Evans Showing His Competitive Spirit This Week

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Dan Evans went about his business with great clarity and form during Thursday’s third day of the Schroders Battle of the Brits that is being contested in the indoor serenity of the National Tennis Centre at Roehampton, England.

Evans played up to the expectations of his British No. 1 ranking as he easily beat No. 77 Cameron Norrie, 6-3, 6-3, hitting 21 winners and converting four of seven break-point opportunities, to improve to 2-0. His win over Norrie assured him of reaching Saturday’s last four of the week-long charity exhibition.

The takeaways from watching Evans, as suggested by Amazon Prime presenter Marcus Buckland, were evident: “He’s so clever, skillful and unpredictable. His competitive edge is also noticeable with no crowd to mask the on court exhortations.”

During a post-match interview with Buckland, Evans said he thought he played “really well” and called his performance “a high-level match.” He said it’s not always easy playing Norrie since they are friends off the court and have played doubles together on the court. “It’s not easy; I thought he played pretty well,” he said. “I stuck to my guns and I’m happy with it.”

The evening was capped by No. 129 Andy Murray’s 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 273 James Ward, which improved his record in group play to 2-1 and advanced him to Saturday’s semifinals against Evans. British No. 2 Kyle Edmund, ranked 44th, has already qualified for the semifinals after winning his first two group matches. The other semifinal berth will be decided today when No. 519 Paul Jubb, who won the 2019 NCAA singles championship playing for the University of South Carolina, faces Norrie.  

Up and down Keys pulls out win in Charleston

Madison Keys is no stranger to success in Charleston, S.C., Last year, she won the WTA Volvo Car Open championship on the green clay in Charleston. On Thursday, with weather finally an ally and not an enemy, Keys pulled out a satisfying 6-1, 6-7 (6), 10-4 win over Caroline Dolehide at the Credit One Bank Invitational exhibition team competition, in a match held over from Wednesday night due to rain. Keys’s drew her Team Kindness even at 4-4 against Bethanie Mattek-Sands’s Team Peace. Other Thursday winners included: Jennifer Brady, Alison Riske and Eugenie Bouchard. Competition in both singles and doubles continues through Sunday.

“That was up and down,” Keys said afterward in an interview with Tennis Channel. “I haven’t played a match in a really long time. I was definitely really nervous, and think that obviously showed, but really happy to get a win and another point for my team.”

Atlanta to host first American event with fans

The city of Atlanta is set to host the first American pro tennis event with fans since the coronavirus pandemic began in early March. According to forbes.com, the DraftKings All-American Team Cup presented by GF Sports will spotlight the top eight U.S. men in the world rankings, competing in a singles team competition. It will be held July 3-5 at the Life Time Athletic and Tennis in Peachtree Corners, located about 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, and be televised by Tennis Channel.

Headlining the competition will be World No. 21 John Isner, joined by No. 24 Taylor Fritz, No. 39 Reilly Opelka, No. 45 Sam Querrey, No. 55 Tennys Sandgren, No. 57 Tommy Paul, No. 63 Steve Johnson and No. 81 Frances Tiafoe.

On one team – Team Stripes – will be Isner, Querrey, Sandgren and Johnson. The other team – Team Stars – features Fritz, Opelka, Paul and Tiafoe.

According to reports, the event will have a spectator limit of 450 fans per day, which is about 30 percent of the stadium’s capacity. Social distancing of six-feet will be observed in between each ticket block sold and tickets will only be sold in alternating rows.

“We feel like we have an opportunity to show the world that a live tennis event with fans can be successful,” tournament dire tor Eddie Gonzalez told Forbes.com. “We think it’s very important for the sport. It’s editing and humbling for our team to know that this is the first live sporting event in Georgia with fans and it’s the first live tennis event in the United States with fans, and it’s important that we’re successful because that will help pave the way for the rest of the tours moving forward.”

A statement from Dominic Thiem …

Dominic Thiem has repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19, but there’s been no mention of him self isolating in the aftermath of participating in the first weekend of the Adria Tour in Belgrade, Serbia. In the past two weeks, he’s continued to hop back and forth between playing in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown near Nice, France, and exhibition events in his home country of Austria. On Thursday, Thiem beat No. 85 Dennis Novak 7-6 (8), 6-4 To win his group in the Austria Pro Series on clay.

Also, Thiem finally made a statement about the Adria Tour:

“I was shocked when I got the news from the Adria Tour. We played without any audience for weeks, so we have been more than happy about the fans at the event. We trusted the Serbian government’s corona rules, but we have been too optimistic. Our behavior was a mistake, we acted too euphorically. I am extremely sorry. I’ve not got tested five times within the last ten days and the result was always negative. I wish everyone who is infected all the best and a quick recovery.”

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… And from Donna Vekic

When Mary Carillo speaks, people listen

Tennis Channel and NBC Sports tennis commentator Mary Carillo says that Novak Djokovic, after having been diagnosed with contracting COVID-19, has gone from the top of his game “to nothing but unforced errors.” Appearing Wednesday on MSNBC, the knowledgeable and sometimes outspoken Carillo, who has been a longtime correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports, was sobering in her response when she was asked if the sports world is ready for a safe comeback.

“Anybody who thinks that sports is going to normalize this … country is out of their minds. That’s just not going to happen,” said Carillo. “We are so riven with problems with poor judgment, with scandals, with lies. Professionally, I would love to come back and start talking about sports. But on a personal level, I live in Florida, a state where the governor doesn’t even think masks are necessary.”

In looking back on the Adria Tour, Carillo said, “There were no global pandemic protocols followed at all. Novak and his team and the organizers said, ‘Well, Serbia has handled the pandemic as well as New Zealand. They handled it quickly and efficiently and everything is safe.’” However, as Carillo cited a litany of things gone wrong in Belgrade and Croatia – no social distancing, handshakes, high-fives, hugging, use of ball kids and lines people, the shirtless dancing party captured on video – she said “it was horrifying to watch. 

“Here’s a guy, Djokovic, who goes undefeated earlier in the year – winning the first grand slam of the year in Australia – and now he’s gone to nothing but making unforced errors. He’s a bright guy, but he has his own beliefs. He’s firm in them. He doesn’t believe in the sanctity of science. He just thinks science is just another opinion and that scares the hell of me.”

What they’re saying

In an interview with French tennis website Tennis Break News, Gilles Simon weighed in on the criticism that Novak Djokovic and the ill-fated Adria Tour has received this week. He said: “There sure a bunch of people who are very happy to weaken Djokovic because it takes up space. They will accuse Djokovic by saying that it is entirely his fault and that it will be better organized on their side. Because they don’t want this thing to affect their tournament. It is not trivial, it does not happen by chance.”

• During a recent interview with wtop.com, Citi Open owner Mark Ein, admitted: “It won’t just be the eyes of Washington, or the tennis world, but the entire sports world will tuned in to see what happens in our city as tennis comes back on the world stage. It’s a great honor, but it’s also a great responsibility.” 

The Citi Open will kick off the restart of the ATP Tour from Aug. 13-21. 

“We’ve put a huge amount of time and effort into collaborating with world class health experts to put in a series of protocols and a framework that is going to keep the players healthy and safe while they’re here. And that’s what’s enabled us to have the confidence that we can host this event,” said Ein.

What they’re writing

From Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim, on “Djokovic’s Positive Coronavirus Test Is a Direct Result of Irresponsible Decisions”:

Here’s what gives this tale an edge of sadness. For all his hubris, our central character was not an evil man. Not at all. If fact, he cared deeply about public approval, especially as his two rivals simply seemed to get it with so little effort. He was capable of staggering kindness and good acts. Just weeks earlier, he led the organization of a relief fund for his colleagues during the plague. His tennis celebration – blazingly irresponsible as it was – was not organized in malice, quite the opposite.

What they’re podcasting

Canadian No. 2 Milos Raonic guests on the latest Match Point Canada podcast. He talks about how he’s handled quarantining, shares what his thoughts Are on the revised ATP schedule, and looks back on his memories of past Rogers Cup competitions.

What they’re sharing on social media

Agnieszka Radwanska / Receives her Masters Degree

ITF / Just Heather Watson casually scootering

Porsche Tennis / Maria Sharapova on cooking