This year's BB&T Atlanta Open is especially unique among tennis tournaments because it is being held in the heart of midtown Atlanta in the outdoor mall of Atlantic Station. The move has been a success - as of last week, ticket sales were up 30 percent from last year. The sponsor tents are right outside the entrance to the tournament so sponsors have the added bonus of attracting not only ticketholders, but people shopping in the Atlantic Station district. It is not often that you will find a tournament's media center between a movie theater and a department store. The downtown connector of Interstate 75/85 is right next to the Stadium Court and United Way Grandstand Court, but the traffic noise has been minimal and not disruptive on the courts. All the courts can be accessed by the underground parking garage, which also serves as an easy way to escape the hot summer sun.
Donald Young is now on a 14-match losing streak after two-time NCAA singles champion Steve Johnson of the University of Southern California defeated him on Monday, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. This was Johnson's first win on the ATP World Tour. Johnson has a huge first serve with speeds that sometimes hit the low 130s (in mph). He also has very strong groundstrokes that sometimes produce a lot of unforced errors; he could be successful on the tour if he learns to control his game more. Johnson will face fellow wildcard Jack Sock in the Second Round.
The Rundown: Saturday
Saturday’s Midnight Snack
By the time the second men’s Semifinal ended, after a string of rain delays, with Gael Monfils triumphing in a deciding set tiebreak, it was difficult to remember the doubles Semifinal that had started play on Saturday, more than 12 hours earlier. After the 1:15 am finish, the players diligently came into the interview room to answer media questions. John Isner’s post-match interview ended at 1:59 am.
Both players, who displayed good humor and sportsmanship throughout the math, even fist-bumping to lament a Hawkeye malfunction on match point, concurred with the decision to have the match completed late Saturday night, rather than rescheduled to be finished Sunday before the Final.
Mardy Fish, who had withdrawn from the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, stopped by Friday afternoon for an interview on his way to Montreal for the Coupe Rogers. Fish was in good spirits and his heel injury did not seem to bother him too much. He defended his heavy scheduling – the top American was originally scheduled to play for 12 weeks straight through to the US Open – by noting that all the summer weeks were important for him to maintain his desired ranking. Fish did say that he has decided to forego entering doubles draws in order to preserve health and energy.
Asked whether his goals for 2011 have changed since entering the Top 10, Fish said he now aspires to make the World Tour Finals at the end of the season, as well as to make it beyond the quarterfinal stage at the US Open. He also wants to stay healthy for an extended period of time, something that has eluded him throughout his injury-prone career.
On the way to historical Newport, Rhode Island, one drives through two arched bridges high above yacht-infested waters, then turns into a town much unchanged in at least a century and a half, save for the car traffic on its narrow streets. The old-town feeling only intensifies upon entering the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the host of Campbell's Hall of Fame Championships, the only grass-court tournament outside Western Europe. The compact green (even beyond the courts) grounds, the architecture, and the wooden seating all contribute to a relaxed, village-like atmosphere of lawn tennis perhaps lost on other surfaces and even at the bustling Wimbledon grounds.
German vs. German
Dustin Brown, who, beyond the famed dreadlocks, is tall and lean and looks like he has just the right type of game for grass, played sub-par tennis in the first two sets of his match against fellow German Matthias Bachinger. Bachinger has only won two Tour-level matches in his career prior to today, but he has a steady grass-court game, and reached the final at the ATP Challenger in Nottingham last month.