2015/05/30

American Jack Sock Knocks Out 10th Seed Grigor Dimitrov at Roland Garros on ‘Favorite Surface’

Jack Sock

(May 26, 2015) Grigor Dimitrov became the highest men’s seed to take a tumble at Roland Garros on Tuesday. The 10th seeded Bulgarian fell to Jack Sock of the United States 7-6, (7), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.

The last American man to lift the singles trophy at Roland Garros was Andre Agassi in 1999. Since then the U.S. men have not had much success on the red clay.

Twenty-two-year-old Sock who won a title last month in Houston on green clay calls clay: “my favorite surface.”

“This just suits my game very well,” Sock said. “Like I said, serve, forehand, I think it really complements those shots well for me. Serve is able to get up, forehand gets up, and it slows it down a little bit where I’m able to take my time and kind of maneuver the ball around. Movement is another big part of my game. I feel like on the clay get to a lot of balls, I can touch a lot of balls in the balls, which sometimes can frustrate guys when you get to one extra. Sometimes that can change a match.”

 

As for American men and their feeling about red clay, Sock said: “I hope as a whole for American tennis we can do well and we can get wins and kind of push to be somewhat where we were bunch of years ago when we had some of the American guys winning and doing well. But, yeah, as a whole we’re all pushing each other and trying to do very well. Each of us individually is also focusing on ourselves. I think when one of us does well it pushes the others to do well as well. I think that’s everyone’s mindset.”
Sock who began his 2015 season late due to a torn hips muscle, dealt with the illness of his older brother who had a lung infection.

“He’s doing much better now,” Sock said. “He’s got full I guess health back. He’s started working again. He teaches tennis back home in Kansas City with the coach I worked with growing up. Just the little things, strength and mobility, shoulder, he’s just had to do a lot of work to get back. He’s getting there and close to 100%.”

“It’s been a lot outside of tennis for me, a lot of stuff going on. It’s motivated me in a lot of ways to see a family member, and especially my brother — you know, I’m very close with him. To see him go through what he did… And I was in the hospital every day with him after I had surgery, so just back-to-back things that were very unfortunate. To see him battle and get through that when he was very close to not making, it was more inspirational I think than anything. Like people I think know in Indian Wells, when I started the year, I was out there and he was with me. I was playing for him, him and my family. Just doing the best I could for them and trying to make them proud. It’s kind of carried over every week.”

Sock’s countryman John Isner was winner on Tuesday as well. He beat Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-2, 6-3. Isner isn’t afraid of the red dirt either.

“A lot is said about clay and how it’s a defensive surface,” Isner said. “It’s sort of I would say a misconception. I think clay is a very good attacking surface. A guy like Rafa(el Nadal), yeah, he plays great defense, but knocks the cover off the ball. He is greatest clay-court player of all-time. Me, on top of that, I’m a completely different animal than anyone. My serve is going to play no matter what the surface is and going to keep me in the match. So I’m comfortable on clay. I’ve played pretty well over here in Europe, which is nice. You know, I’ve had some bad European swings before, too. So feeling pretty good right now.”

 

 

Share

Djokovic and Murray to Meet in Miami Open Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(April 3, 2015)Sunday’s Miami Open men’s final will feature a battle between a pair who have won multiple times in Key Biscayne when No. 1 Novak Djokovic takes on Andy Murray.

Djokovic, who will be going for his fifth Miami crown, moved past hard-serving John Isner in Friday night’s semifinal 7-6(3), 6-2. Murray, who will be attempting to capture his third Miami Open title, defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.

Djokovic outserved Isner 10 aces to nine. Djokovic never faced a break point. After a very tight first set, Djokovic broke Isner’s serve twice in the second set. Isner lost 70 percent of his second-serve points.

“I didn’t quite have my legs underneath me like I did yesterday maybe for whatever reason,” Isner said. Conditions, it was a little bit more humid out there tonight. I didn’t have quite as much pop on the ball as maybe I had earlier in the tournament. I needed a lot of pop in order to make a match like that closer. I just didn’t quite have it tonight.”

 

“I created a lot of opportunities for myself in the first set, even though there was only one break point and it was actually a set point,” Djokovic said.

 

“I thought I made him work for his serves games a lot from the beginning. I thought that that has influenced a little bit his physicality. I think towards the end of the first and beginning of the second set he already felt a business exhausted, and I wanted to use the opportunity and the early break in the second to open the door for me.

 

“That’s when I felt like I could start swinging through, and played a great second set.”

 

Despite the loss, Isner had a good fortnight in Miami, beating three top 11 players in succession – Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori en route to the semifinals

 

“Novak is the best in the world,” Isner said. “He’s so good. It was a good two weeks for me. I’m playing better. I have to build on this, and I will.”

 

‘He’s No. 1 in the world for a reason. I had to play pretty close to my best to beat him, and I don’t think I did that tonight.”

 

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

This will be the Scot’s 13th Masters Series final and fourth Miami final.

“I felt like I served well,” said Murray. “It was tricky from one end of the court. We’re basically serving right into the sun at that time of day, so I had to take a little bit off the serve. On the second serve it was very tough to see.

“But I thought when I was behind in games, like the last game, for example, I came up with some big serves and was able to dictate a lot of the rallies from the baseline as well. I was moving him around a lot. That was good.”

Murray’s win has evened up his record against the Czech 6-6.

“Andy changed the game plan a bit,” Berdych said. “He starts to play much more aggressive in those last two matches that he played to me. I think that he’s been doing that pretty well. I think that’s the only reason.

 

“So, you know, I’m just going to need some time to put myself ‑‑ prepare better for the next time I’m going to play him.

Now I know what to expect and just be more ready for it.”

 

“Well, I thought I obviously started both sets well,” Murray said of the early breaks in each set. “Yeah, that was really the difference, to be honest. We played some good points. I thought throughout the match I thought it was a pretty clean match.

Yeah, I felt like I just played a bit better than him. That was the difference.”

Murray on playing Djokovic in the final: Novak obviously started the year extremely well obviously winning Australia, and then also last week, too. He’s come through a couple of tough ones so far in this event.”

 

As for Djokovic on playing Murray: “The fact that I won I think last six, seven matches that we played against each other, especially the one just recently in Indian Wells, gives me confidence and maybe a slight mental advantage.

 

“But we’re talking about small margins. That’s always the case when we play against each other. Very few points, details can decide a winner. We have very similar games. We already played twice this year, and of course in a big match in Australian Open final which was very, very physical, very close.

 

“I expect a battle, long rallies, and I know what is expecting me on the court. I know his game pretty well, as well as he knows mine.”

Djokovic leads in head-to-head clashes with Murray 17-8

Share

Serena Williams, Djokovic, Suarez Navarro and Isner Advance in Miami

315Serenafh-001

(April 2, 2015) Serena Williams will attempt to win her eighth Miami Open title on Saturday. The 19-time major champion won a two-hour-and seven minute semifinal thriller on Thursday night over third seed Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Williams will face 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain the title.

“I made so many errors and I was like `Serena, just come to the net at this point, because that’s the only thing that was working for me,'” Williams said. “I’m just really happy to get through that. It was actually a really fun match and I was able to come out and play here tonight.”

“I just tried to make some shots and I tried to go for some big shots,” Williams continued. “I thought, I’m just going to go for winners. Even though I’m missing most of them, I’m still going to go for them.”

“I just made more errors than I did in my last match, which I thought was impossible. I’m just not at my best level right now and it’s a little frustrating.

“I’m not serving well. I am serving at 40%. Yeah, so it hasn’t been my best of times. But, yeah, so that’s just the only frustrating part.

“And I’m a perfectionist, so if I don’t get it right I just want to keep trying.”

 

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

Halep said: “I was close. I saw that I can win against her. I can play like until the end against her. I was a bit tired in the end, but it’s normal. I have so many matches played already.

“It’s okay. She was better than me. She is better than me because she’s No. 1 in the world and she’s Serena. I have just to take the positive things from this tournament, this match, and just go ahead.”

Williams’ victory means that her time atop the rankings has reached 116 weeks which surpasses Chris Evert’s 113-week run for third-longest in WTA history.

Suarez Navarro 2182015-001

Suarez Navarro advanced to the final after beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3 in an earlier match. Her victory in the semifinal assured her of reaching the Top Ten for the first time in her career.

“I feel so happy,” said Suarez Navarro. “It’s so important for me. I was practicing and I was working during all this year with my team to a moment like this.”

Williams is 4-0 against the Spaniard. “Playing Carla,” said Williams, “I think it’ll be good for me. She’s playing a little bit like Simona, so I will be ready for that. Have to be ready. If I want to win, I have to step it up a notch”

Williams is 4-0 all-time against Suarez Navarro, who’s assured of reaching the Top 10 in the world rankings win or lose.

Williams’ countryman, No. 22 seed John Isner became the first U.S. man to reach the semifinals in Miami since Mardy Fish in 2011, upsetting fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3.

Isner interviewed

“I played extremely well today,” Isner said.”I needed to play well in order to beat a player like Kei and that’s what I did. From start to finish, I felt like I was aggressive. I was playing all the right shots and things just went my way.”

“I can’t ask for better conditions out there,” Isner continued. “I absolutely just can’t.

“You know, with the balls, the court, the balls bouncing high, it’s hot, it’s not that humid so it’s not taking a lot out of me. It’s perfect conditions ore me.

“I just played well. I mean, I’ve been serving well really for a while now, and I did that again today.

“So I was taking care of my serve. I was taking my chances on his serve, and the ball was finding the right spots for me.”

“Serve, I didn’t have any chance,” said Nishikori.

“Also, his forehand, also backhand, he hit some winners from back of the baseline. I think he close his eyes and hitting so many winners. Couldn’t really stop him today.

“So I don’t think I really play bad. Maybe I could do little better everything, but I think he played well today.”

 

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Next for Isner will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic who defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5 on the Spaniard’s 33rd birthday.

“I expected it to be a very physical match as it always is with David,” Djokovic said. “He’s one of the greatest competitors out there.”

“Every game is different, and I think tonight, my tactic, it was good,” Ferrer said. “My performance was good, playing aggressive with my forehand. But I think it’s difficult beat Nole when I am playing with him in the night because the ball is bigger when we are ending the set. And he has more power than me.

“Anyway, for beat Nole, I know I have to play perfect in important moments, play aggressive. And maybe tonight, the first set in important moments I didn’t play aggressive, no, with my forehand.”

Djokovic commented on playing Isner next:

“It’s going to be quite different match from tonight’s match. John is probably the best server we have in the game currently. At 6’10” he can hit any angle he wants with that serve.

“He won against Dimitrov, Raonic, and Nishikori in the last three matches, and that deserves a lot of respect. He obviously feels very confident playing here. He played great against Nishikori today.

“I think he improved his baseline game. Most of the players, when the play him, obviously he highly relies on his serve, but yet again, he does put a lot of balls back in play in his return games. He likes to run around his backhand and hit the forehand inside out. That’s his favorite shot.

“So I kind of know what to expect. He has his own patterns, as everybody else. I’m going to try to analyze his game, remember what I’ve done right in Indian Wells couple weeks ago, and try to obviously win.

“Hopefully we play during the night so the conditions will be a bit slower, which is going to maybe help me to get few more serves back in play, even though I know it’s going to be very close match.”

 

I’ll have nothing to lose,” Isner said. “I run into him a lot in Masters events, especially in the U.S. I think this would be our fourth encounter or something like that, playing at a Masters event in the States. Maybe fifth. I don’t know.

“But playing him, it’s always a challenge. He’s the greatest player in the world right now hands down. I played well against him last week in Indian Wells and he beat me in a tight two‑set match.

“I’m going to have to bring that level and some if I do play against him. I believe I can do that. Think I exhibited that today. He’s got a tough match against one of the best competitors or sport has.”

Share

Murray seals the deal as GB win their first round tie over the USA again

Murray UnderArmour

(March 8, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If at all possible the applause the loudest it has been for the three days, as the live fourth rubber set up a thrilling conclusion to the Great Britain-US Davis Cup tie.

 

With a vocal John Isner thundering down six aces in just his second service game, before he closed it out, you had a feeling we could be going to very long tie-breaks. After all if Isner hits six aces he would expect to be up by a couple of games at least, and not requiring that effort just to nab his second.

 

In fact it was the flat-footed-sounding Isner that flirted with the first break-point opportunities dulling the enthusiasm of the Glasgow crowd for just a little. There would be more drama to come in the eighth game as Murray put the crowd’s loyalty through its paces delivering them two double-faults and fending off three break points before finally grinding out a hold.

 

Isner might be one big unit but he showed early on how he could keep pace in the kinds of rallies that Murray likes to use. And it’s not as if the Brit was struggling with his movement, even throwing in one of those drop shots at a crunch moment for an audacious winner.

 

But there was no denying that Isner was beginning to get his eye in. He was less vocal and less slap-footed around the court now as he sensed he could turn the screw. Pushing Andy Murray every step of the way as the Brit was serving at 4-5, Isner forced 3 set points as the weak second Murray serve presented very hittable opportunities. Yet he could not take advantage as Murray dredged up serves to get him out of trouble.

 

We got to a first set tie-break, but not quite in the manner we thought, and soe terrible shot-making from Isner put GB in front by just enough to keep the advantage, and a collective sigh of relief from 7,700 people.

 

The second set saw Murray hold his serve much more comfortably, and even if Isner was getting a look at his second serve, much of the American’s pace on his whipping forehand was tempered as Murray earned his first break point on the Isner serve after one hour and 25 minutes. Even then, Murray showed him no less than three looks at a second serve as he worked to consolidate the break, to no avail for the American.

Two sets up, the question was would this go the distance, or even creep over four sets? Again there were moments when it looked as though Isner would steal the upper hand as Murray squandered his challenges and sent a few pleading looks the way of the umpire as Isner’s serves thundered past him.

 

Pushing up to a tie-break again, there was a huge crescendo of noise which, if anything, was louder than Murray’s entry into the arena. If the first mini-break was enough to get hopes up, as Murray surged ahead to finish it with an ace to book the British team into the quarter-finals. Final score 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4).

 

Interviewed on court after jumping around with members of the team, Murray did the honours in thanking the crowd as well as hinting that perhaps it might be time for Tennis Scotland to use grass for something other than football.

 

“The whole week has been so much fun. This is one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in so I would like to say a big thank you to all these guys,“ Murray said.

“With a home tie against France in the summer I’d imagine we would try to put that on a grass court. I don’t know how many they have in Glasgow but if they could lay one that would be great as the atmosphere has been incredible.”

“To be in the quarterfinals for a second year when it hasn’t happened for so long is incredible.”

Last year the British team also knocked out the USA in the first round of Davis Cup on a clay court in San Diego.

 

“This is a deserved win,” Murray said. “The attitude of everyone was excellent. Everyone fought extremely hard, especially when we were behind in the matches, no one gave up. Every person played extremely hard.

“It was huge momentum for us in winning James’ (Ward) match. We were also so close yesterday to winning 3-0, so I felt some pressure today to close it out. The way John approached the match made it difficult.”

Asked about Great Britain’s chances to win Davis Cup, US Captain Jim Courier said:

“When you have a great champion like Andy, against most teams, they should feel like they are up 2-0 going in. The way their doubles team played was impressive. Bob and Mike played unbelievably well yesterday and they were pushed to the wire. It only takes three to win.”

So where does the US Davis Cup team go from here?

“Our team changes, ‘ Courier said.  “You always try to make some adjustments and go forward. We play again in September, so I have time to assess everything. It takes time to process defeats like this and try to figure out what you can learn from it and improve going forward.”

 

With the next tie straight after Wimbledon, debates are already taking place as to where possible venues could be, as the prospect of holding an outside tournament in an English summer against the French could be intriguing.

The Davis Cup quarter-finals will take place between July 17 – 19.

As for the United States, they will play for a chance to stay in the World Group the week after the US Open concludes in September in the World Group Play-offs.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

Bryan Brothers Keep Hope Alive for US with Five-set Win in Davis Cup

Bryan-Brothers-Tennis-Panorama

(March 7, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If you had asked anyone at the start of the day whether they would expect to be on the edge of their seats once more in Glasgow, you would have been hard pushed to find anyone to agree with you.

For team USA, the Bryan brothers came to play and they ripped through the first two sets in less than an hour, and even had match points to end it all in the fourth set, but somehow the Brits found a way to hang on.

It was not the easiest of comebacks for Jamie Murray, who got the nod to play along with the in-form Dominic Inglot who had already recorded two wins this season over the twins.

Finally holding his serve in the third set, it seemed to spur the Brits on to greater glories as the Bryan’s intensity dropped a little, while Dominic Inglot proved to be on fire at the net and Murray started to paint the lines with burning accuracy,

There was a hint of danger for the scratch pairing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd as the tall rangy Inglot found himself under pressure to hold his serve for the first time but dig himself out of a whole with some very solid serving as Murray dug deep to hold again to force a fourth set tie-breaker.

Two set points came and went for the Brits but they struggled to make it count, and a nifty Bryan poach suddenly brought up match point for the Americans. The threats seemed to come quick and fast for the Brits, and once more the risks paid off for the home team as they forced the decider.

It looked as though this match would be another long one, but at 7-7 a Murray volley found the net to give the Bryans a chance to serve it out, and they took it to set up a thrilling close.

Inglot just catching the edge of his racquet to a stinging return from the Bryan’s spelled danger as they took the mini-break for a 5-3 lead on their serve. A great stretch from Inglot pulled the Brits back on serve as the Brits clung on to bring up their first set point to force a decider. Inglot was poaching once more at the net to bring up their second set point but the pair could not find a way to close once more. A Bryan interception spun the advantage to the visitors, on their serve.

Inglot’s thundering return kept the Brits hanging in and Murray painting the lines brought up a third set point for the Brits, forcing the Americans into a decider.

Despite both Inglot and Murray requiring treatment during the decider, no quarter was being given now by either pairing as the fifth set wound its way on. With the threat of the first break points looming for the Americans on Murray’s serve at 7-7, a nicked edge saved the Brits albeit briefly and Murray’s missed half volley finding the net handing the Bryans a chance to serve for the match as they closed out the visitors’ first win.

The Bryans picked up their first five set win in the Davis Cup, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(8), 9-7, previously having been 0-2, but then they had also never lost in the Davis Cup from two sets up.

They admitted how much it meant to get their first five set win in the Davis Cup, saying: “We lost a couple of heartbreakers in 2013 so if we got this opportunity again, we were actually telling each other let’s erase all that pain and this was a great way to do it, is to win an very emotional match, I thought we played a great match, those guys didn’t give us an inch all day. Jamie returned well and served well. They made a ton of first serves and cleaned up the volleys. We had to bring out best stuff to win.”

“We didn’t let up,” Mike Bryan chimed in. “They hit great returns. They were going for it the whole way. We had been playing well all week and we played a great match today and it came down to a few points. The margins were really small. We had a couple of looks in the fourth set. But, all credit to them. They hit some alley shots and lines and served big when they had to. It came down to the wire.”

“The biggest luxury is having these guys on the team,” said US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier of the Bryan brothers. “They continue to come through for us.”

John Isner will face Andy Murray in the live fourth rubber in reverse singles on Sunday with Great Britain leading the tie 2-1.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

James Ward pulls it out of the bag once more as Great Britain takes a 2-0 lead over the USA in Davis Cup

(March 6, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – It was always going to be a tough ask for James Ward to come up against John Isner and pull out the same kind of miraculous win he did against Sam Querrey in San Diego.

 

The British No. 2 has been working hard on his fitness, and it showed as he kept pace with Isner in the first set, even building up enough of a head of steam to lead 4-2 in the first set tie-break before the US No. 1 thumped home five points in a row to deny him.

 

The crowd was kept at bay after their noisy enthusiasm in the first match when Isner broke to pick off the second set, and it was sure to be a long way back for the Londoner.

 

But there is something about Davis Cup that brings out the best in James Ward. Jim Courier may have described him as streaky but when he has his good patches, they can be hugely impressive, as he pushed through a third set tie-break and this time there was no relinquishing any advantage.

 

For a time it looked as though Isner would pick up the pace and close this out in the fourth set but somehow Ward found a way to push through again, and from what had looked like a winning position, Isner was facing yet another marathon.

 

Ward seemed to have the fresher legs – Courier had expressed his admiration for Ward’s energy and performance in San Diego even when he was down, whereas Isner looked increasingly more tired. He could barely even stretch for balls but denied suffering from cramp in his post match press conference.

 

Losing 15-13 in the fifth hurt, as he very candidly shared as he faced the media with Jim Courier at his side. After having won the epic match at Wimbledon, he admitted he had lost tough matches before, but this was quite raw.

 

He said: “I’ve lost a lot of tough matches before. They suck. Simple as that. It’s brutal and I’m barely going to sleep tonight. It’s awful.”

 

He continued: “I’m healthy, mentally I’m certainly a bit shaken right now, but I’ve got to be a professional and bring my best on Sunday. Tomorrow I’ll rest. I don’t feel too chipper right now, but as Jim said I’ll let it rip on Sunday if the match is live.”

 

For Ward, the 6-7(4), 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), 15-13 win was just as emotional, and he sounded quite choked up as he gave his on-court post-match interview, saying: “This is by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever been part of in the Davis Cup. I would prefer it if I didn’t have to play these five-set matches every time, but the crowd was incredible and really helped.”

 

Great Britain ends day one up 2-0, need just one more victory to clinch the tie. The doubles rubber will be played on Saturday with Bob and Mike Bryan trying to keep tie hopes alive for the US when they face the British team of Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

Andy Murray Dominates Donald Young to Give Great Britain 1-0 Lead in Davis Cup

(March 6, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – In front of a rapturous crowd, Andy Murray’s triumphant homecoming started in fine style as he delivered a four set win over Donald Young in the Davis Cup World Group first round tie against the USA.

Ahead of the tie, he had seemed downbeat and almost wary of the reception he would receive but he needn’t have worried as the crowd roared their approval as he was introduced before the tie began.

From the outset he was moving well, with great range and focus, and Young was little more than a bystander as the first set shot by in 21 minutes, swiftly followed by the second as Murray built up a 6-1, 6-1 lead.

Earlier this week USA Team Captain Jim Courier stressed that the one thing he had learned was to communicate with his team and there was plenty of that going on as he tried to pick the demoralised Young up, and it started to work for him as Murray’s intensity dulled a little in the third set.

Young said: “He started to miss a little more, I kinda loosened up. I was getting whupped pretty good so I started to hit the ball and was able to string some points together in a row an get into his service games which I could not do in the first two sets.”

Murray admitted that although he had let his guard down a little in the third set, he was very happy with the win.

“I had a slight maybe lull in intensity but I couldn’t maintain the intensity I had in the first couple of sets in the whole match, because it was tough, but I was really happy with the way I played.”

It was perhaps more vital to give Young a little more confidence should the tie come down to a live fifth rubber, but Murray lifted his game for the early break at the start of the third set, and did not look back, securing a double break buffer and serving the match out for the win 6-1, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

After the match he spoke about the crowd, in the sold-out Emirates Arena.

“It’s the biggest home tie that I’ve played, in front of the biggest crowd. I would say definitely the biggest indoor crowd. When we played at Wimbledon the crowds were big but the stadium also wasn’t full.

“I think that when I played at the Olympics as well it was a similar sort of reception there, and that’s the nice thing about playing in the Davis Cup, is having these home ties that you can play in front of crowds that are right behind you. That’s the best part of the competition.”

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

Davis Cup in Glasgow: Communication Key for Courier

(March 5, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – While it was a jolly British team, joking amongst themselves who took to the round of interviews first, it was an altogether more thoughtful Unites States team that offered their thoughts after the Davis Cup first round draw was made.

 

Donald Young will be the first to face the home crowds in Andy Murray’s old stomping grounds, and having scored a famous victory over Murray during his 2011 post-Australian Open final walkabout, Young has hardly troubled the Brit since, but after being pulled in last year in San Diego to replace an injured John Isner, this time he was picked in his own right. His results over the past month have lent some much-needed consistency to his play, and this in turn has given him some confidence.

 

Leading the news conference questions, Young said: “I feel more comfortable and confident than last year. Last year was my first time competing in Davis Cup. I had a ton of nerves starting the match off. It will be a tough match either way because Andy is a great player, but I feel like I am playing well and I look forward to seeing what happens.”

 

With Isner having made some measure of James Ward, as they play the second rubber, he acknowledged that the Brits have chosen a surface and speed to perhaps dull his chances as well as making the transition for Murray a little easier.

 

He said: “It may neutralise my serve a little bit. But I’m happy with the court. The British team chose it, we have no control.”

 

Of course he is the favourite to steam through and put the pressure back on the Brits. While Murray played down his chances of partnering with his elder brother Jamie, Bob and Mike Bryan know that a match up between them and the Murrays is what the Saturday crowd will really want. But while Jamie Murray’s consistent play earned him a spot back in the Davis Cup side over stalwart Colin Fleming, it is Dominic Inglot who has the upper hand so far over the Bryans.

 

Bob said: “Dom Inglot has the hot hand, he’s played us well in the last couple of matches so we’re prepared for him.” Mike agreed, adding, “He’s aggressive, he’s a big guy – not really lob-able. He’s all over the net. He plays with a lot of power, which is the kind of the new age of doubles, the power game. So you’ve got to find a way to break him, which is tough. You know if I was the coach, it would tough to leave a guy who has a hot hand off the team so he’s got a tough decision.”

 

Above all though Courier knows that his communication with the team will be key – something he feels he has learned to improve in every tie.

Courier said: “I think, from my experience with Donald on the bench in San Diego now, we have some communication that we can rely on because we’ve been through a match and the fire together. It’s important he and I are comfortable together because these guys need to feel comfortable because they’re used to playing their whole lives without someone sitting next to them talking to them during the match.

“It’s important that I stay out of their or get in their way when I need to interject and do it at the right times, and that’s a judgment call based on experience.

“Now Donald and I have some, John, Bob and Mike and I have a lot of experience in that realm so far, so I’m feeling more comfortable, I hope they are.”

The time for talking though is now over, and come 1pm in UK time Young will walk out to a ferociously passionate crowd and a home hero in every sense of the word.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Order of Play for the tie:

Friday, March 6 – 1:00 p.m.   

Singles A: Donald Young (USA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Singles B: John Isner (USA) vs. James Ward (GBR)

Saturday, March 7 – 1:00 p.m.                      

Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Jamie Murray/Dominic Inglot (GBR)

Sunday, March 8 – 1:00 p.m.                         

Singles C: John Isner (USA) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Singles D: Donald Young (USA) vs. James Ward (GBR)

Share

Davis Cup in Glasgow – Can the US overturn Britain’s home advantage?

(March 4, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – The pre-draw news conference was really a tale of two confident captains and cautious players, as the teams readied themselves for the Davis Cup World Group first round, as Great Britain plays host to the USA.

 

British Team Captain Leon Smith did a lot of the talking, between dispensing with any discussion about the possible ramifications of Andy Murray’s support for the Scottish Referendum, Yes vote at the eleventh hour, preferring to concentrate on the tennis, but Courier was quick to acknowledge that they were aware of the situation.

 

“We obviously know there’s some political undercurrent here as well, we’re aware of that. I think it just adds a little bit of intrigue and it’s another wrinkle of the element in this competition. We know what it means to everyone to play for their country and maybe a little extra special for Andy and Jamie playing here in Scotland. For us it is business but we’re also aware of that extra little wrinkle.”

 

As much as Smith believed that the US had not used their advantage to its full effect last year, US Captain Jim Courier knows the power his players have to inflict the same result on the hosts.

 

Courier continued: “There’s something beautiful for a player to be able to silence a crowd with a shot if you’re the foreign player and I’m sure Andy and James experienced that in San Diego with us last year, and we’d like to experience it here an there’s something magnificent about that and there’s obviously something incredible when you get the crowd behind you and you’re playing at home. It’s a very different feeling for sure but there’s beauty in both sides.”

 

While US No. 2 Sam Querrey is out with an injury, and more pressing matters as the star of Millionaire Matchmaker in the US, the American No. 1 John Isner is ready to do battle after the disappointment of pulling out injured from his home tie last year.

 

Isner said: “I wasn’t able to compete which was tough to swallow and for me, I’ve played more road matches than home matches so its tough to miss a home match. The venue was beautiful, the crowd was great. It was tough to sit back and watch, but I’m here, I’m healthy and I’m ready to go and ready to help our country this time.”

 

Donald Young is the US No. 2 on this occasion and despite a little tendonitis, he is ready to build on his Davis Cup debut last year. Courier had nothing but praise for his second pick, stating that while Isner and the Bryan brothers were certainties, it was down to either Young or Steve Johnson, who has been speeding up the rankings, in the running.

 

Courier explained: “The second spot was in play this past month in February, and Donald really performed well, semis of Memphis, finals in Delray Beach and Sam suffered a back injury which really took him out of the running, so it came down to Donald and Steve and Donald outperformed and earned the spot.”

 

The draws for the tie will take place on Thursday, and the first singles rubbers will be played on Friday with the often decisive doubles rubber on Saturday and the reverse singles on Sunday. Things could come down to a fifth rubber and the British hero of the hour last year in San Diego, James Ward is ready.

 

Ward said: “Obviously it gave me a lot of confidence to push on for the rest of the year and the probably the biggest moment of my career winning that away from home in such a big tie. As Andy said it’s a completely different tie, Querrey’s not here. Playing John is going to be a different match altogether on a different surface so we’ll see what happens on Friday.”

 

He continued: “I’m looking to play well on Friday and get the win there so it doesn’t come down to it.”

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

USA and Great Britain Name Teams for Davis Cup First Round Tie in Glasgow March 6-8

USDavisCup

(February 24, 2015) The oldest rivalry in the history of Davis Cup will continue the weekend of March 6-8, when Great Britain plays host to the United States in Glasgow, Scotland for a first round tie in the Emirates Arena.

On Tuesday both countries named their teams. Team USA will consist of world No. 20 John Isner, No. 45 Donald Young, and the world’s No. 1 doubles team of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

World No. 3 Andy Murray will lead Great Britain’s team in his native Scotland which includes his brother Jamie, James Ward and Dominic Inglot.

Great Britain’s Captain Leon Smith said: “From a selection point of view we’ve been able to choose our strongest possible team which is of course spearheaded by Andy Murray who is significantly ahead of where he was 12 months ago. The tie will be a huge deal for him personally as he returns to play in Scotland for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2013. In James Ward we have somebody who has already proven himself against the US Davis Cup team, and I’d back him again to put in another excellent performance after some consistent recent form has seen him on the verge of cracking the top 100 for the first time. I’ve selected our top two doubles players in Jamie and Dom, and again they’ve showed real consistency this year to earn their place in the team. As a group, all the guys deserve this opportunity and I know we’re all excited to get together in Glasgow and get the tie underway.”

Last year, Murray carried his team to a 3-1 victory over the U.S. in the first round last year in San Diego.

For the best of five series, play begins each day at 1 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET). Friday, March 6, 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.

In the Davis Cup competition dating back to 1900, the U.S. is 11-8 all-time against Great Britain

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, July 17-19, and will play either France or Germany. Should the U.S. defeat Great Britain, it will travel to Germany or host France. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 18-20, for the right to play in the World Group in 2016.

Share