August 2, 2015

Djokovic, Federer and Murray Advance to Wimbledon Semis, Wawrinka Knocked out in Five Sets by Gasquet

 

(June 8, 2015) Top three seeds Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray reach the semifinals of Wimbledon easily on Wednesday with straight set wins. Richard Gasquet spoiled a potential “top four” party in the last four, when he upset No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in five sets 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9.

For the Frenchman, this will be his third major semifinal. “I’m the worst,” Gasquet said with a grin, “when you see Federer, Djokovic and Murray and me. There is something, I want to enjoy it.”

Gasquet will face off against Djokovic, who reached his 27 Grand Slam semifinal, defeating U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. It was the world No. 1’s 650th win on tour and 50th at Wimbledon.

“I came out with the right intensity, moved well all over the court, tried to get as many returns back in play,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t allow Marin to come back to the match. It was a close game when I was serving for the set. I think that helped my confidence to feel better afterwards.”

“It was great to watch them go backhand-to-backhand today,” said Djokovic about the Wawrinka – Gasquet match. “Some great points, great exchanges.”

Djokovic discussing his match-up against Gasquet said, “the experience of being in these final stages of Wimbledon many times is going to help me.” The Serb is 11-1 against Gasquet.

Andy Murray reached his 150th match won at a Grand Slam on Wednesday when he stopped Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. For the Canadian Posposil, it was his first appearance in a major quarterfinal.

Murray said of the win: “I needed to (step up) because at times, (he) was serving really well, (which) made it very difficult for me. Then I just managed to, at a few key moments, come up with some good shots. Third set was tricky, as well, because I had a bunch of break points. When you don’t take them, obviously you start to think about that a little bit. Overall, it was a good match.”

 

Murray will face Roger Federer for place in the final. Federer bested Gilles Simon, the 12th seed 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 to reach his 10th Wimbledon semifinal and 37th major semifinal overall, to keep his hopes of winning a record eighth title at the All-England Club alive.

Federer won his last major at Wimbledon in 2012 when he defeated Murray, but then about a month later, Murray defeated Federer for the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

“We both like to look back at that summer,” said Federer. “Me, not so much at the Olympics; him, probably not so much at Wimbledon.”

Federer is 12-11 against Murray and is 9-0 in Wimbledon semifinals.

“I’m very happy to be in the semis again,” said Federer. “The road is long getting here. But still I feel like I’m fresh and I’ve got energy left in the tank for hopefully a great match with Andy and then we’ll see. But I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s been good so far. I felt like I played a very solid last year or so, especially on the grass I’ve done very well. I’m happy to keep it up here now. This is obviously now crunch time when you want to show if your game’s really up to par.”

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Pospisil Spoils Del Potro’s Return

88 Del Potro 3

(March 26, 2015) Returning to the court for the first time since January 15, Juan Martin del Potro‘s recent attempt at comeback from wrist surgery ended in a first round loss at the Miami Open on Thursday.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated the Argentine, who is currently ranked No 616, 6-4, 7-6 (7).

For Pospisil, it’s his first-ever win at the Miami tournament.

Del Potro’s rustiness showed in the second set when he failed to serve it out up 5-4 and then squandered set points in the tiebreaker, double-faulting twice, which led to match point against him.

“Obviously down there I wanted to win the match, and I had few chances in the first set; then in the second set I know I have set points, but I couldn’t close the set because I had easy efforts and easy mistakes,” del Potro said.

“I didn’t serve well in the special moments, which is tough for me with all of these things.

“But now I’m okay. I don’t have any physical problem after the match, and I will be recovering soon for the future.”

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“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said the Canadian in regard to taking on del Potro.

“That was a little bit added stress maybe before. But at the same time, I was just trying to focus on serving well and playing my game and trying to put pressure and coming to the net.”

“Whether he had pain or not, you know, it’s obviously not the same backhand that he normally plays,” Pospisil added. “I tried to take advantage of that by coming in and putting pressure on that side.

“But, you know, he’s still serving well and hitting his forehand huge, which made it tough. I just hung in there, you know, maybe got a little bit fortunate at the end. He was serving; had set point on his serve; but then the rest of the way I played well.”

The 2009 US Open Champion admitted that he still is not at 100 percent: “I’m not confident 100% to hit my best backhands yet.

“And I also need time to improve my backhand again. I already been hitting backhands the last 10 days in one year, which is very ‑‑ it’s very bad to play in this level.

“But I am working hard. I am working hard every day little more on my backhand. I think it’s the only way to get to pass through all of the things and get well for the future.”

“It’s just a wrist problem. Of course mentally you must be strongest enough to deal with the problem and get up every morning to do your treatments and rehab and stay calm, looking forward for the future.

“I’m not hurried to be in the top 10 very soon. I want to play tennis. It doesn’t matter how long it’s take me to be in the top again. Just wanted to play tennis and without pain.”

“It’s only 2 months after my second surgery and my left wrist. I feel better week by week, but it’s still very early to feel 100%.”

“It was like a Davis Cup atmosphere,”  said the 24-year-old Pospisil of the lively crowd cheering for his opponent. “I felt like I was playing away somewhere.

“It was a great atmosphere. Whether everyone is cheering for me or against me or if it’s equal, you know, when there is a big crowd and when they are into it, it’s always more enjoyable for everybody. I was enjoying it more, and actually might have helped me a little bit in the end, to be honest.”

The Canadian will take on No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

As for the 26-year-old del Potro, he’s taking his comeback one day at a time: “I think it’s the most important be patient and stay calm, and also try to be positive.

“I got depressive for a while in the past. I have been talking with (Janko) Tipsarevic, as well, at the locker rooms. He knows a lot about the injuries, about comebacks, and doesn’t make it.

“But in the end, I want to play tennis. If I have to learn a different backhand to keep playing, I will do it.

“But now I’m trying to do all my things to fix the problem and hitting my backhand as I did in the whole ‑‑ all my career. I am still positive.

“I think is the biggest goal for me trying to keep trying and stay mentally strong enough to go through all of the injuries.”

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Pironkova’s Run Continues and Wild Cards Thrive at the Apia International

By Dave Gertler

(January 12, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Tsvetana Pironkova‘s endearing and heroic run of 12 straight wins at the Apia International in Sydney might finally be cut short on Tuesday by the big game of the USA’s Madison Keys. The Bulgarian defending champion yesterday won an unlikely battle against Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta to advance to the second round of the main draw. Then again, her win over Pennetta is merely one of four top-12 wins the now-ranked No. 67 Pironkova has enjoyed in Sydney the last two years.

 

“I think I played a great match today,” said Pironkova of her 6-3, 7-6 win over the Italian, “I felt very good on court. I think we both did. It was a very  entertaining  match  for  the spectators. Definitely hard. I’m glad I could finish it only in two sets.” Pennetta was starting to find her range in the second set, battling from a break down to force the tie-break, at which point Pironkova’s air of Sydney invincibility took over again.

 

“Well, I obviously love it,” said Pironkova, 27, whose first and only career WTA title is last year’s Apia International. “I have very nice memories from last year. I like the surface very much. I like the people around here.  I like the city, which I think it’s important for every player to enjoy the whole experience. So I am, and I feel very, very good here.”

 

Due to her 2014 Apia International championship points being stripped at the beginning of this week, Pironkova ranking has dropped a staggering 30 spots to No.67, yet she has still managed to spin into a positive the fact that as defending champ she was declined a wildcard into the main draw this year. Pironkova said, “That was past. You know, once I came to the tournament, I had a different mindset. I was like, OK, you’re playing quallies. Just go out on the court and forget about what’s happening. Obviously you’re not getting a wildcard. Get over it and try your best. And that’s what I’m doing.”

 

While tactics, craftiness and overall tennis smarts are how Pironkova separates herself from most opponents, she will have to find a new level to beat her next opponent Madison Keys. Keys was demonstrative in her first-round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on the main court, Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday and will be well-rested after a day off to face an opponent who has played four matches in as many days here in Sydney.

 

Finding out for the first time in the media conference who her next opponent was, Pironkova said, “I didn’t know I play against her. Very strong opponent. I think she’s very good right now, in good form, and one of the players to look out for. So, you know, I’m just going to go out there and do my best, and hopefully I’m going to win.”

 

The two wildcards in the women’s draw were given to Australian local hopes Jarmila Gajdosova and Daria Gavrilova, who both – like Pironkova – scored upset wins in their first-round matches. Journey-woman Gajdosova’s win over world No.12 Andrea Petkovic was her highest-ranked win since 2011. In an all-Slovak battle today of sorts – Gajdosova was born and spent her formative years in Slovakia – she will take on world No.11 Dominika Cibulkova on Grandstand Court, one of many standout matches scheduled for today at Olympic Park Tennis Centre. Gavrilova’s win over Swiss Belinda Bencic was also standout, her first win over a top 20 player since 2012.

 

The Apia International’s Tuesday order of play is full of drawcards, and reads almost like a grand slam middle Saturday, perhaps minus the top-10 men’s players. Headlining action on Ken Rosewall Arena will be Juan Martin Del Potro. In his first match back from injury since February 2014, the Argentine US Open champ will face Sergiy Stakhovsky to begin his campaign to defend his 2014 Apia International title.

 

Sam Stosur, who finally managed to turn the tables against Lucie Safarova on Monday, will face her second Czech opponent in two days. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made it into the second round when her opponent Caroline Wozniacki withdrew from their match citing wrist problems.

 

Also in action on KRA on Tuesday – Bernard Tomic, Sam Stosur, and Petra Kvitova, Nick Kyrgios and Jerzy Janowicz, while Simona Halep, Agnieszka Radwanska, Vasek Pospisil and Sam Groth take on their opponents on Grandstand and the outer courts.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and is covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau Take Citi Open Doubles Crown

Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer

Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer

 

(August 3, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – The Dutch and Romanian doubles team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau have combined for their fifth doubles title of 2014, at the Citi Open in Washington, DC. Their opponents, Australia’s Sam Groth and India’s Leander Paes, were competing in their first tournament together, reaching the final after a tough semifinal against American team Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson.

 

It was Groth and Paes who made the first move on Stadium Court in Rock Creek Park, breaking Tecau’s first service game and surging to a 4-1 lead before their opponents edged their way back into the match by breaking Paes’ serve once to level, and then twice to take the first set 7-5. “Once we got back the break,” said Rojer after the match, “We were able to get some more energy and confidence, and then we just rolled throughout the match.”

 

Despite Groth delivering seven aces in six service games throughout the course of the match – including two consecutive aces at speeds of 144mph, then 143mph – it was his serve being broken that allowed a 4-2 buffer for Tecau and Rojer, which they would not relinquish.

 

Although Paes and Groth’s finesse and reflex volleying kept Tecau and Rojer on their toes – and provided the DC crowd with some high-quality entertainment – it was not enough to prevent the four-time ATP doubles titlists from earning their fifth title of the year at the Citi Open with a 7-5, 6-4 match lasting an hour and a quarter.

 

“It’s because we’re friends first,” said Rojer on the synergy he and his partner are currently enjoying in 2014, “I’ve known him for a long time. We can just say a few things to each other and not get so upset about it, I think that helps.”

 

“We were able to watch a few of their matches during this week,” said Tecau, describing their preparation for the final, “We made a plan for the match today, we knew what to expect. Groth is a big server, with Lee (Leander) at the net. We knew that’s gonna be a tough task. We were just hoping to get in the return games, when Lee was serving, and engage Groth at the net, and put a lot of pressure on Lee when he’s serving.”

 

There was mild tension between the teams late in the match, when a Tecau volley connected squarely with Paes’ back, the Indian world No.12 unresponsive to the Romanian No. 30’s apologies. “He tagged us a few times during the matches that we played,” said Tecau, “You know, it’s fine, it’s something that you accept. Our coach tells us if you don’t get hit, you’re not moving enough.”

 

Tecau alsow described the challenge of facing the Sam Groth serve, saying, “We don’t see many serves like that in doubles. But it was a good practice today, to return that serve and to be able to break him one time, it means a lot for us.”

 

The European doubles specialists will forgo any celebration of their win; the nature of the tour requiring that they get on an 8:00pm flight to Toronto for the Rogers Cup. “It’s a nice win and a great tournament for us, big tournament win, but some weeks you don’t get to celebrate. Many of the weeks we’ve won this year, we had a tournament the very next week, so we haven’t been able to really celebrate any of our wins.”

 

On Tuesday, they’ll play their first-round match in Toronto against the team of Feliciano Lopez and Jurgen Melzer, while Paes will reunite with his regular doubles partner Radek Stepanek. Groth, meanwhile, will recover from singles and doubles competition this week before preparing for the remainder of the Emirates US Open Series.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days.

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Pospisil Joins Countryman Raonic in Citi Open Semis

 

Pospisil 882013

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 2, 2014) WASHINGTON, DC – Canada’s Vasek Pospisil has fought his way through one of the more physically and mentally taxing matches of the 2014 Citi Open, and will join his compatriot Milos Raonic in the semifinals to be played today at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.

 

His opponent, Colombian world No. 34 Santiago Giraldo, drew first blood last night when they took the court at 9:20pm, the last of the Stadium matches on Friday. No breaks in the first set, a double fault and some errors from Pospisil early in the tie-break would provide the Colombian with a lead he would not relinquish, sealing the first set tie-break 7-4.

 

Pospisil struck back early in the second set, regrouping for a 3-1 lead. Off the back of an improved first-serve percentage, the Canadian 24-year-old would face no break points throughout the second set, meanwhile pressuring his 26-year-old opponent, who needed to defend nine of them, only saving seven, leading the match into a deciding set.

 

By 11:00pm, both players were hitting their stride when the weather closed in, forcing play to be resumed today. “The rain delay didn’t help me, for sure,” said Pospisil, “Because I felt like I was in a really, really good groove and had him, mentally, (Giraldo) was down on himself a little bit. I felt like I had to go back to square one a little bit today.”

 

Both players showed signs of tension today when they came out onto Stadium Court, cloud cover again looking ominous. Neither player could convert opportunities on the other’s serve, whilst neither was playing steadily enough to hold confidently. “We were hitting the ball well last night,” said Pospisil, “We were grooved into the match, and then, coming out today, suddenly every point is that much bigger, because it’s just one set, obviously, and you’re not that warm, you’re coming out a bit cold.”

 

Giraldo saved two break points in his first service game, but couldn’t save a third break point at 4-5, also a match point, giving Pospisil cause for celebration, followed by preparation for his next match later today against semifinal opponent, Richard Gasquet.

 

“Just try to rest, eat, recover as quickly as I can because it was a pretty physical match,” Pospisil, who will play Richard Gasquet in the semifinal tonight at 7:00pm described his approach to the tight turnaround, “Two sets last night, late, and one today. But I’ll do my best and I’m sure I’ll be ready.”

 

“I might be feeling the ball a little bit better,” he ventured, “Maybe my timing will be better, because I had one good set. Physically, it’s a disadvantage, for sure, just because it’s humid and it was a physical match and a quick turnaround.”

 

Pospisil will take a 1-0 head-to-head advantage into his match against the Frenchman, having beaten him at the Shanghai Masters in October last year. In the other semifinal, Milos Raonic plays home favorite Donald Young, who reached the same stage of the 2011 event in Washington, DC.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Citi Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

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The US Open Series Begins this Weekend in Atlanta

 

BB&TAtlantaOpen

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.

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John Isner Leads Top Seeds into Newport Quarterfinals

John Isner

John Isner

By Dave Gertler

(July 9, 2014) NEWPORT – Day Three of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, saw solid performances from top seeds, and expected results from the tournament’s big servers and grass court specialists.

 

The only minor upset of the day was Israel’s Dudi Sela ousting his higher-ranked opponent, No .8 seed Adrian Mannarino, in straight sets. Sela had a strong serving day, winning 82% of points on his first serve and converting five of six break points against the Frenchman. Sela, one of the shorter players on tour, will now face the tallest, Ivo Karlovic, whose 18 aces was too much for serve-and-volleyer Sergiy Stakhovsky to handle, the Croatian winning 7-5, 7-6.

 

The tournament’s top four seeds also won through to the quarterfinals in straight sets. Defending champion Nicolas Mahut beat Australia’s Luke Saville in an hour, 10 minutes, out-serving the 20-year-old Australian qualifier, breaking him on four occasions. “It was a tough match,” said Mahut, “He’s a good player on grass. This kind of surface you have to be really focused on your serve and take the opportunity. It was much better than yesterday and I hope tomorrow will be even better.”

 

His serving will need to stay solid in his quarterfinal match against Australian Sam Groth, who although still outside the top 100, is one win away from reaching that milestone after another solid serving performance saw him through his match against Malek Jaziri. Groth’s ace count against the Tunisian was remarkably high at 24, ominous for his next opponent, who said, “He’s serving huge, he’s a very, very powerful player. So if I had to play against him I will have to be really concentrate on my serve, and then wait for something, maybe a double fault once, try a good return and waiting for the small opportunities I will have. But the first thing is to keep my serve, I’ll be really focused on that.”

 

Tournament top dog John Isner required less time and less aces against fellow American Austin Krajicek, defeating him on Center Court 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour. “It was a pretty clean match,” said Isner, “I guess I got up early in both sets, and for me, that helps so much. I feel like I play pretty well when I’m playing ahead, especially on this surface too. It was a good match, very happy with it.”

 

Isner’s quarterfinal opponent was decided in a match between Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock, 21-year-old Sock coming through on top. Sock and Isner, both good friends, are looking forward to the quarterfinal. “He and I practice a lot and have become pretty good friends,” said Sock of Isner, “We obviously know each other pretty well now. We both know each other’s games pretty well so it should be whoever can execute better, I guess.”

 

Sock, fresh from winning his second grand slam – a Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil, defeating the Bryan brothers in the final – is enjoying the burst of confidence he’s received into his singles game. “No matter what tournament it is, even doubles,” said Sock, “Whenever you win a match, it can only help, and especially the slams. I think that when you can get that run going into to second week of any slam, singles or doubles, and then you end up, like we were, fortunate enough to play on the weekend, second week of a slam, there’s only a few guys left in the locker room. It’s pretty cool, it’s a pretty special feeling. And to be able to be there and then go out on Center Court and play, and be lucky enough to win against the best team, probably, of all time in doubles, it can only help your confidence.”

 

Isner, who has not lost to Sock in four matches, seemed positive about Sock’s future in the game ahead of their first meeting on grass. “We’re both gonna want to win,” said Isner, “We’re good friends; we may even go out to dinner tonight, or even tomorrow night. I’ve gotten especially close to him now that he’s moved to Tampa. We train together, we use the same strength coach, we’re always training together. He’s a good friend of mine and someone who – I think, in a sense, he might look up a little bit to me. I’m certainly much older than him but he’s – in my opinion – got an incredibly bright future. He’s got a lot of weapons in his game, especially with that forehand of his, which is world class. So, he’s only gonna get better.”

 

The winner of Isner/Sock will face – in the semifinal – the winner between Lleyton Hewitt and Steve Johnson, who both graduated comfortably past their round-of-16 opponents, Ante Pavic and Tatsuma Ito, respectively. While Hewitt and Johnson won’t contest their quarterfinal tomorrow, the 33-year-old Aussie won’t be resting entirely. He’s one of five Australians remaining in the doubles draw at the quarterfinal stage. After his match with Pavic, Hewitt revealed, “I only play doubles most of the time to play with guys that I’m going to play Davis Cup for Australia with. That’s the only real reason that I play doubles. We’ve got a Davis Cup tie later in the year and Chris Guccione and I will most probably be playing doubles there, so it’s good to get some more matches.”

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering Newport for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Pospisil Fights off Groth and Aussie Crowd for First Round Win

Pospisil

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 13, 2014)  MELBOURNE -Vasek Pospisil has cruised past Sam Groth in straight sets, 6-4 6-3 6-4, to secure a second round match with Australia’s Matt Ebden.

The Canadian did not allow the keen Aussie fan team, complete with bright green and gold attire and sombreros, or the supportive songs they chanted distract him from carrying out his mission at Melbourne Park on Monday.

While Groth was not afraid to incorporate many a serve and volley point into his game, his commitment to approaching the net did not always carry his service and inconsistent shot placement led to the Australian only winning about half of the volley points he attempted.

Meanwhile, Pospisil maintained his exceptional sideline hitting and with such accuracy that Groth was at times so confident as to abandon the lob entirely, only to turn around in sheer horror as he watched the ball clip the chalk time after time.

A refreshing cool breeze settled in at around 6pm, but even the cooler conditions did not help Groth as he failed to claim a single break on the Canadian throughout the whole match.

Groth, who currently holds the record for the fastest serve at a rifling 263 km/hr, hit as many as 16 aces throughout the match, but Pospisil executed confident and precise returns on most occasions. He even served out some aces of his own and exhibited some truly elegant net play which made for entertaining tennis for the crowd to experience.

Given Pospisil had recently experienced back problems, which forced him to an unfortunate withdrawal during a semifinal in Chennai earlier this month, the 24-year-old was surprised at how well he had performed on court.

“I wasn’t actually expecting to play like that given I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent and I didn’t really have very good preparation,” Pospisil admitted.

While his second round opponent, Matt Ebden, played a fairly gruelling five setter in peak heat on Monday, Pospisil did not feel as though he had any kind of advantage with having enjoyed a more relaxed first round match.

“We have a day off tomorrow… he’s a really fit guy so I don’t think he’ll be too tired. But it’s better for me that I didn’t have to play five sets, that’s for sure.”

Watching Milos Raonic break into the top 10 has been particularly inspiring for him as a Canadian player and the 24-year-old is always looking to improve his game.

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website http://alanamitchelson.wordpress.com

 

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Perfect Scenario for Rogers Cup Final Weekend in Montreal

Nadal wins

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(August 10, 2013) MONTREAL – The Montreal fans are particularly fond of two things, tennis-wise: big charismatic stars exuding passion and local players battling it out like there is no tomorrow. Therefore, no one could have set up a better scenario than the semifinals played in Montreal on Saturday. And the matches delivered, both ending in third set tie-breaks.

While the Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic showdown wasn’t a surprise and was actually expected and hoped for when the draw came out, the Milos Raonic-Vasek Pospisil match revived the patriotic flame of many: it was the first time since 1969 that a Canadian reached this stage and the winner would be the first Canadian finalist since 1958!

The two Davis Cup teammates were the first to hit the court in the afternoon, under perfect weather for tennis: sunny, breezy and a touch chilly. The atmosphere was just as perfect, with a packed crowd of over 12,000 anxious fans, hesitant about for whom to cheer for as if they were asked to choose between their (tennis) children.

Milos Raonic was the favorite on paper, but was also the one with all the pressure and it showed in his on-court manners: while he was stone-faced and focused, Pospisil was vocal and animated and clearly had nothing to lose in this encounter.

As it often happens when two players that know each other well face off, the level of play wasn’t spectacular. Both players seemed nervous from the get-go, and most points were decided either on unreturned serves or unforced errors. Raonic was the first one to draw blood and break, and he rode the way until finishing up the forgettable 6-4 set on an ace.

Raonic 88

The second set followed a totally different route: Pospisil started receiving better and being more aggressive, and Raonic seemed lost in his defensive role. While the underdog was getting pumped up, the 11th seed seemed frustrated and about to give up the set. Breaking twice, Pospisil leveled things off, wining the second set 6-1.

Raonic then retreated to the locker rooms, in the hopes of breaking the rhythm and changing the momentum. He later admitted in his post-match interview that he ‘yelled at [himself] to let the anger out, but not too loud as there was someone else in the bathroom’.

The third set saw some better play and built up quite the drama. While Pospisil got closer in more of Raonic’s serve game, the favorite never got broken and led in the score all set, as he was serving first. Vasek was solid serving under pressure, bringing the set to a tiebreak. Raonic stormed to an early lead with two mini-breaks, but Pospisil immediately erased them with inspired play. Clearly nervous, the serve speeds started dropping, especially on Raonic’s side, but he remained more solid off the ground and closed out the set, reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final and entering the top 10 for the first time of his career. He becomes the first ever Canadian male player to achieve that feat, a fact that made him quite emotional after the match.

His final opponent was also decided in a nail-biter under the lights. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had played 35 times in the past, and their match-up always leads to spectacular rallies and intense battles. While Nadal was coming into this match undefeated on hardcourts in 2013, Djokovic had won all their encounters on this surface since 2010.

Nadal stormed off to a two break lead, as his consistency was too much for the Serb. Djokovic started finding his range late in the set, erasing one of the breaks, but it was too little too late as the 4th seed won the first 6-4.

The second set started with close games and intense rallies, and the drama peaked with an umpiring mistake. With Djokovic serving at 5-3, when Nadal challenged a call and was right, the score was announced wrong. While both players and the umpire agreed that it was 30-all, the scoreboard mentioned 40-15, and the crowd was raucous towards the mistake. The chair umpire, remaining silent, lost control over the crowd, which seemed to affect Djokovic who lost the following (very important) point. But when he saved it and then leveled off the match, we knew we would be treated to a dramatic third set.

Following a similar pattern than the first semifinal, both players, who had been broken two times each until then, managed to hold until a third set tiebreak. The stand-out moment happened in the middle of the set when Nadal hit a backhand pass directly at Novak in a heated net exchange: when the Spaniard tried to apologize, Novak looked away in frustration, adding to the already high tension.

The tiebreak proved to be quite an anticlimactic end to a fantastic match. Despite losing the last game to love, the Spaniard played inspired tennis, enjoyed a few loose points from the first seed, and rapidly built a huge 6-0 lead. While Djokovic saved the first two on impressive winners, he hit a ball just long on the third match point, handing Nadal his 21st win against the Serb.

Nadal will be looking to win his third Rogers Cup in Sunday’s final against Raonic. The crowd is expected to be strongly behind the Canadian, especially as, for the first time, fans will be able to get in the Uniprix Stadium grounds to watch the final on a big-screen, Henman Hill-style. It will be a fitting end to one of the best ever editions of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke, follow his Montreal coverage on @TennnisNewsTPN.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 AUGUST 2013

Singles – Semi-finals
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [1] N Djokovic (SRB) 64 36 76(2)
[11] M Raonic (CAN) d [WC] V Pospisil (CAN) 64 16 76(4)

Doubles – Semi-finals
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 62 76(3)
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) d [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) 63 60

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 AUGUST 2013

CENTRAL start 12:30
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) vs [3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

Not Before 15:00
[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [11] M Raonic (CAN)

 

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Rough Day Session for the Seeds in Montreal

Pospisil 882013

Vasek Pospisil

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 8) MONTREAL – After the No. 3 player in the world, David Ferrer [3], lost last night 6-2, 6-4 against qualifier Alez Bogomolov Jr., two more seeds Andy Murray [2] and Tomas Berdych [5] lost on Thursday at the Montreal ATP Masters 1000.

Ernests Gulbis

Ernests Gulbis

Murray’s upset came in straight sets against Ernest Gulbis 6-4, 6-3. Murray was broken in the 10th game leaving his opponent with the first set in hand. In the second set, Gulbis broke early and had a 3-0 lead. Murray made the fans believe in a comeback at 3-3, but fell short, losing three straight games. Gulbis said after the match that even if it was a big win, it’s better to keep your expectations really low to stay focused. “You have a good result, you build up a living basically for a couple days in your own dream world. Suddenly it breaks and you’re without confidence. There is no need for that.”

 

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Berdych’s upset is on the other hand the story of the day. Canadian Vasek Pospisil continues his great journey through the main draw after ousting John Isner and Radek Stepanek. The winner of the Vancouver ATP 100 tournament just last week relied on his serve (20 aces) to win in three sets 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (5).

The Montreal crowd was once again incredible. People even sat on the stairs to encourage their local favorite. After the first set, ball boys in the crowd started doing the wave and the fans kept doing it at side changes. The crowd was loud and seemed to disturb the players in some rallies. But Berdych said later in interview: “It’s a nice advantage for him, but I think we need that more because that’s why we play tennis!”

The third set was a story by itself as every point was a matter of life and death for the huge crowd gathered on BN court after Murray’s loss. Pospisil broke in the third game of the set with a winner return on 30-40. As he lead the set, the fans thought everything was possible for the Canadian, but Berdych broke him in an exhausting eighth game. After trailing 0-40, Pospisil came back to deuce but never managed to get a game point and Berdych evened things out.

Berdych was pushed to the tiebreak by Pospisil aces and that’s also what made the Canadian win the ultimate game. Serving at 5-6, the Czech hit an unforced error as the crowd got up screaming. To have my first top-10 win here, in front of that crowd, was extremely emotional. This win is the best of my whole career”, said Pospisil in a news conference.

One crazy play happened during the third set. In the seventh game, Tomas Berdych was called for a time violation and hit an underhand serve as he heard the chair umpire’s call. It was an ace but Chair Umpire Damien Dumusois refused it. “I don’t see a reason why the point doesn’t count, said Berdych in press conference. If there’s an explanation, I’m just going to ask the referees. I have no idea what’s the rule.“

Nadal Janowicz 88

In other matches

Rafael Nadal [4] came back from breaks in both sets to win against Wimbledon’s semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz [15] 7-6 (6), 6-4.

Benoit Paire was unable to continue to the quarterfinals after eliminating Stanislas Wawrinka [8] on Wednesday. Qualifier Marinko Matosevic defeated him in a close match 7-6 (7), 6-7 (10), 6-3.

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports  all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photographs by Marc-André Gauthier

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