Defending Champion Maria Sharapova Falls to Qualifier Camila Giorgi at Indian Wells

Camila Giorgi

Camila Giorgi

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Qualifier Camila Giorgi stunned defending BNP Paribas Open champion Maria Sharapova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in the third round on Monday. The win marked the first time that the 22 year-old Italian ranked at 79th in the world wan a match over a top five player. For Sharapova it was her first loss to someone ranked below the top 30 since 2013 Wimbledon.

It was very far from a clean match from the Russian who committed 58 unforced errors to Giorgi’s 48 and hit 9 double-faults to the Italian’s 11. There were a total of 15 breaks of serve during the match.

“I did not play a good match at all, and, you know, I started very poorly,” Sharapova said.  “Never played against her, but she’s someone that doesn’t give you much rhythm.  She’s quite aggressive, but some shots she hits incredible for a long period of time.  Sometimes they go off a bit.

“But, you know, if I’m speaking about my level, it was nowhere near where it should have been.”

“It was really good match,” Giorgi said.  “I think so.  I mean, wasn’t too consistent, but was great.”

“It was good because I was in the point in a good moment.  It was really important even, but just in the third set was really important to do it, so I was happy.’

“When I’m in the court I don’t think about the crowd,” Giorgi said answering a questions about her possible nerves during the match.  I just try to play my game and just keep going.

“If something, even if I miss, I just still going.  I’m going my game.  I don’t change it.”

Sharapova fh

Sharapova despite all of the errors, still had chances to win. At 4-4 in the final set the Russian was broken over a disputed line call. Her shot was called long and she raised her arms, which the chair umpire thought was a challenge, which showed the ball as out. Sharapova debated with the umpire and questioned who made the out call. The umpire disagreed and Sharapova was broken.

“Just because I heard the call from her box rather than from the line judge first, which wasn’t right at the beginning,” Sharapova said.  “Then I asked her why that happened and she thought I challenged the ball, which I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call.

“Then she went with it and I had no challenges left.  It’s not a big deal, but, I mean, I have no problem admitting if I challenged a call.  I’m not sure why she wouldn’t believe me if I wasn’t challenging it actually.  But I guess I was giving, you know, the hand gesture just because I had the out call from the sidelines rather than from the line judge.

“She says that the crowd has nothing to do with the match.  And, yes, he did call the ball out before the line judge did, but that’s just external interference and that has nothing to do.  Just have to keep playing, which is fine.

“And then she thought by doing that I was challenging the call, so…”

As for her opponent, Sharapova said: “I think if she played at this level for a consistent period of time I don’t think she’d be a qualifier here.  I think that’s pretty obvious for everyone in this room.

“But that’s the thing with tennis, is that ‑‑ and I have said it so many times ‑‑ you’ve got to bring this type of tennis when you’re playing on center court or when you’re playing on Court 18.  And especially when you’re just moving up and when you’re just getting that confidence and you’re playing well in Grand Slams, you’ve got to back it up.

“It’s a big challenge.  It really is.  Consistency is a big factor.  But if she keeps it up, I mean, if she can play like that on a consistent basis, I mean, she will be a good player.”

Giorgi also commented about her consistency in order for her to be a seeded player at events down the line.

“I think so I need to keep going, to play tournaments and be more consistent, to play more, because last year wasn’t like this for problems, injury.

“But I think is more important to play many matches and get to be with these kind of matches that will help lot to my game.

“I was trying to just play my game, and maybe I accelerate more than the other set.  I just play more aggressive.  I think this was the point.”

Sharapova will see her ranking fall to No. 7 and possibly to No. 8 if Petra Kvitova makes the quarterfinals.

Giorgi will play countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in the round of 16.

More to follow…..



Wawrinka Dominates, Federer, Li Also Advance



Wawrinka in press

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Australian Open Men’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka dominated Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.

“Today was amazing match,” said the world No. 3.  “Can’t complain.  “Playing that great, it’s good.  That level, depends a little bit who you play, but I’m really, really happy with my match today.

“I’m moving really well, and every time I can play aggressive it makes a difference.”

Asked if he plays to reach No. 1, the top Swiss player said:

“No.  I’m too far away from No. 1.  I’m really far.  Look at the ranking.  Look at Rafa and Novak are there since many years.  They are winning minimum two Grand Slam a year, making final, semifinal, winning Masters 1000.

“But I know my level.  I know that I can play great tennis this year.  I never won a 500.  Never won a 1000 tournament.

“We’ll see.  I’m not thinking at all to be No. 1.  I’m just trying to improve, trying to win every match.  We will see.  I’m not expecting to win a Grand Slam but I did it, so anything can happen.”

Federer 382014

Swiss No. 2 Roger Federer needed to win a pair of tiebreaks to stop Dmitri Tusunov, closing the match out with an ace.

Federer said that he’s having a better year this year.

“I feel different this year,” Federer said. “Now I feel like I’m in a good place. Zen on the court. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm. Those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”

Federer changed to a new racquet with a bigger head this year and the 17-time major champion updated the press corps o how he feels about it.

“It’s good.  I’m very happy.  I mean, I’m not really thinking of it, so that’s a major step in the right direction.  That’s the best you can ask for when you change racquets.

“Then you hope that success follows.  That’s happened, too.  That’s why basically ‑‑ I had a meeting with Wilson this week looking to see if there is any small changes coming up or if that’s how I’m going to keep it right now.

“So we’re just looking to see what’s going to happen the next sort of month or so.  I’m really happy about how it’s playing, how it’s given me extra power, easier power, just easier to play with it day in and day out.  And I think have the spin necessarily, but have the control there, too.

“I must say I’m overall very happy, and it’s exciting to play with a new racquet after so many years.”


Li Na

Li Na

Top seed Li Na defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

“At least I can win the last point, and still, how do you say, stay on tournament,” Li said.

“You know, always tough, because first time to be the top seed in a big tournament and never have, how do you say, experience before.

“So it’s very tough to hang in there, especial beginning the tournament start.”


Seeds Tomas Berdych, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Sara Errani Fall

Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut

(March 9, 2014) No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych fell to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“It is tough opponent, but, you know, first of all I need to say that he really handled the tough situation today really well,” the Czech said.

“But secondly, more important to me that anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong.  So really, you know, just to recap it, definitely my worst match that I had this year.  That’s it, you know.



“That’s another experience.  That’s another way of the tennis, also.  It’s not only about winning.  So, yeah, just learned I need to learn from those mistakes that I did and just keep going.



Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also fell to French countryman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4.


Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard put out No. 10 seed Sara Errani 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of a WTA Premier event for the first time in her career.

The 20-year-old outhit her top ten opponent 36 to 10 in total winners. She’ll face will next face Romania’s Simona Halep, the world No. 7.

“She’s definitely improved a lot,” Bouchard said of her next opponent.  “I think she’s a really good, solid player.  I’m excited to play her.  I’m looking forward to playing against her game and seeing what it’s like and, you know, still focusing on my game and doing what I need to do.”


Isner interviewed

The lone American man left standing John Isner beat Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (5), 6-3.

“It was a very good start.  I was happy with how I played.

“You know, I felt my intentions were good out there.  I played well.  I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return, and that’s really all I can ask for.

“So as far as that goes, very happy.  Could have been a little bit cleaner, but all in all, I thought I played well.  I served extremely well.  You know, stayed aggressive for the most part.

“Happy to be through.  These conditions are very good for me.”

As to being the only US male left in the singles draw, the 6 foot 10 Isner said he does not feel any additional pressure: “No, I don’t.  I guess yesterday wasn’t a great day for our American men.  But, you know, selfishly I’m just worried about myself, really.  I certainly want all those guys to do well.

“But at the same time, it’s not my concern at all.  My concern is myself and just trying to keep moving forward and keep getting better and get back to where I want to be.”


Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”


Djokovic Wins Paris Masters, His 40th ATP World Tour Title

Djokovic winner

By Florian Heer


(November 3, 2013) PARIS – The last ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the season featured two of the top three players at the top of the rankings as world No. 2 Novak Djokovic met defending champion David Ferrer for the 16th time. Before Sunday’s final the Serb led 10-5 head-to-head and also won the last four meetings.


Sunday’s encounter became and exciting and highly entertaining one with long rallies, particularly at the beginning of the match. Ferrer gained his first break point after 18 minutes in the fifth game and capitalized on it through a beautiful drop shot after one of the week’s longest rallies – 36 shots. The Spaniard saved break points in the following and confirmed the lead. Djokovic was breathing heavily after six games already and it was the Serb, who paid the physical price for the tough rallies in the beginning of the match. From then on, however, Djokovic successfully tried to shorten the rallies. In a very efficient way, the 2009 Paris champion won four games in a row to take the opening frame after 53 minutes.


Ferrer grabbed the momentum back with a break in the opening game of the second set, which would become a copy of the first set. Again in the tenth game, the Spaniard couldn’t serve out  the set and Djokovic came back from 3-5 down to even at 5-5 in first place and eventually take the break in the twelfth game and therewith the match. After one hour and 52 minutes of a hard fight, Ferrer seemed to be tired and the “Djoker” took the encounter winning 7-5, 7-5. The Serb gained his sixth title of the season, the 40th in his career, and keeps his hopes alive for finishing No.1 by winning the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London next week.  “It’s always a pleasure to play against David,” Djokovic told the crowd at the fully packed Palais Omnisports in Bercy in his best French. “Today I was really lucky in the crucial parts of the match. The crowd was really great this week, without the supporters this would not have been possible. I worked really hard to play well here and I’m so happy to gain the title,” the Serb said.


“I am definitely playing the best tennis this year now. I’m playing on a very high level and have lots of confidence in myself, in my game.

“I knew that coming into the match I’m going to have to work for my points. He’s a great competitor, one of the most respected guys on tour because he works hard and he’s very humble and he’s a very nice person.

“It was very physical, trust me. But in the last few games of both sets it was mental in the end, just trying to show your opponent that you’re there, that you want to attack, that you want to take your opportunities.

“From tomorrow I’m going to start thinking about London. From tonight, actually. Because on Tuesday night I play Federer already, a huge challenge for me.”


“I think it was a really good match, really good rallies,“ Ferrer said. „I played maybe better than yesterday, and I lost.

“I am happy with my game, because the last few tournaments I [played well] and I am happy with myself. Now I want to relax and be with my team, and tomorrow I travel to London for the last tournament of the season.”


In the morning the two top-seeded doubles teams consisting of Bob & Mike Bryan as well as Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, met for the title. In the opening set it was Soares of the Austrian-Brazilian-combination, who lost his serve twice and in the second, it was Peya. Consequently the US-American twins captured their 11th title of the season winning 6-3, 6-3 in one hour.


“It was great week for us,“ Bob Bryan said. “We’re very happy with our performance against a team that has had a fantastic year and who is playing with a lot of confidence at the moment. Hopefully this bodes well for the last tournament of the season.

“This city has been good to us during our careers. We appreciate the support from the Parisian crowd and today’s atmosphere was fantastic for doubles. We’ll travel onto London tonight and we look forward to playing at The O2, another venue where the spotlight shines brightly on our sport.”


“An extraordinary tournament with all the best players at the top of the game led to a fantastic week,” the tournament director Guy Forget concluded.



New Haven Open Preview


By Jack Cunniff

(August 18, 2013) NEW HAVEN – A quick look at the leading contenders for the 2013 New Haven Open title, by Jack Cunniiff. Follow Jack on twitter (@jrcunniff) for tennis facts and trivia.


The New Haven Open at Yale had been owned by Caroline Wozniacki, as she swept to four straight titles in 2008-2011.  But a bad knee, and a tough opponent in Maria Kirilenko ended Wozniacki’s stretch of 20 straight matches won at New Haven in the 2012 semifinals.  Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, swept in last year to take the title in a straight set win over Kirilenko.


For the 2013 edition, both players have returned, and are looking to add to their New Haven success.  Wozniacki has had a difficult year by her standards, reaching only one final, in Indian Wells, where she lost to Maria Sharapova. In April she suffered a five match losing streak on clay.  But finally, in Cincinnati, the Dane seemed to get her groove back, defeating Kvitova in the third round, before losing a close battle to world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals.


Kvitova has also struggled recently, as she hasn’t passed the quarterfinals in an event since April.  She did score a victory over the 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in Toronto, so there are signs of life.  Compared to Kvitova’s U.S. Open Series success last summer, her recent play is a letdown.


Sara Errani, the 5’4″ Italian who reached the French Open finals last year, has surprised many by maintaining her Top Ten form in 2013.  She comes into New Haven as the top seed for the event, on the strength of her No. 6 ranking.  Semifinal results at the French Open, Madrid, and Rome, and a finals appearance in Palermo make her one of the more successful players in recent months, but all those results came on European clay.  The New Haven hard courts may prove a different challenge.


Sloane Stephens, the number two ranked American woman made a name for herself in 2013 by defeating Serena Williams at the Australian Open.  Last week, Stephens had her second biggest career win, eliminating Maria Sharapova from Cincinnati.  Seeded sixth in New Haven, Stephens is looking for success on U.S. soil, which has eluded her all season; her record in U.S. events stands at 3-6.


The No. 2 seed in the New Haven draw is Angelique Kerber. The German has had great success on U.S. hard courts in the past (2011 U.S. Open semifinalist, 2012 Cincinnati runner-up), but has a modest 4-3 record on hard courts this summer. Wozniacki recommended that Kerber make her first appearance in New Haven; perhaps she provided a few tips on how to succeed on these courts.


Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki was the first player to advance in New Haven, defeating Kristina Mladenovic in Sunday’s only first round match.  Lisicki, seeded eighth, has been short on match play after Wimbledon.  A wrist injury kept her out after Wimbledon, and she played only one hard court match, an opening round loss to Jelena Jankovic in Cincinnati.  If she can maintain her opening round New Haven form, Lisicki will be difficult to beat.


Other players vying for the New Haven title are Roberta Vinci, the world’s No. 1 doubles player along with Errani; Dominika Cibulkova, winner of the Stanford title over Agnieszka Radwanska; and Sorana Cirstea, the runner-up to Serena Williams in Toronto two weeks ago.


Around The Grounds

Much has been made recently of the diminishing number of teenaged players in Women’s tennis, but the final round of New Haven Qualifying featured two matches with both competitors in their teens.  Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico played fellow 19-year-old Caroline Garcia of France, while Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova, both 18, faced off.  Puig and Schmiedlova both won today, and Svitolina advanced as a lucky loser with the withdrawal of Magdalena Rybarikova with a lower back injury…


American Alison Riske continued her strong form of the summer with a straight set win over Yanina Wickmayer, putting Riske into the main draw, but the match had  some drama. With Riske serving 2-1 in the second set, a groudstroke exchange featured a Riske shot called long on the baseline which was overruled by the chair umpire. The umpire awarded the point to Riske, assessing that that Wickmayer couldn’t reach the ball, but Wickmayer disagreed. The Belgian refused to continue play until the referee was called to the court. She pleaded her case, but to no avail, and was out of sorts for the remainder of the match….


Stephanie Voegele advanced through qualifying when her opponent Yaroslava Shvedova retired with a forearm injury. Shvedova was playing her first event since Wimbledon as she struggles with the injury…


John Isner Wins Atlanta Open

Haas d Isner semifinal (4 of 5)

(July 28, 2013) In a battle between two of the tallest players in tennis, six-foot-10 John Isner saved two match points to beat six-foot-8 Kevin Anderson 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(2) in the final of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Sunday to claim his seventh ATP World Tour title.

Neither player was able to break serve during the entire almost three hour match. Anderson failed to convert any of 11 break point chances against Isner. At 2 hours and 54 minutes it’s the longest three-set final on the ATP tour this year.

“This is a tournament where I could’ve been out in my first match,” Isner said. I lived on the edge all week and seemed to come through each and every time. It’s very encouraging.

“I’ve been on the wrong end of a final that close before, so it feels good to be on the other end of that. I never wavered. I believed that even at 0/40 that I could still hold on and was able to come up with the goods.”

“There’s no question I play my best in the U.S. This is where I’m very comfortable. I compete extra hard and things seems to work out for me when I’m playing in the U.S.”

“I was holding easily and trying to give myself chances, which I did,” Anderson said. “Just wasn’t able to capitalize on them. That was the difference today… He stays in there. He serves well, he plays well when it matters, and he definitely played two better tie-breaks than me.”

Isner took home a check for $98,700 as the winner. Isner lost in the finals of the Atlanta Open in 2010, and 2011, each time to Mardy Fish.

Of Isner’s seven career ATP World Tour titles, three have come after saving match point and winning in a third set tiebreak – ’10 Auckland, ’12 Winston-Salem,  and ’13 Atlanta.


Seeds Cibulkova and Hampton Overcome Inspired Opponents


By Kevin Ware

Dominika Cibulkova [3] defeats Stephanie Voegele 7-5 7-6(5)

(July 25, 2013) STANFORD, CA – Worries about fitness and the lingering effects of an Achilles injury fell by the wayside for Dominika Cibulkova after she overcame Stephanie Voegele of Switzerland 7-5 7-6(5) in the first match of the day on stadium court.

She showed no signs of slowness or hesitation, but did sport a layer of physio tape on her lower leg. “The tape is for prevention. My Achilles will always be tough to deal with because I have this problem with the bone. That’s why my physio has to take good care of it so that I can keep playing.”

Though her leg was fine, the rust in her game was another matter. She struggled to close out the first set after leading 5-2, only doing so after breaking the Voegele serve in the eleventh game to take it at 7-5.

With the first set under her belt, Cibulkova looked poised to close out the second in more direct fashion. Voegele had other ideas, once again working her way back into the match after Cibulkova had lead 5-2.

Fittingly, the second set ended in a tiebreaker that Cibulkova won with fearless hitting from her forehand at 5-all, before serving it out on her first match point.

When asked afterward if she’d expected such a tough match from her Swiss opponent, Cibulkova was very complimentary of her Voegele’s abilities.

“I expected a really tough match because she’s playing really well at this time. I played her long time ago but remember how she’s playing close to the lines.”

“I just made it tough for myself. In the end I made it, but it could be easier for me.”

Hampton wins

Jamie Hampton [4] defeats Nicole Gibbs 7-5 6-7(5) 6-3

Fourth-seed Jamie Hampton had her hands full overcoming her own “rust”, as well as the inspired play of Nicole Gibbs; who was making her professional debut at this tournament after a stellar career at Stanford.

Rust on Hampton’s part was understandable, since this was Hampton’s first match of the tournament after receiving a first round bye as one of the top 4 seeds. “I’ve been here for a week now and I haven’t played. And I’ve never done anything like that before.”

The lack of sharpness in Hampton’s game was less of an issue, however, than the dogged determination shown by Gibbs.

Hampton might hit a harder ball than Gibbs, but Gibbs showed no sign of intimidation as she moved her opponent from side-to-side to keep the ball out of Hampton’s wheel house, and to expose any footwork weaknesses.

The first set was tightly-contested until a loose game by Gibbs at 5-all gave Hampton the crucial break, and allowed her to serve it out at 7-5.

The second set, won by Gibbs in a tiebreak, was an equally tight affair; made more so because of Hampton’s mounting unforced error total as she mixed winners and unforced errors interchangeably throughout.

After the match, Hampton was asked specifically about her serving difficulties on the day when she offered this assessment of her overall play: “To be honest, I just felt like I was struggling in general today.”

In spite of the efforts of her Stanford football team cheering section, Gibbs game began to unravel. The third set saw Hampton draw upon her experience as pro to serve bigger and hit bigger on shots that finally started to find their mark. There was little Gibbs could do than just say “too good”.

Gibbs managed a brief comeback (after falling behind 0-4) to get back on serve at 3-4. But she couldn’t sustain the momentum, and gave up one final break for 3-5. Hampton quickly closed out the match for the win.

Gibbs was remarkably upbeat after the match, and happy with the fight she showed on court. “The biggest takeaway is that I can play at this level, and that’s really exciting for me!”

Madison runs for a forehand

Other Match Notes

Daniela Hantuchova lost two straight tiebreakers to hand Urszula Radwanska a 7-6(3) 7-6(3) victory, and her second straight appearance in the Bank of the West quarterfinals. This loss is sure to stick with Hantuchova for because of the seven straight points she lost in the second set tiebreaker after leading 3-0.

Vera Dushevina beat American Madison Keys in the evening match on stadium court. Keys was unable to get any aspect of her ground game on track during the match, and was also done in by Dushevina’s strong service returns.

Keys is widely touted as one of the top prospects for future US slam success. And while it’s true that she has an immense amount of talent, she also still has a long way to go in terms of developing a more complete game to compliment her strong serve and ground strokes.

Kevin Ware is covering the Bank of the West Classic as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak and site kevware.com/tennis/.

[nggallery id=87]

All photography by David Sweet.

Stanford, CA, USA
July 22-28, 2013

Results – Thursday, July 25, 2013
Singles – Second Round
(3) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 75 76(5)
(4) Jamie Hampton (USA) d. (WC) Nicole Gibbs (USA) 75 67(5) 63
(7) Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 76(3) 76(3)
(Q) Vera Dushevina (RUS) d. Madison Keys (USA) 76(0) 62

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(1) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Cako/Pluskota (USA/USA) 63 62
(2) Goerges/Jurak (GER/CRO) d. Grandin/Rosolska (RSA/POL) 06 62 105 (Match TB)
Order Of Play – Friday, July 26, 2013
Stadium (from 12.00hrs)
1. Sorana Cirstea vs. Olga Govortsova
2. Urszula Radwanska vs. Dominika Cibulkova
3. Jamie Hampton vs. Vera Dushevina (NB 15.30hrs)
4. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Varvara Lepchenko (NB 20.00hrs)
5. Hantuchova/Raymond vs. Muhammed/Will

Court 6 (NB 16.30hrs)
1. Govortsova/Kudryavtseva vs. Chan/Dushevina (after suitable rest)


John Isner Holds Off Christian Harrison to Move into Atlanta Quarterfinals


John Isner

By Herman Wood

(July 25, 2013) ATLANTA, GA -In his first very first ATP main draw second round match, 19 year old Christian Harrison gave John Isner plenty to handle.  Christian is the 19-year-old younger brother of Ryan Harrison, who won earlier tonight.  Rhyne spoke about his brother’s chance in his post match press conference before Christian’s match,  “He’s a quiet confident guy.  I tried to tell him that his game, his ability, is capable of winning these matches.  I told him I was proud of him and was excited for him.  I told him to trust himself and stay calm and confident and don’t get overwhelmed and just play tennis, he’ll give himself a chance to win.”  He most certainly did that.

As to be expected, John Isner opened the match with a service game featuring 2 of his 29 aces, a service winner and not much else in play.  At one point, the average length of rally was 2.1 strokes.  Isner had to have attention on his left knee on several changeovers, though never did ask for an official medical time out.  He flexed it and stretched it throughout the match.  The set stayed on serve, until Harrison was serving at 4-5.  Isner made an extra effort to go all out with service returns, though he couldn’t convert.  Finally at 6-6, the tiebreak everyone expected began.  Though mini-breaks were exchanged, neither player could get two points in a row at critical junctures.  Harrison made a veteran challenge on a service call and held his composure in a critical point when Isner stumbled.  Isner finally secured a mini break he could use with a nice touch volley and a venture to the net to finish off the set on a high volley Harrison couldn’t reach.

The second set looked to go the way of the first- tiebreak.  Isner put big pressure on Harrison in his first service game, forcing long rallies, but could not prevail.  At that point, the match reverted to the average 2.1 shot rally and a tiebreak looked inevitable.  Harrison had other plans.  With Isner serving to stay in at 4-5, he struggled to get his first serve in and Harrison capitalized by winning rallies.  At set point down, Isner tossed in a double fault to gift the second set to Harrsion.

The third set featured quality tennis, with nice gets, big overheads, and tricky volleys.  The crowd was very appreciative of the high level of play from both players.  Harrison did show his lack of experience with the challenge system in this set, wasting his last challenge on an Isner service bomb when the score was not in his favor deep in a game.  Perhaps it was out of sense of desperation.  Finally, at 5-5, with Harrison serving, Isner stepped up the pressure.  Perhaps it was the return of his “biggest” fan.  A young boy, who wasn’t tall enough to reach the bottom of Isner’s shorts to tug on them to get his attention, encouraged Isner loudly on every point in the first set.  Strangely, he was not vocal in the second set and returned for the third.   Isner earned the seventh break point with a nice volley at the net and finished with a blazing service return to get to 6-5.  On his service game, Isner struggled to get first serves in for much of the game.  When he did, they were the expected aces.  Harrison saved three match points with a veteran’s poise.  At deuce, Isner produced an ace to get match point and closed it out with a service winner.  7-6(9), 4-6, 7-5.  Isner will face James Blake, who beat Evgeny Donskoy earlier in the day 6-3, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.  That match is set to go off at 4 PM, which would is a surprise, considering Isner is the No 1 seed.  Ryan Harrison is set to play Santiago Giraldo in the 7 PM match.


Intown Tennis Continues to Prosper in Atlanta

tennis intown

By Sam Crenshaw, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(July 25, 2013) ATLANTA, GA -They said it wouldn’t work. Bringing an ATP tournament from Atlanta’s northside to an intown residential/retail development would be a logistical nightmare some thought. Not only did last year’s event draw crowds to see Andy Roddick’s final tournament win, it also landed a title sponsor in BB&T.

Atlantic Station

Now it’s year two for pro tennis in the city and Atlantic Station has been transformed into a tennis village. The players walk from their hotel to practice courts or to play matches, and during down time there is shopping, dining and plenty of entertainment. Lexus has signed on to be a long term sponsor for the tournament that has given spectators a reason to stay inside the perimeter after 5 o’clock.

Donate courts

When the tournament closes Sunday afternoon it will also mark a new beginning. Four of the courts at Atlantic Station, one of which is used for tournament play, will be donated to the City of Atlanta. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will be on hand for the ceremony that will take place at the finals of the BB&T Atlanta Open. The courts will be maintained by the Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department and will be welcomed by the people who live and work in the area near Atlantic Station.

A hearty tip of the cap to USTA Southern for bringing pro tennis intown, making it more accessible to the entire community and now community courts that will be a part of a lasting legacy of the BB&T Atlanta Open.

The projected economic impact of the BB&T Atlanta Open is over 10 million dollars. This figure comes from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.


Isner news conference

Top Seed Isner wins in three sets

When John Isner says he didn’t know what to expect from Christian Harrison, he was speaking the truth. The top seed for the BB&T Atlanta Open opened play Thursday night with a tough 3 set win 7-6, 4-6, 7-5  in hot and humid conditions at Atlantic Station. The 19 year old Harrison, playing in his first ATP main draw, made a good impression on the tour veteran. “I thought he played pretty well.  He is a good player and I was fortunate to beat him .” I’ll take  the win, it’s better than not winning”, said Isner.

Next up for Isner is a quarterfinal match with good friend James Blake. Blake gets to the quarterfinals after a three set victory over Evgeny Donskoy. “James is playing well and he is not far removed from being number 4 in the world, ” says Isner. ” He is a confidence player and I will have to play very well to beat him”.

Sam Crenshaw is Sports Reporter and Anchor for WXIA-TV, and co-host of MatchPoint on Sportsouth. Follow Sam on twitter @samcrenshawwxia or @tennacityOrg