Aryna Sabalenka, 2018 Connecticut Open, (Photo: Mike Renz for Tennis Atlantic)
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Volvo Car Open has added three top 15 players to its 2019 field – Aryna Sabalenka, Anastasija Sevastova and Ashleigh Barty. They join a strong international player field featuring Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki, Kiki Bertens, Madison Keys, Julia Goerges, Elise Mertens, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko. The 2019 tournament is scheduled for March 30 – April 7 on Daniel Island in Charleston, South Carolina.
“We are ecstatic to announce that Aryna, Anastasija and Ash have entered the Volvo Car Open,” said Eleanor Adams, Volvo Car Open Tournament Manager. “Ash is one of the most well-rounded players on the tour, Anastasija is a returning VCO semifinalist and Aryna is making her Charleston debut!”
World No. 9 Sabalenka will compete in the Volvo Car Open for the first time in 2019. The 20-year-old has had a strong start to her season, winning the title in Shenzhen and reaching the semifinals in St. Petersburg. The Belarusian also won two titles in 2018, in Wuhan and New Haven, reached the finals in Eastbourne and Lugano and the semifinals in Cincinnati.
Ranked World No. 11, Sevastova recently made the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals in Brisbane. She won the title in Bucharest last season and reached the finals in Beijing and Mallorca. She was a semifinalist at the 2018 US Open, as well as in Moscow, Charleston and Brisbane. The 2019 Volvo Car Open will be the Latvian’s sixth time competing in Charleston, where she also reached the quarterfinals in 2017.
Barty is ranked World No. 12 in singles and World No. 6 in doubles. Already in 2019 she made a splash in her home country of Australia, when she reached the finals in Sydney and the quarterfinals in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Last season she won the title in Zhuhai and Nottingham and reached the semifinals in Wuhan, Montreal and Strasbourg as well as the final in Sydney.
VOLVO CAR OPEN EXTENDS MAIN DRAW WILD CARDS TO TWO YOUNG AMERICAN PLAYERS: SHELBY ROGERS AND LOUISA CHIRICO
10 Americans in main draw of 2016 Volvo Car Open
DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. – The Volvo Car Open has extended wild cards into its main draw to two young American players, Shelby Rogers and Louisa Chirico. Main draw play begins on Monday, April 4th, with qualifying rounds taking place on April 2nd and 3rd.
There are now 10 American’s playing in the main draw of the tournament including Rogers and Chirico – Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Madison Brengle, Christina McHale, Irina Falconi, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Alison Riske are all in the field.
“Both Rogers and Chirico are two players on the rise,” said Eleanor Adams, Tournament Manager. “We typically award wild cards to young American players, and know that our fans will enjoy watching and rooting these two on.”
Shelby Rogers (Photo: Craig Glover)
Rogers, a Charleston native, has played in the Charleston WTA tournament six previous times, and the 2016 Volvo Car Open will mark her fourth time in its main draw. The World No. 104 has won four ITF singles titles and two ITF doubles titles. Rogers reached the finals in Rio de Janeiro earlier this year and made the third round of the 2015 US Open.
Chirico, currently ranked World No. 124, will play her fourth tournament in Charleston, and her first in the main draw. The American has won three ITF singles titles and two ITF doubles titles. Last year, she reached the finals in Limoges, the semifinals in Nantes and the quarterfinals in Washington D.C.
Q. Women’s Singles
 E. Vesnina (RUS) vs. S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) vs.  J. Pegula (USA)
 N. Osaka (JPN) vs. T. Martincova (CZE)
[WC] E. Halbauer (USA) vs.  J. Cepelova (SVK)
 S. Crawford (USA) vs. [WC] P. Schnyder (SUI)
C. Burger (NED) vs.  V. Cepede Royg (PAR)
 K. Siniakova (CZE) vs. [WC] R. Kingsley (USA)
A. Hlavackova (CZE) vs.  S. Karatantcheva (BUL)
 A. Tatishvili (USA) vs. M. Larcher de Brito (POR)
A. Sadikovic (SUI) vs.  K. Kucova (SVK)
 X. Han (CHN) vs. L. Kerkhove (NED)
[WC] L. Robson (GBR) vs.  P. Tig (ROU)
 C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs. J. Boserup (USA)
A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs.  Y. Bonaventure (BEL)
 A. Krunic (SRB) vs. M. Oudin (USA)
J. Jaksic (SRB) vs.  A. Lim (FRA)
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, APRIL 02, 2016
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
Qualifying – [WC] E. Halbauer (USA) vs  J. Cepelova (SVK)
Qualifying – S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) vs  J. Pegula (USA)
Qualifying –  S. Crawford (USA) vs [WC] P. Schnyder (SUI)
Qualifying –  A. Krunic (SRB) vs M. Oudin (USA)
COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Qualifying –  N. Osaka (JPN) vs T. Martincova (CZE)
Qualifying –  E. Vesnina (RUS) vs S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
Qualifying – [WC] L. Robson (GBR) vs  P. Tig (ROU)
Qualifying –  A. Tatishvili (USA) vs M. Larcher de Brito (POR)
COURT 4 start 10:00 am
Qualifying –  C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs J. Boserup (USA)
Qualifying –  K. Siniakova (CZE) vs [WC] R. Kingsley (USA)
Qualifying –  X. Han (CHN) vs L. Kerkhove (NED)
Qualifying – A. Sadikovic (SUI) vs  K. Kucova (SVK)
COURT 5 start 10:00 am
Qualifying – A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs  Y. Bonaventure (BEL)
Qualifying – A. Hlavackova (CZE) vs  S. Karatantcheva (BUL)
Qualifying – C. Burger (NED) vs  V. Cepede Royg (PAR)
Qualifying – J. Jaksic (SRB) vs  A. Lim (FRA)
Red Rock Pro Open Player Field Announced Talented Group Includes Former World-Ranked No. 11 Peer,
U.S. Open Main Draw Players, and Former NCAA Singles and Doubles Winner Gibbs
Shelby Rogers (Photo: Craig Glover)
SUMMERLIN (Sept. 22, 2015) – When Shelby Rogers squared off against fellow American Sachia Vickery in the first round of the U.S. Open, it was a match pitting two popular former and current Red Rock Pro Open players.
The 22-year-old South Carolina native Rogers, who won five consecutive matches at the year’s final Grand Slam, including three wins to qualify, beat the wild card Vickery, 6-2, 6-2, and won another round before falling to No. 2-seeded Simona Halep in the third round.
Telling reporters she was “loving every minute of her U.S. Open experience, Rogers said her third-round appearance was, “why we play the sport. That’s why we try to win each match, to get to the further rounds and play the bigger players.”
Las Vegas tennis fans will remember that Rogers made the final here in 2012, losing to Lauren Davis in three sets.
This year’s Red Rock Pro Open, a USTA Women’s $50,000 Pro Circuit tournament with WTA players ranging in the world rankings from No. 100 to No. 275, will include 64 singles players (32 qualifying and 32 main draw), and a 16-team doubles draw.
Former two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs is expected to be one of the top seeded players, as will Shahar Peer. The 28-year-old from Israel has been ranked as high as No. 11 in the world, and has been a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in her successful career.
As a sophomore in 2012, Gibbs pulled off a historic sweep of the year’s NCAA singles and doubles titles and became only the third player in NCAA history to capture both NCAA titles in the same season. Gibbs then repeated as NCAA singles champion the following year, before turning pro before her senior year.
“Las Vegas has always hosted a very competitive tournament and this year’s main draw talent showcases a few former Top 50 players including 2011 Las Vegas champ Romina Oprandi and former No. 11 Shahar Peer,” said tournament director Mike Copenhaver. “Nearly half of the main draw competitors this year are young, notable Americans, a site that we all love to see!”
Former Red Rock Pro Open player Anna Tatishvili is also entered in the main draw after a good run at the U.S. Open where she won three rounds in qualifying before shocking No. 8-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the first round, and then lost to 2014 Las Vegas winner Madison Brengle in the second round. Tatishvili reached a career-high ranking of No. 50 in 2012, the same year she reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open
The USTA-trained Louisa Chirico is another one to watch out for. Chirico has risen to the cusp of a top-100 ranking as a teenager. This summer, she defeated Top 25 player Alize Cornet to reach the quarterfinals at the Washington D.C. WTA event.
The 2011 Red Rock Pro Open champion Romina Oprandi was Switzerland is entered, as is the player she beat in the final, American Alexa Glatch. Glatch left Vegas with a first and a second having captured the doubles title with Mashona Washington.
Notable American in qualifying and past Red Rock Pro Open players include: former UCLA star Jennifer Brady, Julie Bosserup and Samantha Crawford, who won the 2012 U.S. Open Junior Girls’ singles title.
Premier sponsors include: Gaudin Jaguar of Las Vegas, Storage One, Sunrise Hospital, Lotus Broadcasting, Cox Communications, WG Communications Group, Rachel’s Kitchen, USTA Nevada, Marquis Aurbach Coffing, Marty Hennessy Foundation, and FedEx.
Support sponsors included: Darren Cahill, Marcy Saxe Realty One, Guild Mortgage Company, Allstate Insurance agent Dwain Frazier, Raymond James agent Dan Jackson, The Massage Advantage, Adidas, Wolf Rifkin, Agent Atleta, and Babolat.
In last year’s singles final, Brengle captured the singles title which launched her into the Top 100 and stirred her confidence to the point where she won her first WTA title to start 2015, and made the fourth round of the Australian Open. Brengle led the Mylan World TeamTennis Washington Kastles to a fifth consecutive summer title back in July, and now finds herself ranked inside the top 40.
It’s not uncommon for past Las Vegas players to go on and have success on the WTA Tour. Last year’s singles winner Madison Brengle is currently ranked No. 42 in the world. Other regulars on the Tour fulltime include Lauren Davis, Sorana Cirstea, Melanie Oudin, Varvara Lepchenko and Coco Vandeweghe.
A free Kid’s Day will take place once again on Sunday, Sept. 27 and will be sponsored by Sunrise Children’s Hospital with a special guest appearance by Brando Christo, the author and creator of the children’s tennis book “Buddy The Ball.”
A sponsor Pro-Am will be held on Monday, and the always popular Players’ Party is Tuesday night.
For ball kid information or to volunteer, go to: redrockproopen.com/volunteer; to sponsor the tournament, go to: redrockproopen.com/sponsors or contact Copenhaver at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For a complete schedule of events, go to: redrockproopen.com/schedule.
It’s time for me to turn off Tennis Channel and go watch some live matches again. Tennis returns to the East Coast today, as 16 qualifying matches get underway at the stately Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia. Many fans will be thrilled to see the return of 2012 champion Denis Kudla, who skipped last year to compete in qualifying at the Paris Masters. Kudla might be the only one who isn’t thrilled to be here, as his ranking has flat-lined since Paris. This would be an opportune time for Kudla and others to ramp it up in time for the ‘Happy’ Slam.
Speaking of champs, defending champ Michael Russell returns to Charlottesville at 36 1/2 years old. Russell’s 2014 highlight was a berth in the semis at Memphis.
Summer Surpriser Sam Groth is also in Charlottesville. Groth dazzled in Newport by reaching his first ATP semifinal this summer before winning his first grand slam match at the US Open six weeks later.
Robby Ginepri will also be in town, looking to snatch another grand slam wild card from an up-and-comer.
I’m looking for the next generation to rise up during this Wild Card Challenge. Kudla, Stefan Kozlov, Dennis Novikov, Rhyne Williams, Chase Buchanan, Eric Quigley, Tennys Sandgren, Noah Rubin and the rest of the youngsters could turn the tables on Ginepri, Odesnik, Russell and Ram this year.
Aside from my American pride, the event will also serve as a timely test for players on the rise like Daniel Taro, Gastao Elias and Liam Broady.
Charlottesville always provides an interesting contrast to me after covering ATP events throughout the summer. It’s Pro Sports without the Pro Paycheck. A main draw entry earns you $520 and players carry their laundry around in their racket bags all week. Some spend their off-time looking to catch a ride to Knoxville, Tennessee, the site of the next challenger and Round 2 venue of the Australian Open Wild Card Challenge. The wild card is the real prize here, not the little trophy and the $7,200 paycheck to the winner. A leg up in the Wild Card Challenge standings and a chance to play in the main draw in Melbourne motivates them all.
The USTA cheaped out in cancelling the AO Wild Card Playoffs in suburban Atlanta after a six year run. I jinxed it when I said in years past that it was the one thing the USTA did well. I always felt so conflicted complimenting the White Plains Trash, and I don’t have to anymore. The Playoffs always provided a packed house of fans and possessed a charged-up feeling, unlike these challengers, where you can hear a pin drop on center court even after match point. Perhaps the trio of Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign will get a small bump in attendance and on-line viewership. The Challengers and the excellent people who organize them and compete in them deserve that. But we all know that’s not going to happen. Thanks, USTA, for cancelling the only event you didn’t run into the ground. It’s now time to drown my sorrows in some quality live tennis in Central Virginia.
CHARLOTTESVILLE MEN’S PRO CHALLENGER – CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, USA
27 OCTOBER – 2 NOVEMBER 2014
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2014
COURT 7 start 10:00
 L Lokoli (FRA) vs. B Schnur (CAN)
J Shane (USA) vs. R Bogaerts (BEL)
[WC] J Richmond (USA) vs. A Ritschard (SUI)
L Burton (GBR) vs.  S Bangoura (USA)
 K King (USA) vs. [WC] H Wiersholm (USA)
[WC] J Cornish (GBR) vs. E Elliott (USA)
A Carter (USA) vs. [WC] R Shane (USA)
J Dadamo (USA) vs.  M Giron (USA)
 D Nguyen (USA) vs. A Halebian (USA)
N Kryvonos (USA) vs. R Schneider (USA)
S Bader (AUT) vs. E King (USA)
[WC] L Corinteli (USA) vs.  J Spir (COL)
 M Willis (GBR) vs. N Rubin (USA)
[WC] J Aragone (USA) vs. B Lock (ZIM)
G Ouellette (USA) vs. M Reyes-Varela (MEX)
T Kwiatkowski (USA) vs.  F Nielsen (DEN)
Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – [WC] J Richmond (USA) vs A Ritschard (SUI)
Qualifying – M Willis (GBR) vs N Rubin (USA)
Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – A Carter (USA) vs [WC] R Shane (USA)
Not Before 16:30
On First Available Court – Qualifying – [WC] J Aragone (USA) vs B Lock (ZIM)
COURT 9 start 10:00
Qualifying – L Lokoli (FRA) vs B Schnur (CAN)
Qualifying – D Nguyen (USA) vs A Halebian (USA)
Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – J Dadamo (USA) vs M Giron (USA)
Qualifying – [WC] J Cornish (GBR) vs E Elliott (USA)
Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – [WC] L Corinteli (USA) vs J Spir (COL)
COURT 10 start 10:00
Qualifying – N Kryvonos (USA) vs R Schneider (USA)
Qualifying – G Ouellette (USA) vs M Reyes-Varela (MEX)
Not Before 12:00 noon
Qualifying – L Burton (GBR) vs S Bangoura (USA)
Qualifying – S Bader (AUT) vs E King (USA)
Not Before 15:00
Qualifying – K King (USA) vs [WC] H Wiersholm (USA)
2014 ATP Beijing, Tokyo Previews & Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Two star studded events on the ATP Tour this week as the Asian Swing kicks into full gear. Both are 500-level events on outdoor hard courts, and almost every top 20 player will be in action this week.
ATP World Tour 500
September 29-October 5, 2014
Prize Money: $2,500,470
Top 8 seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Rafael Nadal (2)
3: Tomas Berdych (7)
4: Marin Cilic (9)
5: Grigor Dimitrov (10)
6: Andy Murray (11)
7: Ernests Gulbis (13)
8: John Isner (15)
Perhaps the best non-Masters level field on the ATP tour this season. Beijing is stacked with top players from top to bottom.
First Round matchups to watch:
(5)Grigor Dimitrov vs. Fernando Verdasco
Verdasco has a lone h2h win on clay, last year, against Dimitrov, but he will be an underdog regardless against the higher ranked Bulgarian. Dimitrov played reasonably well at the US Open and he should be eager to finish the fall swing strong, still in the hunt to make the World Tour Finals top 8 at the end of the year. I don’t think Verdasco will trouble him much, but it should be an entertaining match.
(6)Andy Murray vs. Jerzy Janowicz
Murray has a 2-1 h2h advantage over Janowicz, and he should have an edge in their first outdoor hard court meeting as well. He comes off the title in Shenzhen, and hopefully will be fresh enough to deal with the hard-hitting Pole, who played pretty well in Metz and perhaps is turning the corner with his form after a poor season overall. This should again be a high quality match, and I feel Murray is too solid to lose this one; Janowicz will need to keep the error count down to have a chance.
(8)John Isner vs. Santiago Giraldo
Isner has two h2h wins over Giraldo, but both ATP matches went three sets. Giraldo showed signs of great tennis in Shenzhen, where he reached the semifinals. Isner is a positive 6-1 in his last 7 matches, all on hard courts and thus he’s still the favorite for this one. Expect some big hitting in what should be a great watch, probably going 3 sets.
Mikhail Youzhny vs. (WC)Viktor Troicki
These two have met often since 2009: Troicki has 2 hard court wins, while the overall h2h is tied at 3-3. Viktor has been on a tear since returning to the ATP tour and he is playing motivated, passionate, and entertaining tennis right now. He has dictated play with his serve, which was untouchable for periods in Shenzhen, where he qualified and reached the second round. Troicki is an incredible 23-5 this year while Youzhny is an abysmal 14-19. Youzhny is higher ranked, but Troicki has to be the favorite here and he should win this one.
(3)Tomas Berdych vs. (WC)Feliciano Lopez
A match with some great upset potential: I have Lopez defeating Berdych because the Czech is struggling, while Lopez seems to be in good form and he has a h2h edge, including two wins this year one of which came on hard courts in Toronto. The hard court h2h is 3-1 in favor of Lopez and Berdych is on a two match losing streak. This is a great style contrast between his heavy hitting and Lopez’s quality net play.
(2)Rafael Nadal vs. Richard Gasquet
Nadal is returning to tour in Beijing against Gasquet, who has never beaten him before in over a dozen h2h meetings. Gasquet is struggling, and Nadal’s form is uncertain given he’s coming off an injury and should have some rust. However, he’s played some exhibitions and should advance given the H2H differential. The fact Gasquet is a round one opponent for the number two seed, and isn’t a seeded player himself demonstrates the quality of the Beijing draw.
Four-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic opens with Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Novak is 6-0 against GGL, so even if it’s an entertaining match, he should get through to face Lukas Rosol or Vasek Pospisil. Neither Vashy nor Rosol are in great form, but they are players with talent who can play very well at times. Look for an exciting Djokovic vs. Dimitrov quarterfinal.
After Verdasco, Dimitrov should face Kuala Lumpur finalist Julian Benneteau, who opens with KL quarterfinalist Pablo Andujar. Dimitrov has a lone marquee win over Djokovic in Madrid last season, but since then, Novak has won two meetings, both in slams, including a four setter at Wimbledon this year. Djokovic also has two hard court h2h wins, once in 2013 and once in 2012, both in straight sets.
Given Novak’s perfect 19-0 record in Beijing, he should get through to the semifinals.
US Open champ Marin Cilic, a two-time finalist in Beijing, opens with Chinese wild card Yan Bai, then will face the Joao Sousa/Teymuraz Gabashvili winner. The Metz finalist, Sousa, is looking to continue playing well but Cilic should safely make the quarterfinals to face Murray/Janowicz. The winner of that match will face Pablo Cuevas or Mikhail Kukushkin, Cuevas played reasonably well in Kuala Lumpur while Kukushkin was playing the Asian Games in Korea. I favor Cilic over Murray given the fatigue factor, Murray having played some tough matches in Shenzen.
Nadal/Gasquet will face Ivo Karlovic or Peter Gojowczyk in round 2. That will be an easier opponent than their round 1 match, and unless Nadal is really rusty he should reach the quarters to face most likely Ernests Gulbis, a semifinalist in Kuala Lumpur. Ernie opens with a struggling Fabio Fognini before the Martin Klizan/Leo Mayer winner. Nadal is 6-0 against Gulbis and 3-0 on hard courts, including a win this year in Doha.
With that record in mind, Nadal should be a safe pick for the semifinals.
The Berdych/Lopez winner will face the Youzhny/Troicki winner. Troicki has a great chance to sneak into the quarterfinals, though Lopez could also be formidable. Isner/Giraldo potentially await at that stage, with Shenzhen finalist Tommy Robredo also a possibility. Robredo faces Andreas Seppi again this week; he beat him in 3 sets in the Shenzen quarterfinals and this time faces him in round 1, with Isner/Giraldo to follow.
Given the fatigue factor, I have a Troicki vs. Isner quarterfinal penciled in. Troicki is 3-1 against Isner, with a 1-1 outdoor h2h record and has a chance to sneak into the semis, but I’m going with Isner based upon gut feeling.
Dark Horse: Viktor Troicki
As I mentioned above, Troicki has a great shot at the semifinals this week. He will need to blitz past Youzhny and sneak past Lopez/Berdych and Isner/Robredo/Giraldo, but those are all winnable matches if he serves well and comes up with some big shots, he seems on the precipice of an ATP-level revival.
Djokovic d. Cilic
Nadal d. Isner
If Cilic plays like he did at the US Open and Djokovic stumbles, he could very well take the title this week, but given the fact Djokovic is 10-0 against Cilic with 3 wins this season, albeit in close contests, he should still have an edge. Nadal’s form is hard to judge coming off the injury, but he’s 4-0 against Isner and I’m sure he’ll be motivated, so I have him in the final this week.
Djokovic d. Nadal
Given this is a hard court and Nadal is coming off an injury layoff, Djokovic should remain perfect in Beijing and take his fifth title here. He beat Nadal in the final last year.
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships
ATP World Tour 500
September 27-October 5, 2014
Prize Money: $1,228,825
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Stan Wawrinka (4)
2: David Ferrer (5)
3: Milos Raonic (6)
4: Kei Nishikori (8)
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12)
6: Roberto Bautista Agut (17)
7: Kevin Anderson (19)
8: Alex Dolgopolov (23)
Though outshone by Beijing, Tokyo sports five of the top fifteen players and should also feature a lot of quality action this week.
First Round matchups to watch:
(8)Alex Dolgopolov vs. Jack Sock
Dolgopolov is playing his first match back since knee surgery, and he had to skip all of the tournaments this summer. Sock is playing his first match since the US Open and this is the first head-to-head matchup between the pair. Sock has posted his best results on hard court this year, including one quarterfinal and one semifinal on the surface. Dolgo had a strong early start to the year but he should be rusty going into this one. It’s hard to predict and Dolgopolov is the more talented, and higher ranked player, but I have Sock advancing given the rust factor. Dolgo is known to past erratic performances and a knee injury isn’t the easiest thing to come back from right away.
(4)Kei Nishikori vs. Ivan Dodig
Nishikori, who just won Kuala Lumpur, is bidding to win his second Tokyo title in front of the home fans and keep his momentum going. Dodig, meanwhile, is looking to string some wins together and garner some of his own momentum, improving on his poor record of 1-5 in his last six matches. I’m mainly interested to see how Nishikori will play coming off of Kuala Lumpur. Dodig has beaten him once before, last year in Basel, and we’ll see if he can catch the top Asian player sleeping, This match has just a bit of upset potential, though I have Nishikori through.
(7)Kevin Anderson vs. Dominic Thiem
Thiem is looking to avenge his loss to Anderson at the Aussie Open at the start of the year, and he has had a meteoric rise since that meeting. Now in the top 50, he is bidding to follow up his strong showing at the US Open with a good fall swing. Anderson is as always a solid big serving, strong hard court competitor. Thiem will have a reasonable chance at pulling this off, but I have Anderson through. He’s too reliable and consistent to lose this one.
(3)Milos Raonic vs. Bernard Tomic
Milos Raonic appears to be in excellent form, and as the finalist in Tokyo the previous two seasons is looking to do one better and capture the title this year. Tomic isn’t the easiest first round opponent by any means though, and he could pose a threat to the Canadian number one if he can get on a hot streak. He lost a poor match in Kuala Lumpur though and I don’t see that being likely, so Raonic should get through in straight sets.
(6)Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Gilles Simon
Bautista Agut has a great chance to get back into form in Tokyo. It starts with Simon, who has been poor all season and lost a bad match in Shenzen last week to Ricardas Berankis, showing signs he might be injured. RBA has struggled a bit as of late, but hopefully he will grab a rather comfortable win here.
Stan Wawrinka should roll past Tatsuma Ito in his opening match. Jarkko Nieminen could prove to be a tough test in round 2, assuming the Finn who made the semifinals in Kuala Lumpur can beat Benjamin Becker, who reached the quarterfinals in the same tournament. I fully expect Stan the Man to get into the quarterfinals and most likely play Sock, as the other options, Dolgopolov, Andrey Golubev and qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert are far from imposing at present. All in all, Wawrinka has a reasonable route to the semifinals for a 500-level event.
The Nishikori/Dodig winner will play Donald Young or Go Soeda in round 2. Since Nishikori comfortably handled DY at the Aussie Open this year, I don’t expect that one to be much of a contest. It should be Nishikori vs Anderson/Thiem in the quarterfinals, as qualifier Rajeev Ram and Jeremy Chardy, the other options in this section, are both not playing that well at the moment. The semifinalist should come down to whether Nishikori is fatigued enough to lose or not. I’m going to garner he’s not and he’s certainly going to be motivated given he’s playing on home soil. Anderson will have a chance but I have Nishikori in the semifinals of my own bracket.
David Ferrer suffered another bad loss in an early round match, this time to Viktor Troicki in Shenzhen, and he is looking to rebound against his compatriot Marcel Granollers. He could be on upset alert again against Steve Johnson in round 2, assuming the much improved American gets past Hiroki Moriya. Still, unless the American serves lights out, Ferrer should get through to the quarterfinals. In the quarters, it should be Ferrer/Johnson against one of RBA/Simon or Gilles Muller. Muller is a dangerous big server when he gets hot, and he opens with Argentine Federico Delbonis. I have RBA in the quarters of my own bracket but it’s a difficult pick, and I also have him over Ferrer into the semis. Ferrer beat him twice last year, but he’s in a bit of a funk right now and I think RBA will capitalize on that.
The Raonic/Tomic winner will face Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Jurgen Melzer in round 2. Melzer and ERV are both struggling, so it should be a routine path to the quarterfinals for Raonic. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should be Raonic’s opponent in an exciting quarterfinal matchup. Jo has to defeat Michal Przysiezny and the Taro Daniel/Denis Istomin winner to reach that stage. Raonic beat Tsonga this year on clay after two previous losses on hard and grass respectively. Given the form factor, I have Raonic through to the semifinals in 3 sets.
Dark Horse: Gilles Muller
It’s highly unlikely that a non-seed will reach the quarterfinals, but Muller has the best chance. He will need to defeat the RBA/Simon winner, but given their recent form, that’s doable if he serves well. After that, Ferrer/Johnson are also susceptible to defeat.
Wawrinka d. Nishikori
Raonic d. Bautista Agut
Kei beat Stan at the US Open in 5 sets recently, but prior to that, Wawrinka had won both their head to head meetings. Given Nishikori played a weeks worth of tennis in Malaysia the previous week, that should be enough to swing this match in Wawrinka’s favor.
I like Raonic over RBA or Ferrer, given how well he has played on hard courts both recently and this season as a whole.
Wawrinka d. Raonic
Two top players should meet in the Tokyo final, and I have Wawrinka over Raonic, given the 2-0 hard court h2h record and 3-0 overall h2h including a win on clay this season. Raonic will have a chance at taking this title too, and both guys have had a bit of a layoff but they should be ready to perform this week.
Kiki Mladenovic (Photo: Christopher Levy for TennisEastCoast.com)
Following the withdrawal of Kristina Mladenovic (playing with Timea Babos) due to lumbar spine injury, prior to the commencement of the Main Draw Doubles, the team of Medina Garrigues/Shvedova become Seed #5 moving to line 5.
Alternate team of Riske/Vandeweghe move into the draw on line 9.
CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
17-23 AUGUST 2014
RESULTS – AUGUST 17, 2014
Women’s Singles – First Round
 F Pennetta (ITA) d K Koukalova (CZE) 61 63
A Riske (USA) d C Dellacqua (AUS) 61 64
C Giorgi (ITA) d C Vandeweghe (USA) 63 61
E Makarova (RUS) d R Vinci (ITA) 63 63
Women’s Doubles – First Round
A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d  K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 76(2) 64
D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) d  H Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) 61 75
Women’s Qualifying Singles – Third Round
Qualifying – S Peng (CHN) d K Knapp (ITA) 63 63
Qualifying – I Begu (ROU) d [WC] C Garcia (FRA) 64 57 76(5)
Qualifying – B Bencic (SUI) d M Barthel (GER) 63 76(6)
Qualifying – S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d K Kanepi (EST) 64 62
Qualifying – M Doi (JPN) d A Beck (GER) 76(4) 26 76(3)
Qualifying – T Bacsinszky (SUI) d F Schiavone (ITA) 62 75
USONP Men’s Singles Championship – Semifinals
 S Singh (IND) d  R Schneider (USA) 76(4) 61
 J Dadamo (USA) d  J Witten (USA) 63 36 63
USONP Women’s Singles Championship – Semifinals
C Whoriskey (USA) d  A Weinhold (USA) 64 61
M Gordon (USA) d  J Cako (USA) 61 62
CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
17-23 AUGUST 2014
ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, AUGUST 18, 2014
STADIUM start 12:00 noon
WTA – [Q] S Peng (CHN) vs E Svitolina (UKR)
WTA – [WC] S Stosur (AUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
Not Before 3:30 pm
WTA – B Jovanovski (SRB) vs  E Bouchard (CAN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA –  C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] T Bacsinszky (SUI)
WTA –  [WC] D Cibulkova (SVK) vs [WC] A Petkovic (GER)
GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon
WTA – G Muguruza (ESP) vs  S Errani (ITA)
WTA –  C Suárez Navarro (ESP) vs [Q] I Begu (ROU)
WTA – [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) vs [Q] M Doi (JPN)
WTA –  A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs S Peer (ISR) / K Piter (POL)
COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
WTA – B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [Q] B Bencic (SUI)
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
WTA – O Kalashnikova (GEO) / A Rosolska (POL) vs C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) vs A Groenefeld (GER) / K Koukalova (CZE)
COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
USONP Women – M Gordon (USA) vs C Whoriskey (USA)
USONP Men –  S Singh (IND) vs  J Dadamo (USA)
DRAW SET FOR US/ITALY FED CUP FROM CLEVELAND Steve Fogleman, cross-posted at TennisPanorama.com
CLEVELAND, February 7, 2014–The US and Italian Fed Cup Team match ups are all set in Cleveland, having been determined during an afternoon draw ceremony today at a downtown hotel two blocks from the site of the tie.
The second-highest ranked American on the team, Christina McHale, will open against top Italian Team player Karin Knapp at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, followed by Madison Keys and Camila Giorgi.
On Sunday, Keys and Knapp will meet at 12:00 p.m., followed by McHale and Giorgi.
Alison Riske and Lauren Keys were enlisted for doubles, and they will square off on Sunday against Nastassja Burnett and Alice Mateucci in the fifth rubber.
Team Italy with a detached Nastassja Burnett
At the post-draw press conference, the members of the American team expressed elation at having been chosen to participate on behalf of the US. Only one of the players—McHale—has previously represented her country in Fed Cup play and she was designated a captain for her experience.
“Whether I play or not, it’s great to be here”, said Alison Riske.
Mary Jo Fernandez spoke out in support of her designation of McHale as the leader of the team.
“It’s a different experience playing for your country. Christina has been there before. She
knows what’s coming her way.”
McHale’s past participation aside, this group is Generation Next. The Americans hope to end an 0-3 slump to the Italians, after beating the Azzuri nine times in a row between 1963-2003.
DAY/LOCAL TIME MATCH PAIRING
Saturday, 1:00 p.m. Singles A: Christina McHale (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)
Singles B: Madison Keys (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
Sunday, 12:00 p.m. Singles C: Madison Keys (USA) vs. Karin Knapp (ITA)
Singles D: Christina McHale (USA) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
Doubles: Lauren Davis/Alison Riske (USA) vs. Nastassja Burnett/Alice Matteucci(ITA)
FED CUP BY BNP PARIBAS DRAW SET FOR CANADA VS. SERBIA THIS WEEKEND
Montreal, February 7, 2014 – The official draw for the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group II first round tie between Canada and Serbia was held Friday to determine the match ups for the weekend. The tie will be played on February 8 and 9 on an indoor hard court at the Claude-Robillard Sports Complex in Montreal.
The Canadian Fed Cup team of Eugenie Bouchard (Westmount, QC), Gabriela Dabrowski (Ottawa, ON), Sharon Fichman (Toronto, ON), and Aleksandra Wozniak (Blainville, QC) will play two singles matches on Saturday followed by two singles matches and a doubles match on Sunday. Canadian Fed Cup team captain Sylvain Bruneau will be at the helm this weekend.
Wozniak stunned spectators by dropping McHale in the First Round
Today’s draw produced the following weekend match-ups:
1st Singles Rubber, Saturday 3:00 p.m. ET Aleksandra Wozniak Vesna Dolonc
2nd Singles Rubber, Saturday Eugenie Bouchard Jovana Jaksic
3rd Singles Rubber, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET Eugenie Bouchard Vesna Dolonc
4th Singles Rubber, Sunday Aleksandra Wozniak Jovana Jaksic
Doubles Rubber, Sunday Gabriela Dabrowski Aleksandra Krunic
Sharon Fichman Nina Stojanovic
“We’re pleased with the draw but really, no matter what the order, we’re just excited to get started and play some great tennis,” said Bruneau. “The team has worked extremely hard this week and there has been great support from everyone here in Montreal so we’re ready to go. We know the building will be loud and the fans will be behind us and the girls are going to go out there and do everything they can to win.”
A win over Serbia will advance the Canadian squad to a World Group I play-off in April. The last time Canada found itself among the top eight nations in the world was in 1994. The losing country will play a World Group II play-off in April to maintain their place in World Group II in 2015.
Play will begin at 3:00 ET on Saturday, February 8 with two singles matches. The two reverse singles matches will played on Sunday, February 9 starting at 1:00 ET followed by the doubles rubber.
After a grueling 11 hour family car ride down 95, I am happy to be here. This officially marks my daughter’s longest car trip and she was great. She’s looking forward to three days of kid’s activities at the Cup, including the kid-interactive, chip-pluckin’ main draw ceremony tomorrow and an Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday.
I got a great deal on Hotwire for what turns out to be an outdated but value-rich 3.5 star hotel. The interesting thing is that it is just down the street from a motel where I booked a room last year and then chickened out and canceled after I read reviews like “You. Will. Die. Here.” Of course, I paraphrase. Coming from Baltimore, it takes a lot to get me nervous about a place where I’m only crashing for a few nights. In the end, the unanimity of conviction from Tripadvisor contributors got the best of me on that one. The worst part is, the motel didn’t look that bad when I drove by it at sundown tonight. Anyway, if you need a place to get away from it all for $30/night in North Ctown, email me for the opposite of a recommendation.
Here’s the tennis excitement.
—I’ve got an official Eintracht USA life membership card to give to Andrea Petkovic, as she is a huge fan of that German city’s football team.
–Too bad that Sara Errani is out with injury. The only time I met her, she refused to give credit to anything except her racquet. I really wanted to see if she would finally take a little credit for her consistency. Next time, Sara.
—There is a huge American roster tomorrow on display at the Qualifying, to wit:
FAMILY CIRCLE CUP – CHARLESTON, SC, USA
MARCH 30 – APRIL 07, 2013
Q. Women’s Singles
 K Pliskova (CZE) vs. A Riske (USA)
A Rodionova (RUS) vs.  V King (USA)
 M Burdette (USA) vs. V Solovyeva (RUS)
[WC] L Chirico (USA) vs.  Y Beygelzimer (UKR)
 K Pliskova (CZE) vs. C Scholl (USA)
[WC] S Marand (USA) vs.  C Garcia (FRA)
 S Karatantcheva (KAZ) vs. C Castano (COL)
S Rogers (USA) vs.  G Min (USA)
 T Pereira (BRA) vs. J Elie (USA)
[WC] V Duval (USA) vs.  P Ormaechea (ARG)
 E Bouchard (CAN) vs. K Marosi (HUN)
P Goncalves (BRA) vs.  I Falconi (USA)
 S Zhang (CHN) vs. P Rampre (SLO)
A Barty (AUS) vs.  N Burnett (ITA)
 M Larcher de Brito (POR) vs. [WC] H Carter (USA)
J Craybas (USA) vs.  J Pegula (USA)
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, MARCH 30, 2013
ALTHEA GIBSON start 10:00 am
Qualifying – J Craybas (USA) vs J Pegula (USA)
Qualifying – [WC] V Duval (USA) vs P Ormaechea (ARG)
Qualifying – S Rogers (USA) vs G Min (USA)
Qualifying – K Pliskova (CZE) vs A Riske (USA)
COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Qualifying – M Burdette (USA) vs V Solovyeva (RUS)
Qualifying – S Karatantcheva (KAZ) vs C Castano (COL)
Qualifying – T Pereira (BRA) vs J Elie (USA)
Qualifying – P Goncalves (BRA) vs I Falconi (USA)
COURT 4 start 10:00 am
Qualifying – M Larcher de Brito (POR) vs [WC] H Carter (USA)
Qualifying – A Barty (AUS) vs N Burnett (ITA)
Qualifying – E Bouchard (CAN) vs K Marosi (HUN)
Qualifying – A Rodionova (RUS) vs V King (USA)
COURT 5 start 10:00 am
Qualifying – [WC] L Chirico (USA) vs Y Beygelzimer (UKR)
Qualifying – S Zhang (CHN) vs P Rampre (SLO)
Qualifying – [WC] S Marand (USA) vs C Garcia (FRA)
Qualifying – K Pliskova (CZE) vs C Scholl (USA)
Sandy or no Sandy, the Charlottesville Men’s Pro Challenger kicks off today at the Boar’s Head Spots Club. Matches begin at 10:00 am. Top qualifying seed Though he’s a Frenchman, Clement Reix is the 2012 US Open National Playoffs champion. He’ll take on Darian King in the final match of the day, who has won two Futures events in Mexico this year. Virginia native Michael Shabaz will battle Eric Quigley this afternoon as well.
The match between young Christian Harrison and UVA’s Jarmere Jenkins will be a closely-watched event. Jenkins will be a big crowd favorite due to Jenkins Cavalier blood lines, but the tricky 18-year-old who made his way to the third round of US Open men’s doubles has learned a thing or two about hostile environments. Harrison also made the semifinals at Lexngton and the Canada F8s earlier this year. When I caught up with Christian Harrison in Newport over the summer, I overheard John Isner call him “Little Harry”, and I’ll always remember him that way, even if he goes on to eclipse his brother and Big John.