2014/04/17

Murray Gets on Court Late But Wins Quickly on a Rainy Wednesday at US Open

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(August 28, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Defending US Open champ Andy Murray had to wait until Wednesday to play his opening match at the US Open and due to the constant rain delays during the day session his night match did not start until 9:55 p.m.

The Scot had an easy match against Michael Llodra, dominating the Frenchman 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

The start time of 9:55 p.m. for the Andy Murray vs. Michael Llodra match is the third-latest start for a US Open Night Session in recorded history.

The latest start took place in 2009 when a match between James Blake and Tommy Robredo began at 10:25 p.m.

“Playing at that time for your first round is not ideal,” Murray said to media.

“We were told on Saturday, `Would you like to play on Tuesday or Wednesday?’ We said, `Tuesday.’ They then told us the next day, `It’s looking like it’s going to be Wednesday. It will be during the day on Wednesday,’” Murray said “Yesterday, as we were leaving,  we were told, `It’s looking like you’re going to be playing in the evening.’”

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Notes and Quotes From Day One at the 2013 French Open

 

(May 26, 2013) A few of the quotes from the news conferences from Day 1 at the French Open.

Venus Williams

Asked about her preparation for Roland Garros:

“Extremely unideal.

“Definitely, you know ‑‑ definitely been struggling.  Just wanted to come here and try to ‑‑ you know, try to play.  I mean, I think my movement is awesome, but I just haven’t played any matches and just haven’t hit any serves, and it’s just hard to be perfect in the first match.

“I think there were periods where, you know, I found some rhythm and there were periods where I didn’t.  I tried very hard, but my opponent just played a little better.”

 

Venus admitted that problems with her back prevented her from serving with more speed:

“I can’t really serve very hard.  It’s painful when I do that.  But I’m getting better.  I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament.

“My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that’s very difficult for me, too, because that’s not who I am.  But that’s all I had.  So that was challenging to, you know, be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point.  It’s like, you know, you have to, you know, suddenly change your mindset.  That’s a little challenging.

“So I’m just, you know, obviously going to try to, you know ‑‑ I want my serve back.  I’m going to try to get it back for Wimbledon.”

“Sometimes you can just play yourself into the tournaments, and maybe if I was able to win that match maybe I could have continued to play better off the ground.  I’m not sure how much better I could play off the serve.

“That’s sometimes how it works in tennis, but it’s just been a very challenging injury for me.”

Serena Williams

 

Asked about her rivalry with Martina Hingis and if her role as coach is a good thing for women’s tennis.

“I don’t know if it’s good for women’s tennis, but it’s exciting to see Martina around and see her wisdom going to another player.  And Pavlyuchenkova, I know she had a really good win today.  Tough win.  It was good for her.

“I have seen improvements already.  I think they make a great team.  They get along well.  They seem to have so much fun.  I think it’s really nice.

 

 

Pablo Carreno Busta

After his loss to Roger Federer, Carreno Busta was asked about the difference between playing the futures and challenger events versus the ATP Tour.

“Yeah, in futures the players plays good, but maybe the level was really different.  Roger is No. 2 of the world and was maybe the best in the history, so I think that it’s impossible compare the level in futures with the level of Roger.

“I think I play eight futures this year and I play really good.  I won seven, and it was very, very good for my confidence and for my level in tennis.

“But I think now for me the best time to be better is playing these matches and with these opponents.”

 

Roger Federer

 

Federer shared his opinion about the Sunday starts at the French Open:

“Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I remember they sort of forced me to play on Sunday years back to promote their Sunday thing.  I was against it just because I felt like the way they got the Sunday, you know, first was maybe, oh, let’s try it out.  Next thing you know like they have it for a lifetime or what?  Is that how it works?

“So I didn’t agree with how things went along.  From that standpoint today, you know, it is what it is, but it is the only Grand Slam that has it.  Wimbledon does it in 13 days and the French does it in 15.

“So it doesn’t make sense, but I do understand that a weekend for tennis is very important for the people who can show up instead of ‑‑ it anyway is very odd that we do start the tournament week on a Monday where everybody goes back to work.  Doesn’t really work.

“But, anyway, it’s how we are.  So I get the Sunday start, but it’s always something that’s a debate, you know, within the ATP and the French Open.

“But I’m happy this time around.  I told them if they wanted me to play Sunday, whatever, I’m fine with it.  They took that opportunity right away, so… (He said smiling)”

Sara Errani

Last year’s losing finalist gave her thoughts about returning to the finals this year:

” I’m not thinking about that.  It’s a new tournament for me.  Also last year was unbelievable tournament, best tournament of my life, how you say.

“I don’t want to think about that.  I just want to come here and play another tournament, a new tournament like I do other week, try to think that it’s important tournament, but is only one more tournament.

“So I try to be like that, try to concentrate on my tennis, not too much about last year or what I defend and these things.”

 

Xavier Malisse

 

After his loss to Milos Raonic,Malise gave his houghts on playing Roland Garros next year:

“Perhaps I will come back, but not necessarily in the top ranks.  I don’t know.  It’s difficult really to say.  After last year I felt as though I was really done so I don’t know if I could have come back, but of course here I am.  Who knows what’s going to happen now.

“But I would like to play one more year.  It’s nice playing here because it’s all very special here because everybody is here and the Belgians are here.

“But you never know.  You never know what the future will hold.”

 

Mallory Burdette

Asked about how comfortable she felt playing on clay:

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.

 

Stanford grad Burdette was asked what advice would she give high school seniors deciding whether or not to go to college.

“I think one of the biggest things is to realize that everybody is different.  So your path may be very different from someone else’s.

“When it comes to assessing your game, I would say get a lot of opinions from other coaches, hear what they have to say.

“Also, what are you comfortable with right now?  Do you feel like you’re in a position mentally and emotionally where you can grow and develop while you’re on your own on the tour?  Then go for it.  You have a good support system, financially everything is in line.

“If you feel like you can’t do that, then school is a great option.  It’s a place where you can grow and develop and go through some tough times.  You have a team there to support you and coaches with you at all times; whereas on the tour you’re a little bit more on your own.

“So it depends on the individual.  You really just have to lok at what will work for you.”

 

Milos Raonic

 

Raonic who is now working with former pro Ivan Ljubicic commented on the difference between working with his old coach and now Ljubicic.

 

“I don’t think there is really too much difference.  I think just since it’s a new start with something, you just sort of go forward with it, with the game plan, and you sort of just lay that trust there.

“And just part of it is to be a bit more aggressive, to be quite a bit more aggressive and try to make the opponent more and more comfortable and not really settle for rally shots, trying to have more purpose on every shot, trying to sort of get that rather than waiting for my opponent to give it to me.  Sort of reaching out there and trying to take it for myself.

“Ivan is helping me out as a friend at the moment.”

 

Gilles Simon

What was going on in Simon’s mind when Hewitt evened the fifth set at 5-5:

“Well, I knew in the game I had to play against him, but unfortunately I just didn’t manage to do it at the beginning.  That’s the least I can say.

“I was feeling bad.  I didn’t have a good rhythm on the court.  It takes me a long time to find it.  Then it was better, a lot better.  I was in control.

“But unfortunately at the end he played one more time great tennis.  And it’s never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5‑1, 5‑2, 5‑3 after a few match points.

“So I’m just happy that I managed to win this one.  I think it was a very difficult match today for me, and I just hope I’m going to be better on the next round.”

 

Lleyton Hewitt

“It was more just blisters on my toe.  You know, it was uncomfortable but you can play through it.  He obviously stepped up his game from the start of the third set.  I was able to hang in there.  I had small opportunities.

“Broke back and got on serve at 3‑All and couldn’t quite ‑‑ if I could have kept in front in the third set and put a bit more pressure on him towards the end of the set I might have had a bit of a chance.”

“You know, would have liked to have been on the other end of it.  Yeah, disappointing, but, yeah, I didn’t obviously come here with massive expectations.”

Sam Querrey

On only his second win at Roland Garros:

“Yeah, feels great to get a win.  My other win was on this court, too, so that’s the only court I can win on here.

“The clay season has been a little rough.  Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Shelby Rogers

 

My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.  She’s a good player and has got a lot of power.  Great serve.

“So I was ready for a battle; things turned out in my favor today.”

 

Michael Llodra

 

On whether or not he’ll retire after this year:

“I made my decision.  Because it’s still great pleasure.  So it’s going to be another year where I’ll have to play on the tournaments on which I feel good.

“But I made that decision.  I have too much fun on the court.  I’m in good shape.  And it’s always pleasant to have people supporting you, saying, Well, you’re one of the last ones playing with the kind of game you have.

“So I will probably have a lighter schedule.  But there are tournaments I like playing on, and I will continue.”

 

David Ferrer

Ferrer on his admiration of Lleyton Hewitt:

“Well, I saw what he did during his match, Hewitt, yeah.  He’s a player whom I admire.  He was like a benchmark for me from the very first day when I started playing tennis, because he’s such an excellent player.

“But, you know, at the end of the day everybody does their best, and experience counts a lot.  But the most important thing is that you have to love tennis.  Lleyton was No. 1.  Well, today he’s not got his best ranking, but he’s still fighting.

“And we, the younger generations ‑‑ or, rather, when we were young and for younger players, it’s a reference.  He should be considered as a reference.  They should look at him and see that he always reacts in a positive way.  Even though sometimes you’re down, your scores are awful, you do your best.  And this is something I admire from Lleyton.”

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of the 2012 French Open

Li Na – Remember Paris, Forget Rome

I was just arrive in Paris.  All of the airport I think I doing well last year and here.  So today I come to center court I was feeling ‑‑ I was walking to the center court, and I saw the national fly, I was behind, and I was thinking about, oh, I did well here last year.  Last year also the last match was playing on center court, and this year first year on center court, as well.

So I was tell myself, okay, wish you can doing better, because, you know, last week, no, maybe one week ago the final in Rome still killing me.  After final I tell everyone don’t talk to me about tennis like three days.  I can’t quiet every second.

 

Victoria Azarenka on committing 60 unforced errors in her comeback win over Alberta Brianti:

I think it says it all.  Bad days happen.  Unfortunately today I had way more mistakes than I usually do, but, you know, it happens sometimes.

The first match, they’re not easy.  But in the end of the day I still won the match, I manage to go through those 60 mistakes and still win the match.  I think that’s pretty good statistics.

If it would be 60 winners and I would lose that match, or win this match this way, I think that would suck a little bit more.

 

Balls Banter

Novak Djokovic: Yes, the ball change is obvious.  I think last year they have made that switch with balls, and they were really fast and tough to control with conditions that are present in the Roland Garros, which are a little bit different from other clay court events, and the conditions here are a little bit faster than maybe comparing to Monte‑Carlo or Barcelona or Rome.
But, you know, many players complained a little bit about the speed of the balls last year, so it was really difficult to control.
So this year, they’re a little bit heavier, which I like.  I really don’t have any complaints about it.

 

Roger Federer:  I think they’re heavy.  I think the balls are heavy.  I think they’re slower than last year.

Conditions here are always faster during the day.  Courts are on the harder side, especially when it’s with good weather like today.  Feels like it’s faster.

I feel the balls are not the fastest ones.  I just think that also is just taking some adjustments to that, because the ball is different here again than the last six, seven weeks for us.

I think that also maybe takes some getting used to, which is normal.  That’s why I’m happy to be through to the second round, having more information on how actually the court and the balls play here.

 

David Nalbandian: I felt the balls were faster, faster than other years.  They fly more.  They’re more like lively balls.

But on the Suzanne Lenglen Court, usually it’s a court that’s slower than the other courts; whereas, you know, I had the impression that the balls were faster and more difficult to control.

 

 

Women’s 30th seed German Mona Barthel reflecting on her loss to American teen Lauren Davis:

Of course I’m a little bit sad about it, but these things happen in life.  That’s the way tennis goes.  You win; you lose.

Yeah, that’s it.

 

Lauren Davis responding to a reporter’s question about how do people from Cleveland get adjusted to red clay:

Well, I played on indoor hard since I was 16, and this is actually like my third clay court tournament.  I mean red clay.

But, yeah, my game is well‑suited for clay.

 

Lleyton Hewitt asked about what makes the French Open so special:

Lleyton Hewitt:  (Smiling.)  The scores are in French.  I don’t understand.  I’ve got to look up at the scoreboard to know what the score is.

 

American in Paris on clay clay or mud it’s all the same

John Isner:  Well, for me, personally, I don’t mind clay.  I don’t care what surface I’m playing on.  I don’t care if it’s mud.

My serve is my serve.  I like to think I’m gonna hold serve a lot.  Whether it’s clay, grass or hard, I’m always gonna have that on my side.

But besides from that, with me, you know, a lot of times the ball bounces higher, which is good for me obviously, with me being so tall.

I hope that a lot of Americans can ‑‑ you know, can do well here.  I know myself and Jesse Levine have won.  I don’t know about anyone else.  I hope we can have a bunch of guys advance after tomorrow.

 

John Isner – ATP poster boy for going to college

Yeah, I hope kids in high school kinda do look up to me and the path that I personally took.  You know, for me, going to Georgia was 100% the absolute right play for me.  Going there for four years was also the right choice for me.  And, you know, I feel like I made a lot of good decisions throughout my junior career.  Best decision I ever made in my life was going to Georgia.  Wasn’t any other school for me.

Going there for four years, being coached by Coach Diaz was fantastic for me.  I became just a lot stronger physically.  My game got a lot better.  From that I also got a college degree.

It was a very good decision, and I don’t regret it at all.  I mean, I think kids nowadays should at least look at the college route at least for one year at the very minimum.  This game is so physical now.  You don’t see many 18‑year‑old kids inside the top 100, top 50 in the world.  For guys, it takes a little bit longer for, you know, kids, guys, to develop.

 

 

Michael Llodra on Strategy: Strategy? No, I have no strategy. Really, you know, serving, moving to the net, I don’t want to give him too much time, and even more for Berdych, you know. If he’s got both feet within the lines, he can hit you so much with his forehand, backhand. He shouldn’t dictate the game.

This is what I will have to do, to be aggressive during the whole match.

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Davis Cup in Monte Carlo, Day 3: Isner – The New Closer

By Guillaume Willecoq

“Before, it was Andy Roddick the biggest closer of the US team, maybe I can do as well.” For the first time, John Isner clinched a Davis Cup for the US team, after an amazing match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. “I was pissed off to have to admire the way he was playing” said Guy Forget, fair play. The US boy from Greensboro, NC ended Guy Forget’s run as French Captain.  Forget led the French Davis Cup team since 1999. The new captain won’t be named before September. For the US team, they will face Spain again in semifinals, as in 2008, “I assume on clay, laughs Isner, but we will be ready to go!”

4th rubber : John Isner d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 6-3 in 3h20

First serve: 66% / 71%

Aces: 16 / 5

Double faults: 4 / 4

Winners: 56 / 43

Forced and unforced errors: 86 / 88

Break points: 2/9 / 1/7

Net points won: 37 / 29

The French team at their news conference :

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: “John has played a huge match. I wasn’t in a great day. John was better than I was. He played better the important points, and played more aggressively… It’s not a surprise he can perform at this level. But I was surprised he could keep this level through the whole tie.”

“Guy was the only captain I knew, and every time he made me like this competition, and tennis even more. He shared his love of the game. It’s the most beautiful thing to me.”

Guy Forget: “The deception is a little easier to accept since it comes from the hands of Jim Courier, a really good guy. Jim was a role model, and his players are just like him. This US team and mine have many values in common.”

“Tonight I have mixed emotions. It’s the end of 14 years as a captain, but my story with story with Davis Cup is longer than that: it started in the USSR in 1983 or 1984. It’s weird it’s over.”

The US team at their new conference :

John Isner: “I believe in myself : if I can play like I play this week I can beat a lot of people in the next Roland-Garros. Beating Gilles and beating Jo are two very good wins, I played very well, if I can keep this level up I’m gonna be tough to beat.”

“Jim definitely helped me in that first tie in Switzerland. I had a very good win against Roger and he helped this week. It’s been a gradual thing for me, my coach back home put the majority of my working, but when I came here, Jim kinds of make me ready. Captain Courier is a guy that I’m very comfortable on the bench, so that helps.”

Jim Courier: “The quality of today’s match was exceptional, I thought better even than on Friday. John is definitely continuing to improve even from the last tie. I think he played better this one. It is impressive.”

“Against Spain, we probably lose it on paper but they don’t play them on paper. We have to play it out there and we have players who are capable and passionate and hungry. We are definitely going to be the underdog once again but we will be ready to play.”

-          The special guests section:

Spotted today at the Monte Carlo Country Club: Novak Djokovic, the World N°1, and his girlfriend curiously at home in Monaco and not in Belgrade to support his teammates against Czech Republic; Ricardo Piatti and Ivan Ljubicic, for the last tournament of Ljubi’s career, next week in Monte Carlo; Eric Winogradsky, former Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s coach ; Alain Boghossian, former soccer player, World champion in 1998 with the French squad; the little group of the Net Heads, trying to make as much noise as the French crowd; and a bonus, Alexandre Vinokourov, the cyclist champion, training with three Astana’s teammates on the roads of Monaco.

End of the week in Monaco for Guillaume and MarieJ. It’s been a pleasure to share with you the coverage of this France / USA tie, in one of the most beautiful places for tennis. We are French, but we were really drawn in by this US team. See you next time and good luck in Spain!

Guillaume Willecoq was at the Monte Carlo Country Club covering the US versus France quarterfinal Davis Cup tie as media for Tennis Panorama News.  Guillaume Willecoq also manages and contributes to the French language tennis website http://www.15-lovetennis.com, follow them on twitter on @15lovetennis.

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Davis Cup in Monte Carlo: Isner and Tsonga are the Bosses on Day 1

By Guillaume Willecoq

MONTE CARLO COUNTRY CLUB – It’s finally Friday, almost after a week of training, Davis Cup begins in earnest with the official presentation of the teams at Noon as France plays host to the United States in a quarterfinal tie. The stands are not yet fully packed yet, and you can spot a few American flags. For the French team, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earns the biggest cheers. On the other hand, for the USA, there is a big ovation for  Captain Jim Courier former French Open winner as he looks classy in his suit !

First match : Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 in 3 hours.

- First service : 57% / 63%

- Aces : 5 / 6

- Double faults : 4 / 10

- Winners : 60 / 24

- Unforced errors : 53 / 35

- Break points : 7/13 / 4/13

- Net points won : 33 / 11

Ryan Harrison at his news conference :

“I didn’t play very well the break points. Jo made the big points, and was playing a bit better than me in the fourth. He gave me no chance to break him back.”

“To play less passive was most part of the conversations with Jim. We have a great communication, we both see things very similar.”

“It was a good fight. I’m always fired up. Jim’s role was to channelling my energy, and helps me to play the right style.”

“It was a fun and exciting match. Every match in Davis Cup is very intense, they take a lot of energy… There is some frustration, but also some excitement, like in the third set.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at his news conference:

“I didn’t play my best, neither Ryan, but the most important thing was to win. I’m happy with that. I’m glad for me and the team. It was important to win this first point.”

“When you entered on the court for the first time in Davis Cup, you leave a lot of mental energy. That’s what makes difficult the first match in this competition. In my case, I have enough experience now to handle it.”

“I knew Ryan would get frustrated. It’s his main flaw : he’s very nervous. I knew that if I was patient it will turn on my side. When he brakes his racquet and makes two double faults in the second set, I know it’s the moment to move better, get more aggressive on the forehand and take advantage of this.”

“Where I can get better ? I can be more comfortable on my baseline, and be more patient too. But Ryan and John are two players completely different and on Sunday the game plan won’t be the same.”

Second match : John Isner d. Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in 2 hours.

- First service : 51% / 48%

- Aces : 9 / 2

- Double faults : 8 / 1

- Winners : 53 / 15

- Unforced errors : 32 / 13

- Break points : 4/8 / 0/5

- Net points won : 22 / 1

Gilles Simon at his news conference:

“John is difficult to play on any surface. Today I should have taken his serve : if I had break him in each set it would have been quite different match.”

“I’m frustrated with my backhand today. He has a very annoying forehand : he never seems to hit that harder, less than Jo for example, but most of the times I found myself having to play a deep shot with a high bounce… he hides pretty well when he’s going to go for a flatter shot.”

“If on Sunday we are levelled at 2-2, it will be one of the first times I will enter the court as the favourite. I would prefer to get the 3-1 win, but I’ll be happy anyway if there’s a 5th rubber.”

John Isner at his news conference :

“I felt it was going to be a good day, for me and the team. I played the way I needed to.”

“I had a good week of practice. And I knew as I would go into the match I would get even better.”

“Adjusting to the clay, I didn’t think I would have any problem. I took the court very confident no matter what.”

“I’m very pleased with the way my forehand worked today. I didn’t serve that well today, but my forehand was there on the next shot. I slicked to the game plan set with Jim : try to go for winners in two or three shots.”

-          The special guests section :

Spotted today at the Monte Carlo Country Club : Albert II, the prince of Monaco, great fan of sport; Zeljko Franulovic, director of the Monte Carlo Master 1000 and Roland-Garros finalist in 1970; Victoria Azarenka, in great discussion at the restaurant with Sam Sumyk and Amélie Mauresmo; the former Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, who would like to recruit Ryan Harrison in his Stockholm Open; Nicolas Escudé, captain of the Fed Cup French team; and Arnaud Clément, come to support his buddies and engaged in the qualies of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, next week.

-          Order of play of Saturday :

The doubles begin at 2pm CET : Bob and Mike Bryan vs Michaël Llodra and Julien Benneteau.

Guillaume Willecoq is at the Monte Carlo Country Club covering the US versus France quarterfinal Davis Cup tie as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow updates here and on the twitter account @TennisNewsTPN and in French on @15lovetennis.

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Sunshine, Petits Fours, Pools and Easter Eggs: US – France Davis Cup Draw Ceremony in Monte Carlo

By Guillaume Willecoq

Sunshine, petits fours, Easter Eggs and players around the swimming-pool of the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel – welcome to the official draw of the France – USA Davis Cup quarterfinal.

The referee Andreas Egli, who is also in charge at the Australian Open, picked up the name of the players of the first rubber with French Swim Champion Yannick Agnel.  The name of the selected players came off the Easter’s eggs, and the two men pick Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s name, so the first rubber on Friday will be Ryan Harrison – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, followed by John Isner – Gilles Simon.

After posing for a lot of pictures in front of the pool, the two teams came to their second news conference of the week. The French were very serious, whereas the Americans smiled a lot and US Davis Cup captain Jim Courier joked easily with the French journalists who were glad to see him back.

For USA :

Jim Courier : “It’s an honor to compete here. I’m excited about the ambiance during the weekend. It’s a bonus to play in a fantastic place.”

“We are a very zen team, very prepared.”

“The weather will be a key. The atmosphere changes the conditions of play. Yesterday was very different than today. The balls react differently, the bounce is higher with dry conditions…”

On his Harrison’s choice : “I want to be clear about it : for me, it’s not a first selection for Ryan. He was part of the team who won in Switzerland, and he belongs to the group for a long time as a sparring.”

John Isner, who beat Gilles Simon two times in a year (US Open and Indian Wells) : “It will be different. It’s Davis Cup. It’s a whole different animal than a regular tournament. He’s going to take the court very confident. I’m going to take the court very confident. Obviously it’s a different surface. Whoever plays better tomorrow is going to win, simple as that.”

Ryan Harrison : “I had a great experience of playing the dead rubber in Fribourg. Playing first or second, it’s a same. I talked a lot with Jim and I’m ready. We have a great team, a great coach and captain.”

 

For France :

Guy Forget : “Jo-Wilfried is a great player of Davis Cup. I count on him to bring two points this weekend.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, French N°1 : “I’m used to play with the pressure of being the favourite. On the Tour, I manage that all the days, and I can say I do it well ! It will be an exciting match against Ryan. For sure for him it’s going to be a special tie. I will try to be focused at the beginning and we will see how he will respond.”

Gilles Simon, about John Isner : “Our previous matches (US Open and Indian Wells) are going to help me. John is not the kind of guy who changes his game for the surface. He’s not going to play longer rallies because he’s on clay. It’s a good thing to have played him in the past… and maybe a bad thing that I never beat him !”

“The key of this match will be the return of serve, of course.”

“After only two days of practice, I feel really well. I move well, without any pain. The fact that I played the South-American tournaments helps me to adjust more easily. This tour in South America has been a bit painful, but it was a good thing to find back the tactics on clay, with longer rallies and sliding.”

The special guests section

Spotted today at the Monte Carlo Country Club : Amélie Mauresmo, great friend of Michael Llodra ; Sam Sumyk, back in France before the arrival of Victoria Azarenka for the clay season ; John Isner’s mother chatting with Nicolas Mahut ; and a lot of officials including Francesco Ricci Bitti, Jean Gachassin…

Order of play for Friday :

-          First rubber at 12am CET : Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Ryan Harrison

-          Followed by : John Isner vs Gilles Simon

Guillaume Willecoq is at the Monte Carlo Country Club covering the US versus France quarterfinal Davis Cup tie as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow updates here and on the twitter account @TennisNewsTPN.

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Davis Cup: Looking Back at US vs France in 2008 in Winston-Salem

Tennis Panorama News will be covering the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie this weekend between the United States and France being held at the Monte Carlo Country Club. We’re taking a look back at  past ties between the two countries.

By Guillaume Willecoq

2008 Davis Cup quarterfinals in Winston-Salem (April, 11-13) : USA d. France 4/1.

 

It’s the 15th match between USA and France in the Davis Cup history. The last tie between the two teams was in 2002, when France beat the USA on the clay of Roland-Garros. This time, the match takes place in the United States, at Winston-Salem. It’s the third time the US team makes the choice to play at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, after India in 2001 (4/1) and Spain in 2007 (4/1).

 

The players:

USA: For the 10th consecutive tie, the team is made up of Andy Roddick (6th) and James Blake (8th) in singles, and Bob and Mike Bryan, world N°1 in doubles. Mardy Fish (42th) acts as the sparring. With this competitive group, the USA won the Davis Cup a few months before, beating Russia in final (4/1). Against France, Patrick McEnroe and his boys received on a very fast indoor at Winston-Salem.

 

France: Richard Gasquet (10th) is the team France leader. But the new star in this group is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (13th), who recently reached the Australian Open final. They both should play in singles, whereas Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clément, current champions of Wimbledon, will face the Bryan brothers. But nothing goes as predicted: first, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is walk-over due to a knee injury and the captain picks Paul-Henri Mathieu and Michaël Llodra for the first rubbers. Then, Richard Gasquet doesn’t feel like playing Andy Roddick and refuses to go on the court on the Sunday. Drained by his match against Blake, Paul-Henri Mathieu loses in straight sets the decisive rubber.

 

The tie :

Roddick d. Llodra 6/4 7/6 7/6

Blake d. Mathieu 7/6 6/7 6/3 3/6 7/5

Clément / Llodra d. Bryan / Bryan 6/7 7/5 6/3 6/4

Roddick d. Mathieu 6/2 6/3 6/2

Blake d. Gasquet 6/7 6/4 6/4

 

The quotes :

Andy Roddick: “It’s nice to get rewarded for all the rough losses that we had, and I’ve been a part of a lot of big losses for us in Davis Cup. You’ve got to try to keep an even keel when things are going your way, but obviously it’s been fun having won the last six….”

 

Paul-Henri Mathieu: “I think I deserved to win the match against James. In the end, it could have gone either way. I played the right way till the end, but James came up with big shots to take the match, credit to him… And against Andy, I probably faced the best player in the world on the surface… I’m tired and disappointed because I gave it all during this week-end. I tried my best. As far as I am concerned, I can look at myself in the mirror. And be proud.”

 

James Blake: “Against Paul-Henri, I never want to feel like I’m out of it. He had been serving really well, but funny things can happen when you’re serving for a match, especially in Davis Cup. And so I did my best to put the pressure back on him and make sure he knew he wasn’t going to get a free game out of it.”

 

Michaël Llodra: “We knew we had to make a great match against Bob and Mike. It’s maybe the reason why we had a great record against them. Today, another time, we could raise our level. Arnaud and me are close friends inside and outside the court, it helps us a lot. We had a lot of fun. It’s for those kind of matches, in front of 15 000 people, that we play. And with your best buddy, it’s fabulous.”

 

Guy Forget: “I’m not there to analyse Richard’s problems. I spoke with him. Richard is going through a difficult time. He had some nagging injuries and didn’t win a lot of matches. I support the players, and what we said to each other stays between us. Richard is different, you have to deal with it. This week-end his mind was on other things.”

 

After that :

Concerning the French team, for the first time it’s obvious that Guy Forget is struggling with his young players. Since then, Richard Gasquet has been a second choice in the French team, behind Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gaël Monfils, only playing twice in singles. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, missing the group in Winston-Salem, is a big factor on the winning chances for the team : step by step, he has become the boss. Since he plays in Davis Cup, his single loss came to Rafael Nadal on clay, in 2011! He wasn’t there against Serbia for the 2010 final, and left the team with fewer options to win the title.

 

For the US team, the defense of the title lasted until the semifinals, when Spain stopped them on clay, in Madrid. Since then, the USA has travelled for far away ties, all of them on clay. This week at Monaco, it will be their 6th tie on clay in the last 8… They learned how to beat the Swiss on clay, against all odds, can they repeat the feature against France ?

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the Davis Cup between the United States and France this week taking place at the Monte Carlo Country Club from April 6-8.  Look out for updates here and on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Davis Cup in Monte Carlo: First News Conferences

The Monte Carlo Country Club just meets with all your expectations. Cliffs hanging above the Mediterranean, bright blue sky around; it’s the perfect scenery to host the Davis Cup tie between  France and USA.

This morning between two training sessions, both teams came to the traditional first news conference of the tie. The US team was present in full: Captain Jim Courier, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and the Bryan Brothers.

Jim Courier:  “No, we were not surprised.  We thought there was a pretty good chance that either Simon or Gasquet would be involved at some point.”

On choosing Ryan Harrison: “Ryan was the best man for the job, that’s why he’s here.”

Ryan Harrison: “Obviously Jo is a great player and he’s a very established player on the Tour, but I think that especially in a Davis Cup situation where you’re playing for your country every match is very important.

I’m just excited for the opportunity.  It’s going to be a fun match.”

“I love to play on clay.  Where I grew up in Louisiana I had 12 clay courts, and I grew up playing, so I’m very comfortable sliding and I like playing on it.  It’s going to be something that helps my game.”

John Isner on being the top player of the team : “It doesn’t change anything being number 1 or 2. All matches will be tough to play.”

“The court is fine, no bad bounces,  the conditions of play suit my game. It’s one of the nicest courts I’ve seen on clay.”

Bob and Mike Bryan : “ We’ve played Mika (Llodra) at least 20 times. He has beaten us a bunch, and we have beaten him a bunch, so we have to play well. We like playing here. We are pretty comfortable; we have been playing here for 10 years.” (they are the current champions of Monte Carlo tournament).

The French team followed, minus Gilles Simon trapped in his last minute trip from Paris.

Guy Forget : “I was a bit surprised to see Harrison on the team. I expected more Querrey or Roddick. But if Harrison is here, that’s because Jim trusts him.”

“I know there are a lot of questions about my team selection. First, Gilles is better ranked than Richard. Then, I spoke with both, and also with their doctor, before making up my mind. Richard has an elbow injury, and can’t really serve. On the other hand, Gilles’s back is much better. I didn’ t even  have to make a choice, it was obvious. There is absolutely no problem with Richard about is non-selection.”

“My doubles team, Mika and Julien (Llodra and Benneteau), gives me some other options than Jim can have with the Bryans. I told them, thay have to be ready to play in singles.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michaël LLodra: “Harrison is a young player on the rise. He is a warrior on court, even if he’s bit temperamental. I’m sure he’ll get better on that. We’ll watch out.”

Guillaume Willecoq is at the Monte Carlo Country Club covering the US versus France quarterfinal Davis Cup tie as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow updates here and on the twitter account @TennisNewsTPN.

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Davis Cup: Looking Back at US vs France in 2002 at Roland Garros

Tennis Panorama News will be covering the Davis Cup quarterfinal tie this weekend between the United States and France being held at the Monte Carlo Country Club. We’re taking a look back at  past ties between the two countries.

 

2002 US Davis Cup Team (L-R Todd Martin, James Blake, Mardy Fish, Andy Roddick and Captain Patrick McEnroe)

By Guillaume Willecoq

 

2002, Davis Cup semifinals in Roland-Garros  (September 20-22) : France d. USA 3/2.

The French Tennis Federation pays tribute to the Musketeers hosting the tie in Roland-Garros. In the beginning, the French stadium was built in 1928 to receive the United States after the Musketeers won their first Davis Cup in Philadelphia. Seventy-five years later, France and USA face each other again at Roland-Garros.

 

The players:

France: The team built by Guy Forget is the current champion, and the captain brings the best line up possible: Sébastien Grosjean, 9th, as the leader, followed by Arnaud Clément, 42nd. The doubles team is a young Michaël Llodra with the almost veteran Fabrice Santoro. On clay, French players are the favorites of this tie.

 

USA: Since his arrival at the head of the US team, in 2000, Patrick McEnroe makes the choice of bringing new blood to the team. For this tie against France, he lines up three young guns: Andy Roddick (11th), James Blake (27th) and Mardy Fish (88th). The last guy is Todd Martin (still 51th), veteran of the glorious 90’s for the US tennis. The view from France – Roddick and Blake are a scary duo, with loads of potential! In seven matches, Roddick is still undefeated in Davis Cup.…

 

The tie :

Clément d. Roddick 4/6 7/6 7/6 6/1

Grosjean d. Blake 6/4 6/1 6/7 7/5

Blake - Martin d. Santoro – Llodra 2/6 7/6 2/6 6/4 6/4

Grosjean b. Roddick 6/4 3/6 6/3 6/4

Blake b. Clément 6/4 6/3

 

The quotes :

Sébastien Grosjean : “Before, I was struggling to give my best in Davis cup. I wanted to do too well for all the team and I didn”t play my best tennis. This time, I think this tie between France and USA was my best performance. I tried to play for myself on court, and only after I shared my joy with the rest of the team. It helps me to focus on myself on the court.”

Andy Roddick: “It hurts me. I’ve lived so many things not very funny this week, new sensations for me, and I will have to learn from it. Now, I think I will be better prepared to play difficult matches in Davis Cup… But the atmosphere here was absolutely fantastic. I hope some day I will live that with the US team !”

Arnaud Clément: “There is nothing more exciting than playing this match against Andy. I knew that if could run well, I would neutralize him on the baseline, and eventually drive him nuts !”

James Blake: ”It”s the biggest deception of my life. Really, losing a match in Davis Cup breaks your heart, particularly because I had my chances. I never felt so bad, but now I’m going home and try to forget. I look forward to do something well in this team in the future. It’s when I lose like this that I really want to go back to work harder. I’m going to do the gym.…It will look less painful than before.” 

Fabrice Santoro: “I would say that those kind of matches are the ones I enjoy the most. I really had fun during this doubles, even if we lost. You enter the Central of Roland-Garros, your team leads 2/0, the Central is packed from the start… There is something in the air!”

Michaël Llodra : “This loss against the Americans in doubles really hurt me a lot. The press said it was my fault if we lost, that maybe I shouldn’t have play, that I lacked experience. I took everything in the face and it took me sometime to get over it. But I bounced back… Since 2003, I was never out the team. It”s Davis Cup! There is a lot of pressure. It has made me stronger. “

 

Todd Martin – The End: Does he know? Probably. This France/USA tie is the last selection of the long career of Todd Martin. The American, who won the Davis Cup in 1995, is here to bring his experience for his young fellows. I did the perfect job during the doubles, with James Blake. The veteran made a strong impression about his knowledge and tennis culture in his news conferences, citing Decugis, Lacoste and Cochet as legends of the French tennis.

 

After that :

In December, in Bercy, the French will lose the final against the Russians. The end of a great period for that team: Guy Forget gets his first critics about the selection of young Paul-Henri Mathieu for the last rubber; the French captain splits with Fabrice Santoro a few months later; and, little by little, Escudé, Grosjean and Clément step down from the team during the following campaigns, to let young Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and then Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take over. Three time finalist in four years between 1999 and 2002, it will take 8 years for the French team to reach another final.

On the other hand, this tie starts a new chapter for the US team. Roddick and Blake take the lead of the group, joined by Bob and Mike Bryans in 2003. They will be the hard core team for almost ten years, occasionally joined by Mardy Fish. They will reach the final in 2004, and most of all win the title in 2007.

Tennis Panorama News is covering the Davis Cup between the United States and France this week taking place at the Monte Carlo Country Club from April 6-8.  Look out for updates here and on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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McHale Upsets Kvitova as Nadal, Federer Run Through Opponents at Indian Wells

Christina McHale

American teen Christina McHale ousted reigning Wimbledon champion and No. 3 seed, Czech Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Sunday to move into the round of 16 of the BNP Paribas Open.

“She started off really well, serving really well,” noted McHale. “I couldn’t get a read on her serve in the first set, and I wasn’t moving very well, either.

“And then I just kind of hung in there early in the second, and then she started she played one service game where she gave me a couple of loose errors, and then I just kind of kept hanging in there, and then I got more comfortable as the match went on.

McHale spoke about the atmosphere during her upset victory,”Wherever I play and anywhere in the States the crowd is always great.  Especially here, like the crowd gets so into it.  I mean, it’s amazing, like they get so into it.”

Kvitova has been been battling a virus she picked up while she was in the Middle East which caused her to lose energy during her match against McHale.

“I lost a little bit of my fitness so it was tough moving and having winners,” she said. “(McHale) was moving very well so she played a lot of shots back. (And) my serve was not really good, too. She played very solid and she didn’t make mistakes so it was tough.”

McHale notched her first win over a top five player last summer in Cincinnati with a victory over then No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

 

 

Rafael Nadal

Second ranked Rafael Nadal played his first match since falling in the Australian Open Final in January when he dismissed Leonardo Mayer 6-1, 6-3. The Spaniard said that he’s happy to be playing: “Very happy to be back in competition, that’s the first thing.  This is a tournament that I love.  I enjoy a lot playing this tournament.  Always in my career had good success here.  I played very good matches.

“Is nice to be back playing at the very good level, in my opinion.  Winning is the most important thing.  Not easy be back after a while without competition, but I did, I believe, really well.

“I started the match very focused, very aggressive.  Today only thing I can say, I’m very happy.  I’m very happy about almost everything.”

 

Roger Federer made quick work of American Denis Kudla 6-4, 6-1 in 57 minutes. Federer told media that he’s dealing with a slight fever and a bit of a cold.

“It’s not a terrible temperature, but there’s something going on,” Federer said.

 

Victoria Azarenka

World No.1 Victoria Azarenka made a 180 degree turn from her last in which she was taken to three sets. It was an easy day for the Belarusian who topped two-time major champion Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-2.

“I know Sveta pretty well,” said Azarenka who went into the match with a 1-4 record against the Russian.  We have practiced quite a few times, and I know she’s a great player.  You know, she has so much experience.  She’s been a Grand Slam winner, so I knew she’s gonna be dangerous.

“I really had to step it up from my last match.  I’m glad I could perform much better than I did in my first match and show some good tennis.  So I’m really pleased with that.”

 

Upsets and Upset Stomachs

Eight players have been felled by an intestinal virus at the BNP Paribas Open. The latest player forced to withdraw was Vera Zvonareva who issued a statement:

“I’m really sorry to withdraw from the tournament but unfortunately I’m not feeling well enough to compete today. Hopefully I can recover from the illness and play in the next event [Miami] but today I just don’t feel that I can go out there and perform well enough. Indian Wells is one the best tournaments on the WTA, I have great memories here and have won here in the past, so it’s a special place for me and I’m sorry I cannot play. I hope to come back here healthy next year.”

Zvonareva joins Gael Monfils, Jurgen Melzer, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Andreas Seppi, Magdalena Rybarikova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands sidelined with the illness.

The illness is widespread that the Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs issued a statement:

“There is currently a Coachella Valley wide virus which is resulting in
symptoms of nausea and vomiting, fever, and subsequent diarrhea. It is self-limited and lasts between 24 and 48 hrs. It is transmitted by air
and direct contact and not passed via food.

“Emergency Departments across the valley have seen an increase in
patients with these symptoms. At Eisenhower Medical Center, which
provides medical support for the BNP Paribas Open, we have seen
increases in overall visits to the Emergency Department by about 15%
over the past week, mostly adults and children with these symptoms. We have seen fans and players at the tournament experience these symptoms as well.

Precautions include, hand washing and use of antibacterial cleansers.
If you should experience these symptoms you should attempt to drink as much fluid as possible including water and electrolyte/ sport drinks.
Avoid the sun, rest and wait until the symptoms pass before coming in
contact with others.”

Sunday Upsets

Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d [15] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 63 64
Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) d [20] Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 63 63
Steve Darcis (BEL) vs [21] Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
Denis Istomin (UZB) d [31] Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) 76(5) 67(7) 64
(32) Christina McHale (USA) d. (3) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 26 62 63
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) d [9] Vera  Zvonareva (RUS) w/o (illness)

Llodra fined for Fan Abuse

The ATP announced that Frenchman Michael Llodra has been fined $2,500 for verbally abusing a spectator during his first round win over Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis at Indian Wells on Friday. Llodra withdrew from his match against fellow countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a knee injury trailing 1-4 on Sunday.

Mydesert.com reports that Llodra yelled racial epithets at a spectator.

 

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