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Ryan Harrison Talks Roger Federer, His Expectation to Win, and Why He Doesn’t Set Goals

Ryan Harrison in press after losing to Roger Federer at the Sony Ericsson Open


Ryan Harrison nearly forced a third set against Roger Federer today at the Sony Ericsson Open, but the Swiss prevailed 6-2, 7-6(3) in just under one-and-a-half hours on court. In his post-match press conference, Harrison talked about his expectation to win every match, why he doesn’t set ranking or tournament performance goals, and Federer’s renewed authority on court.

In the match, Federer easily broke Harrison during the second and eighth game of the first set, and after Federer was up 5-2 in the second, Harrison broke back and evened out the score to 5-5. Then things got interesting. Two quick errors by Federer, an error in line calling, and an interruption in play that caused Federer to stop playing all helped to escalate the energy on stadium court near the end of the final set.

With 28 winners, five aces and 3-of-8 break points won, Federer was clearly the better player but Harrison commented on Federer’s renewed authority on court:

“… from like a game standpoint, you can tell that [Federer is] hitting his shots with just like a complete conviction and confidence as opposed to … some times last year … he didn’t look like he had the same authority on a shot that he had.

…  I mean, coming off of his match, as many matches as he has this year, he’s got this like authority about his game right now where he’s hitting his shots knowing he’s gonna make ‘em.  It’s gonna make it difficult for anyone to beat him.”

Harrison continued with his revelations and talked about his expectation to win:

“As a player you’re always looking to win every match, and it starts one at a time. [You may] get stuck for a month or two or however long it is … [but] there’s nobody that’s ever been happy with being stuck unless you’re at No. 1.  (Smiling.)

That’s the only time you’ll ever be happy being stuck.  Every day you’re gonna look to improve.  You’re gonna approach every match ‑ at least I am ‑ with the expectation of winning.

Just if you’d ask me going into this week, What’s what’s your expectation for the tournament, I’d say, I’m gonna try to win every match and do as well as I can and try to win the tournament.

Didn’t win this week, so I’m gonna look for it to happen next week.  That’s the way I’m gonna approach things.”

Finally, Harrison addressed his ranking and tournament performance goals with an air of maturity far beyond his years. This is outright one of the best explanations for why not to set goals, and quite honestly, it makes sense:

“I don’t believe in setting a specific ranking goal or a specific round that you want to get to.

Because let’s say I would have chose, ‘Let’s get to the round of 16 here.  Okay?’  Then I get to the round of 16, well am I going to go into the match expecting to lose?  What happens then?

… So ultimately what I’m gonna look to do is every day at practice, every day in a match, I’m gonna try and work on the things and incorporate the things that need to improve, whether it be higher first serve percentage today or being a little more aggressive with my forehand, looking to come in a little more, just different things that I need to improve on.

Hopefully that gets me where I want to go, which is ultimately in contention for Grand Slams.  Obviously I’ve got a ways to go to get there, but that’s the ultimate goal.”

Murray Applies the Heat in Flushing Meadows…

Despite looking suspiciously like Jasper, the dashing vampire from the Twilight films, Slovakian, Lukas Lacko failed to draw blood against an impressive Andy Murray amidst the blistering heat of a New York afternoon, losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in just under two hours.

Murray used his typical variety of shot to gain two break points with a drop shot at 2-1 in the first set; a fabulous topspin lob awarded him his first break of serve. A muscular looking Murray continued his aggressive style of late, in the following games, stepping well inside the baseline to attack Lacko’s second serve and approach the net; a tactic that served him well throughout the course of the match. After a closely fought game at 5-3 and a couple of erratic shots from Murray, the Scot took the first set in 38 minutes.

Murray applied the pressure early on in the second set, breaking Lacko immediately, however buoyed by an audacious defensive shot in the second game, Lacko broke back straight away to level the set at one game a-piece. After taking out his frustration on his racket, Murray decided it was time for a new one and broke back once again in the following game.

A couple of service holds later and Murray went up a gear once again to set up three break points; a double fault by Lacko handed him the game and a definite psychological advantage. There really was no return for the Slovakian as Murray served out the second set with a penetrating forehand winner.

Murray’s impressive serving and aggressive returning made it hard work for Lacko who still didn’t have the answers in the final set, going down 6-2 once again.

The signs look bright for the Briton, who looks set to progress well into the tournament and possibly go all the way. Memories of a once physically weak Murray, cramping through lack of conditioning, have well and truly faded into insignificance; he could almost give the werewolves in Twilight a run for their money; well maybe not, but a transformation has certainly occurred.

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter. She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

RODDICK OVERCOMES LLODRA IN TESTING ENCOUNTER

By Ritesh Gupta

Witnessing a contrasting duel where one thrives on pace while the other seldom offers the same is something one hardly comes across in the men’s tennis today. Deft touches, exchanges at the net, pulsating half-volleys…all this is a treat to watch especially on the hallowed courts at Wimbledon.

Such contrasting style of play came to the fore as France’s Michael Llodra tested Andy Roddick in the second round at Wimbledon today.

Though Llodra lost 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-7 (2-7), the left-hander won many hearts with his skillful play, with class written all over it. It was surely an exquisite performance from Llodra but he couldn’t carry the same form once he lost his serve to loose the second set.

It’s a rare sight to see somebody of Roddick’s calibre being hurried into strokes. Llodra, who won the Eastbourne tournament prior to this championship, posed a serious threat after bagging the first set. Be it for pushing Roddick wide off the court or his display at the net, Llodra produced some immaculate stuff during the initial stages.

To his credit, Roddick, though at the receiving end, hung on. After Llodra fired two aces to finish the first set, he earned two break points in the very first game of the second set. Llodra not only hustled Roddick with chip and charge but he also showed his class with subtle variations in pace to unsettle Roddick. This was perhaps the best chance but Llodra couldn’t break the serve.

The American, who has lost in final thrice here, gradually got into his groove and broke the shackles in the tenth game. An insipid service game from Llodra changed the course of the match. Llodra, who held his service with aplomb till then, came up with uncharacteristic missed drop volley and even Roddick, too, forced an error at a crucial stage with a wonderful low service return, which Llodra failed to retrieve at the net. Roddick made it one set apiece at this juncture.

Thereafter, Roddick sustained the tempo and took control despite facing breakpoints in a couple of games in the third set. He wrapped up the match by pressurising Llodra in the fourth set tie-break, reeling off five points in a row.

Roddick, who came so close to lifting this championship against Roger Federer last year, is surely a contender this year, too. For him, this victory augurs well as Llodra is one of the tougher players to play on grass.

In the run-up to the Wimbledon, Llodra had won eight matches in two tournaments. He had his chances against Roddick but he wilted under the pressure when it mattered the most.

KIRILENKO EXITS BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT

By Luís Santos

Sad day today at Roland Garros as beautiful Maria Kirilenko says goodbye to the singles’ tournament. She went down to Franny Schiavone 6-4 6-4 but it was a great match to watch!

Maria can play every shot in the book and we got to see some great volleys and dropshots today from her. Adding to that she managed – on occasions – to be as explosive off the ground as she can get. However, Schiavone was not letting this chance of getting to the quarters slip by and saved 8 out of 10 break-points throughout…

Maria has become somewhat of a giant-killer in slams, beating the likes of Sharapova and Safina Down-Under and now sending defending champion Kuznetsova back home as early as the third round.

Today was not to be her day but it still marked Maria’s best French Open to date.

BRYAN BROTHERS ROCK-AND-ROLL ON – AND OFF – THE COURT

Bryans Brothers

The Bryan Brothers equalled the Open Era doubles record of the Australian Woodies, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodford on Sunday by securing their 61st victory of their careers in the Madrid Masters doubles final. The telepathic twins beat world No. 1 pair, Daniel Nestor and partner Nenad Zimonjic 6-3, 6-4 in a final lasting only 55 minutes. Nestor and his partner were broken twice, with the Americans saving all three break points they faced. The brothers ruthlessly claimed victory on the first match point they gained. Interestingly, all twelve previous meetings between the teams have come in finals, seven of those in Masters events.

Nestor commented, “The Bryans always play us tough…we’ve had some good wins against them but they’ve been too tough this season. Obviously, it’s all about the Slams for us now, and our next big objective is the French Open. We’ll head to Paris now and regroup. We want to be playing our best in a week when the major begins.”

Like the Woodies, the brothers are a left-right combination, which they used to great effect in the final. Bob commented, “That is definitely the best combination…the sun out there today was really bad for a leftie, so we decided to put Mike on a different side. We can use winds to our advantage and the leftie serve is always tougher to break, I think. We feel like our game is pretty comfortable if I make first serves and Mike is such a good returner he keeps us in other guys’ service games.”

The Bryan Brothers have now leapt to the pinnacle of the world doubles rankings overtaking Nestor and Zimonjic as the world No. 1 doubles pair. The impressive brothers began 2010 with their eighth grand slam title at the Australian Open and have already won titles in Delray Beach, Houston and Rome. If they were to become victorious at the French Open in three weeks time, they will break the record held by the Woodies in some style, with a Grand Slam win.

Indeed, they show no sign of relaxing their steely grip on the world doubles tour and will no doubt break the record in impressive style and go on to win even more titles, keeping the doubles tour in the media spotlight for the next generation of tennis players. “We’re still having fun. It never gets old or boring to be travelling the world with your brother,” Mike said. “We love winning titles and sharing the trophies and memories. We don’t want to say, ‘Now that we’ve done this or that, we’re going to retire next year.’ I don’t think we’d find this adrenalin sitting on the couch at home so we might as well soak it up while we can.”

The talented twins have also been enjoying the adrenalin rush of playing in their rock band, The Bryan Bros Band at various concert venues around the world with singer David Baron. They even performed with the Counting Crows in front of 30,000 screaming fans. It seems for the twins, success is like a drug they cannot easily give up. You can download their new album ‘Let it Rip’ on iTunes now. British fans, check out the hilariously awful rap by Andy Murray on one of the tracks, alongside a slighter better Novak Djokovic about signing autographs – it’s well worth a listen and the other tracks are actually pretty catchy!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter.   She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

DAVYDENKO’S LONGEST WIN STREAK; TSONGA’S FIRST FIVE-SETTER; FEDERER’S HEWITT RIVALRY IS EPIC

* Nikolay Davydenko has been on a tear of late and now it is officially the best run of his career. The Russian’s almost four-hour 6-2, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-3 win over Fernando Verdasco Monday in the Australian Open fourth round was 13th win in a row, besting his previous best ATP winning streak of 12 set last year. “In the fifth set I was fighting my serve, just winning my serve,” Davydenko said. “It was also not so easy beginning [of the] fifth set, but it’s good fighting for me. It was four hours, and some good points in the fifth set.” Davydenko now sets up a highly-anticipated quarterfinal match with world No. 1 Roger Federer, whom he has beaten the last two times after losing the first 12 meetings with the Swiss maestro.

* Against Davydenko, Verdasco served 20 double faults. According to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) the most double faults ever hit in a me’s match at the Australian Open came when Gerald Patterson hit 29 in 1927. In the Open era Guillermo Coria holds the mark with 23 back in 2006.

* Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has finally played the first five-set match of his career and won it against Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(6), 9-7, saving two break points at 6:6 in the fifth set. The 24-year-old Tsonga had played 19 four-set-matches prior to this match, posting a 13-6 record, but he surprisingly never extended to five sets. “The last set, I think he was serving unbelievable,” admitted Almagro. “I couldn’t do anything. He’s playing well. I think he has [a] chance to be on the semifinal or in the final.” Before his match against Tsonga, Almagro won six consecutive five-setters and now has a career five-set record of 6-6.

* No. 14 seed Marin Cilic beating No. 4 seed Juan Martin del Potro 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 after 4 hours 38 minutes gave him the distinction of being the only player outside Top 10 who advanced to the men’s quarterfinals. A similar situation occurred last year, then the only seeded player outside Top 10 in the last 8 was Fernando Verdasco, who was seeded with No. 14 as well. Verdasco’s higher-seeded victim was also the No. 4 seed, Andy Murray, whom he also defeated in five sets.

* Roger Federer has improved his record against former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt to 17-7 with his 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win Monday night, his 15th consecutive wins against the Aussie future Hall of Famer. The Federer-Hewitt rivalry is the seventh longest head-to-head in the Open era in terms of number of matches. The top 10 are as follows

36 – Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe (21-15)
35 – Lendl vs. Jimmy Connors (22-13)
35 – Boris Becker vs. Stefan Edberg (25-10)
34 – McEnroe vs. Connors (20-14)
34 – Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi (20-14)
27 – Edberg vs. Lendl (14-13)
24 – Federer vs. Hewitt (17-7)
22 – Sampras vs. Todd Martin (18-4)
22 – Agassi vs. Michael Chang (15-7)
21 – Becker vs. Lendl (11-10)
21 – Federer vs. Andy Roddick (19-2)
21 – Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic (14-7)

Federer and Hewitt Rewind

Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt will meet in an epic third round match up at the 2009 US Open in a battle of former champions. Rene Stauffer, the author of book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) describes a memorable match-up between the two future Hall of Famers from the 2002 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. The excerpt is below.

In the semifinals, Federer faced Hewitt, who already clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for a second year in a row. The Australian barely qualified for the semifinals and benefited from Carlos Moya winning a three-hour mean­ingless match over fellow Spaniard Costa, where a Costa victory would have him reach the semifinals rather than Hewitt. Although Federer lost five of the last seven matches with Hewitt, he reasoned his chances of beating him and winning the first big championship of his career were very attainable.

Federer started his semifinal with Hewitt in furious fashion, taking a 3-0 and a 5-2 first-set lead, but Hewitt ran and fought as if his life were at stake. Hewitt fought off five set points and rallied for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the set, Hewitt staved off another five break points, before capturing the first set 7-5. Federer, however, was not ready to surrender. The second set turned into a wild back-and-forth struggle. Hewitt served for the match at 5-4 and held match point, but Federer broke back for 5-5. After holding serve for 6-5, Federer evened the match by breaking Hewitt’s serve, connecting on his fourth set point of the game.

The Chinese fans went wild—out of their seats, screaming and cheering. In the commentary booth high above the stadium, Heinz Günthardt and Stefan Bürer, the Swiss TV commentary team, described the tension and fast-paced action to the audience back in Switzerland, where it was Saturday morning and many people postponed their weekend shopping to watch the dramatic match with their new sports hero.

As the match extended into a third hour, the breaks seemed to fall in favor of Federer. Leading 4-3 in the final set, Federer held two break points to put him in the position to serve for the match. Both opportunities, however, were lost and Hewitt held for 4-4. Hewitt then subsequently broke Federer’s serve the next game to serve for the match at 5-4. The Australian reached his second match point—and shockingly double-faulted. Federer then broke Hewitt’s serve to square the match at 5-5. Serving with new balls in the next game, Federer committed two consecutive double-faults to allow Hewitt to break him back and gained another opportunity to serve for the match. It took Hewitt another four match points before he finally corralled Federer and advanced to the final with an epic 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 victory. Following the match, Hall of Fame journalist Bud Collins walked into the press room and asked his fellow scribes, “Have you ever seen a better match?”

In the craziest match of his career to date, Federer was aware that he let victory escape from his grasp. “I have no one to blame but myself,” he said to a small group of Swiss journalists who traveled to China. “Luck wasn’t on my side. I blew a big opportunity. That hurts.” A vacation in Phuket, Thailand helped heal the wounds.

Kendrick crashes out to Haas in US Open

Coming into the US Open, Fresno native Robert Kendrick hoped to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, but his dreams were cut short on Thursday morning.

Facing an in-form Tommy Hass, the No. 20 seed in the event, Kendrick was unable to break Haas’s serve while facing break points in over half of his own service games, falling 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (3) on the Grandstand court.

“He doesn’t give you very many chances out there, and I wasn’t able to use the ones that I had,” said Kendrick.

Kendrick had two break points in Haas’s first service game to go up 2-0, but Haas saved them both with aces. They were the only chances that Kendrick had in the set as Haas unleashed a flurry of forehand winners, eventually breaking Kendrick at 3-3 and riding that lead to a 6-4 opening set.

An ace by Kendrick on game point at 3-3 was ultimately called a fault after Hawkeye (the electronic challenge system used at the US Open) overruled the call. Two points later, A mistimed lob by Kendrick sent him down 4-3 as he smashed his racket to the ground.

Down two set points at 3-5, Kendrick hit two service winners to win that game and make Haas serve out the set. Kendrick had two points to level the set at 5-5, but a winner by Haas and a mistimed forehand by Kendrick erased them. An ace by Haas on his fourth set point gave him a commanding two set lead.

“That was probably the turning point,” said Kendrick. “If I had won one of those points, anything could have happened.”

Kendrick soon found himself scrambling to stay in the match, fighting off a break point in his opening service game with a 126 MPH ace, and again at 2-2 with a forehand winner. Two groundstroke errors found Kendrick down break point at 4-4, but he hit two service winners to eventually hold for a 5-4 lead. Down break point once more at 5-5, Kendrick hit a volley winner to erase the deficit and eventually hold serve.

The third set tiebreaker was a one-sided affair. A volley into the net sent Kendrick down an early mini-break, and Haas soon took a 3-0 lead. An overhead by Haas on his first match point sent him into the third round.

Kendrick said he will head to Asia next to play a three week series of ATP events in the fall.

Kops-Jones Loses In Opening Round at US Open

The US Open is where Fresno native Raquel Kops-Jones first burst into the spotlight last year, but she bowed out quietly this year in a surprising first round loss.

Seeded No. 15 in the women’s doubles draw with fellow Californian Abigail Spears, the American team never managed to find the range on their shots, falling 6-4, 6-1 to the all Russian team of Vera Dushevina and Anastasia Rodinova.

With all the players holding serve early on, Kops-Jones missed a forehand in the first break point of the match on Rodionova’s serve to go up 4-2. The Americans lost that game and then Kops-Jones committed two double faults in losing her own service game.

“That was one of the big turning points in the match,” said Spears. “We played decent tennis, but they were solid and didn’t miss many balls.

An ace by Dushevina gave the Russian pair the opening set, 6-4. Kops-Jones won her service game to start the second set, but the Americans began to make unforced errors early on in the rallies. Spears quickly lost her serve with the set tied at 1-1, and Kops-Jones soon lost hers to send the American pair down 4-1. Kops-Jones and Spears had two break points on Rodionova’s serve to break the losing streak, but failed to convert on their chances, missing two volleys to trail 5-1. Three points later, a low forehand winner from Rodionova sent the Russian pair into the next round.

Kops-Jones and Spears reached their first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open last year, and came within two points of reaching the semifinals. The result spurred on the best result of Kops-Jones’s career. She won two WTA Tour doubles titles during the spring in Estoril and Warsaw, in addition to reaching the finals in Birmingham. The results have brought her to a current ranking of No. 33, two spots away from her career high of No. 31, which she achieved this May.

“There was definitely pressure to defend our points from last year, but there’s pressure no matter what,” said Kops-Jones. “We were more focused on just playing well as opposed to winning or losing.”

Since the beginning of 2009, Kops-Jones has also largely cut back on her singles events, primarily becoming a doubles specialist on the WTA Tour.

“I was having better results in doubles and ultimately making more money there,” said Kops-Jones. “After not being able to defend a lot of points at the beginning of the year, my singles ranking really fell and I couldn’t really get into WTA events anymore.”

Both Kops-Jones and Spears are heading to Asia for a series of WTA events in Guangzhou, Seoul, and Beijing. Kops-Jones will go to Europe directly from there, where she will compete in tournaments in Moscow, Luxembourg, and Linz.

Karlovic stuns Monfils in Cincinnati; Ljubicic, Ferrer, Safin advance

Ivo Karlovic

Croatian serving machine Ivo Karlovic smashed 21 aces en route to dismissing No. 13 seed Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), in two hours and 10 minutes on Monday afternoon to advance to the second round at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.
Karlovic, who defeated No. 1 Roger Federer last year in Cincinnati, was very strong on his service games throughout, even hitting five aces in the final set tiebreaker.

Karlovic won 64 of 74 first serve points, 56 percent of second serve points and was able to save all five break points he faced on his serve. The 6-foot-10 Croatian was consistently smashing serves in the 130 M.P.H. range.
Despite losing, Monfils also had a good serving outing, winning 57 of 74 first serve points, 62 percent of second serve points, but had a hiccup in the third game of the opening set when the 30-year-old Karlovic broke serve.

Karlovic, who improved to 2-1 against Monfils, next faces Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who rallied to defeat German Mischa Zverev, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-3, in two hours and 25 minutes.

In other action, fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic hammered 19 aces past Frenchman Florent Serra to advance to the second round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, victory. It was Ljubicic’s third straight win over Serra.

After a slow start to his Cincinnati title campaign, Ljubicic managed to get his consistency back and was able to break serve twice and win 76 percent of first serve points and 71 percent of second serve points en route to setting up a second round clash with No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has a 2-1 edge in career matches with Ljubicic, most recently beating him in straight sets in the quarterfinals in Madrid.

Former Top 5 player David Ferrer of Spain breezed past Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 39 minutes. Ferrer improved to 4-2 against the Swiss, winning the last three meetings.

The Spaniard, currently ranked No. 19, dropped only six points on his first serve, while breaking Wawrinka’s serve on four of 11 opportunities. Wawrinka, who teamed with Roger Federer to win a doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, struggled on serve throughout, making only 47 percent of his first serves. Ferrer, a two-time quarterfinalist in Cincinnati, earned his 37th victory of the season, which includes reaching the finals earlier this year in Barcelona and Dubai. The Spaniard next faces No. 14 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who cruised past Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 6-4, in 72 minutes. The head-to-head between Ferrer and Cilic is tied 1-1, with Ferrer winning most recently in Miami in three sets.

In the late match, unseeded Marat Safin of Russia beat American Robby Ginepri, 7-5, 7-6(2), in one hour and 26 minutes. Safin, who announced that this will be his last season on the ATP World Tour, smashed 13 aces and just four double faults, while breaking Ginepri’s serve twice on six opportunities. Safin now levels the series 2-2 with Ginepri with his victory.

Other scores from Monday in Cincinnati
No. 9 Gilles Simon def. Wayne Odesnik, 6-3, 6-2
Jeremy Chardy def. No. 15 Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 7-5
No. 16 Radek Stepanek def. Victor Troicki, 7-6(2), 1-0 ret. Injury
Sam Querrey def. Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-3, 6-4
Igor Andreev def. Nicolas Kiefer, 6-1, 7-5
Benjamin Becker def. Martin Vassallo Arguello, 6-3, 6-3
Nicolas Almagro def. Dudi Sela, 6-4, 1-0 ret. Injury
Jose Acasuso def. Lukas Kubot, 6-4, 6-3

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