December 8, 2016

Argentina Rallies to Win First Davis Cup Title

 

 

(November 27, 2016) Argentina rallied from a 1-2 deficit going into the final day to beat Croatia 3-2 to win their first Davis Cup title on Sunday in Zagreb.

In reverse singles, world No. 38 Juan Martin del Potro came back from two sets down for the very first time in his career to beat No. 6 Marin Cilic 6-7 (4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in four-hours and fifty-three minutes to level the tie in the opening match at 2-2.

Frederico Delbonis clinched the title for Argentina with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 two-hour and nine-minute win over No. 20 Ivo Karlovic in Arena Zagreb.

This was the fifth Davis final in which Argentina participated. They lost in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Croatia was trying to win their second title. They were victorious in 2005.

Argentina is only the third team since the World Group began in 1981, to come back from a 1-2 deficit to win the title.

The southpaw, No. 41 Delbonis said “This is fabulous.” “We somewhat felt we could do it despite trailing after the doubles.”

“We played with our heart and tried to do the best.”

 

 

“I was calm, I hoped all the time that I could win and I did it,” said Del Potro to media.  The 2009 US Open champion injured his pinky in the fifth set. “I’m very happy to hand my team a chance of a victory.”

“It is very difficult to lose such an important match,” Cilic said of the almost five-hour match. “I feel a lot of disappointment.”

“After losing the third set, I was still confident I could win as he looked tired,” Cilic said. “I started pushing a bit too hard, handing him a chance for a comeback.”

 

“We did what we had to do,” said Argentina’s Davis cup coach Daniel Orsanic. “We could have lost, but the guys were amazing today. Juan Martin won an incredible match and Federico played the best match of his life. I dreamed for this so many times.”

DAVIS CUP
2016 World Group Final
CROATIA 1, ARGENTINA 1
Venue: Arena Zagreb, Croatia

Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-2
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5
Ivan Dodig / Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Leonardo Mayer / Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 6-3
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-7 (4), 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) d. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

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Andy Murray Reaches Semifinals of ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 18, 2016) Andy Murray finished a perfect 3-0 in the John McEnroe group on Friday at the ATP World Tour Finals, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2.

“I weathered the early storm a little bit,” said Murray. “Stan came out hitting the ball huge. He was hitting a lot of winners, a lot of aces.”

“But once I got through the early part of the match, I started to create chances in most of his service games. I served very well myself, got a lot of free points with my serve. That allowed me to also dictate a lot of the points, whereas at the beginning of the match I wasn’t able to do that.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

“I think he was serving really well, especially playing good after the serve,” said Wawrinka. “He didn’t give me many chance, especially at the beginning.

“Yeah, he make me hesitating a little bit with my game, when to go, when to stay back. That’s why he’s so good. That’s why he’s No. 1. He’s in full confidence. He’s playing the right things.”

The Scot who advances to the semifinals against Milos Raonic, keeps his hopes alive for trying to end the year as the top player for the first time. Novak Djokovic is trying to end the season as No. 1 for the fifth time in six years. The Serb will play Kei Nishikori in the other semifinal.

“It’s a big match, obviously,” Murray said of his semifinal against the Canadian. Milos, you know, he obviously serves big, goes for his shots. He moves forward when he has the chance. I think he probably likes the conditions here. It’s a little bit quicker.

“Yeah, you don’t normally get loads of opportunities against the big servers. Then it comes down to when you do get those chances, whether you take them or not. And this year when I’ve played him, I’ve created a few opportunities in the matches. When they’ve come, I’ve been pretty clinical. I’ll need to be the same tomorrow if I want to win.”

Should Djokovic lose to Nishikori, and Murray beats Raonic, the Murray will finish as No. 1. If Murray loses in the semifinals and Djokovic wins, the 12-time major champion will finish the year at No. 1.
Earlier in the day, Murray’s brother Jamie along with his doubles partner Bruno Soares clinched top spot in doubles for the year.

“They had an amazing year,” said Andy. “Only started playing with each other in January. Won the two slams, you know, which is fantastic. Jamie had not won a slam before this year, a men’s doubles slam. Bruno neither.

“They obviously complement each other’s games very well. They’ve played I think really good in most of the big competitions. They deserve it. They’ve obviously played extremely well this week. They knew pretty much what they were going to have to do. Yeah, won all three of their matches here.

“It’s a great achievement for both of them. Very proud of Jamie.

“I think my mum is here. My grandparents came earlier in the week. They went home on Thursday. My dad was here for the first few days, and he went home on Tuesday morning. He saw me and Jamie play one match each.

“But, no, I mean, obviously, the whole year has been fantastic for both of us. Obviously, yeah, we would like to finish it perfectly if we can. Still there’s a good chance that doesn’t happen. Yeah, regardless of what happens over the weekend, we can look back on this year and be very proud of what we’ve done as a family.”

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Andy Murray Wins First Match As No. 1 at ATP World Tour Finals

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

 

(November 14, 2016) Andy Murray began the ATP World Tour Finals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Marin Cilic to mark his first match win as world No. 1.

Murray who moved into the top spot last week, was warmly welcomed by the British crowd at the O2 Arena in London in his first round robin match during the evening session. Murray and second seed Novak Djokovic will be battling it out for year-end No. 1 this week.

“It was a great reception obviously,” Murray said. “A really, really good atmosphere tonight. Yeah, it was obviously nice to play in that stadium with the crowd like that. It obviously helps.

“After a long kind of few months, it’s nice to know that I’m going to be finishing the year, you know, playing in that sort of atmosphere. It helps you get up for the matches a bit more, as well.”

Murray was asked about if he’s thinking about the No. 1 ranking: “I’ve not been thinking about that really. Sort of the day it happened and also the day of the final in Paris, it was definitely on my mind, you know, quite a lot. Then I had a lot of message on the Monday.

“The last few days, I haven’t thought about it too much. It didn’t change much for me.”

Questioned in regard to seeing Novak Djokovic after he reached No. 1, the Scotsman said: “No, it wasn’t strange. I mean, we’ve known each other for such a long time. I think both of us have been kind of used to congratulating each other over the years. I mean, we bump into each other every week after he’s won an event the last few years, and it’s become quite a normal thing to congratulate him on winning tournaments and everything he’s achieved. It’s quite normal.

“We don’t go, Congratulations, and talk about it for 10 minutes. We talk about our families and other stuff. We don’t discuss it much.”

Despite giving up a mere five games, the match was closer than the score indicated. Murray had to fight to hold his serve early in the match.

 

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

Despite the loss, No. 7 seed Cilic still felt upbeat about the match:

“I think I felt I started quite well. I had first game two breakpoints, then lost my serve, came back and was a little bit at the beginning not serving that well. That I think was one thing that helped Andy to be in the rallies.

“Obviously we played quite a lot in the rallies in the first five, six games. They were quite long games, quite long rallies.

“I had also on his third service game a few chances, 15-40 I think again. Just felt that maybe in a few I made just wrong decisions. When I need to step in, I didn’t. When I need to wait a little bit longer, I wasn’t waiting.

“Overall I felt I was not playing too bad, just obviously maybe a different pattern of the balls. The hitting could have been better. Yeah, a little bit unfortunate to go 6-3, 6-2 down, where it felt it was much, much closer in the first set. Beginning of the second, I had couple chances as well.

“Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. Obviously tougher to start straightaway with matches like these against the best guys. I’m not so used to it. That’s something I guess quite new for me. Most of the tournaments I’m playing them third, fourth round at least. It’s a little bit different to start straightaway in the match.

“But I’m quite positive with the way I was playing. Just saying it could have been some better decisions.”

Murray is now 1-0 in his group.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

No. 5 seed Nishikori stopped third seed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3 during the day session.

Nishikori has a chance to end the year at No. 3 with a good tournament this week.
“I’m not thinking too much about rankings, but would be nice if I could finish 4 or 3,” said the top Japanese player. “I see good chance to be there if I can play good this week. That’s one of my goal this week. Also next year I hope I can stay No. 4 or No. 3, try to catch up Andy and Djoko.”

Asked about playing the top seeded Murray later this week, Nishikori said: “This year we played three, four times. I had a tough loss in Rio. But US Open and Davis Cup, we played, you know, some good match. I feel more chance, you know, to win the match against Andy.

“Obviously it’s the toughest match maybe in this group. Yeah, for sure I have to play well and play hundred percent to beat Andy. This match will help, for sure, for next match.”

 

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

 

Wawrinka was not happy with his performance on Monday. “It was not a great match compared to what I can do, that’s for sure,” said the Swiss. “I don’t think I find anything on the court today. I was a little bit slow on everything. I was hesitating a lot with my game, my movement.”

“I’m sure I still have something inside me to play some great tennis before the end of the year, so I’m going to try everything for that in the next match,” noted the three-time major champion. “I’m going to do what I need to do tomorrow to get ready for trying to play better in two days.”

 

 

Order of Play – TUESDAY, 15 November
Afternoon Session 12:00 PM Group Ivan Lendl & Group Edberg/Jarryd

[2] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)

[3] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA)

GAEL
MONFILS

[6] (FRA)

DOMINIC
THIEM

[8] (AUT)

Evening Session 6:00 PM Group Ivan Lendl & Group Edberg/Jarryd

[6] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA)

[8] T Huey (PHI) / M Mirnyi (BLR)

NOVAK
DJOKOVIC

[2] (SRB)

MILOS
RAONIC

[4] (CAN)

 

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Federer, Del Potro, Bryans and Others Win 2016 ATP World Tour Awards

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ATP WORLD TOUR, LONDON – Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro and Bob and Mike Bryan have been honoured in the 2016 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. While the ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates award is still to be decided in singles between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and in doubles between Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut and Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares, the other award winners have been announced today.

Federer has been selected by fellow players as winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for a 12th time and by fans as the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a 14th straight year. Since 2003, Federer has won a record total of 33 ATP World Tour Awards.

The Bryan brothers also extend their reign in the doubles category for ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon to a record 12th straight year.

Visit the official ATP World Tour Awards section on ATPWorldTour.com

Juan Martin del Potro reclaims honours in the player-voted Comeback Player of the Year category, joining Sergi Bruguera and Tommy Haas as the only individuals to win this award twice. Lucas Pouille has been voted as the Most Improved Player of the Year, edging fellow nominees Daniel Evans, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, the recipient of last year’s ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates. American Taylor Fritz, 19, succeeds Zverev in this category this season as the youngest player ranked in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Marin Cilic has been honoured with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for off-court philanthropy through his foundation, which supports educational projects and aspires to give young people improved access to education.

Magnus Norman, Stan Wawrinka’s coach, has been chosen by his peers as the winner of the first ATP Coach of the Year Award, which honours the coach who helped guide his player to a higher level of performance during the season.

The trophy ceremonies for the 2016 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon will take place during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Official Launch on Thursday night.

Mike Dickson from the Daily Mail is the recipient of the Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award while the ATP Tournament of the Year awards will be announced in 2017.

2016 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon

ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates
(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)
Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will battle for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Murray rose to the top spot for the first time on Monday after winning his tour-best eighth title of the season, becoming the 26th player in history to be ranked World No. 1. Djokovic has clinched this award four times and this week looks to win his eighth title of the season and sixth at the season finale.

ATP World Tour No. 1 Doubles Team presented by Emirates
(determined by Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings)
A new team will win this award, with Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert & Nicolas Mahut taking a slim lead over Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares into the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Herbert & Mahut have won five titles this season, including Wimbledon and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, while Murray & Soares claimed a pair of Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and US Open.

ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates
(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)
Taylor Fritz: This category in its fourth year, replacing the player-voted Newcomer of the Year, is awarded to the youngest player in the Top 100 of Emirates ATP Rankings as of 7 November. Fritz, who celebrated his 19th birthday at the end of the October, became the youngest ATP finalist since 2008 when he finished runner-up at the Memphis Open. The California native won 15 tour-level matches and reached a career-high No. 53 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in August. Two other contenders in this category, 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe and 20-year-old Jared Donaldson, finished behind their countryman at No. 102 and No. 108 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Comeback Player of the Year
(voted by ATP players)
Juan Martin del Potro: The 28-year-old Argentine was previously voted by his peers as the Comeback Player of the Year in 2011 following a successful return from right wrist surgery. He finished back in the Top 10 in 2013, only to be sidelined again – this time by a left wrist injury requiring multiple surgeries. Outside the Top 1000 of the Emirates ATP Rankings early in 2016, del Potro made his return in February with a semi-final effort at the Delray Beach Open and rose to No. 38 by November with a 30-match win effort. Among his season highlights, del Potro beat then-No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to a silver medal at the Rio Olympics, made the quarter-finals of the US Open and won his first tour-level title since 2014 at the If Stockholm Open, securing his return to the Top 50. Julien Benneteau, Ivo Karlovic and Florian Mayer were also nominated in this category.

Most Improved Player of the Year
(voted by ATP players)
Lucas Pouille: The 22-year-old Frenchman continued his steady improvement in his fifth professional season, climbing from a No. 91 Emirates ATP Ranking in February to a career-high No. 15 by the end of 2016. Pouille clinched his first ATP World Tour title in September at the Moselle Open, five months after reaching his first tour-level final at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest. In between, he reached consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open and an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Pouille compiled a 34-22 match record, nearly tripling his match wins total from last season (12-14).

Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
(voted by ATP players)
Roger Federer: Fellow players voted the Swiss as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 12th time and sixth year in a row. He also won the award six straight years from 2004-09. Andy Murray, 2010 winner Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka were also nominated in this category.

Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year
(awarded by ATP)
Marin Cilic: The Croatian established the Marin Cilic Foundation this year. With a goal of supporting educational projects around the world, the foundation has a special emphasis on giving youth in Croatia improved access to school and university education. “The main focus is to try to help kids as much as we can,” Cilic said upon the Foundation’s formal launch in June. “I want to give something back and also give some opportunities for some people and some kids that don’t have as many possibilities to pursue their dreams.”

ATP Coach of the Year
(voted by ATP coaches)
Magnus Norman: Stan Wawrinka’s coach since 2013, the 40-year-old Swede won in this new category over fellow nominees Gunter Bresnik (Dominic Thiem), Ivan Lendl (Andy Murray), Emmanuel Planque (Lucas Pouille) and Mikael Tillstrom (Gael Monfils). Norman, a former World No. 2 and winner of 12 ATP World Tour titles, guided Wawrinka back to a No. 3 Emirates ATP Ranking and four titles, including his third Grand Slam title at the US Open.

ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon (Singles)
(voted by fans)
Roger Federer: The 35-year-old Swiss has been voted ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a record 14th straight year, receiving 56 per cent of all votes cast. Andy Murray finished second, followed by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori.

ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon (Doubles)
(voted by fans)
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan: The 38-year-old American twins received 25 per cent of votes to be named the ATPWorldTour.com Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a record 12th time, edging Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares. Spaniards Feliciano Lopez & Marc Lopez, Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert & Nicolas Mahut and the Canadian-American duo of Vasek Pospisil & Jack Sock rounded out the top five.

Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award
(awarded by ATP)
Mike Dickson: Dickson has been a tennis correspondent for nearly two decades with the Daily Mail, which has the most visited newspaper website in the world. He has also covered golf, football, rowing and four Olympics Games, and served as the chief cricket writer for nine years. He came up to ‘Fleet Street’ via working as a general news reporter on local newspapers and local radio.

 

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Cilic Beats Nishikori for Swiss Indoors Title

Cilic fh

(October 30, 2016) In a repeat of the 2014 US Open final, Marin Cilic beat Kei Nishikori 6-1, 7-6 (5) to win the Swiss Indoors title in Basel on Sunday.

This is the Croat’s second title of the year and 16th of his career. The world No. 12 also won the Masters title in Cincinnati. The win keeps him in last spot to qualify for the ATP Tour Finals in London.

 

“Today on the court I had really good energy and was quite positive and motivated,” said Cilic. “There were a lot of things at stake for me and looking ahead to the [Emirates ATP] Race To London, this match can decide a lot. I was really motivated to be focused on every point. I was extremely happy and proud with how I help the energy up for those two sets.

“I’m really grateful for my team for giving me good energy and we’re looking to do more and always improve. When you have a week like this, it’s worth more and I’ll definitely enjoy this. It’s the first at the 500 level and now I have trophies from all the different categories. Next week is Paris and it’s another important week for the Race To London and to finish the season well. I hope to play well there.”
“In the second set, I was a little tight,” Nishikori said. “I had a couple set points and couldn’t convert. He played good tennis today.

“It was a good week for me, playing another final. I had some good wins. It will be important to have another good week in Paris and again in London. That will be my last goal of the year.”

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US Open – Sock Knocks Out 2014 Champ Cilic; Djokovic and Nadal Advance

(September 2, 2016) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – No. 26 seed Jack Sock kept his record against 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic perfect on Friday, when he upset the No. 7 seed 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 on Friday to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The 23-year-old Sock, the 26 seed felt confient about his game.

 

“I think just all around I think I’m putting things together better and better,” said Sock. “I definitely feel more confident out there in everything I’m doing.

“Used to be some liabilities people would talk about in my game. I feel like I have cleaned those up pretty well. Returning was big for me. I think I’ve gotten a pretty good hold on that. Feeling comfortable. Getting in a lot of guys’ service games now.

“Overall I feel my purpose out there. I’m executing it well and I feel like I know what I’m going to do on almost every point.”

Sock, reaching just his second fourth round at a major, will meet No. 9 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman defeated No. 23 seed Keving Anderson in straight sets.

Sock’s American countryman, John Isner did not fare as well. The 20th seed Isner who fell to Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5). For the Brit ranked 84th in the world, this will be his first round of 16 at a major.

“It’s been a great week so far, absolutely,” the 21-year-old Edmund said to media. “Tonight was a really good win. I was pleased with my consistency throughout the match. Weren’t too many dips. On that stage, as well, in front of a good crowd, a big crowd, against John in his own country, I was pleased with the performance I put out there.”

“I think the match swung a bit in the first game of the third set when I had Love-40,” Isner explained. “I played three really good points to get to Love-40, and then kind of wear myself out trying to finish that game off.

“I didn’t break, and then the next game I didn’t make any first serves and got broken. That was a bit disappointing. But it was just a struggle out there a little bit. Kind of the whole tournament. Nothing really felt great the whole tournament.

“But credit to Kyle. I thought he played well. Certainly played better than I did in the big moments, so hats off to him.”

Edmund will have a tumultuous task ahead of him for the next match – No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Djokovic played only six games in the match on Friday when his opponent Mikhail Youzhny retired. Djokovic has only played one complete match at the tournament, in the first round. His second round opponent withdrew.

“It’s not great for neither players nor the fans pay tickets to come and watch,” noted the world No. 1.” Spent 20 minutes on the court. Of course, it’s not something you want considering, as well, the fact I haven’t played last match at all.

“But it is what it is. I got an extra hour of practice on the center court. They were kind enough to allow me to practice. Got to focus on positives.”

Rafael Nadal produced a spectacular between-the-legs lob shot during the night session in his 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Andrey Kuznetsov in a night session match.

Asked if he ever hit a long like that before, the 14-time major winner said: “Well, actually yes. Not many times, but I remember one in Madrid against Djokovic.”

Other men reaching the fourth round include: No. 10 Gael Monfils, No. 24 Lucas Pouille and Marcos Baghdatis.

In women’s action, the most dramatic match of the day saw eighth seeded American Madison Keys rally from 1-5 down in the third set to survive Japanese player Naomi Osaka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3). The 21-year-old American said it was her best comeback win. She said: “For sure. Hands down.”

“No matter what the score was, it was always just trying to get back in the match. Once I was able to get a little bit of momentum I felt like I found my game a bit more. At that point I knew I had to kind of step up or else I was going to be going home.”

Keys will play two-time US Open finalist and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals.

“It’s been a rough year because I haven’t been able to catch a break from injuries basically,” said the current No. 74 player in the world. “Every time I have come back something else has been hurting. Knock on wood, right now I’m feeling good. Everything is feeling good.

“I’m hoping I can keep this up for the end of the year and hopefully start fresh next year.”

Other women moving into the final 16 are No. 2 Angelique Kerber – Australian Open champion, No. 7 Roberta Vinci – who stopped Serena Williams bid for a Grand Slam last year, No. 13 Johanna Konta, Two-time Wimbledon champion No. 14 Petra Kvitova, Anastasija Sevastova and Lesia Tsurenko.

 

Related Articles:

Jack Sock Rallies From Two Sets Down to Beat Marin Cilic; John Isner Also Wins, Gives USA 2-0 Lead in Davis Cup Quarterfinal

Day 5 of the US Open – In Their Own Words

 

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Marin Cilic Beats John Isner to Even Davis Cup Tie at 2-2

(July 17, 2016) BEAVERTON, Oregon – The United States came into day three of their Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against Croatia leading 2-1. Friday saw the U.S. get two singles wins and on Saturday the Bryan brothers lost for only their fifth time in quarterfinal Davis Cup play on Saturday.

In the first singles rubber on Sunday at the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton, Oregon, John Isner had a chance to close the tie and send the team into the semifinals in September with a win over Marin Cilic.

Cilic, who coming into the day had a 5-0 record against the American, would deny the U.S. from closing the tie. Cilic extended his perfect record over Isner to 6-0 with a 7-6(9), 6-3, 6-4 victory forcing a fifth and deciding rubber later on Sunday.

Isner gave all credit to his opponent.

“I felt like he played pretty well, to be honest,” Isner said to media. “The first set was critical. Felt like I definitely was the better player in the first set.

“Didn’t get paid off, but that’s on me. He came up with the goods when he needed it. That gave him a lot of confidence I think. He got his legs underneath him even more after the first set as well.

“I knew it was going to be a tough task. He was going to be feeling pretty confident because he played very well yesterday in the doubles. I felt like he carried that over today in the singles.”

“I felt from the beginning of the match that John (Isner) start(ed) extremely well, Cilic said in his post-match news conference. “He was not missing much; he was very aggressive; making a lot of returns back.

“He was covering most of the court. I was, in my service games, in trouble for a lot of times in that first set. I felt that I had to be every point very focused, very aggressive as much as I can to stay in there, not to have any loose points.

“I was just hoping that I’m going to get to the tiebreak to give myself a chance there to try to do something.

“During the first set I didn’t have any opportunities on his serve, and I felt that he played probably the best set in all of our encounters from the past. That was definitely a tough task, but I stayed in there mentally. I was very, very focused.”

For Cilic this was his third straight day playing, losing his opening singles on Friday to Jack Sock, after leading 2 sets to none, pairing with Dodig to win the doubles on Saturday and winning in reverse singles on Sunday.

Asked if his doubles victory gave him some confidence for Sunday’s singles, Cilic replied: “I just took some positives out of that match. I was very emotionally involved yesterday. I was very motivated. When you are losing that kind of match like I did on Friday, things can go negatively and you can go down.

“I tried to just lift myself up with the team. I was very much emotionally focused to be positive throughout yesterday’s match, and also today I felt it helped me to lift my game in critical situations.

“Especially when you play three days in a row you can get a little bit tired also towards the end and you can miss some balls that you are not regularly missing.

“So I was trying to be very focused with those emotions to stay in there throughout all the match.”

Croatia has never come back from 0-2 down to win a Davis Cup tie.

Scheduled to play in the final match are No. 26 Jack Sock for the US and No. 54 Borna Coric for Croatia. This will be the second time they have played each other. Sock beat Coric in straight sets at the French Open last year.

The winner of this tie will play France in the Davis Cup semifinal September 16-18.

 

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Cilic and Dodig Stun Bryan Brothers to Keep Croatia Alive in Davis Cup Quarterfinal

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(July 16, 2016) BEAVERTON, Oregon – Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig spoiled team USA’s potential semifinal clinching party, when Croatia handed the Bryan brothers only their fifth loss in Davis Cup play 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes on Saturday. The Croatians stay alive in the tie down 1-2 going into Sunday play.

The United States came into the day leading 2-0 after two singles victories on Friday hoping to seal a spot in the Davis Cup semifinals with the all-time doubles winners in Davis Cup and tennis history in the Bryan brothers. Team Croatia had other ideas.

Team Croatia substituted one Marin for another before the doubles rubber began. Cilic took Draganja’s place to play with Dodig. Croatia’s captain said they were thinking about the substitution on Friday night. Croatia came out firing, breaking serve at love tin the third game to go up 2-1, consoldating for 3-1. They broke again in the seventh game for 5-2 and closed out he set 6-2.

In the second set, the Bryans could not take advantage of a break point in the second game. Bryans break Dodig at 15 to tkae 4-2 lead, and get to Cilic to claim the set 6-2 to even up the match. The Bryans improved their play in the second set, whereas Cilic’s play fell off. The Bryans improved their first serve percentage, hit more winners and making only two unforced errors.

In set three, the Bryans squandered break points in Croatia’s opening service game but one felt the momentum was still on the Bryan’s side. That changed in the third game when Cilic hit a return of serve winner to break for 2-1. Croatia broke Bob Bryan’s serve for 4-1, but the Americans bounced back returning the favor for 2-4. Back to back to back breaks of serve gave Croatia a 5-2 lead which they served out 6-2 to go up two sets to one.
The Croatians hit 16 winners, while the US hit only five in the set. The visiting team broke serve three times in the third set.

The Bryans held on to a multi deuce game to open the fourth set, and fended off a break point in heir second service game.

Croatia broke serve at 15 in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and made the break hold up and served out the match for the win 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The Bryan Brothers

The Bryan Brothers

For  the Bryans, this was only their fifth loss in a Davis Cup tie, all coming on home soil.   They have a 24-5 record in Davis Cup. They talked about the loss in their post match news conference:

“We just didn’t execute from — I think started off with the serve,” said Bob Bryan. “Weren’t making a lot of first serves. Weren’t getting them in trouble from the start. They started returning well and gaining confidence. They just kind of outplayed us in ever aspect of the game today.

“That’s really on us. Started turning the momentum around after the first set. Had some break points. I had a good look at a second serve forehand that I should have hit a little bit harder. I just kind of pushed it. That would’ve been a good opportunity to really keep the foot on the gas, so I wish I could have had that one back.

“But those guys are two good players. That’s the type of match that we have to play at the top of our game to take them out. We just didn’t do it. That has nothing to do with anything but ourselves. We take responsibility for that.”

“I mean, you know, you can serve well in practice,” said Mike Bryan. “When you get out there it’s a different monster when there is adrenaline and crowd and pressure.

“Obviously I think I was speeding up. When you speed up your motion you don’t get your toss up, and it’s a whole chain reaction.

“If I could have held that first game, got settled in the match, got some confidence in my serve, I think it could have been a little different.

“Credit to them. They made some good returns. Dodig hit a couple backhand winners. Once you get behind the eight ball you start thinking about it a little bit.”

Cilic made a major impact in the match. “Cilic is dangerous,” Bob Bryan added. “He brings great returns and some nasty groundies and his serve is pretty strong.”

“The difference was that Marin and Ivan played I would say really unbelievable tennis today,” said Croatian captain Zeljko Krajan. “Both just are on the top of their game, and Marin played the best doubles match of his life.

“Even though it’s against Bryans, just tough when he is serving the way he is and returning and everything is coming back and from the baseline there was no mistakes. I would say I don’t know who would beat them on a day like this when they play.

“Maybe just the Bryans didn’t play the best match of their life, but it was just too tough for them today to face these opponents.”

“Me and Ivan played few times also in Davis Cup; we played in Olympics in 2012,” Cilic said. “We played there really well. But we know that when we are on a good day we can play amazing tennis.

“That was today the case. We came up to the match with good tactics, good mindset, and we knew that if we play well that we are going to be able to beat them.

“Obviously the positive thing was that even I have beaten Bryans before and Ivan did also I guess few times, so that was a mindset that was giving us good strategy and we were able to prepare good for the match.”

Croatia was six for ten on break points, hitting 53 winners with 21 unforced errors.

Sunday’s play will consist of reverse singles. Leading off will be the battle between the No. 1 players on each team – John Isner versus Marin Cilic, followed by Jack Sock against Borna Coric (if necessary).

Cilic, who is 5-0 against Isner, says despite playing doubles, he’ll be ready on Sunday.

“I feel pretty much fine,” he said. “I had nine sets in two days, but the conditions here are not too difficult. The weather is favoring the players and the fans in the stands, so it’s not too humid and not too hot. Not too demanding.

“Obviously in Davis Cup it’s more bit tougher dealing with emotions as you are a little bit more pumped up and adrenaline kicks you in when you start the matches. That can take some energy. I feel pretty much fine.

“I played today great, and tomorrow I feel I’m going to be in good shape, too.”

Cilic talked about his tough five-set losses, to Sock on Friday and to Roger Federer at Wimbledon.

“I was thinking a little bit after yesterday’s loss that I was maybe a little bit mentally drained from my loss from Wimbledon,” he said. “It still left a small mark in me and I wasn’t as, you know, emotionally pumped as today, which is obviously giving me good sensation for playing and good feeling. I can lift my game when I’m playing like this.

“I usually enjoy to play in Davis Cup because the team atmosphere, the energy, lifts my game up. Hopefully tomorrow I can do the same.”

The winner of this tie will play the winner of the Czech Republic/France tie in September in the Davis Cup semifinals.

The last time the United States won the Davis Cup was in 2007 in Portland.

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Jack Sock Rallies From Two Sets Down to Beat Marin Cilic; John Isner Also Wins, Gives USA 2-0 Lead in Davis Cup Quarterfinal

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

(July 15, 2016) BEAVERTON, Oregon – The United States is off to a 2-0 lead against Croatia in quarterfinal action in Davis Cup play on Friday at  the Tualatin Hills Tennis Center in Beaverton, Oregon.

In the first rubber of the United States versus Croatia Davis Cup quarterfinal, 2014 US Open champion and No. 12 Marin Cilic took on No. 26 Jack Sock.

Sock rallied from two sets down to beat Cilic  4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to give the USA a 1-0 lead.

The first set saw little difference between both competitors, but Cilic sealed the break in the tenth game to claim the set 6-4.

The second set saw Cilic took advantage of three break point opportunities to take the set 6-3. Sock contributed 16 errors to his opponent’s cause in the set. Cilic had a medical time out after the seventh game of the set.

Sock drastically reduced his unforced error count in the third set, making only four while upping his first serve percentage making 16/17 to win the third set 6-3.

In the fourth set both men stayed even until the the ninth game, when the 23-year-old American broke serve at 30. Sock served out the set to even the match at 2-sets all.

Cilic broke Sock with a drop volley winner in the American’s first service game of the fifth set and consolidated for a 3-0 lead to start out the fifth set. Sock bounced back with a break in the fifth game to get to 2-3.

“Well, I wasn’t very happy down 3-0,” Sock said. Once again, just stayed the course. Having such an experienced player in Jim Courier on the bench with
you, you can’t ask for much more. He just kept me level headed and kept telling me to do the right things,which I had been doing for a few sets to get back.”
In the seventh game, Sock failed to take advantage of three break points and Cilic held off the inspired American to hold for 4-3.

Sock broke through in in the eighth game, setting up a break point on a drop volley winner for break point. Cilic hit a backhand volley wide to give team USA the break and a 5-4 lead.

As the old Ringo Star song goes “It Don’t Come Easy.” Sock had to fend off two break points in the tenth game to seal the three-hour and 13 minute match win. Final score 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

What made the difference in the match for Sock?

Sock said: “I mean, I had a ton of chances in the second. I didn’t get blown off the for two sets. I was up a break twice in the second. Struggled on my serve a little bit.

“But just maybe made a few smarter decisions on the serve. Made a lot more first serves to kind of put it in
the spots where I could get forehands, start the rally.

“Returning the whole time I felt like I could get in a lot of his games. The court is slow enough I could get back
on the serve and make it neutral.

“Just stayed the course really and was lucky enough to get the win.”

For Sock this was his first match on home soil in his Davis Cup career, he talked about this win being one of his career accomplishments.

“Haven’t played a ton of five-setters in my career. Haven’t come back from two sets to love down. To do that today, in front of
the home crowd for the team, it almost feels extra special today. Maybe if I had done it in another tournament – obviously playing individually there – to do it today for the team in this, the first match to get us off to a good start, feels unreal.”

“I was just a little bit unfortunate in the beginning of the third to lose my serve at the beginning, and then Jack started to serve really well from the beginning of the third,” Cilic said.

“Obviously I think he served much, much better in the fourth and fifth set. He was not giving me too many
chances on the return games. I had a break in the fifth that’s a little bit unfortunate to lose it. I was 3-1 up, 15-Love, and easy forehand in the middle of the court.

“Yeah, a little bit disappointed with that, just to lose that opportunity of getting that lead in the fifth set to make
that extra step to closing the match.

“You know, when I gave him a chance to come back I felt that he started to play also really well. He was very aggressive. Obviously last game I had 15-40 also to come back. You know, just one point where I went for a shot, missed a little bit.

“Overall, I think he played pretty good tennis in the last three sets. It’s not that I played so bad. I felt that
maybe I could have served better today. I was not serving as good as I can. Just from the game, obviously he’s very dangerous.
He can play very, very fast tennis. He’s got big forehand, so that was I think working well for him today.”

Tennis Panorama asked U.S. Davis Cup Jim Courier about he said to Sock after he went down two sets.

“Well, the second set Jack was up a break twice and was having trouble holding serve,” Courier said.

“Both of them were for that matter.

“But I felt like Jack was in a good position once the rallies got started. He just needed to execute.
“I though he was actually playing pretty well from a tactical standpoint in the second set. He just needed to lift his level a little bit and stay in there mentally and just be there.

“We also recognize that Marin had a tough loss in Wimbledon. He had chances to take out Roger Federer. Sometimes players coming off matches where they had match point and didn’t close a player out can be a little susceptible, too.

“So I was using that as a little bit of a carrot to keep Jack in there, too. Jack stayed in there point for point and fought hard and made it physical. He did a lot of great things out there today that will hopefully carry him to new places in his career.

“First time he’s come from two sets down. I think he learned a lot about himself out there. He deserves all the credit for it. He would’ve stayed in there I am pretty sure. He started to make that transition in the last month and a half or so mentally to sticking in there a little bit better.

“Today was just a manifestation of the work he’s been doing with Troy Hahn, his coach. Today it paid off for the team; certainly paid off big for him, too.”

On a day which saw top players Simona Halep and Milos Raonic withdraw from the Olympics due to concerns about the Zika Virus, both Cilic and Sock are looking forward to participating in the Olympic Games in Rio.

“Yeah, it’s really exciting” Sock commented. As a kid you grow up watching a lot of the Olympics – not only tennis, but a lot of the sports. Kind of a bucket list for every athlete I feel like to be able to represent your country on the biggest stage possible”

“I am very excited to get down there and rep the U.S., ” Sock an excited Sock. “Hopefully I can play some good tennis and wear the
colors proud. Definitely beyond happy.”

As for Cilic, “I’m going to play. A lot of guys have concerns about that (Zika virus), but I hope it’s going to be fine.”

Coric also commented on the Olympics: “As far as I’m concerned I’m going to play. I don’t have problems with Zika. Yeah, it’s going to be great experience for me. Going to be my first Olympics. I’m really looking forward to it.

“Obviously it’s very big thing. I’m only 19 and I’m going to be already there. Not many people can say that. So I’m just very proud of that. Obviously I’m just looking forward to it”

John Isner

John Isner

In the second rubber Borna Coric had no answers to John Isner’s serve, as the American nailed 23 aces in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over the teenage Croatianin a minute less than two hours.

The last of Isner’s aces came on match point.

Isner said that Sock’s comeback win helped his own momentum in his match.

“Oh, it helps a lot, he said. “I’m just sitting right here and he’s down two sets to love and things aren’t looking too good. He won the third set. I saw that he had a lot of positive energy on his side.

“Then he wins that fourth set, and I’m getting really animated in the locker room in the fifth set. He was able to pull it out playing incredible tennis.

“For me, it helps a lot. I feel like it takes a bit of pressure off me as well, knowing that regardless of what I do out there on the court, we’re not going to be losing. At worst, we’ll be 1-1.

“I was in a good spot going out there today thanks to Jack.”

Coric was pretty downcast after his loss to Isner.

“I lost, he said. “That’s what happened. I didn’t use my chances in the first two sets obviously. I had many chances to break him, and then on 5-4 in both sets I played really poor game. It was basically not much to say honestly.”

The USA is 0-3 against Croatia in Davis cup play, vying for a place in the semifinal round of Davis Cup.

The U.S. is 157-3 all-time when leading 2-0 after the first day of play and 40-1 when leading 2-0 since the World Group format began in 1981.

The doubles rubber will take place on Saturday with Bob and Mike Bryan of the USA going up against Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and Marin Draganja.

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Jack Sock Leads Off First Davis Cup Home Tie Against Marin Cilic

Jack Sock

(July 14, 2016) PORTLAND, Oregon – The draw for the USA versus Croatia quarterfinal Davis Cup tie took place in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland on Thursday.

Jack Sock will lead off play Saturday against 2014 U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic. Cilic comes off a five-set loss in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon to Roger Federer, when the Croatian was leading two sets to none.

For the 23-year-old American Sock, ranked 26th in the world, this will his first Davis Cup tie played in the United States. This is the first time the U.S. has played at home since 2014.

Asked if he felt any added pressure, he said: “I mean, not necessarily any pressure.
“I’m more excited, honestly, to be playing on home soil. I love being a part of the team with these guys. They have a lot more experience than me out here.

“Yeah, I mean, maybe when I go out there, it will be a different feeling than when I played in Uzbekistan and Australia. But more excited than anything to be able to play in front of some home fans, some family and friends. Obviously playing in front of my country and these guys as well.

“Definitely more excited than nervous.”

The second match on Friday pits, No. 1 American John Isner, ranked 16th in the world, against No. 2 and No. 54 in the world, Croatian Borna Coric. They are playing each other for the first time.

The doubles rubber on Saturday will feature Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan of the United States against Ivan Dodigand Marin Draganja of Croatia.

Reverse singles will be played on Sunday with the No. 1’s battling in the first match, followed by the fifth rubber face-off between the No. 2’s.

Croatia comes into the tie having never lost to the United States with a 3-0 record. The U.S. last lost to Croatia in the 2009 World Group Quarterfinal in Porec, Croatia, in which Croatia won 3-2 with Cilic and Ivo Karlovic leading the team. The U.S. also played Croatia in the 2005 World Group First Round in Los Angeles and in the 2003 World Group First Round in Zagreb, Croatia.

The winner of the tie faces the winner of France-Czech Republic in the World Group semifinals.

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