2014/11/23

The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta

 

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 17, 2014) ATLANTA – Preparation for the US Open is underway.  The BB&T Atlanta Open gets things started on Saturday, July 19th for the men.  Qualifying begins at 10 AM.  The BB&T Atlanta Open is an ATP 250 event, with a 28 player draw, four of which come from the qualifying tournament.  The qualifying field will have 32 players.  The doubles draw is a 16 team field.  Last year’s champ, John Isner, is returning, along with fellow Americans Sam Querrey, Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock, and Donald Young.  Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Lleyton Hewitt, and the other half of the Wimbledon doubles championship team, Vasek Pospisil, are also expected in the tournament.  The tournament aspires to be a mini US Open, with the venue set among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station.  Atlantic Station is a community within downtown that provides homes for 10,000 people integrated with shopping, restaurants, and retailers that make it a hit with the players.  Besides the attractive venue, players will get a jump on the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, where nearly $40 million in prize money is up for grabs.  This is the third year the tournament has been held at Atlantic Station.

It is a familiar place for Americans, with Isner winning last year, Roddick in 2012, and Fish in 2011.  It has also been comfortable for big man tennis- last year Isner, at 6’10”, overcame Kevin Anderson at 6’8” in three tiebreaks.  Fans in the first couple of rows certainly had to pay attention with the huge serves coming their way.  It is especially familiar for Isner, who competed collegiately just an hour down the road for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, leading the team to a national championship and winning every possible team title in 2007.  He’s usually a fan favorite, with at least a couple of barks from Georgia fans in his favor at each match.  Isner may not be the only recipient of barks; University of Georgia player Austin Smith has accepted a wild card into the main draw. The sophomore from Cumming, Georgia excelled this season as the Bulldogs captured the 2014 SEC Championship. Smith finished with a 35-12 record, and went 9-1 in SEC matches. He has won four USTA Pro Circuit matches. A tournament qualifier in 2011, Smith will be playing his debut ATP main draw match.

Another American, Jack Sock, could very well get on a roll at this tournament.  After winning doubles with Pospisil at Wimbledon, he rolled into Newport and eliminated Isner in the Newport Hall of Fame event on grass just a week ago.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to keep that momentum and was eliminated by the veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who went on to win the tournament.  Hewitt’s feisty shouts of “C’mon!” have endeared him to the Atlanta fans in past years.  Fresh off his renewed success at Newport, he could very well win Atlanta.  The main draw was just rounded out with the addition of Ryan Harrison and Robby Ginepri.  “We’re ecstatic to welcome back two of our fan favorites in Ryan Harrison and Atlanta metro resident Robby Ginepri,” Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez said. “One of our goals is to highlight American talent and both of these players are great examples of the fine players this country has produced.”  Harrison won the doubles last year, partnering with Matthew Ebden.  Ginepri appears for the fourth time, with a onetime ranking of fifteen.  He is a graduate of Wheeler High School, just a few miles north of Atlantic Station.  He currently resides in Kennesaw, another couple of miles north.

The draw will be finalized over this weekend with the completion of the qualifying tournament.  Promising American junior Francis Tiafoe has accepted his first tournament qualifying wild card. Tiafoe, 16, is a talented young prodigy who rose to No. 2 in the world junior rankings this spring. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Rakitt and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey have also accepted qualifying wild cards. Rakitt, a Marietta native and All-ACC selectee, is competing again for the second year. O’Shaughnessey of Macon, Ga., led the Crimson Tide in singles wins (22) this season.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood.

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After the Clay, a Pain in the Grass

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 13, 2014) LONDON – The most spectacular day of tennis every year is the first day of Queen’s Club. The day before is the French Open final, the culmination of months of looking at crushed-brick courts and players knocking the burnt-orangey dust out of the treads on their shoes. The next morning the courts are bright emerald-green and everything old is new again. It’s grass season.

 

The difficulty of the shift is underlined by the abrupt change in cast. All of a sudden, the tour is awash in tall, skinny beanpoles whopping down serves from the height of a basketball hoop. Physically, even the best-adapted grass-court player pays a price for the change.

 

“My back,” said Kevin Anderson, when asked what body part hurts the most. He explains: the ball stays definitely lower. At 6 foot 8, Anderson has to bend a lot anyway – but the need is more pronounced on grass, and he has to reach more and farther because of the way grass can skid a ball away from you. “I feel it more on grass.” Apparently he’s happy to help dish out the pain, naming the backhand slice, which notoriously stays low and skids off the grass, as the shot he most needs to get in gear for the grass season.

 

Andy Murray, coming off his third-round loss to Radek Stepanek, noted the “little pains” because of the change of surface (while not blaming them for the loss). You use different muscles, and you use them differently, he said, than on clay, where he finds that the sliding makes his quads hurt most. On grass, he says his lower back, butt, and hamstrings “can get a bit stiff”.

 

Stanislas Wawrinka said, “You have to be lower on your feet, and sometimes the knee or the back can be difficult. But this year was OK. I had time to adapt myself.”

 

Grigor Dimitrov, because of his early loss at the French Open, has also had more time to adjust than some of the others. He said he spent last week running 25 miles, which, he says, has added up: “the quads, the glutes”. In general, he says, “I think the part that really hurts the most on grass is the lower back, the glutes, and the adductors. I think those are the parts that always, even if you play the shortest two sets, the next day you’re gonna come back and feel a little funky.”

 

What seems to definitely help is experience. Radek Stepanek, who beat Murray in the third round and followed up by downing Anderson in the quarters, said “I know exactly which muscles are going to hurt me after the first two days on grass. I’m protecting them already before coming here with the prevention exercises.” The issue for him, he said, is glutes and lower back. Despite the preventive work he does, though, he said wryly, “It always comes anyway, but you know, I’m trying to adjust the level of pain, you know, as low as I can.”

 

Leave it to Dimitrov to put the whole thing in perspective: “[I] don’t really care any more, because with or without pain, it doesn’t really matter.”

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Andy Murray Falls to Radek Stepanek in Queen’s Club Third Round

 

 

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 12, 2014) LONDON – “You can tell Andy’s playing, There’s no queue.” Yes: 4pm in London, tea set out with strawberries, cakes, and sandwiches, and no one in sight.

Andy Murray was indeed out playing on the Queen’s Club centre court on a sunny, hot-for-England day (a ball girl had to be led off court and given water). His opponent: Radek Stepanek, the sort of veteran Czech player whose sharp volleys and grass court sense you don’t want to face a few days after making the switch from clay.

In the first set, Stepanek led 5-4, fashioned a break point on the Murray serve, and lost it to a sharp Murray angle into his backhand corner. At 6-2, Murray, in the tiebreak, it seemed clear Murray was going to prevail. And then stuff happened: Murray got hesitant and stopped hitting quite so hard; Stepanek went on playing well. Murray had more set points, at 7-6, and 8-7 (netted the return), and 9-8 (Stepanek into Murray’s backhand corner), and 10-9 (return long). And then Murray sent up a beautiful lob at 10-10, and…well, it was beautiful until it landed long. Stepanek, offered a second set point of his own, promptly scored a nice angled volley winner. Game and first set.

Stepanek scored a break at the beginning of the second set, and never let go after that, eventually winning 7-6(10), 6-2.

“I thought the first set was a pretty high standard,” Murray said afterwards, adding that given the number of set points he’d had, “I’ve only got myself to blame.”

Stepanek called it “a great win for me”, adding that, “you always want to come out and play your best against the best players”.

There aren’t many players left with Stepanek’s serve and volley style. Stepanek would like to see more of it; Murray might too, given that he’s often been successful at using such players as easy targets to pass.

The upshot is that where last year Murray lost early at the French Open and had ten days of grass-court practice in England before the season started, this year he came into Queen’s with only two days to make the shift, and now will go into Wimbledon with only two grass-court matches played. He plans to take the next few days off, then begin again on Sunday with the “Rally for Bally” charity match to raise money in the memory of the late British player Elena Baltacha. He’ll start practicing in earnest Sunday evening, looking to improve his service return and get used to the lower-bouncing balls. “I was too upright on the court, especially when I was rushed,” he said.

 

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Top Seeds Advance in Melbourne Despite Extreme Heat Conditions

Nadal

(January 14, 2014) On a day which saw soaring temperatures, the Australian Open saw top seeds advance on day two of the tennis’ first major of the year. Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer,  Juan Martin Del Potro, Maria Sharapova and defending champion Victoria Azarenka  moved into the second round despite temperatures which went over 42 Celsius (108 Fahrenheit).

In addition to the heat, the tournament was beset by retirements, not linked to the heat – six in all which included top American John Isner (ankle) the 13th seed, 12 seed Tommy Haas (shoulder) and 21st seed Philipp Kohlschreiber who withdrew before play, Radek Stepanek (neck).

Nadal was only on the court for a set up 6-4 when his opponent Australian Bernard Tomic retired with a groin injury.

“I know how tough is this situation, I had the same a few years ago at this tournament,” Nadal said. “Since the beginning, I saw a little bit he had some problems on the leg.”

“It was sad,” Tomic said.  It’s unfortunate.  You know, this opportunity I had to play against Rafa was huge for me.  Could have used a lot of it.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t compete.  It was very difficult for me to say sorry to the crowd.  I don’t think they quite knew what was wrong with me.”

Federer began his record 57th consecutive major tournament with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over Australian wild-card James Duckworth.

Just over a week after beating Federer in Brisbane, Former Lleyton Hewitt fell in his home slam in five grueling sets to No. 24-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy

Men’s seeds advancing included No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 16 Kei Nishikori, No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 31 Fernando Verdasco.

On the women’s side No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanzka, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 11 Simona Halep,  No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 16 Carla Suarez Navarro, and No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova.

In the women’s upset of the day, No. 19 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova fell  6-3, 6-3 to Elina Svitolina.

Related Articles:

Players React to the Heat at the Australian Open

Nishikori Wins Five-Set Test Under Scorching Heat in Melbourne

Dimitrov Recovers form to best Klahn at Australian Open

One-on-One with American Tennis Player Tim Smyczek

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Top Seed Del Potro Pushed by Stepanek

Del Potro

By Dave Gertler

(January 9, 2014) We’re into the sharp end of the 2014 Apia International in Sydney, on a Thursday that features men’s quarterfinals and women’s semifinals matches on Ken Rosewall Arena, with a mix of singles and doubles matches being played on Grandstand Court.

The biggest drawcard of the men’s tournament, Juan Martin Del Potro, had to contend with consistent pressure from Radek Stepanek throughout their two hour and eight minute quarterfinal. After Del Potro served well to seal the first set 6-4, the Czech 35-year-old played high-risk tennis which seemed to affect Del Potro’s confidence and energy levels, particularly in the second set, during which Stepanek outplayed his opponent, ranked 40 places above him, to win it 6-3.

After being broken in the second set, Del Potro was visibly frustrated, and experienced a dip in energy, errors frequently coming off his racquet.

Post-match he described a moment when he almost smashed his racquet, saying, “Yeah, I was close, but I can’t do that yet. When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them. I will talk before with the chair umpire to don’t call me a code violation or something. I have to be allowed to do that after two years maybe.”

The third set provided some of the most entertaining tennis seen so far in the 2014 Apia International, when Del Potro lifted his game to match the swashbuckling net-rushing of the world No.45. Whereas in the second set, Del Potro had faced eight break points, saving only five, he proved the better player on all the big points, only allowing Stepanek one break point, which he saved. Del Potro’s break came early at one game all, and with the help of a small but vocal Argentinian contingent on Ken Rosewall Arena, was able to hold onto the advantage and take the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Talking about his growing confidence toward the end of the match, he said, “I’m trying to be calm all the time.  I was positive every moment of the match.  Even Radek improve his game during the second set, I was positive, waiting for my chance, and I play a fantastic two pints in the third game of the third set to break his serve. Then I serve okay.  Just doing my job, and I was close the match really calm.”

In the second men’s quarterfinal, Dmitry Tursonov defeated Denis Istomin 7-6, 6-2. Del Potro and Tursonov will meet in Friday’s men’s semifinal.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Grand Slam Dream Vanishes as Bryan Brothers Lose in US Open Semis

Bob and Mike Bryan

Bob and Mike Bryan

(September 5, 2013) The pursuit of a calendar Grand Slam is over for Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryan bothers lost to Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals of the US open on Thursday afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The loss ended a 28 match winning streak at the majors for the Americans. Before today their last loss at a major was in the semifinals of last year’s Wimbledon to Jonathan Marray of Britain and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.

The Australian team of Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951 is still the only team to win all four tennis majors in a calendar year.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Bob Bryan.  “I mean, as competitors we hate to lose, and we knew what was riding on this match and the opportunity of what we could have accomplished.

“Got that.  And then in one sense it’s, you know, it’s a little bit of a relief where you get to kind of exhale for the first time in a few months.

You know, all this Grand Slam talk has been in the back of our head, and it’s been an honor to be a part of this run with Mike.  It’s been a great 12 months.

“You know, we would have never dreamed it would have been this sweet and we would have scraped out this many close matches.

“Today all that kind luck that’s been on our side went against us.  Those guys played a great match, and, you know, we wish them luck in the finals.  But, yeah, it’s a little bit of a relief.  You know, now we can move on and work on the next run.”

“I have tremendous respect for the boys,” said Paes.  “They are great champions, great ambassadors for the game.

“Just the record that they have even before this year shows how great they are as a team.  What they have done this year is something really special.

“In one context, going out there to play today we knew we were playing for our year.”

“I definitely don’t think this is top 10 toughest moments,” Bob Bryan said.  “The toughest moments have been Davis Cup losses when you know you’ve let your team down.

“I feel like, you know, we haven’t let anyone down.  I mean, I know there is a lot of people following us and a lot of people pulling for us.  Yeah, maybe we have disappointed a few people who wanted this to happen.

“But for us I feel like those Davis Cup losses have been the toughest.  You’re devastated you lost a pivotal point for your country.”

Last year it was the Bryan brothers who stopped Stepanek and Paes in last year’s US Open final.

“I can’t say enough about my partner,” Paes.  “We have got a little bit more work to do this week, but what he has been through this year, both him and I know.  For me that will come with me to my grave, and I will always be with him in his corner no matter where we go in our lives, no matter what we do.

“I think that’s what gives us strength on the court.  As some of you know in the media, Radek had an injury in the Australian Open, went through spinal surgery in his neck, and has got a few little battle wounds right now to show for it.

“He looks as tough as anybody, but the way he’s recovered, the way he’s done his rehab, the way he’s stayed with it, to me, along with some other adversities this year, shows off a great champion that he is.

“Beginning of the year when he got injured I got lots of phone calls to play with other guys, but that’s not what you do.  What you do is you stand by your partner.  I have tremendous belief in him, and he’s really shown that belief coming good.

“So like I said, we’ve got a little bit more work to do this week, but I’m very proud of the partner I share the court with.  He’s probably the best partner I have had.  I really enjoy playing with him.”

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Players React to Lance Armstrong in Notes and Quotes

Players at the Australian Open were asked about Lance Amstrong in the January 18, 2013 news conferences.

 

Q.  There was a lot of talk today about the Lance Armstrong interview.  Did you catch any of it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I saw a little bit of it, yeah.

Q.  Do you have any thoughts on his admission today, how he justified it as not cheating?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think it’s just a really sad story, sad for that sport itself.  I’m happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we’re constantly tested.  You know, we give whereabouts of where we are every single day of the year.  Hopefully not on birthdays and Christmas Eve, that would be pretty tough.

Although they did show up on my birthday and I was very disappointed.  They did a couple of years ago.  I said, Unless you bring flowers, I’m okay with it.  But they came empty‑handed (laughter).

So as long as we’re getting tested, whatever it takes, urine, blood, we’re all here to make the sport as clean as it can be.

 

Q.  Do you feel tennis is pretty clean at this moment?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I do very much.  For the amount of times that we get tested throughout the year and as random as they are, definitely.

 

 

Q.  I’m not sure if you saw today, but Lance Armstrong admitted to playing performance enhancing drugs.  I was wondering if you thought tennis had a vigorous enough policy on anti doping?

JANKO TIPSAREVIC:  You know what, you’re probably asking the wrong guy.  You know, actually came to Kenya to test me.  I wasn’t going to Kenya to hide from anti doping.  I was actually doing my pre season there.

One morning a person was waking me up.  I was so shocked and afraid somebody was like robbing us.  I wasn’t sure.

But I think it’s not cool what he did, cheating the sport and cheating so many people in the sport and so many people around him, believing that what he did actually did it on a clean and regular way.  So that’s really not cool what he did.

In regards of tennis, I think they test me often enough, blood and urine.  So, sure, if they want to increase it, why not?  But we have a tough enough time with this WADA process of us telling them every single day of our life where we need to be.

So I don’t really see how can it be more strict than that.

 

Q.  How comfortable are you that drug testing in tennis is rigorous enough?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, in tennis, you know, at least from my perspective, it’s really good.  Anti doping regulations a little bit maybe more strict in sense that you have to fill the whereabouts documents and you have to basically give an hour or two in every day of your life in a whole year, where you are.

But on the other hand, it gives them an opportunity to test you.  And you know it is the same for the other players.  At least from that point of view it’s fair.  And I have nothing against, you know, the anti doping federation, association, testing me 10, 20, 30 times a year.

I think as long as I know as many numbers of testing for the other players, I’ll be happy.

 

Q.  How about blood testing?  The ITF records tell us in the whole of 2011 there was only 18 blood tests taken of the top players.  How often would you or Andy or Roger or Rafa be blood tested?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, I wasn’t tested with blood for last six, seven months.  It was more regularly in last two, three years ago.  I don’t know the reason why they stopped it.

As I said, I mean, as long as it’s fair, it’s clean, we’re trying to protect the identity of this sport.  I believe tennis players are one of the most cleanest athletes in the world and one of the most competitive sports.

So as long as we keep it that way, I have no complaints about testing.

 

Q.  Would you disagree with Darren Cahill who said today that he believes the Anti Doping Program in tennis is inadequate and it’s been going backwards in recent years?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  What is the reason for that?

 

Q.  That’s his opinion.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  Well, I mean, I don’t know.  There has to be a reason why he said that, backstory.

I know Darren.  He’s a great guy, somebody that knows tennis really well, so must be something why he said that.

But in my opinion, yeah, there has been a complaints from players in few years, last few years, about this whereabouts system.  Why do we need to write where we are every single day of our 365 days when most of the time we’re spending on the courts and so forth.

Maybe that is something that is, you know, questionable.  But on the other hand as many urine, as many blood sample tests they take, the better.  Then you’re aware that it’s a clean sport and everybody has the same treatment.

 

Q.  I think part of the issue is out of competition blood testing is expensive to carry out.  Do you think the ITF should make it more of a priority to spend more money on that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, it’s a question for them, I guess.  From my point, I mean, I was more than clear.  I have nothing against the blood tests, you know.

Even though I prefer urine more.  I don’t like the needles too much.  But, of course, I mean, you know, the money in that direction should be invested because, you know, it’s always let’s say a safeguard for our sport that they’re investing money in our sport that is going to protect our sport and players.

 

Q.  A lot of cycling fans have lost a lot of faith in that sport now.  Do you think tennis fans should be confidant that nothing like this…

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I lost a lot of faith in cycling.  I used to watch it.  All the big champions that were there, Marco Pantani, now Lance Armstrong.  Yeah, I don’t want to say all.  I really don’t know.  There has been so much controversy about that sport.

I’m sure that there are many cyclists in the world who are training very hard and trying to not use any enhancing drugs for their competition.

But I think it’s not acceptable that they have physically so much races in short period of the time.  I think basically every single day, day and a half, they have to go through 200 miles.  Uphill, downhill in Giro D’Italia, Tour de France, that’s inhuman effort.  As you can see, Lance Armstrong, many other big champions, had to use something to succeed.

 

Q.  Do you think tennis fans should have faith that that won’t happen the same way?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  The results are showing that.  In last few years there maybe has been one or two cases, but those players were more or less outside of the hundred.  We are keeping this sport clean.  We are working towards it.  There is awareness with the players and with the officials.  As long as is like that, we are in a good road.

 

Q.  Would you be in favor of like a biological passport program that they’re instituting in cycling for tennis?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC:  I mean, you know, we can discuss about the options for a while.  But generally I believe that the present regulations about anti doping tests in tennis are good, in my views.  I don’t think there should be any major changes because, as you know, it’s official.  We have to write where we are every day of our lives so they have an opportunity to test us every day of 365 days in a year.

I think that doesn’t give anybody a chance to do something that is unsportsmanlike.

 

 

 

Q.  The Lance Armstrong interview today, I was wondering what your thoughts are on drug testing in tennis?

NICOLAS ALMAGRO:  I’m not going to say nothing because I didn’t see nothing about that.  I want to see before to speak.

I don’t know what happened.

Q.  My question is what about the authorities in tennis are doing.

NICOLAS ALMAGRO:  You need to ask to someone better than me because I not going to say nothing.  Sorry.  It’s a very important things, and I not going to talk.

I thinks our sport is clear, is fair, and I won’t believe that is the only thing I can say.

Q.  I’m not sure if you saw today, but Lance Armstrong admitted to playing performance‑enhancing drugs.  I was wondering if you thought tennis had a vigorous enough policy on anti‑doping?

JANKO TIPSAREVIC:  You know what, you’re probably asking the wrong guy.  You know, actually came to Kenya to test me.  I wasn’t going to Kenya to hide from anti‑doping.  I was actually doing my pre‑season there.

One morning a person was waking me up.  I was so shocked and afraid somebody was like robbing us.  I wasn’t sure.

But I think it’s not cool what he did, cheating the sport and cheating so many people in the sport and so many people around him, believing that what he did actually did it on a clean and regular way.  So that’s really not cool what he did.

In regards of tennis, I think they test me often enough, blood and urine.  So, sure, if they want to increase it, why not?  But we have a tough enough time with this WADA process of us telling them every single day of our life where we need to be.

So I don’t really see how can it be more strict than that.

 

Q.  On a non‑tennis note, did you watch any of Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  No, I didn’t.

Q.  Is it something that players are talking about, his confession to doping?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  I think everyone is pretty much focused on the tennis.  Maybe other players are talking about it.  I have no idea.

Q.  Do you have any reaction?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  I can’t talk about anything I don’t know anything about, so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut.  I’m not an expert on that stuff.  That’s all I can say.

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Djokovic Wins 17th Straight in Melbourne; Comments on Lance Armstrong

novakDjokovicinpress

(January 18, 2013) Novak Djokovic won his 17th straight match at the Australian Open, defeating Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in the third round on Friday.

Djokovic is the two-time defending champion at Melbourne Park is looking to become the first man in the Open Era began in 1968 to win three in a row.

The match with Stepanek  which took 2 hours and 22 minutes was an entertaining one with the Czech constantly making dashes to the net and keeping up with pace of Djokovic’s shots.

“I wasn’t expecting an easy match coming into the third round and playing a seeded player, “Djokovic said.  “Top 30 in the world.  Somebody that has a lot of experience playing on the tour.

“He loves the big stage.  You saw how much fun he had.  I also had a lot of fun playing.  It was a very entertaining match.  As I said on the court, he’s very skillful, comes to the net, never gives you the same ball twice.  That’s something that makes him a different player from most of the guys.”

With Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey airing in the United States on Thursday night, Armstong admitted to doping  and Djokovic was asked his opinion about the cyclist.

“He cheated the sport,” said the Serb.  “He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story.  I think they should take all his titles away because it’s not fair towards any sportsman, any athlete.  It’s just not the way to be successful.  So I think he should suffer for his lies all these years.’

“I lost a lot of faith in cycling, “ Djokovic continued.  “I used to watch it.  All the big champions that were there, Marco Pantani, now Lance Armstrong.  Yeah, I don’t want to say all.  I really don’t know.  There has been so much controversy about that sport.

“I’m sure that there are many cyclists in the world who are training very hard and trying to not use any enhancing drugs for their competition.

“But I think it’s not acceptable that they have physically so much races in short period of the time.  I think basically every single day, day and a half, they have to go through 200 miles.  Uphill, downhill in Giro D’Italia, Tour de France, that’s inhuman effort.  As you can see, Lance Armstrong, many other big champions, had to use something to succeed.”

Djokovic was also asked about tennis’ anti-doping measures:

Well, in tennis, you know, at least from my perspective, it’s really good.  Anti doping regulations a little bit maybe more strict in sense that you have to fill the whereabouts documents and you have to basically give an hour or two in every day of your life in a whole year, where you are.

But on the other hand, it gives them an opportunity to test you.  And you know it is the same for the other players.  At least from that point of view it’s fair.  And I have nothing against, you know, the anti doping federation, association, testing me 10, 20, 30 times a year.

I think as long as I know as many numbers of testing for the other players, I’ll be happy.

I wasn’t tested with blood for last six, seven months.  It was more regularly in last two, three years ago.  I don’t know the reason why they stopped it.

As I said, I mean, as long as it’s fair, it’s clean, we’re trying to protect the identity of this sport.  I believe tennis players are one of the most cleanest athletes in the world and one of the most competitive sports.

So as long as we keep it that way, I have no complaints about testing.

 

But in my opinion, yeah, there has been a complaints from players in few years, last few years, about this whereabouts system.  Why do we need to write where we are every single day of our 365 days when most of the time we’re spending on the courts and so forth.

Maybe that is something that is, you know, questionable.  But on the other hand as many urine, as many blood sample tests they take, the better.  Then you’re aware that it’s a clean sport and everybody has the same treatment.

Djokovic will play the winner of the Sam Querrey – Stan Wawrinka match in the fourth round.

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Bryan Brothers Capture Fourth US Open Title, 12th Major

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -  Avenging their loss in the Australian Open finals, No. 2 seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan took out No. 5 seeds and Australian Open champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4 to win the US Open doubles final on Friday.

The victory gives the Bryans the most majors in the Open Era for a Men’s Doubles team at 12. They have surpassed Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde and are now tied John Newcombe and Tony Roche for the all-time record.

“When you’re in the heat of the moment you don’t want to think about that stuff. We’re just trying to win the Grand Slam,, said Mike Bryan. “And now that we could chill a little bit, it’s fun to have it. We looked up to the Woodies, and to steal all their records is unbelievable, because we idolize those guys. They’re one of the reasons we play doubles. Just to be mentioned with those guys is pretty special. But to have a huge record like the Grand Slam record is really cool.”

Bob Bryan said: “We weren’t thinking too much about revenge today. We were just thinking about playing a good match and executing the scouting report our coach gave us and winning our home slam in front of all these fans that were pumping us up the whole day.”

The win also equals Robert Lutz and Stan Smith’s Open Era record with four US Open team titles. The Bryans also took home US Open trophies in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

 

An interview with: BOB AND MIKE BRYAN

Friday, September 7, 2012

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

 

Q.  3‑2 on them this year; loss in Australian Open was disappointing.  Does this make up for it?

BOB BRYAN:  I mean, we weren’t thinking too much about revenge today.  We were just thinking about playing a good match and executing the scouting report our coach gave us and winning our home slam in front of all these fans that were pumping us up the whole day.  I mean, we’re extremely pumped to leave 2012 with a Grand Slam title.  I think it’s eight years in a row now we’ve at least got away with one of them, which we’re very proud of.

 

Q.  Olympic gold medal, Grand Slam, Davis Cup…

BOB BRYAN:  Dream summer?

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah.  Got to finish it off strong with Davis Cup.  You’re only as good as your last match.  So we’re leaving tomorrow night, going to get our clay court shoes on, and hopefully help the U.S. out.

BOB BRYAN:  After that match we can exhale a little bit.

 

Q.  How much attention do you give to the records and how important is it to you to hold almost every record now?

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah, I mean when we’re done playing I think they’re going to be fun to have.  When you’re in the heat of the moment you don’t want to think about that stuff.  We’re just trying to win the Grand Slam, you know.  And now that we could chill a little bit, it’s fun to have it.  You know, we looked up to the Woodies, and to steal all their records is unbelievable, because we idolize those guys.  They’re one of the reasons we play doubles.  Just to be mentioned with those guys is pretty special.  But to have a huge record like the Grand Slam record is really cool.

 

Q.  After the match did you throw your gold medal into the crowd?

BOB BRYAN:  Yeah.  That was my buddy from Miami.  He has good hands.

MIKE BRYAN:  Was that Sean?

BOB BRYAN:  Yeah.  If he wasn’t an athlete, I wouldn’t have thrown it to him, but he’s a coordinated guy.

 

Q.  He’s going to give it back, though?

BOB BRYAN:  Do you want to catch it?

 

Q.  What’s a realistic number for you considering your age, how you feel, how much longer you say you’re going to play?  What’s a realistic number of slams you think you can actually achieve?

MIKE BRYAN:  I don’t know.  It’s hard to say, but we want to play until Rio.  Hopefully we can snag a couple a year, one or two.  We got one this year.  You do the math.  (Laughter.)

 

Q.  I know you had the medal with you in Cincy; you have it here.  Do you take it with you everywhere?

BOB BRYAN:  Pretty much.

 

Q.  A good luck charm?

BOB BRYAN:  Yeah, I actually let Sergio Garcia wear it in Cincinnati.  Then he went win, third, and he made 1.5 million in two weeks.  So I think it’s good luck.  You want to catch it?  Can you move forward a couple of rows.

 

Q.  I assume it’s not particularly fragile.

BOB BRYAN:  It’s heavy.

MIKE BRYAN:  You got good hands?

 

Q.  He’s a Brit.

BOB BRYAN:  He’s a Brit?

MIKE BRYAN:  Pass it around.  You can get a picture.

BOB BRYAN:  It’s going to be going home tomorrow, the gold.

 

Q.  How do you retain your freshness?  You never seem to change as the years go by.  I think if I took a picture of you guys five years ago, six years ago, and you probably look exactly the same as you do now.  How do you retain that freshness?

MIKE BRYAN:  Ask Doug right here.  He’s got the fresh face.  He’s like 50 and he looks 30.  (Laughter.)  We put on sunscreen.

BOB BRYAN:  We’re playing a sport that we have a lot of fun, you know, doing.  Our parents instilled that love in the game early, and we still haven’t lost it.  I think that’s the biggest goal for parents, should have, is making it fun for their kids.  Not just drilling them into the ground, but making it fun.  We were playing games, going to tournaments with our friends, having pizza, and just fell in love with the game.  Had idols, and, you know, right now we still like getting up and going to war and having moments like this.  This is what you play for, right here, working hard.  You know, we had a rough 12 months.  We took a lot of lumps, but now that’s all forgotten.  It’s sweeter than ever.

 

Q.  Talk about the Olympics being such a big goal this year.  How strange would it have been to end the year without a Grand Slam in 2012?

MIKE BRYAN:  Still would have been a good year because we have the Olympics.  But as Bob said, we wanted to keep the streak alive of eight years with a slam.  It would obviously have been disappointing, but, you know, we’re always trying to finish the year No. 1.  We have a pretty good lead now.  You just take a look at the positives, you know, the Olympics and trying to finish the year No. 1.

 

Q.  What are your observations of the other great siblings in sports, the Williams sisters, the Mannings, and what common denominators other than genes do you see in those alliances?

BOB BRYAN:  The common denominator is you’re able to hit with the No. 1 player in the world every day of the year.  You don’t have to go search for a practice partner.  I think parents have the formula, and they figure out an environment that breeds success.  Why wouldn’t the other sibling be successful in that same environment?  We had an environment in Camarillo, California, a beautiful club with a hundred juniors playing tennis and coming to play four hours a day.  We had parents that didn’t come down on hard for us for wins and losses, but just kind of instilled good sportsmanship and making sure we were having fun.  They were taking us to exhibitions, Indian Wells, Great Western Forum, to make sure we saw that level and we had dreams.

 

Q.  We have seen some huge chases for Grand Slam records with Sampras and Federer.  What is it like for you guys?

MIKE BRYAN:  You know, it doesn’t get the notoriety that, you know, a Federer record does.  We have fun slipping under the radar.  Probably get asked once or twice a week ‑ by Doug ‑ but that’s about it.  This isn’t our first time sitting in this room in front of a bunch of media.  But they’re special to us and we talk about them with our camp.  My dad definitely he shoots e‑mails to us with all our records and they’re fun to look at.  Then it’s up to you guys to, you know, determine where we stand in history or whatever.  You know, that’s what we play for.  We set goals every year.  This was just another goal that we went after.  It’s fun to achieve it.

 

Q.  Do you recall your first major?

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah.

BOB BRYAN:  Yeah, we definitely recall it.  The first major we played?

 

Q.  First major you won.

BOB BRYAN:  2003 French Open, and that was sweet.  We went to Buddha Bar and partied.

 

Q.  What did you do to work your way up to that?

BOB BRYAN:  I mean, that one just kind of came, bang.  We hadn’t been in a Grand Slam final.  Been in a couple of semis.  We just played the tournament of our life; didn’t lose a set.  One set went past four the whole week.  It just happened so fast.  And then it took us a while.  Once we won the first one it took us two over two years to win the next one.  We lost in five Grand Slam finals after that match and took a lot of lumps.  Then, yeah, then started figuring it out.

 

Q.  Who among the great sibling duos in sports in recent years have been especially inspiring to you, and what have you taken from their examples?

BOB BRYAN:  I mean, Venus and Serena are a pretty inspirational sibling pair.  They’re always positive with each other.  They love each other to death.  They’re always supporting each other watching the matches and the crowd.  You’ve never seen them have a spat.  You know, we’re a little more violent with each other behind closed doors than those two, so we try to use them as an example.  (Laughter.)

 

Q.  You guys said before the tournament or coming in that this was gravy after the Olympics.  Were you able to play that way?  Did you feel from the beginning to the end that that helped, you know, lubricate your nerves?

MIKE BRYAN:  It did take pressure off.  Yeah, we talked about it before each match.  We’re like, Let’s swing free.  We have the gold.  But, you know, we came into this probably a little fatigued and just running on adrenaline from the Olympics.  We could see the finish line.  You know, this final match, that’s what we pushed toward, and, you know, we have played a lot of tennis from the Olympics.  Yeah, that definitely lubricated the nerves.  Nice word.

 

Q.  You have broken all the records and got the Olympic medal now.  What kind of goals do you have now?  Is there something missing, or just adding to the pot?

BOB BRYAN:  Short‑term goal is still win that Davis Cup match, because that’s going to be pivotal to that tie.  I don’t think our team has a great chance if we don’t win that doubles match.  We want to do our job there and then just try to pile on some more points and finish the year No. 1.  It would be our eighth No. 1 finish.  Then Mike’s going to get married.  See how that goes.

MIKE BRYAN:  Work on your speech.

 

Q.  Sounded like a question.

BOB BRYAN:  Start it again.

MIKE BRYAN:  It’s gonna happen.

BOB BRYAN:  Start it again.

 

Q.  You have given so much to the game, not only in doubles but the sport itself.  The passion that you have, the energy, your father’s made you tough; you’re a tough competitor.  Is there ever a time behind the scenes in private the two of you actually just have to break down and share a tear of emotion for what you all have accomplished?

MIKE BRYAN:  We’re not very sentimental emotional guys.  I haven’t cried for a while, since high school.  But I thought I was gonna cry on the medals stand.

BOB BRYAN:  It didn’t happen.

MIKE BRYAN:  It didn’t happen.  I’m just unemotional.  Ask my fiancée.

 

Q.  Do you take a pill for that or something?

BOB BRYAN:  Zero emotions.

MIKE BRYAN:  It will be fun to, you know, just share these memories.

BOB BRYAN:  We talk about stuff together.  We don’t really talk about it with other people.  We share it with my parents.  My dad gets a real kick out of the records.  He has a spreadsheet on his computer.  I’m sure he’s updating it right now.

MIKE BRYAN:  Here comes the star.

BOB BRYAN:  Bring her up here.

 

Q.  Your dad’s been a little bit controversial this year with some of the things he said earlier on in the year.  The USTA of course, Patrick has worked very closely with you in Davis Cup terms on the other side.  Are you sometimes trapped between the association and your father?

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah, we stay out of it.  I mean, we have a big loyalty to both guys.  We love Pat and we love obviously my dad.  My dad is very passionate about the way he feels because he owned a club and did a tremendous job with his junior program for so many years.  But, you know, Pat has his views.  I’m sure they’re both great.  We definitely read the blogs and the e‑mails and get a kick out of it.

(Micaela joined the dais.)

MIKE BRYAN:  Watch this.  Peekaboo.

 

Q.  Can I just ask, I mean, this tournament seems to have turned into a tournament of players going under the pension line, Mark Knowles being the latest one.  Just comment on Mark’s career.  You guys came up against him so many times.

BOB BRYAN:  I mean, Mark’s a legend.  He’s one of the best players of all time.  I think Knowles‑Nestor have got to be in the top five greatest doubles teams to play.  Incredible backhand return in the deuce court and scary hands.  His drop volley would always catch you by surprise.  He’s a great guy.  I think he’ll have a successful career coaching.  He’s knowledgeable and, you know, if he wants to be a commentator commentating or whatever…

 

Q.  Not too long ago you and your dad, Wayne, a few guys really fought hard to keep this doubles on the tour.  And not only kept it on the tour, but you brought it fairly close to the main light of activity.  What’s that mean to you all when you look beyond just playing the game, that you made this contribution to the game with your dad?

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah, I mean, we’re very happy with the way it’s gone.  Obviously doubles was threatened seven years ago, and we rallied behind ‑‑ along with my dad and all the doubles guys ‑‑ and pushed to have doubles be a big part of the game.  You know, playing matches like this in a packed stadium, you know, it just shows how far doubles has come.  There’s more and more stadium matches.  It still is an integral part of the game, which is great.  And we always want it to be.  When we’re done playing we still want doubles to be, you know, big.  It’s never going to catch singles, but it will be right there.

 

Q.  Do you feel more confident with Davis Cup after that match?

MIKE BRYAN:  Do we feel confident?

 

Q.  With Davis Cup after that match.

MIKE BRYAN:  Yeah, obviously when you win a string of matches your confidence grows.  It’s going to be a different surface, and we’re going to have to go to work to beat two very good clay‑court doubles players.  We’re leaving tomorrow night.  We’re going to get there a week early and we will have some good time to get ready.  But, yeah, we’re pretty happy with the way we’re playing right now.

 

Q.  What happens in your life if one of you is born in Camarillo and at the same time another is born in Ventura and you’re actually not twins?  Would you still have careers in tennis, do you think?

BOB BRYAN:  Who’s our parents?  Wayne and Kathy Bryan in Camarillo, or are they in Miami?  If you’re my dad I’m probably sweeping streets somewhere.  Just kidding, Bill.  (Laughter.)

MIKE BRYAN:  We would have found each other.

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BNP Paribas Open Day Two: Del Potro – Don’t You Forget About Me.

By Erik Gudris

Trying to cover an event like the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells is a little bit like going on vacation. Although you try to enjoy the first day, your head is still stressing over getting there, getting settled, making sure you have everything, making sure your room at the hotel is actually there, and so on. So the second day is really when you can finally take a breath and gets a sense of what’s going on.

 

And down here at Indian Wells there’s a lot going on. Even though most of the big names weren’t in action today, plenty of intriguing matches were on deck to get fans excited or at least more acquainted with some players they could be hearing a lot more of in the future. My first match of the morning was with rising Serbian star Bojana Jovanovski taking on Urszula Radwanksa (Agnieska’s younger sister) in a see-saw battle that pitted Jovanovski’s power against Radwanska’s defense and better touch. Some fans who had never seen the young Serb play commented that if she could reign in her power, she could be formidable and I agree. I really liked how she attacked Radwanksa’s serve, standing well into the baseline like the Williams Sisters do.  But neither her power nor clawing back from being down three match points was enough for Jovanovski as she lost in three tough sets 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

The rest of the afternoon had me bouncing from a Roger Federer media conference where the three-time champion of the Indian Wells event expressed in his silky smooth yet very confident way that he really wants to be the top man of the ATP Tour again to another intriguing match between young Dutch star Robin Haase, who was sporting his own Fed-like headband versus the German veteran Rainer Schuettler whose experience and ability to handle Haase’s big forehand saw him through with a 7-6(4), 7-5 win.

 

But if there was a marquee match today, it had to be the return of Juan Martin Del Potro to the main stadium where he faced off against the always tricky Radek Stepanek, a man Del Potro had never beaten. Despite some poor serving in the first set, Del Potro found the range on his atomic forehand and some stellar touch at net to give him a convincing 6-4, 6-0 win.

 

In his media conference afterwards, it was Del Potro’s memories of his last match against Stepanek at the 2009 Paris Masters where the Argentine retired with an abdominal strain down 0-4 in the first set that Del Potro said was the first instance of him feeling any problems with his wrist. “I felt it at that moment (Paris) and then I took a rest before London and then I had a very good rest before Australian Open and came to Australia. And then I feel the pain on my wrist so then I play that tournament and then I tell them I need to see a doctor.” When asked about his form now, Del Potro expressed a cautious yet optimistic outlook. “I know I am playing better than two months ago. But I need time to play better and better and especially to beat top ten players. I still feel sometimes sensation on my wrist especially in humid weather so I have many things to fight but I am glad so far.”

 

Delpo then credited his coaches and family with helping him to keep positive during his time away. “It was important. For the life, the real life and now I am back to playing every match, every tournament in the stadiums with the crowds and the other players. I like this life.”

 

With his win today and the overwhelming reaction it got worldwide from fans, it’s obvious tennis likes having Del Potro back in “the life”. And even though he may not consider himself a favorite to win Indian Wells, who knows what might happen in the next ten days? Which is why his theme song this week could just be David Cook’s remake of the classic 80’s hit “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

 

We certainly haven’t Delpo. Welcome back.

 

Erik Gudris, writer and moderator of Adjustingthenet.com is covering the BNP Paribas Open this week for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on Twitter @gvtennisnews

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