Report Card: Nicolas Mahut doubles up
The Report Card hands out grades for the week in tennis. Last week, Nicolas Mahut collected two hard-earned titles and Simon Halep continued her roll in WTA Tour tournaments.
Nicolas Mahut: A-plus. The Marathon Man continued his resurgence, becoming the first player to win both the singles and doubles events at an ATP tournament in 2013. The 31-year-old Frenchman needed to play four matches in 25 hours to accomplish the feat at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. After rained washed out the men's semifinals Saturday in Newport, R.I., Mahut returned Sunday morning to beat Michael Russell 6-2, 6-2; in the afternoon, he rallied past Lleyton Hewitt 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 for the title, breaking the Aussie when he served for the match at 5-4 in the second set. Mahut completed his three-match day by teaming with Edouard Roger-Vasselin to defeat Andre Sa and Marcelo Demoliner 6-4. 7-6 (4) in the doubles semifinals, wrapping it up at 7:45 p.m. Back on the court at 10:30 a.m. Monday, the pair edged Tim Smyczek and Rhyne Williams 6-7 (4), 6-3, 10-5 in the final. In singles, Mahut has climbed from No. 127 to No. 75 after winning his second title in less than a month; he won the Topshelf Open in June for his first career title.
Simona Halep: A. How good has Halep been over the last two months at WTA Tour events? She made the Italian Open semifinals as a qualifier in May and then won her next three non-Grand Slam events (a stretch that also included a first-round loss to Carla Suarez Navarro at the French Open and a second-round loss to Li Na at Wimbledon). The last of those three titles came Sunday, when she beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-1 in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Now at a career-high No. 23, she's the No. 2 seed behind Serena Williams at this week's Swedish Open.
Carlos Berlocq and Fabio Fognini: A. The ATP is up to six first-time winners this year after weekend titles for Berlocq and Fognini. Berlocq, a 30-year-old from Argentina, cooled off Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-1 to win the Swedish Open. Before Sunday, he had made only one final in his 12-year career. Sadly, he did not celebrate by "hulking" his shirt.
Similarly, the 26-year-old Fognini had reached only two finals entering the weekend. But, after upsetting top-seeded Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals, the Italian defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Mercedes Cup.
Roberta Vinci: A. Vinci inched closer to the top 10 after winning her hometown tournament with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over fellow Italian and doubles partner Sara Errani at the Italiacom Open in Palermo, Sicily. The 11th-ranked Vinci's second title of the year moved her within 440 points of No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki. That said, Vinci has loads of points to defend on North American hard courts, where she made the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open and Montreal last year and won the Dallas title.
Michael Russell: C-minus. It was a tremendous effort for Russell to return to the United States after winning a Challenger event in Ecuador and make the Newport semifinals, his first tour-level semifinal in more than a year. That two-week stint pushed his ranking up to No. 81, three spots ahead of Jack Sock as the No. 4 American. So it's a shame that a Facebook rant against Hewitt (Russell said his publicist did it) marred the feel-good aspect of seeing a 35-year-old journeyman still grinding and making a dent on tour.
Lleyton Hewitt: B. The 32-year-old Aussie has made the most of his three grass tournaments this year. He upset Juan Marin del Potro en route to the semifinals at Queen's Club, knocked off No. 10 Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round of Wimbledon and upended defending champion John Isner on his way to the final in Newport (where, as noted above, he served for the title against Mahut). After a 9-3 run on grass, let's see if Hewitt can improve on his 7-6 record this year on hard courts.
Babolat: B-plus: First, Verdasco dropped Dunlop to move to Babolat, and subsequently made the Wimbledon quarterfinals and Swedish Open final. Now there are Danish reports that Yonex has dropped Wozniacki because she went back to using a Babolat. Wozniacki was with Babolat when she became No. 1 but accepted a lucrative deal from Yonex to switch. Don't change your rackets, people. Don't.
Annika Beck: B-plus. The 19-year-old German made her fourth quarterfinal of the year, in Budapest, and became the fourth teenager in the top 50, behind Laura Robson, Madison Keys, and Monica Puig.
John Isner: C-plus. It was great to see Isner back on the court so soon after a knee injury prompted his second-round retirement at Wimbledon. But did he come back too soon? He called the trainer twice for his knee during his semifinal loss to Hewitt, and Isner told reporters that he was experiencing the same type of pain that he had at Wimbledon. “It was a little bit scary," he said. "The more I think about it and the more I’ve talked about it, I think it’s an issue with my quad because the pain is directly above my kneecap." Isner loves playing in America and always plays a heavy schedule through the U.S. Open Series, but he has to prioritize his health.
Ivo Karlovic: A. The 34-year-old was a winner just for stepping back on the court at Newport for his first tournament since being hospitalized with viral meningitis in April. Karlovic also won two matches before falling to Isner in -- surprise! -- two tiebreakers in the quarterfinals.
Ryan Harrison: D. Another tough draw, another early-round loss. Harrison drew Isner in the first round (he played him in the Newport semifinals last year) and lost 7-6 (0), 6-2. Harrison dropped to No. 132, his lowest ranking in more than two years.
World Team Tennis: A. Billie Jean King couldn't have asked for more in the opening week of World Team Tennis, which began with the Washington Kastles winning their 34th consecutive match to break the Los Angeles Lakers' record for the longest winning streak by a major U.S. pro sports team (hat tip to Lakers part-owner Jeannie Buss for sending out this classy message congratulating the Kastles, who saw the streak end at 34). The league was also able to ride the publicity train that is Martina Hingis (who plays for the Kastles), as she prepared for her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Combined with Andy Roddick's involvement with the Springfield Lasers, it was a good kick-off for the season.
Oh, and it helps when the newly anointed King of Britain is tuning in, too:
Marion Bartoli: A-plus. Because this: