Today was a day of fun and great tennis. Not only did we listen to a nice band (The Canyons), and watched Randy Jackson play tennis with Wayne Bryan (hilarious). But we also watched another up and coming star on the tennis sky come out, take the reign of his match, and dispatched of Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-4. Ernests Gulbis from Latvia looks like a force to be reckoned with in the future. And I met one of the backers and advisors of the BoomerTennis Club: Cliff Drysdale. What a gentleman! He was broadcasting for ESPN at the Farmers Classic tonight.
Novak Djokovic was here – again!
It was clear that I would not give up searching for the reasons why Novak Djokovic was visiting the LA Tennis Center. So much I found out today from a very reliable source: Djokovic’s agent lives in LA, which would be one reason. He’s booked on the Tonight Show early next week. That would be another reason. But here is an interesting third one: He was invited to visit a Beverly Hills home with a very unusual tennis court. The home once belonged to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and now belongs to millionaire John Brooks. He made some amazing improvements to the tennis court, including concrete reinforcements, an extra-cushioned Australian surface, stereo speakers on the super bright light posts, and a club house. After inspecting the court yesterday he came down to the LA Tennis Center and booked a court for Friday morning. 11 am he was hitting with a partner on court 5 at UCLA’s Sycamore courts, and came by the tournament again later that day for autographs.
Braemar women enjoying themselves
The women around Lisa Gillette-Glick, the SCTA Area League Coordinator for the San Fernando Valley, were in a good mood, enjoying a glass of white wine after the Farmers Classic Fashion Show. They are all members of the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, coming to the Farmers Classic every year. The Fashion Show included male and female models presenting cute adidas tennis outfits. Then there was Chef Allen Jackson (Lemonade restaurant in LA) treating them to lunch and a demonstration of salad dressing with figs, vinaigrette, and goat cheese. For desert they had mini cupcakes with a variety of red velvet, peanut butter, and chocolate.
Mardy Fish’s wife Stacey and her sister had a booth of jewelry that was inspired by her travels with Mardy around the world. Their company is called Lauren Lynn. “Wayne Bryan was an excellent MC for Fashion Day,” says Lisa. She adds, “He even brought out tour player Xavier Malisse to sign autographs and answer questions. We had a blast and can’t wait until next year to do this again!”
Match Harrison – Lu
Harrison wins 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Ryan Harrison did what was necessary to win this match. His game is, in my opinion, heading towards a different level that may set him apart from Lu very soon. Currently at rank 94, he may be able to get into the top 50 after the US Open, and possibly even higher by year-end. Besides his usual tamper tantrum, which saw him throw his racquet almost into the stands, he played a steady game all around. Yen-Hsun Lu had the better shots in the first set and took that set 6-3, but Harrison seems to be in a real good space mentally right now, because this loss of the first set did not deter him. One could almost feel he knew he could win that match, and so it unfolded. Steadily he waited for his chances, got a few lucky breaks in between, especially when Lu could not capitalize on 3 break points in the second set, and took the next two sets.
Since Mardy Fish, as expected, beat the Russian Igor Kunitsyn tonight, Harrison is slated to play Fish in the Semifinal tomorrow. That will be a very interesting match and I am not ready to give that match to Fish right away.
Yen-Hsun Lu press conference
Lu was disappointed, no doubt, and pointed out the many chances he had, especially in the second set. “Harrison knows how to play here and how to win points with those heavy balls here, compared to Atlanta.” Next for Lu: $100,000 Challenger in Vancouver.
Mardy Fish press conference
After winning his match against Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-4
Mardy has never had 5 service breaks to start a match on the tour. In years past this would have been pretty frustrating, but today he is mentally stronger and has his own weapons for these situations.
In regards to his upcoming Semifinal match against Ryan Harrison, he says, “I feel like I am better than Ryan right now and have that advantage.” Asked if he realizes that Harrison gets behind a lot in a match and then figures out how to solve that problem, Fish says, “I know. Justin Gimmelstob said that Ryan has the most comeback wins on the tour. And he’s probably coming out swinging from the hips tomorrow.”
Fish ends by saying “Winning, that’s what drives you in our business. Leaving a city without losing (like he did in Atlanta), that’s a super feeling!”
Catching up with three wheelchair tennis players
Jerry Russell runs the West Coast Wheelchair Tennis Association. He came to the Farmers Classic for the second time this year and brought some friends: Wendy Pasinsky and Michael Garafola. All three of them play tennis at Balboa Park in Encino. Pasinsky also plays on a men’s wheelchair Basketball team, the Northridge Knights.
Garafola is also a multi talent athlete. In addition to playing tennis he manages the Lakers Wheelchair Basketball program, and works in Adaptive Recreation at UCLA. He talks about the NWBA, the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, an organization with 280 teams across the USA, and with men’s, women’s, college, and Junior divisions. He also explains that most NBA teams do have Wheelchair Basketball teams that are competing in the NWBA.
MatchDelPotro – Gulbis
Gulbis wins 6-2, 6-4
Ernests Gulbis from Latvia broke Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro in the first game of the match and the crowd wondered if Del Potro had brought his A-game. Gulbis was mixing it up with aces, service winners, and drop shots. Del Potro never really got into the first set, although at times we saw some of his magic. His second set performance was slightly better and he got 2 more games off Gulbis, but not enough to pull this match back out.
Juan Martin Del Potro press conference
The Argentinean found it difficult to provide answers to Gulbis’ shots. He says, “When you’re not playing really well against these kinds of players, you’re losing. It’s a long road back for me and I need to keep working on my game.”
Del Potro missed playing the US Open last year and he’s happy to play there this year, regardless of the outcome. He says, “Five months ago I was no. 500 in the world. Now I’m again in the top 20. Nobody expected me to get there that fast. I have no idea when I’ll be back in the top 10, but hopefully soon.”
Ernests Gulbis press conference
The Latvian turned out to be a cocky lecturer with a boyish charm. Very confident, outspoken, and with good command of the English language, he replied to a request for a comment in regards to his doubles partner and Saturday Semifinal opponent Alex Bogomolov Jr, “What am I? Nostradamus?” And a request to describe his home country of Latvia a little he answered with “Go look it up on Wikipedia.”
Gulbis stressed the importance of fitness for his game. “When I’m fit I move my legs well, and it all starts with the legs.” He also kept pointing out that tennis is a simple game, no rocket science. Gulbis is coached by Guillermo Cañas. Previously he had been coached by Hernán Gumy, but their cooperation was ended because of Gumy’s family issues, during that time Darren Cahill served as Gulbis consultant for several tournaments. Before Gumy, Ernests was coached by Karl Heinz Wetter and subsequently Nikola Pilić, the former professional Croatian tennis player and Croatian and German Davis Cup captain.
I think Gulbis has a good chance against Bogomolov tomorrow and we may be seeing him in the final Sunday.
RESULTS – FRIDAY, JULY 29, 2011
Singles – Quarterfinals
 Mardy Fish (USA) d  Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 62 64
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d  Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 62 64
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) d  Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 16 64 61
[SE] Ryan Harrison (USA) d Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 36 63 64
Doubles – Quarterfinals
 Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) d Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) / Michael Russell (USA) 61 76 (4)
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d Gilles Muller (LUX) / Jamie Murray (GBR) 62 64
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2011
STRAUS STADIUM start 2:00 p.m.
 Mardy Fish (USA) vs Ryan Harrison (USA) live on Tennis Channel
 Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) vs Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER)
Not Before 7:30 PM
Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) live on ESPN2
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Trent Conrad Huey (PHI) vs  Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR)
2011 Tournament Honoree: On Saturday evening, Peter Fleming, the Farmers Classic 1979 singles and 1983 doubles champion, will take part in the Tournament Honoree ceremony. Fleming won 60 career doubles titles, including four championships at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.
Seeds Supplanted: Just one seeded player, No. 1 Mardy Fish, has reached the semifinal round. This marks the first year in the Open Era at Farmers Classic that only one seed remained among the final four, and it is the second lowest number of seeds to advance to the semifinals in the Open Era (no seeds reached the semifinals in 2004).
Uncharted Waters: Americans Ryan Harrison, 19, and Alex Bogomolov, Jr., 28, are attempting to reach their first career ATP World Tour final. Harrison has been to two semifinals in his career, the first coming just last week in Atlanta. Bogomolov will be playing the first semifinal of his career. Before Friday’s match, Bogomolov was 0-5 in ATP quarterfinal matches.
American Influence:Three Americans – Mardy Fish, Ryan Harrison and Alex Bogomolov, Jr. – have reached the semifinals at Farmers Classic for the first time since 2002. In ’02, the semifinals included Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Jan-Michael Gambill. This marks the fourth time since 1990 that three Americans are among the final four.
All American Affair:If Alex Bogomolov, Jr., wins his semifinal, the Farmers Classic will have it’s first all-American final since 2002 when Andre Agassi defeated Jan-Michael Gambill. There have been 17 all-American finals at Farmers Classic in the Open Era. It would also mark the second straight week on the Olympus US Open Series with an all-American final after Mardy Fish defeated John Isner last week in Atlanta.
Fish a Force: Top seed Mardy Fish has extended his Olympus US Open Series winning streak to six straight matches. Fish, the winner last week in Altanta, has reached back-to-back semifinals for the second time this season, having also done so in February in Memphis and Delray Beach.
Harrison Joins Elite Company: At age 19, Ryan Harrison is the first teenage to reach the Farmers Classic semifinals since Juan Martin del Potro won the title in 2008. Having reached the semifinals last week in Atlanta, Harrison is the first American teenager to reach back-to-back semifinals since Andy Roddick did so in 2002. Harrison is no stranger to age-related history. He won his first career ATP level match in Houston at the age of 15 in 2008, becoming just the 11th player in the Open Era to win a Tour match before turning 16.
Gulbis Gets It Going: Ernests Gulbisis through to his first ATP World Tour semifinal since Sydney in the first month of this year. It’s a noteworthy achievement considering he entered Farmers Classic carrying a five-match losing streak.
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Television Coverage: ESPN2 and Tennis Channel will combine to show 15 hours of live coverage of the 2011 Farmers Classic, presented by Mercedes-Benz, as part of the Olympus US Open Series. On Saturday’s first semifinal will be carried live by Tennis Channel, while the night match will be shown live on ESPN2.
Tickets: Tickets for 85th annual Farmers Classic presented by Mercedes-Benz are on sale now through Ticketmaster. More information can be found at www.FarmersClassic.com/Tickets or by calling (310) 824 -1010 ext. 251.
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