2014/07/25

Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Five

John Isner-2

Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Five

by Kevin Ware

Day Five Quarterfinal Results

[4] T Haas (GER) d [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4, 6-2

[2] J Isner (USA) d [8] Xavier Malisse (BEL) 7-6(8), 6-2

[1] Milos Raonic (CAN) d [6] Denis Istomin (UZB) 7-6(0), 6-3

[3] Sam Querrey (USA) d Alejandro Falla (COL) 6-3, 4-6, 7-5

Match Notes

Steve Johnson bemoaned his lack of aggression in losing to Tommy Haas in the first quarterfinal of the day, feeling that he let Haas take control too often at key moments.  For his part, Haas is feeling good and grateful to be playing some of his best tennis towards the end of his career.  He’s especially happy to be able to do so in front of his 2 year-old who’s here in San Jose with dad.  “I know she probably won’t remember watching me play today, but maybe I can continue on playing and she’ll get to be around a couple of these tournaments and see me play competitively at a high level.”

John Isner didn’t play his best tennis in his quarterfinal match against Xavier Malisse, but he raised his level when needed to get by an opponent who was more than capable of a big upset. This was especially true in the first set tiebreaker after Isner dug a 0-3 hole with a mini-break on the first point.  The tide turned with a monstrous return on a Malisse serve to level at 5-all. He closed out the tiebreak with some mad scrambling on the baseline before flicking one final running forehand winner that was netted by the Belgian. First set to Isner.  Malisse’s level dropped off quickly in the second set.  Isner, with the first set in his back pocket, kept up the pressure on the slumping Malisse to close out an uneventful second set for the win.

The quarterfinal match between Milos Raonic and Denis Istomin turned out to be almost a carbon copy of their match in last year’s SAP Open final. Both men held serve easily and played to their strengths for most of the first set, with Istomin looking to be the stronger from the back court.  But once again, the tiebreaker was the deciding factor with Raonic sweeping all seven points for the first set.  After that, Istomin’s resolve slipped and Raonic’s confidence soared, and it was only a matter of time until Raonic closed it out.

Sam Querrey‘s win over Alejandro Falla was easily the best match of the day! It looked to be on track for a routine straight sets win by Querrey after a 6-3 first set.  No one told that to Falla, however, as the Colombian left scrambled with even more intensity in the second set.  In tennis, anything can happen when you make your opponent hit “one more shot”, and that was the case for Falla. Querrey’s level dropped, and a few key misses gave the set to Falla.  The tension was high for both guys in the third set, with neither giving an inch until the eighth game when Falla broke Querrey for 4-all, then held serve for a 5-4 lead.

A straight-sets victory was a distant memory with Querry playing loose shots on the deuce court to find himself at match point, 30-40. A crucial 133mph ace out wide to Falla’s backhand saved the point, and lit the fire under Sam that he needed to hold serve, break Falla for a 6-5 lead, then serve out the match.   That’s not to say that Falla didn’t have his chances, because he did.  Two netted shots for a game point at 5-all could easily have put the pressure back on Querrey’s serve to stay in the match. But it was not meant to be for Falla, and a chance for a huge upset.

Semifinal Notes/Picks

[4] T Haas (GER) vs [2] J Isner (USA)

Head-to-head: Isner leads 3-1

Quick Keys to the match: Isner needs to start aggressive and keep Haas from feeling like he has a chance.  He must serve well to blunt Haas’ return opportunities, and keep the points short by coming forward as he’s done in other matches.  For Haas, if he can get a handle on the Isner serve and make this a running match, he will have the edge for Isner.

Pick: Sticking with Isner for the win.

[1] M Raonic (CAN) vs [3] S Querrey (USA)

Head-to-head: Querrey leads 2-0

Quick Keys to the match: Raonic is going to come out firing on all cylinders with high intensity.  Conversely, drops in his intensity level have been Querrey’s main issue in both of his previous matches. For Querrey to win this match against the two-time defending champion, there can be no drops.  He has to maintain focus, serve well, and stay strong on the baseline.  If Raonic can maintain focus and intensity from first point to last, something that Querrey typically can’t do, he’ll have the edge.

Pick: Sticking with Raonic for the win.

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

All photos by David Sweet

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Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Four

MilosRaonic

By Kevin Ware

Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Four

Day Four Second Round Results

[6] Denis Istomin (UZB) d Benjamin Becker (GER) 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2

Alejandro Falla (COL) d [7] Marinko Matosevic (AUS) 6-4, 6-4

[8] Xavier Malisse (BEL) d Matthew Ebden (AUS) 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(1)

[WC] Steve Johnson (USA) d [Q] Tim Smyczek (USA) 6-3, 6-3

[3] Sam Querrey (USA) d L Hewitt (AUS) 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-6(4)

[1] Milos Raonic (CAN) d Michael Russell (USA) 6-2, 7-5

Match Notes

Xavier Malisse might be past his best days on tour, but the Belgian can still do damage given the right draw.  He could also make things easier for himself by not putting so much energy into griping during his matches.  Everything and anything from ball kids to the officials to his shots, you name it. It was a mutter-fest out there in his match against Matthew Ebden. He’ll need to be much more positive in his output if he plans on getting by John Isner in the quarters.

The battle of young Americans fizzled early as Tim Smyczek started strong but couldn’t stem the tide of unforced errors in going down to defeat against Steve Johnson. Johnson didn’t play particularly well either, but he played well enough to capitalize on Smyczek’s errors.  Smyczek is a small, wiry guy who “redlines” his game to produce the pace needed to compensate at this level.  Now he needs to figure out how to do that and find the court on a much more consistent basis. Johnson moves on to face Tommy Haas.

Sam Querrey got through a tough and very “losable” match to Lleyton Hewitt with the help of some last-minute errors by the Aussie in the final set tiebreak; notably a double fault on match point.  Querrey started strong, but then struggled mightily with shot consistency after an initial 5-2 lead in the first set. Hewitt battled hard to take the first set to a tiebreak, but was done in by a close call he couldn’t challenge because he used up his allotment.

The second set was a wash for Querrey with Hewitt raising his game to easily sweep and take the match to a third. The third set was by far the best in terms of quality.  Both men served well, defended admirably, and stood toe-to-toe in great rallies that tested each man’s resolve. To end such a great set on the aforementioned match point double fault was disappointing. A win is a win, though.  Querrey now faces a much easier opponent in Alejandro Falla for a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.

Michael Russell did well to make it to the second round by defeating Donald Young.  He didn’t play great tennis to beat Young, but then again he didn’t need to. Milos Raonic was a different story. Russell, like Olivier Rochus and a few others, is at a considerable disadvantage when playing larger and stronger guys like Raonic because he doesn’t have the weaponry to match up from the baseline. Russell scrambled well to get balls back but couldn’t do nearly enough in terms of moving the ball around to keep it out of the Raonic strike zone. With the win, Raonic moves on to face Denis Istomin in a quarterfinal rematch of last year’s final.

Random Notes

Every time I pass John Isner in the hallway, I’m astounded by his height.  Ivo Karlovic, Sam Querrey, and Milos Raonic are all tall players as well.  But none of them give me the same sense of height as John. It’s like I’m looking up a small tree. I wonder what the court looks like from up there?

The Hewitt kids are pretty gosh darn cute, and it’s a good thing too. After his disappointing loss to Sam Querrey, which ended with a double fault on match point, I tweeted, “Hopefully they’ll put a smile back on dad’s face tonight”. Sure enough, about 20 minutes after the match I passed Lleyton, his wife Bec Hewitt, and the kids as they were heading out to eat.  And yes, he was smiling.

Observation of the day? After watching Hewitt lose a match that was within his grasp because of an awful third-set tiebreaker, I had the sense that I’d seen something like this before.  I did: two weeks ago in the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick and the 49′ers last possession.

Odd sighting of the day?  Sportscaster Vern Glenn standing outside of the HP Pavilion trying to get his work laptop to connect online.

Quote of the day? Also from Vern Glenn but attributed to Ronnie Lott, and in reference to working in the sportscasting biz: “Always make sure they keep you on scholarship!”

More after Day Five quarterfinal action.

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Three

John-Isner_Miami-Tennis-Cup-e1354390274784

John Isner

By Kevin Ware

(February 14, 2013) SAN JOSE – Here are some more courtside impressions from an eventful Day Three at the SAP Open.  It was mixed bag of fun matches and dramatic wins.  But let’s start with the sad and unsettling loss by Donald Young.

  • I don’t know what to say anymore regarding the sad and curious case of Donald Young. With each shot he makes, you see the talent that took him to No. 1 in the juniors; yet with each unforced error and pained aftermath, you’re reminded of the reasons that his pro career has hit the proverbial wall. His loss to Michael Russell during the day session was about as ugly as it gets. Neither guy played well, but Donald’s lack of confidence at crunch time was the tipping point.  Every gaze over to his box is filled with agonizing pleas for help that isn’t arriving anytime soon.  It’s tough to watch.  Even though us in the “media” should maintain some semblance of neutrality, it doesn’t stop me from hoping that Donald comes back from the brink.
  • Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic are quite an entertaining doubles team.  Lleyton is the clear leader, but Marinko holds his own pretty well. Best part is they look like they’re having a great time playing together.  We should all be so lucky with our partners, right?!
  • Steve Johnson continued to make the most of his wildcard with a stirring 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Ivo Karlovic. After losing a tough first set by playing a horrible tiebreaker, Johnson stood toe-to-toe with one of the best servers in the game and found a way to break for the second set. In the third set tiebreaker, Karlovic served an ace to go up 6-4 in the tiebreak.  With two match points in hand, Karlovic inexplicably ran off the rails; committing three consecutive unforced errors to give Johnson a match point.  Karlovic followed a strong approach to the net, and all Johnson could do was toss up a high defensive lob.  Out of the blue, Karlovic was struck by a case of “tentative overhead-itis”.  He smashed the ball weakly back to Johnson, who happily thundered a hard and low forehand to Karlovic at the net. The big man could only muster a flubbed volley response.  Game, set, and match to Johnson, who had no business winning that match but did anyway.
  • The night session pitted American John Isner against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.  John is 27 and Vasek is 22, but they both look no older than 14 (plus/minus a year or two).
  • Isner was slow in finding his game for the match, but didn’t blame any of it on his knee.  However, he did admit to having back issues because of his flight.  With all of Nemo’s canceled flights, he lost his upgrade seat and had to fly coach in a window seat to San Jose.  The ATP website lists John’s official height as 6′ 9″.  Just think about that the next time you complain about being in a middle seat! FYI, if John flies coach and no exit rows are available, window seats are his only option to save his knees from the battering they’ll inevitably take with the cart going up and down the aisle.
  • Bay area actress Diane Amos was in attendance tonight at the HP Pavilion to watch the evening session at the SAP Open.  Or as I put it more succinctly in one of my tweets at the start of Isner’s match, ” Random fact: the Pine Sol lady is in the house tonight for the Isner match.”
  • When asked what he did to pay back Sam Querrey  for bailing the US team out of trouble in Davis Cup action after his own 5-set heartbreaker to Thomaz Bellucci, Isner said “I think he took some of my money in cards that night actually, and I didn’t do it on purpose.”

The tournament action heats up on Day Four with a day session featuring young Americans Tim Smyczek and Steve Johnson battling for a spot in the quarterfinals, as well as the anticipated match between Sam Querrey and Lleyton Hewitt.  The night session features the return of the defending champion, Milos Raonic, as he takes on Michael Russell; plus more doubles action with the Bryans.  I will save my Raonic/Russell “tall and small” jokes for after the match…

 

Kevin Ware is in San Jose covering the SAP Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Uncle Sam at the Down Under Slam – Day 1 Edition

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

Venus Williams photo © Enrique Fernandez for Tennis Panorama

(January 14, 2013) Looking at how American tennis players fared on day one of the 2013 Australian Open.

American tennis players went  6-3 on the first day of the Australian Open with Venus Williams leading the way with a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Galina Voskoboeva.

“Obviously it’s nice to spend less time on the court, and not be in long sets,” Williams said after the match. She  had a first-serve percentage of 70 percent and converted on 6 of 11 break point chances.

“I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of – you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure.” Williams said of her opponent “I did my best to just close it out.”

Sam Querrey, who is the highest ranking American man, due to the withdrawal of 13rh ranked John Isner, came back from a set down to defeat Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Querrey will take on another American in the second round, Brian Baker, who defeated American turned Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-7 (0), 3-6, 6-2.

Ryan Harrison came back from a set down to advance, defeating Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.  Bad news for Harrison – he’ll face top seed Novak Djokovic in the second round.

Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, the 1th0 men’s seed outlasted American qualifier Steve Johnson in a first round five-set marathon 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2. Johnson was the first reigning NCAA champion to qualify for the Australian Open.

Tim Smyczek came into the tournament as lucky loser, and thanks to housemate John Isner’s withdrawal  due to a right knee injury, made it into the main draw. Smyczek was a winner on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Ivo Karlovic.

Veteran Michael Russell fell to No. 5 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

Touted as “one to watch” seventeen year-old Madison Keys won her first match in Melbourne on Monday with a 6-4, 7-6 (0) victory against Casey Dellacqua of Australia.

Sorana Cirstea had no problems beating American Coco Vandeweghe  6-4 6-2 in first round action.

Americans scheduled for Tuesday play in Melbourne include No. 3 Serena Williams, 29 seed Sloane Stephens, Vania King, Jamie Hampton, Melanie Oudin, Vavara Lepchencko, Lauren Davis, Rajeev Ram, and Rhyne Williams.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Thirteen American Men Accepted Into Australian Open Qualies

James Blake

James Blake

(December 18, 2012) Thirteen American men have been accepted into the Qualifying draw of the 2013 Australian Open. They include James Blake, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Alex Kuznetsov, Wayne, Rajeev Ram, Tennys Sandgren, Tim Smyczek, Ryan Sweeting, Michael Yani and Donald Young.

 

Rhyne Williams also was accepted into qualifying, but Williams claimed a wild card entry into the main draw by winning the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff last weekend. Bradley Klahn and Daniel Kosakowski are the second and third listed alternates, respectively.

 

The 2013 Australian Open qualifying tournament begins on January 7 in Melbourne.

 

The USTA reports that Jesse Levine is listed as an American on the Australian Open qualifying acceptance list, but will be representing Canada in Melbourne.

 

The Australian Open women’s qualifying acceptance list will be announced at a later date.

 

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Djokovic, Ferrer Get Victories to Move on at US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer had decisive victories in advancing at the US Open on Friday.

Djokovic’s 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil had no drama.

Djokovic was very pleased with his play. “It was different conditions today obviously from the first matches I played, the night session, “Djokovic said. “ I didn’t know much about my opponent.  Never saw him play.  So that could have been, you know, a difficulty at the start in order to figure out what his game plan is.  But I have played well, you know, from the start to the end.”

Spain’s Ferrer defeated Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (12).

Juan Martin Del Potro needed four sets to top 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2.

“He’s a powerful guy. He serves big and plays good offense,” Harrison said of the Argentine. “Any time the ball is up you’re usually running or watching a winner go by you. So, he played about as well as I expected him to, which is very good tennis. I had to play my best tennis to win, and I didn’t, so that’s why I lost.”

Del Potro talked about the third set. “I didn’t play like the first two sets in that third set, and he improved his game a little bit also.  It’s not easy when you have the control of the points all the match.  He’s very dangerous.  He has a big future, and he like to compete with all players.  He has the game to beat all of them also.”

Del Potro feels that he’s getting closer to being 100 percent healthy: “My first round and today was big challenge for me to see how my wrist is going and how my level is.  Always when you win matches everything is better.  I’m happy to go through to third round.  I will have another tough match in the third round against Mayer.  The tournament is get is worse every day and you have to be 100% from here to the rest.”

Another young American had a positive result at Flushing Meadows on Friday.

Wildcard Steve Johnson a Two-time NCAA singles champion, advanced to the third round with a with a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-4 victory over Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

“It kind of felt like, for me, kind of a college atmosphere,“ said Johnson.  “The crowd was cheering every point, and I could hear, you know, some of the people close to me in the stands and everything.  To know they’re all behind me was pretty special.”

Karen Pestaina is covering the US Open for Tennis Panorama News

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2012 NCAA Champion Steve Johnson Claims US Open Wild Card

From the USTA: The USTA announced on Monday that University of Southern California standout and two-time NCAA champion Steve Johnson has earned a main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open. This year, the USTA awarded one men’s singles main draw wild card into the US Open to the American who earned the most ATP World Tour ranking points at two of four USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events—$50,000 events in Binghamton, N.Y., and Lexington, Ky., and $100,000 events in Vancouver and Aptos, Calif. Johnson earned 100 points by winning the title in Aptos this weekend—his first career USTA Pro Circuit Challenger title.

 

Johnson, 22, of Orange, Calif., cemented his place as one of the greatest all-time collegiate players in 2012, going undefeated in singles to claim his second straight NCAA singles title and leading USC to the fourth team title in his four years at the school. Johnson won two singles titles and one doubles title on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2011, and he pushed Top 50 player Alex Bogomolov to five sets in the first round of last year’s US Open as a wild card. Also in 2011, Johnson was named a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team for its quarterfinal tie against Spain in Austin, Texas. He is currently ranked a career-high No. 237 in the world after climbing more than 140 spots in the ATP World Tour Rankings with his win in Aptos.

The USTA first used this tournament-based wild card format for its 2012 Roland Garros wild cards, won by Melanie Oudin and Brian Baker, rather than a traditional wild card playoff tournament. By using USTA Pro Circuit results, players competed in more matches to develop their games and were also given the opportunity to earn valuable ranking points, whereas the previous playoffs were invitational single-elimination tournaments that did not offer ranking points.  This format also allowed all Americans a chance of earning the wild card, rather than a limited field/draw.

Stanford University standout and 2012 NCAA doubles champion Mallory Burdette won the US Open women’s wild card last week by earning the most WTA Tour ranking points at two of three USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events.

 

MEN’S US OPEN WILD CARD STANDINGS – FINAL

 

Player Name

Binghamton $50K

Lexington

$50K

Vancouver

$100K

Aptos

$100K

Best Two Results

1. Steve Johnson

0

0

0

100

100

2. Denis Kudla

0

80

8

0

88

3. Michael Yani

80

0

0

0

80

 

*The men’s wild card was awarded from the best combined results in two of the four events above. Players were required to compete in one event to qualify for the US Open wild card.

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Brian Baker, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock Issued Wild Cards for Farmers Classic

LOS ANGELES – Budding American stars Brian Baker, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock have been issued wild cards for the 86th-annual Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, July 23-29, at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA. Baker and Sock will be making their Farmers Classic debuts.

 

Baker, Johnson and Sock will join two-time Farmers Classic champion and Southern California native Sam Querrey, James Blake, France’s Nicolas Mahut, Belgium’s Xavier Malisse, the tournament’s reigning doubles champion, and 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion Jonathan Marray among the leading players in the iconic event.

 

The Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. Los Angeles County’s only top-tier pro tennis event, and an ATP World Tour stop on the Emirates Airline US Open Series, awards total prize money of $600,000.

 

Daily tickets for the Farmers Classic – the longest-running annual pro sporting event in Los Angeles – are available at www.FarmersClassic.com, Ticketmaster, or by calling (310) 825-2101. Proceeds from the Farmers Classic, held in conjunction with UCLA, benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. In 2011, the tournament and associated special events raised more than $200,000 for the SCTA, the Grammy Foundation and other charities.

 

Orange, Calif. native Johnson, 22, began his pro career this summer after graduating from USC and ending his college career as the most decorated player in NCAA men’s tennis history. He won his last 72 competitive matches, the NCAA Division I Individual Championship as a junior and senior, and became the first NCAA individual champion to win four consecutive NCAA team titles. Johnson is making his third consecutive appearance in the Farmers Classic’s main draw.

 

Baker, 27, has been a late-bloomer who has sky-rocketed up the rankings while enjoying a career year on the ATP World Tour. He reached his first ATP final in Nice as a qualifier and achieved the round of 16 at Wimbledon as a qualifier.

 

Sock, a 19-year-old Nebraskan, turned professional in 2011 after winning 18 USTA National titles as a junior and teamed with Melanie Oudin to win last year’s U.S. Open mixed doubles title at 18. He advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarterfinal this week in Atlanta.

 

Farmers Classic season tickets, mini-plans, group tickets and VIP experiences are also available at www.FarmersClassic.com or by calling (310) 824-1010, ext. 251. The Farmers Classic’s group entertainment program includes ticket discounts for groups of 10 or more, fundraising opportunities for organizations and reserved loge seating for select sessions in the intimate LA Tennis Center. Groups of 40 are eligible to participate in VIP experiences, which include the pre-match coin toss, High Five Kids Tunnel and Penn VIP On-Court Experience.

 

In addition to visiting the tournament’s official website, www.FarmersClassic.com, fans can tap into social media channels to stay updated with the latest news and information surrounding the Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, by becoming a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FarmersClassic), a follower on Twitter (@FarmersClassic), and in joining the LA Text Club by texting “LA” to 25973 (message and data rates may apply).

 

LOS ANGELES – With successful players like Stan Smith and Vic Seixas on its list of champions, the Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes Benz, has built a tradition of celebrating the American military and its veterans. The 86th edition of the popular event continues the tradition with Military Appreciation Celebration Sunday on July 29 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.

 

On July 29, active-duty military and military veterans will be honored in a special ceremony between the singles and doubles finals, and all military children 10-and-under can receive a free one-year junior SCTA membership at the Southern California Tennis Association booth. The first 50 children of military/veterans bringing the special military-appreciation flyer (available by visiting the ‘Special Events’ heading at www.FarmersClassic.com) to the SCTA booth on July 29 will receive a free T-shirt. Gates open at 11:30 a.m., with the singles final scheduled for 1 p.m.

 

The Farmers Classic takes pride in recognizing its veterans and their families by providing free tickets for all day and evening sessions throughout tournament week – July 23-29 - to active and reserve military, veterans and their families with proper military ID (limit six tickets per family per session). Additionally, the SCTA will be sending care packages to service members who are deployed in Afghanistan as part of the Adopt-a-Unit effort.

 

“This is an event that we take a great deal of pride in conducting,” Farmers Classic Tournament Director Bob Kramer said. “All of us in the tennis community owe a great deal to our military and our veterans and we see Military Appreciation Celebration Sunday as a way to give back some of what we owe these fine people.”

 

The Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, features a 28-player singles draw and a 16-team doubles competition. Los Angeles County’s only top-tier pro tennis event, and an ATP World Tour stop on the Emirates Airline US Open Series, awards total prize money of $700,000.

 

Proceeds from the Farmers Classic, held in conjunction with UCLA, benefit the grassroots programs of the non-profit Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) and UCLA. In 2011, the tournament and associated special events raised more than $200,000 for the SCTA, the Grammy Foundation and other charities.

 

Veterans like Smith and Seixas, who served their country a generation apart, filled the precursor to the Farmers Classic, the Pacific Southwest Championships, memories and victories.

 

Drafted into the Army at the height of the Vietnam War in 1970, Smith brought his rocket serve-and-volley game into a different military venue. He spent his two-year duty (1970-72) visiting Army hospitals and bases and going on recruitment tours. Smith won the Pacific Southwest event for the first time in 1972, part of a memorable year in which he beat Ilie Nastase in a memorable, five-set match to capture Wimbledon. Smith would go on to win a doubles crown with Bob Lutz in 1976 and another LA singles title in 1977.

 

The likes of Shirley Temple, Doris Day, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn saw Seixas win singles titles in 1952, 1954 and 1957, the year in which Seixas won the U.S. Nationals – what is now known as the U.S. Open.

 

“My memories of that tournament were that I used to say it was the only tournament where the players watched the spectators, because all the movie people came out to watch,” said Seixas, who spent three-and-a-half years in the Pacific Theater during World War II, serving as an Army test pilot over New Guinea and Japan.

 

Two-time Farmers Classic champion and Southern California native Sam Querrey, fellow American James Blake, France’s Nicolas Mahut and Belgium’s Xavier Malisse, the tournament’s reigning doubles champion, are among the highlighted players entered in this month’s draw.

 

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Pair of American Wildcards Dominated Day 3 at BB&T Atlanta Open

Steve Johnson photo by
Audraine Jackson for Tennis Panorama

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – The BB&T Atlanta Open may be a new experience moving tennis into an urban environment but it hasn’t fared well for some local favorites as a pair of American wild cards ruled day 3 of tournament play. Nearby collegiate players made hasty exits Sunday leaving two time NCAA singles winner Steve Johnson in a position to shut down hometown favorite Donald Young winning in three sets 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Monday’s tournament activities included a salute to the US Military with a video presentation and appearances by a military Color Guard and a Wounded Warrior.

Young played below his level as his losing streak continued at 14, a serious slide after reaching as high as 38 in 2011. The timing was great for Johnson who admitted to a few nerves winning his first main draw ATP match. “The second set I had a chance to break at 2 all, I missed both returns, then he played a good game to break me. That’s kind of the way men’s tennis is. If you don’t capitalize on your break points – he will,” said Johnson.

“In the third set I thought I served good except for I guess the one game at 3-1. I think I got broken at love but to come right back and break back and have two strong service games was good for me to kind of settle my nerves down trying to win my first ATP match. In the end it was a great learning experience and I’m really glad I got the win.”

Ryan Harrison photo by Audraine Jackson for Tennis Panorama

An hour and a half rain delay didn’t dampen play for 19-year old Jack Sock who defeated seventh seed Alex Bogomolov 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. “I hoped for all 1st serves after the rain delay but didn’t happen.  Bogomolov returned well,” said Sock. “It feels good to be back on tour. I haven’t had a lot of matches but hope to get more.” Sock relied on a powerful forehand and drop shots near the net to capitalize on opportunities in a match lasting two hours and 14 minutes. The match included a medical break when Sock required assistance for a finger scraped by a racquet string that drew blood.

Americans Johnson and Sock will face each other in singles but not before being paired as doubles today against Bogomolov and Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.  Another key matchup will be between US Olympic team member Ryan Harrison and James Blake who brings an aggressive baseline style to his matches.

Ryan, who turned pro in 2007, talked about what it will be like facing the veteran for only the second time in his career.  “James is great. James has been a very, very top professional caliber player in all sense of the word.” said Harrison. “Being a great guy, a great athlete, competitor all the way through and I’ve looked up to him for a long time. It’s my second time playing him. I played him in Houston in 2008 when I was 15 which was pretty young. He put a good beat down on me. But it’s been a long time since then. I know he’s got a lot of game, a lot of skill. I’m hoping I’ll play my best tennis and like any match I play, I believe if I play my best tennis I will give myself a chance to win.”

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Audraine Jackson is covering the BB&T Atlanta Open for Tennis Panorama News July 14-22, 2012. Audraine is a sports blogger, digital journalist and tennis addict. Follow her live updates on @tennisnewsTPN and personal twitter account @atlstoryteller.

RESULTS:

Monday Singles Rd 1

 

[W] J Sock d [7] A Bogomolov Jr 6-2, 4-6, 6-4

 

[5] K Anderson d P Lorenzi 6-4, 6-3

 

G Muller d M Matosevic 7-6(5), 6-4

 

N Mahut d P Capdeville 6-3, 3-6, 6-4

 

Monday Doubles Rd 1

 

X Malisse/ M Russell d J Fruttero/ D Tursunov 1-6, 6-1 10-3

 

[4] J Delgado/ K Skupski d O Charroin/ A Shamasdin 2-6, 6-4, 11-9

 

 

 

Monday Qualifying Rd 3 Results

 

[1] R Bemelmans d [8] R Hocevar 6-2, 6-2

 

[3] S Bubka d [6] T Smyczek 6-3, 6-4

 

[2] R Berankis d [5] R De Voest 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3

 

[7] A Kuznetsov d [4] R Mello 6-1, 3-6, 6-4

 

Sunday Qualifying Rd 2 Results

 

[7] A Kuznetsov d L Margaroli 6-2, 6-0

 

[4] R Mello d [W] M Ndimande 6-4, 6-2

 

[3] S Bubka d C Gard 6-4, 7-6(6)

 

[5] R De Voest d [W] K King 6-7(3) 7-6(4) 6-4

 

[6] T Smyczek d O Sajous 7-5, 6-3

 

[8] R Hocevar d O Charroin 6-4, 7-5

 

[1] R Bemelmans d [W] L Dlouhy 6-1, 7-5

 

[2] R Berankis d [WC] D Bernstein 6-4, 6-1

 

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Fields for USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs Announced

 

USTA Player Development has named the eight men and eight women who will be participating in the Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs. They include in the Women’s draw – Melanie Oudin, Coco Vandeweghe, Madison Keys, Jamie Hampton, Gail Brodsky, Alison Riske, Grace Min and Taylor Townsend.

 

The men’s field consists of Robby Ginepri, Jack Sock, Bobby Reynolds, Denis Kudla, Steve Johnson, Daniel Kosakowski, Rhyne Williams and Jesse Levine.

 

The playoffs will be held at the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, one of the USTA Certified Regional Training Centers  from December 16-18.  The winners will receive main draw singles wild cards into the men’s and women’s draws at the 2012 Australian Open through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia.

 

Seeding for the playoffs will be based on the ATP World Tour and WTA Rankings.

 

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