2014/04/21

In Victory John Isner Surprised By All the Support for Opponent Gael Monfils

862013 16 Isner

(August 29, 2013)  FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In a tennis atmosphere that could have been Roland Garros instead of Flushing Meadows, 13th seed American John Isner defeated former top ten player Gael Monfils of France 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4) in the second round of the US Open amongst a crowd in which many of whom were cheering for Monfils.

“I noticed it,” Isner said of the cheering for Monfils in Louis Armstrong Stadium. “You know, he’s a fun loving guy and an exciting guy to watch no matter where he is playing, but honestly it was a little bit surprising. You know, I know the New York fans, they like to see long matches and fifth sets and whatnot, but, you know, it’s not like there was no one cheering for me. I was a little bit disappointed in that, actually. Not going to sugar coat it. It was certainly, if I was playing him in France, it certainly wouldn’t be like that.”

Asked if he had ever played in an atmosphere like this in the US, the 6’ 10” North Carolinian said:”No. I mean, the crowd support, it was a great atmosphere, it was a lot of fun, I’m not saying it wasn’t. You know, I played a similar match when I played Tommy Haas in Paris. I had about five people cheering for me, and those were the five people in my box. So the French people were cheering for the German there I could say something else, but I’m not going to. No, it was fun overall. It was a lot of fun, and when the match finally ended, to be able to soak it in, was a lot of fun.”

At the end of the fourth set tiebreaker, chants of “USA, USA” could be heard.

I certainly had I just had a lot of crowd support on my side,” said Isner. “I had a college buddy of mine I noticed in the crowd, and in the opening point he was hammered. Every time they were chanting “Monfils” I could hear him, his voice is pretty booming, and he didn’t like that too much, Iner said smiling. “But, you know, no, once I got up I guess it was, yeah, 6-4 in the tiebreaker, the USA chant was pretty cool.”

“He (Monfils) enjoys atmospheres more than anyone else in the world. He wants to soak it up and play to the crowd more than anyone, really. That’s just how he is. Like I said, he’s a fun loving guy and enjoys playing matches like that. For me, I didn’t want to get involved in a little hit and giggle thing with him and try and get going back and forth, where I just wanted to stay focused. I didn’t want to keep it I didn’t want it to be too friendly out there even though he’s a very good friend of mine.”

“It was surprising, actually,” Monfils said of the cheers. “It was surprising — but it was good.”

Next hurdle for Isner is Philipp Kohlschrieber. It’s crazy, playing him in the third round just as I did last year at this event,” said Isner. “That match last year was very disappointing for me how it went about. I sort of lost it I lost it in the fifth set there, but he’s extremely solid. He’s been so solid for so long now. He’s made his way through his first matches pretty easy, as well. Going to be a tough match.”

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The Week that Was: A Western and Southern Open Wrap

isner nadal cincy

By Kevin Ware

(August 18, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Champions have been crowned, nets have been taken down, and the past week in Mason is fading as we turn our attention to this last week of tournaments in the US Open Series. But before we move on, let’s take a look at the lasting, and dramatic, moments from this year’s edition of the Western and Southern Open as we head toward the start of the US Open.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal wins the men’s title, beating John Isner 7-6(8), 7-6(3) in a final that featured no breaks of serve. It’s his 9th title of the year, his fifth Masters Series title and third hard court Masters title of the year, and is his record-setting 26th Masters Series title. All of this from a guy who everyone counted out this season because of his bad knees. I hate to use the term “favorite”, but if Nadal isn’t one of the favorites for New York then we’ve got a problem.

Victoria Azarenka

Vika beat Serena Williams 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) in a match that perhaps didn’t showcase their best tennis, but definitely finished with a bang in a third-set tiebreaker. This was her second hard court win over Serena (Doha) and puts her back into the conversation as a threat to Williams’ chances for a title defense. It’s good to see that her Wimbledon injury issues are behind her.

John Isner

Big John beat three players in the Top 10 for the first time in his career en route to the finals (Raonic, Del Potro, Djokovic), playing some of his best and most aggressive tennis ever. He was extremely upbeat in his post-match press conference, and for good reason. Though he was beaten by Nadal in the final, his serve was never broken, and he made Rafa play his best tennis to come out on top. He’ll still struggle at the US Open because of the best of 5 set format, but you can bet that no top guy is looking forward to THAT match.

Serena Williams

Serena lost the final against Vika in quizzical fashion. She raced through the first set, but let her level drop badly in the second. She then battled back from behind in the third only to get broken while serving for the match at 5-4. In the tiebreak, she was behind until 5-all, and then double-faulted to go behind again. The best server and mover in the women’s game served poorly and moved poorly. One can only hope that she leaves this behind heading into New York.

Marion Bartoli

The buzz of the tournament was decidedly off-court as Marion Bartoli called it a career after a three-set loss to Simona Halep. It was a decision borne in the moment of feeling that she just didn’t have the desire to go on and deal with the pain in her body.  It’s a decision that many pro athletes face, and not an easy one at that.  Though there was much shock and second-guessing of her decision, she seems to be at peace with it for now. Let’s check back in a year or so when her body is feeling better.

Bob and Mike Bryan

The Bryan brothers defeated Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain 6-4, 4-6, 10-4 to take the men’s doubles title.  It was their fourth Cincy title, their 10th on the year, and the 92nd of their career. It was also their 25th Masters Series title. No matter how many titles these guys add to their resume, for them it’s still all about the fans, as evidenced by the fact that they signed every item and took every picture asked of them by the waiting throng on the Grandstand court. A class act.

Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai

Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai defeated Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke to take the women’s doubles title in Cincy: their third title of the year (Rome, Wimbledon, and Cincinnati). The pair is 7-0 in finals, which is a remarkable statistic for any doubles team. They are adding more events to their schedules in the hope of qualifying for the year-end championships in Istanbul. It would certainly be a great accomplishment if they are able to do so.

The US Open Series

Serena Williams has taken the top prize for the women in the US Open Series. The men’s top spot is still up for grabs, and is dependent upon whether or not John Isner plays this week in Winston-Salem. He’s currently just a few points behind Rafa, so could take it with a good week of play. But with the US Open coming up in a week, he’s going to have to think long and hard about the effects of all this tennis on his fitness heading into one of the toughest Slams.

The Roger-Rafa Rivalry

Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal squared off for the 31st time in their careers in a Friday quarterfinal match in Cincy. Though the rivalry is not nearly what it was a few years back, this match more than brought back a taste of the glory days. Rafa battled back from a set down to win in dramatic fashion as Roger began to falter in the third. These are the kinds of moments that you dream about as a tennis fan. And on Friday, we got a chance to experience it.

Maria and Jimmy

After months of waiting for “the reveal” of the Sharapova-Connors partnership, Maria Sharapova was unceremoniously bundled out of Cincy in a loss to Sloane Stephens that could only be described as puzzling. She flew through the first set, and then couldn’t keep the ball in play for the latter part of the second and third sets. A few days later it was announced that Jimmy Connors would no longer be her coach, to no one’s surprise…

Doubles Scheduling

In general, doubles got the short end of the stick in Cincinnati, with most doubles matches relegated to outer courts throughout the week. Even in a tennis-savvy town like Cincinnati, the rule of “out of sight, out of mind” still holds true. Doubles attendance was low at many matches, and the attendance at the men’s and women’s doubles final could greatly have benefitted from being played in tandem with the singles finals as they do in Miami. I hope it’s something that’s considered for 2014.

There’s more that could be pulled from this week, but we’ll end the list here and turn our attention to a new week of tennis in New Haven and Winston Salem. Goodbye from Cincinnati. See you next year.

Kevin Ware was covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Nadal versus Isner, Serena Williams versus Azarenka: First-Time Finalists Rule in Cincinnati

RafaelNadalTasteofTennis-367x450

By Kevin Ware

(August 17, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Semifinal Saturday at the Western and Southern Open more than lived up to its’ potential. It was a day that featured a drama, tension, butt wiggles, and two matches ending with double faults. In the end, we were left with four first time finalists for Sunday’s final: Rafael Nadal, John Isner, Serena Williams, and Victoria Azarenka.

It’s surprising that such highly-decorated Grand Slam champions such as Nadal and Williams have never even made it to the finals of this event. For two players who’ve won virtually every title available, one would have expected more. Not so with John Isner, who’s finally put it all together and played the tennis we expected of him when he first became the top American male. For Azarenka, it’s a chance to establish some cred ahead of the US Open.

Let’s break down the men’s and women’s finals to see who has the best chance to take the Cincy titles and winning momentum into New York for the US Open.

ATP

[4] Rafael Nadal vs John Isner

Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 3-0

Nadal has beaten Isner twice on clay (Madrid and Roland Garros), and once on a hard court at Indian Wells. Though he leads their head-to-head 3-0, it hasn’t been easy. In fact, Isner is one of the few guys that make Nadal nervous; and I mean REALLY nervous. It’s all in the serve. That’s the reason that playing Pete Sampras made Andree Agassi nervous. When you play someone with a serve like Isner or Sampras, the outcome of the match is out of your hands if they serve well. No control.

The Indian Wells match, their one encounter on a hard court, was played in 2010. So it’s fair to say that Isner is a very different player this time around. He has improved his fitness, improved his ground game, improved his defense, and is more willing to come into the net to finish off points.  He’s still vulnerable to Nadal’s game on clay, but is incredibly dangerous on a hard court, and particularly a hard court in the States with heavy American support.

Nadal has played superior tennis to reach this final, with comprehensive wins over Dimitrov and Berdych, and a dramatic win over long-time rival Roger Federer. Isner has also played superior tennis, notching high-quality wins over Richard Gasquet, Milos Raonic, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, and Del Potro. Nadal would do well to bring his full arsenal to bear in this match so as not to become another victim to the Isner juggernaut.

Isner will need to serve well in order to have any chance at beating Nadal. He served at 66% against Del Potro, 74% against Djokovic, and 62% against Raonic. Over 70% would be ideal, but high 60’s will work as well. Additionally, he’ll need to be as aggressive as he’s been in his last two matches. Particularly against Del Potro, Isner took the initiative and was the more aggressive of the two. He hit more errors, but got a huge payoff in winners. Nadal will need to take this threat seriously and be as aggressive as he can to stay out in front.

In all likelihood, this match is going the distance. The determining factors are Isner’s serve and Nadal’s aggression. All things being even, I’ll give the nod to Nadal for experience (25 shields) in these big Masters Series moments.

Pick: Nadal in 3 sets

 

Serena Williams usos

WTA

[1] Serena Williams vs [2] Victoria Azarenka

Head-to-Head: Williams leads 12-2

(Note – With her win over Li Na in the semifinals, Serena Williams took the top prize in the Emirates US Open Series.)

I’d like to say that this is emerging as one of the better rivalries in the women’s game, but that would be a misnomer because in order to have a rivalry there needs to be a certain amount of parity.  With Williams holding a 12-2 record over Azarenka, that doesn’t really represent parity. Yes the matches have been close, like last year’s US Open final, and Vika has beaten Serena once already in 2013 in Doha. But you never get the feeling that Azarenka is Williams’ equal in these matches. She might play well on the day, but this will never be a rivalry that turns for her.

Both women have played stretches of uneven tennis to make it to the final. Williams was practically gifted her 7-5, 7-5 semifinal win over Li Na when her opponent played inexplicable tennis to lose both the first and second sets after leading 5-4. It may count as a victory in Williams’ favor, but by no means did she “win” this match. She struggled with her serve and the rhythm on her ground strokes, particularly her backhand. She berated herself and looked like she didn’t want to be there…but won it anyway. It says everything about this match that Li Na double faulted on match point.

Azarenka’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Jankovic in her semifinal wasn’t much better. The match featured 23 breaks of serve, and was more entertaining for the video presentation of Azarenka’s butt shaking than the tennis. Azarenka won 47% of her first serve points, 22% of her second serve points, and was broken 10 times. She got the win, but it’s hardly what one would expect from a 2-time Slam champion.

Williams can get away with having an off day and still pulling out the win. But there’s absolutely no way that Azarenka can go into the match with Williams tomorrow and expect to win with the numbers she had tonight. If she serves poorly against Williams in the final, she’ll get punished and the match will be over in an hour, no matter how well she returns the Williams serve.

Against a few other players, I might give them a chance against this less-than-optimal Williams. But in a battle of less-than-optimal Williams and less-than-optimal Azarenka, Williams definitely comes out on top. I’m hoping it’s a close battle, but won’t bet the farm on it.

Pick: Serena in 2 sets

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Semifinal Saturday in Cincinnati: My Men’s and Women’s Preview/Picks

By Kevin Ware

(August 16, 2013) MASON. Ohio – The women’s quarterfinal matches were solid, but the men stole the spotlight in a spectacular day at the Western and Southern Open.  John Isner beat Novak Djokovic for the second time at a Masters 1000 event during the day session, while the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry thrilled fans in the evening session. It was a great day of tennis by any measure.

Now we must turn our attention to “Semifinal Saturday”, and some great matches that will decide who will vie for the championships on Sunday. The women’s semifinals feature 3 Slam champions, and a former No. 1. The men’s semifinals feature 3 Slam champions and our best US hope for the Top 10.

All are worthy of their spots in the semis, but there can only be two finalists. Let’s dissect the match-ups to see if we can determine who will make it to the finals on Sunday.

ATP

[7] Juan Martin Del Potro vs John Isner

Head-to-Head: Del Potro leads 4-0

Isner notched one of the biggest victories of his career in the quarterfinals by beating world No. 1 Djokovic in 3 tough sets. His reward is a rematch with Del Potro, his nemesis from the Citi Open in D.C. Isner lost that match in 3 sets, but was also running on fumes after back-to-back weeks of play. He’s feeling fresher in Cincy, and also feels like his game is finally coming together.

For his part, Del Potro has played well this week in fits and starts, beating Nikolay Davydenko in two tight sets, Feliciano Lopez in three sets, and Dmitry Tursunov in three sets. Good play was followed by lethargic play, which could set him up for a fall against a surging Isner.  Match-ups matter, however, and history matters. Most of Del Potro’s wins over Isner have been comfortable. And that might help him with focus and intensity.

Given Isner’s great play against Djokovic, this match could go either way. But all serves being equal, I’d give the edge to Del Potro for his more potent ground game.

[4] Rafael Nadal vs [6] Tomas Berdych

Head-to-Head: Nadal leads 14-3

Nadal hasn’t lost to Berdych since 2006, which is incredible given Berdych’s solid assent into the top 10. He’s beaten the Czech on clay, hard court, and grass during this period, and has only lost a handful of sets. This isn’t to say that the match will be an easy one, because it won’t. Berdych has a big game.  And when he’s on top of it, his shots are untouchable.

The problem with Berdych is that he usually can’t sustain that level, whether it be nerves or pressure from his opponent. Nadal quickly seizes these moments and capitalizes on the opportunities given.  Also, when you compare their respective quarterfinals, Berdych’s match against Murray wasn’t great, and Nadal’s against Federer was an instant classic. So which player is better prepared for this semifinal? I’d say the man from Mallorca.

WTA

[1] Serena Williams vs [5] Li Na

Head-to-Head: Williams leads 7-1

It’s not easy to know whether Serena is serious when she makes comments like “It will be a really tough match because she has such a good game and she does everything so well.” In this case, however, odds are pretty good that she means it. The impressive head-to-head record doesn’t take into account the fact that the matches have been very tight with most of the sets decided by a single break of serve.

Li Na has had an extra day rest due to the withdrawal of Aga Radwanska from the tournament. This could work for her in terms of being the fresher player, or it might affect her timing and rhythm. The more likely scenario is that the day off won’t really matter, and that her performance will be based on whether or not she makes her shots. For Serena, it’s all about motivation. She’d like to win Cincinnati and finally add it to her CV, but the ultimate goal is a US Open title defense starting in less than two weeks. Either way, it will be a tight match in two sets.

[2] Victoria Azarenka vs [14] Jelena Jankovic

Head-to-Head: Azarenka leads 4-3

Neither woman is playing their best tennis this week, but both have played “well enough” to make it this far in the tournament. Jelena knocked out Roberta Vinci in straight sets, while Vika knocked out Caroline Wozniacki, also in straight sets. They haven’t played one another since 2012 Sydney, which Vika won in a fairly routine victory. I expect this match to be closer than that 4 and 2 score line, and likely little more complicated for Vika because Jelena excels in frustrating her opponents. Will frustration be enough to knock Vika off her game for a victory? Probably not.

Semifinal Picks:

ATP – Del Potro, Nadal

WTA – Williams, Azarenka

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Tuesday is “Canada Day” at Montreal Masters

Pospisil

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 6, 2013) MONTREAL – It might be something in the water or is it the unusual cool weather since the beginning of the tournament? Whatever the reason is, Canadians are performing well in the early days of Montreal ATP Masters 1000.

All the Canadians performing Tuesday were able to get to the second round. The young Filip Peliwo [WC] took advantage of an injured Jarko Nieminen to come back and finally win by forfeit 3-6, 7-5, 3-1. 169th player in the world Frank Dancevic [WC] was able to win the second set tiebreaker against Yen-Hsun Lu and then easily took the third set to win 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1. “I noticed he had trouble serving in the third set, so I putted some pressure and it paid off”, said Dancevic after the game.

The third Canadian to play that day was 71th ranked Vasek Pospisil against John Isner. It was a real battle where the crowd made the difference as Pospisil clinched the game 5-7, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4). After winning the no-break second set in the tiebreak 7-5, Pospisil was able to come back after trailing 0-3 in the third set. He won three straight games (one break) at 1-4 to keep up with Isner. Again trailing in the tiebreaker 2-4, the Canadian won the last five points to cause an upset against Washington DC’s runner-up. I’ve had similar wins against players that are ranked 20 in the world, but that was extremely special, said Pospisil in interview. The atmosphere at the end was incredible.”

862013 Milis Raonic 3

Two weeks ago, Tennis Canada announced that Milos Raonic was going to play on Tuesday night. Everyone expected this night to be crazy, when for the first time, a Canadian ranked in the top-15 was playing at home. After the great performances from the crowd’s favorites during the day, it was set in the mind of the fans that it was going to by a walk in the park for Raonic. He managed to win indeed 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, but scared the crowd at some points during the match.

Milos Raonic opened up with a break in the first set. The crowd really got into the match from the first game and on. Both players were serving well afterwards, rallies were short and quick and no other break happened. 6-3 Raonic

The Canadian started to make unforced errors in the second set, as if he had no feel of the ball. Chardy was able to edge him at the end winning the set 6-4. From that point the crowd got as nervous as Raonic.

Luckily for their favorite, the 11th seed was serving first in the last set which gave him the mental advantage. Trailing 5-6, Chardy totally cracked giving a 0-40 lead to his opponent. After the Frenchman saved one match point, Raonic made the crowd burst in joy as he made complete Canadians’ perfect day.  “I’m trying to be more aggressive than before by attacking early and taking the net more often. I hesitated on some points tonight but I’m happy with the way I played”, analyzed Raonic after the match.

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports  all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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John Isner Wins Atlanta Open

Haas d Isner semifinal (4 of 5)

(July 28, 2013) In a battle between two of the tallest players in tennis, six-foot-10 John Isner saved two match points to beat six-foot-8 Kevin Anderson 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(2) in the final of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Sunday to claim his seventh ATP World Tour title.

Neither player was able to break serve during the entire almost three hour match. Anderson failed to convert any of 11 break point chances against Isner. At 2 hours and 54 minutes it’s the longest three-set final on the ATP tour this year.

“This is a tournament where I could’ve been out in my first match,” Isner said. I lived on the edge all week and seemed to come through each and every time. It’s very encouraging.

“I’ve been on the wrong end of a final that close before, so it feels good to be on the other end of that. I never wavered. I believed that even at 0/40 that I could still hold on and was able to come up with the goods.”

“There’s no question I play my best in the U.S. This is where I’m very comfortable. I compete extra hard and things seems to work out for me when I’m playing in the U.S.”

“I was holding easily and trying to give myself chances, which I did,” Anderson said. “Just wasn’t able to capitalize on them. That was the difference today… He stays in there. He serves well, he plays well when it matters, and he definitely played two better tie-breaks than me.”

Isner took home a check for $98,700 as the winner. Isner lost in the finals of the Atlanta Open in 2010, and 2011, each time to Mardy Fish.

Of Isner’s seven career ATP World Tour titles, three have come after saving match point and winning in a third set tiebreak – ’10 Auckland, ’12 Winston-Salem,  and ’13 Atlanta.

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A Tale of Two Giants

John Isner-2
(July 27, 2013) ATLANTA, GA – The tallest final in history will go down at this year’s BB&T Atlanta Open. John Isner standing at 6’10″ and Kevin Anderson at 6’8″ is a recipe for a serving war. Predicting the winner of this match is no easy task. Head to head, here are the stats that count.

Isner vs. Anderson

Aces 463 409

Double Faults 48 120

1st Serve Points Won 77% 75%

Break Points Faced 166 237

Break Points Saved 69% 65%

Service Games Won 88% 85%

Ist Serve Return Points Won 24% 30%

Break Opportunities 165 287

Break Points Converted 35% 39%

John Isner has an edge in aces, double faults, and break points faced while Kevin Anderson’s numbers are better in 1st serve return points won, break opportunities

and break points converted. In short, John may serve better, but Kevin returns better. Who’s going to win this match, your guess is as good as mine but I’ll make mine

anyway. With Isner leading the tour with the tiebreak record of 23-6 and the crowd behind him, my gut says Isner in 3 tie breaks, but I’m not putting my money on it!

 

By Tina Taylor-Brown, Special to Tennis Panorama

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John Isner Holds Off Christian Harrison to Move into Atlanta Quarterfinals

 

John Isner

By Herman Wood

(July 25, 2013) ATLANTA, GA -In his first very first ATP main draw second round match, 19 year old Christian Harrison gave John Isner plenty to handle.  Christian is the 19-year-old younger brother of Ryan Harrison, who won earlier tonight.  Rhyne spoke about his brother’s chance in his post match press conference before Christian’s match,  “He’s a quiet confident guy.  I tried to tell him that his game, his ability, is capable of winning these matches.  I told him I was proud of him and was excited for him.  I told him to trust himself and stay calm and confident and don’t get overwhelmed and just play tennis, he’ll give himself a chance to win.”  He most certainly did that.

As to be expected, John Isner opened the match with a service game featuring 2 of his 29 aces, a service winner and not much else in play.  At one point, the average length of rally was 2.1 strokes.  Isner had to have attention on his left knee on several changeovers, though never did ask for an official medical time out.  He flexed it and stretched it throughout the match.  The set stayed on serve, until Harrison was serving at 4-5.  Isner made an extra effort to go all out with service returns, though he couldn’t convert.  Finally at 6-6, the tiebreak everyone expected began.  Though mini-breaks were exchanged, neither player could get two points in a row at critical junctures.  Harrison made a veteran challenge on a service call and held his composure in a critical point when Isner stumbled.  Isner finally secured a mini break he could use with a nice touch volley and a venture to the net to finish off the set on a high volley Harrison couldn’t reach.

The second set looked to go the way of the first- tiebreak.  Isner put big pressure on Harrison in his first service game, forcing long rallies, but could not prevail.  At that point, the match reverted to the average 2.1 shot rally and a tiebreak looked inevitable.  Harrison had other plans.  With Isner serving to stay in at 4-5, he struggled to get his first serve in and Harrison capitalized by winning rallies.  At set point down, Isner tossed in a double fault to gift the second set to Harrsion.

The third set featured quality tennis, with nice gets, big overheads, and tricky volleys.  The crowd was very appreciative of the high level of play from both players.  Harrison did show his lack of experience with the challenge system in this set, wasting his last challenge on an Isner service bomb when the score was not in his favor deep in a game.  Perhaps it was out of sense of desperation.  Finally, at 5-5, with Harrison serving, Isner stepped up the pressure.  Perhaps it was the return of his “biggest” fan.  A young boy, who wasn’t tall enough to reach the bottom of Isner’s shorts to tug on them to get his attention, encouraged Isner loudly on every point in the first set.  Strangely, he was not vocal in the second set and returned for the third.   Isner earned the seventh break point with a nice volley at the net and finished with a blazing service return to get to 6-5.  On his service game, Isner struggled to get first serves in for much of the game.  When he did, they were the expected aces.  Harrison saved three match points with a veteran’s poise.  At deuce, Isner produced an ace to get match point and closed it out with a service winner.  7-6(9), 4-6, 7-5.  Isner will face James Blake, who beat Evgeny Donskoy earlier in the day 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.  That match is set to go off at 4 PM, which would is a surprise, considering Isner is the No 1 seed.  Ryan Harrison is set to play Santiago Giraldo in the 7 PM match.

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The Quarters for the BB&T Atlanta Open are Set

By Tina Taylor-Brown, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(July 25, 2013) ATLANTA, GA -The smell of upset was in the air but eventually dissipated. Wild card player and tour newbie Christian Harrison played one of the best matches of his life against the serving giant of the tour- John Isner. This was an absolute thrilling match down to the last point. Isner, who admitted yesterday in his news conference that every year he struggles in the first match at the BB&T, always ending in a tough 3 setter, was yet again victorious. The first set could have gone either way, ending with Isner on top with 11-9 in the tiebreak. Harrison took the second set 6-4. Isner breaks at 5 all in the third, but his service game to win the match was riddled with deuces and feisty play from the youngster.

 

Joining Ivan Dodig and Lleyton Hewitt, players James Blake, Ryan Harrison, Denis Istomin and Kevin Anderson all advance into the quarter finals. Michael Russell retired from his match against Santiago Giraldo and pulled out of the doubles, citing stomach problems.

 

In doubles, (1) Ivan Dodig/Marcelo Melo, 2013 Wimbledon Doubles Finalists, were sat down in a nail biter by Jonathan Erlich/Andy Ram, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8. Great Brittain’s

C. Fleming/J. Marray put an easy stamping on J. Blake/J. Sock 3,2 and Tech “brothers” K. King/J. Spir go down to Roger-Vasselin/Sijsling.  L. Hewitt/C. Guccione and R. Berankis/S. Giraldo(WO) both advance.

 

 

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013

STADIUM start 1:00 pm

[3] I Dodig (CRO) vs [7] L Hewitt (AUS)

 

Not Before 4:00 PM

[1] J Isner (USA) vs J Blake (USA)

 

Not Before 7:00 PM

S Giraldo (COL) vs R Harrison (USA)

 

Not Before 9:00 PM

D Istomin (UZB) vs [2] K Anderson (RSA)

 

AJC GRANDSTAND start 8:00 PM

 

Not Before 8:00 PM

[4] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / I Sijsling (NED) vs R Berankis (LTU) / S Giraldo (COL) – After Necessary RestORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013

STADIUM start 1:00 pm

[3] I Dodig (CRO) vs [7] L Hewitt (AUS)

 

Not Before 4:00 PM

[1] J Isner (USA) vs J Blake (USA)

 

Not Before 7:00 PM

S Giraldo (COL) vs R Harrison (USA)

 

Not Before 9:00 PM

D Istomin (UZB) vs [2] K Anderson (RSA)

 

AJC GRANDSTAND start 8:00 PM

 

Not Before 8:00 PM

[4] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / I Sijsling (NED) vs R Berankis (LTU) / S Giraldo (COL) – After Necessary Rest

 

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Mahut Tops Hewitt for Newport Title and Also Wins Doubles

nicolas-mahut

(July 15, 2013) Nicolas Mahut won four matches at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships over the past two days to claim both the singles and doubles titles at the tournament Newport. Monday morning, he paired with Edouard Roger-Vasselin to claim their fourth title as a team, coming back to beat the American pairing of Tim Smyczek and Rhyne Williams, 6-7(4), 6-2, 10-5. Sunday Mahut defeated Lleyton Hewitt in the singles final for his second career title, his first coming last month at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

 

“First to win the singles is a big accomplishment,” said Mahut. “To win both in the same week, singles and doubles, it’s amazing. When I look back a month ago, I was ranked 240, then I played the French Open final in doubles, won two titles, won another one in doubles, it’s just a great achievement. I just don’t think I even realize it all yet.”

 

Due to rain over the weekend, the tournament semifinals were moved from Saturday to Sunday. Mahut played three matches on Sunday – singles and doubles semifinals, and singles final, as well as this morning’s doubles final. In 2010, Mahut competed in the longest match in tennis history, when he and John Isner played for 11 hours and 5 minutes at 2010 Wimbledon before Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set.

 

Mahut is the first player on the ATP World Tour to win both singles and doubles titles at the same event this season. He is the third player in the history of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships to do so (Rajeev Ram in 2009 and Dan Goldie in 1987).

 

 

“When you want to win a final, everything can happen. I just can’t believe it’s true,” Mahut said of winning the singles crown.

“A month ago I was playing to make the cut for the qualies at the US Open, I was [ranked] 240 with some points to defend. I told my coach, I have to play great on grass to make the cut for the qualies. A month later I have two titles.”

“It’s always easier to come back onto court after wins. You know I can play a long time, I can stay a long time on the court.”

 

As for winning the doubles, Mahut said: “I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent at the beginning, but in the end, I played good at the right time and Edouard played really well.”

“First to win the singles is a big accomplishment. To win the same week, singles and doubles, it is the first time it has happened to me in my career, and it’s amazing. When I look back a month ago, I was ranked 240, then I played the French Open in doubles, won two titles, won another one in doubles. It’s just a great achievement. I don’t think I even realise it all yet. It’s incredible what has happened to me in the past month.”

“I was maybe going to stop playing singles because my [ATP] Ranking was too low only a month ago, so I was thinking to play maybe just doubles, and a month later I’m back in the Top 100. It’s just unbelievable.”

By winning the singles title, Mahut has moved up 52 spots to in the ATP Rankings to World No. 75.

 

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