Tennis Last Week: Winston-Salem and US Open Qualies


1. I got the chance to watch a USO qualies second round match between 16-year-old American prospect Stefan Kozlov and 17-year-old Borna Coric of Croatia. Both players have received some attention lately, and it was cool to see prospects that young with so much upside playing against each other. Though Coric came out on top in three sets, Kozlov struck me as the more impressive player overall. Kozlov took the first set with some great hitting, and he appeared to lose some energy and peter out after his good first set effort. Coric did qualify for the tournament, so I’ll be watching him in his first round match against Lukas Rosol, if possible.

2. Let’s dissect this Delpo picture. Note the “you cannot be serious” t-shirt, the duckface, the finger guns, and the guy next to him giving him some serious side-eye. I miss him so much.

3. Caroline Wozniacki has handled herself incredibly well post-breakup with Rory McIlroy. I loved this piece by John Koblin. A few excerpts:

If there’s one thing she wants to focus on, it’s her game. Not him.

“I don’t want to have my name stuck with him forever,” she said. “I’m my own person. I have my own career. The years we had together were great, and unfortunately, things had to end like they did.”

She added: “I know what I want out of a relationship in the future and what I don’t want. I’m happy being single right now.”

[Serena] Williams said it was notable how Ms. Wozniacki would not say a bad word about Mr. McIlroy during that time.

“I was like: ‘How can you be so nice?’ ” Ms. Williams said. “She said: ‘I could never hate him. He’s been a big part of my life and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t hate him.’ I was really influenced by that.”

The exes do not keep in touch, however. Asked if she has spoken to Mr. McIlroy since he phoned her to call it all off, Ms. Wozniacki said, “No, not really, no.” She said she did not watch his recent major victories (“I don’t follow his life and I don’t really follow golf anymore,” she said).

“I don’t believe in holding onto someone who doesn’t want to be with you,” she said. “I definitely want someone who just wants you for who you are. I’m very upfront, I’m very honest and I’m very straightforward and I think some people get intimidated by that. I’m not saying Rory did…”

She paused.

“In general, a lot of people do, and if I’m in a relationship that’s strong, I’m the person I am and that’s exactly what you get.”

It’s also great to see her playing better tennis in the last few weeks. I wouldn’t mind seeing a deep run from her at the US Open, although it’s a long shot.

4. Wow.


1. I was at the Winston-Salem Open for most of last week, and I had an absolute blast. It’s a really well-run tournament and the players always seem to really enjoy their time there, which is key. It’s always going to be unfortunate that the timing prevents so many players from attending, but really that’s just the reality of being a 250 tournament.

I unfortunately was incredibly bogged down with U.S. Open preview pieces throughout the week and didn’t get to blog about the tournament as much as I had hoped, but I’m going to be bringing out some interviews and observations throughout the U.S. Open and beyond as I see fit.

Below, I have included a few tidbits.

2. Sad Jerzy is sad:

It was interesting to get to see Jerzy up close so often this week. Of course, I wrote about his controversial match against Sousa earlier in the tournament, but the more I watched Jerzy this week and interacted with him in press, the more I became aware of how sensitive he was.

He’s still young, and not-so-long ago was barely making ends meet and facing and incredibly unsure future as a tennis player. That’s easy to forget in the face of his talent and bravado. Going forward, it’s going to be crucial for him to find a balance between his ego, temper, and insecurities. Right now, he often lets one of the former traits overtake him in crucial points in the match.

Still, it’s undeniable what an exciting player and personality he is, and how good he is for the game. It was fun being at his matches on the Stadium Court in Winston and see him slowly but surely turn fans throughout the match. During his semifinal against Sam Querrey, he had converted the American crowd by the end–which might say more about Querrey than Janowicz, unfortunately.

3. Speaking of Sam Querrey, geez he is a frustrating guy for so many reasons.

First of all, I’d say for about 70% of the time I watched him play last week he was playing as well as I’d seen him play since 2010. He says in press that he really only focuses on his serve and forehand because that’s why he wins matches, but really, that’s just idiotic for so many reasons. HIs movement, volleys, and backhand are all actually really impressive when on, and if he would just commit to those a little bit more he’d be so much better off. He’s not a guy that doesn’t have other weapons–he’s just been brainwashed into thinking they don’t matter.

But the most frustrating thing about Querrey is the amount of times on court he looks like he just doesn’t care. His brain goes elsewhere, and suddenly he starts arming forehands and spraying errors. It’s just so blatant, and so awful to watch.

4. Thomaz Bellucci–where tennis goes to cry.

5. I was covering the Winston-Salem Open with a lot of local media and sports reporters who have covered a wide range of sports. It was interesting to hear how much they all complained about the ATP’s leniency with players on press conference times. If you’re unaware, the players are required to come to press, win or lose, if they’ve been requested. (They don’t have to do one-on-ones or special media requests if they don’t agree to it, but general pressers are a must.) However, the timing of the press conferences varies dramatically from player to player, and can be as much as 90 minutes (or more!) after the match is over. Some players like to come right in to press and get it over with, while others– coughSAMQUERREYcough –really take their time.

I’ve never really thought of this as a huge issue, I just thought it was the way things were. However, apparently this isn’t the case for any other sport that the other reporters had covered–with perhaps the exception of LeBron James. I completely understand that players need to cool down and stretch after matches, but it does seem that if other sports can find a way to eliminate this lag time, or at least standardize it, that tennis could.

(For the record, I’ve loved all of the ATP and WTA reps that I’ve had a pleasure to work with at these tournaments, and have been so lucky and privileged to have been given great access to players. It’s a dream for me. However, I love being at tournaments and am rarely on an incredibly tight deadline. Seeing local media–who are so important, especially for the smaller tournaments–being so frustrated with the state of things was what caused me to bring this up. I guess it just feels like another case of tennis shooting itself in the foot.)

6. Props to Lukas Rosol, who benefited from a bye, a withdraw, and a walkover to win the title, his first on hard courts. I’ve posted his press conference below, and transcribed a few quotes below.

“I’m tired, my body is destroyed.”

“I didn’t start strong but I finish good.”

“The first final this year I lost to Dimitrov, and he was very strong for me. He was playing unbelievable tennis. I said, good match for me. Next (final) I play in Stuttgart and there was a car for first place and I really love cars. It was really nice motivation for me also. I lost in three sets, I said it wasn’t going to happen three times in a row. I wanted a title this year.”

“In the practices here before the tournament I didn’t win one set, I was really struggling.”

“Of course I want to be (ranked) 25 at least [because his coach’s career-high was No. 26], but this is not finished yet. If I’m going to be 25, I want to be even higher.”

Rosol is No. 27 after his Winston-Salem win, so he’s getting closer!

7. The lovely Winston-Salem Open tradition of the finalist going on Don Flo’s private plane to the U.S. Open. It’s the best.


1. US Open Qualies Day 1:

For her size Yulia Putinseva hits such a hard ball and puts her entire being into hitting every shot.

The new court 4-5-6 practice court area is completely transformed. It is amazing the didn’t have the viewing area open on the upper level Tuesday but the bottom level has a tunnel that let’s you walk the length of the practice courts and is a vast improvement from peaking in between fences, tarps and bushes.

Of the practices I watched, I could not gather much from watching Maria Sharapova, as she just hit returns from her hitting partner on Grandstand. On Armstrong at the same time, And Murray and Stan Wawrinka were practicing. They played a practice set after some warmups, and it seemed Stan was playing the better of the two. Andrew was his cranky self and Amelie was amazing. My practice main event was Julia Goerges and Alize Cornet, who played only a practice set in their one hour on Grandstand. I was not paying attention to the score so I couldn’t tell you who won, but neither was Alize. Julia went to change sides after what was apparently the first game of the second set, and Alize was confused as to why Julia wanted to change sides at that time and said that she wasn’t keeping track of the games.

Thanasi Kokkinakis has game. If he has brain will be something we have to wait and see develop. He was up a set and 3-0 before he unraveled, losing three straight games, and won only one more game that set. He called for the trainer early in the third but prevailed in what turn out to be topsy turvy affair.

2. Qualies Day 2:

I caught another Murray practice this time with Julien Benneteau. Andy looked sharper than he did on Tuesday, but I don’t know if that was because of him or Benny, who just seemed sluggish in the midday sun.

Ashleigh Barty still has time to get better, and I think her doubles success has given her confidence, since she seemed to be playing more aggressively with more weight and pop on her shots. She also seemed to grow a bit which has seemed to help her serve.

A conversation actually overheard at Ursula Radwanska’s match: “This girl was No. 3 in the world like eight months ago. What happened that she’s now playing these?”

It is such a joy to watch Madison Keys hit a tennis ball from close up. She was out practicing with Lauren Davis. It is quite the style contrast, but Lauren seemed to be getting the Keys serve back when she could reach it.

I watched two matches on the new Court 6. It is a really amazing place to watch a match, and the upper viewing deck is not even open yet. One of the happenings on this new court was an appearance from Mandy Minella, who for a set and about five games had mostly it all her own way.

I’m always amazed how mid-ranked players can walk around the grounds totally unnoticed. I saw Julia Goerges and Denis Istomin walking around the grounds.

3. Qualies Day 3:

Luksika Kumkhum plays a fascinating game to see up close, mostly hitting two-handed shots except for the occasional whipping forehand. She had apparent shoulder issue, which she called the trainer for midway through the first set.

One Response

  1. q10
    q10 August 25, 2014 at 8:58 pm |

    sad for Jerzy but still good that he could make it to the final
    good job for Rosol, he’s pretty emotional on court which is interesting to watch live, much polar opposite to Querrey, who is only good to watch when he wins (seems rare these days). I agree serve+forehand is not enough

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