Tag Archives: John Isner

Isner/Mahut Wimbledon Marathon: Does the Winner Lose?

What other adjectives can I use that haven’t already been taken? Epic. Outstanding. Ridiculous.

Sure other players won today including Roger Federer who was tested again by qualifier Ilija Bozoljac while Venus Williams took out red hot Ekaterina Makarova, but it was a match that ended yesterday and that also ended tonight at 59-59 all in the final set with no winner in sight that has become not only the tennis match of the tournament, not only the match of the year, but one for all time. But even if a winner finally emerges (or collapses) tomorrow, will it even matter considering the physical and mental toll it could cost him the rest of the season? Continue reading

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“Right Time, Right Week” for Atlanta Tennis Championships.

Atlanta Skyline (Credit: Jennifer Chong/Creative Commons)

With the return of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, Atlanta will be the first stop on the Olympus U.S. Open Series. I spoke with Bill Oakes, the event’s tournament director, about what is in store for fans and why it took so long for pro tennis to return to the capital of the South.

ATN: You just announced on your site that John Isner, James Blake and Robby Ginepri have committed to the event. When will you know the rest of the field and are there any “wish list” players you are still waiting to hear from? Continue reading

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2010 Australian Open Review – Mind Over Body.

Each Grand Slam has its own style and flavor and although this year’s AO lacked the drama of the ’09 U.S. Open, its best moments could be summed up in the well-worn phrase “mind over body.” I say that because a lot of the matches came down to how well players dealt with personal injuries through mental focus. And even if a player wasn’t ailing, some will wish they had had a checkup with a local shrink before stepping onto the Melbourne grounds.
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My Holiday Wish List for Tennis.

With the holidays in full swing, it’s time to send out my wish list for what I like to see changed or improved for both the WTA and ATP tours in 2010.

Don’t Believe the Hype.

At the beginning of the year, way, way too much hype and expectation was heaped upon the shoulders of both Andy Murray, because of his U.S. Open Finalist run, and Dinara Safina because she somehow found herself at No. 1 by just being consistent in 2008. Murray responded to the buzz by having a decent year, but nothing to suggest he could challenge for No. 1. Safina meanwhile started her “misery tour” losing badly to Serena in Australia, choking her way through the French Open final and then collapsing in the third round in New York.

I’m not blaming either player for being unable to live up to the hype, but my wish for next year is that both tours and the media learn that overhyping new players in the hopes it will translate into actual results doesn’t work.

Speed Up The Challenge System.

The challenge system has helped the game a great deal. But what hurts the game is how players abuse the system. The following scenario occurs at least once a match. A call is made, a player, instead of immediately challenging the call, will ask the umpire, “What do you think?” The umpire might stand by the call or say it’s worth a look. Then the player will think some more and then finally challenge.

Players should have five seconds to challenge or cede the point. That’s it. Allowing players to get into conversations with the umpire or going up to have a look at the “mark” (especially on a hard court) is a waste of everybody’s time.

“Private Life, Drama Baby Keep Me Out” – The Pretenders

Usually the end of the season is normally a quiet time. That wasn’t the case this year which started with the Serena Williams meltdown, Andre Agassi’s meth use admission, the Stockholm Open sex scandal, and the doping ban (now lifted) of Belgian players Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. Add in that we’re still waiting to hear if Richard Gasquet will suffer anymore fines or bans due to his “cocaine kiss” and we can all agree that we hope 2010 keeps the focus on-court and not off-court.

Player Wish List.

And now a few wishes for individual players:

Dinara Safina: Wishing you a speedy recovery and hope that you focus more on winning a Slam this year than trying to be No.1 again.

Jelena Jankovic/Elena Dementieva: Figure out a way to finally win a Slam soon or else you both run the risk of being the biggest “bridemaids” of your generation.

Venus Williams: My wish is that you stay healthy. You are one of the best ambassadors for the game and we’d love to see you make another Grand Slam run.

Sam Querrey/John Isner/James Blake: My wish is that one of you make some kind of breatkthrough this year at a Grand Slam. And no, not make it to the quarters. I mean taking out Federer or Nadal en route to the semifinals or better. It’s the only way you will make it to the elite and, more important for U.S. Tennis fans, onto their radar screens.

Andy Roddick. My wish is probably the same one Andy has – another Grand Slam trophy under his Xmas tree.

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ATP Crystal Ball for 2010.

2010 will be a transition year for the ATP Tour even though the winners may look the same. Here are my predictions for the ATP men again ranked where I think they will end up at year’s end.

1. Roger Federer. To think that “Fed” won’t win another Slam or two next year is highly unlikely. Federer’s consistency week in and week out will help keep his top ranking intact. But this could be his last year of total domination. The real question for Federer, especially after winning the French Open, is what will motivate him to keep going after winning everything. Maybe a chance at a true Grand Slam?

2. Juan Martin Del Potro. That’s right. The big man from Argentina will be chasing Federer all year. Injuries and still a nagging lack of belief could hinder him but I expect Delpo to win another Slam. Could the French be next?

3. Novak Djokovic. The “Falcon” has returned with the fire and belief that was lost for most of 2009. He could win a Slam but he’ll have to keep up the balancing act between being “the class clown” and his intensity which rubs some fans the wrong way. Look for him to come into Australia with a vengeance.

4. Rafael Nadal. I know. I know. The Nadal fans are going to attack me for this but I believe that the Nadal “mystique” is over and the top guys on tour have finally figured out how to play him. I like him in the French for sure but how his body holds up will be the story next year.

5. Andy Murray. I don’t understand the obsession with Murray. He’s a talented player but it’s been proven if you attack him ala Marin Cilic, Roger Federer you will win. His mental toughness is still an issue and he needs a big shot to help him win cheap points. I’m still not convinced Murray has the game to win a Slam. He’ll get close, maybe even a final, but I doubt he’ll win one next year.

6. Nikolay Davydenko. Is this the year the hardest working man on tour finally wins a Slam? Maybe. He certainly proved in Shanghai and the ATP Finals that he can beat anyone especially with his improved serve and net play. But how he holds up in best 3 of 5 matches is the real question. Plus, will fans finally get behind the “unsexy” Russian? I like his chances in Australia better than anywhere else.

7. Andy Roddick. As the ’09 Wimbledon final was a defining match for Roddick, I feel like 2010 is the last hope for him to win one more Slam. He’s in great shape more or less (unless the knee becomes a bigger issue) and coach Larry Stefanki has got him playing better, but if he’s going to do it, this is it. Maybe the U.S. Open?

8. Robin Soderling The lanky Swede proved his French Open runner-up spot was no fluke as he continued his strong play late in the season. He certainly believes he can beat the top players, but does he have the game to prevail in the later stages, especially against Federer? He might get close this year at the Slams but I don’t see him breaking through yet.

9 through 15. Take your pick. Tsonga, Verdasco, Gonzalez, Simon, Monfils, Haas. All these guys have gotten close but no cigar. 2010 could be their “this is it” moment to finally breakthrough. But don’t count on it. Anyone of them could make a Slam final but Jelena Jankovic has more chances than these guys.

Wildcards – Sam Querrey. Querrey certainly had a decent 2009 and I can see him getting into the top 15 but winning a Slam feels out of reach.

Marin Cilic – Could the super tall Croat have a Del Potro like year and finally break into the top 10? Watch out for him at Wimbledon where his big serve and volley game should pay dividends.

Lleyton Hewitt – With his health restored, Hewitt finds himself back in the top 20 again. Can he finally win the Australian Open? Sure, if Federer gets knocked out early.

Richard Gasquet – Now that he’s back on tour, 2010 will be the year when we find out if he has what it takes to get back into the top 10 or just be the punchline to one of the more bizarre storylines of 2009.

James Blake – For all the talent, Blake has never lived up to his potential. Something could happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 2010 is his last year.

John Isner – He’s got the big serve and had a breakthrough win against Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open but he needs a bigger game overall if wants to even crack into the top 20.

David Nalbandian – He finally returns after enduring hip surgery. But has the highly talented Argentine been eclipsed by the younger Del Potro?

Plenty of other players I could mention as well with their own chances at glory next year. Let me know what you think!

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Gasquet-Top 10 Again?

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Gasquet Returns Isner's Serve at Basel (AFP/Derungs)

It was nice to see Richard Gasquet of France display all his gifts in his 4-6, 7-6 (9), 6-2 win over John Isner in the second round of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors at Basel.

Despite his travails earlier this spring with the “cocaine kiss” incident, Gasquet appears to have put that all behind him and is playing with inspired confidence and his backhand, probably the best in the game, is once again a thing of beauty to watch.

Gasquet has a good shot at finishing 2009 on an upswing and if he continues his stellar play, I like his chances of not only getting back into the top 20, but maybe even top 10 again next year. Gasquet can display Federer-like artistry on court but seemed to never have real belief especially on the big stages. Perhaps his time off has actually done him some good and, at age 23, he still has plenty of time to achieve great things.

As for John Isner, this was another early round match that he should have won. He was up a set and almost a break in the second and despite falling behind early in the second set tiebreak, had match points on Gasquet’s serve but failed to convert. Once the third set got underway, the “moping” began again and it was all downhill. Isner has got to start making moves in these bigger 500 and 1000 events and 2010 will be the real test for him to make that happen.

(Note: Of course after I posted this, Gasquet lost in the next round to wildcard Marco Chiudinelli 6-1, 6-3. So what do I know?)

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Roddick’s “Asia Curse” – Loses Again First Round.

With shades of an Asian horror flick, it seems like Andy Roddick is double cursed. After losing first round in Beijing, Roddick lost again in the first round of the Shanghai Masters to Stanislas Wawrinka after Roddick retired due to a left knee injury in the first set.

This is where it gets “creepy”. Wawrinka is the same guy Roddick played and ended up with a strange injury in their semifinal match in Rome back in ’08.

It gets worse. Roddick who was hoping to pick up a few wins to qualify for London is still on the bubble and may have to hustle up something special in the Paris Masters a few weeks ago to help his chances. But Roddick said afterwards he was more concerned about his health than the final event so who knows if he will even play London.

In other first round play, Tomas Berdych outlasted China Open finalist Marin Cilic 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-4. Nikolay Davydenko blew past Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 6-2 while Lleyton Hewitt dismantled a rather lethargic John Isner 6-2, 6-4. Hewitt played sharp returns and even handled Isner’s looping kick serve that would sail several feet over Hewitt’s head.

Wednesday’s action sees another Rafael Nadal vs. James Blake match while Juan Martin Del Potro takes on Jurgen Melzer of Austria.

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