Alex Kuznetsov

Citi Open Wednesday Gallery: Isner, Haas, Stephens and More

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Play was derailed by play Wednesday evening, but not before plenty of action took place including Andrea Petkovic, John Isner, Tommy Haas, Grigor Dimitrov, Sorana Cirstea, Yanina Wickmayer, Marinko Matosevic, Jack Sock, Alex Kuznetsov, and even Sloane Stephens hit the practice courts.

Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.

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Americans Harrison, Smyczek, Kudla Book Semifinal Spots at Tallahassee Tennis Challenger

TALLAHASSEE, FL, May 2, 2013 – The red, white and blue rolled on Thursday at the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger.

No. 2 seed Ryan Harrison played some of his best tennis of the week at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, beating fellow American Donald Young 7-6 (5), 6-4 to book a place in the semifinals at Forestmeadows Tennis Complex.

Harrison is joined by two other Americans – No. 7 seed Denis Kudla and defending champion Tim Smyczek – as well as Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany in the semifinals.

Alex Kuznetsov, who earned the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge birth in the French Open Wednesday, retired in his evening match against Smyczek, a close friend, with a shoulder injury. The No. 5 seed Smyczek was leading 6-4.

The day, however, was all about Harrison, who gave a spirited fist pump following a back-and-forth battle with Young, who won this title in 2011.

“The biggest thing I was trying to do was just stay calm, stay focused, and keep after it,” Harrison said of his win. “We’re both young, American, and have played a few matches against each other; so there was a little bit of competitiveness going on. I would say it was a tough win.”

It was a tough win for Kudla, who took down Facundo Arguello of Argentina 7-6 (3), 6-4. Arguello has been hot during the last few weeks, winning seven of nine matches leading up to Thursday.

The Cinderella story of the tournament has been Stebe, who as an unseeded player has won three straight matches to book his place in the semifinals. The German beat 2012 finalist Frank Dancevic 6-4, 6-3 to earn the right to play Smyczek.

In doubles, the American duo of Sekou Bangora and Reid Carleton were winners over Takura Happy and Salif Kante of Florida A&M University, booking a semifinal spot. They’ll be joined by Greg Jones and Peter Polansky, who beat former Florida State University standouts Jean-Yves Abone and Vahid Mirzadeh in the evening session.

Harrison, the world No. 81, is looking for his ninth straight win after capturing the Savannah title last week. The 20 year old won eight in a row in 2009 at a futures event then a challenger in California.

“I came out today, and I was ready to play. I feel a lot more energetic,” said Harrison, who has been as high as No. 43 in the world. “This is my eighth straight match win. The biggest thing I have to focus on is just tomorrow. You can’t think about the finals or two more before you get through the next one. I’ve played Dennis before. He’s tough, he’s a great competitor, and he’s playing well. I’m excited about the match, and that what I’m going to be focusing on.”

Harrison and Kudla will play their semifinal during the evening session, following doubles at 6 pm. Smyczek and Stebe are set for an afternoon tussle.

RESULTS – MAY 2, 2013

Singles – Quarterfinals
[2] Ryan Harrison, United States, def. Donald Young, United States, 7-6 (5), 6-4
[5] Tim Smyczek, United States, def. Alex Kuznetsov, United States, 6-4, Ret.
[7] Denis Kudla, United States, def. Facundo Arguello, Argentina, 7-6 (3), 6-4
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Germany, def. Frank Dancevic, Canada, 6-4, 6-3

Doubles – Quarterfinals
Sekou Bangoura and Reid Carleton, United States, def. [WC] Takura Happy, Senegal, and Salif Kante, Senegal, 6-3, 6-2
Greg Jones, Australia, and Peter Polansky, Canada, def. Jean-Yves Aubone and Vahid Mirzadeh, United States, 6-3, 6-4

Daily updates on this tournament can be found at www.procircuit.usta.com and www.tallahasseechallenger.com. Live streaming is also available on www.procircuit.usta.com. The tournament can be followed on Facebook at “USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger” and on Twitter @TallyChallenger or by using the #TallyChallenger hashtag.

The tournament is part of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge and can be followed on Twitter at #USTAHarTruWC and www.USTAHarTruWC.com.

Alex Kuznetsov Q&A: USTA Roland Garros Wild Card Hopeful on His Start and Goals in Tennis

May 1, 2013 — The last three weeks have been a game-changer for 26-year-old Alex Kuznetsov as he has shot up the rankings one hundred spots to world No. 176, and is also in the lead for the USTA Roland Garros wild card as part of the Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge.

Last month, the Ukraine-born and Pennsylvania-raised Kuznetsov dropped down to 271 in the rankings before having a breakthrough run at the Sarasota Challenger. He came through the qualification rounds to grab the title, en route defeating players all ranked better than him. He then went onto reach the quarterfinals of the Savannah Challenger the following week, and is currently in the second round of the Tallahassee Challenger after defeating young American hopeful Jack Sock in three sets on Tuesday.

With a win last year over current top 20 player Sam Querrey, Kuznetsov has had a taste of the top players and is ready to eclipse his career-high singles ranking of 158. Get to know the laid-back Kuznetsov as he talks about his start in tennis, his most memorable moment on court, and the player he would most want to play against in history.

What is your most memorable tennis moment?

I would say the Australian Open last year. I got through qualifications and drew Rafael Nadal in the first round – which was exciting but also nerve-wrecking. I had seen him play numerous times on TV, and he has won countless Grand Slams. I was really nervous going out there but it was a great experience for me, and I learned a lot from it.

A lot of my family actually got to see that match back home, and my girlfriend recorded the match — it’s still on my DVR back home. (Laughs) So sometimes when I’m bored, I’ll sit back and watch that a bit. I have maybe (seen it) a handful of times. After the first set, it gets a little frustrating to watch. (Nadal won 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.)

How did you first start playing tennis, and what is your earliest tennis memory?

My earliest memory is of my dad getting me out on the tennis courts in our neighborhood around age 6. A good friend of mine played tennis, and he was going to the local club and getting lessons. My dad said “Why don’t you go and try it?” At first, I didn’t really like it to be honest with you! I was more into team sports like basketball and soccer. But dad saw that I had talent for the game and pushed me to continue getting lessons and play in more tournaments. I remember traveling all over the state of Pennsylvania with him to junior events.

How would you describe your personality?

I have a pretty laid back personality. I like playing golf, that’s one of my favorite things to do. I have two dogs at home, a pug named “Gnarly” – my girlfriend’s dog – and we just got another one year ago, a terrier mix named “Poppins”. My ideal weekend would be playing golf and then spending time with them and going on walks, taking it easy … Nothing too crazy.

What are two things on Tour that you couldn’t live without?

My iPad, I can’t live without that. And, I guess, my iPhone to call friends, family, and my girlfriend.

Do you have a favorite app?

I’m not too into the games, but if I’m bored on a long plane ride, I have these racing and putt games I might play. But I love watching TV shows, so that’s something that I enjoy on my iPad.

What is your favorite show at the moment?

Oh, I’ve watched so many! I just finished watching “Shameless,” which is kind of a crazy show. But my favorite is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia ”… I have all the seasons.

If you were in a Rock ‘n Roll band, what would your role be?

I would like to be the drummer and rock out in back, not out in front. (Laughs)

You had a titanium rod inserted into your leg after breaking it during a car accident in 2005. Is the rod still there and do you ever feel it while playing?

I still have the titanium rod and screw around my (right) knee. It doesn’t bother me at all; I don’t feel it. I feel that my right leg is even stronger than my left one now because I do a lot of work in the gym.

Do you have any trouble going through security at the airports?

I get asked that a lot. Only if they select me for the screening, the (metal-detecting) wand goes off. I don’t carry a (documentation) card, I just say I broke my leg and have a titanium rod in it. They just let me through. They don’t give me too much trouble.

If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?

Marat Safin. He was my favorite player growing up. He was kind of crazy out on court, but people seemed to really enjoy his personality. I’ve always looked up to him in the way he played the game and how well he struck the ball. Even for his big size, he moved really well. He just had so much talent and I really liked watching him.

If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be doing?

I would love to be a golfer. Seeing how well those guys do and the lifestyle that they have isn’t too bad. I think I would still love to be involved in sports somehow, maybe even some coaching.

Do you remember your first Tour win and the feelings behind it?
(Editor’s Note: The player in reference, former world No. 60 and current University of Florida Assistant Coach Amer Delic, had already been playing on Tour while in college, and had just won the NCAA singles title before officially turning pro and making his debut against a youner Kuznetsov in 2003.)

That’s a good story actually. I beat a good friend of mine who just recently stopped playing, Amer Delic. We were in Lubbock, Texas and he had just turned pro as well. He was doing really well and this was (supposed to be) his first prize money check after his great summer results (as an amateur). I was just some 16-year-old kid and I happened to beat him, and that was my first ATP ranking point. It was a good moment for me. But I’ll always take the opportunity to remind him that my first point was against him. (Laughs)

What are your goals for the year in terms of progress or ranking?

I am not really looking for a rankings goal; it’s really mainly for me to continue improving. I’ve done ranking goals for myself before. But I feel the reason I’ve been doing well these last couple of weeks is because I’ve been really focused on my game and how I’m playing, and not necessarily the rankings. That takes care of itself if you’re playing well, I feel. I just want to keep improving, keep working hard off the court, and keep getting stronger and fitter.

To follow Alex around the Tour, make sure to check out his Twitter, @alexKUZnetsov87!

(Special thanks to Tallahassee Challenger media manager @NickMcCarvel who made this interview possible.)

Mark Knowles teams up with Querrey, Lisicki, and Davenport for weekend of tennis

Dec 12, 2012 — One of tennis’ most respected doubles players in history and former world No. 1, Mark Knowles brought professional tennis back to his home country of the Bahamas for one incredible tennis invitational, that included a Pro-Am and exhibition. (Gallery and video at bottom)

The recently retired 41-year-old welcomed Lindsay Davenport, Sam Querrey and Sabine Lisicki among others to the Atlantis, Paradise Island to help raise money for local children’s charities at the Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational (MKCTI). The proceeds brought in this year topped $100,000, bringing total contributions to around $900,000.

“It was another great year at the 12th MKCTI. We raised a lot of money and had great support from our sponsorships,” said Knowles. “We had fantastic players down here, so it’s always special. The impetus behind the event is to raise money for those that are in need, and we were very successful doing that again this year.”

The main beneficiaries include the Sassoon Heart Foundation (Pediatric), the Cancer Society For Pediatric Care, the Association for the Physically Disabled, the Special Olympics, Mark Knowles Tennis scholarships for promising junior tennis players and numerous additional children’s charities.

“It’s always great to come here,” said Sabine Lisicki, who looked particularly radiant and enjoyed playing doubles with her Pro-Am partner. “I’ve known Mark for quite a few years and it’s been a lot of fun to play. The fact that it helps kids makes me always want to come here to help. It’s a nice place.”

After enjoying a cocktail reception sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Atlantis at Fathoms on Dec. 6, diamond and platinum sponsors had the opportunity to team up with the stars in the popular Pro-Am the following day.

Each team was guaranteed two matches in the fun, but competitive tournament with bragging rights on the line. Knowles and Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners, defeated Lisicki and her partner David Demuth for the title, while Brent Haygarth teamed up with Betsy Wannakuwatte to win the consolation bracket over Querrey and Jeremy Stuby.

“The Pro-Am was great,” Querrey said. “This is my first time down here and we had a good time. It’s something I really enjoyed and I’m hoping to come back again next year.”

The players, event organizers and sponsors reunited in the evening for a special dinner at the Ripples Deck, featuring a gourmet buffet and live and silent auctions. The items on offer included signed racquets from Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, a dual photograph signed by Roger Federer and Jack Nicklaus and the dress Serena Williams wore when she won this year’s US Open final. The highest-selling item was a US Open poster signed by number of top players, which sold for $6,000.

The invitational was anchored by the tennis exhibition on Saturday, Dec. 8, where the players were split into two teams. Fans were treated to three sets of tennis, using the World TeamTennis format. Play opened with a mixed doubles match between Lisicki and Knowles against Davenport and former doubles world No. 1 Donald Johnson and was followed by a men’s singles encounter featuring Querrey versus Xavier Malisse. In the final match-up, Knowles and Malisse joined forces to take on Querrey and Alex Kuznetsov.

Afterwards, Knowles spoke to the crowd, where he thanked host Atlantis for their hospitality, the sponsors, players and fans for their support and recognized Sir Durward Knowles, the 1964 Olympic gold medalist in sailing. Fans were then treated to a meet and greet with the players.

“Being on the west coast, we don’t usually come this far east to vacation, so it’s great,” said Davenport. “I came here in 1999 and this is my next time here, so it’s fun to be able to share it with my family now. Mark has become a good friend over the years, along with [wife] Dawn and their kids. I’m thrilled we were able to come this year.”

The Mark Knowles Management Group would like to thank all involved in making this event an annual success and gives its appreciation to players, sponsors, charities, friends and family, fans, and followers who have supported Knowles’ charitable endeavors since its inception in 2001.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f73LUBvj8n4

The 2012 Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational Player Field: Lindsay Davenport, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Brent Haygarth, Donald Johnson, Craig Kardon (Coach to the Stars), Mark Knowles, Alex Kuznetsov, Sabine Lisicki, Xavier Malisse, Asia Muhammad, Yasmin Schnack, Tara Snyder Haygarth and Jesse Witten.

The 2012 Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational Sponsors: Atlantis, the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism, MDC Partners, Pictet, Fast Ferries, American Airlines, Ultimate Limo Service, Odyssey Aviation, Ministry of Youth Sports & Culture, H.G.Christie, Everkey Global, The Balmoral, Caribbean Bottling, Kerrygold, Corner Bank, Schooner Bay, S.G.Hambros, Daron & Sheri Roberts, Vince Menard, Alex Pier, Sean & Sarah Farrington, Peter & Pippa Vlasov, Mark & Nancy Holowesko, Chris Day, Sir Durward Knowles, R.E. Barnes, Donald Tomlinson, Graham & Aidie Garner, Dave & Fran Donald, Steve Swords and Peter & Vicky Knowles Andrews.

(Parts taken from press release; Photos copyright Matt Fitzgerald/MKCTI)

AUSSIE OPEN MEN’S QUALIFYING 2010

The 2010 Australian Open officially begins on Monday but important matches have already begun in the qualifying draw.

The 128-player draw will work its way down to a fortunate group of 16 players who will advance to the main draw of the tournament.

Seeded first in the qualifying draw is Xavier Malisse of Belgium who advanced to the second round of the qualies with a 6-2, 7-6(5) win against Alex Kuznetsov of the United States. Malisse is a talented but under-achieving veteran who reached a career-high of 19 in the world in 2002, the same year he reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Currently ranked 92nd, Malisse does not necessarily have to win all of his qualifying matches to advance into the tournament. Should any player who is entered in the main draw withdraw from their opening match ahead of time, Malisse would become the first lucky-loser to fill-in due to his ranking.

Other names of interest in the qualifying draw include former American phenom Donald Young who won his first match 7-5, 6-0 against Marc Lopez of Spain. At only twenty years of age, the possibility of Young reaching his enormous potential still exists, although it seems his game is at a stand-still at the moment ranked 194th in the world.

Former NCAA champion Somdev Devvarman holds the 27th seed amongst qualifiers and won his first match easily 6-2, 6-1 against local Australian James Duckworth. Going to school at the University of Virginia, Devvarman won the NCAA title in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008. He defeated current top-fifty ATP played John Isner in the 2007 final so the kid certainly has skill. Perhaps this is the year he finally breaks out on tour.

Canadian youngster Peter Polansky fell in the opening round 1-6, 2-6 to Marsel Ilhan of Turkey. The 21 year old is my home country’s best hope for a top-fifty player in the future and is currently ranked 186th in the world. It is a tough break for Polansky, as he made the main draw in Australia a year ago and even pushed Igor Andreev to a fifth set in the first round before falling. Polanksy actually qualified for three Grand Slam tournaments in 2009, losing in the first round of each in five sets.

The main draw will be announced this Friday.

Part 3 – Cycling to Tennis – The Attack – More about Tennis Fitness

Hello Everyone,

Hope all are staying warm and fit as the tennis season is put on whole for the next couple of weeks. All of the pros are diligently working hard on the court and even harder off it.  Many of them see this as a new opportunity to up their levels of fitness and start the year ahead of the rest.

Americans Amer Delic, James Blake, Alex Kuznetsov and Brendan Evans are all hard at work in Tampa, Fl. Robert Kendrick is in Orlando working the 2 on 1′s, and Sam Querry and Robby Ginepri are hard at work on the West Coast.

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Part 3 – Cycling to Tennis – The Attack – More about Tennis Fitness

In a bike race if you want to be a contender, you need to be at the front of the pack and ready for a rider, or a group of riders to make a getaway from the rest. This is known as a break away.  In order to break away from the pack, the cyclist needs to “time” his attack, when the peloton (a large group of riders) is either sleeping or is at a vulnerable position.

In a tennis point, there is a moment where your opponent will be most vulnerable to an attack at the net.  If the tennis player knows how to make the transition to the net in a quick, clean, and complete manner, he very often will have the opportunity to win the point by hitting a volley or an overhead for a winner.

So, as you can see, both sports have the element of “The Attack”.  So many times when I have watched the pros play, it is easy to see when, in my eyes, he has lost the point because he did not take advantage of the first moment of vulnerability of his opponent.  In the pros, you get one shot generally to win the point. If you don’t take it, your opponent very often will get the next opportunity and most likely will seize the offensive moment.

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Both Cycling and Tennis have elements of strategical offense that can be intuitively developed over the years.  This is what I call the 8th Sense.  The high level Jeti’s , like Roger Federer, and cyclist Jonas Carney, have, that many people lack.  Being able to know what options your opponent has on a particular shot can win you more points each set and game you play.

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If you tennis fitness is lacking, you will have a hard time executing the play. Work hard off the court like the top Americans are doing now!