BNP Paribas Open announces Wild Cards Which Include Americans Young, Sock, Harrison, Johnson, Duval and Townsend

big bnp paribas open logo

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., Feb. 26, 2014 – Former top five players Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva; Americans Donald Young, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Rhyne Williams, Coco Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers, Vicky Duval and Taylor Townsend; and Donna Vekic and Belinda Bencic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 3 – 16 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Tournament Director Steve Simon.
Russia’s Nadia Petrova has won 13 career WTA single titles and 24 doubles crowns. The former World No. 3 has reached nine Grand Slam quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals twice. Fellow Russian star and 2009 BNP Paribas Open champion Vera Zvonareva has 12 career WTA singles triumphs and six doubles titles. The former World No. 2 also has two Grand Slam finals appearances.
In addition, nine Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including Donald Young, who reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open; 21-year-old Jack Sock, who advanced to the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open; Ryan Harrison, who boasted a career-high ranking of No. 43 in 2012; two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Rhyne Williams, who is coming off a quarterfinals appearance at Delray Beach, pushing top-ranked American and World No. 13 John Isner to three sets; Coco Vandeweghe, a two-time ITF singles winner; Shelby Rogers, a four-time singles champion on the ITF circuit; Vicky Duval, who achieved a career-high ranking earlier this year after jumping 528 rankings places since the end of 2011; and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.
Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are 17-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 62 in 2013 and 16-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who advanced to the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“This year’s main draw wildcards span from established veterans, to rising American and international stars,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Donald Young, Jack Sock and others, add to the excitement for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to make a run at the BNP Paribas Open.”
Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Raymond Sarmiento, Stefan Kozlov, Clay Thompson, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle, Grace Min and Allie Kiick, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinaxis and the United Kingdom’s Heather Watson.
Sarmiento is a senior-standout at USC and member of two NCAA team championships for the Trojans. Sixteen-year-old Kozlov achieved a career-high ranking in February, after turning pro in 2013. Thompson reached a career-high ranking in 2013. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and advanced to the second round of this year’s Australian Open. Brengle reached a career-high ranking earlier this year, and has won five ITF singles titles. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012, while Kiick also has three ITF singles crowns. Kokkinaxis advanced to the second round at this year’s Australian Open, where he pushed World No. 1 Rafael Nadal to three sets. Watson has one WTA singles title and two doubles titles.
In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each BNP Paribas Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament, which takes place February 24 – March 1, will also be granted a berth into the 2014 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 3 and men’s qualifying begins March 4.

Mixed Results for Americans – Sam Querrey Upset, while Alison Riske Knocks Out Mona Barthel, Jack Sock Advances

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

(August 29, 2013)FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- No. 26-seeded Sam Querrey was upset in the second round of the U.S. Open while, other Americans Alison Riske and Jack Sock advanced in the draw.

No. 63 in the world Adrian Mannarino beat Querrey 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 on Thursday. The 63rd-ranked Frenchman reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

“I’m pretty bummed,” Querrey said.  “I don’t know the stats, but I probably went 1 for 10 on breakpoints.  I need to do a little better there, just play better tiebreaks.  My first‑serve percentage dropped in the tiebreakers, which hurt.  I think those two things were kind of it.”


Meanwhile, Riske stunned 28th seeded German Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round of the US Open. Up until this week, Riske had never won a main draw hard court match in her career until last month. Riske has done very well on grass over the past two years.

“I’m definitely excited,” said the Pennsylvania native.  “I mean, being in the clouds, I’m not really in the clouds because, I mean, I only won a couple matches.  Obviously, you know, I came here to do more than that.

It’s definitely exciting.  I’m looking forward to being here for another day.

Jack Sock has also moved into the third round with a win over Maxnimo Gonzalez Thursday 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

“I thought I did things well,” Sock said.  “The things I do well, I thought I did well today.  Serve came in handy for me at big times.  Used my forehand in aggression at key moments really well.


“Yeah, was fortunate enough to get through.”


Sock will play Janko Tipsarevic next. “Obviously a very good player.  Been in the top 10 before, I believe.  Got a good serve, solid off both sides, moves well.  I think it should be a good match.


“Just go out and do the things I do well, see how it goes.”





Raonic Wins Cincy Opener against Sock, Faces Tipsarevic in Next Round

Milos Raonic Cincy-001

By Kevin Ware

(August 13, 2013) MASON,  Ohio – Canadian Milos Raonic defeated American Jack Sock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in his opening match at the Western and Southern Open. But it wasn’t easy, or pretty.

Their only previous meeting on tour was earlier this year in Memphis, with Sock beating the newly-crowned three-time San Jose champ in three hard-fought sets, 6-3, 5-7, 7-5.

“I came into that match having just won a title (San Jose). He came out really without much to lose, playing well and playing aggressive, and never let me get into a rhythm.”

Using the same game plan as Memphis, Sock came out in the first set firing big with his serve and forehand. And though Sock is listed at 180 lbs., he scrambled effectively in defense of Raonic’s own equally big forehand and serve, at one point retrieving 3 overheads before hitting a winner past the frustrated Canadian.

Fresh on the heels of his runner-up finish in Montreal, Raonic was clearly out of sorts with his game. He often looked in exasperation at his easy misses, and often gestured to his coach, Ivan Lubjcic. It speaks volumes that one of the best servers on tour gave up the only break in that set.

“Today I was trying to find that (rhythm) again. And he was serving really well in the beginning so I couldn’t find any openings. But I sort of stuck through it. And here the conditions were slower, so it gave me a better chance.”

Raonic admitted that he started slower than he would have liked, needing time to “get used to the environment” after his quick turnaround between Sunday’s final and today’s opener. In the end, he managed the win with a critical break of Sock’s serve in the in the sixth game. From there, it was just a matter of holding serve to close out the match.

The serve stats bear out Raonic’s troubles on the night, with a 58% serving percentage for the match. It wasn’t quite as bad as his percentage against Nadal in the Montreal final, but nowhere near what it will need to be in order to have a chance against this field. Still, it was good enough to get by on an off night.

When asked what helped him turn around this match, Raonic credited the confidence gained during his week in Montreal. “It makes it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel knowing that hopefully I can play better the next set. I just got to keep working through it.”

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

The subject of confidence also came up the other day in his pre-tournament press conference. After mentioning the confidence gained during his week in Montreal, Raonic was asked to compare it to the confidence he exuded after winning the SAP Open for a third straight year.

“I think it feels a little bit more significant just because of maybe how harsh I was on myself after Wimbledon, how disappointed I was… Because it just sort of helps you get that step forward and get everything going in the right way.  I think it just sort of stands out a little bit more.”

Raonic’s second-round opponent is Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia. He owns a 2-0 head-to-head record against Tipsarevic, but had to go the distance in both. In fact, 5 of their 6 sets were decided by a tiebreaker. He expects another difficult encounter when they meet here in Cincinnati.

“It’s going to be a tough match. I‘ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and be a little bit cleaner on my service games. And when I get ahead in games I need to be better about closing them out.”

Did this match against Sock work out the kinks and help him adjust to the conditions, or will he need to hit the practice courts hard in order to be better prepared against Tipsarevic?

“The match made the difference. It’s going to give me a lot more comfort coming out tomorrow. And I also think during the daytime the conditions will be quicker. So it’s going to be a little bit better.”

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 12-18, 2013

Results – Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(2) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (Q) Vania King (USA) 61 76(6)
Sloane Stephens (USA) d. (3) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 26 76(5) 63

WTA Singles – First Round
(10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. Peng Shuai (CHN) 61 61
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. (13) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 36 61 63
(14) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 76(5) 57 62
Alizé Cornet (FRA) d. (15) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 26 76(8) 64 (saved 5mp)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (Q) Annika Beck (GER) 63 62
Jamie Hampton (USA) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 75 46 63
Mona Barthel (GER) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 63 64
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 62 46 64
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 62 26 62
(Q) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (WC) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 26 64 61
(Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 62 64
(LL) Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 61 62

WTA Doubles – First Round
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. Husarova/Niculescu (SVK/ROU) 62 63
(7) Chan/Srebotnik (TPE/SLO) d. Aoyama/Scheepers (JPN/RSA) 63 62
Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) d. Mladenovic/Voskoboeva (FRA/KAZ) 76(3) 63
Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Lepchenko/Zheng (USA/CHN) 64 63
(WC) Kerber/Petkovic (GER/GER) d. Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) 76(5) 76(6)
(WC) King/Kleybanova (USA/RUS) d. Grandin/Jurak (RSA/CRO) 64 75

ATP Singles – Second Round
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) d [WC] R Harrison (USA) 76(5) 36 64
[5] R Federer (SUI) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) 63 76(7)
G Dimitrov (BUL) d [WC] B Baker (USA) 63 62
J Benneteau (FRA) d R Stepanek (CZE) 62 57 76(4)

ATP Singles – First Round
[9] S Wawrinka (SUI) d A Seppi (ITA) 63 64
F Lopez (ESP) d [10] K Nishikori (JPN) 64 76(4)
[11] T Haas (GER) d K Anderson (RSA) 64 64
[12] M Raonic (CAN) d [WC] J Sock (USA) 36 64 63
V Pospisil (CAN) d [15] G Simon (FRA) 63 11 ret. (hip flexor strain)
J Isner (USA) d F Mayer (GER) 63 64
N Davydenko (RUS) d B Paire (FRA) 76(8) 63
[Q] B Becker (GER) d [Q] P Andujar (ESP) 61 64
J Nieminen (FIN) d [Q] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 63 64
T Robredo (ESP) d T Bellucci (BRA) 67(6) 76(7) 62
M Youzhny (RUS) d E Gulbis (LAT) 75 63

Doubles – First Round

J Chardy (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) d [WC] B Baker (USA) / R Ram (USA) 64 64
[WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) d I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) 62 75
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d F Fognini (ITA) / J Monaco (ARG) 64 63


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
M Youzhny (RUS) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs J Monaco (ARG) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
[Q] B Becker (GER) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 8:30 PM
[WC] L Davis (USA) vs [5] N Li (CHN) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[11] S Stosur (AUS) vs J Hampton (USA) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
J Isner (USA) vs [8] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP
[12] M Raonic (CAN) vs J Tipsarevic (SRB) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
S Halep (ROU) vs [8] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
M Granollers (ESP) vs [11] T Haas (GER) – ATP
N Davydenko (RUS) vs [7] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
V Williams (USA) vs E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
[4] A Radwanska (POL) vs V Lepchenko (USA) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs J Nieminen (FIN) – ATP

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
[6] S Errani (ITA) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[7] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [Q] M Erakovic (NZL) – WTA
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) – ATP
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] D Hantuchova (SVK) / M Hingis (SUI) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
T Robredo (ESP) vs [9] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
[Q] A Petkovic (GER) vs [12] R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[9] A Kerber (GER) vs A Kleybanova (RUS) – WTA
[LL] M Niculescu (ROU) vs [10] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
[PR] M Fish (USA) / J Melzer (AUT) vs [2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) – ATP
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) – ATP-After Suitable Rest

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
[Q] D Goffin (BEL) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP
M Barthel (GER) vs [16] M Kirilenko (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 2:00 PM
[14] J Jankovic (SRB) vs E Makarova (RUS) – WTA
[8] R Bopanna (IND) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
[7] H Chan (TPE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs A Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A Rodionova (AUS) – WTA

COURT 7 start 11:00 am
K Date-Krumm (JPN) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs L Huber (USA) / N Llagostera Vives (ESP) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
F Lopez (ESP) vs J Chardy (FRA) – ATP
A Cornet (FRA) vs M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
[4] A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Raymond (USA) vs [WC] A Kerber (GER) / A Petkovic (GER) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) vs [6] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA

COURT 10 start 11:00 am

M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) – ATP
V Dushevina (RUS) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) vs [3] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) / P Kvitova (CZE) vs J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
[WC] V King (USA) / A Kleybanova (RUS) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA-After Suitable Rest


James Blake Leads List of Wild Cards for Cincinnati


CINCINNATI (August 8, 2013) — Seven of the eight men’s wild cards for the 2013 Western & Southern Open have been awarded to American players, with four US players being added to the main draw and three entered into qualifying.


James Blake, Brian BakerRyan Harrison and Jack Sock have been granted wild cards in to the main draw.


In qualifying, Australian Bernard Tomic joins a trio of Americans who each reached a career high ranking last month – Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla and Rhyne Williams - in the field.


“We’re happy to welcome a familiar face like James back to a tournament where he has had a tremendous amount of success in his career,” said Tournament Director Vince Cicero. “At the same time, it’s exciting to offer these younger players a chance to participate in a tournament of this caliber. We look forward to having all eight of these players in Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open.”


Blake, the 2007 Western & Southern Open finalist, will be making his 12th apperance at the tournament, third among active players behind Tommy Haas (14) and Roger Federer (13). He also ranks sixth among active players for wins in Cincinnati with a 15-10 record.


Baker, from Nashville, returned to tennis in 2012 after a series of injuries kept him sidelined for nearly six seasons. He climbed to almost No. 50 in the rankings before suffering a knee injury at the Australian Open in January that has kept him out of action until this week’s Aptos Challenger.


Harrison, a 21-year-old who now calls Austin, Texas, home, reached the semifinals last month at the ATP event in Atlanta. He also claimed the title at the Savannah Challenger this season. It will be his third Western & Southern Open main draw appearance.


Sock, a 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., won the title at the Challenger event in Winnetka, Ill., last month. He reached his second career ATP quarterfinal in February at Memphis. In 2010, Sock won the US Open Juniors title.


The four wild card entrants to the qualifying field will compete in a two-round tournament over this coming weekend for one of seven spots in the main draw.


Tomic, 20, is the top-ranked player from Australia. He recently reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and early this season claimed his first career title with a win in Sydney.


Kudla, a 20-year-old who grew up in Virginia, reached the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club in London in June.


Johnson, 23, won back-to-back NCAA singles champions in 2011-12 while playing for the University of Southern California. He won the Nottingham Challenger in June.


Williams, 22, turned pro after his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, and was the NCAA singles finalist in 2011. He reached his first career ATP semifinal at Houston in April.


In addition, the following players have been added to the main draw – Radek Stepanek , Thomaz Bellucci and Denis Istomin. These three were entered following the withdrawals of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (knee), Viktor Troicki (suspension) and Marin Cilic (personal).


The draws for both the main draw and qualifying will be made on Friday. Qualifying begins Saturday, which is also AdvancePierre Foods Kids Day, and tickets start as low as $5. WTA main draw play begins Monday. All matches will take place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.


The Western & Southern Open hosted 176,000 fans in 2012, recording a record 10 sellouts over the 16 total sessions spanning nine days. The event drew fans from all 50 states and 19 countries. Cincinnati is one of the last stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series leading up to the US Open, and often critical points and bonus money are on the line adding drama to the week.



Americans in Paris – Day Three at Roland Garros


(May 28, 2013) . Americans went 1-3 in Paris on the day 2 of the French Open. Here is a look at how they all fared:
(27) Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 60 36 62
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Lauren Davis (USA) 60 75
[Q] J Sock (USA) d G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 62 62 75
[WC] L Pouille (FRA) d [WC] Alex Kuznetsov (USA) 61 76(2) 62

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

World No. 118 Jack Sock was the only U.S. player in the win column on Day three of the French Open.

During his post- match news conference Sock, who made it into the main draw as a qualifier, shared the story on why he has two sets on initials on his sneakers.

“I grew up playing junior tennis with one of the kids named Alex Rovello, played a bunch of junior tournaments with him.

“His family came out to the US Open last couple of years and watched, and gave them tickets and everything.  They were just good family friends.  He was a good friend from juniors.  He passed away in a tragic car accident a couple weeks ago.

“And then a guy I played high school tennis with, Brian Boyd, also passed away in a car accident in the last couple of weeks.  And, yeah, spent a year or two playing high school tennis with him.  I mean, team parties, team dinners, all that, I mean, we were friends.  Just sucks to see someone go that soon.  They were both 21, I think, sophomores, juniors in college.

“So, yeah, it’s definitely been ‑‑ kind of hits you out of nowhere.  So I put the initials on my shoes and definitely thinking of them out there.”

As for the match, Sock was very excited about playing on the clay in Europe.

“First time competing over here in Europe, so, I mean, I was definitely excited coming over here to play, “ said Sock.  I love playing on clay, so I was even more excited coming out here and competing on the clay.

“And to come through quallies and have some momentum and confidence definitely and come in the main draw and then playing him, playing Garcia‑Lopez, who I played in Bordeaux last week or the week before, it was nice to have a little insight on his game, and was able to play well today and get the win.”

Sock made his debut in a major just last August at the US Open where he made the third round.


Harrison, Sock, Johnson Headline Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Field

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, April 10, 2013 – The USTA announced the line-up for the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger set for April 27-May 4, including a slew of up-and-coming Americans headlined by Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, defending champion Tim Smyczek and 2011 winner Donald Young.


The Tallahassee Tennis Challenger is the third of three events in the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge series, which will determine which American male earns a wild card into the 2013 French Open.


The field is revealed on the heels of the announcement last week that Mardy Fish, the former world No. 8 and current No. 42, was awarded a wild card for the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, held at the Forestmeadows Tennis Complex. He won here in 2006.


Thirty-four-year-old Michael Russell is the highest-ranked player on the acceptance list at No. 73. The Houston resident made the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Memphis this February. In 2001, he reached the fourth round of the French Open, losing to eventual winner Gustavo Kuerten.


World No. 93 Harrison is making his main draw debut in Tallahassee at 20 years old. He played in the qualifying here at the age of 16 in 2009. The Shreveport, La., native has been ranked as high as No. 43 and has one USTA Pro Circuit title to his credit at Honolulu in 2011.


Sock, also 20, enters the Tallahassee field at a career-high No. 119 after a quarterfinals effort – like Russell – in Memphis. The big-serving Lincoln, Neb., native also paired with veteran James Blake to win his first-ever ATP doubles title in February in Delray Beach.


Former two-time NCAA champion Johnson, ranked No. 130, leads a host of top college alumni that includes No. 144 Rhyne Williams (Tennessee), 2008 Tallahassee winner and No. 145 Bobby Reynolds (Vanderbilt), No. 189 Bradley Klahn (Stanford), No. 210 Somdev Devvarman (Virginia) and No. No. 213 Tennys Sandgren (Tennessee).

Written by Nick McCarvel


Sock Misses Beating Karlovic by Inches


Jack Sock

Jack Sock

By Curt Janka

(March 8, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, California – Up a set and 8-7 in the second-set tiebreaker, Jack Sock hit a backhand passing shot that very nearly won the match. “I missed a pretty routine backhand up the line by a couple of inches,” he said after the 6-3, 6-7, 2-6 loss to Ivo Karlovic. Watching Sock play, it’s easy to conclude he’s also “this” close to being a top player. He has big weapons, variety and athleticism. It just seems to come down to a few big points.  This match was his to win.

In fairness, Karlovic is the higher ranked player and a savvy veteran. It showed most of all in the tiebreaker where Karlovic maintained his cool composure. And he should, the guy has made a career out of winning tiebreakers in close matches.

A let down after the disappointment of dropping the tiebreaker was inevitable, but Sock nearly fought it off. In the opening game of the third set, Sock saved three break points before conceding the game on the fourth.  If that wasn’t deflating enough, Karlovic elevated his service games.

“He started serving better,” Sock credited his opponent. “He started putting a lot more returns in play, making me play more on serve and I missed a couple balls that you can’t against a guy who serves like that.”

The momentum had shifted and before Sock could right his feet, he was down 0-4 in the deciding set. To his credit, he hung on enough to win his last two service games, but could not get to a break point. Karlovic closed out the match in stoic, unflappable form.

So what went wrong for Sock? A couple inches to the right, and he would have advanced to the next round. He certainly had no problems passing Karlovic prior to earning the match point. Sock executed a solid game plan from the very start of the match, blocking back serves low to his opponent’s feet and working over the Karlovic backhand in every extended rally.

Tennis is a cruel sport. You won’t beat a good player by simply executing the plan most of the time. You also have to do it on the big points. Yes, Sock had a chance to win the tiebreaker in the second set, but he had chances to break Karlovic earlier in the set, too. Notably, when Karlovic was serving at 4-4, 30-30 in the second set, Sock shanked a very hittable second serve. Those are the big points that make a difference in these tight sets. He was blocking and chipping back serves in a good rhythm and then for a split second on this big point, that focus disappeared.

As hard of a loss as this was for Sock, there a list of positives he can take from it and carry forward into the season. For starters, he is healthy and playing again. He wasn’t at this time last year. So he has few points to defend and plenty to gain.  For the majority of this match, Sock outplayed his opponent from the ground. His movement looked good, his tactics were sound.

“I was hitting the ball pretty well,” Sock assessed his play. “I was moving well, hitting the ball well.”

Sock’s game continues to develop and he appears grounded enough to know he needs to work on maintaining focus for a complete match. He has the burden of great potential, but loves being out there competing. That passion will surely help him capitalize on his talent. In the meantime, he’s close. Really, really close to cracking the code and rising up the ranks.

Curt Janka is covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his tournament updates @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.


Notes from the Front – SAP Open Day Two


Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

By Kevin Ware

(February 12, 2013) SAN JOSE, California – One of the great things about watching live tennis in a tournament setting is that you get a better feel for the character of the match and the players.  Here are some courtside impressions from Day Two action at the SAP Open.

  • I arrived at just after Lleyton Hewitt’s dramatic 3-set victory over Blaz Kavcic to find that no one was surprised to see this match go the distance.  Even though he’s one of the older guys on tour, long grinding matches still seem to be Hewitt’s preferred method of advancing through the draw.  His next opponent is Sam Querrey, making his tournament debut after receiving a first-round bye. It will be interesting to see if Sam’s late tournament start against a cagey veteran who’s “into” the tournament has a factor on the match outcome.
  • Though he was suffering from low energy due to illness, Ryan Harrison lost a winnable 3-set match against German veteran, Benjamin Becker.  It wouldn’t have been a particularly spectacular win under the circumstances, but it was doable.  Unfortunately, Ryan couldn’t keep his focus on the important points in the second and third sets the way he had in the first set tiebreak. This was especially true when he got broken at the end of the second set.Illness aside, Ryan is a talented and thoughtful player who can sometimes makes things complicated for himself in his matches. He’s struggled in 2013, and his ranking has dropped from last year’s high of 43.  Because he’s defending a semifinal appearance in last year’s tournament, his ranking is going to take a pretty big hit. Hopefully he can turn things around in Memphis.
    (NOTE:  He’ll be playing doubles with his brother Christian)
  • As I was watching Jack Sock in his match against Marinko Matosevic, I tweeted, “While Ryan Harrison sometimes thinks too much on court, Jack Sock maybe needs to think a bit more…” That about sums up Sock’s match strategy, or lack thereof.  Sock is a big strong guy who hits a heavy ball, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Even when Sock broke Matosevic to serve for the first set, I had the feeling that the veteran Matosevic would find a way to out-think his younger opponent, and capitalize on the nerves of the moment.  That’s exactly how it played out, with Matosevic going on to take the first set tiebreaker before sweeping the second set 6-1.I don’t begrudge the big hitting, because the younger guys on tour definitely need big games in order to be competitive. But they also need to think clearly and give themselves options.  Sock’s not there yet, and I’m not sure that he sees the need for options and nuance.  I also look at Sock’s football player-like build and can’t help but think that maybe if his fitness were improved, it could pay dividends in the development of his game.  He’s young though, so he’s got time to pull those pieces together.  At least, I hope he does.
  • It was a rough day for young Americans, and Ryan Sweeting’s straight-sets loss against last year’s finalist, Denis Istomin, did little to stop the bleeding.  But then again, Sweeting was always going to have a tough time of it since he doesn’t have the weapons needed to trouble Istomin.
  • The world No. 1 Bryan brothers weren’t as dominant over their younger American opponents as one would expect. Jack Sock and Steve Johnson played well with no signs of intimidation at the Bryans credentials as one of the greatest doubles teams ever. But once again, experience and mental toughness won out over big hitting as the Bryans took the match in two tiebreak sets. I hope the young guys are paying attention to these lessons of strategy/mental fortitude!
  • Fernando Verdasco, with coach/dad by his side, seemed to have a decent on-court warm-up prior to the start of the doubles match.  But something must have happened to him between the warm-up and his match.  That would be the only explanation for his flat performance against an inspired Tim Smyczek.  Fernando played without purpose.  Smyczek, on the other hand, played as though his life depended on the win; and it showed.  The difference between the two couldn’t have been starker, with Smyczek looking much more like a higher-ranked player than Verdasco.There might have been an injury with Verdasco, who seemed to pull up on shots as the match progressed.  But it was still a disappointing match for a former Top 10 player who at one time, challenged for Slam titles against the top guys. Disappointing, that is, except for Smyczek.  At least one American young gun made it through!

That’s all for now.
More after Day Three action with Donald Young, John Isner, and Tommy Haas.

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


Thirteen American Men Accepted Into Australian Open Qualies

James Blake

James Blake

(December 18, 2012) Thirteen American men have been accepted into the Qualifying draw of the 2013 Australian Open. They include James Blake, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne, Rajeev Ram, Tennys Sandgren, Tim Smyczek, Ryan Sweeting, Michael Yani and Donald Young.


Rhyne Williams also was accepted into qualifying, but Williams claimed a wild card entry into the main draw by winning the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff last weekend. Bradley Klahn and Daniel Kosakowski are the second and third listed alternates, respectively.


The 2013 Australian Open qualifying tournament begins on January 7 in Melbourne.


The USTA reports that Jesse Levine is listed as an American on the Australian Open qualifying acceptance list, but will be representing Canada in Melbourne.


The Australian Open women’s qualifying acceptance list will be announced at a later date.



Notes and Quotes for Day 6 of Wimbledon


Q.  You have a new ‑ at least I have not heard you before ‑ when you miss a shot you go, Aye‑yi‑yi.  Is that a new saying?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, my friend actually is Mexican.  She was telling me a long time ago that I do that.  I’m like, Really?  She said, Yeah.  I was like, I didn’t know.  She claims that I have been doing that since we have been friends because she does it all the time.  Maybe she rubbed off on me.  I didn’t even realize that I did that.

Q.  You have had a long career, a lot of ups, few downs.  Where would you rank the last couple of months in terms of enjoyment, fun factor, both on and off the courts?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  It’s been extremely fun.  I’ve really appreciated the past few months.  Really the past year has been really amazing.  Coming back playing ‑‑ starting at Wimbledon, even though I think I lost in the fourth round, but pretty much did really well since then, really consistent, and came from, you know, 170‑something to back being, you know, top 5 and obviously trying to move ahead with that.  So it’s been really a great, fabulous time for me.


Q.  But more so the last couple of months, like post‑Paris.

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, and winning the gold medal.  I was getting there, Doug.  Patience.  And winning the gold medal has been, I think, amazing.  I really wanted to win it in doubles like I always say, but I think deep down I really, really, really wanted it in singles.  And then Wimbledon is just crazy.  Winning that was ‑‑ winning another Grand Slam after being in the hospital is shocking and cool and amazing.  So it’s been really amazing.

Q.  So you’ll never wear that French Open dress again?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  No.  I threw them all away, actually.


Q.  Talking to Sharapova yesterday, who ended her engagement with her fiance, separating off court and the on court, not bringing off‑court stuff on court, have you always been good with that?  Talk about the challenge of keeping personal life off the court and focusing.

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, you know, I have been really good at that.  I went through a breakup, too.  But, yeah.  It’s tough.


Q.  What kind of conversation did you have with Venus after a tough loss the other night to prepare for the doubles match that followed?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  No, really she’s so positive.  She really just always ‑‑ doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses, she’s so positive.  We went into that doubles match, and I’m thinking, Okay, I’m going to play really well.  She just got off the court really.  I really want to do well, and she kind of held me up.  So that’s just the kind of person and player and champion that she is.


Q.  When you see Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters, the wave that you were in, deciding to retire, what goes through your mind?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Honestly I thought I definitely don’t want to end it.  Like I feel like if anything, I want to be here even more and play even more.


Q.  How did you keep Andy’s secret for a year?  You’re a good secret keeper.

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I’m really good at keeping secrets, so if you tell me something, I never open my mouth to anybody.  You, know, not even to my friends.  I was hoping he’d change his mind.  I love that guy.  I love Andy.  He’s just a great person.


Q.  Roddick last night was playing to a lot of the crowd and the crowd was loving him.  Do you love to be adored by the crowds?

SERENA WILLIAMS:  I think everyone loves to be adored by the crowd.  I feel like I have so much support here in New York.  When I played her last year I felt unbelievable support.  I feel a ton of support in a few different cities that I go to as well; namely, in Australia.  I love it there.  It’s always awesome to have that crowd behind you and have that support and to have those fans that you really love and adore.


Q.  What are your thoughts on the Davis Cup tie against The Netherlands in Amsterdam?  Will you be there?

ROGER FEDERER:  Probably take a decision soon.  It’s obviously one that’s an interesting choice of surface from their side, playing outdoors on clay.  But then again, you know, it’s an exciting tie because Dutch fans are always amazing.  I remember when I played there 2004 maybe, I’m not sure how long ago it was, 2003 I think it was, we had a great time.  I hope obviously the Swiss can win.  But it’s going to be difficult.  Away ties in Holland are always very difficult.


Q.  But will you be there?

ROGER FEDERER:  Don’t know yet.  Take a decision next 10 days.  A lot is happening in my life.


Q.  The Spanish media published today that Rafael Nadal may not play until next year.  How do you feel about it?  Did you ever have a conversation with him about his many injuries?



Q.  Maybe gave him some advice?

ROGER FEDERER:  No, we never really spoke about it, even though we see each other.  He sees me taped up.  I see him getting taped up.  We see each other warming up for matches and so forth.  You never really talk about that.  I think it’s quite personal except if one guy goes up to the other.  But we’re both very open and honest, you know.  When I ask him how he’s feeling, he’s not feeling well, he’ll tell me, I’m tired, a little injured.  There’s no real secrets out there because he knows and I know when we tell each other that stuff it doesn’t leave the room.  That’s a nice relationship I have with Rafa.  It’s based on a lot of trust.  So it’s obviously not great news but one that was a possibility.  So I’m not shocked about the news.  I’m still hopeful that he’ll be okay for the rest of the year.


Q.  When you started out, social media is not what it is today.  Is that better for a player to be able to tell people in their own words or is it better to be judged by the outside world?

ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I mean, yeah, it’s true, social media didn’t exist when I was coming along.  I don’t remember anyone doing it back then yet.  Now it’s got really big.  Obviously now we have a lot of quick news, quick info, almost a bit too much for my liking at times.  Sometimes you don’t go in‑depth any more.  It’s finding out a lot of information as quick as possible.  You definitely have to get used to that as well.  So the question was exactly?  I’m a little slow, you see (smiling).


Q.  From the athlete’s standpoint, are you happier being able to give out the information yourself, or do you want other people to judge you?

ROGER FEDERER:  Well, I started using my website for that some time ago.  Whenever I had an announcement to make, important, not important, at least it was a neutral platform.  So none of the journalists would feel betrayed that I used one to announce.  So I put it on the website and people did what they did.  For me, the most important was that I could communicate with fans.  The communication with the media happens for me here.  I don’t necessarily need social media to communicate more with you guys.  I’m doing so much media all the time.  For me, most important are the supporters and fans who travel the world with me.  When I see them at practices or matches, this is when I want to interact with them.  Of course, now there is this platform.  Of course, from time to time I do write stuff, as well, but it’s not my favorite thing to do.  I do it because I know that the fans take pleasure.  I don’t actually post for anyone else but the supporters and the fans.  People use it differently.  I use it that way, still very casually, but it seems to work so far.  We’ll see how it goes in the future because things are changing.


Q.  You tell us sometimes what you eat before a match.  After a match as physically draining as that, what type of food do you put in yourself?

ANDY MURRAY:  A lot of protein.


Q.  Meat, fish?

ANDY MURRAY:  Meat, fish.  I have like protein shakes I take after the match.  I try to get about 150 grams of protein in me today, tomorrow.  That helps repair the muscles.  Yeah, just really a lot.  I need to eat a lot.  You can lose two or three kilos.  Matches like that, you don’t drink properly.  Obviously when you finish you’re still burning calories.  Yeah, I just need to make sure I stay topped up on that.  If you don’t, you’ll be tired going into the next match.


Q.  What will be on the menu tonight?  Big steak?

ANDY MURRAY:  Sushi.  Sushi tonight.  Go for sushi tonight, I think.  We actually had steak a couple nights ago.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll do that.  I try and eat ‑‑ for dinner I’ll have fish one night, chicken the next, then steak.  Try not to have the same thing every day.  Probably be good to get some steak tomorrow.


Q.  It looks like you’re going to play Raonic, who you played three times this year.  Can you talk about the challenges he presents.

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, I mean, he has a huge serve.  He’s improved a lot from the back of the court.  He goes for his second serve, as well.  You know, he can serve some doubles but also get free points from his second serve, too.  Yeah, you know, it’s a similar kind of match to playing Isner.  I would say they have a similar game style.  You know, he has the same power on the serve as Isner.  Probably can’t hit the spots that he can because of the height, but is maybe a little bit more solid from the back of the court.  But, yeah, this is his best year on the tour so far and it will be tough.


Q.  Do you see him as someone that is really going to be a contender for majors?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah.  I mean, I think he obviously has the potential.  When you have big, big weapons, that obviously helps.  He’s had some good wins this year.  He’s also had some tough losses.  Like against Tsonga at the Olympics, he lost a very close one.  He lost a close one against Querrey at Wimbledon, as well.  His match with Hewitt in Australia was a tough match, too.  He’s obviously playing better and better.  He’s gaining experience all the time.  Yeah, he’s definitely going to be dangerous.


Q.  How do you see Nadal’s injury, his future?

ANDY MURRAY:  I mean, I don’t know exactly the exact problem he has with his knees.  I’m sure he’ll come back strong.  It might just take a little bit more time.  He’s not really been out for really long periods of time beforehand.  But he’s always come back to be one of the best players in the world.  So I would expect the same this time.  But it might just take a little bit more time because of the length of the injury.


Q.  You’re having a great summer.  If you had to step back and say what the one or two toughest things you’ve had to go through in your career, what would those be?

ANDY MURRAY:  Toughest in any respect?


Q.  Yes.

ANDY MURRAY:  My wrist injury when I was young.  That was pretty hard.  It was really painful.  Took me a while before I started feeling comfortable on the court again.  It was probably about three months but wasn’t really feeling good till five, six months afterwards.  I found that hard.  Yeah, I mean, a lot of the stuff you do away from the court when you’re training, that hurts a lot.  That can be some of the toughest stuff that you do mentally and physically.  That can be some of the most challenging.  And then in terms of matches, I mean, Wimbledon this year was probably tough for me.  But I haven’t rebounded from a tough loss like that one like I did obviously at the Olympics beforehand.  So I was happy with the way I played at the Olympics because of how hard Wimbledon was.


Q.  Going away as a kid, was that tough?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, I was 15 when I left home.  The first few weeks were hard.  But when you’re 15 and it was in Barcelona, I met a lot of new people.  I didn’t have my parents to tell me what to do all the time.  And, yeah, you have a bit more freedom that way.  But it’s hard.  Sometimes when you’re that age, you have some problems, not being able to speak ‑‑ you can speak to them on the phone, but not having your family around, yeah, can be hard.  But it also I think helps you later on in life, as well.  So there’s positives and negatives to leaving home.


Q.  It’s obviously such a big achievement for anybody to win one major.  Do you ever look at Roger’s 17 and wonder how that kind of achievement is possible?

ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, I mean, obviously everything that he’s achieved, Sampras before him, obviously Rafa, his record at his age, hopefully he still has a few more years left at the top of the game, it’s incredible.  But that happens in a lot of sports.  You have exceptional, you know, players that have a combination of many things from great work ethic, talent, all the other intangibles that you have.  They’re incredibly talented individuals that have learnt how to use all of their skills in the most important situations.  I mean, I can see how it happens.  It’s happened before in other sports.  But the consistency in doing it over such a long time is what is so impressive.  You know, obviously Roger now is 31, I think, and he’s still No. 1 in the world.  He’s playing great tennis.  You know, I think it’s good for our sport.  But it’s a very, very hard thing to do.  So you won’t see it that often.  I’m sure it will be a while before someone breaks his record of majors.


Q.  When we spoke to Feliciano, he said any other era you would be No. 1 for a long time.  Given a choice, would you rather be in this era, which makes it tougher for you, or is there a part of you that wishes those guys didn’t exist?

ANDY MURRAY:  Obviously, you know, if they weren’t there, there would be more chance for me to win major tournaments.  But I think I’ve improved as a player because I’m competing against them, as well.  You know, if you look at it purely on how much people have won, then, yeah, I would obviously rather be in a different era.  But I think I’m playing better tennis than some guys may have in the past because I’ve had a chance to compete with them, play at this level, again those guys.  There’s obviously pros and cons to it.  I enjoy competing against them.  I’m happy to be part of a bunch of guys that plays against them on a regular basis and it’s definitely improved me as a player.


Q. The crowd was very supportive of her tonight.

ANA IVANOVIC: Yeah, I expected that. I played her last year in the same situation. I played Serena a few times here. The crowd is always going to be for home favorite. But I really enjoyed. It was great atmosphere out there. I really tried to stay focused on my game. I had great support from my box, which is always nice.

Q.  Do you feel any added pressure with Roddick retiring?  A lot of people pointing to you as the next American hope maybe under the Isner group a little bit.  Does that put any pressure on you?

JACK SOCK:  No, I’m not the only American coming up.  There’s seven, eight others, so there is no pressure really on me.


Q.  Rising in the rankings on the ATP is tricky business.  Can you just talk about your process, your career?  You had a match with Andy last year, if I recall correctly, the mixed win.  It was a good tournament here for you.  Do you feel you’re trending in the right direction?  Do you see some problems?  What are your thoughts about your process?

JACK SOCK:  Yeah, I mean, I think definitely going in the right direction now.  I mean, this tournament last year was great for me, getting my first Grand Slam win and then winning in mixed pretty unexpectedly.  Had a rough fall.  Actually think the injury I had after Indian ‑‑ or I mean throughout the spring, the surgery I had was actually almost a blessing for me.  I think it was kind of good for me to kind of start over and regroup and actually get on the right track to start.  Things were going fast, and I was able to kind of step back and definitely get in a lot better shape than I was in and kind of improved my game there.  I kind of had an off season in the late spring and early summer before I started playing tournaments.  I started playing in Newport, so for about a month and a half before that I was in Vegas training and getting ready for this type of tennis.  It’s been a really weird first year, but I definitely think I’m going in the right direction now.


Q.  Is playing against Venus the other night in that sort of situation great preparation and experience for you to win a Grand Slam?

ANGELIQUE KERBER:  I mean, I’m not thinking about to win a Grand Slam right now.  I’m looking from round to round.  But for sure that was a very good experience for me to playing night session against Venus.  Yeah, I won the match.  So it was, yeah, unbelievable feeling out there.  And, yeah, I’m happy that I won this match because it was very tough and close match physically and mentally.


Q.  Off court you seem like you’re pretty shy, but on court you show your emotions.  Do you feel like you’re quite different on and off court?

ANGELIQUE KERBER:  Not really.  I mean, I’m for sure very quiet and not too loud.  But on court I just try to play my game and focus from point to point.  Of course, I’m a very emotional person, so it doesn’t matter if it’s on or off court

Q. Were you ever a racquet smasher?

MILOS RAONIC: I think I did once or twice. But it was more me shooting my mouth. That not only got me in trouble with coaches, parents, everything, but it just didn’t help my tennis.

Q. When did you make the concerted effort to stop that? How long ago?

MILOS RAONIC: When you fail too many times doing it, you don’t keep banging your head against the wall, you try to find a way around it. I figured out that’s when you have to be done or I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.