2013 US Open Quallies, Final Round

25 Aug


Here are more pictures from the last round of US Open Quallies. There is a mix of today’s stars practicing as well as the players from the qualification tournament. Let’s test out the tennis crack whore in you as I will not label any of the pictures. How many can you name? You can look at the “tags” if you want some help.

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I will not make you guess who is in the following two pictures because I think she deserves special attention. This was the first time I had the opportunity to watch a 20 year old Serbian woman named Aleksandra Krunic play, and I am expecting big things from her. Ladies and gentleman, please meet Aleksandra Krunic.

Aleksandra Krunic US Open 2013

Aleksandra Krunic serving. See the ball?

Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia

Fluid service motion by Aleksandra Krunic

 

2013 US Open Quallies Day 1

23 Aug

Here are just a few random pictures from the first day of the 2013 US Open qualification tournament. Just a couple of the day’s highlights were 16 year old American Jared Donaldson beating Farrukh Dustov and Julia Cohen moonballing and cramping her way to victory over Tadeja Majeric in the last match of the night. It is truly amazing how many people attend the quallies now, and it has really become an event unto itself. I remember no more than 10 years ago when hardly anyone was there and you had to make sure to bring your own food and drink. Now the food court is open and the stands are packed.

I will be back on Friday and will try to post more later, but here are just a few pics for now:

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Gerald Melzer – yes, it’s Jurgen’s baby brother.

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Boy Westerhof – Best name in tennis?

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Little Noah Rubin was very focused.

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New in 2013 – Heineken House above the food court.

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Jared Donaldson had composure way beyond his 16 years.

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More Baby Melzer trying to return Jarmere Jenkins’ serve.

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Melzer frustrated. Jarmere was just “TOO BIG. TOO BIG.” (annoying fan cheer)

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Ksenia Pervak takes out #1 seed Shahar Peer 64 76(3)

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Jarmere Jenkins about to serve TOO BIG….

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Farrukh Dustov was one frustrated man losing to a boy named Donaldson.

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Amir Weintraub held off little Noah Rubin.

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Old Frenchman Marc Gicquel had no reason to hide.

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Marc Gicquel out-steadied Thiago Alves 64 in the 3rd.

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Giovanni Lapentti serves in a losing effort versus Ginepri on Court 17

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No radar gun, but Dr. Ivo was hitting bombs.

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Jan Mertl ran Renzo Olivo ragged.

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More of golden boy Jared Donaldson

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So composed and so polite. Big Donaldson fan here.

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Jared Donaldson spent a lot of time signing autographs and posing for pictures.

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Julia Cohen, fierceness in more ways than one.

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Tadeja Majeric was getting so frustrated by Julia Cohen.

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Renzo Olivo returning so far back like he was still on clay.

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Good form from Olivo, but just not ready for primetime.

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It’s hard to believe that former #14 Shahar Peer has to qualify for US Open. And harder to see her lose, but Ksenia Pervak is no pushover either.

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It’s no Wimbledon, but there is still nice shrubbery in Flushing.

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Thomas Fabbiano is a feisty scrapper who eliminated Antonio Veic.

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American teenager Viktoria Duval is what I like to call a fun-ness!

Floodgates Busted Wide Open For Janko Tipsarevic

23 Oct

Janko Tipsrevic Lifts Kremlin Cup as Victor Troicki watchesAfter 10 seasons on tour including 4 finals appearances, Janko Tipsarevic had not won an ATP title until a few weeks ago when he posted a solid 64 75 victory over Marcos Baghdatis in Kuala Lumpur. The wait for his 2nd ATP title would be far shorter with his win today over countryman and defending champion Viktor Troicki. In fact, Janko made it look easy with a routine 64 62 win to wrest the Kremlin Cup away from Viktor.

This was the first All-Serbian final ever and who would have thought that this piece of history would not involve Novak Djokovic. While Novak has been front and center for all tennis news involving Serbia (and the world), Janko and Viktor have both firmly entrenched themselves in the Top 20. They are also knocking on the door of the Top 10 as Tipsarevic will move up to #13 in the rankings tomorrow. He does crack the Top 10 in the Champions Race with a chance Janko Winsof making the Barclays World Tour Finals in London although he still trails the Top 8 by more than 500 points.

Considering he has never finished the season higher than #38, a Top 10 finish or anywhere near it will be a major accomplishment for Janko. His past 12 months have included many firsts starting last year with his nation’s first Davis Cup, his first Master Series semi at the Rogers Cup to crack the Top 20 for the first time, his first Slam quarter at the US Open, and that elusive first title in Kuala Lumpur. With so many firsts in 2011, one could say winning his second title in Moscow was his first great ‘second’ of 2011. It was also his first underwear endorsement deal with Extreme Intimo, and perhaps that was just the good luck charm he needed as the photos were released only days before he lifted that first trophy in Kuala Lumpur.

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Tipsarevic and Troicki may have made history with the first All-Serbian final played today, King Novak still found a way to steal the show as his epic mini-tennis battle against Dusan Vemic on YouTube proved to be the more entertaining All-Serb battle today.

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While this was uploaded today, those shenanigans actually took place the day before Nole’s first US Open title. I guess that turned out to be a good way to stay loose before a Grand Slam final.

dominika cibulkova first titleIn other Kremlin Cup news today, Dominika Cibulkova scored her first title with a 36 76(1) 75 victory over Kaia Kanepi. While the 22 year-old Slovak has been ranked as high as #12 in the world with a Grand Slam semi under her belt, that first title had eluded her until today. Last week she reached her third career final in a loss to Petra Kvitova in Linz, but the fourth time proved to be lucky today for Dominika especially considering the gift Kaia gave her late in the second set. With Cibulkova serving break point down at 5-All, Kanepi missed an open-court overhead that sailed about a centimeter long. While the two both looked tight at the end of the third with 5 consecutive breaks of serve, Cibulkova finally held her serve (and her nerve) to close it out.

dominika cibulkova in moscow red squareLet’s see if this victory busts open the floodgates for the little 5-foot-3 dynamo from Bratislava like it has for Janko. Only a handful of players can end their season with a victory, and Dominika sure finished hers off in style just like she did when she visited the Red Square earlier this week.

Enjoy the off-season, Dominika!

Agnieszka Qualifies!!! AND Keeping Up With The Safinas

21 Oct

Since Marion Bartoli pulled out of her quarterfinal match against Elena Vesnina today, Agnieszka Radwanska does in fact qualify for the Tour Championships in Istanbul. Bartoli had a viral illness and explained “I think my whole body needed a break and I was trying till the end, but yesterday during my match I already didn’t feel very good. But I still had a bit of energy left so it was enough.  This morning I had so much pain in my whole body, in my neck. I couldn’t even warm up today. So I knew it would be very difficult. But it has been a very long season and I really tried to play till the very end but that was it for me.”

Yesterday before she pulled out but perhaps knowing her ultimate fate said, “I am absolutely satisfied with this season which I am almost sure to finish in the top-10. Even getting to Istanbul as a substitute is a big achievement at the moment.” Both Marion Bartoli and Andrea Petkovic will be the two alternates in Istanbul, and in recent years the alternates have actually seen round-robin play so they should be prepared.

Agnieszka was relieved to qualify today and stated, “I’m so happy to finally qualify for the Championships as one of the Top 8 singles players. Just a few weeks ago I didn’t think I had a chance of qualifying and am now so happy to end my season in Istanbul.”

In unrelated news, I thought you might enjoy some recent pictures of what the Safin Siblings have been up to. Dinara has not retired like Marat had announced, but she did enjoy some time at IKEA last week. And as you will also see, Marat just keeps flapping his gums to anyone who will listen.

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Marat Safin and Davydenko

The YouTube Stars of the WTA

20 Oct

So here are the latest YouTube videos from the musical Vania King and the comical Andrea Petkovic:

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It’s nice to have hobbies.

Agnieszka Radwanska Loses, Bartoli Still Alive For Istanbul

19 Oct

After Radwanska won Tokyo and Beijing back to back, she seemed a shoo-in to qualify as one of the Elite 8 to play in the Tour Championships in Istanbul. With Petkovic injured, the only one who could even think of catching Aga was Marion Bartoli. The Frenchwoman would not only need to go undefeated over the last two weeks of the season, but Agnieszka also had to go winless. With Radwanska not scheduled to play last week, Marion really turned on the pressure when she won the title in Osaka.

No big deal, right? Bartoli would have to win the Kremlin Cup AND Radwanska would have to lose her opening match for Marion to qualify. Not likely. Things got a bit dicier when the draw came out, and Radwanska was not happy to see that she would have to face Lucie Safarova. Not only was Lucie the highest ranked player not seeded, but more importantly she owned a 3-1 record over Aga including their only match this year. The pressure was on.

Radwanska raced to a 3-0 lead, but she clearly looked nervous as the match proceeded. Lucie then began to dominate and won 15 straight points on serve as she came from behind to win the first set. Radwanska’s head was not in Moscow, this match was all about Istanbul. She somehow squeaked out the second despite still looking shaky, but Lucie was able to hang on by a score of 64 46 64.

With Osaka Trophy, Moscow Next?

Marion still needs to handle the pressure of winning the title in Moscow, but what was once a hope and a prayer is now a legitimate chance to make the Elite 8. Both players have never qualified directly for the Tour Championships, and yet both have played and won matches as alternates. Bartoli replaced an injured Serena in 2007 to beat Jelena Jankovic but failed to proceed to the semis due to her 6-0 6-0 loss to Justine who was eager to avenge the Wimbledon loss that year to Marion. Radwanska won both of her round-robin matches with wins over Kuznetzova and Azarenka in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Who knows, maybe both players will get to hit the court in Istanbul after all.

The Steady Rise and Return of Alex Bogomolov Jr.

19 Oct

Alex Bogomolov Jr. Kremlin CupThis time last year, Alex “Bogie” Bogomolov Jr. was ranked outside the Top 200 and playing challenger events in such glamorous places as Charlottesville, Knoxville, and Champaign. You may actually remember that we highlighted Alex among others last year in Jockeying for Position with his title in Champaign at the end of last year. Bogie built on that momentum and steadily climbed the rankings this year to a career-high #37 and finds himself seeded 5th at the Kremlin Cup, an ATP 250 event in Moscow.

Alex has always played for the USA, but rumors are circling that the 28 year-old player born in Moscow is being courted to play Davis Cup for Russia. Although he is now the #4 American, Alex has never played for the USA Davis Cup team since there have always been so many Alex Bogomolov Jr. TattooAmerican players ranker higher. Russia currently has only one player ranked higher than Alex, and quite frankly #34 Mikhail Youzhny has really been dropping like a rock these days. This makes Alex that much more desirable for the Russian Davis Cup team. Not many besides TCW was paying Alex much attention last year, but what a difference a year makes.

And what a difference a few years make as Alex struggled through a doping suspension in 2005, a divorce from WTA pro Ashley Harkleroad in 2006, and career-ending career-changing wrist surgery in 2008. He gave up the pro circuit for a while and became the Director of Tennis at Gotham Tennis Academy on Long Island and in the Bronx. His son Maddox was his motivation to return to the tour, and I highly recommend reading ESPN’s How Love Lifted Bogomolov Jr.’s Game article if you missed it. You can also watch this from his sponsor Athletic DNA to learn more about the rise, fall, and return of Bogie.

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Alex is taking advantage of his new stature in the game, and his relatively easy draw this week is a good example of  how Bogie is now reaping the rewards from the last couple of years of grinding through challengers and quallies. He is in the quarters already with 3-set wins over lower-ranked Dusan Lajovic and Mikhail Kukushkin. This is quite different from a year ago where he would need to play 2 or 3 rounds of quallies before facing a top seed in the first round. And now he is one of those top seeds.

The draw gets a lot tougher this week in Moscow as he faces #16 Victor Troicki, but Bogie has proved this year that he is capable of beating Top 20 players with wins over Chela, Tsonga, and Murray. We may need to do a new “Jockeying for Position” article as it looks like his 2011 success could earn him a seeding for the Grand Slams in 2012.

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