2015/01/28

Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Some of the more off-beat questions and answers from Day 1 of the 2012 US Open.
Q.  Not too many WTA players are named Sam.  Can you take a moment and say like what the upside of having a name like that is, is there any downside, or give us on a rainy day a good story about your name.
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  No, there is no downside.  I’m happy ‑‑ I guess over the course of my life, my career, Samantha got shortened to Sam.  The one person that always called me Samantha was my grandfather.  It’s good.  You certainly don’t get confused in the locker room.  You hear your name and you know it’s about you.
It’s fine.
 
Q.  So is your grandfather a traditionalist and not happy for it to be shortened?
SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Yeah, I guess he was.  My mom and dad only called me Samantha when I was little and did something naughty, so I didn’t hear it too often, I don’t think.
I guess it’s one of those names that is not as common.
Q.  You very obviously are one of the best tennis players in the world, but you talk about sort of putting match after match together.  Could you talk about the art of sort of putting seven big matches together on the biggest stage?  Part of that of course is getting past the big three or four that we now have in men’s tennis.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I don’t really know much about that art.  Actually, I have never done it.  (Laughter.)  The closest I have come was last year at this tournament.  I had a little bit of a taste of what it’s like.
You know, I know it’s so tough.  You know, I think for me, my goal is, my first goal is to get through the first week.  That’s so, so hard.
You know, I want to win my first few matches and take it from there.  I was able to get to do that last year.  My round of 16 match I won.  It was a really close match, and I had to turn around and play the very next day because of all the rain.  That was a bit of a tough turnaround.  Ran into a guy who was just better than me.
You know, like I said, I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very hard.  I got to the quarterfinals last year, and I’d love to get back to that spot this year and have another crack at it.
Q.  Do you feel anything different in your game since you started working with Carlos?
NA LI:  Maybe a little bit change; maybe not.
 
Q.  What changed?
NA LI:  I say maybe change; maybe not.  (Laughter.)
Q.     Families sometimes can be very, very tricky.  What was the hardest part day in, day out of having your husband as your coach?
NA LI:  Yeah.  I mean, after I got new coach I think for both me and my husband I think much, much easier.  Love is love; coach is coach.  You have to separate.
You know, I mean, after I change the coach, didn’t say my husband didn’t do a good job.  I think he’s still doing good job.  But for both sometimes it’s too much, you know.  Like it’s really tough to find a balance between coaching and husband.

Q.  After all the development, the planning, the trips to Spain, it’s finally going to come out, if I understand correctly, but there’s a little bit of a problem.  There’s a guy named Roger Federer who has Lindor truffles.  As a marketing person now, how would you tell America to try Sugarpova and not Roger’s?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well that’s chocolate.  Mine are gummies and gumballs.  It’s like, What’s your preference?  That’s made in Switzerland; this is made in Spain.  No, a lot of differences.

I mean, those are quite different.  I’m just happy that it’s finally over with.  I worked on it for a long time.  There’s not much to be done from my end in a way except promote it and letting the world know about it.

Q.  Ultimately can a gumball stand up to a truffle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It depends what your preference is.  I mean, mid‑afternoon I’m not a big truffle person; I’m more of a gum girl.  But it depends what everybody likes.

Q.  Are you to the point in your career where you’re starting to get old jokes from your peers?
JAMES BLAKE:  I have been that way for a while.  The thing is I knew I was going to get them, because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out.  So I knew they would come back to haunt me.
I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin.  Todd Martin was one of my key guys I would get.  I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his gray hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old.
He said, Just wait, just wait.  You will be, too.  Now I’m getting it from everyone.  I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it.  I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.
Q.  There was stunning news about Lance.  In our sport, there has been incidents.  Do you think the situation of performance enhancements are under control in tennis?  Is there any problem?  What are your thoughts on that topic?
JAMES BLAKE:  In tennis I think they do a great job of testing.  Of course at times it’s inconvenient to me when I get woken up at 6:00 a.m. to pee in a cup.  It’s their job.  I know they’re doing it.  I know if they’re doing it to me, they’re doing it to everyone else.  I’m happy too do that.
I may not be cheery at 6:00 in the morning when they’re coming, but I’m happy to do that and I’m happy to take part of in the USADA and WADA regulations.
I don’t know what to think about Lance.  Cycling has seen what seems to be like the steroid era in baseball where it seems like everyone is clouded.  You don’t know.  Like he said, he’s passed like 500,600 tests.
But have no idea.  I don’t know Lance at all.  Never met him.  I don’t know what he’s like.  I know his story is inspirational.  I know how many people he’s helped.  That’s incredible.  However he did it, it’s still inspirational, no matter what he did.
He’s definitely someone that makes a difference in this world in a positive way.  I don’t know if erasing seven titles will matter in terms of his true meaning to this world, because it’s going to be a positive one no matter if he has seven titles or not.
In tennis I think I’m sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers.  But, you know, I do my best to go out there and win and give myself whatever advantage I can legally in terms of just protein shakes and Gatorade and that kind of stuff.
I’ve gotta believe it’s out there at a level playing field, but I also am realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the US Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead.
It’s unfortunate, but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.
Q.  Along those lines, do you have any theories on Federer as a parent, fountain of youth thing going on here?
JAMES BLAKE:  The guy’s a freak.  He’s so good.  It’s really incredible.  I could spend another hour talking about the things I’m impressed with by him.  His streak of quarterfinals, most people would have that an incredible streak just to play that many slams in a row, and he has to make it make quarterfinals or better.
To do it at that level and not injure yourself is amazing.  It’s so easy to go out and roll your ankle or tear up your knee or for your back to be sore.  For him not to do that is amazing.  I think it shows how much work he probably puts in stretching, getting his body strong enough and physically ready to play all these slams.
You know, he has the luxury of being able to pick and choose his tournaments.  He obviously is pretty comfortable with his ranking and where he’s sitting not needing to worry about that, but it’s still really, really impressive.  He focuses on the big picture and is always ready for these slams.
I need to worry about one match at a time.  I can’t worry about quarters or semis or finals right now.
I’m still kind of scratching to get through these matches and get my confidence back and feel like I’m ready to compete.  I don’t think that will change if I’m playing someone that’s 1, 2, or 3 in the world.
I have been fortunate enough.  I am an elder statesman.  I have been around and have won a lot of matches.  I have beaten guys 1 in the world, I’ve beaten guys that are top 3, top 4, top 5 plenty of times.  There is no reason for me to go out there and play one of those guys and be scared.
I think it will take an unbelievable effort.  I will have to play my best tennis.
Q.  First round do you worry too much about your performance or is it just a case of trying to get through?
ANDY MURRAY:  I won in three sets.  You know, I didn’t serve very well.  Only lost seven games in three sets, so I must have done something well today.
Bogomolov, you know, I think he was seeded here last year.  He made the third round.  He plays his best tennis on the hard courts.  He’s a tough player.
So, I mean, I played fairly well from the back of the court.  I just would have liked to have served a bit better because, you know, I wasn’t getting many free points on my serve.
Because of that, there were a lot more rallies.  When he’s in a rhythm, he’s tough to break down.
 
Q.  I meant more in general in first‑round matches do you worry too much about your performance?
ANDY MURRAY:  No.  I mean, sometimes I play great at the start of tournaments and not done well; sometimes I’ve played badly and got better.
I mean, in Australia this year I struggled in my first‑round match with my game a bit.  Physically didn’t feel great.  Then went on to have a good tournament.
You know, the first‑round matches are tricky.  Like I say, the conditions were hard today for both of us.  That’s probably why it was quite an up‑and‑down match.
Q.  Do the other players see Andy Murray differently now that he’s won the Olympics or does it not compare to a Grand Slam?
IVAN DODIG:  No, I think is for me like these four players, everybody can beat everybody.  Of course with these Olympics he showed that he’s ready for big things, so we will see.
Everybody exciting about him.

Q.  Are you working with Mark Knowles here?  You guys in a lot of ways are peers.

MARDY FISH:  He’s like 20 years older than me (laughter).  Just kidding.

No, he’s helped me a ton.  Maybe none more evident than tonight when I lost my serve in both of those sets to serve it out and still was able to mentally focus back and realize that, you know, I haven’t just lost the set, he’s just gotten even in the set so there’s still opportunities to win the set.

In times past maybe I would have struggled with that scenario, especially twice in a row.  And that’s hard.  Any time you lose one of those two sets, you’re in a dogfight.  I knew that if I did win that second set, that was going to be a big, big factor in the match.

I mean, that’s a long way back for him after two hours of pretty physical tennis.  It’s pretty humid out there.  Not necessarily the heat, but the humidity.  You could feel it.  It’s pretty humid.  That was pretty physical.

So that was a long way back for him, so obviously felt good to win that.

 

Q.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was your serve today, knowing what you can do on a good day?

JACK SOCK:  I think my second serve was a 9.63.  I think my first serve was pretty good.  I mean, when I missed the first serve, I think my second serve really helped me.  I was able to start off the point ahead even with the second serve.

When I think I was down a game, my serve was a 10 coming up big on some points where I was down or some games where I was down.

Q.  A lot of Europeans want to win Roland Garros or Wimbledon; for many Americans it’s winning the US Open or becoming No. 1.  If I recall correctly, you said your goal for your career is to make friends.  Could you to talk about that.

KIM CLIJSTERS:  I don’t think I said it that way.  Obviously my goal in my career was obviously to be the best tennis player that I can be, but at the same time not be, you know, antisocial and not spend 15 years on tour, and when you step away from the sport not having any friends at the end of the day.

I think, you know, it’s not like I started on tour when I was 25 and I built up kind of a normal friendship base when I was home.  My friends were girls from tour.  You know, I have a few friends at home, but I think a lot of the girls I was close with, a lot of the girls, we went through puberty together, boyfriends on tour, and I think it’s something that we shared and talked about.

I don’t like to be on tour and not talking to players or not knowing kind of what’s behind the tennis player.  It’s not like it was the most important thing because I was here to play tennis, and still am.  But at the same time, there’s a place for work and focus and at the other times there is the social part.

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Saturday Semifinals Set for Western & Southern Open

Roger Federer photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

By Megan Fernandez

MASON, Ohio – Roger Federer gave Mardy Fish one racket-clap but not much else en route to a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory in the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open on Friday. Federer, four times a champion of this event, has faced a different semi-final opponent every time he has reached that round, and this year is no different. Across the net on Saturday he will see friend and fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, a winner over Milos Raonic of Canada.

Mardy Fish photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Fish picked up his game in the second set, earning the familiar “too good” gesture from Federer for a dipping cross-court passing shot. As Fish hung tough, the Lindner Family Tennis Center’s full house rewarded him with effusive support. No doubt many in the audience remembered that the World No. 20 had stretched Federer to three sets in the 2010 final, and were hoping their baseline slugfest could extend longer into the gorgeously clear and cool Midwestern night.  It looked like they might get their wish as the pair matched strength with strength. Federer unfurled a dainty drop shot at 2-2. Fish boomed a 133 mph serve up the middle in the next game. But the Swiss’s mix proved superior to Fish’s fight, and Federer closed out the match with an overhead on this third match point

“It was a great atmosphere,” Federer said. “Playing an American here in America, it’s always special.”  He’s happy with his adjustment to this event’s surface and balls just two weeks removed from playing on the Olympic grass. “The bounce is completely different here than at Wimbledon,” he said.

After the Wimbledon champ improved to 8-1 against Fish, he was asked about the state of his career-defining rivalry, with Rafael Nadal. He couldn’t remember exactly the last time they played (“Indian Wells, maybe?”), but he’s sure it wasn’t their final meeting. “I haven’t thought about it, that I might play Rafa less,” he said. “One time one top guy misses one major, I think some make a big deal out of it. It’s true that it’s a big shock, but it does happen from time to time.”

Novak Djokovic tends to move quietly through the draw in Cincinnati every year, and for the third time he has reached the semi-final without dropping a set—although thanks to a first-round bye and a second-round retirement by his opponent, Nikolay Davykenko of Russia, Djokovic has played only three sets this week. Today, he defeated Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-2 and earned chance to avenge his loss to Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the bronze-medal match at the Olympics—though he says revenge isn’t on his mind.

“I already put it aside,” the Serbian said. “As a tennis player, you have to do that.”

Del Potro defeated Jeremy Chardy of France, 6-1, 6-3, and Wawrinka came back from a one-set deficit to stop Raonic from reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final. The Swiss No. 2, who won today 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, has struggled since his tough five-set loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the French Open. “It was not easy,” Wawrinka said, “but I’m really happy to be back on the hard court. Since the beginning o of the tournament, I’m focused on what I’m doing.”

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Venus Williams reached her first semi-final in two years by defeating Australian Sam Stosur 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, sealing victory with a pair of service winners and booking a match with China’s Li Na, who took advantage of Agniezska Radwanska’s sore shoulder and rare inconsistency to notch an easy 6-1, 6-1 win.
In the other semi-final, the Czech Republic’s Petra Kvitova posted a 6-4, 7-5 (4) win over Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova of Russia.
Almost giddy in her post-match press conference, Williams happily talked about everything from cornbread (“I’m probably going to throw some eggs in there”) to karaoke (nearly an addiction) to candy (something she’s given up to deal with Sjogren’s Syndrome). Little did she know that here sister, Serena Williams, was struggling against Angelique Kerber just outside the building on Center Court. Mere minutes after the elder Williams opined that her sister needed some rest, she was proven right: Kerber took a 6-4, 6-4 victory from the hottest player on the WTA Tour, ending her opponent’s 19-match winning streak.

Serena photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

“Today was one of my biggest wins in my career, for sure,” says the world No. 7, who had now defeated both Williams sister in a span of three weeks. “I go out there not thinking that it’s Serena on the other side.”

But Kerber’s work wasn’t done for the day when she aced Williams on match point. As the tournament’s WTA blogger for the week, she had Friday’s column to write. Find it on www.cincytennis.com and see if she put as fine an end on her commentary as she did her match.

Megan Fernandez is covering the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

All photos by © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama.

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Mardy Fish – On the Way Back

Mardy Fish revealed in May  that he had been suffering from a heart arrhythmia and that he underwent an electrophysiology procedure to “re-wire” his heart. Fish is playing the Western & Southern Open this week and spoke to media on Monday about his physical condition. Here are some excerpts from his news conference:

Q.  With respect to coming back this year, you about 75% or all the way back?

MARDY FISH:  No, my practices, I’ve tried to keep them as normal as possible.  You know, one of the things with trying to just get your fitness level back is you got to push it more and more.  That sometimes has been a little hard mentally.

But, you know, I mean, everything’s checked out okay.  Past few weeks have been good minus the ankle injury in Atlanta.

Couldn’t have asked for a better couple weeks after that considering I wasn’t able to move around for eight days or so to make sure that it was okay.  Couldn’t practice, couldn’t train at all, and that’s hard going into tournaments where you need fitness to rely on quite a bit.

So I couldn’t have asked for a better Washington D.C., to be honest.  And then any time you make quarterfinal in a Masters 1000 event is a pretty good result for almost everyone.

So it’s been good.  It was a good test on Friday to play two matches as well.  I was super tired in the third set of the second match, but these are all good problems to have.

Getting through most of the matches pretty well, so I’m getting there.  Certainly getting there.  I don’t want to necessarily put a number on it.  I don’t feel like I did 12 months ago certainly talking to you guys here, but I feel pretty good.

Q.  Are you going to continue to play some more dubs with Mark Knowles?

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, we played last week.  I won’t play the rest of the summer, but it’s nice sometimes when you don’t get the matches that you can get out there before a match, before a singles match.

Conditions in Toronto are completely different than conditions here.  It’s been weird.  The weather has been strange the past few times we’ve gone, past few places we’ve gone.  The weather was terrible in Wimbledon; extremely hot in D.C.; really bad in Toronto with the rain and stuff; and now here.  It’s August 13th and it’s 72 degrees outside.  It’s a little strange right now.

So that’s been hard.  It’s been hard for most of the players to try to get used to.  You come here thinking of a certain type of weather and it’s the complete opposite and you got to get everything in line for that.

Q.  Talk about trying to get your conditioning back when you’re in the heart of the season.

MARDY FISH:  Yeah, I mean, that’s the hardest thing because you need matches.  You can train all you want on the practice court and things like that, but just can’t duplicate the actual matches.

Like I said earlier, I couldn’t have asked for a better couple weeks after what happened in Atlanta.

I mean, to be honest, my past few events since my health stuff have actually been relatively good:  Fourth round Wimbledon and semis in D.C.

Tommy Haas, I felt like I could have won that tournament, and he played a great match against me in the semifinals.  He’s playing great tennis.

So I haven’t put any shockers out there since I’ve been back, which has been a good thing.  I’ve been able to get on the court and play seven, eight matches in the past couple weeks that I didn’t think I was going to be able to get.

That’s the hard part coming in.  Twelve months ago I was extremely fit, extremely confident.  Sort of the opposite sort of fitness‑wise here, and usually the weather is just brutal here and you need to rely on that a lot.

I was able to do that last year throughout the summer, but maybe we won’t even need to with the weather like it is now.

Q.  Do you think the Open is the toughest slam physically and mentally?

MARDY FISH:  I think probably the French Open would be the toughest physically.  Mentally I definitely put it up there just with sort of the surroundings and what you have to sort of put behind you.

It seems like every year you get one or two days where you got to get pushed back and pushed around with the weather and the rain and stuff.  You have to deal with going back and forth from Manhattan and sort of the traffic concerns and things like that.

So there is a lot that goes on on the side.  The week before is always so hectic.  You’re trying to sort of meet every sponsor’s visit that you have and shake everyone’s hand that you promised to shake at the beginning of the year.  Seems like it always happens during that week.  That makes it hard leading up to the biggest tournament of the year for us.

That’s probably one of the most satisfying ones to do well at.  I think physically probably the French would be harder than that.

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Djokovic, Fish, Verdasco Take Part in K-Swiss Desert Smash to Help Raise Money for Children’s Charity

 

 

LAQUINTA, CA – (March 6, 2012) -   Heading into the BNP Paribas Open this week top players including Novak Djokovic, Mardy Fish, Mike Bryan, Fernando Verdasco and Sam Querrey were out and about for the eighth annual K•Swiss Desert Smash  charity celebrity tennis event at the La Quinta Resort & Club.  The March 6th & 7th event benefits  Variety – The Children’s Charity, which is dedicated to promoting, and protecting the health and well-being of underprivileged and special needs children in the Coachella Valley.

For more information on the event www.k-swissdesertsmash.com and more about Variety – The Children’s Charity www.varietyofthedesert.org

All photos by Beth Wilson editor of Nadal News and  tennis photographer.

 

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Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States clinched a berth in the Davis Cup quarterfinal round with the doubles team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan stunning the Swiss team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave the US an unassailable 3-0 lead to gain victory in the tie.

 

Federer on the loss: Actually played pretty good considering again it was a high standard of match on both sides.  We did have our own chances.  Maybe they were just a touch better than us today and it showed in the score.

We had our chances, played well for a long time actually.  Sometimes we struggled a bit too much.  But they deserved it.

I think they did really well.  I think they played well in the singles and the doubles, too.  It’s a pity we couldn’t go to Sunday, but that is how it is, unfortunately.

Sure, it’s disappointing, but we’re not too down about it.  We have respect for their performance.  They did really well.  We had missed opportunities.

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi: I mean, we knew that it was going to be a very difficult tie for us on any surface.  That’s what it was.

We know, for example, that Isner is dangerous on every surface.  Mardy is a top‑10 player.  He’s going to be a tough one anyway.  We didn’t underestimate them at all.  For sure we wished for another result, but it has nothing to do with underestimation.

Mike Bryan:  This is probably going to go down as one of the most memorable, after Portland (2007 Davis Cup final).

It was a really tough tie, playing Switzerland.  Really tough team on the road, on dirt.  Everybody stepped up.  Jim did a great job coaching.

It was a dogfight.  We just hung in there.

 We just thought we had to go in there, make a lot of first serves.  We were just going for our shots.

Came down to a few breakpoints there.  Luckily we capitalized.  It’s not very easy to win on the road.  The crowd was pretty loud.  I think Mardy stepped up.  He played a five‑and‑a‑half‑hour match yesterday.

US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier: Obviously on paper you look at the American team in recent years and you go, ‘of course, no brainer, play us on clay’.

But altitude indoors is a different surface than outdoor slow clay.  I’m sure they recognized that.  Conditions we knew were not going to be our favorite, but also not the worst for us.

I have to give our guys credit for coming in here and grinding all week on a surface which started off as a pretty poor court and got better every day.

Our attitude remained strong all week long.  We were ready for whatever.  That’s really what we needed to be.  Every road tie you have to come in for the unexpected, ready for everything to be the worst.  Our guys never wavered from that commitment.  I think it showed.  When we got bad bounces, as did the Swiss team, we just shook them off, just kept playing.  It worked out well from that standpoint.

I mean, if I was the Swiss captain, I was looking at the American team, I would have said, Of course, red clay.  I think every team would be thinking that if their team were as good as Roger and Stan are on this surface.

Mardy Fish: Physically I felt fine.  It’s what we train for.  Mentally Davis Cup obviously takes a lot out of you.  So three days in a row would have been tough to play.  But we’re happy about that.  We’re happy to pull through, obviously.

It’s great that the guy that I have to tee it up with is the best doubles player ever.  It’s pretty easy.  I’m just trying to do my part on that side.  He played great today, Mike did.

Courier fielded a question on whether it’s “all business” with his suit:  That’s not really what I’m saying with it.  But I made a decision when I was offered this captaincy that I would do that because I wanted to make it clear to everyone that there’s absolutely no chance that I’m going to be swinging a racquet.  I’m going to be sitting down, watching what’s going on.

When it’s hot outside in a place like Santiago, Chile, I wore slacks and a collared shirt because it was too hot to wear a suit.  This will be my uniform just as this is these guys’ uniform.  I hope you don’t mind too much, but I honestly don’t really care what you think (laughter).

 

Courier on what team the US will face in the quarterfinal round in Davis Cup on the road: Worst draw you can have.  If it’s Canada, it’s not as bad as France on paper.  But you saw what paper meant here, which is absolutely nothing.

I think the winner of that most likely gets Spain away.  So we have a very tough draw, but we got through a tough one here.  That should give us some confidence going forward.

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Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – They travel the world to cheer on the United States Davis Cup team. You’ve probably noticed them wearing red, white and blue adorned with a net that says ‘USA” on their heads – they are the Netheads.

A few of the Netheads attending the USA- Switzerland Davis Cup tie were kind enough to send Tennis Panorama News a few of their personal photos from Saturday’s Davis Cup action which saw the US clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of Davis Cup. The Netheads had a special moment after the US won the doubles as players John Isner, Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish made their way in to the stands to shake their hands and thank them for their support.

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Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka to Send USA to Davis Cup Quarterfinals

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HEADS TO QUARTERFINALS
Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — The shocker is complete.

The United States is moving on to the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals after Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in doubles competition 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gives the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Swiss, with two dead rubbers on tap for Sunday.

The home crowd of 7000 was pumped up from the start, hoping that the 2008 Olympic gold medalists would keep Switzerland’s hopes alive.
The Swiss got off to a fast start by breaking the U.S. in the first game, which included two double faults by Fish. The home team went on to win the first set as Federer’s strong service game and Wawrinka’s lethal backhand led the way.

It was a different story in the second set. The U.S. capitalized with a break of their own. This time it was Wawrinka with two double faults in a game, and the U.S. held on to knot the mach at a set apiece, thanks to Fish’s strong net play and Bryan’s serves keeping the Swiss of balance.

The U.S. capped the third set with a Mike Bryan winner up the middle, breaking Federer for the first time in the match, and making the Swiss faithful uneasy.

But the crowd wasn’t giving up, and in the fourth set was louder than at any time during the match, the fans shouting their trademark chant “Hop Suisse” (Let’s go Switzerland). But the U.S. broke the Swiss to go up 3-1, as an unfriendly net cord for Federer resulted in a Bryan winner. At 4-2 Federer saved two break points and the Swiss faithful erupted, hoping for a momentum shift. It was not to be.

The last two points of the match were indicative of a lost weekend for Switzerland. Federer whiffed on a ball resulting in match point, after which Wawrinka netted a deep Bryan serve to clinch the victory for the U.S.

The stunned crowd left the arena, buzzing about how Federer wasn’t at his best, but giving the U.S. credit nonetheless. The question is whether Federer will play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in September. A loss would relegate the Swiss to the second tier of Davis Cup.

As for the Americans, they are waiting to find out their destination for the quarterfinals. It’ll either be a trip to France, or a hike north of the border to Canada. But first, there’s another day of tennis to be played. The U.S. will likely field 19-year old Ryan Harrison in one of the dead rubbers.

DROP SHOTS:

At the end of the match, after the on-court interviews were complete and much of the crowd had left the arena, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Mike Bryan climbed up into the stands to high-five the NetHeads, the cheering squad that follows the U.S. Davis Cup Team around the world.

The Americans’ last three victories have been on clay: Colombia in September 2010, Chile in March 2011, and now, Switzerland. Their last loss was on the U.S.’ favorite surface, a hard court at a quarterfinal home tie in Austin, Texas last year against David Ferrer and his friends from Spain.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States took a 2-0 lead over Switzerland  on Friday in its 2012 Davis Cup World Group first round match at the Forum Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland.  John Isner stunned Roger Federer in four sets to earn his first win in a live Davis Cup singles match after Mardy Fish opened the tie with a 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 victory over Stan Wawrinka.

Federer on Isner: I thought he played great. He played it tough and served great when he had to. I just missed a couple more opportunities than he did and that’s what cost me the match.

It’s been a difficult day for us. We still have a chance to go through. I’m going to enjoy the challenge.

Isner on the win: It feels good.  Certainly it’s a huge win for me.  It’s the biggest win of my career thus far.  So very proud of it.

We’re up 2-0, which is a great start.  That was our goal coming into today, and we accomplished it.  Mardy put forth a great effort in the first match.  Obviously that was so gutsy.  What it did, it took a lot of pressure off of me, I felt.  Mardy getting that win was obviously huge, and it was huge for me as well.

I was up a break, so I had absolutely nothing to lose.  Just went out and went for my shots, and they found the court.  That’s really the blueprint for how I need to play and how I need to return for all my matches, no matter who I’m playing.

Courier on coaching two very emotional matches: I guess that’s hiding what’s going on inside.  It’s like a washing machine when you’re out there.  You’re riding the ups and the downs with our players.

But I have two different players out there emotionally.  John needs more encouragement, likes more encouragement.  Mardy is a little bit more kind of self‑sufficient at the moment.

It’s my goal to get John to be very self‑sufficient out there, as well.  He doesn’t need me to remind him of this stuff.  He’s going to figure out very quickly that this is a great way for him to play.

But it’s fun.  It’s fun to be out there and try to help these guys and also know when to shut the fuck up and stay out of the way.  That’s the biggest trick.  Still learning that one.

Courier on Fish: Mardy played on guts out there.  He and Stan were both struggling.  It wasn’t pretty tennis.  It’s all about being better than the other guy.  Mardy has lost a few tight matches like that.  He stepped up today and won a tight match.  That’s huge for him and that’s huge for us as a team.

Fish on one of his biggest comebacks: It’s certainly up there.  There’s no doubt about it.  I think, you know, (Davis Cup at) Colombia jumps out me; obviously the Olympics jump out at me.  As far as the Davis Cup and the team aspect of it, yeah, this is certainly right up there with them.

Isner on court conditions :  (The balls were) Not necessarily flying, but they were pretty quick and the ball stayed firm.  The balls don’t fluff up too much here.  So even in the eighth, ninth game of a new set of balls, they’re still, in my opinion, pretty quick.  That played to my advantage.  I think it plays to our team’s advantage a little bit there.

Yeah, I was happy with the conditions out there.  I don’t mind playing on clay.  It gives me more time, which sometimes is what I need.  Clay isn’t really such a bad surface for me.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Davis Cup Stunner in Switzerland – Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

DAVIS CUP STUNNER IN SWITZERLAND
Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — This wasn’t supposed to happen.

A home crowd left the Forum Fribourg stunned after the United States took a 2-0 lead against Switzerland in their first round Davis Cup World Group clash, as John Isner shocked Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 and Mardy Fish defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 in a 4 hour 26 minute showdown.

Switzerland’s game plan was set: Host the tie on clay — a surface that’s usually Kryptonite to the Americans — and throw 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer into the mix. But the Americans had other ideas.

At first it looked as if Federer was on track to dispatch Isner quickly. The Swiss was working his usual magic with forehand winners and strong service games resulting in short points. It took Federer only 29 minutes to win the first set. But Isner evened things up in the second set, thanks to his biggest weapon — his serve.

Isner got off to a fast start in the third set tiebreak, jumping to a 3-0 lead, but Federer broke back in with a forehand winner to make it 4-3 USA, putting the Swiss back on serve. But Isner recovered his mini-break as a Federer shot into the net put the American up 5-4. The former Georgia Bulldog went on to serve out the set, silencing the Swiss faithful.

Federer had an opportunity with the fourth set tied at 2-2 and a triple break point, but Isner withstood the challenge and held to go up 3-2. He never lost another game in the match as he mixed up his serves from power to slice, and hit groundstrokes resulting in powerful forehand winners. Federer looked as stunned as the crowd, as if he couldn’t believe what was happening, He had lots of company.

In his post match on-court interview, Isner — the first to beat Federer in Davis Cup singles since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 — said it was the biggest win of his career. Who can argue with that?

“We’re up 2-0, which is a great start,” Isner said in his post-match news conference.  “That was our goal coming into today, and we accomplished it.  Mardy put forth a great effort in the first match.  Obviously that was so gutsy.  What it did, it took a lot of pressure off of me, I felt.  Mardy getting that win was obviously huge, and it was huge for me as well.”

For the Americans, Isner’s victory was the cherry on top. According to conventional wisdom, Fish’s match against Wawrinka was a must win for the U.S., assuming a Federer win in the second match. But Fish pulled out the victory despite an erratic service game including eight double faults. He saved five break points to go up 5-3 in the fifth set, but failed to serve out the match up 5-4, as Wawrinka’s masterful backhand shots helped even things up at 5-5.

Much to the dismay of the crowd, Fish broke the Swiss to go up 8-7, and capped the victory with a winner at net.

In terms of victories Fish said: “It’s certainly up there.  There’s no doubt about it.  I think, you know, (Davis Cup at) Colombia jumps out me; obviously the Olympics jump out at me.  As far as the Davis Cup and the team aspect of it, yeah, this is certainly right up there with them.”

The Americans can clinch the tie Saturday with a doubles victory. The U.S. is scheduled to send out Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison, as Mike’s brother Bob didn’t make the trip since he’s a new father. But the watch is on to see if U.S. captain Jim Courier swaps out Harrison for either Fish or Isner.

No matter who Courier picks, the U.S. will have its hands full, likely facing the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal doubles team of Federer and Wawrinka.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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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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