2014/08/22

Top Seed Isner Advances, Hewitt Guts Out a Win Over Harrison

 

John Isner

John Isner

By Dave Gertler

(July 8, 2014) NEWPORT – Tuesday was always going to be an exciting day at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, with a defending champion, No.1 seed, and a dual grand slam champion in action. All three – Nicolas Mahut, John Isner and Lleyton Hewitt respectively – would advance through their matches to round two, but it was the manner in which, in particular, the latter did, that had the New England tennis enthusiasts on the edge of their seats.

 

Two-time champion John Isner managed a late charge from his first round opponent, qualifier Wayne Odesnik, but would be too strong, taking the match 6-3, 7-6 in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Isner’s second round opponent will be world No.208 Austin Krajicek, who held off Tim Smyczek in their first round match.

 

Lleyton Hewitt in Press

Lleyton Hewitt in Press

While big-servers Isner and Mahut would have relatively comfortable wins, the match-up between Lleyton Hewitt and world No.144 Ryan Harrison would turn out to be a much more even and entertaining one.

 

22-year-old Harrison opened strongly, breaking twice in the first set for 6-1. “I was trying to play a bit too clean tennis,” said Hewitt post-match, “and sort of just over-hitting the first set and I just lost my rhythm a little bit. After the first couple of games, Ryan played a lot better as well. He hit his spots on his serve, hit his forehand a lot better.”

 

In the second set, Hewitt appeared to be experiencing shoulder pain, but after treatment during a medical timeout, was able to stay in touch with Harrison and eventually take the set 7-5. “So at the start of the second set, I was really just trying to hang with him more than anything, and make him play a lot of balls.”

Newport on edges of seat-001

By the start of set three, it was clear to the Newport crowd that they were being treated to an exceptionally high-quality grass tennis match, and were showing their appreciation to the Australian as much as their local prospect. “Considering I was playing an American, it seemed like a lot of them were going for me, which is nice,” said Hewitt, who has reached the final in Newport the last two years, “I guess they appreciate me coming back as well, after losing in two finals as well.”

 

The final set included a total of five breaks of serve, Hewitt ultimately the victor 6-4. After being on court for 2 hours and 10 minutes, Hewitt said of his gritty win, “I just tried to win ugly more than anything, and just get balls back in play.”

 

Harrison, who is unfortunately known for drawing tough first-round opponents in big tournaments, was unable to contain his emotion at one point, breaking his racquet on the grass, and receiving a code violation. Said Hewitt of his up-and-coming opponent, “I think he’s just frustrated because he’s a lot better player than where his ranking’s at at the moment, and he’s probably been in this situation where he’s had opportunities to beat better players and hasn’t been able to close it out. I knew that going into the match and that’s why in the end, I just tried to hang with him, hang with him and then hopefully put some pressure and some doubt into his mind.”

 

Hewitt’s will take the court against his round 2 opponent, Croatia’s Ante Pavic, on Center Court, Wednesday.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Newport 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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Players React to James Blake’s Retirement

James Blake

James Blake

(August 26, 2013) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY -  On Monday some players were asked in press about James Blake’s announcement about his retirement after the US Open. Here are a few reactions:

 

VENUS WILLIAMS:  You know, James, obviously the US Open was a special place for him.  I understand how he would want to end here.  You know, I think he still has, you know, a lot of great tennis in him, but he’s decided that now is the time for him.

He has a family now, so those are important priorities from what I hear.  He’s ready, so all we can do is support him.  Hopefully he will be able to contribute to tennis outside of the game, outside of playing pro tennis, in whichever way he chooses.

What I admired period about him was how he gave back, you know, obviously using his tennis career and celebrity to give back, especially to cancer because his dad passed.

And also the excitement he brought to the game.  I think he brought a lot of people into tennis.  It’s always great and also sad to lose someone who helps grow the game.  People are always interested in James, so that’s what I’m going to miss.

 

SERENA WILLIAMS:  Well, just pure heart.  I mean, the guy has been really just a great person with a great heart.  He’s been through so much.  Being even able to be a professional player with his back, and then doing so well.  We won together at Hopman Cup.  He was such a great partner and a great friend.

It’s just sad to see.  Sad to see another good friend of mine that I’m not going

 

RAFAEL NADAL:  Well, James was one of the more charismatic players on tour.  His style of game was spectacular a lot of days.  He was able to play winners on the return with great first serves, and his forehand was one of the best on tour, no?  Without no one doubt, he was able to hit very hard.  His image was great.

He’s a good example for the kids and a good example for the tour.  He’s a really good person.

 

RYAN HARRISON:  James has been a good friend in the locker room to everybody.  I mean, it’s funny.  Whenever you ask anyone about James, he’s left a great impression and just a great impact on everybody that he’s known in the game.

His career is one thing.  He obviously has his results.  I think something far more important that he’s leaving behind is the fact he left a really positive impact on tennis and the people he was around, which is what you are ultimately looking forward to doing after having a long, successful career like he’s had.

He’s one of the greatest guys out here on tour.  He’s into the next stage of his life, which is being the family man, having the baby, having his wife and kid, just going that route.

I’m extremely happy for him.  I congratulated him when I saw him.  You know, I look forward to keeping in touch with him throughout his life after tennis.

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Brian Baker and Ryan Harrison Among Men’s Wild Cards at US Open

 

FLUSHING, N.Y., August 13, 2013 – The USTA announced today that Brian Baker, playing in his first Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open, 2012 Olympian and former world No. 43 Ryan Harrison, 2010 NCAA singles champion Bradley Klahn and 2011 NCAA singles finalist Rhyne Williams have been awarded men’s singles main draw wild card entries into the 2013 US Open. Other American men receiving US Open main draw wild cards are Rajeev Ram and 2013 USTA Boys’ 18s champion Collin Altamirano. Australia’s James Duckworth and France’s Guillaume Rufin will also receive wild cards.

 

The 2013 US Open will be played August 26-September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Both the men’s and women’s singles champions this year will earn $2.6 million, the largest payout in tennis history, with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money – for a total $3.6 million potential payout – based on their performances in the Emirates Airline US Open Series.

 

Baker, 28, of Nashville, Tenn., is attempting to make yet another remarkable comeback from injury. After being sidelined since the 2013 Australian Open in January, when he suffered a significant knee injury during his second-round match against Sam Querrey, Baker returned to competitive play last week at the USTA Pro Circuit $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., and has advanced to the second round of this week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on the Emirates Airline US Open Series. Baker, now ranked No. 185, ascended to No. 52 in the world in 2012 after injuries kept him sidelined for nearly six years.

 

Harrison, 21, of Shreveport, La., rose to No. 43 in the world in 2012, the year in which he also represented the U.S. in the London Olympics and in Davis Cup. On the Emirates Airline US Open Series this summer, Harrison, now ranked No. 102, reached the semifinals at the BB&T Atlanta Open and defeated former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the first round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

 

Klahn, 22, of Poway, Calif., earned a US Open wild card as the top American points earner at select USTA Pro Circuit events this summer. The 2010 NCAA singles champion while a sophomore at Stanford, Klahn won the USTA Pro Circuit $100,000 Challenger in Aptos, Calif., last week, catapulting to a career high rank of No. 123. Last year, Klahn received a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, qualified and reached the second round, becoming the first men’s qualifying wild card to win a US Open main draw match.

 

Williams, 22, of Knoxville, Tenn., reached his first ATP semifinal in Houston this year and played in the main draws of the French Open and the Australian Open, winning a USTA playoff to gain entry into the latter. Now at a career-high rank of No. 114, He was a 2011 NCAA singles finalist while at Tennessee, and his grandfather, Michael DePalmer, Sr., was the Volunteers’ longtime coach who helped found the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

 

Ram, 29, of Carmel, Ind., is the highest ranked American who did not receive direct entry into the US Open at the entry deadline.  Ram owns one singles title (Newport, 2009) and seven doubles titles on the ATP World Tour and has been ranked as high as No. 78 in singles. Ram qualified and reached the second round of the 2013 Australian Open.

 

Altamirano, 17, of Yuba City, Calif., earned his wild card by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship singles title, doing so in historic fashion. Altamirano became the first unseeded player to win the tournament in the 71 years it has called Kalamazoo, Mich., home.

 

Duckworth, 21, of Sydney, Australia, received a wild card through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, which will grant an American a wild card into the 2014 Australian Open, to be determined by a USTA playoff (Rhyne Williams was the 2013 winner). Currently at a career-high rank of No. 150, Duckworth reached the second round of the 2013 Australian Open and qualified for both the French Open and Wimbledon this year.

 

Rufin, 23, of Charnay, France, received his wild card through a reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation, which awarded a wild card into the 2013 French Open to an American player designated by the USTA (Alex Kuznetsov won the USTA Pro-Circuit event-based system this year). Rufin, currently ranked No. 92, has played in all three Grand Slam main draws this year, reaching the second round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

 

In addition to the eight US Open men’s singles main draw wild cards, the USTA also announced eight men who have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which will be held August 20-23 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  One additional US Open qualifying wild card will be awarded to the winner of the 2013 US Open National Playoffs – Men’s Championship, taking place August 16-19 in New Haven, Conn.

 

Players receiving 2013 US Open qualifying wild cards are: 2013 USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship runner-up Jared Donaldson (16, Cumberland, R.I.); 2011 French Open boys’ champion Bjorn Fratangelo (20, Pittsburgh, Pa.), who has won three Futures titles in 2013; Christian Harrison (19, Shreveport, La.), who reached the 2012 US Open doubles quarterfinals with his older brother, Ryan Harrison; Jarmere Jenkins (22, College Park, Ga.), who came one win short of winning the NCAA triple crown this summer, leading Virginia to its first NCAA team title, winning the NCAA doubles title and reaching the NCAA singles final; former Wimbledon and French Open boys’ semifinalist Mitchell Krueger (19, Fort Worth, Texas), who won his first pro singles title in June; UCLA sophomore Dennis Novikov (19, San Jose, Calif.), the 2012 USTA Boys’ 18s national champion who defeated 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz in the first round of last year’s US Open; local teenager Noah Rubin (17, Rockville Centre, N.Y.), who has been as high as No. 6 in the world junior rankings; and Tennys Sandgren (22, Gallatin, Tenn.), a former standout at Tennessee who has won five USTA Pro Circuit Futures singles titles in the last two years.

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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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Isner Rallies to Top Harrison

JohnIsnerFHMonteCarlo

(May 31, 2013) American John Isner ended his six-match losing streak in five-set match, and for the first time in his career came back from two sets to none down to top countryman Ryan Harrison 5-7, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-1, 8-6 to move into the French Open third round on Friday.

The No. 19 see Isner who is best known for winning the longest match match in tennis history, 6-4, 3-6 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 to Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon back in 2010 in 11 hours and five minutes.

Isner needed 3 hours, 50 minutes to knock out No. 92 Harrison.  Harrison still has never won a five-set match.

At 6-6 in the fifth set, Harrison double-faulted on a break point, giving Isner the decisive break in the set and match. Isner closed out the match on his serve.

“I started out a little ‑‑ I don’t know if the word is “tight,” but I had three days off and I didn’t start out that well., Isner said. “ It was slow, the conditions, a bit sleepy out there I felt like.  And the next thing you know I lost the first set, and we got in the second set tiebreaker, a situation that I have been in before, and a lot of times in matches of mine I’m able to win that tiebreaker and completely turn it around in my favor.

“That just wasn’t the case today, but what I did exceptionally well, more than serving, my forehand, everything else, was I just stayed composed and, you know, just told myself if I’m going to lose I’m going to want him to beat me and not beat myself.

I got up pretty quick in that third set and he gave me some momentum, and I really knew it was anybody’s match.”

Isner gets 12rh seed Tommy Haas in the third round.

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Americans in Paris – Day Two at Roland Garros

SloaneStephens

Sloane Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Notes from the Front – SAP Open Day Two

 

Ryan Harrison

Ryan Harrison

By Kevin Ware

(February 12, 2013) SAN JOSE, California – One of the great things about watching live tennis in a tournament setting is that you get a better feel for the character of the match and the players.  Here are some courtside impressions from Day Two action at the SAP Open.

  • I arrived at just after Lleyton Hewitt’s dramatic 3-set victory over Blaz Kavcic to find that no one was surprised to see this match go the distance.  Even though he’s one of the older guys on tour, long grinding matches still seem to be Hewitt’s preferred method of advancing through the draw.  His next opponent is Sam Querrey, making his tournament debut after receiving a first-round bye. It will be interesting to see if Sam’s late tournament start against a cagey veteran who’s “into” the tournament has a factor on the match outcome.
  • Though he was suffering from low energy due to illness, Ryan Harrison lost a winnable 3-set match against German veteran, Benjamin Becker.  It wouldn’t have been a particularly spectacular win under the circumstances, but it was doable.  Unfortunately, Ryan couldn’t keep his focus on the important points in the second and third sets the way he had in the first set tiebreak. This was especially true when he got broken at the end of the second set.Illness aside, Ryan is a talented and thoughtful player who can sometimes makes things complicated for himself in his matches. He’s struggled in 2013, and his ranking has dropped from last year’s high of 43.  Because he’s defending a semifinal appearance in last year’s tournament, his ranking is going to take a pretty big hit. Hopefully he can turn things around in Memphis.
    (NOTE:  He’ll be playing doubles with his brother Christian)
  • As I was watching Jack Sock in his match against Marinko Matosevic, I tweeted, “While Ryan Harrison sometimes thinks too much on court, Jack Sock maybe needs to think a bit more…” That about sums up Sock’s match strategy, or lack thereof.  Sock is a big strong guy who hits a heavy ball, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Even when Sock broke Matosevic to serve for the first set, I had the feeling that the veteran Matosevic would find a way to out-think his younger opponent, and capitalize on the nerves of the moment.  That’s exactly how it played out, with Matosevic going on to take the first set tiebreaker before sweeping the second set 6-1.I don’t begrudge the big hitting, because the younger guys on tour definitely need big games in order to be competitive. But they also need to think clearly and give themselves options.  Sock’s not there yet, and I’m not sure that he sees the need for options and nuance.  I also look at Sock’s football player-like build and can’t help but think that maybe if his fitness were improved, it could pay dividends in the development of his game.  He’s young though, so he’s got time to pull those pieces together.  At least, I hope he does.
  • It was a rough day for young Americans, and Ryan Sweeting’s straight-sets loss against last year’s finalist, Denis Istomin, did little to stop the bleeding.  But then again, Sweeting was always going to have a tough time of it since he doesn’t have the weapons needed to trouble Istomin.
  • The world No. 1 Bryan brothers weren’t as dominant over their younger American opponents as one would expect. Jack Sock and Steve Johnson played well with no signs of intimidation at the Bryans credentials as one of the greatest doubles teams ever. But once again, experience and mental toughness won out over big hitting as the Bryans took the match in two tiebreak sets. I hope the young guys are paying attention to these lessons of strategy/mental fortitude!
  • Fernando Verdasco, with coach/dad by his side, seemed to have a decent on-court warm-up prior to the start of the doubles match.  But something must have happened to him between the warm-up and his match.  That would be the only explanation for his flat performance against an inspired Tim Smyczek.  Fernando played without purpose.  Smyczek, on the other hand, played as though his life depended on the win; and it showed.  The difference between the two couldn’t have been starker, with Smyczek looking much more like a higher-ranked player than Verdasco.There might have been an injury with Verdasco, who seemed to pull up on shots as the match progressed.  But it was still a disappointing match for a former Top 10 player who at one time, challenged for Slam titles against the top guys. Disappointing, that is, except for Smyczek.  At least one American young gun made it through!

That’s all for now.
More after Day Three action with Donald Young, John Isner, and Tommy Haas.

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

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With Isner Not at 100%, Harrison Will Be on Standby For Davis Cup Versus Brazil

John Isner

(January 29, 2013) The 2013 Davis Cup World Group first round tie between the United States and Brazil will take place this weekend from February 1 – 3, in Jacksonville, Fla., at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on an indoor hard court.

 

The US team, as of now will consist of John Isner, Sam Querrey, Bob and Mike Bryan while the Brazilian team will be composed of Thomaz Bellucci, Thiago Alves, Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.

 

On Tuesday both the US and Brazilian Davis Cup teams held pre-draw news conferences at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

 

John Isner who pulled out of the Australian Open due to a bruised right knee may not be 100 percent for the tie, but he’s in Jacksonville preparing.

 

“It’s definitely been feeling better,“ Isner said. I’ve been doing everything I can to try to get this better.

 

 

“Really, once I pulled out of Australia, there wasn’t much I could do besides rest. Rest was the most important thing. I can ice it five, six times a day. I can do some treatment on it. But the most important thing for me was rest. I definitely have that.

 

 

“My knee, it is feeling better. Hopefully I’ll be able to go on Friday. I would really like that. We have to see how this week progresses.”

 

 

Not taking any chances, US Davis cup Captain Jim Courier has a backup plan – Ryan Harrison.

 

 

“John is here and obviously we’re hopeful he’s going to be prepared to play come Friday,“ Courier said. “But we have Ryan Harrison, as well, practicing with us. Ryan is certainly prepared to step in should John not be ready to go.”

 

Mardy Fish is also practicing with the team but is not match ready. He’s been off the tour with heart trouble.

 

 

“We’re glad to have him practicing with the team,“ Courier said.

“He’s building back up to be at tour level. He’s not going to be quite ready to go here.”

 

Well, we have a great medical support team here who will certainly make a decision whether John is fit to play or not,” Courier said.

 

“That will be one portion of the decision. The rest of it will just be between John and probably me and Jay Berger, our coach, as well to see if he’s ready to go.

 

“By Thursday when the draw comes out, we’ll name our firm four-player team, the Brazilians will do the same, and we’ll know what the options are from there.

 

“I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s a huge, huge honor,” said Isner.

“We’re excited to finally, myself and Sam, to play on home soil. We’ve never played a match in the U.S. I think both of us are looking forward to that.”

 

“As the captain said, this match is the first step towards our goal. We’re going to go out there and enjoy it and try to get it done.”

 

Tennis Channel will air live daily coverage of the tie. Friday’s singles matches will air live at 2 p.m. ET, Saturday’s doubles match will air at 2 p.m. ET, and Sunday’s singles matches will air live at 12 p.m. ET.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Harrison Given Lesson By Djokovic at Australian Open

Novak Djokovic at Desert Smash

By Jaclyn Stacey

 

(January 16, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Novak Djokovic barely raised a sweat in defeating young American Ryan Harrison 6-1 6-2 6-3 in one hour and 31 minutes on Rod Laver Arena in the day three night session at the Australian Open on Wednesday night.

 

Djokovic outclassed his opponent in every way tonight, putting together an almost perfect performance to keep his title defence hopes alive.

 

“This was definitely a better performance than the first round. You know, I managed to play in a very high level already in the second round of a Grand Slam, which is very encouraging for next challenge.”

 

Harrison was given a lesson in tennis by a player at a completely different level to his own and has seen just how far he has to go. After the match he spoke about his experience against the world number one.

 

“Yeah, he played really well. Kind of getting broke in that first service game, giving a guy that’s that good a little bit of a lead and letting him front run is just not the ideal way to start. I guess your first service game you want to at least stay in it. From then on out, he just had his foot on the gas pedal.”

 

“It was tough because his balls were landing so hard and deep. Whenever your game plan is to try and take control of a guy and you’re not getting balls to hit, you know, if I try to lace balls from six, eight feet behind the baseline I just look stupid and crazy.”

 

“So it’s just something where I know that level now. I’ve played him three times now. I played some of the best guys in the world. I’m not there yet. I know how to get there. I just got to keep working at it.”

 

Djokovic says so long as Harrison remains committed and confident in achieving his ambitions he will do the hard work to get there.

 

“Well, we all know that the hard work and dedication pays off in the end.  So I’m sure, knowing him for last two years, that he’s gonna put on these hours on the court and off the court being very professional, committed.”

 

“So that’s why I think they rate him as one of the up and coming rising stars from the United States. They put a lot of hopes into him.”

 

“But it’s a process. And tennis has changed. It’s much more demanding nowadays with I guess the competition that is around the tour and many quality players.”

 

“It’s more difficult to make that breakthrough for a youngster. He needs patience and he needs to believe in himself and wait for a chance.”

 

Djokovic plays Radek Stepanek in the third round on Friday who earlier had an easy straight sets win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-2 6-4.

 

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Notes and Quotes from Down Under – Day 3

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(January 16, 2013) A look at some the questions and answers from day three of the 2013 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

Maria Sharapova

Q.  You obviously have a pretty big candy business now, but you’re also making a lot of bagels.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I didn’t offer candy today (laughter).  Trying to make a good question?

I was just really trying to be focused.  You know, I didn’t know too much about my opponent; just knew she was a few inches shorter than I was.

But it’s always tough, especially when you’re up a set and a couple of breaks to keep that momentum.  You know, I really forced myself to concentrate and just get the job done today.

Q.  Have you enjoyed your first 48 hours on Twitter?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I’m a rookie.  There are a lot of things I’m still learning about.  I’m just starting to follow things and people.  Now I’m learning how to, is it hashtag things, right?  That was a new one for me.

But it’s interesting.  I mean, I won’t be doing it like every single minute.  I won’t be telling people what I’m eating.  I think that’s very non‑interesting.

But when I do have things to say, I’m sure I will.  Last night I was watching this match I really wanted to say something about the commentating going on, but I really bit my tongue on that one.

I was like, Isn’t that what Twitter is for, to open up?  Itself like, No, no.

Q.  Andy Roddick has been doing that.  He’s been criticizing commentating since he retired also on Twitter.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, it’s not like he didn’t when he was playing, so…

Q.  Does it surprise you that you can just say hello on social media and get 200,000 followers just like that (snapping fingers)?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It does.  It’s very flattering.  But it just shows you the power of social media, how everyone is just online these days with devices.

I mean, sometimes you see me and I have my notebook here and my phone here.  It’s like I’m looking back and forth.  Sometimes my mom speaks to me and she says, I think I need to send you a text message to get your attention.  It’s pretty crazy.

But it shows you how powerful these things are.  I’m happy that I’m able to share some things with my fans that maybe they don’t get to see or hear me say.  Just a fun way to communicate with them.

Q.  We can see Venus on this TV screen here.  She has a bright‑colored dress on.  Tricky to make comments.  She wore the same dress in her last match.  Any comment on her fashion statement?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I haven’t seen the dress.  Maybe I’ll see it in the next round and can comment.

Q.  Are you happy with these two bagel matches?  This happened 28 years ago.  Are you happy with it?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s not really the statistic I want to be known for.  I want to be known for winning Grand Slam titles, not that I won two matches 6‑0, 6‑0.

You know, I’m just happy that I won the match and I get to go through and I’m in the next round.

Q.  Date was talking about relating to the other generation.  Clearly she is a lot older than you, but do you find yourself feeling like an older player, and can you relate to the 18‑year‑olds?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Maybe not as old as that, but I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle definitely.  I feel like I’ve seen an older generation when I was quite young and just getting on the tour be at the peak of their career and competing really well and learning so much from that.

Now I find myself in a moment where you see so many, you know, youngsters ‑ not young, but 17, 18, 19, 20 years old ‑ that are doing really well.  And I guess that is the newer generation.

Sometimes you think it’s quite crazy because it seems like last minute you were there, you were one of them.

 

 

 Venus Williams

Q.  Do you feel more embraced by the public and fans than at any time in your career?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Perhaps.  I don’t know.  I think people have always been pretty nice to me.  I try to be nice to people, yeah.

 

Q.  Have you gotten any compliments on your dress?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I get a lot of compliments on my dress.

 

Q.  What do people say?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  They love the color.  I love your dress.  It’s a nice style.  Women’s players, men’s players, people working around.  That’s been very satisfying because I work hard on the designs.  I’ll spend all day and all night on the designs.  I eat hot fries usually during the design sessions.

Then the one time that I didn’t, I couldn’t think of anything, so I ordered some hot fries.  I got there the next day, and, bam, I had the best ideas.

But since that time I’ve really had to discontinue that.  I can’t eat the hot fries.  I credit all these designs to hot fries.

 

Q.  Are they like spicy French fries?

VENUS WILLIAMS:  Oh, they are so spicy, and I just keep eating ‘em and it hurts.  I just pop ‘em away.

It’s still vegan because it’s somewhat a potato.  It’s just very processed, extremely processed.  Probably poisonous (laughter).

Yeah, I don’t know why.  It’s just always been part of the design.  When I design, I eat hot fries

 

Madison Keys

Q.  So both your parents are lawyers, right?

MADISON KEYS:  Yes.

Q.  Both still working?

MADISON KEYS:  Both are still working, yes.

Q.  How did you get from lawyers’ kid, especially two working lawyers, to become a tennis player at this level?

MADISON KEYS:  Complete luck.  No one in my family plays tennis.  I just came upon it one day.  Just thought, Hey, I’ll try it.  You know, it’s worked out pretty well.

Q.  So you got addicted pretty quickly?

MADISON KEYS:  For sure.  Right away.

Q.  First time?

MADISON KEYS:  First time, fell in love.

Q.  Went home and said, I got to play tennis every day; get me lessons?

MADISON KEYS:  Every single day.  My parents fed me balls.  Eventually it turned into having a coach, and then it went to being at an academy.

Q.  Your parents don’t play?

MADISON KEYS:  Neither one can play tennis.

Q.  What initially attracted you when you saw tennis for the first time?

MADISON KEYS:  The outfits (smiling).

Really wanted a tennis dress.  My parents told me that if I played, they would buy me one.  I was like, Hey, I’ll try it.

Q.  Who were your tennis idols growing up?  Who did you like to watch?

MADISON KEYS:  Really, really liked watching Kim Clijsters.  I thought she was very passionate, and I thought her movement was incredible.

Q.  How old were you when you started, picked up the racquet for the first time?

MADISON KEYS:  I was four.

 

Jerzy Janowicz

Q.  What exactly frustrated you out there on court?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Mostly only first set because the umpires, they’re making so many mistakes.  One of the most important mistake was set point in this tiebreak, 9‑8.  Was shanked forehand from Devvarman.  The ball was really slow.  It was clean out.  I was already happy.  I was already shouting, C’mon.  But the referees didn’t say anything.

This was the moment when I went nuts.  Otherwise the rest of the match I was pretty calm.

Q.  Do you have any regrets about the things you did on the court in terms of when you went nuts?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Well, sometimes happens like this.  You can’t control your emotions all the time.  This was really big point for me.  We played this set for more than 1 hour, 10 minutes, so this was really important point for me.

Actually, I went nuts.  I calmed down little bit later on.  Sometimes I have problem to control my emotions, but I’m trying to work on this.

Q.  What exactly did you do to calm yourself down and come back to win that match?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  I don’t really know.  I was all the time trying to be focused.  I was all the time telling myself to fight for every single ball.  And somehow I just relaxed.  I have no explanation why.

Q.  Have you gone as nuts as that in a match before?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Yeah (smiling).

Q.  Have you hit the umpire’s chair before?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Maybe (smiling).

Q.  Do you expect to get in trouble for that?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  No, no.  I got warning only because I was shouting.  I didn’t say anything bad.  I was only shouting, so this was the problem.  Because umpire told me I got a warning because I was shouting.  They play some matches around us, so this was the problem.

I didn’t say anything bad, so I hope I not have to pay.

Q.  What about at the end?  You were very animated.  Somebody gave you flowers.  Has that ever happened before?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Yes, some girls, they gave me flowers.  This was first time.  Never, never happen to me before.

Q.  You haven’t played this tournament before.  Was it a question of not having the financial resources to get to Australia in the past?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Yeah.  Actually I played 2010 quallies, qualifications.  So, I mean, last year I couldn’t come here because of money.  Now I think I have little bit better situation because I have already a sponsor.

So is much, much easier for me mentally to play this Australian Open because I didn’t have to worry about money anymore.

Q.  Where were you this time last year?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  I played futures, 10,000, in England.

Q.  Quite a big change from last year to this.

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Small one (smiling).

Q.  You said it was a money thing.  How much money did you make the previous year, or not make?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  How much money I make?

Q.  In 2011.

JERZY JANOWICZ:  I think you can check this.  During 2011, yeah?  I don’t know.  You have to check this on ATP page.

Q.  But not enough that you could afford to come here.

JERZY JANOWICZ:  No, of course not.  At that time I was ranked 220, so there’s not really ranking to make some money.  And in Poland we don’t have too many opportunities to get money from sponsors.

I was struggling a little bit, so that’s why I didn’t play last year.

Q.  All of a sudden you are making money and have sponsors.  Has this changed you, your life?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  This changed my life, but this not change me.  I’m all the time same crazy person, and I hope is going to be all the time the same.

But, I mean, yeah, in life you change a lot.  Now I don’t have to worry about my trips.  I can buy easily business class for me for that kind of trip like to Australia.  Now I don’t have to worry about money for my coach.

So it’s much easier for me to play tennis now.

Q.  Did you enjoy playing out there on court today?  What was your experience with the Australian crowd?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  I would say Polish crowd mostly (smiling).

Yeah, it was really nice atmosphere today.  Polish people, they were helping me all the time.  Even when I was losing 2‑Love, they didn’t stop.  They were all the time cheering for me.

So it’s always helpful, and it’s nice to play like this.

Q.  Did you surprise yourself?  Given what happened at the end of the first set and then you lost the second quite easily, it looked like you were gone.

JERZY JANOWICZ:  No, I’m really strange person, and anyway always I’m fighting till the end.  Even when I’m going nuts sometimes, I’m always trying to win no matter what.

If I surprise myself?  Yeah, maybe, because it never happen to me before.  I was never losing two sets to love, so this is some kind of surprise for me.

Q.  Since Bercy, have you felt sometimes the media attention was too much around you?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Yeah, especially in Poland.  First week after Bercy, I was going from TV show to some other TV show.  I didn’t have really free time for myself.

So this week was really not easy for me.  But, you know, you have to cooperate sometimes with media, yeah.  But always if there’s something too much, it’s not nice.

I was able to handle this.

Q.  What is the strangest thing you read about yourself since Bercy?

JERZY JANOWICZ:  Honestly saying I’m not reading any articles about myself.  I cannot answer for this question.

 

 Sam Stosur

Q.  Do you think you choked?

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  I don’t know.  Whatever word you want to put on it.  At 5‑2 up in the third, double break probably is a bit of a choke, yeah.

Q.  What was going through your mind at 5‑2 in the third and your opponent getting those games back?

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  I mean, at 5‑2 I felt great obviously.  I’d broken again to get a double break.  Then went out to serve the game like I had been the last 10 service games, or whatever it was.  There was no kind of negative feeling, because I started playing really quite well.

Then, yeah, got a little bit tight.  You miss a return here, a shot there, then you do the right thing, and then you don’t do it.  It was, yeah, it was too in and out for those points in time.  You make a few more errors and you’re back even.

Q.  When you say crazy things come into your head, what do you think?  Like, It’s not happening again?

SAMANTHA STOSUR:  Not necessarily it’s happening again.  You don’t want it to go any further.  It’s 5‑2.  You don’t want it to go any further than 5‑3.  We’ve all seen it happen before to many players.  You know what it feels like.  You’re desperately trying not to make it happen.

It’s probably, yeah, part of not really doing what you should be doing to obviously get to that point.

 

 Ryan Harrison

Q.  Do you think it takes some draws that give you more of a head start into the tournament?  You hit a bunch of walls early here.

RYAN HARRISON:  I’m not concerned about the draws at all.  It doesn’t matter to me the draws or things that you can’t control.  Like I said before, my goal is to win these tournaments one day.

I’m not concerned about losing second, third, or fourth round.  I want to get to the point where I’m good enough to win these tournaments eventually.

And playing these guys and having the opportunity to play everybody ‑‑ I’ve played on every stadium except for Ashe at this point, which is pretty exciting for me to know that moving forward in my career that I’m not going to have anything that I haven’t seen before.

 

Q.  Has it been strange to have no Roddick around here?

RYAN HARRISON:  I mean, not really.  I talk to him pretty much every day since I’ve been here.  He’s been actively talking to me and helping me.

Any time I ask him how he’s doing, he’s always doing great.  He doesn’t seem like he’s depressed, to say the least.  He’s loving life.

It’s certainly strange that he’s not the top dog right now.  But as he would tell you guys, he’s still ranked ahead of me, so…

 

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