Murray’s cursing, muttering highlight virtual tennis

Getty Images
1 Comment

A little glimpse of what a mic’d-up Andy Murray might sound like on a real-life court – cursing, muttering, grunting – provided the highlights for the coronavirus pandemic’s first video game tennis tournament involving pros.

Alas, the gaming itself was full of glitches galore as the four-day event wrapped up Thursday.

Murray and his semifinal opponent for this virtual version of the Madrid Open, Diego Schwartzman, kept needing to stop and start over when there were technical issues both men complained about.

It was left to Murray’s exclamations of “Oh, my God! What was that?” or “This is madness!” or “This has got to be one of the worst matches I’ve ever seen!” to offer a semblance of entertainment, and perhaps a sense of what the three-time major champion sounds like when he’s actually competing.

No one is on the ATP or WTA tours these days, though. The Madrid Open, a clay-court tuneup for the French Open that was supposed to begin Friday, is among more than 30 tournaments canceled or postponed; sanctioned pro tennis is on hold at least until mid-July.

Ultimately, if one of the main purposes of this esports endeavor – aside from giving players and their fans something to do under the COVID-19 lockdown, and offer some money for charity – was to promote the video game being streamed, well, it wasn’t always the best advertisement.

The hiccups made it tough to follow along, creating the equivalent of rain delays. First there was a break of about 2+ minutes. After starting over, they soon were pausing for nearly another 3 minutes before resuming again.

Even after Schwartzman eventually “won,” he said, “I don’t deserve to be in the final,” and declared it made sense for him to bow out and let Murray continue.

Which seemed to fit with the general silliness of the whole thing.

So did some of the unnecessary commentary, which served only to drown out the banter among the players, or to provide, um, insights such as this during Murray’s win over David Goffin in the men’s final (Kiki Bertens won the women’s title with a controller Thursday, a year after claiming the Madrid trophy with her racket): “I just can’t get over the quality of tennis being played by both men here. A real neck-and-neck affair here.”

Cue the eye roll emojis.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

Getty Images
0 Comments

The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

Getty Images
1 Comment

HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.