No, we did not see Novak Djokovic today. However, we learned that he’ll be on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno next week. Gotta watch that, right? I was thrilled with the Mardy Fish – Ryan Harrison day match. And the night match with Ernests Gulbis and Alex Bogomolov Jr. showed the superior shotmaking and planning of the Latvian Gulbis. Later, in front of the press, he was so cocky again, I kind of wished Mardy would show him a few things Sunday, haha.
I kind of like the press conferences. The process is interesting. While the players are required to spend time with the press after each match, the reporters may not be interested in talking to all players. Here is what I mean: When Gulbis beat Bogomolov in the night match, all of the press wanted Gulbis, and hardly anyone wanted the losing player. That’s life. It’s the ATP handler who gets informed by the ATP staff closer to the player via walkie talkie when the player is ready to face the press. He’ll give everybody e.g. a 10 minute warning. Then he’ll storm the room shouting “Fish is on his way NOW.” Then you get your behind going to find a good spot in the press conference room, where the player will be mike’d, ready to answer questions.
Match Fish – Harrison
Fish wins 6-0, 4-6, 7-6
What on earth happened to Harrison in the first set? He didn’t show up at all, the nerves were not holding up. I bet he would love to forget that 6-0 disaster. Throughout the match you could see that Fish played the smarter tennis, more relaxed, thinking about his shots, planning the strategy, or just waiting for Harrison to make a mistake. Oftentimes you would see Fish moving Harrison around quite a bit and just moving better than his opponent.
The second set looks much different than the first. Harrison has found his rhythm and is ready to play now. Fish serves at 4-5 and after an ace, an unforced error, and a good drop shot he’s up 30-15. Then an ill attempt at another drop shot and it’s 30-30. Double fault, 30-40. Unforced error, and it’s 4-6. The spectators are excited to see a third set.
Although Harrison plays consistently well, Fish now shows why he is no. 9 in the world – he is able to up his game and has answers to all of Harrison’s shots. After Harrison throws his racquet we can already see what’s coming. He seems to take his eyes off the ball a little and starts making more errors. The more errors he makes, the steadier Fish becomes. It’s so frustrating for Harrison that he breaks his Babolat on the ground and gets a warning for racquet abuse. The set ends 7-6 and Mardy won his Semifinal 6-0, 4-6. 7-6.
Mardy Fish Press conference
Referring to his first set score of 6-0 he admits that kind of a performance never holds for two sets. “I shocked him in that first set. This was the cleanest set of tennis I have played in a long time!” And he adds, “Our game is so mental. You win a set 6-0 and then comes reality.”
Asked if Harrison breaking his racquet bothered him he said, “Not at all. In fact you want your opponent to do that kind of thing.”
And we learned more about the dog. Fish revealed that his dog, whom he treats “…better than my wife…”, is a Dachshound (Wiener Dog) by the name of Charlie.
Former Champion Mike Franks
I ran into Mike Franks at the Clubhouse Restaurant. He told me he played this tournament in Singles in 1952, at the age of 15. He also won the doubles Championship title here in 1959, with his partner Barry McKay. Wikipedia writes about him: Franks was ranked # 3 in doubles in America in 1956, 1957, and 1959. In 1959, he also was ranked # 7 in American singles. Franks was one of the top U.S. players of the 1950s.
Franks attended the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was runner-up in the Pac-10 singles championships in 1956 and 1958. He also won a bronze medal at the 1959 Pan-American Games.
He offered his view on the game of tennis, “I can’t believe how much this game has changed since I’ve played here. There are so many more good players on the tour today. And so many more fans worldwide.”
Match Gulbis – Bogomolov
Gulbis wins 6-2, 7-6
The Saturday night match provided some pretty good tennis for the Farmers Classic fans. Gulbis breaks his opponent in the third game of the first set and I wonder how much mental impact such an early break has. Gulbis wins the first set too fast and has a few more problems with Bogomolov in the second set. Bogomolov takes him to a tiebreaker but doesn’t have the ability to finish it for a third set.
Gulbis is happy about this quick win and turns Pam Shriver’s interview into a farce when he grabs her microphone and starts asking her questions.
Ernests Gulbis press conference
Gulbis is quite sure that he is getting better with every match and builds his confidence. He knows the key for him is his ability to serve well. He also knows how well he’s moving this week. Winning in LA would boost his confidence for the following tournaments leading up to the US Open.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, JULY 30, 2011
Singles – Semifinals
 Mardy Fish (USA) d Ryan Harrison (USA) 60 46 76(3)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d Alex Bogomolov Jr. (USA) 62 76(4)
Doubles – Semifinals
 Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) d Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) / Frank Moser (GER) 46 64 10-7
Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Treat Conrad Huey (PHI) d  Jonathan Erlich (ISR) / Andy Ram (ISR) 76(6) 67(8) 10-4
ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, JULY 31, 2011
STRAUS STADIUM start Noon
 Mark Knowles (BAH) / Xavier Malisse (BEL) vs Somdev Devvarman (IND) / Trent Conrad Huey (PHI) tape delayed on Tennis Channel at 7:00 p.m.
Not Before 2:00 PM
 Mardy Fish (USA) vs Ernests Gulbis (LAT) live on ESPN2
2011 Tournament Honoree: On Saturday evening, Peter Fleming, the Farmers Classic 1979 singles and 1983 doubles champion, took part in the Tournament Honoree ceremony. Fleming won 66 career doubles titles, including four championships at Wimbledon and three at the US Open.
Final Match Up: This will be the first meeting between Mardy Fish and Ernests Gulbis.
Fish a Force: Top seed Mardy Fish, who holds the lead in the Olympus US Open Series Bonus Challenge, has extended his Series winning streak to seven straight matches. Fish, the winner last week in Atlanta, has reached consecutive ATP World Tour finals for the second time in his career. Last summer he won consecutive titles in Newport and Atlanta.
Title Track: Mardy Fishis gunning for his second straight title after having won last week in Atlanta. The top-ranked American is looking for his seventh career title while contesting his 19th career final.
Gulbis Gets It Going: Ernests Gulbisis through to his second career ATP World Tour final. The only other time Gulbis played in a title match was February 2010 in Delray Beach, where he claimed his first career title. His run this week is a noteworthy achievement considering he entered Farmers Classic carrying a five-match losing streak.
Seeding Story: Mardy Fishis looking to be the first top seed to claim the LA title since Andre Agassi in 2005, while Ernests Gulbis would be the first unseeded champion since Radek Stepanek in 2007.
Nationality News: Mardy Fish would be the 33rd different American to have won the Farmers Classic title in its 85-year history. An American has won 58 of the first 84 titles in LA. Ernests Gulbis is the first Latvian to reach the final, and would be the first European to win here since Radek Stepanek in 2007. A win by Gulbis would mark just the 14th time a European has won in LA.
Hall of Fame Honors: On Sunday, the International Tennis Hall of Fame will present rings to four Southern California inductees. Between matches, Tracy Austin, Brad Parks and Pam Shriver will receive rings in honor of their induction into the Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
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. The singles final on Sunday will be carried live on ESPN2, while the doubles final will be shown on Tennis Channel on tape delay
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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