April 29, 2017

Schiavone, Coric, Vondrousova and Johnson win Tennis Titles This Week

Borna Coric

(April 16, 2017) Francesca Schiavone, Borna Coric, Marketa Vondrousova and Steve Johnson claimed titles on the tennis tour this week.

Francesca Schiavone

In her final season on tour, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone won her eighth career title with a 6-4, 7-5 win over fourth seed Lara Arruabarrena at the Claro Open Colsanitas on Saturday.

The 36-year-old Italian veteran had not won a main tour match all season.

Winning on Bogota ups this former world No. 4 to 168th in the world as she tries to gain direct entry into the French Open.

“I’m not thinking about retirement,” she said. “I’m enjoying tennis.”

 

Borna Coric

Croatia’s Borna Coric saved five match points to win his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday beating German Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the Grand Prix Hassan II final. Last year’s finalist became this year’s winner in 2 hours, 38 minutes – the longest final this year according to the ATP.
The 20-year-old Coric is the third first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year, joining Gilles Muller who won Sydney and Ryan Harrison who claimed the Memphis title.

“I would say that’s my biggest comeback, I’ve never saved five match points,” noted Coric. “Especially in such an important match, I served very well in the big points. It’s an awesome feeling. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here and I wasn’t in the best shape. But I’ve been working very hard the past three or four months and now it’s paying off.”

“It’s one of those days where you have many good opportunities,” explained Kohlschreiber. “It was a big fight and great drama in the end. Losing a match with match points and to be so close to the title is always very difficult. But it was a very good week for me. I played great tennis this week and I’m looking forward to more clay-court matches.”

Steve Johnson survived late cramps to win the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, besting Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) on Sunday at River Oaks Country Club. For the 27-year-old Johnson, this is his second ATP Tour title, he won Nottingham last year.

“A lot goes into cramping. For me today, it was the nerves of trying to close out the title. I haven’t been there enough to feel very comfortable.”

“To win on U.S. soil and win when you’re not feeling great is a testament to my willpower and competitiveness,” Johnson said.”
“My body has just physically run out of gas after this week… I was very fortunate to get out of that.”

“He was playing unbelievably… I’m a little bit sad because I think I could have won, but I’m happy to make another final, Bellucci said”

Johnson beat two former champions on the way to the title, Fernando Verdasco (2014) in the quarterfinals and American Davis Cup teammate Jack Sock (2015) in the semifinals, to reach his third career final.

“Both players were very tired in the third set and we were missing more shots than before,” Bellucci said. “I’m happy for my week but today I am disappointed. I (thought) I could win because I was a little better than him physically. He deserved it more than me.”

Seventeen-year-old Marketa Vondrousova won her first WTA Tour title on Sunday, surprising Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Biel Ladies Open final.

Rankled at 233rd in the world, the Czech captured the first edition of the Swiss indoor hard-court tournament.
The southpaw will be part of the Czech Fed Cup team next weekend as they take on the United States in Tampa, Florida.

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Sock Versus Thompson to Lead Off U.S. – Australia Davis Cup Quarterfinal Tie

Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock

(April 6, 2017) As the United States top player, Jack Sock will lead off against Australia’s Jordan Thompson in Davis Cup World group play in Brisbane in Pat Rafter Arena on Friday, followed by Nick Kyrgios against John Isner.

This is the second year in a row that the two teams with the most Davis Cup titles are meeting in the World Group. Last year, the U.S. beat Australia in the first round. The last time they met in the final eight, Australian won 4-1 with Lleyton Hewitt, the current Australian Captain, making his Davis Cup debut and U.S. Captain Jim Courier was on the U.S. team.

“Jack’s going to be ready to go first-ball, he’ll be ready to get playing, and John will be there to back him up. It’s the same as every other draw,” said U.S. Captain Jim Courier. “We know what’s going to happen. We’re going to play.”

Jack Sock

Sock on playing Thompson: I’ve seen him play a decent amount. I know he had a great Aussie summer down here in January, had some great wins, played some great tennis. But I mean Davis Cup, you know, anything can happen. He’s going to come out playing in front of his home fans, home crowd. Like the captain said, fighting for every point, running down every ball, so I’m going to have to play very well to win, but yeah, I’m just going to go out and look to kind of play my style and hopefully get us off to a good start.

Nick Kyrgios

Fresh off reaching the semifinals of the Miami Open, No. 16 Kyrgios said: “I’m looking forward to getting back here and having some home support.” “I think anything is possible this year.”

“It’s obviously going to be pretty tough (playing Isner). We all know he’s got one of the greatest serves. I played him last year, and you know, I feel confident with that match up. But yeah, I feel comfortable playing second. I’ll be out there for some of Tommo’s match. I think it’s a good match up with him against Sock. I think he can do really good.”

 

“I’ve played him three times,” Isner said. “In my opinion in think he’s a lot more mature now. I think right now a lot of people could argue that he’s maybe playing the best tennis he’s ever played. Everyone knows what he can bring to the table, what his strengths are: his serve, his forehand, his backhand, his shot-making. He’s an incredible player, but I’ve played him three times, so I’m a little bit used to the matchup. I just know tomorrow’s going to be a very fun match, and I’m going to go out there and try to play my best.”

 

The U.S. holds a 26-20 record against the Aussies.

Lineup for the weekend:

 

Friday, 12:00 p.m. (10 p.m. ET)

Singles A:  Jack Sock (USA) vs. Jordan Thompson (AUS)

Singles B:  John Isner (USA) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)

 

Saturday, 1:00 p.m. (11 p.m. ET)

Doubles:    Sam Querrey / Steve Johnson (USA) v. John Peers / Sam Groth (AUS)

 

Sunday, 12:00 p.m. (10 p.m. ET)

Singles C:   Jack Sock (USA) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)

Singles D:   John Isner (USA) vs. Jordan Thompson (AUS)

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Tennis Channel to Air U.S. Versus Australia Davis Cup Quarterfinal Tie This Weekend

(April 5, 2017) -Tennis Channel will provide exclusive live coverage of the U.S. Davis Cup team’s quarterfinal competition against Australia in Brisbane, Australia, this weekend, with the first match underway Thursday, April 6, at 10 p.m. ET. The United States and Australia are the most successful nations in Davis Cup history, with a rivalry that dates back to 1905. Australia is second only to the United States on the all-time list of tournament champions, with 28 to the Americans’ 32. The United States is bidding to reach the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2012. Hall of Fame Captain (and Tennis Channel analyst) Jim Courier will lead the same four top-ranked American men’s singles players – Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson – who defeated Switzerland 5-0 in the first round.

 

The meeting will consist of two singles matches on Thursday, followed by the doubles match Friday, April 7, at 11 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel’s coverage concludes with the remaining singles play Saturday, April 8, at 10 p.m. ET. Each match is worth one point, with three victories enough to secure a trip to the September semifinals to play the winner of the Belgium and Italy quarterfinal.

 

In addition to covering the United States-Australia matchup this weekend, Tennis Channel’s digital subscription service, Tennis Channel Plus, will show the three other Davis Cup quarterfinals. Beginning Friday, April 7, viewers can watch 2015 Davis Cup champion Britain play France in Rouen, France; 2015 Davis Cup finalist Belgium host Italy in Charleroi, Belgium; and Serbia take on Spain in Belgrade, Serbia. Following live coverage, all three will be available on-demand on the digital subscription service (www.tennischanneleverywhere.com), which is available to everyone in the United States regardless of whether they subscribe to Tennis Channel.  Other stars set to play Davis Cup this weekend include Serbia’s World No. 2 Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Jamie Murray.

 

Tennis Channel’s Los Angeles studio will be the central media hub for Davis Cup competition throughout the weekend, anchored by former U.S. Davis Cup player Leif Shiras (@LShirock).

 

Tennis Channel’s live Davis Cup coverage is as follows (all times ET):

Thursday, April 6:

10 p.m. – Singles USA v. Australia

 

Friday, April 7:

7 a.m. – Singles France v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

8 a.m. – Singles Serbia v. Spain (Tennis Channel Plus)

Singles Belgium v. Italy (Tennis Channel Plus)

11 p.m. – DoublesUSA v. Australia

 

Saturday, April 8:

7 a.m. – Doubles France v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

9a.m. – Doubles Serbia v. Spain (Tennis Channel Plus)

Doubles Belgium v. Italy (Tennis Channel Plus)

10 p.m. – Singles USA v. Australia

 

Sunday, April 9:

6:30 a.m. – Singles France v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

7 a.m. – Singles Serbia v. Spain (Tennis Channel Plus)

8:30 a.m. – Singles Belgium v. Italy (Tennis Channel Plus)

 

The United States and Australia have faced each other more times than any other countries in Davis Cup history, with a 26-20 U.S. advantage. The rivalry dates back to 1905, when the United States defeated Australasia, a combined team from New Zealand and Australia, 5-0 in London. Their most recent meeting came during last year’s Davis Cup first round, when the Americans beat the Australians3-1 in Melbourne, Australia. The American squad is bidding to win its first Davis Cup crown since 2007 and leads all nations with 32 Davis Cup titles.

 

Leading the U.S. team is Courier who,as a player, was on the 1999 team that lost to Australia in Chestnut Hill, Mass. That Australian team featured now retired star and current Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt. Sock, the top-ranked American player, leads the U.S. Davis Cup team into this weekend after an impressive semifinal appearance at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., last month before falling to eventual champion Roger Federer. Isner holds 10 career singles titles and four doubles titles, including two with Querrey (Memphis in 2010 and Rome in 2011) and one with Sock (Shanghai in 2016). Querrey won his ninth title at the Mexican Open in Acapulco, Mexico, last month after defeating former World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final to become the first American champion in the event’s history. Last year, Johnson captured his first ATP singles title at the Nottingham Open in England, and started the year by reaching the semifinals at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zeeland.

 

Australia enters this weekend’s match after defeating the Czech Republic 4-1 in the first round. The Australians hold 28 titles and are second on the all-time list of Davis Cup champions, behind only the United States. Hewitt will lead Nick Kyrgios, Jordan Thompson, Sam Groth and John Peers into battle this weekend.

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U. S. Names Sock, Isner, Querrey and Johnson To Davis Cup Team to Face Australia

TOP 30 AMERICANS JACK SOCK, JOHN ISNER,

SAM QUERREY, AND STEVE JOHNSON TO FACE AUSTRALIA

IN DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS WORLD GROUP QUARTERFINAL

 

Matches to be held at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia, April 7-9

 

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 28, 2017 – The USTA and United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier today announced that world No. 17 Jack Sock, No. 23 John Isner, No. 27 Sam Querrey and No. 28 Steve Johnson will represent the U.S. in the 2017 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Quarterfinal against Australia. The best-of-five match series will be played on an outdoor hard court at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia, April 7-9.

 

Australian Davis Cup Captain Lleyton Hewitt nominated No. 16 Nick Kyrgios, No. 79 Jordan Thompson, No. 188 Sam Groth and John Peers, who is ranked No. 3 in doubles, to his team.

 

This marks the second consecutive year the U.S. has played at Australia in Davis Cup. Nations normally alternate which country hosts the other with each tie. However, the Americans and Australians played consecutive ties in the U.S. in 1997 and 1999, when the ITF staged the latter tie at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie, as a 100th anniversary celebration of the competition. As a result, the two countries agreed their next two ties would be in Australia.

 

The U.S. has faced Australia in Davis Cup play more times than any country, holding a 26-20 all-time record in a rivalry that dates back to 1905. The U.S. won the last meeting, 3-1, in Kooyong, Australia, in the 2016 World Group First Round, led by Sock, Isner, and Bob and Mike Bryan. Earlier this year, the U.S. swept Switzerland, 5-0, in the World Group First Round in Birmingham, Ala., while Australia beat the Czech Republic, 4-1, in Kooyong. 

 

Play begins at 12 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET the day prior) on Friday, April 7, and Sunday, April 9. Play begins on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET on Friday).

 

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.

 

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Semifinals, Sept. 15-17, for a chance to vie for the 2017 Davis Cup title. The semifinal opponent will be either Belgium or Italy.

 

Sock, 24, is ranked a career-high No. 17 in the world after winning his second and third career ATP titles this year in Auckland and Delray Beach, Fla., respectively, then reaching the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, Calif. Sock has played Davis Cup since the 2015 and holds a 4-2 record in singles, including a win over Marin Cilic in last summer’s quarterfinal vs. Croatia, and a 1-0 record in doubles. Sock won his first ATP singles title in 2015 in Houston, and he has also reached four additional ATP finals (Stockholm, Houston and Auckland in 2016; Stockholm in 2015). Sock has also thrived in doubles, winning the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil and capturing the gold medal in mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. In 2011, he won the US Open mixed doubles title with fellow American Melanie Oudin. Sock peaked at a career-high No. 6 in the individual doubles rankings in May 2015.

 

Isner, 31, is ranked No. 23 in the current world rankings and will be competing in his 14th Davis Cup tie; he is 12-10 in singles and 2-0 in doubles. Isner’s biggest Davis Cup victory came in 2012, when he defeated Roger Federer in the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round win at Switzerland. The tallest player in U.S. Davis Cup history at 6-foot-10, Isner made his Davis Cup debut in the 2010 World Group First Round in Serbia, where he became the first U.S. player since 2003 to compete in three live rubbers in the same tie. He also represented the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to Federer. He holds 10 career tour singles titles, the last of which came in Atlanta in 2015. In 2016, Isner reached the final in Atlanta and at the Masters 1000 event in Paris and reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and French Open. Isner turned pro after an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA team title as a senior.

 

Querrey, 29, is ranked No. 27 after winning his ninth career ATP title in Acapulco a month ago, a tournament in which he defeated four straight Top 20 players: No. 11 David Goffin, No. 9 Dominic Thiem, No. 17 Kyrgios and No. 6 Rafael Nadal. Querrey is competing in his second straight tie and his 11th overall after winning a dead singles match in February’s World Group First Round vs. Switzerland. He made his Davis Cup debut in 2008, where he faced Nadal in his first-ever match. Querrey holds a 7-8 record in Davis Cup singles play and is 1-0 in doubles. He also competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In 2016, Querrey advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, upsetting Novak Djokovic in the third round and becoming the first American to beat the No. 1 seed at a Grand Slam since 2002. In addition to his singles success, Querrey holds five ATP doubles titles, including two with Isner (Memphis in 2010 and Rome in 2011) and one with Johnson (Geneva in 2016). Querrey peaked at No. 17 in the world in January 2011.

 

Johnson, 27, is ranked No. 28 in the world. He is playing in his second consecutive Davis Cup tie and third overall, after clinching victory with Sock in doubles in February’s World Group First Round vs. Switzerland (he then won a dead singles rubber). Since then, Johnson has reached three straight ATP quarterfinals, most recently falling to Federer in two tiebreaks in the third round at Indian Wells. Johnson started 2017 strong by reaching the semifinals in Auckland, losing to Sock. In 2016, he won his first career ATP singles title in Birmingham, Great Britain. Also in 2016, he advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time, the semifinals of the Citi Open in Washington D.C., and captured the bronze medal in men’s doubles at the Rio Olympics with Sock. Johnson, who peaked at No. 21 in the world in July 2016, turned pro in 2012 after an outstanding college tennis career at USC; he won the 2011 and 2012 NCAA singles championships and led the Trojans to team titles all four years he played for the school. Following the end of his collegiate career, 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 1995.

 

Additionally, Courier announced that Connor Smith will be the practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team. Smith was also a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team in Australia in 2016. Smith, 26, graduated from Ohio State in 2013 after transferring from Florida State following his sophomore season. He went 36-7 in singles and 33-7 in doubles during his senior year. Smith holds six USTA Pro Circuit/ITF Circuit singles titles and 14 doubles titles, including two doubles titles this year held at the new USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. In 2016, he competed in Australian Open qualifying for the first time. Smith is ranked No. 329 in the world.

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Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal Set Up Fourth Round Clash at the BNP Paribas Open; Novak Djokovic Advances

Roger Federer

(March 14, 2017)Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for the thirty-sixth time in their careers on Wednesday in the fourth round of the BNP Open. Both men won third round matches on Tuesday.

Nadal, a three-time winner, who last won the tournament in 2013, defeated fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5 for his 50th career match-win at Indian Wells.

Roger Federer survived American Steve Johnson 7-6(3), 7-6(4). The Swiss is a four-time winner of this event, last winning in 2012.

Nadal is 23-12 against Federer, 12-4 at ATP Masters 1000 events, 9-8 on hard courts and 1-1 at the BNP Paribas Open. Federer has never beaten Nadal three-times in a row.

Their last meeting came in late January when Federer won the Australian Open in five sets over Nadal. In their last meeting before this, Federer beat Nadal at the Swiss Indoors event in 2015.

Asked about how he feels about his next match, Federer said: “Very excited. I said it at the press conference in the beginning. That’s why I came here, play against guys like Rafa. Now we have it.

“I’m going to be excited now. Better be excited now. Otherwise I came for the wrong reasons.”

“Everyone felt different against Rafa,” he continued, “because sometimes you come in and you’re extremely tired. Sometimes it was, like you said, maybe you just lost three in a row, and you play often in quick succession at one point, as well.

“I mean, Australia helps me a little bit, but, you know, at the end of the day, I’m still in the comeback. And I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season. So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I’m going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it’s really important.

“I’m really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired. I feel like tomorrow if I move well, you know, I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.”

Rafael Nadal

“Since the season started, I was playing well,” Nadal said. So I tried to play my game, tried to play aggressive.

“My goal was don’t let him play with his forehand from easy positions. And that’s what I tried. I started well the match. Then taked a while to have the break, but finally I had in the right game, in the 4-3, and I closed well.

“So in the second I started with the break, and then happened what happened with those two games. Then I was there again.

“So very pleased with my performance. And I won already two matches here.”
“Tomorrow another chance to go on court, and I’m going to try to play better than I did today.”

Asked about what makes Federer’s game so special, Nadal said: “Everything. Yeah, he has the talent to do very difficult things that looks easy, you know. He’s able to take the ball very early, serve and first shot. He create a lot of winners with that, two first shots, no?

“And then he’s able to take the ball always from inside, and he’s very quick going to the net. If you play short ball, then you know that he gonna go inside and gonna hit a winner, gonna play a shot that hit forehand or backhand, go to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble.”

 

Novak Djokovic

In the night session, Novak Djokovic defeated Juan Martin Del Potro 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to reach the round of 16 where he’ll play Nick Kyrgios.

“It was difficult to overcome this challenge tonight,” Djokovic said during his on court interview. “The third was some of the best tennis I’ve played this year”

For the five-time desert champion, was his his 300th ATP Masters 1000 match victory. He is now tied with Pete Sampras for 10th in Open Era with 762 wins overall.
In other men’s action, No. 4 seed Kei Nishikori easily beat Gilles Muller 6-2, 6-2, American Donald Young upset 14th seed Lucas Pouille 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 and Malek Jaziri of Tunisia survived big-serving American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Nick Kyrgios

In a battle of generation next on the ATP World Tour, Nick Kyrgios beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4.

“It was the worst match I played all year. It’s quite simple, ” said Zverev of the loss. “My serving was absolute horrible, my returning was absolutely horrible. From the baseline was horrible. There is not one thing I did well.”

“I wasn’t serving my best, so I thought I just competed well, said Kyrgios. “It was always going to be a tough match. He’s been playing great tennis and on the rise ever since juniors. I knew it was going to be tough.

“It was hot, but it wasn’t scorching. I think that suits my game style. I can get more bounce off my forehand.

“But, yeah, it was a tough battle. I’m just really glad to get through.”

 

American Jack Sock saved four match points to stop Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7).

 

More to follow…

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Davis Cup: U.S. Shuts Out The Swiss – Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

DAVIS CUP: U.S. SHUTS OUT THE SWISS
Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

By Junior Williams

(February 5, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Americans Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson each posted straight sets victories in dead rubbers to give the United States a 5-0 victory over Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round.

Querrey defeated lefty Adrien Bossel 6-3, 7-5 in a 73-minute match. The Californian blasted 16 aces past the 485th-ranked Bossel and faced zero break points.

It took Johnson only an hour to beat another Swiss left-hander — 20-year old Antoine Bellier — 6-4, 6-3, in a very entertaining match featuring powerful groundstrokes and strong returns. The players combined committed only 16 unforced errors for the entire match.

The U.S. now turns its attention to the quarterfinals in April, when the team will face Australia in a road tie. The Aussies will be looking for revenge after losing in the first round last year to the Americans in Kooyong.

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie. TEam USA is 26-20 versus Australia in Davis Cup play.

Switzerland will try to remain in the World Group by winning its play-off match-up September 15-17.

—-

The U.S. victory marks the second straight American sweep of the Swiss. The last one was a 2012 shocker on clay in Fribourg, Switzerland that included Mardy Fish defeating Stan Wawrinka 9-7 in the 5th set, John Isner beating Roger Federer in four sets – and a doubles win for Mike Bryan and Fish over Federer and Wawrinka, also in four sets.

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 USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

—-
Final results
Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) d. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1
Singles B: John Isner (USA) d. Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1)
Doubles: Jack Sock/Steve Johnson (USA)
d. Adrien Bossel/Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Singles C: Sam Querrey (USA) d. Adrien Bossel (SUI), 6-3, 7-5
Singles D: Steve Johnson (USA) d. Antoine Bellier (SUI), 6-4, 6-3

 

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Davis Cup: U.S. Clinches Quarterfinal Berth; Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

DAVIS CUP: U.S. CLINCHES QUARTERFINAL BERTH

Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

 

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 4, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – For the clincher, United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier called on the 2016 Olympic bronze medal doubles team.

Jack Sock and Steve Johnson delivered for the U.S. with a 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Switzerland’s Adrien Bossel and Henri Laaksonen. The win gives the Americans an insurmountable 3-0 lead in this World Group first round tie, advancing to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Australia on the road for a second consecutive year.

Both Courier and Swiss Captain Severin Luthi switched up their originally scheduled lineups: Jack Sock replaced Sam Querrey for the Americans, while Luthi went with Laaksonen instead of Antoine Bellier. Laaksonen had an impressive return of serve during Friday’s second singles rubber, despite losing to John Isner in four sets.

The U.S. took the lead in the first set, winning a tiebreak capped by a Steve Johnson forehand winner up the sideline to go up 6-3, followed by a Johnson forehand that was hit long by the Swiss. The Americans won 85-percent of their first serve points in the set.

Serving in the first game of the second set, Jack Sock vehemently disputed a lineman’s foot fault call, but to no avail. As the game went on the U.S. found itself in a 0-40 hole, but eventually staved off those three break points and held serve. The Americans broke the Swiss in the next game, which ended with a thrilling rally punctuated by a Sock winner at net — bringing fans at the Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex to their feet.

Both teams exchanged breaks of serve later in the set, but the U.S. went on to win it on a Sock service winner. A stellar performance at the net by Johnson also a major factor contributing to the Americans’ two set lead.

Switzerland refused to go quietly. Spurred on by their fans chanting “Hop Suisse,” the Swiss team broke the U.S. to go up 3-1 in the third set on a Laaksonen overhead smash at net. But the visitors blew a golden opportunity when the Americans staved off three set points and broke Switzerland to get the set back on serve at 5-4.

The U.S. closed out the rubber and clinched the tie by winning a third set tiebreak, which ended with the Swiss at net hitting the ball past the baseline. After each team shook hands, the American team took a victory lap around the court with the U.S. flag, cheered on by the home crowd.

Despite being heavy underdogs without their top guns Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss have given the U.S. a good fight – and will attempt to remain in Davis Cup’s top tier when they compete in the World Group Play-offs this coming September.

“If you lose, it’s disappointed that you lost,” noted Swiss captain Severin Luthi. “I mean, I’m never like happy when we lose or if I lose. Even if it’s card games or whatever, I’m never happy.

“So disappointed. But, again, I have to say the same as yesterday. It wasn’t the performance of the players at all, you know. I thought they gave everything. They were, yeah — they had chances first and third set, and unfortunately we just couldn’t make it.”

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go back and battle those guys (Australia) again,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. “They came through pretty comfortably as well. Hugely talented team. Passionate Davis Cup nation. Had a lot of fun playing down in Melbourne with them.

“Obviously got the result we wanted which makes it a lot more fun, but they’re a knowledgeable crowd and they have won a ton of Davis Cups, so they know what it’s all about.

“It will be exciting for us to go down. We’re already talking about it, looking forward to it. We have work to do tomorrow. We’re not your overlooking the matches on Sunday. We will be ready to play tomorrow for sure, even though this thing is decided.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re anxious to get down there and battle on. We really want to get out to the semifinals and see what we can do this year.”

Two dead rubbers are scheduled for Sunday – and we have yet to see Querrey and Bellier play in this 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 USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Davis Cup: Home Cookin’ in the Deep South; Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

DAVIS CUP: HOME COOKING IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The heavily favored United States team lived up to expectations as Jack Sock and John Isner won their respective singles rubbers against Switzerland, giving the Americans a 2-0 lead in the first round of Davis Cup Cup World Group competition at Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

 

Switzerland is playing this tie without its two top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer who won the Australian Open last week.

 

Isner’s victory over world No. 127 Henri Laaksonen was far from a cakewalk. It took two hours and 44 minutes for the American to win the rubber 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1).

 

In the first set, Isner’s powerful service game was blunted by Laaksonen executing solid returns and winning long rallies. Isner saved three break points to knot the set at 4-4, but the Swiss went on to win the set by breaking the world No. 23.

Isner committed 21 unforced errors during the set and backhanded numerous shots into the net.

 

The 31-year old Isner seemed to find his rhythm in the second set after breaking Laaksonen to go up 3-2, helped by a more effective service game — striking seven aces during the set and winning 84-percent of his first serve points. On the flip side, Laaksonen committed three double faults, including one that gave the U.S. a 5-2 advantage. Isner won the next game, closing it out with his 12th ace of the match.

John Isner

The American got off to a fast start in the third set. He broke the Swiss in the first game with a winning forehand passing shot as Laaksonen approached the net. Isner held in the second game, but not before staving off three break points. In this set it was Laaksonen with 21 unforced errors helping Isner cruise through the remainder of the set.

 

The fourth set was a tight affair as both players battled. Isner was visibly frustrated by the 24-year old Laaksonen’s returns and defensive play. But when tiebreak time came around, it was all Isner. After a mini-break on the first point — followed by two service winners — victory came five points later when Laaksonen double faulted. During the on-court post-match interview, Isner admitted to being nervous at times during the match.

 

“I’ll take the film of that first set and just throw it in the fire, delete that one,” Isner said in his post-match news conference. “I think more than anything I was a little bit nervous, and that was affecting my footwork quite a lot. With me being so big and when my footed work is not sharp, it can be ugly. It was in the first set.”

 

Jim stayed on me to stay positive, even though I wasn’t feeling very positive out there. I think that’s actually what tilted the match in my favor a little bit. Certainly could have been cleaner, but Davis Cup you ties throw out rankings and whatnot, it’s tough touch out there in these matches, so I’m happy to get the win.

 

In the first rubber, it took just under two hours for No. 1 American Jack Sock to defeat Marco Chiudinelli — ranked 146 in the world — 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Things were pretty even until Sock won the first set by breaking Chiudinelli with an overhead lob that was retrieved but hit just wide of the sideline.

 

“There are always few extra nerves I think playing Davis Cup,” Sock said. “When you’re playing for your country, being a part of a team, maybe at a normal event, normal tournament, you come out swinging a little bit more.

“I think I was a little hesitant at the beginning; maybe too conservative playing when obviously my game is to kind of play big and hit big forehands and be aggressive.”

Sock continued to put pressure on the 35-year old Swiss by stepping up his aggressive play, with solid ground strokes and serves with some net play in the mix. For the match, Sock had 29 total winners to Chiudinelli’s eleven. The Nebraska-born 24-year old was never broken in four attempts.

 

The U.S. can clinch the tie by winning Saturday’s doubles match-up — scheduled to be Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson versus Switzerland’s Antoine Bellier and Adrien Bossel. Bellier’s heroics kept the Swiss in the top tier of Davis Cup, courtesy of his 2016 World Group play-off win in the deciding rubber against Uzbekistan back in September.

 

Team USA is not taking anything for granted. They had a 2-0 lead back in July and lost in the quarterfinals to Croatia.

 

Jack Sock

 

“I think as a whole, as a team, like I said, we’re not taking anyone lightly,” Sock noted. “But at the same time, we’re confident in our squad and our four guys in the matchups this weekend.

“We’re going to go one match at time and get one point at time.”

 

A victory would earn the Americans a quarterfinal trip to Australia — a rematch of last year’s first round tie won by the U.S. at Kooyong. Australia clinched their tie against the Czech Republic with a doubles win to give them a 3-0 lead.

 

—–

 

EXTRAS:

 

John Isner notched his 500th Davis Cup ace during the fourth set of his match against Henri Laaksonen.

 

Isner was not aware of this upcoming milestone: “I was wondering, because I heard them say 500. I was wondering what that was. Thank you for clarifying that. I had no idea I was close to that in Davis Cup play.

“You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play in a lot of singles matches on the Davis Cup team. I guess that’s a pretty cool number to achieve.

“More than anything, I’m just happy I was able to get the win today. I thought the crowd was great, and we’re up 2-0. We’re in a pretty good spot.”

 

“But Davis Cup anything can happen. You see it every year. Every tie almost you see some kind of crazy things happen.”

 

Unusual for a Davis Cup tie in the U.S. to have a serve speed clock deliver results in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. Fans in the stands were trying to guess the actual MPH.

 

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 USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Sock to Lead Off for USA Against Switzerland in Davis Cup; Courier Reflects on Team USA’s Past and Future

(February 2, 2017) In celebration of Groundhog Day, “Birmingham Bill” of the Birmingham Zoo picked the first match-up of the draw for the U.S. vs. Switzerland Davis Cup World Group First Round tie in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday.

 

Day one will pit the No. 1 singles of their respective teams versus the No. 2 players on the other team.

American Jack Sock ranked No. 20 in the world will take on Marco Chiudinelli, ranked No. 46, followed by No. 23 John Isner against No. 127-ranked Henri Laaksonen. Sock is 3-2 in Davis Cup Singles play, while his opponent is 6-12. Isner beat Roger Federer when the U.S. shutout Switzerland 5-0 in the cup tie in Fribourg back in 2012.

 

Here is the lineup for the weekend tie:

 

Friday, February 3, 3:00 p.m. Central

Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

Singles B: John Isner (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen(SUI)

 

Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m. Central

Doubles:

*Sam Querrey/Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Adrien Bossel/Antoine Bellier (SUI)

 

Sunday, February 5, 11:00 a.m., Central

Singles C:Jack Sock (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen (SUI)

Singles D: John Isner (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

 

*Team captains may substitute the doubles team up to one hour before the match.

 

December will mark ten years since the United States won Davis Cup. With the Bryan brothers retiring from Davis Cup play and former star Andy Roddick about to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the USA Captain reflected about the current team carrying American tennis forward since that group of players won the cup in Portland in 2007.

 

“First of all, we’ve been unbelievably lucky to have a great generation of Davis Cup players in Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake) and Mardy (Fish) and Bob and Mike Bryan that did great things for this country,” Courier said.

 

“They’ve passed that baton now off to these guys. It’s the turn and the privilege of these four players I’m sitting with right now to carry American tennis fans and the American flag for us.

 

“They’re ready for it. These guys are battle-tested, they’re veterans on tour, and they’re ready for this responsibility. It’s a great privilege to go out there and play for the United States. These guys are anxious to do that. They’ve answered the call every time they’ve been asked to play for the U.S. I expect that will continue to be the path.

 

“So it’s an exciting new time for us as a team. There’s no doubt that we’re indebted to the great service of Bob and Mike Bryan. I hope they continue to play great as long as they’re still on tour. We’ll miss them on this team, but I feel confident in the group we have assembled here and their capabilities both in singles and doubles.

 

“We have a lot of options at our disposal now, where you’re a little bit more limited when you go with two doubles players and two singles players from an injury standpoint.

 

“There are pluses and minuses. Fortunately we never got into a position with Bob and Mike where we had an injury issue that impacted us as a team. But we’re looking forward to what this year will bring. 2017, we’re excited to start at home. We need to get off to a good start obviously. We won’t take anything for granted. We’ll be ready to play, as I mentioned. But it’s a new page, a new chapter in the U.S. Davis Cup team. It starts right here, right now.”

 

As to the future of American men’s tennis, Courier sad: “You’re looking at the present and the future of it right here, for starters. The even better news is that we have a cluster of 18, 19 and 20-yearolds that are starting to make their way onto the tour, starting to get through the challengers, move up to tour level.

 

“I was lucky enough to come through a generation that pushed each other. We had a cluster back then. We were able to push each other to great heights.

 

“It can only benefit American tennis if we have this young group here. I know these guys are very proud of their positions that they’ve earned in the sport. They’re not going to let those youngsters come up and take them easily either. That will be fun, I think, to see everyone pushing in the same direction, to try to get a few more names on the sports pages for American tennis. That would be a good thing, for sure.

 

“But there’s a lot of work ahead of those youngsters, too. I’m fortunate enough to get a chance to see a lot of it down in Orlando at the new home of American tennis. A lot of them are training there. Jack has been there, as well, to check it out. We’re in the beginning stages of seeing some nice transition from juniors to professional tennis from a big group of players. That will be very fun to watch.”

 

Team USA holds a  3-1 record against the Swiss in Davis Cup play, with the the two countries’ last meeting in Birmingham, winning 4-1 win for the U.S. in the 2009 World Group First Round at the same venue – Legacy Arena.

 

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, April 7-9, and will play either the Czech Republic or Australia. The losing country will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, to try and stay in the World Group in 2018.

 

Related Articles:

Tennis Channel To Air USA vs. Switzerland Davis Cup Tie; Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus to Cover Six Davis Cup Matchups This Weekend

Nominations Announced for Davis Cup World Group First Round and Zone Group Ties

U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

Borna Coric Beats Jack Sock to Complete Croatia Comeback from 0-2 to Send Team to Davis Cup Semis

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U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(January 31, 2017) The United States Davis Cup team will face off in the first round of World Group against Switzerland at the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama.  The Swiss team will be without their top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer, who won the Australian Open on Sunday for his 18th major.

The U.S. team will consist of No. 20 Jack Sock,  No. 23 John Isner, No. 27 Sam Querrey and No. 31 Steve Johnson. Representing team Switzerland will be No. 127 Henri Laaksonen, No. 146 Marco Chiudinelli No. 485 Adrien Bossel and No. 598 Antoine Bellier.

Back on 2009, the U.S. also played Switzerland in Birmingham.

Both teams took part in pre-draw news conferences on Tuesday.

Playing Switzerland without their top two players, looks like an easy task for team USA this weekend, but USA Captain Jim Courier says there are no “gimmies.”

“Now, rankings don’t mean anything,” he said. “Once you get on the court, the ball doesn’t care what your ranking is. You have to hit the shots and win the points.

“We come in ready to play and ready to fight for every point. We don’t expect it to be easy.”

We’re confident that we have four great players here ready to go to battle in five matches,” Courier continued.

“It’s nice to play at home, of course. Nice to have a facility that we like, like this, a court that we like, like this. It’s not always the case.”

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi acknowledged that this weekend won’t be an easy task without Wawrinka and Federer.

“We have the best players behind them here, he said. “We’re going to try to do our best and give 100%. We’ll also try to improve this week. All the rest really doesn’t matter for us.”

“I think one of our strengths is really that the players we have here, especially Marco and Henri, who played more matches already in Davis Cup, they’re always playing well. They give all the time 100%. They’re ready to fight. Yeah, they had good results in Davis Cup. I think that’s one of our big strengths.

“With Antoine, we have a rather young player who is playing the first time last year and helped us staying in the Group. With Adrien also we won the doubles there.

“Obviously we’re completely outsiders here, but as I said, we’re going to try our best and give 100%.”

Bob and Mike Bryan announced their retirement from playing Davis Cup last week during the Australian Open.

“We were blessed to have Bob and Mike on our team for so many years,” Courier said. “They’re incredible. We’ll miss them for sure.

“I have a lot of confidence in these guys. Any combination of these four players would be a very, very good doubles team.

“It is different to not have Bob and Mike here. I wouldn’t say it’s better, but I would say that we feel comfortable that we have great options at our disposal for all of the matches.”

Swiss Captain Luthi was asked if the absence of the Bryan brothers was advantage to his team: “Honestly, I don’t think that it’s a big advantage because they have more flexibility like that for singles also. When they had the brothers in the team, you knew which players are going to play singles.

“Now, like I mentioned, I think all four players can also play doubles. They can change. They can wait and see how the matches on Friday went.

“I don’t think that it’s an advantage for us.”

The draw ceremony will take place on Thursday at the Birmingham Zoo at Noon.

The Davis Cup ties takes place  this weekend February 3-5, on an indoor hard court. Singles play begins at 3:00 p.m. CT on Friday, February 3. Doubles play begins on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. CT. The final two singles matches will be held on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. CT. Tennis Channel will broadcast daily coverage.

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinals to be played April 7-9, against the winner of the Czech Republic vs. Australia tie. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2018.

 

For information on the tie from the USTA .

Related Articles:

Isner, Sock, Johnson and Querrey Named to U.S. Davis Cup Team

Bryan Brothers Retire From U.S. Davis Cup Team

Friendly Fribourg; The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

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