Sweet Home Atlanta For Both King And Eubanks

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Less than 24 hours after undergoing baptism by firing squad when he faced 21st-ranked John Isner and lost in straight sets as a replacement for injured Reilly Opelka, Atlanta native Kevin King was back on court in the DraftKings All-American Team Cup competition at Lifetime Fitness Peachtree Corners, taking on another American veteran in No. 45 Sam Querrey. King had nothing to lose and plenty to gain. The same could be said for King’s fellow Georgia Tech alum, Christopher Eubanks.

First, the 29-year-old King, a left-hander ranked 286th, surprised Querrey, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 10-5, in one hour and 59 minutes. King dominated both the second-set tie-break as well as the match tie-break. He broke Querrey three times in locking up the second set tie-break, then four more times during the match tie-break en route to victory.

Then, Eubanks, who was summoned into duty after Frances Tiafoe withdrew after testing positive for COVID-19 – and promptly beat Tennys Sandgren – returned Sunday afternoon and went the distance against Isner. Eubanks held his own throughout their one hour and 46 minute match and won 7-5, 4-6, 10-6  for his second straight win – as much playing by instinct as anything.

Eubanks, 24, ranked No. 238, broke Isner in the 12th game of the opening set to win. Then, he surrendered a break in the fifth game of the middle set that was difference in Isner evening the match. Onto the match tie-break, where it became a slugfest between the 6-foot-7 Eubanks and the 6-foot-11 Isner. From 3-all, though, Eubanks broke Isner twice and won on his second match point with a solid service ace. Unofficially, Isner finished with 17 aces. He finished 2-1 for the weekend.

“When John got the break in the middle of the second set, it was just a matter of preserving myself, managing it, and being as smart as you can,” said Eubanks, who began feeling some tightness in his back in the second set, during an on-court interview after his win. “When it came time to get to the breaker, I think I had a little bit of adrenaline. … I rode it all the way to the end.”

With the pair of victories, Team Stars (King, Eubanks, Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul) evened the team score at 9-all against Team Stripes (Querrey, Isner, Sandgren and Steve Johnson), with wins on Sunday worth three points each. Then, Team Stars pulled ahead 12-9 when Fritz beat Sandgren, 4-6, 6-3, 10-7, by winning the last three points of the match.

However, Johnson rallied Team Stripes with a 7-6 (2), 6-4 win against Paul for his third victory in three matches during the weekend to level the tie at 12-all. Finally, Paul captured a winner-take-all tie-break 7-3 over Johnson to give Team Stars a 13-12 winning margin.

UTS Last Four set 

Four players remain in the chase for the title of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown at the Mouratoglou Academy near Nice, France. On Sunday, David Goffin wrapped up the final berth with his victory over Benoit Paire. Stefanos Tsitsipas will go into next weekend’s semifinals as the top seed. Also qualifying were Richard Gasquet and Matteo Berrettini.

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What they’re writing

• Christopher Clarey, tennis correspondent for The New York Times, from “Tennis Tours Debate Ranking Systems Frozen by the Coronavirus”:

For professional tennis players, the coronavirus pandemic has meant canceled tournaments, lost income and frozen rankings, with the men’s and women’s tours putting their systems on hold in mid-March.

Rankings are, in many respects, the coin of the tennis realm: the determining factor in players’ ability to enter events, receive seedlings and even earn certain bonuses from sponsors.

And the hiatus has created a new mathematical challenge for this global sport. As the tours prepare to resume in August, what is the best way to thaw the rankings that usually shift week by week?

The Association of Tennis Professionals, which runs the men’s tour, and the Women’s Tennis Association, which runs the women’s tour, have debated long and hard about the fairest and smartest way forward. So has the International Tennis Federation, which operates lower-level professional events and oversees the junior, senior and wheelchair circuits.

• Girl Nathan, contributing editor for Racquet, from “Can Men Be Trusted to Play Safely?”:

A professional tennis player has spent years dutifully obeying the instructions of various coaches. They are elite at that particular skill. Why is it so hard for these same people to follow straightforward instructions, now that the risks of not listening are so much more severe? Maybe if you incentivized them with ranking points to stay home, we’d actually get somewhere, because this isn’t working.

What they’re podcasting

What they’re sharing on social media

Roger Federer / He’s been busy off the tennis court

Naomi and Mari Osaka / For a good cause …

Karen Khachanov / Back to childhood …