The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta



By Herman Wood

(July 17, 2014) ATLANTA – Preparation for the US Open is underway.  The BB&T Atlanta Open gets things started on Saturday, July 19th for the men.  Qualifying begins at 10 AM.  The BB&T Atlanta Open is an ATP 250 event, with a 28 player draw, four of which come from the qualifying tournament.  The qualifying field will have 32 players.  The doubles draw is a 16 team field.  Last year’s champ, John Isner, is returning, along with fellow Americans Sam Querrey, Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock, and Donald Young.  Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Radek Stepanek, Ivo Karlovic, Ivan Dodig, Lleyton Hewitt, and the other half of the Wimbledon doubles championship team, Vasek Pospisil, are also expected in the tournament.  The tournament aspires to be a mini US Open, with the venue set among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta at Atlantic Station.  Atlantic Station is a community within downtown that provides homes for 10,000 people integrated with shopping, restaurants, and retailers that make it a hit with the players.  Besides the attractive venue, players will get a jump on the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, where nearly $40 million in prize money is up for grabs.  This is the third year the tournament has been held at Atlantic Station.

It is a familiar place for Americans, with Isner winning last year, Roddick in 2012, and Fish in 2011.  It has also been comfortable for big man tennis- last year Isner, at 6’10”, overcame Kevin Anderson at 6’8” in three tiebreaks.  Fans in the first couple of rows certainly had to pay attention with the huge serves coming their way.  It is especially familiar for Isner, who competed collegiately just an hour down the road for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, leading the team to a national championship and winning every possible team title in 2007.  He’s usually a fan favorite, with at least a couple of barks from Georgia fans in his favor at each match.  Isner may not be the only recipient of barks; University of Georgia player Austin Smith has accepted a wild card into the main draw. The sophomore from Cumming, Georgia excelled this season as the Bulldogs captured the 2014 SEC Championship. Smith finished with a 35-12 record, and went 9-1 in SEC matches. He has won four USTA Pro Circuit matches. A tournament qualifier in 2011, Smith will be playing his debut ATP main draw match.

Another American, Jack Sock, could very well get on a roll at this tournament.  After winning doubles with Pospisil at Wimbledon, he rolled into Newport and eliminated Isner in the Newport Hall of Fame event on grass just a week ago.  Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t able to keep that momentum and was eliminated by the veteran Lleyton Hewitt, who went on to win the tournament.  Hewitt’s feisty shouts of “C’mon!” have endeared him to the Atlanta fans in past years.  Fresh off his renewed success at Newport, he could very well win Atlanta.  The main draw was just rounded out with the addition of Ryan Harrison and Robby Ginepri.  “We’re ecstatic to welcome back two of our fan favorites in Ryan Harrison and Atlanta metro resident Robby Ginepri,” Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez said. “One of our goals is to highlight American talent and both of these players are great examples of the fine players this country has produced.”  Harrison won the doubles last year, partnering with Matthew Ebden.  Ginepri appears for the fourth time, with a onetime ranking of fifteen.  He is a graduate of Wheeler High School, just a few miles north of Atlantic Station.  He currently resides in Kennesaw, another couple of miles north.

The draw will be finalized over this weekend with the completion of the qualifying tournament.  Promising American junior Francis Tiafoe has accepted his first tournament qualifying wild card. Tiafoe, 16, is a talented young prodigy who rose to No. 2 in the world junior rankings this spring. Georgia Tech’s Nathan Rakitt and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey have also accepted qualifying wild cards. Rakitt, a Marietta native and All-ACC selectee, is competing again for the second year. O’Shaughnessey of Macon, Ga., led the Crimson Tide in singles wins (22) this season.

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


Del Potro Takes DC over Isner, Rybarikova Repeats as Women’s Champion


By Steve Fogleman

(August 4, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – A rare temperate and gorgeous day in August in the Nation’s Capital was an extra incentive for fans in Washington to pack the house for Championship Sunday at the Citi Open. This year marked the first time that three title matches were played on the same Sunday at the event. Men’s Doubles began at noon, the Men’s singles final began at 3:00 p.m. and the Women’s Singles final started a little after 5:45 p.m. Though each final was exciting and close, only the match between Del Potro and Isner was not decided in straight sets.

In the opener, Julian Benneateau and Nenad Zimonjic scraped by Mardy Fish and Radek Stepanek, 7-6(5), 7-5.

The men’s final featured former finalist John Isner and two-time event champion Juan Martin Del Potro, who had won the tournament in 2008 and 2009 when it was known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Isner’s serve was clearly a problem for Del Potro in the first set, and Del Potro looked to be on the verge of being upset as Isner commanded 6-3. Then, Isner’s first serve and accuracy quickly unraveled in the second. Isner hit 4 aces in the first set, but he only scored a single ace in each of the two remaining sets. Del Potro began standing a good 20 feet behind the baseline for a first serve and came very far forward on the second. Isner seem baffled by Del Potro coming so far in during the second serve, as it appeared to be a sign of disrespect to his usually scorching second attempts. Del Potro allowed Isner to win only 2 second service points in each of the final two sets.

“It’s amazing,” Del Potro said. “I’m so happy to win here once again. Always when you win a tournament, it’s special, it’s big. And after Wimbledon, to be in my first tournament on hard court, it means a lot. I’m looking forward to Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open. That gives me big confidence to keep trying and getting closer to the top guys.”

Isner was gracious in defeat, and spent more time in press than Del Potro. Isner indicated that he believed Del Potro to be a favorite for the US Open, a suggestion that made Del Potro blush. Like the good guy that he is, Del Potro made it clear that he thought Isner was a leading contender for a US Open title as well.

Del Potro faced Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic, Kevin Anderson and Tommy Haas before nabbing the title with the win over Isner.

Isner beat Alex Kuznetsov, Somdev Devvarman, Marcos Baghdatis and Dmitry Tursonov to reach the match with Del Potro.

The women’s final was expected to be close, too, and it was to some extent. Petkovic raced out to a 4-0 start in the first, but began to show the fatigue of having been on court at 2:15 a.m. the same morning in her rain-delayed win over Alize Cornet in the semifinals. She stated that she only got four hours sleep, and after she dropped the first set 6-4 and was down two breaks in the second, it looked like Rybarikova has already won the match. But Petkovic got those two breaks back as Rybarikova was not able to close it out. The set eventually went to a tie break which the defending champion won at 7-6(2). Fans expecting a championship Petko-dance were disappointed, but there were certainly more spectators pulling for Rybarikova than in last summer’s DC final, when most in the stands knew little about her. It appears that by winning the title in Washington last year, she was more of a known local commodity. By repeating her success, she will be talked about by DC tennis for years to come.

“I played great today – I couldn’t be happier,” said the women’s champion. “Today there were some really good parts of the match for me. Andrea was playing too well at the beginning so I’m happy I managed to win the first set – and then again at the end she started playing very well again, and I was getting a little tight and my arm was kind of shaking, so I’m really happy I could play a great tie-break there.”

“It was a pretty good week – all in all I’m quite satisfied,” Petkovic said. “I would have loved to win the title here to really feel like I’ve completely come back, but I’m really okay with this. Magda was really stepping up her game, not missing a lot and not giving me many free points. It was a really difficult match but all the credit to her, she really deserved to win the title today.”

For the championship, Rybarikova rolled past Christina Mc Hale, Jana Cepelova, top seed Angelique Kerber and 3 seed Ekaterina Makarova before defeating Andrea Petkovic for the trophy.

To reach the final, Petkovic had a tough road herself, beating Jessica Pegula, 6 seed Mona Barthel, Paula Ormaechea and 4 seed Alize Cornet.

The tournament featured a new stylish players lounge and cafeteria, which were major improvement on this leg of the tour which had long been considered by players a no-frills tournament. Media center staff was amazingly helpful and use an announcement system that I have not seen in the smaller tournaments I attend. They emailed all press conference times, so that even if you were on the grounds, you knew when to show up to the media center. That was a huge relief, since I have missed many post-match banter sessions because I wasn’t in the tent when someone screamed “John Isner 9:15!” I spend less time in the media center than many bloggers because I’m dying to see some of the great matches, and the matches go on no matter what time a player is in press.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience and probably the best all around Washington tennis tournament in the twelve straight years that I have made the pilgrimage to Rock Creek Park for world class professional tennis. Thanks to Tennis Panorama for allowing me the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He tweets from @TennisEastCoast.




Del Potro, Isner, Haas and Tursunov Advance to Citi Open Semis, Top Women’s Seed Kerber Ousted


By Steve Fogleman

(August 2, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – The email sent to fans by the Citi Open this morning stated “Blockbuster Quarterfinals Begin at 1 p.m. Today!”

On its face, a Marinko Matosevic vs. Dmitry Tursunov match didn’t appear much of a blockbuster in any sense of the word.

Don’t judge a match by its cover.

Although there were plenty of errors throughout, the men wildly entertained the crowd for Friday’s Stadium Court opener. Tursunov prevailed in the third set tiebreak at 4 for a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 win.

That match was followed by another terrifyingly-close ATP three setter in Washington.

Tursunov will face Atlanta champion John Isner, because he dispatched Marcos Baghdatis in the proceeding match on Stadium Court, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4.

Isner’s serve was on and Baghdatis couldn’t close the deal on Isner’s service games today. Baghdatis never saw a break chance all day, and Baghdatis didn’t see many of the 18 aces Isner fired at him. Still, Baghdatis kept it close.

Isner will seek to reach his third Washington final.

Tommy Haas

Tommy Haas

Later, Tommy Haas made the semis over Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets but nearly two hours by a final of 7-6(5), 7-6(3). The German and former Citi Open finalist will take on top dog Juan Martin Del Potro, who concluded the all-male Stadium Court fraternity party/quarterfinals matches with a 7-6(0), 6-2 defeat of Kevin Anderson.

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic

The women’s matches were just as wild on Grandstand 1.

It started with a grueling three-setter between Andrea Petkovic and Paula Ormaechea. Ormaechea came out with unusual speed in the first set, which required adjustments from Petkovic. Petkovic noticed the Argentinian’s big serves throughout the match and joked, “Nice match, Ivo Karlovic” to Ormaechea at the net after the 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory. For Petkovic, reaching each semifinal is a treat to be relished, and she displayed her emotions with another mini-Petko Dance to the delight of the fans on Grandstand.

Alize Cornet of France finished strong in a 7-6(5), 6-2 win against Sorana Cirstea. Cornet had never beaten the Romanian in hard courts in her career, but said that her mental confidence made all the difference this time. Both players have played some of the best tennis of their careers recently. Cornet moves on to do battle with Petkovic.

Defending champ Magdalena Rybarikova just plays well in Washington.

As the 7 seed, she knew she was always going to have to take out the 1 seed, Angelique Kerber, to advance to the semifinals. In a see-saw match, it was Rybarikova who laughed last in a 2 hour and 14 minute victory, 7-6(0), 3-6, 6-3.

She will meet a hardly-tired Ekaterina Makarova, who won when Monica Niculescu retired after the first game, 1-0.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He tweets from @TennisEastCoast.



Del Potro Does Double Duty in Wins Against Harrison and Tomic at Citi Open

JM Del Potro 812013

(August 1, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – Juan Del Potro closed out two ATP tour matches in six hours on Thursday. Not too shabby for the man that everyone was worried about when he took that big spill during his match with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last month. His first victim was Ryan Harrison, 6-1, 7-5. Then, it was it was Bernard Tomic, 6-3, 6-3.


Kei Nishikori also had to play two matches in even less time, but he couldn’t physically recover after knocking out Jack Sock 7-5, 6-2. He was a shell of his 2 o’ clock self in the nightcap, bowing out to Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 6-2 in 58 minutes.


I am confounded by the dilemma that tournament organizers face in such rain delays. On the one hand, they want to showcase the top seeded players in prime time, meaning that they play late.

On the other hand, they not so secretly hope that the big names go deep in the tournament. So when you make a Kei Nishikori or a Del Potro play at 9:00 p.m., the chances are greater that their match is going to be postponed by weather than a player who starts at 2:00 or 4:00 p.m.


That’s the gamble you take. And the Citi Open was 1 for 2 today.


Del Potro pulled it off, but it was almost asking the impossible and Nishikori did not possess those same superpowers tonight. Look at Andrea Petkovic. She was the only singles player at the Citi Open to get a win on Wednesday, and she played at 2:00 p.m. Imagine how much better Nishikori would have done against Baghdatis tonight if he had the amount of rest that Petkovic had last night and this afternoon.


It was no small miracle that rain did not interrupt today’s matches today, whose order of play was cobbled together to compensate for yesterday’s almost-total rainout. Grey clouds threatened almost the entire session on Thursday, and there were rumbles of distant thunder throughout and a few lonesome drops. In fact, I checked the weather radar on my I-phone at one point, and it showed light rain all over the Washington area. Somehow, the tennis gods decided to give the Citi Open a break. A washout today would have almost guaranteed another crazy day on Friday and could have forced Monday Finals. And this isn’t the US Open, folks. A Monday Final for both the ATP and WTA titles would’ve been….crickets, both in terms of attendance and television ratings.


Marinko Matosevic shocked many by sending Milos Raonic home to Canada a little earlier than he’d expected before Rogers Cup. Matosevic won 7-5, 6-2. In a one on one interview after the match, he said “I don’t know if it’s the biggest win of my career, but it is definitely a big win beating Milos in a big tournament like Washington.” Later, he added, “I think I’m going in the right direction. I want to make that next push, not just to get back to my ranking (No. 39 in February), but seeded at the Slams and try to get to top 30 this year”.


Kevin Anderson finished off James Duckworth 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 from a match that was 99% complete on Wednesday night. He later beat Mardy Finish in the 3rd round by a count of 7-6(2), 6-1.


Tommy Haas pulled a similar move, completing a nearly-over match against Tim Smyczek, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 and later advancing to the quarterfinals over Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.


Grigor Dimitrov also made the quarters in  a surpisingly easy 6-3, 6-3 victory against Sam Querrey. Later, Dmitry Turnsonov eliminated 2011 Champion Radek Stepanek 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.


And BB&T Atlanta Open Champion John Isner advanced 7-5, 7-5 over a plucky Somdev Devvarman.


In WTA action, top seed Angelique Kerber overcame early difficulties to sweep Melanie Oudin, 7-5, 6-0.


Defending Champ Magdalena Rybarikova squeaked through to the quarters by the seat of her pants against fellow Slovakian Jana Cepolova, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in an affair that lasted nearly three hours. Cepelova is always a tough out. Rybarikova beat Cepelova last year in the Citi Open quarterfinals en route to the title.


Like Rybarikova, Monica Niculescu nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory over tenacious Madison Keys, 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(6).


In yet another exciting match, Sorana Cirstea prevailed against Alison Riske of recent grass court success and new Washington-area resident Alison Riske, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.


Ekaterina Makarova simply destroyed Caroline Garcia of France, 6-2, 6-0 in 58 minutes and Monica Niculescu,


And Alize Cornet had a work-woman-like win over Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-4.


Friday’s quarterfinals are split into two sessions. It’s like a day-night doubleheader in baseball with a big difference. Like the US Open, they don’t clear out the venue before the evening session. And the only ticketed court at the venue is Stadium Court. And all of the matches on Stadium tomorrow are men’s quarterfinals. That means fans can catch two of the ATP quarters with a day session ticket, and stay late for two women’s quarterfinals, not to mention the doubles matches on outer courts.


The Friday Day session has Tursunov against Matosevic at 1:00 p.m. on Stadium Court, followed by Isner and Baghdatis not before 4:00 p.m. The Night session begins at 7:00 p.m. with Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov and concludes with Del Potro versus Anderson not before 9:15.


The women are back to back to back to back on Grandstand 1 from 1:00 p.m., with Petkovic/Ormaechea, Cirstea/Cornet, Makarova/Niculescu and concluding with Kerber/Rybarikova.


Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He tweets from @TennisEastCoast.

USD 1,546,590.00 (ATP)
USD 235,000.00 (WTA)
JULY 27 – AUGUST 04, 2013

STADIUM COURT start 1:00 pm
D Tursunov (RUS) vs M Matosevic (AUS) – ATP

Not Before 4:00 PM
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [16] M Baghdatis (CYP) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] T Haas (GER) or [13] I Dodig (CRO) vs [11] G Dimitrov (BUL) – ATP

Not Before 9:15 PM
[1] [WC] J Del Potro (ARG) vs [7] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP

GRANDSTAND 1 start 1:00 pm
A Petkovic (GER) vs P Ormaechea (ARG) – WTA
[5] S Cirstea (ROU) vs [4] A Cornet (FRA) – WTA
[3] E Makarova (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) – WTA
[1] [WC] A Kerber (GER) vs [7] M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
G Dimitrov (BUL) / M Llodra (FRA) vs [WC] S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) or [2] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) – ATP-After Suitable Rest

GRANDSTAND 2 start 1:00 pm
[1] S Aoyama (JPN) / V Dushevina (RUS) vs M Alvarez Teran (BOL) / K Wong (USA) – WTA
E Bouchard (CAN) / T Townsend (USA) vs [2] I Falconi (USA) / E Hrdinova (CZE) – WTA
J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) or [WC] J Blake (USA) / E Butorac (USA) – ATP
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) or A Begemann (GER) / R Bopanna (IND) vs T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) – ATP


Citi Open – Wednesday Results, Thursday Schedule


Washington DC, USA
July 29-August 4, 2013

Results – Wednesday, July 31, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. (6) Mona Barthel (GER) 62 62

Suspended due to rain
Paula Ormaechea (ARG) leads Olga Puchkova (RUS) 36 63 21

WTA Doubles – First Round
(2) Falconi/Hrdinova (USA/CZE) d. Cirstea/Wickmayer (ROU/BEL) 63 62
(3) Tatishvili/Watson (GEO/GBR) d. Barthel/Cornet (GER/FRA) 64 64
ATP Singles – Second Round
D Tursunov (RUS) d [5] G Simon (FRA) 64 62
[8] J Isner (USA) d [Q] A Kuznetsov (USA) 76(2) 76(4)
M Fish (USA) d [12] J Benneteau (FRA) 63 75
[13] I Dodig (CRO) d T Kamke (GER) 26 62 63
R Stepanek (CZE) d [17] M Llodra (FRA) 62 61

ATP Doubles – First Round
T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) d C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) 64 67(4) 10-7


STADIUM COURT start 2:00 pm
[1] [WC] J del Potro (ARG) vs R Harrison (USA) – ATP
[3] T Haas (GER) vs [Q] T Smyczek (USA) 36 75 10
Not Before 4:00 PM
M Matosevic (AUS) vs [4] M Raonic (CAN) – ATP
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [Q] S Devvarman (IND) – ATP
[1] [WC] J Del Potro (ARG) or R Harrison (USA) vs [14] B Tomic (AUS) – ATP
[3] T Haas (GER) or [Q] T Smyczek (USA) vs [13] I Dodig (CRO) – ATP

GRANDSTAND 1 start 2:00 pm
[WC] J Sock (USA) vs [2] K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
[1] [WC] A Kerber (GER) vs M Oudin (USA) 00
Not Before 4:00 PM
M Fish (USA) vs [WC] J Duckworth (AUS) or [7] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
[16] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs [WC] J Sock (USA) or [2] K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs M Fish (USA) / R Stepanek (CZE) 01 – ATP-After suitable rest

GRANDSTAND 2 start 2:00 pm
[WC] J Duckworth (AUS) vs [7] K Anderson (RSA) 36 63 45
[5] S Cirstea (ROU) vs A Riske (USA) – WTA
J Cepelova (SVK) vs [7] M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
[11] G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [6] S Querrey (USA) – ATP
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) vs [WC] J Blake (USA) / E Butorac (USA) – ATP
[WC] S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs [2] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) – ATP – after suitable rest

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm

H Watson (GBR) vs [4] A Cornet (FRA) – WTA
Not Before 4:00 PM
D Tursunov (RUS) vs R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [8] M Keys (USA) – WTA
[1] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs A Begemann (GER) / R Bopanna (IND) – ATP

COURT 2 start 2:00 pm

P Ormaechea (ARG) vs O Puchkova (RUS) 36 63 21
[3] E Makarova (RUS) vs C Garcia (FRA) – WTA
E Bouchard (CAN) / T Townsend (USA) vs [3] A Tatishvili (GEO) / H Watson (GBR) – WTA-After Suitable Rest

COURT 3 start 2:00 pm

[1] S Aoyama (JPN) / V Dushevina (RUS) vs A Mueller (USA) / A Perez (VEN) – WTA
[4] C Castano (COL) / J Pegula (USA) vs M Alvarez Teran (BOL) / K Wong (USA) – WTA
C Garcia (FRA) / C Mchale (USA) vs [2] I Falconi (USA) / E Hrdinova (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest


Citi Open Interview: Sorana Cirstea: Happy Sorana Cirstea Has Sky-High Goals

By Steve Fogleman for Tennis Panorama

Citi Open Feature Interview: Sorana Cirstea


(July 31, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – Sometimes words alone cannot capture the emotions of a human being as adequately as seeing and hearing the subject.

This is one of those times.

Sorana Cirstea is one happy tennis player.

I caught up with her yesterday after a 7-5, 1-1 over Lesia Tsurenko by retirement. She’ll face Alison Riske in the second round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a spot in the quarters.


“I hope you don’t make me sing! I cannot sing!” she jokingly protested, as I handed her a microphone for the interview.


Sorana Cristea is so happy with her year so far and so excited to be in Washington for the first time that she comes across as one of the most genuine and well-balanced players I’ve ever met.

This is one of those times when I’m glad I’m about the only person who regularly shoots video interviews in the early rounds of the tournaments I attend. I know it’s more convenient to read a blog than watch a video on your Iphone or laptop. I mean, you might be at work or on a bus or watching a tennis match right now.


But please take time to hear Sorana’s infectious jubilance by watching the video at some point.

If you like Cirstea, you’ll like her even more. And if you don’t know anything about her, you’ll like her for the first time.


The 23-year-old Romanian is just off her new career high of #23 in the world. She has been in the late rounds of every other tournament I follow.


She’s only won one WTA singles title, and that was five year ago in Tashkent, but this year alone, she has made the semis at Pattaya and Stanford, the quarterfinals at Birmingham, and the Round of 16 in Charleston and Miami. She also made the third round at Roland Garros before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams.


And yet, it seems, no one in the English-speaking world can pronounce her name.

She even changed the pronunciation of Cirstea because non-Romanian speakers simply cannot pronounce it.

“However people can say it, as long as they get Sorana fine, that’s all good. I find it funny.

The funniest thing of all is when I go to grab a coffee. That’s always the worst place they spell my name. So for now on, I will be something like Bob or Michael!”


She’s definitely pleased with the results of her hard work on the circuit this year.

“It’s been a solid year. I’ve been quite consistent from tournament to tournament. I feel I am playing better and better from week to week. It’s nice knowing that when you put all that hard work in, you can see the results. I think that motivates. I’m just very excited and looking forward to what’s coming next.


I feel I’m ready. When I have a good day, I can beat anyone. I always say that the rankings show the truth. If I’m 28 right now, it means this is where I should be.”


This is her first time in Washington in any capacity. She’s thrilled with the beauty of the city and the friendliness of Citi Open staff.


“I’m very excited to be here for my first time in Washington. I’ve always wanted to come. It’s this thing about “The Capital”. I’ve been waiting 23 years to get here. As soon as I got in on Sunday night, we dropped our bags at the hotel and went to the White House.


There’s just so much history here. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to explore and be a tourist.”

I asked her if she might be a lawyer after her pro career concludes. She acknowledged that it might be too late to start schooling for such a job, and that she has some many interesting options after tennis.


“Once I have something in my mind, I try to put 100% in to make it.”

Of course, the reason I asked about a legal career was due to her brilliant closing arguments against bad calls in Stanford recently in a match with Dominkia Cibulkova. It was an argument she won, and won, and won, as the judges went her way six times in a single set.


“I think that’s more stubbornness!”, she joked. “Once I think I’m right, I usually go all the way. I knew I was right at that point. So I was really confident and I went for it. I have respect for the chair umpire and all the linesmen. The only reason why I argued is because I wanted that point. It was mine. I earned it. I’m one of those people where if something is mine, I won’t give it away.”I don’t know if about her stubbornness, but I am impressed with her fearlessness. She took a maiden sky-diving jump last year and loved it so much she had to do it again recently.


“I loved it. I always wanted to do it and never had the opportunity.The second time around was ten times better, because I actually knew what to expect. Everyone should jump at least once in their life. It’s an experience worth living. Don’t  be surprised if you see me jumping again.”


And don’t be surprised if you see her hoisting a trophy and winning another WTA title or two before the year is out.


Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He tweets from @TennisEastCoast.

Citi Open: One on One Video with Rhyne Williams on his First Washington Appearance

By Steve Fogleman

Rhyne Williams came off a first round main draw win in Atlanta to have to face Robby Ginepri, a man he has looked up to on the ATP tour. After having dinner with Ginepri in Washington on Friday night, Williams dispatched Ginepri in 3 sets on Saturday in first round qualies. Ginepri also had a main draw wild card in his hometown of Atlanta, but was also required to qualify in DC.

Read the rest over at TennisEastCoast.com.


Roddick Wins Second Title of Season at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – Under a brutally hot July sun in the deep south 29-year-old Andy Roddick raised the BB&T Atlanta Open championship trophy into the air before a capacity crowd after defeating Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. It was a gesture he has repeated many times in his professional tennis life with 31 ATP World Tour titles already under his belt, but at this stage in his career, titles taste sweeter and number 32 felt like a steady cool breeze on a summer day.


“Being a tennis player, a lot of people, they see it on TV. They think about it in terms of one match but it’s almost like a lifestyle. You’ve got to eat right, sleep right. It’s a constant kind of battle when you are out there by yourself a lot,” said Roddick. “To kind of now be approaching numbers that basically tell the story of consistency over time… it’s something I’m proud of. I work pretty hard. I don’t know that I have been able to pull off the shots that Roger or Rafa or someone like that can pull off. But I feel like I’ve done pretty well with what I was given. I sleep well knowing I haven’t really cheated myself.”


This title came no easier than many others in a match that lasted two hours and 13 minutes in 91 degree humid conditions under a blazing sun. Roddick had to get past a competitive match with No. 1 seed John Isner that went late into the night to make it to the final. Muller, a left handed player whose highest world ranking reached 42 has experienced an incredible run among marquee players with career victories over Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Roddick in 2005. Despite jumping out fast with a 6-1 victory in the first set forcing two service breaks he lost a close battle in the 2nd when Roddick was able to edge him out in second serve points won and second return points.


“I played very well in the first two sets. At the end of the second set, I got very tight,” Muller said.  “I felt like I was in a position to win that match. I was too nervous to close it and then Andy started to play better. He started to return my serves and put a lot of balls in the court. And I started to miss a lot. Maybe I lost the belief in myself to win that match too quickly.”


By the third set Roddick became more aggressive, forcing errors and placing balls at speeds and angles difficult to get to. Service points won reached 84 percent while Muller managed only 50. “I know by now the score of a set is irrelevant,” Roddick said. “Whether it’s 7-6 or 6-1, it still counts the same. With most other sports, you get way up in the first quarter and it actually means something in regards to the rest of the game. In tennis, it’s not really the case too often, with the exception of momentum. You just try to start over and put some holds together. I was able to out the second set and I think he might have gotten a little tired in the third.”


Roddick won his second title of the season and his second ATP World Tour victory in Atlanta, the last coming in 2001 on clay. He has an early points lead in the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge Standings earning 70 in the tournament. He will head to London to join fellow USA teammates in singles and is paired with rival John Isner for doubles, a sight he admits few opponents want to see coming.


The BB&T Atlanta Open doubles title went to Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) who defeated Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. Both teams knocked off talented top seeded duos to reach the finals. Ebden said it took confidence to pull off the win. “We had a few chances in the second set and felt like we weren’t playing our best tennis. We were pretty confident if we lifted our level a little, we’d come through. We’re very good friends. I think it helps on the court. It’s great to find someone you really enjoy playing with. You get a lot out of it. Not just the wins, but you get improvements in your game.”


Harrison, who is also headed to London to join Team USA Tennis, said aggressive play made the difference. “The way we play, we always try to push forward and play aggressive. That’s the way both of us are comfortable playing. It comes down to execution for us. It doesn’t matter if its singles, doubles, triples or whatever it is. If you win titles, you can always build off of it, so we’re really fired up.”



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


Cibulkova Nets Carlsbad Title

Dominika Cibulkova added a second winner’s trophy to her collection with her victory over friend Marion Bartoli 6-1, 7-5 in the final of the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad, California.


After a straight forward first set which saw the Slovak knock multiple winners past Bartoli, with the 6-1 set ending on a Bartoli double fault.  The second set proved to be much more of a contest. Cibulkova rallied past the Frenchwoman, coming back from two breaks down at 1-4 to win six out of the last seven games to clinch the match in 95 minutes.


“I was enjoying the final so much,” Cibulkova commented. ”I just played my game and in the first set everything was going my way. My forehand was working today 100% and also my service return. I’m also really happy that I turned it around in the second set and I didn’t give it up and I was still fighting for the set and I won.”

Bartoli came into the match having been on court four more hours than her opponent.

“She played extremely well and made me feel uncomfortable.” Bartoli said. I really fought extremely hard on the court, and being back in another final this year obviously means a lot to me and it’s good to have some wins before heading to Montréal and Cincinnati.”

“I lost, but Dominika played a great match,” said Bartoli.

“I wish her good luck at the Olympics.”

Bartoli will not be participating in the Olympic Games due to an ongoing dispute with the French Tennis Federation.

Cibulkova will rise to 13th in the world when the rankings come out on Monday. Her career high is 12th.

Cibulkova did not drop a set in her title run.


Results – Sunday, July 22, 2012
Singles – Final
(2) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (1) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 61 75

Doubles – Final
(3) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. (2) King/Petrova (USA/RUS) 62 64


Roddick Halts Isner’s Third Run for a Title at BB&T Atlanta Open

By Audraine Jackson

Atlanta, GA USA – In 2001 Shirley Franklin was elected Atlanta’s first female African-American mayor.  The Braves defeated the Houston Astros in the National League Division Series and an 18-year-old aspiring tennis champion named Andy Roddick  won his first ATP World Tour title in the city when the tournament was played on clay. Eleven years later with a former No. 1 ranking under his belt, a wiser, more experienced 29-year-old Roddick defeated top seeded John Isner  6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to move a step closer to earning the title a second time at the BB&T Atlanta Open. “I think it’s good. It was a long time ago, a different surface, a different time of year,” Roddick said. “There are not a lot of parallels but I can say certainly it’s nice to be back in the finals here.”

Both players had loud and vocal fans present as they took the court in a packed, sold out arena under threatening skies that caused a 30 minute rain delay. Isner managed 26 aces to Roddick’s six but the difference was his opponent’s ability to convert points off serves. “I took care of my serve. I did what I was supposed to do. You’re not going to beat John if you get broken a lot.  I was able to play off a little bit of trouble there at the net in the first set. I just competed well. I stayed in it even when I wasn’t real happy about whatever was going on. I kept it together and competed well.”

Isner has made the finals for the past two years losing to Mardy Fish while missing the finals this year in a loss to Roddick. “It didn’t go my way. He was the better player tonight. That’s why he won,” Isner said. “It’s pretty disappointing. Three years in this tournament I lost to two Americans, good friends of mine and it’s tough. I’ve always wanted to win this tournament but it wasn’t to be. It’s really no shame to losing to either one of those guys.”

Roddick will compete for the singles title against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, a lefty with a big serve that defeated 8th seeded Go Soeda of Japan 6-4, 6-3 to gain a spot in the finals. Muller’s serve dominated the match with 17 aces, winning over 90 percent of his first serve points in only 74 minutes over his 54th ranked opponent.  Muller said he had no plans to watch the semis but understood he would face a good player in the championship match. A victory would mark his fist title at the Atlanta tournament.

At stake is a trophy along with an $86,270 check for the winner with the runner up receiving $45, 435 and 150 ranking points. Roddick has faced Gilles at least three times losing once in 2005 but readily admitted that loss was a long time ago. “I’m going to have to put a lot of returns in play against him. He will probably try and come to the net more often than John (Isner) and his serve will be coming from a different angle.”

Two American players will compete on opposing teams in the doubles final. Matthew Ebden (AUS) and Ryan Harrison (USA) defeated 1st seeded Colin Fleming (GBR) and Ross Hutchins (GBR) 6-4, 6-4. Xavier Malisse (BEL) and Michael Russell (USA) earned a spot in the finals by defeating Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Donald Young (USA) 6-7(2), 6-4, 10-5.


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.