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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keys, Kudla Advance at Wimbledon; Craig Tiley a Candidate for ATP Chief Executive?; Townsend into Roehampton Quarterfinals

Eighteen-year-old Madison Keys won the first main draw match of her Wimbledon career today, defeating Great Britain's Heather Watson 6-3, 7-5. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings (Keys had only played the juniors at Wimbledon once, back in 2011, where she lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the third round) and the partisan crowd, Keys kept her composure, using her big serve and aggressive ground strokes to keep Watson on the defensive. Keys did get some luck at the end, with two net cord winners going her way when she was serving for the match, but Watson said, since she was up a break in the second, it should have never come to that.

Courtney Nguyen of SI.com wrote this article about Keys' win, which includes some interesting comments from Keys on her junior career,  taken from an earlier interview.

"When I was growing up in juniors, I was terrible,” she said last month. “I always lost. I rarely ever won any junior tournaments. … I think I just had a game where you kind of have to put it together. So it took me a lot longer to understand how to do everything and I’m still trying to figure it out. So when I was younger, I would try to hit a winner from 15 feet behind the baseline. That doesn’t work. So I wasn’t a very good junior.”

I've been following Keys since she was 12, so I think I am in a position to disagree with that harse self-assessment, although I will say Keys was injured a lot during her mid-teens.  She won the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl championships in the 12s. It's true she never won a Grade A on the ITF Junior circuit, but she won the Tulsa B1, made the ITF Junior Top 20 and quit playing juniors at the age of 16 to concentrate on pro tennis, where she had already made her mark by winning a WTA match at age 14.  There have been more distinguished junior careers, but don't let her kid you. She was a very good junior.

Twenty-year-old Denis Kudla, who won his first match in the main draw of a slam today, was also a very good junior who turned pro at a young age.  Kudla won the 16s Orange Bowl and was a finalist at the US Open juniors in 2010, and with his 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1 win today over fellow qualifier James Duckworth of Australia, he has cracked the ATP Top 100 for the first time. Letting a two-set lead slip away must have annoyed him, but he bounced back to dominate the final set.

Tennis.com spoke with Kudla prior to his match today (thanks to Russ for this link) for this article, and the Washington Post's Liz Clarke provided this rundown of his background and career after his win today.

There weren't many other US winners today at Wimbledon, with only Serena Williams (of course), wild card Alison Riske, James Blake and Bobby Reynolds advancing to the second round.  Qualifier Reynolds beat wild card Steve Johnson 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4 in a match that took three hours and twenty minutes to complete. Johnson has now lost a five-set first round match in his last three slam appearances. Other US players losing today: Sam Querrey(21), Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Ryan Harrison, Mallory Burdette, Michael Russell and qualifiers Alex Kuznetsov and Wayne Odesnik.

John Isner, Rajeev Ram, Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens are on Wednesday's schedule.  See the Wimbledon website for the schedule and draws.

The search for a new chief executive of the ATP has stalled, with the two internal candidates not getting enough support, and Doug Robson of USA Today is reporting the players are hoping that Australian Open director Craig Tiley might be considered for the position vacated by the recent death of Brad Drewett. Tiley, the former men's coach at the University of Illinois, was back in Urbana last month for the 10th reunion of the NCAA championship team he coached, and in this article from the local News-Gazette, Tiley didn't sound as if he had ruled out leaving his job in Australia.

For now, Tiley will resume his duties in Australia, though a return to the States isn’t out of the question. His wife, Ali, is a UI graduate who grew up in Naperville.

“We’ll always look at the options,” he said. “I love the job down there, you never know. I’ve lived in South Africa, America and Australia. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.

The ATP is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The last US boys in the singles at ITF Grade 1 in Roehampton lost today, with Noah Rubin bowing out 6-3, 6-1 to unseeded Enzo Couacaud of France.  Taylor Townsend, seeded No. 3, reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over wild card Lana Rush of Great Britain and will play unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia Wednesday.

Rubin is still alive in doubles, reaching the quarterfinals with Belgian Clement Geens. The No. 6 seeds will play American Luca Corinteli and his partner Adrian Ortiz of Mexico.  Johnnise Renaud is in the girls doubles quarterfinals with Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico and Jamie Loeb and Tornado Alicia Black also have reached the final eight.

Draws and Wednesday's order of play are available at the LTA home page.


New York Pro said...

This quote needs to be repeated

Hampton quote: "Who becomes a champion is not up to the federation, it's up to the player. Their job is to guide us in the right direction"

Best quote in tennis. I feel like the usta is trying to do the opposite.

The usta needs to be more guiding the players-not forcing, do what is best for player and personality not only usta way.

Austin said...

Is anyone more un-clutch in five set matches than American men? It's almost like you go into them knowing the American is going to lose...unless they are playing another American. Heck, even the five setter that an American won yesterday(Kudla) was up two sets. So frustrating to watch time and again. Querrey should be embarrassed by his loss. Harrison's time to break through is running out. He gets tough draws in majors, but loses every time, even though he is not a young pup anymore.

After Isner's retirement today we could be without American men by tomorrow afternoon. Very frustrating to watch time and again. Rant over.