2014/04/17

Juan Martin del Potro to consult Mayo Clinic Physician about left wrist pain

 

DelPotro 7 228

(January 28, 2014) Juan Martin del Potro is consulting a specialist, Dr Richard A. Berger, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota to check on an injured left wrist. Doctor Berger operated on Del Potro’s right wrist back in 2010. Del Potro missed out on most of the 2010 season which saw his ranking fall to almost 300 in early 2011. He is currently No. 4 in the world.

 

Here is an official statement from the Del Potro camp sent to Tennis Panorama News:

 

Juan Martin del Potro flew to Rochester, Minnesota, to consult Dr. Richard Berger at the Mayo Clinic due to recurring pain in his left wrist.
Del Potro suffered pain at the beginning of the Australian Open and it worsened as matches lengthened. The Tandil native had been injected for the last time the U.S. Open last year, when he suffered the same pain he had experienced in 2012 (Cincinnati, U.S. Open and the Davis Cup tie against Czech Republic) and early 2013 (Marseille, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami).
The infiltration and medical treatment allowed him to play without discomfort through Sydney. He experienced severe pain in Melbourne, came back to Argentina and put his wrist to rest.
He had planned to visit Dr. Berger some time this year to continue with the treatment. As pain worsened, he decided to fly last night.

January 29, 2014 Update:

Dr. Richard Berger examined Juan Martin Del Potro at Mayo Clinic in Rochester this Tuesday and Wednesday and has recommended a physical therapy program that should solve the issues he is having. He is optimistic about the success of the treatment.

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Del Potro Upset by Bautista Agut, Murray Rolls On at Australian Open

Juan Martin Del Potro

(January 16, 2014) World No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro became the first major upset victim of the 2014 Australian Open on Thursday when he fell to Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in second round action.

The match which lasted 3 hours and 53 minutes and ended at 1:20 a.m. Friday was the Spaniard’s first win over a Top Ten player in seven tries.

“I think he play a great match during the four hours,” Del Potro said.  “It’s tough when you play very high level during four hours.  Tough to beat the opponent.  I was close.

“But in every moment what I have, he play unbelievable shot.  In breakpoint down, he serves well.  He made winners with forehands, backhands, and he play always to the line very often during the match.

“When you don’t have that little lucky on your side, it’s another thing negative to play.  And I think he did really well.

“I’m so happy for the victory today,” Bautista Agut, the no. 62nd ranked said.  “It was one of my best wins in my career.  I’m so happy for win Del Potro.  I play a good tennis today.

“He’s a great player, one of the best in the world, and I could beat him.  I’m so happy because of that.”

“The season has just started,” the world No. 5 said. “I will try to be positive for the rest of the year.

“I mean, just lost match.  He play really well.  That’s it.

“I need to keep working.  I already won the tournament last week, and that give me confidence to improve my game.

But this kind of match also help me to learn something, and I will try to take my positive things about this match and change the negative to improve my game.”

 

In other action three-time Australian finalist Andy Murray won the last 23 straight points  coming form 1-5 down to dismantle French qualifier No. 267 ranked Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-2, 7-5

Commenting on his 23 point feat, No. 4 player Murray said: “it’s not easy to do either.”  “Good way to finish the match.

“I think, you know, he was obviously almost going for broke on a lot of shots.  I mean, he was hitting the ball so early, and flat and low.  It was very humid today, so the ball really wasn’t flying much.

“You know, he came up with some great shots in the third set.  Then when he didn’t get his set point, I put a good point on his set point.  Then, yeah, I mean, I guess it’s normal he got a little bit nervous, which helped.  He started missing a few balls and I adjusted my tactics a little bit.

“Then that obviously made a difference as well.  So it’s a good way to finish.

In another upset on the day, the once promising American Donald Young took out 24 seed Andreas Seppi 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. The 24-year-old who once reached No. 38 in the world, turned pro as a teenager has recently been picking up ATP points by playing Challenger events

“I happen to be back playing well and hopefully I can keep improving and stay here at this level,” he said to media. “This is where I want to be.”

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Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

 

(January 14, 2014) Temperatures topped 42C (108F) at the Australian Open on Tuesday while similar temperatures are expected to continue until Friday. Officials still did not invoke the “Extreme Heat Policy.” Here is the official statement from the Australian Open:

AUSTRALIAN OPEN STATEMENT

The top temperature at Melbourne Park today was 42.2 degrees Celsius, at 5.45pm.

Statement from Wayne McKewen, Referee:

While conditions were hot and uncomfortable, the relatively low level of humidity ensured that conditions never deteriorated to a point where it was necessary to invoke the extreme heat policy. Stages one and two of the heat policy were implemented.

Dr Tim Wood, Chief Medical Officer:

The majority of matches today were completed without any court calls from the medical team. Of course there were a few players who experienced heat related illness or discomfort, but none required significant medical intervention after they had completed their match.

 

Most of the matches today didn’t go for much longer than a couple of hours and generally the playing group coped extremely well.

 

Players reacted to the scorching temperatures in their news conferences. Here is a compilation of what the some of players said to press in response the heat:

Wozniacki frustrated

Q.  Could you give us a sense of the conditions and how you felt you coped with that today.
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI:  It was a little warm out there today.  But the first set I thought I managed to keep my head cool.  Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more.

I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm.

But it was warm for both of us, and it was great that I managed to finish it off in two sets and it wasn’t too long.

Yeah, just had an ice bath now.  Yeah, I could go out and play another two sets now (smiling).

Victoria Azarenka

Q.  Any tricks of the trade to the heat?  Do you get an ice bath after that kind of heat?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I’m going to go probably after.  Just using ice, you know, hydrate.  It’s simple things, but you just have to be very disciplined about it.  Ball kids make a great job just bringing the ice towels right there.

 

Q.  Did you have a cold shower before you went out to hit the ball again, or is it a process that you go through to try and sort of bring your body temperature back down?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  No, I just went out straight to go hit.  Actually put on a long sleeved shirt.  It wasn’t probably the smartest thing to do, but I’m fine.

 

Q.  Should the roof have been closed for your match?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  I would love it, but, you know, I think my opponent would also enjoy that.  But it’s fine, you know.

I think, you know, we’re all in the same conditions.  It’s much hotter out there right now than when I was playing.

 

Q.  Caroline said she put a plastic water bottle down on the court and she thought that it started melting a bit.  Is it that hot out there?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  I don’t know.  It’s pretty hot.  I don’t know, when I went out on the court I was just curious what was the temperature.  Because even though it was windy, the wind was like hot wind.  Like I said, Just don’t blow it, because it’s like even hotter.  Just stop.

But you normally expect a little bit of, I don’t know, some freshness, I don’t know what, but it just didn’t come.  From anywhere (smiling).

 

Q.  The soles of your shoes weren’t burning, were they?
VICTORIA AZARENKA:  It felt pretty hot, like you’re dancing in a frying pan or something like that.

 

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Q.  Not a bad first start.  What was it like playing in that sort of heat in the middle of the night?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I knew I had a tough opponent ahead of me.  You know, the conditions were tough for everyone.  I think we got the least today, considering how late we played.  But it was still pretty warm out there.  Warm enough to have to use some ice vests.

But, you know, looking at her results in the last, you know, couple of weeks and last year and the matches that I’ve played against her, I knew that it was going to be a tough match.

No matter what I had to do, I wanted to get through it, and I think that’s what it was about today.

Q.  How did you like the vest?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s cool.  Feels good.  Makes you a little wet, but that’s okay.

Q.  Did you feel sorry in any way for some of the players in the heat?
MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Yeah, I noticed their facial expressions.  I’m sure it was very difficult for everyone.  I think everyone, except the meteorologists and the doctors, seemed to have the same opinion about the whether, so…

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Q.  Everyone’s talking about the heat.  How hot did it feel out there on court?  Some of the hottest conditions you played in?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I think it’s maybe the hottest condition I played in.  I remember a match I played against Nishikori a few years ago which was also tough.  We knew before it’s gonna be difficult today, and it was, so it’s good to finish that and look for the next round.

Q.  You seem to be having trouble with your shoes, with getting grip out there.  Was that just the heat?
JO WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, because of the heat, you know, the material of the shoes, you know, it’s really becomes, you know, not really hard.  Like, I don’t know how to say it in English.

But anyway, it’s not good for our shoes when it’s hot like this.

 

Federer 1

Q.  Much obviously today has been made of the conditions.  How would you describe them and how it affected your play, if any, today?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I thought it was very dry, just hot, you know, stinging sort of sun.

I guess also it depends on who you play, if you’re playing a big server, clearly faster conditions.  If you’re getting into rallies, I guess you’ll feel the heat a bit more.

Depending on where you come from it has a bigger effect on you, this type of heat, than maybe humid heat.  So it’s very personal, and it can become just a very mental thing, you know, and you just can’t accept that it’s hot.

Just deal with it, because it’s the same for both.  That’s basically it.

 

Q.  You spoke before the tournament about how hard you trained in the offseason.  Does that help you if the weather stays like this to cope well?
ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I didn’t practice in 40 degree heat because that’s hard to find, you know, around the world.  I did that after the US Open.  In Dubai we had 42, 43, so that was warm then.

But like I said, it’s just a mental thing.  If you’ve trained hard enough your entire life or the last few weeks and you believe you can do it and come through it, there’s no reason.

If you can’t deal with it, you throw in the towel.  But that’s for me.

Q.  From your perspective, should the roof be closed on Rod Laver when the heat gets this bad?
ROGER FEDERER:  No.  I think it should always stay open, honestly.  That’s my opinion.

 

Kei Nishikori

Q.  How was it today?

KEI NISHIKORI:  I’m happy to win, I mean, first of all.  You know, it was not easy condition with the heat and with the wind.

Yeah, it’s always tough to play, you know, first round.  You get tight and, you know, anything can happen.

But I’m happy to win in fifth set.

Q.  Was there any point in the match where you had some problems with the heat?  Because you played five sets, three and a half hours, I think, 3:40.

KEI NISHIKORI:  Actually, not really.  Brisbane was much tougher.  It was no wind and humidity was high.  Here it’s, you know, with the wind and it’s dry, so it wasn’t too bad, actually.

 

Q.  I think it’s still 41 degrees outside.  How do you deal with the heat?
NICK KYRGIOS:  I think it suits my game pretty well.  It will suit my serving a lot.  The more aggressive you are, I think it helps a lot.

Obviously it’s affecting everyone out there.  It’s pretty tough.  You got to stay hydrated.  You got to be smart with nutrition, as well.

Yeah, tough conditions out there, for sure.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Q.  How did you find the conditions today in the heat?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO:  Was terrible for play.  I mean, it was for both player, but is tough to play long rallies, to manage the weather conditions.  And it’s tough to play in these kind of conditions.

I mean, you are thinking about a lot more things than the tennis match.  You are trying to drink a lot and always thinking about your body, your physic, and not about the game.

I know tomorrow and after tomorrow it’s going to be worst, so I will try to be ready for the weather conditions, too.

Andy Murray 8202013

Q.  Do you think the conditions were safe out there?  A couple players collapsed.  A ball boy collapsed.
ANDY MURRAY:  Yeah, it’s definitely something that you maybe have to look at a little bit.  As much as it’s easy to say the conditions are safe   you know, a few people said there’s doctors and stuff saying it’s fine   it only takes one bad thing to happen.  And it looks terrible for the whole sport when people are collapsing, ball kids are collapsing, people in the stands are collapsing.  That’s obviously not great.

And I know when I went out to hit before the match, the conditions like at 2:30, 3:00 were very, very, very tough conditions.  Anyone’s going to struggle in that heat.

Whether it’s safe or not, I don’t know.  You just got to be very careful these days.  There’s been some issues in other sports with, you know, players having heart attacks.  I don’t know exactly why that is.  Or collapsing.

In this heat, that’s when you’re really pushing it to your limits.  You don’t want to see anything bad happen to anyone.

 

Q.  Were you surprised the heat rule wasn’t implemented today?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know what the heat rule is, so…

Q.  Nobody does.
ANDY MURRAY:  Exactly.

Q.  Bearing in mind how hot it was this afternoon, you could have had a roof and air conditioning.
ANDY MURRAY:  Apparently it wasn’t that humid today.  That’s why it wasn’t implemented.  There’s different rules for the men and women.  I don’t know why.  I don’t understand what the difference is in the two rules.

If I’m told to play, I play; if not, then we don’t.

 

Q.  What’s the talk in the locker room?  Are people unhappy about it?
ANDY MURRAY:  I don’t know.  I mean, I didn’t sit down and discuss whether the guys are happy with the rules or not.

But every single person that I saw coming in from practice or going out to play a match or coming back from a match, everyone just said like, It’s really hot today.  That was what they said (smiling).

SloaneStephens

Q.  Has there been much chatter in the locker room today about the heat and wind, especially out on Court 6, the outer courts?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, no, I saw it this morning at breakfast.  I was like, Can’t be windy outside.  I just expected it would be hot.

But, I mean, I kept looking at my phone.  Mine is in Fahrenheit.  I’m like 108 Fahrenheit, why is that happening?  Then I kind of like Googled 45 Centigrade like just to see what’s happening.

I think the heat was more in my mind than anything.  When I got there it wasn’t that bad for me.  Obviously I played later, so it was okay.

 

Q.  We don’t have to ask Siri about the Celsius conversion?
SLOANE STEPHENS:  Yeah, just ask me, because I’ve been looking at it all day (smiling).

GillesSimonTasteofTennis-600x450

Q.  So the conditions helped you?
GILLES SIMON:  Yeah.  If I feel ready and I want to fight from the baseline, then he a tough opponent because I will just look for rhythm in the match and finally the condition will be helpful for this.  He will serve fast, with the wind, with the heat; you don’t control anything.

But today it was the other way.  I just wanted it to be as short as possible with no reason.  I wanted him to feel bad, to get tight, and I managed to do that.

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Top Seeds Advance in Melbourne Despite Extreme Heat Conditions

Nadal

(January 14, 2014) On a day which saw soaring temperatures, the Australian Open saw top seeds advance on day two of the tennis’ first major of the year. Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer,  Juan Martin Del Potro, Maria Sharapova and defending champion Victoria Azarenka  moved into the second round despite temperatures which went over 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).

In addition to the heat, the tournament was beset by retirements, not linked to the heat – six in all which included top American John Isner (ankle) the 13th seed, 12 seed Tommy Haas (shoulder) and 21st seed Philipp Kohlschreiber who withdrew before play, Radek Stepanek (neck).

Nadal was only on the court for a set up 6-4 when his opponent Australian Bernard Tomic retired with a groin injury.

“I know how tough is this situation, I had the same a few years ago at this tournament,” Nadal said. “Since the beginning, I saw a little bit he had some problems on the leg.”

“It was sad,” Tomic said.  It’s unfortunate.  You know, this opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me.  Could have used a lot of it.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t compete.  It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd.  I don’t think they quite knew what was wrong with me.”

Federer began his record 57th consecutive major tournament with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian wild-card James Duckworth.

Just over a week after beating Federer in Brisbane, Former Lleyton Hewitt fell in his home slam in five grueling sets to No. 24-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy

Men’s seeds advancing included No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 16 Kei Nishikori, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.

On the women’s side No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanzka, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 11 Simona Halep,  No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro, and No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.

In the women’s upset of the day, No. 19 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova fell  6-3, 6-3 to Elina Svitolina.

Related Articles:

Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

Nishikori Wins Five-Set Test Under Scorching Heat in Melbourne

Dimitrov Recovers form to best Klahn at Australian Open

One-on-One with American Tennis Player Tim Smyczek

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Juan Martin Del Potro Wins Sydney International

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 11, 2014) SYDNEY – A flurry of unforced errors in the first set between Bernard Tomic and Juan Martin Del Potro was the beginning of the end of Tomic’s campaign to defend the Apia International title, in Sydney on Saturday night.

For the first six games, both Tomic and Del Potro displayed a cross section of the shots and power available to them, and although Tomic was dropping the first point of his service games – a trend that would continue throughout the rest of the match – he was still managing to hold serve, albeit without pushing Del Potro on his own serve – also an unhelpful trend for the 21-year-old Australian.

Tomic was hanging in there with the world No.5, and serving at 3-all when he made four consecutive unforced errors to hand Del Potro the break. This would be the start of a ten-point run that would only end when Tomic was serving at 3-5, 0-30. Seemingly stripped of his confidence from this point, the set was over a few points later, when Tomic netted a backhand to give Del Potro the first set 6-3.

Tomic would later comment on the significant turning point, saying, “I felt like at the 3 all game I missed two, three shots I shouldn’t have probably missed. From then, he just sort of got momentum and started to relax, and he was starting to play to win rather not to lose. From then it was very difficult for me to turn it around. Very difficult.”

Nonetheless, after a rousing cheer from the Aussie crowd between play of the first and second sets, Tomic showed positive signs of keeping up with the grand slam champion. When Del Potro – whom many in the crowd also came to support – held the opening service game of the second set to love, Tomic matched this feat on his own serve, firing off two aces on the way to his own love-hold.

Unfortunately for Tomic, that was all the love he would get on Ken Rosewall Arena, as he would go on to lose the next five games, and the championship, in a match that lasted 53 minutes.

A stingy Del Potro never let Tomic have more than two points on his serve – he dominated his younger opponent with 83% first serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 60%) and 86% second serve points won (compared to Tomic’s 25%). Towards the end of the short match, Del Potro was regularly clocking over 200km/h on first serve, whereas the Australian’s first serve maxed out at about 160km/h.

Del Potro said post match, “I think I play great. My forehand works perfect, I make a lot winners, many aces, play good slices. Every long rally we played I won all of them.” He summarized the win over Tomic, saying, “I think Bernard was a little frustrating after see me very focus on the match and hitting the ball so well. He is still young in some moment of the match, but he has everything to win titles, and he will reach finals very, very soon.”

Both players are now looking ahead to the Australian Open in Melbourne, where Tomic has drawn world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round. Ken Rosewall, the man himself, had congratulated both players on court after the final was over. “He said, Very good tournament. Pleased to have you back,” Tomic recounted his conversation with the living tennis legend, “I said, Thank you, Mr. Rosewall, hopefully next year I can come back and have another chance of winning.  He wished me luck for Tuesday’s match against Rafa.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Del Potro and Tomic advance to the finals of the Apia International

Bernard Tomic

Bernard Tomic

By Dave Gertler

(January 10, 2014) SYDNEY – Juan Martin Del Potro put on a clinical display of dominant tennis to beat Dmitry Tursunov in the semifinals of the Apia International, on Friday.

Tursunov mustered all the defensive skills he could manage to try and hold off the Argentine world No.5, who seemed to be hitting bigger and moving around the court at a higher intensity than the Sydney crowd had yet seen in 2014. The 31-year-old Russian world No.32 fought well on serve but was unable to match the level of the 2009 US Open champion. While he kept up for most of the first set, only ceding one break toward the end for 4-6, the second set was more one-sided, Tursunov broken twice on the way to a 2-6 scoreline.

“I think I played the best match of the week,” said Del Potro, “I played great with my forehands and serves. I didn’t make easy errors and I play solid on the baselines and I play good dropshots, good volleys. I think I did everything okay, and I’m glad with my level of today. I’m looking forward for the final of tomorrow.”

When asked whether it was the announcement of the Australian Open draw earlier in the day that had been the catalyst for his performance today, Del Potro emphasized his focus on this tournament, saying, “I didn’t see (the draw) yet, and I don’t want to know yet. I think I’m trying to be professional. This tournament is not over yet for me. I have an important match tomorrow, so I try to just be focus on this tournament, on this draw, this schedule. And my team already knows they’re not allowed to talk about Melbourne yet.  My friends, too. If I can be focused just on in tournament it’s much better for me.”

While the second semifinal was being decided between Sergiy Stakhovsky and Bernard Tomic, Del Potro discussed his thoughts on playing Tomic – the eventual winner – saying, “He’s hitting harder his forehand. He been working a lot on that forehand I think. He improve a little bit his game. In the final everything can happen. Doesn’t matter who’s the favorite on the paper. The final must to be play, and tomorrow I can tell you who is the winner.”

Tomic’s win over Stakhovsky was a nervous one, Stakhovsky known as a net-rushing all-court player, and also famously for his upset over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2013. In a topsy-turvy affair, Tomic seemed unsettled and less confident than the calculating, aggressive Tomic who had beaten Alexandr Dolgopolov the previous evening.

In the early stages of the match, Stakhovsky was the more aggressive and won the first set in a tie break. While Tomic and Stakhovsky together faced 11 break points in the first set, the second set saw only one break point – on Stakhovsky’s serve – which Tomic converted, to win the set 7-5, taking the match to a deciding set.

Stakhovsky’s unforced errors were a factor throughout the match, and were his downfall in the third set, along with some untimely double faults. Tomic became the more aggressive and relatively consistent player of the two, in a match largely characterized stalemate. Forcing the break of serve at 3-3, Tomic held for 5-3 and broke again to close out the match.

Tomic was realistic about his chances against Del Potro, and gave an honest assessment of his sketchy performance in the semifinal by saying he will need to, “Play the way I played in my first round and the quarters to win.”

Like Del Potro, Tomic – who it was announced today will face world No.1 Rafael Nadal in the first round at the Australian Open – was reluctant to cast his thoughts ahead to next week’s grand slam, saying, “My main priority is tomorrow night, and on Sunday I’ll think about the Australian Open.” When asked again, he said, “Like I said, we’ll talk about it Sunday.”

About Del Potro, Tomic said, “He can play amazing. I have to stick with him to have a chance. He could get tight and I play a little bit differently, so hopefully I can get buzzed up and play my tennis,” also adding that the Argentine’s forehand is the best on tour.

As an overall strategy going into the final, Tomic said, “I know what Juan is gonna be doing.  Obviously he’s very, very good at what he does. This is why he’s there. I have to do something different. I have to play my game. It’s a final. I’ll go out there, have fun, relax, and I’m going for the win.”

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Top Seed Del Potro Pushed by Stepanek

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) We’re into the sharp end of the 2014 Apia International in Sydney, on a Thursday that features men’s quarterfinals and women’s semifinals matches on Ken Rosewall Arena, with a mix of singles and doubles matches being played on Grandstand Court.

The biggest drawcard of the men’s tournament, Juan Martin Del Potro, had to contend with consistent pressure from Radek Stepanek throughout their two hour and eight minute quarterfinal. After Del Potro served well to seal the first set 6-4, the Czech 35-year-old played high-risk tennis which seemed to affect Del Potro’s confidence and energy levels, particularly in the second set, during which Stepanek outplayed his opponent, ranked 40 places above him, to win it 6-3.

After being broken in the second set, Del Potro was visibly frustrated, and experienced a dip in energy, errors frequently coming off his racquet.

Post-match he described a moment when he almost smashed his racquet, saying, “Yeah, I was close, but I can’t do that yet. When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them. I will talk before with the chair umpire to don’t call me a code violation or something. I have to be allowed to do that after two years maybe.”

The third set provided some of the most entertaining tennis seen so far in the 2014 Apia International, when Del Potro lifted his game to match the swashbuckling net-rushing of the world No.45. Whereas in the second set, Del Potro had faced eight break points, saving only five, he proved the better player on all the big points, only allowing Stepanek one break point, which he saved. Del Potro’s break came early at one game all, and with the help of a small but vocal Argentinian contingent on Ken Rosewall Arena, was able to hold onto the advantage and take the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Talking about his growing confidence toward the end of the match, he said, “I’m trying to be calm all the time.  I was positive every moment of the match.  Even Radek improve his game during the second set, I was positive, waiting for my chance, and I play a fantastic two pints in the third game of the third set to break his serve. Then I serve okay.  Just doing my job, and I was close the match really calm.”

In the second men’s quarterfinal, Dmitry Tursonov defeated Denis Istomin 7-6, 6-2. Del Potro and Tursonov will meet in Friday’s men’s semifinal.

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

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Del Potro Survives Test from Mahut to Advance in Sydney

Juan Martin Del Potro

(January 8, 2014) SYDNEY – Sydney top seed Juan Martin Del Potro had to rally to beat Nicolas Mahut 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in his opening match of the tournament.

“I think to be my first match after two months it was okay,” note the Argentine.  “The court and the balls are really fast and it’s tough to play long rallies.

“And also Mahut serves really well, and he played a lot of slices and volleys.  It’s tough to feel the ball on the baseline.  In the end I broke his serve in the third set, only once, and that was enough to close the match.”

The world No. 5 gets another challenge in Czech Radek Stepanek next.

“He’s a really tough opponent,” Del Potro said.  “They won the Davis Cup, so he must feel confidence playing in this surface.  He has experience.  He’s doing really well in doubles matches, too.

“We play many times.  Every match was close.  I need to improve a little bit my game basically when I start the match and then see what’s happen.

“I’m glad to be in quarterfinals here once again, and I am looking forward to go far in this tournament.”

In other men’s matches, Alexandr Dolgopolov upset second seed Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-2, 6-2 while defending champion Bernard Tomic moved in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Blaz Kavcic.

“I’m trying to prepare as best I can,” Tomic said.  “I’m not looking at this to defend my title, like I said yesterday.  I’m looking to win another one.  I believe I can do it.

“Eight players left.  I’m confident.  I’m going to keep trying.  Tomorrow is a difficult match.  I’ve got to go out there and play tennis like I did in the first round, ant that’s going to give me the best chance of winning.

Tomic is the defending champion at the Apia International.

Tennis Panorama News is in Sydney Australia covering the Apia International tennis tournament. Follow the Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN

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Del Potro Holds Court with Media as Main Draw Begins in Sydney

Delpo press sydney

By Dave Gertler

(January 5, 2013) SYDNEY – 25-year-old Argentine grand slam winner Juan Martin Del Potro was a picture of calm on Sunday when he made his first media appearance at the Apia International, Sydney. The world No. 5 said that in the off-season he’s been, “Training hard for this new season. Practicing every day, also the weekends, and I think I did a very good preparation for the tournament,” and that his goals for 2014 are, “to get closer the fourth and third position,” in the ATP
rankings.

Making his third appearance at the Apia International, Del Potro thinks, “It’s a good chance to see how I’m feeling before the grand slam,” also admitting that, “I always feel really good in this city. The fans are so good
with all the players, so I’m really glad to be here.”

When asked about young Aussie defending champion Bernard Tomic, Del Potro said, “He’s a really nice player, and the fans here like him a lot…He’s very smart to play and we respect him a lot on court, and he’s going to be a really dangerous player for us in this season and in the future too.”

On the first day of main draw action, the gates of Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre welcomed thousands of tennis enthusiasts eager to catch a glimpse of some of the events big names.

Simona Halep opened proceedings on Ken Rosewall Arena, and despite having a higher WTA rank than her opponent, proved outgunned by Madison Keys, who took Halep out in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.

Over on Grandstand Court at the time, Keys’ American compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands was being challenged early by Julia Goerges before Goerges retired due to an ankle sprain, making Mattek-Sands the first qualifier to win through to the main draw.

Goerges has since been announced by tournament officials as the lucky-loser entrant into the main draw, but this event nonetheless marked the start of another day of great results for Americans in qualifying. Ryan Harrison won his second round match, but will need to get past a confident Alex Bogomolov Jr before making it into the main draw.

Impressively, Lauren Davis, Christina McHale and Victoria Duval all winning their matches means that four of the six qualifying spots in the main draw have been claimed by American women.

Not as successful in her final round of qualifying was Shahar Peer of Israel, whose consistently aggressive style of play saw her through two previous rounds of qualification, but was eventually broken down by a resilient 18-year-old Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria, after the sun took its toll on both players in a three-set match that lasted 2 hours, 20 minutes.

Back on Ken Rosewall Arena, Daniela Hantuchova, the 30-year-old former world No.5, was having big problems with the big serving of a Croatian opponent ten years her junior, Ajla Tomljanovic. Tomljanovic served seven aces, including one on match point, on her way to a surprising 6-4, 7-5 win, and will now face Madison Keys, the other surprise winner – and similarly big hitter – in the second round.

Monday’s action on Ken Rosewall Arena will begin at 12:00 with American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands taking on rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard, who rose from 144 to 32 in the WTA rankings in 2013. Mattek-Sands, at 28, will draw on the experience of her years on the tour, as well as matchplay practice during qualifying that Bouchard will lack, to decide who plays defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.

Things will only get better from there on KRA with local favorite, Australian Jarmila Gajdosova – on the comeback trail from mononucleosis – taking on Lauren Davis. Other stars featured on Monday’s schedule include Jelena Jankovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Sorana Cirstea, Victoria Duval, Ryan Harrison, Julien Benneteau and Sergiy Stakhovsky.

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

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2014 Tennis Season, More of the Same for the Men?

Centre Court-001

By James A. Crabtree

 

(November 24, 2013) Of those who can truly challenge for a major, the list is very small. Consider in 2002 when swede Thomas Johansson won the Australian Open as the 16th seed or Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open ranked 66th in the world. Compare that with today’s rankings and we have Fabio Fognini winning in Melbourne and Yen-Hsun Lu in Paris. If you think that either of these results is far fetched for 2014 you are on the money.

 

When fourth seed David Ferrer made the French open final this past year nobody but his mother felt he could win it. Not surprising considering his opposition, Rafael Nadal, has only lost once out of the sixty matches played at Roland Garros. Only a mad man would bet against him over five sets on clay.

 

Add that to the fact the big four have not only dominated the slams but since 2009 only Nikolay Davydenko, Ferrer, Ivan Ljubicic, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling have been able to add their names to the ATP 1000 champions list. That is only five differing names to the usual four out of 45 tournaments.

 

Although the dominance of the big 4 has been lessened since the 2013 horror campaign of Roger Federer, the collection of contenders hasn’t been increased far beyond those players who have won a slam in the past. When looking at the others within the top ten all have their flaws. Tomas Berdych struggles when playing any final. Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer don’t have the fire power to notch big back-to-back wins. Stan Wawrinka has the firepower and the arrogance but not the physical stamina. Comparatively Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has the arrogance and firepower but not the mental fortitude. That leaves Juan Martin Del Potro, the scariest opponent not named Novak, Rafa, Roger or Andy.

Andy-Murray

Australian Open, Return of the Muzzer

 

Yes, seriously. Andy Murray will be refreshed and hungry and will look for glory at a venue he has been a three time finalist. A fourth consecutive triumph for Novak Djokovic in Melbourne, even on current form, seems a bridge too far.

 

Look for Federer to regain some form and make the semi-finals once more.

 

Rafael Nadal

French Open, As predictable as a Vin Diesel movie

 

Novak Djokovic will have to wait one more year before he can unify the all four career majors belt.

 

Nadal on the ultra-slow clay of Roland Garros is too much for any mortal. It is impossible to argue with a 98.33 winning percentage over nine years. All we can say is shame on you Robin Soderling for ruining slam perfection.

 

Djokovic wins 89

Wimbledon, Novak Vengeance

 

By June Djokovic is going to be mighty mighty angry. Not only that, he is going to make both Andy Murray and the British crowd pay for the previous year. Look for Djokovic to sneak this one in 5 sets.

 

Federer-001

U.S. Open, The Federer Redemption?

 

This is a really 50-50 call between old man Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro has a good case as he was the best player to not win a slam this past year. Federer has a case because, regardless of form, he is still Federer. On top of that history often likes to repeat itself in certain ways and it would be quite fitting for Federer to snatch a triumph in New York as Pete Sampras did in 2002.

 

James Crabtree is a journalist living in Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @JamesACrabtree

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