The Bryan Brothers Claim 12th Slam

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – This week, everyone is talking about the Manning brothers and their quest for a fourth world championship.

Yes, four. Eli has two and Peyton has one.

Move over Mannings, it’s time for the Bryan Brothers – Bob and Mike – to get some love.

Yes, tennis’s wonder twins are at it again with another Grand Slam win on the resume – that would be their 12th for those counting at home – after beating the team of Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4 to win the Men’s Doubles title.

“We were just thinking about playing a good match and executing the scouting report our coach gave us and winning our home slam in front of all these fans that were pumping us up the whole day,” Bob said. “I mean, we’re extremely pumped to leave 2012 with a Grand Slam title.  I think it’s eight years in a row now we’ve at least got away with one of them, which we’re very proud of.”

Maybe the Bryans are the standard bearers of men’s tennis now with the retirement of Andy Roddick. Although they play doubles – a sport that isn’t really cared about – their success is extraordinary winning a slam a at least year for eight years.

And this is their fourth Open win, on bested by Australia with five.

“You know, it doesn’t get the notoriety that, you know, a Federer record does,” Mike said.  “We have fun slipping under the radar.  Probably get asked once or twice a week ‑ by Doug ‑ but that’s about it.  This isn’t our first time sitting in this room in front of a bunch of media.

“But they’re special to us and we talk about them with our camp.  My dad definitely he shoots e‑mails to us with all our records and they’re fun to look at.

“Then it’s up to you guys to, you know, determine where we stand in history or whatever.  You know, that’s what we play for.  We set goals every year.  This was just another goal that we went after.  It’s fun to achieve it.”

Oh and let’s not forget the Olympic gold this year too, which is just as important for the brothers.

And after that what’s next?

“Got to finish it off strong with Davis Cup,” Mike said. “You’re only as good as your last match.

“So we’re leaving tomorrow night, going to get our clay court shoes on, and hopefully help the U.S. out.”

Like they have done for the last eight years.

 

 

 

Djokovic On Track To Be Next Great

To some he’s the Djoker, the tennis player with a sense of humor. It doesn’t matter to him if his humor offends, as it’s his way of blowing off steam.

But for many years, Novak Djokovic was the best of the rest. The top player in the world not named Federer or Nadal. Now, though that has changed.

After his complete demolition of No. 5 seed Andy Murray, 6-4 6-2 6-3, to win the 2011 Australian Open, Djokovic vaulted himself up into the land of Federer and Nadal with his second OZ Open win and that makes it twice in four years.

“This was a great match,” Djokovic said. “From the start to the last point, I did what I intended of doing tactically, what I talked with my coach, what I prepared for. Physically I was very fit. I had two days between the semifinals and finals match, which was important at this stage of the tournament.

“Because I was aware of the fact that I am going to yeah, bring it to me. That will have long rallies and I will have a player who doesn’t miss a lot, a very talented player who is one of the best returners in the game.

“And, yeah, you know, I had to step in. That was the key. When I had the chance to step in and try to move him around the court, that’s what I did. Probably the turning point was the last game of the first set where we had some incredible exchange from the baseline, long rallies, and some passing shots that turned the match around.”

For all his talent, the knock on Djokovic was that he suffered from some mental mistakes, which would keep him for vaulting over players like Federer and Nadal. But something seemed to click late last year, which made him mentally tougher and kept his emotions in check.

“Something switched in my head, because I am very emotional on and off the court,” he said. “I show my emotions. This is the way I am. Everybody’s different.

“The things off court were not working for me, you know. It reflected on my game, on my professional tennis career. But then, you know, I settled some things in my head. It was all on me. You know, I had to try to find the best possible solution and try to get back on the right track.

“It’s been a big mental struggle, because I was trying to separate my, of course, professional life from my more private life.

“But, you know, if somebody’s emotional we’re all humans. It’s not possible. If something isn’t working off court, then it’s going to reflect on the court. I managed to solve that problems.

“This is all part of life. Of course, everybody’s facing difficult situations in their lives. To overcome the crisis and to stand up and try to still dedicate yourself to the sport was a big success for me as a person.”

With Roger Federer now on the downside of his career and Rafael Nadal taking up the mantle of the world’s best player, Djokovic is gaining ground in becoming the yin to Nadal’s yang. All great champions have one. Nadal was Federer’s Andre Agassi was Pete Sampras, and so forth. And after straight sets wins over Federer and Murray in the Semifinals and Finals, Djokovic is approaching that level.

Yet, according to the 23 year-old, there is still a gap.

“Still Rafa and Roger are the two best players in the world,” Djokovic said. “No question about that. You can’t compare my success and Murray’s success to their success. They’re the two most dominant players in the game for a while. All the credit to them.

“It’s nice to see that there are some new players in the later stages of Grand Slams fighting for a title. That’s all I can say.”

And it’s nice to see the Serbian win this one. Djokovic will be trying to improve his standing on other surfaces as he never got past the Semifinals at Roland Garros or Wimbledon. Yet, the he seems to be ready for the challenge.

“I don’t want to stop here,” he said. Definitely I want to keep my body healthy, fit, and ready for some more challenges to come. I feel that I have a good game for all the surfaces. I have proven that in the past.”

Juan Ignacio Chela Wins Bucharest

BCR Open Romania

ATP WORLD TOUR 250 €368,450 (€420,200 Total Financial Commitment)
Bucharest, Romania (+3 hours GMT)
20-26 September, 2010 Surface: Clay www.ATPWorldTour.com

RESULTS – SUNDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Singles – Final
[4] J Chela (ARG) d [Q] P Andujar (ESP) 75 61

Read match reports at ATPWorldTour.com

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Chela: “It was an unbelievable week winning in both singles and doubles. I didn’t expect that. The beginning of the season was pretty tough for me so I’m very happy that I’m playing at such a great level now. I enjoy the circuit a lot.

“I always used to be quiet on court, but now I have even more experience and that helps especially when you prepare for an important match. My goal is to do well during the Asian swing as well as in the European indoor events and try to finish the year in the Top 30.

“Andujar has improved a lot lately. He played a strong first set. He can do very well in the future.”

Andujar: “I tried to play aggressively since I knew that long points wouldn’t help me after the long match last night. I had my chances in the first set, but then I had a low at the beginning of the second set.

“I will always remember my first ATP final. I still remember when I won my first Futures and my first Challenger. The conditions here are very good for me, close to what I’m used to at home.

“I didn’t expect to go this far when I came here to play qualies. My coach had his return ticket for last Wednesday. Of course I’m very happy I had to buy him a new one.”

In The Twilight Of His Career Blake’s Still Looking Forward

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – As James Blake stood on the court of Arthur Ashe last night, you had to wonder if this was going to be his swan song. After all, the 29 year-old has struggled with injuries the last few years and he’s not getting any younger.

“A couple people mentioned something like that to me,” he said after downing Kristof Vliegen in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 6-4. “They’re trying to get rid of me already.  I hope that’s not the case.

“But, you know, I was just really honored to be there.  I didn’t think of that until it came up yesterday when someone sort of mentioned that to me, ’cause I really, when I got the call first or email first actually about being a part of it, I didn’t tell any of my friends or even my coach or anyone, because I thought in a couple weeks they were going to call and tell me, We found someone better, forget it, you don’t need to be here for it.”

Blake, though, is not ready to hang it up. He is planning of playing as long as possible and just looks at his friend and confident Andre Agassi, with whom he had that classic encounter, back in 2005, where the future Hall of Fame legend came back from two sets down to win quarterfinals.

“I think we all remember his speech here in his last match,” he said.  “He’s someone that also played with a little bit of emotion and fed off the crowd and enjoyed tennis and appreciated as much, had a second career as well when he dropped all the way down to 141 and came back to No. 1.

“What he did, he belonged there last night as well as someone that’s inspired so many others, including myself.  He finished here, he beat me when he was 35, I think, 34, 35.  You know, there’s a chance I still could be playing in four or five more years.

“His brand of tennis maybe took a little less punishment on his body because he was the one doling out all the punishment.  I’m proud to say I’m a friend of his.  He’s someone that helped me.  You wouldn’t think of a superstar like that calling a young kid to give him a scouting report, helping him out when he really didn’t need to, treating him at his nightclub in Las Vegas.  Everything you could think of for a superstar they normally wouldn’t do, he was there to do.  To be a normal guy, to be one of the guys in the locker room, I respected him so much for that.

Also Blake can look at Mardy Fish, whom many have picked to be a dark horse choice at this Open. Fish lost 30 pounds and is in the best shape of his life. Yet Blake feels it’s different with him as he tends to need to put on weight, rather than lose it.

So there may still be a chance for Blake, but he is clearly on the downside of his career and may pack it in, even as early as this year and if he does he will be able to look back at all the great matches the Yonkers native played.

His best though: At the Davis Cup in 2007 when he beat Mikhail Youzhny, 6–3, 7–6, 6–7, 7–6 in the finals over Poland.

“It’s the most memorable, yeah,” he recalled.  “That’s the one that I think I’ll remember forever ’cause that Davis Cup team was one that had been through a lot together.  We played so many matches together, I think the most of any group, specific group, in U.S. history.

“We just had so much fun together.  We had won a lot, we had lost a lot.  We made it through that whole journey, got to the finals, and we all contributed.  Andy won.  I won a close one.  The Bryans closed it out.  We were all part of that year, part of that victory, shared holding that victory, being part of something special.

“For me, that was pretty darn exciting, especially since I lost to him the year before on the clay in Russia.  To get a win over him, three tiebreaks, it wasn’t on cruise control by any stretch.  Came through in a lot of big points, had a lot of confidence at that time.  Had the fans and the team right behind me.

“That’s always going to be a pretty good memory.  When you have the Bryan twins playing doubles for you, you feel pretty confident going into Saturday up 2‑0.”

Maybe, though he will have one more memorable match in his at the 2010 US Open.

Ivanovic Ends Her Open Early The Second Year In A Row

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – First for the good news: Ana Ivanovic has plenty of time this year to shop on Fifth Avenue and take in the sights and sounds of New York City.

And now for the bad: This is the second year in a row, she became a tourist after in the first week.

Much like last year the 21 year-old former No. 1 took an early exit at the US Open, this time losing to  52 ranked Kateryna Bondarenko in three sets, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (7).

“I created a lot of chances for myself,” Ivanovic said. “I’m really disappointed that I made a few mistakes in the important moments and my forehand let me down on a few occasions and obviously it hurts.

And it hurts her in the rankings as well. Last year, she was the No. 1 seed and in 2009 she fell to spots to No. 11. This Open is the cumulation of a bad year for the Serbian who just really couldn’t put it all together.

“I think it’s been, you know, as much as it hurts and was disappointing, you know, times so far, I feel I learned a lot from it,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself and you know, people around me and about what I have to do and in order to become a better player, because there was a point that, you know, I really trusted the team around me, so I didn’t question many things that were happening.

“Many times, you know, I didn’t know why I was doing certain things. So now we have, with the changes that happened, I’m more aware of certain things and more aware of the things that helped me get better. That’s obviously really good things.

“Now I know for myself what’s going to help me to improve, and you know, what kind of work it’s going to help me, rather than just rely 100% on a coach, because many times they can’t feel – all the time they can’t feel what I feel. That’s one thing that I feel I learned in last month or two.”

This time she lost top Bondarenko, who was nursing a “strained muscle” in her upper left leg, which she injured playing in Toronto. “She was wearing a wrap all game and it looked like it was aggravated by the end the match.

“It started to hurt more,” Bondarenko said. “Before the match it was okay but by the end it was more.”

Ironically as the match went on Ivanovic was the one that faltered. She won the first set 6-2, but then dropped the second 6-3. The Serbian was able to come back being down in the third to force a tie breaker, but could not withstand the Ukrainian’s will and determination.

“You know, 6-5 in the third and deuce I believe and  I played great and set myself up and made the mistake, in the net every time,” said Ivanovic who is now 24-13 this year.  “It’s a little frustrating. And then on match point, maybe it was wrong shot. Also, a few times I think I made a wrong shot selection, as well.

“Just also a little bit to do with confidence, just some of the shots I think weren’t the right shots but were not really coming. That was really frustrating.”

Now she will have some time to think about it and maybe take in the sights and sounds of New York. And don’t worry, after last year, Ivanovic knows the good places.