Tag Archive | "Baghdatis"

Berdych and Verdasco Make the Cut, Roddick and Company Wipe Out

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Berdych and Verdasco Make the Cut, Roddick and Company Wipe Out

With the quarterfinal spots at stake, after nearly five hours, the stormy weather cleared to allow play at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.  While Tomas Berdych, the number one seed, and Fernando Verdasco, the third seed, battled their way into the next round.  For the Americans, the tournament was a disaster.  Andy Roddick, the three time champion and second seed, 2007 finalist John Isner as well as 2010 Atlanta champion Mardy Fish were all swept away.

Isner, the fifth seed, squared off against Xavier Malisse.  In March at their initial meeting in Houston, Malisse prevailed in three tiebreaker sets. In the beginning stages of the first set, Malisse had a few break points.  However, Isner promptly brushed those aside.  Later at 4 all, Malisse obtained the break which permitted him to take the set.  But, in the second set, Malisse double faulted on break point to give Isner a 2-1 edge. As usual, this was the minute window the American required to push the match to a third set.  In the third game, Isner had two break point chances, yet converted none.  For his part, with Isner serving at 4 all, Malisse failed to capitalized on love 40.  Thus, the tiebreaker was called upon.  At 5 all, Isner miscalculated an overhead which resulted in the ball landing on his side of the court.  With a mini-break/match point in hand, Malisse connected on a good serve.  With Isner botching the return, Malisse punched his ticket into the subsequent round with  a 6-4,3-6,7-6 win.

Despite recently turning 30, Malisse is enjoying great success the last few months. MiamiTennisNews asked:

Q. Although you are getting on in years, you are playing pretty good tennis.  What keeps you motivated?
Malisse: I had two years of injuries, when you are sidelined and everyone else is playing it hurts. Sometimes you say that you want  a couple of weeks off, when it’s [not on your own terms], it really gets to you . . . Since I had two easy years, I feel I am healthy now . . . The road back has been tough playing challenger last year after being in nice tournaments in nice places. . . But it feels so much more satisfying now . . . Before, I was just playing, not really enjoying it.

At Wimbledon, Malisse teamed up with Kim Clijsters and made it to the quarterfinals in mixed doubles.  MiamiTennisNews inquired:

Q. Do the two of you  plan to do the same at the U.S. Open?
Malisse: I don’t think so.  We have not talked about it. It’s harder considering it’s five sets . . . We had a good time and laughed a lot in [London], that’s the most important thing.

The first set went along swimmingly for Malisse’s quarterfinal opponent, Berdych against Andrey Golubev.  After securing the break in the third game, Berdych cruised on serve.  Nevertheless, serving to send the second set into a tiebreaker, Berdych dropped serve at love.  In the decisive set, Berdych broke for 3-2.  Though, serving for the match and ahead 30-0, Berdych surrendered four straight points to enable Golubev back in.  Still, Berdych managed to break once more and hold for a 6-3,5-7,7-5 victory.

First round at Wimbledon, Berdych faced Golubev and send him packing in straight sets. Hence, MiamiTennisNews wanted to know:

Q.  Why was it so difficult to close Golubev out this time around?
Berdych: He’s really improved [in the last couple of weeks].  He won his first [title] in Hamburg which is a big tournament . . . Even before, he’s had a couple of good results . . . Hardcourt is going to be the best surface for him. . . The conditions, the fast courts suit his game . . .

The Sony Ericsson Open was a pivotal point in Berdych’s career.  Since, he’s had extraordinary results at the French Open and Wimbledon.  MiamiTennisNews questioned whether Berdych felt the same way.

Q.  In making the final in South Florida, did that give you the mental boost to propel you to additional success?
Berdych:  Yes. . .  But not only the tournament in Miami. It started the Davis Cup week right before Indian Wells. . . I won a couple of matches . . . Then at Indian Wells, I made the quarters which showed me even if I am . . .  not playing  well, I can [have] good results which gave me a lot of confidence. . . Coming to Miami which is really my favorite tournament . . . The key match against Roger [Federer] turning it around match point down . . . [getting] to the final . . .  I am happy I can keep the form, keep the consistency and bring more and more good results.

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Berdych and Roddick Lead a Stupendous Field at Legg Mason Classic

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Berdych and Roddick Lead a Stupendous Field at Legg Mason Classic

The Olympus U.S. Open series is on its D.C. stop this week.  Although Juan Martin Del Potro, the reigning U.S. Open and two time defending Legg Mason Classic champion, is sidelined by injury this year, numerous big names have made the trip to the nation’s capital to contest this coveted trophy.

This year’s superstar lineup is topped by Tomas Berdych, the new world number eight and 2010 Wimbledon finalist.  Berdych is making his third appearance in Washington, but his first as the number one seed.  The Czech will be aiming to improving on his semifinal result from 2005.

On the opposite side of the draw is perennial favorite Andy Roddick, the second seed.  Roddick, a three time champion and finalist in 2009, is hoping to rebound from a curtailed Wimbledon campaign.  Being on grounds which brought him tremendous success previously could be the remedy for the American’s blues.

Fernando Verdasco, the world number 10 and 2009 Australian Open semifinalist, is the third seed.  It’s Verdasco’s  maiden showing at the tournament.  With three titles already this year, Verdasco will be a certain threat.  Returning for the second straight year is Marin Cilic who is positioned as the fourth seed and a potential semifinal rival for Roddick.

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Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong

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Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong

As customary, the middle Sunday at Wimbledon serves as a no play holiday which is a welcomed respite.  No words can fully underscore the uniqueness of the events that transpire this week.  From a seemingly never ending first round match, to the champions of the last two years limping their way into the last 16, to the Queen making a rare appearance, to a scandal involving Victor Hanescu.  Here’s a homage to the initial six days and a take on what’s ahead.

The French are known for their flare and Nicolas Mahut is undoubtedly part of the establishment.  In the second round of qualifying, Mahut outlasted his opponent 24-22 in the third set to advance.  Then, Mahut went five sets to make it into the main draw. In the first round of the main draw, Mahut faced John Isner. On Tuesday, the match was interrupted due to darkness after the two split four sets.  When the players returned on Wednesday, the night ended with a 59-59 draw in the fifth. Even the scoreboard was exhausted, crashing when the score got to 40+.  On Thursday, the match concluded when Isner hit two consecutive winners to break Mahut and grab a 70-68 victory.

The encounter which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, shattered all previous records and redefined the meaning of marathon match. The fifth set alone spanned 8 hours and 11 minutes.  However, despite a full day’s rest, Isner could not recuperate.  The next round, Thiemo De Bakker, who won his prior round 16-14, dismissed a depleted Isner in just 1hour 14 minutes.  For Isner, the physical consequences may reverberate for months.

While defending champion Roger Federer did not go to such extremes, it was a struggle to survive nevertheless.  Federer was nearly a spectator as 60th ranked Alejandro Falla forced Federer to climb out of a two sets to love deficit, even serving for the match.  With a bit of “luck” as Federer put it, he moved on.  The Swiss’ second round was also tough as qualifier Ilijac Bozoljac prevailed in the second set tiebreaker. Federer carried the match by capturing the fourth set tiebreaker.  The third round, Federer played close to flawlessly against Arnaud Clement.

Rafael Nadal also willed himself to advance.  After a routine initial round, Nadal required five sets the second and third round against Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschener respectively.  More importantly, Nadal had a flare up of his niggling knee problem and was treated for elbow issue.

Following a five setter with Oliver Rochus, Novak Djokovic thumped his next opponents Taylor Dent and Albert Montanes in the subsequent rounds.  British hopeful Andy Murray has been efficient, booting his counterparts in straight sets.  Even the Queen’s first appearance at Wimbledon since 1977 did not distract her subject as Murray dispatched Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.

After an uncomplicated primary round, Andy Roddick was rattled a bit by Michael Llodra and Philipp Kohlschreiber the next rounds, pushed to four sets by each.  Roddick has friendly company into the second week as Sam Querrey secured a fourth round berth after a five set tussle with Xavier Malisse.

Unsurprisingly, his second tournament back from injury, Nikolay Davydenko fell in the second round.  Shocking though was Fernando Verdasco, the 8th seed, Marin Cilic, the 11th seed, Marcos Baghdatis, the 24th seed, and Stanislas Wawrinka, the 20th seed, all exiting their first day out.

Robin Soderling, the 6th seed, has been on cue this week.  The Swede has sailed through his matches, duration under two hours.  His first event since his back injury, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performance has been mixed.  In the second round, Tsonga went five sets after having a two sets to none lead against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  Yet, the following round, Tsonga cruised against qualifier Tobias Kamke.

This tournament has seen a revival of the French veterans.  Paul-Henri Mathieu knocked out 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny and De Bakker in the second and third round respectively to earn a spot in the final 16 at a major for the first time since 2008.  Also, Julien Benneteau is into the second week after surviving two five set matches.

Conversely, Gael Monfils had his fortnight cut short by Lleyton Hewitt in the third round.  Monfils was no match for Hewitt who recently beat Federer in Halle. The Aussie is grooving on grass despite two hip surgeries.

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Gasquet Capsizes Verdasco to Net Nice Title

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Gasquet Capsizes Verdasco to Net Nice Title

In front of a partisan crowd at the Open de Nice Cote D’Azur, Richard Gasquet upset world number 9 Fernando Verdasco 6-3,5-7,7-6 to win his first ATP title since Mumbai in 2007 and the sixth of his career.

Meeting for the 10th time, the last being Barcelona, Verdasco was going for his sixth consecutive victory over Gasquet.  A titlist in Barcelona and a finalist in Monte-Carlo, Verdasco was unquestionably the favorite.  Still, in carrying the challenger tournament in Bordeaux last week, Gasquet must have felt hopeful.

After a prior love service game, at 2-3, Verdasco gifted Gasquet a double fault giving him break point.  When the Spaniard misfired on a backhand down the line, Gasquet secured the break for 4-2.  Then, with a love game, Gasquet consolidated for 5-2.  After being unable to capitalize on four break points, Gasquet closed out the set by holding serve.

Subsequent to Verdasco arriving at 40-0 with three successive winners, Gasquet connected on a couple of winners for deuce.  Yet, on his fifth game point, Verdasco provoked an error from Gasquet to inch ahead 2-1.   Next, after erasing two game points by Gasquet, Verdasco forced his rival to dump a backhand volley into the net for his first break point.  By firing a forehand up the line winner, Verdasco broke for 3-1.  However, with a backhand mistake off a long rally and a double fault, Verdasco handed Gasquet double break point.  When Verdasco’s backhand sailed long, Gasquet was back in the set.  Promptly, with a love game, Gasquet squared the set at 3 all.  Later, Gasquet struck a backhand winner behind Verdasco for double break point. After a net court salvaged the first break point,  Verdasco flubbed a forehand off another net court to give Gasquet the break and a 5-4 advantage.  But serving for the match, Gasquet made three unforced errors in a row and was broken at love.  Following an easy hold for 6-5, Verdasco hit four sequential winners to take the set.

Verdasco guarded serve at love to start the third set.  When Gasquet double faulted, his counterpart had double break point.  As the Frenchman’s backhand crosscourt flew long, Verdasco took a 2-0 lead.  On cruise control, Verdasco ended a love game with an ace to extend the difference to 3-0.  At this point, Gasquet requested a time out to have a left knee/hamstring injury addressed.  When Gasquet returned, with three forehand winners and an ace, he stopped a run of six straight games by Verdasco.  But, with another easy game, Verdasco maintained serve for 4-1.  Conversely, Gasquet wiped out two break points, before holding serve with a forehand winner for 2-4.  Next, Gasquet induced four blunders from Verdasco to break at love. Unfortunately, despite a game point, Gasquet went on to surrender his serve.  Serving for the championship, Verdasco committed four back to back forehand mistakes to allow Gasquet back in the match.  Soon, with a massive second serve at 40-30, Gasquet tied the set at 5 all.  After a crosscourt forehand winner put Verdasco ahead 6-5, despite struggling, Gasquet maintained serve thereby sending the decisive set into a tiebreaker.

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Federer Evades Serra, Cilic and Soderling Sail Into the Round of 16

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Federer Evades Serra, Cilic and Soderling Sail Into the Round of 16

Following a complicated initial match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Roger Federer was again rattled in his third round match.  The world number one was seriously pressed by Florent Serra.  Still, Federer came away unscathed with a 7-6,7-6 win.

Subsequent to neither competitor having issues on serve, Serra had a double fault on game point.  Federer took the next two points to break.  Then, with a love service game, Federer consolidated for a 5-2 lead.  However, as Federer served for the first set at 5-3, he made two costly errors allowing Serra two chances to break.  With a forehand down the line return winner, Serra put the first set back on serve. Still, Federer arrived at double set point on Serra’s service.  But, the Frenchman did not cave in.  With the two men holding at love the next two games, a tiebreaker was initiated.  With Federer’s backhand down the line pass landing out of bounds, Serra opened with a mini-break.  Then, with a forehand down the line winner of his own and with Serra flubbing an overhead, Federer got a mini-break for 2-1.  Federer went on to comfortably carry the breaker.

In the second set,  by enticing errors from Serra, Federer obtained a double break lead for 4-1.  Yet, Serra climbed back.  With a backhand overhead winner and a forehand down the line winner, Serra decreased the deficit to 4-2.  Then, Serra survived double break point to stay in touch at 3-4.  With Federer serving for the match at 5-4, a double fault gave Serra double break point.  The Frenchman converted with a forehand up the line winner.  Eventually, a second tiebreaker was called upon.  Again, after Serra got the early mini-break, Federer rebounded to easily capture the second set.

In the post match interview, Federer responded as such to the questions from MiamiTennisNews.com:
Q.  Do you have a preference. . . A match like this [where] you are tested . . . as opposed to having a quick match in the earlier rounds?
FEDERER:  Well, I mean, most important is to come through the rounds, you know.  So I don’t have a preference how it’s done.  I always like to come out with confidence, that’s for sure.  So it’s nice . . . having won two breakers, because that doesn’t happen every match you play.  Sure, I still have to tidy up my game a bit, you know, having had one break up in the first and two breaks up in the second, it’s normally something that doesn’t get away from me. But I thought he came up with some good stuff, and that made it difficult for me, you know, to close it out. That’s why I’m happy to still be through.

Q.  Were you surprised being down a double break that he was still mentally pretty strong and still fighting?
FEDERER:  Well. . . I didn’t have the feeling he was playing the score too much.  He was just playing his style, which is aggressive, you know, taking chances.  Sometimes missing by many feet.  Sometimes, you know, hitting it right in the corners.  So I knew that was going to happen kind of thing, but it’s still impressive to see when it does happen against you.  You know, that he hits the spots three, four, five, six points in a row, and there’s not much you can do sometimes.  I wish I would have maybe served better, you know, at the crucial stages of the match, which I wasn’t able to do.  But then he took advantage of that and was able to come up with some amazing stuff. Then you can only hope that, you know, he’s going to cool off again and that . . . you’re going to get your act together so you don’t allow him maybe to play that way.

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Monday’s Agenda At the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open

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Monday’s Agenda At the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open

The men wrap up their third round at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open today while fourth round action commences for the women.

Mardy Fish tries to avoid the lull that postdates a triumph over a player of Andy Murray’s caliber. In the first match of the day, Fish confronts Feliciano Lopez.  Their three prior meetings, Lopez won twice on hardcourt while Fish on grass. Afterwards, Roger Federer takes on veteran Florent Serra for the first time.  Following is Venus Williams and Daniela Hantuchova.  Williams will be shooting for 10-0 record versus her opponent.  The day session caps off with a jewel of a match, Kim Clijsters against Victoria Azarenka. In Toronto last year, Clijsters was victorious at their maiden encounter.

On stadium court, the evening program has Fernando Gonzalez clashing with Juan Monaco.  Gonzalez has prevailed at their five preceding rendezvous. The finale is Justine Henin versus Vera Zvonareva.  Henin has won all five prior matches, the last one was in Zurich in 2007.  Zvonareva is without question a different player.

On the grandstand, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Marion Bartoli do battle. Later, Marcos Baghdatis plays Marin Cilic, the inaugural showdown for these players.  Two other top seeds in action at that location are Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling.

The outer courts have plenty of stimulating singles and doubles matches.  After fighting her way into the fourth round yesterday, Caroline Wozniacki is back to face talented youngster Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  Although Wozniacki carried their sole meeting in New Haven last year, with her dealing with a viral illness and Anastasia much improved, it will be a tough task.  In addition, Jelena Jankovic tussles with Sam Stosur for the second tournament in a row.  Jankovic has a 3-0 record versus Stosur.  Top doubles seed Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic collide with Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo.  John Isner and Sam Querrey try to cut down fourth seed Mahesh Bhupathi and Max Mirnyi.

Below is Monday’s full order of play :


STADIUM start 11:00 am
M Fish (USA) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
[3] V Williams (USA) vs [19] D Hantuchova (SVK) – WTA

Not Before 4:30 PM
[14] K Clijsters (BEL) vs [4] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

Not Before 8:30 PM
[WC] J Henin (BEL) vs [11] V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA

Not Before 12:30 PM
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
P Petzschner (GER) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
L Dekmeijere (LAT) / P Schnyder (SUI) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) – ATP
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) – ATP
F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs [6] S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) – ATP

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
H Zeballos (ARG) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
[22] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs [2] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[7] J Jankovic (SRB) or [28] E Vesnina (RUS) vs [9] S Stosur (AUS) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) or [WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) – To Be Arranged

COURT 3 start 1:00 pm
[3] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[7] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing

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Fish Trips Up Murray, Federer Still Standing

For the second straight day at the Sony Ericsson Open, a highly ranked male seed went out in the second round.  World number three and defending champion, Andy Murray, was beaten by Mardy Fish 6-3,6-4 .  Although Roger Federer, the number one seed, was pushed by Nicolas Lapentti.  Federer still won comfortably 6-3, 6-3.

In the opening set, in a game in which Fish double faulted, Murray captured the break for 3-1.  However, the next game, Murray threw in a double fault on break point permitting Fish to get back on serve.  With Murray serving in the ninth game, Fish attained triple break point.  Despite Murray reaching deuce and game point, Fish would not be denied.  Mardy manufactured two more break point chances and converted.  Then, on the third asking, Fish closed out the first set.

Poor serving and a tentative return game were what Murray brought to the table; thus, Fish took full advantage.  The initial game of the second set, Murray double faulted handing Fish his second break point opportunity, the American converted.  After consolidating and widening his lead to 3-1, Fish cruised on serve.  However, in the eighth game, Fish faced a 15-40 deficit.  Once again, the serve was his ally.  By raining a few bombs, Fish extricated himself out of this jam and maintained a 5-3 lead.  After Murray held, serving out the match, Fish once more was down break point.  Still, Fish snuffed Murray’s advantage with his serve.  Subsequently, with a couple of aces and unreturnables, Fish sealed the win.

Murray spends a lot of time training in South Florida, so MiamiTennisNews wondered:
Q.  You know this court almost more than anyone else.  You practice here all the time.  What made the difference in today’s match?
MURRAY:  Well, Mardy served well when he needed to.  You know, especially the second set when he was down break points he served well.  But I just wasn’t very good today, and I’m going to need to get a lot better.

After Murray’s debacle, a love-30 start to Federer’s opening game and a break point the subsequent one by Lapentti were preoccupying.  Still, with a few good serves, Federer held to stay on serve.  For his part, Lapentti had no difficulty holding with back to back love games for 2 all.  After multiple errant forehands, with Lapentti serving at 4-5, Federer connected on a forehand up the winner for deuce.  Later, Federer provoked a backhand error by Lapentti resulting in break point.  Then, the world number one produced a stellar backhand down the line pass to go ahead 5-3.  Following, with an easy game, Federer slammed the door on the first set.

Lapentti revealed no signs of disappointment, starting the second set strongly in part aided by Federer having trouble finding his mark with the forehand.  Similarly, Federer continued to have routine service games.  The good thing for Federer was that when it mattered, his forehand showed up.  With Lapentti serving at 3 all, Federer obtained break point with a forehand up the line winner.  When Lapentti’s forehand sailed long, Federer had the crucial break.  After getting out of love-30 mess to consolidate, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Federer broke Lapentti to finish the match.

As anticipated, Robin Soderling, Marin Cilic, Fernando Gonzalez and Fernando Verdasco advanced, all in straight sets.  Seeds Mikhail Youzhny, Tomas Berdych, Stanislas Wawrinka, Juan Monaco, Jurgen Melzer, Marcos Baghdatis and Feliciano Lopez also  moved on without difficulty.  On the other hand, Alberto Montanes, the 26th seed, Gilles Simon, seeded 20th, and Janko Tipsarevic, the 31st seed, were ousted.

For the women, it was business as usual.  Svetlana Kuznetsova, the top seed, with a 6-2,6-3 win, sent Agnes Szavay home . Venus Williams said arrivederci to Roberta Vinci with a 6-1,6-4 victory.  Agnieszka Radwanska took care of Ana Ivanovic 7-5,7-5.  Both Yanina Wickmayer and Marion Bartoli only needed two sets to pass to the round of 16.  The night match between Daniela Hantuchova and Nadia Petrova was less stimulating than expected.  Hantuchova prevailed over Petrova 6-2,6-4.  Timea Bacsinszky had an easy time with Polona Hercog 6-2,6-2.  Her next round will be more challenging as she faces Wickmayer.

The shocker for the women came from the doubles field as the top seed Cara Black and Liezel Huber were defeated in the first round by Natalie Grandin and Abigail Spears.

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO

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Federer, Venus & Murray Saturday’s Marquee Matches at 2010 SEO

Second round play for the ATP concludes today at the Sony Ericsson Open with Roger Federer and Andy Murray from the top half of the draw the feature attraction.  On the women’s side, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams play for a spot in the round of 16.

Fernando Verdasco, the 10th seed, begins the proceedings on stadium court by taking on Dudi Sela.  That’s followed by Williams and Roberta Vinci, their first tour meeting.  Then, Murray, the 3rd seed and defending champion, starts his title defense by facing American Mardy Fish. Murray holds a 3-1 record versus Fish and has prevailed in their last three meetings.  The afternoon session finishes with Kuznetsova battling Agnes Szavay.  In 2007, Szavay reached her first WTA final in New Haven and the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.  Both times, then 18 years old, Szavay’s dream run came to an end at the hands of Kuznetsova.  These two have not played since.  Therefore, this should be an intriguing battle.

On the outside courts, Ana Ivanovic attempts to knock out 6th seed Agnieszka Radwanska. The latter defeated the former for the first time in Rome on clay last year.  With Ivanovic struggling with her game, Radwanska may run away with this one.  Marin Cilic, the male 7th seed, faces Stephane Robert. This is the initial encounter for these two.  With Cilic at the highest ranking of his career, it should be an uncomplicated match. Also, Robin Soderling, seeded 5th, squares off against Peter Luczak. Soderling won their only previous skirmish in 2005 in straight sets.

In the evening, Federer takes on Nicolas Lapentti.  With a 3-0 record against Lapentti, this should be no head-scratcher for the world number one.  The ladies’ night match-up is Nadia Petrova and Daniela Hantuchova. Petrova leads their head to head 4-1.

It’s men’s day at the grandstand where the must see players include Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis and Gilles Simon. In addition, Rafael Nadal and fellow Majorcan Bartolome Salva-Vidal clash with doubles second seed Mike and Bob Bryan.

Here is the complete schedule :


STADIUM start 11:00 am
[10] F Verdasco (ESP) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs M Fish (USA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA

Starting at 8:00 PM
[1] R Federer (SUI) vs [LL] N Lapentti (ECU) – ATP
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [13] M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[25] M Baghdatis (CYP) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
[WC] R Nadal (ESP) / B Salva-Vidal (ESP) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP
[9] F Gonzalez (CHI) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[20] G Simon (FRA) vs H Zeballos (ARG) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
A Petkovic (GER) vs Y Shvedova (KAZ) – WTA
A Falla (COL) vs [23] J Melzer (AUT) – ATP
P Hercog (SLO) vs T Bacsinszky (SUI) – WTA
G Dulko (ARG) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[6] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) vs M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) – WTA

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs [WC] P Martic (CRO) – WTA
P Luczak (AUS) vs [5] R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
S Robert (FRA) vs [7] M Cilic (CRO) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
T de Bakker (NED) vs [16] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
[31] J Tipsarevic (SRB) vs P Petzschner (GER) – ATP
[19] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [Q] K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / C Wozniacki (DEN) vs [4] L Raymond (USA) / R Stubbs (AUS) – WTA
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs [22] J Monaco (ARG) – ATP

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs J Knowle (AUT) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP
M Berrer (GER) vs [29] F Lopez (ESP) – ATP
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 1:30 PM
J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) vs J Brunstrom (SWE) / J Rojer (AHO) – ATP
A Clement (FRA) / J Tsonga (FRA) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) / A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
T Garbin (ITA) / V Ruano Pascual (ESP) vs K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
F Serra (FRA) vs [26] A Montanes (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs M Melo (BRA) / B Soares (BRA) – ATP
B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) vs [5] L Kubot (POL) / O Marach (AUT) – ATP

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
[1] C Black (ZIM) / L Huber (USA) vs N Grandin (RSA) / A Spears (USA) – WTA
M Damm (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs I Karlovic (CRO) / D Vemic (SRB) – ATP
T Bellucci (BRA) / M Lopez (ESP) vs C Kas (GER) / D Norman (BEL) – ATP
I Senoglu (TUR) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney

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Baghdatis Banks Title In Sydney

img_8640Marcos Baghdatis got his Australian Open campaign off to a spectacular commencement.  At the Medibank International Sydney, the 2006 Australian Open finalist prevailed over Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6.

Gasquet had a jittery opening service game.  After a backhand down the line error wiped out game point, Gasquet flubbed an overhead and sent another backhand long handing Baghdatis the early break.  Marcos had no difficulty consolidating for a 2-0 lead. On many occasions, Gasquet pushed Baghdatis to deuce after the latter had game point.  However, with errant strokes, Gasquet did not get far.  The tides shifted in the sixth game when serving at 3-2 and deuce, Baghdatis botched an easy forehand after a well placed wide serve to allow Gasquet his first break point opportunity of the match.  Still, Gasquet failed to take advantage, dumping a forehand into the net.  Ultimately, Baghdatis held on for a 4-2 lead and closed out the set with an exemplary game.

With Gasquet at 30-0, the initial game of the second set was interrupted by rain.  When the Frenchman returned, he stumbled but still maintained serve.  Perhaps, calmer after the interlude, Gasquet was now tracking down dropshots that Baghdatis had poured on for winners in the first set.  As Baghdatis served at 1-2, he misconnected on a forehand up the line giving Gasquet break point.  Although Marcos forced Richard into a backhand error erasing that break point.  Unable to stick enough first serves, Baghdatis eventually double faulted donating to Gasquet the break. But, a 5-2 lead was not sufficient for Gasquet to wrap up the set.  After Baghdatis held easily at 3-5, with an excellent crosscourt pass, an unsuccessful tweener by Gasquet on a superb lob and another misfired backhand by his rival, Baghdatis had triple break point.  Baghdatis was back in the set after Gasquet netted a forehand.  Subsequently, with each player holding serve, the set went to a tiebreaker.  With a beautifully angled backhand crosscourt winner, Gasquet had a minibreak at 2-0.  Yet, with two successive double faults, Gasquet’s edge evaporated.  Thereafter, Richard folded.  Gasquet did not win a single point, permitting Baghdatis to run away with the tiebreaker and the championship.

Despite the lost, Gasquet’s game is on the right path in light of the cocaine scandal which curtailed his 2009 season.  Last week, Gasquet was a quarterfinalist in Brisbane.  Armed with a new coach, Baghdatis has been revitalized.  For the Cypriot, this is his second title in three months after a previous drought of two years.  Now, Baghdatis is hoping that he will carry this momentum to Melbourne.  After an unforgettable tussle into the wee hours in 2008, Baghdatis appears once again on a third round collision course with Lleyton Hewitt.  If his Sydney victory is any indication, Marcos appears fit for another rumble.

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

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Analysis of the 2010 Australian Open Draw

australian_open_logoThe Australian Open draw is out.  More than any prior year, in this imprecise game of predictions, the only certainty is the uncertainty in determining a frontrunner for the trophy on both the ladies’ and gentlemen’s side.  With no one having a conspicuous edge, with few exceptions, anyone in the top ten can be regarded as a legitimate contender.  Moreover, on the women’s side, the return of some old faces with previous success at majors means that it’s is truly anybody’s title.

In the top half of the draw, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Robyn Soderling are the highest seeds respectively. Astonishingly, if the last couple of months are an accurate barometer, Davydenko is for the first time a true threat to make it all the way to the final.  After wrapping 2009 with the ATP World tour finals trophy, just  days ago, Davydenko brought down Federer and Rafael Nadal to take the title in Qatar.  However, the question remains as to whether Davydenko can translate that type of success to a best of five set tournament over two weeks. If the draw proceeds as expected, Davydenko will have a crack at Federer in the quarters and Djokovic or Soderling in the semis.

For his part, Federer has a pretty challenging road in attempting to reach the final.  In the first round, the world number one faces the ever dangerous Igor Andreev.  Subsequently, there are possible match-ups with Australian Open finalists Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in the round of 16. Other than Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco, a semifinalist in ’09, is a potential in the quarters. So, Federer will need to be on his toes to advance beyond the quarters.

Third seed Djokovic should have a fairly unobstructed run to the quarters.  Still, Richard Gasquet who is getting back in the swing of the game may be a problem for Djokovic in the round of 16. Furthermore, on that side of the draw, majors’ finalists Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Soderling could clash in the round of 16.  With both Tsonga and Soderling potential quarterfinal opponents for Djokovic and with both having wins over the latter, a Djokovic/Federer semifinal is in far from a foregone conclusion.

In the bottom half of the draw, for the defending champion Nadal and Andy Murray, technically, their path to a quarterfinal showdown appears uncomplicated. Yet, Radek Stepanek, a potential round of 16 encounter for Nadal, is perhaps the sole question mark.  In Murray’s case, a healthy Gael Monfils can spell trouble in the round of 16.  But, with Monfils fighting injury, Murray will not be bothered.

Last year’s semifinalist Andy Roddick has another golden opportunity to move at least to the quarterfinal despite Fernando Gonzalez seemingly in his way.  Also, with U.S. Open champ Juan Martin Del Potro fettered by a wrist injury, his progress deep into the draw is in doubt.  Del Potro is slated to see Marin Cilic in the quarters or Roddick in the semis.

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