July 1, 2016

Juan Monaco Rallies to Win Second U.S. Clay Court Championship Title

(April 10, 2016) Juan Monaco rallied past an ailing defending champion Jack Sock 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win his second U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship on Sunday. The Argentine also won the tournament in 2012. Just nine months ago, Monaco had wrist surgery, and back on the tour for only two months and now holding a trophy.

“I didn’t expect this so fast,” Monaco said during the trophy presentation. “No words to describe this moment.”

“It’s amazing, amazing to hold the trophy again in only my fourth tournament back, after three years” said the 32-year-old. He last won a tournament in 2013. “It’s almost like a dream come true for it to happen so fast. The hard work really paid off.”

“Today was a quick movie of my life.”

This is Monaco’s ninth career ATP World Tour title.

The 23-year-old American Sock suffered from problems with his right arm and cramps, which was evident in the final set.

“I felt great all week. I’m not exactly sure what happened with my body,” Sock said after the match. “Last night, I didn’t feel great. I was sweating in a very air-conditioned room, so maybe possibly coming down with something. But that doesn’t take away from battle and fight today. It came down to the wire. I tried my best and put it all out there.”

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Former Champs Monaco, Sock To Meet in Houston Final, Bryan Brothers Win Record Sixth Clay Courts Crown

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

(April 9, 2016) Two former champions, Jack Sock (2015) and Juan Monaco (2012), will meet in the final at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship on Sunday. For just the fifth time in the Open Era two past champions are meeting in the final, and this is the first time since 2003 when Andre Agassi defeated Andy Roddick. Sock will be trying to win a second straight Houston title.

The fourth seed Sock knocked out No. 1 seed John Isner 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the semifinals on Saturday. Monaco beat third seed Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-2.
The winner will be the eighth player to have won this title multiple times in the Open Era. The most recent multiple winners were Agassi (2003 and 1988) and Roddick (2005, 2002 and 2001).
Bryan brothers

Bob and Mike Bryan won their record 110th doubles title together, beating Victor Estrella Burgos and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 for their first title of the year.

“It feels great to get over the hump and win number 110 after a bit of title drought,” Mike said. “There’s no better place to do it than in Houston, where we’ve enjoyed so much success and had unbelievable fan support. Thanks to the River Oaks Country Club and its members for another fantastic tournament.”

“It was a battle from the first point to the last but we feel like we played our best tennis down the stretch,” said Bob. It’s nice to pull out some close wins after losing a few tight matches to start the season. We’re looking forward to building momentum through the clay court season.”

For the Bryans, it was their sixth title in Houston. They have also won six titles at the Australian Open and Los Angeles.

RESULTS – Saturday, April 9, 2016
Singles Semifinals
[4] Jack Sock (USA) d [1] John Isner (USA) 7-6(4) 6-3
Juan Monaco (Argentina) d [3] Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 6-4 6-2

Doubles Final
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d Victor Estrella Burgos (Dominican Republic) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) 4-6 6-3 10-8

SCHEDULE – Sunday, April 10, 2016
Center Court – 2:00 pm start
Juan Monaco (Argentina) vs [4] Jack Sock (USA)

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Davis Cup: Isner “Aces” Australia, Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with Victory over Tomic

DAVIS CUP: ISNER “ACES” AUSTRALIA

Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with victory over Tomic

By Junior Williams

(March 6, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – John Isner blasted 49 aces – including one on match point – to give the United States a 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4) victory over Bernard Tomic and Australia, securing an unassailable 3-1 lead and advancing into the quarterfinal round of the Davis Cup World Group.

In the first set, Isner took advantage of his first break point opportunity with a successful backhand volley, putting the U.S. up 3-2.

The world No. 11 finished the set with ten aces and won all six of his net points.

Isner’s next break of serve came in the second set when Tomic netted a return from the American, resulting in a 4-3 U.S. lead. Tomic shook his right wrist numerous times during that game and had it wrapped during the changeover. Isner went on to win the set after a Tomic volley at net went wide.

The momentum shifted in the third set, when Tomic began impersonating a backboard, successfully defending against the Isner serve. The world number 24 secured the set on his fifth break point of the game, giving hope to a home crowd cheering for a comeback.

But in the end, Isner pulled through after being down a mini-break early in the fourth-set tiebreak, rebounding to go up 5-4 – putting the match on his racket.

It was only fitting that he closed out the match — and the tie — with his 49th ace.

”We always knew it was going to be very difficult coming down here,” said U.S. captain Jim Courier. ”Our team came good. John stepped up today.”

“It was incredible tie for us,” Isner said. “We knew Australia was going to be tough and they put up a great fight.”

With the victory, The U.S. avoided a fifth and deciding rubber that the Aussie faithful at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club had been hoping for: A potential match-up between American Jack Sock and Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt.

Halfway through the second set Tomic was picked up on a court microphone berating his countryman Nick Kyrgios who could not play the tie due to a virus. Tomic said to Hewitt during a changeover: “While I’m here, Nick’s sitting down in Canberra. Bull**** he’s sick.”

Next up for the U.S. A home tie in July against the winner of the first round tie between Belgium and Croatia.

***************************************************************************************************

Some irony involving the U.S. victory over Australia: International Tennis Federation admitted the tie should have played on hard court instead of on grass. That’s because of an agreement in 1999 to have the Aussies play the Americans in the U.S. that year to celebrate the Davis Cup centennial – this despite it being Australia’s turn to host a tie between the two countries.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

 

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Bryan Brothers Hang on to Beat Hewitt and Peers in Davis Cup Five-Set Thriller

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HANGS ON TO BEAT AUSTRALIA

Goes up 2-1 after Bryans hold off Hewitt & Peers in 5-set thriller

By Junior Williams

(March 5, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Bob and Mike Bryan fought off a comeback attempt by Lleyton Hewitt and John Peers to give the U.S. a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Australia at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, putting the Americans up 2-1 against the home team in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie.

Australian Davis Cup Captain, the recently retired Lleyton Hewitt, inserted himself into Saturday’s line-up.

“Yeah we made the decision last night,” said Hewitt, making his debut as Davis Cup Captain. “Just, you know, sharing the workload really. You know, that was the determining factor. We thought whatever pair we went with had an outside chance of going well. But, you know, that was probably the determining factor in the end.”

The Bryans raced out to a two sets to none lead by breaking the Aussies three times — twice on team captain Hewitt’s serve. But Australia began to rally after breaking the U.S. to go up 4-3 in the third set – Hewitt hitting solid returns and yelling “come on” for good measure, while Peers was stellar at the net and with his ground strokes. He closed out the set with a serve and volley point.

Australia maintained its momentum buy winning the fourth set, capped by put away at the net by Hewitt which sent the crowd into a frenzy.

But in the end, the Bryans showed why they’ve won 106 titles as a doubles team. They regained their groove by going up 2-0 in the fifth set after breaking Australia at love. With strong net play and service games, the Americans remained consistent throughout the set, winning all six of their second serve points and committing no unforced errors. The final point was an overhead smash at the net, followed by the twins’ trademark celebratory chest bump. The Bryans are now 24-4 as a doubles team in Davis Cup competition.

“The level was incredible on both sides of the net,“ noted U.S. Captain Jim Courier. “Grass court doubles can sometimes be a little bit messy because it’s so quick, tough to return. But man, the level from first ball was extremely high and obviously it got very complicated there after the second set. Those guys lifted, Lleyton in particular lifted his returns and fortunately Bob and Mike did the same in the fifth set and really put a stamp on it early which was big and just held it out.

Bob Bryan was not surprised by Hewitt’s decision to take the court. “No, not at all, He said. “He was practising 10 feet from us all week, playing lots of doubles, playing lots of singles, playing more than anyone out there and, you know, the guy’s an accomplished doubles player and probably this is his best surface to play on. With that serve, you know, it slides away, those cutter serves and he can return well on anything.”

On Sunday, World No. 11 John Isner will look to clinch the tie in a reverse singles match against Australia’s Bernard Tomic. Both players won their respective Friday matches. If it comes down to a fifth and deciding rubber, it’s scheduled to be American Jack Sock versus Sam Groth, but don’t rule out the possibility of Captain Hewitt stepping in for the Aussies.

“Well, it’s going to be an exciting day for sure,” Courier said, “Bernie played awfully well yesterday, so did John. So that’s where we’ll start and it looks like it’s going to be a toasty one again, so you know, that could play a part in the match. Hopefully John has been, I would think a little fresher than Bernie given he only played three sets might be a factor. But it’s going to be exciting, the crowd’s going to be jacked up. You know, we’re going to be ready for a fifth obviously too, and at this stage we don’t know necessarily if it’s going to be Sam or Lleyton playing in that fifth. Where Lleyton played, you know, I would think he would give himself consideration should there be a live fifth match.

“So we’ll be ready for that eventuality if it comes to pass. But this is why we love this competition, you know, it’s Sunday, it’s live, it’s all on the line and energy levels are going to be extraordinary.”

As to what to expect on Sunday, Hewitt said: “We need Bernie to win, so it’s pretty simple at the moment. So, you know, that’s obviously our main focus. He’s our number one player, he’s the leader of the team and you know, he played awfully well yesterday and we’re going to need that again out of him tomorrow.”

As for the former No. 1, will he insert himself into the singles line-up? Hewitt said, “ Possibly, wait and see.”

 

===============

 

NET CORDS

 

Unlike Friday, fans and players at Kooyong received a break from severe heat. Temperatures ranged between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with lots of cloud cover and an occasional light breeze.

 

Kudos to the Aussie “Fanatics” band for their cover versions of songs including Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.”

 

Prior to the match, a moment of silence was observed in memory of legendary tennis journalist and commentator Bud Collins, who died at the age of 86.

 

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim courier on the passing of Bud Collins: “Bud meant an immense amount to the sport of tennis and touched so many people. The things I remember about Bud were his generosity to everyone and general enthusiasm for life. Not just for tennis, but for travel and for learning and for sharing his stories. He was so kind and super positive. I had the privilege of working on television with Bud for NBC for several tournaments, so I go to know him and his lovely wife Anita very well. It is a sad day.”

 

Bob Bryan on the passing of Bud Collins: “It’s obviously a sad day, the guy meant a lot to tennis, he was so colorful and a positive part of our sport. We knew him pretty well and he was always so kind to us and gave us great advice, and you know, he was such a veteran and had been around this tour for so many years and he was a very familiar face at every tournament and we’ll definitely miss him.”

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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Davis Cup: Deadlocked Down Under, USA and Australia Tied at 1-1

 

DAVIS CUP: DEADLOCKED DOWN UNDER

U.S., Australia tied at 1-1 in World Group First Round

 

By Junior Williams

(March 4, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – On a sizzling hot afternoon which saw temperatures surge close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Bernard Tomic defeated Jack Sock 7-6(2), 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to bring Australia even with the United States at 1-1 in their Davis Cup World Group First Round tie at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Tomic’s victory came after American John Isner dispatched Sam Groth 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 to give the U.S. an early lead.

It was a tight but impressive first set for Tomic, who won all 22 of his first serve points. His ball striking and defense of Sock’s ground strokes also gave the Australian the edge.

The world’s 20th-ranked player continued his momentum in the second set, securing it by breaking Sock with a shot that handcuffed the American on what was the fifth set point.

Sock bounced back in the third set, breaking Tomic for the first time in the match after the Australian mishit a ball past the baseline. The world number 24 also broke Tomic in the final game of the set.

But Tomic — who was 0-3 head-to-head against Sock prior to this match — took control in the fourth set, going up 5-4 winning a break point after rocketing a deep return of serve that Sock hit into the net.

Tomic closed out the 2 hour 24-minute match in the following game, to the delight of the home crowd. He won 120 points to Sock’s 114.

“It was very tough out there,” Tomic said. “I haven’t beaten Sock before so I knew that it was going to be tough. Anyone that you haven’t beaten before in your career – I think he’s on 2 or 3-0 record against me. So, for me I knew it was going to be tough but also playing him on a surface where I could beat him on and I was very happy because the conditions were very tough because I travelled so quickly here and you have to reset and you only have two or three days. So for me it was very tough out there.”

The top Australian admitted that it was difficult to get through the fourth set: “It was very tough because I had chances to be up a break in the third and then he got that break and it became a little bit hotter and after playing those first two sets everything got to me. So I had to find a bit of that energy and sometimes that’s good, I mean, I lapse away with my concentration a lot and that, to me, is a good thing because you rebuild your energy and it worked out in my favour in that fourth set. Gee, can you listen to that rain? I swear I finished and three minutes later it started.”

“Bernie did really well,” said Australian Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt. “Right from the start he came out serving great, hitting his spots really well. That was obviously a key to not let Jack get into too many of Bernie’s service games and we felt like Bernie’s going to get a lot more into his and put a lot more pressure on his second serve and he was able to do that. Bernie, the first set was a huge key as well and he played a great tie break, he picked the right side on a couple of shots and came up with a couple big passes and to have that first set, you know, it was hot out there as well especially those first couple of sets and once he went two sets to love up, he had a little lull there, which, you know, it happens in any five set matches. It’s about how you respond to that and he found a way in the fourth set. It’s not an easy thing to do to come out when you’re the number one player for your country and you’re one love down in Davis Cup in a World Group match. Bernie did fantastic today and he’s done absolutely everything that we’ve asked of him all week.”

“Bernie played some good tennis today when he needed to and came up with some good shots and, I’ll just take away you know the things I need to work on from that and take it into Sunday,” Sock said in press.

“Well we were put on grass, that’s the biggest difference I would say. I’ve played him on some slow hardcourts and some other hardcourts where you know my style definitely matches up well against and you know, his favourite surface is grass. His best results, you know, in the Slam are on grass and very crafty out there and his game is suitable for it. But, you know, I was in there and I felt confident after getting that third and then having a few chances early in the fourth, definitely felt like I was right. So, you know, for me my least experience has been on grass, so for me it actually did take away some confidence today playing out there against an experienced grass player and I’ll definitely use that for Sunday.”

In the opening match — a battle of high-powered servers — John Isner hit 20 aces and held serve throughout the match, despite six break point opportunities for Sam Groth, who was tapped to play singles for Australia after Nick Kyrgios pulled out of the competition due to illness.

The first set included a lot of what you’d expect, with eleven aces for Groth and ten for Isner. Groth also sprinkled in some doubles skills, winning four out of six net points. But Isner won a first set tiebreak, helped by a successful challenge that gave him a mini-break, and an ace up the middle to capture the set.

After that it was all Isner. Aside from his service game, the world No. 11 consistently cracked forehand and backhand winners up the sidelines. He also was helped by Groth’s first-serve percentage of 48-percent in the second set. The Georgia Bulldog notched his victory in 1 hour 49 minutes.

“It was a lot of confidence, you know, getting through that first set, I mean, I knew I was going to go out there, I knew I wasn’t going to be feeling fantastic right away,” Isner said. “Of course there’s a lot of nerves and you know, I haven’t seen his serve yet. So I got rid of those nerves in the first set and I got used to seeing the serve out there, so I became a lot more comfortable after that first set and I think it showed right away. I believe I broke the first game of the second set.

“So it was a very, very good performance for me and certainly I’ve played some matches in a lot in my career where I’ve struggled on return but I think today I was pretty solid.”

Isner commented on the court conditions with temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. “Yeah I thought the court was great, he said. “The heat was pretty hot. It was more humid than I’ve ever played in Melbourne it’s generally dryer in my opinion, but it was pretty humid. At the same time in a match up like that, you tell me how many rallies we had more than five shots, so it could have been 200 degrees out there and I probably would have felt all right.”

“I think the first set was always going to be big, especially in the way we both play, we both play with a little bit of confidence, both play behind our serve and especially on a day where it’s quite hot out there as well,” Groth said. “You know, had I maybe taken a chance, that 0-40 game earlier, maybe it’s a different story but I felt like after that when he won that back-hand winner that clipped the line in the tie breaker and then his confidence just seemed to build. He started taking cuts on returns and, you know, to his credit they started going in.”

The tie now moves to doubles Saturday. Future Hall of Famers Bob and Mike Bryan are slated for the U.S., with Groth and doubles specialist John Peers scheduled to go for Australia.

But the watch is on to see if captain Lleyton Hewitt will put himself in the mix for the green and gold.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Melbourne covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Australia.

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Lleyton Hewitt on Standby as a Playing Captain to Replace an Ill Nick Kyrgios in Davis Cup Tie

(March 3, 2016) MELBOURNE, Australia – Lleyton Hewitt, who just retired from professional tennis at his home country’s major in January looks as though his career will continue. Hewitt, the 35-year-old former No. 1, who is making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup Captain, will be a playing captain due to Nick Kyrgios who has been ill with a virus and can’t participate. Hewitt is officially on standby to play the tie against the United States in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group this weekend to be played at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.

Hewitt is Australia’s most accomplished Davis Cup player winning 58 of the 78 singles and doubles matches in his career.

“We took him (Nick Kyrgios) through his paces this morning and gave him a little fitness test to see how he pulled up from yesterday, but he just wasn’t fit enough to play this weekend,” Hewitt said. “It’s bad timing for us but it was really out of our hands and the end.”
“The illness is a kind of an unknown a little bit. You just don’t know,” Hewitt said “But obviously before nine o’clock this morning we had to make the best possible decision for the team, and we were dealing with Nick on everything. He wanted to put his hand up and certainly didn’t want to let the team down, and that’s why it was a tough decision for everyone involved.”

The draw for the tie took place in Kooyong on Thursday where Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and John Peers were officially named to team Australia. Friday will see No. 1 U.S. player John Isner play Groth, followed by Australia’s top player Tomic face Jack Sock. Doubles day on Saturday as the Bryan Brothers are scheduled to play John Peers and Sam Groth. Sundya will be reverse singles – Isner versus Tomic and Groth against Sock.

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier said he was not shocked to see Hewitt change the team.

“I wouldn’t say we are surprised given that we saw Lleyton practicing this week and Nick’s pretty conspicuous absence,” he said. “It is certainly not something coming to Australia that we were anticipating though. Nick is a very tough player who is on a high now with his results. However, Sam is a very capable grass court player and we won’t take him lightly for one second.

“I am sure that Lleyton will do whatever is best for his team. That’s his role. He is very aware of doing whatever is required to give him the best chance to win. He knows how everyone is feeling with health and length of matches. There are all types of combinations that could bring him to the court. That will be his call and we will be prepared.”

Jack Sock says he’s ready to take on friend Tomic on Friday. “It is going to be a very competitive and fiery match. He has had great results in Davis Cup and this is just my second tie, but we also played each other a few times in the past. It is a different scenario in Davis Cup, but I think the matches in the past will help me with my confidence and how to go about the match. We have always had some close matches and it comes down to a few points here or there. He is definitely playing some great tennis right now with some good results this year.”

Australia and the United States will be meeting for the 46th time. The U.S. team leads 25-20, last competing against the Aussies in the 1999 quarterfinals, when Australia won and went on take the Davis Cup title. The U.S. and Australia are the two leading nations with the most Davis Cup titles, 32 and 28 respectively.

Weekend Line-up

DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME                  EVENT                    DETAILS/PAIRING

Friday, 11:00 a.m.                                   Singles A:                John Isner (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)

Singles B:                Jack Sock (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)

Saturday, 12:00 p.m.                               Doubles:                  Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Sam Groth/John Peers (AUS)

Sunday, 11:00 a.m.                                 Singles C:                John Isner (USA) vs. Bernard Tomic (AUS)

Singles D:                Jack Sock (USA) vs. Sam Groth (AUS)

 

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Australia Takes On U. S. in Davis Cup This Weekend in Kooyong

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Australia Takes On U. S. in Davis Cup This Weekend in Kooyong

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(March 1, 2016) The United States will take on Australia in the Davis Cup World Group First Round this weekend at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Kooyong, Australia, from March 4-6 on a temporary grass court. The club was the former home to the Australian Open from 1972- 1987. The U.S. has met Australia more times than any other nation in Davis Cup play. The U.S. leads the head-to-head series 25-20.

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain. Hewitt has named world No. 20 Bernard Tomic, world No. 27 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 77 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to team Australia.

Tomic holds a 15-3 singles record in Davis Cup competition, Kyrgios is 3-3 and Groth is 2-1 in singles and 1-2 in doubles. Peers is making his Davis Cup debut.

United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier has chosen top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 24 Jack Sock, and 16-time major doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to the U.S. Davis Cup Team. Isner is 8-9 singles in Davis Cup competition. Sock made his debut on the U.S. team last year in the World Group Playoff, where he won both of his singles matches, becoming the first American since John McEnroe in 1978 to win two live rubbers in a Davis Cup debut. Bob and Mike Bryan are a dominant 23-4 in Davis Cup doubles together and are the all-time winningest U.S. Davis Cup doubles team in history.

Both teams held a pre-draw news conference on Tuesday, the draw will be made on Thursday.

Kyrgios was absent from the news conference due to a virus said Captain Hewitt who told him to rest: “Nick has a virus. At the moment, he is taking it easy and trying to get over that 100% to be ready to go. I didn’t want him around the other boys if he is a bit infectious. It is more of a precaution. He will be ready.

“Nick has played a lot of matches, as well as Bernie. They are coming in confident with their ball striking and it is about these guys doing the small things to feel comfortable on the grass courts. Come match day, I am backing both of these boys.”

 

“I am lucky with both of these guys (Kyrgios and Tomic),” Hewitt said. “Both of their games suit grass with big serves and good returns. The reason both boys are approaching career-high rankings right now is because of their serves. That will be a big point this weekend because the U.S. team serves well, too. It will come down to a few points here or there, just like any grass-court five-set match, but I am glad our boys have won quite a few matches in the last month.”

Tomic is back from just having played the final of Acapulco over the weekend.

“It was tough to play a final then fly here,” Tomic admitted. It was tough to get here, but I am happy to be here. The hit today was good and now on grass, I need to get as ready as I can.

“It is tough to say if I will be 100% by Friday, but there will not be a lot of rallies. There will be quick points. I am serving really well and playing very confidently. I just played one of my biggest tournaments and I am very happy with the way I am playing and will be ready for the show on Friday”

On making the transition to being a captain from a player, Hewitt said: “I have adjusted pretty smoothly. This week has been all about getting these boys on the practice courts and working out drills. It has been good this week, especially with doubles, and learning what times to say something and other times not to say so much. I have been a good hitting partner.”

U.S. Captain Courier reacted to Hewitt’s comments about Australia being the underdog: “It doesn’t matter one bit. We are the away team and we travelled to get here. The crowd will be behind them. We are here to play whether it is as an underdog or overdog. None of that matters, which I wish it did. We have to go to battle and play.

“We have to get through the first tie, but our draw is more favorable this year than it has been,” said Courier in discussing the outlook for the U. S. in Davis Cup competition this year. “Second round matchups are not easy, but it is easier than some other teams for us. But, you cannot look past anyone in Davis Cup and we have learned that the hard way. You have to put one foot in front of the other and this will be a tough tie for us.”

“Jack (Sock) had a great debut as a Davis Cup player in Uzbekistan last year and that is big part of why he is here. We have a lot of confidence in what he brings to the table and he is getting valuable experience here. We have some younger players that have had good success in the juniors that is translating to the pros. It is nice to feel that energy coming up below our best players.”

“Every point is huge,” said Isner. “I have been playing Davis Cup for quite a bit, but not nearly as long as the Bryans. Jack is a bit newer at this. There is certainly pressure on every player that is competing this weekend and we know that. I don’t think there is any extra pressure on me by any means.

I am preparing for the team that has been submitted. It can change come Thursday, but as of right now, I am prepared for all of them.”

Sock discussed the challenge of taking on Tomic and Kygios this weekend.

On facing Bernard Tomic, Sock said: “We are good friends. We have spent some time together in our careers. However, in any setting on the court, we go out there and you put that aside and compete. Afterwards, you are still pretty good friends, but when it is on the court, that doesn’t really enter your mind.

He has always been a good player. He is consistently staying more professional and working on the things he needs to do and that is why his results are showing.”

As for Kyrgios: “Similar to Bernie, I am friends with Nick, but when you step on the court, it is about the tennis and playing each other.

“When you are off the court, you can still be friends. When you are out there playing, that is the only thing that matters—especially this weekend when you are representing your country. It gives me all the more reason to go out there and compete as hard as I can.”

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. The tie will air on Tennis Channel in the United States.

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Isner, Sock and Bryan Brothers Selected to Face Australia in Davis Cup World Group First Round

USDavisCup

From the USTA: (February 23, 2016)The USTA and United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier announced that top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 23 Jack Sock, and 16-time Grand Slam doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will represent the U.S. in the 2016 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round against Australia. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor grass court at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, March 4-6, in Kooyong, Australia.

 

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open and will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, named world No. 21 Bernard Tomic, world No. 33 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 75 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to compete against the United States.

 

Play begins at 11 a.m. local time (7 p.m. ET the day prior) on Friday, March 4, and Sunday, March 6. Play begins on Saturday at 12 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET on Friday). Friday will include two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five sets until one nation clinches the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

 

The United States has faced Australia in Davis Cup play more times than any country, holding a 25-20 overall record. The last time the Americans and Aussies met was in 1999 in a World Group Quarterfinal tie played in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where the U.S. lost, 4-1. The site of that tie was chosen as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Davis Cup due to its proximity to the first site of the Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston. The U.S. last defeated Australia in the 1997 World Group Semifinal in Washington D.C., 4-1, behind a team of Pete Sampras, Todd Martin and Michael Chang. The U.S. is 78-46 in ties played on the road.

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. Should the U.S. defeat Australia, it will host the tie in July. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 16-18, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2017.

 

Isner, 30, is ranked No. 11 in the current world rankings and will be competing in his 11th Davis Cup tie; he is 8-9 in singles and 2-0 in doubles. His last Davis Cup appearance was in the 2015 World Group First Round against Great Britain. His biggest Davis Cup victory came in 2012, when he defeated Roger Federer in the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round win at Switzerland. The tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history, at 6-foot-10, Isner made his Davis Cup debut in the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia, where he became the first U.S. player since 2003 to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie. He also represented the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Federer. Isner turned pro after an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA team title as a senior. Isner holds 10 career tour singles titles, the last of which came in Atlanta during the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series. So far this year, he has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the ATP event in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

Sock, 23, is ranked No. 23 in the world. He made his Davis Cup debut last September in the World Group Playoff in Uzbekistan, where he won both of his singles matches to keep the U.S. Davis Cup team in the World Group for this year. Sock reached the final of the ATP event in Auckland earlier this year. He won his first career ATP singles title in 2015 at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, defeating American Sam Querrey in the final. He then reached the fourth round at the 2015 French Open and the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. He has also thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2015 Indian Wells crown with Vasek Pospisil and peaking at a career-high No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings in May 2015; he also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open and 2016 Australian Open. In 2011, Sock won the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow American Melanie Oudin.

 

Bob and Mike Bryan, both 37, hold a 23-4 doubles record together in U.S. Davis Cup competition; the 23 wins are first all-time in U.S. Davis Cup history for a tandem. Bob and Mike, the only brothers to pair in victory for the U.S. Davis Cup team, hold the all-time Open era record of most Grand Slam men’s doubles titles (16) and ATP doubles titles (109). In addition, the Bryan brothers won the gold medal in doubles at the 2012 Olympics in London, where they completed a career Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. The Bryans ended 2014 as the No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world for a record 10th time in 12 years.

 

Overall, Bob holds a 24-4 doubles record in Davis Cup competition; he is also 4-2 in singles (all dead rubbers). Mike holds a 25-4 record in Davis Cup doubles matches, playing without Bob just twice in his Davis Cup career. Bob did not compete in the 2012 first-round match at Switzerland due to the birth of his daughter, Micaela; in that case, Mike teamed with Mardy Fish to defeat 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalists Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka to clinch the tie. Mike also partnered with Fish in the 2008 semifinal against Spain. Bob played without Mike (food poisoning) in the 2010 first round in Serbia, partnering instead with Fish.

 

Additionally, U.S. Captain Jim Courier announced the practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup team—former Ohio State standouts Connor Smith and Peter Kobelt. Smith, 25, graduated from OSU in 2013 after transferring from Florida State after his sophomore season. He went 36-7 in singles and 33-7 in doubles during his senior year. Smith had a breakthrough 2014 on the USTA Pro Circuit and in ITF-level events, winning two USTA Pro Circuit singles titles and a title in Ecuador; he also holds seven USTA Pro Circuit/ITF-level doubles titles. In 2015, Smith won an ITF-level event in Korea, and this year, he competed in Australian Open qualifying for the first time. Kobelt, 25, graduated from OSU in 2014 and finished his college career as just the fourth player in program history to earn All-America honors four times. He also became the program’s all-time career doubles win leader with 142 doubles wins and reached the doubles final of the 2014 NCAA championships with Kevin Metka.

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Roberto Bautista Agut wins Auckland

Bautista Agut

(January 16, 2016) Eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut won the ASB Classic on Saturday in Auckland when his Jack Sock retired trailing 6-1, 1-0. Sock said he was having “flu-like” symptoms.

The Spaniard, who won his third career ATP World Tour title, knocked out two-time champion John Isner in the quarterfinals and saved a match point in his victory over No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 in the semis.

“I feel so happy,” said the world No. 25 after the match. “I think I had an amazing week. I had plenty of good wins, played wonderful tennis here. I feel sorry for Jack and I want to congratulate him because he had a really great year last year, and I want to wish him luck for the rest of this season.”

Sock defeated four-time Auckland champion, world No. 8 David Ferrer in the semifinals, his second top ten win of his career.

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Berdych, Ferrer and Cilic Take ATP Titles

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

(October 25, 2015) Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Marin Cilic won singles titles on the ATP World Tour this week.

Tomas Berdych claimed the Stockholm Open for a third time besting American Jack Sock 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the final. Bedych came back from a break down in the first set.

It’s Berdych’s 12th ATP World Tour title. The Czech, who has already qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.

“I’ve definitely built up a good history here, which always helps,” Berdych said. “The tournament does a really good job taking care of us, making us feel at home. Sometimes you find a place in the world that suits you well, and it’s the case here. I’m glad to be able to add to my titles here.”
Later in the day, Sock and Nicholas Monroe won their first team doubles title as a team against Mate Pavic and Michael Venus. For Sock, this was his third doubles title of the year.

“My goal is always to do the best I can in singles,” Sock said. Doubles I play for fun and to get some more practice during the week, so singles is definitely my priority. (Berdych) is top-five, top-seven in the world for a reason. He stays in every game.”

 

 

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

 

David Ferrer made strides to reach the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month when the Spaniard won his 26th career title coming back from a set down to beat American Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday. The top seed and world No. 8 won his fifth title of the year. He won titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro, Acapulco and Kuala Lumpur.

“It was a very tough match and difficult to beat Steve, who has a good serve and played aggressively throughout the match,” Ferrer said. “I waited for my opportunity and my experience counted. He also had his chance to win the tournament. Steve is playing very well, he’s beaten a lot of good players this week.”

“He just had a bit more experience,” said first-time ATP finalist Johnson who is ranked 47th. “I had some looks at 5-4 [in the third set], then at 5-5 he played a couple of incredible shots. I had an awesome week and am super-proud about how I played. I’m not going to be sad about this week and I look forward to the rest of the year. I have gained a lot of confidence and will work hard in the off season, because I know I can beat these guys.”
In the doubles final, first-time partners Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo came back from a set and a break down to win the final 4-6, 7-6(3) 10-6.

With the win, Melo will move up to No. 1 in the doubles rankings on November 2.

“I’m living the dream, playing three tournaments and winning 500, 1000 and 500 [Emirates ATP Rankings] points again,” Melo said. “There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders to become No. 1, this is a tough achievement. I am a really lucky guy to [soon-to-be] No. 1 with the Bryans still around.”

“It’s an amazing feeling, following surgery in May and the decision to focus solely on doubles,” Kubot said. “I couldn’t find a permanent partner this year, after I came back, so I am very happy to have won one of my favourite tournaments. I’m glad they got [ATP World Tour] 500-level status, because they really do deserve it as an indoor tournament. It’s my fourth title of the year, with my fourth different partner on four different surfaces. I am very happy to have played with Marcelo, maintaining his momentum. Our opponents had everything under control, but we took our chances and won the last point.”

 

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

In a case of what the late Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra would have said, it was déjà vu all over again as Marin Cilic defended his title at the Kremlin Cup, in a repeat of last year’s final beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 – the same score as last year.

For the 2014 US Open champion, it’s his 14th career crown and his first final since last year’s Moscow final.

“Maybe the first four or five games I didn’t feel so confident, but then it got better,” said the Croatian. “I’m glad the result was repeated. Last year was emotional for me. Of course, this year’s a little different. I felt very comfortable and relaxed on the court. Perhaps the victory this year is special in the sense that it is usually more difficult to defend than to win the tournament for the first time. The Kremlin Cup has become special for me and I can’t wait to come back here again.”

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