2014/04/23

BNP Paribas Open announces Wild Cards Which Include Americans Young, Sock, Harrison, Johnson, Duval and Townsend

big bnp paribas open logo

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., Feb. 26, 2014 – Former top five players Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva; Americans Donald Young, Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Steve Johnson, Rhyne Williams, Coco Vandeweghe, Shelby Rogers, Vicky Duval and Taylor Townsend; and Donna Vekic and Belinda Bencic were granted wildcards into the main draws of the BNP Paribas Open, to be held March 3 – 16 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, it was announced today by Tournament Director Steve Simon.
Russia’s Nadia Petrova has won 13 career WTA single titles and 24 doubles crowns. The former World No. 3 has reached nine Grand Slam quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals twice. Fellow Russian star and 2009 BNP Paribas Open champion Vera Zvonareva has 12 career WTA singles triumphs and six doubles titles. The former World No. 2 also has two Grand Slam finals appearances.
In addition, nine Americans have been granted wildcards into the main draws including Donald Young, who reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open; 21-year-old Jack Sock, who advanced to the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open; Ryan Harrison, who boasted a career-high ranking of No. 43 in 2012; two-time NCAA Champion from USC Steve Johnson, who reached the third round of the 2012 US Open; Rhyne Williams, who is coming off a quarterfinals appearance at Delray Beach, pushing top-ranked American and World No. 13 John Isner to three sets; Coco Vandeweghe, a two-time ITF singles winner; Shelby Rogers, a four-time singles champion on the ITF circuit; Vicky Duval, who achieved a career-high ranking earlier this year after jumping 528 rankings places since the end of 2011; and 17-year-old Taylor Townsend, who turned professional in 2012 after reaching the top of the junior rankings earlier that year.
Two other international players receiving main draw wildcards are 17-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 62 in 2013 and 16-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, who advanced to the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“This year’s main draw wildcards span from established veterans, to rising American and international stars,” said Simon. “Awarding wildcards to players like Nadia Petrova, Vera Zvonareva, Donald Young, Jack Sock and others, add to the excitement for fans and provide the potential for these deserving athletes to make a run at the BNP Paribas Open.”
Qualifying wildcards were given to Americans Raymond Sarmiento, Stefan Kozlov, Clay Thompson, Irina Falconi, Madison Brengle, Grace Min and Allie Kiick, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinaxis and the United Kingdom’s Heather Watson.
Sarmiento is a senior-standout at USC and member of two NCAA team championships for the Trojans. Sixteen-year-old Kozlov achieved a career-high ranking in February, after turning pro in 2013. Thompson reached a career-high ranking in 2013. Falconi cracked the WTA top 100 in 2011 and advanced to the second round of this year’s Australian Open. Brengle reached a career-high ranking earlier this year, and has won five ITF singles titles. Min won the 2011 US Open Junior Championship and three ITF titles in 2012, while Kiick also has three ITF singles crowns. Kokkinaxis advanced to the second round at this year’s Australian Open, where he pushed World No. 1 Rafael Nadal to three sets. Watson has one WTA singles title and two doubles titles.
In addition to the aforementioned qualifying wildcards, the winners of each BNP Paribas Challenge, the pre-qualifying event for the tournament, which takes place February 24 – March 1, will also be granted a berth into the 2014 BNP Paribas Open qualifying draw. Women’s qualifying starts March 3 and men’s qualifying begins March 4.
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USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Roundup for Friday, December 20, 2013

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

(December 20, 2013) NORCROSS, Ga.  – Denis Kudla and Steve Johnson are still on the outside looking in, hoping 2014 is a year their perspectives change for good.

 

Kudla and Johnson, both of whom spent time in the Top 100 this summer, each won their opening matches in the 2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs, pocketing the first of three victories needed here to earn a wild card entry into January’s Australian Open and bypass the qualifying rounds that must be achingly familiar to both players.

 

Kudla, the tournament’s top seed, beat former No. 1 collegian Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1, while No. 3 Johnson overcame 2011 French Open boys’ champion Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2). Afterwards, each player spoke on last year’s successes they’d like to repeat and the letdowns they hope to avoid.

 

Johnson, for instance, logged his first full season on tour in 2013 after leaving USC as one of the most decorated college tennis players ever, winning two straight NCAA singles titles and four consecutive team titles, and promptly reaching the third round of the 2012 US Open.

 

Last year, he qualified for the French Open then won a Challenger in Great Britain, after which he was awarded a wild card into Wimbledon. He peaked at No. 97 in early July. Following a first-round loss at this summer’s US Open, though, Johnson lost six of seven matches to end the season. His ranking has fallen to No. 156.

 

“I try to forget about after the Open,” Johnson laughed. “It was a tough couple-month stretch for me. I didn’t win too many matches, but, you know, that’s life. I don’t think I handled the end of the year very well. Especially it being my first year on tour, I think I let the little things really get to me, and I think that’s what led to the bad stretch up north and then to the indoor Challengers.

 

“That’s all behind me,” he added, “and I hope to learn from that and in this upcoming year just get to the end and really know what to do.”

 

Kudla, meanwhile, spent 11 weeks in the Top 100 in 2013, ascending as high as No. 90 after qualifying for both the French Open and Wimbledon – reaching the second round there – and making a quarterfinal appearance at the ATP Queen’s Club event in London.

 

According to the 21-year old from Arlington, Va., it was a “couple of off weeks” that he could have handled better last year to avoid sliding back to No. 114, outside the cut-off ranking for direct acceptances into Grand Slams, where he believes he belongs.

 

That was perhaps most evident when Kudla elected to not defend his points at the USTA Pro Circuit Challenger in Charlottesville, Va., in November — a tournament he won in 2012 — but instead played in qualifying at the ATP Masters in Paris, where he lost his first match.

 

“You get to a certain ranking and you get into Masters, you gotta play up. That’s how I look at it, at least,” Kudla said. “You gotta play the Masters and get to the next level. I’m not trying to be the best Challenger player. I’m trying to be the best Masters player, Grand Slam player.

 

“I could have had a little better consistency, for sure,” he added. “I thought I had a bad start to the year. I thought last year’s offseason I could have done a lot better, and the U.S. swing I thought should have been way better. And at the end of the year I got hurt, so I kind of just said to myself, ‘Stay healthy.’ Then I really just focused on what I did, and it was kind of a couple of off-weeks I thought I could have handled a little bit better. Hopefully I can repeat the year and do it better.”

 

Jenkins, who grew up a short distance away in College Park, Ga., drew comparisons to Gael Monfils from Kudla, who scrapped the strategy he employed against Jenkins when they were kids.

 

“I played him when I was younger, and I would just try to hit winners,” Kudla said of Jenkins, who nearly won the NCAA “triple crown” last spring at Virginia, winning the NCAA team and doubles titles and reaching the singles final. “But he’s like Monfils, he’s so fast. It’s insane. He’s an incredible athlete. So, I tried to just wear him down, tried to move him left and right. I kind of executed my game plan really well, served really well, was just able to stay on him and came out with a bit easier victory maybe than planned.”

 

Chase Buchanan, the 2012 NCAA doubles champion at Ohio State, fought off Rhyne Williams to earn a comeback victory, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, over the 2011 NCAA singles finalist from Tennessee.

 

Williams, ranked No. 130, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken by the No. 307-ranked Buchanan, who then won a second-set tiebreak and hit, by his estimation, five aces over the final two games of the match to close out Williams, who won last year’s Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs.

 

Through the fall, Buchanan has played largely outside of the United States – winning Futures titles in Bolivia and Ecuador — and playing in tournaments through South America, Japan and Thailand.

 

“I think it’s really good to get away from playing the same people every single week in the same places,” he said. “I think it’s good to get away, change things up. It gives you a new perspective on kind of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”

Victoria Duval

Victoria Duval

Vicky Duval, several months removed from becoming an international star at the US Open by defeating 2011 champion Samantha Stosur in the first round, fell behind to Maria Sanchez in the first set at 4-1 and 5-2, crediting nerves for her slow start and her improving serve for powering her 7-5, 7-5 victory.

 

“My serve was never my weapon,” Duval said. “I’ve worked really hard to turn it into that, so I was happy that I could really count on it in the tough times.”

 

When asked if he thought was an “unknown commodity” internationally, Tennys Sandgren answered by saying, “I don’t feel like I really should be known.”

 

Sandgren is currently at his career-high ranking of No. 183, after finishing 2013 with his first USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title, at Champaign, Ill. On Friday, he credited his movement on court in his 6-3, 6-0 victory over Austin Krajicek.

 

2013 Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

Day 1 results

Quarterfinals

 

Men

No. 1 Denis Kudla d. Jarmere Jenkins, 6-4, 6-1

Chase Buchanan d. No. 2 Rhyne Williams, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2

No. 3 Steve Johnson d. Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 7-6(2)

No. 4 Tennys Sandgren d. Austin Krajicek, 6-3, 6-0

 

Women

No. 1 Shelby Rogers d. Sanaz Marand, 6-4, 6-2

Sachia Vickery d. No. 2 Madison Brengle, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

No. 3 Grace Min d. Nicole Gibbs, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

No. 4 Victoria Duval d. Maria Sanchez, 7-5, 7-5

 

Order of play for December 21, 2013

Stadium (7)

12:00 PM

1st Match

DUVAL, Victoria (4) vs. ROGERS, Shelby (1)

Followed by

Kudla, Denis (1) vs. SANDGREN, Tennys (4)

 

Court 5

12:00 PM

1st Match

MIN, Grace (3) vs Vickery, Sachia (7)

Followed by

JOHNSON, Steve (3) vs. BUCHANAN, Chase (7)

For updated draws, each day’s order of play and match live streaming, visit the official tournament site at www.australianwildcard.com.

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Tim Smyczek Headlines ‘Serves For Summit’ Exhibition on December 7

Tim-Smyczek-Miami-2011-e1354932743597

(October 31, 2013) Milwaukee, WI – On December 7th, Americans Tim Smyczek, Rhyne Williams, Denis Kudla and Rajeev Ram will take the court at the REX Fieldhouse on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College to help raise money for the Summit Educational Association, which provides one-on-one tutoring and mentoring for Milwaukee’s inner city students.

Joining the four players on court will be former U.S. Davis Cup captain Tom Gullikson, a Wisconsin native, who will MC the action. The players will start with two singles sets and conclude with a doubles set, similar to Davis Cup format.

“In 2010 we held a tennis exhibition that was a lot of fun and raised money for Summit,” said Smyczek, ranked 83rd in the world and a Milwaukee native. “With the help of my family, friends and the great tennis fans of Milwaukee we’re hoping to make this event bigger and better so we can make a difference for a lot of kids who rely on the guidance and services Summit offers.”

The weekend’s activities start on Friday night, December 6th, when Summit will host a reception and dinner at the Hilton City Center in Milwaukee.

Tickets for the tennis, dinner, and sponsorship opportunities may be purchased online at www.ServesForSummit.com.

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James Blake Leads List of Wild Cards for Cincinnati

cincinnati-tennis-open-logo-e1313014647325

CINCINNATI (August 8, 2013) — Seven of the eight men’s wild cards for the 2013 Western & Southern Open have been awarded to American players, with four US players being added to the main draw and three entered into qualifying.

 

James Blake, Brian BakerRyan Harrison and Jack Sock have been granted wild cards in to the main draw.

 

In qualifying, Australian Bernard Tomic joins a trio of Americans who each reached a career high ranking last month – Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla and Rhyne Williams - in the field.

 

“We’re happy to welcome a familiar face like James back to a tournament where he has had a tremendous amount of success in his career,” said Tournament Director Vince Cicero. “At the same time, it’s exciting to offer these younger players a chance to participate in a tournament of this caliber. We look forward to having all eight of these players in Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open.”

 

Blake, the 2007 Western & Southern Open finalist, will be making his 12th apperance at the tournament, third among active players behind Tommy Haas (14) and Roger Federer (13). He also ranks sixth among active players for wins in Cincinnati with a 15-10 record.

 

Baker, from Nashville, returned to tennis in 2012 after a series of injuries kept him sidelined for nearly six seasons. He climbed to almost No. 50 in the rankings before suffering a knee injury at the Australian Open in January that has kept him out of action until this week’s Aptos Challenger.

 

Harrison, a 21-year-old who now calls Austin, Texas, home, reached the semifinals last month at the ATP event in Atlanta. He also claimed the title at the Savannah Challenger this season. It will be his third Western & Southern Open main draw appearance.

 

Sock, a 20-year-old from Lincoln, Neb., won the title at the Challenger event in Winnetka, Ill., last month. He reached his second career ATP quarterfinal in February at Memphis. In 2010, Sock won the US Open Juniors title.

 

The four wild card entrants to the qualifying field will compete in a two-round tournament over this coming weekend for one of seven spots in the main draw.

 

Tomic, 20, is the top-ranked player from Australia. He recently reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and early this season claimed his first career title with a win in Sydney.

 

Kudla, a 20-year-old who grew up in Virginia, reached the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club in London in June.

 

Johnson, 23, won back-to-back NCAA singles champions in 2011-12 while playing for the University of Southern California. He won the Nottingham Challenger in June.

 

Williams, 22, turned pro after his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, and was the NCAA singles finalist in 2011. He reached his first career ATP semifinal at Houston in April.

 

In addition, the following players have been added to the main draw – Radek Stepanek , Thomaz Bellucci and Denis Istomin. These three were entered following the withdrawals of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (knee), Viktor Troicki (suspension) and Marin Cilic (personal).

 

The draws for both the main draw and qualifying will be made on Friday. Qualifying begins Saturday, which is also AdvancePierre Foods Kids Day, and tickets start as low as $5. WTA main draw play begins Monday. All matches will take place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

 

The Western & Southern Open hosted 176,000 fans in 2012, recording a record 10 sellouts over the 16 total sessions spanning nine days. The event drew fans from all 50 states and 19 countries. Cincinnati is one of the last stops on the Emirates Airline US Open Series leading up to the US Open, and often critical points and bonus money are on the line adding drama to the week.

 

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Citi Open: One on One Video with Rhyne Williams on his First Washington Appearance

By Steve Fogleman

Rhyne Williams came off a first round main draw win in Atlanta to have to face Robby Ginepri, a man he has looked up to on the ATP tour. After having dinner with Ginepri in Washington on Friday night, Williams dispatched Ginepri in 3 sets on Saturday in first round qualies. Ginepri also had a main draw wild card in his hometown of Atlanta, but was also required to qualify in DC.

Read the rest over at TennisEastCoast.com.

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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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Uncle Sam at the Down Under Slam – Day 1 Edition

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

(January 14, 2013) Looking at how American tennis players fared on day one of the 2013 Australian Open.

American tennis players went  6-3 on the first day of the Australian Open with Venus Williams leading the way with a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Galina Voskoboeva.

“Obviously it’s nice to spend less time on the court, and not be in long sets,” Williams said after the match. She  had a first-serve percentage of 70 percent and converted on 6 of 11 break point chances.

“I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of – you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure.” Williams said of her opponent “I did my best to just close it out.”

Sam Querrey, who is the highest ranking American man, due to the withdrawal of 13rh ranked John Isner, came back from a set down to defeat Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Querrey will take on another American in the second round, Brian Baker, who defeated American turned Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (0), 3-6, 6-2.

Ryan Harrison came back from a set down to advance, defeating Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.  Bad news for Harrison – he’ll face top seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.

Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, the 1th0 men’s seed outlasted American qualifier Steve Johnson in a first round five-set marathon 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2. Johnson was the first reigning NCAA champion to qualify for the Australian Open.

Tim Smyczek came into the tournament as lucky loser, and thanks to housemate John Isner’s withdrawal  due to a right knee injury, made it into the main draw. Smyczek was a winner on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Ivo Karlovic.

Veteran Michael Russell fell to No. 5 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Touted as “one to watch” seventeen year-old Madison Keys won her first match in Melbourne on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6 (0) victory against Casey Dellacqua of Australia.

Sorana Cirstea had no problems beating American Coco Vandeweghe  6-4 6-2 in first round action.

Americans scheduled for Tuesday play in Melbourne include No. 3 Serena Williams, 29 seed Sloane Stephens, Vania King, Jamie Hampton, Melanie Oudin, Vavara Lepchencko, Lauren Davis, Rajeev Ram, and Rhyne Williams.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Keys and Williams Capture Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

 

(December 16, 2012) NORCROSS, Ga.,  – Madison Keys (Rock Island, Ill.) and Rhyne Williams (Knoxville, Tenn.) each earned wild card entries into the main draw of the 2013 Australian Open Sunday by winning the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs.

 

Keys defeated Mallory Burdette (Jackson, Ga.), 7-5, 6-3, and Williams took down Tim Smyczek (Milwaukee), 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, in Sunday’s indoor finals, each in a match format emulating the Grand Slam.

 

The 17-year old Keys, seeded third, won the event for the second year in a row, becoming the first woman and second player overall, along with Ryan Harrison (2009-10), to do so in the tournament’s five-year history.

 

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been doing and how I’ve been playing. Hopefully I can just really keep it up now,” said Keys, who fell to Jie Zheng in the first round of last January’s Australian Open, 6-2, 6-1. “It’d be great to go to Australia and not get killed in the first round this year. Hopefully that happens. But I’m just really excited to go down and start playing some tournaments again.”

 

The fourth-seeded Burdette, who made the third round of the US Open this summer and turned pro shortly after, gave the 137th-ranked Keys her most difficult match of the tournament. Each went back and forth with breaks in the first set until Keys held at five-all and carried that momentum into the second.

 

“She definitely kind of hit her stride at five-all, started serving much better, much more difficult for me to break her serve, and that just put more pressure back on my service game,” Burdette said. “So, hats off to her. I think she played very well and sustained it throughout the second set. I definitely had my chances there in the first, so I’m a little bit disappointed, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

 

Williams and Smyczek, meanwhile, split the first two sets of the best-of-five match, but the 21-year old Williams found control of his powerful forehand to pull away.

 

“I’m moving incredibly well, and when I’m moving my best I feel like I give myself a really good chance of winning, and I feel like I could play with anyone,” said the 190th-ranked Williams, who will play in his second straight Grand Slam after qualifying and reaching the first round of the US Open this summer.

 

“Tim, he’s been playing incredible to end the year. He beat me the last two times, and I woke up this morning and just told myself I was going to try to give myself the best chance to win,” Williams added. “Everything just kind of came together, and I played some of the best tennis I’ve ever played.”

 

It was Williams’ first win over Smyczek in three tries this year, and it leaves the 24-year old from Milwaukee, ranked No. 128, to attempt to qualify for the Australian Open, which begins on Jan. 14 in Melbourne.

 

“He just kind of reeled off several winners, and it seemed like every time I had at least a shadow of an opportunity he came up with something big,” Smyczek said. “The beauty of this tournament is that I get another chance to try to qualify, so I’m playing good tennis, and I’m putting in the work this offseason, so I’m really excited for Australia.”

Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs

At Life Time Athletic & Tennis

Norcross, Ga.

Finals

 

Men

(3) Rhyne Williams d. (1) Tim Smyczek, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3

 

Women

(3) Madison Keys d. (4) Mallory Burdette, 7-5, 6-3

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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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Brodsky Surprises as Levine and Ginepri Set Up Finals Clash for Australian Open Wildcard

Madison Keys (Photo by Tom Grason)

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – Semifinals Day at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs held at the Racquet Club of the South had the feel of a community tennis event with kids practicing their serves on outer courts while spectators wandered around the merchandise and food vendor areas inside the indoor court complex of the club. With all this activity going on around them, the semifinalists must have had to concentrate even twice as hard to keep focus on their main goal – a coveted wildcard berth into next month’s Australian Open.

Both Women’s semifinals went the distance but the tone and decibel level of each match was decidedly different. Madison Keys looked sluggish and distracted during the first set in her semi against No. 2 seed Alison Riske who used her low crosscourt forehand to great effectiveness taking the first set. But Keys found her huge serve and didn’t look back for the rest of the match as she went on to secure a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win.

The second semi featured No. 1 seed Coco Vandeweghe against Gail Brodsky. Despite Vandeweghe’s ability to hit heavy flat winners at will, Brodsky handled Vandeweghe’s pace and supplied plenty of her own in their rallies. Both women split the first two sets 6-3, 3-6 and as the third set started, the vocal outcries from both players showed how much they wanted it. Brodsky jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but Vandeweghe fought to pull even at 4-4. The next game proved to be a marathon with multiple deuces, but with a break point opportunity, Vandeweghe found herself at net with several chances to end the point. Instead it was Brodsky who chased down a short volley and hit a stunning pass that brought the crowd to its feet. Brodsky finally claimed the game to go up 5-4, first with an ace that was called a fault then corrected as good by the umpire and then the ad point when Vandeweghe hit long.

Both players questioned what seemed to be poor line calls late in the match, but Vandeweghe appeared to be the more frustrated of the two, even at one point engaging in a long conversation with the umpire before the start of a game. That frustration, plus having to serve from behind in the final set proved too much for Vandeweghe as Brodsky passed her at net on her first match point to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 9-7 win.

Afterwards, Brodsky talked about the issues with the officiating saying, “I wasn’t that upset about the calls because I can understand the situation as it was pretty dark inside and we both hit the ball pretty fast so I can understand where the mistakes would come from. But obviously it’s hard to deal with obvious errors when the match is that close.” Brodsky later credited her recent off-season training with the USTA for giving her the stamina she needed to pull off the upset.

On the men’s side, both semifinals saw convincing wins with the same scoreline. No. 2 seed Jesse Levine defeated No. 3 seed Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-2 that saw Levine close out the match with an ace. Levine, who since September has climbed 300 spots in the ATP rankings to No. 164, credited his new fitness trainer Austin Brock and a new coaching team that includes Tarik Benhabilies with helping him stay healthy.

 

Robby Ginepri (Photo by Tom Grason)

Levine will now face in the finals local favorite Robby Ginepri who defeated Rhyne Williams 7-5, 6-2 in the other semifinal. “It’s going to be a really tough match, said Levine, “I’ve never played Robby in a competitive match before. He’s a great player and he moves extremely well and it’s best three out of five tomorrow too so I’m going to rest up tonight. Obviously there’s a lot at stake for both of us. Three out of five sets is always a physical and mental battle so I will prepare myself the best way that I can.”

Sunday’s finals schedule will start at 1pm EST with Gail Brodsky against Madison Keys followed by Robby Ginepri against Jessie Levine.

Erik Gudris writes and moderates Adjustingthenet.com, a tennis news site. Follow him on Twitter @adjustingthenet.

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