The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Cox: Andy Murray is officially back

October 12, 2019

You can tell Andy Murray’s getting his game back. The full growl is re-emerging.

Fabio Fognini of Italy got the full extent of that scowl at a match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters this week when Murray accused his opponent of shouting when he was attempting to make a volley at the net.

“Somebody made a noise. I don’t know who made a noise,” said Murray. “(Fognini) then said, ‘Stop looking at me. What are looking at me for?’ 

“He told me to stop complaining, to have a sense of humour. I wanted to know where the sound came from and it came from him, which you’re not allowed to do.”

Murray later told Fognini to shut up during the third set, and then brushed the Italian’s hand aside after Fognini won the match.

“Mate. You do the same to everyone,” was one of the comments Murray barked at Fognini.

The argument reportedly continued into the locker room at the Qizhong Forest Tennis Center after the match ended, with several players looking on.

Despite the controversy, the 32-year-old Murray was frustrated with his own play as his comeback from hip surgery continues. He had two chances to serve for the match before losing 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (2).

“As much as I say I want to lower my expectations and not expect as much, I’m unhappy I lost that match,” he said. “It’s a match I should have won against a really good player. I have obviously made progress the last few weeks but I am really disappointed.”

Coco Gauff’s extraordinary tennis season isn’t over yet.

And she’s not finished making a little history.

The 15-year-old American became the youngest player to reach a WTA quarterfinal since 2005 in Linz this week when she knocked off Kateryna Kozlova. The two were deadlocked at a set apiece when Kozlova had to retire down 0-2 early in the third.

Gauff got into the event as a lucky loser when No. 30 Maria Sakkari had to pull out with a wrist injury. She then had to take on Stefanie Voegele and came up with the win in straight sets.

It’s Gauff’s first event since the U.S. Open where she lost an unforgettable match to Naomi Osaka. Osaka consoled her opponent after the match, and the entire tennis world was touched by that gesture of sportsmanship.

Gauff is now inside the top 100, which will mean automatic entry into the main draw of the Australian Open in January.

Nick Kyrgios is no longer Australia’s leading man.

The tempestuous Kyrgios was supplanted by 20-year-old Alex de Minaur after he won his third ATP title of the season and moved into the No. 24 slot in the world.

De Minaur knocked off Adrian Mannarino in Zhuhai, beating Mannarino in two sets without facing a break point.

“(Mannarino) is one of the toughest guys to play, very tricky,” said de Minaur. “I just had to make sure I stayed calm.”

All of de Minaur’s wins this season have come outdoor on hard courts. He also won in Atlanta and Sydney.

While the explosion of team events in tennis is clearly having an impact around the world, the Hopman Cup isn’t dead yet.

It looked like this year’s mixed-gender competition might be the last, with the new ATP Cup moving into the slot prior to the Australian Open in 2020. Not so fast, says new ITF president David Haggerty.

“Our plan is to re-introduce it for 2021,” Haggerty told Reuters.  “We are going out to the market for expressions of interest and we have already had quite a few inquiries.”

The event began in 1989. Roger Federer led Switzerland to victory last year in Perth, which has hosted the competition since 2013.

Haggerty says the Hopman Cup may move from Australia.

“It could really be anywhere in the world and anytime on the calender,” said Haggerty.

Theoretically, it’s good for tennis. Right?

The announcement that an iniative by U.S. First Lady Melania Trump to build a tennis “pavilion” on the grounds of the White House was greeted by surprise and, not surprisingly, a good deal of sarcasm this week.

“Thank you to all who will help in making this legacy piece possible for future first families to gather at and enjoy for years to come,” she announced on Twitter in a series of tweets.

The new tennis facility is being financed by private donors. Former president Barack Obama turned the previous White House tennis facility into a basketball court.

When FLOTUS posed for pictures with a shovel in the ground, Twitter wasted no time taking a few jabs at Donald Trump’s wife, suggesting she was trying to build an escape tunnel from the White House. 

It’s well known golf is the president’s preferred sport, and not clear whether his wife is an avid tennis player. The president did have a private suite at the U.S. Open for years.

When you’re down, you try anything. And so, having fallen far from the form that made her a champion at Roland Garros in 2017, Jelena Ostapenko has enlisted some new coaching help.

That it’s Marian Bartoli, the former Wimbledon champion, who was Ostapenko’s choice raised a few eyebrows.. Bartoli was quirky presence on court during her playing career, and she was coached by her father.

But in Linz, there she was by Ostapenko’s side.

“We are really good friends,” explained Ostapenko. “We decided to try and work together this week.”

Ostapenko has fallen to No. 72, and entered the Linz competition 19-26 on the year.

“She sometimes asked me about a player while I was commentating,” said Bartoli. “We have the same game style, it’s easy for me to understand how she plays.”

Bartoli retired in 2013 and briefly tried to make a comeback last season before abandoning the idea.