Tag Archive | "Fish"

Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO


Second round play for the ATP concludes today at the Sony Ericsson Open with Roger Federer and Andy Murray from the top half of the draw the feature attraction.  On the women’s side, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams play for a spot in the round of 16.

Fernando Verdasco, the 10th seed, begins the proceedings on stadium court by taking on Dudi Sela.  That’s followed by Williams and Roberta Vinci, their first tour meeting.  Then, Murray, the 3rd seed and defending champion, starts his title defense by facing American Mardy Fish. Murray holds a 3-1 record versus Fish and has prevailed in their last three meetings.  The afternoon session finishes with Kuznetsova battling Agnes Szavay.  In 2007, Szavay reached her first WTA final in New Haven and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.  Both times, then 18 years old, Szavay’s dream run came to an end at the hands of Kuznetsova.  These two have not played since.  Therefore, this should be an intriguing battle.

On the outside courts, Ana Ivanovic attempts to knock out 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The latter defeated the former for the first time in Rome on clay last year.  With Ivanovic struggling with her game, Radwanska may run away with this one.  Marin Cilic, the male 7th seed, faces Stephane Robert. This is the initial encounter for these two.  With Cilic at the highest ranking of his career, it should be an uncomplicated match. Also, Robin Soderling, seeded 5th, squares off against Peter Luczak. Soderling won their only previous skirmish in 2005 in straight sets.

In the evening, Federer takes on Nicolas Lapentti.  With a 3-0 record against Lapentti, this should be no head-scratcher for the world number one.  The ladies’ night match-up is Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova. Petrova leads their head to head 4-1.

It’s men’s day at the grandstand where the must see players include Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis and Gilles Simon. In addition, Rafael Nadal and fellow Majorcan Bartolome Salva-Vidal clash with doubles second seed Mike and Bob Bryan.

Here is the complete schedule :

SATURDAY, MARCH 27

STADIUM start 11:00 am
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs M Fish (USA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA

Starting at 8:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs [LL] N Lapentti (ECU) – ATP
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
[WC] R Nadal (ESP) / B Salva-Vidal (ESP) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[20] G Simon (FRA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
A Petkovic (GER) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA
A Falla (COL) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
P Hercog (SLO) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
G Dulko (ARG) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[6] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) vs M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) – WTA

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs [WC] P Martic (CRO) – WTA
P Luczak (AUS) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
S Robert (FRA) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
T de Bakker (NED) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[31] J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs P Petzschner (GER) – ATP
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs J Knowle (AUT) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP
M Berrer (GER) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:30 PM
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs J Brunstrom (SWE) / J Rojer (AHO) – ATP
A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
T Garbin (ITA) / V Ruano Pascual (ESP) vs K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
F Serra (FRA) vs [26] A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) – ATP
B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) vs [5] L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT) – ATP

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
[1] C Black (ZIM) / L Huber (USA) vs N Grandin (RSA) / A Spears (USA) – WTA
M Damm (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs I Karlovic (CRO) / D Vemic (SRB) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) vs C Kas (GER) / D Norman (BEL) – ATP
I Senoglu (TUR) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami

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Kuznetsova Bends But Doesn’t Break, Venus Moves On in Miami


In the second round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Svetlana Kuznetsova was pushed to three sets by China’s Shuai Peng.  But, Kuznetsova, the top seed, averted an upset with a 6-2,3-6,6-4 win.

After dominating in the opening set, Kuznetsova was broken early in the second.  Despite numerous chances to get back on serve, Kuznetsova’s failed to capitalize because of an inconsistent forehand.  In the decisive third set, Kuznetsova obtained the early edge for a 3-1 lead.  However, with a strong forehand stroke causing the error by Kuznetsova then a superb return, Peng erased the break deficit.  Later on in the set, Kuznetsova captured the crucial break allowing her to seal the victory.

Subsequent to the match, MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  Seems like your forehand has been off lately.  What’s going on there?
Kuznetsova:  Actually, it’s good.  But just getting a little bit–I’m frustrated  because I’m not making, but I feel it good.

Q.  Do you fell more pressure after winning the French.  Are you putting more pressure on yourself?
Kuznetsova:  I don’t put pressure.  I just get disappointed when I’m not playing good enough.  That’s it.

Peng’s compatriot, Li Na, 2010 Australian semifinalist and 8th seed, was equally unlucky as Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky after multiple opportunities to win in straight sets, prevailed in a third set tiebreaker 6-4,4-6,7-6.  In other matches, Marion Bartoli, the 11th seed, had no problem with Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2,6-4 .  After losing the first set, Sabine Lisicki retired due to injury against Yaroslava Shvedova.

Andrea Petkovic bested 10th seed Flavia Pennetta 6-3,3-6,6-0 .  Although her serve is still problematic, Ana Ivanovic came through in her match against Pauline Parmentier 6-4,6-3.  After a tricky initial set, 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska cruised in the second set for a 7-5,6-0 victory over Ekaterina Makarova.  Surprisingly, Agnes Szavay squashed Alicia Molik 6-0, 6-0.

Once more this year, Gisela Dulko ousted a seeded player, this time she victimized Alona Bondarenko 7-5,6-2.  Up and coming Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai had her tournament cut short as the 18th seed went down to 19 year old wildcard Petra Martic.  30th seed Anabel Medina Garrigues and 31st seed Aleksandra Wozniak fell to Roberta Vinci and Polona Hercog respectively. Yanina Wickmayer, Nadia Petrova, Daniela Hantuchova, and Roberta Vinci are through to the third round.

In the night session, meeting for the first time, Venus Williams battled Sorana Cirstea.  Down love-40, Venus double faulted at 2 all to give Cirstea the break.  Serving at 4-3, Cirstea netted a backhand hand digging herself a triple break point hole.  Venus converted when Cirstea committed another backhand mistake.  Then, Williams broke a second time at love to carry the first set.

Again in the second set, Cirstea drew first blood.  With a blazing return, Cirstea set up triple break point and capitalized by forcing Venus to push her forehand long.  However, the next game, Venus leveled the set at 2 a piece.  Later, after erasing break point, Williams obtained a third break point with a backhand miscue by Cirstea.  Venus secured the break for 5-3 when Sorana dumped a forehand into the net.  With an easy hold, Venus closed out the match 6-4, 6-3.

Yesterday, the ATP first round matches were also completed with lucky loser Nicolas Lapentti reaching the second round joined by Juan Ignacio Chela, Dudi Sela, Thiemo De Bakker, Michael Berrer, Philipp Petzschner and Kevin Anderson.  Mardy Fish was the only male American to advance yesterday as Ryan Sweeting, Rajeev Ram were both eliminated.

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25


The women take center stage on Day 2 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open.  Top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova headlines the day session.  Other notable names in action include Ana Ivanovic, Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta, Na Li, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli.  Kim Clijsters will take to the court in doubles partnering with fellow countrywoman Kirsten Flipkens.  The night session will be headlined by Venus Williams who will face Sorana Cirstea.

On the men’s side, Andreas Seppi, Juan Ignacio Chela, Nicolas Massu, Kevin Anderson and Americans Ryan Sweeting and Rajeev Ram will be in action. In the night session, Mardy Fish will take on Leonardo Mayer.

Here is the complete order of play for Thursday :

STADIUM start 11:00 am
E Makarova (RUS) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [Q] P Parmentier (FRA) – WTA
[LL] N Lapentti (ECU) vs P Starace (ITA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
M Fish (USA) vs L Mayer (ARG) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
H Zeballos (ARG) vs A Seppi (ITA) – ATP
P Lorenzi (ITA) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
P Petzschner (GER) vs [Q] R Sweeting (USA) – ATP
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [LL] M Daniel (BRA) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
[WC] P Martic (CRO) vs [18] A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
K Date Krumm (JPN) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs P Schnyder (SUI) – WTA
[10] F Pennetta (ITA) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs S Errani (ITA) / S Peer (ISR) – WTA

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
V Hanescu (ROU) vs A Falla (COL) – ATP
E Korolev (KAZ) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:30 PM
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs I Benesova (CZE) or [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) – WTA
R Ram (USA) vs T de Bakker (NED) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] Y Wickmayer (BEL) / V Zvonareva (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [23] S Lisicki (GER) – WTA
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs S Borwell (GBR) / R Kops-Jones (USA) – WTA
T Bacsinszky (SUI) or [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
A Amanmuradova (UZB) / D Kustova (BLR) vs Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
L Lacko (SVK) vs M Berrer (GER) – ATP
F Fognini (ITA) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP
[Q] N Massu (CHI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
R Vinci (ITA) vs [30] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
O Govortsova (BLR) / A Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs T Poutchek (BLR) / A Rosolska (POL) – WTA
[31] A Wozniak (CAN) vs P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[WC] A Molik (AUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA
[21] A Bondarenko (UKR) vs G Dulko (ARG) – WTA
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs I Benesova (CZE) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
P Luczak (AUS) vs O Hernandez (ESP) – ATP
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs [Q] R Mello (BRA) – ATP
S Robert (FRA) vs A Beck (GER) – ATP
A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Hradecka (CZE) vs [2] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
K Jans (POL) / V Uhlirova (CZE) vs [7] C Chuang (TPE) / S Hsieh (TPE) – WTA

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Karlovic Staves Off Fish to Get to Final

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Karlovic Staves Off Fish to Get to Final


img_0042_ikWith a 4-1 record against the ace machine, Ivo Karlovic, defending champion Mardy Fish knew he had his work cut out for him.  In the semifinals of the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, the chilly weather possibly affecting a chronic left knee injury, a ribcage issue and Karlovic firing backhand winners all conspired to halt Fish.  Karlovic prevailed 6-2, 6-3 to earn his first final spot in two years.

Following an initial comfortable service game, with a Karlovic forehand up the line winner, Fish went down break point. When Fish failed on a pass attempt, Karlovic took a 3-1 advantage.  With Fish unable to chip away at Karlovic’s serve, the latter jumped to a 5-2 lead.  At that point, Fish called the trainer and received attention to his abdominal area.  With Fish’s serve lacking zip and going predominately to the forehand, Karlovic elicited a couple of errors from his counterpart and wiped out two game points.  Then, with a backhand down the line winner, Karlovic arrived at set point.  Ivo cashed in when Mardy was unsuccessful with the down the line pass.

Initially, after getting off on the right foot in the second set, Fish stumbled again.  Subsequent to a forehand up the line winner by Karlovic erasing a game point, Fish saw a backhand down the line blaze by to set up a second break point for the Croat. As Fish’s forehand flew long, his racket also went airborne as he realized in handing Karlovic the break, he was probably done down 1-3.  With three back to back love games, Karlovic punched his ticket into Sunday’s  final against Ernests Gulbis.  This should be a fascinating encounter since it will be these two’s first meeting.

In doubles, Mike and Bob Bryan will defend their ITC title after defeating Taylor Dent and Ryan Harrison 6-7,7-5,10-4 in the semifinals. After a multitude of chances with either break or deciding point on Harrison’s serve in the first set, the Bryan brothers could not get the 17 year old to blink.  Instead, cool under pressure in the tiebreaker, Harrison made a stellar return which allowed Dent to finish with a backhand up the line winner for their first mini-break.  But, later, a miss hit return by Mike led to a Dent error wiping out the advantage.  Still, after holding serve to get a second set point, Harrison connected with a monster forehand return giving his team the first set.

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Gulbis Attains First Career Final Berth

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Gulbis Attains First Career Final Berth


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For 21 year old Ernests Gulbis, the game plan was simple, overpower his 28 year old opponent with big serves and ground strokes.  In executing this strategy well, Gulbis downed Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships to reach his first career ATP final.

After a love hold to open the match, Nieminen was in trouble the second game.  Unable to capitalize on two game points, Jarkko faced a fourth break point when he misfired on a forehand crosscourt.  With a backhand down the line winner, Gulbis secured the break for 2-1.  Despite difficulties, Gulbis went on to consolidate for a 3-1 edge.  Serving for the set at 5-4, with a couple of errors, Gulbis saw two set points disappear.  However, by calling on some booming serves, Gulbis carried the set.

The second set had a similar feel to the first at the start.  Subsequent to Nieminen winning the first game, down 0-30 in his second service game, he arrived at game point.  But, with Gulbis putting on the squeeze on the second serve, Nieminen eyed another break point.  With a spectacularly angled backhand return, Ernests forced a mistake from Jarkko and pocketed the break for 2-1.  Then, with a banal game, Gulbis extended his lead to 3-1.  Yet, serving at 3-2, Gulbis dumped two backhands into the net to give Nieminen double break point. Still edgy and frustrated in believing he was cheated out of an ace the prior point, Gulbis double faulted to equalize the set.  His next service game though, Gulbis pushed the calm button and quickly squared the set at 4 all.  Then, Gulbis swiftly regained the momentum. With Nieminen up 30-0, Gulbis bottled his urge to pull the trigger early and provoked his opponent into four consecutive errors, thereby capturing the break.  Now, one game away from the finish line, Gulbis’ potential victory lap was interrupted by rain.

When play resumed, after going down love-15, Gulbis found his rhythm on first serves after failing to connect initially.  After getting to double match point, Gulbis sealed the win with an ace.

Gulbis stated he was “happy” to prevail and that he feels “fit for [tomorrow's] match”.  When asked how he killed the three hour interlude, Gulbis replied “I ate, played basketball, did physio”.  In reference to his new coach Hernan Gumy, Gulbis characterizes him as “a great guy and great coach . . . He’s helped every aspect of my game”.

Gulbis awaits the result of the Mardy Fish and Ivo Karlovic semifinal which takes place later tonight.

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Rafter Captures Champions Title Over McEnroe

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Rafter Captures Champions Title Over McEnroe


img_9844The finals of the ATP Champions Tour were contested Tuesday night at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center between Australian Patrick Rafter and American tennis legend John McEnroe. The meeting between the two former majors winners was expected to be a display of serve and volley, both delivered. Rafter prevailed over McEnroe 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1) in two highly competitive sets.

Although the ATP Champions Tour has been in existence since 1997, the four day event in Delray marked the Champions Tour’s inaugural stop on U.S. soil. McEnroe qualified for the finals by going undefeated in Group A (3-0) highlighted by wins over Mats Wilander and Andres Gomez. Despite losing to Ronald Agenor, in Group B, Rafter advanced by beating Aaron Krickstein and Pat Cash.

Rafter was favored in the final in light of his age. However, McEnroe held his own in the match. The difference was Rafter’s ability to raise his game level in the tiebreakers. McEnroe would later concede during the trophy ceremony that Rafter was “too good.” Also, McEnroe jokingly said that Rafter is “younger, faster, and better-looking than me.” The win places Rafter at the top of the rankings of The Champions Tour. The Champions tour moves next to Zurich on March 9.

Turning to the ATP Tour’s main draw, top seed Tommy Haas was upset on Monday night by Teimuraz Gabashvilli in straight sets. Despite dropping a set to Nicolas Lapentti, Evgeny Korolev, last year’s finalist, advanced. Mardy Fish, the 2009 champion, moved on when Christophe Rochus retired at 3 all in the third set. Second seed Ivo Karlovic ousted Philipp Petzschner while Kie Nishikori, 2008 champion, fell to third seed Benjamin Becker .

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Delray Beach Welcomes ITC

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Delray Beach Welcomes ITC


img_8728Once more, the Florida swing of the ATP initiates with the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.  Along with the 250 World tour event which takes place from February 22 thru 28; for the first time, the Champions Tour comes to Delray with play running concurrently from February 20 thru 23.

Heading the line up from the legends tour are multiple major winner John McEnroe, two time U.S Open champion Patrick Rafter, fellow Aussie and 1987 Wimbledon victor Pat Cash, holder of seven majors Mats Wilander, 1990 French Open winner Andres Gomez and Johan Kriek two time Australian Open titlist.

From the World tour, 2009 champion Mardy Fish returns seeking to become the first individual since Jason Stoltenberg in 1996-97 to defend.  Fish will face stiff competition from top seed Tommy Haas winner in 2006, second seed and serving giant Ivo Karlovic, two time finalist James Blake and two time champion Xavier Malisse. Wildcard youngster Kei Nishikori who stunned Blake in the 2008 final has again been given a wildcard entry.

On the doubles side, the top attraction are Mike and Bob Bryan who are on the hunt for their second straight title.

Come out to see today’s stars as well as those of yesteryears.  For more info on the tournament and to purchase tickets go to www.yellowtennisball.com or call (561) 330-6000.

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No Longer In A Quandary:  Querrey Winner At LA Tennis Open

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No Longer In A Quandary: Querrey Winner At LA Tennis Open


la_tennis_openAfter three consecutive finals, Sam Querrey finally registered a victory at the LA Tennis Open.  Querrey defeated 22 year-old Australian qualifier and California native Carsten Ball 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 for his second career ATP title.

Although Querrey was the first to break,  Ball bounced back to square the set.  But, Ball relinquished his serve again to give Querrey a 5-4 edge.  Despite Ball hanging tough, Querrey’s serve and forehand helped him carry the first set.

Initially, neither player had a break point in the second.  However, after Ball held at love for 4-3, Querrey made two double faults and sent a forehand long to hand his opponent double break point.  Carsten converted with a backhand return winner for 5-3.  Then, with a pristine service game, Ball pushed the match to a decisive third set.

Once Querrey guarded serve, when Ball netted a backhand volley, he had break point.  A subsequent forehand error from Carsten gave Sam the advantage. Querrey consolidated at love for 3-0.  Although Ball won his next service game, it was all he could manage.  Querrey got the insurance break for 5-1 and with a strong game concluded the match.

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MiamiTennis News Live From Legg Mason Classic

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MiamiTennis News Live From Legg Mason Classic


img_0942MiamiTennisNews.com is expanding its live tennis coverage by providing coverage from this year’s Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.

From August 1st through 9th, we will be on site at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park providing live updates from this ATP 500 tournament.   Headliners include defending champion and world number 6  Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, former champion and world number 5  Andy Roddick as well as 2008 Australian finalist and world number 7  Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Other key names scheduled are this year’s French Open finalist Swede Robin Soderling,  top 20 players such as Frenchman Gael Monfils, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, Czech Radek Stepanek and Croatian Marin Cilic.  A host of top 50 men will also be fighting for this title such as former winner German Tommy Haas, big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic and former major champion Australian Lleyton Hewitt.  Besides Roddick,  Americans James Blake, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and John Isner will be present.

Stay tuned to MiamiTennisNews.com thru the coming weeks for all your U.S. Open series needs. For additional info on the Legg Mason tournament click here or go to www.leggmasontennisclassic.com

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal


img_0642The Davis Cup quarterfinal was the focus this weekend as the U.S. played Croatia in Europe.  In the fourth rubber today, with America’s back against the wall, James Blake tried to maintain his undefeated record vis-à-vis 20 year-old, Marin Cilic.  However, Blake came up short against the talented youngster, as Cilic prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 sending Croatia to the semifinals.

After Blake was unable to take the lead in spite of numerous break point opportunities in the first set, Cilic broke when the American’s forehand went long in the first set for a 5-3 edge.  Then, with a love game, the Croatian carried the first set.  In the second set, after holding serve, with a forehand up the line winner, Blake managed a break point. But, that evaporated when James dumped a backhand down the line into the net.  With excellent serves, Cilic held.  At 2 all, after Blake failed to convert on a game point, Cilic made a service return winner for break point.  Subsequently, Cilic capitalized with a Blake double fault to go ahead 4-2.  Soon afterward, Cilic broke a second time to take a two set lead.

After comfortably holding serve to open the third, with a forehand up the line winner, Cilic arrived at break point. The Croatian scored when the American’s backhand hit the net and sailed long.  Immediately, with a couple of backhand winners, Blake broke back for 1-2.  Always under the knife, Blake faced several break points and dismissed them including five in the eighth game.  Perhaps a little obfuscated, Cilic committed a forehand error to give Blake a break point; the latter grabbed the edge when the former’s forehand went long.  James won the third and forced a fourth set.

On his first break point chance in the fourth, thanks to a backhand error by his rival, Cilic converted to take a 2-0 lead.  Then, the Croat consolidated with a love game. Never in danger on serve, with a crosscourt forehand winner, Marin broke James once more to secure the set and Croatia’s semifinal berth.

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