Match Points – Feb. 4, 2015

A welcome sight on the court at the Dallas Challenger.

Mardy Fish is back

How great to see Mardy Fish, who has dealt with so many things in the last few years and hasn’t been on a competitive tennis court in nearly a year and a half, laughing and smiling Wednesday night.

Without fanfare, Fish returned to action at the RBC Championships in Dallas, paired up in doubles with coach/friend Mark Knowles. It was his first match since he retired in the third set of his second-round match against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in Winston-Salem in August, 2013.

He and lifelong friend Andy Roddick had a notion about playing doubles together at the U.S. Open last summer. But that couldn’t happen because Roddick had checked out of the drug-testing program, and would have needed to be back in it for three months before being eligible to compete again.

Fish not entered in singles in any tournaments leading up to Indian Wells (although it’s always possible he might get a wild card). But he is entered at Indian Wells, with a protected ranking of No. 25.

The Dallas tournament is being live-streamed here.

Fish and Knowles won their first-round match, against Cerretani and Cluskey, 6-4, 7-5.


Jaziri defaults again against Israeli players

Apparently, the Tunisian Tennis federation received no fallout from a situation two years ago, when the country’s top player, Malek Jaziri, was ordered to default a match against Israeli player Amir Weintraub at a tournament in Tashkent.

Jaziri teamed up with Canadian Adil Shamasdin at the Australian Open.

Jaziri teamed up with Canadian Adil Shamasdin at the Australian Open.

Said ATP spokesman Simon Higson at the time: “We are looking into the specific circumstances of the case together with the ITF and will act accordingly.”

Jaziri’s brother, speaking for him, said there was concern that going against his federation would harm his career. But Jaziri’s circumstances have changed markedly since that time. His ranking has risen over 100 spots to a currently career-best No. 65, after the Tunisian reached the third round at the Australian Open, losing to Nick Kyrgios.

Wednesday, Jaziri won the first set from No. 6 seed Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, then retired. He knew, because the match was played the previous day, that he would have met Israel’s Dudi Sela in the next match, if he won. As well, Jaziri and doubles partner Marc Lopez gave their second-round opponents – one of whom was Israeli Jonathan Erlich, a walkover after winning their first round.

It’s always sad when politics interfere in sport; Arab nations, though not consistently, have boycotted situations involving Israeli athletes because of the ongoing conflict in Palestine.

In the end, it comes down to the alphabet soup of conflicts of interest in tennis, with the ATP having sway over its players, and the International Tennis Federation, presumably, having sway over its member nations. But this incident, and the one two years ago, didn’t happen at an ITF event (which has the minor-league Futures, or the Grand Slams, and nothing in between).

The ITF suspended Tunisian from Davis Cup competition for the 2014 season. The country was relegated to the lower bowels of Fed Cup, Africa Group II, late in 2013 anyway. Tunisia isn’t scheduled to play until September, when the zonal competition takes place in Cairo, Egypt.


What’s up with La Monf?


In response to a question from l’Équipe, Gaël Monfils days he was in the opposite of good shape as he fulfils a commitment to play the ATP Tour event in Montpellier, France this week.

Monfils told the newspaper that he had some physical niggles before the Australian Open that he had to try and resolve quickly (so what else is new for Monfils). And that he had been dealing with some personal problems, which had caused him to pull out of his warmup event in Auckland.

As for the rumours that there was a broken marriage involved, Monfils said he just hoped people would get their facts straight, because it was his family that was involved. He said he learned of this marriage in the media, just as he learned two years ago through the media that he was bankrupt.

Whatever the issues are, clearly he wants to keep them private.

Meanwhile, L’Équipe talked to Gilles Simon, with whom Monfils shares coach Jan de Witt. And, as usual, Simon had interesting things to say – this time, about Monfils and his coach and the contrast in personalities.

“Jan has been on court for 10 minutes, Gaël will be there 25 minutes late. Jan reasons a lot, Gaël not at all. He has extraordinary instincts, but he’s always reacting. As well as he perceives other players’ games – he has helped unblock me against Roddick, Ferrer and Delbonis – that’s how little perception he has of his own. He’s missing a game plan. In Mebourne, against Lucas Pouille, he returned 165 km/hour seconds a metre inside the court. It took him two sets to back up, and after that he broke him five times.  You can’t take two sets to understand that. Jan can help him. Tactical data, that’s all Gaël needs.”



The Fed amuses himself

This is cute.



 Fed Cup results

The main World Group ties are on the weekend, but the zonal Fed Cup ties are taking place all this week.

Europe/Africa I is in Budapest; Americas I in San Luis Potosi, Asia/Oceania I in Guangzhou and Europe/Africa II in Tallinn, Estonia.

Notable absentees on the first day were Yanina Wickmayer for Belgium, and Victoria Azarenka for Belarus.

Wickmayer has an injury issue.

WickmayerThe choice of tape colour, for those familiar with Wickmayer’s colour preferences, is no shock.

As for Azarenka, dumbest thing. Her luggage hadn’t yet arrived, including her racquets, so she couldn’t play.

Here are some of the pertinent results from Wednesday.

Serbia defeated Austria 3-0 (Krunic and Jorovic)
Great Britain defeated Liechtenstein 3-0
Ukraine defeated Turkey 2-1
(Buyukakcay def. Svitolina 6-0 in the third)

Bulgaria defeated Portugal 3-0 (Pironkova def. Larcher de Brito 64 75)
Belgium defeated Letonia 3-0
Croatia defeated Israel 3-0
(Konjuh and Vekic; Pe’er on the bench for Israel)
Slovenia defeated Luxembourg 3-0 (Srebotnik not on the squad)


Del Potro gets his cast off

Video on his Facebook page of Juan Martin del Potro getting his cast taken off – he’s done this drill before.

Now, another long rehab period begins.

Poor guy.


Sergiy Stakhovsky has ears everywhere …

His younger brother Leo, who played college tennis at Oklahoma and now is at Penn State,  reported in on American television commentator Brad Gilbert’s comments during a match at the Australian Open.



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