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Citi Open Monday Gallery: Kerber, Stephens, Johnson and More

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Monday action at the Citi Open took place over five courts, with the last ball being played just before midnight, earning American Melanie Oudin a spot in the second round.

Players roamed, stretched, practice and played all over the grounds, including Angelique Kerber, David Goffin, Steve Johnson, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dmitry Tursunov, Radek Stepanek, Juan Martin del Potro, Sloane Stephens, Magdalena Rybarikova, Alize Cornet, Bernard Tomic, Tim Smyczek, Eugenie Bouchard, and Taylor Townsend.

Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.

Turbulent Day for American Tennis as Nine Get Ousted at Citi Open Including No. 2 Seed Stephens

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Despite home soil advantage, it was a rocky day for American tennis players on the grounds of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. as nine players went out in the first round of play on the men’s and women’s side.

DSC_89130001Sloane StephensIn the biggest stunner of the day, 19-year-old Sloane Stephens went down to world No. 88 Olga Puchkova in very uncharacteristic form, 7-5, 6-3. From her first service game, Stephens was broken and it continued downhill through five more breaks. She continued to send balls long and mid-way through the second set, she seemed void of energy, just standing in frustration looking to her team in the stands after errors.

But Stephens herself isn’t that worried about Monday night’s performance, citing the quick turn around from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., the differing courts and her poor practice in the days prior to her match.

“Leading up (to the match), I didn’t practice that great,” admitted Stephens. “I just wasn’t feeling the ball that well. Sometimes you just have tough days like that. Unfortunate that it came today and I couldn’t really get it together.”

Physically, she “felt fine,” even joking that “when I’m injured I play great, and then when I’m healthy I can’t hit a ball right.”

Looking forward to the US Open, she feels the home pressure is inevitable based on her recent Slam results, but chooses to focus on her game, saying “I don’t care anymore” about the buzz.

“Everyone is going to be like, ‘You should do really well here because you’ve done well in all of the Slams,’” commented Stephens. “If I lose first round, you guys, just don’t be upset.”

Earlier in the day in just his fourth tournament of the year, Mardy Fish continued his comeback on unsteady ground as he found himself down a set against Australian Matt Ebden, 6-2. He opened up the second set by winning a 22-point game, breaking Ebden three times before taking it 6-1, and closing it 6-3 in the final set.

A sober Fish arrived in press, feeling healthy and “satisfied to win,” but he admitted to being drained of energy.

“It’s a process. Fitness is a big a part of playing, and sometimes that spells trouble for me … My expectations as far as winning the tournament are pretty low. I’m just enjoying competing right now.”

2002 champion James Blake also faced a tough opponent in another fellow Aussie, Marinko Matosevic, except the end results didn’t favor the American as he went down 6-2, 7-6(6).

“I never really got any real rhythm at all on my serve, and that made all the difference in the first set,” said Blake. “I got back into the second set, and had my chances … but missed it.”

Despite the early exit, Blake still has fond memories of the tournament, and enjoys the support he gets from fans

“(Washington, D.C.) was the first tournament I ever won,” he said. “It was an unbelievable week beating one of my idols, Andre Agassi in the semis. And really fond memories of beating Paradorn Srichaphan in the final.”

So, what is next for the 33-year-old father?

“I don’t know. Right now, that’s a tough question. I don’t feel great about the way I played today. My plan has always been, play through the summer and then see where I’m at. See where my body is at, where my head’s at, how I’m feeling, how much I want to travel, how much I still enjoy it all — if my body allows me to keep going.”

Monday play also included a late night win by 21-year-old Melanie Oudin. However, seven additional Americans failed to reach the second round, including Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla, Rhyne Williams, Rajeev Ram, Christian McHale, Jessica Pegula, and Beatrice Capra.

Gallery: Opening Weekend at Citi Open with Del Potro, Petkovic, Raonic, Haas and More

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Play is already in full swing as qualifiers took to the courts for their matches, and top players like Juan Martin del Potro, Andrea Petkovic and Tommy Haas hit the practice courts on a hot weekend in Washington, D.C. to kick off the Citi Open.

Check out the full gallery from opening weekend, including other players like Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Irina Falconi, Jessica Pegula, Rhyne Williams, Donald Young, Christian Harrison, Caroline Garcia, Matt Ebden, and Sloane Stephens.

Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.

Christian Harrison Making a Name for Himself on the ATP Tour

Christian Harrison Citi Open 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you’ve ever watched Ryan Harrison play tennis with his booming serve and forehand, you may be surprised to learn that his brother Christian’s style is vastly different. The younger Harrison’s game is founded on court coverage and speed, and he is quickly making a name for himself on the ATP Tour.  (Christian Harrison gallery at bottom)

The Louisiana native won his first ATP-level match in Atlanta last week as he defeated Alejandro Falla before falling to world No. 22 John Isner in three close sets.

This week, Harrison found himself in the qualifying draw of the Citi Open in Washington, DC and turned out a stellar performance in the opening round against Iliya Marchenko, before going down to former world No. 62 Somdev Devvarman.

Harrison’s biggest claim to fame is perhaps his surprise run at last year’s US Open where he reached the men’s doubles quarterfinal with his brother, en route taking out the No. 4 seeded team in the first round. The plan for the duo is to team up again at this year’s edition in New York City next month.

Slighter and quicker on court than his older brother, Christian covers the court like a top 100 player already, and shows glimpses of his developing tennis genius in other aspects of his game. With his father Pat serving as his coach at the IMG Academy in Florida, Christian is in good hands to soon vie for main draw spots at tournaments.

I sat down with the focused, thoughtful and friendly Harrison as he talked about his memorable career moments, his game and goals, and what skill he would like to learn after tennis.

What is your most memorable moment on court?
So far, the thing that is pretty cool was the US Open last year when (brother Ryan and I) made the quarterfinals (in doubles). And now, also last week, I picked up my first ATP win, that was pretty cool for me.

What is your greatest strength on court?
Probably my consistency and movement right now. But I’m trying to work on building a bigger weapon.

What is a weakness in your game that you’re working on?
I don’t really feel like I have a weakness that can get picked on. But one of the things that I’m trying to work on is putting away short balls, and trying to get comfortable attacking them.

If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be doing?
(Laughs) I would probably be trying to play some other sport – probably football or something. I like to throw the ball around for warmup.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
That’s a good question. I am having to think really hard right now. (Laughs) People say surfing is pretty cool, but I’ve always been somebody that’s scared of sharks. But if I could get over that fear, then it would probably be cool to learn to surf … Maybe after tennis when I can afford to give up a leg or an arm. (Laughs)

If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?
I like Pete Sampras – I idolized him growing up.  So that would probably be one because when I was younger I looked up to him a lot. The second, I would have to say – I gotta dig deep for another sports guy – Drew Brees. I like him a lot from the Saints. And the third one, maybe, like Jessica Alba. (Laughs)

What are your goals for the year in terms of progress or ranking?
At the beginning of the year, I wanted to get to top 150. But now, I’m really not trying to look at rankings because it kind of messes with you a little bit. So I’m just trying to look at each tournament and focus on winning matches and picking up points that week. I feel like if I’m doing everything right, then my game will get to where it needs to.

Citi Open Q&A: Rhyne Williams Talks Embarrassing Moments, Keeping His Cool on Court and More

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twenty-two-year-old Rhyne Williams captured his first win at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. as he defeated good friend Robby Ginepri in the grueling heat, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. (Gallery at bottom)

The pair went our for dinner Friday night in D.C. joking about the possibility of having to play each other in yet another tournament, after Williams most recently defeated his fellow American to win the Dallas Challenger in February.

Williams acknowledged how tough of a competitor Ginepri was again today.

“I played Robby so many times, we know each other’s game so well,” said Williams.  “I knew it was going to be tough from the first point. We always have battles. He likes to run me side to side, I’ve noticed. So it was fun to get to play him again.”

Despite the nine aces, the Tennessee native admitted to having some right shoulder trouble the past couple of months and feeling “a little banged up right now,” but is hoping it’s nothing serious. He plans on checking it out sometime after this week’s tournament, but not before attending his sister’s wedding next weekend.

So what if Williams happens to make a deep run at the Citi Open and is forced to miss his sister’s wedding?

“She’ll probably be pissed,” he laughed. “But I have to do it!”

I sat down with the charismatic, funny and level-headed Williams as he talked about his family’s tennis legacy, his love for Chipotle and his most embarrassing moment among other topics. Get to know one of American tennis’ rising stars!

What is your most memorable moment?
I’ll probably say qualifying for the US Open last year. Not only qualifying but I got to play Andy Roddick on Ashe stadium. That was a blast. To feel that environment for my first time — I’ll never forget that. …. That’s by far my favorite tournament.

How did you first start playing tennis?
My mom taught me tennis. She was top 100 in the world, so she taught me when I was 7 or 8 years old. We got out there a couple of times per week. I also played a lot of basketball and baseball growing up, but decided on tennis. Everybody (in the family plays.) You wouldn’t believe it. It’s overwhelming at times, but they’ve done a good job letting me do my thing. My cousin is with me all the time, and that’s been great. We’ve been not only family, but best friends. We grew up across the street from each other, hit every day growing up. No one knows me really as well as Christopher does.

If you were hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite and why?
(Laughs) I would invite Roger (Federer) – he’s my all-time favorite. I guess I have to throw a female in there too. I’ll go with Ana Ivanovic, another one of my favorites. And then, I’ll probably invite my best buddy, Tennys Sandgren.

What is one thing that scares you?
Flying. I used to never, never be fazed. But lately, I can’t even handle a little bump. I freak out, grab an armrest. I’m terrified now; it’s awful.

Rhyne Williams_Citi Open_27 July 2013-6What are two things you couldn’t live without?
Chipotle …

There are a few in D.C.

Yes, we went. I’ve been.

Already?

Yea. (Laughs) … So, Chipotle … and college sports.

If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be doing?
I would probably be playing baseball. That was my first love. The first thing I picked up was a baseball bat and gloves. My dad and I used to throw the baseball around and have batting practice.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
(Laughs) I was playing a Future in Spain a long time ago — I think I was 16 years old. And there was a pretty good crowd; I was playing one of the hometown favorites and everyone was cheering for him. I was acting like an idiot. I think I ran for a dropshot, didn’t get it. Got mad. Kicked the net and my foot got stuck in the net. I fell down on the court and everyone in the crowd erupted into cheers. I actually injured my tailbone from doing that. I was hobbling around the rest of the match and ended up losing. I deserved it. (Laughs)

What’s the secret to keeping your cool on court now, after being somewhat notorious for smashing racquets and such?
Don’t jinx it! (Laughs) Maybe I’m just growing up, I don’t know. It’s such a day-by-day thing. Some days I really love being out there. Some days I just can’t stand it. That’s why I have Christopher to try and keep me happy and calm out there.

Sometimes there’s just no turning back (from an outburst), but sometimes I can catch myself before it gets out of hand. But I have been better. It really just depends if I’m mentally fresh, then I’m probably going to hold it together. If I’m worn out or something is bothering me off the court, then maybe I’m more likely to smash a racquet or something. But I’ve been working on it really hard for sure.

What are your goals for the year in terms of progress or ranking?
I really want to make the push for the top 100. I think I’m already really close. But if I do end up breaking that, I don’t want to be satisfied with that. I want to stay inside the top 100, and be in all the Grand Slams without having to qualify.

That’s where I want to be the rest of my career. I think it’s doable. I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of growing up to do, but I think I’m on the right track. And I see guys like Steve (Johnson), Jack (Sock) and Denis (Kudla) who have all done it. We’re all pushing each other up the rankings, and that’s so great about having peers that are trying to do the same thing you are. You want to push yourself to stay on pace with them. It’s been nice having a group – we’re all friends and good buddies — who are doing the same thing as you.

Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.

Alarm Calls for Roger Federer as Martina Hingis Storms Back into Tennis — The Friday Five

Roger Federer on a losing streak

By Maud Watson

Roger Federer on a losing streakTailspin

Another tournament and another surprising early exit for Federer, as the Swiss goes out in two routine sets to Daniel Brands in Gstaad.  The good news for Federer fans is that the Maestro has never been one to quickly panic and shows no signs of looking like he’s getting ready to throw the towel in anytime soon.  In fact, he’s already committed to Brisbane next season.  But this latest loss undoubtedly has some alarm bells sounding in Federer’s head.  He’s having some issues adjusting to the new racquet and is also unsure which stick he’ll be using on the summer hard courts.  In addition to Federer being in limbo regarding his racquet, his mental toughness has also taken a hit. You can read the increasing doubt on his face, and that doubt is creeping into his game as evidenced by the unforced errors that continue to mount in each match.  To say that the next few months are “do-or-die” might be an overstatement, but they are certainly critical.  How he fairs the remainder of 2013 could have a major impact on how long it takes him to right the ship and determine whether or not he hangs around for Rio in 2016.

Heartbreak

Another sentimental favorite who suffered a tough loss this week was Mardy Fish.  The American was in Atlanta, making just his fourth appearance since the US Open last season.  Up a set, it looked like Fish might be able to start his return to competition with a win.  But a rain delay and a refusal to fold from veteran Michael Russell saw the lower-ranked American upset his countryman and advance at his expense.  The defeat itself was understandable.  Fish played well all things considered, but he had been out of the game for over four months.  With no substitute for match play, nerves likely helped play a part in his loss.  What was troubling about Fish’s loss, however, was that he wasn’t available for comment afterwards – something that has happened in the past just prior to Fish taking an extended leave of absence.  American tennis fans will wait with baited breath to see how Fish follows up this latest setback and whether it will include the commitment to carry on or hang it up for good.

Give and Take

Thanks to an overwhelming 47-1 vote by the New York City Council, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has been approved for a $500 million expansion.  Not surprisingly, a large part of the expansion will be devoted to the renovation of the older facilities “that have reached the end of their useful lives.”  But the USTA isn’t the only one benefiting from the deal.  In exchange for the approval, the USTA has agreed   to start a non-profit group to help fund Flushing Meadows, host a yearly job fair for the residents in Queens, serve as a potential host to high school graduation ceremonies, and provide tennis coaching programs for area children.  All in all, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Changing Tunes

John Tomic has finally been brought to court for the much-publicized events that took place before the start of the Madrid Masters, and depending on who you believe, is possibly changing his story, along with his son, from what they originally told police back in May.  Bernard Tomic is claiming his father told him the day of the incident that it was the hitting partner, Drouet, who hit him.  John Tomic is also insisting that it was Drouet who started the fight and doesn’t “know how” Drouet fell down.  Both Tomics are blaming the alleged misunderstanding on police officers who had a poor grasp of English.  Time will tell if there really was a misunderstanding or if this is just John Tomic trying to weasel his way out of trouble – and given his track record, the latter seems more plausible.  If that is indeed the case, Bernard Tomic had better wise up, or the court is going to give him a lot more to worry about than his forehand.

Stay Awhile

It appears that Martina Hingis’ decision to play doubles with Hantuchova in California won’t be just a one-off.  The former No. 1 is planning to play doubles in some other big events this summer, including Toronto, Cincinnati, and the year’s last major, the US Open.  Say what you want about Hingis from a personal standpoint, but from a tennis perspective, there are few in the modern game who can match her court craft and guile.  What she lacks in size and power she makes up for with impossible angles and exquisite touch.  With any luck, these summer hard court events will be the start of something bigger, but if not, get your tickets and take the opportunity to see some of the greatest hands in the game work their magic one more time.

Sock, Baker, Oudin Lead Strong Men’s and Women’s Fields for Citi Open Qualifying

Citi Open 2013

Citi Open 2013WASHINGTON (July 23, 2013) A very strong and deep field of players will compete for a spot in the ATP and WTA main draws at the Citi Open’s qualifying rounds, held July 27 and 28 at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park.

First round match play begins Saturday at 10 a.m. with National Parks Community Day, featuring fun family activities held throughout the day. Final qualifying round action begins Sunday at 10 a.m. with Celebrating our Heroes day, which offers complimentary tickets to active duty military, veterans, and first responders.

On the men’s side, Americans are among the must-watch of the qualifiers. The list includes former US Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, former Washington tournament semifinalist Donald Young, and the next generation of U.S. tennis stars, Jack Sock and Rynne Williams. One of the best comeback players of the sport, Brian Baker, will also compete at the tournament for the fifth time in his career.

The men’s tournament has also granted singles qualifying wild cards to two promising young players from the University of Virginia: Mitchell Frank, of Annandale, Va., who trained at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., and helped to clinch the NCAA tennis championship for the Cavaliers; and Jarmere Jenkins, who was the No. 1 ranked NCAA player in 2013 and recently named the 2013 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National College Player of the Year.

International players looking to compete for the tournament title include Indian Somdev Devvarman, Croatian Ivo Karlovic, and Canadian Jesse Levine. University of Virginia champ Devvarman is a two-time NCAA champion. Karlovic, who at 6’10” is the tallest player in ATP history, won last week’s ATP tournament in Bogota, Colombia, after a two-month absence from the tour due to illness. Levine, who reached a career-high No. 69 in 2012, has played in the main draw of the Citi Open in two prior years (2008 and 2012).

The tradition of the tournament being a launching pad for many young stars’ careers continues in the women’s field. Young American hopefuls Alison RiskeMelanie Oudin, and Shelby Rogers are among those vying for a chance to win the women’s singles title. Michelle Larcher De Brito of Portugal is also on the list, on the heels of her triumph over No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the second round of Wimbledon. Former top 10 player Shahar Peer, who reached the 2011 WTA Citi Open finals, will also compete in the qualifying rounds.

“For those who want a full slate of high-level professional tennis while enjoying family-oriented activities and ceremonies recognizing our national heroes, the tournament’s qualifying competition is for you,” said Jeff Newman, Citi Open Tournament Director. “We hope to see many area fans and residents out for a fun-filled weekend.”

The Citi Open, held from July 27 – August 4, is one of only 11 elite ATP World Tour 500-level events worldwide and the only one held in the United States. The event is also part of the prestigious Emirates Airline US Open Series, the five-week summer tennis season that links nine  North American hard-court tournaments to the final Grand Slam of the year, the US Open. In addition, the Citi Open features a WTA International Tournament which provides fans the opportunity to watch simultaneous competitions of both world-class men’s and women’s tennis throughout the nine-day event. The tournament features 48 men’s singles players and 16 doubles teams, 32 women’s singles players and 16 doubles teams.

The tournament’s owner and beneficiary, the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), provides underserved children in the D.C. area with a safe environment to learn critical life skills both on and off the courts through academic and athletic enrichment.

Ticket pricing and package details plus a full listing of the player fields are now available atwww.citiopentennis.com, or by phone at 202-721-9500. Daily and single session tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Qualifying round prices start at just $10 for reserved tickets.

For more information, visit the Citi Open on the web at www.citiopentennis.com. The Citi Open is on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/CitiOpen and on Twitter at @CitiOpen. To receive news and updates about the tournament, join the growing Citi Open Text Club by texting DC to 25973. The 2013 Citi Open is a Lagardère Unlimited production.

A Different Kind of Match: Tennis Bundesliga in Europe

Team Rochusclub Düsseldorf-2

Welcome to the Tennis-Point Bundesliga, an annual team competition in Germany which is played in a round-robin format during the summer months of July and August. For the players on the ATP Tour staying in central Europe during this time, it is a great opportunity to get some practice and match play in the weekends in addition to their regular tournaments and, of course, to earn some money as well.

Centre Court

Every year ten teams participate in this competition. This season’s favourite is again the champion of the last two years, TK Kurhaus Lambertz Aachen.

Most of the German top-players like Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer and Daniel Brands get on court for this team. Fourteen top-50 players are named by the team captains in this season. Janko Tipsarevic and Tommy Haas are in the squad of TK Grün-Weiß Mannheim, Marcel Granollers and Marcos Baghdatis play for TC Blau-Weiß Halle, two other teams which have to be considered as contenders for the title.

“Every match is played with teams consisting of four players each and due to the match tie-break rule in the final set, upsets are always possible,” says Gerald Marzenell, team manager in Mannheim.

Today it was match day five, where the teams of Rochusclub Düsseldorf and SV Wacker Burghausen faced each other at the same venue where the ATP 250 Power Horse Cup was held a couple of weeks ago.

Düsseldorf is ranked in fourth position, the Bavarian team on position six. With a victory today, the Rochusclub wants to seal the team’s disposition in the league for another year.

“It won’t be easy but we have four great single players and one doubles specialist on board today,” said Düsseldorf’s team captain, Detlev Irmler.

Pablo Andújar (ATP No. 50), Pere Riba (ATP No. 201), Jesse Huta-Galung (ATP No. 134), Jozef Kovalik (ATP No. 246) and Martin Emmrich (ATP doubles No. 42) were named for today’s encounter. The Spaniard Albert Montaῆés (ATP No. 53), who is also member of Düsseldorf’s squad, did not play.

“He turned me down,” a disappointed Irmler said yesterday. “It is important that the players put their heart and soul into the matches like Pablo Andújar and Pere Riba do. Both have been playing for several years at the Rochusclub and they have a great attitude,” Düsseldorf’s team captain added.

Wacker Burghausen, on the other hand arrived without their top six players. Aljaz Bedene, Carlos Berlocq, Guillermo García-López Joao Sousa, Kenny de Schepper and Andreas Haider-Maurer were absent. So the Bavarian squad consisted of Blaz Rola (ATP No. 302), Philipp Oswald (ATP No. 554), Jeremy Jahn (ATP No. 620) and Johannes Ager (unranked).

The matches took place in sunny 30 degree conditions and the top players of the home team fulfilled their role as favorites, with Pablo Andújar defeating Blaz Rola in straight sets. The Spaniard broke his opponent’s service twice in the opening set to serve out in the eighth game. Andújar, who was supported on the bench by his teammate Oscar Sabate-Bretos, played solid baseline shots and returned pretty well. It was no surprise that the 27-year-old from Cuenca was in total command in this encounter. Consequently he closed the match out after about 80 minutes by winning 6-2, 6-3 to give the Rochusclub a 1-0 lead.

Andújar

“I played a good and solid match today. This made the difference between (Rola) and me,” a satisfied Andújar told us after the match. “I’ve already played for seven years here in Düsseldorf and I’m a friend of Detlev Irmler. There is a good spirit in the team, which makes me happy to return and to join the team,” the Spaniard explained his motivation to play in the Bundesliga.

For the next ATP tournaments in Gstaad and Kitzbühel he added: “I was a bit unlucky the last two tournaments in Stuttgart and Hamburg, where I lost a match having already match point. So I will try to keep my level of today for the next challenges.”

In the second singles match Jesse Huta-Galung faced a difficult task against Jeremy Jahn. Although the German is ranked about 500 places below the Dutchman, Jahn played more aggressively and just made less unforced errors than his opponent. The 23-year-old German eventually took the match in three sets by 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.

Huta Galung

Back on centre court Pere Riba met Philipp Oswald. The Austrian is better known as a doubles player on the ATP Tour but has some solid groundstrokes and a big service, which makes him also a decent competitor in singles competitions. Nonetheless it was Riba, who recently won the ATP Challenger in Todi, to be the more consistent player of the two. The Spaniard won the first set by serving it out in the tenth game and eventually closed the match winning 6-4, 6-4.

Riba

“I’m very happy with this win today. Philipp serves very well, which is difficult to return. I was very concentrated in particular on my own service games. I was also able to break him at least once in every set, which made me win the match,” Riba analysed afterwards. “It’s always a motivation to be here. I’ve been playing here in Düsseldorf for five years now and when you’re at a club for such a long time you identify with the club and you feel the colours of it, you know. It’s also a very competitive league and our team captain has always confidence in me. That’s a nice feeling,” he told us about playing the Bundesliga in Germany.

Concerning his recent injury the Spaniard added: “I have had to stop playing tennis for eleven months due to my injury and I’ve only played twelve tournaments so far this year. It’s great to compete again as it wasn’t sure if I was able to return to the courts at all.”

The last singles rubber of the day was an even affair. Jozef Kovalik, who hasn’t been able to win a match so far this Bundesliga season, couldn’t gain victory again. The unranked Austrian Johannes Ager, who faced some problems in his lower back during the match and even received some treatment, overcame the Slovakian by going the distance winning 1-6, 6-3, 13-11 and therewith evened the tie 2-2 after the singles.

Ager

Two doubles rubbers had to decide the tie and again the Spaniards didn’t disappoint. Pablo Andújar and Pere Riba defeated Blaz Rola and Jeremy Jahn 6-4, 7-6.

Andújar & Riba

The Rochusclub could still count on Martin Emmrich. The German doubles specialist, who is currently ranked on 42nd  position, claimed his first ATP 250 doubles title at this year’s edition of the Power Horse Cup right here in Düsseldorf a couple of weeks ago. Today he teamed up with Jesse Huta-Galung to eventually seal victory for the Rochusclub winning the last encounter of the day against Philipp Oswald and Johannes Ager 7-5, 7-6.

With today’s win, Rochusclub Düsseldorf climbed up the ranking to third position and Wacker Burghause remains in sixth position. After match day five, Kurhaus Aachen and Blau-Weiß Halle remain the only two undefeated teams in the Bundesliga and represent the two contenders for this year’s championship. Both teams will face each other on Sunday August 4th.

Novak Djokovic and Friends Vacation on the Coast of Croatia

Hvar, 19.07.2013 - Tenisac Novak Djokovic odmara se na Palmizani

What does the world No. 1 in tennis do for a relaxing vacation? He grabs his family and friends, and cruises the beautiful coast of Croatia!

With his best buds in tow, Novak Djokovic soaked up the sun and hit the scene in cities like Dubrovnik, and Hvar over the past week. Whether it was boating on the Adriatic Sea, stopping by for gelato on a neighboring island, enjoying a group dinner with a popular Croatian singer, or posing with the hundreds of eager fans looking to meet the star, Djokovic came ready with his Hollywood smile and charm.

Check out his adventures from the last few days on the Adriatic coast before he returns to the practice courts for his next tournament in Montreal!

Novak Djokovic Hvar Novak Djokovic Hvar 2 Novak Djokovic Hvar 4

Hvar, 19.07.2013 - Tenisac Novak Djokovic odmara se na Palmizani

Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova’s Big Changes — The Friday Five

Maria Sharapova

By Maud Watson

Big(ger) Changes

Champions are frequently known for their stubbornness.  Sometimes it refers to their unwillingness to surrender a loss quietly, but it also often refers to their refusal to re-tool any part of the game that has brought them so much success.  Unfortunately, that refusal can often hamper an athlete’s career, which is something that Roger Federer apparently plans to avoid.  Federer is playing this week in Hamburg with a new racquet.  His new stick features a 98 square-inch frame, which represents a significant change from the much smaller 90 square-inch frame he has used throughout his career.  The larger frame means a bigger sweet spot and additional power, both of which should help him better compete with the young guns on tour.  We’ll see how he fairs during this brief stint on the clay, but if he’s able to make the adjustment to the new racquet quickly, expect him to be right back in the thick of it for the summer hard court season.

Maria SharapovaTrue Grit

One of the more interesting off-court tidbits to hit the news this past week was the announcement of Jimmy Connors becoming Maria Sharapova’s new full-time coach.  The two briefly worked together five years ago but were unable to come to a financial agreement to make it a full-time gig.  Circumstances have changed in 2013, and the two are teaming up to become one of the most intriguing coach/player relationships in the game today.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Both have strong egos and like to get things done their way, so it could flame out early.  But both also share the same inherit drive.  They’re both fighters who refuse to rollover in a match and will go to virtually any lengths – sometimes perhaps a little over the line of what’s considered proper – to come away with the win.  Both could feed off each other in those respects and prove quite the successful combo.  Sadly, fans will have to wait a little longer for this new partnership to make its debut, however, as Sharapova was forced to withdraw from the upcoming event in Stanford with a hip injury she sustained at Wimbledon.  But make no mistake.  This will be one of the key storylines to watch this summer.

False Hope

The good news is that the USTA has established a potential timeline for putting a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium by August 2016.  The bad news is that you probably have a better shot at winning the lottery than that timeline coming to fruition.  As usual, one of the biggest hurdles to putting a roof over Ashe Stadium stems from cost.  The USTA is already currently in the market for an owner representative for its $500-million expansion plan that doesn’t include a roof, meaning that if they were to shift efforts towards building a roof for Ashe, other projects, such as replacing Louis Armstrong Stadium and the Grandstand would be put on hold.  That’s a scenario that’s all the more unlikely when considering that the other issue facing Ashe is that it may not be able to support the weight of the roof in the first place.  So, while we can appreciate the USTA’s efforts to keep the roof possibility in the discussion, this once again appears to be much ado about nothing.

Egomaniac

At the front part of the week, in an interview with David Nadal, Toni Nadal told to the world that he talks to Rafa during matches and sees nothing wrong with it, because he figures he shouldn’t have to hide anything at his age.  Look, it’s common knowledge that Nadal, like some other players, receives illegal coaching from the stands.  And you could argue that such coaching frequently has little impact on the outcome of a match.  But nobody wins when Toni Nadal announces that he has no problem being a cheat – and as the generally willing recipient of his instructions, one could argue so is his nephew by extension.  Such an admission shows disrespect to the ATP and its rules.  It shows disrespect to Nadal’s opposition.  It teaches young up-and-comers that it’s okay to cheat, and most importantly, it hurts Rafa Nadal.  As previously noted, Rafa is no doubt one of the best in the history of the game, and he doesn’t need to use cheap tricks to accomplish great feats.  Utilizing illegal tactics should be beneath him and his camp, and it shouldn’t be tolerated.  Though unlikely, it would be nice if after this admission, the ATP would enforce some sort of discipline on the older Nadal to show that nobody, no matter how big the star they coach or their age, is above the rules.

Back for More

The terrorizing doll Chucky is making a return to movies, and as it happens, so is the woman Mary Carillo once referred to as Chucky, Martina Hingis.  Whether to promote her relatively recent clothing line, provide a distraction from the cheating allegations leveled at her by her estranged husband, or just for love of the game, the newly-elected Hall of Famer is planning to team with Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia at the Southern California Open.  Hingis continues to show that she has great hands around the net, and veteran Hantuchova has also proven worth her salt in the doubles arena as well.  If this partnership proves successful, perhaps we’ll be treated to a little more enthralling tennis from these two down the road.

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