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Updated: 7 min 34 sec ago

Harrisons Reflect On Qualifying For US Open 2016

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 2:01pm
Brothers Ryan and Christian Harrison reflect on both qualifying for the 2016 US Open singles main draw and how they have helped each other at different stages of their careers.

Pouille Explores Central Park Ahead Of US Open 2016

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 10:46am
Lucas Pouille and his girlfriend explore Central Park in New York City ahead of the 2016 US Open.

Johnson Throws First Pitch 2016

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 8:05am
Steve Johnson throws the first pitch at a New York Mets baseball game.

Mayer Claims Ninth Challenger Title In Manerbio

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 4:20am

Internazionali di Tennis Manerbio (Manerbio, Italy): Argentina's Leonardo Mayer has fallen on hard times since soaring to a career-high World No. 21 in the Emirates ATP Rankings last June, having dropped out of the Top 100 just last month. But the 29 year old is well on his way to rediscovering his top form after surging to the ATP Challenger Tour title in Manerbio on Sunday. Fifth seed Mayer claimed his ninth Challenger crown 7-6(3), 7-5 over Serbia's Filip Krajinovic in one hour and 33 minutes. He had earned his spot in the final with a pair of comeback victories over top seed Gerald Melzer in the quarters and Matteo Donati in the semis. Argentina has now accounted for 10 titlists this year, which leads the ATP Challenger Tour. Mayer joins Facundo Bagnis (3 titles), Guido Andreozzi (2), Horacio Zeballos (2), Nicolas Kicker (1) and Carlos Berlocq (1).

August concludes with three tournaments in three continents. Joao Souza leads the field at the inaugural event in Curitiba, Brazil, where recent 400 match winner Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo is seeded third. Gonzalo Lama, who is coached by former World No. 5 Fernando Gonzalez, is seeded fourth. Meanwhile, the fourth Challenger event this year in Bangkok features 18-time Challenger winner Go Soeda as the top seed and #NextGen star Duckhee Lee seeded third, while World No. 88 Gerald Melzer leads the pack in Como, Italy. Leonardo Mayer will look to go back-to-back on Italian soil, while #NextGen stars Andrey Rublev and Elias Ymer seek their second titles of the year.

View Draws & Watch Free Live Streams

ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at

Bjorkman: Cilic Is Ready To Go Far In New York

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 2:58am

September 7, 2014… A day that remains etched in Marin Cilic’s memory. It was an unforgettable experience, but he couldn’t tell you how it happened. It’s all a blur.

A ruthless straight-sets stunner of second seed and five-time champion Roger Federer sent the towering Croatian into the US Open final. Cilic would show no mercy in relentlessly exhibiting a tour de force of thunderous serves and forehands that left the Swiss reeling. Attacking the lines with a devastating combination of precision and power, there wasn't a shot he could not make.

Forty-three winners sent him into his first Grand Slam final, where he would lift the trophy two days later with another resounding victory over Kei Nishikori. Now, two years later, Cilic is back in New York and ready to take the tennis world by storm once again.

“Coming back here to the US Open is very special,” Cilic told “For me, it’s definitely the best place on Earth. I have a special connection with the tournament. I feel great in the city, I feel well on the courts and the atmosphere always motivates me. Arthur Ashe Stadium is an amazing place and now with the roof it will be even more fun.”


Cilic enters Flushing Meadows playing some of the best tennis of his career. Less than a month after establishing a new partnership with Jonas Bjorkman, the Croatian turned back the clock with the same ruthless, aggressive display that led to his US Open triumph, battling to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Wins over former Top 10 players Fernando Verdasco and Grigor Dimitrov and current Top 10 stalwarts Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych, have sent the 27-year-old's confidence soaring.

First session together with @cilic_marin and his team under the lights last night@usopen

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: First Points Matter

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 11:18pm

It’s amazing how just one point can put a player in a big hole.

You need four points to win a game, but the first one greatly impacts the landscape for everything that follows. When returning, winning the first point of your opponent’s service game puts you in the conversation to breaking. Losing it makes it a lot tougher to break than we ever thought.

At the 2015 US Open, returners averaged breaking serve 21 per cent (924/4326) of the time. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis pinpoints the substantial percentage swings for returners when they win or lose the opening point of the game.

The following analysis takes a cross section of the current Emirates ATP Top 100 rankings from the 2016 season, providing a broad statistical analysis. One player from each 10 ranking spots is included, highlighting the diversity of playing styles and win percentages throughout the Top 100.

Percentage Chance Of Breaking Serve By Point Score







Novak Djokovic





Jo-Wilfried Tsonga





Steve Johnson





Sam Querrey





Nicolas Mahut





Guido Pella





Gastao Elias





Damir Dzumhur





John Millman





Gerald Melzer









The Top 100 cross section includes players known for their serving prowess as well as solid returners. On average, winning the first point of the game substantially increased the chance of winning the game from 23 per cent to 38 per cent.

Losing the opening point - just one point - dropped the average breaking serve percentage from 23 per cent to 14 per cent. That effectively means the returner went from around a one-in-four chance of breaking to a one-in-seven chance.

So what should the returner’s strategy be at love-all to improve their chance of winning the opening point? Here’s five things to consider.

1. Make The Return.

It seems obvious, but consider that 32% of all serves were unreturned at the 2015 US Open. Getting the serve back in play is an absolute must to start the game.

2. Target = Middle.

Take the singles sidelines out of the equation. Aim right at the server and make him have to move sideways to get out of the way of the return.

3. Depth Matters

Even if the return is slower, it helps immensely if it is hit deep in the court to neutralize the serve. Make it land closer to the baseline than the service line.

4. Blocking Energy

The return is a different animal than a groundstroke. Bigger backswings need to be abbreviated. Use the server’s power back against him. Shorter swings equal cleaner contact.

5. Feet First

Attack with the feet first and the racquet second. Step, split step, adjust, and lean on the ball. Good balance comes from small steps to get the right spacing.

Having a good game plan and an understanding of the math involved goes a long way to breaking serve and climbing the rankings at all levels of the game.

Del Potro: "It's Amazing To Be Back"

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 9:43pm

Healthy and ready to go, Juan Martin del Potro is back at the US Open, the first Grand Slam that he won seven years ago. The Argentine, who received a wild card from the USTA to play in the main draw, says he feels comfortable in his return to the Flushing Meadows.

"I am in a very happy place now," said the Argentine to in New York. "Every hallway that I walk through gives me great feelings and I am honoured to be here. This tournament is very special and after all my injury problems, it is very emotional and enjoyable to be back."

Del Potro, who endured four wrist surgeries and this year made the decision to return little by little to the ATP World Tour, made his comeback debut in Delray Beach. Now, after many months of readjusting to the level of competition, Del Potro is back in the US Open. It is one of the most special tournaments in all of his career.

"It's amazing to be back in New York," reflected Del Potro, who defeated Roger Federer in the final in 2009 to celebrate his first Grand Slam title. "Winning here made me feel like a true champion. There is something very special about being the winner of a tournament like this. It's a prize that is indescribable.

"To be as close as I was to never playing again and now returning to re-live these things is something spectacular," he insisted. "Maybe I enjoy it a lot more now because I know what it cost me to be here. With every corner I see, every place where I am, I remember the things that I did in 2009; where I prepared, the place where I celebrated, also the people that made me feel so great. I am very happy."

The Argentine, No. 142 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will open against a countryman in Flushing Meadows and he knows that easy opponents don't exist in a tournament like this.

"I have to play against another Argentine," said Del Potro, who will square off against Diego Schwartzman in the first round of the last Grand Slam of the season. "Obviously, in a tournament as big as this, there is no easy opponent even in the early rounds. To return to play another tournament after all that I experienced at the Olympics in Rio is not easy. I was very emotional. But I am in a place where I have incredible memories.

"Here, all the matches are long and the heat is also an important factor," the Tandil native remembers. "I will enjoy the opportunity to place another match at the US Open, which is very special for me. If I advance and it goes well, it will be great, but if I don't, then it won't be terrible. My big objective for the season is to return to the tour without pain in my wrist, and to be able to hit the ball with strength on my backhand side by the end of the year.

"I am on the right track and close to achieving this. I feel strong and focused mentally. This is a Del Potro who will return to smile on the court, enjoying everything that goes with being a tennis player."

Scouting Report: Murray Sets Sights On US Open

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 7:16pm

The US National Championships, known since 1968 as the US Open Tennis Championships, is the second-oldest of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments after Wimbledon, and the only one to have been played each year since its inception in 1881. This is the 136th staging of the event.

This is the 49th US Open and the 195th Grand Slam tournament of the Open Era. The tournament has been held on hard court at Flushing Meadows since moving from Forest Hills in 1978. For the second year in a row, this year’s championship match will be played on a Sunday after seven straight years on a Monday.

This year’s event will feature a number of major enhancements, including a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, a new Grandstand Stadium, and a completely redesigned southern campus to ease accessibility and crowding throughout the site.


Former Champions (5): Novak Djokovic (2015, 2011), Marin Cilic (2014), Rafael Nadal (2010, 2013),

Andy Murray (2012), Juan Martin del Potro (2009)

Former Finalists (4): Kei Nishikori (2014), Novak Djokovic (2007, 2010, 2012-13), Rafael Nadal (2011),

Andy Murray (2008)

Wild Cards (8): Juan Martin del Potro, James Duckworth, Ernesto Escobedo, Bjorn Fratangelo, Mackenzie McDonald, Michael Mmoh, Rajeev Ram, Frances Tiafoe

Qualifiers (16): Guido Andreozzi, Marco Chiudinelli, Guilherme Clezar, Steve Darcis, Jared Donaldson, Thomas Fabbiano, Marton Fucsovics, Alessandro Giannessi, Christian Harrison, Ryan Harrison, Ilya Ivashka, Karen Khachanov, Saketh Myneni, Jan Satral, Radek Stepanek, Mischa Zverev

Lucky Losers (2): Daniel Brands, Jozef Kovalik

Youngest in Draw: Frances Tiafoe (18 yrs, 7 mos.)      

Total Teenagers: 6 (from youngest to oldest): Frances Tiafoe (18), Michael Mmoh (18), Taylor Fritz (18), Alexander Zverev (19), Borna Coric (19), Jared Donaldson (19)

Oldest in Draw: Radek Stepanek (37 yrs, 9 mos.)        

Total 30-and-Over: 49 – US Open record (up from 40 in 2015).

Included among 49 players 30-and-over are two who turn 30 during US Open (Gael Monfils and Denis Istomin)

Players by Country: 40 countries (down from 44 in 2015): USA (17), France (13), Spain (11), Argentina (9), Germany (8)

EMIRATES AIRLINE US OPEN SERIES: The 2016 US Open is the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of ATP World Tour events in Toronto, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Winston-Salem. To be eligible for bonus money, players needed to compete at two or more two Emirates Airlines US Open Series events. Kei Nishikori won the series after reaching the Rogers Cup final and Western & Southern Open Round of 16. The Japanese superstar will now attempt to set a record for the largest payout in tennis history at the US Open – $4.5 million; $3.5 million for winning the US Open and a $1 million bonus. Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic, who both advanced to the Rogers Cup quarter-finals and Western & Southern Open semi-finals, finished second and third respectively. Dimitrov will compete for a bonus payout of $500,000, while Raonic is bidding for $250,000 in bonus money.

THREE OF BIG FOUR LEAD THE WAY: Since 2005 Roland Garros, when Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam title, the Big 4 of Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray has won 42 of the past 46 Grand Slam titles. The only exceptions occurred at the 2009 US Open (Juan Martin del Potro), 2014 Australian Open (Stan Wawrinka), 2014 US Open (Marin Cilic) and 2015 Roland Garros (Wawrinka). It’s the most dominant era in the history of tennis. During the current stretch, Nadal has won 14 titles, Federer 13, Djokovic 12 and Murray three.

NO. 1 RANKING UPDATE: Novak Djokovic has held the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking each week since July 7, 2014 after winning the Wimbledon title (113 consecutive weeks as of August 29, 2016). Djokovic is guaranteed to retain the No. 1 spot regardless of his result. When the start of the US Open, Djokovic will celebrate his 214th week as World No. 1, fifth all-time behind Roger Federer (302), Pete Sampras (286), Ivan Lendl (270) and Jimmy Connors (268).

LAST AMERICAN GRAND SLAM CHAMPION: Andy Roddick is the last American man to win a Grand Slam tournament at the 2003 US Open. The 2016 US Open is the 52nd major since Roddick’s triumph, the longest gap between Grand Slam titles for US men in the Open Era. The previous longest American drought in the Open Era ended at Roland Garros in 1989, when Michael Chang won the Roland Garros title 18 majors after John McEnroe won the 1984 US Open. Roddick and Andre Agassi, who was runner-up at the 2005 US Open, are the only Americans to reach a Grand Slam final since Roddick’s 2003 US Open title. They lost to Roger Federer in all five of their combined Grand Slam final appearances following the 2003 US Open. Roddick was runner-up at the 2006 US Open and Wimbledon in 2004-05 and 2009.

LEFT-HANDED CHAMPIONS (Open Era): Six different left-handed players have won the US Open title in the Open Era. In all, left-handers have won 14 US Open singles titles:

Jimmy Connors (5) – 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982-83

John McEnroe (4) – 1979-81, 1984

Rafael Nadal (2) – 2010, 2013

Guillermo Vilas (1) – 1977

Manuel Orantes (1) – 1975

Rod Laver (1) - 1969


Youngest Singles Champion: Pete Sampras (19 years, 28 days) in 1990 (d. Agassi)

Youngest Male to Compete: Tommy Ho (15 years, 2 months, 14 days) in 1988 (l. to Kriek)

Youngest Male to Win A Match: Michael Chang (15 years, 6 months, 10 days) in 1987 (d. McNamee)

Oldest Singles Champion: Ken Rosewall (35 years, 10 months, 11 days) in 1970 (d. Roche)

WILD CARDS: Americans were awarded six of the eight wild cards: NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald, USTA Pro Circuit US Open Wild Card Challenge winner Ernesto Escobedo, USTA Boys’ 18s champion Michael Mmoh, Bjorn Fratangelo, Rajeev Ram and Frances Tiafoe. The other wild cards are 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro and Australia’s James Duckworth.

FIRST TIMERS: There are 16 players making their US Open debut this year (down from 18 in 2015):

Inigo Cervantes, Guilherme Clezar, Gastao Elias, Ernesto Escobedo, Taylor Fritz, Marton Fucsovics, Alessandro Giannessi, Christian Harrison, Ilya Ivashka, Karen Khachanov, Jozef Kovalik, Mackenzie McDonald, Michael Mmoh, Saketh Myneni, Jan Satral and Jordan Thompson. In the Open Era, no man has won the US Open title in his debut. The last Grand Slam champion to win a title in his debut at that event was Rafael Nadal at 2005 Roland Garros.

In Case You Missed It

Pablo Carreno Busta captures his first ATP World Tour title in Winston-Salem. Read

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen save five match points to capture the Winston-Salem doubles title. Read

Ryan Harrison and brother Christian Harrison qualify for the US Open. Read

Here are seven things you may not know about the US Open’s new roof. Read

Who will be the breakthrough stars at the US Open? Read

Ranking Movers

+10 Pablo Carreno Busta (39)

+3 Daniel Evans (64)

+3 Viktor Troicki (32)

+2 Robin Haase (62)

+2 Mikhail Youzhny (61)


US Open Singles

Richard Gasquet – 447 wins

Milos Raonic – 249 wins

Viktor Troicki – 247 wins

Grigor Dimitrov – 196 wins

Dustin Brown – 48 wins

US Open Doubles

Julian Knowle – 396 wins

Jonathan Erlich – 346 wins

Jurgen Melzer – 297 wins

Marc Lopez – 249 wins


30 August – Ernests Gulbis (28)

1 September – Gael Monfils (30)

3 September – Dominic Thiem (23)

7 September – Denis Istomin (30)

Carreno Busta Claims Maiden Title In Winston-Salem

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 5:21pm
Watch highlights from the final of the Winston-Salem Open, where Pablo Carreno Busta captured his first ATP World Tour title on Saturday.

Pouille Explore Central Park Ahead Of US Open 2016

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 12:26pm
Lucas Pouille and his girlfriend explore Central Park in New York City ahead of the 2016 US Open.

Djokovic Hoping For Rain At US Open (U.S. Only)

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 6:09am
Novak Djokovic says he'd like to play under a closed Arthur Ashe roof. Video available only in the USA. Video courtesy

Challenger Stars Reaping Rewards At US Open

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 12:53am

They say a picture can speak a thousand words, but if you ask Steve Darcis, he would illustrate it with one. "Unbelievable" the emotional Belgian said after marching through qualifying at the US Open on Friday.

"Unbelievable" describes the 32-year-old's three-set marathon victory over Enrique Lopez-Perez, saving a match point in a 10-8 deciding tie-break. It represents his dominance of #NextGen stars Tommy Paul and Duckhee Lee in the opening rounds, refusing to drop a set en route to qualifying in New York for the second time in three years. But more importantly, it aptly chronicles his journey back to the Grand Slam stage - and near-return to the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings - after shoulder and knee injuries sidelined the former World No. 44.

"You take every win when you're out for six or seven months," he added. Having posted a 21-4 record on the ATP Challenger Tour this year, the 5'10" right-hander has carried a strong run of form into the US Open. Titles in Lyon, France and earlier this month in Trnava, Slovakia, have vaulted him to World No. 108.

While Darcis will be making his eighth main draw appearance in New York, other qualifiers have surged into the field of 128 for the first time following breakthrough performances on the Challenger circuit this year.

"This is why you play tennis," #NextGen star Karen Khachanov told Inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings following a title run at the Challenger in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and plotting his ascent towards stardom, the 20-year-old qualified for his first Grand Slam in his sixth attempt, defeating Noah Rubin.

"You want to play in these big events. It feels great to me to be in the main draw. I'm just very happy. Even though I didn't play my best tennis, I passed through qualies, dealt with my emotions and I'm happy to be in my first Grand Slam. I know Noah pretty well. He's a fighter. He's the same age as me and he beat me one time in juniors, so it means a lot to get through."

Indeed, Khachanov has already become a household name on the ATP World Tour, but the quartet of Ilya Ivashka, Jan Satral, Marton Fucsovics and Saketh Myneni are reveling in their first moments in the spotlight and first experiences on one of the biggest stages in the game.

"I'm very happy that I qualified," said 22-year-old Ilya Ivashka, who is the third player representing Belarus to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam, joining Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov. "I played very good tennis, which is even more important. It's amazing because Voltchkov is coaching me now and I know Max very well. They are helping me a lot."

With his Emirates ATP Ranking vascillating near the Top 300, Ivashka owned a 15-15 record on the ATP Challenger Tour when he stepped on the clay of Recanati, Italy, in mid-July, and battled to his first career final. Despite falling to Illya Marchenko, he believes it was the week that changed everything.

"It gave me all the confidence, because I beat a Top 100 player there," Ivashka said of his comeback victory over top seed Evgeny Donskoy in the semis. "I played great tennis. Three of the matches went three sets. It gave me the belief that I can beat the good players and it helped a lot. I want to win every match that I play."

One of 20 first-time winners on the Challenger circuit this year, Ivashka has since risen to a career-high World No. 181 and is slated to open his tour-level career against Winston-Salem Open champion Pablo Carreno Busta.

All it takes is one win. One win can change the trajectory of a season and often a career. For some, the springboard to the bigger stages and bright lights is swift and immediate. Just ask Jan Satral. It was the first round of €42,500 event in Marburg, Germany in late June. The 26-year-old Czech was sitting at No. 272 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and in search of confidence as his 2016 campaign reached the halfway mark. One win over former Top 100 stalwart Tobias Kamke changed everything.

"It did a lot for me,” Satral told “I wasn't in good shape at the beginning of the season and then I won a round of qualifying at Wimbledon and went to Marburg as a last-minute decision. When I beat Tobias Kamke in the first round, it gave me the most confidence to beat the good players. After that, every match I played pretty well and I started to feel good again.”

Satral would storm to his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Marburg, dropping a combined 10 games in the semis and final. But the Czech wasn’t done. Victory on the German clay propelled him to qualify for his first ATP World Tour main draw in Hamburg just one week later, stealing a set from former World No. 9 Nicolas Almagro in the first round. Satral has since carried the momentum into the Big Apple, where he cruised to his first Grand Slam qualification without dropping a set. He awaits fellow major newcomer and American collegiate star Mackenzie McDonald, with a potential date with 10th seed Gael Monfils on the line.


“Kamke was the most important win of the year and after that I played great. I'm happy that I'm staying like this.”

Ivashka, Satral, Fucsovics and Myneni might be Grand Slam debutants, but they are certainly no strangers to high-pressure moments. Ivashka, Satral and Fucsovics each reached an ATP Challenger Tour final while residing outside the Top 200 this year, while Myneni finished runner-up on home soil in New Delhi as World No. 166. Dedicated and focused on taking their breakout campaigns to an even higher level at the US Open, the foursome have earned the opportunity.

"In all my dreams, this is one of best thing that's ever happened to me in tennis," said Myneni, who lives in nearby Greenwich, Connecticut. "Qualifying is great, but you still have to stay focused. If it's the Challenger Tour or tour-level events, it's the same goal in keeping your ranking up there and always improving. This is my home Grand Slam, being one hour away, and it's especially nice having the support of my family being here."

In addition, for India's Myneni, Belarus's Ivashka and Hungary's Fucsovics, qualifying for a first Grand Slam main draw is not only an individual achievement, rather a source of great national pride.

"I hope it helps," added Myneni, who is just the second player from India to compete in singles at the US Open since 2002, along with Somdev Devvarman. "Tennis has improved a lot in the last 10 years. I think there is a long way to go for the sport to develop further and get better and better, but it's a good thing for them to see a guy from India competing in such a big stage."

Brilliant effort by Saki for qualifying for the main draw @usopen @SakethMyneni #SakiBomb #SakiSquad

Rohan Bopanna (@rohanbopanna) August 27, 2016

Fucsovics is part of an even more exclusive club, as just the fifth Hungarian man to appear in a Grand Slam main draw. It was his 15th attempt in total.

"I'm very happy to be on the list, but hopefully I can win some matches in the main draw as well and play even better the rest of the year,” said Fucsovics, who opens with a stern test against a resurgent Nicolas Almagro. “I changed my coach recently to Attila Savolt and he has helped me a lot to get to this level.”

The 24-year-old is on course to surpass his career-high World No. 135 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, having streaked to the final at the prestigious ATP Challenger Tour event in Prostejov, Czech Republic, in early June. It was the first final in nearly two years for the former Wimbledon junior champ.

“I reached the final in Prostejov as a qualifier, which is one of the biggest Challengers. It was a big result after a long time, since I had won two Challengers many years ago. It gave me a lot of confidence and for sure led to this result.”

Fucsovics, Ivashka, Khachanov, Myneni and Satral aren’t the only players to qualify at a Grand Slam for the first time. In fact, there are eight in total, with 22-year-old Christian Harrison, 23-year-old Brazilian Guilherme Clezar and 26-year-old Italian Alessandro Giannessi also making their debuts after prevailing on Friday. Clezar, runner-up at the 2014 ATP Challenger Tour Finals, qualified in his 14th attempt.

Watch Harrison Interview

Millman Chases Down Lob For One-Handed Hot Shot

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 12:53am
John Millman chases down a lob for a one-handed Hot Shot during his semi-finals run at the Winston-Salem Open. VIdeo courtesy IMG. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Watch Johnson Throw Out First Pitch At Citi Field

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 12:40am

Steve Johnson continued the recent American tennis theme at Citi Field, throwing out the first pitch on Friday evening. The top-ranked American made the ceremonial toss with WTA player Bethanie Mattek-Sands before the New York Mets took on the archrival Philadelphia Phillies.

It was a long-awaited experience for the American, marking the first time he had thrown out a first pitch in a Major League Baseball game. Earlier this month, former World No. 1 and New York native John McEnroe launched a perfect strike.

"It's been great," Johnson, a fan of the Los Angeles Angels, told at the game. "Any time you get to do something new and see a stadium like this is pretty awesome. I've been a baseball fan my whole life. To finally get the opportunity to come here and do this, it's pretty beautiful.

"I feel like I was more nervous walking out at Centre Court in Wimbledon this year than throwing out the first pitch, but I hit him right in the chest and that's all that matters. I was no Reilly Opelka and did not airmail it. It wasn't as fast as Johnny Mac, but I got it done."

Last month, Vasek Pospisil threw out the first pitch at a Toronto Blue Jays game, during the Rogers Cup, followed by Reilly Opelka at a Cincinnati Reds game during the Western & Southern Open.

Johnson, who is in the midst of a breakout campaign on the ATP World Tour, is up to a career-high World No. 21 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The California native reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final two weeks ago in Cincinnati, having claimed his maiden tour-level title on the grass of Nottingham in late June. Seeded 19th at the US Open, he is slated to open against Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy, with a potential second round clash against 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro in the cards.



First-Time Winner Spotlight: Pablo Carreno Busta

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 12:28am

How does it feel to be standing with the trophy as a first-time winner? Are you a little surprised it came on hard court?

This is amazing. This is an incredible feeling. To win my first ATP World Tour title and then playing against Bautista [Agut], a top player, is really tough. It was a really tough match. But it's amazing. I fought all the time, all week. I think I'm very, very, very, very happy.

Was this something you dreamed about growing up and playing as a junior, to win an ATP World Tour title?

Yeah. To win my first ATP World Tour title is a dream because you can play finals and I played two this year. But when you continue working and you continue fighting all the time and finally the result arrives, for me, it's really, really good.

What was your approach going into your third final of the season? You were in previous two finals – Sao Paulo, Estoril – both on clay. Did you have a different mindset going into today?

No. This was on hard court. Maybe it was the most difficult of the other two finals. No, you have to try to do your best and I tried. And when you are playing good, like this week, I think I was playing very good. I was serving really well. You never know when you'll win the final.


You defeated the No. 2 seed Roberto Bautista Agut and the No. 3 seed Pablo Cuevas along the way. What did you do well this week to put all of those good results together?

I think I'm being more aggressive with my game. It's really important to be aggressive with your serve and then with your return and when you are playing the rallies, you need to be able to be [more aggressive] because if you're not aggressive, the opponent has the key to win the matches.

Now that you've won your first ATP World Tour title, what are the goals you have for the rest of the season?

This is amazing but we have to continue this way. This is a good way and I'm looking to continue like this – working hard and with confidence. I'm playing good, with confidence. And this week, in two days I will play at the US Open in New York so I have to continue focusing on trying to do my best all the time. Then we'll have three months more of this year, we'll try to do our best.

You're the seventh different Spanish winner this year. The youngest of 11 Spaniards in the Top 100. How do view the state of Spanish tennis?

I think the Spanish players are making something great. It's not easy to make a lot of champions like we are and win tournaments. Nadal, Ferrer, now Bautista [Agut] is a top player... All the Spanish players can win a tournament.

You've had a lot of support in your development throughout your career. Who are the people who allowed you to get to this level and you'd like to thank?

I have to say thank you to all the people who helped me to arrive here. It's not just my team... All the people who worked with me, who supported me, all my family, of course. All the people who support me all the time, when I win, when I lose. And I think I have to say thank you to everybody because without their support, this is not easy and I think it's impossible.

What do you consider the strength and the best part of your game?

My serve, because I'm serving really good. I'm serving better but I think it's not enough. I can do it better. And then I have to continue being aggressive. … In this tournament I played a little bit better than the rest of the year. But the rest of the year, it was really good also. So I need to continue this way.

Is there a player you grew up admiring?

Yeah, I watched the matches of [Juan Carlos] Ferrero. Of course he was my hero, and now I practise at his academy. Imagine for me, it's really special. This moment is really special.

What do you like to do away from tennis?

I don't have time now, unfortunately. We go now to New York. Tomorrow I will practice again... I play on Tuesday.

Carreno Busta Clinches Maiden ATP World Tour Title

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 9:37pm

Pablo Carreno Busta overcame countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7(6), 7-6(1), 6-4 to win his first ATP World Tour singles title on Saturday at the Winston-Salem Open.

The 25 year old, who was playing in the third singles final of his career, had been unable to clinch his maiden title earlier this season on both the clay of Estoril and Sao Paulo. But on the hard courts in Winston-Salem, the Barcelona resident rallied after losing the first set to hoist his first championship trophy after two hours and 33 minutes on court.

“It's an amazing feeling. I worked very hard to be here and now I have to enjoy this moment," Carreno Busta said. “To [beat] Roberto you have to fight because he's a really tough player. He's a Spanish player like me. It's not easy to play against another Spanish player.”

Carreno Busta, seeded 16th, is the sixth first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season. Players trying to win their first title are now 6-11 this year.

2016 First-Time ATP World Tour Winners

 Player  Age   Tournament   Nick Kyrgios   20  Marseille  Diego Schwartzman  23  Istanbul  Steve Johnson   26  Nottingham  Albert Ramos-Vinolas  28  Bastad  Paolo Lorenzi  34  Kitzbuhel  Pablo Carreno Busta  25  Winston-Salem

Second seed Bautista Agut was trying to win his third title of the season (Sofia, Auckland). The World No. 17 was up a break in the second set but Carreno Busta was able to break right back to get to 3-all. Bautista Agut struggled in the second-set tie-break, hitting two double faults and all of a sudden the match was tied.


"I had many chances to get closer to the win today but I didn't [take] the chances," Bautista Agut said. "I didn't play well when I was set and break up. Tennis is like this, no? When you have the chance and you don't [take] it, then you lose.”

In the third, Carreno Busta relentlessly attacked his countryman's backhand, not letting Bautista Agut run around his backhand to smack a forehand. The strategy worked as Carreno Busta broke at 3-2 and didn't face a break point in the third set. He struck an ace on his first match point.

Carreno Busta will receive 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $85,625. Bautista Agut will receive 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $48,750.

Bautista Agut said he still felt good about the week in Winston-Salem. He accepted a late wild card into the tournament.

"I came here to play some matches," he said. "So it was a positive week for me."

Garcia-Lopez/Kontinen Save Five M.P. To Take Winston-Salem Title

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 6:23pm

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to deny one of the ATP World Tour's all-time greats and take the Winston-Salem Open doubles title 4-6, 7-6(6), 10-8 on Saturday.

After losing the first set, Garcia-Lopez and Kontinen fell behind 1/6 in the second-set tie-break, giving Indian Leander Paes and German Andre Begemann five match points, including three on their serve.

But the Spaniard and Finn reeled off seven consecutive points to take the second set and even the match. In the Match Tie-break, the first-time pairing stayed hot to claim their first ATP World Tour team doubles title.

“We just clutched up and found big serves on big points,” Kontinen said. “It's a lot of luck involved in a comeback like that... We kept believing and somehow found a way.”


Kontinen had won three titles already this season but all with Aussie John Peers (Brisbane, Munich, Hamburg). He paired with Garcia-Lopez by circumstance. Peers wanted to take the week off but Kontinen wanted to play. Garcia-Lopez and his planned partner, Pablo Carreno Busta, had pulled out of the Winston-Salem Open doubles.

“I personally decided to play last minute,” Kontinen said. “[Garcia-Lopez] was looking.”

The win marks Kontinen's 10th career ATP World Tour doubles title. Garcia-Lopez hadn't played in a doubles final since 2014 but celebrates his third career doubles crown. The champions will receive 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Ranking Points and split $35,150.

Read More: Kontinen/Peers Clinch Munich Doubles Title

“Doubles, everything is close. And then we won the tie-break I think our energy went up, that's why we won,” Garcia-Lopez said.

Paes, 43, was trying to win his 56th overall ATP World Tour title and make it 20 years in a row with at least one tour-level doubles crown. Begemann was going for his first title of the season and the fifth of his career. They'll receive 150 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $18,470.

ATP Stars Look Ahead To US Open 2016

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 1:18pm
Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga look ahead to the last Grand Slam event of the year on US Open media day. Photo: Getty Images

US Open 2016

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 12:39am

Seven Things To Know About The US Open's New Roof

Fri, 08/26/2016 - 11:30pm
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1. The US Open Will Remain An Outdoor Tennis Tournament

The roof, which can close in about seven minutes, will still only be used when necessary, such as when it rains or when inclement weather is a “strong probability”.

2. One Person Has The Final Say About Closing The Roof

In his 25th year as tournament referee, Brian Earley will have a new role: Deciding when to close the roof. “His decision is final,” according to the USTA, which runs and owns the US Open.

Read Draw Preview

3. What Happens When A Decision Is Made?

  1. Earley notifies the “roof control booth”.

  2. The stadium shutters surrounding the upper bowl get closed.

  3. The air management system is activated.

  4. All doors leading from the concourse areas to the Club and Promenade levels will be closed.

4. If The Roof Closes During A Match...

In general, if the roof closes during a match, the roof will stay closed until the match is finished.


5. Will The Roof Stay Closed All Day Then?

That's up to the tournament referee, Earley.

6. Half and Half?

Nope. The roof will be either fully open or fully closed.

7. Will Fans Get To Use The Roof For Sun Protection?

No, although that would be quite the umbrella. Per the USTA, “The roof will be used only for inclement weather or the strong probability of inclement weather”.

Source: USTA