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Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS

Lucas Pouille beat Feliciano Lopez 4-6 7-6 (5) 6-4 to win the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany

Gilles Muller beat Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (4) to win the Ricoh Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

Annett Kontaveit beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2 6-3 to win the Ricoh Open women’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

Donna Vekic beat Johanna Konta 2-6 7-6 (3) 7-5 to win the Aegon Open women’s singles at Nottingham, Great Britain

Paolo Lorenzi beat Alessandro Giannessi 6-4 6-2 to win the Citta Di Caltanissetta in Caltanissetta, Italy

Dudi Sela beat Thomas Fabbiano 4-6 6-4 6-3 to win the Aegon Open men’s singles at Nottingham, Great Britain

Zarina Diyas beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-4 6-4 to win the Aegon Manchester Trophy in Manchester, Great Britain

 

SAYING

“I think we should make a suggestion to the ATP that we just start with the tiebreak next time.” – Gilles Muller, who beat Ivo Karlovic in two tiebreak sets for the second straight year at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, this year to win the title.

“You’re always trying to get matches before Grand Slams … but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, this is amazing before Wimbledon.’ I’m thinking, ‘Wow, this is amazing for my whole year.’” – Donna Vekic, after winning the Aegon Open women’s title.

“I’m very happy that I got to play five great matches on the grass. For Donna and I, heading into Wimbledon, we just want to play on the surface as much as possible.” – Johanna Konta, following her loss to Donna Vekic in the Nottingham final.

“I think I took a little bit more of the opportunities than him. He had some break points and didn’t make them, and I had only one or two and I made them. I think that made the difference.” – Lucas Pouille, after beating Feliciano Lopez to win the Mercedes Cup.

“I’m a little bit speechless that I beat him today. It’s been awhile since I have won back-to-back matches, and to do it today against Roger is obviously one of my career highlights. It’s a very special feeling.” – Tommy Haas, after beating Roger Federer in Stuttgart.

 

SECOND TITLE

Proving yet again that this is the age of the aged, Gilles Muller won the Ricoh Open in two tiebreak sets. The match between the 34-year-old Muller and 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic was the oldest singles final on the ATP World Tour since 42-year-old Ken Rosewall defeated 30-year-old Ilie Nastase in Hong Kong in 1977. Yet Muller, who is 34 years, one month, is not the oldest to win the Dutch grass-court tournament. That record belongs to Nicholas Mahut, who was 34 years, 5 months old when he won in 2016. “It’s always tough to play Ivo and I’m glad I could beat him,” Muller said. “I had many friends and a lot of family coming, so it’s been a great week here.” It was the second ATP World Tour title for the Luxembourg native, whose beat the 6-foot-11 (2.11m) Croat in two tiebreak sets last year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Despite the loss, Karlovic hit 64 aces during the week to extend his all-time aces record to 12,003. Yet in the final, it was Muller out-acing his tall opponent 22-19.

 

SURPRISE ON CLAY

The last British woman to win a singles title at home on grass was Virginia Wade in Eastbourne in 1975. The last British woman to win a WTA singles title on British soil was Sue Barker at Brighton in 1981. Those records remain after Donna Vekic rallied to defeat Britain’s Johanna Konta at Nottingham. “All credit to Donna. She was continuously able to raise her level all throughout that match,” Konta admitted. “I was not able to stay with her. Full credit to her for playing incredibly well.” It didn’t appear that way at first as Konta took the opening set. But Vekic won the final four points of the second-set tiebreak, then won the final three games of the match to grab her second career crown. “It’s pretty amazing,” Vekic said. “It’s my first grass-court title and my second overall. I’m really happy.” It was only the second time in her career that Vekic has beaten someone ranked in the Top 10, and the first time since April 2014 when she stopped Dominika Cibulkova to win in Kuala Lumpur. Last year, Vekic was ranked outside the Top 100. This week she is at a career-high 58th in the world. “Jo played amazing and she’s having an amazing year, but I was just trying to focus on myself, serve as good as I can and be aggressive, which is not easy against her,” the victorious Croat said. “Wimbledon is my favorite tournament of the year and I’m very happy that I can go into that winning a couple matches, but first, next week is Birmingham.”

 

STUTTGART WINNER

Frenchman Lucas Pouille dropped the opening set before rallying to win the grass-court title at Stuttgart. “That’s my first title on grass,” the 23-year-old Pouille said after stopping Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. “I had a tight match in the first round, and from there I took it one match at a time.” Lopez overpowered Pouille in the beginning of their battle before the Frenchman began his comeback. It was Pouille’s second title of the year and the third of his career. And he did it with his serve, slamming 29 aces in downing the veteran Spaniard. Pouille entered the tournament with a wild card and almost was eliminated in his first outing, staving off a match point before stopping German Jan-Lennard Struff. “Of course, if you win the first tournament of the grass season, you’re very confident. But I know that every week is different and every player is tough to beat,” Pouille said.

 

SO EXCITED

“I’m just so excited,” Anett Kontaveit gushed after winning her first career title by downing Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the Ricoh Open women’s final. It was Kontaveit’s second title match, but this time she became the first Estonian to win the Dutch grass-court crown. “I thought I played a great match and congrats to Natalia for a great week,” Kontaveit said. “I hope we’ll have more battles. … To win the final, it’s amazing.” The finale was one of her easiest matches of the week. Kontaveit played three three-setters en route to the title match. The Russian was playing in her first career WTA final. Vikhlyantseva built a 3-1 lead in the second set before Kontaveit won 10 straight points to take charge. Kontaveit is the first Estonian to win a WTA title since Kaia Kanepi won in Brussels in 2013.

 

SICK BAY

Angelique Kerber’s rough 2017 season just got a little rougher. The world’s top-ranked woman pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham with a hamstring strain. She remains atop the ranking despite failing to win a Tour-level title this year, thanks to her closest competitors not playing – Serena Williams – or failing to win matches that would elevate them past the German. Simona Halep would have taken over the number spot by winning the French Open. She lost in the final. Kerber has played well on grass in the past, reaching the Wimbledon final last year and winning a grass-court event in Birmingham, Great Britain, the year before. Now comes the hamstring problem. “It was OK, but when I started practicing again after (the French Open in) Paris I felt it in the last few days,” Kerber said. “It was fine, but then it comes back a little bit. Yo0u never know how it’s going to be.”

 

STUNNER

Thanks to an old foe, Roger Federer’s grass-court competition was halted almost before it began. In a shocker, Tommy Haas defeated Federer 2-6 7-6 (8) 6-4 in the Swiss star’s opening match at the Mercedes Cup. It was only Federer’s second loss of the season, and he held match points in both. Haas, once ranked as high as second in the world and playing in his final season, saved a match point as he beat Federer for only the fourth time. Haas also won their first meeting, in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, beat Federer in the 2002 Australian Open and in the title match at Halle, Germany, in 2012. “I thought it was a typical grass-court match,” Federer said of his first match since winning the Miami Masters on April 2. “Rallies weren’t very long and it was decided on a serve there or a return here. If you don’t take your chances like I didn’t, leading a set and a break, you really only have yourself to blame at the end.” The second-round contest between the 39-year-old Haas and Federer, 35, was the oldest singles match on the ATP World Tour since 1982 when Ricardo Cano, 30, beat 49-year-old Luis Ayala.

 

STUPID, STUPID PERSON

Brydan Klein was given a match penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after he called himself “a stupid, stupid person.” Umpire Mo Lahyani apparently thought Klein’s comment during the Nottingham tournament was directed at the umpire or a line judge. “You don’t talk to anyone – ‘stupid person’ – like that,” Lahyani said, calling the comment “disrespectful.” Earlier in the match, Klein, after hitting the ball out of bounds on a game point, argued with the umpire about the call. Lahyani gave the British player a code of conduct violation, resulting in a point penalty. When Lahyani later heard Klein saying “stupid, stupid,” the umpire said, “Code violation. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Game, set and match, Groth,” putting Australian Sam Groth into the semifinals. It’s not the first time Klein has been in trouble for his on-court rantings. In 2009, he was suspended for six months after hurling a racial slur at a South African opponent and spitting in the direction of his opponent’s coaches.

 

SKIPPING WIMBLEDON

An ankle injury has caused David Goffin of Belgium to withdraw from Wimbledon. The 26-year-old injured his right ankle when he jammed his foot beneath the rolled-up covers at the back of the court during his third-round match at Roland Garros. “David’s rehabilitation is going well and the injury is gradually improving, but in order not to risk it and to be 100 percent for his return, David decided with his doctors and team to return to competition after Wimbledon,” Goffin’s team said in a statement. Goffin had been a factor this season, reaching two ATP World Tour finals and beating both Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic in his run to the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals in April.

 

STEPPING ASIDE

Injuries continue to interrupt Juan Martin del Potro’s career. The Argentine injured his groin in his French Open third-round loss to Andy Murray. Because of the injury, he pulled out of Queens Club. “Following my doctor’s advice, I won’t be able to play Queen’s this year since I am still recovering from my injury,” del Potro wrote on Twitter. Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 but afterward was off the ATP World Tour for 2½ years while undergoing three operations on his left wrist. He reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013 and reached the gold medal game at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he lost to Murray.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal is skipping Queen’s Club to rest for Wimbledon. He had originally played to play the London grass-court even, but said that with all the emotions of winning Roland Garros and talking to his team and doctor, “I have decided my body needs to rest if I am going to be ready to play Wimbledon.”

 

STRETCHED

Nothing came easy for the second-seeded team of Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in its quarterfinal victory in Stuttgart. Murray and Soares were thwarted on their first 10 match points by Brian Baker and Nikola Mektic. The first came at 5-4 in the second set. Three more match points came at 6-5. Then Baker and Mektic rallied from a 3-6 deficit to win the tiebreak and force a match tiebreak. Murray and Soares had two more match points before finally capturing the match and a spot in the Mercedes Cup semifinals.

 

STANFORD AWAITS

Maria Sharapova may not have played on the red clay of Paris, but she will be in action on the hard courts of Stanford. Officials of the California tournament gave the 30-year-old Russian a wildcard entry and she will compete in the event for the first time in six years. “I am excited to return to the Bank of the West Classic and would like to thank the tournament for giving me the opportunity to play,” said Sharapova, who is returning to the WTA tour after a 15-month doping ban. Currently ranked 173rd in the world, Sharapova was scheduled to try to qualify for Wimbledon, but she pulled out because of a muscle injury.

 

SERIOUS CHARGES

A former player has appeared in a court in Brisbane, Australia, after being charged with 11 criminal charges, including match-fixing, Isaac Frost did not enter a plea and was granted bail. He is scheduled to return to court later this month when he will also face charges of supplying and possessing dangerous drugs. The 28-year-old played a match in a Challenger tournament in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia, that attracted “a number of suspicious bets,” the court was told. That was the same tournament where 2016 Australian Open junior boys champion Oliver Anderson was also charged with match-fixing. He 19-year-old Anderson pled guilty and was suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Frost’s highest world ranking was 651.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Caltanissetta: James Cerretani and Max Schnur beat Denys Molchanov and Franko Skugor 6-3 3-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Manchester: Magdalena Frech and An-Sophie Mestach beat Chang Kai-Chen and Marina Erakovic 6-4 7-6 (5)

Nottingham (men): Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski beat Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith 7-6 (1) 2-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Nottingham (women): Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders beat Jocelyn Rae and Laura Robson 6-4 4-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

‘s-Hertogenbosch (men): Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram 6-3 6-4

‘s-Hertogenbosch (women): Dominika Cibulkova and Kirsten Flipkens beat Kiki Bertens and Demi Schuurs 4-6 6-4 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Stuttgart: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 6-7 (4) 7-5 10-5 (match tiebreak)

 

SURFING

London: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/aegon-championships/

Halle: www.gerryweber-open.de/

Antalya: www.antalyaopen.com/

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/Aegon-International-Eastbourne

Birmingham: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/aegon-classic-birmingham/

Mallorca: www.mallorcaopen.org/

Ilkley: www.ita.org.uk/aegonilkleytrophy

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.com/index.html

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

MEN

$2,195,620 Gerry Weber Open, Halle, Germany, grass

$2,195,620 Aegon Championships, London, Great Britain, grass

$141,826 Aegon Ilkley Trophy, Ilkley, Great Britain, grass

 

WOMEN

$731,000 Aegon Classic, Birmingham, Great Britain, grass

$226,750 Mallorca Open, Mallorca, Spain, grass

$100,000 Aegon Ilkley Trophy, Ilkley, Great Britain, grass

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

 

MEN

$719,080 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$555,305 Antalya Open, Antalya, Turkey, grass

 

WOMEN

$731,000 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

 

Gilles Muller

Gilles Muller



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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