Tennis Prose



Newport’s Best Edition Ever

Dr. Ivo thrilled after beating Pospisil on Weds.

By Scoop Malinowski

I made two realizations this week in Newport – the tournament gets better every year. And Newport is my favorite tennis tournament.

This year is extra special because two superstars decided to play. Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray sold out the venue on Tuesday – the first sellout in half a decade – and he mercilessly pummeled the fading Sam Querrey 62 60. Querrey had beaten Murray the last time they played at Wimbledon in 2017 but the support of both of his parents wife and two young children did not provide the winning spark for Sam who will need to drop down to Challengers to rebuild his fallen ranking which is now outside the top 150.

Murray hasn’t had it easy in Newport. In his second match, he survived being down a set and a break to the Wimbledon doubles champ Max Purcell but then prevailed 46 62 61. The determined 52nd ranked Brit really wants to win this title, as evidenced by his on court intensity, grunting and overall demeanor.

Purcell slowed the pace for Murray, using mostly forehand and backhand slices but Murray, once called a “tennis genius” by Kei Nishikori, solved the puzzle.

“He has a very different game style to a lot of the players on Tour nowadays,” Murray said after. “He was using a lot of slice off of both sides, which is very rare. It took some time to get used to that way of playing. Then once I started to find my rhythm a little bit in the middle of the second set I was able to dictate points and push him around the court a little bit more, whereas in the first set I certainly wasn’t doing that.” Purcell told me after the match he lost 18 or 19 points in a row in the second set and that was the turning point.

The other big star in the draw Felix Auger-Aliassime was defeated today by Jason Kubler, after darkness suspended play last night at 6-5 in the third for the Canadian powerhouse. But the Australian Kubler held serve to force the third set tiebreaker which he won 7-4.

What makes Newport so special is the history and tradition. Newport is where the first national tennis tournament was played. I can remember many players telling me it’s one of their favorite tournaments – Marcelo Melo, Ruben Bemelmans and Maxime Cressy said it’s his favorite event of all.

This year Cressy is showing signs of thriving from the Newport inspiration and fulfilling his grass court potential with his attacking, serve and volley game. No. 4 Cressy defeated Mitchell Krueger 64 63 in the round of 16 and Steve Johnson today 67 64 64 in the QF. The 25 year old ranked 41 in the world is still hunting for this first ATP title.

I saw Lleyton Hewitt sitting on a bench with his mom across Memorial Ave, chatting with JP Smith, the Aussie doubles specialist. The buzz is Hewitt wasn’t scheduled to arrive to Newport until today but my eyes don’t lie, Hewitt was here Tuesday morning, most likely because he loves Newport – he played here a few times at the end of his career – and would like to take more time incognito to see all the wonderful sites and scenery which make Newport such a special and exciting place to be.

The tennis has been fun to watch, the $10m invested in the new grass surface allows for longer rallies which look like hard court tennis. The Tennis Hall of Fame is said to have several deep pocketed donors which make the costly upgrades and pricey appearances of Murray and Felix possible.

It may be just a matter of time before Roger Federer graces the courts of Newport.

Though Felix is the first top ten player to compete in Newport, his ability to fill the center court stadium was a decisive second place behind Murray. I even spotted one fan from Boston named Ivan who was wearing a custom Murray shirt with his images all over the front and back of the shirt. Ivan said it was his first time seeing Murray play live. Seeing that Murray shirt he was wearing provoked me to give him a copy of my book Facing Andy Murray, which he said he didn’t know about.

Newport tennis attracts all types of fans. Small talk around town is unique and friendly. I actually witnessed a white girl driving a jeep pull over on a sidestreet to compliment another girl for her sense of style of wearing a blue denim jumper. She and her friend talked with the Jeep driver for a few seconds. I confirmed with the two girls about the contents of the conversation with the stranger, which illustrates the spirit of kindness and friendliness of this great little city.

At the Stop & Shop supermarket I somehow started talking with a guy also on a bike, which resulted in him telling me he works on a 94 foot yacht for some wealthy French Canadian guys from Montreal who are in town for the tennis. They came from Miami.

Newport continues to fascinate and dazzle and if you’re a tennis enthusiast who has never been here before, you should add Newport to your bucket list.

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