Report from the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles
by James Handal

I worked as a ballkid for the third year in a row at the Farmers Classic held at UCLA from July 26 to August 1, 2010. It was another great experience for me because I had an opportunity to watch some great players and get their autographs.

The Farmers Classic, formerly the Countrywide Classic, is part of the US Open Series. This year's tournament featured some world ranked players including Andy Murray, Sam Querrey, Marcos Baghdatis, Feliciano Lopez, and James Blake. On Sunday, August 1, in the finals, No. 1 seed Andy Murray fell to No. 2 seed Sam Querrey 5-7, 7-6, 6-3. Murray and Querrey had met recently at Wimbledon and Murray prevailed by winning 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. It was very crowded to see No. 4 world ranked Murray versus the 6'6" tall American, No. 20 world ranked Querrey. Querrey, who always says "thanks" to the ballkids when we throw him the ball, is now the back to back champion at the Farmers Classic. Querrey is also very nice about signing autographs when he finishes playing on the practice court.

In the first round of the Farmers Classic, talented American James Blake played Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. Blake dominated the match and won 6-1, 6-4. In his next match, Blake played Benjamin Becker of Germany. The crowd was on Blake's side for the whole match. Blake used his powerful forehand to dominate the match and won 7-5, 7-6. James Blake had a lot of break points but had trouble converting them. In the second set, it would go to a tiebreak. Blake, who made it to the finals in 2007, would have to beat No. 4 seed Feliciano Lopez from Spain to get into the semifinals.

On Friday, July 30, Blake played Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Blake could not beat Lopez's crafty shots. Lopez took the match to 3 sets to win 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. Lopez was hitting the ball very consistently. He kept the ball in the court and waited for Blake to make errors. Lopez was very happy that he won and got past the American. Blake got very angry about a bad line call and it really took his mind off of the game. He wanted to challenge the call, but shot spot did not get the ball on camera, so the review was not available.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, Murray battled Feliciano Lopez. Murray used his experience to get himself into the finals of the Farmers Classic by beating the Spaniard in 3 sets 6-0, 1-6, and 6-4. Murray is the first British player to get to the finals of the Los Angeles tournament.

Earlier in the tournament, Murray played Alejandro Falla of Columbia in a match on Friday, July 30. Murray won 7-6, 6-1. Murray played well and looked like he could go on to win the tournament. Murray's first match in the tournament was against qualifier Tim Smyczek. That match was very exciting and Murray pulled through in the third set to win the match 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. When Murray arrived in Los Angeles, he went to Santa Monica Beach and Pier and I saw his video on YouTube. Murray, who came to the tournament after Novak Djokovic withdrew, just parted with his coach earlier in the week. The Farmers Classic was very crowded to watch the world ranked No. 4 make his debut in Los Angeles. It was a great tournament for me. I liked being able to help out and watch some of my favorite players.