February 13th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: U.S. Breakthroughs at ATP Memphis; More

Friday Blog

Brad Gilbert“BEEJ” BACK ON COURT — His former pupils Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray will undoubtedly take note with some amusement when their former coach Brad Gilbert makes his return to competitive tennis tonight at the ATP legends event in Delray Beach. Gilbert will play in the ATP Champions Tour event as a last-minute replacement for an injured Michael Chang. The ESPN tennis analyst will team with James Blake and Justin Gimelstob as Team USA against Team International, which will be comprised of Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis and Mikael Pernfors. Gilbert will play Friday night vs. Ivansevic, Saturday against Pernfors, and Sunday against Philippoussis. Gilbert during his ATP heyday won 20 titles and a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics, ranking as high as No. 4 in the world in 1990. Gilbert on the ATP World Tour was 0-1 career against Ivanisevic, 2-0 vs. Pernfors, and never faced Philippoussis, who turned pro the year Gilbert retired in 1994.

USTA Florida is still looking for parent and coach feedback on tweaking the proposed Youth Tennis Pathway pilot program to give young players an opportunity to properly develop their skills and mastery before moving to the next level, for kids age 5-11. The proposed 4-stage progression would include Level 9 ROGY “Tourn-events” for beginning players, 10U Orange Ball for intermediate players, and advancing to 10U Green Ball Level 6 and then 12U Yellow Ball Level 7 on a regulation 78-foot adult court with the adult yellow ball. The progression allows players to develop competitive skills through match play, with an emphasis on solidifying players’ technique at each stage. The proper red, orange, green or yellow balls bounce in kids’ hitting zones at each stage. Kids learn to volley, slice, lob, and improve their arsenal of shots and court sense at each stage. To learn more on the Youth Tennis Pathway and to give your feedback in the comments section, please click here.

The Mardy Fish Comeback Tour had its ups and downs last week at the Dallas Challenger, where Fish competed with his former doubles coach Mark Knowles. The Up: Fish-Knowles in the first round beat the top seeds. The Down: In the second round they lost to qualifiers Hans Hach Verdugo and Luis Patino of Mexico (who to their credit went on to reach the final). The result prompted two-time French Open finalist and fellow on-the-fence retiree Robin Soderling to tweet, “So happy that my good friend Mardy Fish was back on tour yesterday. A great guy and a great athlete!!” The next stop for 33-year-old former Tampa resident will be the ATP World Tour stop in Indian Wells after taking much of the last two years off the tour to deal with anxiety from a heart condition, and playing a handful of lower-level pro golf tournaments. Fish’s website announced, “Mardy will first play the LA Tennis Challenge exhibition on March 4th where he will face Novak Djokovic in the featured singles match. In the following week, Mardy is planning on playing at Indian Wells and then Miami.”

5 Americans into ATP Memphis Quarterfinals

Two more Americans advanced into the quarterfinal round at the Memphis Open on Thursday when Steve Johnson and Donald Young joined Wednesday winners John Isner, Austin Krajicek and Sam Querrey.

The No. 6-seeded Johnson needed to come back from a set down to defeat German Dustin Brown 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3), and in he quarters will meet No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson. Young beat fellow American Denis Kudla 7-5, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Bernard Tomic.

“I watched him play a lot in Australia,” Young said of Tomic. “They love him, he’s the man, so it’s going to be tough for me. But it will be in the states, and hopefully I can play well enough to come through.”

On Wednesday three additional Americans advanced into the quarterfinals when the No. 3 seed Isner defeated Croat Ivan Dodig 6-4, 7-6(5), Querrey defeated American wildcard Jared Donaldson 6-4, 6-1, and the qualifier Krajicek upset No. 5 seed Ivo Karlovic 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.

Krajicek, the former NCAA doubles champion for Texas A&M, displayed his all-court game in ousting the big-serving No. 25-ranked Krajicek.

“Obviously, Ivo has an amazing serve, so you don’t have a whole lot of chances,” Krajicek told the media afterwards. “But I played a good tiebreaker in the first set and controlled my serve games in the third set. And I got a little lucky there at the end.”

Krajicek on Friday will meet top-seeded Kei Nishikori, and Isner and Querrey will meet to see who advances into the Saturday semifinals.

“It’s great to see guys like Austin Krajicek and Sam [Querrey] getting back into the swing of things,” Johnson said of the American onslaught in Memphis. “John [Isner] has been leading the charge for a while. Denis [Kudla], Donald [Young]…we have a lot of guys who are knocking on the door.”

They Said It

“I don’t want to have to answer that. I’m scared. I hope she doesn’t end on me. I doubt it. I know she wants to get to Rio [2016 Olympics], too.”
Serena Williams on if she would stop playing if sister Venus retired, speaking to the New York Times

“She has seniors she’s getting ready for…sorry, not seniors, legends. She’s going to yell at me later.”
Madison Keys on coach Lindsay Davenport playing the “legends” event during the 2015 Australian Open

“I care about Caroline [Wozniacki] as a person. Nothing else mattered and from that point of view, I think it’s healthy. I think with our generation, with Caroline and with a lot of girls, we’ve kind of brought more, I don’t know, civility to the tour. There’s more people talking.”
Victoria Azarenka on having a “teary dinner” with friend Caroline Wozniacki last year after their high-profile break-ups — Azarenka with musician Stefan “Redfoo” Gordy, and Wozniacki with pro golfer Rory McIlroy, speaking to the New York Times

Tennis on TV This Weekend
(times subject to change)

TV multi colorFriday
6:30-10am — ATP Rotterdam QF (live), Tennis Channel
8-12pm — ATP Memphis QF (live), Tennis Channel

6-10pm — ATP Memphis SF (live), Tennis Channel

10-12pm — ATP Rotterdam SF (delay), Tennis Channel

12-2am — WTA Antwerp SF (delay), Tennis Channel

1-2:30pm — WTA Antwerp final (delay), Tennis Channel
2:30-4pm — ATP Sao Paulo final (delay), Tennis Channel
4-6pm — ATP Memphis final (live), Tennis Channel
8-10pm — ATP Rotterdam final (delay), Tennis Channel