rain delays

US Open Preview: Murray vs Federer

Andy Murray’s recent impressive defence of his Toronto Master’s title following back to back victories over Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, has meant that once again he is one of the firm favourites for the US Open which starts tomorrow.

The final marked a welcome return to the more aggressive style of play witnessed before the devastating psychological impact of losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open at the start of the year. The Canadian fans were treated to a more focused and mature performance from the young Scot, unnerved by the rain delays and the prospect of facing his arch nemesis once again, prevailing 7-5, 7-5 to record his first title victory of the season.

The win brought Murray’s head to head record to seven wins out of twelve against the majestic Swiss master, but the world waits with baited breath to see whether he can maintain his form throughout the grueling two weeks of a Grand Slam or simply continue his reign as the best player never to have won a major.

Murray remains confident of his chances and revealed, “I feel very fresh after taking a couple of days off after reaching the quarter finals in Cincinnati and right now I’m fine physically. The Toronto win was very good for the confidence and now I’ve been in New York, a city I love, for a week. I feel good which is important because I know I have got to produce my best tennis.”

Indeed, on recent form and the shape of the US Open draw, Murray is likely to face Federer once again in the final, with Rafael Nadal certainly less impressive during the American hard court season. While each feels equally confident of victory, their summer preparations couldn’t have been further apart.

Murray has spent the summer enjoying his rekindled romance with Kim Sears, whilst Federer has had to come to terms with balancing being a father to twins with the pressures of the tour; a fact he has taken into consideration when taking on the advice of new coach, Paul Annacone, who also had children early in his playing career. Meanwhile, in July Murray chose to sever ties with his coach of two and a half years, Miles Maclagan.

Will Murray carry on his good form and survive the two weeks unscathed as a lone ranger or will Federer succeed with the inspiration and insight of his new right hand man and former coach of Pete Sampras? Or will a certain Spaniard spoil the party? Be sure to tune and join the rollercoaster ride at Flushing Meadows, but remember to hold on to your hats and glasses folks, as we’re certainly in for some unpredictable twists and turns!

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 @thetenniswriter. She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

ANDY RODDICK AND SAM QUERREY ARE OPPOSITES: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Questions for Querrey – American Sam Querrey needs to find some answers as to why he’s lacking motivation, how does he find it again, and how does he do a better job of controlling his mindset when he’s out on the court. I’ll give credit to Sam for at least owning up the fact that he’s struggling to find his motivation and that he hasn’t exactly been the epitome of professionalism, even admitting that he’s tanked some points. He’s had some peaks and valleys in his 2010 season, but there’s no doubt he’s been one of the more promising young American players. To hear his latest comments was definitely disappointing. It sounds like his coach has the backbone to call Sam on it though, and hopefully between the two of them, they’re going to be able to turn things around before burnout occurs.

Grinding it Out – American Andy Roddick has been the opposite of his compatriot Sam Querrey. Roddick’s clay court preparation has been next to nil, and undoubtedly his worst since turning professional. To top it off, clay is his worst surface, and his results at Roland Garros have predominantly been dismal. When playing Fin Jarkko Nieminen, who himself has thus far had a terrible 2010 season, Roddick found himself down two sets to one. It would have been easy for him to throw in the towel and look towards the greener pastures of Wimbledon, but he ground it out like a true professional. In his second round, he takes on little-known Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia. Roddick had his serve broken on multiple occasions, endured a few rain delays, and even dropped the second set before finding his way to the finish line. I haven’t always been a fan of some of his outbursts on court, but I greatly admire the way he’s handled himself thus far at the French Open.

Darkness (and Chaos) Reign – It was only Day 4 of Roland Garros, but already there was high drama on Court Philippe Chatrier. Gael Monfils was up against Fabio Fognini. There was enough drama as it was, with Fognini staging a comeback after being down two sets to love. Then, at 4-4 in the fifth, tournament referee and Grand Slam supervisor Stefan Fransson made an appearance to presumably call play for the day. Instead of calling play, however, he talked it over with the players, and then, the insanity began as Fognini argued it was too dark to continue but was forced to play on anyway. In a statement made on Day 5, Fransson confirmed that both players claimed that they wished to continue playing, but that Fognini changed his mind after his box signaled to him to stop. Now maybe that constitutes illegal coaching, but I still felt for the Italian and found myself rooting for him. Of course he was initially going to claim he wanted to keep playing. He was playing a Frenchman and had a stadium full of French tennis fans who had patiently sat through rain delays earlier in the day (and were being egged on by Monfils) clamoring for the drama continue.  The situation was poorly handled by Fransson. Fognini should never have been put in the position of having to be the bad guy by asking for play to be called, and the fact that he got a point penalty for delay of game was ludicrous. I realize Monfils cannot be held accountable for the actions of tournament officials, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit of justice was done when Fognini came out the victor.

(Un)dressed for Success – I’m going to join the multitudes of people commenting on Venus Williams’ latest tennis attire and go on record as saying I’m not a fan. Venus pushed the envelope with similar use of the bodysuit down in Australia, and now she’s crossed the line. Even taking into account that Venus has the figure to wear the dress, and that French Open and WTA administrators alike agree that her outfit doesn’t violate dress codes, that doesn’t make it right. Her attire is better suited to the bedroom than Court Philippe Chatrier, particularly on Kids’ Day. And as a sidebar regarding Venus’ comment that lace has never been done in tennis, she should research the stir Gussy Moran’s lace-trimmed panties made at Wimbledon just over 60 years ago. I’m happy to see that women’s tennis fashion has evolved since the time of Gussy and others, but I think in this case, the pendulum has swung a bit too far.

In Need of a Break? – That’s the question some are asking of Dinara Safina after she lost her first round match to 39-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm. After winning the first set, the Russian led by a break in the second and a double break in the third, but still failed to put away the cramping Japanese veteran. The good news for Safina is that she wasn’t complaining of the niggling back injury that has hampered her year, and she also seems positive about working with her new coach, former ATP pro Gastón Etlis. It’s hard to forgo competing in a Slam, but given that grass is historically her worst surface, I wonder if it wouldn’t serve Safina well to take month or so away from the game, bond more with her new coach, and get in the valuable practice time that’s has eluded her due to her back injury.

Sampras Advances To Charlotte Final

CHARLOTTE, N.C., September 26, 2009 – Pete Sampras overcame two rain delays and soggy and moist conditions Saturday to defeat Pat Cash 6-4, 6-3 to advance into the singles final of the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades at The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. Sampras will play the winner of the other semifinal between Jim Courier and Todd Martin, which was postponed until Sunday morning due to rain. Sampras will be seeking his third singles title this year on the Outback Champions Series after winning titles in Boston and Los Cabos, Mexico.

Sampras and Cash were scheduled to play their semifinal match at noon on Saturday, but did not begin the match until four-and-a-half hours later due to rain in the Charlotte area. Sampras won the first set 6-4 and led 1-0 in the second set before rain again delayed play for another three hours. Sampras came out swinging after returning to the court, eager to finish off the victory. He broke Cash’s serve in the eighth game of the second set before serving out the match in the next game.

“We were eager to finish this match,” said Sampras, the owner of 14 major singles titles who also won the Outback Champions Series title in Charlotte in 2007. “We especially wanted to finish it for the fans who have been here all day. These were tricky conditions from the beginning. Even when we started playing again, it kept getting really wet out there and it could have been dangerous.”

Said Cash, “It was a good bit wet out there. The rain has been driving us all insane. The fans have been great and everyone’s been great to get the courts dry and get us out there to play.”

Sunday’s schedule of play is now as follows;

Sunday, Sept. 27
Starting at 10 am
Jim Courier vs. Todd Martin – Second Semifinal
Starting at 2 pm
Pat Cash vs. Jim Courier/Todd Martin loser – Third Place Match
Followed by
Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier/Todd Martin winner – Championship Match

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.

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.

Courier Beats Rain, Pernfors In Charlotte

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
Followed by
Championship 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.