Robby Ginepri

We were very lucky to sit front row at the US Open yesterday for American hopeful Sloane Stephens (serving above) and Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary.  From everything we saw prior, Sloane Stephens looked to us to be if not the best, then the 2nd best American tennis prospect in the land, and her 6-2 lead after one set seemed to bear that out.  And then the middle set and a half came.  Though the 18 year old Stephens gutted out the victory by winning a break of serve while Jani was serving for the match, and although she trailed 3-2 in the deciding breaker and then reeled off the last 5 points, we’d rather be hard on her than easy.  Let’s be real.  Is Stephens to be lauded for beating a 5’4 girl 2 years older than her who also never won a match at a major (or even competed in one before yesterday) and who is ranked about 225th in the world?

Stephens looked great early on.  She was so quick around the court, stalking the baseline, and it seemed like Jani could not hit an out and out winner.  Stephens was getting to everything.  The first set came and went and Jani looked headed for home.  In the 2nd set, Stephens looked tight, went down a break, and got no traction whatsoever on Jani’s service games.  She lost the set 6-3, and frankly, she looked like she was a junior again.  A lot of credit goes to Jani for the turn around.  Stephens has a laser beam forehand, not a lot of spin, that she gets on top of and that’s clearly her kill shot.  Jani has tactics, and variety, and against a one dimensional player, it was almost enough.

On American hards, Stephens has no business losing to a player like this, despite her limitations, to this point.  Did irk us that she hit only 3 volleys and blew an easy overhead?  Totally.  And by the way, if you are reading the match stats that counted her as 11 for 20 on her approaches, a poor percentage indeed, you might want to take more seriously the percentage than the credited approaches because she was moored to the baseline and we have good reason to question that stat.  Stephens is uncomfortable anywhere inside the tennis court.  Jani’s best play all night was the drop shot, which was a horrible sitting duck most of the time, but since Stephens can only go side to side and hates taking her hand off the racquet, just about every dropper hit to her backhand worked out for Jani, even when the droppers made the service line.

It’s not like Jani is Roger Federer.  She employed a little topspin, a lot of short balls, some approaches and some slice.  Stephens bashed flat forehands and hit looping backhands.  We can’t recall her hitting one slice backhand or taking her hand off the racquet, even for a lunge, once.  And she did not go for any winners on the backhand side.  It’s no way to win a match and at about the 1:40 mark, it looked like it had lost her the match, down a break at 4-5 in the 3rd.  Stephens did have a pretty live first serve, and she is well conditioned, and when doubt crept in for Jani in that 10th game, Stephens picked it up.  She had to or she was going home.  And she had the crowd, though there was a small but hardened Hungarian contingent annoyingly yelling out calls and shushing the rest of us, who we were happy to see, get shushed in the end.

I was preparing some comments to heckle Stephens with, or rather, constructive criticism, to nail her with if she lost.  I was gonna yell, “No variety Stephens!”  That would have been putting it kindly.  She’s only 18 and she has time to get comfortable with her secondary shots and develop more tennis sense and work on her backhand.  But still, I was not that impressed.

We’ve been away.  Now we’re back.  Odds for today’s tennis out at Flushing:

12:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Juan Martin Del Potro:  – 10000

Filippo Volandri:  + 2500


Rui Machado:  + 600

Robin Haase:  – 1200


Denis Istomin:  – 175

Ryan Sweeting:  + 125


Shuai Peng:  – 400

Tsvetana Pironkova:  + 250

__ __ __

1:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Alex Bogomolov:  – 1200

Steve Johnson:  + 600


Somdev Devvarman:  + 2500

Andy Murray:  – 10000


Marion Bartoli:  – 225

Christina McHale:  + 165

__ __ __

2:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Ricardo Mello:  + 1000

Gilles Simon:  – 2500

__ __ __

2:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Robby Ginepri:  – 180

Joao Souza:  + 130


Nadia Petrova:  – 300

Polona Hercog:  + 200


Coco Vandeweghe:  + 700

Sam Stosur:  – 1500

__ __ __

3:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Dominika Cibulkova:  – 400

Irina Falconi:  + 250


Venus Williams:  + 110

Sabine Lisicki:  – 150

__ __ __

4:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Jack Sock:  + 185

Marc Gicquel:  – 275


Yanina Wickmayer:  – 375

Alla Kudryatseva:  + 235

__ __ __

4:30 PM EST

__ __ __

Angelique Kerber:  + 550

Agnieszka Radwanska:  – 1000


Flavia Pennetta:  – 400

Romina Oprandi:  + 250

__ __ __

5:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Marcos Baghdatis:  + 200

John Isner:  – 300

__ __ __

7:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Andy Roddick:  – 1500

Michael Russell:  + 700

__ __ __

9:00 PM EST

__ __ __

Anastasiya Yakimova:  + 1200

Maria Sharapova:  – 3000


A couple of things to mention here.  How often does Venus get a plus next to her name?  Nightmare matchup for Lisicki.  We’d like to see ugly 2-handers, Peng and Bartoli, out of here.  Especially Bartoli, facing young Jersey girl Christina McHale.  Angelique Kerber defeated our little darling, Lauren Davis.  We could see her being a nice bet against Radwanska who seems to be an awfully big favorite.  Who’s betting 1000 to win 100 on a Radwanska girl?  We’d like to think Coco and Jack have a shot today.  Especially Sock, against the very ancient Gicquel.  We are liking Hercoq against the burly Petrova, especially after she steamrolled Mattek-Sands, 1 and 3.  We like Falconi over Cibulkova, thinking she’s played well and that it’s a great matchup for her.

Romina Oprandi in action after predictably taking out Oudin (does she have to get bageled in every loss?).  Isner-Baghdatis might be the best match of the day.  We like Steve Johnson, USC’s NCAA champ, against Bogomolov, who we have never seen as – 1200 against anyone, and maybe never even seen as a favorite. 

Big day for USA potentially.  And Madison Keys could have gotten us off very well by finishing off Lucie Safarova.  Not to be, once again showing it takes more than defense to win at this level.

Crack (

Serena Williams opened defense of her latest Wimbledon singles crown by making quick work of Portugal’s Michelle Larcher De Brito, 6-0, 6-4 in just 63 minutes.  Serena hit 15 aces in the route to her opponent’s zero.  Here are the match stats:

  Williams (USA) Larcher De Brito (POR)
  1st Serve % 27 of 42 = 64 % 24 of 52 = 46 %
  Aces 15 0
  Double Faults 1 3
  Unforced Errors 15 16
  Winning % on 1st Serve 27 of 27 = 100 % 15 of 24 = 63 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 5 of 15 = 33 % 10 of 28 = 36 %
  Winners (Including Service) 47 6
  Receiving Points Won 27 of 55 = 49 % 10 of 43 = 23 %
  Break Point Conversions 4 of 7 = 57 % 0 of 0 = 0 %
  Net Approaches 9 of 12 = 75 % 1 of 5 = 20 %
  Total Points Won 59 35
   Fastest Serve Speed 119 MPH 101 MPH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 107 MPH 91 MPH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 90 MPH 84 MPH

On the men’s side, Samurai Sam came up big against Sergiy Stakhovsky, in a close match which Sam lead, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 2-1 before Stakhovsky retired after 1 hour and 29 minutes.  The match featured two recent grass court champions.  Both men won a Wimbledon warmup in 2010, with Stakhovsky taking the title last week at ‘s Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, lifting his world ranking to # 47, while Querrey won the prestigious Queen’s Club title.  For both men, it was their first tournament victory on grass.  Here are the match stats:

   Stakhovsky (UKR) Querrey (USA)
  1st Serve % 61 of 92 = 66 % 46 of 76 = 61 %
  Aces 14 11
  Double Faults 2 1
  Unforced Errors 21 26
  Winning % on 1st Serve 49 of 61 = 80 % 38 of 46 = 83 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 13 of 31 = 42 % 17 of 30 = 57 %
  Winners (Including Service) 49 44
  Receiving Points Won 21 of 77 = 27 % 30 of 94 = 32 %
  Break Point Conversions 2 of 8 = 25 % 3 of 7 = 43 %
  Net Approaches 24 of 35 = 69 % 13 of 21 = 62 %
  Total Points Won 83 85
   Fastest Serve Speed 127 MPH 138 MPH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 116 MPH 125 MPH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 93 MPH 93 MPH

Querrey, who played the big points better, also got a bit lucky, as he had only an 85-83 total point edge when Stakhovsky came up lame.

No such luck for James Blake, who got taken out to the woodshed by Robin Haase, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

This time, Blake put the loss down to balky knees, which have kept him off the tour for 10 weeks–and the whole clay season–despite the American having played exhibitions during that time. 

“The knee is not great,” Blake, who was ranked No. 4 in the ATP World Tour rankings in 2006 and is now No. 109, said in a news conference after the match. “If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain. I’m doing my best. We’re doing everything we can. It’s just getting pretty frustrating.”

If the pain in his knee continues, Blake said he’ll “reassess” his playing status after the U.S. Open that starts Aug. 30 in New York.

“If I need to, after the Open, take the rest of the year off and then see if I can start fresh in 2011,” Blake said. “‘I don’t know. It’s a bit of an unknown. A lot of people think the unknown is fun. Some people think it’s scary. I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it’s an opportunity. If my life is going to change after the Open, then I’ll have to be anxious and see what comes next.”

Poor, poor James.

The only other American to win today was Michael Russell, who defeated Spaniard, Pere Riba-Madrid, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 2-6, 7-6 (1).

Robby Ginepri, who had such a nice run in Paris got destroyed by 6th seed Robin Soderling, who has a shot at the title, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour and 18 minutes.

Alberta Brianti of Italy defeated veteran American Jill Craybas, 6-2, 7-5.

–Crack (

Jurgen Melzer (above) and Novak Djokovic (below).

Robby Ginperi’s dream run at the French Open was upended in 4 sets by Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in 2 hours and 16 minutes.  Ginepri was the last remaining American in the draw.  For Ginepri, it was his best ever showing against world # 3 Djokovic, who he had never won a set from prior to today.  Ginepri is now 0-5 against Djokovic, who may be gazing ahead to a possible semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal, whom he is yet to defeat on clay, despite some epic matches.

First however, Djokovic will have to defeat (22) Jurgen Melzer, who also advanced today.  Take a look at the Ginepri-Djokovic match stats:

     Ginepri (USA)   Djokovic (SRB)
  1st Serve % 64 of 87 = 74 % 76 of 109 = 70 %
  Aces 3 2
  Double Faults 0 2
  Unforced Errors 32 29
  Winning % on 1st Serve 44 of 64 = 69 % 52 of 76 = 68 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 10 of 23 = 43 % 18 of 31 = 58 %
  Winners (Including Service) 31 36
  Receiving Points Won 39 of 109 = 36 % 33 of 87 = 38 %
  Break Point Conversions 2 of 8 = 25 % 5 of 9 = 56 %
  Net Approaches 7 of 11 = 64 % 16 of 27 = 59 %
  Total Points Won 93 103
   Fastest Serve Speed 202 KMH 198 KMH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 179 KMH 185 KMH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 146 KMH 156 KMH

For Jurgen Melzer, the 29 year old reaches his first major quarter-final, after never before having passed the third round of a major.  Melzer bounced Teimuraz Gabashvili, ending his dream run which included an upset over Andy Roddick, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in 2 hours and 54 minutes.  Check out those match stats below:

     Gabashvili (RUS)   Melzer (AUT)
  1st Serve % 70 of 123 = 57 % 69 of 128 = 54 %
  Aces 9 11
  Double Faults 1 1
  Unforced Errors 45 27
  Winning % on 1st Serve 47 of 70 = 67 % 54 of 69 = 78 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 30 of 52 = 58 % 34 of 58 = 59 %
  Winners (Including Service) 58 50
  Receiving Points Won 40 of 128 = 31 % 46 of 123 = 37 %
  Break Point Conversions 2 of 8 = 25 % 4 of 13 = 31 %
  Net Approaches 12 of 27 = 44 % 31 of 38 = 82 %
  Total Points Won 117 134
   Fastest Serve Speed 206 KMH 207 KMH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 183 KMH 183 KMH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 145 KMH 147 KMH

No upsets for the men so far today, though Nicolas Almagro is out to an early lead over Fernando Verdasco, 4-1, in the first set.

–Crack (


Will the last remaining American male, Robby Ginepri (above), be waiving goodbye to Paris tommorow?

Court Philippe Chatrier


Robby Ginepri vs. (3) Novak Djokovic

This is a tough ask for Ginepri, on top of the tough ask he improbably pulled off on Saturday, topping former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in 5 sets.  Ginepri’s fitness after a 5 set match is not a question.  This one should come down to a big talent mismatch, as the others in this head to head have.  The Djoker is 4-0 lifetime, and has yet to lose a set to Ginepri, ever.  He even handed Ginepri the most lopsided loss in his career at Roland Garros way back in 2005, 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 in just 1 hour and 18 minutes.  This match is Djokovic’s to lose, but it’s hard to pencil in the Serb because of his poor conditioning and always say quit attitude.

(1) Serena vs. (18) Shahar Peer


Serena should win fairly handily, though Peer’s playing great tennis.  This is a very interesting matchup, especially on Peer’s end.  I hear that in Israel everything stops when she plays, like in Japan, when Ichiro has an at bat, and there are televisions on showing her playing literally everywhere.  That’s enormous pressure.  Serena seems to be in top condition, though she did have a mental lapse for an entire set in round 3 versus Pavlyuchenkova.  Serena seems to want this title though, even if she has to go through Henin and Jankovic before even playing the final.  A victory in this major would give her 2 legs of the slam, with the hardest one for her already under her belt.  Serena is playing for history.  I hate to jinx it, but history might be in trouble.

(24) Thomaz Bellucci vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

One previous encounter, which Nadal won in straights, but Bellucci took a set to a tie-breaker, and kept Rafa on court for almost 3 hours.  Bellucci has had a checkered clay court season, and though he is 22-12 on the year, he hasn’t reallly put much of a win streak together, hasn’t won a tournament, and hasn’t beaten anyone of note.  And David Ferrer completely smoked him a couple of weeks ago, a bad sign for the Brazilian in a matchup against Nadal.  For Nadal, it will be 3 best of 5 set matches in four days, and cumulative toll has always brought his level down some, with his creaky knees.  It would be nice if Bellucci took a set from Nadal, who is yet to lose one at Roland Garros this year.  And in a perfect world, Bellucci would take 3.

(4) Jelena Jankovic vs. (23) Daniela Hantuchova

Jaja versus Dani Hani…what can we say?  Hantuchova is usually loathe to win a big match, and the surface suits Jankovic to a tee, she of the Gael Monfils school of hard court sliding.  I wish I felt DH had a shot, and I know she will get opportunities because of Jankovic’s horrendous serve, but Hantuchova doesn’t seem mentally tough enough to pull it off. 

Court Suzanne Lenglen


(22) Jurgen Melzer vs. Teimuraz Gabashvili

I saw both of these players up close and personal at the US Open in 2008.  Melzer, I thought was overmatched, but scratched out an incredible 5 set win versus Feliciano Lopez.  Gabashvili was also overmatched, and played steady, but lost to Stanislas Wawrinka (by the way, we sat next to Stan’s wife–much fitter than Mirka if you were wondering).  Gabashvili has sort of caught lightning in a bottle here, while Melzer, has steadily improved to the point where he is taking out very legitimate clay courters (David Ferrer).  Melzer has arrived.  I like him tomorrow, big.  It is very unlikely that Gabashvili will have another incredible day on his serve, which carried him against Roddick.

(22) Henin vs. (7) Stosur


Not so fast, Henin bandwagon.  Stosur is going to come to play.  You wouldn’t think Paris was best suited for an Aussie, but Sam is best here on the red clay.  Henin has played well overall, but people aren’t quivering in fear like they once were.  And Henin had a tough weekend courtesy of Maria Sharapova.  I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that the classy Australian can take the Belgian waffle.

(7) Fernando Verdasco vs. (19) Nicolas Almagro


Let’s hope Verdasco wins.  It would set up a very interesting quarter-final between him and Nadal, who he is very tired of losing to.

Jarmila Groth (Aus) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz)


Watch this match between unheard ofs, in which one will become a major quarter-finalist become the match of the day.  I wish I could tell you something about these two, but I can’t muster much.  Shvedova has a higher profile than Groth, ranked # 36 in he world.  But Groth has 2 things going for her.  She beat Shvedova at Wimbledon in 2008 in what has been their only match to date.  And Groth is hotter.

Groth (above).

All in all, I thought the Sunday RO16 matchups were way more interesting and competitive than tomorrow’s will be, but at least we don’t have to watch NBC edit our sport tomorrow.

–Crack (

Robby Ginepri–the pride of America?  He is today, after stunning 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in 5 sets earlier today at Roland Garros.  It isn’t as though Ginepri hasn’t had some success on the big stage.  Ginepri advanced to the semi-finals of the US Open in 2005, where the dream run was ended by Andre Agassi.  Ginepri has also made the round of 16 at Wimbledon, the Australian, and now the French Open twice (2008, 2010).

But Ginepri, 98th in the world last Monday, did drop off the face of the earth after climbing to # 15 in the world in 2005.  His game has improved dramatically since Jose Higueras, one time coach of Roger Federer (Higueras coached Federer and Ginepri simultaneously) and long time coach of Jim Courier, took over in 2008.  Though Ginepri hasn’t seen a great improvement in his ranking–yet.  Check out the match stats from Ginepri-JCF today, which Ginepri won after winning the first two sets, and then dropping the next two, before rallying to take the match in the fifth set.

Ferrero (ESP)   Ginepri (USA)
  1st Serve % 107 of 140 = 76 % 106 of 152 = 70 %
  Aces 5 5
  Double Faults 1 2
  Unforced Errors 46 51
  Winning % on 1st Serve 66 of 107 = 62 % 62 of 106 = 58 %
  Winning % on 2nd Serve 19 of 32 = 59 % 28 of 44 = 64 %
  Winners (Including Service) 33 43
  Receiving Points Won 62 of 152 = 41 % 55 of 140 = 39 %
  Break Point Conversions 7 of 15 = 47 % 7 of 12 = 58 %
  Net Approaches 11 of 16 = 69 % 9 of 17 = 53 %
  Total Points Won 147 145
   Fastest Serve Speed 193 KMH 197 KMH
   Average 1st Serve Speed 168 KMH 172 KMH
   Average 2nd Serve Speed 145 KMH 139 KMH

Even if Ginepri loses to 3rd seed Novak Djokovic in the next round, he should jump up the rankings.  Ginepri, the ultimate grinder, out grinded a major champion today.  Can he do it again on Monday?  That remains to be seen.  Still, Ginepri has had the most successful 2010 French Open of any American male, and is the only American left in the men’s draw.

–Crack (

Bob and Mike Bryan in Paris (above).

The upstart Brazilian team of Marcelo Melo and Ben Soares stunned the top seeded men’s pair, Bob and Mike Bryan, 6-3, 7-6 (6), this morning at roland Garros in 1 hour and 17 minutes.


There was only one break of serve in the tightly contested match, which went to Melo and Soares.  The American pair may now have to watch arch rivals Nestor and Zimonjic take the title.  The 2nd seeded pair won their match this morning 6-1, 6-4, and now become overwhelming favorites to take the title in Paris.

It’s been a bad day for American men in Paris, despite Robby Ginepri leading Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 3-4 in what has been a surprise so far today.