourth and eighth game to take the encounter into a decider. Here again, the Brit was wide awake right from the beginning when he capitalized on his first break point opportunity in the final set. Evans didn’t become flustered, defended his advantage until the end of the match and served out in the tenth game winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours to reach his first ever semi-final on the ATP World Tour. “I enjoy every day here in Zagreb. I only found out the day when main draw started that I will have to play on Tuesday,” the lucky loser said. “So I had the chance to play a lot of matches this week, which is always good and it is a big achievement for me to reach the semis here,” Evans said. “For me Davis Cup is still one of my favourite things to do and so this is a big goal for me to play for my country. That I wasn’t selected for the tie on clay last weekend is a difficult decision but there are some players in Britain, who ran the same level and eventually the captain has to decide. It’s normal in sports that from time to time someone has to be left out,” the Englishman explained. In the end this decision might have become a lucky one for Evans as otherwise he may not to be here in Zagreb.

 

In the final match of the day top-seed Tommy Haas met Andrey Kuznetsov for the very first time. The 35-year-old German made his Zagreb debut yesterday winning in three sets against countryman Benjamin Becker. The Russian battled his way through the qualification, defeated 2008 champion Sergiy Stakhovsky and Heilbronn finalist Igor Sijsling to appear in his third ATP World Tour quarterfinal. The the first set in was even affair without any break points. Haas eventually took the set in the tie-break 8-6. The German veteran improved his play with the start of the final frame. Haas capitalized on the first break point of the match in the opening game of   the final set after 47 minutes. The top-seed served out by an ace winning 7-6, 6-4 in 85 minutes. “We both served well, the tie-break was hard fought and I think it was important for the momentum to win it,” the top-seed said afterwards. “It is always dangerous to play qualifiers at a tournament, who have already played a couple of matches before. Daniel beat with Philipp a top-player today and I have to focus on my game tomorrow but I expect another tough match,” Haas stated about his semi-finals task.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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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.

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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.

baltachaJJA_1209-BaltachaFS

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 (britwatchsports.com). Follow her personal twitter at @rfsatar.

AEGONInternational

AEGON INTERNATIONAL
Eastbourne, England
June 17-22, 2013
Grass/Outdoors

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

 

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Some of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open.
Q.  Not too many WTA players are named Sam.  Can you take a moment and say like what the upside of having a name like that is, is there any downside, or give us on a rainy day a good story about your name.
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  No, there is no downside.  I’m happy ‑‑ I guess over the course of my life, my career, Samantha got shortened to Sam.  The one person that always called me Samantha was my grandfather.  It’s good.  You certainly don’t get confused in the locker room.  You hear your name and you know it’s about you.
It’s fine.
 
Q.  So is your grandfather a traditionalist and not happy for it to be shortened?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Yeah, I guess he was.  My mom and dad only called me Samantha when I was little and did something naughty, so I didn’t hear it too often, I don’t think.
I guess it’s one of those names that is not as common.
Q.  You very obviously are one of the best tennis players in the world, but you talk about sort of putting match after match together.  Could you talk about the art of sort of putting seven big matches together on the biggest stage?  Part of that of course is getting past the big three or four that we now have in men’s tennis.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I don’t really know much about that art.  Actually, I have never done it.  (Laughter.)  The closest I have come was last year at this tournament.  I had a little bit of a taste of what it’s like.
You know, I know it’s so tough.  You know, I think for me, my goal is, my first goal is to get through the first week.  That’s so, so hard.
You know, I want to win my first few matches and take it from there.  I was able to get to do that last year.  My round of 16 match I won.  It was a really close match, and I had to turn around and play the very next day because of all the rain.  That was a bit of a tough turnaround.  Ran into a guy who was just better than me.
You know, like I said, I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very hard.  I got to the quarterfinals last year, and I’d love to get back to that spot this year and have another crack at it.
Q.  Do you feel anything different in your game since you started working with Carlos?
NA LI:  Maybe a little bit change; maybe not.
 
Q.  What changed?
NA LI:  I say maybe change; maybe not.  (Laughter.)
Q.     Families sometimes can be very, very tricky.  What was the hardest part day in, day out of having your husband as your coach?
NA LI:  Yeah.  I mean, after I got new coach I think for both me and my husband I think much, much easier.  Love is love; coach is coach.  You have to separate.
You know, I mean, after I change the coach, didn’t say my husband didn’t do a good job.  I think he’s still doing good job.  But for both sometimes it’s too much, you know.  Like it’s really tough to find a balance between coaching and husband.

Q.  After all the development, the planning, the trips to Spain, it’s finally going to come out, if I understand correctly, but there’s a little bit of a problem.  There’s a guy named Roger Federer who has Lindor truffles.  As a marketing person now, how would you tell America to try Sugarpova and not Roger’s?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well that’s chocolate.  Mine are gummies and gumballs.  It’s like, What’s your preference?  That’s made in Switzerland; this is made in Spain.  No, a lot of differences.

I mean, those are quite different.  I’m just happy that it’s finally over with.  I worked on it for a long time.  There’s not much to be done from my end in a way except promote it and letting the world know about it.

Q.  Ultimately can a gumball stand up to a truffle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It depends what your preference is.  I mean, mid‑afternoon I’m not a big truffle person; I’m more of a gum girl.  But it depends what everybody likes.

Q.  Are you to the point in your career where you’re starting to get old jokes from your peers?
JAMES BLAKE:  I have been that way for a while.  The thing is I knew I was going to get them, because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out.  So I knew they would come back to haunt me.
I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin.  Todd Martin was one of my key guys I would get.  I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old.
He said, Just wait, just wait.  You will be, too.  Now I’m getting it from everyone.  I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it.  I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.
Q.  There was stunning news about Lance.  In our sport, there has been incidents.  Do you think the situation of performance enhancements are under control in tennis?  Is there any problem?  What are your thoughts on that topic?
JAMES BLAKE:  In tennis I think they do a great job of testing.  Of course at times it’s inconvenient to me when I get woken up at 6:00 a.m. to pee in a cup.  It’s their job.  I know they’re doing it.  I know if they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to everyone else.  I’m happy too do that.
I may not be cheery at 6:00 in the morning when they’re coming, but I’m happy to do that and I’m happy to take part of in the USADA and WADA regulations.
I don’t know what to think about Lance.  Cycling has seen what seems to be like the steroid era in baseball where it seems like everyone is clouded.  You don’t know.  Like he said, he’s passed like 500,600 tests.
But have no idea.  I don’t know Lance at all.  Never met him.  I don’t know what he’s like.  I know his story is inspirational.  I know how many people he’s helped.  That’s incredible.  However he did it, it’s still inspirational, no matter what he did.
He’s definitely someone that makes a difference in this world in a positive way.  I don’t know if erasing seven titles will matter in terms of his true meaning to this world, because it’s going to be a positive one no matter if he has seven titles or not.
In tennis I think I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers.  But, you know, I do my best to go out there and win and give myself whatever advantage I can legally in terms of just protein shakes and Gatorade and that kind of stuff.
I’ve gotta believe it’s out there at a level playing field, but I also am realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead.
It’s unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.
Q.  Along those lines, do you have any theories on Federer as a parent, fountain of youth thing going on here?
JAMES BLAKE:  The guy’s a freak.  He’s so good.  It’s really incredible.  I could spend another hour talking about the things I’m impressed with by him.  His streak of quarterfinals, most people would have that an incredible streak just to play that many slams in a row, and he has to make it make quarterfinals or better.
To do it at that level and not injure yourself is amazing.  It’s so easy to go out and roll your ankle or tear up your knee or for your back to be sore.  For him not to do that is amazing.  I think it shows how much work he probably puts in stretching, getting his body strong enough and physically ready to play all these slams.
You know, he has the luxury of being able to pick and choose his tournaments.  He obviously is pretty comfortable with his ranking and where he’s sitting not needing to worry about that, but it’s still really, really impressive.  He focuses on the big picture and is always ready for these slams.
I need to worry about one match at a time.  I can’t worry about quarters or semis or finals right now.
I’m still kind of scratching to get through these matches and get my confidence back and feel like I’m ready to compete.  I don’t think that will change if I’m playing someone that’s 1, 2, or 3 in the world.
I have been fortunate enough.  I am an elder statesman.  I have been around and have won a lot of matches.  I have beaten guys 1 in the world, I’ve beaten guys that are top 3, top 4, top 5 plenty of times.  There is no reason for me to go out there and play one of those guys and be scared.
I think it will take an unbelievable effort.  I will have to play my best tennis.
Q.  First round do you worry too much about your performance or is it just a case of trying to get through?
ANDY MURRAY:  I won in three sets.  You know, I didn’t serve very well.  Only lost seven games in three sets, so I must have done something well today.
Bogomolov, you know, I think he was seeded here last year.  He made the third round.  He plays his best tennis on the hard courts.  He’s a tough player.
So, I mean, I played fairly well from the back of the court.  I just would have liked to have served a bit better because, you know, I wasn’t getting many free points on my serve.
Because of that, there were a lot more rallies.  When he’s in a rhythm, he’s tough to break down.
 
Q.  I meant more in general in first‑round matches do you worry too much about your performance?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  I mean, sometimes I play great at the start of tournaments and not done well; sometimes I’ve played badly and got better.
I mean, in Australia this year I struggled in my first‑round match with my game a bit.  Physically didn’t feel great.  Then went on to have a good tournament.
You know, the first‑round matches are tricky.  Like I say, the conditions were hard today for both of us.  That’s probably why it was quite an up‑and‑down match.
Q.  Do the other players see Andy Murray differently now that he’s won the Olympics or does it not compare to a Grand Slam?
IVAN DODIG:  No, I think is for me like these four players, everybody can beat everybody.  Of course with these Olympics he showed that he’s ready for big things, so we will see.
Everybody exciting about him.

Q.  Are you working with Mark Knowles here?  You guys in a lot of ways are peers.

MARDY FISH:  He’s like 20 years older than me (laughter).  Just kidding.

No, he’s helped me a ton.  Maybe none more evident than tonight when I lost my serve in both of those sets to serve it out and still was able to mentally focus back and realize that, you know, I haven’t just lost the set, he’s just gotten even in the set so there’s still opportunities to win the set.

In times past maybe I would have struggled with that scenario, especially twice in a row.  And that’s hard.  Any time you lose one of those two sets, you’re in a dogfight.  I knew that if I did win that second set, that was going to be a big, big factor in the match.

I mean, that’s a long way back for him after two hours of pretty physical tennis.  It’s pretty humid out there.  Not necessarily the heat, but the humidity.  You could feel it.  It’s pretty humid.  That was pretty physical.

So that was a long way back for him, so obviously felt good to win that.

 

Q.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was your serve today, knowing what you can do on a good day?

JACK SOCK:  I think my second serve was a 9.63.  I think my first serve was pretty good.  I mean, when I missed the first serve, I think my second serve really helped me.  I was able to start off the point ahead even with the second serve.

When I think I was down a game, my serve was a 10 coming up big on some points where I was down or some games where I was down.

Q.  A lot of Europeans want to win Roland Garros or Wimbledon; for many Americans it’s winning the US Open or becoming No. 1.  If I recall correctly, you said your goal for your career is to make friends.  Could you to talk about that.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t think I said it that way.  Obviously my goal in my career was obviously to be the best tennis player that I can be, but at the same time not be, you know, antisocial and not spend 15 years on tour, and when you step away from the sport not having any friends at the end of the day.

I think, you know, it’s not like I started on tour when I was 25 and I built up kind of a normal friendship base when I was home.  My friends were girls from tour.  You know, I have a few friends at home, but I think a lot of the girls I was close with, a lot of the girls, we went through puberty together, boyfriends on tour, and I think it’s something that we shared and talked about.

I don’t like to be on tour and not talking to players or not knowing kind of what’s behind the tennis player.  It’s not like it was the most important thing because I was here to play tennis, and still am.  But at the same time, there’s a place for work and focus and at the other times there is the social part.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Two First Time Winners Highlight the ATP World Tour Weekend

Ivan Dodig (Getty Images)

Ivan Dodig was the only player to take a set off a set off of Novak Djokovic, during the Serb’s run to the Australia Open title. This week the Croat enters the ATP winners circle for the first time as he captured the Zagreb Indoors by defeating Michael Berrer 6-3, 6-4 in the final.

“This is the best thing that can happen to a player – to play at home in front of your own crowd and win your first title. I’m really happy and enjoying the moment. It’s been amazing all week; it’s an unbelievable experience.

“I didn’t have any pressure, I just tried to concentrate on my tennis and play point by point until the last point. I think I was serving very well all week, especially on the important points. I’m really happy that my serve was working great in every match,” said Dodig.

Kevin Anderson (Alexander Joe /AFP/Getty Images)

The hometown boy wins his hometown title for a first time ATP tournament win. South Africa’s Kevin Anderson rallied to take the South African Open title over India’s Somdev Devvarman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

On winning the tournament Anderson said, “there’s so many emotions running round right now. Not only winning a tour title, but winning it here in South Africa, is a great experience and memory I’ll have for the rest of my life. I’m just really thankful that I was able to come out and play here.

“Hopefully I can keep going and keep getting better. I’m going to keep working hard. There’s still a lot I want to achieve. It’s a great honor being mentioned with the Wayne Ferreiras of South African tennis; it’s definitely an exciting prospect for me.

“Once I got through my first-round match I felt really good out there, in all my rounds. I felt a little bit nervous fighting this match out. I think the rain played a little part in helping me re-focus and re-set and I really felt I came out there a different person. Even though I lost the first set, I was able to turn things around and play really good in the second and third sets.”

During the trophy presentation, Anderson announced he would donate money to the Save The Rhino campaign to stop the poaching of rhinos in Africa.

Tommy Robredo (Claudio Santana Getty Images)

No three for three for first time ATP winners. Veteran Tommy Robredo rallied from 2-5 down in the third set to stop Colombia‘s Santiago Giraldo in Santiago, Chile 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (5) to win the Movistar Open clay-court tournament. Robredo won his 10th ATP title.

Robredo on the win: “Extremely happy about this 10th title. Ten is a very nice number and it feels good to lift the trophy again.”

“When he served at 5-3 in the third, he started being less aggressive and put the ball more in play which allowed me to play longer and get into the court again. He was hitting really hard until then and it was really tough to put my game together.”

“I feel I started the year well. I am feeling great. It gives me a lot of hope to continue this way. I think I can have the best or one of the best years in my career in 2011.”

“The plan is now to get to Sauipe as soon as possible and to try to get used to the conditions before playing my first round. When you do well at one event it means you have less time to adapt in the next one. I hope I can do well still over there.”

As for the loser Giraldo: “I am a bit disappointed as I served for the match at 5-3. I think my lack of experience played a part at that time. I maybe got a bit tense and it went against me. On the other hand, I am very happy about the match we played. I gave everything I had, I played with all my heart and, in the end, Tommy won the match and was the better player.”

“I’ve had a great week over here and I hope to continue this way.”

It was Giraldo’s first ATP final. The Spaniard is off to a good start for the 2011 season. He’s 9-2 on the year with a fourth round appearance in the Australian Open to go with his Santiago win. Giraldo has a career-best 10-4 record for the start of 2011 campaign.


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