Michael Russell, at 34-years-old, is the oldest person in the draw, but he does not play like one. He is still ranked in the Top 100, at No. 94. With his 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) win Tuesday, he remains unbeaten against fellow American Alex Kuznetsov with now two wins on the ATP World Tour and eight wins at the challenger level. Russell struggled to find his form and his frustration showed in the first set after the more-than-two-hour rain delay. Kuznetsov was up an early break in the second set, but Russell used his great speed and consistency at the baseline to break back in the second set and then win the match in a third-set tiebreak.
Ryan Harrison said he was not devastated by the 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 loss to James Blake. "He's a great guy and he's done a lot for American tennis. I'm glad he got the win. Just disappointed it was against me." We asked Harrison how the match turned around in the second set after he won the first set easily. "[Blake] started to get a better rhythm in the second set. I did a good job of mixing it up and keeping him off balance in the first set. In the second set, I started to get a little too predictable and when he started playing a lot bigger I got defensive. At that point I was just reacting to what he was doing and he was controlling the baseline rallies and that's the reason why I lost," Harrison said.
In the day's first Singles Quarterfinal, defending champion John Isner faced South Africa's Izak van der Merwe. Like Isner, van der Merwe is tall (but not quite as tall), has a serve-based game (but his serve isn't as great), and is a product of college tennis – Isner, famously, of the University of Georgia and van der Merwe of Old Dominion. In fact, the two once faced each other in the Semifinals of the NCAA Championships in 2004, when Isner's team prevailed (Incidentally, another of Friday's quarterfinalists, Benjamin Becker, then of Baylor, won the men's singles event that year).
Isner won again this time, defeating the 155th-ranked van der Merwe, 6-4, 7-6(2). It wasn't easy, however, and Isner admitted he believed it was a "toss-up" and a fight, as the top seed's serve was a tad off in the match. It was not pretty, either. "When you have two big servers on the court, it's not going to be pretty," Isner told the media after advancing to the semifinals.
He credited his serve for his win, noting the week in Newport had been the best service week of his career, but John Isner, the 2011 Campbell's Hall of Fame Champion, believes that he has other weapons as well. He believes he has improved his all-court game but has not been "putting things together" during matches. Isner had not won back-to-back matches since the Sony Ericsson Open in March before coming to Newport. He had also lost three straight ATP Finals in 2010, in close matches against friends Sam Querrey (twice) and Mardy Fish. Thus, nerves crept in during the second set of Sunday's Final, as he failed to convert all five break point opportunities he had. But Isner was able to overcome them, winning in a tiebreak, 6-3, 7-6(6).
Isner's opponent in the Final, Olivier Rochus, agreed that the American, "has much more than the serve," praising Isner's touch at net, slice, and movement "for a guy his size."
The main attraction on Saturday was, quite obviously, the induction of the Class of 2011 Hall of Famers Peachy Kellmeyer and Andre Agassi into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Excited crowds gathered to watch the sold-out ceremony. While honoree in the Contributor category Kellmeyer is more than worthy of her place in the Hall, having been integral to the development of women's tennis, the fans came out for Agassi. As Agassi noted in his speech, tennis has certainly "loved him back," and judging by the fans' applause, will continue to do so.
Do It, Do It, Do It Again
The Induction Ceremony began twice today, as Christopher Clouser, Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, was over a minute into his opening speech when he was forced to halt and repeat the introduction. The culprit? While the ceremony started on schedule at 12:30, Tennis Channel, which broadcast the induction, was not quite as prompt.
"I came here believing I can win this tournament," said Denis Kudla, the young victor over Ivo Karlovic. Kudla, who trains at a USTA academy in Florida, attributed his confidence from practicing with the professionals. In his sophomore year on the main Tour, the Ukrainian-born 18-year-old has noticed that he can play as well as any of the up-and-comers of his generation (he noted Bernard Tomic, among others), and that he has "every shot" but makes a lot of errors.
Karlovic served well in his first-round match, but returned even less effectively than usual, allowing the American to adjust to his serve and finally break the Croatian in the deciding set, winning 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.
Although he is ranked just barely in the Top 400, Kudla's ambition is admirable, and his win over Karlovic showcased an ability to adapt and impose his own rhythm. His strength will certainly get tested in the Second Round, however, when he faces second seed Grigor Dimitrov.
In his 2009 US Open semifinal match against Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer chased down a lob from the net all the way to the baseline. With his back facing the court, he straddled the ball and struck a passing shot between his legs – a shot known as the “’tweener” – that rocketed past the flat footed Serb and gave Federer match point.
Proof that the shot against Novak almost a year earlier was not a fluke, Roger hit the same shot Monday against Argentina’s Brian Dabul.
It’s one thing to catch up to the ball, and another thing to get your racquet on it. But the ability to hit a winner with that shot takes it to a whole new level. Roger Federer’s natural talent earns him an A.
Caroline Wozniacki – The Advantages of a High-Carb Diet. Grade: A
A few weeks ago, when World No. 1 Serena Williams was first rumored to be in danger of skipping the US Open following foot surgery, it was calculated that defending finalist Wozniacki has a mathematical chance of overtaking the American for the top ranking, should she win all three of her then-upcoming tournaments, the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven, and the US Open. Most laughed off the Dane’s chances given the difficulty of winning matches for four weeks straight, particularly given the magnitude and entry lists for the three events.