2012 Emirates US Open Series Early Summer Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
This summer, the ATP and WTA tours will return to the US for the always-exciting US Open Series, which runs from the 2nd week of July until the US Open in August/September. Formerly sponsored by Olympus, but now sponsored by Emirates Airlines, the US Open Series offers the same set of great tournaments in different parts of the US that will certainly bring many American fans out to watch world-class professional tennis. TennisEastCoast.com should be able to offer on site coverage from at least two of the US Open Series events (Atlanta and D.C) in addition to Newport.
The ATP side of the US Open Series features tournaments in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Toronto, Cincinnati and Winston-Salem, in addition to the ATP tournament in Newport the week after Wimbledon. Here is an early preview of the first two ATP events.
2012 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships July 7-15
While not technically a part of the US Open series, the ATP 250 event in Newport, Rhode Island is held on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and offers a great experience from the fans perspective. It is a ‘blast from the past’ played in a cozy grass court environment with the players in all white and spectators often dressed in more traditional attire. It brings you back to a different era. All that is missing are the wooden racquets.
The very modern world of pro tennis comes to Newport right after Wimbledon, and current top 10 John Isner will join players such as Tommy Haas (who just knocked off Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in Munich this week), young guns Ryan Harrison, Denis Kudla and Grigor Dimitrov, Bucharest semi-finalist Matthias Bachinger, ‘Marathon Man’ Nicolas Mahut, Ryan Sweeting and Sam Querrey. Sweeting and Querrey are both hoping to build on their recent success. The event will also feature the serve and volleying Olivier Rochus, big man Ivo Karlovic and Matt Ebden, Delray semifinalist Dudi Sela, Germans Tobias Kamke, Michael Berrer, serve and volleyer Denis Gremalmayr, Mischa Zverev and a South American contingent that features Brian Dabul, Sebastien Decoud and Paul Capedeville. Lleyton Hewitt will also continue his comeback from injury here trying for some good results.
Rochus and Isner played in the final last year with Isner taking home the title while Kamke was one of the semi-finalists. Harrison and Ebden took home the doubles title. Isner beat the ”Casino Curse” last year in becoming the first top seeded to player to actually win the event.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame itself is a big draw and another reason to attend. The Hall features all sorts of exhibits on the sport of tennis and it’s storied history along with plaques of the great players, coaches and other contributors to the sport who have been inducted on both the men’s and women’s side. The 2012 Hall of Fame class, headlined by Jennifer Capriati, will be inducted during the tournament.
2012 BB&T Atlanta Open July 14-22
The first event of the US Open series (and its youngest, now in its 3rd year) is the ATP 250 series event in Atlanta. It features a state of the art, newly built venue this year located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and a great field to go with it.
Newly sponsored by BB&T, the field is set to feature American favorites John Isner and Andy Roddick along with rising American star Jack Sock (who has had some good results before suffering injury). The Americans will be joined by Kei Nishikori of Japan, who continues to improve his play and his ranking. Kevin Anderson of South Africa, the former University of Illinois stand out, will also compete in Atlanta. Mardy Fish took the title over Isner last year, while Alex Bogomolov and Matt Ebden took home the doubles title.
Atlanta has always been a great place for tennis and with the new setting and sponsor, the ATP tour event is on the path for greater, continued success. If you are a tennis fan in the south, this is a great event to attend.
Pico Reigns Supreme: 2012 ATP Houston Recap
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
[EDITOR: Tennis East Coast Phenom Columnist Steen Kirby picked not only the winner of the US Men's Clay Court Championship, he also picked the participants in the final. I don't bet on tennis, but if I did, I'd have Steen "The Teen" Kirby by my side, like Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon.]
The US Mens Clay Court Championships in Houston wrapped up yesterday with Juan “Pico” Monaco taking out John Isner in a tough 3 set battle. Monaco took out Tatsuma Ito, 5 seed Kevin Anderson and Michael Russell en route to the final.
Russell was the story of the week, though. The Houston resident upset his countryman, slumping top-seed Mardy Fish in straights after knocking off Daniel-Gimeno Traver in 3 sets in his 1st round match. He then proceeded to take out another American, Ryan Harrison, to reach the semis before falling to Monaco in 3 sets. Russell also had to qualify to reach the main draw where he took out Denes Lukacs and Daniel Kosakowski. It was the best result and tournament run of his career at the age of 32, no less.
On the bottom half of the draw, Isner, who was a favorite going in, beat Argentine Horacio Zeballos in 3 sets, then dispatched defending champ Ryan Sweeting in 2 long tie break sets in what was a tough match, and finally beat Feliciano Lopez in 3 sets to reach the final.
Sweeting, before falling to Isner, beat Brazilian Ricardo Mello in the 1st round and fellow American Bobby Reynolds, who notched a good win over Ivo Karlovic in the 1st round.
Lopez took out Paolo Lorenzi and Carlos Berlocq before falling to Isner. Berlocq was playing good tennis but suffered an injury during the match with Lopez, but after losing the 1st set and struggling early in the 2nd he was forced to retire.
Ryan Harrison also notched a couple of good wins over Alex Bogomolov in the 1st round (3 sets) and Igor Kunitsyn in the 2nd before falling to surprise semi-finalist Russell.
If you read my ATP Houston preview last week, I predicted a Monaco vs. Isner final with Monaco taking it and that is exactly what happened. Monaco has been playing excellent tennis this season on both clay and hard courts and is certainly a dangerous floater in any draw– especially on clay. He and Isner, who has also had a great year thus far, are a couple of hot players nobody wants to face.
Speaking of the clay, I couldn’t help but notice the unique surface that at River Oaks Country Club in Houston. Opinions on it range from “it’s just dirt” to “what a new unique surface”. A couple of tennis tweeters noted it didn’t leave many marks and doesn’t have any sheen to it. I tend to agree.
On the doubles side, James Blake and Sam Querrey took home the title to the delight of American fans in what was a bit of a surprise. They beat Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot to take the title in straight sets.
The ATP World Tour heads to Monte Carlo now while many of the ATP Houston participants such as Isner will be skipping it due to the travel and distance, while others such as Monaco will get right back to it, plying their trade on red clay this time.
There is also a USTA Pro Circuit event in Sarasota this week that has a pretty good field of entrants. Stay tuned to Tennis East Coast for the ever-changing headline.
2012 US Men’s Clay Court Championship, ATP Houston Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
US Men’s Clay Court Championship
ATP World Tour 250
April 9-15, 2012
Prize Money: $442,500
Some of the top Americans and players from around the globe will descend upon River Oaks Racquet Club in Houston, Texas for the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, an ATP 250 series tournament and the first ATP event on clay in the US this year. The ATP Houston event runs April 9-15. Here’s a preview of the singles draw.
Seeds: (top 4 seeds get 1st round byes)
1: Mardy Fish
2: John Isner
3: Feliciano Lopez
4: Juan Monaco
5: Kevin Anderson
6: Carlos Berlocq
7: Alex Bogomolov
8: Ivo Karlovic
1st Round matchups to watch:
Xaiver Malisse vs. Igor Kunitsyn
In a battle of ATP world tour veterans, the Belgian Malisse will serve it up against the veteran Russian Kunitsyn. Both players have interesting games, while Malisse should be the fresher of the two players as Kunitsyn played the Tallahassee challenger last week, losing to Tim Smyzcek in the quarters on Thursday.
Ryan Harrison vs. Alex Bogomolov
Harrison, coming off his play in the Davis Cup against France, will take on the 7 seed Bogolomov in what should be an interesting matchup of both style and skill. While being the lower ranked player, Harrison should be nominally favored but a lot of that depends on his fatigue from the Davis Cup this weekend.
Joao Souza vs. Kevin Anderson
The tall, hard serving South African Anderson who has had some good results this year will take on Brazilian dirtballer Souza whose favorite surface is clay.
Ivo Karlovic vs. Bobby Reynolds
Can the American Reynolds hold up against the hard serving Karlovic, who also played Davis Cup this weekend for Croatia?
Top seed Mardy Fish, who was forced to withdraw from Davis Cup play this weekend but performed well against the Swiss on clay, faces the possibility of playing Spanish dirtballer Daniel-Gimeno-Traver or a qualifier in the 2nd round but otherwise, his draw doesn’t look too challenging as the seed he would be slated to face in the quarters is Alex Bogolomov. Kunitsyn, Malisse and Harrison are other likely matchups. A possible semi-final battle with Juan Monaco looms large though and while Monaco is only the 4 seed, he would certainly be favored on clay over Fish. For Monaco’s part, he will likely face Anderson in the quarters but he will be favored in all of his matches.
2 seed John Isner,who has really picked up his clay court game including wins over Roger Federer and Gilles Simon on the clay in Davis Cup play, faces a draw that could give him a quarter final match up against defending Houston champion Ryan Sweeting and a semi-final match up against veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. As for the defending champion, Sweeting, he will face a qualifier in the 1st round and then a possible 2nd round matchup against the always hard to handle Ivo Karlovic. If he can get that far, he would likely face Isner in the quarters.
6 seed Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, who has performed well on clay this year, gets James Blake in the 1st round and fellow countryman Diego Junquiera or veteran German Bjorn Phau in the 2nd round. He could have a quarter final match up with the 3 seed Lopez, who will face either Wayne Odesnik or Paolo Lorenzi in the 2nd round.
Dark Horse: Daniel Gimeno-Traver
The veteran Spaniard loves the clay and has always played his best on the surface. If he can get past a qualifier in the 1st round and then notch a victory against the somewhat slumping Mardy Fish (who is never that comfortable on clay anyway), the only other seeded players he would have to face en route to the final would be Bogomolov and Juan Monaco. It is a winnable draw if he has a good week.
Monaco d. Gimeno-Traver
Berlocq d. Isner
Monaco d. Berlocq
Boys’ Latin Tennis Coach and Senior Contributor Jim Magee shares his men’s picks for US Open play for the 3rd round.
Djokovic over Davydenko
Karlovic over Dolgopolov
Federer over Cilic
Isner over Bogmolov Jr.
Murray over Lopez
Ferrer over Mayer
Roddick over Benneteau
Muller over Kunitsyn
Nadal over Nalbandian
Here’s his matches to watch:
(Most interesting matches-favored player)
1-Tsongas over Verdasco
2-Fish over Anderson
(Most interesting upsets)
1-DelPotro over Simon
2-Haas over Monaco
3-Young over Chela
(Most Interesting retires)
Ferrero o Granollers-ret
Tipsarevic o Berdych-ret
Coach picked Ferrero anyway and will take himin the next round against Tipsy.