Eighteen-year-old Collin Altamirano beat 17-year-old and fellow Californian qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 6-1, 7-6 (4), while Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 16-year-old wild card Taylor Fritz beat No. 7-seeded Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria, 6-3, 6-4.
In the last match of the day, wild card Ryan Sweeting fell to Roberto Marcora, the No. 4 seed from Italy, 6-1, 6-2. It marked the former Calabasas $50,000 Challenger finalists’ first tournament back since back surgery in September and the first as a married man. On Dec. 31, Sweeting married TV star and former ranked junior tennis player and fan Kaley Cuoco, who attended the match.
“Honestly, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” said Sweeting, 26. “I’ve actually only been playing sets for the past week and a half. The quality of players out here is actually really impressive. It’s not like I remember playing my last Futures tournament back in 2007. It was a tough first match back.”
He added: “I need to get a lot more work done. I need to work on my fitness and my footwork and my movement. You can’t just hit balls and then come out here and compete. So there’s going to be a lot more weeks to get my game going.”
The plan is to continue with his comeback, if his back holds up, but Sweeting is enjoying life as a newlywed with Kaley. “It’s going to be a lot tougher to leave my wife and go out on Tour if that’s what I decide to do,” he said.
Fritz said Higueras gave him some post-match pointers. “He told me what some guys at the next level are doing so I can get there,” Fritz said. “He gave me some good advice.”
Fritz qualified last week at the Bakersfield Futures event dropping just three games in three matches. He then beat former Michigan All-American Evan King in the first round before falling to another qualifier and his Calabasas doubles partner Altamirano. Fritz plays King today for a possible spot in the quarterfinals in the first match on Stadium Court at 10 a.m.
Fritz, ranked around No. 80 in the ITF junior rankings, said he will play three weeks of junior tournaments in Claremont, Carson and the ASICS Easter Bowl starting next Monday with the goal to increase his ranking and qualify into the French Open and junior Wimbledon. Fritz’s father Guy was an ATP doubles standout in the 1970s and his mother Kathy May Fritz is a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist.
Wednesday’s Main-Draw Singles Scores
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.
By Joe McGovern
HOUSTON, Texas – No one can take away from Ryan Sweeting that he is the defending champion at the US Menâ€™s Clay Court Championships. Yet after beginning his title defenseâ€”his first ever, as Houston remains his lone ATP titleâ€”with a 6-2, 7-6(6) win over Ricardo Mello, the Bahamian-born American spoke candidly about the consequences of this yearâ€™s event.
â€œThis week is important for me, obviously. I have a lot of points on the board from this week. Weâ€™ll really assess my goals and my schedule after this tournament. How I do in this tournament will determine a lot about how the next three of four months go for me. Right now my only goal is to perform well here.â€
Sweeting’s world ranking plummeted 55 spots earlier this week when his points from last yearâ€™s victory fell off. He is now ranked World No. 143, his lowest position in 24 months.Â An early round exit here would deny him direct entry to most tour events, including next monthâ€™s French Open.
â€œLast year, coming into this tournament, I had just started playing tour events,â€ he said. â€œIt was new and fresh for me, and ever since I won at this event Iâ€™ve been playing at the tour level consistently. Itâ€™s a lot harder, a lot more intense, and the level is a lot higher, and it basically makes it tougher to win matches.â€
But he is still upbeat about his chances one year later in Texas. â€œI definitely feel like my serve is stronger, I feel like my movement on the court is better, I feel like Iâ€™m physically stronger. But thereâ€™s a lot of good players in the field so Iâ€™m just trying to take it one match at a time. Iâ€™m not trying to win the whole tournament in one match.â€
In other first round play on Tuesday, Igor Kunitsyn defeated Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse, 6-4, 6-2, Paolo Lorenzi advanced over Wayne Odesnik, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3, and 2010 Houston semifinalist Horacio Zeballos rolled past Adrian Ungur, 6-3, 6-3.
In a rare all Japanese contest, Tatsuma Ito beat Go Soeda, 6-4, 7-5. And Houston resident Michael Russell gave his friends and neighbors a reason to cheer as he came back from a set and a break down to win against Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. Russell faces fellow American and top seed Mardy Fish in the second round on Thursday.
New commitments to the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships include world No. 62 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who, at 20 years old is the youngest player inside world top 100 on the South African Airways ATP World Tour Rankings.
Joining Dimitrov will be Lithuanian Richard Berankis, who is 21 years old, and currently ranked No. 96 in the world. Dimitrov and Berankis are both widely considered among the next generation of up and comers on the global tennis scene.
They join two top young Americans in the Newport field- 19 year old Ryan Harrison, currently ranked No. 122 in the world and No. 69 Ryan Sweeting, who went from wild card entry to champion at Houston earlier this year. The Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships will be hosted July 4 – 10, 2011 on the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. for more information - www.tennisfame.com.
In the news:
Retired Thai player Paradorn Srichaphan announced that he entering Thailand’s political arena. He’s running for Parliament.
Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Michael Chang will take part in theÂ first Rogers Legends Cup a part of theÂ Rogers Cup tournament during final weekend of the WTA Premier 5 event.
Newly crowned Houston Champion Ryan Sweeting will be playing Newport this July.
Dinara Safina reports on her twitter account:
have good and bad news!!!the good news that my stress fracture is almost healed so that was not the case!and bad
News I was touching the nerve so that’s why I had sharp pain in my back!!!but another good news I don’t have to stop!!!so tomorrow back atWork!!!yyuuppii!!!!!!! I’m so happy that is nothing serious and that I can continue working hard!!!!
ATP World TourÂ Masters 1000
RESULTSÂ - MONDAY,Â 11 APRIL, 2011
Singles â€“ First Round
 N Almagro (ESP) d M Granollers (ESP) 63 63
F Mayer (GER) d  M Youzhny (RUS) 63 26 63
 V Troicki (SRB) d [WC] J Lisnard (MON) 76(4) 61
 J Tsonga (FRA) d J Monaco (ARG) 46 63 62
 R Gasquet (FRA) d D Istomin (UZB) 57 63 64
 M Cilic (CRO) d [Q] F Volandri (ITA) 62 61
J Nieminen (FIN) d [Q] J Benneteau (FRA) 46 63 76(3)
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) d J Chela (ARG) 64 57 75
[WC] R Stepanek (CZE) d M Baghdatis (CYP) 36 61 76(7) â€“ saved 2 M.P.
[Q] F Gil (POR) d S Stakhovsky (UKR) 61 63
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) d S Giraldo (COL) 76(4) 75
T Robredo (ESP) d I Dodig (CRO) 64 62
R Haase (NED) d N Davydenko (RUS) 75 46 64
Doubles â€“ First Round
E Gulbis (LAT) / V Troicki (SRB) d P Hanley (AUS) / A Ram (ISR) 60 61
R Gasquet (FRA) / I Ljubicic (CRO) d N Almagro (ESP) / M Raonic (CAN) 63 62
ORDER OF PLAY â€“ TUESDAY, 12 APRIL, 2011
COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
T Bellucci (BRA) vs  G Simon (FRA)
Not Before 11:30 AM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs  R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 1:30 PM
 J Tsonga (FRA) vs I Ljubicic (CRO)
E Gulbis (LAT) vs M Raonic (CAN)
COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs F Lopez (ESP)
K Anderson (RSA) vs F Fognini (ITA)
A Montanes (ESP) vs X Malisse (BEL)
[Q] O Rochus (BEL) vs  [WC] T Berdych (CZE)
COURT 2 start 11:00am
[Q] M Gonzalez (ARG) vs V Hanescu (ROU)
[Q] V Millot (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
[Q] P Riba (ESP) vs P Starace (ITA)
COURT 9 start 11:00am
J Chela (ARG) / B Soares (BRA) vs M Mertinak (SVK) / D Norman (BEL)
M Granollers (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs  M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB)
Not Before 3:00 PM
M Lopez (ESP) / J Monaco (ARG) vs [WC] J Benneteau (FRA) / J Chardy (FRA)
COURT 11 start 12:00 noon
S Stakhovsky (UKR) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs  J Melzer (AUT) / P Petzschner (GER)
Ryan Sweeting playing in his first ATP World Tour final notches his first tournament win with a 6-4, 7-6(3) over Kei Nishikori at the US Menâ€™s Clay Court Championship.
â€œIâ€™m most happy about the way I performed under pressure, said Sweeting. It was my first final and I felt I stayed calm, I stayed focused. I didnâ€™t let the moment get to me and nerves get to me, which has happened to me in the past before, so I felt that I competed well at an important time in my career.â€
On the 10th game of the second set: â€œThat game was very crucial. It was definitely an important hold for me. I think it was a 20-minute long game. It definitely wore me out a little bit. I knew that I wanted to try and win the second set, obviously, to win the match, but it was a good hold and I felt that it gave me a little bit of momentum going into the rest of the set. It sort of hit him a little harder that he didnâ€™t get the break â€“ he had a lot of break points â€“ but I just fought hard today.â€
He is the first American Â and wildcard winner at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship since Mardy Fish in 2006.
Kei Nishikori, now 1-1 lifetime in finals, having won in Delray Beach in 2008.Â â€œI was struggling today, missing a lot with easy shots and he was more aggressive than me, so thatâ€™s why I was struggling, I guess. It was a final and I really wanted to win today, but I think that made me a little tight.â€
Nishikori is one of only two Japanese titles winners all-time, joining Shuzo Matsuoka who won in Seoul in April 1992. Nishikori on approaching Matsuoka’s ranking ofÂ No. 46, the highest for a Japanese player,â€œitâ€™s one of my goals, but if I play good itâ€™s going to come for sure sometime. Hopefully I can get to 45 as soon as possible. Itâ€™ll be good for me, but I think itâ€™s going to come sometime if I can play like this in every tournament.â€
Nishikori is involved with two efforts to help with the earthquake and tsunami relief in his native Japan. The two projects are an online auction of tennis memorbilia and experiences and through donations to the Red Cross on his Facebook page.
Both Sweeting and Nishikori will reach career high rankings on the ATP World Tour on Monday. Sweeting is projected to reach No. 71, Nishikori to No. 49.
The 2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship is set for April 9-15 at River Oaks Country Club.
HOUSTON – Wildcard Ryan Sweeting stunned Ivo KarlovicÂ 7-6(3), 6-3 to advance to his first ATP World Tour final.
“I had trouble with allergies today and I was not at my best” Karlovic said after the match.Â “I could not breathe properly and I felt worse and worse as the match progressed. But all in all it was a good week. Ryan played really well and I wish him all the best in the final.”
Sweeting, who won the 2005 US Open Junior title, is the first wild card to reach the final at this tournament since Mardy Fish won the title in 2006.
Kei Nishikori has advanced to his second career ATP World Tour final with a win over PabloÂ Cuevas 6-3, 7-5.
Nishikori is now 2-0 in semifinals in his career. His previous best result was winning the title in Delray Beach in 2008. That title made him the first Japanese titles winner since Shuzo Matsuoka won in Seoul in April 1992.
Nishikori is involved with two efforts to help with the earthquake and tsunami relief in his home country. The two projects are an online auction of tennis memorbilia and experiences and through donations to the Red Cross on his Facebook page.
Sunday’s final will be the youngest on the ATP World Tour in 2011 with a combined age of 44 (Sweeting 23, Nishikori 21).
In the doubles final the Bryans have won a tournament record four titles in Houston and it is their 69th title overall with Saturdays win over John Isner and Sam Querrey. Last summer they set a new team record, surpassing the hall of fame team of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2011
Singles Semifinal Round
[WC] Ryan Sweeting (USA) d [Q] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 76(3) 63
(6) Kei Nishikori (JPN) d  Pablo Cuevas (URU) 63 75
 Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d John Isner (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) 67(4) 62 10-5
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2011
STADIUM start 2:00 PM
[WC] Ryan Sweeting (USA) vs (6) Kei Nishikori (JPN)