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Grass swing rolls on in Rhode Island


 

Originally published on: 06/07/10 10:33

Wimbledon may be over, and the women’s summer clay court season is already up and running, but another lightening quick grass season hasn’t reached its conclusion just yet.

Happily, the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships is keeping things going on the green stuff, with the only professional grass-court tournament in North America welcoming 32 ATP Tour players to Newport, Rhode Island this week.

A finalist at last year’s event, Queen’s champion Sam Querrey heads up the field, determined to put his straight sets SW19 defeat to Andy Murray behind him and clinch the second grass court title of his career.

The 22-year-old could be in line for a repeat of his testing final at the AEGON Championships, with good friend Mardy Fish appearing to be the biggest threat in the south portion of the draw. That’s if Querrey makes it to the final of course; his path may be blocked by Olivier Rochus, who took Novak Djokovic to five sets under the centre Court Roof at SW19 to ensure Wimbledon’s latest ever finish at 10:58pm.

But there’ll be no late-night ball bashing in Newport this week, and 29-year-old Rochus was untroubled in his first match since that encounter, defeating Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin yesterday in an hour and 42 minutes.

Eighteen-year-old American Ryan Harrison caused the biggest upset on day one, hammering Karol Beck 6-1 6-2 to reach round two, while 2002 champ Taylor Dent also fell victim to a surprise exit, losing to Japan’s Go Soeda after piling up nine double faults in the three-set encounter.

Seeded third, Alejandro Falla – the 26-year-old Colombian who so nearly took out Roger Federer in the first round at the All England Club – may find his quest for a first appearance in the second round neutralised early on. His first round opponent is wildcard Nicholas Mahut – hardly the ideal draw for the Colombian, given that two weeks ago, Mahut wouldn’t let John Isner leave court until they’d been playing for 11 hours and five minutes across three days.

Ahead of his first-round tie, 28-year-old Mahut donated the shirt, shorts and one autographed shoe that he wore on the second day of the colossal match to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum.

“I am humbled and honoured to have a piece of history from my career on display alongside memorabilia from the game’s greatest stars,” said Mahut after handing over his (hopefully washed) gear.

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