Tennis360 Debuts And Is A Huge Success

The “Tennis360″ radio show comes to you LIVE from the Lexus of Las Vegas Open, a $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event featuring some of the best female tennis players in the world.

Listen in as Andres Borowiak interviews renowned coach and ESPN analyst Darren Cahill about his current training program with adidas, his past coaching experience with Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt, and his thoughts on the Lexus of Las Vegas Open.

Also joining on this show are Tournament Directors Tyler Weekes and Jordan Butler who discuss their second annual event, as well as USTA Nevada Executive Director Ryan Wolfington and defending NCAA Champion Chelsey Gullickson.

Don’t miss any of these guests as “Tennis360″ debuts on TennisLedger.com!

Roddick Moves Right Along

(August 30, 2010) He has supplanted the spiky hairstyle that once burst from beneath the backward baseball cap like an unruly chia pet escaping from its base with a more conservative style and while he can still rock the radar gun at will, Andy Roddick is more of a measured purpose pitcher on serve now. The 2003 US Open champion may be getting older but he still knows how to throw a birthday bash on court.

Roddick celebrated his 28th birthday and 11th consecutive US Open in style today, rolling to a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 thrashing of 30-year-old Stephane Robert on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.

It’s been seven years since Roddick dispatched David Nalbandian and Juan Carlos Ferrero in succession to capture his lone major title in Flushing Meadows. He joins Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt as the lone former champions in the field.

Roddick says he doesn’t dwell on age but each passing birthday is a reminder he’s closer to the finish line.

“I don’t really think about it, because it makes no difference what I think about it.  It’s like you go out there and give the best of what you got on that day,” Roddick said. “You wake up in the morning and you put what you can into that single day.  Obviously I know I’m probably closer to finished than I am to the start.  But I don’t know.  It’s a number.  I’m barely older than I was yesterday.”

The two-time US Open finalist played some of the best tennis of his career in reaching successive Masters 1000 finals in Indian Wells and Miami last spring. He asserted an aggressive game plan in defeating Rafael Nadal in the semis before downsizing the big-hitting Tomas Berdych in the Sony Ericsson Open final.

Though Roddick has won two titles this year and leads the ATP Tour in hard-court wins with a 34-7 record, he hasn’t elbowed his way into contender conversations that revolve primarily around five-time champion Roger Federer, Nadal and 2008 finalist Andy Murray and Roddick seems to enjoy flying under the radar a bit.

Roddick says he feels he’s recovered from the mild case of mononucleosis that prompted him to withdraw from the Rogers Cup in Toronto and is coming off a semifinal effort in Cincinnati where he served for a spot in the final before losing his serve and his grip on the match in succumbing to good friend Mardy Fish.

“It’s going the right way.  To be honest, once you decide to play, I think you throw all the excuses and everything else out the window,” Roddick said. “If I decide to play, then it’s up to me to give 100 percent of what I have.  So it’s not something I really want to discuss too much from this point forward.  It’s something that’s there.  You know, I’m not going to analyze it every day. It’s not perfect, but it’s fine.  You know, it’s going the right way.”

Roddick and wife Brooklyn Decker own an apartment in the Grammercy Park area and the man who consistently delivers candor in his post-match press conferences has an affinity for  the direct approach of New Yorkers.

Asked if he feels like a New Yorker, Roddick replied: “I certainly pay enough taxes for it.”

“I mean, it is nice having a place here and having a kind of quasi home,” Roddick added. “I always feel comfortable here in New York even when I didn’t have a place.  I stayed at the same hotel and everything for years and years and years and years, so I don’t mind New York. People tell you what they think, and I’ve always kind of appreciated that.”

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Stepanek Wins Despite 78 Aces Against Him

Somehow, Radek Stepanek won. Despite a record 78 aces coming off the big racket of Ivo Karlovic, the 30 year-old Stepanek prevailed in five extraordinary sets 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14, giving the Czech Republic a 1-0 series lead over Croatia in the Davis Cup semifinal in Porec earlier today.

The match took five hours and 59 minutes to complete. Just a minute shy of reaching the six hour mark. Only three Davis Cup matches have ever gone that far. While Stepanek and Karlovic didn’t quite get there, they did match a record for most total games (82) since the tiebreak was introduced in 1989 to Davis Cup.

Ironically, it was earlier this year in a first round defeat to Lleyton Hewitt at Roland Garros that Karlovic shattered his own record with 55 aces. Apparently, the big Croat would be better off with less considering the heartbreaking end results which again held true with Stepanek saving five match points with three coming in the 10th game and another in the 24th game of the climatic final set.

“I am very happy that I was able to pull it through,” an ecstatic Stepanek expressed afterwards. “The match was going crazy; we were not able to break each other. I was the one who was using more fitness. He had four match points in the fifth set but I stayed mentally strong and it paid off at the end. You can’t live through bigger emotions than Davis Cup and this match just proved it.”

Amazingly, there were no breaks of serve until the 81st game (29th of 5th set) following a brief exhange in the first set which Stepanek dropped in one of four breakers.

“I have no words right now, it was like a lottery and I managed to seize my chances,” the winner added.

“It was a long and exhausting match but when you play for your country it’s worth it. It wouldn’t matter if it lasted for another few hours.”

“It was really close match, it was long and I had match points,” said a drained Karlovic who blew leads of 3-0 and 4-1 in the fourth set tiebreak before Stepanek stormed back to take it 8-6, forcing a deciding set. “I could also have won … I don’t know, that’s it.”

In the second match, Tomas Berdych held off U.S. Open quarterfinalist Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 to put the Czech Republic a win away from the Davis Cup final. Spain leads the other semifinal 2-0 over Israel thanks to straight set wins from Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer.

“It was like was going to put you in front of a wall and shoot at you, it was feeling like that,” summed up Stepanek. “I knew he was going to serve incredibly well and I was expecting it but I said to be patient and wait for my chances.”

An Excerpt from “Quest for Perfection”

Roger Federer is looking for his sixth straight US Open men’s singles title at the 2009. The first of his five straight titles in New York came in 2004 when he defeated Lleyton Hewitt, his third-round victim in 2009, in the final. Rene Stauffer, the author of the Federer biography THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.RogerFedererBook.com) details the 2004 US Open final between Federer and Hewitt in his celebrated tome. The brief book excerpt is seen below…

Awaiting him in the final was another of his past nemeses, Lleyton Hewitt, the 2001 US Open champion. The Australian skipped the Olympic Games, but won the two ATP tournaments played concurrently to the Olympics in Washington, D.C. and in Long Island. Entering his match with Federer, he won his last 16 matches and did not surrender a set in his six-match run to the final.

It only took 17 minutes for Federer to hand Hewitt his first lost set of the tournament, losing only five points in a near perfect execution of tennis. When Hewitt won his first game of the match after Federer led 6-0, 2-0, the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium gave him a standing ovation. Federer contin­ued to be the much stronger player, until a lapse of concentration and a run of errors and missed serves allowed Hewitt to win four straight games after trailing 2-5 in the second set.

“If he had managed to win the second set, it would have turned out to be an entirely different match,” Federer said. “I forced myself to keep positive. I said to myself that I only got this break because I was playing against the wind and I was serving with old balls. When I changed sides, everything actually did go easier.”

Federer held serve at 5-6 to force the tiebreak and won that 7-3. The two-set lead broke Hewitt’s resistance and Federer plowed through the final set 6-0 to win his first US Open championship.

“First I was surprised that Lleyton was no longer getting to the ball,” Federer said of his moment of victory. “Then I was suddenly lying on my back, look­ing into the sky at the lights of the stadium. I thought, ‘That’s unbelievable.’ Once again I was close to tears.”

Heck of a First Few Days In Flushing Meadows

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – If you wait long enough, it’s bound to happen and in Men’s Singles, it finally did.

With Rafael Nadal finishing off German Nicolas Kiefer in four sets, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 it means for the first time in any Grand Slam during the Open Era, all 16 seeds made it past the second round. Hard to believe it’s true, but as Casey Stengel once said, “You can look it up.”

“Yeah, happened something similar in Montréal,” said Nadal after he won his match “Top eight in quarterfinals; top seeds are doing well.

“There very good players right now in the top. The best players are winning and they are regular and normal, they don’t have strange loses. I think that’s good for tennis.”

It also means next week will be a whale of an Open finish. Match after match will have tough draws and no one will be immune, including Roger Federer, who faces Lleyton Hewitt in this morning’s first matchup.

So with the best tennis in front of us, this Open is shaping up to be one of the best. Can Federer win his sixth straight. Will Nadal finally win in Flushing Meadows? Or will Andy Roddick win his second? What about Andy Murray? Can he take the silver back to Scotland?

All will be answered soon.

More importantly though, the US Open continues to prove that it’s the location of the best matches in the world. Federer said earlier in the week, the hardcourts level the playing field. If that’s the case, then look out.

Also, this Open seems to be restarting American tennis. Six American singles players will go with five matches later today (John Isner plays Andy Roddick). With that type of American spirit in New York, maybe there will be more interest American tennis, a good thing no matter how you slice it.

Serena Williams knows this and took a special interest in Melanie Oudin, who is an up and coming star  on the circuit.

“I did watch her match [against Elena Dementieva] a little bit,” Williams said. “She played great. She did wonderful, and, you know, she’s a real fighter. It’s great for the United States and great for women’s tennis.”

As this Open is shaping up to be. While the men have held server, upsets have abounded on the women’s side. Will this continue? And does this mean there will be a new name or two there at the end.

We should soon find out, but as we saw already this week, anything is possible.