Sampras drops SAP Open exhibition to Monfils

Sampras drops SAP Open exhibition to Monfils

Feb. 7, 2011
TENNIS PAGE

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) After one long point, Pete Sampras sat in a chair to catch his breath, while Gael Monfils dropped to the ground to do a push-up, followed by a sprint and then a sit-up.That was just one piece of evidence of the 15-year age difference between the two competitors in the exhibition match that highlighted the opening night of the SAP Open on Monday.Monfils was faster on the court, showing the ability to track down drop shots and other volleys Sampras thought would be winners. Monfils had more power on his serve as evidenced by three straight 130-plus mph aces at one point. And Monfils got the better of the 14-time Grand Slam winner, beating Sampras 7-6 (4), 6-4."I felt I played a little better than I did last year and held my own," Sampras said. "Physically, that's the most I've served and volleyed in the last seven years. Not easy. Gael is a great mover, returns well and made me work really hard on my service game. All in all, I'm very happy with the way I played. I had a few chances in the first set that I let slip away. He's the real deal."This exhibition marked Monfils debut at the San Jose tournament. He can only hope that opening his first trip here with a victory over Sampras will work out as well as it did last year for Fernando Verdasco, who followed up his exhibition victory over Sampras with a tournament win.In first-round matches played Monday, James Blake beat qualifier Jesse Levine 7-5, 6-1, in his first match since October. In other matches, Michael Russell beat Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-2, Tim Smyczek defeated Robert Farah 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, Denis Istomin beat Roman Borvanov 6-3, 7-5, and Donald Young knocked off Dustin Brown 7-6 (2), 6-4.Monfils thoroughly enjoyed the lighthearted affair, playing to the crowd of 4,911 whenever he got the chance. At one point, Monfils grabbed a camera from a photographer and snapped a shot of Sampras. Then between games, Monfils fetched his cell phone from his bag and had a ball boy take a photo of him with Sampras.Monfils later filmed Sampras' postmatch interview with his phone, recording praise like this: "I've played a lot of good movers in my day. He's one of the best I've ever played."Monfils, who was just 4 years old when Sampras won his first major title at the U.S. Open in 1990,"To play against you, Pete, is a dream," he said after the match.Sampras played an exhibition here for the fourth straight year. Afterward, he said he'd like to play someone closer to his own age next year, like John McEnroe or Andre Agassi.Sampras will square off with his old rival Agassi later this month in an exhibition at Madison Square Garden and he took the opportunity to hype up that match."I always beat him in New York," he said. "I will say that."Sampras is also finally starting to embrace the technology that has taken over the sport in recent years, switching from the old Wilson racket he used during his career to the more powerful Babolat that is so popular with today's players."I need a little bit more pop," he said. "I need it if I'm going to play some tennis."Blake had not played since losing to Lukasz Kubot in the first round in Vienna last October because of shoulder and knee injuries. Blake, a 10-time winner on tour who was once ranked as high as fourth in the world, has fallen to 170th in the latest rankings.Blake has previously overcame a broken neck and a case of shingles in 2004 to make it into the top 5 of the rankings two years later. Now he's looking for another comeback at age 31.He got off to a shaky start against a player ranked 293rd in the world, failing to take advantage of early break point opportunities and falling behind 5-4 in the first set after losing serve on the only break point he faced in the match.Blake responded by breaking Levine right back to extend the set, starting a stretch where he won nine of the final 10 games in the match. He won the first set when Levine hit a forehand into the net, then dominated the second set. Blake lost just 11 points in the seven games, winning 80 percent of the points on his own serve."It's going to take a little while because I hadn't played a match in four months," Blake said. "It will take a couple of matches. This was a good step to get through this one. I was happy that once I got broken I didn't hang my head or start panicking or freaking out or anything. I got back on my horse and broke him back."I thought it might take a little while to get back to playing my best in the big time," he said. "Hopefully this is a good step and it will keep getting better."Blake will next play the winner of Tuesday's first-round match between fourth-seeded Xavier Malisse and Milos Raonic.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Justin Bour matched his career high with four hits including his fourth home run in five games to highlight Miami's best offensive game of the season, and the Marlins held off a late surge to beat the Oakland Athletics 11-9 on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon had three hits each on a night when every Miami player had at least one by the third inning. Three other Marlins had two hits apiece while Ichiro Suzuki added a two-run single in his return to the starting lineup.

Miami entered the day with the second-worst record in the majors having dropped 14 of 17 before getting a season-high 19 hits against Oakland in the first meeting between the two clubs since 2014.

Yonder Alonso hit his 13th home run of the season for the A's, but left with a bruised right hand after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth. Ryon Healy and Rajai Davis also homered for Oakland.

Jose Urena (2-2) pitched five uneven innings for his first career interleague win in 10 appearances. The Miami right-hander allowed six runs over five innings, raising his ERA from 1.91 to 3.08.

Jesse Hahn (1-4) took the loss and left the game in the third inning with a triceps strain. He pitched just two innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while striking out two. He gave up a single to Christian Yelich in the third then left after a visit to the mound by the Oakland trainer.

The A's scored three times in the ninth and had the tying runner at the plate with two outs before AJ Ramos struck out Stephen Vogt.

Bour doubled as part of a three-run third, singled and scored in the fifth, homered leading off the seventh then singled again in the ninth. It was Bour's 12th home run this season and eighth in his last 12 games.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen received a platelet-rich plasma treatment before the game. The left-hander has been out since early May with arm fatigue. . RHP David Phelps was placed on the bereavement list and is expected to rejoin the team Friday. . Reliever Drew Steckenrider was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. . RHP Junichi Tazawa (rib cage inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen this weekend.

Athletics: X-rays taken on Alonso's hand were negative. . LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder strain) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen Wednesday. If all goes well, the former closer could face hitters in his next outing. . RHP Ryan Dull continues to be bothered by soreness in his right knee.

UP NEXT:
Miami right-hander Edinson Volquez (0-6) pitches the finale of this two-game series Wednesday afternoon while Oakland counters with right-hander Sonny Gray (1-1). Gray is attempting to win consecutive starts for the first time since April 2016.