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Monday, August 29, 2011

Keys, Falconi and McHale Post First Round Wins at US Open; Davis, Stephens and Men's Doubles On Tap for Tuesday

Thanks to the live streaming on usopen.org, I was able to watch three matches I was very interested in, beginning with Ryan Harrison versus No. 27 seed Marin Cilic. Although Cilic was objectively the favorite, quite a few were picking Harrison to upset him, given that Harrison had reached two ATP semifinals this summer, while Cilic had struggled on the hard courts. Cilic took control early and although Harrison served for both the second and third sets, he let both slip away, falling 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(6).

Harrison didn't use his net game much, and was way behind the baseline during many rallies, which he recognized as a problem in his post-match press conference.

"You know, I guess the volleying is kind of a finishing shot from the groundstroke and my positioning was pretty far back. That was partly due to the fact I wasn't feeling very good hitting the ball so I wasn't feeling like I was able to step up and hit my shots the way I normally would."

Harrison also displayed his temper early and often, and although he was never penalized by the chair, his behavior was drawing a lot more attention than his game, all of it negative, at least in the instant feedback loop that is twitter and blogs. For an interesting look at Harrison and his coach's views of his on-court behavior, see this article that appeared today on ESPN's Grantland. It's a fine line to walk between competitive spirit and annoying immaturity and Harrison needs to find it soon. For the complete transcript of his press conference, see usopen.org.

The next match I watched was Madison Keys and Jill Craybas on the Grandstand. At 16, Keys, who won the USTA tournament in College Park to earn her wild card, was playing in her first grand slam main draw, while Craybas, at 37, was competing in her 45th straight slam thanks to a wild card. Keys used her powerful serve and forehand to maximum advantage in the first set, then overcame a challenge from Craybas in the second to win the match 6-2, 6-4. Keys was up 4-1 in the second set, and had two break points to take a 5-1 lead, but Craybas held, broke back and evened the set at 4. Keys didn't falter however, holding for a 5-4 lead, then breaking Craybas to win the match. For a much more detailed account of the match, see Geoff Macdonald's post at the New York Times Straight Sets blog. Keys will play No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

I wasn't able to watch Irina Falconi's match with Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic, because it wasn't on a television court, but Falconi won her first grand slam match in five tries with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory. She will face No. 14 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the second round.

This evening, Christina McHale, who has had an outstanding summer, beat qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 on the new Court 17, which is a televised court. The contrast between McHale's demeanor on court and Harrison's couldn't be more pronounced, with barely any reaction from the 19-year-old from New Jersey, certainly not when she made an error. Trailing 2-0 in the third set, after losing something like 12 points in a row, McHale never showed any evidence of frustration or despair and soon enough she had won four straight games and taken the lead for good. Wozniak, who was ranked as high as 21 in the world two years ago before injuries sent her ranking tumbling, didn't go away in the final games, but McHale's superior movement and her confidence was enough to close out the match. She will play No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli of France in the second round.

Eighteen-year-old Bernard Tomic of Australia has not had a great hard court summer, but he did win his opening match today against US qualifier Michael Yani 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and will get his shot at Cilic in the second round.

Tuesday's schedule includes the US Open main draw debuts of Sloane Stephens and Lauren Davis. Davis plays Angelique Kerber of Germany first on Court 4, which means no streaming, while Stephens plays qualifier Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary fourth on Court 11, which will be streamed.

Men's doubles also begins on Tuesday, with national 18s champions Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow playing fifth on court 14 against No. 15 seeds Mark Knowles of the Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium. Rhyne Williams, Michael Shabaz and Bradley Klahn are also in doubles action on Tuesday with partners Robby Ginepri, Ryan Sweeting and David Martin respectively.

The men's doubles draw is here.

The women's doubles draw is out too, but no matches are scheduled for Tuesday. NCAA champions Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette play Alexa Glatch and Jamie Hampton, in a battle of two wild card teams, while 18s national winners Samantha Crawford and Keys face No. 6 seed Sania Mirza of India and Elena Vesnina of Russia. Nicole Gibbs and Lauren Davis received a wild card, as did Taylor Townsend and Jessica Pegula.

21 comments:

get_real said...

Saw Harrison’s 1st rd match yesterday at the open and agree with Mary Carillo's brat label. Sure he wants to win, he’s made it clear that nothing less then no. 1 is acceptable. But everyone else at that level is competitive and his contemporaries- Tomic, Demetrov , Roanic – sure don’t act like that. Ryan continues to act like its all about him and a bad sport on the court when things don’t go his way. There is nothing more unappealing then when a bratty kid turns into a bratty teenager than a bratty cocky adult. If Harrison did have the results so far there be zero tolerance for this behavior bit it’s time people stop excusing it.

tennisforlife said...

It's really a shame that most of coverage of Harrsion centers around his childish behaviour and not his tennis.

Austin said...

DY3 played very well today, crushed Lacko.

work-hard-tennis said...

Colette, that was a very well written paragraph regarding Christina Mchale. I really enjoyed it.

Speaking of which, she is a great kid. I am so impressed with her. My daughter played her several times in the junior tournaments and she was nothing but class, just like yesterday.

The Dude said...

Nice to see one of our own doing well at the US Open. Christina is an Eastern player with a hard work ethic. There were a handful of Eastern players watching her match and supporting her and her parents. Great family, great kid, all the best.

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

To understand Harrisons attitude on court, one only has to recall the practices with his father, who in the past has often been glorified on this board. I feel the father is among the top tier of tennis coaches in this country. Very innovative in his approach to teaching this game. However, for anybody to think Ryan came out of the womb with his attitude would be foolish.

Scott said...

Utah, After reading that post a few times I still do not understand it.

tennisforlife said...

If you are saying the father is responsible for Ryan's childish behavior it is hard to reconcile that with him being one of the great coaches of the game. People trying to turn Ryan's attitude into a positive as in "he hates to lose" are sadly misguided. I don't believe he will make it to the top tier until he stops the whinging and complaining.

Joey said...

Read an article today that said Irina and Christina will represent the USA at the Pan American Games in October. Will be interesting to see if that's true

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

Let me clarify Scott. I'll spell it out for you, so there is no room for confusion. Ryan was not born with a hate to lose, or rude and obnoxious behavior on court mentality. He saw this behavior from his father as a young child being taught the game. "Tough Love" is a polite way of putting it.

get_real said...

Agree with tennisforlife. Anybody at the top level in any sport hates to lose and has a real passion for their sport and winning, but that’s totally different than acting out on a tennis court like a thee year old when things don’t go your way. To say Ryan Harrison cares more than anyone else is ridiculous. His behavior is simply being a real bad sport and there is no defense for that. This sport does not need another John McEnroe.

Scott said...

Utah, Do you know his father. If so, you could never make that statement. Seems he has gotten far worse not traveling with his father if anything. He needs to surround himself with people who do not condone this behavior. Its that simple. Does he want that discipline? Thats another question.

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

Interesting comment Scott, and your point is well taken. Perhaps if Ryan were 14, and his dad was with him traveling, then this behavior would not be tolerated. I would bet there would be some "answering to do" on Ryan's part after any match where this occurred. But he is a adult player right now, and he does not need to answer to anybody. Do I believe Mr Harrison ever taught Ryan to behave on court like this? No. But beneath that extremely polite and respectful Southern persona that Mr Harrison projects, is a intense, win at all costs, take no prisoners, and basically, inside the tennis court is not about making friends, or pleasing anybody. It was not a Pete Sampras/Roger Federer upbringing. Was I inside the household? No. But I have stumbled upon practice sessions with the boys and the dad when they were younger. "Get real" sums up my feelings on his behavior 100%. However I do understand how this came about. He is a great talent, and I do hope he can reach his potential without acting this way. If not, I still enjoyed watching Mcenroe!

Coach said...

His behavior is poor and will continue to Hurt him. As for blame that is irrelevant and not possible to know without intimate knowledge of his 19 years. Blaming parents is a common and ignorant approach.

What is relevant is that it is his responsibilityto grow up. That is all that should matter to him.

Coach

Scott K said...

Utah, Where would you have seen this behavior? Was the dad being tough or was Ryan acting the way he is now and being disciplined? Do his other children act this way? Do you know? I trained at Newks with Ryan and Christian and Madison for 2 years. Coach Harrison was always fair but tough. He simply would not allow Ryan to act this way. I saw him get kicked off the court a number of times by Coach Harrison for this very behavior. His children never cheated and were not taught to win at all cost. So you are way off base here. Everybody at the Acadamy was welcome at there house at all times.
The thing you fail to point out also is that Federer and Sampras were not coached by their father. So the comparison is pointless. Anybody at the Newks Academy where I knew them would tell you a far different story about Coach Harrison than you are trying to portray.
Not good to speak of things you simply do not know 1st hand as I do.

abc said...

Also, take a look at Sharapova...perfect example of 'do what it takes to win' type of mentality. A million times more so than the Harrisons. Of course, her personality on the court can be equated to ice...but even still. She does not throw her racquet, does not have a temper tantrum on the court even when she hits double faults into the double digits. She's not my favorite player, but I do respect her for her calm persona inbetween points.

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

Scott, I have seen the practice court when they were supposed to be private. "Tough Love" is an understatement. As I stated, I also realize Pat would never condone this behavior. But being an abrasive taskmaster to very young children is not healthy, and undoubtably IMO contributes to Ryan's behavior. My comparison to Sampras and Federer is they did not have pushy parents. I mean lets be frank here: I am not 100% positive, but I would bet a few bucks that Ryan and Christian did not at ages 3-6 say, "hey dad, lets go hit about 1000 balls today, because I want to be home schooled and sign IMG contracts before I reach HS age". Not the same situation, but same pushy parent with Mike Agassi. Look at Andre's attitude as a young player. Thankfully he grew out of it, and I hope Ryan does too. "Coach" is correct. Irrelevant how he has become this way. What's important is he tries to correct this. I mean, rude to ball kids too? Just a shame, because he is SO talented, and in my interaction with him, a VERY polite and respectful kid. Just like his dad. But having all the Newks clan over at his house all the time, does not tell the story of what went behind the scenes at private practice time. Disneyland it was not. I'll end with this post, and appreciate Colette allowing my opinion. Again, "Coach" is correct 100%..and do not want this to get out of hand.

Scott K said...

Utah, Judging from what you have said it is highly doubtful you are speaking from up close and personal knowledge as you are trying to profess. In the 2 years of everyday experience around them they never had a single workout that was private where other students and parents could not openly watch and learn from Coach Harrison.
Saying that the way he treats his kids is unhealthy, or that this is why Ryan is acting the way he is, is crazy. It sounds like a parent who had a child or children the same age and is a little jealous that they did not end up where Ryan is.
The whole comment about 3 to 6 year olds having to hit 1000 balls a day and homeschooling to sign IMG contracts really showed what your POLITE criticism was all about.
I too, appreciate Colette allowing my opinion. As someone who has been in their home many times and knows them well I simply can not allow such misinformation to be posted without telling the truth.

tennisforlife said...

I'm sure Pat Harrison is proud of Ryan's tennis. Hopefully he is also embarrassed by his behavior and communicates that to him and hopefully Ryan will realize that it is counter productive...

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

I must respond to you Scott. I was there too. We are both painting a bit of a different picture here. Have you ever heard the expression "when the cameras are not rolllng"? Well, I saw workouts where those cameras were not rolling. Did he show this "tough love" to all his kids? I never saw him treat the daughter like the two boys, so when you say "treats his kids", I do think that is a incorrect generalization. As far as jealousy: I think Ryan and Christian are great kids, and players. Only inside the lines, mentally, is Ryan having trouble. His style of play, and the way Pat taught this is incredible, and I am looking forward to when, not if, Ryan starts winning slams. I firmly believe this. Whether or not Pat's attitude had anything to do with Ryan's behavior? I think it did, and one can argue that it is also a weapon for him..that DRIVE to succeed. I just happen to also believe that it helped shape some of the problems he is currently having.

Coach said...

Wow. Very complex and deep.

Bottom line. Ryan Harrison simply needs to grow up if he is to reach his potential. Old story and whatever has occurred I suspect his father knows that

Coach