March 30th, 2018

Friday Tennis Blog: Miami Women’s Final Set; Federer’s Vacation; More

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2-MONTH VACATION? ROGER THAT.

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro following the Indian Wells final

It was tempting, at least for fans and the media, to speculate on Roger Federer attempting another French Open title run in the wake of injuries to rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. But not for Federer.

“I decided not to play,” Federer said of the claycourt season he will skip for the third straight year at the age of 36. After failing to find his “A” game in Indian Wells and this week in Miami, he will put the racquets in the bag until June when the grasscourt season gets underway,

Last year skipping the claycourt season rewarded Federer with a Wimbledon title. And while he will lose the world No. 1 ranking to Nadal, he’ll remain in striking distance. Federer began the year on a 17-0 run after winning the Australian Open and Rotterdam, suffering his first loss of the season to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final.

 

FLORIDA’S COLLINS ARRIVES ON THE BIG STAGE

Danielle Collins at the University of Virginia

The international tennis audience was introduced to Danielle Collins this week after her run to the semifinals of the Miami Open as a qualifier. Fans of Florida junior tennis are familiar with the St. Petersburg resident who beat the odds as a junior and at the collegiate level, and grew up in the Florida junior competitive community.

From modest means, Collins rarely ventured outside Florida tournaments until her freshman year in high school.  She was always a fixture at the USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” Junior State Championships, as early as 2005 winning the mixed 12s, and in 2006 the girls’ 12s. Later in her junior career she won the “Bobby” girls’ 18s title in 2009 and 2011, and the girls’ 18s doubles in 2010.

After a bumpy start at the University of Florida where she had trouble making the starting line-up, she transferred to the University of Virginia and won two NCAA singles championships, becoming the first in her immediate family to graduate college. “I went to a good university and I worked hard,” said the 24 year old in a feature in the New York Times. “I can go out on the court with a much different perspective maybe than people who didn’t go to college, and I really try to utilize that to the fullest.”

 

MISCELLANEOUS

#BeingSerena will debut on May 2 on HBO. The five-part documentary series chronicles Serena Williams’ personal and professional life as she returns to tennis after the birth of her first child…Nick Kyrgios and Monica Puig met with students from the Stoneman Douglas High School tennis teams at the Miami Open as the tournament also paid tribute to the victims of the school shooting last month that killed 17 students and wounded numerous others…Forbes magazine ran its “Most Powerful Women in Sports” in the U.S. with Serena Williams ranked at No. 3, Billie Jean King at No. 6, and USTA President Katrina Adams at No. 16…College MatchDay this Sunday at the USTA National Campus will showcase the defending national champion Florida women taking on Texas, with a kids Spring Egg-Stravaganza before the 3 p.m. match featuring a crafts table, tennis drills, relay races and face painting…The USTA National Campus in Orlando is no longer the largest hard court facility in the U.S…Pensacola’s Linsley McMillion is still teaching tennis after breaking the color barrier locally as a junior in the 1970s…Yesterday there was a Florida winner in the Boys’ 14s at the Easter Bowl…In some pre-April Fools jocularity, Frances Tiafoe went undercover as a ticket taker at the entrance of the Miami Open this week.

 

Isner, Stephens Keeping American Title Hopes Alive at Miami Open

Reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko derailed an all-American final at the Miami Open on Thursday night when she ended the dream run of Florida qualifier Danielle Collins 7-6(1), 6-3. In the final the No. 6-seeded Ostapenko will face No. 13 seed and reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who in her semifinal came from a set down to defeat former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

“I just needed some time to get myself together and get myself in a good place and make sure that I was ready to play,” said Stephens of her current form. “Going into this season, I knew that I didn’t have the greatest off-season, so for me, the two matches that I lost the first part of the year in Australia, not a big deal. Like, if you’re not 100 percent, you can’t expect much.”

Stephens can expect to break into the Top 10 on the WTA rankings for the first time when they are released on Monday.

On the men’s side in Miami John Isner is the lone American waving the flag in the semifinals after the No. 14 seed defeated No. 19 seed Hyeon Chung 6-1, 6-4.

“This is actually the best I’ve moved all year,” said the 6-foot-10 Isner who is looking to win a career-first Masters 1000-level title. “That’s not working harder, or training harder off the court — that’s just from me being more confident on the court.”

Today he will face No. 5-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the semis beginning at 1 p.m.

 

They Said It

Sloane Stephens shares selfies with kids at the USTA Florida Kids Day at the Miami Open in 2016

“I didn’t play tennis for 11 months, and then I decided to go ahead and win the US Open not in the best shape, not in the greatest form, and I really wanted to play the end of the season and probably wasn’t the right decision…After Australia I just took the time to really get myself together. When you put in the work, you are able to get some results.”
Sloane Stephens at the Miami Open

“You’ve captured the attention of not only our country, but the world. And you’ve found the strength to use this horrible situation as a vehicle for social change. You have inspired all of us by your actions and poise.”
— Miami Open Tournament Director James Blake speaking to visiting boys’ and girls’ tennis team members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

“The reason his bag is so heavy is that he fills it with stuff to give away to fans and kids.”
Nick Kyrgios’ mom Norlaila, on his son who outfitted the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School boys’ and girls’ teams with free Nike gear

 

Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Friday
1pm — ATP Miami (live), ESPN2
3pm — WTA/ATP Miami (delay/replay), Tennis Channel
7pm — ATP Miami (live), ESPN News
7pm — WTA/ATP Miami (live), Tennis Channel

Saturday
1pm — WTA Miami (live), ESPN2
3:30pm — ATP Miami doubles final (live), Tennis Channel

Sunday
1pm — ATP Miami (live), ESPN2
3:30pm — WTA Miami doubles final (live), Tennis Channel
5pm — Women’s College Tennis: Florida vs. Texas (live), Tennis Channel

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