MASON, Ohio — When Mackenzie McDonald saw he was playing a two-time NCAA champion and former USC standout for a spot in his first ATP main draw tournament, he did what any self-respecting incoming UCLA freshman would do: He made sure he wore his UCLA hat onto the court.
McDonald, an 18-year-old from Piedmont, Calif., became the first unranked teenager to qualify for an ATP Masters event on Sunday, beating 100th-ranked Steve Johnson 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to earn a berth into the Western & Southern Open. The win followed an equally impressive straight-sets victory over 77th-ranked Nicolas Mahut — yes, he of the marathon Wimbledon match — the day before.
“I can’t even explain how I feel right now,” McDonald said after the match. “I didn’t expect to win two rounds and qualify for this event.”
Less than a week ago, McDonald, who is coached by former ATP pro Wayne Ferreira and Rosie Bareis at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Calif., was losing in the Round of 16 at the Boys’ 18 National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich. McDonald walked off the court and was greeted by USTA coach Jay Berger, who offered him a wild card into qualifying in Cincinnati. McDonald was stunned. With no ATP ranking to speak of (he had not won a single ATP point until this weekend), McDonald’s head was still in the junior and college game.
“I didn’t even know [the tournament] was going on,” he said. “I was supposed to be in Indiana playing an ITA, a college tournament, and I actually was thinking about going to Indiana instead. But then I realized what it is, and how much this tournament meant. And I decided to come here and take advantage of it.”
Thanks to his two wins, McDonald will earn at least 35 ATP ranking points and a shot at another qualifier, 86th-ranked David Goffin, in the first round on Monday night. When he’s not on court stunning top 100 players, McDonald has been a quiet observer in the locker room here. He’s intent on learning from the game’s top professionals.
“How they eat, how they stretch, how they get massages, how they shower before their matches,” he said. “Just watching them, observing different routines they have in fitness. That’s what I’m soaking up. Before my match with Mahut, I went to the gym and I did my usual five-minute bike, but I saw Kei Nishikori doing some exercises, or Maria Sharapova working on the TRX machine. And those are things I’m picking up and I can apply to my rituals and routine that I can be more professional with.”
The one perk he won’t be taking home is the $10,830 prize money guaranteed to any man who makes the main draw. Taking the money would mean forgoing his NCAA eligibility, and one 10-minute chat with McDonald makes it clear that the teen is looking forward to developing his tennis in Westwood, where he’s following a long line of Bruins in his family. His father, grandfather and uncle all went to UCLA, and his sister Dana is currently on the UCLA gymnastics team.
“I still have a lot to learn and develop,” McDonald said of his decision to go to college rather than turn pro. “I’m still growing — I hope I’m still growing. I weigh 142 on a good day. I can definitely gain a lot from college. I can utilize fitness. I want to utilize all the pros that are there, too. I’ve been hitting with Christian Groh, Tommy Haas’ coach. I’m learning a lot from him. I’m hitting with Tommy, too. There is a lot to gain from UCLA. I can get bigger. I can get stronger. Can learn a lot. I’m still 18.”
McDonald credits his success to a good serving weekend and he’s enjoyed the extra pace his ATP opponents have thrown his way. He said he got hundreds of congratulatory messages from friends back home after he beat Mahut and didn’t even bother checking before he spoke to reporters after his big win on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to take as much experience and gain as much confidence as I can from this event,” he said. “I’m just enjoying this. I’m 18 years old. I’m playing a Masters 1000 main draw that I qualified for, so it’s pretty unique.”
NEW YORK (AP) An American man playing at the American Grand Slam tournament, John Isner found it hard to believe so many U.S. Open spectators were cheering so vigorously for his French opponent, Gael Monfils.
They clapped rhythmically while chanting, ''Let's go, Monfils!'' They loudly sang his last name between points. They rose to their feet and raucously saluted Monfils' best shots. They applauded faults and other miscues by the 13th-seeded Isner, the highest-ranked U.S. man, who eventually pulled out a 7-5, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (4) victory Thursday night.
ROGER, ROGER Roger Federer has won a few trophies in his day. A look at his Grand Slam triumphs.
''I was a little bit disappointed in that, actually. Not going to sugarcoat it,'' said Isner, who reached the third round at Flushing Meadows for the fifth consecutive year. ''If I was playing in France, it certainly wouldn't be like that.''
From late in the third set, spectators at Louis Armstrong Stadium really began backing Monfils.
''It was surprising, actually,'' Monfils said. ''It was surprising - but it was good.''
Certainly was an unusual display during a match involving a U.S. player at the most important tennis tournament in the United States. Maybe, as Monfils guessed afterward, the ticket-holders simply wanted more bang for their buck, instead of a three-set, open-and-shut affair. Or maybe, as Isner surmised, Monfils' style just won them over.
''He's a very fun-loving guy, and he gets cheered on wherever he goes, not just in France. He's one of the most exciting tennis players in the world, hands down,'' Isner said. ''He's been fighting a bunch of injuries, so it's good to see him back healthy.''
Monfils is most decidedly a showman, one of the most gregarious and demonstrative players on tour, one who plays to the crowd and sometimes seems more interested in being an entertainer than a winner. He's been ranked as high as No. 7, and reached the semifinals at his home major, the French Open, in 2008. But he also has been slowed by injuries, and skipped Wimbledon this year.
Monfils did not disappoint Thursday, sliding into the splits while chasing some balls, holding his arms wide apart and nodding after one particularly skillful shot, and even pointing out a man in the stands who was chastised by the chair umpire for using a flash while taking photos.
''He gets the crowd involved,'' Isner said. ''If you purchase a ticket to watch him play, you're not going to go home disappointed. That's just how it is.''
WORKS OF ART Didn't know tennis and tattoos go together? Here's the physical evidence.
The 6-foot-10 Isner, born in North Carolina and based in Florida, is hardly the most well-known or accomplished U.S. tennis player, but he is probably the host country's best chance for a deep run this year. Especially after the next-highest U.S. man, 26th-seeded Sam Querrey, lost earlier Thursday to Adrian Mannarino of France 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4.
Now Isner will face No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, the player he lost to in the third round last year.
''I'm going to get some revenge on him,'' said Isner, whose best showing at any Grand Slam tournament was when he was a quarterfinalist at the 2011 U.S. Open.
What he is most famous for, of course, is winning the longest match in tennis history, an 11-hour, 5-minute marathon that stretched over three days at Wimbledon three years ago before ending at 70-68 in the fifth set.
One thing Isner does rather well is win tiebreakers, thanks in large part to his booming serve, and that was how this match was decided.
Monfils was ahead 4-3 in the fourth-set tiebreaker, but Isner took the last four points. He hit a 135 mph service winner, then a 139 mph ace - his 23rd of the match - to make it 5-4. An inside-out forehand winner put Isner up 6-4, earning a match point, and he gestured to the fans to show him some love.
They did, screaming, ''U-S-A! U-S-A!''
Isner - whose right hip was bothering him and was treated by a trainer early in the fourth set - ended it there, hitting a crisp volley that Monfils got to, but could only put into the net. Isner chucked his racket and then pantomimed the same sort of ''Superman''-inspired move that Cam Newton - the quarterback for Isner's favorite NFL team, the Carolina Panthers - uses to celebrate touchdowns.
''I ... knew that against Gael, the atmosphere was going to be electric,'' Isner said, ''and that's what it was.''
Isner not happy with crowd after Monfils match.NEW YORK (AP)An American man playing at the American Grand Slam tournament, John Isner found it hard to believe so many U.S. Open spectators were cheering so vigorously for his French opponent, Gael Monf
Thomas Enqvist will coach Verdasco. It's his first job as a coach for a single player, but he has been Swedish DC captain and leader of Team Catella before. They will work until RG and then see if they want to continue to work together.
Article in Swedish: http://www.svd.se/sport/enqvist-blir-coach-till-verdasco_3292862.svd
Thomas Enqvist will coach Verdasco. It's his first job as a coach for a single player, but he has been Swedish DC captain and leader of Team Catella before. They will work until RG and then see if they want to continue to work together.Article in Swe
didn't want to post these questions in megafred, because they will drown in match talk. they're not necessarily ATP but tennis in general: 1) Are you allowed off court treatment for any kind of injury to not let your opponent know where you're hurting? 2) Didn't Aussie Open final use to be on earlier? Iirc correctly early 90's finals were at around 4-5 am in the morning here and I think that was also the case in the late 90's. And if so, why did they change the start time, to please the European tv auidence? 7 30 pm local time is quite late.
didn't want to post these questions in megafred, because they will drown in match talk.they're not necessarily ATP but tennis in general:1) Are you allowed off court treatment for any kind of injury to not let your opponent know where you're hurting?
It did used to be on earlier. I'm not 100% sure why it changed. The heat is probably part of it. The whole of the latter stages of the men's now are played when the heat is less of a factor. European TV audience probably has something to do with it as well.
I don't know the definitive answer to #1. It seems like no-one really abuses this, but maybe they do. I feel like it might be the trainer who makes the decision to go off court or not. But at the same time I'm not sure if there's any real rules against demanding to go off court to hide your injury.
It did used to be on earlier. I'm not 100% sure why it changed. The heat is probably part of it. The whole of the latter stages of the men's now are played when the heat is less of a factor. European TV audience probably has something to do with it a