Two men who have been billed as the hopes for American tennis in the past, but have largely failed to live up to expectations in the past met in the first round in Dallas on Monday.
Ryan Harrison and Alex Kuznetsov have both been charged with being the new hope for American tennis, but with both now languishing with rankings outside the Top 100, have failed to meet their potential. The younger man Harrison did eventually prevail 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. The match itself was almost a microcosm of why these two have struggled with their careers to date. Kuznetsov swept the first set thanks to some horrible serving from Harrison. Both men only managed less than fifty percent first serves in play in the first set, but Harrison was making the Kuznetsov second serve look like that of Pete Sampras by hacking away.
The second set started in a similar vein, as Harrison easily surrendered another break to the now-veteran Kuznetsov. But the more experienced player has issues of his own, and his play deteriorated within sight of the finish line as Harrison returned to serve immediately. It seemed the two might be destined for a tie-break but Harrison, encouraged by his near escape, pressed hard at six-five and was rewarded with the break.
The final set was chaotic, with Harrison racing out to a four-one lead. He had break points for five-one, but Kuznetsov held, and then Harrison lost out when attempting to reach five-two, Kuznetsov determinedly fighting through a tough deuce game for Harrison, finally breaking to level again. Kuznetsov surrendered his serve yet again though, and Harrison looked to have the match sewn up at 40-15 and two match points. Incredibly, he allowed Kuznetsov back in, but the man now ranked outside the top 300 let Harrison off the hook, as Harrison was able to break as Kuznetsov attempted to send the match to a tiebreak.
Other matches in Dallas saw Bjorn Fratangelo defeat the severely out-of-form Jared Donaldson in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Dan Evans of Great Britain managed to recover from the loss of the first set to Russian teenager Andrey Rublev, eventually winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Sixth seed Tatsumo Ito edged Denys Molchanov 6-2, 6-7, 7-6, Benjamin Becker defeated South African wildcard Jean Andersen 6-4, 6-3, and defending champion Tim Smyczek beat alternate Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-3.
Selected matches and picks for Tuesday (in bold):
Kyle Edmund gets his campaign started against American Sekou Bangoura, and with the American only in the draw courtesy of a wildcard, it is unlikely the second seed will have too many problems.
James McGee faces Dennis Novikov in an interesting clash. Novikov has been trying to break the 150-100 ranking area he’s been stuck in for a while now, but McGee has a good record on American hardcourts, and will be a tough proposition
Clay Thompson and Ernesto Escobedo are both young Americans in the main draw, Thompson through qualifying, and Escobedo by virtue of a wildcard. Thompson has a huge serve, but Escobedo is the more experienced challenger player, and I expect the teenager to win.
Andy Murray Outlines ‘Big Concern’ About His Current Fitness Ahead Of US Open
The 35-year-old is looking to see if he can find a reason behind his latest problem on the Tour.
Britain’s Andy Murray has admitted that he is alarmed about the frequency of cramping he is experiencing during matches played in North America this season.
The three-time Grand Slam champion crashed out of the Western and Southern Open on Wednesday after losing in three sets to compatriot Cameron Norrie. During the closing stages of their encounter, it was visible that Murray was once again struggling with cramps. A condition that occurs when a muscle shortens and causes a sudden pain that can make it hard to move.
It is usual for athletes to experience cramps but for Murray the issue is a ‘big concern’ for him. Saying that this year is the first time in his career he has suffered from the issue on a regular basis.
“I think pretty much every tennis player in their career has cramped usually in these sorts of conditions,” Murray said during his press conference.
“But the consistency of it for me is a big concern. It’s not something that I have really experienced. I have experienced cramping but not consistently like over a number of tournaments.
“It’s a big concern for me because it’s not easy to play when it gets bad like it was at the end (of his match against Norrie). I feel like it had an impact on the end of the match.”
Murray says his cramping occurs ‘predominantly’ in his legs but different parts. The former world No.1 is now looking into seeing if he can find a possible explanation as to what might be triggering the cramps. The issue comes less than two weeks before the start of the US Open.
“It’s a big concern for me that and something that I need to address and find a solution for,” he said. “No one knows exactly why cramps happen. There are many reasons, whether its hydration, whether it’s the food that you have taken in, whether it’s fatigue and lack of conditioning, stress.’
“I need to try and understand what’s going on there.”
Since Wimbledon, Murray has achieved a win-loss record of 3-4 on the Tour with his best run being to the quarter-finals in Newport. He is currently ranked 47th in the world.
Another Defeat For Iga Swiatek – Should Her Fans Start To Worry?
Iga Swiatek unexpectedly lost to Beatrice Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open in Toronto. This was the third defeat of the WTA world No.1 in a month and a half. Is there anything to worry about?
Article written by Dominik Senkowski (@dsenkowski07)
It was an extremely close match played in difficult conditions. Swiatek lost to Beatrice Hadad Maia 4:6, 6:3, 5:7 in Toronto.
The Polish woman admitted that she could not deal with the strong wind, saying during her press conference “I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”
Haddad Miai, who is the first Brazilian to reach the last eight of a WTA 1000 event, revealed that she also had problems with the weather.
”We have no influence on the weather, we have to deal with it somehow. I think mentally I managed to overcome it,” she said.
This was the third defeat for Swiatek in a month and a half. She had been undefeated since February, winning six tournaments in a row, including a Roland Garros. After that, however, she did not reach the semi-finals even once. In Wimbledon she was eliminated in the third round by Alize Cornet and then in Warsaw in the quarter-finals by Caroline Garcia. Now she did not make it past Beatrice Hadad Maia in Toronto. Do fans of the Polish woman have anything to worry about?
Of course, Swiatek as the top seed should have played better against the Brazilian. However, it must be remembered that she is still only 21 years old and has the right to fluctuate in form. Even the best tennis players of recent years – Roger Federer, Serena Serena, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic – did not win all the games in their best time. Swiatek still has a phenomenal balance of 49 wins to 5 defeats this year. She is the undisputed leader of the WTA rankings and will probably end the year as number one in the world.
There is no doubt that the rivals are more motivated to clash with Iga. In addition, they increasingly believe that they are able to defeat her since Cornet, Garcia and Hadad Maia did it. But still, it all depends on Iga. If she improves her serve, she can be unstoppable again. Recently with Garcia and Hadad Maia, she had problems with the second serve. She must pay more attention to it.
Time for Iga
Time should play in favour of Swiatek. Before Toronto, she played exceptionally on clay courts in Warsaw in a tournament organized by her father Tomasz. Frequent changes of the surface from grass to clay and hard courts in 1.5 months are not easy at such a young age. In Poland Iga said that she had no experience with it, she was just learning. She continues to learn valuable lessons and still can be better. We should remember it.
It seems that in the coming days she will be training on hard courts. She could feel more confident and come stronger as in spring. In Warsaw Iga said that she treats the first tournament before the US Open swing less seriously. She was aware that she needed more playing time to get better results. Her increasing self-esteem makes her behave calmer, even after defeats. That is why she can return to the right path soon.
Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking
This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.
It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.
Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”
Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.
So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.
Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)
At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.
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