Sanity Finally Prevails @WSOpen R16 #WSOpen

Sanity Finally Prevails @WSOpen R16 #WSOpen
Eric Logan, Tennis East Coast

Groth=147 mph serve

Groth=147 mph serve

The seeds met in the R16 today at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina. The day produced some great drama, a wide variety of quality, and in the end, the majority of favored players advanced.

Action began on center court (and only center court, given the small number of matches on courts two and three) with twelfth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin considered the underdog against Jerzy Janowicz despite his higher rank. Fresh off a controversial win over Joao Sousa, the Pole came back from a set down to win in a rather messy three set-match. The quality of tennis was low, but there was great drama at the end as Janowicz faced break point from 40-0 up serving for the match before serving out a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win.

Janowicz’s victory was followed by what would be considered the match of the day by most present, where fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez faced eleventh seeded American Donald Young. A tight first set was decided in a tiebreak in which, after a great effort earlier in the set to save a number of set points, the Spaniard crumbled at 4-5 in the tiebreak, losing both service points. Garcia-Lopez rebounded by breaking twice in the second set by prevailing in numerous beautiful rallies.

In the third, Garcia-Lopez captured the break and looked poised to win when he held two match points serving at 5-4. Young brought the crowd to its feet, however, by saving them with a return winner and a smash off a smash before Garcia-Lopez broke himself on a double fault. After drawing the set to a tiebreak, Young then held two match points at 6-4. Garcia-Lopez saved the first with a forehand winner before Young threw the second away with a double fault of his own. Garcia-Lopez then hit another of his countless forehand winners to set up a third match point on his serve, which he took at last.

The third match on Center court was another low-quality affair, where Sam Querrey dispatched an out-of-sorts Kevin Anderson in a match defined by countless Anderson unforced errors by a score of 7-6(4) 6-4. This match brought an end to the day session on center court, and left the tournament without three of its top four seeds after Robredo and Mayer’s losses in the previous round.

On the outer courts, eight players attempted to punch their tickets into the quarterfinals. Marcel Granollers arrived late to his match against Yen-Hsun Lu and looked thoroughly unprepared to play tennis. The eighth seed fell to the ninth 6-1 6-2 in a match in which he sliced the vast majority of groundstrokes, was kept on the defense constantly, and won only two return points in the second set.

David Goffin continued his win streak with a 6-4 4-6 6-4 score against an unexpectedly game Jarkko Nieminen. Nieminen has been in very poor form in contrast to Goffin’s 24 (now 25) straight victories. In the end, however, Goffin’s game proved more solid than the Finn’s. Lukas Rosol defeated Pablo Andujar 1-6 6-2 6-2 in an up-and-down match that seemed to end with words between the players. Nicolas Mahut was unable to back up his win against Tommy Robredo as he fell 6-4 7-6(7) to Andreas Seppi.

In the night match, top seeded John Isner took on thirteenth seed Mikhail Kukushkin. The Kazakhstani player began
the match extremely poorly, surrendering the first set 6-1 in a flurry of unforced errors amid some good returning by Isner. Kukushkin raised his game in the second to make the match competitive, but was unable to return Isner’s huge serve in critical moments and in the end surrendered 6-1 7-6(3).

The day’s most dramatic match in doubles ended the same way the most dramatic match in singles had: heartbreak for Donald Young. Young and Nicolas Monroe lost the first set to Florin Mergea and Joao Sousa 6-2 before roaring back to win 5 games in a row and send the match to a supertiebreak at 2-6 6-1. Here, the American team led 7-1 amid a number of bad calls against the Europeans that had even the North Carolina crowd calling out in dismay and had to have Sousa wondering if the officials had a pact against him. Things then began to turn, and it was a tighter 6-9 when Young and Monroe arrived at match point.

On the first match point, Sousa served an ace. The second was dealt with routinely as well. The third, however, was the shot of the tournament thus far. Off of a big Young serve that looked to have the point won, Mergea hit a stunning full stretch backhand return winner that seemed a good deal faster than the aggressive serve. Mergea backed up the shot with a big forehand, and a point later Mergea and Sousa clinched an incredible
comeback win.

In the final match of the day, Sam Groth showed off his enormous serve as he hit 147 miles per hour in the first game of his doubles effort partnership with Chris Guccione. The Australians faced two losers from the singles draw, Marcel Granollers and Pablo Andujar. Some clutch Granollers net play saved four break points, including a set point. Chris Guccione then tightened up to lose all three service points in the first set tiebreak to allow the Spaniards to steal a set in which they were clearly not the better team. In the second, however, they stepped it up a notch to break twice for a 7-6(4) 7-5 win.

Tomorrow’s schedule includes one doubles match, Jamie Murray and John Peers against the veteran Polish team of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. It also includes four appealing men’s singles quarterfinal matches: John Isner against Lukas Rosol, Andreas Seppi against Yen-Hsun Lu, Jerzy Janowicz against David Goffin, and Sam Querrey against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Until then, all eight players should still feel they have a fighting shot at the title in Winston-Salem.

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Dramatic Tuesday at @WSOpen Portends An Exciting Wednesday

Dramatic Tuesday at @WSOpen Portends An Exciting Wednesday
Eric Logan, Tennis East Coast

winstonsalem pano

A dramatic round of 32 finished last night at the Winston-Salem open, with 14 of the 16 seeds in action. Top seeded John Isner played for the first time in the night session, attracting a huge crowd in his home state, and for many, announcing the arrival of the critical stages of the event.

Second seeded Kevin Anderson opened play on center court against erratic Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Anderson played a bit of a sloppy match, but Mannarino’s tendency to throw in very poor service games from nowhere cost him dearly against the big server in a 6-3 2-6 6-4 loss. The match was followed by third seed Tommy Robredo against Nicolas Mahut. Mahut defeated the Cincinnati quarterfinalist 6-1 7-6(0) in a match where Robredo seemed not to give his full effort.

While Anderson’s match unfolded, the most truly dramatic match of the day was being played on Court 2 between Joao Sousa and Jerzy Janowicz. After a very easy first set win for Janowicz, Sousa recovered to even the match at 1-6 6-3. Sousa broke in the third, and served for the match at 5-4. After saving break point at 30-40, Sousa once again found himself facing break point at Ad-Out. Here, Sousa hit a pass that Janowicz clearly touched but was not called by the umpire. While the crowd yelled out to the umpire that the Pole had touched the ball, Janowicz appeared to confess to Sousa he had touched it without conceding the point. A long argument ensued which seemed in danger of becoming physical at times. Janowicz would go on to win the match 6-1 3-6 7-6(5). The two continued to argue even after the match ended, and it seems likely both will be fined for the spectacle.

winston salem janowicz sousa

A pair of matches went an extraordinary distance in the blazing heat. Aleksandr Nedovyesov put up a good effort against twelfth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but fell 7-6(9) 6-7(5) 6-4 in 2 hours and 43 minutes. In a shorter (and rather low quality) but physical match, slumping fourteenth seed Andreas Seppi struggled past Argentine clay specialist Federico Delbonis 7-5 6-7(5) 6-2. Another lengthy but rather high quality match was one between Mikhail Kukushkin and Robin Haase, with the thirteenth seed prevailing 5-7 7-6(2) 6-4.

An all-American match between Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson saw Querrey prevail 6-4 6-3. It was a poor showing by Johnson from 4-2 up in the first set, with the higher-ranked of the two making a number of routine unforced errors. Querrey has now defended at least some of last year’s semifinal points, saving his ranking from dipping even further.

In the night session, John Isner dispatched Bradley Klahn 7-6(5) 6-2. Klahn was the better player in the first set, winning more points than the top seed, but as he so often does, Isner found a way to win in in a tiebreak. Afterwards, Klahn’s resistance crumbled as he played two abysmal games to go down 0-4 and winning only two return points in the second set.

Elsewhere around the grounds, Yen-Hsun Lu dispatched Blaz Rola 6-4 7-5, with Rola’s serve not good enough to compensate for his failure to win rallies. Fourth seed Leonardo Mayer bowed out meekly 6-3 6-1 to David Goffin to worsen his poor hard court record. Pablo Andujar defeated Igor Sijsling 6-4 6-3.

In perhaps the disappointment of the day, Ryan Harrison retired leading an extremely poor Lukas Rosol 6-3 1-2. Harrison had been up a set and a break. Marcel Granollers easily dismissed Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3 6-3, and Frank Dancevic fared even worse in a 6-1 6-3 loss to Donald Young. It is worth noting that for all the criticism Berlocq and Granollers get for their grunts, for my money, Sousa’s is louder.

In doubles action, the exodus of seeds continued. Fourth seeded Huey and Inglot’s withdrew and were replaced with Florin Mergea and Joao Sousa. Top seeded pair Leander Paes and David Marrero’s campaign was cut short as a back injury forced Marrero to retire to the huge-serving team of Sam Groth and Chris Guccione. The first quarterfinal saw Cabal and Farah defeat Mahut and Haase, while Mergea and Sousa, Fyrstenburg and Matkowski, and third seeds Murray and Peers advanced to that round. Sousa’s effort was commendable given the manner of his loss earlier.

Today’s action sees the seeds meet in the round of sixteen. Top seed John Isner will take on Mikhail Kukushkin in what is sure to be an entertaining night match. Other match-ups include Anderson-Querrey, Janowicz-Roger Vasselin, Lu-Granollers, and Garcia Lopez-Young. The final eight will be decided by tonight on what promises to be another exciting day from North Carolina.

2014 US Open Mens Qualifying Preview by Chris De Waard

US Open 2014 Men’s Qualifying Draw Preview
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

USOpen.org

Chris sent me his US Open Mens Qualifying preview this morning but I haven’t been able to post it until now, Here at last is his excellent in depth analysis of the qualifying tournament in Flushing Meadows.

2014 US Open Men’s Qualifying Draw Preview

It’s that time of the year again: 128 players will battle it out for 16 spots in the main draw of the final Grand Slam of 2014, the US Open.

Top 16 qualifying seeds (32 total)
1: Malek Jaziri
2: Go Soeda
3: Filip Krajinovic
4: Facundo Bagnis
5: Horacio Zeballos
6: Joao Souza
7: Andreas Beck
8: Ricardas Berankis
9: Peter Gojowczyk
10: Peter Polansky
11: Tatsuma Ito
12: Yuichi Sugita
13: Norbert Gombos
14: Michael Russell
15: James Ward
16: Jimmy Wang

First round match-ups to watch:

(1) Malek Jaziri vs. Chase Buchanan

With his current ranking of #89 Jaziri would’ve comfortably made the main draw, but at the time of the cut-off date he was still ranked #114. A third round at the 500 event in Washington and a second round at the 1000 event in Toronto considerably elevated his ranking in the past weeks. Buchanan is one of the toughest first round opponents he could have drawn. Not only did he qualify for his first ATP event last week, he immediately did it in style considering it was the 1000 event in Cincinnati, where he beat Michael Llodra and Tim Smyczek before falling to Joao Sousa in a dramatic first round match: 7-5 6-7(3) 6-7(5).

Buchanan could prove trouble for Jaziri

Buchanan could prove trouble for Jaziri

 

(30) Yuki Bhambri vs. Laurynas Grigelis

22 year old Bhambri seemed to be on the right path at the start of this year, but injury has set him back considerably. He reached the quarterfinal of Chennai and won a Challenger, once again in Chennai, a month later, which saw him enter the top 150. From there on he was out for five months with injury and just returned recently, playing two events and reaching the finals of a Futures tournament in the States. Not a great preparation, but it will be interesting to see where he is at. Grigelis is a good opponent to start off with, considering he is on a five match losing streak and lost to world number 453 Richard Gabb in his most recent tournament.

(16) Jimmy Wang vs. Daniel Evans

Wang has had some success on the main tour this year, qualifying for the Australian Open and Miami, together with a third round at Wimbledon and a quarterfinal in Bogota. Last week he retired in the third set of his first round qualifying match at Cincinnati, so it remains to be seen if he has recovered from that. Evans impressed at the beginning of this year, most notably with his semi-final run in Zagreb, but has been disappointing ever since. He lost 6-4 6-2 to Wang earlier this year in Miami, but also beat him in three sets at the Challenger of Aptos last year, so perhaps he can take advantage of Wang’s questionable physical state.

(19) Thiemo de Bakker  vs. Borna Coric

De Bakker has been lucky in his last two tournaments, drawing the world #265 and #344 in first round matches of ATP events, but there is no such luck for him here with Coric. Even though the 17 year old has no outdoor hardcourt results of name, he impressed during his quarterfinal run at Umag last month. And in the beginning of this year he ousted Jerzy Janowicz in five sets at the Davis Cup on indoor hardcourt, so he definitely will be taking some confidence from that result to this match.

First quarter:

Top seed Malek Jaziri is the top favorite to go through here, with a small outsiders chance for Chase Buchanan, meaning the winner of that section will most probably come out of their first round match. In the second section second seed Go Soeda plays Oscar Hernandez in the first round. Hernandez, who has quite the cult following, has been on a very shady path this year. He retired years ago, but abuses his protected ranking to get into Grand Slam qualification draws while playing no other tournaments, simply racking in the first round prize money. We can only hope the ITF will undertake action and prevent situations like this in the future.

The third section is a very interesting one with a lot of potential for surprises. Third seed Filip Krajinovic is projected to play Daniel Cox, Marco Cecchinato and Ante Pavic for a place in the main draw, beating all of them is far from a certainty. Even 37 year old veteran Marc Gicquel shouldn’t be counted out here, who plays Jesse Huta Galung in the first round. Huta Galung retired from a Challenger event last week, so it is to be seen if he is able to play at a decent level.

Fourth seed Facundo Bagnis is a real clay courter and I can’t see him advancing. He only played two hardcourt events last year, resulting in losses against a player outside of the top 1000 and one loss against Jesse Witten, who plays part-time and is ranked outside of the top 700. Two players in this section are likely to battle it out in the second round for a main draw spot, as their third round opponent will be of a lower caliber: James Duckworth and #24 seed Somdev Devvarman.

To qualify from this quarter: (1) Jaziri, (2) Soeda, (3) Krajinovic and Duckworth.
Steen Kirby’s picks to qualify: Ruben Bemelmans, Soeda, Krajinovic, and Duckworth

Second quarter:

The most dangerous player in the first section isn’t one of the seeds, its young Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who has been in good form as of late. He reached a semi-final and a quarterfinal in his last two Challenger events and two weeks ago he took world number 21 Kevin Anderson to three sets at the 1000 event in Toronto. He is projected to play #5 seed Horacio Zeballos in the second round, who should never be counted out, but I would give Kokkinakis the slight edge over him at the moment. This section also holds Alexander Zverev, who impressed enormously with his semi-final run at Hamburg, but has lost six sets in a row since. I would not count him out against #25 seed Marsel Ilhan, but Kokkinakis or Zeballos will be too much at this moment.

The second section offers an excellent opportunity for Philipp Petzschner to bring some positivity to his comeback, as he is projected to play #26 seed Gerald Melzer in the second round, who is a clear clay court player. #6 seed Joao Souza will most likely be his final hurdle. Souza’s hardcourt potential is a big mystery, he has only played one event on the surface this year, a Challenger, but he immediately won it. So all in all you still have to favor him over Petzschner, who has only played a few events this year in which he failed to make an impression.

In the third section, #7 seed Andreas Beck is likely to make it to the final qualifying round, as he is playing Mathias Bourque in the first round Flavio Cipolla or Sanam Singh in the second. His final round opponent is a bit harder to predict, as #28 seed Rajeev Ram plays Martin Fischer in the first round and most probably Rhyne Williams in the second, both against whom he could lose.

#8 seed Ricardas Berankis should be favored to get through his section. He plays promising American Mackenzie McDonald in the first round, but he isn’t experienced enough yet to trouble him. #27 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev shouldn’t be a problem either, as Berankis breezes through his favorable draw.

To qualify from this quarter: Kokkinakis, (6) Souza, (7) Beck and (8) Berankis.

Steen Kirby’s Picks: Kokkinakis, Di Wu, Rajeev Ram, and Berankis

Third quarter:

#9 seed Peter Gojowczyk tops the first section here, as he will play Matt Reid in the first round. This section will probably be decided between the seeds, as the #17 Aljaz Bedene doesn’t have to worry about his opponents in the first two rounds, Yann Marti and Nikoloz Basilashvili/Egor Gerasimov. I actually think Bedene will upset Gojowczyk, as I find him the better hardcourt player.

#10 seed Peter Polansky plays American Tennys Sandgren in the first round, whom he should be able to overcome. The bottom half of this section is a bit more interesting, as unseeded Alex Kuznetsov and Taro Daniel play each other in the first round and are both capable of upsetting #18 seed Farrukh Dustov. However, I think Dustov will overcome this threat and even beats Polansky in the final qualifying round. They already played each other this year, on clay however, with Dustov winning in straight sets.

The third section surely is one of the weakest if not the weakest. #11 seed Tatsuma Ito hasn’t been in his best form and is struggling with an injury, while #22 seed Michal Przysiezny is in the middle of an even worse slump and can’t seem to get himself back on track, even at Challenger level. Who else can get through here? Well, I have absolutely no idea. This section is so dire that nobody in it has posted a good result for a while, so I’m afraid I’m going to predict the guy with a 1-18 record on the ATP tour this year to get through, Przysiezny.

Michal Przysiezny

Michal Przysiezny

 

The fourth section is a bit more interesting, with #12 seed Yuichi Sugita in danger against Tim Puetz, the man who impressed at Wimbledon by coming through the qualification draw to reach the second round, where he lost to Fabio Fognini in four sets. Nevertheless I think that #20 seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert is the best player in this section and will qualify, even though he has a tricky first round opponent in Matteo Viola.

To qualify from this quarter: (17) Bedene, (18) Dustov, (22) Przysiezny and (20) Herbert.

Steen Kirby’s picks: Marius Copil, Peter Polansky, Przysiezny, and Herbert

Fourth quarter:

#13 seed Norbert Gombos plays Austin Krajicek and Ze Zhang/Mate Delic in the first two rounds of the first section and should be the clear favorite here, as the physical condition of #30 seed Yuki Bhambri is still very much in doubt and I can’t see any of the unseeded players threatening Gombos.

In the second round of the second section there will most likely be a very interesting encounter between #14 seed Michael ‘’Iron Mike’’ Russell and comeback kid Steve Darcis, who are probably going to decide who goes through to the main draw. Darcis’s main draw appearances this year have only been on clay, so it is yet to be seen how his body and game will hold up on hardcourt, giving Russell the slight edge.

Russell as Iron Man

Russell as Iron Man

#15 seed James Ward is up against Aldin Setkic in the first round and is projected to play Guido Pella or Vincent Millot in the second round. #31 seed Marton Fucsovics is up against Ilija Bozoljac, who is rather unpredictable and might qualify for the main draw or lose 6-2 6-2 to Fucsovics, neither of which would surprise me. However, I think Fucsovics will make a big step here and qualifies for the main draw after beating Ward.

As discussed in the first round match-ups to watch #16 seed Jimmy Wang is up against Daniel Evans in the first round, which may end up in a surprise given the question marks surrounding Wang’s fitness. In the bottom half of this section 16 year old American Stefan Kozlov will try to qualify, for which he has to go through Mitchell Frank and one of the blockbuster match-up between 17 year old Borna Coric and #19 seed Thiemo de Bakker. It’s really hard to predict the winner of this section as neither Wang, Evans, Coric or De Bakker going through would surprise me.

To qualify from this quarter: (13) Gombos, (14) Russell, (31) Fucsovics and Coric.

Steen Kirby’s picks: James McGee, Russell, James Ward and Coric

Mannarino took flight against Dzumhur

Defending Champ Melzer Slayed by Goffin; Janowicz, Garcia-Lopez & Querrey Advance Day 3 @WSOpen

Eric Logan, Tennis East Coast

Winston-Salem Open 2014 Monday Recap

The second day of main draw play at the Winston-Salem open brought the first round to conclusion and saw fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez open the second round in the night session. The day’s play was on the whole a level higher than Sunday’s, with a number of exceptional clashes and notable names.

The day session was opened with defending champion Jurgen Melzer falling to qualifier David Goffin 6-3 6-4. Melzer, who would later lose in the first round of doubles as well, will see his ranking fall outside the top 100 after an injury-plagued last twelve months. Goffin, meanwhile, continues an incredible run of form that saw him win his first title in Kitzbuhel.

On court two, Jerzy Janowicz put up an impressive performance against Carlos Berlocq. Although the two are close in the rankings currently, Berlocq was a serious underdog on the quick hard courts of Winston-Salem and looked lost in the first set before steadying himself slightly in the second.  Janowicz, however, simply had too much power for Berlocq to absorb in the end, and won 6-1 6-4.

Janowicz dispatches Berlocq

Janowicz dispatches Berlocq

On court three, Federico Delbonis pulled off an upset victory over a superior hard-courter in Martin Klizan, 7-6(5) 6-4.  Klizan produced nearly all of the match’s best shots and received almost universal crowd support, but was too erratic and dealt with Delbonis’s impressive serving too poorly to prevail.  On the distant court four, Igor Sijsling defeated Andrey Golubev in a tight two-setter. Golubev failed to take advantage of poor volleying by Sijsling and allowed himself to be outrallied by the Dutchman, surrendering his serve from 40-0 for the decisive break in a 7-6(5) 6-3 match.

Delbonis with one of the first  big upsets of the tournament

Delbonis had one of the first big upsets of the tournament

In what was surprisingly possibly the day’s best match, Frank Dancevic faced off against Thomaz Bellucci. Both players’ smooth and powerful serves and groundstrokes drew a larger crowd than one would expect on the third court, and Dancevic produced a number of stunning backhands equaled by a stream of Bellucci winners off the forehand wing. An extended rally saw Dancevic take a very tight first set, but Bellucci rebounded to take the second set with ease. In the end, it was the Canadian who prevailed in a three-set match interrupted by rain with Bellucci down break point in the third set, 7-5 3-6 6-2.

Canadian veteran Frank Dancevic survived a test from Bellucci

Canadian veteran Frank Dancevic survived a test from Bellucci

Around the grounds, there was plenty of action to be had between spurts of rain which included what was nearly a two-hour delay. Adrian Mannarino easily put away an erratic Damir Dzumhur 6-2 6-2. Aleksandr Nedovyesov crushed American hopes with a close 6-4 6-4  win over Marcos Giron in which the American was a dismal 1/7 on break chances. Blaz Rola prevailed in two tight sets over fellow leftie Wayne Odesnik, 7-6(3) 6-3. In one of the day’s two second round matches, Jarkko Nieminen came from a break down in the second to defeat Benjamin Becker 7-5 6-4.

Mannarino took flight against Dzumhur

Mannarino showed great form against Dzumhur

On Center Court, the night session was led into with a pair of low quality matches, Paul-Henri Mathieu’s messy 6-3 7-5 win over wild card Robby Ginepri and Sam Querrey’s 7-6(5) 6-4 win over Pere Riba, who is unimposing on a hard court. However, the first set of Dustin Brown taking on fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez was probably the highest quality and most dramatic of the event thusfar. Brown’s big serve and beautiful volleys were pitted against Garcia-Lopez’s capable return and piercing groundstrokes off both wings. Brown saved two set points with two aces at 4-5, and took the tiebreak 7-5 after a Garcia-Lopez double fault. Brown’s resistance would fade, however, in the next two sets, with a lackluster final scoreline of 6-7(5) 6-2 6-2.

The doubles draw got underway today with some upset results. The second seeded team of Rohan Bopanna and defending champion Daniel Nestor lost in a pair of tiebreaks to the Columbians Cabal and Farah. Melzer was handed his second loss of the day as he and partner Lukas Rosol lost to Marcel Granollers and his unaccomplished partner, singles specialist Pablo Andujar 7-6(3) 2-6 10-4, with Melzer making a number of errors on critical points. The wild card team of Nicholas Monroe and Donald Young upset the Argentines Delbonis and Leonardo Mayer 7-6(4) 7-5. Robin Haase and Nicolas Mahut defeated Scott Lipsky and Max Mirnyi 7-5 6-4 in a match that may have been decided when Mirnyi missed a sitting duck volley at 5-5 40-40 in the first.

Tomorrow will be the day that fourteen of the event’s 16 seeds begin their campaigns. This includes two-time champion and hometown John Isner, whose practices are better attended than some of the main draw matches, and last week’s Cincy quarterfinalist Tommy Robredo, as well as the top seeded doubles pairing of Leander Paes (the other half of last year’s winning doubles team) and David Marrero. The forecast calls for more rain, but hopefully that will not prevent all the day’s tennis from being played.

Montanes Wins 8th Career Challenger Title in Cordenons, 21 year old Kovalik Shocks in Meerbusch

2014 Cordenons and Meerbusch Challenger Recaps

ATP Challenger Tour

Cordenons Challenger 

With practically all the good Italian players placed in the top half of the draw, a home country finalist was likely, although the eventual player to make it was not first seed Paolo Lorenzi. Potito Starace had the honor to play the final after ousting Lorenzi in a marathon match: 5-7 7-5 6-4. This meant his first top 100 victory since beating Kenny De Schepper in QR1 of Monte Carlo in April.

With Lorenzi at 32 years of age and Starace 33 this looked to be a tournament for the veterans, a trend that got confirmed in the bottom half, where Albert Montanes (33) and Daniel Gimeno-Traver (29) took on each other. They already had an extensive history of playing each other, with the head to head being dead even at 3-3. Their last meeting at Viña del Mar last year ended in a 6-4 6-4 victory for Gimeno-Traver. Things were different this time around, however, as Montanes took home the match in three sets: 6-7(4) 7-5 6-2.

This set up a repeat of last week’s match between Montanes and Starace in the first round of the San Marino Challenger, where Montanes booked a relatively easy victory: 6-2 7-6(3). This week’s final followed a similar pattern as Montanes crowned himself the 2014 Cordenons champion with a 6-2 6-4 victory. The final only meant a minor jump of five ranking spots for Starace, as he reached the semi-final last year, he now is ranked #156. For Montanes the jump was more significant, as he rose twenty spots to #114.

Meerbusch Challenger

One thing is for sure: nobody predicted the Meerbusch winner correctly. The tournament began on a negative note with the match fixing scandal between Boy Westerhof and Antal van der Duim, which is currently being investigated by the Tennis Integrity Unit. More details on that are surely to come. The only top 100 player in the draw, top seed Albert Ramos, got upset in the first round by Mattias Bachinger in straight sets: 6-4 7-6(4). The other clear favorite to reach the final, Andrey Kuznetsov, didn’t disappoint as he made it. However, he was the only seeded player to reach the semi-finals as he was joined by #340 Jozef Kovalik, #289 Tristan Lamasine and #259 Peter Torebko, making Kuznetsov obviously the clear favorite with his 108th ranking spot.

However, it was 21 year old wild card Kovalik who absolutely crushed Kuznetsov in the final, winning 6-1 6-4. Amazingly enough he only dropped one set the entire tournament and even that match was a comfortable win: 2-6 6-2 6-0. This obviously resulted in a major ranking jump, as he rose 105 spots to #235, only five shy of his career high ranking of #230. Kuznetsov had some consolation as well, as he re-entered the top 100 at #97, a jump of eleven spots.

—Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

Monday Results, Tuesday OOP @ConnecticutOpen

Genie Bouchard (Photo: S. Fogleman)

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 18, 2014
Women’s Singles – First Round
[3] E Bouchard (CAN) d B Jovanovski (SRB) 61 61
[4] C Wozniacki (DEN) d [Q] T Bacsinszky (SUI) 46 61 62
[WC] A Petkovic (GER) d [5] [WC] D Cibulkova (SVK) 76(2) 63
G Muguruza (ESP) d [7] S Errani (ITA) 62 36 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 64 63
[Q] S Peng (CHN) d E Svitolina (UKR) 64 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [Q] M Doi (JPN) 63 46 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d K Nara (JPN) 76(5) 67(10) 62
[LL] C Garcia (FRA) d [Q] I Begu (ROU) 76(4) 76(4)
B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 64 57 63

Women’s Doubles – First Round
[5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) d S Peer (ISR) / K Piter (POL) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d A Groenefeld (GER) / K Koukalova (CZE) 60 57 14-12
C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL) 76(3) 61

USONP Men’s Singles Championship – Finals
[1] S Singh (IND) d [2] J Dadamo (USA) 62 62

USONP Women’s Singles Championship – Finals
C Whoriskey (USA) d M Gordon (USA) 26 62 61

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, AUGUST 19, 2014
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
WTA – A Riske (USA) vs [6] F Pennetta (ITA)
WTA – [LL] C Garcia (FRA) vs B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
WTA – [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) vs [WC] N Gibbs (USA) / G Min (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [1] S Halep (ROU) vs M Rybarikova (SVK)
WTA – E Makarova (RUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)

GRANDSTAND start 2:00 pm
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs K Pliskova (CZE) / K Pliskova (CZE)
WTA – G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

2014 NJTL @USTA_Foundation Arthur Ashe Essay Contest Winners Head to @USOpen

2014 NJTL @USTA_Foundation Arthur Ashe Essay Contest Winners Head to @USOpen

Contest Exclusive to Students 18 and Younger Who Participate
In National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Network Chapters Nationwide

Winners to Receive New York City Travel Package

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), announced the 10 winners of the 16th annual NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. The 10 winners, ranging in ages from 10 to 18, were selected out of close to 2,600 entries submitted last month. Each winner has received a New York City travel package from Aug. 22 to Aug. 24.

USTA

To enter the contest, children were asked to write an essay of 350 words or less, responding to a specific question about Arthur Ashe and his great accomplishments. This year’s question asked: “Arthur Ashe used his time and skills to impact others – how have you used your time and skills learned through tennis and educational programming to impact the lives of those around you?” A USTA sub-committee selected the winning essays based on knowledge of Arthur Ashe, message clarity and writing style.

Each winner won round-trip airfare to New York City for themselves and a parent/legal guardian; a two-night stay at the Grand Hyatt 42nd Street; tickets to New York’s critically acclaimed theatrical show “THE RIDE”; a Circle Line Liberty Cruise sightseeing tour; and VIP status in the President’s Box during the 2014 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess on Aug. 23 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The weekend will wrap up with an awards luncheon on Aug. 24, hosted by former New York City Mayor and USTA board member David Dinkins, where the winners will receive an honorary plaque.

The 10 winners of the 2014 Arthur Ashe Essay Contest were selected in the following categories:

Category:

Boys/Girls 10 and Under
Srinath Mahankali, 10, Bayside Hills, N.Y. – New York Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL)
Makda Dawit, 10, Oakland, Calif. – Youth Tennis Advantage

Boys/Girls 11-12
Torianh Blakes, 11, Norwalk, Conn. – Norwalk Grassroots Tennis
Marion Rye, 12, Minneapolis, Minn. – InnerCity Tennis

Boys/Girls 13-14
Daud Gantt-Bey, 13, Washington, D.C. – Leadership Council for Healthy Communities
Ana-Lei Kalawe, 13, Charleston, S.C. – Lowcountry Youth Tennis Association

Boys/Girls 15-16
Roby White, 16, Capital Heights, Md. – Prince George’s Tennis and Education Foundation
Lea Bergman, 15, Laramie, Wy., – University of Wyoming

Boys/Girls 17-18
Andreas Nolan, 17, New York – Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program
Jasmine Rivers, 17, Eight Mile, Ala. – New Lyons Park Tennis Association

“The USTA Foundation is proud of this year’s Arthur Ashe Essay contest winners,” said Dan Faber, Executive Director, USTA Foundation. “This is a particularly exciting year for the foundation, as we have joined with the NJTL network. It’s a unique opportunity for us to continue supporting students who are truly deserving of this recognition. Their response to this year’s question is truly profound, and reflects the ideals and inspiration behind Arthur Ashe’s leadership and legacy. Congratulations!”

In January 2014, the USTA Foundation, formally USTA Serves, combined with USTA NJTL, a national network of 630 community-based tennis and education programs serving more than 330,000 youth, to become a fully operational foundation. This marks the 20th anniversary of the USTA Foundation and the 45th anniversary of NJTL, which was founded by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.

—S. Pratt