2014/07/13

Groth Takes Out Defending Newport Champ Mahut

Black and white Groth-001

By Dave Gertler

 

(July, 10, 2014) NEWPORT – Lleyton Hewitt has made the final in Newport two years running, and is scheduled to play his quarterfinal match on Thursday, but the biggest story of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Wednesday was lesser-known Australian, Sam Groth. After defeating reigning champion Nicolas Mahut in straight sets in front of a packed Center Court stadium, Sam Groth has won through to his first ATP tournament semifinal, and will also break into the top 100 for the first time, achieving a lifelong career goal.

 

“I really had nothing to lose,” said the big serving 26-year-old, “I had a hell of a lot to gain. First time in a semifinal, first time probably in the top 100, first time direct entry into a grand slam. I went out there confident, and I really wanted to do all those things. I thought I played really well.”

 

Groth managed to break Mahut early in the first and second sets, using his remarkable serve – known as the fastest on tour – to hold his way through to a straight-sets upset victory over the former world No. 37, 6-3, 6-4.

 

“People have always thought of me as just a serve,” said Groth, who cracked a 146mph ace to seal the first set, “But I don’t think you get to top 100 being just a serve. My serve probably has gotten better, I’m hitting my spots better, and I think I’m volleying better than I ever have. I’m making it tough for guys to break me and I think that builds a lot of pressure.”

 

Closing out the match was hard, said Groth. Once gaining the break in the second set, “For the first time in the match,” said Groth, “Everything became a little bit real, and everything came to the front of my head, and I had a couple of shaky games there.”

 

Mahut admitted to being fatigued from a busy grass season, but gave full credit to Groth, saying, “I was not feeling great, but the thing is him, he played well. To win, I have to play my best tennis, and that’s not the case today, so I just have to congratulate him. He was just too good for me today.”

 

Groth will now face another big server, Ivo Karlovic, in the semifinal on Saturday, after Karlovic held off Israel’s Dudi Sela 7-6, 7-5 on Center Court. “It’s tough to play against Ivo on all surfaces,” said Sela, “If he hits a good percentage of the first serve, you have no chance, nobody (does). I held my serve pretty good, and I tried to play well in the tie break, but in the beginning, I had an easy mistake that I made and I let him run away.”

 

Karlovic agreed that his potent serve-volley strategy on grass is a tough to match, saying, “I feel like if I lose my game on my serve, it is always because I do it; because I do double faults, because I do easy volley. I don’t feel like it’s the other guy ever.” The semifinal match-up between Karlovic and Groth, both possessing potent serve-volleying games, is set to be a tight affair. Karlovic professed that, “He also is going to hit a lot of aces. So, there will be also a couple of tiebreaks, so it can always go either way.”

 

The 35-year-old Croatian, who will appear in his first semifinal in Newport, opened up to press after his match, talking about what it’s like being a professional tennis player as well as the father of a young daughter. “It isn’t easy always to go, to leave her at home. I would like to be a lot more home now, but this is what I do, this is where I earn my money, and I do it for her also. But after this, I will go a little bit home, and that’s it.”

 

The tournament’s biggest names, top seed John Isner and multiple grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt, will both take the court tomorrow in their separate quarterfinals against up-and-coming American men, in what promises to be an equally exciting order of play. Hewitt, the spearhead of what has been a strong tournament for Australians in Newport, will take on American Steve Johnson, while Jack Sock will try to usurp his training partner, No. 1 seed John Isner, who is gunning for his third title on the Newport grass courts.

 

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

 

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John Isner Leads Top Seeds into Newport Quarterfinals

John Isner

John Isner

By Dave Gertler

(July 9, 2014) NEWPORT – Day Three of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, saw solid performances from top seeds, and expected results from the tournament’s big servers and grass court specialists.

 

The only minor upset of the day was Israel’s Dudi Sela ousting his higher-ranked opponent, No .8 seed Adrian Mannarino, in straight sets. Sela had a strong serving day, winning 82% of points on his first serve and converting five of six break points against the Frenchman. Sela, one of the shorter players on tour, will now face the tallest, Ivo Karlovic, whose 18 aces was too much for serve-and-volleyer Sergiy Stakhovsky to handle, the Croatian winning 7-5, 7-6.

 

The tournament’s top four seeds also won through to the quarterfinals in straight sets. Defending champion Nicolas Mahut beat Australia’s Luke Saville in an hour, 10 minutes, out-serving the 20-year-old Australian qualifier, breaking him on four occasions. “It was a tough match,” said Mahut, “He’s a good player on grass. This kind of surface you have to be really focused on your serve and take the opportunity. It was much better than yesterday and I hope tomorrow will be even better.”

 

His serving will need to stay solid in his quarterfinal match against Australian Sam Groth, who although still outside the top 100, is one win away from reaching that milestone after another solid serving performance saw him through his match against Malek Jaziri. Groth’s ace count against the Tunisian was remarkably high at 24, ominous for his next opponent, who said, “He’s serving huge, he’s a very, very powerful player. So if I had to play against him I will have to be really concentrate on my serve, and then wait for something, maybe a double fault once, try a good return and waiting for the small opportunities I will have. But the first thing is to keep my serve, I’ll be really focused on that.”

 

Tournament top dog John Isner required less time and less aces against fellow American Austin Krajicek, defeating him on Center Court 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour. “It was a pretty clean match,” said Isner, “I guess I got up early in both sets, and for me, that helps so much. I feel like I play pretty well when I’m playing ahead, especially on this surface too. It was a good match, very happy with it.”

 

Isner’s quarterfinal opponent was decided in a match between Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock, 21-year-old Sock coming through on top. Sock and Isner, both good friends, are looking forward to the quarterfinal. “He and I practice a lot and have become pretty good friends,” said Sock of Isner, “We obviously know each other pretty well now. We both know each other’s games pretty well so it should be whoever can execute better, I guess.”

 

Sock, fresh from winning his second grand slam – a Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil, defeating the Bryan brothers in the final – is enjoying the burst of confidence he’s received into his singles game. “No matter what tournament it is, even doubles,” said Sock, “Whenever you win a match, it can only help, and especially the slams. I think that when you can get that run going into to second week of any slam, singles or doubles, and then you end up, like we were, fortunate enough to play on the weekend, second week of a slam, there’s only a few guys left in the locker room. It’s pretty cool, it’s a pretty special feeling. And to be able to be there and then go out on Center Court and play, and be lucky enough to win against the best team, probably, of all time in doubles, it can only help your confidence.”

 

Isner, who has not lost to Sock in four matches, seemed positive about Sock’s future in the game ahead of their first meeting on grass. “We’re both gonna want to win,” said Isner, “We’re good friends; we may even go out to dinner tonight, or even tomorrow night. I’ve gotten especially close to him now that he’s moved to Tampa. We train together, we use the same strength coach, we’re always training together. He’s a good friend of mine and someone who – I think, in a sense, he might look up a little bit to me. I’m certainly much older than him but he’s – in my opinion – got an incredibly bright future. He’s got a lot of weapons in his game, especially with that forehand of his, which is world class. So, he’s only gonna get better.”

 

The winner of Isner/Sock will face – in the semifinal – the winner between Lleyton Hewitt and Steve Johnson, who both graduated comfortably past their round-of-16 opponents, Ante Pavic and Tatsuma Ito, respectively. While Hewitt and Johnson won’t contest their quarterfinal tomorrow, the 33-year-old Aussie won’t be resting entirely. He’s one of five Australians remaining in the doubles draw at the quarterfinal stage. After his match with Pavic, Hewitt revealed, “I only play doubles most of the time to play with guys that I’m going to play Davis Cup for Australia with. That’s the only real reason that I play doubles. We’ve got a Davis Cup tie later in the year and Chris Guccione and I will most probably be playing doubles there, so it’s good to get some more matches.”

 

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

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Karlovic Advances, Groth Upsets Young at Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 7, 2014) NEWPORT – The first day of main-draw action has drawn to a close at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Day One featured near-perfect playing conditions, huge serving, and a schedule packed with Americans and Australians.

 

Opening proceedings on Center Court was an all-American stand-off between Steve Johnson and wildcard Clay Thompson, playing his first ATP main-draw match. The more experienced Johnson held off his former UCLA college rival with solid serving and ground strokes for a 6-1, 6-2 dominant win in under an hour. “It’s always good to get a win,” Newport’s 6th seed, “Get in, get out and get on with the rest of the tournament. I hope that I can clean out a few things and really get out there the next round and give it my best.” Registering his first Hall of Fame Tennis Championships main draw win, after falling short in qualifying two years ago, the 24-year-old said, “I’ve grown a lot, maturity-wise, and I’ve really learnt how to live on the tour, live on the road, and really just become more of a professional.” In the round of 16, Johnson will face Japan’s Tatsuma Ito, who took out American wildcard Mitchell Krueger in their first round match.

 

Steve Johnson, who is ranked No. 69 in the world, fared better than his No. 70th ranked compatriot, Donald Young, who fought bravely against an onslaught of powerful serving from Australian Sam Groth. Young managed to hold serve, but after conceding a hard-fought first-set tie-break with an ill-timed double fault, was unable to withstand Groth’s all-court prowess in the second set, conceding two breaks, and unable to make a dent on Groth’s serve. “I felt good. I’ve had a pretty good grass court season already,” said Groth, post-match, “In the first set, I wasn’t making a lot of returns, and it took me a little while to get into it, but I played a really good tie-break, and then in the second set, I started to make a lot more balls, get my chip returns down, make him volley up, and I actually thought I played a really good second set, but a pretty good match all round.”

 

Groth’s fastest serve on the day clocked in at 143mph – spectators close to the court were definitely kept on their toes lest they be caught unawares by one of the 6’4” Aussie’s 11 aces, but Groth required his full skill set to upset the American ranked 53 spots above him. “Obviously, it’s great to have a big serve, but it’s coming back a lot more, the game’s slowed down a lot and you can’t just get away with having one shot in your arsenal. So if I’m going to serve-volley, which I’m going to do – especially on this surface – probably close to 100% of the time, you’ve gotta be able to play that volley.”

 

The biggest name in action on Day One was the Croatian world No. 32 Ivo Karlovic, one of several big-serving grass court specialists playing in Newport. His first round opponent, 31-year-old American Robby Ginepri managed to force a first set tie-break, but after losing it 7-2, was unable to recover from an early break in the second set, eventually losing the match in just over an hour. “I’ve played really well this year. I was healthy and feeling well so I’m happy about that,” said 35-year-old Karlovic, who a year ago was ranked outside the top 150. “I remember last year when I was here, I was really happy that I was here, that I was able to play again. I’m just, overall, more grateful that I’m still here, that I’m healthy now and that my tennis isn’t over because of illness. If I’m healthy and if my ranking is good, I don’t see a reason why I should stop competing.”

 

Despite the great tennis on display on Day One, Day Two action will be a highlight of the tournament, with three former Newport champions making appearances on Center Court. Defending champion Frenchman Nicolas Mahut will open up his campaign against the draw’s sole Argentine Facundo Arguello, followed by tournament No.1 seed John Isner taking on Wayne Odesnik, who took out Aussie John-Patrick Smith in the final round of qualifying today. Continuing the theme of USA versus Australia, dual grand slam winner Lleyton Hewitt, will begin his campaign to add the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships to his CV after making the final the last two years, but will have to get past a dangerous Ryan Harrison to book his spot in the round of 16.

 

Also impressive on Newport grass today was Rajeev Ram, who has performed impressively at the Hall of Fame since winning it in 2009. He displayed deft touch at the net to out-play Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-2, 7-5, and will now face the winner of the match between Americans Jack Sock and Alex Kuznetsov, who will wrap up Day Two action on Center Court.

 

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

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Li Na Ousted in First Round of French Open

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

(May 27, 2014) In less than 24 hours both reigning Australian Open singles champions find themselves victims of first round losses at the French Open. On Monday it was Stan Wawrinka, on Tuesday No. 2 Li Na fell to French woman Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

It is the first time in history that both the men’s and women’s Grand Slam singles champions have lost in the first round of the next major.

Li, the 2011 Roland Garros champion had an error-filled match, 37 unforced miscues in all.

“In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match,” Li told media.

“Nobody says if you’re No. 2 in the world you win all the matches. That’s tennis.”

“I don’t think it is only the bad day,” Li continued. “I think it’s probably about me. Of course the easy thing is to say today was a bad day for me, but it’s not. I’m 100% sure. The problem is me. I don’t think I’m doing well on the court. And also, even during the match, I wasn’t thinking through what I should do, especially, I didn’t follow the game plan, and even when I was standing out on the court, in my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”

For the 21-year-old Mladenovic, who won the Roland Garros Junior championship in 2009 and is currently ranked 10 in the world, this is the biggest win of her career.

Also early on Tuesday an upset on the men’s side, 11th seen Grigor Dimitrov lost to big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Dimitrov reached the third round to Paris last year.

“Today he was all over the court,” Dimitrov said in press. “He was just hitting his shots, you know, penetrating every volley, low slice, serving really good.”

 

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Philipp Kohlschreiber Wins Düsseldorf Open

DSC_1435

(May 24, 2014) DUSSELDORF – In Saturday’s final at the Düsseldorf Open, top-seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and the tournament’s number seven Ivo Karlovic clashed for the fourth time on the ATP World Tour. The German advanced to his first final of the season after gaining back-to-back wins on Friday against Mate Delic and Denis Istomin. Düsseldorf debutante Karlovic reached his first clay court final in seven years through a straight set victory over Jiri Vesely yesterday.

The Croat led the head-to-head series between the two 2-1. All of the previous meetings took place on hard courts, with six of the eight sets the pair has played against each other have been decided in a tie-break. Kohlschreiber looked confident to avoid such type of a scenario today. The 30-year-old broke Karlovic’s service in the third as well as the fifth game through good returns and a couple of great passing shots. After only 27minutes, Kohlschreiber served the first set out in the eighth game.

In the seventh game of the second set, the German converted his third break point out of three but this time the 6’ 11” giant from Croatia broke immediately back and took the set into an expected tie-break. However, Kohlschreiber remained the dominant player on court and finally took the tie-break 7-4 winning 6-2, 7-6 in 72 minutes to gain his fifth ATP World Tour title.

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“In the first set I returned pretty well and so I was able to neutralize his service. Ivo had to work hard for his points, which he is maybe not used to,” Kohlschreiber analyzed afterwards.

“Ivo seemed to have some physical problems with his back but I think that this fact did not influence the quality of his services. I was just able to read his service pretty well today. Of course I also had some luck when I speculated for the right side during my return games,” the winner admitted and added that he will go to Paris by car today and drive on his own.

“I haven’t had a close look at the Roland Garros draw yet but I think that I’ll be seeded within the top 30, which means that you’ll get a top 8 player in the third round. To reach the second week at a Grand Slam is a great success and this will be my goal for this year in Paris as well,”

Kohlschreiber talked about his ambitions for his first major of the season, as he was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open at the beginning of the year.

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In the doubles final Martin Emmrich, who won last year’s title in Düsseldorf together with Andre Begemann, and Christopher Kas faced the tournament’s third-seeded pair of Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky. After their victory in Oeiras earlier this year, the US-American-Mexican combination took their second title of the season in Düsseldorf winning 7-5, 4-6, 10-3 after one hour and 34 minutes. It was their seventh victory as a team and so far the tandem has never lost a final.

Dietloff von Arnim

Dietloff von Arnim

“We had eight great days here with interesting matches in pleasant temperatures. In general we had better weather compared to last year. Players from 32 nations competed in the tournament and we had no injuries as well as no withdrawals, which is a positive aspect. Between 25,000 and 29,000 spectators attended the event, which means that we met our target. Our TV-partner Eurosport as well as the ATP are satisfied with our organization and gave us a very positive feedback,” tournament director Dietloff von Arnim said earlier in the day.

“Nevertheless, we have to say that we are still looking for a title sponsor to rely on our plans for 2015. We had first discussions with two interested parties and we are confident to present a partner for the next three years, so that we can also see tennis in Düsseldorf during this period,” von Arnim concluded.

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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Kohlschreiber to Meet Karlovic in Düsseldorf Open Final

Ivo Karlovic

Ivo Karlovic

By Florian Heer

(May 23, 2014) DUSSELDORF – On semifinals Friday, at the second edition of the Düsseldorf Open, ATP young shooting star Jiri Vesely met seventh-seed Ivo Karlovic for the first time. The 20-year-old Czech, who rose to a personal best No. 67 in the world rankings at the end of March, contested his first ever ATP World Tour semifinal. Karlovic has made it into the final four stage at a clay court event for the first time since Houston three years ago.

On Thursday, the Croat took out Düsseldorf’s defending champion Juan Mónaco in a tight match winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and Vesely ruined Jürgen Melzer’s 33rd birthday party through a comfortable straight set victory in only 62 minutes.

Friday’s encounter should be a match dominated by the strong serves of both players. Nevertheless, Vesely had six break point opportunities in the opening frame, even one at set point, but wasn’t able to capitalize. In the unavoidable tie-break, Karlovic saved another set point and then eventually converted his only chance to take the first set after 61 minutes. Similar to what happened in the tie-break in the second set. Karlovic came back after being 0-4 down, saved two set points to eventually take advantage on his first match point and seal the victory with an ace winning 7-6, 7-6 in one hour and 55 minutes.

“It was a really close match today and I was down in both tie-breaks but I was able to get back to the right level and I’m happy to reach the final here,” Karlovic said afterwards. “Jiri is still very young and I believe that he will be an even greater player with more experience. I was totally focused in today’s tie-breaks, remained calm and that’s what paid off in the end,” Added the 35-year-old Croatian. Karlovic said he is looking forward to playing his second final of the season.

 

In the second semifinal, top-seed Philipp Kohlschreiber stepped into action facing Denis Istomin. Earlier the day, the German completed his quarterfinal match against Mate Delic, which was suspended due to darkness the night before, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

 

Kohlschreiber met Istomin for the fourth time and until today, he had never been able to gain a victory. The last defeat against the Uzbek took place in Munich only three weeks ago. On a sunny afternoon at Rochusclub, the 30-year-old German seemed to be highly motivated right from the beginning. Istomin lost his opening service game, which lasted ten minutes. The top-seed was in total control, dictated the rallies and consequently gained another break in the fifth game to serve the set out in the eighth. The world No. 57 from Uzbekistan, however, showed his efficiency in the second frame when he make the most of his only third break point to win the set in the tenth game.

Nevertheless, Kohlschreiber didn’t lose his focus, gained an early break in the fifth game of the final set to eventually serve it out after one hour and 54 minutes winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach his first ATP final of the season.

“Of course I’m very happy and satisfied that I could break my negative series against Denis today,” said a relieved Kohlschreiber said afterwards.

“My focus is on tomorrow’s final now. It’s always something special and there is nothing greater than ending a week full of tennis by lifting a trophy. In particular as it’s a final in Germany and I’m really looking forward to it. Nonetheless playing against Ivo is always special due to his height. His services are his biggest weapon, it’s difficult to find a rhythm and you need to be aware of everything. It will be a totally different match compared to today’s encounter.”

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

RESULTS – FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2014

Singles – Semi-finals
D[1] P Kohlschreiber (GER) d D Istomin (UZB) 62 46 64
[7] I Karlovic (CRO) d J Vesely (CZE) 76(6) 76(7)

Singles – Quarter-finals
[1] P Kohlschreiber (GER) d [Q] M Delic (CRO) 75 46 61

Doubles – Semi-finals
[3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d [2] J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) 64 75
M Emmrich (GER) / C Kas (GER) d J Brunstrom (SWE) / F Nielsen (DEN) 60 75
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 25 MAY 2014

CENTER COURT 1 start 12:00
[1] P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [7] I Karlovic (CRO)
M Emmrich (GER) / C Kas (GER) vs [3] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA)

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Two-Time Former Munich Champ Davydenko Falls, Wild Card Brown Advances

Dustin Btown

Dustin Brown

By Florian Heer

(April 28, 2014) MUNICH – With the BMW Open by FWU AG, the first of five ATP World Tour events in Germany gets underway in Munich this week. Three of the world’s top 15 players – the tournament’s top-seed Fabio Fognini, defending champion Tommy Haas and 2010 winner Mikhail Youzhny – headline the main draw.

On Centre Court on Monday Alejandro Falla went up against Jarkko Nieminen for the second time. Before Monday’s match the Finn led the head to head record by 1-0 emerging victorious from the last meeting in Valencia in 2013 in straight sets. This the time match took place in chilly conditions, the 30-year-old Colombian had the better ending winning 6-2, 6-1 in only 52 minutes.

Two time champion Nikolay Davydenko opened against Federico Delbonis, who captured his maiden ATP World Tour title in Sao Paulo at the beginning of March. The Argentine advanced into the second round defeating Munich’s two time champion from 2004 and 2011 6-2, 7-6 in 93 minutes.

On the second largest court of the venue at Iphitos Club, SZ, Michal Przysiezny and Marinko Matosevic met for the very first time. The Polish world No. 79 led 7-6, 5-6 when he sprained his foot and was forced to retire.

Wild Card and home hope Dustin Brown, who is at a career-high number 87 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, took on Ivo Karlovic for the second time this year, with the German clinching victory over the Croat in Doha in the opening week of the season. The encounter was scheduled as the final match of the day, so that as many people as possible would have had the chance to watch the spectacle between the two players, who are known as hard-hitters. There were only two break point chances in the opening set, each on every side, but neither was able to capitalize on it. Consequently the tie-break had to decide, in which the 29-year-old German was the more aggressive but also, the luckier player taking the set after 40 minutes when Karlovic missed an overhead smash. There were no more break point opportunities in the second set and so it was time for another tie-break, in which Brown hit strong nerves converting his first match point eventually winning 7-6, 7-6 in one hour and 26 minutes.

“I knew what I had to expect today, as we played against each other just a couple of weeks ago,” the winner said afterwards. “You need to stay calm when you play against Ivo, as there will be situations when you doesn’t have a chance to return the ball. So I tried to mix it up as much as possible and I’m happy that I won the match. Next round won’t be easy facing Fabio Fognini for the first time but I’m looking forward to it. It will be a complete different match against him, so I will talk to my coach first to find the right tactic against him,” the German added.

Earlier in the day, Munich’s qualifying came to an end. In the final round, top-seed Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Michael Berrer 6-1, 6-1 to win the all-German-affair in 46 minutes. Tomaz Bellucci only needed to 9 minutes more to beat Ruben Bemelmans winning 6-0, 6-3. Martin Klizan took out Ricardas Berankis beating the Lithuanian in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and fifteen minutes. With Albert Ramos defeating Norbert Gombos 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, all top four-players of the qualifying made it into the made draw. Michael Berrer will join the qualifiers as lucky loser when Jiri Vesely had to withdraw due to injury.

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

RESULTS – MONDAY, 28 APRIL 2014

Singles – First Round
[WC] D Brown (GER) d I Karlovic (CRO) 76(4) 76(5)
F Delbonis (ARG) d N Davydenko (RUS) 62 76(4)
M Matosevic (AUS) d M Przysiezny (POL) 26 65 ret. (right ankle)
A Falla (COL) d J Nieminen (FIN) 62 61

Doubles – First Round
[2] J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) d M Emmrich (GER) / C Kas (GER) 63 63
[PR] C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) d D Bracciali (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) 63 75
SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 29 APRIL 2014

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] J Struff (GER) vs [6] F Lopez (ESP)

Not Before 12:55 pm
[5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs D Istomin (UZB)
S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [WC] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 17:00
[Q] A Ramos (ESP) vs L Hewitt (AUS)

SZ start 11:00 am
F Delbonis (ARG) / A Falla (COL) vs L Dlouhy (CZE) / M Pavic (CRO)
[WC] A Zverev (GER) vs J Melzer (AUT)
[7] A Seppi (ITA) vs [LL] M Berrer (GER)
D Brown (GER) / J Knowle (AUT) vs O Marach (AUT) / J Melzer (AUT)

MATCH COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
D Sela (ISR) vs [Q] M Klizan (SVK)
[Q] T Bellucci (BRA) vs [8] I Dodig (CRO)

Not Before 17:00
[1] E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) vs J Brunstrom (SWE) / H Kontinen (FIN)

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Roger Federer Returns to Sony Open with a Win Over Ivo Karlovic

Federer on court-001

(March 21, 2014) Roger Federer returned to the Sony Open on a winning note beating hard-serving, 6-foot-11 Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Friday. Federer missed playing last year’s event in Key Biscayne and was entertained by a video tribute on the stadium scoreboard.

 

With a giggle and a laugh, the 17-time major champion told the crowd that it looked like a farewell video. “I miss one year, and you make me feel guilty,” he said.

 

Federer committed a mere 3 unforced errors during the match. In addition he won 49 of his 52 service points.

 

“I think I was able to play a very clean match on my service games throughout, make sure I had a lot of first serves in, make sure I stayed aggressive from the baseline, had an opportunity,” Federer said.

“I think it worked really well, hardly any unforced errors, I was playing with margin, was able to move Ivo around, and I was able to maintain that throughout the match, which was key.

“Like this I could focus a bit on returning while then holding serve, which is important against Ivo.”

“I’m very relieved and happy to be through,” Federer told media.

 

So what’s it like to play the big-serving Karlovic?

“Physically it’s super easy,” Federer said.  “There are no long rallies.  It’s just like more penalty shootout like in soccer.  I don’t want to say you pick sides, but it’s about quick reaction, not getting frustrated and feeling that the returner is the one who has got less pressure.

“I quite like it.  I enjoy it.  It’s just uncomfortable at times when it comes to the crunch of the sets and you have break points and you know like this is probably your only chance in the set or you know that probably next four or five games you won’t see any more break points, or even for the rest of the match.

“So it just can be quite difficult or overwhelming.  But if you’re in the right mindset mentally, it can also be enjoyable.  That’s how I approach the match, anyway.”

Federer last won the Key Biscayne tournament in 2006

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A Healthy and Happy Federer Returns to the Top 5 in Miami

fed iw

(March 20, 2014) After a 2013 which saw him end the year at No. 6 dealing with back problems, and then fall to No. 8 at the end of January, Roger Federer is on his way back up. He’s currently No. 5 after falling in the BNP Paribas Open final last Sunday to Novak Djokovic in three sets.

In his pre-tournament news conference at the Sony Open on Thursday, Federer spoke about his resurgence since the beginning of 2014.

“It’s nice, but I’m more happy to be healthy again, and I’m playing good tennis,” said the Swiss No. 2.  “That then leads the ranking into the right direction.

“Yeah, I have been playing well now for the last seven tournaments.  Started at the end of last year, and now I feel I found a good level, a good form.  But as you know, you have to keep on working and keep on trying hard.

“It always resets.  Every tournament it starts from scratch.  I don’t get like the old wildcard into the semis or anything like that.  Doesn’t exist.  I have to put in the hard work and hope I’m going to have another successful tournament here in Miami.”

Even world No. 2 Novak Djokovic commented on Federer’s level this year:

“I think he’s playing in a high level this year.  He’s back to his normal level, you know, the level that he had for seven, eight years while he was so dominant in men’s tennis.  Obviously last season he was not as good for his standards.

“You know, but this year he started strong.  He won the title in Dubai and played semis of Australian Open.  I can feel that he’s striking the ball very cleanly.  He’s very confident on the court and he has improved his backhand I think.”

So how much better can Federer get this year?

The Swiss answered: “Well, I just think the confidence is going to make the difference maybe at this point, because my body is there.  Clearly will always be helpful to put in a training block where you are training very hard, can improve your potential a little bit, where your stamina is better, where your confidence and your endurance and explosivity is there.  You name it.  Your strength overall.

“I think at the end it comes down to confidence with most of the players.”

Federer and wife Mirka are expecting a child later this year, they are already the parents of twin girls born in July of 2009. Federer was pressed by a couple of members of the media to give the due date of the birth.

“Only my wife knows, I told you.  If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you,” Federer replied with a smile.

Federer will play his first match against Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic during Friday’s day session at the Sony Open.

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Kei Nishikori Repeats as Memphis Champion

 

nishikori memphis

(February 16, 2014) Kei Nishikori repeated as the champion at the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis, stopping Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (0) on Sunday. For the No. 16 ranked player, this was his first career title defense. He is the first repeat winner since Tommy Haas won in 2006 and 2007.

“It’s amazing to defend a title for the first time, especially here,” Nishikori said. “I had a great memory from last year and I’m playing great.”

“I get a lot of confidence from keeping my ranking in the Top 20. It’s going to take some time to get to Top 10, Top 5, but I think I’m getting close.”

“He’s really fast,” Karlovic said. “He hits winners from any position on the court. That’s his game. He returned really well.”

“It was a good week for me. I’m really happy with the way I played. I hope I will continue like this and by the end of the year get into the Top 40.”

Nishikori was given a wild-card into this tournament, which this year was downgraded to 250 event, it was a 500 point event a year ago when he won.

This is Nishikori’s sixth ATP title.

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