Ready, Play! Tennis Hall of Fame Qualifying Kicks Off in Newport
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
It’s a scaled-down field at the best-looking ATP Tour tournament in North America. the International Tennis Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. The 250-level event now has a main draw field of 28, down from 32. Tournament organizers cut the qualifying field down to 16, so two wins are now all that are required to enter the main draw.
A small crowd watched eight matches on the outer courts today in excellent weather, but easily the most anticipated match was the one involving Reilly Opelka, the American ranked #852 with a big serve and a qualifying wild card. Opelka waited alone for several minutes before Frank Dancevic marched onto the court. It may have psyched out the American youngster, as Opelka committed eight double-faults in the first set (and 20 in the match) but still managed to take the set to a tiebreak won by Dancevic. Opelka creeped back to win the second set breaker, but quickly fell apart after being broken early in the final stanza and Dancevic feasted. In the third set, Frank the Tank won 82% of first service points while Opelka won a paltry 40%. Check out this sick shot in the final game of the set:
In other matches, top qualifying seed Alejandro Falla was routined by Daniel Cox of Great Britain in 65 minutes. Cox will face Alex Kuznetsov for a main draw booking tomorrow, as Kuznetsov outlasted Ernesto Escobedo in three sets today. Israel’s Amir Weintraub, the second seed in qualifying, edged past Evan King in two tiebreaks and is scheduled to play Dancevic tomorrow. Michal Przysiezny of Poland (and of brief Wimbledon 2010 fame) was all business in a straight setter over Evan King. He’ll face Australia’s Matt Barton, a winner today over Adrian Bossel.
The return of Brian Baker was almost perfect, but we only got to see a 25-minute set of him before Jan Hernych retired. I saw Baker in warm-ups, with his thicker, fuller beard, and went into the media center a happier man. Twenty minutes later, I overheard a walkie-talkie announcing “Brian Baker…retirement” and got nervous, giving Baker’s injury slides that would have caused a reasonable person to walk away from the competitive game forever. Baker, who was awarded a qualifying wild card, will attempt to ascend to the main draw here when he faces the winner of Michael Mmoh and Brydan Klein on Monday.