July 27, 2016

Steve Johnson Wins Nottingham for First ATP World Tour Title


 

(June 25, 2016) American World No. 38 Steve Johnson has won his first ATP World Tour singles title after beating Uruguayan second seed Pablo Cuevas 7-6(5), 7-5 at the Aegon Open Nottingham, where Brit Dom Inglot and Daniel Nestor also claimed their maiden doubles crown as a pairing on Saturday.

No. 6 seed Johnson, who also reached the quarter-finals at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club last week, dropped only one set throughout the tournament and ousted top seed Kevin Anderson en route to victory at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.

The 26-year-old becomes the second consecutive Aegon Open champion to win a maiden ATP World Tour title in Nottingham after Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin did so in 2015.

“This is definitely the highlight of my career so far, no doubt,” Johnson said. “It feels really good. I’ve had some ups and downs so far this year, some rough patches, and to find my groove here on the grass has been fantastic.

“I had a good week at Queen’s last week and felt pretty comfortable on the grass before coming here. I won the Challenger here in 2013 that got me into Wimbledon for the first time, so Nottingham has a soft spot in my heart.”

Johnson, who lost out to Spaniard David Ferrer after being a set up in his only other ATP World Tour final in Vienna last year, added: “Any time you can be the last guy standing at a tournament, it gives you lots of confidence. I’ve probably tried 80 times and this is the first time I’ve come out a winner, so it’s definitely a great feeling. I’m super happy and pretty tired emotionally – just from stopping and starting in the last couple of days.

“I’ll sleep well tonight and then on Monday comes Wimbledon, so there’s no time to relax. There’s another big tournament right around the corner.”

Johnson goes on to face Tunisian World No. 60 Malek Jaziri in first round of The Championships, Wimbledon next week.

Earlier in the day, Davis Cup-winning squad member Inglot and Canadian veteran Nestor lifted their first trophy together in only their second event as a pair, after they took down top seeds Marcelo Melo and Ivan Dodig 7-5, 7-6(4) in a rain-interrupted final.

The second seeds dropped a match point at 7-5 5-4 moments before play was suspended due to rain, but managed to close it out in dominant fashion to record Nestor’s 89th career ATP World Tour title and Inglot’s second on home soil.

Inglot, 30, said: “It doesn’t get much tougher than playing these guys, so to get a win, against that calibre of team before Wimbledon, was a big confidence-booster.

“We did well to hang in there, especially after the match point and coming out after the rain delay. We came out very fast and that was big for us.”

Nestor, who is the only doubles player to have won over 1000 matches on the Tour, added: “It’s important to get matches in before a big tournament like next week and that was our goal before coming here. It’s great that we were able to do that, and we feel a lot better about our game heading into Wimbledon now.

“We have a tough draw, but we beat some very good teams here and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same there. This was a great tune-up before Wimbledon.”

AEGON OPEN NOTTINGHAM – NOTTINGHAM, GBR
€704,805
19-25 JUNE 2016

RESULTS – JUNE 25, 2016
Men’s Singles – Final
[6] S. Johnson (USA) d [2] P. Cuevas (URU) 76(5) 75

Men’s Doubles – Final
[2] D. Inglot (GBR) / D. Nestor (CAN) d [1] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) 75 76(4)

From the LTA

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Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori Advance to Fourth Round of Indian Wells

Nadal at net

(March 15, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal had an easy first set but had to save 5 set points it the second set tiebreak to defeat Spanish countryman and doubles partner Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 7-6(9) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open.

Verdasco only won 13 points in the first set, making 14 unforced errors. He made a total of 38 errors in the match.

Verdasco took a 6-3 lead in the second set tiebreak. Nadal saved three set points and saved another two. Nadal won the match on his second match point.

“I lost matches similar to this one in Australia, in Bueno Aires, in Rio de Janeiro, so it’s important winning sets like this for me like the other day in the third, today in the second,” Nadal said in press.

“You know, I have to go through these things, no? I played a great first set, very good quality of tennis, I think. No mistakes. That’s important for me. Serving very well; returning very well.

“Then having some mistakes in the beginning of the second, especially with the serve, then distract my concentration, distract my confidence, and I was suffering at the end of the second set, too, no?

“I know arriving to a tiebreak against a player like Verdasco normally he serve better than me. You know, normally in these kind of match I have more to lose than him, so he’s able to play very aggressive. He has an amazing shots, no? He arrives to the tiebreak and you know you’re in trouble.

“Feel lucky to win the tiebreak, and at the same time I think at the end of the tiebreak I played well with not many mistakes and going for the points.

“So is an important victory for me. Two matches wins here, tough ones. That’s something that stays in my mind and helps.”

The three-time champion of Indian Wells will face -off against Alexander Zverev for a place in the quarterfinals.

Zverev dismissed 16th seed Gilles Simon easily 6-2, 6-2 on Stadium 3 to reach the fourth round. The up-and-coming 18-year-old German is ranked No. 58th.

“Well, I thought I played really well today,” said the German. “I think I was really aggressive. Hit a lot of winners.

“You know, beating someone like Gilles 6-2, 6-2 is something that gives me a lot of confidence for myself. He’s such a great player and such a tough competitor, as well.

“You know, I was really ready for a long, long fight and a long three-set match and that was that quick.

“You know, I’m really happy that I got through so quickly.”

“I think against someone like Gilles you really have to be aggressive even more than against other players, and that’s, I think, what I did and worked out really well,” Zverev added.

“I had a great day today. You know, someone like Gilles, if you don’t hit him off the court he’s gonna be tough to beat. He’s gonna be running and fighting all day.

“So, you know, I knew what I had to do, and I think I did it pretty well.”

Zverev talked about playing Nadal:
“Rafa, he’s one of the greatest in the sport ever winning 14 slams. He’s probably one of greatest fighters ever, so it would be a big honor to play against someone like him.”

Nadal discussed his match-up against the young German: “He’s a clear possible future No. 1. He’s an amazing player. He has all the shots. Very good physical performance. Tall, good serve, first and second, great shots from the baseline, forehand and backhand.

“He has everything to become big star and he’s playing well. He won already matches against Dimitrov, against Simon today. So I don’t know the other matches he won. Against who? Dodig? So three very good matches, no?

“Going to be a very tough match tomorrow for me, and I have to be ready to fight, to suffer, and to try to play aggressive. That’s what I gonna try, no? Try to put a high rhythm and let’s see. I know going to be a very tough match. I happy the way I played today the first set, so if I can keep going the same way tomorrow, I hope to have my chances.”

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

No. 5 seed Kei Nishkori battled past 30th seed Steve Johnson 7-6(6), 7-6(5) to reach the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

Steve Johnson led 6-2 in the first set tiebreak, before something got into his eye and whatever it was he could not get it out. He proceeded to lose the next six points to lose the set.

 

Nishikori will take on John Isner next. Isner defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(3). Nishikori talked about the match-up against the hard-serving American: “The key will be on the return. My return, it’s going to be the key, for sure. I have to return well.

“I couldn’t really step in today, so I tried to play more aggressive tomorrow, and, you know, try to be patient. He’s a big guy and I think I have more advantage on my groundstrokes, so try to use more forehands and play more aggressive.”

During his match Isner hit 15 aces and did not lose any first serve points.

Isner on playng Nishikori: “Prior to last year I had never played him, which was pretty odd, because we have been in the same tournaments for a very long time.

“Now it seems like that’s starting to correct itself a little bit. This is the third time I’m going to play him in about a year.

“In the Miami match I played an excellent match, one of the best matches I have played all year, hands down. Maybe “the” best match I played all year. Against him in Miami was a very good day for me.

“In the Washington final I thought both of us played pretty well. He was obviously better than me. He won it in three sets. We have been pretty evenly matched in our first two contests. We have a rubber match coming up tomorrow. It will be fun.

“This is the third time, all on hard courts, in America, so it’s a good situation for me. But at the same time, going up against someone as at Kei’s level and stature, I will need to play very well to win. He he’s a fantastic player and he’s been doing it for a very long time.”

Feliciano Lopez, the 18th seed defeated Spanish countryman and 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 6-7(10), 6-4 in three hours and 15 minutes to reach the fourth round.

 

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Berdych, Ferrer and Cilic Take ATP Titles

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

(October 25, 2015) Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Marin Cilic won singles titles on the ATP World Tour this week.

Tomas Berdych claimed the Stockholm Open for a third time besting American Jack Sock 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the final. Bedych came back from a break down in the first set.

It’s Berdych’s 12th ATP World Tour title. The Czech, who has already qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.

“I’ve definitely built up a good history here, which always helps,” Berdych said. “The tournament does a really good job taking care of us, making us feel at home. Sometimes you find a place in the world that suits you well, and it’s the case here. I’m glad to be able to add to my titles here.”
Later in the day, Sock and Nicholas Monroe won their first team doubles title as a team against Mate Pavic and Michael Venus. For Sock, this was his third doubles title of the year.

“My goal is always to do the best I can in singles,” Sock said. Doubles I play for fun and to get some more practice during the week, so singles is definitely my priority. (Berdych) is top-five, top-seven in the world for a reason. He stays in every game.”

 

 

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

 

David Ferrer made strides to reach the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month when the Spaniard won his 26th career title coming back from a set down to beat American Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday. The top seed and world No. 8 won his fifth title of the year. He won titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro, Acapulco and Kuala Lumpur.

“It was a very tough match and difficult to beat Steve, who has a good serve and played aggressively throughout the match,” Ferrer said. “I waited for my opportunity and my experience counted. He also had his chance to win the tournament. Steve is playing very well, he’s beaten a lot of good players this week.”

“He just had a bit more experience,” said first-time ATP finalist Johnson who is ranked 47th. “I had some looks at 5-4 [in the third set], then at 5-5 he played a couple of incredible shots. I had an awesome week and am super-proud about how I played. I’m not going to be sad about this week and I look forward to the rest of the year. I have gained a lot of confidence and will work hard in the off season, because I know I can beat these guys.”
In the doubles final, first-time partners Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo came back from a set and a break down to win the final 4-6, 7-6(3) 10-6.

With the win, Melo will move up to No. 1 in the doubles rankings on November 2.

“I’m living the dream, playing three tournaments and winning 500, 1000 and 500 [Emirates ATP Rankings] points again,” Melo said. “There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders to become No. 1, this is a tough achievement. I am a really lucky guy to [soon-to-be] No. 1 with the Bryans still around.”

“It’s an amazing feeling, following surgery in May and the decision to focus solely on doubles,” Kubot said. “I couldn’t find a permanent partner this year, after I came back, so I am very happy to have won one of my favourite tournaments. I’m glad they got [ATP World Tour] 500-level status, because they really do deserve it as an indoor tournament. It’s my fourth title of the year, with my fourth different partner on four different surfaces. I am very happy to have played with Marcelo, maintaining his momentum. Our opponents had everything under control, but we took our chances and won the last point.”

 

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

In a case of what the late Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra would have said, it was déjà vu all over again as Marin Cilic defended his title at the Kremlin Cup, in a repeat of last year’s final beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 – the same score as last year.

For the 2014 US Open champion, it’s his 14th career crown and his first final since last year’s Moscow final.

“Maybe the first four or five games I didn’t feel so confident, but then it got better,” said the Croatian. “I’m glad the result was repeated. Last year was emotional for me. Of course, this year’s a little different. I felt very comfortable and relaxed on the court. Perhaps the victory this year is special in the sense that it is usually more difficult to defend than to win the tournament for the first time. The Kremlin Cup has become special for me and I can’t wait to come back here again.”

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Davis Cup: US Takes 2-1 Lead Over Uzbekistan

USDavisCup

 

(September 19, 2015) Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson, who were both making their Davis Cup doubles debuts, needed just one hour and 33 minutes to defeat Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, in Saturday’s doubles match. Querrey and Johnson are coming off a successful summer, reaching the men’s doubles semifinals at the US Open, while Querrey also reached the mixed doubles final at the US Open with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Istomin and Dustov are now 8-9 in Davis Cup doubles together.

 

“They were sharp from the beginning and we were rock solid overall,” said US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. ”They put a lot of pressure on their serve, particularly Dustov’s. He had a hard time holding serve today because our guys were just returning really well and controlling play.

 

It has been great run for them,” Courier said of the doubles team. “They played a lot of doubles this season, but they have found their best success here recently. Today is a byproduct of the confidence they gained at the US Open. There’s no doubt about that. Winning just leads to more winning. This was a good set-up for them. There is a lot of time for them to run around and hit forehands on this surface. It was a good situation for them to make their Davis Cup debut, that’s for sure.”

The U.S. Davis Cup Team is 36-2 when leading 2-1 after Saturday. It is 27-11 in the third singles match.

Sunday’s matches are scheduled to feature each country’s top player—world No. 29 Jack Sock vs. world No. 62 Denis Istomin, followed by world No. 47 Steve Johnson vs. world No. 158 Farrukh Dustov. With the U.S. leading, 2-1, Sock could clinch the tie with a victory over Istomin in Sunday’s first singles match. In that case, if Sock wins in three sets, the dead fifth rubber between Johnson and Dustov will be played best of three sets. Should Sock win in four or five sets, the dead fifth rubber likely will not be played.

 

Sock and Istomin have never met on the ATP World Tour. Sock won his singles match on Friday in his Davis Cup debut, becoming the first U.S. player to win a live singles match in their debut since Robby Ginepri in 2004 against Austria. Johnson will be looking for his first Davis Cup singles win and playing in his third match for the U.S. in this tie. Johnson and Dustov have also never met on the ATP World Tour.

 

 

“Confidence is one thing, overconfidence is another,” Courier said of the matches on Sunday. “We have to win a match tomorrow one way or another. Obviously we prefer to be 2-1 then 1-2. Jack has a big match tomorrow. He has a huge match against Istomin, who I am sure took some confidence from his win yesterday and is an experienced player. Jack is going against a guy who has been in this situation quite a lot. We can’t take anything for granted. We have to come ready to play. We have to be ready for a fifth match and to go all day and get the job done one way or another.”

 

 

The winner of this tie qualifies for the 2016 Davis Cup World Group and is eligible to compete for the Davis Cup title next year. The losing nation will compete in its respective Zone Group I competition in 2016.

 

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Jack Sock Victory Levels Davis Cup Tie Against Uzbekistan at 1-1

USDavisCup

(September 18, 2015) Making his debut as a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, Jack Sock, ranked 29th in the world, defeated No. 158 Farrukh Dustov, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to level their Davis Cup tie against Uzbekistan at 1-1 in the World Group Playoff.

 

Sock beat Dustov in just under two hours in Tashkent. This was Dustov’s 24th Davis Cup tie and he now holds a 10-18 singles record in Davis Cup play.

 

“It felt great,” Sock said in regard to leveling the tie and playing Davis Cup. “It has been a big goal of mine. To come here and represent the team has always been a dream of mine growing up, watching Roddick and Blake and all of those guys play, hearing all the great stories about it, being a practice partner. It’s an unreal experience. Anytime I can rep the USA is always a good time.”

 

“It actually gave me more motivation. It didn’t make me more nervous. I knew I had to buckle down and try and try and get us a win. I was able to do it, thankfully in three sets—get in and get out.”

 

In the opening singles rubber, another U.S. rookie Steve Johnson made his debut, but with the opposite result. Top Uzbek player, No. 62 Denis Istomin defeated Johnson 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-5 in a back-and-forth match which lasted three hours and 33 minutes.

 

Istomin rallied for the win after first serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set and after Johnson also served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth set. Both players were two points from victory prior to Istomin breaking serve in the 12th game of the final set to close out the match. Johnson and Istomin had never met on the ATP World Tour prior to this tie. Istomin is now 27-10 in Davis Cup singles play.

 

“It was a tricky day with our two players making their debuts in singles and Jack playing impressively and Steve fighting exceptionally hard,” noted U. S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier.

 

“It could have gone Uzbekistan’s way in the fourth set or it could have gone the USA’s way in the fifth,” Courier said about the Johnson-Istomin match. “There were a lot of twists and turns in that match. Credit obviously goes to Denis and his captain for sticking in there when he could have easily put the flippers on and gone away.”

 

Johnson said: “This one stings. I‘m not going to lie. It’s a tough lesson to learn. I left it all out there on the court….I don’t think I did anything wrong and I was lucky to get into a fifth set. It’s a tough lesson to learn but credit to him, he played well in the end. He played well at the end to break back a couple of times (in the fifth set) and sometimes you have to say ‘Too good.’”

 

“That’s the funny thing about tennis – an hour before I was 5-4, 30-0, he was up 6-5, 30-0. I found a way to get back. That’s tennis. It comes down to a matter of points here or there. It’s unfortunate that I was at the losing end of that.”

 

As the U.S. Davis Cup Team moves into the weekend, it is 25-11 when tied 1-1 after the first day of play.

 

Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson, both making their Davis Cup doubles debuts, are scheduled to take on Denis Istomin and Farrukh Dustov in Saturday’s doubles match. Querrey and Johnson reached the men’s doubles semifinals at the US Open this year, upsetting the world No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round. Querrey also reached the mixed doubles final at the US Open with Bethanie Mattek-Sands this year. Querrey and Johnson played together in doubles 11 times this year, including at each of the Grand Slam events. Querrey is currently ranked No. 46 in the world in doubles, while Johnson is ranked No. 67.

 

Istomin and Dustov have played doubles together in Davis Cup 16 times, holding an 8-8 record, but have never played together on the ATP World Tour. Istomin is currently ranked No. 103 in the world in doubles, while Dustov is ranked No. 633. Istomin holds an 11-12 Davis Cup record in doubles, while Dustov is 8-8.

 

“There is no doubt we’d like to win the doubles,” Courier said. “We certainly don’t feel like if we lose the doubles we are out of it by any means. We like our guys on Sunday, as well. We know we are going to have to play some hot matches on Sunday no matter what. We will be ready to go. Our doubles guys are coming in razor sharp from New York, feeling good and hopefully Steve will wake up feeling good.”

 

“Sam and I have played well the last couple of weeks,“ Johnson said. “We know how we are going to play and we know how we play best. It’s going to be fun to go out there with Sam and compete. That’s why you compete in these events to try and get a win for your country.”

 

 

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USA Set To Face Uzbekistan in Davis Cup World Group Playoff

USDavisCup

(September 17, 2015) The United States will face off against Uzbekistan for the first time ever in the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor red clay court at the Olympic Tennis School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

 

Friday’s singles play will first feature world No. 47 Steve Johnson against world No. 62 Denis Istomin. Johnson will be making his Davis Cup debut, while Istomin will be competing in his 24th Davis Cup tie (he holds a 26-10 singles record in Davis Cup competition). Johnson and Istomin have never met on the ATP World Tour.

“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “I’ve had a lot experience watching the Davis Cup a couple of times as a practice partner. Growing up as a kid, watching it on TV, I’ve always wanted to be on the team. I’m excited to go out there on Friday against Denis. He’s a great player and I’m excited to get out there and try to get a win.

“It’s something that we have to get used to,” Johnson said about playing the tie on a clay court. “I was kind of mentally unprepared to play on the clay again after the French. It’s not my game style. I’m excited to get back out there and play Denis. I’ve never played him before so it will be a fun experience to play someone new.”

“Steve is a great player, but of course Davis Cup is different than other tournaments,” Istomin said. “It will be a tough match for us. For Uzbekistan, this is a match for the history. For us, it will be a big opportunity and big chance.”

Defeating team USA will be a big ask for the Uzbeks. It would take Istomin to win all three of his rubbers for them to beat the US. “I’m ready for it,” he said. “Against, the USA, it will be really, really tough. It is a small chance for us. It will be difficult for us. I hope I have energy to play in my two singles and the doubles. It will be the most successful tie for us if we passed the USA and we go to the World Group for the first time. It will be a big for the country and the young players as well. It would be amazing.”

In the second match on Friday, world No. 29 Jack Sock and world No. 158 Farrukh Dustov will face off. Sock is also making his Davis Cup debut, while Dustov has played in 23 Davis Cup ties and holds a 10-17 singles record. Sock and Dustov have never met on the ATP World Tour, but played each other last year at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit Challenger on clay in Savannah, Ga., with Sock winning in three sets.

“I feel good,” Sock said about making his debut for the US Davis Cup team. “Obviously this was a big goal of mine to play Davis Cup. I love the team atmospheres. I always love representing my country any way that I can. (I’m an) All American guy from the Midwest – there’s no better feeling that putting on the red, white and blue and playing for your country. The debut here in Tashkent will hopefully be a good one for us. Hopefully I will play well and contribute to the team. I’m looking to play some good tennis. Hopefully we can get a win.”

Sock responded to questions about his health  which forced him to retire from a match at the US Open due to the heat. “That was very unfortunate,” he said. “The US Open is my favorite tournament of the year, my favorite two weeks of the year. It was never easy to go out there and playing in front of the home crowd and go out like that, especially when I was in a good position and playing well. I tried to put it behind me the best I can and I’m doing things I need to do off the court and with doctors and my team to get that situation under control. I think I will be okay here. I love the clay and I feel like if I was able to go four sets with Rafa (Nadal) in Paris, I think I can come out here and be able to put in what I need to physically out here.”

The United States Davis Cup Team will be playing in Asia for just the sixth time and holds a 5-0 record in the country. The U.S. fell to Great Britain, 3-2, in the World Group First Round in March in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.S. is 77-46 when playing on the road.

 

Uzbekistan has never competed in the World Group, while the U.S. is 7-1 in World Group Playoffs. Uzbekistan has reached the World Group Playoff on eight occasions, in 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015, and also between 1998 and 2001. The U.S. is 7-1 in World Group Playoffs, with its only loss coming in 1987 to West Germany.

 

The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles and owns the longest uninterrupted run in the World Group, dating back to 1989. The U.S. holds a 214-69 all-time Davis Cup record and has a winning record against 35 of the 39 countries faced and a level record with one country. The U.S. is undefeated versus 21 countries and holds an active winning streak against 34 nations. Founded in 1900, Davis Cup is the world’s largest annual international men’s team competition with 126 nations entered in 2015.

 

The winner of this tie qualifies for the 2016 Davis Cup World Group and is eligible to compete for the Davis Cup title next year. The losing nation will compete in its respective Zone Group I competition in 2016.

Order of play

DAY/LOCAL MATCH TIME                  EVENT                    DETAILS/PAIRING

Friday, 10:00 a.m.                                   Singles A:                Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB)

                                  Singles B:                Jack Sock (USA) vs. Farrukh Dustov (UZB)

Saturday, 12:00 p.m.                               Doubles:                  Sam Querrey/Steve Johnson (USA)

                                                                  vs. Denis Istomin/Farrukh Dustov (UZB)

Sunday, 10:00 a.m.                                 Singles C:  Jack Sock (USA) vs. Denis Istomin (UZB)

                                  Singles D:                Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Farrukh Dustov (UZB)

The tie will air on Tennis Channel in the United States.

Tennis Channel to Air Davis Cup Semifinals and USA-Uzbekistan Tie

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Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Donald Young Named to USA Davis Cup Squad

USDavisCup

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 7, 2015 – The USTA and United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier today announced that world No. 28 Jack Sock, world No. 38 Sam Querrey, world No. 47 Steve Johnson, and world No. 68 Donald Young will represent the U.S. in the 2015 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Playoff against Uzbekistan. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor red clay court at the Olympic Tennis School in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Sept.18-20.

 

The United States has never faced Uzbekistan in Davis Cup competition. The U.S. fell to Great Britain, 3-2, in the World Group First Round in March in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.S. holds a 214-69 overall record in Davis Cup play and 77-46 when playing on the road. The winner of this tie qualifies for the 2016 Davis Cup World Group and is eligible to compete for the Davis Cup title next year. The losing nation will compete in its respective Zone Group I competition in 2016.

 

Play begins at 10:00 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m.) on Friday, Sept. 18, and Sunday, Sept. 20. Play will begin at 12:00 p.m. local time (3:00 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 19. Friday will include two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five sets until one nation clinches the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match. Tennis Channel will provide live daily coverage.

 

Sock, 22, is ranked a career-high No. 28 and is making his Davis Cup debut. Sockwon his first career ATP singles title this year at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, defeating Querrey in the final. He then reached the fourth round at the French Open and the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I. Also this year, Sock reached the fourth round in Indian Wells and the third round in Miami. Sock has also thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title and the 2015 Indian Wells crown with Vasek Pospisil and peaking at a career-high No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings this May; he also reached the doubles quarterfinals of the French Open this year. In 2011, Sock won the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow American Melanie Oudin. As a standout junior player, Sock won the 2010 US Open boys’ singles title (defeating Denis Kudla in an All-American final) and qualified for the main draw of the US Open in 2010 and 2011 by winning the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships.

 

Querrey, 27, is ranked No. 38 and will be competing in his ninth Davis Cup tie. Last year, Querrey played in both the Davis Cup first round in San Diego against Great Britain, as well as the World Group playoff in Chicago against Slovakia. He holds a 6-8 singles record in Davis Cup and made his Davis Cup debut against then-world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on clay in Madrid in the 2008 World Group semifinal, losing in four sets. Querrey holds seven career ATP singles titles and has been ranked as high as No. 17 in the world. He reached two ATP finals this year—the grass-court event in Nottingham, where he faced Istomin in the final, and the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston.

 

Johnson, 25, is ranked No. 47 and also making his Davis Cup debut. Johnson peaked at a career-high No. 37 in the world last November after competing in all four Grand Slam events in 2014 and reaching the quarterfinals or better at five ATP events. This year, Johnson advanced to the third round of the Australian Open and French Open, losing to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka, and reached two ATP semifinals (Washington D.C. and Winston-Salem, N.C.). Johnson turned pro in 2012 after completing an outstanding college tennis career at the University of Southern California, winning the 2011 and 2012 NCAA singles championships and leading the Trojans to team titles all four years he played for the school. Johnson has had an impressive professional debut following USC. He reached the third round of the 2012 US Open, becoming the first reigning NCAA champion to advance to the third round of the men’s singles since Sargis Sargisian in 1995.

 

Young, 26, is ranked No. 68 and will be making his third appearance for the U.S. Davis Cup team after competing in this year’s first round against Great Britain in Glasgow. Young advanced to the final of the ATP event in Delray Beach, Fla., this year—his second ATP singles final (2011 Bangkok). Also this year, Young reached the singles semifinals and doubles final of the ATP event in Memphis and the third round in Indian Wells. Young broke into the Top 40 in February 2012 and qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.In 2011, he reached the fourth round at the US Open, upsetting two Top 30 players en route. And last year, he reached the third round at both the Australian Open and French Open. Young was a standout junior player, winning the 2005 Australian Open and 2007 Wimbledon boys’ singles titles. And at age 16 years, 5 months, he became the youngest-ever year-end world junior No. 1 in 2005.

 

Additionally, U.S. Captain Jim Courier announced the practice partners for the U.S. Davis Cup team—top juniors Taylor Fritz and Michael Mmoh. Fritz, 17, was the No. 1-ranked junior in the world this summer (the first U.S. boy since Young in 2005). He reached the French Open boys’ final this year and the boys’ semifinals at Wimbledon. Fritz was also the 2015 USTA Boys’ 18s national doubles champion (with Reilly Opelka), earning a doubles wild card into this year’s US Open. Mmoh, 17, was a 2015 French Open boys’ semifinalist and ranked No. 3 in the ITF World Junior rankings this summer. Last year, he was a Junior Davis Cup champion.

 

Founded in 1900, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis. It is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with 126 nations entered in 2015. The U.S. leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles. The U.S. holds a 214-69 all-time Davis Cup record and owns the longest uninterrupted run in the World Group, dating back to 1989. For more information, including access to player and historical Davis Cup records, please go to www.usta.com/daviscup or www.daviscup.com. Follow the U.S. Davis Cup team on Twitter @USDavisCupTeam. Wilson is the official ball of the U.S. Davis Cup team.

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The Road to the US Open Begins This Weekend at the BB&T Atlanta Open

BB&TAtlantaOpen

By Herman Wood

(July 24, 2015)ATLANTA, Georgia – The road to the US Open starts in Atlanta with the BB&T Atlanta Open this weekend with qualifying.  The BB&T is a ATP World Tour 250 event, with a 28 player singles and 16 player doubles draw.  Total prize money this year is $585,870.00.  The venue is set in downtown Atlanta, amongst the sky scrapers and shopping of Atlantic Station.  Two time champion and former University of Georgia all-time leader in singles and doubles wins, John Isner returns in search of a historic three-peat.

Arguably the best doubles team of all time, Bob and Mike Bryan make their debut in the BB&T.  They got their first tour win in an Atlanta event in 1998.  Defending doubles champ and singles semifinalist Jack Sock, along with doubles partner Vasek Pospisil, are looking to take another step in their development.  The doubles draw could be very interesting if a showdown between the Bryan brothers and “Popsock” materializes.  It was only a year ago that Pospisil/Sock denied the Bryans the Wimbledon 2014 title.

Marco Baghdatis is already turning heads in the ATL.  As he dropped off his racquets for stringing by the Prince Team at the Serious Tennis tent with Deana Buzzy Mitchell, he was reportedly, “very sweet and winked at me!”  That kind of behavior is sure to make him a fan favorite with at least half of the crowd.  Americans Steve Johnson, Tim Symzek, and Donald Young are also looking to make a statement.   In what could be a big story line, two time champion Mardy Fish is returning to the tour in this tournament.  He has struggled with health issues almost since the last tournament win in Atlanta.  He’ll also be teaming up with another former Atlanta champion, Andy Roddick.  Roddick will not play in the singles main draw, but is playing an exhibition match against another young American, 17 year old Frances Tiafoe on Monday night.  Tiafoe created a stir in the qualifying last year and has been granted a wild card into the main draw.  Other crowd favorites returning include Dudi Sela, last year’s finalist, 2013 finalist Kevin Anderson, and 2012 finalist Giles Muller.  The draw will also include 4 players from a 32 draw qualifying tournament to be played this weekend.

2015 French Open Boys’ champion Tommy Paul and this year’s Wild Card Challenge winner Trent Bryde have accepted two wild card spots into that BB&T Atlanta Open qualifying tournament.  Paul is the No. 5-ranked American junior. Bryde had to make his way through 5 matches in the Wild Card Challenge.  Georgia Tech also is providing a wild card to sophomore Christopher Eubanks.  Eubanks was named all Atlantic Coast Conference as a freshman last spring and finished ranked number 47 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

Ticket sales have been on a record pace according to Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez.  Atlanta has always been a tennis town, with the largest local doubles league in the United States.  There will be several special events that are part of the tournament scene, including the above mentioned exhibition with Roddick, a kids weekend with special ticket promotions during the qualifying tournament, a Commodores concert, College Night, another concert featuring LoCash, Ladies Day, USTA member appreciation day, and a Family Zone presented by Prince at Atlantic Station where kids can play tennis.

Herman Wood is in Atlanta covering the BB&T Open action from around the grounds for Tennis Panorama News, follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/hermanewood

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Steve Johnson Nets a Rare Five-Set Win on Day One of the French Open

(May 24, 2015) In the first five-setter of the French Open on Sunday, Steve Johnson of the United States knocked out 26th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-3, 6-3, 6-7(1), 3-6, 6-3 to reach the second round. The marathon match lasted three hours and 26 minutes. For the 56th-ranked Johnson, it’s his second win in five setters all coming in the first round. Last year in Paris, Johnson bested Laurent Lokoli coming back from a two-set deficit.

Johnson took a 6-3, 6-3 lead and was two points away from a straight sets win in the third set, then Garcia Lopez came back in the match.

“I wasn’t like I guess panicking,” Johnson said. “I was up two sets. I played a good end of the third. He kind of buckled down and played some great defense in the last three sets. Felt like it was tough for me to hit a winner. He played great defense. He’s very comfortable on clay; he’s very comfortable out there. I don’t think at any moment, even down two sets, he thought it was far from over. Just fortunate – you know, I was down a break in the fifth – just to kind of compose myself. Played a great game to break back, a long game, and I think that swung the momentum a little bit in my favor.”
“I’ve had a bunch of tough five-set losses,” Johnson reflected. “A couple years ago here I played Montanes. He won the first, I won the second, he won the third, I won the fourth. You kind of get this emotion where you’re on this high, like you’re ready to go, ready to go. It’s just another match. It’s just another set. I’ve played a lot of tennis in my life, and I felt comfortable out there today in the fifth just to play regular tennis. You know, I didn’t need to raise my game to another level to win this one. So that kind of mentality. So I just buckled down and played the way I needed to play. You know, drew back from all those five-set losses. Had a five-set win here last year in the first round. So just another day at the office to take care of business and win three sets.”
In recent years U.S men have not been known for their clay court prowess or love for the surface. The last U.S. man to win the French Open was Andre Agassi in 1999.

Asked about if U.S. men have gained confidence on clay courts, Johnson said: “I think it’s just a mindset really. Maybe back in the day after the (Andre) Agassi kind of (Michael) Chang, those guys’ era who won here, there was maybe a bit of negativity. I don’t want to say that in a negative way to guys like James and Andy and Mardy (Fish). Those guys held the torch for American tennis and did more than anyone else really has, in my era at least. I think there was maybe a negative tone to coming here or being on clay in general. So it’s nice to have John (Isner) do well because he’s the leader of our pack right now. If he does well, you know, we all believe we can do well I feel like. It’s one of those things where you see your buddy win and you’re going to feel the same confidence. I think I was the only American to play today, to win. Maybe tomorrow the Americans will come out guns blazing and go out and take care of business. Just one of those things that confidence kind of breeds more confidence, and winning, just amongst the group, is always beneficial.”
Johnson, 25, played college tennis for the USC Trojans won the NCAA Men’s Singles Championship in his junior and senior seasons (2011–2012), and was a part of the USC team that won four straight NCAA Championships.

The Californian rates clay as his third favorite surface.

“I played on hard court my whole life,” Johnson said. “Feel like my game suits well for grass. Maybe haven’t had the success at Wimbledon as I would like, but that’s going to change I hope one day. I feel like I’m getting more comfortable. It’s funny, because I’ve had literally the last three years — all three years I’ve played on the tour full time it’s like once clay season comes I’ve struggled. Like two years ago in the challengers in the States it was like winning games, and then Bordeaux two years ago I won three games; I got killed. Then like I get to Roland Garros to play quallies two years ago and the ball kind of starts to roll and you figure it out. It’s a learning process. Every year I’ve felt like I’ve gotten here and everything has just started to click. I’ve had some rough practice days, matches, you name it, for the last two months. Now it’s like, Okay, everything I worked on, my coach and I, it happened today. It felt good. So it’s like one of those things where you get more comfortable the more time you play on it. You’re going to get here, and I don’t know what it is about here, but it’s a pretty special place to play. I just felt like the clay court game for me has clicked, which is good timing.”

Next up for Johnson in the second round will be the winner of the Sergiy Stakhovsky – Ricardas Berankis.

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Jack Sock Knocks Out Top Seed John Isner at Newport

 

Isner and Sock photo by Ben Solomon

Isner and Sock photo by Ben Solomon

 

By Dave Gertler

 

(July 11, 2014) NEWPORT – The second set of singles quarterfinals were played at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Friday in Newport, which will celebrate its 60th year by adding a new name to its list of champions. After Nicolas Mahut was taken out by Sam Groth in the first of yesterday’s quarterfinals, by the time the last quarterfinal was played, the only former  champion left in the draw was also eliminated from the tournament.

 

By beating American No.1 John Isner, promising young talent Jack Sock has made his first ever ATP tour semifinal, where he will face Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, who is looking to add to his tally of 29 career ATP titles. “He wasn’t on his A-game today,” said Sock of isner, “I was able to just scrap out a few returns, and lucky enough to get through.”

 

Earlier in the day, top-ranked Australian Lleyton Hewitt had a comfortable win over America’s Steve Johnson, beating him 6-4, 6-4 by playing solid tennis throughout. Johnson’s game was explosive at times, but he conceded points at crucial moments through unforced errors, and despite leading 3-1 in the second set, wasn’t able to win another game until serving to stay in the match at 3-5.

 

Hewitt is very comfortable on grass – of his 29 career titles, a healthy seven of them have been on this surface. After having made the final at Newport the last two years, the scene is set for Hewitt to perhaps go for third time lucky, as his family, who have been in Newport all week, would like to see. They wouldn’t be his only supporters in the crowd; Hewitt’s dynamic style of play and passionate displays of emotion on court have won the Rhode Island crowd’s support over the years.

 

“I still feel like I’m one of the fitter guys out there on the tour, no matter that I am over 30,” said Hewitt, after his singles quarterfinal and before playing his doubles semifinal later in the day, which he won with Australian partner Chris Guccione. “I’ve always done the right things, but it’s probably more important now to always do the right things after every match and prepare properly for the next match.”

 

He will need to be at the top of his physical game to beat 21-year-old Sock, who answered to the media as he iced his elbow ‘preventatively’. “Obviously, I’ll be playing a legend that’s still out there playing,” said Sock, “For him, it’s pretty unbelievable that he was No.1 that many years ago and still playing, still playing at a high level, so it’ll be tough.”

 

Before Hewitt and Sock take the court, the other semifinal will be contested between two of the game’s biggest men, and, biggest servers. Combining with Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Groth completes the first pair of Australians to reach a semifinal at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championship since Jason Stoltenberg and Wayne Arthurs did it way back in 2000. Both Groth and Hewitt will be hoping to go one better than their predecessors, who both lost their separate semifinal matches. The only other occasion where there have been a pair of Australians in Newport singles semifinals was in 1988 (Brad Drewett, Wally Masur).

 

“Tomorrow’s more about Sam holding his nerve in the semifinal,” said Hewitt, who has played Groth’s semifinal opponent Ivo Karlovic five times, only beating him once. Like Jack Sock, 26-year-old Sam Groth will be playing his first ATP-level semifinal when he takes the court against the 6’11” Croatian tomorrow. All four players are competing for prize money drawn from the tournament’s total financial commitment of $539,730.

 

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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