Taylor Fritz, Memphis Open 2016

Enjoy a few pictures of Taylor Fritz hard fought 6-4 5-7 7-6 win over Benjamin Becker in the quarterfinals of the Memphis Open on Friday. Read full recap here.

Fritz d. Becker

Fritz d. Becker

Fritz d. Becker
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Taylor Fritz, Memphis Open 2016

The main court (aka Stadium) at the Racquet Club of Memphis can be simultaneously intimate yet spacious. Even the uppermost rows of the bleachers aren’t that far from the court — in fact, a couple of fans told me they didn’t get around to sitting in their assigned spots because they felt they could see more of the court from further up.

That said, during the marquee matches, fans were encouraged to compete for courtside seats by demonstrating how much noise they could make during the changeover between games three and four. The winners were then reseated in the Stash Home Furnishings box, which was right behind the player(s) seated to the chair umpire’s left, with leather armchairs, champagne, and snacks. This couple had previously been sitting high above the baseline to the right of the main entrance; they are now behind Mikhail Kukushkin’s chair.

winners of courtside seats

This isn’t to say things don’t get crowded or congested — just ask folks trying to leave right after a match. But to date, the stands are rarely filled to capacity (there’s been only one match where I couldn’t find a seat, and that was Maria Sharapova vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands in 2010), and it’s usually OK to discreetly move down a few rows or find a more congenial spot if, for example, a nearby stranger literally cannot hold their liquor (an incident I heard about from an Arkansas fan — after the third spilled glass, she opted to move, stating that while she herself liked wine, she wasn’t interested in wearing it).

At any rate, no matter where you end up sitting in Stadium, you get to hear and see quite a bit. The crowds this year were supportive of both American and foreign players, applauding great points no matter who played them. While the majority of players aren’t household names, they are still among the best 200 in the world; while the disparity in skills and experience is often notable (2010 champion Sam Querrey is in a different league than qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka, Kei Nishikori likewise significantly better than Kukushkin, and Challenger circuit habitues Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop no real threat to Querrey paired with Steve Johnson), the lower-ranked players are still capable of powerful rallies, astonishing volleys, and wicked serves that kick into the stands, which means that even the straightforward straight-set not-really-in-doubt matches can be fun to watch, rewarding spectators with fantastic points to ooh and aah over.

The Friday afternoon session started at 3:00 p.m. I was able to catch the final set of the Benjamin Becker vs. Taylor Fritz quarterfinal on Stadium. It was chaired by Australian silver badge umpire Simon Cannavan, who has a deep, resonant voice (shown here following a ball as it hit the ceiling):

Simon Cannavan
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Ricardas Berankis, Memphis Open 2016

Ricardas Berankis defeated Donald Young 7-6(3) 6-1 to reach the Memphis Open semifinals. Enjoy a few pictures and check out the recap here.

Donald Young on Grandstand

Donald Young on Grandstand

Berankis d. Young
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Nishikori, Soderling and Kukushkin, Memphis Open 2016

Peg is reporting from the Memphis Open this weekend. Enjoy her first recap:

I first visited the Racquet Club of Memphis six years ago, as a volunteer for what was then a co-ed tournament (ATP 500 / WTA International). I was lucky enough to be assigned practice court duties; highlights included running after balls during a Berdych-Lu practice match and taking in how intense both Sharapova and Roddick were in their hitting sessions. In 2012, I attended several matches with friends and returned for the finals on my own.

The women’s tournament has moved to Rio, the men’s tournament is now a 250, and the title sponsor is now Servicemaster. Some other things have changed since I was last here. For example, there used to be parking spots for returning champions to the right of the club’s entrance:

reserved parking for Roddick

Now, there are different levels of VIP parking inside the gates:

Entrance to the Memphis Racquet Club

The champagne theme extends to courtside tables behind the chair umpire.

chair for Nishikori v. Querrey

Balls still fly into the stands (and occasionally sail over them) regularly both on Grandstand and on Stadium, and sometimes a flute or bottle gets knocked over.
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Hi Sense Arena, Australian Open 2016

A relatively calm day at the Australian Open, after yesterday’s upsets of Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep. All the favorites playing today cruised into the third round except 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, beaten by rising Aussie player Daria Gavrilova.

Relive day 3 through Brian’s tweets:

Straight sets win for Kei Nishikori over Austin Krajicek:

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David Goffin, 2016 Kooyong Classic

Congrats to 2016 Kooyong Classic champion David Goffin. Even though it’s only an exhibition, it’s always nice to start the year with a trophy!

David Goffin

David Goffin
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