Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Four


By Kevin Ware

Notes from the Front – SAP Open 2013, Day Four

Day Four Second Round Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Notes

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

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

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

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

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

Random Notes

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

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

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

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

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

More after Day Five quarterfinal action.

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


Malisse ousts Roddick in Memphis

By Brad Hunter

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (February 22, 2012) – In the first match of the night session on stadium court on Wednesday night at the The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, defending Memphis champion American Andy Roddick faced off against Belgian Xavier Malisse.

From the beginning of the match, Roddick’s gameplan was to attack short balls and move into the net: this was successful for him early, as he immediately broke Malisse for a 2-0 lead.  Malisse broke Roddick straight back in the next game, and then the set continued on serve thru the tiebreak.  Roddick held several set points in the tiebreak, but Malisse was able to force Roddick into errors by playing his best and most creative tennis to take the set 10-8 in the tiebreak.

Roddick seemed to realize the importance of losing that first set and he responded by breaking his racquet against his left foot directly after, earning himself a racquet abuse warning from the chair.  At the beginning of the second set, Roddick had some words with the chair after questioning him about a close call that he successfully challenged by saying “that’s the single most annoying thing you guys say… it was close… close… it was close”.

The 2 men continued on serve until Roddick was serving at 5-6 in the second set, when Malisse was able to come up with two of his best forehands of the evening to go up 30-0 on Roddick’s serve.  Another couple of errors by Roddick, and Malisse was the jumping, celebrating winner of the first match in 10 matches between the 2 men.  Roddick didn’t play badly by any means, and he was often successful with his attacking style but he struggled to finish points easily and dominate on his serve and Malisse had a night where he was able to summon his his best brand of talented ball-striking ability.  Malisse ended the match with 12 aces, to Roddick’s 6.  Immediately afterwards a smiling Malisse said “I just played solid tennis and got a lot of his first serves back.”

Earlier on stadium court, 33-year old and 28th ranked Czech Radek Stepanek met 29-year old and 117th ranked American qualifier Bobby Reynolds.  The two men held serve and traded long probing baseline rallies up to 3-all in the first set, until Stepanek broke Reynolds in a long service game.  This break was the turning point of momentum, and Reynolds began showing signs of frustration while Stepanek grew more confident and creative in his shotmaking.  Stepanek saved all four break points against his own serve and took the set 6-3.  Stepanek was more dominant on serve in the second set, not facing any break points, and he broke Reynolds one time and took the set 6-2 and the match.  Stepanek next faces Ryan Sweeting.


On the Grandstand court at The Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Ukranian Lesia Tsurenko defeated Czech Lucie Hradecka, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3).  Hradecka, seminfinalist in Memphis in 2011, started well by using her powerful 2-fisted groundstrokes and aggressive returning to take the first set and build a break lead early in the second set.  At this point in the match, Tsurenko found herself in a similar situation as she had been in against Alexa Glatch in the previous round: she was having some physical trouble breathing between points, and she was getting hit off the court by a more powerful player.  Tsurenko responded by playing with more margin by hitting deep groundstrokes and extending rallies by using her excellent retrieving skills.  Hradecka became rattled, and began misfiring her laser groundstrokes and throwing in double faults.  In the third set tiebreak, Tsurenko closed out the match on her first match point and she plays Sofia Arvidsson next in the quarterfinals.

Brad Hunter is covering the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Memphis International as media for Tennis Panorama News this week. Follow his reports here and live updates on our twitter account @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter account @BradHunter.

Memphis Results and Schedule