2014/09/23

Mardy Fish Loses in Atlanta

Mardy Fish

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2013) ATLANTA, GA – The courts stayed mostly dry at the BB&T open on Wednesday, except for a few drops from Michael Russell during his win over Mardy Fish.

In the final singles match of the evening, Michael Russell and Mardy Fish picked up from their match that had been twice interrupted by rain last night.  Fish had won the first set 6-4, but had given up a break in the second and started the night down 2-4 with Russell serving.  Fish seemed to start slowly with some loose errors in his service game and was broken when Russell unleashed a big forehand on set point.

The third set opened with Fish getting an easy break, as Russell seemed intent on returning Fish’s favor.  Fish consolidated, holding to 2-0 with a big serve and a stretching forehand blast winner.  Fish continued to hold, despite getting down 0-30 on his serve, with the help of an ace.  Russell finally broke back in a nervy game featuring big audible effort from both players to get to 3-3.  The effort was clear by both men, with Fish changing shirts at least twice and Russell apparently needing to.  After each change of ends when Fish got ready to serve, he or a ball boy did some light housekeeping, drying the court with their shoes or a towel where Russell apparently had left behind some perspiration.  Both men kept digging holes on their serve and had to reach down to hold.  The chair seemed to show needed restraint with no time warning to either player, even when one or the other took a moment after an extended point.  Finally, with Fish serving to get to a tiebreaker at 5-6, Russell held the lead or ad multiple times, and Fish showed his willingness to fight hard.  A final ad point and a big service return closed the door on Fish’s Atlanta return: 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.  Fish reportedly stated that this is the best match Michael Russell has ever played.  Russell will advance to play Santiago Giraldo later in the second round.

Matt Ebden got through due to some health issues of Ivo Karlovic.  Ebden won the first set, as Karlovic showed signs of distress.  A trainer was called and Karlovic retired prior to the second set.  Ebden said via Twitter “Got through today but unfortunately Ivo had to retire, hope he gets better fast & continues his great form.”  Ebden will face Kevin Anderson tomorrow.  No official word on Karlovic’s condition was available.

Christian Harrison

Christian Harrison

Ivan Dodig took three sets to get by Ricardas Berankis, 1-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3 in a second round match.  In first round action, Christian Harrison won his first ATP main draw match of his career against Alejandro Falla, 6-1, 7-6 (7), 6-2.  He’ll be rewarded with a second round match against top seeded John Isner on Thursday.

Veteran Lleyton Hewitt took on American qualifier Rhyne Williams.  Hewitt’s experience showed, as he seemed to find the right combination or shot to get by Williams 7-6 (6), 6-4, despite 18 aces for Williams.  In the tiebreaker, Williams did not challenge a ball on the baseline that the crowd seemed to think was out.  An out call would have given him the first set.  He followed up with a double fault and Hewitt worked the set point to coax a Williams error.  The match stayed on serve again until late in the second set when Hewitt shut the door with a break at 4-5.  As in yesterday’s Jack Sock match, the chair took the opportunity to get involved late, issuing a time warning to Williams late in the second set.  Williams seemed to brush it off.

In another match featuring a veteran, James Blake took three tight sets to advance past Tim Smyczek 7-6 (3), 4-6, 7-6 (4).  Blake selectively worked points to get to the tiebreaker and earn the set.  Smyczek earned a break in the second set and served it out as Blake seemed to concede the last point of the set.  Strategically, both men worked the other’s backhand, though Blake seemed to manage to run around to his forehand more often to do damage.  At 2-2 in the 3rd, with Blake serving, Smyczek made a challenge that looked a little embarrassing- the ball smothered the line.  Serving at 4-5, down 0-30, Smyczek dug out of the hole, closing with an ace and an 83 mph service winner.  After a Blake hold, Smyczek forgot to show Blake that new balls were in play and Blake had to ask.  The new balls made a difference – every point was a service winner or ace to get to 6-6 and a tiebreaker.  In the breaker, Blake got an early mini-break and made it hold up, drawing a groundstroke error from Smyczek at 4-6.

In doubles action, Rajeev Ram and Ken Skupski got by Domini Inglot and Frank Moser 6-4,6-4.  Chris Guccione and Lleyton Hewitt needed a match tiebreak to beat Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky.  The final match of the evening had James Blake and Jack Sock taking on Brazilians Marcelo Demoliner and Andre Sa.  There was quite a bit of conversation among the players on court and it sounded testy.  Blake and Sock prevailed, needing a match tiebreak: 5-7, 7-6 (4), 10-6.

Thursday promises to be a big day at the BB&T Atlanta Open.  Really big – John Isner, at 6’9″ and Kevin Anderson, at 6’8″ will both be in action.  Isner has local connections, leading the University of Georgia Bulldogs to the NCAA national title in 2007.  Expect barking.

 

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 25 JULY, 2013

STADIUM start 4:00 pm
R Harrison (USA) vs [4] I Sijsling (NED)
J Blake (USA) vs [8] E Donskoy (RUS)
Not Before 7:00 PM
[1] J Isner (USA) vs [WC] C Harrison (USA)
J Blake (USA) / J Sock (USA) vs [3] C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR)

AJC GRANDSTAND start 4:00 pm

[5] Y Lu (TPE) vs D Istomin (UZB)
M Russell (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
[Q] M Ebden (AUS) vs [2] K Anderson (RSA)
D Kudla (USA) / M Russell (USA) vs R Berankis (LTU) / S Giraldo (COL)

COURT 3 start 3:00 pm

[1] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) vs [PR] J Erlich (ISR) / A Ram (ISR)
R Ram (USA) / K Skupski (GBR) vs C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS)
[4] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) / I Sijsling (NED) vs [WC] K King (USA) / J Spir (COL) – After Suitable Rest

 

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Americans in Paris – Day Two at Roland Garros

SloaneStephens

Sloane Stephens

(May 27, 2013). Americans went 8-4 in Paris on the day 2 of the French Open. Here is a look at how they all fared:

First round: Sloane Stephens (17) (USA) def. Karin Knapp (ITA) 6-2, 7-5

In a bit of a slump since reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and the recent coverage of her controversial comments during an ESPN magazine interview, Stephens said that she was positive about her win.

“Obviously really excited to be back here.  Had a great year last year, and this was one of my favorite tournaments.  So it’s good to be back and playing a lot better than a couple weeks ago.

Just excited to be back on the court and playing well again.

Stephens commented  on the media attention since her ESPN interview after aftermath off-court:

“Yeah, I mean, it’s been okay for me.  Obviously I haven’t had that many good results leading up to the clay season, so to get some match in on my favorite surface and get some confidence back and kind of just start feeling ball better.

“It wasn’t that my mind wasn’t on the court.  I just needed to find a balance, and obviously that’s tough.

“I’m only 20 years old, so I have a lot to learn and a long ways to go.  Just finding the right balance is what we’re doing.

“It’s been fine for me.  My really good friend came and my mom is here.  I’m just having a good time.  It’s been fun.

“I mean, obviously attention is attention.  It comes, it goes.  When you’re winning they love it; when you’re losing they love it.  It’s all the same really.”

 

First round: John Isner (19) (USA) def. Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

 

First round: Varvara Lepchenko (29)(USA) def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 6-1, 6-2

 

First round: Martin Klizan def. Michael Russell (USA) 3-6 6-3 6-1 Ret. Left hamstring injury

 

First round: Madison Keys (USA) def. Misaki Doi (JPN) 6-3, 6-2

At 18, Keys is the youngest of the American women in the main draw. She is No. 58 in the world.

 

First round: Jana Cepelova (SVK) def. Christina McHale (USA) 7-6(3) 2-6 6-4

McHale who was struck with glandular fever last year is ranked 53rd in the world.

 

First round: Albert Montanes(ESP)  def. Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1

The former NCAA champion Johnson extended the recent Nice Open titlist to five sets.

 

First round: Ryan Harrison (USA) def. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4)

Harrison will play fellow American and Davis Cup teammate John Isner in the second round.

 

First round: Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) def. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 6-4, 6-1

With 15 women in the main draw of the French Open at the beginning of the tournament, Mattek is proud of so many U. S. women moving up in the rankings. “It’s a great group of girls coming up. They’re talented. They’re all pretty fun to be around. They got good personalities.”

She commented that just a few years ago, people kept asking her about the state of U.S. women’s tennis.

 

First round: Vania King (USA) def. Alexandra Cadantu (ROU) 7-6(3), 6-1

King made it through to the main draw by going through the qualifying tournament.

 

First round: Michal Przysiezny (POL) def. (LL) Rhyne Williams (USA) 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 7-5

Williams who came into the tournament as a lucky loser, lost to the same person who defeated him in the final round of the Qualifying tournament.

 

First round: Melanie Oudin (USA) def. Tamira Paszek (28) (AUT) 6-4, 6-3

Almost four years ago Oudin made it to the quarterfinals of the U. S. Open as 17-year-old. She spoke about pressure on her then as an American player.

“I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself after everything, “she said to media. “It’s a totally different story now. There’s so many Americans now coming up, and so many in the top 100. It is nice to not have it all on me….I mean, it really was all on me at that time. Like, besides the Williams sisters, everyone was like, `Oh, who’s going to be the next upcoming American?’ And it’s like, `OK, it’s going to be Melanie, because you got to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.’ It was a lot. And I was young.”

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Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Three

John-Isner_Miami-Tennis-Cup-e1354390274784

John Isner

By Kevin Ware

(February 14, 2013) SAN JOSE – Here are some more courtside impressions from an eventful Day Three at the SAP Open.  It was mixed bag of fun matches and dramatic wins.  But let’s start with the sad and unsettling loss by Donald Young.

  • I don’t know what to say anymore regarding the sad and curious case of Donald Young. With each shot he makes, you see the talent that took him to No. 1 in the juniors; yet with each unforced error and pained aftermath, you’re reminded of the reasons that his pro career has hit the proverbial wall. His loss to Michael Russell during the day session was about as ugly as it gets. Neither guy played well, but Donald’s lack of confidence at crunch time was the tipping point.  Every gaze over to his box is filled with agonizing pleas for help that isn’t arriving anytime soon.  It’s tough to watch.  Even though us in the “media” should maintain some semblance of neutrality, it doesn’t stop me from hoping that Donald comes back from the brink.
  • Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic are quite an entertaining doubles team.  Lleyton is the clear leader, but Marinko holds his own pretty well. Best part is they look like they’re having a great time playing together.  We should all be so lucky with our partners, right?!
  • Steve Johnson continued to make the most of his wildcard with a stirring 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Ivo Karlovic. After losing a tough first set by playing a horrible tiebreaker, Johnson stood toe-to-toe with one of the best servers in the game and found a way to break for the second set. In the third set tiebreaker, Karlovic served an ace to go up 6-4 in the tiebreak.  With two match points in hand, Karlovic inexplicably ran off the rails; committing three consecutive unforced errors to give Johnson a match point.  Karlovic followed a strong approach to the net, and all Johnson could do was toss up a high defensive lob.  Out of the blue, Karlovic was struck by a case of “tentative overhead-itis”.  He smashed the ball weakly back to Johnson, who happily thundered a hard and low forehand to Karlovic at the net. The big man could only muster a flubbed volley response.  Game, set, and match to Johnson, who had no business winning that match but did anyway.
  • The night session pitted American John Isner against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.  John is 27 and Vasek is 22, but they both look no older than 14 (plus/minus a year or two).
  • Isner was slow in finding his game for the match, but didn’t blame any of it on his knee.  However, he did admit to having back issues because of his flight.  With all of Nemo’s canceled flights, he lost his upgrade seat and had to fly coach in a window seat to San Jose.  The ATP website lists John’s official height as 6′ 9″.  Just think about that the next time you complain about being in a middle seat! FYI, if John flies coach and no exit rows are available, window seats are his only option to save his knees from the battering they’ll inevitably take with the cart going up and down the aisle.
  • Bay area actress Diane Amos was in attendance tonight at the HP Pavilion to watch the evening session at the SAP Open.  Or as I put it more succinctly in one of my tweets at the start of Isner’s match, ” Random fact: the Pine Sol lady is in the house tonight for the Isner match.”
  • When asked what he did to pay back Sam Querrey  for bailing the US team out of trouble in Davis Cup action after his own 5-set heartbreaker to Thomaz Bellucci, Isner said “I think he took some of my money in cards that night actually, and I didn’t do it on purpose.”

The tournament action heats up on Day Four with a day session featuring young Americans Tim Smyczek and Steve Johnson battling for a spot in the quarterfinals, as well as the anticipated match between Sam Querrey and Lleyton Hewitt.  The night session features the return of the defending champion, Milos Raonic, as he takes on Michael Russell; plus more doubles action with the Bryans.  I will save my Raonic/Russell “tall and small” jokes for after the match…

 

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Hampton Shines on a day when most Americans fall at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON – Jamie Lee Hampton in her first match at the All England Club upset 27th seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 7-6 (1) on Monday evening.

“I’m kind of liking it right now,” noted Hampton about playing on grass.

The 22-year-old who had to retire from her opening match at the French Open last month because of two herniated discs was worried that her injury would return.

“In the back of my mind I’m sure I was worried about whether my back was going to hold up or not, Hampton said It’s a little stiff but it’s all right. It sounds worse than it is.”

On a day when seven Americans lost including Venus Williams, John Isner, Melanie Oudin, Donald Young, James Blake and Vania King, the young woman ranked 100th in the world was one of only five Americans to be victorious on Wimbledon’s opening day. The other winning US players -Sloane Stephens, Ryan Harrison, Michael Russell and Ryan Sweeting.

 

As for her match against Hantuchova , “I’m just trying to play my game, dictate, push her around a little bit and make her play defense,” Hampton said.

The American hit 27 winners past Hantuchova with four aces and winning most of the longer rallies.
Hampton’s Wimbledon adventure continues on Wednesday as she’ll play Great Britain’s Heather Watson, ranked 103rd in the world.

 

Hampton Upsets Jankovic at the BNP Paribas Open

New Haven Open Approach Shots with Great Britain’s Heather Watson

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