October 21st, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: Nadal Pulls Plug, Injuries Complicate ATP/WTA Finals; More

Friday Blog


sockEarlier in the year it was Steve Johnson taking over the top spot, and this week it’s Jack Sock as the new first-time No. 1-ranked American on the ATP World Tour. The 24-year-old reached the quarterfinals last week at the Masters Shanghai event, moving him up to No. 23 on the rankings.

An accomplished doubles player, Sock in Shanghai also won the doubles title with fellow American John Isner. “We just had a lot of fun,” Sock said of winning the title with Isner. “Laughed a lot. Kept it light out there. I think that’s why we played pretty well.”

Sock at No. 23 is now ahead of Johnson (No. 24), Isner (27) who held the No. 1 American spot for roughly three years, and Sam Querrey (29). This year he has reached finals at events in Auckland and Houston, and reached the fourth round at the US Open, the only American to make it into the second week, losing to Gilles Simon of France. “I think, as everyone knows, I love everything about this country and playing for them,” the U.S. Davis Cup stalwart said at this year’s US Open.



2016 year-end world No. 1 Angelique Kerber (photo: WTA tour)

The year-end Top 8 WTA and ATP fields were shaken-up on Wednesday and Thursday as Rafael Nadal, who had all but secured a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals, announced he was dropping out with a wrist injury, and WTA Finals hopeful Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain saw her hopes dashed by a wrist injury.

The BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore will begin this Sunday, with the eighth and final spot yet to be decided. The Top 7 players are in: Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza, Madison Keys and Dominika Cibulkova. The eighth spot will go to Svetlana Kuznetsova if she wins the Moscow title this week, otherwise the last berth goes to Britain’s Johanna Konta. And as of this morning the two group pairings have been made.

On the men’s side there remain three spots in the eight-man field for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held Nov. 13-20 in London. Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori have already qualified. Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem are favorites for two of the three remaining spots, trailed by players Tomas Berdych, David Goffin, and Marin Cilic who have realistic chances.



Roger Federer at the opening of Rafael Nadal’s new tennis academy (photo: ATP World Tour)

Roger Federer
attended his pal Rafael Nadal’s kickoff for his new tennis academy in Spain, and Nadal used the opportunity to fire off a warning shot regarding the two injury-plagued players for 2017: “Neither Roger or I have forgotten the way to play tennis, and we are working to get back to the highest level.”…Some of the top 10-and-under players in the country are in Daytona Beach for the first USTA Florida “Bobby Curtis” 10 & Under Green Ball Sectional ChampionshipsSerena Williams withdrew from the WTA year-end championships citing her ongoing shoulder injury, the second straight year she’s missed the year-end finals, and the WTA announced that Angelique Kerber has subsequently clinched the coveted year-end No. 1 ranking…Novak Djokovic says he is on board for shortening matches and making tennis more TV friendly…Nick Kyrgios was suspended the rest of the season and will see a sports psychologist after his latest fine-able offense at the Shanghai Masters. Or maybe he won’t…The Tie Break Tens exhibition played during the ATP event in Austria featuring Andy Murray, Tommy Haas, Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis and Goran Ivanisevic among others will be live-streamed free on Facebook Live and on Tennis.com.

Americans Davis, Sock Into WTA, ATP Friday Play

Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis

American qualifier Lauren Davis punched through to the semifinals on Thursday at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, defeating unseeded German Andrea Petkovic from a set down 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Her reward is a semifinal meeting with top-seeded Petra Kvitova.

No. 6 seed Jack Sock moved into the quarterfinals at the Stockholm Open on Thursday, edging German Dustin Brown 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.

“I’ve spent a lot of time on court in my first two rounds, but that’s because everyone here is a good player,” Sock said. “Dustin hit some crazy shots. At times it was frustrating but we had some fun out there.”

Another American, qualifier Ryan Harrison, lost 7-6(8), 6-4 to unseeded South African Kevin Anderson. In the Friday quarters Sock will face unseeded Gastao Elias of Portugal, who on Thursday ousted No. 1 seed Gael Monfils 7-6(4), 6-1.

American teen Taylor Fritz was the last American exiting the European Open in Antwerp, Belgium on Thursday, falling to Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4.

They Said It

Djokovic-selfie“The last three months…generally I didn’t find that kind of satisfaction on the court. I do really feel like I’m already getting better because I changed my mindset…I think I’m a different person than I was maybe three months ago, maybe six months ago.”
— World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on regaining his motivation in 2016

“It would be hard for him to insult me; how is he going to insult me? By saying: ‘You’re a loser? You were never that good of a tennis player?’ I don’t think so.”
Martina Navratilova on being outspokenly opposed to Donald Trump on Twitter, speaking to the New York Times

“College programs are farm systems to the pros now, especially the international players…tennis isn’t just an American game. Not the way a lot of people remember it.”
— Former U.S. pro and Rice University head coach Jimmy Parker on the changes in U.S. tennis since the 1970s, speaking to the Sante Fe New Mexican


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

Featured_TV graphicFriday
2am-5pm — ATP Stockholm, WTA Moscow/Luxembourg (live), Tennis Channel

2am-8pm — ATP Stockholm, WTA Moscow/Luxembourg (live), Tennis Channel

5am — WTA Finals (live), Tennis Channel
7:30am — WTA Finals, ATP Stockholm (live), Tennis Channel
11:30am — ATP Stockholm, WTA Moscow/Luxembourg (live), Tennis Channel