TENNIS MASTER 1000 IW – Ryan Harrison had to fight hard to edge Mardy Fish 6-4 4-6 7-6 after two hours and 36 minutes in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the first of the nine Master 1000 Tournaments. Fish made his come-back from a long break of three years from the ATP circuit due to a debilitating heart condition and serious anxiety disorder. Diego Sampaolo
Fish, who was runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells in 2008, made his emotional come-back from three years of absence and he came close to what would have been a fairytale win against Harrison in his first match since he retired from the third round in Winston Salem Open2013 after a difficult period in which he suffered from heart problems and a severe anxiety disorder.
The first set went on serve until the fifth game when Harrison broke serve to love but Fish broke straight back in the next game for 3-3. Harrison broke again to take the 4-3 lead and held serve without problems to pull away to 5-3. Fish won the ninth game for 4-5 but Harrison served out to clinch the first set with 6-4.
Fish failed to convert on three break points and Harrison drew level to 4-4. Fish did not face any problems to hold his serve and took the 5-4 lead. In the 10th game Fish went up 40-15 and earned two set points. Harrison saved the first set point but committed a costly double fault on the second chance and Fish drew level by winning the second set with 6-4.
Harrison broke serve in the third game of the decider to take a 2-1 lead. Fish held his serve in the fifth game for 2-3. While serving 4-3 Harrison committed two forehand errors and faced tow break-back points at 15-40 but he managed to hold his serve with his service winner and his backhand.
Fish broke serve after a 10-minute hard-fought game at deuce
Fish earned two match points at 15-40 in the 10th game of the third set. Both players held serve to force the match to the tie-break where Harrison reeled off three points in a row to open up a 5-2 lead. Harrison earned a match point after a double fault made by Fish and wrapped up up the match with an ace.
The Minnesota native player turned pro in 2000 and won the Olympic silver medal for years later in Athens. He achieved his career-high of Number 7 after reaching the quarter finals at Wimbledon in 2011 and qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time in his career. However he was awoken in the middle of the night in Miami in 2012 as his heart raced violently after losing a match to Juan Monaco. The heart palpitations were so intense, that he thought he would not survive. He was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. He underwent a procedure to correct faulty electrical connections in his heart. This condition caused him anxiety attacks every 15-30 minutes
“It’s probably the only one I would have been able to start with, since it’s close to home. It’s been a good three and a half months now that I have worked my butt off to get back into tennis shape. It’s satisfying because it’s hard work. I didn’t practice much for about a year, but tennis has never left me. I have worked really hard in the past three and a half years to get back into shape. I don’t have any issues during or after a match. I worked extremely hard to put myself in the best position to not have to worry about things when I was there”, said Fish
In the other first round matches Marcos Baghdatis was leading 6-3 1-1 when young Czech rising star Jiri Vesely withdrew. Vesely was broken five times and won only 39 percent of his first serve points. Baghdatis continues his good period of form after the third round at the Australian Open and the semifinal in Zagreb. The player from Cyprus, former Australian Open finalist, will take on Novak Djokovic in the second round.
Vasek Pospisil was leading against Mikhail Kukushkin (winner last weekend in the Davis Cup with Kazakhstan against Italy last week-end) with 6-4 4-2 when the Kazakh withdrew. In the second round Pospisil will take on Andy Murray who recently hired Bjorkman.
Davis Cup her Federico Delbonis, who won the 3-2 final point for Argentina last week against Brazil in Buenos Aires, beat Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-3.
Adrian Mannarino beat Misha Zverev (older brother of German rising star Aleksander Zverev) 6-4 6-4 to set up a second round match against Fabio Fognini. At last year’s US Open Mannarino beat Fognini 6-3 6-4 6-1. Young Croatian rising Borna Coric beat Austrian Andreas Haider Mauer 6-4 6-4. Another emerging talent Thanasi Kokkinakis overcame German Jan Struff 7-6 (7-3) 6-3. Juan Monaco edged Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-3 3-6 6-3.
REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach
The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.
Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.
TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.
The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.
“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.
Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.
Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.
Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.
Groh’s coaching CV
- 2011: Michael Berrer
- 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
- 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
- 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
- ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.
Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
Only two players have won the award since 2004.
For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.
Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.
“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.
Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.
“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”
Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.
“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.
The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.
Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award
Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2
Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open
Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.
World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.
Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.
“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.
The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.
During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.
“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.
Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.
Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.
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