When the U.S. Open Series began two weeks ago, Robby Ginepri would have been an unlikely choice to be an early leader. Not only is Ginepri leading the 10-tournament series in points, but he also has gotten off to a nine-match win streak at the start of the hard-court season.
After two tournaments, Ginepri's 48 points lead Andre Agassi (35) and Taylor Dent (28). In an effort to draw more attention to the tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open, the man and woman who finish first in the series will have a chance to earn additional money -- as much as $2 million if he or she wins the fourth leg of the Grand Slam.
Ginepri extended his win streak with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Kevin Kim yesterday in the first round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. Two weeks ago, Ginepri defeated five top-10 seeds -- including two-time defending champion Andy Roddick -- to capture the title in Indianapolis. He then advanced to the quarterfinals in Los Angeles last week before falling to Gilles Muller in a tight two-set match, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.
"I thought for most of the year, I've been hitting the ball well," said Ginepri, who shares a coach and trains frequently with Kim. "I just wasn't winning the right points. I was missing shots, and not making the decisions. I've been working hard on making the right decisions."
Horna Beats Philippoussis
Luis Horna just arrived from a clay court event in Austria on Monday and had practiced only 25 minutes on hard courts. But Horna's lack of preparation did not hurt him as he dispatched wild-card entrant Mark Philippoussis, 7-5, 6-4, in his first-round match.
Philippoussis, a finalist at the 1999 U.S. Open, has struggled with injuries ever since. In 2004, he finished out of the top 100 rankings for the first time in 10 years. In his lone appearance in a Grand Slam this year, he lost in the second round at Wimbledon.
Horna simply neutralized the serve and volley power of Philippoussis, generating tremendous passing shots as his 6-foot-5, 215-pound opponent lumbered to the net. He also took advantage of Philippoussis's lack of mobility from the baseline with stinging groundstrokes from one corner of the court to the other. Philippoussis also committed 22 unforced errors.
For his part, Horna won 75 of his service points and converted two of four break point chances against Philippoussis.
"It was a little weird," he said. "Yesterday, I just arrived from a clay-court tournament. I played him before last year at the French Open. He's not moving well from baseline. So I was trying to move him around."