Blake Returns to Form, Fish Floats Out in Cincy; Federer Makes Summer Hardcourt Debut Tuesday
by Staff | August 12th, 2013, 11:11 pm

All three seeded men in action went down on Monday at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, compliments of American James Blake, Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov, and Czech Radek “The Worm” Stepanek.
Stepanek wormed his way past No. 14 Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4, while Dimitrov handled No. 13 Nicolas Almagro 7-6(3), 6-4, and Blake in the nightcap ousted the big-serving No. 16 Jerzy Janowicz 6-1, 7-5.

Other American men had mixed results at their home event as comeback player Brian Baker defeated Denis Istomin 7-5, 6-3, Mardy Fish fell to Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-2, and Sam Querrey lost to Janko Tipsarevic 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.

“I think the two matches I got last week, even though the conditions weren’t very close, they at least helped get those cobwebs out of the way,” said Baker, who will next meet Dimitrov. “Still had a few today. Overall, it was a good match out there.”

Fish afterwards spoke about the heart condition he has been dealing with, playing just his fourth tournament of the year.

“I feel all right, I just have an awful long way to go tennis wise,” said Fish, who offered a cryptic summary of his state of mind. “It just kind of shows you how amazing Rafa has been coming back after seven months off. To do what he’s done is just not normal. Matches like today and days like today really make you sort of question how far you’ve got to go, if there’s still that sort of fire and drive that you need, and that’s tested.”

There were no seeded upsets on the women’s side Monday as all three seeded players advanced into the second round. No. 9 Angie Kerber came from a set down to defeat Italian Karin Knapp 6-7(6), 6-0, 6-1; No. 11 Sam Stosur took down Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-5; and No. 16 Maria Kirilenko came from a set down to defeat Anna Tatishvili 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(4).

“The first set was a little bit tough for me because I couldn’t find my rhythm and she was playing well in the important moments,” said Kerber, a finalist last year. “But after the first set I was just trying to change my game a little bit and play a bit more aggressive, not moving too much around and far from the line.”

Unseeded Americans had a great day as Sloane Stephens outlasted Croat Petra Martic 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; Lauren Davis edged Czech Klara Zakopalova 7-6(3), 7-6(1); Vania King topped Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-4; and Venus Williams turned around a slow start, down 0-3, to defeat Slovak Jana Cepelova 6-4, 6-1.

It was Venus’ first match win since April in Fed Cup.

“I had a slow start. I was missing shots but I was being aggressive, so I realized if I had made a few more shots that it would probably go the other way for me,” Williams said. “But I thought she was really determined out there. She just looked really determined and really energetic. She was definitely going to take it to me, so it was good to turn it around and get the win.”

Another notable winner was Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, prevailing in a battle of up-and-comers over Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-3, 6-4.

Highlights to look for on Tuesday in Cincinnati are (2) Victoria Azarenka vs. (Q) Vania King, (3) David Ferrer vs. (WC) Ryan Harrison, Sloane Stephens vs. (3) Maria Sharapova, (5) Roger Federer vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber, (12) Milos Raonic vs. (WC) Jack Sock, (11) Tommy Haas vs. Kevin Anderson, Grigor Dimitrov vs. (WC) Brian Baker, Shuai Peng looking for an upset vs. (10) Caroline Wozniacki, (14) Jelena Jankovic vs. Sabine Lisicki, and Canadian Vasek “Popsicle” Pospisil vs. (15) Gilles Simon.

CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] V King (USA) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
F Mayer (GER) vs J Isner (USA) – ATP
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [WC] R Harrison (USA) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
S Stephens (USA) vs [3] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 8:30 PM
[5] R Federer (SUI) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[10] K Nishikori (JPN) vs F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
E Gulbis (LAT) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[15] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs A Cornet (FRA) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[12] M Raonic (CAN) vs [WC] J Sock (USA) – ATP
H Chan (TPE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs S Aoyama (JPN) / C Scheepers (RSA) – WTA

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37 Comments for Blake Returns to Form, Fish Floats Out in Cincy; Federer Makes Summer Hardcourt Debut Tuesday

Steve 27 Says:

Good win for Blake. And Fish had a bad luck because of his health.

grendel Says:

I once watched Blake bludgeon Nadal to defeat,and remark nonchalantly afterwards: “You don’t mess around with a guy like that”. That comment came to mind as he gave young Janowicz a tennis lesson in an exhilarating display of pyrotechnic tennis.

Blake’s method was a simple one – fight fire with fire – but executed with breathtaking skill. He stood on the base line to receive the monster serve and in the first set at least dragged it down to human levels. Throughout the match, he pounded the 2nd serve – a delivery which often gets JJ out of trouble – putting it under huge pressure. In the end, Janowicz won only 27% on his 2nd serve.

Blake went for almost everything, and it generally came off. His timing was immaculate, his eye enough to make an old man proud. Poor Janowicz didn’t know whether he was coming or going, and his rawness was very apparent. Sometimes he would thrash the ball in sheer anger, and it would go sailing predictably long. But then, mysteriously, he would hold back just when controlled aggression was what was needed, and Blake would need no further invitation. This was especially notable when Janowicz held several set points in the 2nd. When Blake finally saved that game, you sensed it was over. And if JJ had taken his opportunities – as he should have done with one shortish ball in particular which he kind of half hit, as if in two minds – he would surely have gone on to win the 3rd, for Blake was showing signs of tiring.

All the same, I think JJ will take a lot out of this match. He was taken to the cleaners in the first set and he had every reason to feel shell-shocked. But he didn’t bow, he kept a rein on his emotions, upped his serving and was very nearly rewarded. And I think he is canny enough to have taken a bitter lesson: free flowing aggression is not feasible until a formidable memory bank is built up in the relevant muscles. Blake was often playing on instinct – an instinct which had been finely honed. And oddly, Janowicz’ serve is not the force it might be. It’s just not consistent enough. The commentators made the point that his standing some way from the middle – with the view to creating angle in his serve – is doubly unfortunate. With his great height, he should be able to manufacture angle anyway, whilst his serving position makes it harder for him to get the serve down the T accurately and virtually impossible to engineer a reverse swing on it.

This match was preceded by the first night match, Goffin playing McKenzie McDonald, or possibly McDonald McKenzie (what CAN his parents have been thinking of?). MacMac is an American 18 year old who is outside the rankings (a first I believe for a Masters, had hitherto won a total of $500 prize money, whilst winning $10,000 for the evening’s performance. He’s a good looking player who has all the shots, including a nice feel at the net, but he doesn’t yet do any of it with any consistency. The 2nd set scoreline didn’t reflect the play, which was often tight. I hope we see more of this young man. Meanwhile, following the handshake, he gave Goffin a consolatory pat on the chest, having perhaps forgotten, in the excitement of the moment, that he was the one requiring consolation. The Belgian received his pat with stoicism.

Tennislover Says:

grendel, thanks a a lot for that summary. I expected JJ to win the match but JB relishes fast conditions. Wish I could watch the pyrotechnics on display. I think the Raf-JB match you alluded to – in the 4th or 3rd round of the 2005 USO if my memory serves me well – was their first meeting. That was probably the first time I saw how good Blake could be. The hitting was absolutely brutal. Raf was in sensational form that season and played very well in that match but JB simply kept hammering away in the heat. A brutal encounter if there was one. Of course, Raf has improved considerably on hard courts since then but JB probably showed the blueprint to beat THAT Raf. Ultra-aggressive hitting still troubles Raf but it is difficult to keep it up for long periods. Besides, Raf himself can be very aggressive when he wants to and attacking him is not as easy as it used to be earlier.

Hamza Says:

Tennislover, Agree with you completely. I was checking out the head to head between Blake and Rafa, and I found it interesting that of the 4 times Rafa has won against Blake, he’s never beaten him in straight sets. Blake’s not an easy bloke to deal with especially when he is going for his shots and making lesser unforced errors.

skeezer Says:


Great summary and enjoyable read, thanks.

Dan Martin Says:

I have my picks up for today’s ATP matches – I was at Cincy yesterday, and as usual it was an awesome experience.

Kimberly Says:

I love the early rounds and qualifying when i attend tourneys!

SG1 Says:

Anyone think Novak is looking kind of pale and thin these days?

Nadalista Says:

@SG1; during his semi with Rafa in Montreal, one of the commies said exactly the same and said he needed to bulk up a little, his shots needed a little more oomph…….

the DA Says:

Youhzny beats Gulbis in straight sets and will be Andy’s first opponent. Ernie’s 1st serve went AWOL but Youzhny played smart.
I saw that Haas knocked out Anderson. Once again, the older guys are doing well.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

So JJ gets another early loss, days after Raonic is demolished by Rafa.

THe new generation is just so far below the current one. Del Potro aside for a moment, are Raonic, Janowicz, Nishikori, Dmitrov the gems of the 20-24 year old cohort? Because… they’re not world beaters.
Djokovic and Murray and Del Potro are going to eat up these kids for years to come. Of course, I always assume Rafa has a limited shelf life, but his play always pushes that best-before date further out of sight.

grendel Says:

the DA

notice, too, that these older guys (Haas 35 I think?) just happen to be wizards on the court who have tremendous all round games – not something you’d ever accuse old Anderson of having.

I think Youzhny might pose some problems for Murray. Should be an enjoyable encounter – at least for spectators….

the DA Says:

@ grendel – I agree. It’s a pleasure to see the younger players completely flummoxed by the veterans. If they lose enough times maybe their coaches will try to get them to use more variety (gasp) or come to the net more.

I think the Youhzny match promises to be enjoyable. Their Wimbledon encounter was very entertaining. As long as it’s over in straights, I’m fine :)

Polo Says:

The next wave of tennis may be nothing but big serves and not much else.

grendel Says:

I don’t know if anyone watched Ferrer/Harrison. I’m told the 1st set was astonishingly even, from the 1st point to end of tie break. Harrison took the 2nd, and then broke immediately at start of 3rd. And then he just imploded. I don’t quite understand the mechanism, but the last point of the previous game had been an absolute gem, with Harrison magnificent. I think he may have made the dreadful mistake of taking a breather. Just a little bit of complacency, and puffing too, and Ferrer’s right back.

As so often, not only does he break back and subsequently hold, he then breaks again. Harrison looks completely gone. Ferrer exudes nervous intensity, a little bundle of electricity with popping eyes, whilst Harrison looks like he’s eaten too much porridge. He lumbers around the court as if it hurts to move and it makes you feel sleepy to behold him.

One wonders, is there any point in watching any more of this? And suddenly, with no warning at all, Harrison explodes. He’s all over the place, looks 21 again, breaks back, and it’s Ferrer who’s suddenly looking anxious and haggard and past his bedtime.

Still, Ferrer’s made of stern stuff, and he fights his way through the sludge and just pulls out the win. It was entertaining stuff, though, those last few games, and yet again, one wonders about Harrison. First you thought he’d make it, then you gave up on him, then this, then that – fact is, he’s still a kid, he’s got some real weapons, they mature later these days, and I think we can hope for him a couple of years down the line.

Incidentally, during the course of all this topsy turvy stuff, Harrison unleashed a serve of 152 mph – apparently, 7th fastest of all time. It didn’t look all that special, but there it is: that’s what it was clocked at.

the DA Says:

Star-studded OoP tomorrow:

Serena vs. Bouchard
Novak vs. Monaco
Murray vs. Youzhny
Rafa vs. Becker (night match).

Brando Says:


Re Novak:

Yeah I noticed that too in the Rafa match.

He looks unbelievably skinny. Scarily too.

Clearly it must be in accordance with some fitness plan, but the guy really physically frail in comparison to Roger and especially Rafa and Muzza.

I cannot remember ever thinking this about Nole before though. It’s just in the last year or so I have noticed this about him.


Kimberly Says:

enjoying watching tennis tonight, I will miss the rest of Cincinatti as we are off to Disney World tomorrow morning for five days. What torture, rides, tantrums, walking, double stroller and bad food.

metan Says:

@ Kimberly,

I heard there was land sliding at Disneyland which caused some building broken down. Please recheck before go tthere, just for precaution for your family!!!!

metan Says:

Any one knows why the game between Roger and Philip are not yet started????

metan Says:

All Nole Fans,

He said that he is motivatited to make HISTORY in Cincinnati, this is a great news indeed. Come out and cheer up your man….I promise no fighting, and ♥ peace!!!!

Fedster Says:

These days Novak is mouthing off too much about himself. There is a huge gap betweeen his self-hyped level and actual level on the tennis court.
He is just a Djoker, no need to take him seriously.

Fedster Says:

A tough opener for Fed. Fed has to be right on the money to get through this one. Hope he gets to meet Nadal in the quarters and get some revenge for all those clay losses.

the DA Says:

Federer is 0/6 on BPs. This has been an inauspicious start. Hopefully he’ll get into the groove.

metan Says:

Yes, Fedster,
Come on Roger!!!

Humble Rafa Says:

Good news for the faithful..somebody just held serve. Just passing on the good news. I am not picking sides or anything.

the DA Says:

Roger gets the break but only because Kohls gifts it to him. What a collapse. Fed did play much better after the break.

Nadal Says:

GOAT is back……just like a GOAT owner

the DA Says:

The way Kohls is serving/playing Roger should be punishing him more. Still, he’ll be happy to have the 1st set under his belt.

Nadal Says:

I am happy for the Goat ! Losing early is no fun….

the DA Says:

Roger gets through in two. Car crash of a match but it should boost his confidence a bit to get the win. Will be interesting to see his next match. Now for some Zzzzs

skeezer Says:

Kohls only had 1 break chance and he got it. Fed had 11 chances to break and only converted 2? Sorry, but Fed has a confidence problem. and he’d better fix it. He won’t go far with stats like that. Kohls is just your everyday journeyman…..

Humble Rafa Says:

Immense congratulations to the Faithful of the Arrogant One. He won without choking. Enjoy when you can.

skeezer Says:

^farting again?

Jatin Says:

Why federer didn’t use his new racket ?

Steve 27 Says:

Fdederer should time to relax a little bit.

Alex Says:

“^farting again?”

Indeed, another terrible bout of diarrhea, I think someone should go to the doctor and get a life. Not to mention a full psychological inspection. This vicarious personality has tread into the murky waters of fictitiousness.

Crazy, no?

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