NEW CAPTAIN FISH IN EXPANDED U.S. DAVIS CUP ROLE IN 2019
This week the U.S. Davis Cup captaincy changed as Florida-raised Mardy Fish was appointed to fill the absence left by Jim Courier’s departure, and the USTA announced that the position itself would be changing.
“As we looked for our new captain, we saw an opportunity to expand the role and have a year-round presence for the captain, and even more integration with player development,” said USTA General Manager of Player Development Martin Blackman. “Jim Courier, captain Courier, was great to work with, so generous with his time. With this new role, we’re going to be able to even expand it more. Mardy will be able to go to selected tournaments throughout the year to interface with our top players and their private coaches. The guys have told us that that support year-round at the tournaments on the outside courts just means so much to them. Also Mardy in this role will be a great ambassador not just for American tennis and our top players but also for our Net Generation youth initiative, which is really our focus right now at the base to grow the game.”
Fish said he reveled in playing Davis Cup and will take that passion into his role as captain. “I’ve answered the call every time P-Mac [Patrick McEnroe] or Jim had asked me to play, whether it was a practice partner or an actual player on the team. I can’t tell you how excited I am to get started, to start sort of integrating the future players with the current players. We’ve got a really fun and exciting time in U.S. tennis right now.
“The only thing better,” the 37-year-old Fish joked, “would be a playing captain. We don’t need to worry about that.”
MIAMI OPEN READY TO DEBUT NEW HOME IN MARCH
Thirty-percent more courts including three stadium courts, a rooftop deck and beer garden. These are only a few of the facilities and amenities tennis fans will encounter amidst the $550 million renovation for the 2019 Miami Open at its new home at the Miami Dolphin’s Hard Rock Stadium.
Ticket sales are already up 20 percent over last year’s tournament at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne.
“Once people get out to the site and see what we are building, they understand what an amazing event this is going to be,” says James Blake, Miami Open tournament director. Read More
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who is sitting out January with injury, will make his 2019 debut at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com in February…Sydney and Brisbane were announced this week as host cities for the new ATP Cup team event in 2020, with a third host city in the area to be announced. The 24-nation event will include more than 100 players each January prior to the Australian Open…Interested in VIP tickets for the U.S. Fed Cup in Asheville, N.C., hosting Australia on Feb. 9-10?…Serena Williams says juggling tennis, marriage and a child has been easier with advice from Oprah…Former Clemson star and Venus Williams hitting coach Jermaine Jenkins was this week named USTA Player Development National Coach for Women’s Tennis, reporting to Head of Women’s Tennis Kathy Rinaldi…Pembroke Pines’ Sofia Kenin won the WTA tour’s ASB Classic doubles title in Auckland, New Zealand last weekend with partner Genie Bouchard of Canada, the first WTA doubles title for either player, and this week upset No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia in the first round in singles at the WTA event in Hobart, Australia…Pitt cancelled their women’s tennis program, a team comprised of all international players who were 1-69 in their last 70 ACC matches…The ATP announced this week it has entered into a five-year agreement to make Dunlop the official ball of the men’s tour…American CoCo Vandeweghe says she will miss the Australian Open due to a foot injury sustained late last season…The internal drama at the ATP continues as board member Justin Gimelstob, who refused to step down after being charged with aggravated assault and is awaiting trial, can now play a part in potentially ousting ATP president Chris Kermode…Names have yet to be released by authorities who say 28 professional tennis players, including one who participated at last year’s US Open, have been linked to a match-fixing ring operating out of Armenia…31-year-old Andy Murray announced on Thursday this would be his last Australian Open, and with his ongoing hip pain he is hoping to make it to Wimbledon as the final event of his career.
Unseeded Americans Kenin, Sandgren Into Weekend Play in Australia, New Zealand
Sofia Kenin and Tennys Sandgren are the two Americans remaining in action headed into the final weekend of play prior to the Australian Open.
Kenin, who ousted top-seeded Caroline Garcia in her opening round at the Hobart International in Australia, advanced into the semifinals on Thursday after another upset, taking out No. 7 seed Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 7-5.
“I’m very happy with the way I’ve been playing,” said the 20-year-old, appearing in her third career WTA semifinal. “Obviously it’s really tough with these conditions, but to get these wins definitely gives me confidence going into the Australian Open.”
The Pembroke Pines, Fla., resident will in the semifinals meet No. 6 seed Alize Cornet of France.
Two Americans were in action Thursday at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, where Taylor Fritz’s run was ended by British wild card Cameron Norrie 7-6(3), 6-3, but Sandgren was a 6-3, 7-6(5) winner over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.
Sandgren in the semis will face another unseeded player, German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
“It’s important because I have a lot of points falling off this month,” the 27-year-old Sandgren said, before laughing. “I worked really hard in November, December to try and just put myself in a position to play well to start the year, and I’m happy that’s the case so far.”
Australian Open Preview: Americans vs. Americans
Fifteen American women and 16 American men will represent Team USA beginning Monday (Sunday night in the U.S.) at the 2019 Australian Open.
Sloane Stephens and John Isner, the top-seeded American woman and man, both meet compatriots in the opening round: No. 9 seed Isner vs. Reilly Opelka in a battle of 6-foot-11 serving machines, and No. 5 Stephens vs. former world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend.
Four American men drew seeded players in the opening round, while on the women’s side Alison Riske meets No. 9 Kiki Bertens, Danielle Collins faces No. 14 Julia Goerges, and Venus Williams will look to upend No. 25 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Potential second-round match-ups include red-hot American 20-year-old Sofia Kenin, who this year has already upset a No. 1 seed and won a doubles title, vs. world No. 1 Simona Halep, and Serena Williams vs. Genie Bouchard.
Here is a look at the American women’s and men’s first round match-ups at the 2019 Australian Open:
(5) Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Taylor Townsend (USA)
(16) Serena Williams (USA) vs. Tatjana Maria (GER)
(17) Madison Keys (USA) vs. (WC) Destanee Aiava (AUS)
Alison Riske (USA) vs. (9) Kiki Bertens (NED)
Danielle Collins (USA) vs. (14) Julia Goerges (GER)
Venus Williams (USA) vs. (25) Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM)
Amanda Anisimova (USA) vs. Monica Niculescu (ROM)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) vs. (WC) Zoe Hives (AUS)
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs. qualifier
Madison Brengle (USA) vs. qualifier
Sachia Vickery (USA) vs. qualifier
Bernarda Pera (USA) vs. qualifier
(Q) Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. (Q) Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS)
(WC) Whitney Osuigwe (USA) vs. qualifier
(9) John Isner (USA) vs. Reilly Opelka (USA)
(31) Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Andreas Seppi (ITA)
(Q) Mitchell Krueger (USA) vs. (1) Novak Djokovic (SRB)
(Q) Chris Eubanks (USA) vs. (19) Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO)
Bradley Klahn (USA) vs. (24) Hyeon Chung (KOR)
(Q) Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) vs. (29) Gilles Simon (FRA)
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Jiri Vesely (CZE)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) vs. Andrey Rublev (RUS)
Michael Mmoh (USA) vs. Radu Albot (MDA)
Tennys Sandgren (USA) vs. Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Cameron Norrie (GBR)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. qualifier
Denis Kudla (USA) vs. (WC) Marc Polmans (AUS)
(WC) Jack Sock (USA) vs. Alex Bolt (AUS)
They Said It
“Being around Serena — do everything at 100 percent, no matter what it might be. We had talks about doing things to the best of your ability and to maximize yourself.”
— American Frances Tiafoe on playing mixed doubles with Serena Williams against Roger Federer at the Hopman Cup
“Losing the Hopman Cup after losing Davis Cup and everything that is happening with the ITF, I think it’s a big shame. I think people, what they enjoy about this competition, is the fact that it’s mixed.”
— Frenchwoman Alize Cornet commenting on the apparent demise of the Hopman Cup, the only team event on the pro calendar featuring mixed doubles
“Champions are greedy in the sense of they want to keep racking up the Grand Slams. She is in a position where she can break some records in the tennis world.”
— ESPN commentator Chris Evert on Serena Williams
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
2am — ATP/WTA Auckland, Hobart, Sydney, Australian Open Qualifying (live), Tennis Channel
6:30am — ATP/WTA Auckland, Hobart, Sydney, Australian Open Qualifying (replay), Tennis Channel
6pm — ATP Auckland Doubles Final (live), Tennis Channel
8:30pm — ATP/WTA Auckland, Hobart, Sydney Singles Finals, Australian Open Qualifying (live), Tennis Channel
3am — ATP Sydney Singles Final (live), Tennis Channel
noon — Tennis Channel Presents 2018 Australian Open
6pm — Tennis Channel Live at the Australian Open (live), Tennis Channel
7pm — Australian Open (live), ESPN2