Cressy Coming Into His Own This Week At Newport

Maxime Cressy (photo: International Tennis Hall of Fame Open)

NEWPORT, R.I./WASHINGTON, July 16, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Maxime Cressy is set to reach a career-high ranking that will place him into the Top 40 for the first time in his career next week. The 25-year-old, French-born American from Hermosa Beach, Calif., who reached the finals in Melbourne and Eastbourne earlier this season, has been perfect on serve this week at the ATP 250 Infosys Hall of Fame Open in Newport, R.I.

On Saturday, the 41st-ranked Cressy, who has improved his ranking by 110 spots since last year’s grass-court event at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, will face a fellow American and another big server in four-time Newport champion John Isner.

“There’s never better practice than matches,” Cressy said after handling the pressure of defeating 2018 Newport champion Steve Johnson of the United States, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-4, on Thursday afternoon for his 17th victory of the season in 33 matches that lifted him into the semifinals against the No. 2 seed Isner. “I guess my secret would be to play a lot of tournaments and a lot of matches. I’m getting used to playing these tough moments, but it was extremely stressful for me [Thursday].”

The fourth-seeded Cressy, has not dropped serve in either of his matches this week. Against Johnson, he struck 27 aces, won 90 percent of his first-serve points and saved all three break points he faced. He outpointed Johnson 103-95. After a first-round bye, Cressy began the week with a 6-3, 6-4 win over 146th-ranked American qualifier Mitchell Krueger, in which he hit 15 aces, won 87 percent of his first-serve points and outpointed his opponent 64-46.

Isner, 37, reached the semifinals with a quarterfinal win over No. 5 seed Benjamin Bonzi of France, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), in which he hit 29 aces, won points on 79 percent of his first serves and outpointed the 48th-ranked Bonzi 121-114. Earlier in the week, he advanced over No. 91 Peter Gojowczyk of Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (6).

“He’s coming into his own for sure right now,” Isner said of Cressy, during an interview after his quarterfinal win against Bonzi. Before Newport, Cressy upset World No. 9 and Newport top-seed Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon after advancing to the Eastbourne grass final last month. His game, especially on grass, is headed in the right direction.

“He’s having a great year and he does a lot of very good things on the court,” Isner added. “He serves and volleys incredibly well. He probably has, in my mind, one of the best volleys on Tour and he plays aggressively on big points. I think our match will be very close.

“I’m looking forward to it. He’s a nice kid and it’ll be a fun matchup.”

Bublik bests Murray, reaches second Newport semifinal

Alexander Bublik scored another quality win on grass Friday afternoon. The 42nd-ranked, 25-year-old Bublik beat a familiar opponent in 52nd-ranked Andy Murray of Great Britain, 7-5, 6-4, to move into Saturday’s semifinal round. It was their fourth meeting of the season – including twice on grass – and their season series is now tied 2-2. Murray had beaten Bublik in straight sets on grass in Stuttgart, Germany last month.

The 35-year-old Murray, who was making his first Newport appearance since 2006, opened the week with a straight-set win over American veteran Sam Querrey on Tuesday, then rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over 202nd-ranked wild card Max Purcell of Australia in the second round on Wednesday. He brought a 7-2 win-loss record on grass this season into Friday’s quarterfinal match with Bublik – 117-25 on grass in his career, which puts him among the Top 10 in the Open Era.

However, Murray was unable to figure out Bublik’s first serve satisfactorily. The 6-foot-5-inch Bublik from Kazakhstan fired 12 aces, won 80 percent of his first-serve points and was broken just once. Bublik outpointed Murray 68-61 to advance into Saturday’s semifinal round against 102nd-ranked Jason Kubler, who upset No. 8 seed James Duckworth, ranked 74th, 7-5, 7-6 (3), in an all-Australian tussle that lasted two hours and 15 minutes.

The last time Bublik went this far at Newport, he reached the finals in 2019 before losing to John Isner in straight sets. It was Isner’s fourth Newport title triumph.

“It’s great to be in the semifinals again,” Bublik said in his on-court interview, with a smile. “I never lost before. I came here only for one week, so I have to [be engaged]. I’m engaged to play; I’m engaged to try to get as many matches as I can.”

Meanwhile, Kubler is enjoying a career renaissance at age 29. He owns a 25-4 record since the beginning of May, including qualifying, Challenger Tour and tour-level matches. After qualifying for the main draw at Wimbledon and reaching the fourth round, then achieving his first Top-10 victory with an upset of No. 1 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday, Kubler is through to his first ATP Tour semifinal.

“It’s a good mental victory for me today,” Kubler said during his on-court interview, after outpointing Duckworth 91-79. “I’ve been putting a lot of effort into my mental side. I’m happy that I was able to stay consistent throughout the match.”

Around the International Tennis Hall of Fame

No. 4 seeds Steve Johnson and William Blumberg, both from the United States, advanced to Sunday’s doubles final after defeating unseeded John-Patrick Smith of Australia and Ramkumar Ramanathan of India, 6-4, 6-4, in 68 minutes.

Johnson and Blumberg won 74 percent (25 of 34) of their first-serve points and converted three of five break-point opportunities. They outpointed their opponents 56-50 en route to their semifinal-round victory.

The American duo will await the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between No. 1 seeds Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Raven Klaasen of South Africa against unseeded Americans Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson.

Blumberg won last year’s Newport title teamed with fellow American Jack Sock for his only doubles crown. Johnson gained his only doubles title in 2016 at Geneva teamed with Sam Querrey.

Friday’s Infosys Hall of Fame Open results

Saturday’s Infosys Hall of Fame order of play

By the numbers

Andy Murray came into Friday’s quarterfinal round ranked fourth among active players in career wins with 710. Ahead of him: 1. Roger Federer, 1,251; 2. Rafael Nadal, 1,063; 3. Novak Djokovic, 1,012.

The rest of the Top 10: 5. Richard Gasquet, 576; 6. Marin Cilic, 570; 7. Fernando Verdasco, 558; 8. Stan Wawrinka, 536; 9. Gaël Monfils, 523; 10. Feliciano Lopez, 503.

• Murray’s quarterfinal run will move him up inside the Top 50 at No. 49 in next week’s Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He’s 19-11 on the 2022 season and finishes the grass-court season with a 7-3 win-loss record.

“Quotable …”

“I admire your grit. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of him: his grit, toughness, the ability to come back from injury. Tennis is already mentally [difficult] as a singles player, you’re on your own. Matches can get long; you need to dig deep. It can be mentally and emotionally heartbreaking.

“The way he’s handled not only his career, but individual matches, it is inspiring to watch and kind of helps me with what I’m doing.”

– NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins on Andy Murray, as quoted by the ATP Tour website. The two athletes met Thursday on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.