2013 Savannah Challenger Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
After Sarasota, the USTA Pro Circuit swings into Savannah for the 2nd stop on the Har-Tru USTA French Open Wild Card Challenge.
USTA Pro Circuit
Savannah, Georgia, USA
April 20-April 28, 2013
Prize Money: $50,000
Top 8 seeds:
1: Mardy Fish
2: Michael Russell
3: Ryan Harrison
4: Alex Bogomolov
5: Rhyne Williams
6: Jack Sock
7: Wayne Odesnik
8: Tim Smyczek
Savannah has a similar field to Sarasota, with wild card recipient Mardy Fish being the notable addition.
Mardy Fish, who hasn’t played since Indian Wells, will open with veteran Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, which is a pretty tough matchup. The winner will face a qualifier or wild card Sekou Bangoura. In the quarters, it could be a qualifier, Sarasota champ Alex Kuznetsov, Frank Dancevic or Rhyne Williams.
Ryan Harrison lost in the 1st round in Sarasota and continues to struggle. He try to change course against Mischa Zverev, a talented but terribly inconsistent veteran, followed by Bobby Reynolds or Ze Zhang. In the quarters Sarasota finalist Wayne Odesnik, Sarasota semifinalist Denys Molchanov, wild card Mitchell Krueger or a qualifier are the choices.
Michael Russell will play Bradley Klahn before Steve Johnson or wild card Tennys Sandgren. In the quarters, it could be Sarasota semifinalist Somdev Devvarman, a qualifier, Facundo Arguello or Tim Smyczek.
Alex Bogomolov will take on Denis Kudla then Donald Young or a qualifier and in the quarters Jack Sock, Teymuraz Gabashvili, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Peter Polansky are all options.
Ramirez Hidalgo d. Odesnik
Arguello d. Stebe
Once again, the conundrum of picking between aging clay court specialists like Ramirez Hidalgo or young Americans with limited clay experience such as Williams is upon us. That being said, 35 year old RRH, while being only 2-6 on the year, has been playing all his matches at the ATP level and this will be his first challenger of the year. That experience should give him the edge, though Williams did beat him in Houston. Odesnik, who has little standing in his way to the semis will likely be fatigued at that point.
Arguello continues to be a raw talent and he did beat Harrison in Sarasota. Smyczek is a tough draw, but a qualifier or Devvarman should be a bit easier than Klahn or Johnson.
Stebe was in the past predicted to be ranked a lot higher at this point and his development has been slower than expected. But a very open section of the draw made up of struggling veterans and hard court players means he should make the semis.
Ramirez Hidalgo d. Arguello
Experience should trump youth in this one.
Justin Gimelstob and Mardy Fish-Hosted Exhibition at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion
Will Feature World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Bryan Brothers
Not exactly east coast news, but LA Tennis has had such a rough year with the loss of the Farmer’s Classic that I’m happy to see a bit of good news. At least this exo should be funded for future years.–Ed.
Westwood, Calif., (Feb. 8, 2013) – Audi, Esurance and K-Swiss have each signed on as major sponsors for the inaugural Los Angeles Tennis Challenge featuring World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras and Bob and Mike Bryan to be played March 4 at newly renovated Pauley Pavilion.
Middle-level general admission tickets and reserved seating are now available starting at $35 and can be purchased at http://www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-825-2101 Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling the event directly at 310-824-1010, ext. 251.
“The LA Tennis Challenge is proud to partner with one of the world’s leading carmakers in the premium and supercar segment,” Gimelstob said. “We look forward to building and growing the LA Tennis Challenge into one of the best sporting and social events in Los Angeles.”
Added Fish: “Having Audi, Esurance and K-Swiss as sponsors is a major step in achieving our goals.”
Three exhibition pro-set matches will take place beginning at 7 p.m. Djokovic will take on Los Angeles resident Mardy Fish in singles followed by a doubles match pitting Djokovic and his childhood idol Sampras against Southern California natives Bob and Mike Bryan. An opening singles match between two marquee players will be announced shortly.
Both Djokovic and the Bryan Brothers are coming off huge wins last month in Melbourne Park solidifying each as No. 1 in the world in singles and doubles. Djokovic won his fourth Australian Open singles title while the Bryans captured their all-time best 13th doubles Grand Slam.
“They’re going to be tough,” Mike said of facing the team of Djokovic and Sampras in a first to eight –game pro-set. “Winning a Grand Slam is great, but we have to win in our hometown of L.A. We have to prove to our friends and family that we’re the best.”
Players will be playing for charity with proceeds from the event benefiting the Justin Gimelstob Children’s Fund, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, Call to Cure and the Southern California Tennis Association’s community tennis initiatives.
“We hope to make the LA Tennis Challenge an annual event, which brings together the community, celebrities and tennis fans to raise money for some very worthy charities and foundations,” Fish said. “It will also grow and promote the sport in Southern California. We hope to establish the LA Tennis Challenge as one of the most important social and sporting events of the year.”
The LA Tennis Challenge will be broadcast by Tennis Channel in the United States.
To learn more about the LA Tennis Challenge go to http://www.LATennisChallenge.com. Like the event on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LATennisChallenge and follow on Twitter at @LA10sChallenge. For more information you can email: email@example.com.
Isner survives Bemelmans, Fish retires, Ebden and Sock advances
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
John Isner started off ice-cold against a tenacious Ruben Bemelmans, dropping the 1st set 6-4 and having more than his fair share of shank and junk hits, long, into the net, and even out of the stadium. He recovered and managed to eke out a win, taking the 2nd set 6-3 and the 3rd set, which was delayed over 20 minutes because the far right light went out on stadium court, 6-4. Isner served acceptably, as Bemelmans was still adjusting to his pace but had to adjust his strategy to compensate for Bemelmans slicing and dicing style of play. In the end, Bemelmans went for too much and couldn’t pull it out. He plays hard though and is also a very positive guy. He even did the wave with the crowd as the light was being fixed.
Mardy Fish wasn’t nearly as lucky against Gilles Muller. An unfortunate run-in with the netpost meant that he was forced to retire up 6-4, 3-2 on Muller and he was actually playing well. Fish went hard for a drop shot near the edge of the net, and in order to avoid impaling himself on the netpost, he slid and rolled his ankle badly in the process, putting him on his back for about three minutes. He was then bent over and limping for the remaining 4 or so points he played before finally having to retire. He was later seen in a lot of pain after the match.
James Blake was good early against Matt Ebden, but felt pain again, and Ebden would advance 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. It was a tight match all the way through, with Ebden struggling with his unforced errors but serving well. Blake was playing great tennis at the net but it appeared that his shoulder began to bother him again in the 2nd and 3rd set. While he was able to finish the match after multiple medical timeouts, he was visibly grimacing on court and exited holding his shoulder.
Jack Sock played some thrilling points against fellow American young gun Steve Johnson, winning his match in 2 tiebreaks 7-6, 7-6. The very audible Sock did plenty of shouting, fist pumping and other such emotional actions throughout a match that featured a lot of lobbing, drop shotting and rallying. This will be his first ATP quarterfinal.
In doubles action, all but the top seed of Fleming and Hutchins (who survived being a break down in the 1st set against Nicolas Mahut and Lukas Dlouhy winning 7-6, 6-2) were eliminated in a day of upsets. 2 seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky fell to Raven Klaasen and Donald Young 6-2, 7-6, unable to chip into their advantage. 3 seeds Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot lost to best buds Ebden and Harrison 6-3, 7-5 and 4 seeds Ken Skupski and Jamie Delgado lost to vets Malisse and Russell (X-Man and Muscles) 7-6, 6-4 with both Malisse and Russell (who is in the quarterfinals in singles here) serving great. Kevin Anderson and Rik De Voest beat Paolo Lorenzi and Rajeev Ram 6-3, 6-7, 10-6 and Colin Ebelthite and Marinko Matosevic beat the UGA/GA Tech combo of Ignacio Taboada and Kevin King 7-5, 7-5 in late action.
On one other note, there was a US Olympic tennis team “send off” on stadium court before the Isner/Bemelmans match, featuring former Olympic star and professional boxer Evander Holyfield and tournament director Bob Bryant along with a men’s choir performing the national anthem. While Olympians Isner, Young and Harrison were in attendance, Andy Roddick decided to skip.
Russell Upsets Anderson, Nishikori Survives a Test
Last night’s play was delayed about three hours by rain and it was another late night in Atlanta.
Michael Russell upset a rather shaky Kevin Anderson 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, fighting back against Anderson’s strong serve and winning his own service games to reach the quarterfinals. It is a great result for Russell and disappointing for Anderson, who was never really on top of his game here.
Andy Roddick won the battle of the serves against Nicolas Mahut 7-6, 6-3. Both guys were thumping aces, but Roddick got the breaks when he needed them and was the better player last night.
Go Soeda dispatched Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 7-5, controlling most of the match. Kei Nishikori faced a test, as I expected, against Ricardas Berankis, a player of similar style. Nishikori was the better road runner though, and in an epic that finished at 1:44 a.m., he outlasted Berankis 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. Berankis had plenty of chances: up 3-0 in the 1st set, saved 3 match points at 5-6 in the 2nd set, took the tiebreak on pins and needles and then had a shot in the 3rd. Nishikori finally closed the door.
Day 6 Preview
Day 6 at the BB&T Open is going to be chock full o’ action. The start time was moved from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate It all. First up on stadium: James Blake will seek to continue his run against Matt Ebden. Both earned tough three set wins in their opening matches.
Mardy Fish will start off his play here in Atlanta against Gilles Muller, who earned a routine 1st round win and Steve Johnson will play fellow American Jack Sock in a battle of the young guns. The last singles match of the day will be local favorite John Isner against qualifier Ruben Bemelmans, who could give Isner a test judging by his recent play.
The doubles action will finally kick in as well, with top seeds Fleming/Hutchins against Dlouhy/Mahut, 2 seed Gonzalez/Lipsky against Raven Klaasen/Donald Young, 3 seed Huey/Inglot against best buds Ebden/Harrison and vets Russell/Malisse against 4 seed Delgado/Skupski. Lorenzi/Ram will also play the South African tandem of Anderson/DeVoest.
BB&T Atlanta Open Main Draw Preview
–Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The main draw for Atlanta is out, a bit earlier than what was planned. It features top 4 seeds John Isner (who plays in the Newport final), 2 time defending champ Mardy Fish, Kei Nishikori and Eastbourne champ Andy Roddick (who all receive 1st round byes). They are joined by a host of Olympians including Alex Bogomolov Jr. (Russia), Go Soeda (Japan) and Gilles Muller (Luxembourg).
1st round singles match-ups are as follows:
Newport Semi-Finalist Rajeev Ram v. qualifier
(WC) Steve Johnson vs. local favorite Donald Young
(WC) Jack Sock, (in his 3rd tournament match back from injury) vs. (7) Alex Bogomolov Jr.
Paul Capdeville vs. Nicolas Mahut
Michael Russell vs. qualifier
Paolo Lorenzi vs. (5) Kevin Anderson
(8) Go Soeda vs. Wimbledon Round of 16 participant Xavier Malisse
Igor Kunitsyn vs. (WC) Brian Baker (Nice finalist and Wimbledon Round of 16 participant)
qualifier vs. Dmitry Tursunov
(6) Ryan Harrison, another Newport semi-finalist, vs. James Blake
Matt Ebden vs. qualifier
Gilles Muller vs. Delray finalist Marinko Matosevic
On the doubles side of things, the Flemchins (Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins), who are Olympians for host nation Great Britain, are the top seeds and will take on Lukas Dlouhy and Nicolas Mahut in the 1st round. Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Scott Lipsky of the USA are the 2 seed and will take on Donald Young and Raven Klaasen.
3 seed team of Dominic Inglot and Treat Conrad Huey will take on the friendly team of Matt Ebden and Ryan Harrison, and a 2nd all British team of Jamie Delgado and Ken Skupski will take on Olivier Charroin and Adil Shamasdin.
The non-seeded 1st round doubles match ups willbe Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Gilles Muller vs. American youngsters Steve Johnson and Jack Sock, Paolo Lorenzi and Rajeev Ram vs. the South African tandem of Kevin Anderson and Rik De Voest. You’ll also see veterans Xaiver Malisse and Michael Russell vs. JP Fruterro and Dmitry Tursunov. Finally, Aussies Colin Ebelthite and Marinko Matosevic will face Kevin King and Ignacio Taboada.
It should be a great week of tennis. Main draw action starts Monday.
2012 Citi Open Player Field Announced
Tournament welcomes world No. 12 Mardy Fish and Features Top International Players Alexandr Dolgopolov, Kevin Anderson, Mikhail Youzhny, Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas and returning American star Sam Querrey.
Tournament features a WTA International Level event led by Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and will showcase rising American stars, Sloane Stephens and Vania King.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 25, 2012 – Tournament officials today announced the entry list for the 2012 Citi Open (formerly the Legg Mason Tennis Classic), an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour 500 event and a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) International Level event. The Citi Open will take place July 28 – August 5 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Washington, D.C. Proceeds from the Citi Open benefit the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), which seeks to improve the lives of D.C.-area youth.
The men’s 32 singles draw is led by No. 12-ranked American Mardy Fish and Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov. Fish, the Olympic Silver Medalist who helped the U.S. defeat Switzerland in Davis Cup action this year, is hoping to claim his seventh singles title and first Citi Open title during his seventh appearance at the event. Dolgopolov, the top-ranked Ukrainian pro who has been ranked as high as No. 13 in the world, has an entertaining playing style that will thrill fans this summer as he makes his Washington, D.C. debut.
Additional players include Kevin Anderson, the top-ranked South African who broke into the top 30 this year, and former top 10 ranked players U.S. Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny (formerly ranked No. 8) and Tommy Robredo (formerly ranked No. 5). Also slated to return is former world No. 2 and Citi Open veteran Tommy Haas, who claimed his 13th career singles title last week after beating Roger Federer in Halle, Germany. American Sam Querrey, a semifinalist at the AEGON Championships in England last week, will be making his fourth career Citi Open tournament appearance.
For the first time in the event’s history, the Citi Open has expanded the field to include a WTA tournament. The event’s first women’s field is led by 20-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a former World No. 13 and multiple junior Grand Slam champion, and features teen American sensation Sloane Stephens, who is currently ranked a career-high 57th in the world. Stephens first gained notoriety in 2010 with a run into the third round of the U.S. Open and is coming off an impressive fourth round finish at this year’s French Open and a second round finish at the Australian Open. At just 19 years old, Stephens is the youngest woman ranked in the WTA top 100. The field also includes former world No. 5 and U.S. Open semifinalist Anna Chakvetadze; 2010 U.S. Open and Wimbledon Double’s Champion American Vania King and former top 25 ranked Virginie Razzano. Razzano recently advanced to the second round at Rolland Garros after handing top-ranked American Serena Williams her first-ever first round defeat at a Grand Slam event.
“2012 marks a very special year for the tournament,” said Donald Dell, Group President of Lagardère Unlimited and Tournament Chairman. “We have a new title sponsor in Citi and an incredibly competitive player field on the men’s side that includes top players from around the world. But moreover, are also introducing a WTA event to the tournament for the first time in our 43-year history, offering fans the ultimate tennis experience.”
Both entry lists represent players from more than 20 different countries and boast strong player fields with a rankings cut-off of 84 for the men and top 100 for the women. The official player acceptance lists account for 24 of the 32 spots in main draw singles. Wildcards (4) and Qualifiers (4) – to be determined at a later date – will complete the field, which can be viewed at http://www.citiopentennis.com/players
The tournament announced the new additions of Citi as title sponsor and the inclusion of the WTA event in April of this year. The 2012 Citi Open ATP World Tour 500 Level men’s event is recognized as one of the top 20 ATP events in the world offering nearly $1.5 million in prize money. The WTA tournament, which was historically held the week before the then-Legg Mason Tennis Classic, will now be played simultaneously with the men’s event in Rock Creek Park and offers $220,000 in prize money. The tournaments are collectively named the Citi Open. Additional player announcements and fan enhancements will be made at a later date.
MORE THAN 20 OF THE TOP 100 PLAYERS IN THE WORLD
ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Darren Cahill held a conference call today wherein they discussed current events and observations of the game.
For one, Fernandez is fond of Christina McHale:
Christina is such a hard worker, with a great disposition. She wants to keep improving her game and she had a really good week. The next step for her is to finish off her matches. She had bad luck not finishing off Kerber, but I was proud of how she finished against Kvitova. She knows the keys to improving and her ranking just keeps going up.
Cahill was asked if he would compare the men’s top 10 of today to the top ten of ten years ago.
Every generation is different, but if you go back to Chang or Krajicek, Sampras and the others, if you were outside the top 10, if you could step your game up a notch, you felt like you had a chance. Now, these players today, the top 4, are more physical than I’ve ever seen. Djokovic had problems with his serve. He solved that problem. (Today’s Top 4) are the best movers and the best returners, too. We’re very lucky to be in this era.
On the hindrance rule of which Serena Williams fell afoul in last year’s US Open and Mardy Fish violated at Indian Wells before retiring to Matthew Ebden:
MJF: If you say “C’mon!” before the point is over, that’s hindrance. I think it was a good call on Serena at the US Open.
DC: The rule is quite simple. The point is awarded to the other player. Even if you smash a point and yell ‘come on’ before the second bounce. There needs to be a little more common sense in interpreting the rule. That was pretty rough that Mardy lost that point.
After declaring that Nick Bollettieri should definitely be in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Cahill opined to Tennis Maryland on the difficulties of a younger coach coming along in the style that Bollettieri or Braden did.
The question of putting together a tennis academy is much tougher than it once was. The elite juniors of the world and their associations hire away good coaches. But the best coaches in the world are the ones whose names we don’t know. They’re the ones on court with the 8-to-12 year olds day in and day out.