2014/09/02

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again and Again for John Isner and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the Third Round of the US Open

ISnerparty with the pros

(August 28, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOW – For the third straight US Open American John Isner will be playing German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round.

On Thursday, Isner was on target with his serve firing 30 aces past No. 77 Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany to win 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2.

The 13th-seeded Isner hit 30 aces and saved the only break point he faced in a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 victory over 77th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany on Thursday at Flushing Meadows. The 22nd seed Kohlschreiber advanced to the third round when Michael Llodra retired with an injured left elbow.

In a “weird” and “bizarre” circumstance as Isner put it, he’ll be facing the German at the US Open yet again.

“I have beaten him more times than he’s beaten me overall,” said the 13th seed. “But he’s beaten me here. No matter where I play him I know the match is going to be tough because he’s an extremely good player. Very good. I thought, you know, our matches the last two years have been pretty high quality. I remember last year I wasn’t disappointed with how I played. You know, he just played better than me. Simple as that. In a few days’ time I’m just gonna have to try to be better than him.”
“I’m very excited. It’s going to be another fun match,” Isner said.

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Isner Discusses College Tennis Rule Change and Upcoming Davis Cup Tie

ISnerparty with the pros

John Isner photo courtesy of Getty Images, used with permission

By Karen Pestaina

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – John Isner was one of the four tennis pros in attendance along with 150 people at the “Party with Pros event,” a part of Taste of Tennis Week, at the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel in Manhattan produced by AYS.

I asked the 29-year-old Isner who played college tennis at the University of  Georgia, about what he thought about Division I college singles rule change to using the no-ad scoring system.

He replied: “I think in doubles it’s good. Singles – if I had it my way, I’d probably not choose it that way, but at the same time you can argue that it will make players play better under pressure, when it does get to deuce, that no-ad point, there is going to be so much riding on that game, because the is.

“Sometimes college matches can drag on a little bit too much. I can understand what they’re doing, but if I was in charge I wouldn’t have that.”

After the US Open, the North Carolina native will be traveling to the Chicago area to lead the United States Davis Cup team in a critical World Group playoff tie versus the Slovak Republic. The winner will be in the World Group in 2015 while the loser will be relegated to Group 1 in their respective zone.

“Well it’s going to be a tough tie, “Isner said. “I think our chances are very good of moving on, but at the same time, it’s going to be extremely tough.

“I don’t care who we are playing against, I always believe that our team can win. It’s an extremely important tie for the fact that it’s a relegation tie. It’s a must win for both countries, but we do have the home court going for us. We’ll try to get that win to get back in the world group and start fresh next year.”

Isner pulled out of the Winston-Salem Open with a sprained left ankle earlier in the week. He said that he’s “doing very well.”

With the week before the US Open full of parties and photo-ops, I asked him if enjoyed participating in these type of social events before a major.

“It draws attention to our game,” he said. “Obviously we are here at the US Open. The US Open draws enough attention by itself. You know it’s a worldwide event and this city embraces the US Open, some people are watching it from all over the world, that’s why they have record crowds come in every year.

“Events like this draw more attention to the game. I guess people get to meet me. Hopefully they have a good impression of me and they try to watch me on TV cheer me on. If I can gain some fans by interacting a little bit it’s well worth it.”

The 13th seed at the US Open, Isner begins his quest for a US Open title when he faces off against fellow American 21-year-old Marcos Giron in the first round.

 

Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

John Isner Defends Atlanta Open Title

Catching up with David Ferrer and John Isner

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Azarenka Talks US Open “Party Patrol at Party with the Pros” Event

 

AZARENKA party with the pros

(August 23, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – As part of Taste of Tennis Week, a series of special culinary events and parties leading into the 2014 US Open, the Measure Lounge of the Langham Place Fifth Avenue Hotel played  host to an exclusive party on Saturday night limited to 150 people called “Party with the Pros” an event produced by AYS.  Partygoers were treated to culinary delights as well as a chance to take photos with s few tennis pros. In attendance for the event were No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, two-time Australian Open winner, No. 17 Victoria Azarenka, No. 22 Sloane Stephens and top US men’s player John Isner, currently ranked at No. 15 in the world.

Tennis Panorama News has a chance to speak with Azarenka about her week before the US Open.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: You’ve been on what I like to call “Party Patrol” this week, at Taste of Tennis and now here at Party with the Pros. What do you like about doing these type of events?

Victoria Azarenka: Well Taste of Tennis is always a great opportunity to just get the night out, you know. It’s a great celebration with great food, which all of the athletes like to eat, obviously, and to just get your mind away a little bit and they always place where you can go out and enjoy yourself. It’s not too close to the tournament, an you know when they put me and Gael Monfils in the same room, it’s always going to be fun!

KP: I noticed that you tow were almost dancing when “Happy” came on (at the Taste of Tennis).

VA: We were dancing, we were dancing. I was also dancing with somebody else. We always have a good time. It’s great for other people to us enjoy ourselves off the court. On the court we mean business, but off the court, we are just chill, cool people who like to have a good time.

KP: It seems that tennis players are “foodies.” Would you agree with that?

VA: I am a big foodie. I love food. I appreciate good food. I appreciate healthy food, I’m not too big on junk food and hot dogs and all this stuff and I love to cook so I am definitely a foodie.

KP: I know that this has been a very challenging season for you. What are you looking forward to about playing the US Open?

VA: Just enjoy and really have to give my best and try my hardest. That’s what it’s all about all the time. We go out there to compete and give your best, you face your opponent who tries to do the same. Just to be out there and playing tennis for me, because I wasn’t even able to play four months ago at all so, I’m really going to enjoy that. And for me the process to get back into the playing mode. I’ve been working really hard, it’s all about just getting into the rhythm and then it’s gonna happen.

 

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Djokovic Upset by Robredo, Murray Survives Isner in Cincinnati

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

By Dave Gertler

(August 14, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Two of the three Big Four players competing at this year’s Cincinnati Masters played their third-round matches during Thursday’s day sessions. One survived, one didn’t.

 

“The focus is winning right now,” said a composed Andy Murray after his 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(2) win over John Isner, “Not so much how I’m hitting the ball or moving or anything like that. Just trying to win. That’s all that’s important just now.”

 

Since winning Wimbledon last year, Murray has seen his rank plunge from No. 2 to No. 9. First struggling with back surgery rehab, and then adjusting to a new coaching situation. He has regained peak physical condition, but collated a mixture of results that has not seen him advance past the semi-finals of any tournament in the last 14 months.

 

“I want to get back to winning events and being in the finals of the big tournaments,” said Murray, “And winning matches like today is a big step for me.” He and his opponent John Isner, last year’s Western & Southern Open runner-up, played for 2 hours and 23 minutes in front of a Grandstand Court that was packed to the rafters.

 

“Sort of like standing room only,” said Isner, who served 21 aces to Murray’s 14, “You could see people on Center Court at the top looking over and watching. It was great. The fans were unbelievable. I thought they were on my side the whole way, and they were.”

 

After losing the first set tiebreak, Murray then broke Isner for the only break of the match, holding on to win the second set. Then, with the sun in his eyes, serving to stay in the match, Murray served two double faults, allowing Isner his first of two match points. “When it’s 6‑5 in the third set,” said Murray, “Ideally you want to try and get some free points when you can. Maybe made a slight mistake trying to do that. Yeah, but I just managed to find a way to get through that game.”

 

While Murray cited “instinct” as what guided him to a third-set tiebreak, which he would ultimately win to advance to the quarterfinals, fellow Big Four member Novak Djokovic has faltered at the round-of-16 stage of his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 event. The world No.1, who last bowed out in the third round in Toronto, today lost in straight sets to 16th seed Tommy Robredo.

 

“Just many, many, many things are not clicking these two weeks on hard courts,” said Djokovic, who fought back from being a break down to Robredo in the first set, before losing it in a tiebreak. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s more than obvious I’m not playing even close to what I’m supposed to play.”

 

In the second set, Djokovic was unable to make a dent on Robredo’s serve, winning only four points while receiving. While Djokovic was able to save two match points, serving at 4-5, Robredo would convert at his next opportunity, taking the second set 7-5.

 

“Well, maybe he didn’t play very good the last two matches that he played,” said Robredo after his second career win over a world No.1 – the first was against Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, “But anyway, he’s the world No. 1. He won in Wimbledon. He’s a great player. If you don’t play your best you’re gonna lose for sure. Even if you play your best, sometimes if he’s playing great, you’re gonna lose also.”

 

While Djokovic will head straight to New York to prepare for the US Open, where he is defending finalist, Murray will face either Gael Monfils or Roger Federer, who play their third-round match on Center Court this evening.

 

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

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Aussies Bounced Out of Cincinnati

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

By Dave Gertler

(August 13, 2014) MASON, OHIO – The last three Australians left in the singles draw at the Cincinnati Masters all played their second-round matches on Wednesday, with Sam Stosur and Marinko Matosevic both bowing out to their American opponents in straight sets. Lleyton Hewitt also succumbed to the grinding baseline play of Italian Fabio Fognini.

 

Stosur and Serena Williams added another encounter to their storied rivalry, the Aussie receiving warm support from the crowd as she battled to stay in both sets, at times out-hitting her world No.1 opponent. In a match lasting almost two hours, where neither player dropped their serve, and Williams needed to come from behind in both tie-breaks to eventually win through to the next round. “She was up in both of the breakers,” said Williams, “I think it was just a great match, to be honest. She served unbelievable, and I was like, I can’t lose serve because she’s just serving great.”

 

Both players brought their big serves to the table, particularly Serena, who served 12 aces. “Really good quality match,” said Stosur, “I’m really pleased with the way I played. I’m disappointed when you have those couple of set points and don’t go through and at least win that set to take it into three. But I gave myself every chance to try and get through that one.  She came up with some really great stuff when it really counted.”

 

While Stosur was facing last year’s women’s runner up, Marinko Matosevic had to contend with the men’s runner up from last year, in a slightly less competitive 3-6, 6-7 loss to the American John Isner. That left Lleyton Hewitt in a familiar position as the last Australian in the singles draw.

LleytonHewittHOF

Hewitt would drop the first set against Fognini 6-1, before going up a break in the second set, a lead that he would ultimately relinquish, allowing Fognini back into the second set, which he won 6-4. “The second set I fought hard, I was up a break in the second set but couldn’t consolidate,” said Hewitt. The 33-year-old Australian served 9 double faults, saying, “I just didn’t hit my serve well today, especially early on,” said Hewitt, “He makes you play a lot of balls as well. He’s a confidence player, and when he’s hitting ball well, he’s tough to beat. He moves well, as well.”

 

Serena Williams’ next opponent will be Flavia Pennetta, while Isner faces No.8 seed Andy Murray. Fabio Fognini will face Yen-Hsun Lu, who had an upset victory over 4th seed Tomas Berdych. Also through to the round of 16, Roger Federer, who beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours for his 300th win at a Masters Series 1000 event.

 

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

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Isner Among the Top Seeds in Action at Citi Open on Wednesday

John Isner

John Isner

By Dave Gertler

(July 30, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – The top seeds in the men’s draw at the Citi Open are all in action today, and with defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro still recovering from injury, as well as the pre-tournament withdrawal of would-be No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov, fifth seeded American John Isner might be sensing the opportunity to finally raise the trophy of the tournament that has meant so much to him during his professional tennis career.

 

“For me, Washington has always been a special place,” said Isner during a USTA-organized conference call two weeks ago. “I’ve always played extremely well there, but I’ve never won it. I know I’ve made two finals and two other semi-finals, so I’ve always played well there, but haven’t quite finished it off. So hopefully this year will be different.”

 

“I was lucky enough to get a last-minute wildcard in 2007,” said Isner of his first appearance in Washington as a 22-year-old, “If I remember correctly, Fernando Gonzalez pulled out or something and I was able to get a wildcard. I was extremely lucky.” Having found success later in his career than most players, Isner’s nine career titles have all come in the last four years; five of them have been on hard courts, and all but two having come on American soil.

 

“I had nothing to lose,” he told of his debut at what was then the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, “And that’s how I played that week, and I made the finals. It helped me out so much. I sort of made a name for myself, and got my ranking up there pretty high really quickly.”

 

By making the finals that year, albeit one that he would lose to Andy Roddick, Isner’s dramatic rankings jump took him from 416 to 193 in the world.

 

Isner has since lost as many ATP finals as he has won. His most recent opponent in Washington, Del Potro, took a 4-0 winning record against the American into their 2013 final. One of those wins had in fact come in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Legg Mason. In 2009, Isner would lose once again to Roddick, this time in the semi-finals.

 

Along with Del Potro’s absence, the withdrawals before the tournament of No.3 seed Grigor Dimitrov, as well as Gael Monfils – a player who’s stopped Isner’s progress here in the past – has considerably opened up  the field for the 29-year-old, who maintained that, “Even without (Del Potro), I think the field is stronger than it was last year,” said Isner. “There are a lot of, lot of good players. This is one of the toughest 500 tournaments in the world, no doubt about that.”

 

While Isner’s best recent result was reaching the second week of Roland Garros, world No.7 Milos Raonic made the semi-finals of Wimbledon a few weeks ago, and can now be considered amongst the favorites to take out any ATP 500 Series tournament, as can Kei Nishikori, and world No.5 Tomas Berdych, who accepted a late wildcard into the Citi Open two weeks before it began, and plays as tournament’s top seed. Berdych has played the tournament three times, making a semi-final and two quarterfinals, most recently in 2010.

 

“I think it’s more exciting for me,” said Isner about the high caliber of players in attendance at the Citi Open, “Me personally, I always want to go up against guys that are ranked higher than me. That means I’m progressing well within that tournament. But it’s good for the tournament, it’s good for everyone.” Isner’s first match will be a second-round encounter with compatriot Steve Johnson, while fellow big man Ivo Karlovic awaits the winner in the third round.

 

While Isner will be making his seventh appearance at the tournament since 2007, one dangerous floater will also be making his seventh appearance since first appearing in the 1998 Washington draw as a 17-year-old. 33-year-old Lleyton Hewitt – who refuses to discuss any plans for retirement – will be celebrating ten years since he won the 2004 Washington title. Hewitt’s second-round win against countryman Marinko Matosevic pits him against the winner between Jack Sock and Milos Raonic, who are billed as the third match on Stadium Court today. Also on Stadium Court today, Americans Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri to face Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych respectively, while 4th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet takes on in-form Israeli Dudi Sela.

 

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

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John Isner Defends Atlanta Open Title

 

(July 27, 2014) John Isner won his ninth ATP World Tour title on Sunday by defeating Dudi Sela of Israel 6-3, 6-4 to win the Atlanta Open for the second straight year. It was the American’s fourth Atlanta final in five years.

“The field is so tough at this event,” Isner said. “I’m so happy to win this. I consider myself fortunate that this event is even here. It’s a big advantage for me to play in Georgia and to have a lot of support.”

“Isner went for his shots and played more freely,” Sela said. “With his return game, he just went for it.”

In doubles action, Wimbledon champions Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil reman a perfect 10-0 as a doubles team, capturing the title with a 6-3, 5-7 10-5 over Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey.

“[Johnson and Querrey] played well, but we felt like we were playing better than they were even after losing the second set, said the Canadian Pospisil. “We just had to stay calm in the [Match Tie-break] and go point by point.”

“We’re trying to make the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals,” said Sock. That’s one of our goals this year on the side, aside from improving our singles rankings.”

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Isner to Meet Sela in Atlanta Open Final

John Isner

John Isner

By Herman Wood

(July 26, 2014) ATLANTA – Young American Jack Sock took on veteran John Isner on Saturday at the BB&T Open in the first singles semifinal.  Hotlanta certainly was up to the nickname.  Conditions were compared to this year’s Australian Open, when players were understandably concerned.  The difference?  In Atlanta, the humidity combined with the heat makes it more difficult for the body to cool itself.  Despite the conditions, both men came out in dark colored tops.  Isner said, “It’s not easy conditions at all playing, doing anything.  Heat like that is tough.  I don’t know how the fans endure it.”  Despite conditions, Isner started off on the right foot, unlike yesterday.  He was striking winners off his forehand and backhand, though his first serve was off and he only had three aces for the first set while serving 48% on that delivery.  Sock looked better able to handle the conditions early in the match, moving better with his head up and working for points while Isner was content to let some balls go.  Isner has been accused of playing “possum” a bit in matches, but the two men train together, so that was not in the cards today.  (In the southeastern United States, possum refers to a marsupial whose primary method of defense is to play dead until an opportune moment, at which time they either wander off or show impressive teeth and a willingness to fight.)

 

As expected, rallies were mostly short, one or two strokes after a return.  The first deuce point occurred at four games apiece, with Isner serving.  On Isner’s very next service game, Sock seemed to fully get his teeth into Isner’s deliveries and forced him to rally.  With an untimely double fault, Isner handed Sock his first break point opportunity.  With a second serve coming, Sock got the return back into play and correctly anticipated Isner’s inside out forehand and just missed a pass off the tape that might have made all the difference and he clearly knew it.  Isner took full advantage and held with a blistering forehand and 128 MPH ace.  Serving at 5-6, perhaps Sock wasn’t able to clear the thoughts of the missed opportunity and missed his next three serves, the first two a double fault.  His fourth serve was punished by Isner for an easy winner.  Isner was certainly feeling it, as he challenged on the third point of the game on a ball that was solidly on the line.  The challenge may have given Sock some time to settle himself, as he took that point and the next two to get to 40-30.  Isner toughened and Sock got a bit loose.  Combined, that let to nine deuces before the matter of the twelfth game and ultimately the first set could be settled.  Sock chose the more difficult down the line forehand on a short ball and clipped the tape.  Isner sealed the first set on his third try with a Sock backhand error, 7-5, on a ball that did not seem that difficult.

 

Sock settled in despite early pressure from Isner in the first few games of the second set.  Certainly, he showed maturity beyond his young age, keeping his wits about him and continuing with good fight through two games all.  On Sock’s serve, at 2-3, Isner made a challenge on a ball called out right in front of Sock.  It turned out to be a wise challenge, as review showed the ball good.  The chair awarded the point to Isner.  Sock argued that the call by the linesman affected his play on the ball and that the point should be replayed.  It was very tough to tell when the call came, though it did appear that Sock had a play and chose not to play the ball and the linesman made the call late.  Sock struggled with himself throughout the game.  He told the chair umpire “You ruin matches, you know that.”  To his credit, Sock worked through the game and held to get to three all.

 

Perhaps the game energized Isner, as he showed no signs of playing possum or “lollygagging around” as he kept the pressure on Sock, with extremely high kicking second serves that Sock had lots of trouble returning mixed in with a few more aces on first serve deliveries.  On Sock’s service games, Isner was clearly trying to attack with frequent approaches and crushed forehands.  The strategy led to some impressive shots as well as shanks, one of which may have stopped traffic on nearby Interstate 75.  The crushed forehands from Isner looked to do damage to anything they hit.  Isner stepped up his serve to hold to get to 5-4.  The game went for three straight service winners, only to be interrupted by an Isner miss on the only ball Sock got in play in the whole game.  Isner closed the game with an ace.  Sock stepped in to serve, down 4-5, to stay in the match.  After more impressive shanks by Isner, Sock let a thirty love lead evaporate on a poor attempt at a slice back hand and floating forehand winner by Isner.  Isner stepped up again and committed to the rally and Sock missed to give Isner a match point.  Sock saved it with aggressive play, leading to an overhead to get back to deuce.  Unfortunately for Sock, he double faulted immediately to give Isner another match point.  Sock played bravely, nailing a ball onto the left baseline that Isner challenged unsuccessfully.  If out, it would have ended the match.  Sock could not manage to rally on the subsequent deuce, missing a forehand to give Isner a match point. Sock finally donated a double fault to hand the match to Isner, 7-5, 6-4.  He will either face Dudi Sela or Benjamin Becker in the finals on Sunday.

 

When asked about his possible opponent on Sunday, Isner expressed no preference.  He mentioned that “They said on TV I was 2-0 against Becker, though I can’t remember the two times I’ve played him.  He’s another college product.  He went four years at Baylor.  That would be kind of cool, two four year college guys.  Dudi, I remember I played him in Delray Beach this year.  I beat him 7-6 in the third.  Although he is slight of stature, he doesn’t mind playing guys with big serves.  He beat Querrey.  He beat Pospisil.  He’s just an extremely talented player that can do so much with the ball.  I don’t know who to favor.”

 

 

 

Before an appreciative packed house at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Israeli Dudi Sela took on German Benjamin Becker over three tough sets for a chance to play local favorite John Isner  With the first two sets virtual mirror images, with each man winning a set 6-3, the match came down to a tight third set.  With Becker giving him only one opportunity to break, Sela took full advantage to get to 4-2.  Becker had five opportunities to break at that time, but had not cashed in.    Both men could feel the pressure, but Becker stepped up with a forehand winner to finally break right back.  Sela was far from done, hitting his picture perfect backhand for winners at crucial times and breaking again to allow him to serve for the final, 5-3.  Sela went for his shots and earned his first match point with a nice forehand retrieve that Becker shanked.  On the very first match point, Sela seized the opportunity with a blistering forehand that was too much for Becker.  It will be only his second final.  He has experience playing big servers like Isner.  He eliminated Pospisil and Querrey earlier in the Atlanta tournament.  In Columbia, he played Ivo Karlovic and used a chair to shake his hand after the match.

Sela really appreciated the support.  “This atmosphere is great!  I love Atlanta.”  Somehow, even with a well educated Atlanta tennis crowd, I expect former Georgia Bulldog John Isner will be feeling a bit more love.  The last time they played, it took Isner a third set tiebreak to overcome Sela.  The local support may be all the edge Isner needs.

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John Isner Saves Two Match Points in Win over Robby Ginepri

GSM Isner

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2014) ATLANTA – It was a showdown of Americans with local ties tonight at the BB&T Atlanta Open.  Former University of Georgia standout, top ranked American, and number one seed John Isner took on local Robby Ginepri, from just up I-75 in Marietta, now Kennesaw.  It was their fourth meeting, with Isner holding the edge, 2-1.

Ginepri, currently ranked 281, though as high as 15, was in the tournament as a wild card.  As expected in any John Isner match, things started with an ace.  Ginepri returned the favor with his very first serve and had a very easy hold.  From that point forward, it was evident that Ginepri was dialed in on the Isner serve.  He made Isner work by getting balls back in play off huge serves.  Isner did not help his own cause by only getting forty six percent of his first serves in and it led to the inevitable break with a sizzling passing shot by Ginepri to get him to 3-2.  Ginepri consolidated the break with a hold and the match stayed on track until Ginepri served the first set out 6-4.

As with any John Tiebreak, rather, Isner match, the second set went exactly that way.  There were threats of service break, again with Ginepri seeming to have really timed Isner’s deliveries.  It certainly seemed to take its toll, as Ginepri was flexing his wrists after blocking back 140 MPH or so blasts.  Isner served 71% of his first serves into play, converting 73% of those points.  Ginepri had no break points against his serve, while Isner saved the two opportunities Ginepri had.  There were mini-breaks of serve in the tie breaker, but the master of the breaker prevailed in a tight one 7-5.  Of course, the last point was an ace.

In the deciding third set, Ginepri seemed struggled a bit more to hold his serve, facing 7 break points.  He even dug out of one 15-40 hole and punctuated the hold with a yell.  It was inspired Ginepri tennis.  Isner had the customary two break points and saved both.  In Ginepri’s final service game, he was trying to hold for 6-5 and it couldn’t quite hold on.  The whole state knew what was coming next, but Ginepri was game, going for a new racquet in his attempt to break Isner’s  serve.  He never needed it.  Ace, ace, ace, ace.  Game, set, match; Isner 4-6, 7-5 (5), 7-5.  Isner said “It’s not easy, coming in playing your first match.  Having a bye is nice, but at the same time you are playing someone that has played a match.”  Isner will play Matsovci on Friday, surprisingly at 4 PM.  The feature 7 PM slot will see Jack Sock take on Lukas Lacko.

The crowd was well entertained and solidly behind good play, getting loud for each player in appreciation.  Of course, there was barking for Isner and shouts of ROBBY in support of Ginepri.  Some would have been concerned about turnout if Ginepri had won, but the crowd support for both men made it clear that Atlantans appreciation of good tennis should not be underestimated.

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The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta

 

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 17, 2014) ATLANTA – Preparation for the US Open is underway.  The BB&T Atlanta Open gets things started on Saturday, July 19th for the men.  Qualifying begins at 10 AM.  The BB&T Atlanta Open is an ATP 250 event, with a 28 player draw, four of which come from the qualifying tournament.  The qualifying field will have 32 players.  The doubles draw is a 16 team field.  Last year’s champ, John Isner, is returning, along with fellow Americans Sam Querrey, Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock, and Donald Young.  Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Lleyton Hewitt, and the other half of the Wimbledon doubles championship team, Vasek Pospisil, are also expected in the tournament.  The tournament aspires to be a mini US Open, with the venue set among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station.  Atlantic Station is a community within downtown that provides homes for 10,000 people integrated with shopping, restaurants, and retailers that make it a hit with the players.  Besides the attractive venue, players will get a jump on the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, where nearly $40 million in prize money is up for grabs.  This is the third year the tournament has been held at Atlantic Station.

It is a familiar place for Americans, with Isner winning last year, Roddick in 2012, and Fish in 2011.  It has also been comfortable for big man tennis- last year Isner, at 6’10”, overcame Kevin Anderson at 6’8” in three tiebreaks.  Fans in the first couple of rows certainly had to pay attention with the huge serves coming their way.  It is especially familiar for Isner, who competed collegiately just an hour down the road for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, leading the team to a national championship and winning every possible team title in 2007.  He’s usually a fan favorite, with at least a couple of barks from Georgia fans in his favor at each match.  Isner may not be the only recipient of barks; University of Georgia player Austin Smith has accepted a wild card into the main draw. The sophomore from Cumming, Georgia excelled this season as the Bulldogs captured the 2014 SEC Championship. Smith finished with a 35-12 record, and went 9-1 in SEC matches. He has won four USTA Pro Circuit matches. A tournament qualifier in 2011, Smith will be playing his debut ATP main draw match.

Another American, Jack Sock, could very well get on a roll at this tournament.  After winning doubles with Pospisil at Wimbledon, he rolled into Newport and eliminated Isner in the Newport Hall of Fame event on grass just a week ago.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to keep that momentum and was eliminated by the veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who went on to win the tournament.  Hewitt’s feisty shouts of “C’mon!” have endeared him to the Atlanta fans in past years.  Fresh off his renewed success at Newport, he could very well win Atlanta.  The main draw was just rounded out with the addition of Ryan Harrison and Robby Ginepri.  “We’re ecstatic to welcome back two of our fan favorites in Ryan Harrison and Atlanta metro resident Robby Ginepri,” Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez said. “One of our goals is to highlight American talent and both of these players are great examples of the fine players this country has produced.”  Harrison won the doubles last year, partnering with Matthew Ebden.  Ginepri appears for the fourth time, with a onetime ranking of fifteen.  He is a graduate of Wheeler High School, just a few miles north of Atlantic Station.  He currently resides in Kennesaw, another couple of miles north.

The draw will be finalized over this weekend with the completion of the qualifying tournament.  Promising American junior Francis Tiafoe has accepted his first tournament qualifying wild card. Tiafoe, 16, is a talented young prodigy who rose to No. 2 in the world junior rankings this spring. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Rakitt and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey have also accepted qualifying wild cards. Rakitt, a Marietta native and All-ACC selectee, is competing again for the second year. O’Shaughnessey of Macon, Ga., led the Crimson Tide in singles wins (22) this season.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood.

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