bob and mike

Serena Williams Throws Twitter Tantrum – The Friday Five

Mission Accomplished – For the better part of three months, Bob and Mike Bryan had been stuck on 61 doubles titles, the benchmark that had been set by the talented pair known round the world as the “Woodies.” But this past week, in the state they first called home, where they went to college and first showed promise of the tennis results to come, the chest-bumping brothers finally broke through and took their 62nd title at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles. Their win was one of the biggest headlines in the sport over the weekend and should inject some life into the game of doubles. Also impressive was seeing a classy Mark Woodforde, who is based in California, cheering the Bryans on throughout the week. Best of all is that the Bryans have confirmed they are nowhere near ready to hang up their racquets. They still want to serve their country in the Davis Cup and still want to bag a few more Grand Slam titles. Congratulations to the twins and may they continue their assault on the record book as they wow audiences across the world and keep doubles on the map.

Back from the Brink – Another American who capped off a fine week at the Farmers Classic was Sam Querrey. The big American had to grind out each and every one of his wins, and that included saving match point in two straight matches, first in the semis against Janko Tipsarevic, and in the final against Andy Murray. The win over Murray, whom Sam had previously never taken a set from, had to help boost Querrey’s belief that he may just be ready to take that next step and start making a move for the Top 15 and possibly Top 10. And as disappointing as it had to be to lose the title after holding match point, Andy Murray did well to log a great week of tennis amidst all of the turmoil surrounding the sacking of Maclagan (though the Scot could still use a course in anger management).

California Dreamin’ – Stanford California saw dream weeks for many of the WTA’s top stars as well. Maria Sharapova put together one of the best weeks of tennis she’s had in awhile. Unfortunately for her, she ran into a woman who can match her stroke-for-stroke (and decibel-for-decibel) in Victoria Azarenka. Despite her being a head case and her recent struggles with injuries, Azarenka has shown she has the game and has posted the results to suggest she’s one of the WTA’s most promising young talents. If she’s got her game back on track, look for her to be a dangerous dark horse at this year’s US Open. And finally, we have the winners of the women’s doubles title, Americans Liezel Huber and Lindsay Davenport. With her play in Stanford, Huber regained the No. 1 doubles ranking, while Davenport was taking to the court for the first time in nearly two years. Not a shabby return to the game for the former World No. 1.

Twitter Tantrum – Perhaps the only person not smiling in California last week was Serena Williams (and okay, I’m sure the tournament

director and other officials couldn’t have been too pleased either). Serena Williams blasted the tournament officials of the Farmers Classic and advised all who read her tweets to boycott the event. The reason for the angry tweets stemmed from tournament officials requiring Serena to pay $100 for a ticket to the event instead of giving it to her complimentary – with this whole saga unfolding after Serena had done some promo work with James Blake for the event. It’s hard to make a complete judgment call on this one. Serena’s tweets suggest the promo work was done gratis, though to my knowledge, it’s never been confirmed if she was paid for the work or not. If she was, then all was square and the tournament can’t be faulted for charging Serena for a ticket if their policy is to charge all spectators, irrespective of fame. If the promo work was done for free, then show Serena a little love. But throwing aside the question of whether Serena should or should not have been charged for a ticket, she was still immature in her own response to the situation. $100 is nothing to her, and it was all about the principle, not the amount of the ticket, that Serena took issue with. Based on the posts I read from a number of individuals who reacted to this story, Serena could have won over more sympathizers had she taken the high road instead of living up to her reputation as tennis’ top diva…but then again, Serena probably doesn’t care how many people jump on her band wagon in this case.

It’s Official – Reports have been circulating of Juan Martin Del Potro’s return to tennis ever since it was announced he was on the preliminary entry list of participants in the US Open. Del Potro recently did post some video evidence that he is in fact hitting on the courts for the first time. It’s great to see the big Argentine hitting balls again, but I’m holding my breath a bit here. A rushed comeback could spell disaster down the road, but Del Potro has a good head on his shoulders and a good coach, so fingers crossed it all pans out for the young star, starting with a trip as returning champion to the Big Apple.

American Tennis Triumphs At The Farmers Classic

A Super Sunday for Southern California natives as the Bryan Brothers become the all time best doubles team in tennis history, and Sam Querrey repeats as champion trumping mopey Murray in three sets that thrilled the Los Angeles crowd as American tennis sets the US Open Series ablaze going two for two.
The first match was the historic one. Bob and Mike Bryan, twins, who personify synergetic, aggressive doubles tennis like no one else, take on the other guys on yet another perfect afternoon on the UCLA campus at the Farmers Classic Open. The first set was tight, and Bob later admitted that his arms felt like “spaghetti” throughout, as the other guys stood their ground, taking the initiative, looking as though they weren’t going to simply lay down and let the Brady Bunch script unfold without difficulty. Father Bryan, who instituted tennis to his twin sons at a very early age, was the MC of the event, and sat in the stands without objective restraint as he could be seen cheering his boys on with his signature enthusiasm. Fist pumps issued forth from father Wayne Bryan, and the crowd rallied as the Bryan brothers dropped the first set in a very tentative display by the twins, who were seeking their 62nd title, one ahead of the legendary team of Woodford/Woodbridge. Mark Woodford was on hand to see if his record would hold, and the other guys (Butorac/Rojer) looked to keep the Bryans at bay for at least another week. The first set wrapped in a weakly played tiebreak by the brothers Bryan, but what seems to be the going trend with the So Cal native sons, is the ability to bounce back and that they did. The Bryans easily took the second set 6-2, as the nerves subdued and the confidence returned. The custom for doubles, once it reaches a split, is to play a ten point super tiebreak. Did you expect anything less? Taking the quick lead 4-0, it looked like no. 62 was inevitable. The other guys fought back, and even broke the big serve of lefty Bob and the match was tied at 7-7. A few crucial mistakes, including an untimely double fault by Butorac gave the boys a match point and after putting away the volley the Bryans leapt into each other arms thrusting their names into the history books. Bob Bryan told reporters what he felt: “Sixty two brings a smile to our face. It’s been an emotional ride, talking about it every day for the past couple of months. To finally do it is incredible. There were definitely nerves out there and those guys were playing great. It was a very hard fought match. Our legs felt like jelly, arms spaghetti… It was a flood of emotion. I never thought we’d be this consistent, this healthy our whole career. Sixty one looked like it was on the other side of the moon. If you stay consistent, and never give up on each other – even in dry spells – anything can happen. We’ve never given up on each other.”

The singles championship was going to be decided after the Bryans match, between returning champion Sam Querrey, the local favorite and first time Los Angeleser Andy Murray. The battle ensued right from the get go, as the two men held nothing back. Querrey told reporters after his semi-final win that he needed to go for more against Andy, and take some chances. He certainly did just that. The American was going for his shots without delay and the first set slid Andy’s way mostly because Querrey wasn’t quite hitting his marks. Whether or not the nerves were a factor Andy held steady and was able to break Sam late in the set and hold for a 7-5 lead. This wasn’t new territory for the American number 20. Sam’s last three matches all went the distance and he trailed in all of them. But could he do it against a top player like Andy Murray? You wouldn’t have guessed so, but Andy was caught in familiar territory as well, as in all of his matches leading up to the final he started with a bang only to take a catnap in the second. He didn’t exactly sleep this set away but had some strong opportunities to dunk the trophy home in straights. But Sam showed what he has been showing for the past week: pure So Cal heart. I feel with this comeback, especially against a player of Murray’s caliber, can only send Sam across the ravine of steady, workhorse, blue collar man to white collar, trophy collecting, net jets flying, elite player. After a gritty tiebreak triumph in the second set, utilizing that big serve, big forehand one two to perfection, Querrey rolled on to wrap up the third and deciding set 6-3, and becoming one of the few to repeat in LA. With Mardy’s win in Atlanta, and now Querrey’s repeat, and Blake looking like his injuries have subsided, and Isner climbing the ranks steadily, and Roddick consistently re-proving his dominance on hard courts, this year’s US Open looks mouthwatering for American tennis. Could the flag of Spain, Switzerland, Serbia, and UK flap dead across the Hudson this August? Could the Unites States Open crown one of its own native sons? The tide of tennis is fickle, and if one were to venture a guess with the current shift, I would start singing the pledge of allegiance folks.

ATP World Tour Finals Draw All ATwitter

The following is a photo posted on the Twitter account of the Bryan Brothers – Bob and Mike (@BryanBros) that reveals the groupings for the Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals in London. The brothers posted a tweet with the photo that said “You Heard It From Me First :)” but then amended their tweet shortly thereafter, tweeting “Ok, ok, a couple people beat me to it. You heard it from me 3rd. I’ll speed it up next time.”

In Indy: This Week in Tennis Business

  • Based on nationwide voting, the USTA announced that Independence, Kan., Midland, Mich., and Ojai, Calif., have been named finalists for America’s “Best Tennis Town.” The winning town will be announced during the 2009 US Open and will receive a $100,000 grant for community tennis programs and facility improvements. The second and third place winners will receive $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.
  • The USTA announced that IBM, the “Official Information Technology Solution Provider” of the US Open, has renewed its sponsorship with the tournament. The multi-year deal will allow IBM to continue maintaining USOpen.org through 2012. In 2008, the tournament’s website was visited 39 million times, a 33-percent increase from the previous year.
  • The USTA will partner with T&S Events to host its 2010 Australian Open wild card playoffs at the Racquet Club of the South in Norcross, Ga., December 4-7. This event will include an exhibition match featuring the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, as well as Mardy Fish and John Isner. Participants for the playoff will be announced at the completion of the US Open in September.
  • Bob and Mike Bryan will begin using Luxilon’s Big Banger ALU Power Rough 125 strings, after signing an exclusive contract with the Belgian-based tennis string company.
  • After three years without a title sponsor, The Indianapolis Tennis Championships “will not be able to do it (again) without a title sponsor,” Tournament Director Kevin Martin told the Indianapolis Star. In recent months, tournament officials have been seeking a company to becoming the event’s major sponsor. “I feel more confident today than I did two months ago because of the progress we’ve made in the discussions,” Martin said.
  • Former top 10 player Tim Mayotte has been hired as a national coach for the USTA Player Development program and will be based in Boca Raton, Fla.
  • Rising American tennis player Jordan Cox from Duluth, Ga., has signed with IMG Tennis.
  • Former top-ranked Australian and World No. 35 Nicole Pratt has been appointed the national women’s coach at Tennis Australia.
  • The USTA has announced that three tennis facilities in the Chicago area will make up new locations for the USTA Regional Training Center. In December, tennis facilities in Atlanta and Maryland were named the first two certified USTA Regional Training Centers.
  • The sixth season of the Olympus US Open Series got underway last week with American Robby Ginepri capturing his third career ATP title by defeating fellow American Sam Querrey at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Throughout the US Open Series, players will compete for more than $30 million dollars in prize money in the six-week North American hard court season leading up to the US Open, which begins August 31. ESPN2, CBS and Tennis Channel will air more than 200 hours of US Open Series matches.
  • The United States Professional Tennis Association’s (USPTA) Tennis Buying Show will be held on September 24, in Marco Island, Fla., at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club and Spa. More than 1,500 tennis industry representatives are expected to attend the event.
  • Advanta World Team Tennis officials issued fines to the New York Sportimes and Washington Kastles for unprofessional conduct of several players during a recent match. Individuals were also handed to New York’s Robert Kendrick and Washington’s Olga Puchkova.
  • The US Open, along with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, announced that more than 700 temporary food service job opportunities will be available during the 2009 tournament. The full-time but temporary positions run from August 24 to September 13 and workers will earn $8 an hour plus overtime, as well as the opportunity to secure a year-round job when the tournament concludes.
  • 63-year-old Ray Ruffels has left his coaching position at the USTA National Training Center in Carson, Calif., to return home to Australia to coach top teenager prospects in the Australia Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program. Ruffels, a major influence in the careers of former top-ranked doubles players Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde, starts his new job next month.
  • Earlier this month, the International Tennis Federation announced that future Davis Cup finals must be held in major cities. The ruling was made after Argentina’s use of Islas Malvinas Stadium in Mar del Plata last November’s tie with Spain did not meet capacity requirements.