Tag Archives: Sam Querrey

Why Wayne Odesnik’s HGH Bust is Not a Big Story. Yet.

By winning his semifinal match 7-6(4), 1-6, 7-5 over Wayne Odesnik at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Sam Querrey, at least for a few days, ended what many felt was a slap in the face to the sport since Odesnik continued to play despite being under suspicion for recently pleading guilty in an Australian court to possession of Human Growth Hormone or HGH. Even though it’s unclear what actions, if any, the International Tennis Federation will take against Odesnik, it’s very obvious that the reaction by the mainstream sports media and casual fans of the game has been one of almost no reaction.

Aside from tennis journalists who cover the game week in and week out and diehard fans who follow every match regardless of who plays, Odesnik’s controversy has been largely ignored. Those “in the know” attending the Houston event were surprised by other fans cheering Odesnik on during his semifinal run. It’s plainly obvious those fans weren’t aware of Odesnik’s admission despite daily coverage in the local Houston Chronicle newspaper. Continue reading

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Michael Russell “Wheels” Into SAP Open Quarters.

Who is Michael Russell? Even most diehard tennis fans may not be familiar with the veteran American player who advanced into his first ever ATP tour quarterfinals at the SAP Open today with a 6-4, 7-5 win over another veteran, Belgian Xavier Malisse.

Known as “Wheels” on tour due to his never say die attitude on court, Russell, once a top-ranked junior and NCAA player has found most of his success in Challenger events where last year he won three titles. Currently ranked #78, his last big stage match was at this year’s Australian Open where he lost in the first round to Juan Martin del Potro.
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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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Since When Did ATP Players Care About Clothes?

It’s a slow tennis news day when most of the stories coming out of the ATP revolve around recent clothing deals for the top players. Clothing and shoe contracts always mean a check is on its way no matter how well you do each week, but the recent level of the ATP boys leaving one fashion house for another is almost reaching “Top Model” hysteria heights. (No disrespect Ms. Banks).

Andy Murray’s much hyped U.S. Open participation with English designer Fred Perry came to an abrupt end when Murray announced this week he was jumping ship to a multi-year deal with adidas. Apparently in addition to getting his own “color line”, Murray will get free shoes, which he never got before.

Slightly lower down the ATP totem pole, American Sam Querrey secured a seven-figure deal with K-Swiss after his current contract with adidas expires this year. Speaking to Tennis Week, Querrey’s agent and President of BEST John Tobias, cited lack of advertising for the big man as a prime reason for the switch.

“While Sam was the highest ranked American singles player to wear adidas, in three years they never really activated their sponsorship through any advertising featuring Sam. Sam had a tremendous year in 2009 and has clearly established himself and the No. 2 American with the No. 1 spot probably just a year or two away.”

Now it’s obvious Querrey has a great agent and he deserves a big deal like that, but let’s get back to reality. Querrey, despite a solid 2009, has yet to prove himself against the big boys ala Federer or Nadal and outside of the U.S. is hardly known. So you can’t exactly blame adidas for not advertising him hard enough. Now if Querrey breaks through next year then K-Swiss may have a real star on their hands.

Meanwhile the other potential news is that Novak Djokovic, who as well all know can work the catwalk like a supermodel, may jump from adidas to K-Swiss, but it’s all very tdb.

Despite all this, I doubt any of the top boys can replace Federer as the “king of style”. I think he could show up in a t-shirt and sweatpants and still pull off the “classy timeless look”. They say clothes make the man but sometimes it’s just all about the man.

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Is U.S. Men’s Tennis Shifting? Probably Not.

I wanted to wait a few days before posting this to let the dust settle from Saturday’s men’s matches at the U.S. Open, most of them featuring current, future and possible stars of men’s U.S. Tennis. While some have commented that a shift is underway, I actually think the status quo will stick around for some time.

While Jesse Witten’s improbable run from the qualies into the third round of the Open and Taylor Dent’s remarkable comeback from back surgery were the feel good stories of the first week, it’s highly unlikely either of them will ever break into the top fifty. Robby Ginepri’s woes continue despite a nice title win in Indianapolis and few expect another semifinal Grand Slam run from him.

James Blake, who is coming back from a foot injury, was probably hoping for a nice run at the Open to get him back into the groove. But his loss in three sets to Tommy Robredo, in spite of a very late start time, does not bode well for his future. Blake, despite having a solid career, will never win a Grand Slam. He may hang around the top thirty for awhile, but he will really need to get to another level to reach the top ten again. And it’s shame because of any of the top players, Blake had all the gifts to really be number one. But, for whatever reason, it was not meant to be.

Despite John Isner’s dramatic breakthrough win against Andy Roddick, you have to realize that at 24, Isner is just now finding his game. His consistency and fitness is getting better as evidenced by his five set win, but it’s unlikely he will play every match serving 38 aces. Unless his forehand and/or serve and volley game become a major weapon, he will end up like Ivo Karlovic, a tough serving opponent, but someone who never gets past the quarters of big events.

Sam Querrey has had a great summer and is on the cusp of entering the top twenty. Whereas his serve and movement have improved, he still needs that something “extra” that the very top players have. I don’t know if Querrey has that yet. Maybe he will be like Andy Murray who matured and developed a stronger serve and great defensive skills. Querrey is only 21 so he still has time. He will probably be the American number two for a very long time.

Which leaves the American number one Andy Roddick. 2009 will go down as a great yet disappointing year for Roddick. Despite improved results, including reaching another Wimbledon final, Roddick still yearns for that elusive second Grand Slam title. Will 2010 finally be the breakthrough year? Maybe. Let’s put it this way. Andy Roddick is in amazing shape and barring injury will probably stay in the top ten for many years. But so will Roger Federer. And we all know how that matchup has gone.

Whether you love or hate Roddick, he will be the face of American men’s tennis for quite some time. What he does during then will be entirely up to him.

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Day 6 Predix – Is Oudin Ready for Primetime?

Saturday’s action at the U.S. Open will showcase lots of intriguing matchups. Here’s some quick thoughts on all of them.

Federer vs. Hewitt
Hewitt will put up a fight as always, but unless Federer drifts off mentally, this will go quickly for Fed.

Oudin vs. Sharapova
Riding high on her recent win over Dementieva, Oudin will now face more pressure and expectation as she takes on Sharapova who will look for the quick winner and not trade baseline rallies. Unless Sharapova’s serve goes awry, I like her in three.

Roddick vs. Isner

On paper Roddick looks the heavy favorite. But Isner has been on the big stage before and is hungry for a breakthrough. If Roddick returns well, this will go fast. If it’s a serving battle ended in tiebreaks, look for Roddick to finally prevail in five.

Haas vs. Verdasco

They haven’t played each other in a year so this could either be a five-set war or a lopsided three setter. I think Haas is hungry for another deep run at a major so I’ll make him a slight favorite.

Robin Soderling vs. Sam Querrey
Querrey is also looking for a breakthrough in a major and with help of the New York crowd, I think Querrey will win in four.

James Blake vs. Tommy Robredo

Although Blake is 4-2 against Robredo, this could go five sets, but again the New York night crowd will help Blake win.

Dinara Safina vs. Petra Kvitova

Too bad they didn’t make this the second match of the night to save everyone the two and half hours it will take Safina to win in three.

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Shahar Peer

“Sveta” has poked along into the third round. She’ll probably find a way to poke Peer enough for the win.

Novak Djokovic vs. Jesse Witten

The feel good story of the tourney for the American qualifier will come to a quick end at the hands of Djokovic.

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