2012 Coverage (24)
Fabio Fognini is an expressive player. At any point in the match, you might see him screaming out into the ceiling or his team (often, his own name), striking out balls or throwing his racquet. But all his flare-ups are just part of the game. "I do nothing," Fognini says.
Meanwhile, his team does not seem to pay attention to the player's outbursts either. During Fognini's tough match with Tobias Kamke in the First Round, Fognini's player bench, along with fellow Italian player Simone Bolelli, when not chuckling at Fognini's screaming, were discussing... pasta. Bolelli, who lost in the First Round, was choosing between mushroom and carbonara sauce.
The 69th-ranked Slovenian, Grega Zemlja, made himself noticed in the second day of the tournament by defeating 5th-seeded Lukas Lacko in straight sets, 6-3 6-2. Zemlja is the highest-ranked Slovenian male, having won three Challengers in the summer and reached the Third Round at the U.S. Open. He scored the second upset of the day. Spain's Roberto Bautista-Agut had earlier defeated the 6th seed, Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei, 6-4 6-2.
- Tuesday's Rough Spot
- The indoor hard surface at the St. Petersburg Open is getting mixed reviews from the players. Grega Zemlja, despite winning comfortably against Lacko, complained that the surface is a 'rough' one, and is 'hard on the legs,' limiting players' movement and preventing them from sliding. It is slow like clay, with high bounces, the Slovenian said.
Saturday's Roller Coaster
Saturday's Singles Final which featured third seed Petra Kvitova and seventh seed Maria Kirilenko, had an odd energy. The first set was slightly lethargic, although certainly competitive, as both players produced good shots. The match was on serve until 5-5, when Kirilenko had a problematic game on her serve and double-faulted on break point, seemingly handing Kvitova the set. However, the Czech was nervous in the next game and played loosely to let Kirilenko, who fought hard, back into the set.
For the first time since 2007, "Sweet Caroline" will not be blasting from the Stadium Court at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale during the Singles Final. The four-time New Haven Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki, was forced to retire down after losing the first set of Friday's Semifinal to 7th seed Maria Kirilenko. It was just the fourth set Wozniacki has lost in New Haven in five years, and her match record here is 20-1.
A knee injury that flared up during the Dane's quarterfinal encounter with Dominika Cibulkova caused too much pain for Wozniacki to continue. "I felt it from the start," she said. "But, you know, it just started to get a bit worse." She said she decided to play the Semifinal after doctors advised the injury would not get worse, in order to try to give it her best shot and to avoid disappointing the spectators. But it was too painful and pointless to continue.
While in London Roger Federer and Andy Murray were preparing for their Gold Medal match, two players that have “been there, done that,” Tommy Haas, who lost the gold to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 2000 in Sydney, and Mardy Fish, defeated by Chile’s Nicolas Massu in 2004 in Athens, were playing Olympics-quality tennis in their Citi Open Semifinal. Haas said he never expected still to play at 34, but he was inspired by Andre Agassi to stay in the game.
Haas, who will be back in the Top 30 by reaching the final, showed near-flawless form, beating the American 6-3, 7-5. Haas needed only one break point to take the set but only let Fish win two points on his serve and delivered no unforced errors. The second set was more closely contested, with Fish earning a set point at 5-4, but losing a long rally with an impatient attempt to change pace. What looked like a badly placed and timed drop-shot was “actually a failed attempt at a slice,” Fish said, lamenting the lost point and set. Haas went on to hold serve and break Fish in the top seed’s next game.
Even the crowds got into the Olympic spirit, shouting “USA” at some points. Mardy is the “true American,” said Haas, who has dual German and U.S. citizenship, unsurprised Fish had the upper hand in getting crowd support.
Tommy Haas, healthy and in form at 34, delivered a 6-1, 6-2 defeat to countryman Tobias Kamke in the first of Friday’s matches at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. Both players struggled with serve in the heat and sun, with only 44 percent of Haas’ first serves landing in. However, Haas never faced a break point and was not in danger at any point of the match. The 34-year-old said he believes the tough conditions hurt his countryman, who has “a whole lot of firepower” more. “He threw me a lot of unforced errors,” Haas said.
Friday’s Oldies but Goodies
Haas next meets American Mardy Fish, against whom he has a losing record of 1-3 (with the sole win coming in a retirement). But Haas has never faced the “new Mardy,” having last played him in 2007.
Fish, who says he and the German are good friends and practice a lot together when not on Tour, believes Haas is “almost” at the level of play that took him to No. 2 in the world in the last decade. “This is why we play,” added Fish, “Two good players. Winner goes to the Final; loser goes to Toronto.”
Thunderstorms interrupted play for a third day in a row, with an almost five-hour delay on Wednesday afternoon and evening. How did Andy Roddick pass the time? "I looked out the window and watched the rain fall in the pool," Roddick joked. Roddick was surprised his match against Nicolas Mahut on Stadium Court was bumped up ahead of Michael Russell versus Kevin Anderson, who had already played two games before the rain delay, but he was happy he was able to finish the match on its scheduled day.
Rain Delay Entertainment
There were a few very vocal fans in the crowd Wednesday night who would sometimes shout right before the players served. Some of the fans might have taken advantage of the Corona tent on the grounds and the surrounding bars during the long delay. "I think you could tell what the rain delay activity was. People might have been indulging a little bit," Roddick said.
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.
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.
Weekend "My Dad's in a Final!"
Six-year-old Mia ran around a dining table telling all who could hear, "My dad's in a Final! My dad's in a Final!"
Long before her existence, Lleyton Hewitt took over the No. 1 spot in the ATP Tour rankings from Gustavo Kuerten in 2001 and went on to dominate men's tennis for the next two years until injuries and competitors interrupted him. So, on July 14, 2012, minutes after Kuerten was enshrined into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on the same court, Hewitt was not going to lose. He beat American Rajeev Ram, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, in a routine match, making his first tournament final since 2010 and posting his best result since the latest in a string of surgeries, this one on his foot.
Less than two hours before, Kuerten held on to his 5-month-old daughter, the Brazilian flag, and the Hall of Fame plaque as he made the rounds on the same court with fellow inductees. After the match, Hewitt was joined on the same court by the excited Mia and her younger siblings, their father also having a big day.