July 31, 2015

Murray Beats Querrey to Send Great Britain to the Davis Cup Quarterfinals

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By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

 

(February 2, 2014) SAN DIEGO – With the Americans’ place in the 2014 Davis Cup World Group on the line, Sam Querrey ran neck and neck with Andy Murray today.  Unfortunately, he only kept pace with the 2-time major champion for two sets. Of those, he won just one. Therein lies the story of the match.  After a valiant effort, Querrey succumbed 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-1, 6-3 in 2 hours and 54 minutes at Petco Park In San Diego.  Such is the challenge of playing against a member of the modern game’s “Big Four.”

 

“I had some ups and downs definitely,” Querrey said reflecting on the weekend. “Still bummed I lost that first one…but I’m proud of myself for putting it behind me and coming out strong today.” While Querrey was miles more competitive today than he managed to be on Friday versus James Ward, his loss clinched the tie for Great Britain.

 

Andy Murray, all but singlehandedly wiping the negative recent history of British tennis, guaranteed his side their first berth in the World Group quarterfinals for 28 years.  For your reference, Murray is 26 years old.

 

Despite the loss, US captain Jim Courier found positives in his team’s performance.  “We kept our heads together,” he said.  “I was proud of Sam and the way he competed.  I think Donald (Young) got some valuable experience…. Of Course Bob and Mike (Bryan) did that they do so well, which is compete hard and typically get us the win.”

 

Despite the unpredictable way in which the tie ultimately played out: Isner’s injury, Querrey’s flat opening performance and two ruthless displays by Murray, one questionable call may have played a major part in writing the final script, the Americans’ choice of a red clay surface.  Courier defended the choice at every turn throughout the week, pointing to strong prior performances by his squad on the terre battue. For his part at least, Murray was skeptical, “I was surprised they put it on clay, to be honest,” he said, even noting that the surface may have been helped Britain to victory.  “Yeah, obviously, it did have a bearing in the tie, for Sam especially.  I think his best surface is hard courts….I don’t know if they thought I wasn’t going to play because I had problems on clay last year with my back and coming off surgery.  So I don’t know”

 

Oddly enough, the road for the advancing team, Great Britain, on paper at least, becomes presumably easier than that for the losing American squad.  The Brits will play their next World Group tie away versus an Italian team headlined by Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini.  The United States, in falling to the World Group playoffs for the first time since 2010, could potentially face three teams headlined by major champions: (Spain, Serbia and Argentina) or our surging neighbor to the north, Canada, just to stay in the World Group for 2015.

 

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

Murray’s not quite thinking about the next tie just yet.  Still in the midst of recovery, the Dunblane native is still working his way back to playing his best ball.  “I’m proud of the way I’m playing just now because I had to do a lot of work to get back to where I wanted to be,” said Murray. “I’m still not quite there yet, but winning matches of that length and quality so soon after the surgery is good.”

With a tough challenge behind him and Murray’s mood lightening, he added “I’ll have done 13 weeks consecutively without a break of training and I’m playing tournaments to try and get myself back.  I need a break now, so I’ll take some days off after I get home, because I deserve it.”

 

Related articles:

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

Teams On The Edge

 

 

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Teams On The Edge

Courier and Bryans

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(February 1, 2014) SAN DIEGO – With the Southern California sun finally making an appearance and a partisan crowd finally making their presence both seen and heard, it was clearly a new day in this US vs. Great Britain Davis Cup World Group tie.  Nonetheless, the American team was still haunted by yesterday’s failures at Petco Park in San Diego.

 

For a doubles pairing that had just kept the American side alive in this Davis Cup, the Bryan Brothers were in no mood for celebrating—or even smiling—about their win today, neither was US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier.  The Bryans raised their record as a team to 21-4 in the competition on the back of a decisive 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Dominic Inglot and Colin Fleming. Yet, it was clear from the beginning of their press conference that the twins had other things on their minds.

 

“Always feels bad to let the team down,” Bob said.  He was responding to the first question raised.  While the query was about winning this match following two uncharacteristic, five-set Davis Cup losses a season ago, Bryan’s allusion wasn’t lost on anyone.  Bob was as much referencing the still-stinging memories of their 2013 Davis Cup campaign as he was yesterday’s upset loss by Sam Querrey at the hands of James Ward.

 

The Bryans had little mercy on their opponents today, avenging their teammate’s defeat by drawing 45 forced errors from the British pair in a match that didn’t reach the two-hour mark.  Their only hiccup, a loose game on Bob’s serve in the third set, that cost the USA a straight sets triumph. “I think they just take it to you every time,” said Inglot about his opponents. “They always ask a question of you and they’re never going to give you any free points.” “The match can rush away from you,” Fleming added.  “When we got behind in sets, it can become a blur against them.”

 

As uncharitable as the Bryans were on-court, Courier matched in the pressroom.  When asked about Querrey’s chances of springing an upset of 2-time major champion Andy Murray tomorrow, Courier fired with little hesitation, “He’s going to have to play significantly better than he did yesterday to stand a chance.” The British squad, while realistic, wasn’t taking anything for granted.  When asked about Andy Murray’s chances against a player who had just suffered a disappointing loss, another thinly veiled reference to Querrey, British captain Leon Smith stifled the rumor of a smile breaking out on his face and replied “Very good.  Yeah, very good.”

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

Related articles:

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

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Expectations, Or The Lack Thereof; Ward Upsets Querrey

James Ward

James Ward

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(January 31, 2014) SAN DIEGO – “Yeah, from London, Arsenal fan, see myself as a pretty normal bloke,” that’s how James Ward described himself to the assembled press following what was a rather abnormal moment in his career.  On a temporary red clay court constructed in the outfield of a baseball field, 175th ranked James Ward stunned No. 49 Sam Querrey 1-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in 3 hours and 10 minutes at Petco Park in San Diego.

 

Querrey opened the match in ominous form.  Although he only served 52% in the frame, he stormed to a 6-1 lead in 26 minutes.  This US Davis Cup team’s alpha male was doing the expected versus a presumably outmatched opponent and without much help from his most vaunted weapon.  Asked about moving on from that first set in his post match presser, Ward deadpanned “I thought I couldn’t play much worse than I did in the first set anyway.”

 

With Ward unable to inflict much scoreboard pressure early, he waited for his chances, fully knowing that the situation should ultimately reward him with a few. “They’re one rubber down,” Ward noted. “He’s expected to beat me on paper.  He’s not in an easy position.” After splitting the first six games of the second set though, it looked as if Querrey were about to re-establish his authority on the match. Ward engineered an unlikely comeback from 0-40 down on his serve to hold for 4-3 on serve.  The set went to a tiebreak and it was in that pressure cooker that the big-serving Californian first lost his grip on the match.

 

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

It was a topsy turvy affair for the next two sets, Querrey opening the 3rd set strongly, riding newfound momentum to a 6-3 win, backed up by a 4-2 lead in the 4th.  From there, with the expectations shifted back to Querrey, the American, up two sets to one, with a break in the fourth, would only win one more game.  “You know, I think he started to gain some momentum and get some reads on my serve,” Querrey said reflecting on the match.  “You know, kudos to him for making some big shots in the latter part of the match.”

 

The crowd, which had largely been out of the matches all afternoon, in part thanks to Andy Murray’s suffocating victory over Donald Young in the first rubber, began desperately cheering for Querrey to right the ship, but to no avail.  The American No. 1 found himself in a fifth set, a place where he had a 2-7 record; in Davis Cup where he had a 4-6 record.  He wouldn’t improve any of those numbers tonight and his loss leaves the Americans with yet another stat line to try to reverse, 0-2.  The Americans are down 0-2 to Great Britain and will begin trying to take the long road back, starting with the Bryan Brothers tomorrow.  With Murray up next for Querrey, it’ll be the American’s turn to play with no expectations.

 

Vito Ellison is in San Diego, California covering the Davis Cup tie between the USA and Great Britain for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on the site’s twitter @TennisNewsTPN, on his personal twitter @vblacklabel. and visit his site Blacklabeltennis.com.

Related article:

Motivated Murray Dismisses Young

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Mixed Results for Americans – Sam Querrey Upset, while Alison Riske Knocks Out Mona Barthel, Jack Sock Advances

Sam Querrey

Sam Querrey

(August 29, 2013)FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY- No. 26-seeded Sam Querrey was upset in the second round of the U.S. Open while, other Americans Alison Riske and Jack Sock advanced in the draw.

No. 63 in the world Adrian Mannarino beat Querrey 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4 on Thursday. The 63rd-ranked Frenchman reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year.

“I’m pretty bummed,” Querrey said.  “I don’t know the stats, but I probably went 1 for 10 on breakpoints.  I need to do a little better there, just play better tiebreaks.  My first‑serve percentage dropped in the tiebreakers, which hurt.  I think those two things were kind of it.”

 

Meanwhile, Riske stunned 28th seeded German Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round of the US Open. Up until this week, Riske had never won a main draw hard court match in her career until last month. Riske has done very well on grass over the past two years.

“I’m definitely excited,” said the Pennsylvania native.  “I mean, being in the clouds, I’m not really in the clouds because, I mean, I only won a couple matches.  Obviously, you know, I came here to do more than that.

It’s definitely exciting.  I’m looking forward to being here for another day.

Jack Sock has also moved into the third round with a win over Maxnimo Gonzalez Thursday 7-6 (3), 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

“I thought I did things well,” Sock said.  “The things I do well, I thought I did well today.  Serve came in handy for me at big times.  Used my forehand in aggression at key moments really well.

 

“Yeah, was fortunate enough to get through.”

 

Sock will play Janko Tipsarevic next. “Obviously a very good player.  Been in the top 10 before, I believe.  Got a good serve, solid off both sides, moves well.  I think it should be a good match.

 

“Just go out and do the things I do well, see how it goes.”

 

 

 

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Top Seed Querrey Falls to Countryman Smyczek in Newport Opener

 

(July 9, 2013) Tim Smyczek defeated US countrymen and top seed Sam Querrey in the opening round of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, RI 6-4, 7-6 (8).

Smyczek said that it was the first time he’s beaten a No. 1 seed at a tournament. Despite the loss, Querrey hit 16 aces past his opponent during the match. Smyczek broke Querrey twice during the match and saved 9 of the 10 break points against him.

 

ATP World Tour 250
Newport, U.S.A.  (-4 hours GMT)
8-14 July, 2013     Surface: Grass

RESULTS – TUESDAY, 9 JULY, 2013

Singles – First Round
T Smyczek (USA) d [1] S Querrey (USA) 64 76(8)
[3] I Sijsling (NED) d M Viola (ITA) 64 61
[4] L Hewitt (AUS) d M Ebden (AUS) 64 61
I Karlovic (CRO) d [5] E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 76(5) 64
J Sock (USA) d [6] M Matosevic (AUS) 62 ret. (food poisoning)
[Q] A Kuznetsov (USA) d [7] K De Schepper (FRA) 63 64
[8] R Ram (USA) d [Q] A Bossel (SUI) 62 62
[WC] N Mahut (FRA) d R Williams (USA) 62 64
M Russell (USA) d I Marchenko (UKR) 61 46 64
[Q] J Hernych (CZE) d [Q] A Pavic (CRO) 76(6) 63
[WC] P Amritraj (IND) d F Cipolla (ITA) 62 63
V Pospisil (CAN) d D Kudla (USA) 16 63 63

SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 10 JULY, 2013

CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
J Sock (USA) vs [Q] J Hernych (CZE)
[WC] P Amritraj (IND) vs [4] L Hewitt (AUS)
A Mannarino (FRA) vs [2] J Isner (USA)
T Smyczek (USA) vs [WC] N Mahut (FRA)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am

I Karlovic (CRO) vs V Pospisil (CAN)
M Przysiezny (POL) vs [8] R Ram (USA)
I Marchenko (UKR) / D Molchanov (UKR) vs I Karlovic (CRO) / D Sharan (IND)
[3] J Blake (USA) / R Ram (USA) vs A Shamasdin (CAN) / J Smith (AUS)
C Guccione (AUS) / L Hewitt (AUS) vs [4] M Demoliner (BRA) / A Sa (BRA)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am

[3] I Sijsling (NED) vs Y Sugita (JPN)
M Russell (USA) vs [Q] A Kuznetsov (USA)
M Ebden (AUS) / I Sijsling (NED) vs Alternate / Unknown
R Bemelmans (BEL) / M Przysiezny (POL) vs [WC] P Amritraj (IND) / S Querrey (USA)
[1] S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs D Kudla (USA) / M Russell

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Bernard Tomic Wants His Father Back at Matches

Bernard Tomic

(June 25, 2013) On a day which Bernard Tomic should have been basking in glory from surviving dizziness to win a match in five sets to open his Wimbledon campaign, the Australian spoke out about the ATP for banning his father from his matches.

After the 20-year-old held off 21st seed, American Sam Querrey 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, he spent most of his post-match news conference discussing his father John Tomic.

John Tomic has been barred from the grounds at Wimbledon and other tournaments, stemming from a case in Spain which is pending. The elder Tomic is accused of assaulting his son’s hitting partner with a head-butt.

Asked about the ban of his father, Tomic said: “I’m not saying it’s Wimbledon, they’re harsh.  I’m saying probably the ATP.  It’s their decision.  From what I know it’s very disappointing, and I’m going to keep saying it, it is.  From what they investigated about my dad, whoever is on the board, this guy called Gayle, he said clearly he was on the phone with my father and made a decision on behalf of that.

“You don’t do that.  If you’re the ATP, you come on a flight, you have a meeting with whatever’s wrong.

“At this stage, they didn’t.  They investigated something on the telephone for 30 seconds and made a decision, which is very bad.  You don’t do that, I think.  Whoever was on the board to make that decision, it was Gayle and a few more people, very disappointing to see that happen like that.  That’s the only thing that’s harsh, I think.”

“It’s very difficult to play a match, the biggest tournament we have in tennis, not to have your coach there or your father who has been there throughout your whole life,” Tomic said. “I’m going to stand by my decision, I think the ATP did the wrong thing.”

“Growing up with your father is a good thing for me because this is how I became, you know, good at tennis at a young age.  I was there with my dad.  We worked hard.  We were on the court together.

“Now all of a sudden there’s a change.  There’s always a change in life, a decision that was made on behalf of what happened.  Like I said, I’m going to blame the ATP a lot for this.  You know, there’s a lot of players out there who do not stand by the ATP’s decision.  They have a lot of bad decisions, a few good ones, but I’m saying this is a very bad one.”

Tomic will play James Blake in the second round.

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Notes and Quotes From Day One at the 2013 French Open

 

(May 26, 2013) A few of the quotes from the news conferences from Day 1 at the French Open.

Venus Williams

Asked about her preparation for Roland Garros:

“Extremely unideal.

“Definitely, you know ‑‑ definitely been struggling.  Just wanted to come here and try to ‑‑ you know, try to play.  I mean, I think my movement is awesome, but I just haven’t played any matches and just haven’t hit any serves, and it’s just hard to be perfect in the first match.

“I think there were periods where, you know, I found some rhythm and there were periods where I didn’t.  I tried very hard, but my opponent just played a little better.”

 

Venus admitted that problems with her back prevented her from serving with more speed:

“I can’t really serve very hard.  It’s painful when I do that.  But I’m getting better.  I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament.

“My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that’s very difficult for me, too, because that’s not who I am.  But that’s all I had.  So that was challenging to, you know, be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point.  It’s like, you know, you have to, you know, suddenly change your mindset.  That’s a little challenging.

“So I’m just, you know, obviously going to try to, you know ‑‑ I want my serve back.  I’m going to try to get it back for Wimbledon.”

“Sometimes you can just play yourself into the tournaments, and maybe if I was able to win that match maybe I could have continued to play better off the ground.  I’m not sure how much better I could play off the serve.

“That’s sometimes how it works in tennis, but it’s just been a very challenging injury for me.”

Serena Williams

 

Asked about her rivalry with Martina Hingis and if her role as coach is a good thing for women’s tennis.

“I don’t know if it’s good for women’s tennis, but it’s exciting to see Martina around and see her wisdom going to another player.  And Pavlyuchenkova, I know she had a really good win today.  Tough win.  It was good for her.

“I have seen improvements already.  I think they make a great team.  They get along well.  They seem to have so much fun.  I think it’s really nice.

 

 

Pablo Carreno Busta

After his loss to Roger Federer, Carreno Busta was asked about the difference between playing the futures and challenger events versus the ATP Tour.

“Yeah, in futures the players plays good, but maybe the level was really different.  Roger is No. 2 of the world and was maybe the best in the history, so I think that it’s impossible compare the level in futures with the level of Roger.

“I think I play eight futures this year and I play really good.  I won seven, and it was very, very good for my confidence and for my level in tennis.

“But I think now for me the best time to be better is playing these matches and with these opponents.”

 

Roger Federer

 

Federer shared his opinion about the Sunday starts at the French Open:

“Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, I remember they sort of forced me to play on Sunday years back to promote their Sunday thing.  I was against it just because I felt like the way they got the Sunday, you know, first was maybe, oh, let’s try it out.  Next thing you know like they have it for a lifetime or what?  Is that how it works?

“So I didn’t agree with how things went along.  From that standpoint today, you know, it is what it is, but it is the only Grand Slam that has it.  Wimbledon does it in 13 days and the French does it in 15.

“So it doesn’t make sense, but I do understand that a weekend for tennis is very important for the people who can show up instead of ‑‑ it anyway is very odd that we do start the tournament week on a Monday where everybody goes back to work.  Doesn’t really work.

“But, anyway, it’s how we are.  So I get the Sunday start, but it’s always something that’s a debate, you know, within the ATP and the French Open.

“But I’m happy this time around.  I told them if they wanted me to play Sunday, whatever, I’m fine with it.  They took that opportunity right away, so… (He said smiling)”

Sara Errani

Last year’s losing finalist gave her thoughts about returning to the finals this year:

” I’m not thinking about that.  It’s a new tournament for me.  Also last year was unbelievable tournament, best tournament of my life, how you say.

“I don’t want to think about that.  I just want to come here and play another tournament, a new tournament like I do other week, try to think that it’s important tournament, but is only one more tournament.

“So I try to be like that, try to concentrate on my tennis, not too much about last year or what I defend and these things.”

 

Xavier Malisse

 

After his loss to Milos Raonic,Malise gave his houghts on playing Roland Garros next year:

“Perhaps I will come back, but not necessarily in the top ranks.  I don’t know.  It’s difficult really to say.  After last year I felt as though I was really done so I don’t know if I could have come back, but of course here I am.  Who knows what’s going to happen now.

“But I would like to play one more year.  It’s nice playing here because it’s all very special here because everybody is here and the Belgians are here.

“But you never know.  You never know what the future will hold.”

 

Mallory Burdette

Asked about how comfortable she felt playing on clay:

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.

 

Stanford grad Burdette was asked what advice would she give high school seniors deciding whether or not to go to college.

“I think one of the biggest things is to realize that everybody is different.  So your path may be very different from someone else’s.

“When it comes to assessing your game, I would say get a lot of opinions from other coaches, hear what they have to say.

“Also, what are you comfortable with right now?  Do you feel like you’re in a position mentally and emotionally where you can grow and develop while you’re on your own on the tour?  Then go for it.  You have a good support system, financially everything is in line.

“If you feel like you can’t do that, then school is a great option.  It’s a place where you can grow and develop and go through some tough times.  You have a team there to support you and coaches with you at all times; whereas on the tour you’re a little bit more on your own.

“So it depends on the individual.  You really just have to lok at what will work for you.”

 

Milos Raonic

 

Raonic who is now working with former pro Ivan Ljubicic commented on the difference between working with his old coach and now Ljubicic.

 

“I don’t think there is really too much difference.  I think just since it’s a new start with something, you just sort of go forward with it, with the game plan, and you sort of just lay that trust there.

“And just part of it is to be a bit more aggressive, to be quite a bit more aggressive and try to make the opponent more and more comfortable and not really settle for rally shots, trying to have more purpose on every shot, trying to sort of get that rather than waiting for my opponent to give it to me.  Sort of reaching out there and trying to take it for myself.

“Ivan is helping me out as a friend at the moment.”

 

Gilles Simon

What was going on in Simon’s mind when Hewitt evened the fifth set at 5-5:

“Well, I knew in the game I had to play against him, but unfortunately I just didn’t manage to do it at the beginning.  That’s the least I can say.

“I was feeling bad.  I didn’t have a good rhythm on the court.  It takes me a long time to find it.  Then it was better, a lot better.  I was in control.

“But unfortunately at the end he played one more time great tennis.  And it’s never easy to finish when you see the guy coming back 5‑1, 5‑2, 5‑3 after a few match points.

“So I’m just happy that I managed to win this one.  I think it was a very difficult match today for me, and I just hope I’m going to be better on the next round.”

 

Lleyton Hewitt

“It was more just blisters on my toe.  You know, it was uncomfortable but you can play through it.  He obviously stepped up his game from the start of the third set.  I was able to hang in there.  I had small opportunities.

“Broke back and got on serve at 3‑All and couldn’t quite ‑‑ if I could have kept in front in the third set and put a bit more pressure on him towards the end of the set I might have had a bit of a chance.”

“You know, would have liked to have been on the other end of it.  Yeah, disappointing, but, yeah, I didn’t obviously come here with massive expectations.”

Sam Querrey

On only his second win at Roland Garros:

“Yeah, feels great to get a win.  My other win was on this court, too, so that’s the only court I can win on here.

“The clay season has been a little rough.  Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Shelby Rogers

 

My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.  She’s a good player and has got a lot of power.  Great serve.

“So I was ready for a battle; things turned out in my favor today.”

 

Michael Llodra

 

On whether or not he’ll retire after this year:

“I made my decision.  Because it’s still great pleasure.  So it’s going to be another year where I’ll have to play on the tournaments on which I feel good.

“But I made that decision.  I have too much fun on the court.  I’m in good shape.  And it’s always pleasant to have people supporting you, saying, Well, you’re one of the last ones playing with the kind of game you have.

“So I will probably have a lighter schedule.  But there are tournaments I like playing on, and I will continue.”

 

David Ferrer

Ferrer on his admiration of Lleyton Hewitt:

“Well, I saw what he did during his match, Hewitt, yeah.  He’s a player whom I admire.  He was like a benchmark for me from the very first day when I started playing tennis, because he’s such an excellent player.

“But, you know, at the end of the day everybody does their best, and experience counts a lot.  But the most important thing is that you have to love tennis.  Lleyton was No. 1.  Well, today he’s not got his best ranking, but he’s still fighting.

“And we, the younger generations ‑‑ or, rather, when we were young and for younger players, it’s a reference.  He should be considered as a reference.  They should look at him and see that he always reacts in a positive way.  Even though sometimes you’re down, your scores are awful, you do your best.  And this is something I admire from Lleyton.”

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Americans in Paris – Day One at Roland Garros

USdcfclogo

 

 

(May 26, 2013) Twenty-five players from the United States are competing in the singles draws of Paris this fortnight at Roland Garros – 15 women and 10 men. Americans went 4-4 in Paris on the first day of the French Open.

Here is a look at how they all fared:

First Round: Serena Williams (1) (USA) def. Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 6-0, 6-1

In 2012 Serena Williams lost for the only time in the first round of a major when she fell to Virginie Razzano in Paris. Williams did not let that happen on Sunday. Her demolition of Tashvilli saw Williams win 56 of 78 points in the match and hit 8 aces.

Serena was questioned about about the surge of women from the U. S.  in the main draw of Roland Garros – a total of 15.

“I think the quality over the past year has jumped tremendously with the U.S. players,” Williams said.  “On the female, female U.S. players.  I think last year here, outside of me, all the U.S. girls did really, really well, and I think we started to see then just so many players just popping up left and right.

“That’s 15 in the main draw?  That’s pretty awesome.  Yeah.  So it is a lot of players, but they’re all really young.  So there is still an opportunity to grow.”

Williams gets a French wild card, promising teenager Caroline Garcia next. Back in 2011, Garcia led Maria Sharapova in Paris 6-3, 4-1 before the Russian came back to win in three sets.

 

First round: Sam Querrey (18) (USA) def. Lukas Lacko (POL) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4

The No. 1 U. S. male who is 20th in the world, has equaled his best performance at the French Open by reaching the second round. In fact, the California native won Sunday’s match on the same court where he was victorious back in 2011 – on Court 7. Querrey is 1-3 on clay coming into Paris this season.

“The clay season has been a little rough,” Querrey said to media.  “Pulled out of Houston, and the Masters Series, I played well in both of them, but took two losses.  And then Nice was a little disappointing.

“I just focused on my attitude out here today and played the best match I’ve played all year on any surface.”

Querrey gets Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic next in the second round. Hajek defeated American Dennis Kudla

 

First round: Urszula Radwanska (POL) def. Venus Williams (USA) 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4

The three hour and 19 minute match on Sunday was Williams‘ first loss in the opening round of the French Open since 2001.  She’s now lost in the first round of 2 of the last four majors. she also lost at Wimbledon. Despite the heart-breaking loss, she is not discouraged and will continue to play.

“I think that obviously it’s disappointing to lose,” Venus told media in her post-match news conference.  “It’s not what anyone is going for out here.  Coming out to win.  I’m coming out to win my matches.

“And, you know, with what I’ve gone through, it’s not easy.  But I’m strong and I’m a fighter.  You know, I don’t think I’m just playing for me now.  I think I’m playing for a lot of people who haven’t felt well.

“I think for me today it’s a positive to be able to play three hours.  I’m constantly finding ways to get better and to feel better.

“For me, I would never give up because, you know, obviously at some point everyone has to retire.  You know, that’s an asterisk, but I feel like I have to give myself a chance to continue working on feeling better.  I wouldn’t just give up just because it was difficult.

“That’s not me.  So my thing is that I’m going to keep ‑‑ continue trying.  And, you know, I had a very challenging year last year, but I had many successes, as well.

“So I’m continuing to look forward to more successes.”

Williams is still playing in the French Open, she’s competing in doubles with her sister Serena.

 

First round: Viktor Trocki (SRB) def. James Blake (USA) 6-4, 6-2, 6-2

Thirty-three year-old veteran James Blake, playing for the ninth time at Roland Garros could do nothing against Troicki. The highlight of the match for Blake was a between-the-legs shot.

Blake who came into Paris with no clay court ATP tournaments under his belt, spoke about play.

“The difference between my best and now is consistency,” said Blake to media. “I’m still trying to work on it. There are days it is good. Today wasn’t one of my best days. Off days are exposed very quickly out here.”

 

First round: Mallory Burdette (USA) def. Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-3, 6-4

Stanford Alum Mallory Burdette was making her debut on the clay of Paris. She has seen her ranking rise from No. 142 at the beginning of 2013 to No. 80.

Burdette spoke to media about her challenges in learning to play on clay.

“It’s definitely a bit of a different game, but it’s nothing that we can’t adjust to.  I can’t really speak for the other players, but it’s a bit of a challenge.  You have to change up your strategy a little bit, especially if you’re a big hitter.

“It takes a little bit of effort, but it’s fun and it’s a good challenge.”

 

First round: Shelby Rogers (USA) def. 6-3, 6-4 Irena Pavlovic (FRA)

Playing in just her second major, Shelby Rogers made her Paris debut a winning one. Beginning the year on tour at 0-6, she earned a wild card into Roland Garros.

Rogers who turned pro in 2009, reflected on the win:

“Feels really good.  My first Grand Slam main draw win.  And especially against a French player.  I was expecting the crowd to be against me.  I was ready for a battle.”

“It was really tough for a while,” said the 188th ranked player. “I wasn’t a very happy person. But I kept grinding it out every day, and I knew something had to turn around eventually. Here I am – pretty much the highest point of my career.”

 

Jan Hajek(CZE) def. Denis Kudla (USA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4

Kudla, once the No. 3 Junior made it into the main draw as a qualifier.

 

Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) def. Grace Min (USA) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5

The 2011 U.S. Open Girls’ champion Grace Min made it to the main draw of Roland Garros as a qualifier.

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Djokovic Limps, Serbia Advances: World No. 1 overcomes ankle injury to eliminate U.S. in World Group Quarterfinals

Djokovic 6 32

DAVIS CUP: DJOKOVIC LIMPS, SERBIA ADVANCES

World No. 1 overcomes ankle injury to eliminate U.S. in World Group Quarterfinals

 

By Junior Williams

 

(April 7, 2013) BOISE, Idaho –  The toughness of Novak Djokovic was on full display Sunday at the Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals.

The world’s top ranked singles player battled through an ankle injury suffered early in the match and defeated American Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-0 to give Serbia a 3-1 victory against the United States, earning a berth in the semifinals.

 

Midway though the third game of the first set with the score tied at 1-1, Djokovic crumpled to the ground in pain and had to be carried off the court by members of the Serbian team, stunning thousands on hand at Taco Bell Arena who were wondering if the six-time grand slam winner would continue playing the match.

 

After receiving treatment for several minutes, Djokovic — who led Serbia to its first and only Davis Cup championship in 2010 — returned to the court amid cheers from the crowd, and went on to actually break Querrey to put Serbia up 2-1.

 

Djokovic said his physiotherapist “did everything in his power after (the injury) happened to make sure I can continue playing. Because in his interest, my interest, and everybody, of course I want to continue on playing. I don’t want to retire the match.

 

“We did tests that indicated I could continue on, that it wasn’t an extreme ligament strain. That allowed me to continue on. I took some medications.”

Djokovic also made it clear he didn’t want to let Serbia down: “Obviously it’s very strong emotion when you play for your country. I guess that’s the biggest reason why I kept playing.”

 

The watch was on to see how well Djokovic would serve following the injury. He went on to hold that game, but it was clear that the ankle was bothering him as he hobbled during and after rallies. The U.S. broke back at 3-3 on a Djokovic double fault.

 

In the eleventh game of the set, Querrey’s forehand into the net cord gave Serbia a break and a 6-5 lead. Djokovic had to save three break points to close out the set.

 

Querrey bounced back in the second set despite a pectoral injury which prevented him from executing his trademark booming serves. The top-ranked American had no aces in the entire after striking six in the first. Querrey saved two break points to go up 6-5, and went on to win the second set tiebreak 7-4. The U.S. secured a mini-break at 6-4 when Djokovic took a Querrey return in mid-air and hit it wide of the sideline. A Djokovic shot into the net on the next point gave the U.S. the game and knotted the match at a set apiece.

 

But in the third set, a Querrey double fault gave Serbia a break and a 2-0 lead. After that, it was all Djokovic. His mobility improved as did his groundstrokes and his service game. The Serb hit twelve winners in the set to Querrey’s five, and had a 70-percent first serve percentage.

As for Querrey, the 20th-ranked player in the world couldn’t overcome his pectoral injury. The result: A 48-percent first serve percentage in the set, and three double faults. For the entire match, he ended up with more double faults (eight) than aces (seven).

 

“It hurt on my serve,” said Querrey. “I wasn’t able to get my usual pop, and that’s tough when you’re playing against the best returner in the world. I was trying, but, yeah, it was just kind of sore there second, third and fourth sets. ”

 

The first game of the fourth set saw Querrey broken at love, and Djokovic swept the remainder of the games.

 

“You take away Sam’s serve,  that is a different change” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. “That would be like stripping Novak of his movement. That’s one of Sam’s two big key weapons. His serve went from 130 to barely over 100 at times just because he couldn’t get it there because of his pec.”

 

After the final point of the 2 hour 35 minute match, the world number one raised his arms in victory and was lifted off the ground and hugged by his Serbian teammates, whom he saluted in the post-match news conference.

 

“It wasn’t about my win Friday or today,” said Djokovic. “It was just about the team win, the team effort. That’s something that is very special and beautiful about this competition. You can represent your country and you get to be part of a team. You get to feel the team spirit that carries you on to victory.”

 

Next up for Serbia: A home tie against Canada, fresh from a quarterfinal victory over Italy. As for what’s next for Djokovic, he said he first has to assess the seriousness of his ankle injury. “I was planning to play Monte-Carlo,” said the world number one. “I live there and train there, so it feels like a home tournament to me. I love playing there, so I’m going to do everything in my power to recover for that tournament.”

 

“How realistic it is, to be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you right now. It’s still too early.”

 

The home loss is a bitter pill to swallow for the U.S., whose Davis Cup season has come to an end. The Americans — whose last home defeat was in 2011 to Spain in Austin, Texas — now must wait until a September draw after the semifinals and World Group Play-offs — to find out who their first opponent will be for the 2014 campaign.

 

But Captain Courier had some kind words for Boise, saying the city “did an outstanding job welcoming both teams … It was a tremendous atmosphere. It’s one of the pluses about the way Davis Cup is played today is the atmosphere.

 

“I think Boise has a lot to be proud of.”

 

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Serbia Holds Off Bryans in Five-Set Thriller

 

 

By Junior Williams

DAVIS CUP: SERBIA HOLDS OFF BRYANS IN THRILLER

Takes 2-1 lead after Zimonjic, Bozoljac win in five-set marathon.

 

(April 6, 2013) BOISE, Idaho – Serbia Davis Cup captain Bogdan Obradovic is probably saying, “I told you so.”

 

He stuck with No. 335th ranked Ilija Bozoljac instead of replacing him with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

 

The payoff: Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic defeated top-ranked Americans Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 4-6, 15-13 in a thrilling 4 hour 21- minute doubles match in the Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals at Taco Bell Arena, giving Serbia a 2-1 lead heading into Sunday’s rubbers and an opportunity for Djokovic to clinch the tie in his singles match.

 

Bozoljac’s powerful serves — many of them rockets at around 135 miles per hour — helped to neutralize the Bryans. Together, Bozoljac and Zimonjic served up 36 aces to the Americans’ twelve.

 

The 27-year old Bozoljac also came through with a number of backhand winners down the line. his play, combined with the experience of former world number one doubles player Zimonjic, came in handy for the Serbs.

 

Both teams broke each other midway through the first set, but it was Serbia that struck first by winning the tiebreak on a Zimonjic second serve ace, followed by a winner that clipped the baseline.

 

The second tiebreak also went to Serbia, helped by a minibreak due to a net cord and a strong service game resulting in three aces.

 

But the world’s No. 1 doubles team refused to give up. The Americans began their comeback by breaking Bozoljac’s serve in the final game of the third set, as Zimonjic’s block of a Mike Bryan shot sailed beyond the baseline.

 

The Bryans repeated the feat in the fourth set, as Zimonjic — who was serving this game — knocked a return from the Americans in to the net, knotting up the match at two sets apiece.

 

In the fifth set, each team managed to hold serve while escaping danger at times, until the 27th game of the set, when Bozoljac’s backhad stab return was sent wide by the Americans to give Serbia a break and a chance to serve out the match.

 

But there was more drama, as Zimonjic double faulted to give the Bryans two break points and a chance to tie the set at 14-14. That’s when Zimonjic blasted two aces to tie the game at deuce.

 

After the Bryans staved off one match point on a lob the Serbs couldn’t convert, Zimonjic served out the next two points, ending with an ace to seal the victory for Serbia. The winners hugged each other on the court as their supporters cheered wildly. Despite their disappointment, those rooting for the home team applauded the quality play of both the Serbians and the Americans.

 

Just how close was the match? Each team scored 217 points.

 

“For sure, it’s the biggest win in the Davis Cup doubles for me,” said Zimonjic. “We were playing very good.

 

“This was definitely a great, great performance and great match from me.”

 

“Anybody who was supposed to play with Nenad was supposed to be the underdog against the Bryans,” Bozoljac said. “We won and I just can’t believe it happened.

“For me, it definitely means a lot because this is my best performance in Davis Cup so far. I knew if I give my 100 percent for one match I could play on a really high level.”

 

“Have to tip our hats to those guys, obviously,” said a disappointed Bob Bryan.  “Thought they played really well all day.  36 aces, didn’t give us much opportunity, in the fifth especially.
“Just one of those things.  Obviously disappointed we let the team down.”

 

He’s a guy we haven’t seen too much of on the tour,” Mike Bryan said about journeyman Bozoljac.  “Asked a few questions of guys that have seen him play.  Gave us a few things.  But he served great all day.  He actually was a stronger returner.  There at the end he didn’t show any nerves, came up with the goods, especially on some of those 30‑All points.”

 

US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier was asked about if Bozoljac’s is a testament to the spirit of Davis Cup “I think inspiration is pretty easy to come by when you’re playing for the colors on your back, US.  We’ve seen a lot of people in this competition rise up.  You look at the numbers next to the guy’s career, you see the performance today, something doesn’t add up.  You clearly see there was some inspiration, chemistry with Nenad on the court, and you say, Too good.”

 

It was the second consecutive Davis Cup defeat for the Bryans, who back in February lost in the World Group First Round to Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. The winningest doubles team in U.S. Davis Cup history is now 20-4 when playing together.

 

Now the U.S. faces a tall task in tomorrow’s reverse singles, with Djokovic set to take on Sam Querrey in the first match. If Querrey pulls off the upset, it’ll be left to American John Isner and Serb Viktor Troicki to settle the tie.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Boise, Idaho covering the Davis Cup quarterfinal World Group tie between the United States and Serbia for Tennis Panorama News.

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