Tag Archive | "Andy Murray"

Still at Home in Monte Carlo: Nadal Records Seventh Straight Title

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Still at Home in Monte Carlo: Nadal Records Seventh Straight Title



After six time defending champion Rafael Nadal was pushed in the semifinals by Andy Murray to three sets lasting two hours and fifty-eight minutes, the question was whether the world number one would have enough left in the tank to get over the finish line.

In today’s final at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, compatriot David Ferrer made sure the “king of clay” did it the old fashion way. Nadal prevailed 6-4, 7-5 over Ferrer to earn his seventh successive trophy.

For the second year in a row, two Spaniards clashed in the final at this event. Last year, Nadal destroyed Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1. Consequently, it was imperative for Ferrer to make his presence felt early on in the competition.

Subsequent to a forehand up the line winner to hold in the opening game, Ferrer produced a backhand crosscourt return winner for double break point. However, Nadal eventually overcame the deficit to guard serve.

Next, with Ferrer netting a backhand crosscourt, Nadal had double break point. On a second consecutive backhand miscue by Ferrer, Nadal seized the break for 2-1. Yet, with Nadal attempting to consolidate at 40-15, Ferrer provoked a few mistakes and got to deuce. Later, with a dropshot forehand winner, Ferrer broke to level the first set.

But, with a forehand down the line winner, Nadal had triple break point. On his third break opportunity, Nadal struck a forehand crosscourt winner to bag the break for 3-2.

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Del Potro Sacks Soderling, Djokovic Easily Wins at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Del Potro Sacks Soderling, Djokovic Easily Wins at the Sony Ericsson Open




With each passing match, Juan Martin Del Potro looks one step closer to the form which made him the 2009 U.S. Open champion and a world number four. In the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open, Del Potro knocked out current world number four Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-2.

With three titles already this season and a 20-2 record, Soderling should have felt pretty good going into this contest. However, a recent ailment and an earlier than expected exit at Indian Wells allowed just enough room for Soderling to doubt his chances.

As a result of a net court winner, Del Potro obtained his fourth break point opportunity in the fourth game of the first set. The Argentine capitalized when Soderling’s backhand down the line sailed wide. Then, with an ace on game point, Del Potro consolidated for 4-1.

Because of sensational serving, Del Potro guarded the one break advantage and carried the first set.

After Del Potro broke the first game of the second set, Soderling came alive with two winners to go up 0-30. Yet, Del Potro’s serve came to the rescue. The Argentine saved the game for a 2-0 lead.

Later, Del Potro captured an insurance break. Then with a strong game closed out the match.

When Del Potro won the title in Delray, he felt that the true measure of the state of his game would be prevailing over a top ten player. Having accomplished this objective, Del Potro was asked to evaluate his progress “when you play against these kinds of players and [win it gives you a little bit of confidence]. Today, my serve, my forehand, my backhand, everything worked incredibly well. He’s a really good player. He had chances, too, but I took my opportunities. . .that was very important for my confidence”.

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Djokovic Squelches Istomin, Del Potro Resists to Reach 3rd Round

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Djokovic Squelches Istomin, Del Potro Resists to Reach 3rd Round



No one these days can touch Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic cruised through his second round match at the Sony Ericsson Open.  The Serb thrashed Denis Istomin 6-0, 6-1 to book a spot in the next round against American James Blake.

It’s perhaps safe to surmise that Denis Istomin had a feeling of impeding doom prior to his match.  Of late, most players seeing Djokovic across the net would share a similar uneasiness.

After having a bagel besides his name in the first set, Istomin held his first service game of the second set.  However Istomin’s, next time around, Djokovic obtained the break.

Djokovic went down double break point while trying to consolidate.  Any notion of Istomin showing signs of life were quickly eradicated as Djokovic guarded serve for 4-1.

For Istomin the winners were too few while the errors were many.  Consequently, it took Djokovic just 48 minutes to dispatch his adversary.

Subsequent to the match, MiamiTennisNews.com wanted to know:  You’ve played so much tennis, is it helpful that tonight’s match was so short?
DJOKOVIC:  Definitely helpful.  In opening rounds. . . you’re trying to get used to the conditions and you don’t want to underestimate your opponent.  So you want to step into the court and try to be focused from the start and try to get as quickly as possible out of the court.  I did a great job tonight.

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Murray Falls, Soderling Fights Off Dodig

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Murray Falls, Soderling Fights Off Dodig



Andy Murray cannot seem to shake off the disappointment of his second straight loss in the Australian Open final.  For the second tournament in a row, Murray was defeated by a qualifier.  In the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Alex Bogomolov sent Murray packing 6-1,7-5.

The first set Bogomolov could do no wrong while Murray had trouble finding his rhythm.  Although Murray tried his best to snap out of his funk and battled in the second set, Bogomolov found the answers to vanquish the three time majors finalist.

After the match, Murray was asked whether “a confidence problem is plaguing you right now?  Murray answered:  “No, I think it’s more than that.  I mean, I played poorly last two weeks.  I was happier with the way that I competed this week than last.  But, yeah, confidence could have something to do with that.”

Further Murray stated “ the same thing happened around, the same time last year.  I have been practicing well, training well, and then [in] the matches can’t get anything going. That’s obviously disappointing. . . But I think when you’re not playing that well and you’re struggling a little bit, you start to miss balls by a few inches, then, net cords or whatever, challenges and stuff, they seem to go against you more”.

With all that has transpired the last few months, Murray appears in need of a good coach to place him back on the right path.  To a question along these lines, Murray responded “whether I get someone or not . . . it wouldn’t be down to the last two matches, because as a whole, you need to assess things properly.  It’s not anyone’s fault for giving me wrong tactics or practicing the wrong way.  That’s not the reason why I played like I did . . .  I’ll have to think about it and see what I want to do”.

Bogomolov has been playing well of late.  He attributes this victory to his previous results which have been great.  As such, Bogomolov feels it “ really [gives] you confidence and [permits] you to play the bigger points better.  Once you’re in that state, you believe you can do certain things that you weren’t able to do before”.

Robin Soderling got out of a tight spot.  After dropping the first set, Soderling rebounded to defeat Ivan Dodig 3-6,6-2,6-4.  In the third round, Soderling will meet either Juan Martin Del Potro or Philipp Kohlschreiber.  Kohlschreiber stunned Soderling in the third round at Indian Wells.

On the comeback trail, James Blake continues to make great strides.  Blake took out 27th seed Thomaz Bellucci 2-6,6-4,7-6.  Blake will face either sizzling Novak Djokovic or Denis Istomin in the third round.

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Spotlight Miami: The Sony Ericsson Open Has Arrived

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Spotlight Miami: The Sony Ericsson Open Has Arrived


 
The Sony Ericsson Open singles draws for the women and men have been released.  There are a bevy of potential semifinal match-ups to salivate over.

On the ATP side, Rafael Nadal, the world number one may battle 2009 finalist Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

With Roger Federer dropping to the number three in the rankings, the Swiss could clash with Nadal in the semifinals.  Moreover, Federer may contend with defending champion Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals.

If the draw plays out according to the seeding, in the bottom half, David Ferrer and Robin Soderling will be slated to meet in the quarterfinals.  However, Juan Martin Del Potro could spoil that face-off.

Also located in the bottom section is the hottest player on tour, world number two Novak Djokovic. The Serb could have a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final in the quarterfinals with Andy Murray.

Whether it’s Del Potro, Ferrer or Soderling in the semifinals, at this stage, Djokovic seems ready to mow over all comers.

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Djokovic Victorious For Second Time at the Australian Open

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Djokovic Victorious For Second Time at the Australian Open



In the Australian Open final, 2008 champion Novak Djokovic and 2010 finalist Andy Murray clashed for the title.  Djokovic trounced Murray 6-4,6-2,6-3 to win his second career major.

Both Murray and Djokovic looked in peak form coming into this encounter and were evenly matched in many respects.  Both players were competing in their third final at a major.  Although Djokovic led their head to head 4-3, Murray prevailed in their last three meetings.  Yet, their ultimate tussle was in 2009 at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Thus, expectations were heightened that this would be a sensational battle.

After Djokovic held at love to start the first set, Murray wiped out a break point and needed five deuces before securing his first game.  As the set progressed, Murray appeared content to allow Djokovic to force the issue while playing defense.  On a backhand crosscourt error by Djokovic, Murray squared the set at 4 all.  For his part, Djokovic continued to cruise on serve and at 40-15 connected on forehand crosscourt winner to move in front 5-4.  With Murray serving, Djokovic stepped up the aggression.  After a forehand up the line winner, Djokovic caused Murray to dump a forehand pass into the net on a 39 shot rally to arrive at double break point.  When Murray’s forehand traveled long, Djokovic pocketed the set.

Following a love hold, on his second break point chance, Djokovic struck a backhand crosscourt winner to steal the game for a 2-0 lead in the second set.  Then, after comfortably consolidating, Djokovic enticed Murray into four straight errors to break at love and stretch his advantage to 4-0.  Djokovic had a string of seven successive games and 5-0 edge before Murray held serve even needing to blot out a set point.  The players exchanged breaks the last two games as Djokovic built a two set to none cushion.

For Murray, it was clear that old reliable would not work this time as it had not in previous major finals.  His fall back strategy of being defensive was not troubling Djokovic in the least.  Moreover, Murray’s backhand, his star shot, was leaking mistake after mistake while the forehand was even more disappointing.  Therefore, Murray had to try another tactic.  However, he was conspicuously confused as to what to do.

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open

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Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray Still In the Hunt at Australian Open




Seven days of competition have passed at the Australian Open.  While Rafael Nadal has breezed through his matches to get to the round of 16, defending champion Roger Federer had a hiccup in the second round.  As usual, there were a few unexpected departures in the first week.  Here’s a summary of what has taken place this initial week.

It’s been smooth sailing for Nadal in getting through to the round of 16.  The world number one’s excellent form will come in handy as he faces 2010 semifinalist Marin Cilic.  After two easy matches, Cilic edged out John Isner 9-7 in the fifth to earn a crack at Nadal.

After a thrilling first round five setter against Lleyton Hewitt, David Nalbandian called it quit in the second round, four games away from being handed a straight set loss.  Mikhail Youzhny also departed earlier than expected.  The tenth seed was sent packing in the third round by Milos Raonic.  The 20 year old Canadian qualifier with the humongous serve also ousted Michael Llodra, the 22nd seed in the second round.  Next up for Raonic will be David Ferrer who is a relentless competitor.  Ferrer’s experience may prove too much for the youngster.  Thus, a Ferrer-Nadal quarterfinal showdown is the likely scenario.

Without much fuss, both Robyn Soderling and Andy Murray have been taking care of business.  Soderling’s fourth round match will be against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  The Ukrainian upset 13th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.  Following an impressive second round match versus Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis was forced to retire down two sets to one with a hand injury in his third round match against Jurgen Melzer.  As such, Murray will battle Melzer for a quarterfinal berth.

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Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend?  Australian Open Preview

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Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend? Australian Open Preview


1969 was the year when Rod Laver accomplished the calendar grand slam for the second time.  Laver had done so previously in 1962.  At the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will attempt to become the first person to hold all four majors simultaneously, although not in the same calendar year.  Like Nadal, Roger Federer has won three majors in a single year on multiple occasions, but never held all four.  With a historic sixteen majors, Federer, the defending champion, will be one of the competitors trying to halt Nadal from revising  the tennis annals.  Indeed, if the Australian Open draw holds up, Nadal’s route to his second title is fraught with red flags.

After seemingly comfortable initial two rounds, Nadal may see Marin Cilic in the round of 16.  Despite disappointing results the remainder of 2010 after a semifinal placement in Melbourne, for Cilic knowing that he’s gone that far at this major can be an inspiration.  Moreover, the only time these two met in 2009, Cilic was the victor. In the quarterfinals, Nadal also has a few pesky potential opponents to look forward to: Mikhail Youzhny, David Ferrer and David Nalbandian.  On any given day, these men can be a real thorn on any individual’s side.

The second part of the top half of the draw has Robin Soderling and Andy Murray as the top seeds.  Either player could clash with Nadal in the semifinals.  Soderling appears to have a favorable trek until the round of 16 where he will possibly collide with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2007 Australian Open finalist and 2010 semifinalist.  On the other hand, 2010 finalist Murray may get Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis or Jurgen Melzer.  Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, and Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, would be a contest for anyone.  Whether it’s Murray, Soderling or Tsonga in the semis, Nadal will have to his hands occupied in order to reach his second Australian Open final.

To say Federer is hungry for the title is an understatement considering the implications if Nadal prevails. Could Mardy Fish or Sam Querrey trouble the defending champion in the round of 16?  Possibly.  However, with Federer’s four titles out of five his last five tournaments, it’s unlikely anyone will down him early on. Both Gael Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka have a win over Federer, but are a combined 2-11.  Therefore, it’s inconceivable that either Monfils or Wawrinka will upend Federer in the quarterfinals.  Once again, Andy Roddick may find himself in the position of needing to go through Federer to advance to the semifinals.  Despite Roddick’s 2-20 against Federer, he is the most formidable rival who can actually put a crimp in Federer’s style.

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010


No room for dispute, 2010 was a banner year for Rafael Nadal.  The Spaniard captured three majors, regained the world number one ranking and completed the career grand slam.  As such, Nadal’s domination left no ambiguity as to who was the most outstanding player in 2010.  With the year at a close, here’s a snapshot of the stories which caught the headlines this foregone season.

After a slow start, Nadal found his footing on clay with his first calendar title at the Monte-Carlo Masters.  Subsequent to banking titles at the Masters in Rome and Madrid, Nadal culminated his clay campaign with his fifth big prize at Roland Garros.  At Wimbledon, the Spaniard defended his 2008 title to seize his second major at the All England Club.  Finally, at U.S. Open, with troublesome obstacles removed from his half of the draw,  Nadal reached his first final in New York.  Nadal stared down a strong challenge from Novak Djokovic to hoist his first U.S. Open trophy.  With a total of seven titles, Nadal topped his peers in 2010.

For Roger Federer, this year was a mixed bag.  After grabbing his sixteenth major in Australia, Federer had a fourth round loss at the Sony Ericsson Open to Tomas Berdych which sent him into a tailspin.  As defending champion at the French Open, Federer was beaten in the quarterfinals by Robin Soderling which ended an unprecedented streak of twenty-three consecutive semifinals at the majors.  Furthermore, defending champ Federer was ousted in the quarterfinals by Berdych at Wimbledon.  In fact, Federer’s ranking dropped to number three, his lowest since November 2003.  Yet, with his second title of the season at the Cincinnati Masters, Federer seemed again on the right road.  However, Federer failed to take advantage of match points in the U.S. Open semifinals against Djokovic and went down in flames.  After the New York fiasco, Federer resurfaced with a fresh coach, Paul Annacone, and won three of four finals including the ATP World Tour finals where he toppled Nadal.

The Australian Open appeared a turning point for Andy Murray.  Easily handled in the final by Federer, Murray could do nothing right with the racket for a while. Eventually at Wimbledon, Murray advanced to the semifinals only to be disappointed by Nadal.  With the defense of his title at the Rogers Cup, Murray seemed to be back.  But, another setback occurred at the U.S. Open where Murray was stunned in the third round by Stanislas Wawrinka.  In besting Federer in the Shanghai Masters final, Murray looked to be heading for a strong finish.  Yet, at the ATP World Tour Finals, Murray took another  downturn.  This was emblematic of the Scot’s tumultuous year which included a rupture with coach Miles Maclagan, a brief ceding of the world number four spot to Soderling and only two titles.

With solely two titles and a U.S. Open final appearance, Djokovic had a so-so year.  The Serb even ascended to number two for a bit, but finished at number three.  While individual success was sparse, Djokovic led his country to its first Davis Cup title.  Along with countryman Viktor Troicki, Djokovic mounted a brilliant comeback to stop France from a tenth trophy.

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Soderling Scuttles Monfils in Paris for First Masters Shield

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Soderling Scuttles Monfils in Paris for First Masters Shield


Robin Soderling added his name to the list of distinguished Swedes to succeed at the BNP Paribas Masters.  Soderling sailed past denizen Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-6 to earn his first Masters 1000 shield and the biggest title of his career.

A packed house was buzzing as the players took the court with the fans overwhelming in Monfils’ corner.  After his spectacular win over Roger Federer in the semifinals, whereby Monfils salvaged five match points, his derailing of Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and also erasing two match points in the third round against Fernando Verdasco, the crowd was hoping Monfils could dazzle it one last time and hoist the trophy.  However, Soderling proved uncooperative.  Following easy holds by both players the initial three games, Monfils made a spate of errors to gift Soderling triple break point.  Then, Monfils misfired on a volley after Soderling reached his ill advised dropshot giving the Swede a 3-1 lead.  With Monfils sending an overhead wide, Soderling consolidated for 4-1.  Ahead 40-15, Monfils was at deuce subsequent to a backhand mistake and a forehand crosscourt winner by Soderling. When the Frenchman netted a forehand, Soderling arrived at break point.  By striking a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Soderling had a double break edge and promptly wrapped up the first set in 26 minutes.

After a comfortable service game, Monfils looked ready to turn the tide.  Yet, Soderling refused to let the public nor his opponent into the match.  Despite a dismal first serve percentage in the second set, with Monfils’ returns landing short, Soderling continued to attack and cruised on serve.  As neither player could fabricate a break point, the second set went to a tiebreaker.  Troubled by the backhand all day, Monfils flubbed another one long to hand Soderling the first point.  With a couple more strokes traveling long, Soderling built up a 3-1 advantage.  Then, as a result of a return winner, a call overturned by a challenge, Soderling had a 5-1 cushion.  Consequently, with another return muffed by Monfils, Soderling accumulated multiple champion points.  The Swede only required one, converting with a forehand volley winner.

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