Isner three-peats in Atlanta, Bryans make debut a success

Dan Martin:

Isner is making this a tradition in Atlanta – thanks to The Grandstand again

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

John Isner is now a back-to-back-to-back champion of the BB&T Atlanta Open after cruising past a hobbled Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-3 in Sunday’s final. Isner fired 13 aces without double-faulting, served at 72 percent, and lost a minuscule three points in nine service games.

The 19th-ranked American said afterward that he noticed Baghdatis was struggling physically as early as the match’s second point. That’s when the Cypriot serve-and-volleyed, an uncharacteristic move for a player who prides himself on baseline ball-striking.

Unsurprisingly, Baghdatis took an injury timeout for a right-leg issue following the first set. Things hardly improved for the fifth seed in set two, as Isner continued to dominate on serve and had little trouble charging ahead with a break lead. The top seed wrapped up the proceedings in style with another scalp of the Baghdatis serve at 5-3.

“I don’t think I played my best tennis this week, but…

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Washington and Kitzbuhel previews

Originally posted on Jackhammer Tennis:

Many of the world’s best players are back in action this week as they begin their hard court preparations ahead of the US Open, which starts at the end of this month. Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet are the top four seeds at Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, with Murray competing at the event for the first time since 2006, when he reached the final as a 19-year-old.

Meanwhile, the final clay court tournament of the season takes place at the ski resort of Kitzbuhel in Austria, and all eyes will be on top seed and home favourite Dominic Thiem. The 21-year-old is in red hot form, having just secured back-to-back titles in Umag and Gstaad, and he will be favourite to continue his winning run in what is a relatively weak field.

Here’s a preview of both tournaments, plus some predictions.

Washington Open

The ATP…

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Nadal takes Hamburg title in contentious match against Fognini

Dan Martin:

As always great and timely content from The Grandstand

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

In such a disappointing year for Rafael Nadal, it would have been hard to imagine his winning any title not being the biggest story of the day. But Nadal’s 7-5, 7-5 victory over Fabio Fognini in the bet-at-home Open final managed to get overshadowed.

After Fognini broke serve for a 5-4 lead in the second set, fireworks ensued. The Italian jawed at Nadal, who was sitting in his chair then responded by pointing at Fognini to get back on his side at the net.

Thereafter the underdog collapsed, although he was not without chances. Fognini held multiple game points in each of the last three games of the match. Two were set points at 5-4, but Nadal erased both with backhand winners. A flurry of Fognini errors at 5-6 ended the proceedings and the ensuing handshake was a cold as you will ever see from Nadal.

Nadal gives an icy…

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Hamburg SF previews and picks: Nadal vs. Seppi, Fognini vs. Pouille

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

Seppi 1Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini are one round away from what would be a blockbuster title match in Hamburg. Standing in their respective ways on Saturday are Andreas Seppi and Lucas Pouille.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (4) Andreas Seppi

Nadal and Seppi will be squaring off for the seventh time in their careers when they collide in the semifinals of the bet-at-home Open on Saturday afternoon. The head-to-head series stands at 5-1 in favor of Nadal, whose only loss to Seppi came back in 2008 on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam. He has since won six consecutive sets, including two in a 6-1, 6-3 beatdown last spring on the Monte-Carlo clay.

Although Nadal will have to do far more to officially emerge from a season-long slump, his week in Hamburg has been relatively encouraging up to this point. The 10th-ranked Spaniard has defeated Fernando Verdasco, Jiri Vesely, and Pablo Cuevas, dropping just…

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Fish and Roddick win in Atlanta, Pospisil survives hot three-setter

Dan Martin:

More really good content from our friends at The Grandstand

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

One day after losing his first-round match at the BB&T Atlanta Open, Mardy Fish–a two-time singles champion of the event–found the win column on Wednesday evening.

And he did it with an old friend: none other than Andy Roddick.

Fish and Roddick teamed up to win their opening doubles match 7-6(2), 6-4 over Yen-Hsun Lu and former Wimbledon doubles champion Jonathan Marray. It was Roddick’s first appearance in official ATP competition since retiring from tennis at the 2012 U.S. Open.

“When you don’t play for that long, you don’t know what to expect,” Roddick said afterward. “I had a blast and I really wanted to win that.”

Another man who clearly wanted to win on Wednesday was Vasek Pospisil. Like Fish, Pospisil had already endured one loss this week. The Canadian and Jack Sock were the defending doubles champions in Atlanta but they lost right away this time around to Gilles…

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Atlanta R2 previews and picks: Isner vs. Stepanek, Sock vs. Kudla

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

SockThree in-form Americans will be part of second-round action on Thursday in Atlanta. John Isner is facing Radek Stepanek, while Jack Sock and Denis Kudla are set for an intriguing showdown.

(1) John Isner vs. (PR) Radek Stepanek

The two-time defending champion of the BB&T Atlanta Open, Isner will begin this year’s campaign at one of his favorite tournaments on Thursday. Isner has to be feeling relatively good at the moment, and not just because he is playing close to his old college stomping grounds in Athens, Georgia. In between a slow start to the season and a recent first-round loss to Rajeev Ram in Newport, the world No. 19 found plenty of success. Highlights this year include a semifinal showing in Miami and a quarterfinal appearance in Madrid, and a decent week Wimbledon saw him win two matches before bowing out to Marin Cilic 12-10 in the fifth set.

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Is the Andy Murray lob shot the best in Tennis?

Originally posted on Iain's Tennis & Football Blog:

Every player on the tour has their own strengths and weaknesses even the top player in the world have weaknesses but one of the shots of which is just truly incredible is the Murray lob shot.

There aren’t many players on the tour I would say are capable of turning defence into attack look so easy but Andy Murray is definitely one of the best in my opinion. Caroline Wozniacki and Andy Murray are probably the best defenders in tennis, they never give up a ball and can create some extraordinary winners when the opponent looks set to win the point.

I do think Andy does have a lot of variety to his game and this lob shot is for me a special shot.

am lob 1

Just the week in Davis Cup Murray had a set point on the Simon serve at 5-3 40-30 in the third set and was in this…

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Hamburg 2015 – Nadal defeats Verdasco from a set down!

Originally posted on Iain's Tennis & Football Blog:

It was the match we had all been waiting for, Nadal’s first match since his lost to Dustin Brown at Wimbledon and his first match in Hamburg was against a tough opponent in Fernando Verdasco who already beat him this year…

I tuned into the match with Verdasco lead 5-3 and serving for the opening set and the rhythm of the match was obvious within a couple of minutes as from 15-15 Nadal produced three unforced forehand errors in the row with Verdasco easily holding to take the set.

In the second the first game was a bit of a marathon and something that was noticeable was the difference in depth between the two players on the forehand placement. After some pressure from Verdasco Nadal did manage to hold serve and then broke for a 2-0 lead after multiple errors from Fernando. A horrific attempt at a drop shot from…

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Roddick wins Atlanta exhibition, Lu advances in main draw

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

Andy Roddick made his presence felt at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Monday in advance of his main-draw doubles participation with Mardy Fish.

A two-hour practice session featured Roddick, Fish, John Isner, and Justin Gimelstob. Roddick mostly watched, giving some occasional tips to Fish and Isner. The 2003 U.S. Open champion hit from the baseline every once in a while and declined when Fish asked him to go to the net and hit some volleys “just so I know you still can” (in Fish’s words). Roddick’s response: “Still? I’ll take that.”

Roddick overseeing Fish’s practice:
Fish Roddick
Roddick giving Isner some pointers:
Isner Roddick
Fish and Isner played a few games, one of which had $1000 on the line. Prior to one of Isner’s service games, Fish put $100 at 10-1 odds with Gimelstob that he would break. The veteran American came within one point of winning the $1000, but Isner snuffed…

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Hamburg R1 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Verdasco, Robredo vs. Zverev

Originally posted on The Grandstand:

Rafa 1Rafael Nadal will kick off his Hamburg campaign on Tuesday against Fernando Verdasco. Tommy Robredo and Alexander Zverev are also part of a jam-packed schedule.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Fernando Verdasco

Nadal and Verdasco will be squaring off for the 16th time in their careers at the ATP level when they clash in round one of the bet-at-home Open on Tuesday. The head-to-head series stands at 13-2 in favor of Nadal, but that hardly tells the current story. They have faced each other only once since 2012 and Verdasco has won two in a row at the expense of his fellow Spaniard. Verdasco prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 on the blue clay of Madrid in 2012 and most recently took advantage of a slumping opponent by winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 earlier this season at the Miami Masters.

Still struggling with his game after Wimbledon (lost in round two to Dustin Brown)…

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