Bits & pieces from the World of Tennis: 5th of May 2014 - UBITENNIS
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Bits & pieces from the World of Tennis: 5th of May 2014

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TENNIS – The world of tennis is in shock after the news of Elena Baltacha’s death. The former British no.1 died of liver cancer aged 30. This week also Bethanie Mattek-Sands underwent hip surgery last Monday. Prize money at Wimbledon is increased. Tomic returns and the Bryans celebrate their 36th birthday. Joshua Bosco

Former British No.1 Elena Baltacha has died from liver cancer at the age of 30.

She was diagnosed with a severe liver condition in her teens but,despite this, still managed to win11 singles titles in a career spanning 16 years.

She was diagnosed with cancer in mid-January, two months after retiring from professional tennis and just a few weeks after marrying her long-time partner and coach Nino Severino.

She announced her condition in March and the “Rally for Bally” – a series of matches for the Elena Baltacha Foundation and the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity – will now take place in memory of this amazing young woman.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands hip surgery

World No.81 Bethanie Mattek-Sands underwent hip surgery last Monday. According to her agent the American, who had another hip operation back in 2008, wanted to resolve some discomfort that was hindering her movement.

It’s been a tough six months for Mattek-Sands, who missed the end of last year due to knee injury. A timetable for her return hasn’t yet been announced but apparently she’s already up and walking around.

Losing just got better

The All England Club has announced an 11% rise in total prize money at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, bringing the total up to £25m.

The increase is once again weighed in favour of those who lose in the early rounds: first round losers will get a £27,000 cheque (just three years ago they won only £11,000), second round losers will take home £43,000 and third round losers will bag a nice £71,000. They didn’t forget about the winners though, as the champions will receive a hefty 10% increase on the £1,6m Murray and Bartoli won last year.

Who’s missing Madrid (and Rome)

Venus Williams has announced her withdrawal from the WTA Premier Mandatory Madrid Open citing an illness. Americans Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Hampton have also announced they won’t play in Madrid while Victoria Azarenka, who is side-lined since the BNP Paribas Open in early March due to a foot injury, will also miss the Internazionali in Rome next week.

Richard Gasquet has joined del Potro, Florian Mayer, Gael Monfils and Vasek Pospisil in the list of players who have withdrawn from the Madrid Open. According to L’Equipe, Gasquet will also miss the Internazionali and is doubtful for the French Open.

The news was already in the air: newspaper Marca.com had reported that Novak Djokovic could have missed the Masters 1000 in Madrid due to his ongoing right arm injury, suffered three weeks ago in Monte Carlo. Yesterday, with a statement released on the ATP World Tour website, the player confirmed he won’t take part in this year’s Madrid Open and hopes to be ready for the Internazionali in Rome, which starts on May 11th.

While top players Nadal, Wawrinka and Murray are already in Madrid, Roger Federer is expected to arrive only today and that’s if his wife Mirka, pregnant for the second time, is in good health.

Tomic comeback

Last week saw a double comeback from the Tomics: Bernard, now ranked World No.77, has made his comeback on the tour fifteen weeks after withdrawing from his first round match against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open (and six weeks after his humiliating match against Nieminem in his first attempted comeback). He defeated Michael Llodra in the first round of the qualifying tournament in Madrid, but then lost in the final round to Benjamin Becker.

His father John could also make a comeback on the tour after the 12-month suspension for assaulting his son’s sparring partner expired. It remains to be seen if he’ll make his comeback in Rome, where his son will once again play in the qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday.

Heather Watson comeback

World No.121 Heather Watson is set to make her comeback on the tour after missing more than two months due to a shoulder injury sustained at the Sony Open in Miami.

The 21 year old, who dropped in the rankings after reaching the Top 40 last year, will play at the ITF Cagnes-sur-Mer Open in south-eastern France, starting today.

Gonzalez turns coach

Former World No.5 Fernando Gonzalez is the newest name on the list of ex top players turned coaches: beginning at Roland Garros, he will travel with Colombian Santiago Giraldo, as assistant coach, to 10 tournaments a year. Giraldo will continue to work on a full-time basis with current coach Felipe Beròn.

Del Potro Update

Six weeks after undergoing surgery on his wrist, World No.7 Juan Martin del Potro has finished his rest period and has now entered a long period of intense rehabilitation.

“[…] even though I need to keep using the splint, now I can start the rehabilitation exercises to recover the mobility in my left wrist” wrote del Potro on his Facebook page.

Happy American Birthday

April 29th was the birthday of three great American tennis players: 8 time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi turned 44, while doubles World No.1s Bob & Mike Bryan turned 36 years old. Happy Birthday to them all!

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Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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Casper Ruud Set For Career-High Ranking After Clay Court Hat-Trick

The young Norweigan player is closing in on his top-10 debut following his surge in success on the Tour.

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As some of his peers battle it out in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, Norway’s Casper Ruud has become a dominant force on the European clay.

 

The 22-year-old battled his way to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez in the final of Kitzbuhel on Saturday to claim his 12th win in a row on the Tour. It is the third consecutive week where Ruud has won a title after also triumphing at the Nordea Open and Swiss Open Gstaad. The surge in success has made him the first man to have won three ATP titles within as many weeks since Andy Murray did so back in 2011.

“I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing,” Ruud told atptour.com. “I was very nervous at the end, I knew what I was playing for. Three in a row is something special. What a day to play the final, rain on and off all day.
“I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over, and that I won all of them.”

All three tournaments Ruud has won are ATP 250 events but only once did he play a top 50 player. That was Benoit Paire whom he defeated 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the quarter-finals at Gstaad. In Kitzbuhel, he defeated Mario Vilella Martínez (No.167), Mikael Ymer (No.99), Arthur Rinderknech (No.91), and Martinez (No.97).

During his clash with Martinez, the match was interrupted by the rain and it didn’t end until 11:30 PM local time.

“It was tough… we know that the weather was a bit shaky so I was prepared [for the delay],” Ruud said. “It was a bit long there in the end. We came back, only played three games, and then we had to stop again. It was a bit annoying, but we had to keep the focus and try your best. It’s the same for the opponent.”

Ruud has now won four ATP titles this season after also triumphing at the Geneva Open back in May. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 45 matches on the clay and has defeated three top 10 players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini.

The Norweigan is now set to rise to a career-ranking high of 12th when the standings are updated on Monday. He will also go up to eighth place in the ATP Race to Turin.

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