Cressy Reaches Newport Final By Seizing His Opportunities

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

NEWPORT, R.I./WASHINGTON, July 17, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Patience rewarded Maxime Cressy during his all-American semifinal battle against John Isner at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open on grass at Newport, R.I. Saturday afternoon.

In what has been a breakout season for the 25-year-old French-born American from Hermosa Beach, Calif., Cressy advanced to his third ATP Tour final of the year after defeating the No. 2 seed Isner, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

The fourth-seeded Cressy fired 22 aces, won 86 percent of his first-serve points, converted three of five break points and outpointed Isner 83-64 during the one-hour and 51-minute match at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Isner finished with 13 aces of his own, but it was not enough for the 37-year-old Dallas resident to remain alive for a fifth Newport title opportunity.

Cressy dominated the first set, dropping just one point on serve while breaking Isner twice. Then, Isner rallied in the middle set, both on his serve and return. His break of Cressy in the fifth game of the second set marked the first time the young American had been broken all week long.

As the final set developed, Cressy gained a crucial break of Isner to go ahead 5-3. During the eighth game, with a break chance at ad-out, Cressy lobbed a desperate return that landed just over the net. However, the ball came back onto Cressy’s side of the net and Isner was unable to play the return successfully.

Soon after, Cressy fought off a pair of match points, then won with his superb serve-and-volley play. He handed Isner his first loss at Newport since 2015.

“John just completely leveled up on the serve starting in the second set,” Cressy said during his on-court interview following his semifinal victory, which advanced to Sunday’s final against No. 3 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, who defeated 102nd-ranked Jason Kubler of Australia, 6-3, 6-2, in 69 minutes.

“Just hitting the lines and hitting many more aces,” Cressy added. “I just had to focus on what I could control, my serve. He definitely played a big level starting the second set.

“The opportunities came and I seized one of them, by luck. I apologized to him, but I guess I created the luck by staying patient.”

Now that Cressy has reached his third final of the season following Melbourne in January (losing to Rafael Nadal) and Eastbourne last month (losing to Taylor Fritz) – coupled with his recent success on grass at Wimbledon and Newport – he said his newfound confidence has come more from off the court than on it.

“Not so much on the court – it was more mental to get that confidence that I can compete in the ATP [events],” Cressy explained. “Conditioning and confidence was a key for me and I’ve been able to build it throughout the last two months. So, I’m incredibly happy.”

Bublik reaches second Newport final in four years

The World No. 42 Bublik took charge of his semifinal against Kubler, who upset World No. 9 and top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the second round after a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon as a qualifier. Bublik broke his opponent early in both sets and won 6-3, 6-2 without facing any break points on his serve.

Bublik hit 15 aces, won 92 percent of his first-serve points and lost only six points on his serve. He improved to 9-4 on grass this season and lifetime at Newport he’s 9-2.

“Facing me in Newport is not an easy task,” Bublik said in his on-court interview. “I played well. I wish him all the best … he had his streak; maybe, I will have mine.”

Two-time Grand Slam titlist Hewitt enshrined

Lleyton Hewitt was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame Saturday evening. Although Hewitt, 41, was voted in as a member of the Class of 2021, due to travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19 he was unable to travel from Australia to the United States last summer.

There were no members voted in among the Class of 2022 nominees. So, it was Hewitt’s evening to shine alone.

Hewitt’s on-court accomplishments during his Hall of Fame career include: a pair of year-end No. 1 finishes in the ATP Rankings; youngest man to be World No. 1, in 2001 at age 20; two Grand Slam titles at the 2001 US Open and 2002 Wimbledon, and two ATP Finals crowns. Also, Hewitt won 30 career titles and 616 career singles matches, and twice he led Australia to Davis Cup titles in 1999 and 2003.

The Australian is the 262nd inductee in the Intenational Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located in Newport, R.I. He was introduced via film by Hall of Famer John Newcombe. Among those who were on hand for Hewitt’s induction ceremony were his longtime mentor and Hall of Famer Tony Roche as well as fellow Hall of Famers Stan Smith and Andy Roddick.

“To be honest, it wouldn’t mean that much if it was just me, because you look back on your career and so many people are involved in that as well,” Hewitt told the ATP Tour website on Friday. “I wouldn’t have had the results that I was able to have if you didn’t have those people supporting you, backing you up, helping you out day to day throughout all those years.”

Around the International Tennis Hall of Fame

No. 1 seeds Marcelo Melo of Brazil and Raven Klaasen of South Africa rallied to win their semifinal match over American duo Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson, 4-6, 6-3, 11-9, Saturday afternoon. The victory advanced Melo and Klaasen into Sunday’s final against No. 4 seeds Steve Johnson and William Blumberg, both of the United States. Blumberg was part of the 2021 title-winning doubles team with Jack Sock.

Melo and Klaasen, who saved a match point at 8-9 in the match tie-break before capturing the final three points of the semifinal, won 77 percent of their service points and converted one of three break-point chances. They outpointed their opponents 62-56.

After reuniting earlier this summer, Melo and Klaasen are through to their first final of the season. They are 6-3 on grass this season. They won a pair of titles in 2015 at Tokyo and the Shanghai Masters.

Saturday’s Infosys Hall of Fame results

Sunday’s Infosys Hall of Fame order of play

By the numbers

Maxime Cressy came into Saturday semifinal match against John Isner having not been broken in 26 service games this week. He held serve in his first six service games before Isner broke him in the second set. Then, he started a new streak of seven straight holds.

• With 64 aces each, John Isner and Maxime Cressy are tied for the tournament lead and Isner now has extended his record for career aces to 13,814.

“Quotable …”

“Lleyton etched out a remarkable career. He got unlucky with several injuries in his mid 20s that halted adding to his resumé and going head-to-had with two all-time greats in Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in their prime made it challenging.

“Regardless, he will always be able to look back on his career and be proud with no regrets. As Lleyton would often say, ‘I left it all out there, mate.’ Yes, you did young fella. And more.

“Most importantly, Lleyton left an important legacy in competing for Australia and setting a standard of training and competition that every generation should look up to. He’s a role model for believing in the impossible, and then making the impossible a reality. He left nothing to chance and loved every single second of his journey. He had purpose, he bounced back through resilience, he oozed belief and he had an unmatched work ethic. And yeah, he had the heart of a lion and the mind of a velociraptor.”

Darren Cahill, one-time coach of Lleyton Hewitt, who is now an ESPN tennis commentator and analyst, in an essay written for the ATP Tour website.