2014/11/26

Bellucci Beats Janowicz in Raucous Match in Miami

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By Amy Fetherolf

(March 23, 2013) MIAMI — In a match where crowd involvement surpassed the tennis for entertainment, world No. 40 Thomaz Bellucci upset world No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 in the second round of Miami.

The crowd was heavily behind the Brazilian, and it immediately became clear that dealing with the atmosphere would be a struggle for Janowicz.

Janowicz charged to a 3-1 lead in the first set, but Bellucci was able to break Janowicz and force a tiebreak, which he won, 7-5.

During the first set, scattered Janowicz fans began chanting during the changeovers, and the pro-Bellucci crowd responded by booing and whistling. Each time Janowicz stepped to the line to serve, the tennis crowd chanted “Vamos quebrar!” (“Let’s break.”) A few rowdy fans called out their own line calls and time violations. Chair Umpire Kader Nouni tried meekly several times to quiet the crowd, but the unruliness continued to escalate.

As Janowicz served to force a first set tiebreak, the crowd began to boo and whistle. He threw his arms up in the air, encouraging the crowd to boo louder. They were happy to oblige. They booed him enthusiastically again when he paused to tie his shoes between points. His pleas to Nouni to calm the crowd went unanswered.

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Janowicz racked up 31 unforced errors to Bellucci’s 12 in the first set.

The match stayed tight for six games in the second set, but Bellucci double faulted twice to hand Janowicz the break for 5-3, and failed to convert on an 0-30 opportunity as Janowicz served it out.

Janowicz continued to fire up the crowd, giving them a thumbs down during one of the changeovers as they booed him, and laughing at the reaction he got.

The third set was one-way traffic for Bellucci, even though he paused to receive treatment from the trainer for a gluteal injury. He held from 15-40 down, and Janowicz spit on the court in frustration.

Meanwhile, the crowd’s rancor was growing exponentially. A man sitting directly behind Janowicz’s coach began yelling and chanting, “Go home, Polska.” Nouni did not intervene, perhaps having given up on controlling the crowd. Janowicz laughed through the last changeover.

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Bellucci served out the match successfully, much to the crowd’s delight. Janowicz bolted for the exit immediately, chased by a trail of boos, whistles, and jeers.

“He’s already lost. Let him be,” Janowicz’s coach said to the man behind him who was chanting for Janowicz to go home.

For Bellucci’s part, the match atmosphere was nothing he wasn’t used to.

“Maybe Janowicz had some distractions, but for me, I’m used to playing like that,” Bellucci said. “When we play in Davis Cup in Brazil, it’s always like that. The crowd is very loud. Maybe for the other player was not so good.”

“It was very special to be on court with a Brazilian crowd. The crowd was full of Brazilians. Very happy to have this victory. I hope to play well in the next round.”

Bellucci will play Andreas Seppi next.

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Amy Fetherolf‏ is covering the Sony Open as media for Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN). She is a co-founder of The Changeover. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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Bellucci Loses to Volandri in São Paulo and Gets Booed Out

Thomaz Bellucci photo by Gaspar Nóbrega/Inovafoto

Thomaz Bellucci photo by Gaspar Nóbrega/Inovafoto

By Barbara Galiza

(February 14, 2013) São Paulo – Brazil’s biggest hope of a home winner ended today, after the country’s No. 1, Thomaz Bellucci, was upset by Filippo Volandri, in two sets. In a match full of errors, the fifth seed of the ATP 250 São Paulo fell in the second round to the Italian, 6-3, 6-2, and the crowd wasn’t happy. The 8,000 fans present booed their local man off of the court.

 

“It’s very sad getting booed in your country. This has never happened to me in my career before. It’s hard knowing people don’t appreciate our sport here”, said the 35th player in the rankings. “It’s never easy for me to play in Brazil. I’m always extra nervous here.”

 

“Here in Brazil, the mentality is different, people don’t appreciate athletes like they do in Europe or America,” complained Bellucci, that, in 2010, had a career high of 21. “It’s hard for the crowd to understand that I have bad days. People come here to watch good tennis and if I don’t play good tennis, they boo. ”

 

In his first round victory over countryman Guilherme Clézar, the fans present also cheered against Bellucci. After the win, he stated he understood the choice: “I am not the most charismatic player.”

 

Last year, Bellucci and Volandri met in the semifinals. The Italian also won, but in three sets. In the quarterfinals of São Paulo, Volandri, 88th, will play the lucky loser Martin Allund, from Argentina.

 

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open  as media in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Bellucci to Play Up-and-Coming Compatriot in São Paulo’s First Round

 

Thomaz Bellucci

Thomaz Bellucci

By Barbara Galiza

(February 11, 2013) São Paulo -Thomaz Bellucci, Brazil’s highest ranked player at number 35 in the world, will face a young compatriot in his first round match at ATP 250 São Paulo: Guilherme Clezar. Last year, Clezar made a splash on the tour, becoming the top player on the under-19 ATP rankings. At 20 years old, he is the youngest player in Brasil Open’s main draw.

“He must be confident at the moment and seems to be very solid from the baseline. I think he will be really strong, really wanting the victory,” said Bellucci ahead of their match-up. Clezar already has three wins under his belt in the Brasil Open, since he got through the qualifying rounds this afternoon.

On Tuesday the Brazilians will clash at 7 pm local time. Afterwards, Rafael Nadal will make his debut in the tournament, alongside David Nalbandian in the doubles.

Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.
RESULTS – MONDAY, 11 FEBRUARY, 2013

Singles – First Round
[7] P Andujar (ESP) d S Giraldo (COL) 64 76(5)
*[LL] M Alund (ARG) d [WC] R Mello (BRA) 64 64
S Bolelli (ITA) d [WC] T Robredo (ESP) 62 64

*[LL] M Alund (ARG) replaced L Mayer (ARG) – back

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 12 FEBRUARY, 2013

COURT CENTRE start 12:00 noon
[6] F Fognini (ITA) vs G Pella (ARG)

Not Before 2:30 PM
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs [8] A Ramos (ESP)

Not Before 5:00 PM
D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) vs F Volandri (ITA)

Not Before 7:00 PM
[Q] G Clezar (BRA) vs [5] T Bellucci (BRA)
R Nadal (ESP) / D Nalbandian (ARG) vs P Andujar (ESP) / G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

COURT 2 start 2:00 PM

Not Before 2:00 PM
A Kuznetsov (RUS) vs C Berlocq (ARG)
[3] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs [PR] L Arnold Ker (ARG) / J Monaco (ARG)
[PR] R Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
O Marach (AUT) / H Zeballos (ARG) vs [4] L Dlouhy (CZE) / A Sa (BRA)

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“Uncle Sam” Saves U.S. – Querrey helps Americans squeak past Brazil and into the Quarterfinals

 

Sam Querrey backhand2

DAVIS CUP: “UNCLE SAM” SAVES U.S.

Querrey helps Americans squeak past Brazil and into the Quarterfinals

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2013) JACKSONVILLE – The U.S. Davis Cup team avoided a huge upset when Sam Querrey clinched the First Round tie for the Americans over Brazil, 3-2, in a fifth and decisive rubber on Sunday at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The U.S. now moves on to the Quarterfinals and will host Serbia and world number one Novak Djokovic in Boise, Idaho.

 

Querrey, ranked number 20 in the world, defeated 141-ranked Thiago Alves, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3), becoming the first American to clinch a Davis Cup tie in a fifth and decisive rubber since 2000, when Pete Sampras defeated Slava Dosedel to defeat the Czech Republic in a World Group Quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Querrey’s second live Davis Cup singles victory came two days after he defeated Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in straight sets.

Querrey stepped up for the U.S. after John Isner, ranked number 16 in the world, fell to the No. 36-ranked Bellucci, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3, in Sunday’s first reverse singles match. That evened the tie at 2-2, before Querrey served up 26 aces to defeat Alves.

 

It looked as if an upset was in the making when Alves took the first set, but Querrey soon found his groove. He began to win the long rallies against Alves, and take a two sets to one lead.

 

In the fourth set, Querrey was serving for the tie at 5-4, but he failed to convert a tie point and got broken after his overhead smash went into the net, giving Alves new life and the Brazilian fans hope. Both players battled into a fourth set tiebreak, in which Alves sent a shot past the baseline to give the U.S. a 5-3 lead Querrey would not relinquish. His victory gave joy and relief to the few hometown fans who hadn’t left the match to watch the Super Bowl.

 

“You know, I was just very happy with the way I battled through it,” said Querrey. “Didn’t strike the ball as well as on Friday, but fought through the tough points, made him play, got breaks in the second, third and fourth sets there.

 

“He broke me back, but then edged him out in a tiebreaker. I was just happy to get through it.”
U.S. Captain Jim Courier said Querrey will benefit from experiencing the Davis Cup pressure cooker. “Sometimes obstacles become opportunities, and that’s what this was today for Sam. John, we thought he was going to get through his match. We thought Bob and Mike (Bryan) were going to get through their match (on Saturday). It came down to Sam, and he stepped up when we needed him to. Sam faced some adversity at the end and played a great tiebreaker to get past not closing it out on serve. Those are learning moments for a player, things you can draw on later on in your career.”

 

“It was a good effort from everybody, particularly the Brazilians,” said Courier. “They deserve a lot of credit for pushing us and making us come up with what we had to at the end.”

 

The Brazilian Alves said he was pleased with his level of play during the tie. “So was a great match. Sam is a great player. The first set I got my chance, so I think he was a little bit tense, nervous. After that he start to

play better tennis. I fight for all the match, all the match.”

 

Brazil’s Captian Joao Zwetsch congratulated the U.S. team on its victory, but also gave praise to his players for almost coming back from down 0-2 in matches to pull off the shocker.

 

“Everybody did all the best all the week trying to win this tie” said Zwetsch. “Everybody was like this. When I get on the court, I can feel this energy. I was feeling today. It’s different. I can say to you it’s really different.”
Top-ranked Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci did his part to push the Americans to the brink with his five-set victory over Isner. It was Bellucci’s spin and kick serves versus Isner’s power service game, which included 22 aces.

But the American also committed 81 unforced errors in the nearly three-and-a-half hour match, and appeared to run out of gas in the fifth set — with this being only his second match since skipping the Australian open with a knee injury.
“In the end, I saw that Isner was a little bit tired and I was trying to put every ball inside the court to keep him playing,” said Bellucci.
“I just couldn’t quite win the big points,” said Isner. “It’s almost like I wanted it too badly. I just felt like I was forcing it, wasn’t going for my shots like I should. Confidence-wise I’m not even close to where I want to be.”

 

Isner also complained about the Brazilian fans, who came ready to root for their favorites with taunts and a number of noisemakers in tow: party horns, kazoos and rubber ducks. “To be honest I don’t appreciate their fans at all. I don’t think they’re too classy at all.” Isner went on to say that the fans are not an excuse for his defeat and that Bellucci deserved to win.
U.S. Captain Courier is now setting his sights on Serbia in the Davis Cup Quarterfinals: “We’re excited. We wanted to face Serbia. We thought that would be a great test for us. They’re one of the great Davis Cup nations right now. Novak is playing again this year after taking last year off. If you want to lift this trophy, you need to beat the best teams, and that certainly is one of them.

“We look forward to the challenge. We know it will be difficult. But Boise should be a very hospitable environment for us. We’ll like the altitude there. That should work well for us. We’ll look forward to playing there.”

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Brazil Stays Alive As Melo and Soares Upset the Bryans in 5 Sets

 

Bob and Mike Bryan

Bob and Mike Bryan

 

DAVIS CUP: BRAZIL STAYS ALIVE
Melo and Soares upset the Bryans in 5 sets; U.S. up 2-1
By Junior Williams

 

(February 2, 2013) JACKSONVILLE — On Groundhog Day here in the United States, the conventional wisdom was that the world’s top-doubles team would clinch a first round Davis Cup World Group victory and ensure a long winter for Brazil’s team.

 

But as any Brazilian will tell you — it’s actually summer south of the Equator, and it’s not over yet.

 

Serveral hours after the American weather groundhog Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow and predicted an early spring, Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares kept Brazil’s Davis Cup hopes alive by stunning Americans Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, in what was a high-quality and intense match. The U.S. now leads the tie 2-1.

 

For the Bryans — who are coming off their 13th major doubles title by winning the Australian Open — Saturday’s defeat marks only their third loss in 23 career Davis Cup matches.

 

In the first set tiebreak, Brazil rebounded from a 5-1 deficit and saved three set points on the way to winning the set, shocking the hometown faithful at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

 

“It was very important for us ’cause we kept the pressure on them,” said Soares. “You never know, it’s tough to say, but I think if they had won the first set, they would come back really strong, and then it’s really tough to hold them back.”

 

The Bryans returned the favor in the second set tiebreak by saving four set points — including one as part of a challenge resulting in deadlock at 6-6 — to even the match at a set apiece. It was during the changeover at 6-6 during the tiebreak that Bob Bryan had some words with the Brazilian bench, ratcheting up the intensity level of the match.

 

 

“I felt strange Bob’s reaction” said Melo.  “Just running, too close from me, screaming on my ear. I don’t know what’s happened like that, you know. Bob never did this before. We have really good relationship. I have him as a friend. In that moment I got in shock, How Bob did this, is not normal.”

 

Here’s Bob Bryan’s take on the situation: “Yeah, Davis Cup is an emotional atmosphere. They got passionate after they thought they won the set. I got passionate to them. There were some words said. You know, no hard feelings, no grudges.

 

It’s Davis Cup. This sort of stuff happens all the time. It didn’t affect the outcome of the match at all. There’s no hard feelings.”

The Brazilians went on to take the third set, and the Americans battled back to win the fourth, putting the Bryans in uncharted territory: Their first ever five-setter in Davis Cup. The turning point in the fifth set was when Mike Bryan double faulted to give Brazil the break and a 5-3 lead. Brazil held serve in the following game to secure the victory, to the delight of fans wearing the green, gold and blue.

“We came here today to fight,” said Soares. “We know we play well together. We never give up. So I think today was just a perfect example how good me and Marcelo can play together.”

 

Soares said part of Brazil’s game plan was to take away Mike Bryan’s return of serve down the middle. “Mike is one of the best returners in the game. We know we have to mix it up, take chances, serve in a spot that you don’t really feel comfortable, but you got to do it. He can hit any return anywhere. So I think what we tried to do a lot is to play the ‘I’ position and mix it up a lot.”

 

Soares called the win against the American his best ever in doubles competition.

“Beat Bryans on a Davis Cup World Group in their home. Tough to beat that. Maybe later on our career we hope to have some good wins as good as this one. But this one for me, it’s very special. It’s number one, for sure.”

 

“Hats off to the Brazilians, said Bob Bryan. I thought they served well pretty much of the four hours. A lot of high-percentage first serves. They were half-volleying well, keeping the pressure on for a long time. We didn’t get it done, and that’s our fault. We came here from Australia and gave it our best effort to get in shape and win this match, and we came up short.

“All the credit to those guys. They’ve beaten us before. They’re a good team. They’re in the mix in the big tournaments around the world. They knock on the door. They beat some other big teams as well. I’m sure we’re going to see them again for many years.”
In response to a follow-up question about the Bryans having any jet-lag or letdown after traveling from Australia, Mike Bryan said the twins felt great and were not mentally fatigued. “I don’t think we executed our best. We could have played a better match. Could have probably played a little more aggressive. But it wasn’t a factor of just winning a Grand Slam and traveling so far.”

The Americans are hoping John Isner will seal the tie when he takes on Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci in Sunday’s first singles match. A Bellucci victory would force a fifth and deciding match between Sam Querrey of the U.S. and Thiago Alves of Brazil. Querrey is ranked number 20 in the world, while Alves is ranked number 141.

 

U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier says he Isner and Querrey are “well-prepared. They come in with three sets under their belt from yesterday which is good for their

confidence, not damaging to their physical fitness. We feel confident in our chances (Sunday). We don’t underestimate the opposition. They gained a little bit of momentum. It will be our job to quell that tomorrow and snuff it out first ball.”
Courier’s counterpart, Brazilian Davis Cup Captain Joao Zwetsch, said his team is going to “come strong” on Sunday and use the doubles victory as added motivation. “We still respecting a lot the American team, like I said all the time this week,” said Zwetsch. “But I guess we are like stronger mentally now to come (Sunday) and fight as we fight (Saturday).”

 

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

 

 

 

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Davis Cup: High “I. Q.” For USA

John-Isner_Miami-Tennis-Cup-e1354390274784

 

DAVIS CUP: HIGH “I.Q.” FOR U.S.

Isner, Querrey give Americans 2-0 lead over Brazil

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 1, 2013) JACKSONVILLE – Straight sets victories by John Isner and Sam Querrey have given the United States a commanding 2-0 lead over Brazil in the first round of the Davis Cup World Group at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

 

Isner — who skipped the Australian open due to a knee injury — showed signs of rust in his 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over Thiago Alves, who’s ranked 141 in the world. The American committed 62 unforced errors in the nearly two-hour match, partly due to some spirited play from Alves, who at times surprised Isner with his return of serve and ability to win long rallies.

 

But in the end Isner was bailed out by his powerful serve. In the second set, Isner staved off two set points by firing aces and going on to hold at 5-5. He later overcame a mini-break in the second set tiebreak, and closed out the set with a pair of aces — he had 32 in all.

 

Isner — the top ranked American and number 16 in the world — took control of the third set by breaking Alves to go up 4-2, on the Brazilian’s unforced error past the baseline.

 

When asked whether the four-week layoff bothered him, Isner replied, “It wasn’t exactly pretty, but I knew that may be the case going into this match today because I’m real short on match practice, real short on practice in general. But these are the type of matches for me going forward that I need to get under my belt. But all in all I’m very happy with the outcome and glad I was able to contribute today.”

 

In the first match, Sam Querrey defeated Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The American — whose world ranking is 20 — served 15 aces and won 96 percent of his first serve points. Early in the match, Querrey had trouble returning the Belucci’s kick serves, but the Brazilian double faulted midway through the first set to send Querrey up a break. Querrey capitalized by clinching the set as Bellucci returned his serve into the net.

 

“I feel like I played great,” said Querrey.  I was serving well, and that just makes things so much easier. I could play a little freer on his service games.I was a little nervous at the beginning.Once I got that first break, I felt like I got my feet settled and I was on a roll.

 

After that, it was all Querrey, who broke Bellucci in the first game in each of the remaining sets en route to his first Davis Cup singles victory

 

 

The number 36-ranked Bellucci said “It was not easy to play today. The court was very fast. (Querrey)  was serving very strong, very close from the lines. I didn’t play my best tennis, so I’m a little bit disappointing.

 

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The turnout for today’s matches was low, but Querrey still gave the home crowd a thumbs up.

 

“Everyone that was there did a great job. They got surprisingly loud there at the end for an arena that wasn’t full.You know, it’s still good for who was there.Hopefully tomorrow we can get more. I know sometimes it’s a little tougher on Friday with people working. Hopefully tomorrow and Sunday we can get more.”

 

Saturday, the United States will look to clinch the tie by going with Bob and Mike Bryan, who are fresh from winning the Australian Open men’s doubles championship — a record-setting 13th major title. The twins will take on top 20 doubles players Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.”

 

A U.S. victory would send the Americans to the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals, where they would likely host Serbia. World number one Novak Djokovic and teammate Viktor Troicki won their matches against Belgium to take a 2-0 lead.

 

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

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Around the Grounds with “Behind These Walls” Filmmaker Rex Miller at the Sony Ericsson Open

Director/Filmmaker/Photographer/Tennis Coach Rex Miller is down at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne this week.

I had the great opportunity to do some directing on a new promotional campaign for the WTA (I can’t talk about the details yet, but we were shooting all the top players, lots of fun, three – 18-hour days). This is my first post for  Tennis Panorama as I wandered the grounds of the Sony Ericsson Open on Wednesday.

Thomaz Bellucci

Thomaz Bellucci had a great run last week at Indian Wells, he pushed Roger Federer pretty close to the edge, and was a few points from taking the match, so I was eager to check him out up close. He was extremely flat in a morning match against Frederico Gil of Portugal, who was extremely pumped up. The crowd was split between the Brazilians and the Portuguese, both sides waving flags, and singing songs. The Brazilians had little to cheer for as Bellucci fell behind a set and two breaks at 4-1. Gil got a little tense and seemed to be begging Bellucci to come back in and join him for a fight, much to the delight of the Brazilians. Bellucci clawed back to 4-3 and had two break points but he felt the pressure and Gil was able to hold, and eventually limped across the finish line for 6-4. I say limped because both players were afraid to hit out, opting for steady play in the breezy conditions.

I’ve always thought that Bellucci’s talent was at a much higher than his results. He left the court despondent and skipped his post-match media conference.

 

James Blake

I caught the first set of James Blake- Nikolay Davydenko where Blake again proved that he has one of the best forehands in the game, as he ripped winners from many spots, with the crowd oohing and aahing.

Nikolay Davydenko

I’ve seen Blake too many times to get emotionally attached during his matches. I heard he eventually succumbed to the steely Russian, who–despite being one of the more un-animated players, is a joy to watch for those of us who love great footwork and amazing ball-striking.

I was anxious to catch American wild-card Denis Kudla, the 19 year-old from Washington, DC by way of Ukraine. I spent some time with Kudla two years ago as he was a subject of a documentary I shot for Tennis Channel “Who’s Next.” He’s a product of the Champions Training Center in College Park, which also produced University of Virgina’s freshman sensation and current NCAA No.1 Mitchell Frank and Texas A&M’s Junior Ore. Kudla is one of the best ball strikers you’ll see, he has absolutely great technique on both sides, has a good bit of pop on his serve and although being about 5’9″ or 5’10,” has bulked up in the shoulders a lot in the last two years and will probably continue to do so.

Denis Kudla

Today, Kudla was up against qualifier Antonio Veic from Croatia and he came out smoking. The two had long rallies with Kudla often controlling the action, ripping from both sides and occasionally venturing to the net to finish points with crisp volleys and a deft touch. He broke the Croatian twice to take it 6-2. Kudla has steadily climbed the rankings and is now at around 160. I sat next to his agent Sam Duvall who mentioned what an important match this was for a kid who is 160–big points at these Super Masters series, a great opportunity for a big jump, one that is hard to come by in the dogged ATP world. Kudla couldn’t maintain his high level and eventually lost in 3, I’m sure a disappointment to the hard-working kid, but look out for him because I think he’s going to have some good results in the near future.

 

Rex Miller is a filmmaker/tennis coach and self-described tennis geek who is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. He was the Director and Producer for the documentary – Behind these walls which aired on Tennis Channel. It talks about the unique world of “tennis behind bars” at San Quentin State (CA),Penitentiary, one of America’s most infamous prisons. Read more about Rex and his work at http://www.rexpix.net/.

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Bogomolov Absorbs Bellucci’s Power

Alex Bogomolov Jr.

By Curt Janka

LOS ANGELES, California –  American veteran Alex Bogomolov Jr. came back to upset Brazilian powerhouse Thomaz Bellucci 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Farmers Classic tournament. In a topsy-turvy affair, Bellucci came out scorching winners passed an overwhelmed Bogomolov. By the beginning of the second set, Bogomolov began mixing up his pace but labored to chase down his opponent’s shots. At the end of the second set Bogomolov was out of dry shirts, but settled into grinding out the long points.

 

A medical timeout for Bogomolov seemed to breathe belief into the American. Gradually the scurrying defense of Bogomolov drew errors from Belluci. In the third set Bellucci seemed to second-guess his strokes as Bogomolov ran away with the match. Literally. With tremendous foot speed, Bogomolov managed to track and diffuse bomb after bomb until Bellucci conceded an error.

 

The win earns Bogomolov his first ATP World Tour semifinal after losing his previous 5 quarterfinal appearances. He will play the winner of the match between Juan Martin Del Potro and Ernests Gulbis on Saturday.

Curt Janka is covering the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles this week. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews. Follow his personal twitter @CurtJanka.

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Madrid: Nadal Wins with a Heavy Heart, Djokovic Tested Streak at 31

 

There was more than a match on his mind when Rafael Nadal took to the court on Saturday at the Madrid Open. Rafael Nadal had to overcome more than Roger Federer on court. Nadal was visibly emotionally distressed at the death of golfer Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros during an on-court tribute.

 

In part 24 of the Nadal-Federer rivalry, the Spaniard extended his record over the Swiss to 16-8 with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 victory to reach his third consecutive Madrid Open final.

“This win is much too small to dedicate to Seve—he’s one of the greatest players in the history of our sport.”

“Playing Federer always provides a special satisfaction as we have played so many important matches,” said Nadal.

 

Nadal will meet Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday and try to win his first title against the Serb in three tries.

 

Djokovic rallied against Thomaz Bellucci for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win. Djokovic has tied Bjorn Borg’s 1980 record for wins at the start of a season at 31. John McEnroe holds the record at 42.

 

Different streaks will be in play in Sunday’s final. Nadal’s current clay court win streak at 37, Nadal’s winning streak against Djokovic on clay at 9-0 and Djokovic’s perfect start to the 2011 season currently at 31.

Victoria Azarenka

The ladies final on Sunday will see Victoria Azarenka face Petra Kvitova. Azarenka snapped Julia Goerges’ 10 match winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 win. Kvitova dominates Li Na 6-3, 6-1.

Azarenka: “I came very motivated to play this match and show my best tennis …I had to be the one dominating the game and not her, because she has really big shots and when she goes for it it’s tough to see where she’s hitting.”

Both finalists will be moving up on the rankings – Azarenka will move up to No. 4 in the world. Kvitova will enter the top ten.

Kvitova: “Yesterday I knew if I won I’d be in the Top 10. It’s good but it’s only a number and I still want to get better and better…when I was young, I was inspired by Martina Navratilova. She was Czech, played very offensive tennis and had

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Madrid: Night Session without Rafael Nadal

By Abigail Hinto in Madrid

The children are gone, the grown ups are out, dressed up for the night’s event.  But it’s not Rafael Nadal nor Juan Martin Del Potro that will be entertaining them. Taking their place are Andy Murray and Thomaz Bellucci instead.

Earlier in the day at Nadal’s practice, Tournament Director Ion Tiriac came out for a visit. Did he come out personally to tell Nadal that Del Potro has pulled out? For after Tiriac left, a fan asked Nadal’s Uncle Toni if Rafa would be playing tonight and he answered no. At least that was the translation the person beside me provided me.

After many fans bought tickets for tonight’s session, you can imagine the disappointment. The atmosphere for that match, in Spain, would have been amazing. I was anticipating a Davis Cup-like atmosphere. But an injury is an injury, and if a player can’t play, he can’t play.

So back to the replacement match, it featured the some of the longest rallies seen during Thursday’s match play, what you typically expect from clay court tennis.

Murray’s counter-punching style lends itself to those long rallies. But even his amazing defense wasn’t enough to win him the match. Bellucci, the clear aggressor won comfortably in the end 6-4, 6-2.

If the first night match featured the most long rallies, the second one between David Ferrer and Sergiy Stakhovsky had employed the most dropshots, another feature of clay court tennis. It is an amazing shot when it works, but can also make you loom stupid when it doesn’t even cross the net which Stakhovsky alternately pulled off against Ferrer. In the end, like Murray earlier, Stakhovsky’s dropshots didn’t help him win his match. Game, set and match David Ferrer – 6-3, 7-6.

Madrid Open Results and Order of Play

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