2013 French Open Week 1 Men’s Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
May 26-June 9, 2013
Prize Money: € 7,984,000
For some reason, this feels like one of the most low-key French Opens in recent years. It’s still a Grand Slam, but it has not ignited as much excitement and discussion as in years past. Regardless, the draw is now out and soon enough it will be time to tune into the famed Parisian red clay once again.
Top 8 seeds
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Roger Federer
3: Rafael Nadal
4: David Ferrer
5: Tomas Berdych
6: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
7: Richard Gasquet
8: Janko Tipsarevic
Nadal is the defending champ, Djokovic is the defending finalist, and Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray are the two notable absences this year. Murray is out with a back injury and Del Potro is battling a virus. While they will most certainly be missed, neither were favorites for the title so it isn’t that bad of a blow.
1st round matchups to watch:
(1)Novak Djokovic vs. David Goffin
A lot of eyes will be on Djokovic this time as he takes on Goffin in the opening round. He has not had the best of clay seasons and has been dragged down by a nagging ankle injury throughout. He may still not be 100%. Goffin, on the other hand, has dealt with a bit of a sophomore slump this year and is just 7-13 at the ATP level. He also comes off an opening round loss in Dusseldorf but few can forget his run to the Round of 16 at last year’s FO, and he will try to conjure that magic again. Djokovic should win, but Goffin might be able to take a set off him at least.
Ivan Dodig vs Guido Pella
Dodig seems to be perpetually under-noticed when it comes to top 50 ATP players. He has had a solid year thus far and this match with the rising Argentine Pella, who made his first career ATP semi this week in Dusseldorf is interesting and could go either way. Pella has talent on clay, but Dodig has more experience and consistency.
(16) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (Q)Jiri Vesely
After dealing with vertigo in Rome, Peppo Kohlschreiber dropped his opening round match in Dusseldorf. Now he heads into a meeting with the only teen in the ATP top 200 (ranked 127 and climbing) Jiri Vesely, a 19-year-old Czech talent who blitzed through qualifying and has won 2 challengers and 3 futures titles this year. Kohli has been improving his form overall, but his health is still a question mark, giving Vesely a punchers chance at a big upset.
Andrey Kuznetsov vs. Ryan Harrison
Kuznetsov and Harrison both still have to be considered young talents and Kuznetsov has now moved past Harrison in the rankings. Neither have had breakthrough wins this year, but Kuznetsov has been a steady participant in ATP level events and Harrison has clawed his way back from an early season slump, though he did lose in the opening round of Nice. Because this is clay, Kuznetsov is a bit of a favorite but this one could also go either way.
(19) John Isner vs. Carlos Berlocq
Isner remains highly seeded but he keeps struggling and looking hapless on European clay. He has dropped 2 straight matches and will now take on the clay courter Berlocq, who he has never played before. Given the form of both players, Berlocq has to be a bit of a favorite.
(3)Rafael Nadal vs. Daniel Brands
As long as Nadal is healthy, as he appears to be, it is going to take a superhuman effort to beat him, but Brands, a continually improving German could at least make him work for a win. Brands comes off a bad 2nd round loss in Dusseldorf, but his consistently good year and solid game can’t be discounted.
(9)Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Thiemo De Bakker
Under normal circumstances, Wawrinka shouldn’t have an issue beating a player like De Bakker, who has talent but has struggled to put it all together. The problem is Wawrinka is dealing with a thigh injury and it was questionable he would even play the French. De Bakker has been better on the challenger circuit this year and Wawrinka will be a bit of a favorite, but in a best 5 sets match I don’t think Wawrinka’s fitness can be trusted right now even with his remarkable year. This is made even more disappointing by the fact that if Wawrinka was healthy he would have a great draw lined up.
(5)Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils
If you only have time to watch one first round match, this is the one to watch. This match is good enough to be a 2nd week match, but instead one player will have to lose and the other will advance. Monfils is on a red-hot win streak, taking a challenger title and then making the finals in Nice (a tournament he may win). The French showman is utterly brilliant when he is in form in front of home fans, but is still ridiculously unpredictable. Berdych, on the other hand, has to hate his draw because after 2 straight clay masters semifinals (Madrid and Rome), he now faces the possibility of losing in round 1 of the French even though he is better than most of the other players in the field. Berdych has won all 3 H2H meetings, but 2 of those were last year and this is a much different Monfils right now. I still have to give an edge to Berdych here, but 5 sets is almost a given if Monfils isn’t out of gas.
Jan Hajek vs. (Q)Denis Kudla
Dusseldorf Quarterfinalist Hajek is best on clay but is a rather average player. Dynamite Denis Kudla has worked through qualifying and could break the top 100 with a couple of more wins in Paris. Given his form, I have to give Kudla a really good shot at winning this.
(18)Sam Querrey vs. Lukas Lacko
Querrey, like Isner, is struggling mightily on the red dirt and has lost 3 straight matches. Lacko, for his part, has also lost 3 straight and has continually dealt with the label of underachiever. Neither of these players are in form and this could go either way.
(2)Roger Federer vs. (Q)Pablo Carreno-Busta
Federer has a very easy draw up until the semifinals, excluding this match with Carreno-Busta who rolled through qualifying as everyone expected and continues to climb up the rankings. Carreno-Busta is making his Grand Slam debut in Paris. PCB of course had that tremendous winning streak on the futures circuit that led to 7 futures titles this year and he made the semis in ATP Estoril along with qualifying and making round 2 in Casablanca. He has tremendous talent and is playing like a top 60 player right now, but Federer, the Rome finalist, is still Federer, and though PCB should push him, I do not think he is quite at that level yet. Expect some great tennis.
After a meeting with Goffin, Djoker will take on Dodig/Pella before getting a rematch against Grigor Dimitrov, who upset him in Madrid in round 3. Dimitrov just needs to be Alejandro Falla and Alex Kuznetsov/Lucas Pouille. Excluding Dimitrov, Djokovic doesn’t have the most difficult of starts.
The Kohlschreiber/Vesely winner will play Rendy Lu or Simone Bolelli and then could meet Alex Dolgopolov, Dmitry Tursunov, Bernard Tomic or Victor Hanescu. Hanescu has had a career resurgence recently and just upset Albert Ramos in Nice. Tomic, of course, has been dealing with family issues and Tursunov is dangerous but inconsistent.
The slumping Janko Tisparevic has just been abysmal this year, losing once again in the opening round in Dusseldorf. He will try again against Nicolas Mahut, who hasn’t done very much for himself as well.The winner will play Fernando Verdasco or Marc Gicquel in the weakest part of the draw by far. One of those 4 has to make the 3rd round.
Joining them could be 29 seed Mikhail Youzhny, Federico Delbonis, qualifier Julian Reister or most likely Pablo Andujar. Andujar is coming off semis in Nice and has played surprisingly well this European clay season, setting him up to make the 3rd round or better in Paris.
12 seed Tommy Haas, who pulled out of Dusseldorf mid-tournament with a cold, will play Guillaume Rufin and then Guillermo Garcia-Lopez or surprise American qualifier Jack Sock. Few expected to make it this far. Haas could then play Kuznetsov/Harrison or Berlocq/Isner.
The heavy favorite and man to beat once again in Paris is Rafa, who will play Brands before meeting Michael Russell or Martin Klizan followed by Fabio Fognini, qualifier Andreas Beck, qualifier Pere Riba, or a big rematch with Lukas Rosol, who has had a solid year of his own. Nadal was shocked by Rosol last year at Wimbledon. Given that this is on clay, none of those options should trouble Rafa much.
13 seed Kei Nishikori will play Jesse Levine followed by Grega Zemlja or Santiago Giraldo. He should thereafter meet the dangerous Benoit Paire, who is seeded 24th, and opens with the formerly good Marcos Baghdatis and then Lukasz Kubot or qualifier Maxime Teixeira. Paire/Nishikori would be a huge 3rd round match.
Richard Gasquet personally carries French hopes, and will open with Sergiy Stakhovsky, followed by qualifier Michal Przysiezny or lucky loser Rhyne Williams, who lost to Przysiezny in the final round of qualifying. They will play each other again. In the 3rd round, it will be one of Florian Mayer, Denis Istomin, Florent Serra and Nikolay Davydenko.
Above Gasquet, the Wawrinka/De Bakker winner will play Horacio Zeballos or qualifier Vasek Pospisil followed by 21 seed Jerzy Janowicz or Albert Ramos. Ramos or Janowicz should beat Robin Haase or Kenny De Schepper, their round 2 opponents.
Ferrer will take on Marinko Matosevic, followed by current Nice finalist Albert Montanes, or surprise American qualifier Steve Johnson. After that, either Montanes or Ferrer should play another Spaniard, Marcel Granollers, if Granollers can beat the struggling Feliciano Lopez and then Go Soeda or Joao Sousa. This really is a good section for Ferrer.
14 seed Milos Raonic, who has had an off and on clay season, will play slumping Xaiver Malisse, and then qualifier Steve Darcis of Frenchman Michael Llodra. After that, fellow big server Kevin Anderson should come calling if the 23 seed can beat qualifier Ilya Marchenko and Evgeny Donskoy or qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.
Berdych/Monfils will have the tough task of Ernests Gulbis in the toughest section of the draw, as long as Gulbis avoids being upset by Rogerio Dutra Silva. The survivor of that section likely plays 32 seed Tommy Robredo, but the veteran Jurgen Melzer and the Dusseldorf semifinalist Igor Sijsling are also options. Melzer and Sijsling played a tough match in Memphis this year that was won by Sijsling.
Below that, 11 seed Nicolas Almagro, dealing with some injury issues, will play qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria. If he gets past that, he will play Nice semifinalist Edouard Roger-Vasselin, a Frenchmen who has had a solid year. That is, of course, if Roger-Vasselin beats Martin Alund in the opening round. Almagro, if not too hobbled, has a tailor-made draw, as in round 3 he would play the out of sorts Andreas Seppi, whose game has disappeared from him. Seppi will play Leo Mayer, then Blaz Kavcic or qualifier James Duckworth. Kavcic-Duckworth is a rematch of a grueling 5-setter at the Australian Open that left Kavcic in a stretcher after the match. Hopefully, that won’t happen again. Duckworth-Kavcic could also upset Seppi. Keep that in mind.
After a meeting with Carreno-Busta, Fed should have a bit of an easier go against a pair of qualifiers, either Somdev Devvarman or Daniel Munoz-De La Nava. Munoz-De La Nava is making his 2nd Grand Slam main draw appearance at the age of 31. After that, Fed should play Paolo Lorenzo, Ricardas Berankis, or Julian Bennteau (with whom Federer has some experience). Lorenzi plays Tobias Kamke in the opening round while Rycka and Benny will do battle.
Above him, 15 seed Gilles Simon, who lost early in the quarterfinals in Nice, will play Lleyton Hewitt. Simon should then see countryman Adrian Mannarino or blast-from-the-past Pablo Cuevas, a former top 50 player, who after injuries is ranked outside the top 700. After not playing all of last year, with his last match actually being at the 2011 French Open, he has played 2 challenger events in April of this year and that is it.
Simon could very well play Denis Kudla, if Kudla beats Hajek and then Lacko/Querrey, neither of whom are consistent at all on the dirt.
Top Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will play Aljaz Bedene and then Paul-Henri Mathieu, the fiery Frenchmen who has gotten slightly better in recent weeks, or current Dusseldorf finalist Jarkko Nieminen, who has also had a quality year. Assuming he gets past the flying Fin or the inspiring Frenchman, Tsonga could run into yet another Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy the 25 seed. Chardy will have to beat Benjamin Becker and Roberto Bautista-Agut or Gilles Muller to make it happen. Agut just beat Muller in Dusseldorf but it went 3 sets. He shouldn’t be counted out as he has talent, but a wrist injury hamstringed him for a bit.
10 seed Marin Cilic opens with Philip Petzschner. He’ll follow that with a chaser of Radek Stepanek or young Aussie Nick Krygios, who is very talented but given this is clay and his slam debut, not much should be expected. Dusseldorf finalist and 17 seed Juan Monaco will play Daniel Gimeno-Traver and then Viktor Troicki or James Blake. After that, he should run into Cilic.
Week 1 predictions (round of 16 matchups and picks)
Djokovic d. Kohlschreiber
Andujar d. Haas
Nadal d. Paire
Janowicz d. Gasquet
Gulbis d. Roger-Vasselin
Ferrer d. Anderson
Tsonga d. Monaco
Federer d. Simon
Djokovic is still better than the competition he faces even though Kohli did shock him at the 09 French Open. Andujar has a really good chance to upset Haas. Nadal should beat Paire once again. Janowicz just beat Gasquet in Rome, and I have a feeling he will do it again. Gulbis beat Roger-Vasselin in Delray and since Roger-Vasselin is a 4th round surprise, should beat him again. Ferrer is better than Anderson on clay, a surface they have never played against each other on. Tsonga has beaten Monaco all 4 times they have met, including in 4 sets at the 09 French and in Davis Cup on clay this year, even with Monaco being in better form right now. Finally, Federer is superior to the inconsistent Simon who he just routined in Rome.
Picking the rest of the way,
Djokovic d. Andujar
Nadal d. Janowicz
Ferrer d. Gulbis
Federer d. Tsonga
Djokovic and Nadal shouldn’t have any trouble while Ferrer and Federer may struggle a bit against Gulbis and Tsonga, but eventually prevail. Federer is 9-3 career against Tsonga including a 5 set win over him at the AO this year.
Nadal d. Djokovic
Federer d. Ferrer
A healthy clay king in the form of Nadal should beat a not 100% clay prince in the form of Djokovic. Although Djokovic did get his number in Monte Carlo, Rafa has won everything else since, and regardless it should be a barn burner. Nadal is 19-15 overall against Djokovic and has beaten him all 3 times they have played at the French Open. He simply owns court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Federer is dominant over Ferrer and has beaten him an amazing 14 times without Ferrer ever registering a win.
Nadal d. Federer
In a rematch of the Rome final and the 2011 French Open final, Nadal won both, and he should win this one as well. His H2H is now 20-10 against Federer, which is actually a pretty notable gap for one of the biggest rivalries in tennis history.
The French Open starts this weekend. Every year, I see a huge spike in players on local courts right around this time. The combo of the tennis-friendly weather and the subliminal messages the brain sends while watching pros play tennis from Paris seems to act as a catalyst to get off the couch and personally hit some balls. This year, when your brain gets that urge, both you and your small fry might decide to improve your skills close to home. Holabird Sports Tennis Camp at UMBC powered by Babolat is a great option for adults and children in the Baltimore Area.
The adult camp is an evening program from June 24-27. The juniors camp has openings for the June 23-28, July 7-12, July 14-19 and July 21-26 programs.
The juniors camp has been in existence for years. Last year, Holabird Sports took on the naming rights and sponsorship with partner Babolat. For twenty years prior to that, Adidas sponsored the camp at UMBC.
Sol Schwartz of Holabird Schwartz is proud of the camp and Holabird’s sponsorship.
The secret weapon of the camp is certainly the coaching staff, led by former pro Rob Hubbard, who has spent over 30 years coaching after an ATP career and stellar college career at the University of Texas Pan-American . Hubbard is a Calvert Hall graduate and a Baltimore native. He serves as Head Coach of the Men’s and Women’s Tennis programs at UMBC.
Rob was one of my coaches growing up, recalls Schwartz. Rob was coached as a tour player by Lenny Scheurmann. When Lenny started a tennis camp, he brought Rob in. Rob is a gift to any kid who wants to play college tennis.
What makes Rob unique is the experiences that he’s had in the game from a playing standpoint, from a teaching standpoint and a coaching standpoint. He’s got every base covered that a parent who wants to put their kid in a program would want running it.
A kid that’s playing in college still has it in the back of their mind that one day they might go pro. Rob’s been there. From a mechanics standpoint, he can break down any stroke any time to any level and repair it.
Between Coach Hubbard, Oliver Steil, and Robin Hubbard, Rob’s spouse, the camp is loaded with top-notch instructors. Steil is the Assistant Coach at UMBC and a former Division I player at the University of Texas Pan American, while Robin Hubbard was a nationally-ranked player at North Texas University. On top of that, Schwartz himself will offer instruction at the adult camp.
Instructing kids and adults presents different challenges, and the coaches are prepared to give them what they want and what they need.
Schwartz mentioned that “the whole thing with teaching adults is they expect different things out of a lesson. Their primary goal may be to get a workout and the technical side second.”
The 5:1 Instructor to Student ratio also allows for numerous breakout 1-on-1 lessons for each player’s particular needs.
Last year, a wide range of players from their early twenties to their early sixties participated in the adult camp. As Schwartz notes, “age doesn’t dictate performance.”
The juniors camp now has full-day, half-day, extended-day and overnight programs, with the minimum participation age of 6 and 9 for extended day and sleepover options.
Kids can be hard to keep focused, so the day is broken up to maximize the fun and the concentration. The morning is virtually all drills and cardio, with a focus on match play in the afternoon. A 90-minute lunch break is offered each day as a way to cool down and make friends.
The range of experience of the youngsters varies widely and all are encouraged to play, and Schwartz notes that last year, “we had extreme beginners and juniors with a national ranking”.
The camp uses adult balls and nets, a personal sticking point of Schwartz’s. “Real-sized everything”. But he does defer to Coach Hubbard to use any equipment he see fit.
The max enrollment is 36 kids and 30 adults to maintain a 5:1 student/instructor ratio.
For more information, click on the logo at the top of this post.
Next week, I’ll tell you about the best tennis camp the D.C. area has to offer.
Nadal Conquers Federer to Capture Seventh Rome Title
Rafael Nadal was once again a cut above as he defeated Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 in Rome, continuing his domination of clay court tennis. It is his 24th Masters title overall and as previously mentioned, his 7th in Rome. Federer, for his part, gained ranking points for the first time this year and made his first final of the year, but dropped to 0-3 career in Rome finals.
Nadal has only lost twice this year and continued his win streak over Fabio Fognini, Ernests Gulbis in 3 topsy turvy sets, David Ferrer in 3 sets and Tomas Berdych in straights. Berdych defeated Novak Djokovic to make the semis.
Federer improved against Potito Starace, Gilles Simon, Jerzy Janowicz and Benoit Paire. Paire upset Juan Martin Del Potro en route to the semis, while Janowicz upset both Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet to make the quarterfinals.
Like Nadal, the Bryans continued their own domination of clay and everything else, winning over Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to take the doubles title.
2013 ATP Dusseldorf, Nice Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
It’s time for the final stops on the road to Roland Garros for the ATP World Tour.
Power Horse Cup
ATP World Tour 250
May 19-May 25, 2013
Prize Money: € 410,200
Dusseldorf was formerly known as the “World Team Cup”, a team based event, but now it is just a normal clay court ATP 250.
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Janko Tipsarevic
2: Tommy Haas
3: Juan Monaco
4: Phillip Kohlschreiber
Dusseldorf manages to bring in a solid field for a pre-slam 250.
First round matchups to watch:
(5)Lukas Rosol vs. Daniel Brands
Rosol is at a career high ranking of 33, and is looking to break into the top 30 with a solid showing. He won Bucharest of course and has been red hot this year. Now he will run into Brands, who has a 3-2 career H2H against him, though they last played in 2011. Brands is also at a career high ranking of 58 and is having his own excellent year. This should be a matchup of heavy ball strikers.
Janko Tipsarevic, who has had a miserable year thus far, will once again try to get it going against a qualifier. After that, he could face countryman Viktor Troicki, Bordeaux Challenger semifinalist David Goffin, Grega Zemlja or Michael Russell. Troicki made headlines with a crazy meltdown in Rome in a match against Ernest Gulbis.
Juan Monaco, who defeated Tipsarevic in the first round of Madrid but lost in the first round of Rome to eventual semifinalist Benoit Paire, will play a qualifier or Go Soeda. For the next round, expect him to meet one of Benjamin Becker/Tobias Kamke, Dmitry Tursunov/Nikolay Davydenko, this is quite a hollow section for Pico.
Phillip Kohlschreiber, who retired in the 3rd round in Rome with symptoms of vertigo, will play Igor Sijsling or a qualifier. If he is healthy, he should face Rosol/Brands or Jan Hajek/Evgeny Donskoy in a big quarterfinal matchup. Donskoy lost in the first round qualifying of Rome.
Tommy Haas, the German number one who was dropped out of the first round in Rome, will play Blaz Kavcic or the underappreciated Ivan Dodig. The winner could face Jarkko Nieminen/Lukas Lacko, or Roberto Bautista Agut/Gilles Muller. Nieminen lost Round 1 to Gulbis in Rome, while Bautista Agut has slumped a bit after issues with his wrist. Haas defeated Dodig in the Munich semis recently.
Dark Horse: Dmitry Tursunov
Tursunov still has talent left at age 30, but he is just inconsistent at this point with it. Overall, he has a 10-6 record at the ATP level this year and his ranking is back to 57. If he beats countryman Davydenko, Becker/Kamke should be easy enough and then he probably runs into Monaco. They have only met once back in ’06 and thus it would be a fresh slate. That match could shake out either way, with Monaco being a slight favorite heading in. The quarter above with Tipsarevic, Goffin and Troicki as top players is considerably weaker, so it really comes down to the quarterfinal match in regards to how far he can advance.
Monaco d. Goffin
Kohlschreiber d. Haas
Monaco, if in form,should cruise to the final. Goffin did well to make the Bordeaux Challenger semis but he may be fatigued from that, probably still has enough to beat the struggling Tipsarevic. Haas beat Kohlischreiber in the Munich final, but I have a feeling that if Peppo is healthy he will get revenge this time.
Monaco d. Kohlschreiber
This final is a tossup based upon form and health, as a Haas-Monaco final would be, but I’ll just flip a coin and say Monaco wins either way, probably in 3 sets.
Open de Nice Cote d’Azur
ATP World Tour 250
May 19-May 25, 2013
Prize Money: € 410,200
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Albert Montanes*
2: Gilles Simon
3: Sam Querrey
4: John Isner
*Tomas Berdych was supposed to be the top seed in Nice but he withdrew, moving Albert Montanes into the number 1 seed line.
1st round matchups to watch:
Santiago Giraldo vs (WC) Gael Monfils
Giraldo is your average, steady but not fantastic clay courter, but what makes this match interesting is the form of Monfils. Le Monf is in the final of the Bordeaux Challenger after limping and jumping his way through injuries and rust and everything else this year. It is impossible to predict what form and health he will show up in here. He could either do really well or bomb out in the first round. It really is something to watch.
The alternate, Montanes, will play Albert Ramos or Victor Hanescu. Then, Ramos will likely face Marcel Granollers or Carlos Berlocq. Leo Mayer and Paul-Henri Mathieu are also options in a literally wide open section.
Sam Querrey, who has looked aloof on Red Clay thus far, will play a qualifier and then could play Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Alejandro Falla, Ricardas Berankos or Denis Istomin. Querrey has been poor on clay, but this section is one of the least troubling he could ever hope for.
Top French seed Gilles Simon will play Paolo Lorenzi or a qualifier and then could meet up with Madrid semifinalist Pablo Andujar, if Andujar can beat Lleyton Hewitt and Andreas Seppi/Yen-Hsun Lu. Seppi has been playing below his normal level as of late.
John Isner, who has also struggled this year and looked aloof on clay, will play Robin Haase or Marinko Matosevic, and odds are lose to either one. After that, it will be Monfils/Giraldo, a qualifier, or Fabio Fognini.
Dark Horse: Gael Monfils
Monfils could either lose in the first round or win the entire tournament. It is that wide open of a draw and he is that unpredictable right now. After the match with Giraldo he could play Fognini again, a difficult but winnable match. If he gets through that Robin Haase is his likely opponent, followed by Andujar, Lorenzi or countryman Simon, who he just loves to rally with.
Ramos d. Roger-Vasselin
Fognini d. Andujar
The top half is open and weak but I’ll go with Ramos, and randomly go with Roger-Vasselin simply because he is ok on clay and the home player. Even a qualifier could emerge as a semifinalist in that section.
Fognini should be able to get by Monfils and Haase and Andujar is dangerous but inconsistent. I say he beats the steady but bland Simon, though.
Fognini d. Ramos
This is a difficult tournament to predict, but I’ll go with Fogna in what would be a rematch of their 2nd round Monte Carlo encounter this year.
TAYLOR TOWNSEND RETURNS TO JUNIOR COMPETITION AT FRENCH OPEN
Townsend to Play First Junior Event in 2013;
Stefan Kozlov Among Youngest in Boys’ Field
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 13, 2013 – Taylor Townsend (17, Chicago), the No. 1-ranked junior in the world at the end of 2012, will play in her first junior event of 2013 at the Roland Garros French Open Junior Championships June 2-8 in Paris.
Townsend finished last year as the No. 1-ranked junior in the world, becoming the first American girl in 30 years to hold that distinction. She remains No. 10 in the ITF world junior rankings despite thus far having played only professional tournaments in 2013. In her first WTA-level main draw match, Townsend beat then-No. 57 Lucie Hradecka in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., in March.
Townsend, who in 2012 won the Australian Open junior singles title and junior doubles titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, headlines an American girls’ contingent accepted to play in the French Open Junior Championship that includes Victoria Duval (17, Delray Beach, Fla.), currently No. 285 in the WTA rankings. In 2012, Duval won the USTA Girls’ 18s national title to earn a wild card into the US Open main draw, where she played Kim Clijsters in the first round.
Christina Makarova (16, San Diego), currently No. 11 in the ITF world junior rankings, No. 29 Sachia Vickery (18, Hollywood, Fla.) and No. 39 Jamie Loeb (18, Ossining, N.Y.) are also in the girls’ main draw, while No. 56 Louisa Chirico (16, Harrison, N.Y.), was accepted for qualifying.
Townsend, Duval and Vickery each train at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla., while Chirico trains at the USTA Training Center – East in Flushing, N.Y.
Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (18, Charlotte, N.C.), currently the top-ranked American junior boy at No. 16 in the world, leads the Americans accepted to play the boys’ main draw, followed by No. 19 Stefan Kozlov (15, Pembroke Pines, Fla.), No. 23 Noah Rubin (17, Rockville Centre, N.Y.), No. 38 Luca Corinteli (17, Alexandria, Va.) and No. 40 Spencer Papa (17, Edmond, Okla.). No. 49 Martin Redlicki (17, Hawthorn Woods, Ill.) was accepted for qualifying.
Kozlov is the youngest player in the Top 20 of the world junior rankings and is the second youngest player in the French Open boys’ main draw. Rubin, who has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the world junior rankings, reached the quarterfinals of last year’s French Open Junior Championship, while Papa advanced to the third round last year.
Currently, Kozlov and Papa train at the USTA Training Center – Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla. Kwiatkowski and Redlicki previously trained there, Kwiatkowski for three years, and Corinteli trains at the Junior tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., a USTA Certified Regional Training Center.
Nadal Rolls to 5th 2013 Title in Madrid
Rafael Nadal continued cruising on clay this week in Madrid, finishing off Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-4 for his 5th ATP title of the year. Earlier in the week, Nadal took out Pablo Andujar, David Ferrer, Mikhail Youzhy and Benoit Paire. Andujar was a surprise semifinalist and beat Kei Nishikori in the quarters.
Wawrinka continued to have his own tremendous year, following up an Estoril title with wins against Marius Copil, Grigor Dimitrov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych. His final 3 matches before making the final all went 3 sets, and he showed tremendous grit and fitness to win them all. For Berdych, meanwhile, he suffered another mental let down that let Wawrinka come back and win.
The Bryans won their 5th Madrid doubles crown over Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.
2013 ATP Rome Preview
The final Masters before Roland Garros fired up today but my Editor couldn’t get his act together in time.
Internazionali BNL D’Italia
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
May 12-May 19, 2013
Prize Money: €2,646,495
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Roger Federer
3: Andy Murray
4: David Ferrer
5: Rafael Nadal
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Juan Martin Del Potro
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
First round matchups to watch:
Phillip Kohlschreiber vs. (14)Milos Raonic
Kohlschreiber is back in action this week after a week off and he will take on the dangerous but still inconsistent Raonic, who followed up semis in Barcelona with a 2nd round loss in Madrid. They have met just once: this year at the Australian Open where Raonic prevailed, but that was on hard courts. Peppo will have a good upset chance here on clay.
Fabio Fognini vs. Andreas Seppi
Both Fognini and Seppi are coming off bad first round losses in Madrid and this will be a rematch of their match in Monte Carlo, which was won be Fognini. They are the top two Italian players and are playing at home in Rome, so expect an electric atmosphere and some great clay court tennis.
Juan Monaco vs. Benoit Paire
Monaco and Paire have never met and both come off 2nd round losses in Madrid (to Anderson and Nadal respectively). They both have serious talent on clay but at times their game can disappear and their chances with it. Expect a close match and some fireworks.
(WC)Paolo Lorenzi vs. (16) Kei Nisihkori
Nishikori and Lorenzi have also never met, but Nishikori should be buoyed by his upset of Roger Federer and his run to the quarterfinals in Madrid. He has a lot of talent and can be a top 10 player soon enough if he can simply stay healthy. The veteran Lorenzi will be at home in Italy and is steady on clay, thus this has to be a bit of an upset alert.
Novak Djokovic was shocked by Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid, and really played quite poorly in that match. Dimitrov was good, but he was not at his all. As a defending finalist in Rome, he will look to recover against Martin Klizan or a qualifier. Then he could meet the sizzling Stanislas Wawrinka, who won Estoril and in Madrid runner-up. Wawa will need to get past a qualifier, then Alexandr Dolgopolov or Matteo Viola. If he is fatigued from playing so much tennis as of late, Dolgo could at least give him a test.
Madrid semifinalist Tomas Berdych will open against John Isner or Denis Istomin, then could get a rematch against Kevin Anderson, who he just beat in Madrid in 2 tight sets. Anderson just needs to get through Jurgen Melzer and Marin Cilic or a qualifier.
Madrid quarterfinalist David Ferrer will play Fernando Verdasco, who improved his form in Madrid, or Horacio Zeballos. Then he could meet Kohlschreiber/Raonic, a qualifier or Albert Ramos.
Madrid champion and 6 time Rome champion Rafael Nadal will look to continue dominating on clay against the Fognini/Seppi winner and then Jarkko Nieminen, a qualifier, Janko Tipsarevic or Viktor Troicki. None of them seem threatening in the slightest.
Roger Federer was shaky in a loss to Kei Nishikori in Madrid, and just seems shaky in general. He lost the number 2 ranking to Murray for now, and he really needs to start earning some points given the shortened schedule he is playing. Federer could play Radek Stepanek in a rematch of Madrid R2, or Potito Starace, who was formerly a solid enough ATP pro but has fallen off a cliff rankings-wise. After that Federer could be troubled by Tommy Haas, if Haas can beat Mikhail Youzhny and Gilles Simon/Filippo Volandri. Simon/Haas Round 2 would be a huge match.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Madrid quarterfinalist, will play Jerzy Janowicz or a qualifier. After that, he’s looking at Richard Gasquet, who was shocked in the opening round of Madrid, Sam Querrey or Marcos Baghdatis/Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov lost to Wawrinka after shocking Djokovic, but still showed a lot of heart and talent in that one. He and Baghdatis played a great semifinal match in Brisbane this year on hard courts, won by Dimitrov in 3 sets, but Baghdatis is way out of form right now.
The new ATP number 2, Andy Murray, will take on Marcel Granollers/Nikolay Davydenko. He should then meet Nishikori/Lorenzi, while Jeremy Chardy and Feliciano Lopez are also options.Murray has consistently been shaky at best on clay this year, and Nishikori could cause him problems.
Juan Martin Del Potro has recovered from a virus that kept him out of Estoril and Madrid. Del Po will play a qualifier or Xaiver Malisse, then Paire/Monaco or Nicolas Almagro/Julien Benneteau. This is a brutal section of the draw.
Dark Horse: Tommy Haas
Haas was playing well in Madrid this week, though he fell in 3 sets to Ferrer, and in general he is fit, in form, and playing well on clay this year. If he can beat the mercurial Youzhny and then likely Simon, he would almost have to be the favorite against a shaky Federer. After that he should play Tsonga/Dimitrov/Gasquet, all of which are winnable, even if he is an underdog in them. In the semis, Monaco/Del Potro/Nishikori/Murray/Almagro/Paire are all reasonable opponents in a tough section. I have Haas as a finalist this week.
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Anderson d. Berdych
Ferrer d. Kohlschreiber
Nadal d. Nieminen
Monaco d. Del Potro
Nishikori d. Murray
Tsonga d. Dimitrov
Haas d. Federer
Djoker should be fresher than Wawa, if nothing else. Anderson should be fresher than Berdych, who suffered a late collapse in his Madrid semi. Ferrer could lose to Kohlschreiber, but he would have to the favorite. Nadal should cruise, Monaco should best his countryman, Nishikori/Murray will be tight but an edge to the man from Japan. Tsonga/Dimitrov should also be close, and as mentioned, Haas should beat fellow veteran Federer.
Djokovic d. Anderson
Nadal d. Ferrer
Monaco d. Nishikori
Haas d. Tsonga
Djokovic is a favorite against Anderson. Nadal dropped a set to Ferrer, but then bageled him in the 3rd set, as the two Spaniards seem locked in a track against each other. Monaco is better on clay than Nishikori, and Haas-Tsonga should be a slugfest.
Nadal d. Djokovic
Haas d. Monaco
Nadal is better than Djokovic right now if he isn’t fatigued. Monaco has a better h2h against Haas (4-1), but they only met once in recent history (2012 on clay in Hamburg won by Monaco), and that doesn’t account for Haas current form.
Nadal d. Haas
USTA SMASHZONE MOBILE TOUR TO VISIT DICK’S SPORTING GOODS
IN BUFORD ON SATURDAY FROM 11 A.M. TO 7 P.M.
Interactive Fan Attraction to Introduce Tennis to
Youth and Families across the Nation
BUFORD, Ga., (May 9, 2013)–The United States Tennis Association (USTA) SmashZone Mobile Tour continues its 22-city tour run this weekend when it visits the Buford Dick’s Sporting Goods Store (3333 Buford Drive) this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
SmashZone introduces youth tennis to kids and parents across the country and began as the premier fan interactive attraction at the US Open before being showcased across the country. Since its inception in 2011, SmashZone has attracted more than 2 million people to its tennis courts.
SmashZone is a way to showcase tennis in a fun and interactive way by making stops at fairs, festivals, airshows, retail environments and city centers.At SmashZone,children have the opportunity to play tennis games in a fun, festive atmosphere that allows participants to get active playing tennis from the start.
“The SmashZone Mobile Tour is a great platform to bring tennis to the masses through an interactive experience,” said Kurt Kamperman, USTA Chief Executive, Community Tennis. “It provides an opportunity for kids to try tennis for the first time, allowing them to experience the fun and excitement that comes with playing the game.”
The SmashZone Mobile Tour includes a 53-foot trailer, which anchors four kid-sized tennis courts for youth play. Courts will feature games such as Xerox Rally Court, racquet drills and activities, as well as a Target Challenge. The trailer itself, which is handicap accessible, will feature activities for visitors that will include a Tennis Magazine Green Screen Cover Shoot, Wii Tennis and Touch Screen Kiosks. SmashZone Mobile is a complement to the USTA’s successful youth participation initiative, 10 and Under Tennis.
10 and Under Tennis is an ongoing effort to encourage young people to get active by playing tennis. The initiative uses modified equipment and courts tailored to a child’s age and ability. By featuring shorter and lighter racquets, slower-bouncing balls, smaller courts and simplified scoring, children learn to play more quickly and easily while having more fun in the process.
Shelby Rogers and Alex Kuznetsov Headed to Roland Garros With USTA Wild Cards
Two East Coasters are headed to Roland Garros as USTA Wild Cards. Charleston’s Shelby Rogers won the Women’s Wild Card by winning the Charlottesvile Challenger and making the quarters in Dothan. Richboro, Pennsylvania native and current Tampa resident Alex Kuznetsov won in Sarasota and made the quarters in Tallahassee and Savannah. They spoke with members of the press (and with me as well) during a USTA Conference call this afternoon.
Neither player admitted to changing their game over the last month. For Kuznetsov, it’s his first trip to Roland Garros since being a junior finalist at the French Open all the way back in 2004, when he lost to Gaels Monfils. For Rogers, it’s her first trip to Paris…ever.
“Honestly, to think I guess it’s been almost 10 years that this will be my first French Open main draw, I would have said I’d liked to have been in a couple before now.”, Kuznetsov said.
Kuznetsov is headed to Nice, while Rogers will play in St. Gaudens.
Both players went on an April run to take the wild cards, as neither player had a won a match in months prior to the USTA Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge, which featured three separate tournaments for the men and the women.
‘I hadn’t won a round since November of last year’, said Rogers, who grew up on the green clay in Mount Pleasant, S.C., in the shadow of the Family Circle Cup Tennis Center.
Rogers first stop in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, “but hopefully to stay on the red clay as long as I can”.
Rogers has no regrets for turning pro instead of entering college.
It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I can always take classes, but I can’t always play on tour.
Both grew up on clay and were extensively trained on Har-Tru. Both would like to see more Har-Tru tournament opportunities in the U.S., especially Kuznetsov.
I would be for it, but I also think being that our main Grand Slam is on hard court, there also needs to be obviously an equal amount of hard court tournaments. Like Shelby, I also grew up playing on clay on the East Coast. I played at a club in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, which had indoor red clay. I think it’s a good surface to start younger kids on. I think they develop better on a clay court than they would a hard court. But, yeah, I’d also be for it if they had a few more events. But I’d like for them to keep some hard court tournaments, as well.
Do they like the round-robin format as opposed to a direct playoff?
Rogers was emphatic. “I think it’s a great way. It shows the players who can be consistent rather than over a weekend or a week. You have to bring your game throughout the whole three weeks.”
Kuznetsov clearly prefers the round-robin format as well, and implied that he may have been cut out of the Australian Open Wild Card field last December somewhat arbitrarily.
I think they chose the players they wanted in that one. I think this is an opportunity for the player who is playing the best tennis at the time. You’re also competing against players from different countries, so you’re not only competing against Americans. Obviously there’s players from South America and from Europe who grew up playing on clay, so they have a lot of experience. You deserve the wild card if you’re able to do that.
Haas Claims Munich Over Countryman Kohlschreiber, Wawrinka Upsets Ferrer in Estoril
The German crowd was delighted to watch Tommy Haas win his first title of the year at home in Munich 6-3, 7-6 over the German number 2 Phillip Kohlschreiber, who made the final again but failed to defend his title. Haas moves up to 13 in the ATP rankings after wins over Ernests Gulbis in 3 sets, Florian Mayer, and surprise semifinalist Ivan Dodig, who knocked off Marin Cilic and Alex Dogopolov en route to the semis.
Kohlschreiber got back on track with his season and put wins together against Evgeny Korolev, Viktor Troicki and Daniel Brands in a tight 3 set tiebreaker.
Jarkko Nieminen and Dmitry Tursunov won the doubles over Marcos Baghdatis and Eric Butorac.
Stanislas Wawrinka won the sparsely attended event over David Ferrer 6-1 6-4, as Ferrer made the final, but once again fell short of his intended goal as at top 4 player. Wawrinka beat Albert Ramos, Gastao Elias, and Pablo Carreno-Busta, who continues his tremendous year with his first ATP semi.
Ferrer and Wawrinka were hitting partners this week.
Ferrer beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Victor Hanescu and Andreas Seppi.
Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky won the doubles over Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer.