It was time again for The Farmer’s Insurance Classic Tennis tournament at the UCLA tennis center July 23rd-August 1st. There were some nice pre-events including a concert by Keith Urban and an interesting fundraising Under the Stars night on July 24th. The first match was highlighted by comedian Jon Lovitz and Michael Chang playing lead singer Chris Martin of Coldplay and Jim Courier. Lovitz stole the show with ongoing jokes as they were all mic’d. The feature match pitted Andre Agassi vs. John McEnroe. After a tight first set, Agassi blew Johnny Mac away in the second with Mac showing some of his temper to the crowd and himself.
The main draw featured defending champion Sam Querrey, Ernest Gulbis, Feliciano Lopez, Marco Baghdatis, Janko Tipsarevic and wild cards James Blake and last minute entry Andy Murray. Murray made his first LA appearance and it couldn’t have been a better time as Novak Djokovic dropped out late due to personal reasons, Mardy Fish withdrew because of fatigue and defending US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro was still recovering from his wrist surgery injury.
Early in the tournament, there were many up and coming players but not many big names to watch. Murray didn’t play his first match until Thursday night against American qualifier Tim Smyczek and it was very entertaining as Murray dodged a bullet winning in 3 sets. Smyczek wasn’t too big but had great speed and a big heart. The young Gulbis from Latvia has so much potential and great skills but lacks intensity, fitness and mental strength as evidence by his loss to Falla from Columbia in the second round. He could barely move near the end of the match even though he is in his early 20’s. I interviewed him about his fitness and focus after the match and it seemed like he didn’t care too much providing answers that were aloof.
Lopez took out Blake in a close, intense match before he fell to Murray in the semis in 3 sets. Baghdatis looked like he would be a threat to win it all before succumbing to Tipsarevic in the quarters in straight sets. Querrey then took Tipsarevic out in a tight 3 set match that could have gone either way. That set up the much-anticipated final with Querrey vs. Murray. Querrey had played most of his matches in the daytime, which was quite hot, but he got some better rest at night. Murray had all night matches to attract a better crowd until the finals. However, the weather turned a bit cold at night and Murray was in obvious pain with back stiffness the first few matches. It almost looked like he would have to retire in his opening match but he pulled it out. He received some much needed treatment and looked as though he was going to win the tournament especially after winning the first set vs. Querrey and had control of the second set before Querrey took it to a tie-breaker and won. Querrey then broke Murray in the third set and won his second consecutive tournament at UCLA. The Bryan Brothers captured the doubles title!
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