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Davydenko Tames Del Potro At Year End Final

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Davydenko Tames Del Potro At Year End Final


img_4089At the ultimate showdown of the ATP World Tour Finals, Juan Martin Del Potro, reigning U.S. Open champ and world number 5, and Nikolay Davydenko vied for the season’s last prestigious prize.  Davydenko unraveled Del Potro’s game 6-3, 6-4 to snatch the trophy.

Only 5 feet 10 inches and 154 pounds, Davydenko bullied 6 feet 6 inches and 184 pounds Del Potro all day long.  With his foot speed , the Russian had Del Potro on a string, dismissing the Argentine’s powerful ground strokes.  Following uneventful games, with Del Potro serving at 1-2 and 40-30, Davydenko ripped a forehand crosscourt winner for deuce.  Later on, after Del Potro had a foot fault called on an ace at deuce, he misfired on a forehand to give Davydenko his second break point.  When Del Potro netted a backhand on a neutral point, Davydenko had the break.  Conspicuously rattled by the prior call, Del Potro produced a rash of errors allowing Davydenko to easily consolidate for 4-1.  Subsequent to a comfortable game, Del Potro had his initial break point when Davydenko double faulted.  However, the Russian kept his composure, striking a beautiful forehand up the line winner for deuce.  Davydenko went on to secure the game for 5-2.  At love his next service game, Davydenko closed out the first set.

Incredibly, in the first set, Davydenko struck 12 winners and 6 unforced errors while Del Potro had 10 and 11 respectively.  Nikolay dictated play by pushing Juan Martin behind the baseline and taking the ball early.  Even Del Potro’s serve proved meek; once the ball was in play Davydenko had him scrambling from sideline to sideline. At 2 all, a forehand dumped into the net gave Davydenko his first break chance of the set.  However, with a couple of T serves, Del Potro recovered to take a slender lead at 3-2.  The next game, after setting up the point with a perfect serve, Davydenko mucked up the forehand up the line to give Del Potro an opening.  But, with an ace, Davydenko erased the break point and got to deuce.  Still, Del Potro received another opportunity when Davydenko’s backhand crosscourt landed long.  By handling a high forehand volley, Davydenko wiped out that break point. Despite the hardships, Davydenko guarded serve for 3 all.  Since Davydenko controlled the majority of the rallies, in truth, Del Potro was hanging on by a thread.  With Del Potro serving at 4 a piece, Davydenko converted a backhand crosscourt winner, sent a forehand winner up the line and replicated a forehand crosscourt winner to arrive at triple break point.  When Del Potro’s forehand up the line sailed wide, Davydenko found himself one game from the championship.  After starting with an ace, the Russian forced Del Potro into a backhand miscue and with another ace obtained double match point.  Davydenko wrapped up the trophy when Del Potro tracked down his overhead but dumped the stroke into the net.

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Lessons And Implications of Serena Gate

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Lessons And Implications of Serena Gate


img_1710For better and for worse, the 2009 U.S. Open will be unforgettable on the ladies’ side for a multitude of reasons.  Firstly, there was an unprecedented number of top seeds who stumbled in the early rounds.  Secondly, the wackiness of the weather on the last weekend. Thirdly, 2005 champ Kim Clijsters’ remarkable run to the finals after a two year absence from the sport.  Fourthly, Caroline Wozniacki becoming the first Danish player to reach the finals at a major.  Lastly and lamentably, for what can only be labeled as ‘Serena Gate’.

The incident- Improbable that anyone watching missed it.  However, here’s a recap of the events which resulted in Serena Williams being defaulted, costing her the match.  After dropping serve in the first set which led to Clijsters capturing it, Serena smashed her racket and was given a code violation warning.  Later, Williams facing double break point, which were also match points, was called for a foot fault. This prompted a diatribe by Serena including the statement that she would “shove the f****** ball down [the line person's] throat”.  So in accordance to the rules, the chair umpire awarded her a point penalty which left a bitter note since it was match point for Clijsters. Irrespective of the line person being right or wrong, Serena’s behavior was out of bounds.

Serena is not Venus, nor vice versa- Other than Kim, the person who deserves the most sympathy is Venus Williams because this circumstance may mark her career.  Ever since their arrival on the tennis scene, these sisters have often been regarded as a singular entity.  Their playing doubles at times does not help the matter. The peculiar part is that they are not even twins. At least if this were the case, it would be justified. Yet, people still view Bob and Mike Bryan as individuals.  Sometimes, it’s forgotten that these siblings have divergent personalities. With that being said, it’s highly unlikely had the tables been reversed that Venus would have reacted in such a fashion.  Therefore, in a small corner of Serena’s mind, she must be hoping that none of this stain sticks to her big sister’s tennis shoes.

Kids & Role Models-Whether parents like or not, many athletes have assumed the position of idols in their children’s eyes.  Serena’s sorrowful outburst was certainly witnessed by tons of partisans.  For mothers and fathers this is the perfect opportunity to reinforce to their offspring that this sort of behavior is not to be emulated. Moreover, that they should select tangible persons in their lives, their own parents, uncle Charlie or cousin Jane if their comportment is exemplary as their true heroes or heroines.  Even John McEnroe, whom Serena cited as an idol at her press conference, known for his over the top conduct in his heydays stated he “could not defend the indefensible”.  I suppose with age comes wisdom.  Hopefully, Serena’s future possess the same pearl.

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Nalbandian Holds Off Nieminen To Capture Australian Warm-Up Tournament


In the finals of the Medibank International in Sydney, Argentine David Nalbandian fought off Finn Jarkko Nieminen to claim his tenth career title 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

After dismissing two break points in his opening service game, Nalbandian used his trademark backhand to set up the points and effortlessly win his next service games. With Nieminen on deck at 2-3, Nalbandian made a forehand down the line winner and caused his opponent to overshoot for triple break point. Later, with a forehand winner, Nalbandian jumped ahead 4-2. With a high percentage of first serve and by perpetually changing the ball’s direction, David took the set in 35 minutes.

To start the second set, with a backhand error, Jarkko went down break point. Subsequently, Nieminen netted a forehand to trail 0-1. The Argentine consolidated the break with a backhand volley winner. Although Nalbandian outplayed his rival in every department, for example using the combination of a lob volley and dropshot to win a point, with the minor adjustment of hugging the baseline as the set progressed, Nieminen stayed within striking distance. As Nalbandian served for the match at 5-4, he committed two forehand errors on deep returns by Nieminen to face triple break point. The Finn capitalized when the Argentine’s money stroke, the backhand down the line, went long. Thereafter, Nalbandian erased three break points to send the set to a tiebreak. Initially, neither player could hold serve. After Nieminen took a 2-1 mini-break advantage with a backhand down the line winner, he flirted too closely to the line and gave it back. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Nalbandian went ahead 3-2. But, he also forfeited his lead on the following point. At 9 all, Nalbandian elected not to play a ball he assumed would go long; the ball curled in for a winner giving Jarkko a mini-break. With a good serve, Jarkko wrestled an error and the set from David.

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A Man For All Surfaces? Nadal Wins First Title on Grass


One week after his triumph at the French Open, Rafael Nadal, the two time Wimbledon finalist, defeated Novak Djokovic in a grueling match to win his first grass court title at the Artois Championships 7-6, 7-5.

After surviving a break point in the opening game, Djokovic broke Nadal at love to take a 3-0 lead. With his aggressive play, Djokovic had the chance to take a 4-0 lead, but Nadal fought off multiple breaks points to get on the scoreboard 3-1. In the next game, Djokovic paid the price when a net court gave Nadal the point and the players went back on serve. With his advantage gone, Djokovic showed his displeasure by banging his racket. With Nadal beautifully using angles and constructing points that allowed him to get to net, Rafa was getting under Djokovic’s skin. Appropriately, the first set was decided by a tiebreak. After leading by one mini-break or at even several times, Djokovic had a set point at 6-5 when Nadal made an error. But, thanks to a long rally which knocked Djokovic to the ground, Nadal saved the set 6-6. On the next point, despite a great serve by Djokovic, Nadal had an even better reply. This led to Rafa’s first set point which was all he needed to things up.

Djokovic got off to an inauspicious start in the second set and was broken at love. After dismissing a break point on his serve, Nadal extended his lead 2-0. After being down 15-40, Djokovic battled back to get on the board 2-1. Finally, in the sixth game, Djokovic had a break opportunity and converted 3-3. Nadal had double break point in the eight game; but lady luck smiled on Novak. First, with a bad bounce then, with Rafa losing his footing, Novak held his serve.

Djokovic built on that momentum by breaking Nadal at love with some spectacular shots 5-4. Thus, it appeared that a decisive third set would be played. As Djokovic served for the set, Nadal produced a terrific defensive lob in a rally to ultimately earn a break point. After getting to deuce a couple of times, Nadal’s persistence paid dividend and he leveled the set at 5-5. After easily holding his own, Nadal pressured Djokovic’s serve with shots such as a forehand down the line for a winner. When Novak misfired on a volley, Nadal arrived at match point. On the subsequent play, Nadal lured Djokovic to the net with a drop volley and put away the winner to prevail in the tournament.

In doubles, after defeating the Bryan brothers, the number one seed, in the quarterfinals, Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa faced the second seed, Daniel Nestor/ Nenad Zimonjic, in the finals. Team Nestor/ Zimonjic won the title in straights sets 6-4, 7-6.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal survived a barrage of aces, 35, from Ivo Karlovic to advance by winning a third set tiebreak. In the semifinals, Rafa had a fairly routine win over defending champion Andy Roddick. On the other hand, Djokovic’s path was less sinuous with his dismissal of Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals and a thumping victory over David Nalbandian in the semifinals, the latter won one game. If this match is a preview of what’s in store for Wimbledon, those two weeks will be quite exciting.

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USA Advances To The Semifinals In Davis Cup


The spotlight this weekend was on the Davis Cup as titleholder, the United States, confronted France in the quarterfinals in Winston, North Carolina. With a highly spirited crowd cheering him on, Andy Roddick took on Michael Llodra in the opening match on Friday. This turned out to be a close contest with Llodra being broken only once the entire match. Tie breaks determined the outcome of the second and third sets, allowing Roddick to prevail in three sets 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.

Round two featured James Blake versus Paul-Henri Mathieu. After splitting the first two sets, Blake won the third and looked to be in control of the match. But, Mathieu sprung back, winning the fourth. Considering Blake’s abysmal record in 5 set matches, US Captain Patrick McEnroe would have been justified in being alarmed. As the decisive set began, the likelihood of a lost loomed larger as France nosed out in front 2-1. Blake broke back to equalize things at 2-2. After that, things remained even until the 9th game when Mathieu converted a break point in a game in which he made an awesome down the line forehand. While serving for the match, Mathieu reacquainted himself with first serves, something which was absent throughout this set and went up 40-15. To his credit, Blake did not panic. On the next point which could have been the last, Blake used his speed to maintain himself in the match. Then, a couple of unforced errors by France leveled the set. After holding his own serve, Blake broke Mathieu to take the match and give the US a 2-0 lead 7-6, 6-7,6-3,3-6, 7-5.

The next round of competition on Saturday had the Bryan brothers playing against the 2007 Wimbledon doubles champion, Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra. After a tight first set which was decided in a tiebreak in the Americans’ favor, the French stepped up their game. The strategy of taking Clement out of his comfort zone and requiring him to come up with volleys and forehand shots, which are his weakness, at first paid off. But mid-second set, the more practice the Frenchman got, the better he became at executing these demanding shots. Furthermore, Llodra’s serve once again was on the mark picking up where he left off the previous day. Undeterred, the combination of all the aforementioned elements gave the Frenchmen the match and sustained the expectation that they could progress on to the next round 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

On Sunday, France’s Mathieu faced Andy Roddick in the initial match. Mathieu, probably still in shock from the prior day’s result, offered no resistance. Roddick slammed the door on France, smoothly winning in three sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. A final obligatory match took place between Blake and Richard Gasquet in which the former was victorious. A perplexing question remained as to why Gasquet, as the top ranked player on the French squad, did not square off against Roddick instead. Thus, in September, the Americans will play the Spaniards in the semifinals in Spain; the latter eliminated Germany on German soil. The other semifinal will have Russia opposing Argentina. The Russians needed the home court advantage to eke out the win against the Czech Republic, while Argentina slid through against Sweden.

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