Guillermo Garcia-López Captures Casablanca Tennis Title


By Florian Heer

(April 13, 2014) CASABLANCA – Before the final had started on Sunday, it was clear that a new Grand Prix Hassan II champion will be crowned in Casablanca when the all-Spanish-affair took place between first-time finalists Marcel Granollers and Guillermo Garcia-López. It was the second time in three years that two Spaniards have faced off in the final here, after Pablo Andújar defeated Albert Ramos in 2012. The last meeting between the two players also took place in Casablanca back in 2010 with the better outcome for Garcia-López winning in straight sets.

In Sunday’s encounter, it was the 27-year-old from Barcelona having the better start. In front of an almost fully packed Centre Court, Granollers broke in the 11th game of the opening set to take it after 66 minutes.

In the second set, the quality of the match improved and the often noisy crowd heated up the atmosphere under the Moroccan sun. Garcia-Lópzez, who lost his focus due to some unsettled spectators for only a short time, gained the decisive break in the tenth game to take the match the distance.

The 30-year-old also had the better start into the final set, capitalized on his first break point opportunity and just played more consistent than his opponent. Garcia-López served the match out in the ninth game winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 to capture his third ATP career title after two hours and 38 minutes.

“Of course I’m very happy today,” the winner stated afterwards. “I know Marcel very well. We practice together a lot of times, so we have known each other’s games for a long time. The match was very close all the time. We also had to face a couple of interruptions by the crowd, so the match was also very long and not easy to play for us,” Garcia-López said. “To play aggressively and concentrated was the key to success today. I will gain confidence from this win, as last year I played two finals and wasn’t able to seal victory. Today was a big step for me,” the Spaniard concluded.

His fellow countryman was understandably disappointed. “I think it was a tough match for both of us,” Granollers said. “I played solid until the middle of the second set, but then I had a couple of bad games. Guillermo, however, played a good match and he deserved to win,” Granollers said accepting defeat.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.


Novak Djokovic Crushes Marcel Granollers to Move into US Open Quarterfinals

Djokovic wins 89

(September 3, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – No. 1 Novak Djokovic needed only 79 minutes to dismiss Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 to move into the quarterfinals on Tuesday at the US Open. Djokovic has now reached his 18th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Djokovic captured the last 13 games of the match and did not lose a point on his serve in the first set.

“Well, when you play against No. 1 of the world, is difficult match, no?,” Granollers said.  “I think he play very good.  I didn’t play of course a great match.”

The Spaniard Granollers, ranked 43rd in the world, entered the match having played three straight five set matches.

“Had some great matches in the past that I can compare with this one today, but, you know, definitely today, second and third set have been, you know, some of the best tennis that I’ve played on Arthur Ashe in my career,” said the Serbian.

“It all comes at a great time for me.  It was something I was wishing to be more aggressive as the tournament progresses and to be able to stay committed to play every point, to win every point, regardless of what’s the score.

“So I’m very happy with my mental state, how I feel physically, and the way I played.  You know, it’s definitely coming at the best possible time.”

Djokovic will play Mikhail Youzhny next.



Novak Djokovic Cruises, Last US Man Tim Smyczek Beaten on Sunday at US Open



Tim Smyczek photo by JD Blom

Tim Smyczek photo by JD Blom

(September 1, 2013)FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – No. 1 Novak Djokovic cruised to an easy 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 95 Joao Sousa or Portugal on Sunday night at the US Open.

Djokovic’s serve was broken only once, when he was serving for the match at 5-1 in the third set. Djokovic led in winners against Sousa 34-10.

Djokovic said that he’s working on his net play.

“I am not obviously as comfortable on the net as I am on the baseline, but I’ve been working on it,” said the Serb.  “It’s part of my game that I still need to improve.  I’m aware of that.

“It makes me happy that I have room for improvement, and I keep on spending hours and hours on the court and working on variety in my game.  And serve, especially that part of my game.  I want to try and get as many free points on the serve as possible.”

Djokovic moves into the round of 16 where he’ll take on Marcel Granollers of Spain who defeated the last US man left in the singles draw Tim Smyczek 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Smyczek was asked about being the last American left in the men’s singles draw.

“It was a cool feeling,” he said.  “You know, got a little taste of maybe what John (Isner) or Sam (Querrey) or Andy (Roddick) went through for so many years, or James (Blake) sometimes ‑ just a little taste.  Love to have more of it.”

With Smyczek’s loss there are no American men in the round of 16 at the US Open, the first time that has happened at a tournament that began in 1881.

“I think it’s tough being judged by just the Grand Slams,” said the American.  “’Cause if you look at it, John has had an unbelievable summer.  He won Atlanta; he finaled Cincinnati; he finaled Washington.  He just had a rough match third round against Kohlschreiber here.

“I think to be judged on just the Grand Slams alone isn’t quite fair.  But I do understand Grand Slams are what makes a career.  I think you can expect that to change next year.”

In addition no one from the US reached the fourth round at any of the four majors tournaments in 2013.


Doubles Win Gives Czech Republic a 2-1 Lead In Davis Cup Final

(November 17, 2012) Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek paired on Saturday to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup final in Prague. The pair rallied to stop Spain’s team of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 to capture the doubles rubber.

The victory moves the Czech Republic to one win away from capturing its first Davis Cup title as an independent country since 1980 when they were part of Czechoslovakia which split in 1993.

The Spanish pair are fresh off of a title win at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Sunday’s matches will feature Spain’s David Ferrer against Berdych, followed by Nicolas Almagro versus Stepanek, if necessary. Ferrer holds a 5-3 career record against Berdych while Stepanek hold a 2-1 advantage over Almagro head-to-head.

Spain is hoping for its fourth Davis Cup crown in five years.



Venue: O2 Arena, Prague (hard – indoors)

David Ferrer (ESP) defeated Radek Stepanek (CZE) 63 64 64

Tomas Berdych (CZE) defeated Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 63 36 63 67(5) 63

Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek (CZE) defeated Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP) 36 75 75 63

Tomas Berdych (CZE) versus David Ferrer (ESP)

Radek Stepanek (CZE) versus Nicolas Almagro (ESP)


Bryan Brothers Keep US Hopes Alive in Davis Cup Doubles Win

Team USA is still alive in the Davis Cup World Group semifinal – but just barely.

Bob and Mike Bryan kept the US hopes alive holding back Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez to win the doubles rubber on Saturday 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 to close the gap to 2-1 versus Spain, in Gijon.

Spain aiming for their fourth final in five years won both singles rubber on Friday thanks to wins from David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro.

During the match, Granollers had a calf injury and his movement was hampered.

“We stayed the course the whole way and three hours 40 minutes was maybe one of the longest Davis Cup matches we ever played,” the Bryan Brothers told Spanish television.

“We’re happy to get the team to Sunday and I have all the faith in John and Sam to play some good tennis tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.”

Mike Bryan has now played in 24 Davis Cup doubles matches, tying John Van Ryn for first all-time in most doubles matches played in US Davis Cup history, overall  Mike Bryan is 22-2 in Davis Cup competition. He also is tied with Van Ryn for the most individual doubles wins with 22.

On Sunday David Ferrer hopes to close out the tie for Spain with a win over American John Isner in reverse singles. Almagro is scheduled to play Sam Querrey in the second match.



Notes and Quotes From The US Davis Cup Team News Conference

The draw for this weekend’s Davis Cup World Group Semifinal between the United States and Spain was held on Thursday in Gijon, Spain. Here are some quotes from the United States team’s news conference:



On playing in Gijon and facing a tough Spanish team…


The stadium is very well done; the facilities are wonderful for us. We have had a very good practice week. I think the hometown, Spain, is the favorite. They are a fantastic team; they could make three or four Davis cup teams that would be very good, considering how many players they have. But we are here to play, we are here to compete and we will take our chances here this weekend.


We are expecting a very difficult battle. That is what all these matches, whether is it home or away, are about, it is about getting ready, getting set and letting fire.




On facing Spain in their home country…


Our team has played in some tough environments before and we expect a tough environment tomorrow, but at the same time we know it is going to be a lot of fun. I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy it. It is going to be a good challenge and it is going to be in front of a big crowd. I don’t think it is going to be anything I’m not used to.


They have two guys who are top ten in the world playing this tie. The team is so deep.



On playing for the U.S. in Davis Cup for the first time since 2010…


It is really exciting to be back on the team. It has been a few years since I played back in 2010. I was out last year with elbow surgery but I have come back and I feel like I am playing really well. I am excited to be part of this team and I am really looking forward to it. The handful of Davis Cup teams I have played in the past have been really fun, it is exciting to play on a team every now and then.


On opening up the tie tomorrow in the first singles rubber…


I didn’t really have a preference playing first or second. Either way David Ferrer is a tough player, it is going to be a tough match.




On facing Granollers and Lopez in the doubles rubber…


I am definitely expecting those two guys [Granollers and Lopez] to out there. They are one of the best teams in the world. They have won a Masters on clay, they have played us tough, a couple times. They had match point against us in Toronto. There is going to be no surprises, we know we have our hands full. We are practicing hard, we feel good, riding some confidence from a good summer, as are they. It is whoever plays better and executes on the day is going to win.



On facing Spain in doubles and playing away ties…


We have a pretty good record on the road.  We treat all these road ties as Grand Slam finals. We played every road tie on clay and we are pretty comfortable on clay. We have good game plans coming in playing a lot of clay court players and we are playing another really good clay court team. This could be our toughest away tie match, as it is against a top five team in the world.


As Bob said, we are going to have to execute, we will treat it just like we did the US Open final a week ago. Davis Cup matches are huge for us.


Weekend Schedule

Friday, 12 p.m.
Singles A:              Sam Querrey (USA) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
Singles B:              John Isner (USA) vs. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

Saturday, 2 p.m.
Doubles:                Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP)*

Sunday, 12 p.m.
Singles C:             John Isner (USA) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
Singles D:             Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Nicolas Almagro (ESP)

Matches will be streamed for free live on USTA.com. Matches will also be televised live on Tennis Channel with Friday’s singles matches airing at 6 a.m. ET, Saturday’s doubles match airing at 8 a.m., and Sunday’s singles matches airing at 6 a.m.


US Davis Cup Team Named to Battle Defending Champion Spain

The USTA and U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier announced on Tuesday that world No. 10 John Isner, No. 28 Sam Querrey, and 2012 Olympic doubles gold medalists Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will represent the United States in the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Semifinal tie against Spain, September 14-16.  The tie will be played on an outdoor red clay court at the Parque Hermanos Castro in Gijon, Spain.

Spain, the defending Davis Cup champion, announced their roster of No.5 David Ferrer, No. 12 Nicolas Almagro, No. 24 Marcel Granollers, and Top 10 doubles player Marc Lopez earlier today. Spain has won the Davis Cup title three out of the last four years (2008, 2009 and 2011).

“Our team is battle-tested after two tough road wins this year against Switzerland and France,” said second-year U.S. Davis Cup Captain Courier, who has a 3-0 record on the road. “Playing against Spain on clay is the ultimate test in Davis Cup and we look forward to the challenge in Gijon.”

“It’s the ultimate ask,” Courier told media.

“We have had the toughest draw you can have in Davis Cup with the road matches we have faced, and this one is the ultimate ask in current Davis Cup tennis. Going into Spain, playing them on red clay, they haven’t lost in a long, long time. We certainly feel like we’re going to have a chance, but we also feel like we’re not the favorites. We felt that way in the first two matches this year, too.”

Courier also announced that two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson, former US Open boys’ singles finalist Denis Kudla and 2011 NCAA doubles champion Austin Krajicek will be practice partners for the team.  All three have served as practice partners before.

Matches will be telecast live on Tennis Channel starting at 6 a.m. ET on Friday, 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, and 6 a.m. ET on Sunday.  USTA.com will also feature live streaming of all Davis Cup matches in the United States for free.

The opening day of play in the best-of-five match series features each country’s No. 1 singles player against the No. 2 player from the opposing country.  The pivotal doubles match is played Saturday, followed by Sunday’s “reverse singles,” starting with each country’s No. 1 players squaring off followed by the No. 2 players in the fifth and final match.

This semifinal tie will mark the 11th matchup overall between the U.S. and Spain in Davis Cup competition.  The countries are tied in their series with five wins each with the last meeting taking place in the 2011 World Group Quarterfinal in Austin, Texas (Spain won that tie, 3-1). The Spaniards last defeated the U.S. in Spain in the 2008 World Group Semifinal on clay, where Spain later went on to win the Davis Cup title that year.

The winner of this match will face the winner of the semifinal between the Czech Republic and Argentina. If the U.S. wins, it will either travel to Argentina or host the Czech Republic in the final, November 16-18.

Isner, 27, will be competing in his sixth Davis Cup tie and is 5-3 in singles and 2-0 in doubles.  Isner defeated Roger Federer in the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first round win at Switzerland in February, one of the biggest wins of his career, and won his sixth career ATP singles title this year at the Winston-Salem Open, an Emirates Airline US Open Series event. The tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history at 6-foot-9, Isner made his Davis Cup debut in the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia where he became the first U.S. player to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie since James Blake in the 2003 first round.   He turned professional after an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA team title as a senior. Isner is currently No. 10 in the world and is coming off a third round appearance at the US Open.

Querrey, 24, will be competing on the U.S. Davis Cup team for the first time since the 2010 World Group Playoff in Colombia and holds a 1-4 Davis Cup singles record in three ties. Querrey made his Davis Cup debut against Rafael Nadal on clay in Madrid in the 2008 World Group Semifinal, losing in four sets. He peaked at No. 17 in the world in January 2011, but was forced to undergo right elbow surgery in June last year that sidelined him for three months. This year, Querrey climbed back up the rankings after winning his seventh career ATP title at the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Los Angeles and reaching three ATP semifinals. Like Isner, Querrey reached the third round of the 2012 US Open.

Bob Bryan, 34, holds a 20-2 doubles record in Davis Cup and a 19-2 record with twin brother, Mike. He is also 4-2 in singles (all dead rubbers). Bob did not compete in February’s first round match at Switzerland due to the birth of his daughter. In 2009, the Bryans’ win in the Davis Cup first round versus Switzerland put them first all-time in U.S. Davis Cup history with 15 doubles wins as a team and they are the only brothers to pair in victory for the U.S. In 2010, Bob and Mike broke the all-time Open era record of 62 team doubles titles after winning the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in Los Angeles and have since extended their record to 80 doubles titles. The Bryan brothers won the gold medal in doubles at the 2012 Olympics in London, where they completed a career Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal. Bob and Mike are currently in the quarterfinals of the US Open, of which they are three-time champions.

Mike Bryan, 34, played without twin brother Bob for just the second time in his Davis Cup career during the 2012 World Group First Round, where he teamed with Mardy Fish to defeat 2008 Olympic doubles gold medalists Federer and Wawrinka to clinch the tie for the U.S.  Mike holds a 21-2 record in Davis Cup doubles matches and is 19-2 with Bob (Mike partnered with Fish in the 2008 semifinal against Spain).  He played in 19 consecutive doubles matches for the U.S. Davis Cup team since he and Bob joined the team in September 2003 until suffering from food poisoning before the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia (Isner replaced Mike and teamed with Bob).  The Bryan brothers currently share the No. 3 doubles ranking and finished six of the past seven years as the top-ranked doubles team in the world.  They have qualified for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Mike owns 82 career tour-level doubles titles.

Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international men’s team competition with 125 nations competing this year.  The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles.


Cilic becomes first Croatian to Win Croatia Open in 22 years


Marin Cilic became the first Croatian to win the Croatia Open in 22 years, defeating Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-4, 6-2 in Umag.

“It’s a real privilege to be among these champions,” said Cilic. “It was really special this week. I played great tennis and I was enjoying every moment in my matches. I’m really glad I won for my supporters, my team and myself.”

Down 2-4  in the first set, Cilic won nine games in a row to take a 5-0 lead in the second set.

“I think Marin was much better than me,” said Granollers. “He played a very good match. I was up 4-2 in the first set but I did not close out the set. Marin started to play better and better. The second set, I didn’t know how to win a point. I congratulate him on how he played.”

“Marcel is a really dangerous player, so it was not easy in the beginning. He was playing really well and not giving me too much. After I found some solutions, I kept with him and played great tennis. It was maybe my best match of the week. I had a streak of winning nine games in a row, so that was amazing. It helped me to relax and know that I was on the right path.”

For Cilic it’s his second title of the year, he won the Queen’s Club tournament last month.


Tsonga, Benneteau and Granollers to play Winston-Salem Open

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau and Marcel Granollers have signed to compete in the second annual Winston-Salem Open at Wake Forest University. No. 6 ranked Tsonga is the highest ranked player signed to the Winston-Salem Open either this year or last. Bill Oakes, tournament director of the Winston-Salem Open, is at Wimbledon this week and recruited all three players while there.

“These three players join a strong field of contenders who will be competing in Winston-Salem in less than two months,” Oakes said. “We’re particularly thrilled to have Tsonga in the tournament. He has been near the top of the ATP rankings for a while and is hugely popular with fans because of his showmanship and his aggressive, really powerful game.”

Tsonga, 26, is currently ranked No. 6 in the South African Airways ATP rankings and has been as high as No. 5 as recently as last week.

Benneteau, 30, is currently ranked No. 32 after being as high as No. 26 in April. He has won six doubles titles and also reached the singles final at Sydney this year. Benneteau is one of the great stories of the 2011 Winston-Salem Open. He played in nine matches in eight days last year while qualifying before losing to John Isner in the finals. His 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (6) win over Robin Haase in the semifinals is cited by many observers as the most-exciting match of the 2011 tournament. As a result of his performance in the Winston-Salem Open, Benneteau jumped from No. 113 to No. 81 last August and has continued climbing the rankings since.

Granollers, 26, is currently ranked No. 23 after reaching a career-high No. 22 earlier this year. He holds three ATP World Tour singles titles, including two last year at Valencia and Gstaad, and will play doubles with Rafael Nadal in the 2012 Olympics in London.

The Winston-Salem Open will be held August 18-25, 2012, at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex adjacent to BB&T Field.  www.winstonsalemopen.com


On the Green Carpet – Photos from the BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party


INDIAN WELLS, California (March 8, 2012) – The BNP Paribas Open held their players’ party at the IW club on Thursday night. Driving up to the “Green Carpet” in classic cars included the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and a host of others.

Photos by Curt Janka and Jennifer Knapp.  Follow Tennis Panorama News’ BNP Paribas Open coverage here an on our twitter @TennisNewsTPN.