Quarterfinal day at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles and the big names were all tested. Querrey, the defending champion, not known for his ability to muster comebacks, and has yet to prove that he has the heart of a potential champion, looked to be on the brink of defeat against German senior citizen Rainer Scheuttler. Rainer’s biggest run at a tournament came in 2008 when he climbed the ladder of impossibility and made it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon losing to a red hot Rafa in straights. Since then, the icy German has been culminating some matches in the win column demanding respect from all the players on tour; a bona fide danger opponent swimming through the draws.
Querrey, who looks as though he would have fit perfectly as a member of the Beach Boys, slumbered around the court with a Kermit the Frog mouth that is perpetually shaped in a half smile, won the first set decisively, utilizing his big serve and capitalizing on break opportunities. He looked to be too much for the German. I expected the second set to be a repeat. But I was wrong again, as I have been for most of this tournament. Scheuttler gained some rhythm and began to feel out Querrey’s serve, and broke the top seeded American, leveling the match at a set a piece. Scheuttler continued to pound pressure on the American’s serve and had a perfect opportunity late in the third to close out the match. Then the ever elusive mistress of momentum shifted once again, as Querrey fought back. “I was pretty frustrated the whole time, but I did a great job of playing the 5-4 and 6-5 games,” said Querrey. “I played great points on those games and really battled back well.” The world no. 20 Querrey gained a mini-break lead in the third and took the match. He will next face Tipsarevic in the semis.
Andy Murray faced a trial on Friday night when he faced a streaky player, possibly a future top twenty player, Alejandro Falla who bounced back Thursday after being down a set to upset Ernests Gulbis. The top seeded Murray entered the Farmers Classic with his very first visit to the City of Angels, and has played both his matches under the lights. The first set was tight, with both players feeling each other out. Falla told reporters yesterday, when asked what he thought his chances were against the world number four, that he felt good about his chance to beat the top Brit. “I know I can play against these type of players. I played great against Federer at Wimbledon.” It appeared that Falla was intimidated by the spotlight and almost edged out Murray, who saved three set points to finally take the first set in a tiebreaker. The second seat was a steam roll, as Falla showed signs of fatigue, being run around the court by the craft and variety of Murray, who slammed the second set 6-1. “I feel much better than I did yesterday,” said Murray. “I had the same sort of thing earlier in this year after the Australian Open when I didn’t play for a few weeks. Then I played in Dubai, I was really sore after the first match, and then each match after that I started to feel a lot better. Hopefully that’ll be the case here.” Murray will next play Feliciano Lopez in the semi-finals, someone he has beaten twice in a row. The odds are in favor of a Querrey vs. Murray final, but don’t ask me. The way this tournament is going I need to take my crystal ball to the mechanic.
The 2010 Champions Series tennis circuit started Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Marat Safin made his tour debut only 17 weeks after last playing on the ATP World Tour.
Safin said his appearance on the champion’s circuit so soon after leaving the main tour was “almost comical.” Perhaps even more startling is the fact that he lost in the first round of the eight-man Rio event Friday night to Wayne Ferreira.
The loss shows two things – Safin has probably played very little tennis since November when he played his final ATP event at the Paris Indoors and the guys on the Champions Series circuit can really still play. Safin just turned 30 years old while his conqueror, Ferreira, is eight years older, but showed he is still in great shape and playing fine tennis. There is prize money on the line in each match on the Champions Series and Ferreria earned him at least another extra $10,000 for his win. Ferreira went on to finish third in the event and pocketed $25,000.
Fernando Meligeni of Brazil was the surprise tournament winner, boosted by the local fan support. He defeated Mark Philippoussis in the championship match to win his first Champions Series title and $60,000.
Here are some photos of the event provided by tournament organizers.
CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 25, 2009 – Jim Courier defeated Mikael Pernfors 6-4, 6-2 just ahead of arriving rain showers Friday evening to advance into the semifinals of the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades at The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Courier will face Todd Martin in Saturday’s semifinals in a re-match of the 2006 and 2008 singles finals at the Charlotte event on the Outback Champions Series global tennis circuit.
Friday night’s other quarterfinal match between Pat Cash and Jimmy Arias was moved indoors due to the rain with Cash advancing into a semifinal meeting with Pete Sampras with a 6-4, 6-3.
Sampras and Cash will play the afternoon semifinal on Saturday at noon,
while Courier and Martin will compete in the evening semifinal to start at 5 pm.
Courier was happy to finish his match outdoors Friday night before the rain suspended play.
“I wanted to get through that match,” said Courier. “No one likes rain
delays when you’re already warmed up and playing. I was able to become more aggressive by necessity. I didn’t want to move much on the court so it forced me to go on the offense and play aggressively. If the rain got any harder at all it would have been unplayable and lines would have been too wet.”
The Courier-Martin semifinal will mark the fourth straight year the two
former U.S. Davis Cup teammates have squared off at The Palisades. In 2006, in the first-year of the event in Charlotte, Courier defeated Martin 5-7, 7-6 (6), 10-4 (Champions Tie-Breaker) in the singles final, while in 2008 Courier again got the better of Martin in the championship match, winning 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 (Champions Tie-Breaker). In 2007, Martin defeated Courier 6-4, 6-7 (4), 10-5 in round-robin play prior to the tournament switching to a single knock-out format.
Martin will be looking to reach the Charlotte final for a fourth straight year. In addition to his losses to Courier in the 2006 and 2008 finals, he lost to Sampras in the Palisades final in 2007.
The remaining schedule of play for the tournament is as follows.
Saturday, Sept. 26
Starting at Noon
Pete Sampras vs. Pat Cash
Followed by Doubles
Starting at 5 pm
Todd Martin vs. Jim Courier
Followed by Doubles
Sunday, Sept. 27
Starting at 2 pm
Third Place Match
Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series,
defeating John McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier won his first title of the 2009 season in April at the Cayman Islands, defeating Arias in the final. Cash successfully defended his title on the grass courts at the Hall of Fame Champions Cup in Newport, R.I. in August, defeating Courier in the final. Following Charlotte, the next event on the Outback Champions Series will be held in Surprise, Ariz., where Andre Agassi will make his debut Oct. 8-11.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features seven events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events, corporate outings and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.