AP Photo

John Isner becomes a father at Laver Cup

Leave a comment

CHICAGO — John Isner, the tall American with the blistering serve, has added a new role in the last week. He’s a dad.

His wife gave birth a week ago to their first child, a daughter, an experience Isner described as “the best moment of my life for sure.”

Being separated this week while he competes in the Laver Cup has been difficult.

Isner said he received a picture on his phone of his daughter watching him play for the first time.

` `I don’t think she will remember it,” he joked. “My wife is changing her diaper and I’m on the TV.”

He’s going to skip upcoming tournaments in Asia to be a family man.

“It’s been super tough being away right now,” he said. “I certainly miss my daughter incredibly much right now.”

He’s also hoping that his family will be able to travel with him next year.

“We’ll see how that goes,” he said. “It’s going to be an adjustment.”

Isner’s career has been on the upswing at age 33. He won his first Masters 1000 title at Miami, beating Alexander Zverev in the finals. And later he reached the Wimbledon semifinals, losing a nearly seven-hour-long marathon to Kevin Anderson, who is his teammate this week on Team World.

Isner had a difficult loss Saturday in the Laver Cup, falling to Zverez, who rallied for a 3-6, 7-6, 10-7 victory.

Roger Federer then beat Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2 to give Team Europe a 7-1 lead in the team competition at the United Center.

Nadal beats Ferrer to reach Barcelona Open quarterfinals

AP Photo
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal looked closer to his clay-court best again as he beat David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The 11-time Barcelona champion saved four of five break points and broke four times in what could have been his last meeting with Ferrer, who is retiring after the Madrid Open next month. It was a sign of improvement for Nadal, who lost in the semifinals in Monte Carlo last week and then needed three sets to get past Leonard Mayer in his opening match in Barcelona.

“This match was important for me,” Nadal said. “Yesterday I had a tough match. I took a step forward and was able to play with more energy.”

The top-seeded Nadal will next face either Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s runner-up, or Jan-Lennard Struff.

Nadal was up 5-3 in the first set before play was stopped for a rain delay. He continued to dictate the match when play resumed, serving out the set and breaking Ferrer’s next service game.

Ferrer saved three match points before finally sending a forehand into the net to give Nadal the win.

The 37-year-old Ferrer was making his last appearance at the Barcelona Open and could not hold back the tears when he received an ovation from the audience. He placed his pink headband on the court as a mark that he had played his last match here.

“I am happy to be able to finish this tournament on the center court, playing against Nadal. I gave it my all,” Ferrer said.

Also, third-seeded Dominic Thiem broke Jaume Munar five times to earn a 7-5, 6-1 victory. Fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2015, brushed off Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-1, 6-3.

Grigor Dimitrov was beaten 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Nicolas Jarry, who will meet Daniil Medvedev after he beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Osaka opens clay campaign by beating Hsieh in Stuttgart

Getty Images
Leave a comment

STUTTGART, Germany — Top-ranked Naomi Osaka opened her clay-court season by beating Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-4, 6-3, on Thursday to reach the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Osaka hit 22 winners and converted three of her six break points to seal the win in 1 hour, 24 minutes and set up a meeting with Donna Vekic of Croatia.

After saving two break points early, it was an unusually smooth victory for Osaka over Hsieh. She needed three sets to get past the Taiwanese veteran en route to her Australian Open victory and then lost to her at the Miami Open last month.

“I felt like this surface is more suited for me (than Hsieh),” Osaka said. “I was sort of in my plan. So, I just felt like I executed what I was trying to do.”

Two-time Stuttgart champion Angelique Kerber also advanced by beating fellow German Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4. The fifth-seeded Kerber saved two break points to hold for 2-2 in the first set and then reeled off the next four games to take control. She then earned a decisive break for 4-3 in the second before closing out the win with her fourth match point.

Kerber will face sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens, who served 20 aces to rally for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Belinda Bencic.

No. 7 Anastasija Sevastova also advanced by beating former champion Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarterfinal against Petra Kvitova, who advanced on Wednesday.

Vekic dispatched Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 7-5, earlier on Thursday.