2014 Sport1 Open Update: Zeballos and Huta Galung among quarterfinalists

2014 Sport1 Open Update: Zeballos and Huta Galung among quarterfinalists
Chris de Waard, Tennis East Coast

sport1open

There was a slight sense of panic lurking around Scheveningen, as the tournament was getting delayed by heavy rain, completely flushing out play on Tuesday. To make it even worse, the predictions were the same for Wednesday, but it turned out to be better than anticipated and play started around 14:00 local time.

Third seed Thomaz Bellucci was having all kinds of problems against Yannick Mertens from Belgium, dropping the first set but eventually coming through 4-6 6-1 6-4. Playing on Court 9 at a Challenger must have been a disheartening experience for the former world number 25, who has played in the biggest stadiums the sport has to offer. After the match, Bellucci claimed to have struggled with the heavy conditions and that he was not happy with his level of play. Nevertheless, he was glad to go through and was excited to still have an opportunity to emulate the performance of his coach, Francisco Clavet, who won this tournament exactly twenty years ago.

Over at Court 8, a very exciting match was being played between two players who triumphed over Nadal last year, Zeballos and Darcis. It’s a shame that this match was not played on a televised court, because it surely deserved a bigger crowd than it had. Zeballos won the high quality affair in three sets, 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4, after which he jumped in the air and let out a loud ‘Vamos!’.

On Court 1, a tragic encounter between Martin Fischer from Austria and Frenchman Gregoire Burquier ended with Burquier missing three match points in the second set and getting bageled in the third after he clearly struggled to mentally deal with his missed opportunities. The match ended 5-7 7-6(3) 6-0. Burquier’s countryman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, had more luck as he ousted Uladzimir Ignatik 5-7 6-4 6-1.

The day ended on a remarkable note as the match of first seed Robin Haase against qualifier Dino Marcan (ranked #494) got suspended due to bad light at 5-2* in Marcan’s favor. On first sight, that’s not really remarkable, of course, but it already happened at 19:45 local time while under normal circumstances play could have gone on for another hour or two. This just shows how rough the weather conditions were. As play resumed the following day, Haase got back to *4-5, but he missed several game points and dropped the set 6-4. After that, however, his opponent wasn’t troubling him any longer and he won the match 4-6 6-3 6-0.

The stage was now set for the rematch of last year’s final between Haase and Huta Galung, which once again ended in Huta Galung’s favor. Huta Galung took down the first set in a tiebreak and was leading 5-2* in the second when he started to get tight, playing a horrendous game while he was serving for the match at *5-3. Haase won three games in a row and led 30-0 on Huta Galung’s serve at 5-5, but it wasn’t enough as Huta Galung still managed to hold serve and immediately break Haase in the next game to come through in two sets, 7-6(4) 7-5. With this result the #1 seed, playing at his home tournament, was knocked out in the second round.

Other results included Martin Fischer yet again escaping from the jaws of defeat, as he beat Herbert 3-6 7-5 6-2 after being down 3-6 *4-4 0-30. Another escape artist was seventh seed Andreas Beck, who came back after being *2-5 down in the first set against Lopez-Perez. He ended up saving two set points and taking down the tiebreak 10-8, after which the second set ended in a much easier 6-2 in Beck’s favor. Third seed Bellucci won’t be following in his trainer’s footsteps, as he went down 7-5 1-6 5-7 against Matteo Viola. Bellucci saved two match points at *6-5 in Viola’s favor, but on his third match point Viola ripped a backhand winner after an epic and gruesome 40-stroke rally.

The day ended with Zeballos being involved in another epic match, as he beat compatriot and second seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3 3-6 7-5. The matches clearly took their toll on Zeballos, as he was barely able to walk to the net after taking down the match point, which followed one of the many long rallies in this match.

The quarterfinal line-up is an interesting mix of seeds and surprises, as unseeded Martin Fischer will take on last year’s winner Jesse Huta Galung, fourth seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov will face fifth seed David Goffin, seventh seed Andreas Beck will meet unseeded Matteo Viola and the eighth seeded Brazilian Joao Souza will try to push unseeded Horacio Zeballos into further physical torture.

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What Would @IvoKarlovic Do (With Twitter Trolls)?

Earlier today, after defending champ Nicolas Mahut lost his quarterfinal match against Sam Groth at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, he got a hate tweet. How did Nico deal with it? He tweeted it out, surely invoking the wrath of his fans against the angry loser of a bet.

Right after I saw that tweet, it was time to speak with 2 seed Ivo Karlovic. Now Karlovic is one of the funniest guys on twitter. But twitter clearly has a dark downside as well. So what would Dr. Ivo do when someone trolls him on twitter?

“There is a lot of them because they are betting and then when they lose the money, they are angry, but they should be angry at themselves, not at me. Usually, if it’s really mean, I block them, or I just answer about their mamas.”

Keep on tweetin’, Ivo!

And I don’t think you’ll have to block these girls anytime soon.

Karlovic Selfie

Australia’s @SamGroth Reaches 1st ATP Semifinal With Superb Serve and Volley Attack @TennisHalloFame

Australia’s @SamGroth Reaches 1st ATP Semifinal With Superb Serve and Volley Attack @TennisHalloFame

Sam Groth

Nico Mahut

Sam Groth was called “the forgotten man of Australian Tennis” a few years back on a tennis fan site. He won’t be forgotten in Newport, as he made his first career ATP singles semifinal today by knocking out defending champ Nicolas Mahut. Groth executed a superb serve and volley attack plan to stun the Frenchman today. After the match, Groth reflected on his time away from the game, his faith in Coach Ben Mathias of the Australian Tennis Federation and the new faces of Australian tennis. On Saturday, Groth faces Ivo Karlovic for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Nico Mahut

Groth, Newport

Glamour Shots

Glamour Shot

Amazing @JohnIsner Fires 19 Aces @TennisHalloFame in Warm Up for Fenway Park Debut

Amazing @JohnIsner Fires 19 Aces @TennisHalloFame in Warm Up for Fenway Park Debut

John Isner got through his first round match at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island today.

Down 2 break points in the second set, he fired off four aces in a row to get out of trouble against Wayne Odesnik and advance in straights to the final 16.

Isner Sock & Shark

After that, Jack Sock made a surprise media appearance to fire off a question to Isner. Isner said he couldn’t even concentrate on the question, what with a two-time Grand Slam champion doing the asking.

Big John will do double duty this Tuesday as he’s already on his way to Boston to throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Red Sox-White Sox game. The way the Red Sox have played this season, Isner might be offered a contract, especially if he can hit a baseball a tenth as good as he can hit a tennis ball. The Red Sox are really that bad this year.

Kvitova, Bouchard, Halep Headliners @ConnecticutOpen

2014 WIMBLEDON CHAMPION AND WORLD NO. 4 PETRA KVITOVA, 2014 WIMBLEDON FINALIST AND WORLD NO. 7 GENIE BOUCHARD, AND DEFENDING CHAMPION AND WORLD NO. 3 SIMONA HALEP HEADLINE CONNECTICUT OPEN PLAYER FIELD

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 8, 2014 – 2014 Wimbledon Champion and World No. 4 Petra Kvitova, 2014 Wimbledon Finalist and World No. 7 Genie Bouchard, and Defending Champion and World No. 3 Simona Halep headline the field, which has collectively won 14 Grand Slam and 188 WTA singles and doubles titles, for the 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester. The WTA event, which is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, will be held August 15-23, 2014 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

Petra Kvitova, 2013 New Haven

Kvitova, the 2012 Connecticut Open Champion, marched through the Wimbledon fortnight the past two weeks to grab her second career Grand Slam title in four years, becoming just the third two-time winner in women’s singles since 1996. The Czech star defeated Bouchard in the final, the first Grand Slam final of the young star’s career. The 20-year-old has rapidly ascended the rankings to become the highest-ranked Canadian player in history, thanks to semifinals appearances at both the Australian and French Opens, along with capturing her first WTA title at Nurnberg. This will be her first appearance at the Connecticut Open.

Halep is having a fantastic season highlighted by a finals appearance at the French Open, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon, and winning the title in Doha, all of which have catapulted her to a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world. She returns to defend her 2013 Connecticut Open title, where she defeated Kvitova to win the trophy.

Wozniacki, New Haven 2013

Aside from Halep, Kvitova and Bouchard, five other players in this year’s Connecticut Open field are ranked in the WTA top 20 including No. 15 and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will be chasing a record fifth title in New Haven (currently tied with Venus Williams with four Connecticut Open titles). In addition to Wozniacki, No. 13 Flavia Pennetta, who won in Indian Wells earlier this year; No. 14 and 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani; No. 16 Carla Suarez-Navarro, who will be making her fourth Connecticut Open appearance; and No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, a Grand Slam doubles champion, who advanced to the quarterfinals at New Haven last year, will compete for the title.

CoCo Vandeweghe (Photo: Craig Glover)

CoCo Vandeweghe (Photo: Craig Glover)

Joining the top-20 stars in this year’s field are American Coco Vandeweghe, a former US Open Junior Champion who also triumphed at s’-Hertogenbosh to capture her first WTA title; Garbine Muguruza, who advanced to this year’s French Open quarterfinals and defeated World No. 1 Serena Williams along the way; Roberta Vinci, who teamed with Errani to complete the doubles Grand Slam at this year’s Wimbledon; Shuai Zhang, who advanced to the semifinals at Birmingham, Kuala Lumpur and Acapulco this year; Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, who advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and made a finals appearance in Birmingham, England; Klara Koukalova, a victor in Florianopolis and finals attendee in Rio de Janeiro and Hobart; Elina Svitolina, who advanced to the semifinals in Nurnberg; and Casey Dellacqua, a Birmingham semifinalist.

Magda Rybarikova

Magda Rybarikova

Rounding out the field are Magdalena Rybarikova, a four-time WTA tournament winner and semifinalist at s’-Hertogenbosch; Kurumi Nara, winner in Rio de Janeiro; Camila Giorgi, who advanced to the finals in Katowice; and Bojana Jovanovski.

“The 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies player field is loaded with talent – Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and Wimbledon Finalist Genie Bouchard; Defending Connecticut Open Champion Simona Halep and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki; and rising stars such as Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and American Coco Vandeweghe,” said Worcester. “All told, we have three of the top 10 players in the world, eight of the top 20, and with the men’s event featuring James Blake, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier, the tournament promises to be exceptionally entertaining this year.”

On Wednesday, August 20, Fairfield native James Blake, a two-time Connecticut Open Champion and former top-five ranked player, will matchup against Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam Champion and former World No. 1. On Thursday, August 21, Blake will face-off against Andy Roddick, another former World No. 1 and Grand Slam Champion. Both matches will be played following the 7:00 p.m. WTA feature match on their respective nights, and they will be best of three sets, with a super tie-break played for the third set. In addition, fans interested in participating in a Pro-Am with these American stars before the matches, or who want to capitalize on a party complete with dinner and a “meet and greet,” should visit http://www.ctopen.org for more information.

The field will be completed in the coming weeks with the addition of four wildcards, which the tournament will award, and the addition of six players who will advance through the 48 player qualifying draw. The first two seeds at the tournament will receive a bye.

—M. Van Tuinen, CT Open

Interview with @LukeSaville18 of @TennisAustralia @TennisHalloFame 2014

Interview with @LukeSaville18 of @TennisAustralia @TennisHalloFame 2014

Luke Saville, Newport

Luke Saville burst onto the scene last month by winning his 1st pro match, at Wimbledon no less.

Today, he took a smaller but important step in his career by winning his 1st ATP tour match in straight sets at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Peter Polansky.

In 2 qualifying matches and the first round win, the young South Australian has dropped 0 sets and only 9 games in 3 matches.

That’s 9 games in 6 straight sets. Nice.

Luke Saville, Newport

Luke goes on to chat about Wimbledon, Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt. Having been relegated to outer courts thus far in the tournament, Saville will get his day under the Center Court sun when he faces defending champion Nicolas Mahut tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. USEDT.

—-Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Pro Debut Interview with @Mitch_Krueger @TennisHalloFame

For a first timer in the main draw of a tour event, Mitch Krueger had a great 1st set of tennis as an ATP professional yesterday. He had two set points in the tiebreak against Tatsuma Ito before falling just short. As Krueger himself said, Ito raised his level of play in the second set. Afterward, we talked about his confidence in the decision to delay college and the special excitement surrounding his first pro match being played at the Tennis Hall of Fame, a place where he hopes to be enshrined someday.

—S. Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Pro Debut Interview With Clay Thompson @TennisHalloFame

Pro Debut Interview With Clay Thompson @TennisHalloFame
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

UCLA’s Clay Thompson was in great spirits and thrilled to play his ATP Main Draw Debut on the grass courts of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships yesterday.

There was just one nagging question.

Why, oh, why did I have to draw Stevie Johnson?

It was as if the PAC-12 moved to Rhode Island for a day and I almost expected the Rose Bowl Parade to march down Bellevue Avenue in Newport. In the end, former USC phenom Johnson and his trove of pro tour experience was too much for Thompson in a 6-1, 6-2 loss. That said, we expect to see Clay winning plenty of matches on the tour in the near future.

Scheveningen (@Sport1Open) Challenger Update by Chris de Waard

Scheveningen (@Sport1Open) Challenger Update
Chris de Waard, Tennis East Coast

sport1open

A solid field has landed in Scheveningen (The Hague) this week to play the Sport1 Open, with a total of twelve current and former top 100 players being in the mix to take Jesse Huta Galung’s crown, who beat Robin Haase in last year’s final.

We might see an early repeat of that final, since the two are projected two play each other in the second round. For that to happen, Haase needs to get past Croatian qualifier Dino Marcan, while Huta Galung is up against fellow Dutchman Boy Westerhof, who entered this tournament on a wild card.

As I walked onto the venue to catch the action of the first day it immediately struck me how casual Challengers are compared to ATP events. I barely passed the entrance and I had already bumped into Taro Daniel, who was hanging out and talking to someone before his match. As I collected my press badge, Robin Haase queued up behind me for his own and his brother’s credentials. Haase entered the doubles tournament with his 33-year-old brother Eric, a very competent amateur player, but they couldn’t pull out the win and lost 6-3, 6-1 to another Dutch couple, Stephan Fransen and Wesley Koolhof. Throughout the day, I kept seeing players all around me as I walked around the venue.

The first day started out with an encounter between two young Belgians, fifth seed David Goffin and Kimmer Coppejans, which ended in a blow-out victory of 6-1 6-3 for the older of the two, Goffin, who reached the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2012 as a qualifier, but now is ranked outside of the top 100 yet again.

In the second round, Goffin will face Serbian Filip Krajinovic, who beat Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven 6-2, 6-4. 17-year-old Van Rijthoven looked completely out of his element in the first set, which isn’t surprising when you realize he made his debut at Challenger level and was still playing at Wimbledon three days ago, where he lost in the quarterfinal of the junior’s tournament. Unfortunately, his biggest weapon display before the second set was hitting a ballboy in the face with his serve during warm-up, who had to be substituted. In the second set, he finally seemed to have adapted to the radically different conditions, but it’s clear he isn’t ready for this level yet, although he showed a lot of potential and I’m sure we will see more of his blistering single-handed backhand in the future. This should please Davis Cup captain Jan Siemerink, who was watching him from the stands and is in dire need of promising youngsters.

Over at court 1, a very high quality affair was developing between Italian Matteo Viola and Japanese Taro Daniel, who played a first set that would’ve been more at its place at ATP 250 level. 21-year-old Daniel is the least stereotypical Japanese you will ever see. A 6’3’’ clay court specialist who was born in New York and lives in Valencia is something that immediately tickles your interest. The two offered a vintage clay court match with many grueling rallies, which unfortunately only stayed interesting in the first set. Daniel went down *1-4 in the first set and managed to fight himself all the way back 5-5* 40-0, at which point Viola played some of his greatest points of the match and topped it off with an exquisite dropshot to save the final break point against him.

In the tiebreak, a similar scenario developed with Daniel once again going down *1-4 and fighting himself back, eventually saving three set points before winning the tiebreak 9-7. After that, the match went out like a candle with Daniel’s movement looking hampered, something he took a MTO for in the third set to receive treatment on his upper right leg. One has to think he needs to do some serious work on his physique before he can really do damage at the ATP level. It shouldn’t be a problem as his ground strokes are very sound already. It’s clear he has the talent and strokes to become a factor at the highest level. However, his serve will need some work to fulfil the potential of his height. Nevertheless, Viola ended up winning the match 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-1 and he will play third seed Thomaz Bellucci or Yannick Mertens in the second round.

Over at Center Court, the day ended with seventh seed Andreas Beck never being in doubt against Martin Alund (6-2 6-4), who seems a long way from the time he took a set off Nadal on the surface, which was only a year and a half ago. He made a show out of his loss though, constantly swearing, complaining and making fun of himself, getting some laughs from the crowd. Day one action ended with fourth seed Aleksandr Nedovyesov, who beat Federer/Wawrinka in doubles at their Davis Cup meeting in April, taking on 30 year old Dutch wild card Matwé Middelkoop, who has been out of the running for over six months due to major shoulder surgery and made his comeback at a Futures event two weeks ago. Middelkoop played to his abilities, gave everything he had and almost managed to take the match into a decider, but eventually Nedovyesov came through in straights, 6-2, 7-6(5).

Day two seems to be very promising and includes the following clashes: Ignatik – Herbert, Bellucci – Mertens, Schwartzman – Crivoi, Huta Galung – Westerhof and Haase – Marcan. The match of the day in my eyes will be played between Horacio Zeballos and Steve Darcis, who last year both made a name for themselves by beating Nadal. Zeballos pulled it off in the final of Viña del Mar in February, while Darcis ousted him in the first round of Wimbledon. Darcis didn’t come out of that match unharmed, as he hurt his shoulder and has been struggling with it ever since. He had surgery in October, was out for eight months and made his comeback last month. Hopefully the former world number 44 stays with us in good health for many years to come.

2014 ATP Newport (@TennisHalloFame) Preview, Predictions

2014 ATP Newport (@TennisHalloFame) Preview, Predictions

Newport2014Site

As you may have imagined, we’re providing on-site coverage of the event for the third year in a row. Follow us on twitter @TennisEastCoast and check the blog for daily recaps.

ATP Newport
Hall of Fame Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 250
Newport, Rhode Island, USA
July 7-July 13, 2014
Prize Money: $474,005

Top 4 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (11)
2: Ivo Karlovic (32)
3: Lleyton Hewitt (48)
4: Nicolas Mahut (54)

First Round matchups to watch:

Rajeev Ram. Newport

Rajeev Ram. Newport

Matt Ebden vs. Rajeev Ram
Ebden, who has had success on grass, is struggling and he could use a win against 2009 Newport champ Ram to help him find his form. They have met 3 times before, all on hard courts, and Ebden leads the h2h 2-1. In my opinion, Ram, who failed to qualify at Wimbledon, is a slight favorite here.

Hewitt in Newport

Hewitt in Newport

(3)Lleyton Hewitt vs. Ryan Harrison
Harrison beat Hewitt in DC last year, and the consecutive defending finalist Hewitt has really been struggling this season. Even on his favored grass, he is just 2-2 on the surface this year and lost to Jerzy Janowicz in Wimbledon round 2.

Harrison has been recently decent, as he qualified for Wimbledon before losing to eventual semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov in round 1.

Both players have struggled to maintain a high level of play recently and their skills come and go, though Harrison is much younger and healthier than Hewitt. This match is a toss-up to me, but I’ll give Hewitt a slight edge, considering experience and past history.

Top Half:

John Isner, ATP Newport, 2012 Copyright TennisEastCoast.com

Two time champ John Isner should cruise his way to the quarterfinals after beating a qualifier and Tim Smyczek or a qualifier. Isner fell in Wimbledon round 3 but competition is less daunting in Newport, and a quarterfinal meeting against most likely Ebden/Ram or perhaps Wimbledon doubles champ Jack Sock (after a transatlantic flight will face Alex Kuznetsov), likely would not be competitive.

Hewitt/Harrison are slated to face Marius Copil or a qualifier, and the winner of that round 1 meeting is likely to make the quarterfinals against the improving Steve Johnson, who faces wild card Clay Thompson of UCLA in round 1 in a battle between the LA schools (Johnson played at USC) and then wild card Mitch Krueger or Tatsuma Ito.

With so many Americans in the draw, I expect the quarterfinal between Johnson and Harrison/Hewitt to be epic.

Bottom Half:

Dr. Ivo

Dr. Ivo

Ivo Karlovic is struggling, having lost 3 straight. He opens with wild card Robby Ginepri and then Sergiy Stakhovsky or Farrukh Dustov. If Stako can find form, I favor him to make the quarters against Adrian Mannarino, a grass court specialist. He is struggling and faces another good grass player, Jimmy Wang, in round 1, and then Dudi Sela/Michal Przysiezny.

Mannarino just won a challenger and Stako made the Wimbledon third round, so the semifinalist here should be strong.

Defending champ Nicolas Mahut, who hasn’t had nearly as strong of a grass court campaign this year compared to last, and lost in round 1 of Wimbledon, faces Facundo Arguello, a clay courter, in round 1. After that, he would see Peter Polansky or a qualifier. Mahut should be tested in the quarters against one of Donald Young/Sam Groth/Ricardas Berankis/Malek Jaziri. All of these players have some aptitude on grass and if they get hot, especially Groth with his massive serve, could surprise. Young is not as good on grass and Groth/Jaziri should decide the quarter.

Dark Horse: Sergiy Stakhovsky

Sergiy Stakhovaky, 2012 ATP Cincinnati/Courtney Massey

Many players are dark horses this week. Given such a wide open field, Stakhovsky gets the official designation as I have him in the final. If his serve and volley game is on. he should excel this week against all possible opponents before the final.

Predictions
Semis:
Isner d. Johnson
Stakhovsky d. Mahut

Isner and Johnson have never met, and I do favor the vastly improved Johnson over Hewitt/Harrison in the quarters, but Isner should have too big of a game for Steve in the semis.

Johnson has worked on his mentality, his footwork and other parts of his game, and can compete at the ATP level now, but Isner will be too much. I favor Stako over Mahut based upon current form.

Final:
Isner d. Stakhovsky

Isner and Stako have a split h2h, but Isner won the fast surface meeting in ’09, and on grass, fortune seems to favor the much higher ranked Isner. Big John always plays his best on US soil. Look for him to notch his second ATP title of the season this week.

—Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast