Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fairfield top seed dominates suspended match

Top seed Tim Smyczek volleys against Mitchell
Krueger in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger. Smy-
czek won all five games in 19 minutes to finish
a suspended match. Photo by Paul Bauman
   FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- If anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt regarding sportsmanship, it's Tim Smyczek.
   In the first round of the Fairfield $50,000 Men's Pro Challenger, the top-seeded Smyczek (pronounced SMEE-check) trailed fellow American Mitchell Krueger by a service break early in the third set on Tuesday evening.
   Smyczek asked for play to be suspended at 6:41 p.m. because the lights at In Shape: Fairfield Rancho Solano were inadequate, and USTA supervisor Keith Crossland agreed.
   "It wasn't a tactic or anything," the 5-foot-9 (1.75-meter) Smyczek said today after completing a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 victory over Krueger. "I have a little trouble playing under the lights to begin with. I don't have very good eyes. The lights just aren't up to regulations, so the later it got, the harder it was to see the ball. The chair umpires told me the same thing -- they were having trouble seeing the ball. It was a bit lucky for me that it came at a time when I was down a break.
   "Frankly, we probably should have visited the idea of stopping after the second set, but I was on a bit of a roll and didn't even think of it. It was definitely not a tactic. It did work out in my favor, though."
   Smyczek gained worldwide fame in January for his sportsmanlike gesture late in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 7-5 loss to Rafael Nadal, who was suffering from nausea and dizziness, in the second round of the Australian Open.
   With Nadal serving at 6-5, 30-0, a fan yelled as Nadal tossed the ball on his first delivery and distracted him. The serve sailed long, but Smyczek allowed Nadal to take another first serve.
   In today's featured match, 17-year-old U.S. phenom Frances Tiafoe eliminated eighth-seeded James McGee of Ireland 6-3, 7-5. The 6-foot-2 (1.88-meter) Tiafoe won 32 of 34 points (94 percent) on his first serve.
   After a McGee serve was called an ace on game point for 4-4 in the second set, the volatile Tiafoe slammed his racket on the court, complained vociferously and asked to see Crossland. Chair umpire Christian Preston refused to summon Crossland and told Tiafoe to play, and Tiafoe calmed down for the rest of the match. 
Krueger said Smyczek "definitely stepped
it up from (Tuesday) night." Photo by
Paul Bauman
   Tiafoe won the prestigious Orange Bowl at 15 in 2013 to become the youngest champion in the tournament's 67-year history. He learned to play at the Junior Tennis Champions Center, a facility in College Park, Md., where his father, an immigrant from Sierra Leone in Africa, worked as a custodian.
   Two Fairfield quarterfinals were set today.
   In the top half of the draw, No. 4 seed Blaz Rola of Slovenia will face No. 5 Jared Donaldson, 19, of Irvine, Calif. Rola, a 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) left-hander, won the 2013 NCAA singles title as a junior at Ohio State and then turned pro.
   In the bottom half, Tiafoe will play Darian King of Barbados. King upset second-seeded Ryan Harrison of Austin, Texas, in the first round. 
   Krueger, who at 21 is six years younger than Smyczek, led 7-6 (5), 2-6, 3-1 when play was suspended on Tuesday. Smyczek reeled off five straight games in 19 minutes, winning 20 of 25 points, to complete the match.    
   "It was the type of (finish) I was hoping for," said the 100th-ranked Smyczek, a Milwaukee product who trains in Tampa, Fla. "I came out ready to go from the first point. I made sure I had a full sweat going before I got out there. I was taking care of my side of the net from the first point."
   Krueger, meanwhile, repeatedly made errors.
   "He did a good job of maybe changing up his game plan, and I came out a little flat," said the 230th-ranked Krueger, who grew up near Fort Worth, Texas, in Aledo and trains in Boca Raton, Fla. "But credit to him. He definitely stepped it up from (Tuesday) night in the five games we played today.
   "He was definitely a lot more aggressive but not giving me a lot of free points. He was still being really solid. I still had my chances, but I gave the break back to him in my first service game. Then it's back even. It's tough. I never really got myself going."
Frances Tiafoe, a 17-year-old U.S. phenom, beat eighth-seeded
James McGee of Ireland 6-3, 7-5. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Krueger did not blame Smyczek for asking Crossland to suspend the match on Tuesday evening.
   "I would have gladly kept playing, but the lights were definitely not great," Krueger said. "It's 100 percent (Smyczek's) right to voice his opinion, and it's up to the supervisor to make the decision.
   "It's not like (Smyczek) did it on purpose. It's completely within the rules. My argument was if we started the third set, you know it's going to run into this problem, and we might as well finish."
   Given that the lights at the club did not meet Challenger regulations, would it have been better to suspend the match after two sets?
   "Yes, in retrospect it might have been," Crossland said, "but the general philosophy I carry is if players are willing to play, I'm willing to let them play. It's a very delicate decision about whether you go stop a match when players prefer to continue to play versus going out there, as I did four games into the third set, and then stop."
   The featured match began at 4:30 p.m., Crossland said, "so sponsors and people who work during the day have the opportunity to come out and watch. It didn't work out as well as it could have."
   The featured match subsequently was moved to 4 p.m. Smyczek will meet another 17-year-old U.S. sensation, Taylor Fritz, on Thursday at that time.
   Fritz, the world's top-ranked junior, dispatched qualifier Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday in the first round. He turned pro in August before the U.S. Open, captured the boys singles title at Flushing Meadows and won his first Challenger title last week in Sacramento in only his second attempt.
   "I haven't gotten to see him play much," said Smyczek, whose strengths are consistency, quickness and mental toughness. "I don't know a whole lot about him, but obviously he's playing very well. He won last week, and he won relatively easy in the first round (in Fairfield).
   "It'll be tough. I'll probably do a little homework and see what I'm up against, but it's kind of the same thing as always -- just taking care of my side of the court. I feel like if I focus on the things I do well, the results take care of themselves."
   Sacramento doubles champions Blaz Kavcic and Grega Zemlja of Slovenia lost in the first round to top-seeded Carsten Ball of Australia and Dustin Brown of Germany 6-2, 6-1. Kavcic and Zemlja beat Brown and countryman Daniel Brands 6-1, 3-6 [10-3] in the Sacramento final.    
At In Shape: Fairfield Rancho Solano
First-round singles
   Tim Smyczek (1), United States, def. Mitchell Krueger, United States, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3.
Second-round singles
   Jared Donaldson (5), United States, def. Frank Dancevic, Canada, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
   Blaz Rola (4), Slovenia, def. Liam Broady, Great Britain, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
   Frances Tiafoe, United States, def. James McGee (8), Ireland, 6-3, 7-5.
   Darian King, Barbados, def. Peter Polansky, Canada, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
First-round doubles
   Carsten Ball, Australia, and Dustin Brown (1), Germany, def. Blaz Kavcic and Grega Zemlja, Slovenia, 6-2, 6-1.
   Johan Brunstom, Sweden, and Frederik Nielsen (2), Denmark, def. Jason Jung, Taiwan, and Connor Smith, United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Dean O'Brien and Ruan Roelofse (3), South Africa, def. Ariel Behar, Uruguay, and Ruben Gonzales, Philippines, 4-6, 6-3 [10-6].
   Frank Dancevic, Canada, and Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland, def. Jean-Yves Aubone and Taylor Fritz, United States, 6-4, 6-2.
   Mitchell Krueger and Tennys Sandgren (4), United States, def. Nicolas Barrientos, Colombia, and Darian King, Barbados, 7-5, 6-4.
Thursday's schedule
Stadium Court
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Dustin Brown (3), Germany, vs. Tommy Paul, United States.
   Daniel Brands (7), Germany, vs. Alex Kuznetsov, United States.
(Not before 4 p.m.)
   Tim Smyczek (1), United States, vs. Taylor Fritz, United States.
Court 1
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Mitchell Krueger and Tennys Sandgren, United States, vs. Philip Bester and Peter Polansky, Canada.
   Blaz Kavcic (8), Slovenia, vs. Jason Jung, Taiwan.
(Not before 2 p.m.)
   Johan Brunstrom, Sweden, and Frederik Nielsen (2), Denmark, vs. Sekou Bangoura, United States, and Jose Statham, New Zealand.
(Not before 3 p.m.)
   Carsten Ball, Australia, and Dustin Brown (1), Germany, vs. Frank Dancevic, Canada, and Henri Laaksonen, Switzerland.

1 comment:

  1. You have to really like Smyczek. I hope our young American guns are watching a taking note of good sportsmanship.