Fish Withdraws From Open and Federer Match

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – This was the last thing Roger Federer wanted in his fourth round match against Mardy Fish.

But he will take it anyway.

Fish withdrew from the US Open for precautionary reasons after Saturday’s night win against Gilles Simon. It was unknown if it was for the same heart condition which sidelined him back in May, but the 30 year-old is not taking any chances.

“I am really sorry for Mardy,” Federer said in a statement. “I just want to wish him a speedy recovery. We all want to see him back on tour soon.”

Fish was sidelined for 2 1/2 months back in March for an accelerated heart rate and had a medical procedure done. It first happened on March 29th in Key Biscayne, FL, after losing a match, and being checked out for the heart rate.

He said in a statement today’s action was for “precautionary measures” and looks forward to “”to resuming my tournament schedule in the fall.”

For Federer, his walkover means he reached his 34th consecutive quarterfinal, extending his own record. The Swiss Master will be playing No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych, who beat No. 11 seed Nicholas Almagro 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-1.

“It will be a tough match against Tomas,” Federer said.  “We have played many times in the past and he has always been a tough opponent.  I will have to continue to serve well and dictate the points.”

Fish’s withdrawal means Andy Roddick is the only American man left in the single’s draw.

Fish Guts A Tough Night Match Out

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – You have to wonder if Mardy Fish took some Roger Federer pills before tonight’s match, since he came out smoking against No. 15 seed Gilles Simon, winning the first set 6-1 and was up 2-0 in the second.

But this is Mardy Fish we are talking about so nothing is ever easy for the American – or the Federer pills wore off – and he needed four sets to finish off Simon, 6-1 5-7 7-6 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

Fish was looked sharp early and there were a few rumbles about Simon’s shoulder, which some of the French media said was injured.

But Simon found his second wind and fought fish tough in the second and third sets, while Fish ended up with 75 unforced errors in the match to Simon’s 31.

It made the match closer than it should have because of Simon’s apparent injury, but Fish seems to be hanging around. After a five setter in the second, he now has this gritty win under the lights.

With a 1:10 in the morning ending, it was 10 minutes away from going into the top 10 latest endings in US Open History.

Too bad the Federer pills wore off early.

 

Gilles Simon Wins Metz

Open de Moselle

ATP WORLD TOUR 250 €398,250 (€450,000 Total Financial Commitment)
Metz, France (+2 hours GMT)
20-26 September, 2010 Surface: Indoor Hard www.ATPWorldTour.com

RESULTS – SUNDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Singles – Final
[8] G Simon (FRA) d [Q] M Zverev (GER) 63 62

Doubles – Final
D Brown (JAM) / R Wassen (NED) d [2] M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) 63 63

Read match reports at ATPWorldTour.com

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Simon: “I am extremely happy about this seventh title. I was not supposed to come here initially; my son was due to be born this week so logically I hadn’t entered any tournaments. Because I had been playing well, also in the Davis Cup preparation, I really wanted to try to compete and really wanted to come to Metz; I knew I could do something good.

“My son was born on 2nd September, so I haven’t spent much time with him yet. As I decided to play this week I also decided to bring the family with me to Metz. I was in the unknown, I didn’t know how it was going to be, if he would keep me up at night, and in the end, the result is perfect. Everything went very well and I am delighted to get to share this title with my family today.

“It hasn’t been an easy year because of the injury and I am really happy about this victory. During my time off, I strengthened my upper body to try to improve my serve, to serve stronger and for longer and this week. My serve is what kept me in the matches even if I wasn’t playing so well.”

Zverev: “I was really excited to be in my first final, but he played really well. Not only solid from the baseline as he is usually, but also aggressive as well, he served unbelievably. I couldn’t do much today. I love France and French tournaments, I feel great here and for sure I will come back.”

Brown: “I am so happy; this is my first ATP-level title. It feels great. I am happy I was able to convince Roger to come as we were the first alternate team. He was home three hours away, wanting to take some time off, and I managed to convince him. We recently won two Challengers so we had confidence and I must say we played good all week.”

Wassen: “Being the first alternate team I really didn’t want to come to Metz. I was home, planning on taking the week off, but I am so happy I ended up coming. Dustin and I have opposite personalities, opposite games and I think we complement each other very well on the court. It’s a pleasure to play with him and I look forward to continuing to play with him.”

Spain Takes The Lead In US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Rafael Nadal was an avid soccer player growing up in Mallorca and traveled to South Africa to watch Spain win its World Cup earlier this summer. But these days the top-seeded Spaniard just can’t quite kick a hard habit. Winning is addictive and Nadal is hopelessly hooked in leading a Spanish Imposition at the US Open.

The top quarter of the US Open draw is saturated in Spanish colors, ensuring at least one Spanish semifinalist.

Nadal sent new father Gilles Simon headed for the next plane to Paris to meet his newborn baby in pounding out a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory to storm into a US Open fourth round showdown against sometime Davis Cup teammate Feliciano Lopez.

Spanish men set a Grand Slam Open Era record with nine players reaching the third round.

Fernando Verdasco and Lopez partnered to send Spain to the 2008 Davis Cup championship and the lefthanders flicked their respective wrists in scripting Spain’s stamp on this US Open. Verdasco diffused David Nalbandian, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on the Grandstand court and Lopez followed on the same stage, holding a 6-3, 4-0 lead when Sergiy Stakhovsky retired from their match.

Verdasco will face David Ferrer, a 7-6(2), 6-2, 6-2 winner over Daniel Gimeno-Traver, for a place in the quarterfinals. Verdasco has won six of 10 meetings with Ferrer with nine of those encounters coming on clay. Ferrer won their only hard-court meeting six years ago in Chennai. Playing for a trip to his second straight US Open quarterfinal, Verdasco takes on a capable opponent in the 10th-seeded Ferrer, who knocked Nadal out of the Open in the 2007 round of 16.

“It’s always nice to see all the Spanish winning and being in the last rounds, no?” Verdasco said  “So if you need to lose, it’s better to lose against a Spanish player, then at least one guy is gonna be there one round more, no? I’m happy.  I hope to play good also the next round, keep doing my work and my job as better as possible.  Trying to play the best to be in the quarterfinals like last year.”

Twenty years ago, the Spanish Armada sailed primarily on the red clay seas, but Spanish men have conquered all surfaces now.

“It’s kind of surprising to have so many players in the fourth round,” said Lopez after snapping Stakhovsky’s seven match winning streak. “What can I say about Spanish tennis? It’s always there. And since 15-20 years ago we are winning almost everything, no? Before we were the best on clay. Now we win on grass, on everywhere no? So it’s gonna be one time that his is gonna be over and the people will have to accept.”

Continuing his quest to complete the career Grand Slam, Nadal produced another impressive serving performance in winning 39 of 43 points played on his first serve (91 percent), smacking a 135 mph serve and erasing the only break point he faced.

Nadal has not dropped a set or surrendered serve in three tournament victories and will be primed and pumped to avenge his Queen’s Club loss to Lopez when they square off on Tuesday.

The Spanish players dine together, practice together and hold court in the same corner of the locker room and will share the court again as Verdasco plays David Ferrer with the winner meeting the Nadal-Lopez winner in the quarterfinals.

“We practice more with the Spanish players because they are friends and it’s easier for us to get in touch with them and to call them for practice or whatever because we are almost together every day and we go for dinner,” Lopez said.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Monfils and Gasquet Will Be A Fair Fight

Careening into the corner with all the speed of a man vaulting onto the court from a fleeing flat-bed truck, Gael Monfils skidded into a sliding split with so much force a piece of his K-Swiss sneaker came flying off into the air. Too engaged in his passionate pursuit of the ball, Monfils had more pressing matters on his mind: avoid French kissing the blue wall that loomed large in his path.

Monfils skidded to a stop before the collision, but even when Monfils loses a point he entertains.

The 17th-seeded Frenchman fought off Janko Tipsarevic, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 on the Grandstand Court.

Meanwhile, on Court 11, Monfils’ friend and former doubles partner Richard Gasquet downsized towering South African Kevin Anderson, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-5, to set up an appealing French fourth round showdown.

Six Frenchmen — Monfils, Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Michael Llodra, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Arnaud Clement — started this day of play still alive in the men’s draw.

Second-seeded Roger Federer dismissed Mathieu, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, on Ashe Stadium and Fish fought off the 32-year-old Clement in a stirring 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 triumph to advance to a fourth-round meeting with either good friend and frequent golf buddy James Blake or third-seeded Novak Djokovic.

Monfils vs. Gasquet may well be one of the most exciting fourth-round clashes on the men’s side. Certainly Fish’s fourth-rounder will garner the most attention of any round of 16 match and deservedly so. But if you derive pure pleasure from seeing skilled shotmakers paint the court with impressionistic imagination then the first US Open meeting between the pair is the popcorn match of the fourth round.

Both Gasquet and Monfils are capable of producing eye-popping winners from virtually any position on court and both are fascinating to watch because they will drop back so far behind the baseline you might think they’re heading to Hoboken before dashing forward to net.

“I think Richard is more talented than me in couple ways,” Monfils said. “Like he can adapt more about the conditions.  Then I think I’m stronger than him physically, and maybe a bit mentally, also. Sometime he is like too defensive, like me.  So actually it will be a good match, and we will see who’s going to put like more pressure on the opponent.”

The animated Monfils plays with such explosiveness — and exuberant enthusiasm — he should consider enlisting a stunt double to celebrate his winners as the practice has proven to be a health hazard for him in the past. Monfils’ celebratory leap abruptly came to a calamitous crash landing in Madrid in October of 2006 when the festive Frenchman strained ligaments in his right ankle on an awkward landing after a post-point jump of jubilation in the second set of his Madrid match with Dominik Hrbaty. The injury limited him to one match for the rest of the 2006 season.

Avoiding a collision with the wall today, Monfils used his speed to force Tipsarevic, who was bothered by a bad ankle and took treatment for a strained hamstring, into pulling the trigger quickly in points.

Tipsarevic played powerful, passionate and crowd-pleasing tennis in his four-set triumph over Andy Roddick in the second round but poured so much of himself into the match he was physically depleted today.

“That wasn’t the main reason I lost,” Tipsarevic said. “I’m sad to say I am not fit enough to progress in the tournament. I just couldn’t execute. Gael is a big-time player. He’s extremely tough to make shots against because he gets to so many balls. I had 39 aces in the first two matches and just four today. Yes, I was feeling pain and was frightened a bit about my leg, but the leg had almost nothing to do with my loss.”

A former junior World No. 1, Monfils won every junior major except for the US Open.

An NBA fanatic who is a Carmelo Anthony fan, the 6-foot-4, loose-limbed Monfils has an elastic ability to bend his body into positions previously realized only by cartoon characters and contortionists. He thrives off the buzz New York City fans bring to the Open.

“I love the atmosphere.  I love the city, also,” Monfils said. “I mean, actually the States when I was young, and I was like looking for two things:  One, the Orange Bowl, and another thing the US Open junior for sure, and I didn’t (win either). I fail like twice in final in Orange Bowl.  I came here with injury the year when I won the other three (junior Grand Slams). I mean, here is like now I’m in seniors, so I really want to win this one, also.  I love the surface here; I love the crowd; I love the Ashe Stadium.  So I feel very good and comfortable here.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Nadal Sweeps Himself Into The Third Round

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The ball gleamed like a yellow splotch of paint popping off a blue canvas as Denis Istomin streaked forward, his eyes riveted on the ball. Skidding into a sliding split, Istomin somehow dug out a winner, popped up from the court like a jack-in-the box and pumped his fist furiously seizing a 5-1 strong hold in the second-set tie breaker against Rafael Nadal tonight.

It was one of the most eye-popping points of this Flushing Meadows fortnight. Istomin left a long black skid mark across the court and Nadal applauded in appreciation for his opponent’s efforts.

Then the top-seeded Spaniard took off the gloves, elevated his intensity even higher and reeled off six straight points to post a highly-entertaining 6-2, 7-6(5), 7-5 victory to roll into the US Open third round.

There’s the physical demands of playing Nadal compounded by the sheer demoralizing fact that even after you give all you can give and hurl your body around the court with abandon, Nadal responds with even great intensity and concentration.

“He fought a good point. He played a great point,” Nadal said of Istomin’s efforts. “I had to win that point three times before, but he did well. Finally, he ws fast going for the drop shot and he pass me. Just a tough point for me…But I think I stayed very well mentally in that moment. I was playing with big calm and big concentration. And finally, I was a little bit lucky for sure. (It) is impossible to come back from 5-1, I had a little bit lucky. It was a very important moment of the match.”

It was Nadal’s 16th consecutive Grand Slam victory and sets up a third-round meeting with Gilles Simon, who topped 29th-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Nadal has beaten the 42nd-ranked Frenchman in three of their four meetings, including a 6-2, 7-5, 7-5 win in the 2009 Australian Open quarterfinals.

The Nadal serve was a key stroke tonight. He struggled at times on serve in Cincinnati, but saved all seven break points he faced tonight and smacked a 134 mph serve, the fastest serve he’s hit at the US Open.

Asked how he’s found his service rhythm, Nadal replied: “Well, (Uncle) Toni arrives and everything under control.”

“Seriously, I don’t know,” Nadal added. “That’s pretty strange because I wasn’t serving very well the previous days. I started to serve well one or two days before the competition. But the week of practice, I wasn’t serving well, no?”

A slight grip change seems to have remedied that issue.

“I changed a little bit the grip, like five or six days ago, because I felt when I played against the wind I didn’t have free points,” Nadal said. “So I needed that. So I tried to play the serve a little more aggressive. For the moment, it’s working really well so I am going to try to keep playing like this. And sure, serve is like big confidence for my game.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

A Lighter Fish Swims At The Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Going into this year’s open, Mardy Fish was having a very impressing year. A finals loss in Cincinnati to Roger Federer is nothing to sneeze at, so much so that many a prognosticator was picking Fish to be America’s best chance to win the Men’s Singles.

But of course, they have to play the matches and Fish survived a first round scare to Czech Jan Hajek in five sets, 6-0 3-6 4-6 6-0 6-1.

“I won”, Fish laughed when asked at what happened today. “No, these guys are good, man.  You know, I started out great.  I made one unforced error in the first set, entire first set.  Played a bad game early in the second and he held, served well, held throughout there.  4‑All in the third set he hit four winners, broke me there, and played a long game the next game and he held.

“Next thing you know, you’re down two sets to one thinking, you know, maybe you’re going home.  That’s not where I want to be right now, so I was lucky to turn it around and play a little more aggressive.  I was playing a little too defensive.  You know, lucky enough to turn it around.”

It’s funny because Fish has been a journeyman for most of his career but at age 28, he seems to have put it all together by watching his diet, while going into a fitness regimen.

“I feel like a completely different person, playing like a completely different player, and able to do things that I’ve never been able to do before,” Fish said.  “Hopefully it’s a career thing.”

And he is seeing the results, because in Cincinnati he beat Gilles Simon, Fernando Verdasco, Richard Gasquet, Andy Murray, and Andy Roddick, which is no small task to say the least.

“I feel so much different, as well,” he said.  “You know, I can look at pictures, and some pictures I might look okay and some, you know, not.

“Even from 2009 Wimbledon, I mean, you know, it’s almost embarrassing to think about as a professional athlete or a professional tennis player.  I mean, we have to be in such good shape.  It’s pretty crazy how I kind of got away with it ‑ for a little while, at least.”

All of this showed today as Fish was on the ropes to Hajek, but with temperatures in the mid-90s, the Czech wilted, while Fish enjoyed the heat, like…well a fish enjoys water.

“Yes, it’s hot,” he thought. “This is probably the hottest it’s gonna be here.  But, I mean, from what we went through this summer, what John and I went through this summer in Atlanta, I mean, it’s just not even ‑‑ I can’t tell you.  It’s not even close.  It’s not even ‑‑ I mean, it’s 50 degrees less, I’m telling you, and no humidity, so it just feels nice. It just feels kind of hot.”

And even with the heat, Fish endured. And many a champion has a five set scare in the first round or two. Today, Fish survived the test and the heat.