2014/10/22

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Mardy Fish and Bryan Brothers To Play Los Angeles Tennis Challenge on March 4

lachallenge

Westwood, Calif., (Jan. 17, 2013) – World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras, former World Top 10 player Mardy Fish and the most successful doubles duo of all time the Bryan Brothers will take part in the inaugural Los Angeles Tennis Challenge at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on Monday, March 4.

 

Tickets will be available starting Saturday morning, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., at www.TicketMaster.com, or can be purchased by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-825-2101 Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling the event directly at 310-824-1010, ext. 251.

 

The event is being co-hosted by Fish and former ATP World Tour player and Tennis Channel broadcaster Justin Gimelstob. The star-studded night of exciting exhibition matches falls just days before the start of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Calif.

 

“I am very excited about playing professional tennis in Los Angeles for the first time on March 4 at the LA Tennis Challenge,” Djokovic said. “To be playing against my good friend Mardy Fish, and partnering with my childhood tennis Idol, Pete Sampras, against the No. 1 doubles team in the world will be an amazing experience. In addition, to be able to help raise valuable funds for so many wonderful charities in the process will certainly make being at the newly refurbished Pauley Pavilion, the place to be Monday night, March 4th!”

 

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, Call to Cure and the Southern California Tennis Association’s community tennis initiatives.

 

“It’s going to be an unforgettable night of tennis starring some of the biggest names in the game,” said Gimelstob, a former UCLA All-American in the mid-1990s. “We’re proud to be bringing professional tennis back to Los Angeles and playing the matches indoors at historic and newly renovated Pauley Pavilion.”

 

Three exhibition pro-set matches will take place beginning at 7 p.m. Djokovic will take on Los Angeles resident Fish in singles followed by a doubles match pitting Djokovic and his childhood idol Sampras against Southern California natives Bob and Mike Bryan. An opening singles match between two marquee players will be announced shortly.

 

The Bryan Brothers are very comfortable on the UCLA campus having won an all-time best six doubles titles at the Los Angeles Tennis Center and former home to the Farmers Classic.

 

“We are so thankful that a new professional tennis event will be in Los Angeles,” Mike Bryan said. “Los Angeles is home to us and it is vital that competitive and entertaining tennis is accessible here. The LA Tennis Challenge will grow into the premiere tennis event in Los Angeles, and we are proud to support it.”

 

Added Bob Bryan: “We will need to be sharp in order to beat two legends of the sport. Novak Djokovic and Pete Sampras are going to be a tough team, but we are looking forward to the challenge of playing two of the greatest players of all time.”

 

Djokovic of Serbia is a winner of five Grand Slam titles and the current No. 1 player in the world. Sampras is considered the greatest American champion ever with 14 career Grand Slam singles titles, including seven Wimbledon crowns. Fish has six career ATP World Tour titles to his name and is an Olympic silver medalist. The Bryan twins won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and have won an all-time record 83 ATP World Tour doubles titles.

 

The LA Tennis Challenge will be broadcast by Tennis Channel in the United States.

 

To learn more about the LA Tennis Challenge go to www.LATennisChallenge.com. Like the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LATennisChallenge and follow on Twitter at @LA10sChallenge. For more information you can email: info@latennischallenge.com.

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Querrey Captures Third Los Angeles Title

Sam Querrey has joined the ranks of Andre Agassi, Arthur Ashe and Jimmy Connors in winning his third title at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles. On Sunday Querrey stopped first-time finalist Ricardas Berankis 6-0, 6-2 to extend his win streak in Los Angeles to 13.

“I feel like I always play well here,” said Querrey. “I grew up kind of playing around this area and I’m really comfortable out there on the courts. It’s fun to play in front of my friends and family. It all came together this week, and especially today.”

“I was nervous in the first set, that’s for sure. I didn’t play as I would like to play,” said Berankis. “In the second set, a couple of games, here and there, I loosened up a little bit. The crowd helped me. The crowd was great and I really enjoyed it. I was trying to stay focused and trying to do my best.”

Berankis had a career week as the first Lithuanian-born player to reach an ATP World Tour final.

Querrey’s win puts him in a first place tie in the Emirates US Open Series with Andy Roddick.

“I’m hoping I can just keep this up and play well the entire summer and keep going,” Querrey  said. “I’ve got Washington D.C. next week, so I’m just trying to continue to ride the train and hopefully play well all the way through the US Open.

“I’d love to be seeded at the Open, that’s one of my goals. I’m going to be pretty close after this week so hopefully with a few more good weeks I can make it into the Top 32 and be seeded there. And I’d love to get back into the Top 20, where I was a year-and-a-half ago, so that’s my big goal right now.”

The 24 year old is projected to move into the top 40 when the next rankings come out.

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Berankis Into First ATP Final

By Curt Janka

Los Angeles – Although Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis was playing in his first ATP semifinal, he maintained his composure and elevated level of play to beat Marinko Matosevic 7-5, 6-1. With the win, Berankis reaches his first ATP final and is the first player from his country to do so.

 

Berankis was all smiles after his match. “It’s really amazing,” he said. “I really didn’t think of it before coming here. I mean, every athlete has to think of their best in the tournament, but the finalist? When you come to play qualies it’s difficult to think of the final.”

 

The match started out in a dead lock. The players had split their previous two meetings and through 10 games and neither could make a dent in the other’s serve. Serving at 5-5, Matosevic wavered and Berankis seized the opportunity. With the break in hand, Berankis quickly held to close out the first set.

 

Much like his match against Nicolas Mahut, Berankis started out the second set by grabbing the early break. From that point he never looked back. Matosevic had one look at a break when he got the first two points of the game with Berankis serving at 2-1. The frustration from not capitalizing on that opportunity seemed to break Matosevic as his opponent ran away with the rest of the match.

 

The coach who Berankis has been working with for 13 years, and who he calls a “second father,” flew into town today for the match. The coach left Lithuania yesterday for Washington, where they planned to meet after the tourney. Because things were going so well, they decided to get him on a flight at 6am this morning and he got to the tournament just 30 minutes before today’s match.

 

Berankis will play either Sam Querrey or Rajeev Ram in the final of The Farmers Classic.

 

Asked about his chances in the final, Berankis said “My game is improving every day. I’m feeling great on the court at the moment and looking forward to tomorrow.” He added that he would be looking to attack any second serves he gets.

 

While 2011 saw 10 first-time winners on the ATP tour, this year players attempting to win their first title have gone 0-10 in finals. Berankis hopes to add the title to his list of first this week.

 

Along with the other accomplishments Berankis is stacking up, today’s win puts him in a tie for 2nd on the Emirates US Open Series Bonus Challenge standings with Gilles Muller. The winner of the final will be tied for first with Andy Roddick.

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Berankis Stuns Mahut at Farmers Classic

By Curt Janka

Los Angeles – Qualifier Ricardas Berankis made upsetting the number four seed look routine in a straight sets win over Nicolas Mahut in the first quarterfinal of The Farmers Classic. Ranked No. 141, Berankis needed just one break in each set to dismiss his opponent, 6-4, 6-4.

 

Despite holding the top junior ranking spot in 2007, Berankis has been slow to break through at ATP events. The win earns him his first semifinal on the tour. Bernakis is just 22-years-old and the youngest player left in the draw. Sidelined by an injury for the first half of the season, he’s only been playing since June and is happy with his progress saying, “So far, so good.”

 

Mahut struggled to return the Lithuanian’s serve throughout the match. Berankis further frustrated Mahut by saving all three break chances he faced. On the other hand, Berankis seemed to get more returns in, keeping pressure on Mahut’s serve with nine break chances in the first set alone.

 

The turning point in the match came in the ninth game of the first set. Both players had been holding fairly easily to that point and suddenly Mahut found himself fending off 6 break points before conceding the break after nine deuce points.

“I got lucky on a couple points,” said Berankis. “I’m happy I was able to control my emotions and play well.”

 

Berankis held quickly after that to close out the first set and continued the run by breaking Mahut in the opening game of the second set. From then on, both players protected their serve without much tension until the end of the match. Facing three match points, Mahut was able to save two before Berankis converted on his third chance.

 

This may be the furthest Berankis has advanced in an ATP event, but his run may not end yet. He will either face another unseeded player in Michael Russell or sixth-seeded Marinko Matosevic in the semifinal, which can only be viewed as a golden opportunity to debut in a final. Asked about the opportunity he said, “The first time is always unbelievable and something new. I hope that tomorrow I can continue doing the way I am now.”

 

While Berankis did not qualify for the Olympics this year, he hopes to represent Lithuania at the next games in Brazil.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  His personal twitter is @CurtJanka.

 

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Gulbis Avoids a Late Night, Into First Final of 2011

By Curt Janka

LOS ANGELES, California – Ernests Gulbis came from behind in the second set tie breaker to avoid playing a third set against Alex Bogomolov Jr. Winning the semifinal 6-2, 7-6(4) earned Gulbis his first final of the year.

 

Bogomolov played more aggressively than he had in his previous match, running around backhands to hit inside out forehands. But that left him vulnerable to up-the-line backhands from Gulbis which the Latvian pounded repeatedly.

 

Gulbis came to the match prepared for long rallies with Bogomolov and patiently waited for the right shots to attack. The second set was more competitive than the first, with neither player conceding a break.

 

Gulbis banged an ace on his first match point to win in straights and get home in time for Saturday Night Live.

 

When Gulbis plays Mardy Fish in the final on Sunday it will be the first time the two have played.

RESULTS – SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2011

Singles – Semifinals
[1] Mardy Fish (USA) d Ryan Harrison (USA) 60 46 76(3)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) 62 76(4)

Doubles – Semifinals
[3] Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) d Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER) 46 64 10-7
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d [4] Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) 76(6) 67(8) 10-4

 

ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011

STRAUS STADIUM start Noon

[3] Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) vs Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Trent Conrad Huey (PHI) tape delayed on Tennis Channel at 7:00 p.m.
Not Before 2:00 PM
[1] Mardy Fish (USA) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) live on ESPN2

 

2011 Farmers Classic Draws

Singles Draw

Doubles Draw

Qualifying Draw

 

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Fish Withstands Test From Harrison

By Curt Janka

LOS ANGELES, California –  In an all-American semifinal, Mardy Fish outlasted a determined Ryan Harrison 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(3).  What started out as a heavily one-sided affair in Fish’s favor turned into an edge-of-your-seat thriller at the Farmers Classic on Saturday.

 

Fish began the match beating Harrison with depth more so than pace. With balls landing consistently on or near the baseline, Harrison struggled to find opportunities to lean into his shots. Fish also repeatedly threw in off-speed, high kicking serves to his younger opponent’s backhand with great effect.

 

Harrison held to open the second set and slowly started to win some of the long rallies. The two continued to hold until, with Harrison up at 5-4, Fish played a few tight points to give Harrison two break points. On the second, Fish bunted a backhand into the net leveling the match at one set all.

In the third set, both players started with solid holds and then it was Harrison who played a few loose points to give Fish the early break. Harrison responded by breaking his second racquet of the match and was issued a code violation.

 

With his temper back under control, Harrison started to construct points more carefully. At the same time, Fish seemed unable to continue hitting with the great depth he exhibited in the first two sets. Harrison was able to capitalize and step into more shots and earn the break back.  At the end of the third set, Fish was hitting bigger serves and holding comfortably, but Harrison was winning more of the long rallies.

Harrison opened the third set tiebreaker with a double fault and Fish sprinted to a 5-0 lead. Harrison was able to earn one of the mini breaks back but ultimately it was the relaxed composure of Fish that got him to match point, which he clinched with an ace up the middle.

 

After the match both players commented on the slow, high-bounce play of the courts here and the previous tournament in comparison to the speedy courts they’ll play on at the U.S. Open. When asked why today’s match was so much closer their meeting last week in Atlanta, Fish credited Harrison for making fewer errors here in Los Angeles. Harrison believed the difference was his increased aggression. In either case, both players walk away from this match positively.

 

Fish will play in his second consecutive final on Sunday, putting him squarely in the lead of the Olympus U.S. Open Series Bonus Challenge standings.

 

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Gulbis and Del Potro Star In Freaky Friday

Ernests Gulbis

By Curt Janka

LOS  ANGELES, Caifornia – Ernests Gulbis stuns Juan Martin Del Potro 6-2, 6-4, in another fitting round of role reversal at the Farmers Classic on Friday night. The two have been swapping identities all season. Gulbis, once ranked as high as 21 in the world has had disappointing results all year plummeting his ranking dangerously close to triple digits. In sharp contrast, Del Potro has spent the year watching his ranking rocket up from 484 to 19.

 

Gulbis has shown tremendous talent but failed to live up to expectations. Del Potro’s return from injury had fans skeptical but he has been far exceeding nearly everyone’s expectations for his return to the tour.

 

On Friday,  both players showed they possess immense talent but it was Del Potro who failed to meet expectations while Gulbis surprised everyone by living up to the hype that used to follow him.

 

Gulbis played brilliant defense and just enough offense to jump to an early lead. Del Potro only hit a few of the booming forehands that once led him to the U.S. Open title and his first serve never showed much pop. Perhaps sensing Del Potro was not hitting out, Gulbis took to the attack in the second set and it paid off when the opportunity arose to close the match out in two sets. Instead of heavy hitting from Del Potro, it was Gulbis hitting big serves and monster forehands.

 

Juan Martin Del Potro

After the match, Del Potro credited his opponent for playing the better match. When asked what would make this year’s U.S Open a success, he humbly replied, “Just being there.” While not having to miss the Open for injuries would be an improvement on last year, that’s not the kind of statement someone makes if they are taking themselves seriously as a contender.

 

Meanwhile, Gulbis said the win was one of the most important in his career and he exuded positive energy about what this could mean for the rest of the season.

 

Gulbis will face Alex Bogomolov Jr. in the semifinal.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

Results for Friday July 29, 2011

Singles – Quarterfinals

[1] Mardy Fish (USA) d [8] Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 62 64

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d [2] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 62 64  Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) d [4] Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 16 64 61
[SE] Ryan Harrison (USA) d Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 36 63 64

Doubles – Quarterfinals

[4] Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) d Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) / Michael Russell (USA) 61 76 (4)

Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d Gilles Muller (LUX) / Jamie Murray (GBR) 62 64

 

Order of Play for Saturday, July 30, 2011

STRAUS STADIUM start 2:00 p.m.

[1] Mardy Fish (USA) vs Ryan Harrison (USA) live on Tennis Channel
[3] Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER)
Not Before 7:30 PM
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) live on ESPN2
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Trent Conrad Huey (PHI) vs [4] Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR)


2011 Farmers Classic Draws

Singles Draw

Doubles Draw

Qualifying Draw

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Bogomolov Absorbs Bellucci’s Power

Alex Bogomolov Jr.

By Curt Janka

LOS ANGELES, California –  American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr. came back to upset Brazilian powerhouse Thomaz Bellucci 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Farmers Classic tournament. In a topsy-turvy affair, Bellucci came out scorching winners passed an overwhelmed Bogomolov. By the beginning of the second set, Bogomolov began mixing up his pace but labored to chase down his opponent’s shots. At the end of the second set Bogomolov was out of dry shirts, but settled into grinding out the long points.

 

A medical timeout for Bogomolov seemed to breathe belief into the American. Gradually the scurrying defense of Bogomolov drew errors from Belluci. In the third set Bellucci seemed to second-guess his strokes as Bogomolov ran away with the match. Literally. With tremendous foot speed, Bogomolov managed to track and diffuse bomb after bomb until Bellucci conceded an error.

 

The win earns Bogomolov his first ATP World Tour semifinal after losing his previous 5 quarterfinal appearances. He will play the winner of the match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Ernests Gulbis on Saturday.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Harrison Reaches Back-To-Back Semifinals

Ryan Harrison

By Curt Janka

LOS ANGELES, California –  Ryan Harrison overcame his temper and a crafty opponent to earn a second consecutive ATP semifinal appearance in as many weeks, beating Yen-Hsun Lu 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Farmers Classic. At age 19, Harrison is the first American teenager to accomplish this feat since Andy Roddick in 2002.

 

The whole week could be déjà vu for Harrison. If Mardy Fish beats Igor Kunitsyn later today, it will set up a rematch of the semifinal between Fish and Harrison last week in Atlanta.

 

Lu played a tactical match, winning many points at net. The strategy seemed to work as Harrison lost the first set and his composure in the second. On his third dramatic racquet toss, Harrison earned a code violation. As Harrison’s racket sailed cross-court and surprisingly close to the first row of spectators, the crowd waiting to cheer for the American instead gasped. Then a few jeered.

 

Strangely, that might have been the turning point in the match. Harrison kept his emotions in check the rest of the way, coming up with big serves when he needed them most. In the end, his determination was just enough to get past Lu’s guile.

 

Whether Fish or Kuntisyn wins later on Friday, Harrison will surely draw on that determination in the semifinal in the hope that this week’s script goes one page longer.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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