August 25, 2016

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.

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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.”

 

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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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Australia Takes On U. S. in Davis Cup This Weekend in Kooyong

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Australia Takes On U. S. in Davis Cup This Weekend in Kooyong

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(March 1, 2016) The United States will take on Australia in the Davis Cup World Group First Round this weekend at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Kooyong, Australia, from March 4-6 on a temporary grass court. The club was the former home to the Australian Open from 1972- 1987. The U.S. has met Australia more times than any other nation in Davis Cup play. The U.S. leads the head-to-head series 25-20.

Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who retired at this year’s Australian Open will be making his debut as Australia’s Davis Cup captain. Hewitt has named world No. 20 Bernard Tomic, world No. 27 Nick Kyrgios, world No. 77 Sam Groth, and doubles specialist John Peers to team Australia.

Tomic holds a 15-3 singles record in Davis Cup competition, Kyrgios is 3-3 and Groth is 2-1 in singles and 1-2 in doubles. Peers is making his Davis Cup debut.

United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier has chosen top-ranked American and world No. 11 John Isner, world No. 24 Jack Sock, and 16-time major doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan to the U.S. Davis Cup Team. Isner is 8-9 singles in Davis Cup competition. Sock made his debut on the U.S. team last year in the World Group Playoff, where he won both of his singles matches, becoming the first American since John McEnroe in 1978 to win two live rubbers in a Davis Cup debut. Bob and Mike Bryan are a dominant 23-4 in Davis Cup doubles together and are the all-time winningest U.S. Davis Cup doubles team in history.

Both teams held a pre-draw news conference on Tuesday, the draw will be made on Thursday.

Kyrgios was absent from the news conference due to a virus said Captain Hewitt who told him to rest: “Nick has a virus. At the moment, he is taking it easy and trying to get over that 100% to be ready to go. I didn’t want him around the other boys if he is a bit infectious. It is more of a precaution. He will be ready.

“Nick has played a lot of matches, as well as Bernie. They are coming in confident with their ball striking and it is about these guys doing the small things to feel comfortable on the grass courts. Come match day, I am backing both of these boys.”

 

“I am lucky with both of these guys (Kyrgios and Tomic),” Hewitt said. “Both of their games suit grass with big serves and good returns. The reason both boys are approaching career-high rankings right now is because of their serves. That will be a big point this weekend because the U.S. team serves well, too. It will come down to a few points here or there, just like any grass-court five-set match, but I am glad our boys have won quite a few matches in the last month.”

Tomic is back from just having played the final of Acapulco over the weekend.

“It was tough to play a final then fly here,” Tomic admitted. It was tough to get here, but I am happy to be here. The hit today was good and now on grass, I need to get as ready as I can.

“It is tough to say if I will be 100% by Friday, but there will not be a lot of rallies. There will be quick points. I am serving really well and playing very confidently. I just played one of my biggest tournaments and I am very happy with the way I am playing and will be ready for the show on Friday”

On making the transition to being a captain from a player, Hewitt said: “I have adjusted pretty smoothly. This week has been all about getting these boys on the practice courts and working out drills. It has been good this week, especially with doubles, and learning what times to say something and other times not to say so much. I have been a good hitting partner.”

U.S. Captain Courier reacted to Hewitt’s comments about Australia being the underdog: “It doesn’t matter one bit. We are the away team and we travelled to get here. The crowd will be behind them. We are here to play whether it is as an underdog or overdog. None of that matters, which I wish it did. We have to go to battle and play.

“We have to get through the first tie, but our draw is more favorable this year than it has been,” said Courier in discussing the outlook for the U. S. in Davis Cup competition this year. “Second round matchups are not easy, but it is easier than some other teams for us. But, you cannot look past anyone in Davis Cup and we have learned that the hard way. You have to put one foot in front of the other and this will be a tough tie for us.”

“Jack (Sock) had a great debut as a Davis Cup player in Uzbekistan last year and that is big part of why he is here. We have a lot of confidence in what he brings to the table and he is getting valuable experience here. We have some younger players that have had good success in the juniors that is translating to the pros. It is nice to feel that energy coming up below our best players.”

“Every point is huge,” said Isner. “I have been playing Davis Cup for quite a bit, but not nearly as long as the Bryans. Jack is a bit newer at this. There is certainly pressure on every player that is competing this weekend and we know that. I don’t think there is any extra pressure on me by any means.

I am preparing for the team that has been submitted. It can change come Thursday, but as of right now, I am prepared for all of them.”

Sock discussed the challenge of taking on Tomic and Kygios this weekend.

On facing Bernard Tomic, Sock said: “We are good friends. We have spent some time together in our careers. However, in any setting on the court, we go out there and you put that aside and compete. Afterwards, you are still pretty good friends, but when it is on the court, that doesn’t really enter your mind.

He has always been a good player. He is consistently staying more professional and working on the things he needs to do and that is why his results are showing.”

As for Kyrgios: “Similar to Bernie, I am friends with Nick, but when you step on the court, it is about the tennis and playing each other.

“When you are off the court, you can still be friends. When you are out there playing, that is the only thing that matters—especially this weekend when you are representing your country. It gives me all the more reason to go out there and compete as hard as I can.”

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, July 15-17, and will play either Croatia or Belgium. The tie will air on Tennis Channel in the United States.

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Third Seed Muguruza Ousted, Azarenka Advances at Australian Open

(January 23, 2016) Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza became the latest upset victim among the top women’s seeds at the Australian Open on Saturday. The third seed lost 6-3, 6-2 lost to world No. 48 Barbora Strycova.

“Clearly not my best, for sure,” said the Spaniard who made 32 unforced errors in the third round match. “I think today is a very bad day, you know, at the office.”

“I just couldn’t find the court, my shots. Yeah. Didn’t really find my game.”.

For the Czech Strycova, she’s reached the fourth round only once before in her career – when she earned a place in the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals.

“I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world,” she said.

“What went well? I think everything. No, I was serving very well, and the plan was like to play my game, mix it a little bit, but to play deep.

“And it’s not easy against Garbine, because she plays fast and also very deep. Today I think she didn’t have the best day and I felt good on court, and that’s why I think I won today. That I felt pretty well in hitting the ball so good.”

Next for the Czech will be two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who defeated 18-year-old qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-1.

“I will go to that match with confident,” Strycova said. “I don’t know. I have to play my best tennis and to mix it and try to somehow win and focus on every point.

“But Victoria is very, very good. I saw her hitting some balls yesterday and she’s hitting the ball very well. But we don’t know how it goes. She is 1-All in the first set.

“If I play her, I will just enjoy myself and try to do my best and like I did today.”

Azarenka hit 24 winners against Osaka who came into the main draw as a qualifier.

“It wasn’t easy for sure, especially when you don’t know who you play.”

“She’s a little unpredictable and she surprised me with her game.”
The bottom half of the women’s draw has been decimated with upsets leaving No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player left.

No. 47 Johanna Konta, who upset No. 8 Venus Williams in the first round, continued her run in Melbourne. She became the first British woman to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open since1987, with her 6-2, 6-2 win over Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2.

The Sydney-born Konta became a British citizen in 2012. She’ll face No. 21-seeded Ekaterina Makarova who knocked out No. 9 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2 . Makarova reached the semifinals last year.

Konta defeated Makarova in their only meeting last year.

“I mean, again, like I always say, you know, new day, new match,” Konta said. “The only thing I can go into the match with is I know she’s left handed, and I have obviously seen her on the other end of the court.

“But in terms of circumstances and scenarios, we are at a completely different venue, different surface, different time of the year.

“So I’m really just going to focus on, again, things on my end and see where the match takes me.”

On the men’s side Milos Raonic continues to advance under the radar. The Canadian defeated Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

He dedicated his win to the victims of a shooting incident at La Loche Community School in Saskatchewan in which four people were killed.

“Unfortunately in Saskatchewan in a very small community there was a shooting at a high school, so I want to take a moment and give thoughts to that community. Today’s victory was for that community, and a quick recovery and all of Canada, and I’m sure the world is behind you.”

No. 10 seed John Isner pounded 44 aces past 18th seed Feliciano Lopez to avenge a loss to the Spaniard back in 2012, with a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win.

“It’s a big win,” Isner said. “It’s a very tough opponent, especially for me, the way he plays. It certainly has given me trouble before in the past.

“Also been a little while since I’ve been in the Round of 16 at this tournament. It feels great. I’m very relieved to get through, want to keep on going.”

The victory puts the American in the round of 16 for just the second time in Melbourne. He also achieved that milestone in 2010.

“I’m proud of the fact that I was able to, especially in the third and fourth sets, play some very good tennis. Really I went out there and I had a game plan and executed it very well in the third and fourth sets.

“Not in the first two sets, which is why I was frustrated out there at times. A lot of things I focused on about this match. I did some of them very well. I’m proud of that. You know, I was very well-prepared, so it’s a good feeling to get through.”

He’ll play No. 8 seed David Ferrer for a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

“My last match in 2015 he beat me, as well, in Paris,” Isner said of Ferrer. I’ve got to play aggressive. I mean, he’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He’s not going to get tired. We all know that.”

 

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Fila Signs John Isner to a Multi-year Deal

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(January 5, 2016) FILA has signed an endorsement agreement with No. 1 ranked American man tennis player, John Isner.

“We are proud to have American tennis star John Isner join our strong lineup of ambassadors,” said Jon Epstein, President of FILA North America. “His ability on-court, his pursuit of excellence and his passion for the game make him an excellent representative for the FILA® brand. We are thrilled to align with a world-class athlete like John and we look forward to this collaborative relationship.”

Isner, 30, is the No. 11 ranked player on the ATP World Tour and is currently the highest-ranked American male tennis player for the fourth straight season. He turned pro in 2007 and has amassed 10 ATP singles titles and three doubles titles. John achieved a career-high ranking of No. 9 in 2012. Isner is known for having one of the fastest and most powerful serves in the game. He currently ranks 10th for the most aces in the history of the ATP. Isner also played the longest match in tennis history, at Wimbledon in 2010.

“FILA® has such a celebrated heritage in tennis and I am excited to begin my partnership with the brand,” said Isner. “I have long admired and respected FILA and it’s an honor to join the legends of the game who have worn FILA® on-court.”

FILA has a long history in the world of tennis that continues with endorsements of ATP World Tour and WTA Tour athletes. FILA is a sponsor of the BNP Paribas Open and the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. In addition to event partnerships, FILA is an official supplier to Junior Tennis Champions Center, Van der Meer Tennis, John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, and the Kim Clijsters Academy in Belgium.

The FILA® brand was established over a century ago by the FILA brothers of Biella, Italy. FILA® is now a leading sport and leisure footwear and apparel brand that is distributed worldwide. FILA has achieved world-class recognition in tennis by marketing high design and style content products that are endorsed by professional athletes from around the world.

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Murray Rallies From Two Sets Down to Win, Hewitt Falls Short in Comeback, Federer Cruises at US Open

(September 3, 2015) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY –
“But, you know, was a great atmosphere out there on that court. “The crowd was really involved. You know, it was nice to be able to turn it into a decent match.”

“Tennis has given me the life that I have, and that’s the best thing. Obviously I’ve had a lot of success. A lot of hard work and dedication and sacrifices. But obviously at the end of the day, you know, tennis has given me this great life.”

No need for a comeback for second seed Roger Federer. He hit 46 winners in demolishing Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in the first night session match.

“I think this year is another good year. Doing the right things on the court,” Federer said. “It was pretty on the easier side, you know, so I was able to mix it up, was attacking, was also staying back some. I was pretty much all-out attack as much as I could. Obviously I have to manage that against different players when the scoreline isn’t maybe so one-sided.”

American Jack Sock had to retire against Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium while leading due to cramps. The heat during the day was over 90 degrees.

There are two American men left in the draw- No. 13 John Isner and unseeded Donald Young.

“Isner said: “Well, he’s fine now. I didn’t speak in-depth with him. I imagine he got an IV. I hope so. Those help a lot when your body is completely cramping.

“But it’s tough to see. You see it on TV and you’re helpless at that point, completely. He sweats more than anyone I’ve ever seen.

“It’s not a fitness thing. I think that’s a big, big misconception. He’s in very good shape. He can play 50-ball rallies if he wants to. But he sweats a lot. He loses a lot when he’s sweating.

“It’s all about, in my opinion, putting the right things in your body beforehand. He’s in very good shape. It’s not a fitness thing, if people are saying that. His body was at a deficit of whatever it is, sodium, magnesium, potassium. Whatever it is, in these humid conditions, you have to put all that in your body.

“It’s a huge bummer. No offense to his opponent today, but if Jack’s body held up, he would have won the match, so…

“Huge bummer, especially at his home Grand Slam. He obviously was playing well, too, up until that point. Good thing for Jack is he’s very young. He’s very, very good. So he’s going to have a lot more cracks at this tournament, that’s for sure.”

US Open

Men’s Singles Second Round 

[2] Roger Fefderer (SUI) d. Steve Darcis 6-1 6-2 6-1
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 5-7 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-1
[5] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. Hyeon Chung (KOR) 76(2) 76(4) 76(6)
[6] Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 7-6(2) 6-1 6-3
[12] Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Robin Haase (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-4
[13] John Isner (USA) d. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 6-3 6-4 6-4
[15] Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs. Austin Krajicek (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-2
[20] Dominic Thiem (AUT) d. Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-4 6-4 1-0 ret.
Jiri Vesely (CZE) d. [21] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 76(3) 36 36 62 76(4)
[22] Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs. Rajeev Ram (USA) 7-6(10) 6-4 3-6 6-3
Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) d. [28] Jack Sock (USA) 46 46 63 21 ret.
[29] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Lukas Rosol (CZE) 7-6(4) 6-2 6-2
[30] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-0 6-3 6-4
[31] Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d. Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-7(4) 6-1
Donald Young (USA) d. Aljaz Bedene (GBR) 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2

Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[20] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 7-5, 6-4

[2] Simona Halep (ROU) def. Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 6-3, 6-4

[22] Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-1, 6-1

[16] Sara Errani (ITA) def. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 0-6, 6-4, 6-3

Johanna Konta (GBR) def. [9] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-2

Mona Barthel (GER) def. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 2-6, 6-2, 6-4

Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def. Lesia Tsurenko 7-6(7), 6-2

[18] Andrea Petkovic (GER) def. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-3, 7-6(4)

[11] Angelique Kerber (GER) def. Karin Knapp (ITA) 7-5, 6-2

Barbora Strycova (CZE) def. Qiang Wang (CHN) 6-2, 4-6, 7-5

[26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) def. Monica Niculescu (ROU) 6-1, 6-4

[5] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. Nicole Gibbs (USA) 6-3, 6-4

[24] Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-4, 6-0

Shelby Rogers (USA) def. Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-4, 6-4

[32] Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) def. Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4

Petra Cetkovska (CZE) def. [4] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(1)

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Kei Nishikori and Sloane Stephens Take Citi Open Singles Titles

Sloane Stephens close upKei Nishikori

(August 9, 2015) On Sunday, 2014 U.S. Open finalist, second seed Kei Nishikori rallied to stop hard-serving John Isner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to claim his first Citi Open title. Sloane Stephens captured the women’s title in Washington, DC with a 6-1, 6-2 dismissal of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova match between unseeded players.

For the 25-year-old Japanese player, this was his 10th career title, while for the American, it was her first trophy on the WTA Tour.

“I didn’t make enough inroads on his first serve,” said three-time Washington finalist Isner of his battle against Nishikori. “If you put a decent amount of first serves in the court, he’s arguably the best in the best in the world from the baseline. It’s tough. I thought he served better in the second and third sets. He’s a great player and a great champion.”

“I’m very happy to win after losing the first set,” said Nishikori. “I came back really well so I’m very happy to win today.

“I fought through (after losing the first set for the third time this week). In the first match I was down 7-6 and came back. It’s not easy but mentally I tried to fight every time and I’m happy to win in the final today.”

Nishikori who is 43-9 on the year will move up to No. 4 in the world with the victory, matching his career high.

“I’ll try to keep going,” Nishikori said. “I’ve been playing well.”

Nishikori will move up from No. 5 to No. 4 in Monday’s rankings, equaling his career best.

In the men’s doubles final, Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won their fourth Citi Open title beating Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Marcelo Melo of Brazil 6-4, 6-2 for their 108th career doubles title.

“I think this tournament is really valuable for our confidence, our momentum going into this hard-court summer,” Bob Bryan said. It was nice to get some revenge on a couple of teams we lost to over in Europe. That will help us going into these next three big tournaments and crescendos at the US Open in New York.”

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens

The 22-year-old Stephens, jumped off to a 3-0 lead winning 15 of the first 21 points and never had to look back. This was the first final for the American.

“I just went out there and tried to play the best I could,” Stephens said to media.

“I think I executed my game very well today – it was just a really good day for me.”

“Nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything. It was just nice that all of the hard work and everything I’ve put into it – now I can say that I have a tournament title,”

“It’s great to win this first title – I haven’t even thought about my next goal yet.”

“Last year I was going through a learning process. I learned a lot about myself. And there’s still a lot of room to grow. Sometimes you have to go through the process. To get to this place, to get to this beautiful trophy, I had to go through a lot, but at the end of the day it was definitely worth it.”

Stephens, who was once ranked as high as No. 11 in the world, will move up from No. 35 into the top 30 when the rankings come out on Monday.

The doubles title went to the fourth seeds Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic over third seeds Lara Arruabarrena and Andreja Klepac, 7-5, 7-6(7).

 

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