Withdrawn from @VolvoCarOpen, @JoKonta91 Reflects on @MiamiOpen Win and Future Plans Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Jo Konta withdrew from the Volvo Car Open due to a right shoulder injury sustained during her run to the title at the Miami Open last week. The 25-year-old from Eastbourne reached a new career high ranking of #7. Konta was kind enough to meet with the press following the announcement. She did not commit to a return date on the tour.
Jo Konta (Tennis Atlantic)
Two years ago, Konta was playing tennis in the South. ITF Tennis, that it is, marching through Pelham and Dothan, a long way from the green clay of this premier level event.
“On paper, it may look a little overnight success, but it’s been many, many years,” she said about her career trajectory. “It wasn’t a light-bulb moment. That was one of the best trips I had in terms of personal growth and self-awareness on how I wanted to be on-court and how I wanted to be off-court.”
Jo Konta (Tennis Atlantic)
“I’m really sad I’m not playing here,” she said. “Ever since I knew I was coming to the event last year, I was so looking forward to coming to this tournament. I’d been here once previously many, many years ago, and my dad really, really wanted to come here as well. He’s always wanted to visit the South in the US and he hasn’t been able to yet, so I think next time when I come back, one, I would really love to be playing and two, I think it will be a family affair.”
On court on Monday, former Charleston champions Jelena Jankovic and Andrea Petkovic advanced, and Alison Riske defeated Kayla Day in an all-American first round match. Play was suspended due to rain and will resume at 10:00 a.m.
VOLVO CAR OPEN – CHARLESTON, SC, USA
APRIL 3 – 9, 2017
RESULTS – APRIL 03, 2017
Singles – First Round
M. Puig (PUR) d  K. Siniakova (CZE) 46 62 41 Retired ( Low Back Injury )
N. Osaka (JPN) d J. Larsson (SWE) 67(4) 64 62
K. Bondarenko (UKR) d E. Rodina (RUS) 64 75
J. Ostapenko (LAT) d [Q] A. Bogdan (ROU) 64 62
A. Petkovic (GER) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) 75 62
[LL] O. Jabeur (TUN) d M. Erakovic (NZL) 64 61
L. Siegemund (GER) d L. Tsurenko (UKR) 67(6) 62 76(4)
J. Jankovic (SRB) d E. Alexandrova (RUS) 60 64
A. Riske (USA) d [WC] K. Day (USA) 75 46 60
ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, APRIL 04, 2017
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:00 am
M. Sakkari (GRE) vs  L. Davis (USA)
Not Before 12:00 noon
[Q] V. Cepede Royg (PAR) vs S. Rogers (USA) 31 To finish
[Q] S. Kenin (USA) vs [WC] B. Mattek-Sands (USA)
 L. Safarova (CZE) vs V. Lepchenko (USA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 S. Stosur (AUS) vs J. Jankovic (SRB)
 H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) vs A. Groenefeld (GER) / K. Peschke (CZE)
ALTHEA GIBSON CLUB COURT start 10:00 am
J. Brady (USA) vs M. Barthel (GER)
Not Before 12:00 noon
Y. Duan (CHN) vs [Q] A. Rodionova (AUS)
 M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs [Q] A. Krunic (SRB)
[LL] G. Min (USA) vs S. Errani (ITA)
L. Chirico (USA) vs A. Beck (GER)
COURT 3 start 10:00 am
M. Linette (POL) vs  Y. Putintseva (KAZ)
Not Before 12:00 noon
[Q] A. Muhammad (USA) vs [Q] F. Stollar (HUN)
C. Buyukakcay (TUR) vs  I. Begu (ROU)
M. Doi (JPN) vs  S. Zhang (CHN)
R. Atawo (USA) / J. Ostapenko (LAT) vs I. Begu (ROU) / L. Siegemund (GER)
COURT 4 start 10:00 am
D. Kasatkina (RUS) vs D. Kovinic (MNE)
Not Before 12:00 noon
K. Kucova (SVK) vs [Q] S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 57 75 22 To finish
After Suitable Rest – J. Brady (USA) / A. Riske (USA) vs L. Davis (USA) / S. Rogers (USA)
After Suitable Rest – A. Muhammad (USA) / T. Townsend (USA) vs D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Rodionova (AUS)
2016 Dallas and Launceston Challenger Recaps Chris De Waard, Tennis Atlantic
The week started in great fashion for the American crowd, with 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe ousting top seed and world #77 Sam Groth like it was no big deal at all: 6-3 6-3. Sixth seed Tatsuma Ito was too much in the quarterfinal, however, although he too won’t easily forget Tiafoe’s name after a long three-set battle: 3-6 7-5 6-4. In the next section Daniel Evans overcame perhaps the toughest draw in the tournament to join Ito in the semi-final. After victories over Andrey Rublev and eighth seed Bjorn Fratangelo, he comfortably beat third seed Benjamin Becker 6-1 6-4. In the semi-final he continued his impressive run by beating Ito as well, 6-2 4-6 6-1.
In the bottom half the two top seeds held up better. Second seed Kyle Edmund didn’t lose a set on his way tot he semi-final, where he faced fourth seed Tim Smyczek. Smyczek knew more troubles, needing three sets in both his second round match against Ryan Harrison as in his quarterfinal against Marinko Matosevic. Edmund continued his dominant run against Smyczek, beating him 7-5 6-3 for a place in the final. The first all British Challenger final since 2005. There Edmund once again managed to win in straight sets, beating Evans 6-3 6-2 to win his fourth Challenger title. The victory saw him climb eighteen ranking spots to a career high #84, while Evans jumped sixteen spots to #158.
Top seed James Duckworth withdrew citing an elbow injury, leaving ninth seed Stephane Robert to take his spot. However, from this section it would be 19-year-old wildcard Blake Mott who would be the story of the week. Mott, ranked 721st, beat Robert 6-3 7-6(6) in the quarterfinal, after which he was even more dominant against third seed Saketh Myneni in the semi-final, 6-1 6-4. In the bottom half two more home players did well, with Matthew Barton beating second seed Jordan Thompson in the first round, while Alex Bolt beat fourth seed Alexander Sarkissian in the second round. However, both of them fell to another seed in the quarterfinal. Bolt to seventh seed Luke Saville and Barton to eighth seed Andrey Golubev.
Golubev beat Saville 6-3 7-6(2) for a place in the final against the big surprise Mott. Mott continued to surprise, as he beat Golubev 6-7(4) 6-1 6-2 to take down the title. It meant Mott would almost cut his ranking in half, rising an enormous 356 spots to #365. Golubev rose forty spots to #181.
The final day of the Davis Cup semi-final between Great Britain and Australia, with the British team leading 2-1 after the Murray brothers pulled through in doubles on Saturday. Andy Murray had a chance to seal the tie in the fourth rubber against Australian number one Bernard Tomic in the first match of the day, and the world #3 did just that.
Murray d. Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2
The sentiments before the match was that Great Britain had sealed the tie in the doubles. After all, Murray had previously beaten Tomic two times in routine fashion. Those thoughts looked to be coming true when Murray secured an early break of serve. The pair were hold all the way until 5-3, where the Brit earned the opportunity to serve out the set. Tomic applied the pressure and earned break point, which was saved by a big serve and forehand combination. Murray then had a set point of his own which was saved by an excellent running backhand pass. Murray would then surrender the break to get us back even. However, the world number three ramped up the pressure again at 6-5, getting to 0-40 on the Aussie’s serve. Tomic would save the first two set points, but on the fourth time of asking Murray was able to hit a drop shot that the world number 23 was unable to retrieve.
The second set went pretty much the same way, with Murray breaking in the fourth game yet again. This time, when asked the question to serve it out, he did not make any mistake. A love hold gave the Brit an unassailable lead.
It would take a minor miracle for the Aussie to get back into this match, and his effort showed. A poor game at 1-1 gifted another break to Murray and this match was all but over. A second break would put the match beyond any doubt, and Murray would serve it out to send Great Britain through to the final 3-1 in the tie.
“He’s a tough guy to play against,” Murray said of Tomic.
“He’s got incredible timing. He’s not the best mover but her reads the game very well, serves well. I think we have similar games in some respects. Sometimes when you play a similar game to someone, you don’t enjoy it because he changes the pace of the ball. But yeah, for me my game has just worked well against his.”
“He’s a very good player, an amazing player,” Tomic said of his opponent post-match.
“Today in the big moments when I had a bit of a chance, he was playing very well. I had a chance in that first set to take it to a tiebreak, but he played a very good game at 6-5 to get the break. He was making amazing shots and it shows why he is one of the best players in the world now, and one of the best defenders out there.”
Despite the tough loss to GB, Tomic remains positive about the future of Australian tennis and their Davis Cup prospects over the next decade or so. “We have a very good future,” the Australian number one said. “Nick, who missed out here, is going to help us in the future for sure. Our future looks very good, we have to remain positive and work hard. “There’s still a few months left of the season so I am going to push as hard as I can, and maybe reach the top 15 is my goal. I will be top 20 from tomorrow, so I am happy to make it to the top 20 and maybe in the next five tournaments I can push for top 15.”
It will certainly be an interesting future for Australia. Does Hewitt take on the role as captain?
“My understanding there is going to a panel,” said Wally Masur. “Lleyton I would suggest is going to be the next Davis Cup captain, but there is going to be a panel because everyone has got to have an opportunity. We have got some pretty good past players so everyone’s got to have an opportunity.” Meanwhile, Hewitt himself is unsure on whether he will take the reins of captain next year. “I haven’t really thought about it,” Hewitt said.
“I tried to do as much as I can playing wise whilst I can still run around and compete with these guys. With Pat and Wally this year we have still felt like I had to play a key role with the team dynamics, and added experience with the boys. “We will just have to sit down and work all that out.”
With Tomic, Kyrgios, and Kokkinakis they certainly have the talent to perhaps go all the way in later years.
Speaking of Kokkinakis, the 19 year old restored a little pride for his country by defeating Dan Evans 7-5, 6-4 in the dead rubber. The Aussie was in control throughout the match, even after failing to serve out the first set.
Great Britain advance to the final by a final score of 3-2 to face Belgium, after they defeated Argentina 3-2 in a live 5th rubber. That final will be played in Belgium in a couple of months.
World Group DC Semifinals Set: Italy/Switzerland, Czech Republic/France Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
It was a wild weekend of Davis Cup action, and upsets seemed possible, but in the end, all the favored teams advanced to the world group semifinals. Here is a review.
Czech Republic d. Japan 5-0
Radek Stepanek led the way as the Czechs whitewashed Japan, winning both singles rubbers on Friday in 4 and 5 sets respectively (Stepanek d. Tatsuma Ito, Lukas Rosol d. Taro Daniel) and then clinching the doubles with Rosol/Stepanek defeating Ito/Yasutaka Uchiyama for a 3-0 victory.
Rosol beat Uchiyama and Jiri Vesely beat Daniel in the dead rubbers to complete the sweet, as the defending DC champions earned a big road win and are into the semis again.
France d. Germany 3-2
France was nearly upset at home by an underdog German team that put up a good fight, but they managed to pull themselves together after an atrocious Friday singles to win a deciding fifth rubber.
Tobias Kamke upset Julien Benneteau, and Peter Gojowczyk played well above his normal level to defeat a struggling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 5 sets, 6-8 in the fifth. Germany had 3 chances from there to clinch the tie, but never came close to doing so, as Benneteau/Michael Llodra beat Andre Begemann/Kamke in Saturday doubles, in 4 sets, and then Tsonga and Gael Monfils beat Kamke and Gojowczyk in the Sunday live singles rubbers to clinch the tie. Both Sunday singles matches were straight sets, and not particularly close, as Monfils was a big injection of energy for the French team, and Kamke and Gojowczyk returned to their normal level, along with being fatigued.
A French team strong on paper, they will face the Czechs in the semis at home.
Italy d. Great Britain 3-2
In another near upset, Italy was put on the ropes by team GB but clawed back on Sunday for a big victory at home. Fabio Fognini was again the hero, as he won twice in singles, on Friday with a 4 set victory over James Ward, and on Sunday to keep the tie alive with a straight set drubbing of Andy Murray.
Andreas Seppi went 1-1 in singles, as he lost on Friday to Murray in straights, but clinched the tie with a straight set victory over Ward in the fifth rubber on Sunday. Colin Fleming and Murray won the doubles over Simone Bolelli and Fognini in 4 sets on Saturday to put team GB up 2-1 and a win away from clinching, but team GB was hapless from there on out.
Switzerland d. Kazahkstan 3-2
The Swiss very nearly choked in what would have been one of the biggest Davis Cup upsets in modern history, but they survived just like their French and Italian counterparts to prevail at home in Geneva.
Stan Wawrinka continued his string of poor play post Australian Open, as he lost in 4 sets to Andrey Golubev on Friday, and then lost the doubles with partner Roger Federer to Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov on Saturday in 4 sets as well.
Federer was really the hero this time for Switzerland, as his two straight sets singles victories over Mikhail Kukushkin and Golubev on Friday and Sunday clinched the tie. Wawrinka kept it alive on Sunday with a 4 set victory over Kukushkin, credit to the Kazahks for battling hard in this one.
Switzerland hosts Italy at home in the semis.
Action Outside World Group:
Brazil and Colombia made their way to the World Group playoffs out of Americas Group 1, as Rogerio Dutra and Brazil beat Emilio Gomez and Colombia 3-1, and Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla teamed up for Colombia yet again to defeat Victor Estrella and the Dominican Republic 4-1.
Asia/Oceania Group 1 World Group Playoff representatives will be India and Uzbekistan, as Somdev Devvarman led India to a 3-1 victory over South Korea, and Denis Istomin led Uzbekistan to a 3-2 victory over China, as Di Wu won twice for them but Ze Zhang couldn’t do the same in a super close, competitive tie that came down to a live fifth rubber won by Farrukh Dustov over Zhang in 5 sets.
In Europe/Africa Group 1 finals Marin Cilic and Croatia beat Jerzy Janowicz and Poland 3-1, as Janowicz was upset by the young and rising Borna Coric, Dudi Sela and Israel upset Blaz Rola and Slovenia 3-1, Sergiy Stakhovsky and his teammates gave Ukraine something to cheer for, as they beat Sweden 4-1, including a 13-11 final set victory by Stakhovsky over Johan Brunstrom in the first rubber and Lukas Lacko and Slovakia beat Dominic Thiem and Austria 4-1 to complete the world group playoffs participants.
In a couple of notable Europe/Africa Group 2 ties, Damir Dzhumhur and Bosnia beat Jarkko Nieminen and Finland 3-2 with a live fifth rubber, and Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania beat Rik De Voest and South Africa in the same fashion 3-2 with a live fifth rubber.
2014 Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The 2014 DC semifinals will be set this weekend with the four DC quarterfinals across two continents.
Here’s a preview of all the action.
Japan vs. Czech Republic
With both Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda out of this tie for Japan, their chances of advancing, even at home in Tokyo on indoor hard are severely stunted. The Czechs are missing Tomas Berdych, but they have Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol, plus the young Jiri Vesely, all of whom are in decent form and competitive on indoor hard courts. Japan has Tatsuma Ito leading the way, and two rising young players, Taro Daniel and Yasutaka Uchiyama, but 3 top 70 players and a great doubles player In Stepanek gives the Czechs a clear edge over a Japanese team without a top 130 player. It could be 4-1 or 5-0 to finish, depending if Ito or the young Daniel, who has been given his first call up with Japan, can grab some sort of an upset.
The Pick: Czech Republic
France vs. Germany
On paper, this would be a competitive tie, but Germany is missing all of their top players (Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer), while France is again stacked with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils, along with Michael Llodra to play doubles. Germany’s C team of Tobias Kamke, Peter Gojowczyk and Andre Begemann for doubles is their counterweight. Even with the French team out of form, with Tsonga struggling and Monfils nagged by “personal problems”, it would take an heroic performance from the veteran Kamke and the challenger level player Gojowcyk to make this competitive. On indoor hard, at home in France, it’s hard to see a different result than France 3-0 with the tie over by Saturday doubles.
The Pick: France
Italy vs. Great Britain
Team GB has Andy Murray again, but they will be underdogs against Italy on clay in Naples. A slightly injured Fabio Fognini leads the way for Italy, backed up by the struggling but steady Andreas Seppi, and then Paolo Lorenzi and Simone Bolelli probably to play the doubles tie. Team GB has Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins as the doubles specialist team and then James Ward as second singles backing up Murray.
On a faster surface, team GB might even be favorites, and this will be the closest tie of the weekend I’m almost certain, but on clay, if Ward loses twice to Fognini and Seppi (or even Lorenzi), team GB will only need to lose once between 2 Murray singles rubbers and the doubles rubber to lose the tie. Those odds make me go with Italy, perhaps 3-2.
The Pick: Italy
Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan
Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka lead the Swiss Express against Kazakhstan, backed up with Henri Laaksonen and Michael Lammer in reserve. Even with Stan out of form, Fed is playing well, and at home on indoor hard in Geneva they are expected to steamroll a Kazahk team made of up of Andrey Golubev, Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Evgeny Korolev. All three singles players for the Kazahks are ranked in the top 80, but Wawrinka and Federer are top ten, so assuming no injuries or funny business, I expect a 3-0/5-0 rout in this one.
Germany Upsets Spain, Britain Topples USA, Switzerland Smashes Serbia: 2014 Davis Cup WG Round 1 Review
World Group Round 1:
Czech Republic d. Netherlands 3-2
Robin Haase upset Radek Stepanek to give the Dutch a 1-0 start on Friday, but Tomas Berdych was the pace setter for the Czech Republic, as he destroyed Igor Sijsling to level the tie at 1-1. He then teamed up with Radek Stepanek to beat Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer in the Saturday doubles for a 2-1 lead, and finished the tie with another demolition, this time of Thiemo De Bakker for a 3-1 win.
Sijsling beat Lukas Rosol in the dead rubber to end it 3-2, but really not much in question in this tie.
Japan d. Canada 4-1
Kei Nishikori helped Japan oust team Canada with singles wins over Peter Polansky and Frank Dancevic, all without dropping a set, and a doubles win. He teamed up with Yasutaka Uchiyama over Daniel Nestor/Dancevic. That added up to the 3 rubbers wins Japan needed. Dancevic did beat Go Soeda on Friday, and Soeda won the dead rubber over Polansky on Sunday. This tie was never in much doubt, and Dancevic retired in the 2nd set against Nishikori in the crucial match.
Germany d. Spain 4-1
In the big upset of the week, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer were heroes for team Germany as they beat Spain 3-0 in live rubbers. Kohli crushed Roberto Bautista Agut and Mayer won a tough 5 setter against Feliciano Lopez, fighting through cramps, to give Germany a 2-0 Friday lead. Then, Tommy Haas/Kohlschreiber beat the talented duo of David Marrero/Fernando Verdasco in the Saturday doubles for the clincher.
Spain got a walkover in one of the dead Sunday singles rubbers and Daniel Brands swept RBA in the 5th rubber.
France d. Australia 5-0
It was a learning experience for the Aussies, as Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga schooled Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt, all in straight sets on Friday, and then teamed up to oust the Aussies for good beating of Hewitt/Guccione in the doubles on Saturday.
The dead rubbers were handled admirably by Julian Benneteau and Gael Monfils, who beat the young Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kyrgios respectively.
Great Britain d. USA 3-1
Andy Murray and James Ward were the heroes, while Sam Querrey and Donald Young were the zeroes for team USA. Murray destroyed Young in Friday singles before Ward came back from a huge deficit against Querrey to win in 5 sets. The American saw his level of play totally collapse from 2 sets up.
The Bryans beat Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot in the doubles.
Murray needed 4 sets against Querrey, but he played some exceptional clay court tennis in this tie, and helped Great Britain topple yet another cold streak in their tennis history.
The Union Jack is into the quarterfinals.
Italy d. Argentina 3-1
Carlos Berlocq gave the Argentines hope with an upset of Andreas Seppi in the first rubber, but Fabio Fognini would play the villain. He beat Juan Monaco in the other Friday singles rubber, then teamed with Simone Bolelli to beat Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank in the doubles rubber, and ousted Berlocq in the fourth rubber to clinch the tie. The 5th was mutually skipped by both teams.
Kazakhstan d. Belgium 3-2
The only tie this weekend to feature a live fifth rubber, Belgium fell short of the comeback on the road. They were down 0-2 after Friday singles with Mikhail Kukushkin beating Ruben Bemelmans, and Andrey Golubev surviving a barrage against David Goffin to win 12-10 in the 5th (saving multiple match points in that one).
Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus would help the Belgians keep the tie alive, winning the doubles over Kukushkin and Evgeny Korolev. On Sunday, Goffin beat Kukushkin in 5 sets, but Andrey Golubev shut the door on this tie, handling Bemelmans in straights to send the Kazakhs into the quarters and the Belgians into the World Group playoffs.
Switzerland d. Serbia 3-2
The Swiss mauled Serbia and won the live rubbers 3-0.
Roger Federer straight-setted Ilija Bozoljac, Stan Wawrinka beat Dusan Lajovic in 4, and Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer got together to beat Nenad Zimonjic/Filip Krajinovic in the doubles.
Lajovic and Krajinovic would beat Lammer and Chiudinelli respectively in the 2 dead rubbers, but this tie was never close at all.
Action outside the World Group:
Yuki Bhambri and India whitewashed Taiwan in Asia-Oceania Group 1 action 5-0.
In Europe/Africa group 1 action, Jerzy Janowicz and Poland beat Russia 3-1 on live rubbers and 3-2 overall.
Blaz Kavcic and Slovenia beat Portugal 3-1.
Sergiy Stakhovsky and Ukraine beat Romania 3-1 and Martin Klizan and Slovakia whitewashed Latvia 5-0.
In Europe/Africa group 2, Freddie Nielsen and Denmark beat Cyprus 3-0 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Rik De Voest and South Africa beat Monaco 3-1 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania blanked Norway 5-0.
Jarkko Nieminen and Finland beat Bulgaria 3-1 on live rubbers and 4-1 overall.
Damir Dzumhur and Bosnia beat Greece 3-1. Belarus beat Ireland 4-1. Moldova beat Egypt 4-1 and Luxembourg beat Morocco 3-2.
Day 1 Disappointment For US Davis Cup Team at Petco Park Todor Kitchev, Tennis East Coast
The Davis Cup match between the USA and Great Britain took place at Petco Park in San Diego, California at a clay court specifically built for the occasion. The weather on Day 1 was cloudy with temperatures in the high 50s/low 60s.
Since it was played on a Friday, the stands were about 2/3 full with a lot of support from British fans.
In the first match, World #6 Andy Murray was paired against Donald Young (#79). Murray was off to a fast start, breaking Young in his first 2 service games while holding three times for a 5:0 lead.
The American then won his first game, but Murray held comfortably to close out the first set. Murray’s aggressive play continued in the second set and he was quickly up 5:1, once again breaking Young twice while holding his own serve 3 times. Young did not have an answer to Murray’s deep backhands and he often found himself on the back foot trailing in the points.
Murray won the second set 6:2.
The third set was the most competitive one. The world #6 broke and then held to take a 3:1 lead. After Young held serve for 3:2, Murray faced his only break points in the whole match. The first one was saved by a 136 mph serve and the second – by a beautiful backhand–slice lob. That seem to dishearten Young and he quickly lost the third set 6:3 and just like that Great Britain took 1:0 lead.
James Ward (GB) def. Sam Querrey (USA) 1:6 7:6(3) 3:6 6:4 6:1
The second match of Day 1 offered great drama. Sam Querrey started great, breezing through the first set 6:1 and serving first serve bombs at more than 130 mph. In the second set, there were no breaks of serve even though at 3:3 James Ward was down 0:40 but was able to save all 3 break points faced. The set went to a tiebreak and at 3 points all Ward won the next 4 points to level the match at 1 set a piece. In the third set, Querrey was up to a 3:0 start and after each player held serve 3 times, the American won the set 6:3. The scenario repeated again in the fourth set – an early break for Querrey and a 4:2 lead.
And this is when the unthinkable happened.
After not being broken the whole match and only 2 service games away from winning the match, Sam Querrey’s serve and game inexplicably collapsed and he lost 8 games in a row before breaking Ward to trail 1:4 in the deciding fifth set. But it was too little, too late as Ward broke right back and served out the match comfortably to give Great Britain a 2:0 lead after Day 1.
Davis Cup World Group Round 1 Preview Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
Davis Cup 2014 will kickoff at locations around the globe shortly as a fresh season brings some
strong teams and competitive first round matchups in the World Group round of 16.
Here is our preview of all the action.
Czech Republic vs. Netherlands
Defending champions Czech Republic will host the Dutch on indoor hard courts. Led by Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, they will be strong favorites against a Dutch team led by Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling. Rounding out the teams are Jiri Vesely and Lukas Rosol for the Czechs, and Thiemo De Bakker and doubles specialist Jean-Julien Rojer for the Dutch.
Berdych, who comes off the semifinals of the Australian Open, should win both of his singles rubbers, and then the Czechs only need to win the doubles or either of the singles rubbers (likely on the racquet of Stepanek), in order to win the tie. The Dutch have a decent team but not enough starpower to compete, especially with Sijsling and Haase out of form.
The Pick: Czech Republic
Japan vs. Canada
A couple of the newer tennis power countries in the world, Tokyo will be the place and indoor hard courts will be the surface. Japan, led by Kei Nishikori, will face a Canadian team now led by Vasek Pospisil as their top singles player. Milos Raonic had to pull out of the tie because of injury. Rounding out team Japan are the challenger level competitors Go Soeda and Yuichi Sugita, along with Yasutaka Uchiyama.
Team Canada has iron horse Daniel Nestor as their doubles specialist, plus Peter Polansky and Frank Dancevic, a couple of solid experienced competitors who appear to be taking on the responsibility of the 4 singles rubbers.
Pospisil comes off a back injury suffered in Australia, while Nishikori made the round of 16 there and appears to be in excellent form. I expect Kei to win both his singles rubbers against Polansky and Dancevic. It will all come down to the doubles, where Canada likely has the edge with Nestor/Pospisil and the Soeda/Dancevic Soeda/Polansky matches that could very well go either way and will likely decide this tie.
Given the location, I think home court advantage will help Japan get the result it needs, and they should win this tie in close fashion, perhaps 3-2.
The Pick: Japan
Germany vs. Spain
Indoor hard in Frankfurt will give Team Germany a massive chance to upset the Spanish Armada and reach the quarterfinals. They have a strong team made up of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tommy Haas, Daniel Brands and Florian Mayer. Spain counters with the red hot Roberto Bautista Agut, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco and doubles specialist David Marrero.
One has to expect RBA, given his excellent form in Melbourne (where he upset Juan Martin Del Potro, and also scored 2 other wins to reach the round of 16), to win both his singles rubbers. He’ll face an out of form Kohlschreiber and an in form Mayer, who is playing well, but probably less skilled on an indoor hard court.
However, Mayer is in superior form to Feliciano Lopez and the Kohlschreiber-Lopez match should be a close one. Peppo has played well in Davis Cup, but Daniel Brands is also a good back up option for the Germans as he is also a good player, especially on the surface.
Lopez also has a positive 3-1 hard court record against Peppo.
The doubles edge goes to Spain with Marrero/Verdasco being such an accomplished team over Brands/Haas. Haas is coming off of injury issues in January. Germany will have a major chance, but RBA winning twice, plus the doubles, and or Lopez getting a singles win, should allow Spain to advance.
The Pick: Spain
France vs. Australia
Probably the most interesting tie, in my opinion, of this World Group first round. Indoor red clay in France will be the location for the star power rich tie of the Tricolor vs the Green and Gold.
Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both top 10 players, are the trend setters for France against the emerging young star Nick Kyrgios and the wily Davis Cup stalwart Lleyton Hewitt for Australia.
France also has a seemingly healthy and in form Gael Monfils on call and Julien Benneteau to play the doubles, while Australia has Thanasi Kokkinakis, another emerging star on call, and Chris Guccione to play doubles with Hewitt.
Given this is clay, Tsonga and Gasquet (even an out of form Gasquet), should dispatch Hewitt for 2 wins, as would Monfils, and that puts a lot of pressure on Kyrgios. Though he has talent and swagger, and he’s slowly coming into his own with a bright future ahead, I’m not sure it’s generation now quite yet, especially given the surface.
France could sweep this tie if they win the doubles, but every match should be good. It will be a meaningful experience for Kyrgios and also Kokkinakis if he plays, as they are the future anchors of Aussie hopes in the Davis Cup.
The Pick: France
USA vs. Great Britain
Petco Park in San Diego will be the venue for this clay court tie between two of the most legendary tennis playing nations who have fallen on tough times in recent years with their tennis star development. That being said, Team USA still has the legendary Bryan Brothers for doubles, and Great Britain has Andy Murray to lead them out of the gate.
Finishing out the teams are Sam Querrey for the USA, along with Donald Young, who replaces an injured John Isner. For team GB, Colin Fleming the doubles specialist, journeyman James Ward, and the up and coming Kyle Edmund round out the side.
Though the USA went with clay to try and neutralize the best parts of Murray’s game, he still has to be a solid favorite against a seemingly consistent but not red hot Querrey, and in form but less talented Young. Neither of them play that well on clay anyway. Really, none of these players do.
Murray should win both singles rubbers.
The Bryans have to be favored in doubles for the USA over Fleming/Murray though that isn’t a total lock.
Captain Leon Smith has nominated Ward, who has played some good DC matches but is out of form, and generally plays better on faster surfaces, over the less experienced, but better on clay and more talented Edmund for the other two singles rubbers.
Querrey and Young should grab wins, and win this for the USA 3-2 most likely.
The only way I see the result being different is if Smith changes his mind and goes with Edmund for Sunday singles against Young. Team GB could have a chance in that scenario, or if they pull off an upset in the doubles.
Querrey will need to play as he did in the first 2 rounds of the Australian Open, rather than the lethargic performance he put up against Fabio Fognini in round 3, and Young will need to mentally keep it together. All that said, every player will be adjusting surfaces, especially Murray, who is still not 100% back to total performance after his back surgery and has not played on clay in a long while.
The Pick: USA
Argentina vs. Italy
Clay will be the surface in Argentina as they face Italy in an intriguing Davis Cup Tie. Carlos Berlocq and Juan Monaco, both of whom are into clay, but neither of whom are in form at all, will take on Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini of Italy.
Rounding out the teams are Simone Bolelli and Filippo Volandri for Italy, and Eduardo Schwank and Horacio Zeballos for Argentina.
Argentina plays exceptionally well at home, but Seppi and Fognini have to be the favorites given their better form against Berlocq and Monaco. That alone would in theory give the Italians the 3 or 4 singles rubbers wins they need, while the doubles is up in the air between Bolelli/Volandri and Schwank/Zeballos, all of whom are out of form and pretty pedestrian.
Argentina may survive but I don’t see it happening, Italy is the favorite.
The Pick: Italy
Kazakhstan vs. Belgium
Astana’s indoor hard courts will play host the Belgian team, as the Kazaks have Andrey Golubev and Mikhail Kukushkin as their top 2 along with Evgeny Korolev/Denis Yevseyev for their doubles pairing against Ruben Bemelmans, David Goffin, Kimmer Coppejans and the veteran Oliver Rochus rounding out team Belgium.
This tie should be close given the middling ranks of all participating players, but I have to give Bemelmans and Goffin a slight edge in singles, though Kukushkin could come through. The Belgians will be favored in the doubles with the rising youngster Coppejans and the veteran Rochus. Golubev qualified for the Australian Open but retired in the first round with an injury, and may not be back into match form.
The Pick: Belgium
Serbia vs. Switzerland
If Novak Djokovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki were competing for Team Serbia, this tie would be quite competitive and star studded. Instead, Serbia has a C team of Dusan Lajovic, Ilija Bozoljac, Filip Krajinovic and the doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, while Switzerland has their A team of Roger Federer, Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and also the doubles team of Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer.
With Federer and Wawrinka both in great form (Wawrinka in fact red hot, though he may be slightly fatigued), and Serbia not having a top 100 singles player, outside of the doubles, we could be looking at the home Serbs being swept out of the building on indoor hard by the Swiss.
The mercy rule may need invoking.
The Pick: Switzerland
Notable Action Outside the World Group:
Yuki Bhambri, Somdev Devvarman and India take on Taiwan in Asia-Oceania Group 1 action.
Jerzy Janowicz and Poland face a Russian team led by Dmitry Tursunov and the young Karen Khachanov in Moscow on indoor hard in Europe-Africa Group 1 action.
Joao Sousa and Portugal face Slovenia in EA Group 1 and a Sergiy Stakhovsky led Ukranian team face Victor Hanescu and Romania in the same group.
2013 ATP Eastbourne, ‘s-Hertogenbosch Previews Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The final grass court tune-ups before Wimbledon will be the joint event in Eastbourne and Den Bosch in the Netherlands.
June 17-June 22, 2013
Prize money: €468,460
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Milos Raonic
2: Gilles Simon
3: Philipp Kohlschreiber
4: Juan Monaco
A stronger field brings 4 of the top 20 and a seed cutoff overall of 31.
First round matchups to watch:
Jarkko Nieminen vs. Feliciano Lopez
Nieminen comes off a 2nd round loss at Queen’s club while Lopez lost in the 3rd round of the same event. The h2h is 6-2 in favor of the man from Finland and thus this match should favor him, but the style clash makes it a quality one to watch. Nieminen beat Lopez at Wimbledon last year in their only grass court meeting.
Bernard Tomic vs. (wc)James Ward
Tomic continues to struggle, as expected, having lost 4 straight and 5 of his last 6 matches. Still, this is a surface on which he excels. Ward is a likeable journeyman ranked outside the top 200 who lost a heartbreak 3 set match to Ivan Dodig in the opening round of Queen’s club, an event which also found him the recipient of a wild card. Tomic is far and above the better player, but with his personal circumstances, Wardy will have a shot at an upset.
Milos Raonic will look to recover from a crushing loss to Gael Monfils in Halle, a match in which he played some of his worst tennis in a long time. He opens with Denis Istomin or Ivan Dodig, and the winner will get one of Fabio Fognini, Grega Zemlja, Martin Klizan or Viktor Troicki.
Juan Monaco will have the task of playing the Lopez/Nieminen winner and if he were to prevail he will get Alex Dolgopolov, Fernando Verdasco, Albert Ramos or a qualifier.
Gilles Simon will play wild card Kyle Edmund or a qualifier, then most likely Kevin Anderson (if Big Kev can beat Julian Benneteau and Tomic/Ward).
Halle quarterfinalist Philipp Kohlschreiber will play Radek Stepanek or Marinko Matosevic then a pair of qualifiers, Paul-Henri Mathieu or Andreas Seppi in a tailor-made section for the German.
Dark Horse: Feliciano Lopez
Lopez is one of the better grass court players, and if he can get past Nieminen he has a very open draw with the clay courter Monaco and then either Verdasco or Dolgo being the likely quarterfinal opponent. In the semis, Raonic or someone else is perfectly beatable and at least in theory he could win the whole tournament.
Lopez d. Raonic
Kohlschreiber d. Anderson
Lopez beat Raonic in their only meeting and Raonic isn’t playing that well. He simply has no one in his draw line to stop him early.
Kohlschreiber disappointingly only made the quarters in Halle, but he is still good on grass with nobody to stop him draw-wise. Anderson is having a good year and should get through his draw, but I’ll give the edge to Peppo since they have never played each other.
Kohlschreiber d. Lopez
The h2h actually favors Lopez 4-2, but Kohlschreiber seems to be the better player these days, and thus edge to him.
ATP World Tour 250
June 16-June 22, 2013
Prize money: €410,200
Top 8 seeds
1: David Ferrer
2: Stanislas Wawrinka
3: John Isner
4: Benoit Paire
5: Jeremy Chardy
6: Marcos Baghdatis
7: Victor Hanescu
8: Daniel Gimeno-Traver
50 is the seed cutoff in a tournament without byes and 2 of the top 20 are here.
First round matchups to watch:
(1)David Ferrer vs. Xaiver Malisse
Ferrer has won Den Bosch twice and of course comes off his first ever slam final in Paris. He gets bad fortunes as the top seed in that he has to face Malisse, who is good on grass and pushed Del Potro to 3 sets at Queen’s club before losing. The h2h is 2-2 but they haven’t played in 3 years and never on grass. Ferrer is probably still the favorite but Malisse has to have some magic left.
(3)John Isner vs. Evgeny Donskoy
Isner and Donskoy will meet for the first time and it will be the only grass tune-up for either before Wimbledon. Donskoy is a solid ball striker who is on the rise, while Isner has had a roller coaster year but overall has disappointed. Isner should be a favorite on the fast surface but it could go 3 sets.
(4)Benoit Paire vs. Michael Llodra
Paire comes off a 2nd round loss to Denis Kudla at Queen’s Club while Llodra withdrew from his 2nd round match at the same event. This match is not only notable for the clash of styles on grass between the serve and volleyer Llodra and the drop shotter Paire, but also for the tension between these 2 players. When they met this year in Miami, Llodra taunted Paire, and Paire countered by firing verbal obscenities at his countryman. According to reports of the non-televised match, there was also a physical altercation that had to be broken up by the umpire and Paire said after, “I won’t ever talk to him again,” “He tried everything to upset me while I was dominating the game. He insulted me.” How this match will develop should be interesting.
(2) Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Igor Sijsling
Wawrinka is playing Den Bosch for the first time since 2005, while Sijsling comes off the 3rd round at Queen’s club. They have never met before and both players are on hot streaks overall. Wawrinka is of course in the top 10, and Sijsling is at a career high of 60. Wawrinka will have a slight edge but I wouldn’t put an upset past Sijsling in his home tournament.
The Ferrer/Malisse winner will play Edouard Roger-Vasselin or Rendy Lu, then could face Marcos Baghdatis/Carlos Berlocq, a qualifier, or Roberto Bautista Agut,
Isner/Donskoy will face Leo Mayer or Robin Haase and then it will be a qualifier, Ricardas Berankis, Andrey Kuznetsov or Dani Gimeno-Traver in what is a rather porous section.
Wawrinka/Sijsling will take on Thiemo De Bakker or Paolo Lorenzi and then one of Jeremy Chardy, Marius Copil, Rogerio Dutra Silva or a qualifier in a section from which the seeds should escape.
Paire/Llodra will play a qualifier or David Goffin and then Victor Hanescu/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Daniel Brands/Jesse Huta Galung.
Dark Horse: Michael Llodra
This tournament is hard to pick without qualifiers placed, because it really is the type of event where a qualifier could make a deep run given the lower ranks of the players and a whole lot of guys who are uncomfortable on grass. That being said, of the main draw players, Llodra, if he isn’t injured, could very well make a deep run. If he can get past Paire, he gets D Goff or a qualifier and then probably Daniel Brands or even Huta Galung in the quarters. All winnable. In the semis, both Wawrinka or Sijsling are beatable and even in the final, Ferrer/Malisse/Baghdatis/Isner are all beatable.
Ferrer d. Isner
Llodra d. Sijsling
Ferrer should be able to cruise to the semis unless Baghdatis can catch fire. Isner really has nobody to stop him as well. Llodra, if uninjured, is dangerous and I think Sijsling upsets Wawrinka and wins from there.
Ferrer d. Llodra
Ferrer should make it the hat trick. He is 3-0 career against Llodra and beat Llodra last year in Paris on indoor carpet.