August 26, 2016

Mardy Fish Returns to Tennis, Falls in Three-set Battle to Ryan Harrison in First Round of BNP Paribas Open

(March 12, 2015) Former world No. 7 Mardy Fish returned to the court under a protected ranking, for the first time in over 18 months on Thursday in Indian Wells, California. Fish was off the tour due to heart problems which have bothered him since 2012.

The 33-year-old Fish put up a good fight for 2 hours and 36 minutes and even had two match points in falling to fellow American, 22-year-old Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open. The pair of match points came at 15-40 in the 10th game of the third set.

“I worked really hard in the past three-and-a-half months to get in physical shape, to go from golf to tennis shape,” Fish said.

“It was nice to play Ryan, sort of a good friend. Someone you’re familiar with. So that part was nice to not have to play someone you don’t really know.

“It’s hard. It’s never easy. It still stings a little bit,” Fish said of the loss.

“I would have liked to play a little better, “he noted. “I would have like to have won – it is what it is.”

“Being on the court for so long. It felt great to be out there. Those are situations you work hard to put yourself into.”

“It’s such a great event,” he said. “I’ve got great memories from 2008 here.

“It felt fantastic to be out there.”

Asked about how he’s had to control his ailment he said: “I learn from every situation, every episode, every sort of scenario that I put myself in in the last couple of years, and I learn from this today.

“I didn’t really have many expectations, as far as how long I could play tournament-wise. How many tournaments I could play – Indian Wells and Miami was kind of in the background.

“This is a new different challenge for me.”

Fish said that he has to come on to the court and “be sort of even keel.”

“Something that I have to work on with my sports Psychologist – what sort of frame of mind do you need out there, (be)cause this is unchartered territory for me in the past couple of years.”

“Golf was such a savior for me because I able to jump into something that I really liked to do, that I was good at, and I could see myself getting better and I really enjoy playing in the tournaments, improving, things like that.” Golf was a coping mechanism for him – “to take my mind off the tennis, what other guys were doing.”

To prepare for his comeback, the American said that he played five or six days a week for the past 20 weeks – “it felt pretty close to tennis.”

Doesn’t have interest in going to the “minor leagues and working my way back up.”

Fish said that he has 3 tournaments where he can use a protected ranking. “It will run out at the US Open. Will have some decisions to make.”

The win for Harrison moves him into the second round where he’ll face No. 5 in the world Kei Nishikori.

 

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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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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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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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