May 26th, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: U.S. Player Draws at French Open; Health Push; More

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Multiple studies show tennis is one of the best sports for health, at any age. A one-hour match burns 580-870 calories, in addition to helping reduce stress.

Now famed tennis advocate Dr. Jack Groppel, co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and the health and wellness advisor for the tennis industry, has boiled down the many benefits of the sport to the Top 10 Reasons to Play Tennis. Were David Letterman’s show still around, this would obviously warrant a guest appearance and Top 10 List reading.

“Based on research, the Top 10 Reasons to Play Tennis include how the sport positively affects your body, your brain and your life,” says Dr. Groppel. “With the support of the organizations in the tennis and sports industries, we need to reach and engage mainstream Americans with our messages of the health, wellness and life benefits of tennis.” Produced by the national Tennis Health & Wellness Task Force, the list was made in cooperation with the Tennis Industry Association, and a free downloadable poster is available at



Noval Djokovic and his colorful new Lacoste shirt

Doping bans, injuries, pregnancies and returns from pregnancies have made this year’s run-up to Roland Garros and Wimbledon like no other.

Maria Sharapova was denied a French Open main draw or qualifying wild card after a return from her doping ban, and the Russian subsequently announced she will not request a main draw wild card at Wimbledon, and will instead play in the qualifying. Two-time Grand Slam winner Petra Kvitova, who had her hand cut by a knife-wielding intruder in a home invasion in December, says she will wait until the last minute to decide (UPDATE: she is in the French Open draw) if she will make her comeback next week in Paris. Roger Federer said he will skip the French to rest-up for the grasscourt season. Former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka said her comeback would come during the U.S. hard court season, but now she’s moved it up to the grasscourt season including Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic has struggled this year, but he will be in Paris with his new coach in tow, Andre Agassi, and his new Lacoste clothing. And of course Serena Williams, who is still getting her sun and fun in, will miss everything this year due to the impending birth of her first child. No Serena, Maria, or Vika and a rusty Petra in Paris could see a first-time champion in two weeks time at Roland Garros.


A rendering of what will be the new stadium court at Roland Garros

The French Open is finally updating the expanding the tournament site in Paris…ESPN will broadcast the Wimbledon qualifying for the first time next month, covering all four days of women’s and men’s play from the grass courts at the Bank of England Sports Centre in Roehampton…Serena Williams has joined the board of directors for SurveyMonkey to spark some diversity…The Pensacola City Counsel voted unanimously that Court 23 at the Roger Scott Tennis Center will be named “The Bill Kellenberger Court,” honoring the volunteer’s years of contribution to the Pensacola Tennis community, including founding the Under The Hill League for senior men and the local Racquet Roundups for underprivileged youth…Serena Williams was not in Rome this year due to her pregnancy, but she shared an insane pre-match stretch routine from Rome a few years ago…The Florida women Gators beat Stanford for their 7th NCAA team championship on Tuesday in their 14th appearance in the final…The Barry University (Miami) women, comprised of an all-international starting line-up, won the 2017 NCAA Division II national title with a perfect 30-0 record…The French Tennis Federation will be awarding a French Open wild card to French player Constant Lestienne, who received a seven-month suspension in 2016 for betting on tennis matches…Thirty used to be the retirement age in men’s tennis. Ten years ago there were no 30-year-olds ranked in the Top 25. Now for the first time in the history of the ATP rankings the Top 5 players are all age 30 and over…The International Tennis Hall of Fame is making changes to its induction policies, including the addition of fan voting…Wimbledon caught on fire this morning for reasons unknown…Rafael Nadal will have three-quarters of a million dollars in watch on his wrist while playing at the French Open next week.


Tough Day Thursday for Americans at ATP/WTA Events; French Open Qualifying Update

Nicole Gibbs

Americans went 0-4 on Thursday in a difficult day for the stars and stripes at the ATP event in Geneva, Switzerland, and WTA tournaments in Strasbourg, France, and Nuremberg, Germany.

No. 5 seed Steve Johnson and No. 6 Sam Querrey both fell in Geneva when Querrey came out on the short end of a three-setter with top-seeded Stan Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, and Johnson was upset by qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-4, 7-5.

Unseeded Shelby Rogers saw her run in Strasbourg end in the quarterfinals when she was defeated by No. 8-seeded Peng Shuai 6-0, 6-4. No. 5 seed Alison Riske exited the WTA event in Nuremberg at the hands of top-seeded Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-3.

At the French Open qualifying on Thursday, Reilly Opelka of Orlando was edged 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3 in the final round of qualifying by Chile’s Nicolas Jarry. Still in qualifying contention on the men’s side are Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Denis Kudla. On the women’s side in the final round of qualifying are Americans Nicole Gibbs and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.


Venus, Sock Lead Team USA Squads for Women, Men at French Open 

Here are the opponents for the 15 women and 10 men (prior to the completion of qualifying) from the U.S. at the 2017 French Open:

Women’s Singles:

(10) Venus Williams (USA) vs. Qiang Wang (CHN)
(12) Madison Keys (USA) vs. Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
(19) CoCo Vandeweghe (USA) vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)
(25) Lauren Davis (USA) vs. Carina Witthoeft (GER)
Louisa Chirico (USA) vs. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
Christina McHale (USA) vs. (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Jennifer Brady (USA) vs. (13) Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
Julia Boserup (USA) vs. (15) Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Alison Riske (USA) vs. (20) Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Catherine Bellis (USA) vs. qualifier
Taylor Townsend (USA) vs. qualifier
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs. Marina Erakovic (NZL)
Madison Brengle (USA) vs. Julia Goerges (GER)
Varvara Lepchenko (USA) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
(WC) Amanda Anisimova (USA) vs. Kurumi Nara (JPN)

Men’s Singles:

(14) Jack Sock (USA) vs. Jiri Vesely (CZE)
(21) John Isner (USA) vs. Jordan Thompson (AUS)
(25) Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Yuichi Sugita (JPN)
(27) Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Hyeon Chung (KOR)
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. (28) Fabio Fognini (ITA)
Donald Young (USA) vs. (30) David Ferrer (ESP)
Jared Donaldson (USA) vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA)
Ernesto Escobedo (USA) vs. Denis Instomin (UZB)
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Aljaz Bedene (GBR)
(WC) Tennys Sandgren (USA) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ)


They Said It

“He’s been through everything I’m going through. I’ve been enjoying the conversations with him.”
Novak Djokovic on his new coach Andre Agassi

“There’s no pattern — it’s a free-for-all. This isn’t just going to be the French Open — this appears to be what it’s going to feel like the rest of the year.”
— ESPN tennis analyst Pam Shriver on the current state of the women’s game, speaking to the New York Times

“He has a massive future ahead. I actually envy him in a way. He does all the right things. He’s very professional. That’s obviously something I don’t quite tick the box for.”
Nick Kyrgios on his pal and recent Italian Open winner Alexander Zverev


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

8am — WTA Strasbourg (live), BeIN Sports
8am — ATP Geneva (live), Tennis Channel
2pm — French Open Qualifying (delay), Tennis Channel

6:30am — ATP Geneva Doubles Final (live), Tennis Channel
9am — ATP Geneva Singles Final (live), Tennis Channel
11am — TC Live at Roland Garros (live), Tennis Channel

4am-2pm — French Open (live), Tennis Channel
noon — French Open (live), NBC