By Bob Greene
15 April 2013
John Isner beat Nicolas Almagro 6-3 7-5 to win the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston,Texas,USA
Tommy Robredo beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (6) 4-6 6-3 to win the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca,Morocco
Roberta Vinci beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2) 6-1 to win theBNPParibas Katowice Open inKatowice,Poland
Alex Bogomolov Jr. beat Rajeev Ram 2-6 6-3 6-1 to win the Aeromexico Jalisco Open inGuadalajara,Mexico
“I knew that I could play a good tournament here and you never know what can happen. I went match by match and kept winning. Today, I was pretty nervous since this is very important for me. I really wanted to win this. I’m very happy to win a title again after my injury. It’s just great.” – Tommy Robredo, following his title win inCasablanca.
“I thought I was in control of the match. I had a lot of chances in the first set. I played a loose game to give the break back. And then in the tiebreak at 6-all I played two loose points. I came back and did well in the second. In the third, I had some good momentum, but after suddenly being up, I was down a break. I gave myself some chances to get back in the match. Obviously I’m not too happy with the errors I made on those two break points. But there are a lot of positives, which is the main thing I got to look at, as disappointing as it was not to have won it. It’s a good start for me on clay. There are still a lot of tournaments.” – Kevin Anderson, after falling to Tommy Robredo in theCasablancafinal.
“Petrawas playing very well and very aggressively in the first set, getting a lot of first serves in, but I stayed with her and won the tiebreak, and things were better in the second set, probably because she was a little bit tired. But everything was working for me all week. I’m happy I was able to beat such a tough opponent and win this title.” – Roberta Vinci, who beat Petra Kvitova to win inKatowice,Poland.
“I started pretty slowly at the beginning of the match and I was always the second player on the court because she was dictating everything out there. She plays very well on the clay. I also felt a little bit without energy. But she was the better player on the court for sure and she really deserved to win the title today.” –Petra Kvitova.
“I’ve always known I could play well on clay. This week is a little surprising, as Monday was the first day I hit a ball on clay since September. I knew it was going to be a tough adjustment and that I had to find a way to get through my first match. My second match was really close. I felt I played better each and every round. I played well yesterday and even better today.” – John Isner, following his win over Nicolas Almagro in theHouston,Texas, final.
“He did a really good job today. He played aggressive. He served like normal, but today was tough for me. I want to congratulate him, because he’s a really good player and a good person and I think he did a good job this week.” – Nicolas Almagro.
“We got a bit lucky in the first set. It was very tight, more than what the result would make you think. I want to thank Filip for playing with me. I was struggling at the beginning of the week and I would have made it here only with very few partners. … Finally, I want to dedicate this title to a very important person in my life who passed away this week.” – Julian Knowle, who won the doubles inCasablanca.
“Anytime you’re going to beat those guys you’re going to be happy about it. They’re the best doubles team ever. It’s tough to go out against them in a final, particularly for them playing in the States, the crowd was right behind them. We did well to come back, we showed good character. Slowly but surely we started to play good tennis.” – Jamie Murray, after teaming with John Peers to upset brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in the US Clay Courts final at Houston, Texas.
SERVES UP A WIN
John Isner only had seven aces in the final of the US Men’s Clay Court Championships. But it was enough as the American won the battle of big serves by beating Nicolas Almagro. “His serve was like normal and his serve today was tough for me,” the Spaniard said. It was Isner’s first title on clay as he pounded out a tournament-record 64 aces during the week, breaking the mark of 60 set by Pete Sampras in 2002. Almagro leads the ATP World Tour this year with 266 aces, but only had five against Isner. The American is second on the tour with 258 aces. Isner was runner-up last year and said he likes the River Oaks Country Club clay inHouston,Texas,USA. “It suits me well,” he said. “The court is pretty slow, which I like, and the balls also pretty light. That’s normally a good recipe for me.” All 12 of Almagro’s tour titles have come on clay. “Right now I’m not happy about the match because I lost,” he said.
When Tommy Robredo captured his first title in more than two years, it wasn’t a surprise that the victory came on clay. Making his first appearance in Casablancain 12 years, Robredo won his 10th career clay-court trophy when he downed Kevin Anderson in the title match. Once ranked fifth in the world, Robredo was sidelined for five months last year with a leg injury. He tumbled to 471st in the Emirates ATP Rankings but now is 72nd in the world. PlayingAnderson for the first time in their careers, Robredo saved all four break points he faced in the final set, including two at 5-3, 15-40. It wasAnderson’s first tour-level final on clay and his second runner-up finish this year. He lost to Bernard Tomic inSydney,Australia, in January.
SIDELINED – MAYBE
When he will be able to return to the tennis wars remains uncertain for the world’s top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic. The Serb twisted his ankle on April 7 in a Davis Cup quarterfinal tie against theUnited States. Tests have shown the damage is not as severe as Djokovic feared. While he has been training and hopes to play this week at the Monte Carlo Masters, Djokovic said he won’t take any risks. “I still have to be realistic and see if on some practices in the next few days I push myself to the limit, if I’m going to have any discomfort,” he said. “It’s a very strong tournament and I don’t think there is any room for compromise. To compete at such a high level I need to be at 100 percent.” Djokovic, who has home in Monte Carlo, said he’s concerned about compromising his clay-court season leading up to next month’s French Open. “Any bigger damage could indicate a longer period of recovery and no tennis,” the Serb said. “But being on the court the last three days for me is already a great sign.”
Jamie Murray ofGreat BritainandAustralia’s John Peers pulled off a huge shocker when they upset American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan to win the US Men’s Clay Court Championship doubles title. The winners saved a match point in the decisive third set tiebreak, and then won second straight points to down the four-time champions and win their first title as a team. It was their sixth tournament in which they played together. “We started playing afterAustralia… it takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight, you’ve got to keep working hard,”Murraysaid of the partnership. “Everything starts from zero again on Monday, back in the first round. We’re playing a Challenger tournament and we’ll hope to keep the runs coming.” Peers was playing in his first ATP World Tour doubles final, while Murray won his eighth career doubles crown, but his first since capturing the Japan Open in 2011 with his brother Andy Murray. It was the first time this season that theBryanbrothers have lost in a final.
David Ferrer ofSpainhas pulled out of this week’s Monte Carlo Masters because of an injury. “Unfortunately I will not be able to be inMonte Carlobecause of physical problems,” said Ferrer, who is ranked fourth in the world. He didn’t elaborate on what is wrong. But he did say he hopes to recover in time to play in the Barcelona Open next week.
There were a lot of firsts inKatowice,Poland. It was the inauguralBNPParibas Katowice Open. It was the first doubles title for the team of Lara Arruabarrena and Lourdes Domínguez Lino, and the first time Arruabarrena had a doubles victory, defeating Raluca Olaru ofRomaniaand Valeria Solovyeva ofRussia. “It has been a great week,” Arruabarrena said. “I am so pleased with my first WTA doubles title. It’s a great feeling. We played very well today and I have learned a lot from playing withLourdes. I’m really looking forward to winning more WTA doubles titles with her in the future.” En route to the final, Arruabarrena and Domínguez Lino eliminated the second-seeded team of Shuko Aoyama and Mervana Jugic-Salkic 3-6 6-4 10-8 match tiebreak. “We didn’t know what to expect from the tournament and we’ve been very pleased with everything, and of course the cherry on the cake has been winning the title,” Domínguez Lino said. “It’s great to have a win like this just before we play Fed Cup. I’m very happy about how everything went and I hope we can do this again very soon.”
Pakistan’s top player, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, is still quite upset over his country’s disqualification from their zonal Davis Cup tie.Pakistanhad won the first match and Qureshi was leading in the second when referee Asitha Attygalla ofSri Lankaruled that the court was unplayable and awardedNew Zealanda 4-1 victory. Although the two nations were playing on a grass court inYangon,Myanmar, it had been designated a “home” tie forPakistan. “I think the referee was partial and favored the New Zealanders,” Qureshi said.Pakistanofficials have already lodged an appeal with the International Tennis Federation (ITF), complaining that their players were left distraught and the team suffered financial loss due to the referee’s decision.Pakistanhas not been allowed to hold Davis Cup competition inPakistanbecause of security concerns. New Zealand captain Alistair Hunt said the match had to be abandoned because a hole about “an inch deep and half a foot wide … opened up o the baseline, which proved to dangerous to play on.” Qureshi disagreed. “The area deemed dangerous was outside the lines of the court,” he said. “I am convinced we were treated unfairly and unjustly and I want to plead this case forPakistan.”
Jelena Jankovic has joined a select club by winning her 500th and 501st matches. Only 35 players in the Open Era have accomplished the feat, led by Martina Navratilova’s 1,442. Only six other active players have won as many matches as Jankovic, led by Venus Williams with 631. Serena Williams has 577 match wins, followed by Tamarine Tanasugarn with 531, Nadia Petrova with 527, Francesca Schiavone with 511, and Flavia Pennetta with 501.
SEEKING SIXTH TITLE
Roger Federer will play his hometown tournament, the Swiss Indoors, ending speculation that he wouldn’t. “Everyone knows how much this tournament means to me and that is still true,” the 31-year-old Federer told the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger. The player’s contract with the tournament ended after last year’s event, where Federer lost in the final to Argentine Juan Martin del Potro. According to Swiss media, Federer’s management reportedly sought a seven-figure fee and couldn’t reach an agreement with tournament organizers. The five-time champion put to rest any fears that he might skip the tourney, saying he can play in Basel “without any kind of contract or agreement” if he wants.
STOP THE PRESSES
According to a Russian publication, Martina Hingis will coach Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during the clay-court season.Russia’s Sport Express reported that the five-time Grand Slam tournament winner worked with Pavlyuchenkova before as part of thePatrickMouratoglouAcademycoaching staff, but this time will be a full-time personal coach. The 21-year-old Russian won inMonterrey,Mexico, but suffered opening-round losses at the Australian Open,Paris,Dubai, Indian Wells andMiami. The newspaper said Hingis will help Pavlyuchenkova prepare for this weekend’s Russian Fed Cup semifinal againstSlovakia. The tie will be played on an indoor clay surface.
Casablanca: Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek beat Dustin Brown and Christopher Kas 6-3 6-2
Guadalajara: Marin Draganja and Mate Pavic beat Samuel Groth and John-Patrick Smith 5-7 6-2 13-11 (match tiebreak)
Houston: Jamie Murray and John Peers beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 1-6 7-6 (3) 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Katowice: Arruabarrena and Domínguez Lino beat Raluca Olaru and Valeria Solovyeva 6-4 7-5
Monte Carlo: www.monte-carlorolexmasters.com
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,437,000 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters,Monte Carlo,Monaco, clay
$100,000 Sarasota Open,Sarasota,Florida,USA, clay
World Group Semifinals
World Group Playoffs
Germany vs. Serbia at Stuttgart, Germany, clay; Switzerland vs. Australia at Chiasso-Seseglio, Switzerland, clay; Spain vs. Japan at Barcelona, Spain, clay; United States vs. Sweden at Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard
World Group II Playoffs
Belgium vs. Poland at Koksijde, Belgium, hard; France vs. Kazakhstan at Besançon, France, hard; Argentina vs. Great Britain at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay; Ukraine vs. Canada at Kiev, Ukraine, clay
Europe/Asia Zone at Ulcinj, Montenegro, clay: Estonia,Finland,Greece,Latvia,Lithuania,Montenegro,South Africa,Tunisia
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$537,109 Portugal Open,Oeiras,Portugal, clay
$537,109 BMW Open,Munich,Germany, clay
$111,351 Prosperita Open 2013,Ostrava,Czech Republic, clay
$235,000 Portugal Open,Oeiras,Portugal, clay