Robredo Tops in Casablanca, Isner Wins Houston
30 year old Tommy Robredo won his first title in 2 years and his 11th career ATP title in Casablanca, coming out of nowhere to defeat Kevin Anderson 7-6 4-6 6-3. Robredo had previously beaten Guillaume Rufin, Tobias Kamke, Benoit Paire in 3 sets and Stanislas Wawrinka in 3 sets after recovering from a first set breadstick.
Anderson improved his clay court record with wins over Pablo Carreno-Busta, a 20 year old Spanish qualifier who won an astounding 39 matches in a row (mostly on the futures circuit) until the loss. Carrena-Busta has only lost twice this year. Anderson then beat Grega Zemlja and Martin Klizan in 3 sets to make his 2nd ATP final of the year and his first ever on clay.
Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek won the doubles crown.
John Isner awoke from his slumber and took the title in Houston. A runner up last year, he did one better this year in beating Nicolas Almagro 6-3 7-5. Before that, he served past Ryan Harrison, Ricardas Berankis, who knocked off Tommy Haas in round 2, and Juan Monaco. Isner avenged his loss in the Houston final last year to Monaco by prevailing in a 3 set semifinal this year.
Almagro beat Gael Monfils, Paolo Lorenzi and surprise semifinalist Rhyne Williams, who continued the streak of Americans making surprise runs in Houston. Williams, who won the Dallas Challenger earlier this year sure seems to like playing in Texas.
John Peers, a former Baylor Bear, and Jamie Murray upset the Bryan Brothers to take the doubles title.
2013 ATP Houston and Casablanca Previews
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The ATP clay season fires up with a pair of 250s: one in Houston, Texas, and the other in Casablanca, Morocco. Quite a difference in scenery this week between the two, but there’s similar field quality. On a side note, this week is the one year anniversary of my first postings at TEC. It has been a pleasure and I plan to continue for a long time to come.
US Men’s Clay Court Championships
ATP World Tour 250
April 8-April 14, 2013
Prize Money: $455,775
Top 4 seeds (who all receive 1st round byes)
1: Nicolas Almagro
2: Tommy Haas
3: Juan Monaco
4: Sam Querrey
Houston seems to have a stronger field on paper than previous years, though the form of the players does make a huge difference.
First round matchups to watch:
Gael Monfils vs. James Blake
Monfils has dropped out of the top 100 and has not played a tournament since February. He is also on a three match losing streak, but now as the season turns to clay he hopes to be fit and really needs to rack up some points on the dirt. Blake is the veteran who has experienced a bit of a career resurgence, back in the top 100 and making the 3rd round in Miami.
With all that on the line, Monfils should still be the favorite simply because Blake is not a clay courter but Le Monf is terribly unpredictable right now. They have a split h2h (2-2) but last met in 2010 and also split on clay with Blake winning the last meeting in 2007 and Monfils winning a 5 setter at the French Open in 2006.
(wc) Rhyne Williams vs. Guido Pella
This is a matchup that we could be seeing for years to come as a pair of 22-year-old talents will have their first meeting. Pella, the Argentine, is excellent on the clay and is looking to get into the top 100 with a good showing here. He only has a 2-6 record this year but last year he tore up the Challenger circuit clay court events while Williams is 1-3 at the ATP level but is splitting his time with challengers.
American players have had success in Houston in the past such as Ryan Sweeting and John Isner. Williams will have home nation support, but Pella is better on the surface and will likely be the favorite.
(wc) Steve Johnson vs. (6) Fernando Verdasco
Another American looking for a good showing is Steve Johnson, at a career high ranking of 130. Johnson is not known for his clay court prowess. But he also gets the home nation fans in his corner and he gets a seriously struggling Fernando Verdasco, who has been beset with injury issues this year and is on a 4 match losing streak. Verdasco is the better player in general and the better player on the surface, but not right now. This match should be on upset alert.
(5) John Isner vs. Ryan Harrison
Isner is a defending finalist in Houston and is off playing Davis Cup in Boise this weekend where he continues to struggle, but he will face one of the players who is struggling more than him. Ryan Harrison is just 1-5 in his last 6 matches and is in danger of dropping out of the top 100. When a couple of Americans in a funk meet, at least one of them has to win and the result should be interesting either way. Harrison beat Isner back in Sydney this year but that was on a different surface and Isner was struggling with some injury issues.
Nico Almagro will face the Blake/Monfils winner, a match he should advance from, and in the quarters could face a pair of qualifiers or a pair of Italians, Flavio Cipolla or Paolo Lorenzi. Lorenzi’s the most likely opponent in what could be a competitive match.
Sam Querrey, also coming off DC duty, will face the Williams/Pella winner and if he does face Pella he could have some trouble. The winner could face Verdasco/Johnson, Somdev Devvarman or Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the quarters.
Hot stuff Tommy Haas will look to continue his excellent form onto clay and will face Ricardas Berankis or Jesse Levine. On a note about how fortunes can so quickly change, Haas played the qualifying in Houston last year (ranked 137/did not qualify) and now he is the number 2 seed and in the top 15.
In the quarters, Haas could face Isner/Harrison, a qualifier, or Jack Sock. Given that Haas has American citizenship, this quarter is teeming with Americans.
Juan Monaco is playing DC for Argentina and actually managed to win a match, snapping his losing streak. Unfortuantely, he still hasn’t won an ATP tournament match this year) will face Josselin Ouanna or Tim Smyczek and the winner could face the seeded Michael Russell, who lives in Houston, a qualifier, Martin Alund or Lleyton Hewitt. Ouanna, formerly considered a French up and comer, has not done anything special this year while Alund notably made the semis in Sao Paulo and had a solid Golden Swing in South America.
Dark Horses: Martin Alund and Guido Pella
Though this is a small tournament I went two dark horses because both Alund and Pella have excellent chances to go deep in Houston. Alund should beat Hewitt and get past Russell and then he could face Smyczek/Ouanna or Monaco, none of whom are playing that well right now, his run likely ends in the semis though.
Pella may upset Querrey after beating Williams and if he does the rest of the section is not spectacular either with Verdasco/Johnson/Devvarman/RRH all possible opponents still his run also likely ends in the semis.
Almagro d. Pella
Haas d. Alund
Almagro will likely only be troubled by Lorenzi and he also beat Pella in Buenos Aires this year, while Haas should be able to make the semis without issue.
Haas d. Almagro
From qualifying last year to champion this year—that is how I have it for Tommy Haas. He is 3-0 against Almagro and just beat him in Indian Wells.
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
Memphis, Tennessee, USA
February 18-Feburary 24, 2013
Prize Money: $ 1,212,750
The Joint ATP/WTA Event held at the Racquet Club of Memphis in lovely Memphis, Tennessee will be holding its 38th edition. For the first time, Tennis East Coast will have some onsite coverage of the event. I will be there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday covering the Men’s and Women’s 1st and 2nd rounds with all the info and excitement you would expect of both the tennis action and the energy surrounding the event. With that, here is a preview of the Men’s main draw.
Top 8 seeds
1: Marin Cilic
2: Milos Raonic
3: John Isner
4: Sam Querrey
5: Kei Nishikori
6: Tommy Haas
7: Alexandr Dolgopolov
8: Fernando Verdasco
All seeds are ranked in the top 24 in the world and are closely clustered between 12 and 24 in the world. This makes for fierce competition. Since I’ll be there, I’ll go through the draw quarter by quarter explaining each matchup instead of the usual overview.
Zagreb champ Marin Cilic opens with his Davis Cup teammate Ivan Dodig. He has a 0-1 career record against Dodig even though he is ranked some 50 spots higher. Dodig’s best result is quarters in Zagreb this year.
Defending Memphis champ and Cilic’s opponent in the Zagreb final is Jurgen Melzer. He’ll begin his quest to repeat against Igor Sijsling, who comes off a nice upset victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Rotterdam. If Melzer and Cilic both advance, it would be a repeat of the Zagreb final in the 2nd round.
San Jose quarterfinalist Xaiver Malisse opens with a qualifier. Kei Nishikori, in his first tournament since the Australian Open, also draws a qualifier.
Sam Querrey is still in the running for the San Jose title. He’ll play the same guy he played in the San Jose quarterfinals, Alejandro Falla. Marinko Matosevic and Go Soeda will play each other for the right to face the winner of that rematch in the 2nd round.
Steve Johnson, also coming off quarters in San Jose, gets a qualifier. Alexandr Dolgopolov, who will likely be looking to get back into the top 20 with a good run, faces off with veteran German Bjorn Phau.
John Isner, still in the running for the SAP Open crown as well, gets fellow hammering server Denis Istomin.
Up the draw, Lleyton Hewitt will face Yen-Hsun Lu. Hewitt has a 2-2 career record against Lu, including a win in Memphis during the 2011 tournament.
Lukasz Kubot, who is coming off an ankle injury, will face Ryan Harrison. Big Harry struggled through a 1st round loss in San Jose that can partially chalked up to the fact he had flu like symptoms. Fernando Verdasco, coming off a 1st round loss in San Jose, will look to regroup against a qualifier. Verdasco is already in Memphis and took part in the draw ceremony along with Marin Cilic.
Milos Raonic, still looking to repeat in San Jose is also the defending finalist in Memphis. The Canadian opens with Jack Sock, and the winner will face Florian Mayer (who can be streaky on indoors) or Dallas Challenger semifinalist James Blake.
Veterans Feliciano Lopez and Benjamin Becker (a Memphis semifinalist last year) will serve it up for a spot in the 2nd round. If Becker and Raonic both advance it would be a rematch of the 2012 semifinal matchup.
Tommy Haas, still battling for the title in San Jose as well, opens with Evgeny Donskoy.
Dark Horses: Igor Sijsling and Lukasz Kubot
Sijsling played superbly in his win over Tsonga in Rotterdam and really displayed the range of his talent when he puts it all together. He won’t have an easy first couple of rounds but he will have good shots at upsets.
Kubot was playing pretty well before his ankle injury suffered during Davis Cup and is solid indoors. Given the form of the players in his draw line, Harrison and Verdasco quarters or better is a good possibility.
Cilic d. Dolgopolov
Raonic d. Isner
Cilic was solid in Zagreb and given this is also an indoor hard court tournament, he should be in good shape here. He won’t have a super easy draw the whole way, likely getting Nishikori in the quarters. Dolgo and Querrey should slug it out in the quarters, but I’ll give an edge to the more rested Dolgopolov.
Raonic is playing well and is beastly indoors, while Isner is also solid but still not quite 100% in terms of his level of play. However, Isner has a somewhat easier draw to make the semis.
Cilic d. Raonic
It could well be a slugfest but I’ll give a slight edge to Cilic, simply because he won’t have played as many matches if they both make it this far.
Hopman Cup Preview
After a winter break of exhibitions, practicing, relaxation and vacations, it’s time for the most talented athletes in tennis to get back to the grind and kick off the 2013 season and the Aussie Swing of the ATP and WTA tours. It all begins with the legendary Hopman Cup, a competitive, mixed gender, team based event. It is also time for the prognosticators at Tennis East Coast to get back in the swing of things.
Hyundai Hopman Cup
ITF Team Event
December 29-January 5, 2013
Prize Money $1,000,000
The format for the Hopman Cup features eight national teams of one male pro and one female pro broken into two groups. Each team will play the other three teams in their group one time and the teams that win the most in each group advance to the final showdown. Each matchup features a men’s singles match, a women’s singles match and a mixed doubles match: Whoever wins 2 matches out of 3 wins the national match.
Group A is composed of Germany, Australia, Italy and Serbia. Group B contains the USA, Spain, South Africa and France.
Germany’s male pro is Tommy Haas who had a memorable 2012 in which the still talented veteran finished at #21 in the world. At the age of 34, he managed to go an astounding 31-16 at the ATP level and grab an ATP title. He also took part in the Gillette Federer exo tour in South America this winter.He will be looking to keep the mojo going into 2013 and Germany will have a strong team. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HU2S9aaT0ZI)
Which Andrea Petkovic will show up for Germany? Depending on her form, the former top tenner could turn the German team into a surprise Finalist. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
Bernard Tomic will represent the home country on the male side and will be looking to make some attention on the court for a change of pace. His “bad boy” image has really grown after a 2012 slump where he finished outside the top 50 and below .500 at the ATP level. He finished his year with 3 straight opening round ATP losses and was also dropped as the Australian Davis Cup team. His work ethic, motivation and his maturity have come into question and he needs a strong performance on home turf to begin to redeem himself.
16-year-old Aussie Ashleigh Barty displays no such problems. At #175, she’s made a tremendous push as a pro. Her competition is fierce, though and laden with veteran hands. It’s an honor to play at the Cup, and the former Wimbledon junior champ will be sure to make it a memorable outing.
Veteran Andreas Seppi will replace Gli Azzurri as its male pro. Seppi is coming off a sparkling 2012, in which he finished at a career high ranking of 22 and grabbed 2 ATP titles. Like Tommy Haas, his determination to excel is one of the great stories of the ATP tour and he looks to keep it going under the Australian sun.
Francesca Schiavone is the embodiment of the grizzled fierce competition for the likes of Ashleigh Barty. At 32, the former Roland Garros singles champion still has a few good years left and will be in the hunt for singles and doubles points as she tunes up for Melbourne Park.
Novak Djokovic leads Serbia in the Hopman Cup and makes them an early favorite going into the event. Djokovic has been working the exo circuit like other top pros this winter and will be looking to tune up for another Australian Open title.
Enter Ana Ivanovic. She comes into the Hopman Cup having quietly climbed up in the ratings to #13 without the titles and the trophies, and her pairing with Djokovic should make for a formidable mixed doubles team. Success by Ivanovic in Perth could very well foreshadow her chances for returning to Grand Slam glory in Melbourne later in the month.
The American team will feature its top ranked male pro John Isner, who had a good 2012 that featured 2 ATP titles but finished up the year in a bit of a funk. He will be looking to regroup during the Australian swing.
Venus Williams will be a crowd favorite and a powerful weapon for the US. The mixed doubles team will be strong as both of the Americans see a lot of two-on-two time.
The Spanish Armada will be represented by veteran Fernando Verdasco who always seems to perform well in Australia. He finished the fall indoor and hard court season singles wise on a pretty flat note (though he did well in doubles) and could use some wins to boost his confidence.
Annabel Medina Garrigues pairs up with Verdasco for the second year in a row.
Big man Kevin Anderson will be part of the only team other than Australia that is south of the Equator. Anderson is coming off a very flat 2012 in which he finished just inside the top 40. He tends to do his best on hard courts, though and should be able to do a bit of damage, at least on serve.
Newly married Chani Scheepers reps the Republic as well. She was ranked inside the top 30 only 5 months ago and has fallen to 50.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the highest ranked male player in Group B and though he lost all 3 of his matches at the ATP World Tour Finals, he still is in good shape to succeed in Perth and beyond.
Mathilde Johansson is not the top female player in La Republique, but she is the one here on their behalf. At #87, she’s been consistently unremarkable in the last few years. Her doubles play is not strong, either, and her selection diminishes the French squad.
Germany d. Australia
Serbia d. Italy
Germany d. Italy
Serbia d. Australia
Italy d. Australia
Serbia d. Germany
Haas/Petkovic are a strong pairing but the reliable Djokovic/Ivanovic should have the edge in this group. Seppi/Schiavone and Tomic/Barty will be scrapping for points.
Spain d. South Africa
USA d. South Africa
Spain d. France
USA d. France
USA d. Spain
France d. South Africa
In a much tighter group, Verdasco/Medina Garrigues and Tsonga/Johansson will both have chances at advancing but Isner/Williams should get through with their doubles experience.
Serbia d. USA
This will likely come down to the mixed doubles rubber but Djokovic/Ivanovic will likely prove too strong as competitors.
–Steen Kirby and Steve Fogleman
Davis Cup World Group Semis and World Group Playoffs Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
There are no ATP level events this week but the Davis Cup will take center stage this weekend with two World Group semis and eight World Group playoffs taking place across the world. Here is a preview of all the exciting, patriotic action. Tennis East Coast is proud to announce on-site coverage of Davis Cup, but not from where you’d expect. An intrepid reporter is on her way to an undisclosed location for coverage of Europe/Africa World Group II action.
World Group Semis:
Spain vs. USA
Defending Davis Cup champions Spain will be the favorites when they take on the Yanks on the red clay of Gijon, Spain. Lead by US Open semifinalist David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Marcel Granollers along with doubles specialist Marc Lopez, they play their best on clay and are coached by Alex Corretja. They will take on the American team of John Isner, Sam Querrey and US Open champion Bryan Brothers, and are coached by Jim Courier.
The USA was able to upset France on clay months ago, but given the form of Ferrer and the expected consistency of Almagro and Granollers, the Spanish, who handled Austria in the DC quarters, have a good chance of even blanking the Americans and winning all the rubbers (except maybe the doubles as the Bryans always rise to the occasion). Furthermore, the Americans will likely have a harder time adjusting surfaces after the US Open and will be at a disadvantage in this respect.
The Pick: Spain
Argentina vs. Czech Republic
Argentina, led by Juan Martin Del Potro and Juan Monaco along with Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank, will look to repeat as DC finalists and defend the clay of Buenos Aires against a Czech invasion. The Czechs beat Serbia in the DC quarters and will send a team consisting of US Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych, Radek Stepanek, Lukas Rosol and Ivo Minar. They are coached by Jaroslav Navratil.
The Argentines, who beat Croatia in the DC quarters and are coached by Martin Jaite, will be solid favorites as Monaco and Berlocq are playing well and are better on clay than Stepanek and Rosol. Both Schwank, who replaces an injured David Nalbandian, and Minar spend most of their playing time at the challenger level. I could see Berdych notching a win over Del Potro and possibly a doubles rubber win, but the Argentines are simply deeper and more consistent going into this tie.
The Pick: Argentina
This would mean that the DC final would be a repeat of last year’s should both teams get the job done as they are favored to do.
World Group Playoffs:
On the other end of the spectrum, 16 teams will battle it out for 8 spots in next year’s DC World Group.
The neighboring central Asian nations will battle for bragging rights in addition to a spot in the World Group. Kazakhstan is the host on clay and is led by Mikhail Kukushkin along with Andrey Golubev, Evgeny Korolev and Yuriy Schukin. Uzbekistan will counter with Denis Istomin, Farrukh Dustov, Murad Inoyatov and Sarvar Ikramov.
Kazakhstan, as hosts and with higher ranked players will be the favorites, but if Uzbekistan lead by Istomin can grab a couple of rubbers and then the doubles they could very well snatch the tie.
The Pick: Kazakhstan
Germany vs. Australia
The Germans, led by Florian Mayer, Benjamin Becker, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Phillip Petzschner will look to remain in the World Group as they take on the green and gold led by young guns Bernard Tomic and Matt Ebden along with legendary veteran Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione on the clay of Hamburg.
Germany will be the favorites on clay and this tie is very interesting as both Mayer and Tomic come off bad early losses at the US Open. Hewitt and Petzschner, however, acquitted themselves well but will have to make a quick change of surface. If this tie was on hard court, the advantage would go the Aussies, but Mayer should be able to earn a win along with Becker, Stebe or Petzschner. Also, the Germans probably have an edge in the doubles. This tie will be close.
The Pick: Germany
Japan vs. Israel
Japan will battle Israel in Tokyo for the right to remain in the World Group and will be aided by Kei Nishikori along with top 70 players Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita, all of whom excel on the hard courts. Israel will counter with veteran Dudi Sela and challenger level player Amir Weintraub along with the doubles specialist team of Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich.
The Japanese will be heavy favorites in this tie as all three of their singles players are leaps and bounds above the Israeli players. Even so, Israel may snatch the doubles rubber.
The Pick: Japan
Belgium vs. Sweden
The Belgians, led by David Goffin and Steve Darcis along with veteran Olivier Rochus and the rising Ruben Bemelmans will play on the clay of Brussels against a weakened Swedish team of Michael Ryderstedt, Markus Eriksson and doubles specialists Robert Lindstedt and Johan Brunstrom.
Belgium should have no trouble in this tie as all four of their players rank far above the Swedish players in singles. Though the Swedes may have the advantage in doubles, look for Belgium to cruise.
The Pick: Belgium
Canada vs. South Africa
Canada, led by Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and doubles specialist Daniel Nestor seeks to stay in the World Group as they take on South Africa, led by Izak Van Der Merwe, Rik De Voest, Raaven Klaasen and Nikala Scholtz.
Canada will be the heavy favorites on the hard courts of Montreal, as all of their players are talent and ranking wise well above what the South Africans bring to the table. This should be a 5-0 romp.
The Pick: Canada
Italy vs. Chile
The Italians are led by Andreas Seppi, Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolleli and doubles specialist Daniele Bracciali and will be heavy favorites on the clay of Naples against the Chileans led by Paul Capdeville, Jorge Aguilar, Guillermo Hormazabal and Christian Garin.
Although Seppi suffered a bad loss at a challenger this week and is struggling, Capdeville is the only player of note on Chile’s team that has played much at all at the ATP level and the Italians should remain in the World Group and roll in this tie.
The Pick: Italy
Netherlands vs. Switzerland
The Dutch are led by Robin Haase, Igor Sijsling, Thiemo DeBakker and doubles specialist Jean-Julien Rojer. They will seek to make the World Group at home on the clay of Amsterdam against the Swiss team of Roger Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli and Henri Laaksonen.
This is a very intriguing tie, as Federer and Wawrinka should be able to carry the Swiss. They both did well at the US Open but will be adjusting surfaces, while the lower ranked Dutch are more well-rounded but would need to get a serious upset in at least one of the singles rubbers and win the doubles to triumph.
The Pick: Switzerland
Brazil vs. Russia
Brazil is at home on clay and led by Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva and doubles specialists Bruno Soares and Marcel Melo. They will look to kick Russia out of the World Group. Russia will counter with Alex Bogomolov, Igor Andreev, Evgeny Donskoy and Andrey Kuznetsov.
This is another intriguing tie. It leans the Brazilians way as they have a reliable doubles team and are at home. If Bellucci can do his job and get a couple of singles rubber wins over the struggling Bogomolov and Andreev, Brazil should advance. Donskoy and Kuznetsov are talented players on clay, though most of their time has been spent on the challenger circuit.
The Pick: Brazil
And there you have it, the primer for all the Davis Cup action this weekend. It should be fun and a great follow-up to the US Open.
2012 Winston-Salem Open: Fan-Friendly Dash-City Behind-the-Scenes Re-Cap
Lindsay Gibbs, Special to TennisEastCoast.com
First of all, I’d like to thank Steve for inviting me to do a couple of guest posts here on Tennis East Coast. I’ve been a follower of the site since it was Tennis Maryland, and even though I’m biased since I consider Steve a friend, I’m an admirer of any site that aims to give some face-time to those tennis players who aren’t in the top echelon of racquet society.
Now, two days removed from the Winston-Salem Open, I’m still trying to process all that happened. This was only my second tournament as media this summer, and my fifth overall, and having a credential and getting to sit in press conferences and talk with players one-on-one still blows my mind. The tournament in Winston-Salem is extra special for me because, like John Isner, I’m from the nearby city of Greensboro, North Carolina. Though I’ve lived in New York City for eight years, it’s very meaningful to have tennis in (or, rather, near) my hometown. I get to stay with my dad and occasionally watch tennis matches with family members (last year my mom joined, this year it was a second cousin.) Moreover, it’s just fun to watch the Southern community that is so familiar to me embrace the tennis world that I have come to know so well. And it’s neat to feel a part of that in a small way.
I thought I’d take the opportunity to take Tennis East Coast readers on a bit of a behind the scenes look at my time at the Winston-Salem Open… you know, re-live some of my favorite moments and reflect on some of the things I saw in press that stuck out to me. A bit of a personal journal entry that I’m letting everyone read. I’ll leave the dirty parts out. (There were no dirty parts.)
-First of all, let me take you inside the Winston-Salem Media Center:
While lacking in most things technological, the room did have one advantage–a view! No, not of tennis, that would make too much sense. Rather, we got to overlook the Wake Forest University Football Stadium!
This had two perks: a) When there were rain delays we got to see movies on the big screen, and b) The Players Lounge was adjacent to the Media Center and they shared the same terrace as we did, so we often got to see them hanging out there or warming up before their matches! It made me feel like a spy.
I was pretty impressed with all the players in press, especially after losses. Perhaps it was the Southern hospitality, but even Andy Roddick was in a fairly congenial mood after his loss. A few of my favorite moments were:
• Darcis came to press quickly after losing the final 10 games of his quarterfinal against Berdych. We all followed him from the Media Center to the press room (which was down a flight of stairs), but when we got here it turned out he had forgotten his credential and the security wouldn’t let him in, even though we all promised he was a player! Instead of being pissed off (like I imagine most players would be), he apologized profusely to the media and went back up the stairs and grabbed his credential!
• Querrey was extra cheery in his presser after his loss to Berdych too. He had a “Have An Awesome Day” t-shirt on, and was smiling throughout. Afterward, he chatted with tournament director Bill Oakes and played ping-pong in the player’s lounge.
• Right after the Querrey match, we were told it would be 10 minutes for the Berdych presser. Well, a mere two minutes later he showed up at the door of the interview room. Instead of barging in (which he could have done), he knocked on the door casually and asked if we were ready for him. I thought that was cute.
–Even the smallest tennis tournaments are really busy, and I’ve learned that you can’t follow all the stories you want to, as a fan or as a member of the media. I was really excited to get one-on-one interviews with Gulbis, Stakhovsky, and McClune last week, but I wasn’t able to solve a few mysteries. For example:
Late one night I found Tommy Robredo on a practice court feeding balls to a young girl. Was she a local? Was she a friend of his? Was she a relative? So many questions, but cute nonetheless.
A Winston-Salem Open volunteer befriended Donald Young’s family, and sat in the box with his mom and coach during his matches. I saw them walking around the grounds together often, but before I could follow up on the friendship Young was already out of the tournament.
If anyone has any information on the above mysteries, please let me know! (This is journalism at it’s finest.)
–The grounds of the Winston-Salem Open are really fun.
The Grandstand Court is built underneath the overhang of the football Stadium. Also, in the true spirit of Southern Hospitality, all of the bathrooms seem to be dedicated to players. Because I’m immature, I found this hysterical.
There are more cool parts of the grounds, but I didn’t take pictures of any of them. Oh except for this:
–Last but certainly not least, my favorite thing about the Winston-Salem Open, besides everything else I’ve mentioned in this post, is the Doubles Trophy Ceremony. The Doubles Final takes place after the Singles Final, so not everyone stays. Therefore, Tournament Director Bill Oakes invites all the fans onto the court for the trophy presentation! Pretty awesome. Here are my favorite camera phone pics from the special occasion:
(I have no idea what I did to deserve getting that face from Mayer! I swear I was being professional. I SWEAR OKAY.)
Anyways, hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at the Winston-Salem Open. Hopefully, Steve will have me back again soon!
Lindsay Gibbs is the author of “Titanic: The Tennis Story“. Buy a copy today! You’re invited back anytime, Lindsay. Thanks for giving us some academic street cred!
Isner defends Winston-Salem title, Djokovic claims Emirates US Open Series
John Isner needed his oft typical three sets and a tiebreak to defeat Winston-Salem Open 2 seed Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, finishing it off in a nail-biting tiebreaker 11-9 after saving multiple match points. With the victory, he claims his second straight Winston-Salem Open title and the North Carolina native is still the only man to have won the event.
It was a solid run to the final for the world number 7 Berdych, who appears to have broken out of a slump he had been in since Wimbledon. While Berdych seemed to play a cleaner match in the final than Isner, his play was not rewarded and it will be interesting to see the effect this match will have on both players as they head to New York and look to make runs at the US Open.
Berdych beat Alex Bogomolov, Jarkko Nieminen, Steve Darcis in three and Sam Querrey to reach the final, while Isner beat Martin Klizan, Jurgen Melzer, David Goffin and top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three and a tiebreak en route to the final, another steady tournament and heady performance from Big John.
Querrey’s loss in the semis gives Novak Djokovic the Emirates US Open Summer Series title. Still, it was a good summer for Sam and many other guys including tournament winners Andy Roddick (Atlanta: d. Gilles Muller), the forementioned Querrey (LA: d. Ricardas Berankis), Alexandr Dolgopolov (DC: d. Tommy Haas), Roger Federer (Cincy: d. Djokovic) and Isner.
–Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
Roddick wins a thriller against Isner, will face Gilles Muller in final
Andy Roddick won a thrilling victory against strong serving John Isner 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. Roddick took the first set after breaking Isner coming out of a short rain delay and serving it out the rest of the way. In the second set, Isner was firing on all cylinders with his serve and painted the lines the entire time, finally winning the tiebreak after going up a minibreak.
Early in the third, things continued as they had in the previous set with both guys using their serve to hold and Isner doing some damage on his forehand, while Roddick played plenty of slice backhands. The end of the match became incredibly intense with an electric crowd, which had urged both players on the whole match becoming even more vocal.
Roddick worked his tail off, hitting nice passers and good returns to earn three break points at 4-4 in the third, but a foot fault call on Isner derailed one of his chances to break, causing him to throw his racquet from the baseline into the net and complain to the chair. While Roddick was seriously frustrated, he was able to hold serve at 5-4, forcing Isner to serve to keep the match alive again. This time, he couldn’t do it and a couple of errors later, it was Roddick who would advance to win bragging rights over his higher ranked countryman and a spot in the final. Isner had his chances, but he just could not do enough to break Roddick and had too many errant groundstrokes. Roddick was tenacious tonight.
Gilles Muller also booked his spot in the Atlanta final with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Go Soeda. Muller served strong and got the two breaks of serve he needed to defeat Soeda, who, like Isner, couldn’t do much with his opponents serve. Muller has reached his first ATP final in seven years. While he will be an underdog against Roddick, if he keeps serving well and playing sharp at the net, he will have a genuine chance.
In doubles, the Flemchins were upset by Harrison/Ebden, who won 6-4, 6-4, and will face Malisse and Russell in the final.
Muller, Roddick reach Semis, Soeda upsets Nishikori
Gilles Muller wasted no time earning a spot in the semifinals, earning a 6-4, 6-4 win over Matt Ebden. It was all about the serve in this match. There were only 2 breaks of serve the whole match, both going to Muller and Ebden couldn’t find a way to get a break himself.
Muller will face Go Soeda, who upset his countryman, Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-1. Soeda played better than Nishikori, the higher ranked player, and Kei was really wilting in the heat by the start of the 2nd set. Nishikori was taking plenty of time to towel off and walk slowly around the baseline. Go’s win gives him bragging rights going into the Olympics where they will be doubles partners for Japan.
Andy Roddick didn’t have too hard of a time against fellow American Michael Russell. Like Muller, he got the two breaks he needed and took the match 6-3, 6-4. Both guys held serve with ease and played some great shots at the net. Russell came forward a lot, but he couldn’t handle Roddick’s serve.
John Isner beat Jack Sock in the late match 7-6, 6-4. Isner was up early but struggled at the end of the 1st set in a match that was delayed by thunderstorms. Sock had a ton of set points, but could not convert and while Isner was still shaky, he got a break in the second and served it out.
Today’s semi final match ups will be Muller against Soeda and Roddick against Isner. In doubles semis, Malisse/Russell will take on Klaasen/Young and Fleming/Hutchins will take on Ebden/Harrison. Klaasen/Young won a great match over Ebelthite/Matosevic and Ebden/Harrison won a tough match against Anderson/De Voest.
ATP Atlanta Quarterfinals Preview
The quarterfinals will be played today at the BB&T Atlanta Open and they are quite interesting for the battle of nationalities, if nothing else. The top 2 Japanese players, Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda will play against each other with both earning hard fought three set wins this week.
There will be two all-American quarterfinals here, the first between Andy Roddick and underdog Michael Russell, who has been a refreshing surprise here, and the second between top American John Isner and rising American Jack Sock. Isner struggled last night while Sock has earned a couple of nice wins. The other singles quarterfinal will be between the tall Matt Ebden, and the taller Gilles Muller, who also happen to be a couple of the nicest players here.
In doubles quarterfinals action, best buds Ebden/Harrison will take on South African tandem De Voest/Anderson. Both doubles teams earned strong wins yesterday and Ebden will try to pull double duty again. In addition, Aussies Ebelthite/Matosevic will take on Klaasen and Young, who looked strong yesterday. The Flemchins get a walkover over Muller/Bogomolov as Alex Bogomolov was forced to withdraw with a shoulder injury. Malisse and Russell earned their quarterfinal berth yesterday.