June 26, 2016

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

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John Isner and Sam Querrey reach Quarterfinals of U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship

415731-001 isner

RESULTS – Thursday, April 7, 2016
Singles Second Round
[3] Feliciano Lopez (Spain) d. Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 7-6(1) 6-1
[4] Jack Sock (USA) d. [Q] Matthew Barton (Australia) 6-2 7-6(5)
[7] Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) d. Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 6-4 6-3
[WC] Tim Smyczek (USA) d. Donald Young (USA) 6-2 6-4

Doubles Quarterfinals
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d. [WC] Reilly Opelka (USA) / Tommy Paul (USA) 6-4 6-3
Hyeon Chung (Korea) / Julio Peralta (Chile) d. [2] Philipp Petzschner (Germany) / Alexander Peya (Austria) walkover (Petzschner – right knee)
Victor Estrella Burgos (Dominican Republic) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) d. [3] Eric Butorac (USA) / Scott Lipsky (USA) 6-4 7-6(4)
[4] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) d. Chris Guccione (Australia) / Andre Sa (Brazil) 6-3 2-6 10-8

SCHEDULE – Friday, April 8, 2016
Center Court – 12:00 noon start
[5] Sam Querrey (USA) vs Juan Monaco (Argentina)
[WC] Tim Smyczek (USA) vs [3] Feliciano Lopez (Spain)
Not Before 4:00 pm
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) vs [4] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA)
Not Before 6:00 pm
[1] John Isner (USA) vs Hyeon Chung (Korea)
[4] Jack Sock (USA) vs [7] Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus)

Court 3 – Not Before 7:00 pm start
After Suitable Rest – Victor Estrella Burgos (Dominican Republic) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) vs Hyeon Chung (Korea) / Julio Peralta (Chile)

NOTES
– Four Americans – John Isner, Tim Smyczek, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock – are though to the quarterfinals, the most at this event since 2012. As all four have different opponents Friday, a few different tournament milestones are possible:
4 Americans in semifinals – would be second time in Open Era, first since 1988
3 Americans in semifinals – would be sixth time in Open Era, first since 2002
2 Americans in semifinals – would be fourth time in five years
– Three former champions – Jack Sock (2015), John Isner (2013) and Juan Monaco (2012) – have reached the semifinals. This is the sixth time in the Open Era at this event that three former champs have reached the final eight, and the first time since 2005.
Should all three win Friday, it would be the third time in the Open Era three former champions reached the semifinals, and the first time since 1971.
Should two of them win Friday, it would be the 10th time in the Open Era at least two former champions reached the semifinals, and the first time since 2003.
– The three winningest active players this tournament are all into the quarterfinals – Sam Querrey (13-6), John Isner (12-7) and Juan Monaco (11-4).
Juan Monaco is the winningest clay court player in the field. He boasts a 229-136 lifetime record on clay, and has won seven titles on the surface.
Sam Querrey is looking to reach the semifinals at River Oaks for the third straight year. He has twice finished as runner-up (2010 and 2015).
Feliciano Lopez has a career record of 405-369, and is one of only 13 active ATP players with over 400 career match wins. 

Tim Smyczek is appearing in his third career ATP World Tour quarterfinal. He is attempting to reach an ATP semifinal for the first time in his career.
John Isner fired 24 aces in his second round win, a tournament record for a two-set match. That win on Wednesday was the 50th of his career on clay.
– 
Hyeon Chung, a 19-year-old from Korea, is bidding to reach his first career semifinal. His run marks the fourth time a teen has reached this tournament’s quarterfinals since it moved to Houston in 2001 (Andy Roddick – 2001 and 2002, Ryan Harrison – 2012). Chung is bidding to be the first teenager to reach this event’s semifinals since Roddick in 2002.
Jack Sock, the defending champion, has won six straight matches at River Oaks. He is bidding to be the first back-to-back champion at this event since Andy Roddick in 2001-02. 
Marcos Baghdatis is one match away from reaching the 300-win milestone for his career.
Bob & Mike Bryan are five-time champions here. The twin brothers from California are 34-8 in their career at this event. 

SINGLES DRAW
DOUBLES DRAW
QUALIFYING DRAW 
FULL WEEK SCHEDULE
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LIVE SCORES

Grand Prix Hassan II
Marrakech, Morocco

RESULTS – THURSDAY, 7 APRIL 2016

Singles – Second Round
[1] G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d N. Almagro (ESP) 16 63 64
[4] F. Delbonis (ARG) d T. de Bakker (NED) 64 64
[7] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) d D. Istomin (UZB) 63 76(5)
[8] J. Vesely (CZE) d [Q] N. Mektic (CRO) 67(4) 63 76(5)

Doubles – Semi-finals
M. Draganja (CRO) / A. Qureshi (PAK) d R. Bopanna (IND) / D. Istomin (UZB) 76(5) 76(5)

Doubles – Quarter-finals
G. Duran (ARG) / M. Gonzalez (ARG) d [2] M. Lopez (ESP) / D. Marrero (ESP) 64 64
[3] M. Pavic (CRO) / M. Venus (NZL) d A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) / J. Vesely (CZE) 64 63

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Draws View tournament draws

SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 8 APRIL 2016

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
A. Montanes (ESP) vs F. Bagnis (ARG)
[3] B. Coric (CRO) vs P. Mathieu (FRA)
[7] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs [4] F. Delbonis (ARG)
[1] G. Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [8] J. Vesely (CZE)

COURT 2 start 2:00 pm
[3] M. Pavic (CRO) / M. Venus (NZL) vs G. Duran (ARG) / M. Gonzalez (ARG)

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John Isner and Caroline Wozniacki Headline World TeamTennis Draft

wtt 40th season

(March 25, 2016) MIAMI – Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and top-ranked American John Isner were among the top names selected today at the Mylan World TeamTennis Draft in Miami. Isner returns to the Springfield Lasers while Wozniacki was selected by the Philadelphia Freedoms.

 

The 2016 regular season runs July 31-August 13 with the top two teams advancing to the Mylan WTT Finals on Friday, August 26 at Forest Hills Stadium at The West Side Tennis Club.

 

America’s top doubles duo of Bob and Mike Bryan will join current WTA doubles No. 1 Martina Hingis and former world No. 7 Mardy Fish in the lineup for the defending champion Washington Kastles.

 

Former world No. 4 James Blake was selected by the San Diego Aviators with their marquee round selection. The New York Empire previously acquired marquee player Andy Roddick.

 

In the Roster Draft, a plethora of fresh faces headlined team selections. After trading up for the No. 1 roster pick, the Empire drafted New Jersey native Christina McHale. Top 40 players Daria Gavrilova, Daria Kasatkina and Guido Pella were selected by the Lasers, Freedoms and Empire.

 

The Kastles, who have won five consecutive titles, brought back the core of their 2015 championship team. Washington will be looking to rewrite the record books in 2016 by winning a record seventh Mylan WTT title.

 

A team-by-team breakdown of the 2016 Mylan WTT Draft:

 

New York Empire

In the New York Empire’s inaugural season, the team started strong by acquiring the rights to seasoned Mylan WTT star Andy Roddick in a transaction with Orange County Breakers prior to the draft. For their first round selection, the Empire went with hometown favorite Christina McHale. In Round 2, New York selected top 40 Argentinian Guido Pella, who will make his Mylan WTT debut in 2016. Rounding out their 2016 roster, the Empire chose two doubles players — Argentinian Maria Irigoyen and Austrian Oliver Marach, both of which will play their rookie season of Mylan WTT this year when the team kicks off their season at the historic Forest Hills Stadium. The Empire will be coached by Patrick McEnroe.

 

Orange County Breakers

Building on experience, the Orange County Breakers used their first and second round roster picks to bring back up-and-coming American Nicole Gibbs and 2015 Mylan WTT Rookie of the Year Alla Kudryavtseva, who will play their second consecutive season together this summer. In Round 3, the Breakers took American doubles player Scott Lipsky, who will be playing his second successive season in the league, but first with the Breakers. For the last pick of their 2016 draft, the Breakers added American UCLA standout Dennis Novikov, who will be making his Mylan WTT debut in Orange County this summer. Rick Leach will coach the Breakers this season.

 

Philadelphia Freedoms

With the first marquee selection of the 2016 Mylan WTT Player Draft, the Philadelphia Freedoms selected fan-favorite Caroline Wozniacki. Building their roster, the Freedoms drafted Slovakian Lukas Lacko in Round 1 and Russian teen Daria Kasatkina in Round 2, both of which will play their first season of Mylan WTT. In the third round, Philadelphia top-50 doubles player Fabrice Martin, who will play his first season in the league this year. With their final picks, in Rounds 4 and 5, the Freedoms selected British player Naomi Broady and American Donald Young to set their 2016 team. Josh Cohen will return as the Freedoms coach.

 

San Diego Aviators

For their marquee selection in 2016, the San Diego Aviators selected popular American and experienced Mylan WTT star James Blake to lead the team. The Aviators then used their first round roster selection to take rising American Shelby Rogers who will be playing her first full Mylan WTT season this summer. In Round 2, San Diego protected Raven Klaasen, who is returning to the team for the third consecutive season. For the third and fourth rounds of the draft, the Aviators added British singles player Daniel Evans and then protected Darija Jurak, who played for the team in 2015. The Aviators will once again be coached by John Lloyd.

 

Springfield Lasers

The Springfield Lasers are bringing back top-ranked American John Isner, who will be playing his sixth Mylan WTT season. In Round 1 of the Roster Draft, the Lasers brought on Canadian doubles specialist Daniel Nestor, a former Mylan WTT Male MVP. With their second roster selection, Springfield took German Benjamin Becker, who will be making his Mylan WTT debut in 2016. In the final two rounds of the draft, the Lasers added No. 34 Australian singles player Daria Gavrilova and Dutch doubles specialist Michaella Krajicek to round out their 2016 team. John Laffnie-de Jager will return to coach the Lasers.

 

Washington Kastles

After protecting the rights to marquee player Martina Hingis, the defending champion Washington Kastles made a strong trade with the Orange County Breakers to move up in the Marquee Round to select Bob and Mike Bryan. With five straight Mylan WTT titles, the Kastles also bolstered their team with the addition of American Mardy Fish.  The Kastles Round 1 and 2 roster picks were used to protect 2015 champion teammates Sam Querrey and Leander Paes. Keeping with a lineup that earned them the King Trophy last season, the Kastles protected both Madison Brengle and 2015 Mylan WTT Female co-MVP Anastasia Rodionova to begin their campaign to add another title to their dynasty. The team will be coached by Murphy Jensen.

 

Team-by-team look at each of the team’s roster, including their coach:

Washington Kastles: Martina Hingis, Bob & Mike Bryan, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey, Leander Paes, Madison Brengle, Anastasia Rodionova. Coach: Murphy Jensen

Philadelphia Freedoms: Caroline Wozniacki, Lukas Lacko, Daria Kasatkina, Fabrice Martin, Naomi Broady, Donald Young. Coach: Josh Cohen

New York Empire: Andy Roddick, Christina McHale, Guido Pella, Maria Irigoyen, Oliver Marach. Coach: Patrick McEnroe

San Diego Aviators: James Blake, Shelby Rogers, Raven Klaasen, Daniel Evans, Darija Jurak.  Coach: John Lloyd

Springfield Lasers: John Isner, Daniel Nestor, Benjamin Becker, Daria Gavrilova, Michaella Krajicek   Coach: John-Laffnie de Jager

Orange County Breakers:  Nicole Gibbs, Alla Kudryavtseva, Scott Lipsky, Dennis Novikov.   Coach: Rick Leach

 

 

ROUND BY ROUND –

Marquee Draft

Springfield Lasers: John Isner (protection)

San Diego Aviators: James Blake (designated)

New York Empire: Andy Roddick (acquired via Orange County in pre-draft trade)

Philadelphia Freedoms: Caroline Wozniacki

Washington Kastles: Martina Hingis (protection), Bob & Mike Bryan, Mardy Fish

 

1ST ROUND – ROSTER

New York Empire: Christina McHale

San Diego Aviators: Shelby Rogers

Springfield Lasers: Daniel Nestor

Philadelphia Freedoms: Lukas Lacko

Orange County Breakers: Nicole Gibbs (protection)

Washington Kastles: Sam Querrey (protection)

 

2nd ROUND – ROSTER

Springfield Lasers: Benjamin Becker

San Diego Aviators: Raven Klaasen (protection)

New York Empire: Guido Pella

Philadelphia Freedoms: Daria Kasatkina

Orange County Breakers: Alla Kudryavtseva (protection)

Washington Kastles: Leander Paes (protection)

 

3rd ROUND – ROSTER:

Springfield Lasers: Daria Gavrilova

San Diego Aviators: Daniel Evans

Springfield Lasers: Michaella Krajicek

Philadelphia Freedoms: Fabrice Martin

Orange County Breakers: Scott Lipsky

Washington Kastles: Madison Brengle (protection)

 

4th ROUND – ROSTER:

New York Empire: Maria Irigoyen

San Diego Aviators: Darija Jurak (protection)

New York Empire: Oliver Marach

Philadelphia Freedoms: Naomi Broady

Orange County Breakers: Dennis Novikov

Washington Kastles: Anastasia Rodionova (protection)

 

5th ROUND – ROSTER:

Philadelphia Freedoms: Donald Young (exempt)

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Nadal Survives Zverev; Wawrinka Ousted at BNP Paribas Open

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

(March 16, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 5 Rafael Nadal came back from 2-5 down and a match point at 3-5 in third set to take down up-and-coming  18-year-old German No. 58 Alexander Zverev 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

Zverev had a match point at 5-3 in third, but he hit a forehand olley into the net and never recovered from his mistake. The Spaniard lost only two points in his Last two service games to close the match.

“I had match point, so I think I did well there. On match point I sucked, so that was it,” Zverev said.

“I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match. That’s what happened.”

“I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.”

“Look, in the last three weeks I lost 7-5 in the third to Berdych; 6-4 in the fifth to Berdych; and 7-5 in the third with match point to Nadal. So I know how tough losses feel right now.

” Look, I mean, I think it was a great match. I mean, Rafa did what he does best; he was fighting. I mean, he’s known for that. So, you know, I still had chances to win. I had an easy shot at match point and I missed it.

“I’m out and he’s in the quarterfinals.”

“Very happy for the victory, obviously,” Nadal said. “I have been fighting during the whole match. First set I had big chance with not a difficult forehand down the line that I missed. So that first set probably will be the key, if I was able to hit that forehand right place, no?

“But after that, I think I played a great second set. But at the beginning, sometimes when win a set that easy is dangerous for the beginning of the next one, no?

“The beginning of the third he played aggressive, and I think I stopped a little bit the rhythm, so I was in trouble, no?

“Was a great victory. You know, it’s obvious that I played against a great player, a player who was serving unbelievable, at the beginning especially. He served well whole match apart from some double faults.

“”But you think when somebody is serving with that speed in the second serve, some double faults are the normal thing, no?

Is a great victory, as I said before. I’m very happy about it. I am especially happy about the mentality on court, the spirit of fight during the whole match, believing that I can win a match during the whole time even in the tougher situations.”

Nadal talked about the adjustments he needed to make against Zverev.

“Well, beginning of the match he was serving over 133 first serves and second serves over 120.

“I was trying to return inside the court, as I did every day, but with the second serve 120 miles with a lot of spin, 124, 123, 120, was impossible, no?

“At the beginning when that happened I was in a little bit of trouble, because I felt like I cannot lose my serve, because if I lose my serve and he was serving that way, is impossible. So I felt a little bit the pressure at the beginning.

“But then I think I returned really well during the whole match, no? First serve. Second serve I decided to go back three, four meters behind the baseline, because from inside he was — he’s young, ready to take the risks, and if the opponent wants to take the risk on the second serve and he’s having success, it’s difficult to make something, no?

“”I decided to go back and tried to put more balls in, and I think worked well. I think I had enough breaks to win the match.

“Negative thing is I lost my serve twice in the third, something that cannot happen, especially after having the break back. But that’s it. No, no, no, the match was tough. I think any player can win, and is true he had a big chance with match point and that volley.

“Sorry for him. I think at the same time, I deserve victory like this after couple of loses with big chances to win, too.”

Belgian’s David Goffin, ranked 18th in the world, stunned third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals of Inidan Wells on Wednesday. The victory for Goffin ended a 14- match losing streak against top 10 players.

Wawrinka came back from 0-4 down in the second set to 4-4. Goffin served for the match at 5-4, but failed to close and Wawrinka won the next three games to even the match at a set all. In the third set, Goffin against served for the match and could not hold. The match went on to tiebreak. Wawrinka hit a crucial overhead out at 5-5 to give Goffin match point which capitalized on.

There were 13 breaks of serve in the match.

“I was struggling with my serve and it was difficult with the heat,” Goffin said in press. “In the third, it’s tough to fight again with the heat and with the level of Stan. The tiebreaker is like you flip a coin.”

“Well, not too great day, not too great level,” Wawrinka said smiling. “I didn’t have the rhythm yet. Was a match without brain, let’s put it that way.

“Have some tough time to focus, have some tough time to find what I wanted to play and stay calm. Still try to fight. Got lucky to come back twice. Had the chance to finish the tiebreak. I didn’t, and quite simple.”

“I think he got a bit tired and nervous also,” Wawrinka continued. “He start to miss easy shots. Gave me the chance to come back. Can lose quickly, eh?

“Two time I come back. I had the chance in the third set to finish it also at 5-5 to break him again. I didn’t. I didn’t.

“But in general, he deserved to win. You know, it was the time of. Should have finish before.”
Goffin will play No. 10 seed Marin Cilic, who defeated No. 8 Richard Gasquet, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. Another upset saw No. 12 Milos Raonic beat No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-6 (7).

“A match where you sort of say you felt great but you went out there and you tried to put the pieces together, Raonic said.

“I got ahead a few service games. He served well. He got ahead. I served well. That was pretty much only one point that I would sort of have played differently. Maybe just be a little bit sharper in the second serves in the beginning service games.

“Other than that, it was all good.”

Top seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic advanced easily. Williams defeated defending champion Simona Halep 6-4, 6-3.

“It feels really good to get that win,” Williams said. “She obviously has been in good form the past couple years. So, yeah, I feel really good just to get under there and buckle down and to win that.

No. 3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who will move up to No. 2 in the rankings, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-2, 7-6 (3) to reach the semifinals. She’ll face Serena Williams in the semifinals.

Asked about returning to No. 2 in the world, Radwanska said: “It’s always a good feeling to be back in this position. I wasn’t long last time, but I think that was a few years ago. It’s always good to be back in that position. Now it’s difficult to be No. 1.

“There is always opportunity, but it’s not about one or two tournaments. To be No. 1 you really have to play the whole season very good, and obviously catch Serena. But she is also playing very good tennis and she will want to play good and be there at No. 1.

“Well, I will try my best, and now I have the opportunity that I’m definitely not really defending much points till the grass, so, well, that’s definitely my spot that I can do that. We’ll see if I can.”

Williams said of the match-up: “She knows how to play in big stadiums and big matches, big games.

“Obviously she does everything so well, including running, and this is a good surface for her because it’s a slow surface. I think I expect there will be a lot of long rallies.

“Honestly, I will be ready. I really like Aga on and off the court. I think she’s super exciting to watch on the court, and off the court I think she’s really one of the nicest people.

“Regardless, I think it will be a really good matchup. Whoever wins will go into the final.”

Novak Djokovic defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.

“I’m actually glad to have a match like this with not much complications,” Djokovic said.

“I think we both started to play well on our service games, and he was 30-Love on that game when I broke him. Then he missed four first serves. I managed to step in and return very well on those four second serves that I got and just used the opportunity.

“You know, after that I was feeling more comfortable also on the return games even though Feliciano is a very difficult player to play against. He’s left handed and he has a big first serve and he can hit angles, comes to the net, so very strong, physically moves well.

“But I was very solid. I didn’t allow him to come to the net too many times. It was a good performance.”

Kei Nishikori beat John Isner 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) plays Nadal in the quarterfinals.

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Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori Advance to Fourth Round of Indian Wells

Nadal at net

(March 15, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal had an easy first set but had to save 5 set points it the second set tiebreak to defeat Spanish countryman and doubles partner Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6(9) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Verdasco only won 13 points in the first set, making 14 unforced errors. He made a total of 38 errors in the match.

Verdasco took a 6-3 lead in the second set tiebreak. Nadal saved three set points and saved another two. Nadal won the match on his second match point.

“I lost matches similar to this one in Australia, in Bueno Aires, in Rio de Janeiro, so it’s important winning sets like this for me like the other day in the third, today in the second,” Nadal said in press.

“You know, I have to go through these things, no? I played a great first set, very good quality of tennis, I think. No mistakes. That’s important for me. Serving very well; returning very well.

“Then having some mistakes in the beginning of the second, especially with the serve, then distract my concentration, distract my confidence, and I was suffering at the end of the second set, too, no?

“I know arriving to a tiebreak against a player like Verdasco normally he serve better than me. You know, normally in these kind of match I have more to lose than him, so he’s able to play very aggressive. He has an amazing shots, no? He arrives to the tiebreak and you know you’re in trouble.

“Feel lucky to win the tiebreak, and at the same time I think at the end of the tiebreak I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points.

“So is an important victory for me. Two matches wins here, tough ones. That’s something that stays in my mind and helps.”

The three-time champion of Indian Wells will face -off against Alexander Zverev for a place in the quarterfinals.

Zverev dismissed 16th seed Gilles Simon easily 6-2, 6-2 on Stadium 3 to reach the fourth round. The up-and-coming 18-year-old German is ranked No. 58th.

“Well, I thought I played really well today,” said the German. “I think I was really aggressive. Hit a lot of winners.

“You know, beating someone like Gilles 6-2, 6-2 is something that gives me a lot of confidence for myself. He’s such a great player and such a tough competitor, as well.

“You know, I was really ready for a long, long fight and a long three-set match and that was that quick.

“You know, I’m really happy that I got through so quickly.”

“I think against someone like Gilles you really have to be aggressive even more than against other players, and that’s, I think, what I did and worked out really well,” Zverev added.

“I had a great day today. You know, someone like Gilles, if you don’t hit him off the court he’s gonna be tough to beat. He’s gonna be running and fighting all day.

“So, you know, I knew what I had to do, and I think I did it pretty well.”

Zverev talked about playing Nadal:
“Rafa, he’s one of the greatest in the sport ever winning 14 slams. He’s probably one of greatest fighters ever, so it would be a big honor to play against someone like him.”

Nadal discussed his match-up against the young German: “He’s a clear possible future No. 1. He’s an amazing player. He has all the shots. Very good physical performance. Tall, good serve, first and second, great shots from the baseline, forehand and backhand.

“He has everything to become big star and he’s playing well. He won already matches against Dimitrov, against Simon today. So I don’t know the other matches he won. Against who? Dodig? So three very good matches, no?

“Going to be a very tough match tomorrow for me, and I have to be ready to fight, to suffer, and to try to play aggressive. That’s what I gonna try, no? Try to put a high rhythm and let’s see. I know going to be a very tough match. I happy the way I played today the first set, so if I can keep going the same way tomorrow, I hope to have my chances.”

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

No. 5 seed Kei Nishkori battled past 30th seed Steve Johnson 7-6(6), 7-6(5) to reach the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

Steve Johnson led 6-2 in the first set tiebreak, before something got into his eye and whatever it was he could not get it out. He proceeded to lose the next six points to lose the set.

 

Nishikori will take on John Isner next. Isner defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(3). Nishikori talked about the match-up against the hard-serving American: “The key will be on the return. My return, it’s going to be the key, for sure. I have to return well.

“I couldn’t really step in today, so I tried to play more aggressive tomorrow, and, you know, try to be patient. He’s a big guy and I think I have more advantage on my groundstrokes, so try to use more forehands and play more aggressive.”

During his match Isner hit 15 aces and did not lose any first serve points.

Isner on playng Nishikori: “Prior to last year I had never played him, which was pretty odd, because we have been in the same tournaments for a very long time.

“Now it seems like that’s starting to correct itself a little bit. This is the third time I’m going to play him in about a year.

“In the Miami match I played an excellent match, one of the best matches I have played all year, hands down. Maybe “the” best match I played all year. Against him in Miami was a very good day for me.

“In the Washington final I thought both of us played pretty well. He was obviously better than me. He won it in three sets. We have been pretty evenly matched in our first two contests. We have a rubber match coming up tomorrow. It will be fun.

“This is the third time, all on hard courts, in America, so it’s a good situation for me. But at the same time, going up against someone as at Kei’s level and stature, I will need to play very well to win. He he’s a fantastic player and he’s been doing it for a very long time.”

Feliciano Lopez, the 18th seed defeated Spanish countryman and 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 6-7(10), 6-4 in three hours and 15 minutes to reach the fourth round.

 

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BNP Paribas Open Photo Gallery from Friday, March 11, 2016

(March 11, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Photo gallery from around the grounds of the BNP Paribas Open. All photos by Curt Janka.

 

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

DAVIS CUP: ISNER “ACES” AUSTRALIA

Powers U.S. to Quarterfinals with victory over Tomic

By Junior Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

By Junior Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

NET CORDS

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

DAVIS CUP: DEADLOCKED DOWN UNDER

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

 

By Junior Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Line-up

DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME                  EVENT                    DETAILS/PAIRING

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

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

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

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

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

 

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