2014/09/30

Doubles for Singles, Nadal Returns to the Court After Wrist Injury

By Abigail Hinto

(September 29, 2014) BEIJING – Rafael Nadal was back on the court on Monday for the first time since injuring his right wrist in July to play a doubles match at the China Open. He partnered with Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar in his return.

 

The ever enthusiastic crowd of Chinese fans greeted all four singles players, Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar versus Tomas Berdych and John Isner, playing their first matches here at the China Open as doubles players with their usual zeal and passion.  Along with the return of Rafael Nadal to competition after being out for 3 months with a wrist injury, a first round doubles match brought out a full and noisy crowd to the Moon Court of the Beijing National Tennis Center with numerous Spanish flags swaying with the cool breeze under a hot sun.

 

Meanwhile, who cares for a team uniform for these singles players when no one bothered to coordinate with their teammates. Andujar, Berdych and Isner were all in white shirts with varying designs with Berdych sporting printed grey and orange shorts.  Nadal, on the other hand was the standout in an aquamarine/teal shirt with orange highlights and grey shorts.

 

As for the match, both the first and second sets were close with only one break each deciding the winner of the sets.  Andujar was broken in the first set serving 5-6 down, deuce, when Nadal, eager to win the point for his team crossed for a volley, cut it too close and netted the ball.  The second set break came on against Isner’s serve thanks to Andujar’s returning.  No wonder Andujar was chosen by the team to receive Isner’s serve when the first game reached the deciding point. Another good return from Andujar and the break was the Spaniards’.  Nadal then served out the set for 6-4 but not before facing 2 break back points.  A poor return by Berdych off a second serve from Nadal, then another error netting a volley while approaching the net, saw Nadal hold to take the second set.

 

The match was then decided in a match tiebreak which Berdych and Isner ran away with after being down 1-3 with great plays from both players winning 8 consecutive points until eventually winning the match tiebreak 10-4. Final score: 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.

 

A fun, competitive atmosphere for these single players who probably played doubles for match practice but definitely went out there to win.

Nadal begins his quest for the singles title Tuesday, when he faces Richard Gasquet in the opening round.

 

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

 

 

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DAVIS CUP: U.S. SHUTS OUT SLOVAKIA – Isner, Querrey victories give Americans a 5-0 win in the World Group Play-off

USDavisCup

DAVIS CUP: U.S. SHUTS OUT SLOVAKIA
Isner, Querrey victories give Americans a 5-0 win in the World Group Play-off

By Junior Williams

(September 14, 2014) HOFFMAN ESTATES, Illinois – John Isner and Sam Querrey closed out the Davis Cup World-Group Play-off by winning their respective matches, giving the United States a 5-0 victory over Slovakia at Sears Center Arena in suburban Chicago.

Both matches were dead rubbers, since the U.S. clinched a spot in the World Group for 2015 courtesy of Bob and Mike Bryan’s doubles victory on Saturday.

In the first match, Isner – the No. 1 American and 16th ranked player in the world – defeated Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-0 in only 42 minutes, converting four out of eight break points and posting 22 total winners to Lacko’s four.

In the post-match interview, Isner said he was happy the match went “pretty quickly” and was looking forward to watching some football.

In the second match, Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos did his best to prevent his team from being shut out, but the world’s 126th-ranked player was outlasted by Sam Querrey 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a hard-hitting, fast-serving contest.

After Gombos broke Querrey to win the second set — the only set Slovakia won during the three days of competition — the number-two American broke Gombos to go up 4-3 in the third set, and went on to close out the match with a service winner.

Here’s how close the match was: Querrey scored 96 points, Gombos 92.

Despite Gombos’ three defeats (including one to Isner in singles, another to the Bryans in doubles) , U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier had nothing but good things to say about the Slovak during the post-match interview, expressing how impressed he was with Gombos’ play.

The U.S. victory marks the first time the Americans shut out their opponent in a Davis Cup tie since 2012 — a first-round victory in Switzerland against a team featuring 17-time major champion Roger Federer, and Stan Wawrinka — who has since gone on to win the 2014 Australian Open.

Slovakia is now 0-3 against the U.S. in Davis Cup competition and is headed back to Europe/Africa Zone Group I. Both countries will learn about their next opponents when the Davis Cup draw for 2015 takes place Thursday in Dubai.

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Davis Cup: U.S. Remains in the World Group, Bryan twins clinch for Americans in straight sets over Slovakia

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DAVIS CUP: U.S. REMAINS IN WORLD GROUP

Bryan twins clinch for Americans in straight sets over Slovakia

 

By Junior Williams

 

(September 13, 2014) HOFFMAN ESTATES, Illinois — World No. 1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan made quick work of Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos and Lukas Lacko, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour 16 minutes — giving the United States an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Davis Cup World Group Play-off at Sears Centre Arena in suburban Chicago, assuring the Americans will remain in the World Group in 2015.

 

Early in the first set, the Bryans broke Slovakia to go up 2-1 after Gombos hit a backhand volley wide. After that, it was full steam ahead for the U.S team, which won 21 out of 26 points at the net and 83-percent of its first-serve points.

 

Slovakia captain Miloslav Mecir went with Gombos instead of the originally scheduled doubles specialist Michal Mertinak.

 

The Bryans capped off their victory with an ace, to the delight of the U.S. fans in the crowd.

 

For Slovakia, it’s wait ’til next year as the team will once again attempt to re-join the Davis Cup elite for the first time since 2006.

The Bryans just came off winning their 16h major and 100th title by capturing the US Open doubles title said that Saturday’s win felt better than the US Open..

“It feels like it’s all part of the same summer,” Mike Bryan said.  “We had our goals, which was to win the US Open and come in here and help the team get to the World Group.
“Just feels it’s all one emotion.  We can kind of exhale and kind of enjoy it.  Yeah, when we won the Open it was great, but we shifted our focus very quickly to this tie.
“We never really relaxed.  Now we can exhale and enjoy the next couple weeks before we go over to Asia.
“But this is a really sweet feeling to finish the summer like this.”

 

Sunday’s dead rubber matches are scheduled to feature number one American John Isner versus Martin Klizan, and Sam Querrey versus Gombos. But with U.S. having clinched the tie, it is unlikely those pairings will hold.

 

===========

 

EXTRAS: After their victory, the Bryans celebrated by hitting lots of autographed balls in the crown, and also engaged in a mini-exhibition match with two of the “Team Bryan” kids. Bob and Mike’s dad Wayne Bryan served as the umpire.

 

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 Illinois covering the Davis Cup first round World Group Play-off tie between the United States and Slovakia for Tennis Panorama News.

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DAVIS CUP: U.S. IN CONTROL OVER SLOVAKIA Isner, Querrey lead Americans to 2-0 lead in World Group Play-off

john isner and sam querrey(courtesy of the USTA)
DAVIS CUP: U.S. IN CONTROL OVER SLOVAKIA
Isner, Querrey lead Americans to 2-0 lead in World Group Play-off
By Junior Williams

(September 12, 2014) HOFFMAN ESTATES, Illinois – Hours before the United States took on Slovakia at the Davis Cup World Group Play-off, U.S. captain Jim Courier was upbeat about his team’s prospects – telling a fan, “We’re ready for battle.”

Courier’s confidence in John Isner and Sam Querrey paid off, as both players achieved straight sets victories at Sears Centre Arena – giving the Americans a commanding 2-0 lead, putting them one win away from securing another year in the World Group.

Isner defeated Norbert Gombos – the 126th-ranked player in the world – 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2. Many were surprised Slovakian captain Miloslav Mecir went with Gombos in the first match instead of 86th-ranked Lukas Lacko. Gombos battled Isner early in the first set, returning the American’s powerful serves and taking him to a tiebreak. But a Gombos volley at the net came up short, giving Isner a mini-break at 6-4. The former University of Georgia Bulldog won the set after Gombos’ return of serve went long.

Isner’s serve became a more potent weapon in the second set – including a “perfect game” with four aces that put him up 5-3. The world No. 16 finished the match with 29 aces.

“Going into a match like this three-out-of-five set match, it’s not surprising that I didn’t lose my serve,” said Isner. “I’ve done that before, for sure. Always going to be the biggest part of my game and it’s going to be the part of my game that I lean on the most.”

Gombos said of the 6-foot-9 Isner, “I know that he’s serving perfect from the Eiffel Tower, you know … I never returned a serve like his because it’s quite different from like the other players because he’s really tall. The ball is bouncing so high. It’s totally different like from the other players.”

The second match between Querrey and Slovakian Martin Klizan – ranked 51st and 57th in the world, respectively — started off as quite a battle. The first set lasted 66 minutes. It was Querrey’s serve versus Klizan’s powerful groundstrokes, which were low enough to cause problems for the 6-foot-6 American.

But it was Klizan’s serve that would prove to be the Slovakian’s undoing, with eleven double faults in the match. Serving for the first set up 5-4, he was broken after double faulting to end the game. Querrey won the first set tiebreak 8-6 after staving off a set point — and winning the final three points with the help of two aces.

“It was tough,” said Querrey. “But my serve is my biggest weapon. I just buckled down and I think I hit an ace at that 5-6 point. Just put the pressure right back on (Klizan).”

The American won the match 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-3, hitting 20 aces in the process.

When asked about failing to serve out the first set up 5-4, Klizan replied: “I wasn’t nervous. I was just pissed off of the line umpire because was a huge mistake from him the first point. Could be different story then, the game. But anyway, Sam was the better player on the court and I think he was better, so he won.”

In Saturday’s doubles match, the Americans will be counting on world number ones Bob and Mike Bryan to deliver the clincher. Fresh from winning the 2014 U.S Open Championship – their 100th – title. the twins are scheduled to face Lukas Lacko and Michal Mertinak, but there’s always the possibility that captain Mecir could alter his lineup.

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 Illinois covering the Davis Cup first round World Group Play-off tie between the United States and Slovakia for Tennis Panorama News.

 

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Isner, Querrey and Bryan Brothers Named to US Davis Cup Team

USDavisCup

(September 2, 2014) U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier named the team to take on the Slovak Republic in the World Group Playoff – top-ranked American and world No. 15 John Isner, world No. 57 Sam Querrey and the world’s No. 1 doubles team of Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan.

Additionally, Captain Courier announced the practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup team – 2014 NCAA singles champion for UCLA Marcos Giron and three-time University of Michigan All-American and Chicago native Evan King. Giron, 21, won the 2014 NCAA singles title as a junior at UCLA, finishing the year as the No. 1 college tennis player.

 

Slovakia Captain Miloslav Mecir named world No. 65 Martin Klizan, No. 84 Lukas Lacko, No. 129 Norbert Gombos, and former Top 20 doubles player Michal Mertinak to his team.

 

The best-of-five match series will be played on an indoor hard court at Sears Centre Arena, Sept. 12-14, in Hoffman Estates, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.

 

Play begins on Friday, Sept. 12, at 4:00 p.m. CT, with 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 at 2:00 p.m. CT. The final day of play on Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. CT, will feature 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.

 

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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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