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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kalamazoo Champion Novikov Wins at US Open; Williams Loses to Roddick; Stephens Upsets Schiavone, Sock and Johnson Shock Top Doubles Seeds

Between 1995 and 2011, a period of 15 years, the Kalamazoo 18s champion had not won a first round match at the US Open after receiving entry with a wild card. Jack Sock broke that streak last year, and today Dennis Novikov extended the winning streak to two years, beating 86th-ranked Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-2, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-3.

Sock had had the advantage of a previous first round US Open match as the 2010 Kalamazoo winner, but while Novikov had played the US Open Juniors, he was making his men's main draw debut today.

The second set tiebreaker appeared to be one of the key stages of the match (it was not on a televised court, so I can only comment based on watching live scoring). Novikov took a 6-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but lost five consecutive points. He managed to win the next two from the 6-foot-8 21-year-old however, to take a two-set lead. Novikov dropped the next set quickly and was down 3-1 in the fourth before winning the final five games, holding at love to post the victory.

Novikov had 25 aces, eight of them in the fourth set, while Janowicz, who reached the third round at Wimbledon this year, had four aces but five double faults in that final set.

Visiting on the ESPN2 set after his win, Novikov was asked if he went into the match thinking he could beat Janowicz or thinking he wanted to have a good showing.

"I went into saying that I wanted to play well," said Novikov, who is credited with 25 winners and only 6 unforced errors in the match stats. "But I knew that if I played well, I could beat him."

Novikov, who plays his first round doubles match with Michael Redlicki against Bobby Reynolds and Mike Russell on Wednesday, will play No. 31 seed Julien Benneteau of France in the second round, probably Thursday.

Earlier in the day, qualifier Rhyne Williams faced Andy Roddick and Roddick brought his trademark serve to Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams held his own until serving at 3-4, but a couple of sloppy games on his serve saw him lose five straight games, and he couldn't recover from that. Roddick hit a serve 141, had 20 aces, and faced only two break points in the match. Williams certainly didn't play poorly, but Roddick just didn't let him into the match.

Roddick said this about the former Tennessee Volunteer and 2011 NCAA finalist:

" Yeah, I mean, he has a good base. I mean, he can create something. Now it's just a matter of ‑‑ he's got to be a little bit quicker. I have dealt with an average backhand for many years and have had to kind of learn to get around it a little bit and become a better mover later on, you know, in my career.

So there is plenty of things. I think if you can win free points off your serve it's a good start."

Williams did hit a 131 mph serve and had seven aces, so I think Roddick was implying that Williams' style is similar to his. Darren Cahill was not impressed with Williams' slice backhand and suggested that as a an area of improvement.

Sloane Stephens has been identified as a rising star for over a year now, and today the 19-year-old had another big win, defeating No. 22 seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-3, 6-4. Stephens has had some difficulty closing out matches recently--she had a 3-0 third set lead over Marion Bartoli at New Haven before losing the match's final six games, but she served it out tonight, hitting a flashy forehand winner down the line for the win.  She will play the winner of the match between Akgul Amanmuradova and qualifier Tatjana Malek.

Several other big upsets came in the men's doubles, all of them by wild card teams from the US.  Ryan and Christian Harrison, a wild card team, beat No. 4 seeds and 2011 US Open finalists Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(7). Nicholas Monroe and Donald Young defeated No. 7 seeds Michael Llodra of France and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and later in the evening, Steve Johnson and Jack Sock ousted top seeds Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2.

For complete draws and tomorrow's schedule, which includes the remainder of the men's singles first round as well as women's second round, see the tournament website.


Austin said...

What a GREAT! job by the US mens wildcard doubles teams, holy cow!

I was sitting there following these scores just shaking my head in disbelief as they all continued to hang in there. Unfortuantely ESPN and Tennis Channel didnt really bother to mention it, even though it was one of the few bright spots for Americans on the day.

Also great effort by Novikov, that was some clutch playing toward the end.

What wasn't clutch, Jesse Levine. He led 6-3,6-4,4-0 AND had break point to go up 5-0 and serve for it. He then lost 18 of final 21 games. That's too bad, the win would have been huge for him.

Hopefully these doubles teams can keep it going!

One side note, it makes no sense to me why they keep putting all the Americans on courts 4 & 10 when there is no tv. Why not put them all on 7,11,13,17 so we can at least watch online? That is the only frustrating thing so far. That means we wont get to see Ram-Johnson at all today, too bad.