Tenaciously Tennis

Young, Vandeweghe among Americans in Australian Open Qualifying

I am proud to say that the following post is Tenaciously Tennis’ 200th. After just over a year of blogging, I’m excited to begin coverage of the 2011 season. For more on the blog’s first birthday, see here.

With the Australian Open, the year’s first major tournament, set to begin next week, the qualifying tournament is underway. On the ATP tour, players are already fighting it out on court for precious spots in the main draw. Donald Young and Coco Vandeweghe are among the American players seeking their place in the major via the qualifying rounds. While Young is seeded 15th, Vandeweghe enjoys the top spot in the tournament.

A former boys Australian Open champion, Young is ranked 129th, after earning his highest ranking, 79th, in 2008. Already into the second round of qualifying after defeating Germany’s Dieter Kindlmann in straight sets, he faces Alberto Brizzi of Italy next. Young is joined by sixth-seeded Ryan Sweeting, Alex Kuznetsov, Bobby Reynolds, Tim Smyczek, and Kevin Kim. Alex Bogmolov Jr. and Michael Yani have yet to play.

The 115th-ranked Vandeweghe, winner of the 2008 girls’ US Open, joins compatriots Irina Falconi, Jamie Hampton, Madison Brengle, Julia Cohen, and Sloane Stephens. The women still need to start their first round, but I see Vandeweghe and Stephens making a splash to advance to the main draw. For more on Stephens, who I saw play at the 2010 US Open, see here.


Fish Fries Roddick; Isner Edges Anderson

Mardy Fish snapped a nine match losing streak against Andy Roddick after taking out the top seed in the semifinals of the Atlanta tournament. Fish beat Roddick 7-6 (5), 6-3 to make his third final of the year. So far, he’s won a title at Newport — the fourth of the his career. Fish also got to the finals of Queen’s, where he lost to Sam Querrey.

It’s nice to see Fish doing this well. The next step is converting the success to the majors. This year, he hasn’t made it past the second round. The last time Fish got to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event was at the 2008 US Open. Depending on his results the rest of the US Open Series, Fish might just shock some top seeds at the US Open in September.

If Fish can keep up the confidence tomorrow, he has a strong shot at taking out a weary John Isner in the final.

Isner, who took out South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, looked strong in the first set, which he cruised to win 6-3. The heat, which apparently got to over 120 degrees on court, took its toll on the 6’9 giant. He lost the second set in a tiebreak 7-6 (9) after holding match points. In the third, he won 6-3. If it’s another scorcher tomorrow, I see Fish winning. Regardless, I’m guessing the match goes to a third set. Both are big servers, so it’ll be decided with only a few points. Look for at least one tiebreak.

As for Roddick, it’s another disappointing loss. He’ll need to re-evaluate his commitment to the game and try to figure out what’s going wrong with his game before the US Open.

In other news, Jesse Levine defeated Alex Bogomolov, Jr. to get to the finals at Lexington. He won in two close sets. Next up for the American, the tournament’s top seed Carsten Ball of Australia.

American Men Succeed at US Open Series

Led by the top-seed Andy Roddick, the American men continue to win as the US Open Series recently got underway. At the Atlanta event, John Isner and Mardy Fish posted wins, both reaching the semifinals along with Roddick. At the Lexington tournament, Jesse Levine’s got to the semis, too.

Roddick may not be looking sharp, he needed three sets to beat Xavier Malisse in the quarterfinals. He should, however, begin to raise his game in the next couple rounds, and throughout the summer. He next faces his friend Fish, who beat Taylor Dent — a player I see having a strong US Open Series.

But before getting back to the singles, let’s examine the doubles quickly. Roddick and Fish pulled out of the doubles to focus on singles. Now that’s something with which I have a problem. When you sign-up to play in a tournament, you’re making a commitment. For the American duo to win their first match, and then decide it isn’t worth their time playing together, is a huge snub. This gets at the heart of why people consider doubles a second-rate version of singles. The top players simply don’t care enough for a number of reasons, with low prize money being at the forefront. Roddick and Fish could’ve rolled through the draw together.

Instead, they’ll face one another in the semifinals. There, Roddick should easily win. He has a 9-1 career head-to-head against Fish, although a couple of their meets went to three sets.

Along with the Roddick and Fish, Isner’s performing very well. In the quarterfinals, he eliminated his low-profile compatriot Michael Russell 6-1, 6-2.  He next faces Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who’s currently ranked 96th in the world. Isner will win in two sets to make it to the final, where he’ll more than likely meet Roddick.

At the Lexington event, the fifth-seeded Levine beat Sergei Bubka 6-4, 6-0 to make it to the semifinals. He next meets another American, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., who’s ranked outside the top 200. With the way Levine’s playing, he shouldn’t have a problem getting a real shot at the title.

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