Murray’s Biggest Challenge Comes Next

Some players may feel there’s a higher power helping them.

And it very well could be the case.

But if God is too busy, Andy Murray can rest assured he has Sean Connery on his side.

The Oscar winning actor had an unexpected cameo during his post match presser after the Scotsman beat Tomas Berdych in four sets 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 to reach the Open Finals for the second time of his career.

The match was marred by high winds which made play very difficult for both sides.

You can’t really sort of allow yourself to enjoy it because anything can happen,” he said. “The match turns around so quickly.  He serve‑volleyed a couple times, came to the net more, and played a couple of good points.

“All of a sudden, you know, you’re back tied at 3‑All when you’ve been in total control for two hours of the match.  You can’t allow yourself to lose focus.  If you do, it can get away from you quickly.”

But Murray survived and he will face the winner of the David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic match with Ferrer up 5-2 in the first set before it was called due to a pending storm.

Murray, though, may have a good chance to win it all. He has been playing his best tennis this year, going to the Wimbledon final and then winning the London Olympics.  He lost to Djokovic in the 2011 Australian Open finals, but the other three Slams he went to, Roger Federer was standing in his way and the Maestro was sent home by Berdych earlier this week.

“I think, you know, my results in the slams over the last couple of years have been very good,” he said. “And obviously this year in the major tournaments, you know, along with the Olympics, it’s been my best year.  Never made two Grand Slam finals in a year, so that’s obviously a good sign that I’m playing better and still learning.

“And the Olympics was the biggest win of my career by far.  You know, it meant a lot to me, too.  Whatever happens in the final, it’s been a great year.  But, you know, all I want to make sure I do in the final is that I give 110%.

I know how hard these opportunities are to come by, and, you know, I will give it everything.”

And he knows the road will be hard no matter who is facing on Monday. Both Djokovic and Ferrer are very tough competitors.

But neither are lopsided with Djokovic holding a 8-6 edge over Murray, while the Scotsman is leading 6-5 over Ferrer.

David makes it very, very hard.  He makes it very physical.  He’s in great shape.  He’s playing the best tennis of his career this year,” he said. “I have played him many times, and, you know, unbelievably tough match with him at Wimbledon.  I lost to him at the French Open; the previous year I played him in the Aussie Open, as well.  That was also a brutal match.  It was very, very tough.”

I handled a big match against (Djokovic) well in Australia this year,” he said of his other possible opponent. “ It was a great match.  I think both of us played very well.  It came down to a couple of points. I know how much the Olympics meant to all of the players, and winning against him in the Olympic semifinal, you know, was a big win for me.  I know how tough it is to beat the top, top players in big matches.”

But Murray will have the rest as he the Men’s Final was moved to Monday. And with the momentum, the Scotsman certainly has a chance to get the monkey off his back and win a Slam.

So hopes Sir Sean Connery.  

 

Blake Makes It To The Third Round

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Andy Roddick may be retiring, but James Blake is still going strong.

Actually, he’s better than strong, he looks downright deadly after today’s second round win over No. 24 seed Marcel Granollers, 6-1 6-4 6-2.

“Yeah, today’s match was one of the best matches I played in years I think,” Blake said.  “I served really well.  I took care of my serve.  I don’t think he had a breakpoint all match.  That doesn’t happen with me.  I’m not Andy Roddick.  I don’t go through matches like that that often, especially against a guy that’s 20‑something in the world that’s known to be a pretty darn good returner and very solid.

“I think that was a good testament to how well I was serving and how well I was taking care of my serve, which puts a lot of pressure on him, which is going to work out for me.  Any time I get to take chances to take rips on my returns, because I’m serving so well, I think it’s going to be a good matchup for me.”

Blake was able to take the match from the beginning with Granollers not able to handle the veteran’s serves. He looked strong and made very few mistakes.

He credits himself from being healthy and now playing his best tennis in years. In fact, if it wasn’t for this run, Blake may have had a presser today to announce his retirement.

“Everyone’s at different points,” he said.  “I’d say if this was going on three months ago, I might have had a different answer.  I might have been thinking a lot more seriously about it, too.

“It’s funny now, I feel like I’ve got sort of a youthful exuberance out there again.  My match tonight, I think a couple years ago, five years ago, six years ago, I would think this is a relatively routine win, get through it, get to the next round, thinking about that.

“I’m going to try to enjoy this.  I’m excited now.  It’s a lot of fun because I went through a pretty tough time.  With my knee injury and surgery, I really thought it might be time.  It might be time to call it a career.  Now that it’s not and I feel good again, it’s fun.

“It’s so much fun to keep getting better because for six months or so earlier this year, I didn’t feel like I was getting better.  I didn’t feel like I could improve or compete.”

Blake also credits fatherhood for giving him a new lease on life. With the birth of his new daughter, he now sees why life short and to enjoy everything every day.

“Fatherhood has been unbelievable,” he said.  “Now it’s tough to imagine it beforehand.  I didn’t expect it to be so great, so exciting so fast.  It was something where I think I was thinking about it, and I thought, I kind of want the kid to come out at two or three years old, walking and talking and stuff.  I didn’t realize the baby stage can be so much fun, when they fall asleep on your chest, when they’re cooing a little bit, thrashing around on their play mat.  Everything about it is so much fun.

“Now I can’t imagine life before Riley”

And we can’t imagine tennis without Blake. So hopefully he postpones his retirement for a number of years.

 

 

Tennis Reacts To Roddick’s Retirement

The news of Andy Roddick’s retirement sent some shockwaves through the tennis world and many of his contemporaries gave their thoughts on what the 2003 US Open Champion meant to them.

James Blake was getting ready to play when the press conference happened. He wasn’t told by Roddick but did see the presser before his second round win.

“I had an inclination from the beginning of the year,” he said. “But I really thought his success at Eastbourne, success at Atlanta, the fact he was playing well again could have possibly changed that.

“To be honest, I thought it would have changed his mind when he beat Federer in Miami. To me that showed he could still beat the top guys.”

Serena Williams, said she knew about the announcement, so it didn’t come as a surprise.

“He told me a while ago, last year, this would be it,” Williams said. “I was at his house at Austin and we were talking about it.

“He’s been great for American men’s tennis, great for the US Open, doing so much and playing so well, just being a great player. A great attitude, incredibly fun to watch. You know, I know a lot of people look up to Andy Roddick. That’s who I want to be like.”

Sam Querrey also described him as his idol and a great help.

“He’s been my biggest role model the last 10 years playing tennis,” Querrey said. “He’s been a great guy, great leader to us all. Nice and kind. Real generous to the up-and-comers.

“For me, for [Ryan] Harrison, for the 18 year-olds now, he’s just been an unbelievable champion, a Hall of Famer, just a great guy, great person for the sport of tennis.”

Then there is Roger Federer, the man he just never could beat.

“Look you are always going to have someone around,” he said. “I had many guys who denied me many things. That was the last thing that came to my mind when he told me he was going to retire.

“He was happy to go into retirement. He had an amazing career. Some expected better; some expected worse. But I am sure he is happy with what he achieved because he achieved everything he wanted.

“Maybe to lose that Wimbledon title potentially, but let’s forget about that. He was in those Wimbledon titles. He could have gotten that title. That’s what I said when I beat him in ’09. He deserves this title as well. In my mind, he is a Wimbledon Champion as well, a wonderful ambassador for the game.

“I’m thankful for everything he’s done for the game, especially here for tennis in America. It’s not been easy after Agassi and Sampras, Currier, Chang, Connors, McEnroe, you name it.”

Querrey’s Best Way to Get on Ashe: Win

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – To  a degree Sam Querrey has a point, there should be more Americans playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium, but then again he also has to understand the USTA’s point of view.

On Friday, the 20th seed said this in his post interview press conference: “We have a lot of Americans here.  None of us play on center court.  If you go to the French Open, they have Gasquet, Benneteau, Monfils; they’re on center court every day.”

A fair statement from the Los Angeles native, but he has to understand, unlike London, Paris or Melbourne, he’s in New York, maybe the most international city in the world. The home of the United Nations, where its citizen hail from every part of the world. This is the home of the Yankees, and everyone knows New Yorkers like their winners.

So Flushing Meadows demands don’t meet the standards of any other major, let alone tournament, in the world, as the New Yorkers and those who fly into the city to see the Open want to see the best players in the world showcased and not just the Americans.

At Roland Garros, the crowd is mainly French, as it’s a very provincial city and that’s why you see French nationals getting showcased.

And frankly, Querrey should also understand he doesn’t have the pedigree to be demanding anything from the Open. He has a won six tournaments in his career with four of them coming in 2010. His highest was winning Memphis back in February which was a Tour 500 win with the rest being 250s. Frankly he’s not the name and draw the US Open is looking at to showcase. In all honesty, Querrey is not a household name, rather a someone the hardcore tennis fans know. He’s an up and comer, but still hasn’t made his mark.

Querrey, though, may have said this out of annoyance. There were very few people in his presser on Friday, with that being his final statement of his five questions.

Today, after reaching the Quarterfinals, after beating Nicolas Almagro, 6-4 6-3 6-3, he was asked to clarify his remarks.

“I definitely don’t think it could hurt,” he said.  “It’s maybe comfortable ‑‑ I think we would feel more comfortable if we ‑‑ especially if John [Isner], Mardy [Fish], and myself for the first rounds played on Ashe, instead of playing on Armstrong, Grandstand, and all of a sudden you’re out on Ashe for the first time.

“I definitely think it would help.  I don’t know what goes into the schedule.  I know a lot of it is TV and stuff like that.  It would be nice if we could play a few more matches on Ashe.  But, you know, I don’t have any control over that.”

Actually he does have control. If Querrey wants to be a mainstay on Arthur Ashe, then all he has to do is win. You don’t see Andy Roddick getting bumped to Armstrong or the Grandstand and the Williams sisters always play on centre court. And back in the day Andre Agassi always got the main stage, even at the end of his career because the crowd demanded it.

If the US Open wanted to go the route of showcasing the middle seeds on Ashe, then the top players would get bumped. Try telling Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal they have to go to Armstrong, because room needs to be made for Querrey, Isner, and Fish.

And frankly, Querrey has little to complain about. Armstrong seats 10,000 people, and when he is out there, it’s usually a packed house behind America’s best remaining hope.

Right now, Querrey has little to worry about. He is going to be on Ashe for the rest of the tournament and if he happens to win the Open, he would have secured a spot for himself the rest of his career.

But now he needs to produce, because everything else seems like petty griping.

Q & A With Sam Querrey

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It doesn’t always seem likely, but with Ryan Harrison and John Isner going today, Sam Querrey’s straight sets, 6-2 6-3 6-4 win over Marcel Granollers seemed to be overlooked. As such, I was the only one in the post-match presser asking the No. 20 seed any questions.

Below is the Q & A

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  In the on‑court interview afterwards, you said your arm felt loose on your serve.  How did that affect your serve?

SAM QUERREY:  No.  My serve, I was getting great pop.  Every time I was hitting it flat down the T or out wide on the ad, it felt like it was somewhere between 135 and 140, so that’s a little faster than normal.

Q.  Did you catch any of the Harrison match?

SAM QUERREY:  Yeah, I watched pretty much the entire fourth and fifth set.  It was pretty exciting.  I was in the lunchroom.  Everyone had their eyes glued to the TV.

I felt bad for Ryan, but still a great tournament.  I’ve been hitting with him for three or four years.  He’s going to be good.

Q.  When you see an up‑and‑coming kid make some way in the Open, does that harken you back to a time when you were in that position?

SAM QUERREY:  A little bit, yeah.  I know what the feeling is like.  At the same time it motivates me a little bit.  I don’t want him taking away the limelight.  I want to go out there and play well.

Yeah, when you’re 18, first Open, I mean, I remember when I was doing mine.  It’s exciting.  Ryan played great.  He should be really happy with qualifying, making the second round.

Q.  Seeing that Roddick is out, it’s just you and Isner and Mardy Fish, the American crew there.  You’re one of the top Americans left.  Does it give you any extra push to say, I have to carry the mantle for the United States?

SAM QUERREY:  I’m not feeling any pressure or anything.  I think the four of us left are all doing our best.  To have four guys in the round of 32, it’s pretty good.

Hopefully we can have four in the Round of 16.  I think we’ve got a great shot to do that.  Hopefully they’ll put some of us on center court.  Not a huge fan of the scheduling this week (laughter).

Q.  That is center court.

SAM QUERREY:  We have a lot of Americans here.  None of us play on center court.  If you go to the French Open, they have Gasquet, Benneteau, Monfils; they’re on center court every day.