January 15th, 2016

Friday Tennis Blog: U.S. Player Draws at Aussie Open; Sock Soars; More

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Aussie Open QHow hard do you have to work to make it through the Australian Open qualifying? On Day 1 temperatures topped 107F, causing play to be stopped. The next day, rain stopped play. On Day 3, a storm of flying monkeys. Just kidding, but it did get “freezing cold” according to one player. Day 3 saw matches completed, and now a number of American men and women are one match away from reaching the main draw. American men into the final round of qualifying are Bjorn Fratangelo, Tim Smyczek, Ryan Harrison, Taylor Fritz, and Dennis Novikov. Women into the final round are Nicole Gibbs, Julia Boserup, and Sachia Vickery. Camaraderie was also in observance, with Andy Murray in the predominantly-empty stands cheering on the hopeful British qualifiers.


davis-cupDavis Cup matches are big money-makers for the team’s home-country federation — hence the scattered contests all over the world, and a reluctance to change the 100+ year-old format. But new American ITF President David Haggerty, the former USTA national president, is ready to make major changes in an attempt to bring the competition back into the international sports spotlight. The plan, also pushed by Patrick McEnroe when he was the U.S. Davis Cup captain, would keep the format for the early rounds but feature a “Final Four” in one week of play to determine the champion. “In the final week, generally in November, we would have the final four teams come together in a neutral location somewhere to be determined,” Haggerty told ITFWorld magazine. Novak Djokovic is a backer of the idea, this month saying, “I think the format has to change, there is no doubt. In the last five, 10 years, you haven’t had many top players playing Davis Cup throughout the entire year because it’s a terrible schedule.”


IMG_1034Jack Sock’s new trademark move is throwing one of his sweat-drenched socks into the crowd after a win for some lucky fan…Black light tennis is the new craze in Florida for 2016…Naples’ Brett Clark is ranked No. 1 in the nation in doubles with partner Robert Kelly for the University of North Carolina, and Naples’ Gordon Watson of the University of Florida is No. 3 in the country with partner Diego Hidalgo in the latest ITA Rankings…Pembroke Pine’s 17-year-old Stefan Kozlov won the USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 Futures title in Southern California last weekend, beating Canadian Philip Bester in the three-set final and cracking the Top 350 on the ATP Rankings…During the first two weeks of the WTA tour season, nine of the Top 10 players withdrew from at least one tournament with injury or illness…Here’s how the Aussie Open went from the worst major to a Major Major…Just when you think the world has gone all pear-shaped, this happensMartina Hingis and Sania Mirza have won 29 straight matches entering the WTA Sydney final, but they have a ways to go to reach the record — 109 doubles wins in a row set by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

Sock Subdues Symptoms to Soar into Auckland Final

sock-if stockholm openDespite suffering flu symptoms, unseeded American Jack Sock came from a set down to upset top-seeded David Ferrer 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 on Friday to move into the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland.

“It was a difficult day,” Sock said. “I woke up with some flu-like symptoms. I didn’t know if I was going to play. I ended up coming out and playing some of my best tennis of my career. Maybe I can stay sick through Melbourne and play like this.”

The 23-year-old delivered 13 aces to put himself in position for a possible second career title. In the final he will meet No. 8-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who earlier in the event defeated Americans Donald Young and John Isner, and in the semifinals toppled No. 2 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4.

Sock takes a 2-1 career head-to-head lead over the Spaniard into the championship match on Saturday.

U.S. Women Pull Tough Draws at the Australian Open

serena singingTen U.S. men and 14 U.S. women (prior to the completion of qualifying) will contest the 2016 Australian Open main draw starting Monday, with two all-American women’s match-ups, and five women drawing seeded opponents:


(1) Serena Williams vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
(8) Venus Williams vs. Johanna Konta (GBR)
(15) Madison Keys vs. Zarina Diyas (KAZ)
(24) Sloane Stephens vs. Qualifier
Christina McHale vs. (4) Aggie Radwanska (POL)
Alison Riske vs. (12) Belinda Bencic (SUI)
Victoria Duval vs. (18) Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Lauren Davis vs. (26) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Varvara Lepchenko vs. (31) Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)
Irina Falconi vs. Anna Tatishvili (USA)
CoCo Vandeweghe
vs. Madison Brengle (USA)
Vania King
vs. Mona Barthel (GER)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Denisa Allertova (CZE)
(WC) Samantha Crawford vs. Danka Kovinic (MNE)


(10) John Isner vs. Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
(25) Jack Sock vs. Qualifier
(31) Steve Johnson vs. Aljaz Bedene (GBR)
Rajeev Ram vs. (11) Kevin Anderson (RSA)
(WC) Noah Rubin vs. (17) Benoit Paire (FRA)
Denis Kudla vs. Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
Austin Krajicek vs. Qualifier
Sam Querrey vs. Dusan Lajovic (SRB)
Brian Baker vs. Simone Bolelli (ITA)
Donald Young vs. Santiago Giraldo (COL)

They Said It

Lendl“I don’t do technique, that’s not what I’m good at. I’m more, vision on the court, developmental, how you want to see yourself play, things like that.”
Ivan Lendl on working with teenage boys in the USTA Professional Development program as a coaching consultant, speaking to tennis writer Colette Lewis

“It’s not even a bump, just a really minor thing in the road, and I’ll fly over it. I just have some inflammation that’s been going away very slowly. It’s going away, but it needs a little more time.”
Serena Williams on her knee injury in early 2016

“What about professional players? At the end of the day, people need to live somewhere. If you’re on the professional tour, here’s an option now. You’ve got an airport five minutes away, a great, friendly area, and you have every court surface you’d probably ever want to train on.”
— The USTA’s Virgil Christian on the new USTA National Campus slated to be completed by the end of 2016 in Orlando, speaking to i4 Business Magazine


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(times subject to change)

6am-12pm — ATP Auckland, WTA Sydney, Australian Open qualifying (live/delayed), Tennis Channel

3:30-6am — ATP Sydney final (live), Tennis Channel
11am-1pm — WTA Hobart final (delay), Tennis Channel
3-5pm — ATP Auckland final (delay), Tennis Channel

7pm-7am — Australian Open (live), ESPN2