2015/04/25

Richard Gasquet Claims Third Open Sud de France Title

Richard Gasquet

Richard Gasquet

(February 8, 2015) Richard Gasquet won his third Open Sud de France title when Jerzy Janowicz retired ill while trailing 3-0 after losing 14 straight points in the first set on Sunday in Montpellier. It’s Gasquet’s 11th career title and first since 2013.

“I’m extremely disappointed because I felt pretty OK the whole week,” said Pole. “I saved six match points in the first round and after that I played pretty good tennis. Two days ago, I got sick. I haven’t slept in almost two days. I had a fever and the flu and I’m so weak. There was not much that I could do today.”

“I knew he was sick when we were warming up, said the Frenchman. “I saw very quickly at the beginning of the match that he couldn’t play at all. Anything can happen, so even though I knew he was sick, I stayed focused. I had a great week, with solid matches. It’s good for the rest of the season. I felt that I played well this week. I feel 100 per cent and ready for the season.”

The 28-year-old former World No. 7 is now 20-6 at the Sud de France and now 8-2 for the 2015.

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Pironkova’s Run Continues and Wild Cards Thrive at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 12, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Tsvetana Pironkova‘s endearing and heroic run of 12 straight wins at the Apia International in Sydney might finally be cut short on Tuesday by the big game of the USA’s Madison Keys. The Bulgarian defending champion yesterday won an unlikely battle against Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta to advance to the second round of the main draw. Then again, her win over Pennetta is merely one of four top-12 wins the now-ranked No. 67 Pironkova has enjoyed in Sydney the last two years.

 

“I think I played a great match today,” said Pironkova of her 6-3, 7-6 win over the Italian, “I felt very good on court. I think we both did. It was a very  entertaining  match  for  the spectators. Definitely hard. I’m glad I could finish it only in two sets.” Pennetta was starting to find her range in the second set, battling from a break down to force the tie-break, at which point Pironkova’s air of Sydney invincibility took over again.

 

“Well, I obviously love it,” said Pironkova, 27, whose first and only career WTA title is last year’s Apia International. “I have very nice memories from last year. I like the surface very much. I like the people around here.  I like the city, which I think it’s important for every player to enjoy the whole experience. So I am, and I feel very, very good here.”

 

Due to her 2014 Apia International championship points being stripped at the beginning of this week, Pironkova ranking has dropped a staggering 30 spots to No.67, yet she has still managed to spin into a positive the fact that as defending champ she was declined a wildcard into the main draw this year. Pironkova said, “That was past. You know, once I came to the tournament, I had a different mindset. I was like, OK, you’re playing quallies. Just go out on the court and forget about what’s happening. Obviously you’re not getting a wildcard. Get over it and try your best. And that’s what I’m doing.”

 

While tactics, craftiness and overall tennis smarts are how Pironkova separates herself from most opponents, she will have to find a new level to beat her next opponent Madison Keys. Keys was demonstrative in her first-round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on the main court, Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday and will be well-rested after a day off to face an opponent who has played four matches in as many days here in Sydney.

 

Finding out for the first time in the media conference who her next opponent was, Pironkova said, “I didn’t know I play against her. Very strong opponent. I think she’s very good right now, in good form, and one of the players to look out for. So, you know, I’m just going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully I’m going to win.”

 

The two wildcards in the women’s draw were given to Australian local hopes Jarmila Gajdosova and Daria Gavrilova, who both – like Pironkova – scored upset wins in their first-round matches. Journey-woman Gajdosova’s win over world No.12 Andrea Petkovic was her highest-ranked win since 2011. In an all-Slovak battle today of sorts – Gajdosova was born and spent her formative years in Slovakia – she will take on world No.11 Dominika Cibulkova on Grandstand Court, one of many standout matches scheduled for today at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. Gavrilova’s win over Swiss Belinda Bencic was also standout, her first win over a top 20 player since 2012.

 

The Apia International’s Tuesday order of play is full of drawcards, and reads almost like a grand slam middle Saturday, perhaps minus the top-10 men’s players. Headlining action on Ken Rosewall Arena will be Juan Martin Del Potro. In his first match back from injury since February 2014, the Argentine US Open champ will face Sergiy Stakhovsky to begin his campaign to defend his 2014 Apia International title.

 

Sam Stosur, who finally managed to turn the tables against Lucie Safarova on Monday, will face her second Czech opponent in two days. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made it into the second round when her opponent Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from their match citing wrist problems.

 

Also in action on KRA on Tuesday – Bernard Tomic, Sam Stosur, and Petra Kvitova, Nick Kyrgios and Jerzy Janowicz, while Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Groth take on their opponents on Grandstand and the outer courts.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Stars Descend On Sydney for the Apia International

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

Julien Benneteau and Ken Rosewall at Sydney International draw ceremony

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Stars of the tennis world have been descending upon Sydney over the last days, while qualifying heats have been contested at the Apia International in Sydney. Last year’s women’s champion Tsvetana Pironkova, who qualified and won eight matches in a row at the 2014 Apia International, has had to navigate through qualifying again – albeit as top seed this year – and will make it into the main draw if she defeats American Nicole Gibbs on Sunday. Despite lifting her ranking from outside the top 100 a year ago to where it is now at No.37, that Pironkova still needed to qualify is testament to the depth of the women’s draw at this year’s event.

The tournament’s top seed Simona Halep will arrive in Sydney on Sunday, from Shenzhen, China where she won the tournament.
Petra Kvitova lost in the semi-finals of Shenzhen.
Caroline Wozniacki  arrived at Sydney Airport last night from Auckland, losing her Auckland final to Venus Williams.
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will complete the Apia International’s top four seeds when she arrives in Sydney from Perth, where she and Jerzy Janowicz – who will also feature strongly on the men’s side of the Sydney tournament – have won the Hopman Cup in an eventful final against USA’s John Isner and Serena Williams.

Janowicz will continue to be a headline act of Australia’s Summer of Tennis, as he plays young Australian giant-killer Nick Kyrgios in their first round match, which was allotted yesterday during a draw ceremony whose guests of honour included Ken Rosewall and Lesley Bowrey. 2005 Sydney finalist Sam Stosur, as well as 2012 Sydney finalist Julien Benneteau, were also in attendance for their respective WTA and ATP draw ceremonies.

 

While the men’s draw is less stacked than a women’s draw which boasts six top-10 players, Benneteau called the men’s draw, “Very compact,” saying, “Maybe there is not top 10 players, but from the top seeds to the end of the draw, there are tough players between 20, 30, 40, very good players, so I really think that anyone can win on Saturday.”

The men’s top two seeds, Fabio Fognini and David Goffin, will fly surprisingly under the radar at this tournament given that last year’s champion Juan Martin Del Potro, has chosen this event to stage his comeback from injury that has left him sidelined for almost a year. Del Potro flew in on Thursday night and has been using the days since to practice on Ken Rosewall Arena, with some light strapping on his wrist.

 

Ken Rosewall predicted a big year for the new Australian men’s No. 1, saying, “Because of his rapid improvement and his performance at Wimbledon and other senior events, there’ll be a lot of players who’ll be wanting to be in top form when they play against him. Hopefully Nick can remain physically clear without any problems, and he’ll be in good form. But I think there’ll be extra pressure on him this time to kind of stand up to being the number one player in Australia.”

 

At the women’s draw ceremony, Lesley Bowrey, winner of the French Open in 1964 and 1965, had some timely and compassionate words of wisdom for Sam Stosur, who is known for her struggles to win matches on home soil. “I just want to wish Sam all the best,” said Bowrey, “And just go out there and be free and easy, really, and not worry, as you say about everyone else, and what they’re telling you, just play your own game and do what you want to do.” Stosur has been drawn to face Lucie Safarova, the Czech world No.15 to whom she has lost their last six matches.

 

“Look, sometimes when I used to lead in matches, and I used to lose them too,” continued Bowrey, perhaps referring to Stosur’s loss last week in Brisbane to Varvara Lepchenko, after having a match point at 5-1 in the deciding set, “We all do that, it’s nothing new, you just have to find a way. What I used to do is just say, well, if I’m leading 5-1 or 5-2 or 5-3, I’d just tell myself I’m down that, and just take the pressure right off myself. That’s how I used to handle it, just tell myself I’m not leading, I’m down. Tennis is a tough game, it’s a tough sport.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Tennis News & Net Notes

Novak Djokovic hires a new head coach, Boris Becker: “He is a true legend, someone who has great tennis knowledge and his experience will help me win new trophies from the Grand Slams and other tournaments,” Djokovic said in a statement. via USA Today

Djokovic wins 89

 

Jerzy Janowicz pulls out of Hopman Cup: The top ranked Pole cites foot injury and hopes to be well for Australian Open. via The Sydney Morning Herald

ITF Announces 2013 World Champions: Serena Williams is named Women’s World Champion for the fourth time, while this is the third successive year that Novak Djokovic has received the honour. via ITF Tennis

Serena-Williams-after-winning-3-of-3-e1355919788463

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Stosur, Tomic, Radwanska and Janowicz to Play Hopman Cup

Janowicz 88

Jerzy Janowicz

(August 19, 2013) Australia’s top ranked players Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic  have confirmed they will play at Hyundai Hopman Cup 2014.

 

Current world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska and Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz are also set to team up as Poland makes its debut at the event.

 

World No.13 Stosur is excited to return to Western Australia for the first time since 2010.

 

“I just wanted to get back to Perth. I thought this year I’d try something different again,” said Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion.

 

“It will be nice to be able to play. You know that you’re going to get three matches … and maybe that’s going to be good for me going into the Aussie Open.

 

“Hopefully that’s going to be the secret formula to me doing well,” added Stosur.

 

Tomic, 20, and the youngest player currently in the top 100, will pair with Stosur as he looks to continue his unbeaten record at Perth Arena.

 

“I had some success there earlier this year so hopefully I can do well again in 2014,” said the world No.42, who recently reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.

 

“The event always attracts strong teams so you know you’re going to get some tough matches against high quality players.

 

“The local crowds love their tennis and it’s always exciting to play in front of them,” added the Queenslander, who won his first ATP singles title in Sydney in January.

 

Radwanska and Janowicz will be looking to make their mark when Team Poland makes its first ever appearance at the event.

 

“I’m really excited to play the Hopman Cup for the first time,” said Radwanska, who holds 12 WTA singles titles at just 24 years of age.

 

“I’ve never played mixed doubles with him [Jerzy] before.  Actually my last mixed doubles match was I think five years ago so that will be fun for sure.”

 

Twenty-two-year-old Janowicz has climbed up the rankings by 73 places to be just outside the top 10 in the past 12 months.

 

“We decided it might be a lot of fun to play together at Hopman Cup,” said Janowicz.

 

Hyundai Hopman Cup Event Director Steve Ayles is delighted with the signing of the top Australian and Polish pairs.

 

“Sam and Bernie, Australia’s highest ranked players, have committed to play this event, which shows the strength and value of the Hyundai Hopman Cup. The players look at the event as a solid starting point for the new season.

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Rough Day Session for the Seeds in Montreal

Pospisil 882013

Vasek Pospisil

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 8) MONTREAL – After the No. 3 player in the world, David Ferrer [3], lost last night 6-2, 6-4 against qualifier Alez Bogomolov Jr., two more seeds Andy Murray [2] and Tomas Berdych [5] lost on Thursday at the Montreal ATP Masters 1000.

Ernests Gulbis

Ernests Gulbis

Murray’s upset came in straight sets against Ernest Gulbis 6-4, 6-3. Murray was broken in the 10th game leaving his opponent with the first set in hand. In the second set, Gulbis broke early and had a 3-0 lead. Murray made the fans believe in a comeback at 3-3, but fell short, losing three straight games. Gulbis said after the match that even if it was a big win, it’s better to keep your expectations really low to stay focused. “You have a good result, you build up a living basically for a couple days in your own dream world. Suddenly it breaks and you’re without confidence. There is no need for that.”

 

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Berdych’s upset is on the other hand the story of the day. Canadian Vasek Pospisil continues his great journey through the main draw after ousting John Isner and Radek Stepanek. The winner of the Vancouver ATP 100 tournament just last week relied on his serve (20 aces) to win in three sets 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

The Montreal crowd was once again incredible. People even sat on the stairs to encourage their local favorite. After the first set, ball boys in the crowd started doing the wave and the fans kept doing it at side changes. The crowd was loud and seemed to disturb the players in some rallies. But Berdych said later in interview: “It’s a nice advantage for him, but I think we need that more because that’s why we play tennis!”

The third set was a story by itself as every point was a matter of life and death for the huge crowd gathered on BN court after Murray’s loss. Pospisil broke in the third game of the set with a winner return on 30-40. As he lead the set, the fans thought everything was possible for the Canadian, but Berdych broke him in an exhausting eighth game. After trailing 0-40, Pospisil came back to deuce but never managed to get a game point and Berdych evened things out.

Berdych was pushed to the tiebreak by Pospisil aces and that’s also what made the Canadian win the ultimate game. Serving at 5-6, the Czech hit an unforced error as the crowd got up screaming. To have my first top-10 win here, in front of that crowd, was extremely emotional. This win is the best of my whole career”, said Pospisil in a news conference.

One crazy play happened during the third set. In the seventh game, Tomas Berdych was called for a time violation and hit an underhand serve as he heard the chair umpire’s call. It was an ace but Chair Umpire Damien Dumusois refused it. “I don’t see a reason why the point doesn’t count, said Berdych in press conference. If there’s an explanation, I’m just going to ask the referees. I have no idea what’s the rule.“

Nadal Janowicz 88

In other matches

Rafael Nadal [4] came back from breaks in both sets to win against Wimbledon’s semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz [15] 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Benoit Paire was unable to continue to the quarterfinals after eliminating Stanislas Wawrinka [8] on Wednesday. Qualifier Marinko Matosevic defeated him in a close match 7-6 (7), 6-7 (10), 6-3.

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports  all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photographs by Marc-André Gauthier

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At a Topsy-Turvy Wimbledon, Order is Restored with a Novak Djokovic – Andy Murray Final

 

 

Novak Djokovic

(July 5, 2013) During a Wimbledon fortnight which saw the upsets of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the first and second rounds, respectively, chaos has come full circle to become order as No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face No. 2 Andy Murray for The Championships on Sunday.

Djokovic was pushed to five sets to best Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (8), 6-3 in a semifinal record 4 hours and 43 minutes.

Del Potro saved two match points in the fourth set tiebreak to extend the match to a fifth set.

“I’ve had some epic matches in my career and some long five‑setters,” said Djokovic.  “Especially the one that stands out is the finals Nadal Australian Open a few years ago.  It went for six hours.”

“But was a really high‑level match during four hours,” Del Potro said.  “He hit so hard the ball.  I think was unbelievable to watch, but, of course, I’m sad because I lost and I was close to beat him.”

“But credit to him,” Djokovic continued, “because he show his fighting spirit.  He came up with from back of the court some amazing flat backhands and forehands that you cannot say anything but congratulate him on that and move on.

“But I managed to hang in there, stay tough, and really glad to win.”

For Djokovic it will be his 11th major final. Djokovic holds 6 majors – 1 Wimbledon, 4 Australian Opens and a U.S. Open title.

Andy Murray was pushed by No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to earn his second straight Wimbledon final.  Murray is trying to become the first man from Great Britain to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry did in back in 1936.

Murray rallied from a 1-4 down in the third set to win the next five games in a row to take the set 6-4. After the third set ended, after 8:30 p.m. the Wimbledon roof was closed. Murray complained to officials about the decision due to the oncoming darkness. Play resumed about 30 minutes after.

Murray quickly jumped on Janowicz’s serve and broke to take a lead in the fourth set which he would not relinquish.

“Such a shame I didn’t play my best tennis today,” Janowicz said.  “I was struggling a little bit with my serve.  Everything basically collapsed after this one point when was 30‑All, third set, 4‑1 for me.  He did the tape.  The ball just roll over.

“But I’m still deep down really happy.  This was my first semifinal in Grand Slam, so tomorrow I’m going to be okay.”

“I think there is some similarities there in terms of if you look at stats and stuff,” Murray said in caparing his game to Djokovic’s.  “I mean, both of us return well.  That’s probably the strongest part of our games.  Both play predominantly from the baseline.

“We both move well, but a different sort of movement.  You know, he’s extremely flexible and he slides into shots ‑ even on the courts here.  He slides more.  He’s quite a bit lighter than me.

“So I’d say I probably move with more power and he’s much more flexible than me.

Murray and Djokovic take Centre Court on Sunday, Djokovic has a 11-7 record against Murray.

 

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Murray Rallies From Two Sets Down; Janowicz wins Battle of Polish Power at Wimbledon

Murray at Olympics

(July 3, 2013) Scotland’s Andy Murray came back from being down two sets to none to stop Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6,6-1, 6-4, 7-5 to move into the semifinals of Wimbledon. In the quarterfinal between two Polish players, No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz defeated Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to become the first Polish male semifinalist at Wimbledon.

Murray will face Janowicz in the semifinals on Friday.

What looked like a straightforward match on paper against No. 54 Verdasco was a struggle on Centre Court for the No. 2 Murray who is trying to be the first man from Great Britain since Fred Perry in 1936 to win The Championships.

Verdasco’s steady and powerful serving kept Murray off his game in the first two sets. Murray made his was back into the match, easily capturing the third set 6-1. In the sixth game of the fourth set, Murray survived two breakpoints and broke Verdasco three games later and served out the fourth set 6-4.

This was Murray’s second time rallying from two sets down at Wimbledon. He did it back in 2008 against Richard Gasquet.

“Like I was playing there, the more times you’re in those positions and the more times you can come back, you understand the way you need to think and the way you need to sort of negotiate your way through the last few sets,” Murray told media.

”Did a good job with that.  You know, sometimes it can be easy to get back to two sets all.  The fifth set, the final set, often the guy who won the first two comes back and wins that one.  It’s normally the toughest set of the three to win.

“I was expecting it to be tough and hung in well.”

After Janowicz beat his countryman, both men hugged each other and exchanged shirts as soccer players do.

“Right now I’m the most happy person in the world,” Janowicz said of making his first major semifinal.  “I made semifinal of Grand Slam, my best result ever.  Also I have in my mind last year Paris Bercy.  I was there in the final.”

Janowicz said of playing Andy Murray “I hope Andy will feel some kind of pressure. I’m sure he’ll feel some kind of pressure because Great Britain is waiting for the English champion in Wimbledon.”

“It will be a very tough match,” Murray said about his opponent his semifinal.  “He has a big serve.  He’s a big guy with a lot of power.  He also has pretty good touch.  He likes to hit dropshots.  He doesn’t just whack every single shot as hard as he can.

“It will be a very tough match.  He’s played extremely well here, I think.  He had a tough match in the last round against Melzer, but apart from that he’s been pretty convincing.  He’s a tough player.”

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Bellucci Beats Janowicz in Raucous Match in Miami

 IMG_3353

By Amy Fetherolf

(March 23, 2013) MIAMI — In a match where crowd involvement surpassed the tennis for entertainment, world No. 40 Thomaz Bellucci upset world No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 in the second round of Miami.

The crowd was heavily behind the Brazilian, and it immediately became clear that dealing with the atmosphere would be a struggle for Janowicz.

Janowicz charged to a 3-1 lead in the first set, but Bellucci was able to break Janowicz and force a tiebreak, which he won, 7-5.

During the first set, scattered Janowicz fans began chanting during the changeovers, and the pro-Bellucci crowd responded by booing and whistling. Each time Janowicz stepped to the line to serve, the tennis crowd chanted “Vamos quebrar!” (“Let’s break.”) A few rowdy fans called out their own line calls and time violations. Chair Umpire Kader Nouni tried meekly several times to quiet the crowd, but the unruliness continued to escalate.

As Janowicz served to force a first set tiebreak, the crowd began to boo and whistle. He threw his arms up in the air, encouraging the crowd to boo louder. They were happy to oblige. They booed him enthusiastically again when he paused to tie his shoes between points. His pleas to Nouni to calm the crowd went unanswered.

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Janowicz racked up 31 unforced errors to Bellucci’s 12 in the first set.

The match stayed tight for six games in the second set, but Bellucci double faulted twice to hand Janowicz the break for 5-3, and failed to convert on an 0-30 opportunity as Janowicz served it out.

Janowicz continued to fire up the crowd, giving them a thumbs down during one of the changeovers as they booed him, and laughing at the reaction he got.

The third set was one-way traffic for Bellucci, even though he paused to receive treatment from the trainer for a gluteal injury. He held from 15-40 down, and Janowicz spit on the court in frustration.

Meanwhile, the crowd’s rancor was growing exponentially. A man sitting directly behind Janowicz’s coach began yelling and chanting, “Go home, Polska.” Nouni did not intervene, perhaps having given up on controlling the crowd. Janowicz laughed through the last changeover.

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Bellucci served out the match successfully, much to the crowd’s delight. Janowicz bolted for the exit immediately, chased by a trail of boos, whistles, and jeers.

“He’s already lost. Let him be,” Janowicz’s coach said to the man behind him who was chanting for Janowicz to go home.

For Bellucci’s part, the match atmosphere was nothing he wasn’t used to.

“Maybe Janowicz had some distractions, but for me, I’m used to playing like that,” Bellucci said. “When we play in Davis Cup in Brazil, it’s always like that. The crowd is very loud. Maybe for the other player was not so good.”

“It was very special to be on court with a Brazilian crowd. The crowd was full of Brazilians. Very happy to have this victory. I hope to play well in the next round.”

Bellucci will play Andreas Seppi next.

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Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN). She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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Third Time’s the Charm: Bryan Brothers Capture First Doubles Championship in the Desert

By Jennifer Knapp

Bryan Brothers

(March 17, 2013) – Top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of the U.S. won their first BNP Paribas Open title on Saturday, defeating the first time pairing of Treat Huey (PHI) and Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 in 69 minutes in yet another thriller under the lights at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

 

Competing in the desert for the 15th time, the 34-year old twins, needed a super tiebreak to close out the match as Huey and Janowicz proved to be formidable opponents. Each team was only broken one time but in the end, the cohesiveness, experience and advanced skill level of the journeymen Americans proved to be the deciding factor.

 

After celebrating their 86th title together with a trademark chest bump, the brothers embraced.  Despite all of their success over the years, it was clear to see how much this championship meant to them.

 

The Bryans, who previously lost the 2003 and 2006 finals, praised Huey and Janowicz, who were playing in their first tournament together as a team,   “We’ve played 3,000 tournaments,” Bob Bryan joked, “and we barely clipped you guys.”

 

With this latest win, the brothers secured their 22nd Masters Series 1000s and have increased their championship match winning percentage to 66% (86 of 130 finals).

How sweet it is.

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