2014/08/01

John Isner Saves Two Match Points in Win over Robby Ginepri

GSM Isner

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2014) ATLANTA – It was a showdown of Americans with local ties tonight at the BB&T Atlanta Open.  Former University of Georgia standout, top ranked American, and number one seed John Isner took on local Robby Ginepri, from just up I-75 in Marietta, now Kennesaw.  It was their fourth meeting, with Isner holding the edge, 2-1.

Ginepri, currently ranked 281, though as high as 15, was in the tournament as a wild card.  As expected in any John Isner match, things started with an ace.  Ginepri returned the favor with his very first serve and had a very easy hold.  From that point forward, it was evident that Ginepri was dialed in on the Isner serve.  He made Isner work by getting balls back in play off huge serves.  Isner did not help his own cause by only getting forty six percent of his first serves in and it led to the inevitable break with a sizzling passing shot by Ginepri to get him to 3-2.  Ginepri consolidated the break with a hold and the match stayed on track until Ginepri served the first set out 6-4.

As with any John Tiebreak, rather, Isner match, the second set went exactly that way.  There were threats of service break, again with Ginepri seeming to have really timed Isner’s deliveries.  It certainly seemed to take its toll, as Ginepri was flexing his wrists after blocking back 140 MPH or so blasts.  Isner served 71% of his first serves into play, converting 73% of those points.  Ginepri had no break points against his serve, while Isner saved the two opportunities Ginepri had.  There were mini-breaks of serve in the tie breaker, but the master of the breaker prevailed in a tight one 7-5.  Of course, the last point was an ace.

In the deciding third set, Ginepri seemed struggled a bit more to hold his serve, facing 7 break points.  He even dug out of one 15-40 hole and punctuated the hold with a yell.  It was inspired Ginepri tennis.  Isner had the customary two break points and saved both.  In Ginepri’s final service game, he was trying to hold for 6-5 and it couldn’t quite hold on.  The whole state knew what was coming next, but Ginepri was game, going for a new racquet in his attempt to break Isner’s  serve.  He never needed it.  Ace, ace, ace, ace.  Game, set, match; Isner 4-6, 7-5 (5), 7-5.  Isner said “It’s not easy, coming in playing your first match.  Having a bye is nice, but at the same time you are playing someone that has played a match.”  Isner will play Matsovci on Friday, surprisingly at 4 PM.  The feature 7 PM slot will see Jack Sock take on Lukas Lacko.

The crowd was well entertained and solidly behind good play, getting loud for each player in appreciation.  Of course, there was barking for Isner and shouts of ROBBY in support of Ginepri.  Some would have been concerned about turnout if Ginepri had won, but the crowd support for both men made it clear that Atlantans appreciation of good tennis should not be underestimated.

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Rafael Nadal Pummels Robby Ginepri in Paris First Round

 

(May 26, 2014) It was an easy day at the office for 8-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal who destroyed U. S. wild card world No. 279 Robby Ginepri 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.

I think I played after the first game that was not good, I played a solid first set,” the Spaniard said.  I start first six games of the second I didn’t play well, and he had a terrible game with the 3 All, a lot of mistakes.  After that I think I started to play a little bit better again.
“So in the third I finished the match playing not that good, so it was a solid start, happy for that.”

“A tough pill to swallow for sure,” 31-year-old Ginepri said of the loss.

“Always wanted to play him on clay and see how good he is. He showed me a lesson today. It was fun out there today, even though the scoreline didn’t really reflect it.”

The world No. 1 whose record at Roland Garros is now 60-1, has a record 8 Paris titles but is looking to become the first man to win five times in a row.

There was some controversy with Nadal’s court assignment for Monday. Instead of the 4-time defending champion opening his defense on the center court Phillipe Chatrier, he was placed on the second show court Suzanne Lenglen which raised eyebrows.

“Doesn’t really matter a lot,” the 27-year-old said.  “Always playing Roland Garros is a pleasure for me, is a really honor, and is a special feeling.  So all the memories at this place give me are unforgettable.
“And doesn’t matter if it’s Chatrier or Lenglen or another court, be around here in Roland Garros always gonna be great.  And I started in Lenglen this year, is a great court.

“I am not sure, but probably next one I gonna play in Chatrier.  That’s it.”

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“On The Call” with US French Open Wild Cards Taylor Townsend and Robby Ginepri

Taylor Townsend

Taylor Townsend

(May 7, 2014) The USTA held a media conference call on Wednesday with Robby Ginepri and Taylor Townsend, the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge winners. Each earned a wild card into the 2014 French Open based on results over the past three weeks on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Here is a transcript of the call courtesy of ASAPSports:

UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION MEDIA CONFERENCE

May 7, 2014

Robby Ginepri

Taylor Townsend

TIM CURRY:  Thank you, everyone, for joining us for our conference call with Taylor Townsend and Robby Ginepri, both of whom secured wild cards this weekend to Roland Garros later this month by winning the Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.
The wild card was made available to any American who did not receive direct entry into the French Open main draw.  The man and woman who earned the most ATP and WTA Tour ranking points in two of three select USTA Pro Circuit clay court events was awarded the wild card.  This is the third the USTA Player Development has used this format to determine its French Open wild cards.
Robby finished with 80 points after winning the Tallahassee challenger.  He last played in the main draw of the French Open in 2010 when he reached the fourth round, the best showing of an American male that year.  He also is the only active American male to reach the semifinals of a major, the 2005 US Open, where he lost to Agassi in five sets.
Taylor will be making her Grand Slam debut in Paris.  She won consecutive clay court events, the Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Audi Melbourne Pro Tennis Classic in Indian Harbour Beach to earn 180 ranking points and the USTA’s wild card.
With that being said, we will open the call for questions.

Q.  Taylor, I know you probably played three matches in a day many times in the juniors.  Was Sunday the first day you played four?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  No.  The year I won Easter Bowl in 2012 I had to play four matches.  This is the first time I had to play four pro matches and won them all.

Q.  Especially because that first match was really the key match, how did you focus on the next three?  Was that difficult?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  No, not really.  I mean, I knew that I would have to play another match once I won my semifinal.  I wanted to win the tournament.  I felt like it was important.
I didn’t really think so much about the circumstance.  I just thought about what I had to do on the court and kind of focused and zoned in on that.
It wasn’t really difficult.  I think my semifinals in the doubles I was a little bit more tired.  But then I got up and got myself going again in the finals of the doubles.  The score was indicative of that.

Q.  What does it mean to you to be playing in your first one knowing you earned the wild card rather than just being given the wild card?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I mean, it’s a great feeling.  It’s a great feeling for me.  I think I’m going into this tournament really, really confident.  I’m playing really well.  It’s just really good to know that I earned this.  It was not like I was given it.  It wasn’t like someone just decided to give me a wild card.  It was something that I earned with my sweat and hard work.
It feels really good to know that.  It gives me a lot of confidence in my match play and things I’ve been working on, so I’m excited.

Q.  Robby, in a bit of an unusual circumstance, you had to play two matches on the day you clinched the wild card.  It was an unusual week from going indoors to clay, two matches a day.  Talk about your week, how everything progressed, what it was like when you knew you were playing a match to clinch a French Open wild card.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Definitely a strange week with rain four days.  Coming into the semifinals, I think my opponent had played all three of his matches indoors, so I knew that going into it.  I was a lot more nervous for the semifinals match than I was for the finals.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but knew what was at stake all week.  Played some good tennis to get through the semifinals.  Once I got through there, it was an easy match in the finals.
Excited to be back and going to the Grand Slam in Paris.

Q.  Can you give us a run‑through of what you’ve been dealing with through the last couple years.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, a couple years ago after I had a good fourth‑round appearance at the French, later that year I broke my left elbow mountain biking, had a couple elbow surgeries and was out for a year, year and a half.  Struggling to find my rhythm, find my game, stay healthy.
Obviously, all professional athletes go through injuries.  How you deal with them, manage them, that’s all I’ve been trying to do.
Still enjoying the game out there.  It’s a big opportunity for me to get this wild card.  Definitely feel like I can do some damage over there.  I’ve shown I can do it before.  Eager to get out there on the red clay.
I’ve always enjoyed going to Paris.  It’s a special place to me.  I feel like the fans are extremely knowledgeable when they’re watching all the matches.  Regardless of the courts you’re on, Court 17 or one of the show courts, they’re pretty packed.  I’m stoked for that.

Q.  What is your schedule now?  How does this change knowing you have a European trip on the schedule?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I’ll head over next week and play Nice, a warmup qualifying tour event, then go over to Roland Garros after that.  I have a week, train as hard as I can to get ready for three‑out‑of‑five.

Q.  Taylor, what is your schedule heading to Paris?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I’m leaving next week, going to Strasbourg.  Play that, probably quallies.  Then after that I’m going to Paris as well, get some matches on the red clay.  Get over there and get used to the time change and everything.  I think that’s important, as well.

Q.  Robby, when you take a look now at guys like Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish, James Blake, they’re now all off the circuit.  Is it a little weird for you to think about going to a major without those guys there?  Do you talk to them frequently?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, it is a little strange the last couple years with them retiring from the game.  Still see them and speak to them here and there.
But also made some new friends along the way.  Some of the other Americans will be there to compete and do our thing over there.
Those were the three or four guys that I grew up and played all the Grand Slams with and had the success with, shared great times with.  So it’s a little different.
I feel like they could have had a couple more good years left, and I’ll try to play well for them along the way.

Q.  Taylor, when you look at the Pro Circuit, the USTA Pro Circuit, how grateful are you to have this opportunity to stay in the States and hone your game, play these pro events, then have the chance for a wild card into a major because of it?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I think it’s great.  I mean, I definitely think that the Pro Circuit is great.  It’s an opportunity for you to get a lot of matches, an opportunity to get points.  It’s great that we have it stateside.  It makes it easier for us to be able to play in our home because there aren’t that many tournaments here anymore.  It is important.
I think having the wild card on the line, it makes it all the more competitive, not just with the Americans, but with the foreign people who come and play as well.  There are a lot more foreigners in the draw than there were Americans.  So I think it’s important.  It drew great crowds and was fun.

Q.  Robby, my target audience is Atlanta tennis players.  You said you were nervous getting this wild card.  You also talked a little bit about managing the injuries that you’ve had.  If you could give me a couple concrete details about how you did that, how you manage nerves, then one or two specific things you did to help get your body back on track.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I mean, it all starts with the mental side.  It’s extremely time consuming to go to rehab for nine months to just try to bend your elbow, get as much range as you can.  That’s something athletes are very good at doing, is separating the time on the court or field, whatnot, to dedicating their life to how they can progress in a positive manner.
Had a lot of my friends and family and close people pushing me along the way, supporting me, which is a huge step and process anytime something like this happens.
Just try to keep up with the physical strength and fitness as much as I could, doing it as much as I could without hitting some balls.
I started doing a lot of Yoga, which helped me a lot mentally, just feeling a little bit more flexible.

Q.  People have talked about Americans not doing all that well on clay.  What is your take on the situation?  I know Serena won the French last year.  In general, Americans don’t necessarily grow up playing on clay.  How do you think Americans can improve their clay performances in general?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I think it just starts off with the player.  I mean, you can either love clay or hate clay.  You’re not going to do well if you hate it.  I just think it starts with a mindset.
It’s definitely a different way of playing.  Well, not a different way of playing, but the points are longer, the sliding.  It’s more physical.  It’s a whole different component you have to train for.
I don’t think it’s just a matter of us not doing well.  I think it’s a mindset we have to understand that, you know, it’s longer points, longer rallies, choosing to stay in there mentally and physically.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I agree with Taylor.  Definitely a choice and decision to embrace the clay court experience.  A lot of the foreigners do grow up on this so they feel more comfortable starting out.  The way they are able to construct points at an early age, get the footing, is different than how we are raised on the American hard courts where we pull the trigger earlier and don’t construct points as long.
It just takes time.  Once on the clay, to get your footing down, the experience, realize that we can play on this just as good if not better.

Q.  Do you think growing up now, the juniors should have more exposure to clay, those in the USTA, academies and such in the U.S.?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, I think it’s great for the kids to get on the clay earlier.  There’s no harm in that.  It’s easier on the body.  Takes less out of you.  Not as much pounding from the hard courts that we’ve done from an earlier age.  Maybe the longevity would last longer if we get out there earlier.  I think it’s been moving a bit more towards clay at an earlier age over here.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I totally agree with Robby.  I think it’s great.  I think there are a lot more tournaments that are providing clay court play.  Also we’re training more on clay.  From my experience, we did the off‑season training on the clay because, like he said, it’s easier on your body, on the knees, not as much pounding.  It’s good training.
I think it’s great it’s starting to lean a little bit more towards that and at an earlier age.

Q.  Robby, some details about the elbow injury.  What exactly was it that happened?  Did you have to keep it in a cast for a certain amount of time?  What did you need to do to get that right?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, I probably went into surgery the next day on it.  Then casted it the next three days.  I was in rehab right away getting the range back and not letting the scar tissue build up on it.  I had a lot of atrophy happen with it, so I lost a lot of muscle mass and flexion.
I was literally going to rehab five days a week, three hours every day, not seeing any progress some weeks, then seeing big gains the next.  There were a lot of ups and downs during that time.
I still can’t fully extend my left arm right now.  I’ve had some left wrist issues along the way from a little bit too much pressure on that joint and the ligaments.
Like I said before, I’m trying to manage this the best I can, get as much treatment at tournaments and away from tournaments and go from there.

Q.  Taylor, what has it been like working with Zina?  What has she brought to your training and improvement in the last year or so?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  It’s definitely been great.  I’ve had a lot of fun working with Zina, as well as my other coach in Chicago Kamau Murray.  We’ve been working a lot on mental training.  We’ve been working physically on the court.  But a lot of mental training, understanding the game, understanding how to play the game.  Basically that’s it really.
There wasn’t that much tweaking we did with my strokes.  There wasn’t really anything we had to do there.  It was more me getting an understanding for how to play the game.  Actually what they’ve both brought to the table is mental training.  The mental training has just been really key.
That’s what we’ve been working on.  It’s been great.  I’ve enjoyed my time with both of them.  I’m really looking forward to going over to Europe with them.

Q.  Could you talk about the process of the wild card, determining the winner on the USTA Pro Circuit through the Har‑Tru USTA Pro Circuit Challenge.  Do you like the process?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I liked it.  I think that it is a great opportunity to not only increase the competitiveness in the 50K’s, but it’s a great opportunity for all the Americans to have a shot at something so big.
I mean, I think it’s very fair because whoever wins it earned it.  It’s not like you’re given it.  It’s not just placed in the palm of your hand.  You earned it with your sweat, hard work, the tournaments you played.  I think it’s a great process.  I think it’s very fair.
I also think that it’s great that we can have that reward at the end of those three tournaments.  It’s very rewarding to win tournaments, but to know we also get a wild card into the French Open is even more satisfying.
I really like the process and I think it’s really fair and I think that it’s great.
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Yeah, same.  Huge advocate for the wild card playoffs.  It brings a lot to the table.  There’s no question of who deserved it or who got it.  Like Taylor said, we earned it.  We’re the ones that reap all the benefits from it now, get a main draw wild card for Paris.
I like how they did it her in Atlanta for the Australian wild card shootout as well.  Hopefully we continue it down the road.  It’s good for American tennis.

Q.  Robby, you’ve had really good results at the French in the past with a couple fourth‑round appearances.  Have you set any goals for yourself there this year?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Haven’t really sat down and planned out and say I want to reach the fourth round again or whatnot.  Wasn’t even on the radar a couple months ago.
It’s a huge bonus for me.  First four or five years I played Paris, I lost first round.  To break through in ’07 and ’08 to get to the fourth round, then 2010 I proved I could do it again, beat tough guys over there in five sets.  Bring my A game over there and see how it goes.

Q.  Taylor, making your Grand Slam debut, do you have any goals set for yourself there?
TAYLOR TOWNSEND:  I mean, as far as rounds are concerned, not really.  I just think for me I want to embrace the moment, embrace every opportunity that comes my way, and just enjoy the moment.  This is my first Grand Slam main draw.  It’s a lot to take in.  It’s an honor and a privilege just to be there.
I don’t want to just be happy to be there; I want to compete and do the best that I can.  I think if I do the right things and everything, it will take care of itself.

Q.  Robby, if you do well in France, if you feel okay, what could be your schedule for the rest of the season?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  I’d probably stay over there and play a lot of the grass court tournaments.  Obviously my ranking has plummeted a lot in the last couple years.  It would be a question of what events I could even get into.  I’d be playing quallies I’m sure at most of them.
I’ve always liked playing Queen’s Club, Eastbourne.  I don’t think I’d be getting into Wimbledon, so I’d have to play quallies of that.  Then I’d come back and prepare like I always do for a great hard court season.
There’s the tournament here in Atlanta, my hometown event.  I get amped up for that and go there.

Q.  Do you think anything about the US Open?
ROBBY GINEPRI:  Oh, yeah.  The whole US Open Series, any tournaments I could get into and play and qualify, I would obviously love to be a part of that.
I have a lot of special memories from playing the Open.  It’s always been my dream to play that tournament.  If I can still continue to be there and play there, I would obviously come back and show up and execute my skill set there every match, try to get some W’s.
TIM CURRY:  Thanks, Taylor and Robby, for the time.  Good luck overseas.
Har‑Tru Sports, which is sponsoring the Clay Court Wild Card Challenge for the second year of a three‑year deal, is also launching a Be One With the Clay video contest this year where tennis fans can create a video demonstrating how clay courts impact their game.  The contest closes on May 31st and the winner receives a trip to Palm Springs.  For more information, visit www.beonewiththeclay.com.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

 

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an inside view into the world of tennis news.

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In Battle of Vets, Ginepri Wins Out Against De Voest at the Challenger of Dallas

 

Robby Ginepri

By Gene Park

DALLAS, TX — Robby Ginepri may not have started Monday evening the way he would have liked, but the 30-year-old veteran was able to advance against another seasoned player. Ginepri dropped the first set 6-3 to 14-year pro Rik De Voest on Stadium Court during the first round of the Challenger of Dallas. But Ginepri evened things up with a 6-3 second set win and was able to close things out by holding serve and getting a break in a 6-4 third set.

 

Ginepri moves on to meet the two-time Challenger of Dallas Singles Champion Ryan Sweeting in the quarterfinals. Sweeting took the court earlier in the day and despite committing seven double faults, he was still able to knock out the No.3-seeded Tim Smyczek 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to begin the days main draw play.

Number 2 seed Michael Russell followed on Stadium Court and rallied back from dropping the first set against Taipei’s Jimmy Wang to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Rajeev Ram, a two-time Dallas Doubles Champion, had to overcome a slow start as well. Second-year pro Daniel Kosakowski grabbed the first set 6-2, but Ram’s service game helped him battle back as he took the following two sets 7-6(3), 6-4. Knoxville, Tennesee native Rhyne Williams managed to already surpass his 2012 Challenger of Dallas accomplishments by winning his first round match against Texas A&M alum Austin Krajicek 7-5, 6-2.

In main draw doubles, the No.4-seeded team of Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Steve Johnson looked strong early on in their 6-3, 7-5 victory over Carsten Ball and Bobby Reynolds. Americans Bradley Klahn and Denis Kudla had little trouble as well in their first round match, needing less than an hour to dispose of locals Neil Kenner and Andrew McCarthy, 6-2, 6-1.

 

With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players, as well as a platform for established professionals. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Andy

Murray are among today’s top players who began their professional careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world class tennis administered on the local level and played on local courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide.

 

CHALLENGER OF DALLAS – DALLAS, TX, USA

$ 100,000.00
FEBRUARY 02 – FEBRUARY 10, 2013

RESULTS – FEBRUARY 04, 2013
Men’s
Singles – First Round

[2] M Russell (USA) d J Wang (TPE) 46 61 64
R Sweeting (USA) d [3] T Smyczek (USA) 63 26 64
[4] [WC] R Ram (USA) d D Kosakowski (USA) 26 76(3) 64
R Williams (USA) d [WC] A Krajicek (USA) 75 62
[WC] R Ginepri (USA) d R De Voest (RSA) 36 63 64

Men’s
Doubles – First Round

[4] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / S Johnson (USA) d C Ball (AUS) / B Reynolds (USA) 63 75
B Klahn (USA) / D Kudla (USA) d [WC] N Kenner (USA) / A McCarthy (USA) 62 61

Mens
Qualifying Singles – Quarterfinals

Qualifying – A Bogdanovic (GBR) d [WC] J Jenkins (USA) 63 63
Qualifying – M Baumann (GER) d D Nguyen (USA) 61 62
Qualifying – J Andersen (RSA) d M Styslinger (USA) 75 46 62
Qualifying – A Domijan (USA) d M Krueger (USA) 61 75

Mens
Qualifying Doubles – Finals

Qualifying – [2] S Bangoura (USA) / N Meister (USA) d M Baumann (GER) / T Puetz (GER) 16 64 11-9

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 05, 2013
STADIUM COURT start 10:30 AM
M Demoliner (BRA) vs I Van der Merwe (RSA)
[1] J Levine (CAN) vs B Klahn (USA)
[8] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) vs D Molchanov (UKR)
S Johnson (USA) vs B Reynolds (USA)
A Kuznetsov (USA) vs [5] M Ebden (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 PM
[WC] C Buchanan (USA) / D Nguyen (USA) vs M Russell (USA) / R Sweeting (USA)
[6] [WC] J Blake (USA) vs [Q] A Domijan (USA)

COURT 1 start 10:30 AM
P Herbert (FRA) vs [Q] A Bogdanovic (GBR)
M Yani (USA) vs [Q] M Baumann (GER)
T Sandgren (USA) vs M Zverev (GER)
D Kudla (USA) vs [Q] J Andersen (RSA)
F Dancevic (CAN) vs [7] V Pospisil (CAN)

Not Before 6:00 PM
[WC] D Kosakowski (USA) / V Mirzadeh (USA) vs T Sandgren (USA) / R Williams (USA)

 

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Keys and Levine Book Their Spot into 2012 Australian Open Main Draw

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – For the players in today’s Men’s and Women’s Finals at the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs, there was only one goal – win the match and earn the right to walk right into the main draw of next month’s Australian Open.

Madison Keys (Photo by Erik Gudris)

The Women’s Finals featured two young American players, Madison Keys, who won the U.S. Open Wildcard earlier this summer, and Gail Brodsky who is currently ranked No. 229 on the WTA Tour. Keys went in as a slight favorite and her huge serve and powerful groundstrokes allowed her to dictate the tone of the first set. Going up a quick 4-1 on a double break, Keys briefly allowed Brodsky back into the set but managed to serve it out at 6-3.

Brodsky did her best to keep fighting with Keys who often had the last word in some of the longer rallies. Brodsky managed to get two break point chances in the second set at 4-2, but Keys fired off two consecutive aces to hold for a 5-2 lead. But when Keys was serving for it at 5-3, she just let up on her intensity enough to allow Brodsky to break back. Keys resumed her momentum in the next game and on her first match point, she hit a sizzling forehand winner to clinch her wildcard berth into Melbourne with a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Brodsky said afterwards that she didn’t feel that Keys played with any pressure on her. Keys agreed with that thought and spoke about her recent success and how her young age actually helps her when competing, “I’m one of the younger ones still so I’m not really supposed to be winning matches. I’m the underdog when I come into matches so I usually try to play like that but I’m also trying to play more free. That helps me keep it all in perspective.” Keys now plans to travel to Iowa, Boca Raton and then California before heading down under.

 

Jesse Levine (Photo by Erik Gudris)

The Men’s Finals featured a first time meeting between Jesse Levine of Boca Raton, FL and Kennesaw, GA native Robby Ginepri who is working his way back into the sport after injury sidelined him for most of this year. Local fans were hopeful that Ginepri could delight them with a win today, but unfortunately Ginepri had one of those days that all tennis players can relate to in that nothing worked for him on court. Levine played a steady match throughout while Ginepri often saw his shots sail wide or found him making unnecessary errors on what looked like easy winners.

After losing the first two sets in quick succession, Ginepri took an extended bathroom break before the third set to change his clothes and hopefully change the match. Despite Ginepri mixing up his game with some serve and volley, Levine remained consistent while the errors continued to mount for Ginepri. After breaking Ginepri for a 4-1 lead in the third set, Levine stayed the course and earned a convincing 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 victory that assures him a wildcard berth into the main draw of the Australian Open.

“I was in the zone today and was trying to stay with it,” said Levine about his performance. “After that first set, I was thinking can I keep this up? Robby is a really great competitor and he’s in really great shape. Honestly I was hitting the ball as solid as I could hit it and it all worked out for me today.”

Levine has played mostly challengers during 2011, but his recent results including today has him excited for next year. “I had a really good finish to the year and winning the title in Knoxville was a big boost to my confidence. And so getting back into the big leagues again proves all my hard work is paying off. I’m really excited to be back in the big show again. It feels good.”

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

Tennis Panorama News will be media covering next month’s Australian Open in Melbourne from January 16-29, 2012.

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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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Fields for USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Announced

 

USTA Player Development has named the eight men and eight women who will be participating in the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs. They include in the Women’s draw – Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Madison Keys, Jamie Hampton, Gail Brodsky, Alison Riske, Grace Min and Taylor Townsend.

 

The men’s field consists of Robby Ginepri, Jack Sock, Bobby Reynolds, Denis Kudla, Steve Johnson, Daniel Kosakowski, Rhyne Williams and Jesse Levine.

 

The playoffs will be held at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, one of the USTA Certified Regional Training Centers  from December 16-18.  The winners will receive main draw singles wild cards into the men’s and women’s draws at the 2012 Australian Open through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia.

 

Seeding for the playoffs will be based on the ATP World Tour and WTA Rankings.

 

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Hometown Hero Isner Survives Opener Against Blake in Atlanta

John Isner

By Erik Gudris

NORCROSS, Georgia – Before the Atlanta Tennis Championships started, defending champion Mardy Fish quipped that local favorite John Isner had four hometown events based on his growing up in North Carolina, going to school in Georgia and training full time in Florida. Today’s action down at the Racquet of The South saw several local favorites in action, but it was Isner match against a resurgent James Blake that had Isner drawing on all the home court support he could get.

Atlanta’s Donald Young teamed up with Ryan Harrison in doubles as they took on the German pairing of Matthias Bachinger and Frank Moser. Despite coming from behind in the first two sets, in large part based on the skillful net play of Harrison, Young and Harrison lost momentum late in the match and a slew of errors early on from Harrison in the match tie-break saw the German team finally win 4-6, 7-6, 10-6, giving Young a sooner than expected exit from his hometown tourney. Another local hopeful, Robby Ginepri, who’s returning to the ATP tour after an extended break due to injury, couldn’t keep his comeback going as he lost to Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 7-6 (6) 2-6, 6-2.

James Blake

But the main event was Isner taking on his ATC doubles partner Blake in a long duel that lasted almost three hours. After winning the first set in a tiebreak, Isner jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second set before Blake broke back to level things and eventually force another tiebreak that he went on to win. The third set saw both men stay even with each other early until the 4-3 game when Blake started turning defense into offense, coming up with stunning winners on the dead run. Isner, despite looking tired, managed to serve himself out of trouble when facing break points against him. Eventually Isner finally broke Blake to go up 6-5 in the final set. Blake, knowing he had a tremendous chance to close out the tiring Isner, swatted his racquet against the ground several times as Isner’s serves sailed by him. Blake hit one more return long to give Isner the match 7-6 (8), 6-7 (3), 7-5.

During his on-court interview when asked about the copious amounts of fluids he drank all match said, “I was dying. I went through nine shirts this match and I was down to my last one. It was disgusting.” He later admitted to being a little bit more lucky than Blake this evening but he will probably hope for a match that requires less effort when he takes on Yen-Hsun Lu in the next round.

Erik Gudris writes and moderates the tennis news site Adjustingthenet.com. Follow him all week on Twitter at @GVTennisNews

 

Atlanta Tennis Championships – Wednesday Results, Thursday Order of Play

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