Weather Aids Djokovic To Final

It was a different day and a different player. No wind. And Novak Djokovic was up to the task.

His match with Spain’s David Ferrer was stopped on Saturday with Ferrer up 5-2. There were weather concerns in the Flushing area and the wind was awful.

The match re-started on Saturday at 11 am under perfect conditions and Djokovic was perfect. After Ferrer won the first game to take the first set, 6-2 Djokovic got into high gear. He rolled 6-1 in the second set and won the third 6-4, at one point winning 12 out of 14 points. The fourth was no different with Djokovic closing out Ferrer 6-2.

Ferrer was not despondent in his press conference. He noted that the top four in the game are much better than the next level of which he is a part.He applauded Djokovic’s performance.

Djokovic was thrilled after the match and rated his Monday final with Andy Murray as even.

Murray beat Tomas Berdych on Saturday in bad conditions.

Murray enters the final with a mark of 0-4 in finals. He is now coached by Ivan Lendl who was also 0-4 in finals when he won the French Open in 1984.

Djokovic is one of the best returners ever in tennis. Murray needs to have his serve in top flight form to win.

Djokovic holds an 8-6 lead over Murray, but in their last match-up Murray prevailed at the Olympics.

 

Roger Federer Transcript

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

 

Q.  How do you feel about this US Open regarding your form and your expectations?

ROGER FEDERER:  I feel good, you know.  I have had plenty of practice.  I wanted to say plenty of rest.  I have been resting a little bit, but I will rest tomorrow more.

I had a good hit, no niggling injuries, and everything is under control.  I went right back on the practice courts after my last match in Cincinnati.

Conditions have been somewhat okay here in New York.  Seems a bit slower, the surface, actually, I thought really when I was playing now.  But I don’t want to say it’s a slight adjustment, because it’s not a crazy difference to previous years, but it is slower.  That’s my opinion.

So that has maybe an impact rather than who you play and how you play them.  Other than that, my preparation has been good and I’m excited for the tournament to start.  Clearly it’s always a great event to be a part of.  Was a success here obviously.  It’s nice to be back.

 

Q.  How does turning age 30 affect your outlook and expectations?

ROGER FEDERER:  None, really.  I mean, hasn’t changed anything.  I’m still as professional.  I’m still as hungry.  Everything’s still completely normal.

You know, it’s just a number that’s changed, you know.  So, no, I’m ready to go.

 

Q.  What is it like for you trying to get prepared for the start of the Open and your first‑round matches and having Hurricane Irene bearing down on the city?

ROGER FEDERER:  I mean, I kind of usually always take a break anyway shortly before the tournament.  So, you know, I’m not anxious now having to hit tomorrow, but if my schedule would have been to hit, I don’t know, let’s say noon, it would have rained at noon, maybe then I wouldn’t have gone indoors at all, you know.

Maybe I just go back and relax instead of trying to hustle around and trying to get an indoor hit.  I’m not 18 anymore where that’s the kind of stuff you do then to show how badly you need it, how professional you are, you know.

But at my age you kinda know what it takes, you know, to get ready, and you don’t panic.  So, yeah, I won’t be playing tomorrow.  It’s not an issue, you know.  I’m not even going to try to.  It wasn’t on the plan anyway to do so.

But sure it’s somewhat scarey, you know, because we don’t know how hard it’s gonna hit us.  I’ve got family.  We’re in New York City, you know, it’s not just a regular city.  It’s quite something with all the buildings.

So it’s unusual, but we’ll follow the news closely and we’ll try to stay as safe as we can so we get through it.

 

Q.  Andre Agassi had a lot of success in 30s.  He won Grand Slam title.  Do you inspire from him physically or mentally?

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, well, I played him here in 2005.  I think he was 35, I think, so I was like, Wow, that was his 20th US Open I think in a row.

I’ve got a ways to go.

This is my 13th time here, 12th time maybe in the main draw, so it’s definitely an inspiration seeing guys being around for a long time like Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, and then there are tons of other players who were there for a long time.

I feel my game allows me to, you know, still play for many more years because I have a relaxing playing style.  I have almost played a thousand matches on tour and that leaves its toll, but I’m very professional when it comes to massages, stretching, diet, sleep, all of that stuff.

So I have always looked in the long term as well for a long time.  I have never been chasing stuff around since, you know, I turned world No. 1 seven years ago.

That’s why I’m confident I can still play for many more years to come at the highest of levels.

 

Q.  Del Potro came back to the US Open.  Do you think that he’s one of the favorite to win the title, like you, Rafa, Djokovic?

ROGER FEDERER:  I think it would be unfair to put him into one of the favorites position for him.  I think he’s playing well ‑ good enough to win for sure, otherwise he wouldn’t have won here in the past ‑ but maybe does he need a bit more tennis?  Probably.

I think as long as he’s feeling physically fine and gets deep into the tournament, once he gets into the quarters I definitely think he’s a threat to win the tournament.  But to pick him first like that, it’s a tough one.

I really think Novak, Rafa, myself, we’re all playing extremely well at the moment.  I don’t know his draw.  I haven’t checked it.  I think for him it’s really important for him to get through sort of the first three, four rounds without being physically too beat.

I played him last week and he was playing well, I thought.  It was a good match and it was nice to see him back.  I hope he does really well here.

 

Q.  This tournament marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic attacks in 2001.  The final, ironically, will be played on September 11, the men’s final.  Can you recall where you were on September 11, 2001?

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I do.  I was at the National Tennis Center in Biel, Switzerland and working out in the gym.  I heard something was going on.  You know, I was one ‑‑ I don’t know if I got a message on my phone or someone ran down and told me and I started to tell all my friends to turn on the TV and see this incredible news.

That’s how I heard it, you know.  But I was long gone from New York.

 

Q.  What was your state of mind?

ROGER FEDERER:  Because I think it was two days after, and I lost the first week, I think.

 

Q.  What was your state of mind when you saw those images on TV?

ROGER FEDERER:  It’s hard to understand and grasp it, really.  I mean, I couldn’t believe what was happening, you know.  I guess I didn’t quite understand it almost until I came back to America the next time, or when I came to New York the next time, that this is ‑‑ it was such a shock.

Yeah, it was almost surreal that something like this was possible that someone would want to do that.  So that was very heavy.

 

Q.  Does it change your perspective on how you view the world today, especially now that you’re a father?

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, I think you’re never quite safe.  Doesn’t matter what you do.  There are so many car accidents around the world.  That’s something you can control to some degree, right?

But I guess what you try to do in life is try to be as safe as you can be without living in a golden cage, either.  You have to go out there and live life, right?

So then you have unfortunately things like this that don’t help the cause, you know, of getting more frightened and scared of going out and maybe travel and all those things.

For us, it left a big impact, because as tennis players we don’t really have the choice not to travel, right?  We are a part of, you know, the traveling circus with planes and so forth.  We didn’t really like to see it, I think all of us.  You guys need to travel too to come see us.  It was tough, yeah.

 

Q.  What are your thoughts about how Novak has achieved what he has this year and your general impressions of the year that he’s put together?

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, impressive to say the least.  He’s done amazing to have a run like that, especially after losing here in the finals last year.  I think the rebound for him to come back and not to be disappointed about losing against Rafa in the finals of the US Open where he probably figured he had a good chance to win was a tough loss for him.

But the rebound, it shows, you know, when you’re down like that and, you know, take the right decisions and, you know, come back strong and believe you can do it, he made an incredible run this year.  It’s been wonderful to watch, even though I have probably seen just probably guessing 10 to 15 matches of all those 50 whatever matches he’s played.

So for me it’s hard to say how well he’s really played.  I have seen him play some matches and they were all really good, but I’m not courtside for every single match.

The record speaks for itself.  It’s been an amazing run, and he’s still playing really well and he’s definitely one of the favorites here, if not the favorite.

 

Q.  Andy Murray coming into this tournament having won in Cincinnati.  This is also his favorite Grand Slam.  How would you assess Andy’s chances this time?

ROGER FEDERER:  Very good.  I would have said the same regardless of Cincinnati.  So for me, I’m sorry I don’t look at ‑‑ I don’t go day by day or week by week, you know.  You have to look at more of the big picture.  He’s had a good season.  He’s played an amazing Australian.  Unfortunately he ran into Novak, who was just playing incredible tennis, in the finals, I felt.

Meeting Novak in the semis, which I thought was a very close match.  Could have gone either way in some ways.  So I knew how tough Novak was playing and expected Novak to win that, even though I thought Murray was playing equally good, I thought, throughout the tournament.

Just got maybe a bit down on himself.  You know, like when I mentioned before about Novak taking the right decisions after losing in the finals, maybe Andy didn’t quite do that after Australia.

But he rebounded strong on the clay season, played well I think on the grass, and then for me was normal that he was going to be in‑form coming into the US Open.

So to me he’s also definitely one of the big favorites, yeah.

HENDERSON’S MUHAMMAD FALLS IN HOMETOWN EVENT TO ALBANESE, WHO FACES CIRSTEA NEXT ON 21st BIRTHDAY

LAS VEGAS, Nev., (Sept. 30, 2010) – Lauren Albanese had a miserable 20th birthday one year ago, losing to Asia Muhammad in both singles and doubles at the Lexus of Las Vegas Open.

A day before her 21st birthday on Thursday, Albanese got some satisfying revenge, beating the hometown hero from Henderson in the same round as last year, 6-4, 7-5.

It was a boisterous Red Rock Country Club crowd cheering all the way for Muhammad who lost in last year’s quarterfinals one round after beating Albanese. “I can understand it; you would expect it with her being from here,” Albanese said of the fans. “Maybe I can get them on my side tomorrow. I’ll need it. It’s no fun losing on your birthday.”

Muhammad let a 5-1 lead slip away in the second set as Albanese survived two sets points down 5-4 in the most intense game of the match. Muhammad was disappointed she couldn’t force a third set. “I just love this tournament and I’m encouraged with how well I played this week,“ Muhammad said. “Lauren played the best I’ve seen her play.”

Albanese, ranked No. 238 in the world and from Jacksonville, Fla., will have her hands full Friday as she goes up against No. 3 seeded Sorana Cirstea in the quarterfinals. “I’m excited to play a former Top 100 player and to see how I’ll do,” Albanese said of Cirstea, the 2009 French Open quarterfinalist.

Cirstea is guaranteed to have several fans on hand as she trains part time with the Adidas group in Vegas with Andre Agassi’s former coach Darren Cahill, who was on hand to watch on Thursday while Gil Reyes and Sargis Sargsian were on hand for her first-round match on Wednesday.

Unseeded 29-year-old American Abigail Spears beat wild-card Chelsey Gullickson to also move into the quarterfinals. The 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia Gullickson lost the first set at 6-0 for the second straight match. But unlike her last match where she came back to beat Julia Cohen, Gullickson couldn’t hold off Spears. 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.

“I just came out and didn’t miss,” said Spears, who said she was unaware of Gullickson’s slow starting issues. Spears, who was born and raised in San Diego, currently resides in Pueblo, Colo.

She will meet Mirjana Lucic, the No. 4 seed from Croatia, in the first match on Stadium Court at 10 a.m. Friday.

Thursday’s Second-Round Singles Scores

q: qualifier; wc: wild card

Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4), def. Heidi El Tabakh, Canada, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), def. Julie Ditty, U.S. (q), 6-2, 6-3

Edina Gallovits, Romania (1), def. Alexandra Mueller, U.S. (wc), 6-3, 6-4

Valerie Tetreault (Canada) (8), def. Kimberly Couts, U.S., 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2

Abigail Spears, U.S., def. Chelsey Gullickson, U.S. (wc), 6-0, 5-7, 6-4

Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), def. Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S., 7-6 (8), 6-3

Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (6), def. Alexa Glatch, U.S. (wc), 3-6, 6-3, 7-5

Lauren Albanese, U.S., def. Asia Muhammad, U.S., 6-4, 7-5

Second-Round Doubles Scores

Alexandra Mueller, U.S. / Ahsha Rolle, U.S., def. Kimberly Couts, U.S. / Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (3), 6-2, 6-3

Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4), def. Christina Fusano, U.S. / Courtney Nagle, U.S., 6-2, 6-3

Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S., def. Madison Brengle, U.S. / def. Amra Sadikovic, Switzerland, 6-4, 6-3

Abigail Spears, U.S. (2) / Mashona Washington, U.S., def. Stephanie Foretz Gacon, France / Alexa Glatch, U.S., 7-6 (3), 7-5

Friday’s Order of Play

Stadium Court Starting at 10 a.m.

Abigail Spears, U.S. vs. Mirjana Lucic, Croatia (4)

Followed by Sorana Cirstea, Romania (3), vs. Lauren Albanese, U.S.,

Followed by Lindsay Lee-Waters, U.S. / Megan Moulton-Levy, U.S. (4), vs. Abigail Spears, U.S. (2) / Mashona Washington, U.S.

Court 2 Starting at 10 a.m.

Varvara Lepchenko, U.S. (2), vs. Anna Tatishvili, Georgia (6)

Followed by Valerie Tetreault, Canada (8), vs. Edina Gallovits, Romania (1)

Followed by Irina Falconi, U.S. / Maria Sanchez, U.S., vs. Alexandra Mueller, U.S. / Ahsha Rolle, U.S.

The following is a tentative schedule of events supplementing the tournament:

COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • Friday, Oct. 1 – Volkl/Becker Racquet Day, 6-8 p.m.

USTA Members Day ($10 off admission for all current USTA members)

  • Saturday, Oct. 2 – Super Semifinal Saturday; USTA Ladies League Luncheon.

For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com

LAS VEGAS PAST CHAMPIONS

Singles

Year                Winner                                                Runner-up

2009                Regina Kulikova (RUS)                      Aniko Kapros (HUN)

2008                Camille Pin (FRA)                               Asia Muhammad (U.S.)

2007                Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)                 Akiko Morigami (JPN)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.)                           Hila Rosen (ISR)

Doubles

Year                Winner

2009                Aniko Kapros (HUN) – Agustina Lepore (ARG)

2008                Melinda Czink (HUN) – Renata Voracova (CZE)

2007                Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.) – Annabel Ellwood (AUS)

PRIZE MONEY

SINGLES:                  Prize Money              Points

Winner                         $7,315                         70

Runner-up                   $3,990                         50

Semifinalist                 $2,185                         32

Quarterfinalist             $1,235                         18

Round of 16                $760                            10

Round of 32                $475                            1

DOUBLES:                Prize Money (per team)

Winner                         $2,660

Runner-up                   $1,425

Semifinalist                 $760

Quarterfinalist             $380

Round of 16                $285

USTA Pro Circuit

With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.

WILD-CARD MUELLER BEATS STEVENSON ON DAY 1 OF LEXUS OF LAS VEGAS USTA WOMEN’S $50,000 PRO CIRCUIT EVENT

LAS VEGAS, Nev., (Sept. 28, 2010) – Advantage, wild cards.

Alexandra Mueller, a 22-year-old from Abington, Pa., and Chelsey Gullickson, 20, from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., took full advantage of their wild cards on Tuesday during the first day of the Lexus of Las Vegas Open, a USTA $50,000 women’s event being played at the Red Rock Country Club.

Mueller beat veteran Alexandra Stevenson, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 and now owns a 2-1 career head-to-head advantage over Stevenson having won the last two, including another three-setter at a Boston $50,000 Challenger in June.

“I’m familiar with her having her played her those two other times,” said Mueller, who was the winner of the U.S. National Open Playoff over the summer and won a wild-card in the qualifying at the U.S. Open. “I know she can turn it on at times and be real explosive. I had a couple of set points in the first that I couldn’t pull the trigger on.”

Stevenson, who will be 30 in December, is currently ranked No. 323 in the world while Mueller is No. 442.

Joining Mueller in the winner’s circle was another wild-card Gullickson. The 2010 NCAA singles champion from Georgia is taking the fall off from school to see how she does in professional events. She had a nice won over No. 7 seeded Julia Cohen on Tuesday, beating the world’s No. 169 player, 0-6 7-6 (3), 6-2. Gullickson, who is the daughter of former major league pitcher Bill Gullickson, recently played at the U.S. Open, losing a night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court to top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the first round.

Only two other main draw singles matches were played with No. 2 seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. beating Kathrin Woerle of Germany, 6-3, 6-3 and Florida’s Lauren Albanese taking out Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France, 7-6 (4), 6-0

Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad, 19, will play her first singles match in the last match on Stadium Court on Wednesday against No. 5 seeded Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, not before 4 p.m.  Muhammad is currently ranked No. 443 in the world and was a surprise quarterfinalist in the event last year and a runner-up in a similar event in 2008.

It was a good day to be an odd-numbered seeded player in qualifying as the No. 1, 3, 5 and 7 seeded players all won matches Tuesday to gain entry into the main draw. Former Georgia Tech All-American Irina Falconi (No. 1), all-time USTA Pro Circuit singles leader Julie Ditty (3), Ashley Weinhold (No. 5) and Brittany Augustine (No. 7) each won straight-set matches.

Two of those qualifiers will face each other in the first round on Wednesday as Ditty drew Weinhold.

First-Round Singles Scores

Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) (2) def. Kathrin Woerle (GER), 6-3, 6-3

Lauren Albanese (U.S.) def. Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA), 7-6 (4), 6-0

Chelsey Gullickson (U.S.) (wc) def. Julia Cohen (U.S.) (7), 0-6 7-6 (3), 6-2

Alexandra Mueller (U.S.) (wc) def. Alexandra Stevenson (U.S.), 5-7, 6-1, 6-3

First-Round Doubles Scores

Lindsay Lee-Waters (U.S.) (4) / Megan Moulton-Levy def. Asia Muhammad (U.S.) / Ashley Weinhold (U.S.), 6-4, 6-2

Kimberly Couts (U.S.) / Anna Tatishvili (GEO) (3) def. Sabrina Capannolo (U.S.) / Amanda Fink (U.S.), 6-1, 6-3

Christina Fusano (U.S.) / Courtney Nagle (U.S.) def. Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) / Riza Zalameda (U.S.), 6-2, 6-2

Irina Falconi (U.S.) / Maria Sanchez (U.S.) def. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) / Kathrin Woerle (GER), 6-0, 3-6, (10-7)

Stephanie Foretz Gacon (FRA) / Alexa Glatch (U.S.) def. Nicole Melichar (U.S.) / Petra Rampre (SLO), 6-1, 6-0

Abigail Spears (U.S.) (2) / Mashona Washington (U.S.) def. Lauren Albanese (U.S.) / Laura Siegemund (GER), 6-3, 6-2

Madison Brengle (U.S.) / def. Amra Sadikovic (SUI) def. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) / Edina Gallovits (ROU) (1), 6-2, 5-7, (10-6)

Final Qualifying Scores

Ashley Weinhold (U.S.) (5) def. Jorgelina Cravero (ARG) (4), 6-1 6-2

Brittany Augustine (U.S.) (7) def. Julia Boserup (U.S.) (2), 6-4 7-5

Julie Ditty (U.S.) (3) def. Maria Sanchez (U.S.), 6-0 6-1

Irina Falconi (U.S.) (1) def. Amanda Fink (U.S.) (6), 6-4 7-5

Wednesday’s Order of Play

q: qualifier; wc: wild card

Starting at 10 a.m. on Stadium Court

Mashona Washington (U.S.) vs. Alexa Glatch (U.S.) (wc)

Camila Giorgi (ITA) vs. Mirjana Lucic (CRO) (4)

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) (3) vs. Irina Falconi (U.S.) (q)

Asia Muhammad (U.S.) (wc) vs. vs. Mariana Duque-Marino (COL) (5)

Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 2

Edina Gallovits (ROU) (1) vs. Petra Rampre (SLO)

Heidi El Tabakh (CAN) vs. Madison Brengle (U.S)

Kimberly Couts (U.S.) vs. Brittany Augustine (U.S) (q)

Ashley Weinhold (U.S.) (q) vs. Julie Ditty (U.S) (q)

Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 3

Ekaterina Shulaeva (CAN) vs. Valerie Tetreault (CAN) (8)

Abigail Spears (U.S.) vs. Laura Siegemund (GER)

Lindsay Lee-Waters (U.S.) vs. Shelby Rogers (U.S.)

Liga Dekmeijere (LAT) / Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) vs. Alexandra Mueller (U.S.) / Ahsha Rolle (U.S.)

Starting at 10 a.m. on Court 5

Anna Tatishvili (GEO) (6) vs. Amra Sadikovic (SUI)

The following is a tentative schedule of events supplementing the tournament:

COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • Wednesday Sept. 29 – Players Party at J.W. Marriott, 6-9 p.m. (Free for ticket holders).
  • Thursday Sept. 30 – High School Day, 6-8 p.m. (Free general admission for ages 15-18).
  • Friday, Oct. 1 – Volkl/Becker Racquet Day, 6-8 p.m.

USTA Members Day ($10 off admission for all current USTA members)

  • Saturday, Oct. 2 – Super Semifinal Saturday; USTA Ladies League Luncheon.

For additional event and ticket information, please visit www.lexuslvopen.com

LAS VEGAS PAST CHAMPIONS

Singles

Year                Winner                                                Runner-up

2009                Regina Kulikova (RUS)                      Aniko Kapros (HUN)

2008                Camille Pin (FRA)                               Asia Muhammad (U.S.)

2007                Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)                 Akiko Morigami (JPN)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.)                           Hila Rosen (ISR)

Doubles

Year                Winner

2009                Aniko Kapros (HUN) – Agustina Lepore (ARG)

2008                Melinda Czink (HUN) – Renata Voracova (CZE)

2007                Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Tatiana Poutchek (BLR)

1999                Erika de Lone (U.S.) – Annabel Ellwood (AUS)

PRIZE MONEY

SINGLES:                    Prize Money              Points

Winner                         $7,315                         70

Runner-up                   $3,990                         50

Semifinalist                 $2,185                         32

Quarterfinalist             $1,235                         18

Round of 16                $760                            10

Round of 32                $475                            1

DOUBLES:                Prize Money (per team)

Winner                         $2,660

Runner-up                   $1,425

Semifinalist                 $760

Quarterfinalist             $380

Round of 16                $285

USTA Pro Circuit

With 94 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. Last year, more than 1,000 men and women from more than 70 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit for approximately $3.2 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jelena Jankovic are among the top stars who began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. The USTA Pro Circuit is world-class tennis administered on the local level and played on local tennis courts as part of the fabric of communities nationwide — an opportunity for current and new fans to experience the excitement and intensity of the professional game in their neighborhood.

Fish Leads Off US Davis Cup Action

Mardy Fish makes his return to Davis Cup action tomorrow as a pivotal player in the United States’ quest to return to the World Group. Fish opens against Alejandro Falla in the first match of the Davis Cup World Group Playoff against host Colombia on the red clay of the Plaza de Toros La Santamaria in Bogota.

It is a critical tie for the USA, which must win to avoid relegation. If the USA loses, next year will mark the first time since 1988 that it is ineligible to play for the Davis Cup championship.

The 19th-ranked Fish and Falla have split two prior meeting, both on hard court in 2008.

Sam Querrey will play Santiago Giraldo in Friday’s second singles match. Itis the first first match between the 21st-ranked Querrey and World No. 61 Giraldo, who is playing in his hometown.

The tie marks a beginning and an end for American tennis.

Patrick McEnroe will lead the U.S. in his last match as captain.  McEnroe has been the United States Davis Cup coach since 2000 and led the team to its record-extending 32nd Davis Cup title in 2007.

Ryan Harrison, who knocked off Ivan Ljubicic at the US Open, makes his Davis Cup debut on Saturday, partnering with John Isner in the doubles against Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca.

McEnroe opted against selecting US Open champions Bob and Mike Bryan for the tie, citing the high altitude in Bogota in preferring to pick four players who can play singles and doubles.

It is the first time since 2005, and just the fifth time since the World Group was instituted in 1981, that the U.S. has had to compete in the play-off round.

The U.S. is 3-1 in World Group Playoffs, having defeated Belgium on red clay in its last appearance in the World Group Playoff.

The World Group Playoff against Belgium in 2005 was the first of 10 consecutive U.S. Davis Cup ties that featured the lineup of Andy Roddick, James Blake and the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, shattering the previous U.S. record for most consecutive ties with the same lineup. The previous record was three consecutive ties by eight different combinations.

In Sunday’s reverse singles, Fish plays Giraldo and Querrey closes the best-of-five match tie against Falla.

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFFS

COLOMBIA v USA
Venue: Plaza de Toros La Santamaria, Bogota, Colombia (clay – outdoors)

Mardy Fish (USA) v Alejandro Falla (COL)
Sam Querrey (USA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Ryan Harrison/John Isner (USA) v Robert Farah/Carlos Salamanca (COL)
Mardy Fish (USA) v Santiago Giraldo (COL)
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Alejandro Falla (COL)

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

What’s Next For James Blake?

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It didn’t outright say he’s done, but you have to wonder if James Blake played his last match at Arthur Ashe Stadium when he went down to Novak Djokovic , 6-1 7-6 6-3.

“I really hope that wasn’t my last match on Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Blake said. “I definitely want to be back here next year.  If it was, you know, I competed my heart out.  I did everything I could.  But I think I got more in me and I think I’m going to be back there.  Maybe more night matches, some more excitement for the crowds, some more good times.

“You know, I definitely believe that.  I hope it comes true next year”.

So Blake is not packing it up yet. In fact, he is just taking a few weeks off and then playing in Stockholm. This is a guy who made the third round of the Open and lost to the No. 3 in the world, so life is okay right now for the Yonkers native.

But it’s his health that’s the big question. At 30, you have to wonder how healthy he can stay as he goes though the grind of the season. Sure the money is good, but this is a guy who lost a year and a half with a broken neck and another injury that keeps him on the shelf may be his last.

That’s why he calls it a “sprint and not a marathon” and he attacks each match with all out effort.

“I lost in straight sets, but I put a little scare in the No. 3 player in the world,” he said.  “And I beat two pretty good players.  So even if I’m not at 100% right now, I don’t feel like I’m, you know, hurting the game by being out here.  I’m not on a pity tour just getting beat up first round every week by kind of nobodies.  I lost to a pretty darn good player.  I’m playing okay and I know I can play better because, yeah, the preparation can be better.”

With his ranking below 100, Blake may have to go back to qualifiers if he wants to get invited to international tournaments. So that may be a problem, but with the money he is making from his contract with FILA, along with the money he makes on the tour, the former World No. 4 would be a fool to hang it up if he can compete.

Of course, he doesn’t want to be what he calls a charity case and just be the guy who loses in the first round all the time.

As you know that wasn’t the case this year and if he can keep it going while staying healthy, Blake expects to play until 34 or 35 years old.

And when that time comes, the Harvard graduate will have a number of options on his play, be it in tennis, such as a broadcaster or coach or doing something outside the game.

One thing’s for certain, though, after he is done this US Open favorite will not miss the travel and has one thing in mind for his first six months after hanging it up.

“I know I’ve already told all my friends that some of them are going to come visit me and I’m going to be playing golf for six months once I’m done,” he said.  “I’m going to be home.  I travel 30 weeks out of year.  I’m going to be in my bed for at least six months straight where I’m not getting on a plane, I’m not getting on a train, I’m not getting on a bus, I’m not doing anything.  I’m staying at home, playing some golf and relaxing.  Then I’ll see what motivates me.”

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.