Tennis Fundraising For a Great Cause, Zainab Walji’s Tennis Raffle 2014 for Cancer Charities

Tennis Fundraising For a Great Cause, Zainab Walji’s Tennis Raffle 2014 for Cancer Charities
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

My friend Zainab Walji, a moderator on the Andy Murray fan forum and a fellow Murray fan, is holding her fund-raising raffle for cancer charities for the second year in a row, and I urge everyone who feels compelled to please donate to this great cause.

Zainab desired to start a charity raffle after seeing (now cancer survivor) Ross Hutchins, an accomplished British doubles player, organize a huge event while undergoing chemotherapy to fundraise for Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, where he was being treated. Last year was her first year doing the fundraising raffle online and she raised over $3,000 for Royal Marsden, This year, she is aiming to match that total and hopefully outpace it. She is doing this in honor of Ross, Elena and other friends of hers who have a connection to cancer.

This year, those looking to donate have two options, the first one being the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which funds cancer research and treatment, and the second being the Elena Baltacha “Rally for Bally” charity fund, which funds tennis opportunity for low income and disadvantaged youth across the UK. Elena was a former top 50 UK WTA player who tragically passed away from liver cancer at the age of 30 this past May. Both of these charities fund excellent causes and you can’t go wrong with either one.

Zainab was able to gather together some wonderful items to raffle away, with each raffle entry costing just 3 british pounds ($5), thanks to the help of various organizations such as Royal Albert Hall and Wimbledon, along with Andy Murray and his team, the Bryan Brothers, Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic and others. Those who donate can submit as many raffle entries as they would like, at 3 pounds per entry, and Zainab asks that those who donate notify her of which items they would like to enter in the raffle.

The rewards available as follows:

XE01: Andy Murray giant signed poster. Image of him after he won Wimbledon 2013

Andy Murray Signed Poster

Andy Murray Signed Poster

XE02: Shirt signed by ATP and WTA players 2014 including Wimbledon winners Djokovic and Kvitova. Comes with a Rally for Bally wristband

Signed shirt featuring Djokovic, Kvitova and many other signatures from Wimbledon 2014

Signed shirt featuring Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Kvitova and many other signatures from Wimbledon 2014

XE03: A pair of Royal Albert Hall Masters 2014 tickets for Wednesday evening session, Mansour Bahrami signed book and DVD

XE04: Tomas Berdych signed cap and Davis Cup signed book by the champions Berdych and Stepanek

XE05: Andy Murray signed Queens shirt, signed cap and signed wristband

XE06: GB Fed Cupsigned shirt, Judy Murray signed shirt, president’s choice bag and one Heather Watson signed Oyster card

XE07: GB Davis Cup signed shirt, pair of Wimbledon museum tickets

XE08: Signed Marin Cilic shirt and Signed Bryan Brothers’ shirt

XE09: Signed Bartoli shirt, Maria Sharapova signed bag of sugarpova candy, signed Azarenka wristband

XE10: Signed ‘Titanic: The Tennis Story” book, Sam Stosur signed ITF Olympics book, signed Andy Murray 77 book

XE11: Signed Ivanovic ball, Rafa ball, Azarenka ball, Novak ball, Henman ball and Bryan Brothers’ ball. Signed Sharapova BNP Paribas programme

XE12: Andy Murray signed fan shirt and Aussie open wristband, Signed Andy Murray and Jamie Murray queens programme

XE13: Stan Wawrinka Australian Open champion signed programme, signed Rafa French Open champion ball and signed Federer and Kvitva signed Wimbledon 2014 ball

The champions prize package featuring Wawrinka signed AO program and more

The champions prize package featuring Wawrinka signed AO program and more

XE14: Shirt signed by ESPN presenters Mark Petchey and Fabrice Santoro. Signed Pat Cash headband

The link to the Royal Marsden donation page is here https://www.justgiving.com/xenon1 and the link to te Elena Baltacha Foundation donation page is here https://www.justgiving.com/xenon2. Prizes and raffle entry cost are the same with both charities. Please see both pages for more information and of course to purchase raffle entry tickets and donate. The raffle began last week and runs through September 14th at midnight GMT. Anyone from around the world can enter, not just those in the UK or Europe.

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2014 ATP Winston-Salem (@WSOpen) Preview

2014 ATP Winston-Salem Preview

Winston-Salem Open, Courtesy of Winston-Salem Open

Tennis East Coast is happy to announce we will have live coverage from the early rounds of the Winston-Salem Open this year thanks to our on site correspondent Zephyr Logan. His reports will begin tomorrow from the grounds at Wake Forest University. Until then, here is a preview of the tournament, which serves as the end of the Emirates Airlines US Open Series, and the final tune-up before the US Open for all participants.

Winston-Salem Open Official Site

ATP Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem Open

ATP World Tour 250
Winston-Salem NC, USA
August 17-August 23, 2014
Prize Money: $598,260

Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (14)
2: Kevin Anderson (17)
3: Tommy Robredo (20)
4: Leonardo Mayer (26)
5: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (32)
6: Joao Sousa (37)
7: Lukas Rosol (38)
8: Marcel Granollers (39)

The top 16 seeds get first round byes, and for a pre-slam 250, Winston-Salem has an excellent field.

First round matchups to watch:

Noah Rubin (Photo: Cynthia Lum / USTA)

Noah Rubin (Photo: Cynthia Lum / USTA)

Bradley Klahn vs. (WC)Noah Rubin
Klahn is taking part in his first tournament in quite some time after injuries further derailed his season. He will take on the Kalamazoo and Wimbledon junior champ Noah Rubin, who already has a US Open main draw wild card in his back pocket and will be playing this match in preparation for his grand slam debut.

It has been a miserable debut season on the ATP tour for Klahn, who has seen his one-dimensional game exposed by many an ATP opponent. His lone ATP win over Daniel Brands was back in January in Auckland and he has lost nine straight ATP level tilts since then. Overall, he is just 3-16 at the ATP level in his career since 2010.

Rubin, meanwhile, is making his ATP debut here in Winston-Salem and he is yet to win a match at the challenger or qualifying level (0-4 overall outside of junior play). With Klahn coming off of an injury he is, at best, a slight favorite, but Rubin has a great shot to get the win.

Robin Haase vs. Benoit Paire

Haase hasn’t been anything but a journeyman so far this season and will be playing his first hard court match since Miami. Paire was struggling and has fallen out of the top 100, but he has experienced a boost in form in the past two weeks, perhaps spurred on by the fact he was able to push Stan Wawrinka to a third set tiebreak in Toronto before coming up short. After having to go through qualies in both Toronto and Cincy, Paire is 5-2 in his last 7 matches and has beaten reasonable ATP level opponents like Alejandro Falla and Blaz Rola in that stretch. With everything to gain, Paire has a chance to excel this week but he first must dispatch Haase, who will likely play poorly.

Jerzy Janowicz vs. Carlos Berlocq

Another player who returned to form after a poor 2014 is Jerzy Janowicz. He upset Grigor Dimitrov en route to a third round showing in Cincy and he may finally have found a spark to kick-start his abysmal 2014 season.

Berlocq is returning from injury and has not played on a hard court in a while, so he should make easy fodder for the big hitting Janowicz, who defeated him once before indoors in 2012. Berlocq usually puts a lot of balls back in play though, and Janowicz must keep his errors down to grab the win.

Top Half:

John Isner has never lost in Winston-Salem, as he was the champion in both 2011 and 2012, while skipping the tournament last year. While he seems to love Winston-Salem, his form has been poor the past two weeks as he exited in the third round of Cincy and the first round of Toronto and Washington (overall 2-3 in his last five matches after winning in Atlanta).

Something appears to be up with Isner and his game right now, but it is unlikely he will have any trouble with Klahn/Rubin. His first test may come against Paire in the third round, assuming Paire beats Mikhail Kukushkin after beating Robin Haase. Kukushkin has proven to be a more formidable competitor at the challenger level than at the ATP level, and Isner against either Paire or Kukushkin is still likely to be safe from defeat.

Lukas Rosol will be playing his first tournament of the US Open Series in Winston-Salem. The Czech will take on Ryan Harrison or JL Struff for his first match, and he is likely to go through to face either Pablo Andujar or Igor Sijsling/Andrey Golubev in the third round. Harrison is struggling and Struff isn’t a top hard court performer, meanwhile Sijsling, Golubev and Andujar are playing on hard courts for the first time in a while. Rosol over Andujar is my pick to reach the quarterfinals.

Cincy quarterfinalist Tommy Robredo, who upset Novak Djokovic in Cincy in a week that has to be the highlight of his 2014 season, will take on Blaz Kavcic or Nicolas Mahut, and unless he tanks he should be through to face Andreas Seppi/Martin Klizan/Federico Delbonis in round 3. With Seppi being primarily a clay courter who has not been in top form all season, Klizan has a chance to sneak into the third round or perhaps do even better than that, given his streaky talent. Seppi has a 2-0 h2h with Klizan and both players come off early losses in Cincy. Given this is not a difficult section, Robredo should extend his record of 5-2 in his last 7 matches to 7-2 in his last 9 matches and reach the quarterfinals.

Marcel Granollers could have trouble against Paul-Henri Mathieu/Robby Ginepri in his first match. The Spaniard is 3-1 against Mathieu but he has lost three straight matches. These three players are all unpredictable and fragile veterans and though Ginepri upset Dominic Thiem as I predicted he might in Cincy, he was crushed by Milos Raonic in the next round. Ginepri has a slight h2h edge over Mathieu though Mathieu won their last meeting in Indian Wells this year, and Ginepri also has a 2009 win over Granollers indoors, so I have Ginepri through to the third round in my own bracket as a bit of a surprise. I’d expect Ginepri to be sent home by Rendy Lu in the third round, though. Lu beat Berdych in Cincy and is 2-2 in his last four matches, a good mark for the Taiwanese ball striker who does his best on hard courts. Lu is likely to face Blaz Rola in his first match unless Rola falls to a qualifier. Rola was a lucky loser in Cincy and lost in the first round to eventual semifinalist Julien Benneteau in a nail-biting third set tiebreak. Also, David Goffin is in the qualifying draw and is one to watch out for if he qualifies and is placed in a section such as this.

Bottom Half:

A hugely anticipated third round clash could occur between Kevin Anderson and Steve Johnson. Anderson lost to Isner in Cincy and may still be mentally struggling while Johnson had good runs in both DC and Cincy, losing to Milos Raonic both times after wins over top names Isner and Ernests Gulbis. Anderson must defeat Adrian Mannarino/qualifier to reach round 3, and Johnson must defeat Pere Riba/Sam Querrey to do the same. I don’t see Querrey spoiling things and I favor Johnson reaching the quarterfinals over Anderson.

Garcia-Lopez, who has lost his last five, could very well have trouble with Dustin Brown in round 2, assuming the big serving German can defeat Alejandro Gonzalez. Brown hasn’t played on hard courts in a while and he is on a three match losing streak, while Gonzalez is a competent hard court competitor. That one is a hard match to call, but I have GGL falling to the winner simply because he’s a streaky player and right now his form is way down.

Donald Young (Photo: Chris Levy @Tennis_Shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Donald Young (Photo: Chris Levy @Tennis_Shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Donald Young has a great chance in this section, as his first match will be against Frank Dancevic/Thomaz Bellucci, neither of whom are likely to be a threat. Young, who played well in DC, and lost in the second round of Toronto, just beat Dancevic on home soil in Canada and I have him through to the quarterfinals against Johnson in an all-American battle.

Breakthrough veteran Leo Mayer will open with Jurgen Melzer, the defending champion, or a qualifier. Given he much prefers clay, even an out of form Melzer or the qualifier, should reach the third round. Melzer/qualifier could meet Jarkko Nieminen or Benjamin Becker/Pablo Carreno Busta at that stage. Becker, who made the second round in Cincy as a qualifier, has been in far superior form compared to any other player in this section but he has lost his four meetings with Nieminen, who is playing for the first time since Kitzbuhel. I see a qualifier/Melzer falling to Becker, who is the most likely quarterfinalist in this section once the dust settles.

Last but not least, Joao Sousa will take on the winner of Janowicz/Berlocq, and Janowicz is probably a small favorite to reach the third round. Sousa has been struggling for a while and is unlikely to capitalize on his seeding. Look for a Janowicz vs. Edouard-Roger-Vasselin or Aleksandr Nedovyesov/qualifier third round meeting. ERV is also struggling, having lost three straight, including a third set tiebreak loss to Fabio Fognini in Cincy. This is another section where a qualifier like Goffin could capitalize and make a deep run. As it stands, Janowicz is the most likely quarterfinalist.

Dark Horse: Jerzy Janowicz
The Pole has a favorable draw that should allow him to get past Berlocq, Sousa, and ERV/qualifier, then dispatch Becker in the quarterfinals to reach the semis. With his likely opponents Johnson/Young/Anderson, I’d have him, if he’s in form, favored in any of those semifinal matchups. I have JJ as a finalist this week and a potential champion.

Predictions
Semis:
Isner d. Lu
Janowicz d. Johnson

It’s hard to pick against Isner in W-S when the draw gives me no reason to do so. Rosol may resist, but I don’t think he has the game to win that matchup on an outdoor hard court. Likewise, Lu will probably be overpowered like he has been in all three previous meetings, including two this season, with the American number one. All of those matches took place on outdoor hard courts. As for how Lu got the semis, Robredo is formidable but he is likely to want to conserve his energy for the US Open. By the time he is slated to play Lu, he is unlikely to give the match all his passion.

I’m favoring Janowicz to make the final as previously stated, and Johnson should have a form edge over Young after defeating Anderson. Johnson is also a possible finalist though.

Final:
Isner d. Janowicz

They have never met before, but Isner’s higher ranking and home-cooking should make him the favorite to win a third W-S title and stay undefeated at the Wake Forest venue.

Chris De Waard’s Picks

Semis:
Isner d. Robredo
Johnson d. Roger-Vasselin

Final:
Isner d. Johnson

New Contributor and Clemson Tiger Alumni Jeff McMillan

Introducing New Contributor Jeff McMillan

Introducing New Contributor Jeff McMillan
The Editors, Tennis East Coast

Tennis East Coast is continuing to expand with the addition of a new writer focusing on men’s NCAA college tennis and the futures level of the game, Jeff McMillan. I met Jeff a few years ago at tennis camp and have kept in touch with him through social media. He is a consummate journalistic professional and an avid connoisseur of mens college tennis, along with a keen watcher of the ITF futures circuit, especially for those futures tournaments that take place here in the United States. Those skills will translate well to his new role here as a journalist with Tennis East Coast. Here is a bit about our new contributor.

New Contributor and Clemson Tiger Alumni Jeff McMillan

New Contributor and Clemson Tiger Alumni Jeff McMillan

-Graduated from Clemson University in May 2013 with a degree in sports management.
-Currently attending newly D1 program UIW (Incarnate Word) in San Antonio (resides in SA) for a masters degree in sports management. Expecting to graduate in May of 2015

Had been an avid tennis fan since playing on high school team starting freshman year in SC. Started to closely follow the game in all levels of play.

While at Clemson, played tennis at the club level and traveled with the team to tournaments in Virginia and Georgia among other states. Followed the varsity team closely, attending nearly every home match. Starting in junior year became the manager of the Clemson men’s tennis team. This job had the responsibility of making sure all the players had the proper equipment before matches and practices as well as setting up practice on a daily basis. Traveled with the team to nearly every ACC venue as well as several SEC venues and others where high quality college tennis was witnessed.  Also managed the team during senior year at Clemson.

Through experience with the manager position, became very familiar with many college tennis players, teams and coaches and began to understand the college game. Understanding the flow of the game and which courts were most important during the course of a dual match as well as being familiar with the quality of play.

Favorite sport is tennis at all levels. An avid fan of all sports though, also enjoying European soccer leagues, College football (huge Clemson fan, been going to all the home games from 1999-2013) and NBA basketball as the headliners.

Other interests include; watching and analyzing films, worldwide geographical and cultural studies, world history, photography and writing

Favorite ATP players include: Alexander Dolgopolov, Dustin Brown, Donald Young, Kei Nishikori, Somdev Devvarman and Steve Johnson, and support several players in the lower levels of the game, as well as any player who played college tennis and is making a go of it on the ATP tour.

​Favorite retired player is Paradorn Srichaphan”

Welcome aboard Jeff!-The Editors

Who Dey? @CincyTennis Far Better Fan & Family Experience Than @USOpen #CincyTennis

View From The Top

View From The Top


Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

(MASON, OHIO-August 16, 2014)

It’s a Candy Land for Tennis Fans.

Sitting directly across from King’s Island, made most famous to me by the Brady Bunch episode back in 1973, it’s an awesome childhood-induced feeling to look out on Center Court from the glass-enclosed, air-conditioned Media Center perched atop Center Court and catch a match.

I had no idea, simply no idea, the size of this tournament nor the size of the grounds nor the hordes of teeming fans who trek from Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and more distant places to attend this event every year.

It’s only fitting that the Cincinnati Masters is held with an amusement park in the background, because this is a theme park of all the best of tennis–from the ravenous autograph seekers to the unprecedented access those same fans have to the players. The practice courts are the envy of the nation, as die-hards get a front row view of the world’s top 10 as they warm up every day.

Don’t get me wrong: It still lacks the intimacy of the smaller tournaments on the tour. It will never be Newport or Washington, but it is clearly the Indian Wells of the East.

Sorry, Miami.

Maybe even better than Indian Wells itself, because of its immediate relevance to the US Open.

It is not without some problems, most notably the glaring traffic infrastructure failures. It is exceptionally well-attended and there is no such thing as mass transit here, so the only way in and out is by car or hotel shuttle.

There was a four mile backup on Interstate 71 when I drove in Tuesday morning, and it took over an hour to get two miles to a parking space. The Western & Southern Open’s impact on traffic is so pronounced that it actually creates a reverse-commute jam. When day-sessioneers leave the parking lots and head back toward Downtown at 6:00 p.m., it’s madness all the way there heading south, while the northbound lanes heading out of Downtown Cincinnati are relatively empty.

And another thing–people here drive safely. If you’re an I-95er like myself, that can be dangerous. Everyone from the East Coast should be diagnosed with some degree of road rage compared to Buckeye motorists. When Ohioans stop at a stop sign, they really stop. For like 10 seconds. No ‘California Roll’ here. Be advised.

I spoke with many fans this week who drove as many as 18 hours to attend this tournament and have no intention of attending the US Open. Two told me that the expense of traveling to and staying in New York was a big disappointment since they spent more time waiting in lines and looking for celebrities.

It makes sense. For me, the biggest draw of the US Open is its relative proximity to the rest of the Mid-Atlantic, about a 3 1/2 hour drive for me from Baltimore. It’s twice as far to the Western & Southern Open, but instead of the pushiest fans on the continent, everyone is well-behaved, the concessions are more reasonable, and there are a variety of non-frightening lodging choices nearby that deliver a big bang for the buck. Most importantly, there’s no Queens here. Instead of auto body shops, ‘dodgy’ motels and a creaky subway above, there’s a water park, golf courses and the Faux Eiffel Tower of King’s Island overhead.

The New York press grumbled about the lack of high-end dining options all week, as I’m told they always do, but there were more than enough choices, especially for folks who spend 16(!) hours each day at a tennis tournament.

The Food Court options were impressive, with several local restaurants and caterers serving up amazing dishes.

'But Where Will We Eat?', They Say

‘But Where Will We Eat?’, They Say

Speaking of amazing, one gauge of the lack of gouge at the concessions was the Skyline Chili booth–‘The Official Chili Of The Cincinnati Reds and the Western & Southern Open’. After Maria Sharapova dodgily pooh-poohed the ‘3way’ on Monday, I raced to a Skyline drive-through and got the Cincy-famous dish for $5.54.

At the Skyline Food Court location on tournament grounds, the same chili, spaghetti and cheddar cheese combo ran me $7.00. Impressively Populist. I love it.

Fan Protip: You can buy a can–a whole can–of used match Penn ATP/WTA tennis balls for $1. That’s right. $.33333 for each match-used ball with the Western & Southern logo stamped thereon. You have to keep asking every day, and it’s one can per person, per day.

Best fandom deal in pro tennis. Cash Only. Ask daily at the tournament’s information booths, because supplies are extremely limited.

And here’s a Fan Protip: If you’re buying upper-level tickets, try the 320s. From there, you can use the restrooms below which are adjacent to the interview rooms used by the players and media. A steady stream of players come and go from there for interviews. If you’re a ticket-holder in the 320s, you’re also entitled to ride the elevator up to your seat. That elevator is often packed with players early in the week. It’s also a gruelingly-slow ride, and it stops at the players lounge, the interview level and the upper deck, giving you plenty of time to chat with players in the elevator.

The list of positives grew even longer when I stopped in at the Great Wolf Lodge to visit my good buddy, @Tennis_Shots, who was the only single guy with no kids to ever check into this indoor water park and wizardry-themed fun fest filled with kids in PJs running with magic wands illuminating crystals all evening throughout the hotel.

That’s when I realized–this is way, way better a family vacation with high-caliber tennis than the US Open will ever be in a million years.

I know I was only here for five days, but this is a drastically better experience than Flushing Meadows for serious tennis fans and families. Let me put it this way. New York is a distraction and a pain when your only objective is to enjoy slam-style matches with your loved ones.

Even a seasoned New York tennis correspondent agreed with my premise off the record: If you want to visit New York, then visit New York. But for all the US Open tennis without the New York Hustle, visit the Western & Southern Open.

And that brings me to Arthur Ashe Kids Day. I don’t think he would even want his name associated with that event at this point because there’s no tennis involved with that particular off-day at the Open. No qualies or anything remotely resembling competitive pro tennis. Just a gaggle of on-court celebs who know very little about the sport. And I should know because I interviewed her on the hallowed Courts of Ashe for two seconds.

You can’t fake family, US Open. The attendees at the Western & Southern Open ARE FAMILY, and you can’t hold a candle to them.

Take notes, USTA. Next year, I think I’ll head out Route 70 and skip the hot mess that you so fancifully hype.

Alright, maybe I’ll go to USO qualies, but that is it. :)

(Disclaimer: The USTA owns 80% of the Western & Southern Open. The other 20% is Pure Magic.)

Xaiver Malisse Optima Open

Friday Report from 2014 @OptimaOpen @ChampionsTennis Tour in Knokke-Heist

Friday report from 2014 Optima Open ATP Champions Tour Tennis in Knokke-Heist, Belgium
Duncan Lau, Tennis East CoastoptimaopenlogoA rainy start of the day in Knokke-Heist as play did not get underway until 3.30 pm. The spectators either hung around centre court or enjoyed themselves in the public village where all kinds of activities were going on. Shopping at the Scapa Sports store, trying to serve as fast as Rusedski and Ivanisevic at the serving contest, getting financial advice at the Optima stand or simply enjoying the variety of food and drink options available.

A rainy morning in Knokke-Heist

A rainy morning in Knokke-Heist

First up was the match between Xavier Malisse and Pat Cash, two players from totally different generations. Powerful baseline shots vs serve and volley. Malisse could be considered the favourite beforehand after beating Goran Ivanisevic on Thursday and with the 15 year age gap in his favour as well. Already in the opening game Malisse showed what his intentions were for this match. He mishit a forehand on his first breakpoint and could not do anything about the second because of a great serve but he did use his third chance as Cash hit a backhand wide. In the second game Cash gots his chance to get the break back after a Malisse double fault but Malisse repaired the damage by hitting a good serve and eventually held. At 0-2 down Cash saves another breakpoint with a good volley and from that moment on we got to see a very interesting match with as expected the baseline dominance from Malisse and some really magnificent net reflexes from the 49 year old Australian. Malisse got his first setpoint at 5-3 on the Cash serve but a good volley from the 1987 Wimbledon champion made it deuce. Malisse had to serve it out himself to take the opener 6-4.

Xaiver Malisse Optima Open

Malisse Reaches the Optima Open final

Already in the opening game of the second set X-man get to breakpoint but a good serve and volley point from Cash saved him from dropping his serve right away like in the first set. At 2 games all Malisse went up 15-40 on the Cash serve, Cash hit a great stopvolley first but forehand passing from the Belgian proved to be too much for him. Serving to stay in the match at 3-5 Cash was in trouble again and with a good lob Malisse sealed the deal and won 6-4 6-3. With this win Malisse is the first player to qualify for Sunday’s final. In an on court interview he discussed how he enjoyed playing in front of a Belgian crowd as there are not many events in Belgium. It’s not as serious as the matches on the ATP Tour but  the combination of entertainment and competitive tennis made it very pleasant.

Pat Cash Optima Open 2014

Pat Cash was out-muscled by Malisse

 

The match was followed by the all French battle between Fabrice Santoro and Henri Leconte from group 1. This was a much anticipated match as both are very gifted players who both hit beautiful shots and can combine those with the entertainment that is such an important part of the ATP Champions tour. Both men began by hitting one beautiful shot after another. Santoro was the first to break as his lob at 15-40 in the third game is too good for Leconte. With Santoro leading 4-2 the match was suspended because of rain. In the last point before the delay Santoro joked around playing with an umbrella in his hand. When the players came back on Santoro got another breakpoint which Leconte saved with a big forehand winner. He saved another one with a good volley but the third is one too many as he netted a backhand which gave Santoro a 5-2 lead. Santoro served it out to 15 to take the opener 6-2.

Leconte enjoyed himself

Leconte enjoyed himself

 

Already in the opening game of the second set Santoro broke the Leconte serve again as Leconte missed a volley down 30-40. Even though both men want to win putting on a show for the crowd is very important to them both and as a result we see many trickshots and other unusual ones, we even see a young boy filling in for Leconte as he doesn’t know how to handle the tricky shots from his friend. All in all a very entertaining match with Santoro winning 6-2 6-4, which books the Frenchman a place in Sunday’s final vs Xavier Malisse.

Santoro with his umbrella

Santoro with his umbrella

 

Saturday’s order of play

2:30 P.M. Goran Ivanisevic vs Pat Cash

followed by
Greg Rusedski vs Henri Leconte
followed by
J.McEnroe/M.Seles vs M.Bahrami/K.Clijsters

Friday’s results
Xavier Malisse def. Pat Cash 6-4 6-3

Fabrice Santoro def. Henri Leconte 6-2 6-4

X.Malisse/D.Norman def. G.Rusedski/G.Ivanisevic 7-3

Djokovic Denied Cincinnati’s ‘Capodimonte Cup'; Everyone Else Soldiers On #RaisetheCup

Roger Federer

Nearly everyone expected to win did so today, except Novak Djokovic. It didn’t break his heart or at least he didn’t show it.

Novak Djokovic will apparently play with two rackets at the US Open in an effort to maintain his world #1 ranking. At least that’s what he told Tennis Panorama News’ Dave Gertler at the Western & Southern Open in Greater Cincinnati today after being defeated by Tommy Robredo. For Djokovic, he’s the first #1 seed since 2008 not to reach the quarters. The dodgy Cincinnati ‘Capodimonte Cup’ continues to elude him.

Cincinnati 'Capodimonte Cup'

Cincinnati Capodimonte Cup

Australian Open Champion Stan Wawrinka made quarterfinals at the Cincinnati Masters today with a 3 set win over Marin Cilic 3-6, 6-0, 6-1. His first serve has been off as of late and Stan only hit 27% of his first serves today. I asked him about that and he acknowledged the issue. Wawrinka will meet Julien Benneteau in the quarters tomorrow. The head to head between the pair favors the Frenchman 2-1.

Julien Benneateau had never beaten Jerzy Janowicz in ATP play until today, where he posted a 7-5, 6-1 win over the big Pole. Benneteau’s serve was on and he was patient with every point. He’ll need that serve when he faces Wawrinka for a chance to make the semis in Cincinnati, a feat he’s never reached before.

“I am not the favorite, but I’ll have my chances and just be ready to take it”, he told me, referring to tomorrow’s match with Wawrinka.

Fabio Fognini is the first Italian quarterfinalist at the Western & Southern Open since 1995. He doesn’t care who he plays in the quarterfinals tomorrow. He’s just thrilled to be here so deep in the tournament and peaking around the US Open.

Simona Halep is getting used to the attention of being a world #2 and she dosen’t care if she plays on Center Court or not. This is her 2nd post-match press conference after acceding to her new post. She also answered an interesting question about being #1 whether or not you win a slam.

Finally, Evina Svitolina beat Carla Suarez Navarro to advance to her first Premier-level quarterfinals today, getting revenge for Suarez Navarro’s win over her earlier this year in Linz. Svitolina’s next opponent is Ana Ivanovic. She spoke me with me after the match and discussed the improvements in her mental game. The 19-year-old is the first teen quarterfinalist here since Pavs did it in 2010.

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 15, 2014
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
ATP – [3] Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) vs. Julien Benneteau (France)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – [1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [8] Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)
Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [16] Tommy Robredo (Spain) vs. [6] David Ferrer (Spain)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [8] Andy Murray (Great Britain) vs. [2] Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – [9] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) vs. Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
ATP – Vasek Pospisil (Canada) / Jack Sock (USA) vs. [2] Alexander Peya (Austria) / Bruno Soares (Brazil)
Not before 1:00 pm
ATP – [5] Milos Raonic (Canada) vs. [15] Fabio Fognini (Italy)
Not before 3:00 pm
WTA – [4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs. [12] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
Not before 7:00 pm
WTA – [5] Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs. [2] Simona Halep (Romania)
WTA – [8] Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia)/Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain)/Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan)

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
WTA – Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) / Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic) vs. Garbine Muguruza (Spain) / Carla Suárez Navarro (Spain)
Not before 1:30 pm
ATP – After Suitable Rest – [6] Julien Benneteau (France) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) vs. [3] Daniel Nestor (Canada) / Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia)
WTA – [7] Raquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) / Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic)
ATP – Robert Lindstedt (Sweden) / Marcin Matkowski (Poland) vs. [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA)
ATP – [1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Jean-Julien Rojer (Netherlands) / Horia Tecau (Romania)

Results – Thursday, August 14, 2014
Men’s Singles – Round of 16
[16] Tommy Robredo (Spain) d [1] Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 76(6) 75
[2] Roger Federer (Switzerland) d Gael Monfils (France) 64 46 63
[3] Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) d [14] Marin Cilic (Croatia) 36 60 61
[5] Milos Raonic (Canada) d [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) 67(7) 63 76(4)
[6] David Ferrer (Spain) d Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) 75 60
[8] Andy Murray (Great Britain) d [11] John Isner (USA) 67(3) 64 76(2)
[15] Fabio Fognini (Italy) d Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Taipei) 36 63 63
Julien Benneteau (France) d Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) 75 61

Men’s Doubles – Second Round
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) d Eric Butorac (USA) / Raven Klaasen (South Africa) 61 64
[2] Alexander Peya (Austria) / Bruno Soares (Brazil) d Marin Cilic (Croatia) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) 76(3) 76(6)
[WC] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) d [8] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 76(4) 64

Women’s Singles – Round of 16
[1] Serena Williams (USA) d [13] Flavia Pennetta (Italy) 62 62
[2] Simona Halep (Romania) d [16] Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 64 75
[4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) d Sabine Lisicki (Germany) 61 61
[5] Maria Sharapova (RUS) d Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 64 76(2)
[8] Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) d Sloane Stephens (USA) 76(4) 64
[9] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 62 26 63
[12] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d [6] Angelique Kerber (Germany) 75 62
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) d [15] Carla Suárez Navarro (Spain) 46 64 64

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
Timea Babos (Hungary) / Kristina Mladenkovic (France) d [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) 26 61 10-8

Women’s Doubles – Second Round
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) / Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) d [2] Su-Wei Hsieh (Chinese Taipei) / Shuai Peng (China) 36 75 10-5
Garbine Muguruza (Spain) / Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) d [5] Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) / Elena Vesnina (Russia) 76(1) 16 12-10
[7] Racquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abigail Spears (USA) d [WC] Melanie Oudin (USA) / Taylor Townsend (USA) 63 61
[8] Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) / Anastasia Rodionova (Russia) d Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) / Arantxa Parra Santonja (Spain) 63 62
Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain) / Yaroslave Shvedova (Kazakhstan) d Cara Black (Zimbabwe) / Sania Mirza (India) 63 63

—Stephan Fogleman from Cincinnati

Thursday Report from 2014 @OptimaOpen @ChampionsTennis Tour in Knokke-Heist

Thursday report from 2014 Optima Open ATP Champions Tour Tennis in Knokke-Heist, Belgium
Duncan Lau, Tennis East Coast

optimaopenlogo

A bright and sunny day with light wind were the weather conditions on the opening day of the Optima Open in Knokke-Heist, Belgium. Lots of people came to watch the stars from the past and there was a very relaxed atmosphere at the Royal Zoute Tennis Club among the spectators and among the players, who were walking around the grounds and signing autographs to anyone who asked.

Recapping Thursday action in Knokke-Heist

Recapping Thursday action in Knokke-Heist

Play kicked off at 2:30 P.M. local time with a match from group 2 between defending champion Goran Ivanisevic and Belgium’s Xavier Malisse. The two players, who had met twice before on the ATP Tour, were playing their first match at the ATP Champions Tour.

Ivanisevic was the first to break serve when he took advantage of his second breakpoint opportunity with a great down-the-line forehand to go ahead 2-1. A sloppy next game got Malisse back into the match as he used his third breakpoint chance to level at two games all. Serving at 2-3 down, Ivanisevic got into trouble again but saved the breakpoint with a good serve. He couldn’t prevent Malisse from breaking his next service game, though, as he hit an forehand error on Malisse’s second chance in that game. The X-man got 5-3 ahead and served out the set with an ace to take the opener 6-3.

In the second set, it was again Ivanisevic with the first chances to break but Malisse served his way out of trouble to make it one all. Malisse did use his chance in the next game as the Croatian hit a volley long to go 2-1 up. More trouble for Ivanisevic in the seventh game as he’d faced another breakpoint but he saved it with some good net play and held on to make it 3-4. Ivanisevic got his chance to get back in the second set in the next game but some solid serving from the Belgian bailed him out of trouble. Serving to stay in the match at 3-5 he faced a matchpoint. The one at 30-40 he managed to ace away but two points later Malisse had sealed the deal. Ivanisevic joked in the on court interview that his opponent was way too young at only 34 years of age and only nine months off the regular tour, but he had enjoyed the match anyway. He also said he was looking forward to playing “grandfather” Pat Cash next. Malisse said he got off to a good start and he hopes to make unday’s final.

 The second match of the day was the exhibition match between Pat Cash/Dominique Monami vs Mansour Bahrami/Sabine Appelmans. The two Belgian ladies, also the on court speakers and hosts at the Optima Open, could show the crowd that they could still hit a decent ball as the crowd got treated to a match with breathtaking rallies and lots of nice angled volleys and other trickshots, but what else is to be expected when you’ve got Mansour Bahrami on court ?, Cash/Monami won the match 8-5 (proset). Many people are already eagerly anticipating the next doubles exhibition featuring the Iranian ball magician Bahrami.

Another ball magician came on court straight afterwards as Frenchman Fabrice Santoro took on Greg Rusedski from Great Britain in a match from group one. It was a clash between two totally different players, the serve & volleying and the chip & charging from Rusedski versus the slicing and dicing from Santoro. Already from the first point both players stuck to their strategies and we got very interesting rallies right away. Santoro was the first to get an inside look on his opponents service game at 3-2 when he got it to 15-40. Rusedski saved them with some good net play and with a good serve and even survives a third breakpoint to level at three games all. Santoro earned another chance in Rusedski’s next service game and this time he managed to break as Rusedski netted a volley when 30-40 down. Santoro served it out to take the opening set 6-3.

Santoro serves up a victory on the Champions Tour

Santoro serves up a victory on the Champions Tour

Rusedski went ahead 15-40 on the Santoro serve in the second game of the second set but Santoro saved both, the first one with a lob which Rusedski couldn’t handle and the second with a good serve and hold for one all. Rudenski got a chance himself in the next game and with a great passing shot went 2-1 up. In the seventh game Santoro got more break opportunities and with a typical Santoro down the line slice shot he broke again for 5-2. A couple of minutes later Santoro acceptsed the congratulations from his good friend as he won 6-3 6-2. He has a strong chance of reaching the final, but his countryman Henri Leconte will probably have other ideas about that. They will play against eachother in the final match on Friday.

 Friday’s order of play at the Optima Open in Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Thursdays Results and the Friday OOP

Thursdays Results and the Friday OOP

2:30 P.M. (local time) Xavier Malisse vs Pat Cash

followed by
Greg Rusedski/Dick Norman vs Mansour Bahrami/Goran Ivanisevic

followed by
Fabrice Santoro vs Henri Leconte

 

 

Kvitova, Berdych, Dimitrov, Bouchard Fall in Record Crowd @CincyTennis; Thursday Schedule

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Jerzy Janowicz hasn’t had a great summer. Last year’s ATP phenom has played middling tennis in 2014, including first round losses in Bastad and Toronto. After dropping out of the top 50 after Wimbledon, Janowicz has won two straight here in Cincinnati. He’s on to the third round for the first time in a while and the first time at Western & Southern Open. Janowicz lost in the first round here and in Flushing Meadows last year, so this one had to mean a lot. Janowicz hit 12 aces on his way to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over world #8 Grigor Dimitrov in 1:47. I say it had to mean a lot because not me nor anyone in the media requested an interview with him after the match. I had assumed someone else had. Next time.

Genie Bouchard has also had a bummer summer after her first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. She continued her Summer of Discontent with a 3 set loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova. Bouchard turned the tables on the press afterwards, who tried to remind her that she hasn’t been at the top of her form immediately preceding other Slams in which she’s seen success.

It was good to see her stick up for herself.

“[S]ometimes you guys ask me the questions and then you sound kind of more negative than I feel. I’m like, well, okay”, she responded.

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Fernando Verdasco went for career win #400 today against 14 seed Marin Cilic, but couldn’t give the Cincy fans an “I was there” moment for them, edged out 7-6(6), 7-6(5). 400 wins is a feat that only 11 other ATP players have pulled off and it will arrive soon enough, just not in Mason.

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisNow.com

Petra Kvitova, Grigor Dimitrov and Thomas Berdych were all eliminated early in today’s first session. Kvitova was a straight sets victim of Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-6(2). Svitolina will face Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round.

Dimitrov was upended by Jerzy Janowicz as mentioned above and gets Julien Benneteau in the 3rd round.

Thomas Berdych fell to Yen-Hsun Lu. Lu came back big after dropping the first set and took out the 4 seed, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Instead of Berdych, Fabio Fognini will play Lu next. One of them will advance to the quarterfinals. I very briefly spoke with Fognini before he hit the shower today.

Serena Williams prevailed in a two set tiebreaker nail-biter, 7-6(7), 7-6(7) over Sam Stosur, who must be wondering what more she could possibly have done to beat the world #1.

A massive win for Steve Johnson over Ernests Gulbis today. The next time he hits the court, Stevie will attempt to become the first qualifying quarterfinalist in 7 years at this event.

And let’s not Roger Federer. Naturally, the 5-time Cincy champion advanced.

And everyone was there to see it, as the tournament announced ‘the Wednesday day session drew a single-session record of 14,336, surpassing the mark of 13,704 that was set at this same session in 2013. Today’s total attendance combing both sessions was 25,686, surpassing the mark of 25,155 that was set on this same day in 2013′.

This is an amazing and not-so-secret event.

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2014
CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
ATP – [3] Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) vs [14] Marin Cilic (Croatia)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – [1] Serena Williams (USA) vs [13] Flavia Pennetta (Italy)
Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] Novak Djokovic (Serbia) vs [16] Tommy Robredo (Spain)
Night Session – Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – Gael Monfils (France) vs [2] Roger Federer (Switzerland)
Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – [12] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) vs [6] Angelique Kerber (Germany)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
ATP – Julien Benneteau (France) vs Jerzy Janowicz (Poland)
ATP – [8] Andy Murray (Great Britain) vs [11] John Isner (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – [5] Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs Sabine Lisicki (Germany)
[1] Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA) vs Eric Butorac (USA) / Raven Klaasen (South Africa)

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
WTA – [16] Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) vs [2] Simona Halep (Romania)
ATP – [15] Fabio Fognini (Italy) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (Chinese Taipei)
Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [5] Milos Raonic (Canada) vs [WC] Steve Johnson (USA)
WTA – Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) vs [9] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) vs [6] David Ferrer (Spain)

COURT 9 start 1:00 pm
WTA – [15] Carla Suárez Navarro (Spain) vs Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – Sloane Stephens (USA) vs [8] Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
WTA – Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain) / Yaroslave Shvedova (Kazakhstan) vs Cara Black (Zimbabwe) / Sania Mirza (India)
WTA – [8] Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) / Anastasia Rodionova (Russia) vs Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) / Arantza Parra Santonja (Spain)
WTA – [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Timea Babos (Hungary) / Kristina Mladenkovic (France)
[7] Racquel Kops-Jones (USA) / Abagail Spears (USA) vs [WC] Melanie Oudin (USA) / Taylor Townsend (USA)
WTA after suitable rest – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) / Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) vs [2] Su-Wei Hsieh (Chinese Taipei) / Shuai Peng (China)

Court 6 start not before 1:30 pm
ATP after suitable rest – Marin Cilic (Croatia) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) vs [2] Alexander Peya (Austria) / Bruno Soares (Brazil)
WTA after suitable rest – Garbine Muguruza (Spain) / Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) vs [5] Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) / Elena Vesnina (Russia)
ATP after suitable rest – [WC] Steve Johnson (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) vs [8] David Marrero (Spain) / Fernando Verdasco (Spain)

Results – Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Men’s Singles – Second Round
[2] Roger Federer (Switzerland) d Vasek Pospisil (Canada) 76 (4) 57 62
Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei) d [4] Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) 36 63 64
[5] Milos Raonic (Canada) d [WC] Robby Ginepri (USA) 62 62
[6] David Ferrer (Spain) d Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 67 (4) 76 (4) 76 (4)
Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) d [7] Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) 64 36 63
[8] Andy Murray (Great Britain) d Joao Sousa (Portugal) 63 63
[WC] Steve Johnson (USA) d [9] Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) 64 64
[11] John Isner (USA) d [Q] Marinko Matosevic 63 76 (1)
[14] Marin Cilic (Crotia) d Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 76 (6) 76 (5)
Gael Monfils (France) d [13] Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain) 64 61
[15] Fabio Fognini (Italy) d Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 61 64
[16] Tommy Robredo (Spain) d [Q] Sam Querrey (USA) 62 64
Mikahil Youzhny (Russia) d Andreas Seppi (Italy) 63 64
Julien Benneteau (France) d [Q] James Ward (Great Britain) 62 62

Men’s Doubles – Second Round
[3] Daniel Nestor (Canada) / Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) d Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) / Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 62 63
Robert Lindstedt (Sweden) / Marcin Matkowski (Poland) d [4] Ivan Dodig (Croatia) / Marcelo Melo (Brazil) 62 64
Vasek Pospisil (Canada) / Jack Sock (USA) d [5] Leander Paes (India) / Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) 61 46 10-8
[6] Julien Benneteau (France) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) d Juan Sebastian Cabal (Colombia) / Tommy Robredo (Spain) 16 64 10-7
Jean-Julien Rojer (Russia) / Horia Tecau (Romania) d [7] Marcel Granollers (Spain) / Marc Lopez (Spain) 75 76 (5)

Men’s Doubles – First Round
Eric Butorac (USA) / Raven Klaasn (South Africa) d Feliciano Lopez (Spain) / Jurgen Melzer (Austria) 46 36

Women’s Singles – Second Round
[1] Serena Williams (USA) d Samantha Stosur (Australia) 76 (7) 76 (7)
Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) d [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 62 76 (2)
[4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) d Kurumi Nara (Japan) 62 62
[6] Angelique Kerber (Germany) d Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 64 61
Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) d Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) 64 36 62
[8] Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) d [Q] Annika Beck 61 76 (0)
[9] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) d [WC] Christina McHale (USA) 64 60
[13] Flavia Pennetta (Italy) d [Q] Taylor Townsend (USA) 64 63
Sabine Lisicki (Germany) d [14] Sara Errani (Italy) 64 26 76 (2)
[15] Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) d [Q] Pauline Parmentier (France) 63 75
[16] Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) d [Q] Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) 64 62
Sloane Stephens (USA) d Barbora Zahlavova (Czech Republic) 75 61
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) d [Q] Karin Knapp (Italy) 61 63

Women’s Doubles – Second Round
[1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) Daniela Hantuchova (Croatia) / Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 63 75
Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) / Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic) d [3] Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) / Katarina Srebotnik (Croatia) 64 06 10-6
Timea Babos (Hungary) / Kristina Mladenovic (France) d Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (Poland) / Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) 66 Ret.

Women’s Doubles – Second Round
[5] Ekaterina Makarove (Russia) / Elena Vesnina (Russia) d Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) / Alicja Rosolska (Poland) 61 61
Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain) / Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) d Andrea Petkovic (Germany) / Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 64 64
Marina Erakovic (Australia) / Arantxa Parra Santonja (Spain) d Oksana Kalashnikova (Georgia) / Olga Savchuk (Ukraine) 16 64 11-9

Preview of 2014 @OptimaOpen @ChampionsTennis in Knokke-Heist, Belgium

Preview of 2014 @OptimaOpen @ChampionsTennis in Knokke-Heist, Belgium
Duncan Lau, Tennis East Coast

optimaopenlogo

The champions will return to the Royal Zoute Tennis Club in Knokke-Heist for the next stop on the ATP Champions Tour from August 14 until August 17.

OPTIMA OPEN 2013

This year’s line up in singles consists of 2010 Runner-up Pat Cash, Greg Rusedski, Xavier Malisse, Fabrice Santoro, Henri Leconte and defending champion Goran Ivanisevic.

The players will be drawn into two groups of three players each with the group winners playing each other on Sunday.

To be eligible to play on the ATP Champions Tour, players must have been either a World No. 1 singles player during their competitive playing careers, a Grand Slam singles finalist or a singles player on a victorious Davis Cup team. Each tournament can give two wild cards to players who don’t meet this criteria.

OPTIMA OPEN 2013

Doubles Exhibitions

There will be a doubles exhibition match every day and besides some of the players who play in the singles event, we’ll get to see some former world number ones like Kim Clijsters, Monica Seles and John McEnroe in action. Master entertainer Mansour Bahrami will be there in every single one of these exhibition matches so the crowd will have plenty of good laughs and will also see plenty of trick shots in between the action.

The Players:

Henri Leconte Prepares Smoothies at Optima Open

Henri Leconte Prepares Smoothies at Optima Open

Henri Leconte, France, 1963

The frenchman enjoyed a successful career which saw him rise to a career high of # 5 on the ATP rankings in the fall of 1986. Leconte’s best result in a Grand Slam tournament came in 1988 when he made the final of his home Slam in Paris, losing the final to Sweden’s Mats Wilander. He made semis in Paris in 1986 and 1992 as well. On the grass courts at Wimbledon, he made the semis in 1986 and quarters in 1985 and 1987.  A quarterfinal at the US Open in 1986 was his best result in New York.

Alongside countryman Yannick Noah, he also won the 1984 French Open in doubles and they were runners-up a year later at the US Open. In 1991, Leconte played a huge part in France’s Davis Cup final win over the United States, beating Pete Sampras on the opening day to level the tie at 1-1 and partnering with Guy Forget to a surprise win over Flach/Seguso .

Pat Cash, Australia, 1965

Cash was Australia’s most succesful player in the 1980s, winning the Wimbledon title in 1987, making back to back Australian Open finals in 1987 and 1988 and reaching the 1984 US Open semifinals. He also led his country to Davis Cup wins in 1983 and 1986, winning the decisive point in both finals in both home ties against Sweden. He reached a career-high ranking of # 4 in 1988.  He also made the Wimbledon doubles finals in 1984 and 1985, but lost in both attempts. Most importantly, he was a runner-up here in Knokke-Heist in 2010.

Goran Ivanisevic, Croatia, 1971

Ivanisevic booked his best results on the grass courts at Wimbledon where he finished runner-up in 1992, 1994 and 1998 before finally winning there in 2001 as a wild card entry. Ranked 125 at the time of the tournament, no one expected him to do well but he proved everyone wrong, beating crowd favorite Henman in the semis and defeating Rafter in a classic final in five sets. He also made the semifinals at the US Open in 1996 and made quarterfinals at both the Australian (89/94/97) and French Open (90/92/94). In doubles, he played in the Roland Garros finals in 1990 and 1999. Ivanisevic was a semifinalist at the year end Masters in 1992,1993 and 1996. He seems to enjoys playing in Knokke-Heist, as he’s won titles here in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and is still to lose a match in the Belgian seaside resort. He acheived a career-high ranking of # 2.

Fabrice Santoro, France, 1972

Santoro is a French ball magician who started his career in the late 80’s and finished it in 2010. He made the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2006 and enjoyed great success in doubles, winning the Australian Open in 2003/2004, making the French Open final in 2004 and the Wimbledon final in 2006. Santoro reached a career high in singles in the summer of 2001 at # 17. He’s also a member of the winning Davis Cup team in 2001, when he won the doubles match against Australia. It is Santoro who replaces John McEnroe in Knokke-Heist.

Greg Rusedski, Great Britain, 1973

Rusedski is a Canadian-born player who started playing for Great Britain in 1995. He made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1997 and a few months later booked his best ever result at a slam at the US Open, where he finished runner up to Patrick Rafter. He reached a career high of # 4 in the fall of 1997.

Xavier Malisse, Belgium, 1980

Malisse is the best Belgian player of all time who finished his career at the end of the 2013 season. He was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2002 and won the French Open doubles title with countryman Olivier Rochus in 2004. The “X-Man” received a wild card to play in front of his own home crowd.

Vika Withdraws, Tsonga Crawls, Ginepri Makes Case for USO Wild Card on Tuesday @CincyTennis

Tuesday was a watershed day for this Big Top Tournament in L’il Mason. I say ‘watershed’, because that’s when the humidity started to drop out of the region as the action at the Western & Southern Open heats up.

Robby Ginepri Wins at Cincinnati

Robby Ginepri Wins at Cincinnati

First, the bad news: Defending champ Vika Azarenka withdrew, citing a right knee injury. Oddly, when the announcement came over the PA system late this morning, the fans didn’t seem to feel cheated or even worried at all. There are just too many players and too many matches going on here to let that get anyone down.

Lucky Loser Mona Barthel, who took Azarenka’s place, quickly dropped the first part of the title and was a Loser to Barbara Zahlavova Stryckova, 7-5 6-0.

On the men’s side, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the big bummer du jour. The Toronto champion was heavily fatigued in a meltdown of an effort from the Frenchman, falling 6-1, 6-4 to Mikhail Youzhny.

Notable Men’s Winners included James Ward, Steve Johnson, Ernests Gulbis, Novak Djokovic…

Stan Wawrinka:

Stan Wawrinka almost got away from me at the Western & Southern Open after the French press hogged him for five minutes. The world #4 talks to me momentarily about his win over Benjamin Becker and looks forward to the US Open.

Andreas Seppi:

Andreas Seppi scored a comeback win over Santiago Giraldo in Mason today. After giving away the first set with 4 double faults, he settled down to win 6-4, 2-6, 7-5. He was pretty excited today when I spoke to him after the match, especially since he’s never done well here in Cincinnati. He faces Youzhny tomorrow instead of the expected Tsonga, due to Youzhny’s win over the Toronto champ today.

Robby Ginepri:

American veteran Robby Ginepri is a Wild Card Bubble Boy. He needs all the wins he can get these days as he basically auditions for a Wild Card to the US Open. He got one today over upstart Dominic Thiem to pad the WC resume. Ginepri gets Milos Raonic tomorrow, should he want to find himself over-qualified for the wild card.

and Vasek Pospisil.

After a first round three set win over Radek Stepanek in Cincinnati today, Pospisil was relieved to get through as he continues a very successful summer tour in the US Open Series. He particularly enjoyed having the crowd behind him throughout the match and said he “fed off” them to get through.

Which brings me to my in-post gripe of the day. I notice that every time publicists from the USTA ask Vasek Pospisil anything, it’s about how Jack Sock really fires him up to play better. It’s always about doubles, Sock, doubles. And how awesome is it to play with our player. Forget that Pospisil was the DC finalist ten days ago. Big American Tennis wants him forever known as part of a highly marketable duo down here South of the Border. I should just print up ‘US: Hands Off Vasek Pospisil’ stickers. But he is a good player and friendly guy, so I can see why any country would want to plant their flag on Vashy.

Pospisil will play Roger Federer tomorrow, and I’m thinking this will be much more competitive match than anyone imagined three months ago.

Pospisil Cincinnati

Pospisil Cincinnati

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2014
CENTER COURT
Starting at 11:00 am
ATP – [8] Andy Murray (Great Britain) vs. Joao Sousa (Portugal)
Not before 1:00 pm
WTA – [1] Serena Williams (USA) vs. Samantha Stosur (Australia)
ATP – [2] Roger Federer (Switzerland) vs. Vasek Pospisil (Canada)
Not before 7:00 pm
WTA – [7] Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) vs Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia)
Not before 8:30 pm
ATP – Gael Monfils (France) vs. [13] Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
WTA – [3] Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
ATP – [11] John Isner (USA) vs [Q] Marinko Matosevic (Australia)
Not before 3:00 pm
WTA – [4] Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) vs Kurumi Nara (Japan)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [5] Milos Raonic (Canada) vs. [Q] Robby Ginepri (USA)
ATP – [4] Ivan Dodig (Croatia) / Marcelo Melo (Brazil) vs. Robert Lindstedt (Sweden) / Marcin Matkowski (Poland)

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
ATP – [7] Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) vs Jerzy Janowicz (Poland)
ATP – [WC] Sam Querry (USA) vs [16] Tommy Robredo (Spain)
ATP – [15] Fabio Fognini (Italy) vs. Lleyton Hewitt (Australia)
WTA – [Q] Taylor Townsend (USA) vs [13] Flavia Pennetta (Italy)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [9] Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) vs [WC] Christina McHale (USA)

COURT 9 start 11:00 am
ATP – [4] Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei)
Not Before 1:30pm
WTA – Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) vs Sloane Stephens (USA)
ATP – [6] David Ferrer (Spain) vs Phillipp Kohlschreiber (Germany)
ATP [9] Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) vs [WC] Steve Johnson (USA)
WTA – [8] Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) vs [Q] Annika Beck (Germany)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
WTA – [6] Angelique Kerber (Germany) vs Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)
WTA – [14] Sara Errani (Italy) vs Sabine Lisicki (Germany)
ATP – [14] Marin Cilic (Croatia) vs Fernando Verdasco (Spain)
WTA-(after suitable rest) [1] Sara Errani (Italy) / Roberta Vinci (Italy) vs Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) / Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic)
WTA – [3] Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic)/Katarina Srebotnik (Slovakia) vs Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) / Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic)

COURT 6 start 11:00 am
ATP – Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) vs Andreas Seppi (Italy)
WTA – [15] Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) vs [Q] Pauline Parmentier (France)
WTA – [16] Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) vs [Q] Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan)
WTA – Klaudia Jan-Ignacik (Poland) / Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) vs [6] Timea Babos (Hungary) / Kristina Mladenovic (France)

COURT 7 start 11:00 am
ATP – Feliciano Lopez (Spain)/Jurgen Melzer (Austria) vs Eric Butorac (USA) / Raven Klassen (Russia)
ATP – Julien Benneteau (France) vs [Q] James Ward (Great Britain)
WTA- (after suitable rest) Gabriela Dabrowski (Canada) / Alicja Rosolska (Poland) vs [5] Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) / Elena Vesnina (Russia)
Not Before 3:00pm
WTA (after suitable rest) – Samantha Stosur (Australia) / Shuai Zhang (China) vs Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) / Arantxa Parra Santonja (Spain)
ATP – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) / Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) vs [3] Daniel Nestor (Canada)/Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia)

COURT 10 start 11:00 am
ATP – Jean-Julien Rojer (Netherlands) / Horia Tecau (Romania) vs [7] Marcel Granollers (Spain) / Marc Lopez (Spain)
Not Before 12:30pm
WTA – [Q] Karin Knapp (Italy) vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia)
WTA – Anabel Medina Garrigues (Spain) / Yaroslava Shvedova (Kahzakhstan) vs Andrea Petkovic (Germany) / Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia)
ATP – [6] Julien Benneteau (France) / Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) vs Juan Sebastian Cabal (Colombia) / Tommy Robredo (Spain)
ATP (after suitable rest) – [5] Leander Paes (India)/Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) vs Vasek Pospisil (Canada)/ Jack Sock (USA)

Results – Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Men’s Singles – First Round
[9] Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) d Ivan Dodig (Croatia) 76(8) 76(4)
Mikhail Youzhny (Russia) d [12] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 61 64
[13] Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain) d Martin Klizan (Slovakia) 62 46 75
[14] Marin Cilic (Croatia) d Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 63 64
Vasek Pospisil (Canada) d Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) 75 61 76(4)
Andreas Seppi (Italy) d Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 46 62 75
[WC] Robby Ginepri (USA) d Dominic Thiem (Austria) 63 57 75
[WC] Steve Johnson (USA) d [Q] Benoit Paire (France) 64 61
[Q] James Ward (Great Britain) d Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) 62 36 61
Julien Benneteau (France) d [LL] Blaz Rola (Slovenia) 76(7) 63 76(7)

Men’s Singles – Second Round
[1] Novak Djokovic (Serbia) d Gilles Simon (France) 64 46 64
[3] Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) d [Q] Benjamin Becker (Germany) 63 76(5)

Men’s Doubles – First Round
Juan Sebastian Cabal (Colombia) / Tommy Robredo (Spain) d Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) / Gael Monfils (France) 57 63 10-3
Vasek Pospisil (Canada) / Jack Sock (USA) d Rohan Bopanna (India) / Aisam-Ul-Haq-Qureshi (Pakistan) 75 62
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spain) / Santiago Giraldo (Romania) d Fabio Fognin (Italy) / Mariusz Fyrstenberg (Poland) 36 64 10-3
Marin Cilic (Croatia) / Santiago Gonzalez (Mexico) d Treat Huey (Czech Republic) / Dominic Inglot (Great Britain) 63 36 10-5
Robert Lindstedt (Sweden) / Marcin Matkowski (Poland) d [Alt.] Jamie Murray (Great Britain) / John Peers (Australlia) 57 63 10-3

Women’s Singles – First Round
[14] Sara Errani (Italy) d [Q] Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 75 36 76(2)
[15] Carla Suarez Navarro (Spain) d Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria) 63 16 62
[16] Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) d Venus Williams (USA) 67(2) 63 64
Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) d Camila Giorgi (Italy) 64 67(4) 63
Sloane Stephens (USA) d Andrea Petkovic (Germany) 63 63
Kurumi Nara (Japan) d Romina Oprandi (Switzerland) 60 62
Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) d Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 62 62
Sabine Lisicki (Germany) d Roberta Vinci (Italy) 63 26 62
[WC] Christina McHale (USA) d [Q] Nicole Gibbs (USA) 46 63 61
[Q] Zarina Diyas (Kazakhstan) d [Q] Irina-Camelia Begu (Romania) 76(4) 76(5)
[Q] Annika Beck (Germany) d Garbine Muguruza (Spain) 63 26 63
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) d [L] Mona Barthel (Germany) 75 60

Women’s Singles – Second Round
[2] Simona Halep (Romania) d Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 64 62
[5] Maria Sharapova (Russia) d Madison Keys (USA) 61 36 63
[12] Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) d Shuai Zhang (China) 62 63

Women’s Doubles – First Round
[6] Timea Babos (Hungary) / Kristina Mladenovic (Russia) d Julia Goerges (Germany) / Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Germany) 62 63
[8] Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) / Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) d Hao-Ching (Chinese Tapei) / Yung-Jan Chan (Chinese Tapei) 64 64
[WC] Melanie Oudin (USA)/ Taylor Townsend (USA) d Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) / Klara Koukalova (Czech Republic) 06 60 11-9
Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) / Andrea Hlavackova (Czech Republic) d Casey Dellacqua (Australia) / Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Croatia) 36 61 10-3
Martina Hingis (Switzerland) / Flavia Pennetta (Italy) d Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) / Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) 76(8) 16 10-6