Monday, February 13, 2012

Reigning, former SAP Open champions hobbling

   Wednesday night at the SAP Open in San Jose could be very interesting.
   Andy Roddick and Milos Raonic, who have used their massive serves to win four SAP Open singles titles combined, are scheduled to play their first matches in the tournament then at HP Pavilion. And both are hobbling.
   Roddick -- the champion in 2004, 2005 and 2008 -- retired from his second-round match against Lleyton Hewitt in last month's Australian Open with a partially torn tendon in his right hamstring. Roddick, 29, said on Feb. 2 that he hadn't hit a ball since the Jan. 19 injury but was planning to start last Monday.
   Raonic, a 21-year-old Canadian who won his first ATP World Tour title in last year's SAP Open, withdrew from his Davis Cup singles match against France on Sunday in Vancouver, British Columbia, with knee pain following Saturday's doubles loss. France won 4-1 and will host the United States in the April 6-8 quarterfinals.
   Roddick, seeded second, and Raonic, seeded third, received first-round byes in the SAP Open. On Wednesday at 7 p.m., Roddick is scheduled to play the winner of Tuesday's match between wild card Jack Sock, a promising 19-year-old American, and a qualifier to be determined.
   In a nationally televised encounter between Nebraska natives, Roddick dispatched Sock 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the U.S. Open under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium last September. But Sock, who won the mixed doubles title there with Melanie Oudin two weeks after turning pro, is rapidly improving.
   In Wednesday night's second match, Raonic is scheduled to face the winner of today's contest between 129th-ranked Izak Van der Merwe, 28, of South Africa and No. 89 Tobias Kamke, 25, of Germany. Raonic and Van der Merwe are both 6-5; Kamke is 5-10.
   Both Van der Merwe -- a 2005 NCAA singles semifinalist for Old Dominion, located in Norfolk, Va. -- and Kamke won 2010 Challenger titles in Northern California. Van der Merwe captured the Sacramento Challenger doubles crown with countryman Rik de Voest, and Kamke took the Tiburon singles trophy.
   Also seeded in the SAP Open are No. 1 Gael Monfils of France, No. 4 Radek Stepanek (the 2009 singles and doubles champion, with Tommy Haas) of the Czech Republic, No. 5 Kevin Anderson of South Africa, No. 6 Julien Benneteau of France, No. 7 Donald Young of Atlanta and No. 8 Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
  Go to for draws, schedules, qualifying results, ticket information, etc.
  Karlovic carries Croatia -- Speaking of powerful servers, 6-10 Ivo Karlovic of Croatia almost single-handedly beat host Japan in the first round of the Davis Cup over the weekend.
   Karlovic, who captured the Sacramento and Tiburon singles titles in consecutive weeks last October, won both of his singles matches in straight sets and teamed with Ivan Dodig for a four-set doubles victory in Croatia's 3-2 triumph in Hyogo.
   Karlovic, ranked 39th at 32 years old, defeated No. 18 Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to give Croatia a 2-0 lead and beat No. 81 Go Soeda 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-4 in the deciding match. Both Nishikori, who's coached by Brad Gilbert of San Rafael (near San Francisco), and Soeda, the 2009 Tiburon singles champion, are one foot shorter than Karlovic.
   Cal women ousted - Fifth-seeded Cal lost to top-seeded Duke 4-1 in the semifinals of the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship in Charlottesville, Va.
   The seventh-ranked Bears (6-1) fell in the semis for the third time in four years. The third-ranked Blue Devils (8-0) will face second-seeded UCLA today for the title.
   Cal's point came from freshman Zsofi Susnayi, ranked 21st, at No. 2 singles. She pounded No. 38 Hanna Mar 6-2, 6-1. The Bears' Jana Juricova, the reigning NCAA singles champion, did not finish her matches at No. 1 singles or doubles.

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