The Featured Match on the daily draw sheet handed to fans entering the racquet club was Kei Nishikori vs. Mikhail Kukushkin. Nishikori had won their previous four meetings, and would prevail in this one as well, hitting shots that had the Kazakhstani player standing with his hands on hips, shaking his head at the ball he hadn’t expected to come back over the net.
Kukushkin did get the better of Nishikori now and then, reeling him in for some errors at the net, and the crowd applauded his winners as well as Kei’s. Find more pictures here.
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.
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):
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:
Now, there are different levels of VIP parking inside the gates:
The champagne theme extends to courtside tables behind the chair umpire.
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.
Great Britain – France: 3-1
Gilles Simon defeats James Ward 6-4 6-4 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 6-2
Andy and Jamie Murray defeat Nicolas Mahut/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-1
Andy Murray defeats Gilles Simon 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-0
One more disillusion for the French team after their defeat in the final last year. Despite 3 top 20 players in their team (Simon, Tsonga and Gasquet), they could not beat Team GB at Queen’s club this weekend. Andy Murray won three matches in as many days to propel Great Britain into the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time in 34 years.
— British Tennis (@BritishTennis) July 19, 2015
— judy murray (@judmoo) July 20, 2015
Australia – Kazakhstan: 3-2
Mikhail Kukushkin defeats Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-3 6-3
Aleksander Nedovyesov defeats Nick Kyrgios 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-4
Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt defeat Andrey Golubev/Aleksander Nedovyesov 6-4 7-6 6-2
Sam Groth defeats Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3 7-6 4-6 7-6
Lleyton Hewitt defeats Aleksander Nedovyesov 7-6 6-2 6-3
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios were respectively 3 and 4 when Lleyton Hewitt played his first Davis Cup match back in 1999. And this weekend the soon-to-retire showed them how the job has to be done. After the surprising defeats of the young guns, Groth and Hewitt won the doubles on Saturday, and on Sunday Sam Groth levelled the tie against Mikhail Kukushkin. Hewitt then defeated Nedovyesov in straight sets to complete Australia’s first 0-2 comeback since 1939.
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) July 19, 2015
The Emirates Arena in Glasgow is the favourite to host the much anticipated semi-final clash between Great Britain and Australia, that will meet for the 13th time, with the Aussies leading 8-4 and having won the last three.
Andy Murray and Lleyton Hewitt are ready to rumble:
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) July 19, 2015
— Lleyton Hewitt (@lleytonhewitt) July 20, 2015