October 14th, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: ATP, WTA Want Short Matches; King Meets Rocket; More

Friday Blog Adult Tennis News


Vero Beach’s King van Nostrand at 82 years of age has had a royal year.

In May during the French Open, beside Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams at the 2016 ITF World Champions Dinner, he was honored with the ITF Seniors Award for Outstanding Achievement, only the third time the award has been presented. He followed that up last month by guiding the U.S. Men’s 80s team to the title at ITF Super-Seniors World Team Championships, the world senior equivalent of the Davis Cup. Then the following week he won the individual Men’s 80s singles title at the ITF Super-Seniors World Individual Championships — and then the Men’s 80s doubles title. This despite four total knee replacements over the years for the retired mathematics teacher and U.S. Navy veteran

This week he was also named an Excellence in Volunteerism finalist in the Treasure Coast’s TCPalm newspaper’s Health Care Champions awards. He delivers Meals on Wheels to senior shut-ins in Vero Beach, helps recipients out of his own pocket, prepares tax returns for the elderly, and is a wildlife advocate.

Rod Laver sought out Van Nostrand at the ITF World Champions Dinner to meet him after the awards. “He came through the crowd up to me and said how honored he was to shake my hand, to meet me, and that with my record, I was an inspiration to all tennis players,” Van Nostrand told USTA Florida. “Can you imagine? ‘The Rocket’ coming up to me, saying all those nice things. I was floored.”


A shot of the scoring for a Fast4 exhibition in Australia between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco

A shot of the scoring for a Fast4 exhibition in Australia between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco

The tennis powers that be want to speed-up the game, or more specifically to shorten matches so that Generation Z will look up from their phones long enough to watch tennis. The ATP and the WTA have both voiced their desire to shorten matches and even experiment with it on tour. But the players don’t like it, and it’s rounding into a battle that will be played out in 2017 and beyond.

“I am not sure if that’s the way, to make the matches quicker, make the timing between points quick, with matches at four games,” said Rafael Nadal, referring to the FAST4 format of first-to-four-game sets.

WTA CEO Steve Simon has said he wouldn’t mind seeing singles matches featuring no-ad scoring, and a 10-point tiebreaker instead of third sets. Players counter that while 60-90 minute matches might be better for television, the changes would dramatically change the game by taking away the physical aspect of tennis. In regard to some of the classic five-set matches that have been played over the years, Nadal counters, “I don’t remember no one match in my life…that the match finished in one hour…The kind of matches that stays on the memory and on the history of our sport are a little bit long matches and dramatic matches that become emotional, the physical issues, everything.”

The US Open experimented with 20-second “shot clock” during their junior competition this year. Pro doubles and USTA Leagues already use 10-point tiebreaks. NCAA tennis has eliminated match warm-ups. The ATP is unveiling a Under-21 World Tour Finals exhibition next year where they will experiment with short-format scoring. Fan comments are overwhelmingly against shortening matches for TV. But tennis might just be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.


dogs-angry-birds-constumesRoger Federer and Rafael Nadal are out of the Top 4 rankings for the first time in 13 years…From princes bestowing diamond-studded tennis jewelry to Angry Birds costumes for their pets, players receive the strangest gifts from adoring fans during the tour’s Asian swings…Traveling to Hungary to play Junior Fed Cup is tough enough without the airline (permanently?) losing your luggage…While pro tennis generally shines above other pro sports in terms of drug testing, an investigation by ESPN (where half of players polled say they know a player who uses performance-enhancing drugs) says otherwise…How will Maria Sharapova be welcomed back on tour when she returns in April 2017?…Serena Williams celebrated National Taco Day in styleThen danced it up with Beyonce in concert…The French Open continues to struggle to expand its grounds. After one court of law gave Roland Garros the go-ahead to expand the French Open grounds, another court called a halt to the plans…Mary Joe Fernandez has stepped down after eight years helming the U.S. Fed Cup team.


4 Americans Led by Madison Keys Advance Into Friday Quarters in Austria, Shanghai, Hong Kong, China

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

Madison Keys (photo: Jose Medina)

Americans are making an impact at all four WTA/ATP events this week around the world.

No. 3 seed Madison Keys is into the quarterfinals at the Generali Ladies Linz in Austria after Thursday beating unseeded Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 6-0 in 47 minutes. In the Friday quarters she will face French qualifier Oceane Dodin. The No. 3 Keys is joined in the quarters by No. 1 seed Garbine Muguruza and No. 2 Dominika Cibulkova.

Unseeded American Jack Sock stunned No. 5 seed Milos Raonic from 0-6 down, saving two match points on Thursday to move into the Friday quarterfinals with an 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) win at the Shanghai Rolex Masters in China.

“I’ve been on the other end of that three times last year,” said Sock of saving match points. “We’ve had a lot of close matches in the past, it normally comes down to a few points against Milos. I’m happy to finally get one against him. It feels great.” In the quarters Sock will meet unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon, who upset No. 3 seed Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4.

Unseeded American Bethanie Mattek-Sands is into the quarterfinals at the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open after upsetting No. 6 seed Caroline Garcia 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday. No. 2-seeded Venus Williams was upset by France’s Alize Cornet 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, and unseeded American Louisa Chirico gave world No. 1 Angelique Kerber a scare before going down 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

Mattek-Sands in the Friday quarterfinals will square off against fellow unseeded player Kristina Mladenovic of France.

Unseeded American Alison Riske defeated Poland’s Magda Linette 6-3, 7-6(2) on Thursday to move into the quarterfinals at the Tianjin Open in China. There on Friday she will face China’s Xinyun Han for a spot in the semifinals.

They Said It

Nick Kyrgios. photo: si.robi

Nick Kyrgios. photo: si.robi

“I don’t owe [fans] anything. If you don’t like it, I didn’t ask you to come watch. Just leave.”
— Australian Nick Kyrgios after “tanking” his first-round ATP match this week at the Shanghai Masters

“But I also learned how much better other Federations were at notifying their athletes of the rule change, especially in Eastern Europe where Mildronate is commonly taken by millions of people.”
Maria Sharapova after her doping suspension was reduced. She will return to the tour in April 2017.

“She has more money than me, and Elton has more money than her.”
Andy Roddick after Maria Sharapova outbid him and Elton John for tickets to the Broadway hit Hamilton, reported by ESPN from the World TeamTennis Smash Hits charity event

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

1am — ATP Shanghai (live), Tennis Channel

1am — ATP Shanghai (live), Tennis Channel

1:30am — ATP Shanghai (live), Tennis Channel
7am — ATP Shanghai (repeat), Tennis Channel
8pm — ATP Shanghai (repeat), Tennis Channel