April 29th, 2016
Friday Tennis Blog: Serena Says She’s Sidelined; Olympic Hopefuls Sweating; More
TIME TO SWEAT FOR SOME OLYMPIC TENNIS HOPEFULS
At approximately three months out from tennis at the Rio Olympics, some are fretful, some are excited, some are downright “icy.” Rafael Nadal, it has been announced, will be the flag-bearer when the Spanish team makes its entrance during the opening ceremonies. Russia might know something we don’t as Maria Sharapova is still in their Olympic tennis plans, despite the fact a date hasn’t even been set for her doping hearing. ITF President David Haggerty is the one fretting as the Olympic tennis venue remains behind schedule. Milos Ranic has “Ice In His Veins” according to promotional commercials put out by the Canadian Olympic Committee. The Brits are wondering if Andy Murray can produce gold again, and maybe an additional gold medal with his brother Jamie in doubles…American No. 1 John Isner, citing tennis as an Olympic non-tradition, says he will play the ATP Atlanta event instead. And like Isner, many of the stars of golf are bailing on the Olympics. Even First Lady Michelle Obama got into the Olympic spirit, launching a “100-days from the Rio Olympics street party” on Wednesday featuring more than 75 Olympians in Times Square. And how does clay affect the Rio Olympics? With the rankings cut-off looming, many of the lower-ranked Top 50 players will be sweating the French Open.
BJORN TO PLAY ON CLAY
Boca Raton-based Bjorn Fratangelo says he wasn’t mentally ready when he won the French Open juniors at age 17. Now five years later, he will make his French Open main draw debut in May after winning the 2016 USTA Pro Circuit Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge, and says he is mentally and professionally ready to take on the challenge. Prior to winning last week’s Savannah Challenger, U.S. tennis fans thought something could be brewing last month when Fratangelo won a set off world No. 1 Novak Djokovic before losing in three sets at Indian Wells. “You grow,” he told USTA Florida earlier this year. “I have a lot to improve on and it shows that my ceiling is high, I think. I’ve got to keep being in it, keep having fun, keep smiling, and good things will happen.” He is early in his relationship with coach Brad Stine, who helped ferry Jim Courier to the No. 1 ranking. It will be his first career appearance in the Roland Garros main draw. Last year he lost in the second round of the Roland Garros qualifying. And his first name? Yes, he admits, his father was a huge fan of Bjorn Borg.
Serena Williams made an appearance this week in Beyonce’s “Lemonade” visual album release…Snow and hail greeted players last Sunday in the qualifying at the ATP event in Munich, Germany. More snow was forecast for the week…An Orlando news station took a new look at the progress at the USTA National Campus…Rafael Nadal wasn’t kidding — he has filed suit against a former French minister who accused him of doping…Want to give tennis members a high-energy, fun tennis workout at your club? Try Live Ball…ATP player Eric Butorac on how the U.S. tennis system and tournament organizers can learn from the French…Juan Martin del Potro fans have reason to cheer this week…Tennis became the first sports industry to endorse the new National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) and the CEO Pledge for Physical Activity.
Serena Out with Flu; Madrid Center Stage Next Week for Men, Women
With little American participation on tour this week there are no U.S. players remaining at the five ATP/WTA events in play, but the American contingent will be well-rested for next week’s Mutua Madrid Open, which will see virtually all the top players in action.
Main draw entries on the men’s side are Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, and Sam Querrey, and on the women’s side Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, and Christina McHale. Serena Williams withdrew today citing the flu.
“Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from Madrid because I’ve been battling the flu and I’m not at 100 percent,” Serena said. “I look forward to returning soon.”
In last year’s final Andy Murray prevented Rafael Nadal from winning a third consecutive Madrid title, and on the women’s side Petra Kvitova won a second trophy, in the final beating former world No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
They Said It
“The crowd really goes crazy and they really get into it. It means a lot, especially here at this challengers. You don’t get the best of crowds. The crowd is full here and it’s really nice — it makes you feel special.”
— American Frances Tiafoe at the Tallahassee Challenger this week
“When you have night matches and you don’t have lights, that could be a problem. The lights are not yet installed and until they are I will be worried.”
— International Tennis Federation President David Haggerty on the tennis site for the Rio Olympics being behind schedule, speaking to Inside the Games
“One month ago, I forgot the key inside my car…Then I needed to call a service, and they came two hours later, and it was a problem…It cost around $1,000. Yeah, it was too much. Argentina is not cheap.”
— ATP player Diego Schwartzman, via the ATP World Tour
Tennis on TV This Weekend
(EST, times subject to change)
7am-8pm — ATP Istanbul (live/tape), Tennis Channel
7am-2pm — ATP Istanbul (live), Tennis Channel
6am-3:30pm — ATP Istanbul, WTA Madrid (live), Tennis Channel