Tag Archive | "Cilic"

Then There Were Two:  Baghdatis and Nalbandian Progress to The Final in Washington

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Then There Were Two: Baghdatis and Nalbandian Progress to The Final in Washington


At the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, the first semifinal showcased Marcos Baghdatis, the eighth seed, against Xavier Malisse.  Baghdatis defeated Malisse 6-2,7-6 to earn his initial spot in the final of a tournament States side.  Later, David Nalbandian booked his maiden berth in a final on U.S. soil by thumping fourth seed Marin Cilic 6-2,6-2.

Although this was their first meeting on the ATP tour, Malisse and Baghdatis faced off twice in the finals at the challenger level with Baghdatis prevailing both times.  From the difficult hold that Baghdatis had his primary game, Malisse gave the impression that he was going to reverse the former results.  However, with Malisse unable to make the volley off a dipping forehand,  Baghdatis gained double break point.  As Malisse’s forehand went out of bounds, Baghdatis nudged ahead 2-1.  By surprising Baghdatis with a sliced backhand down the line and forcing an error, Malisse attained break point.  But, with Malisse misjudging the second serve return, Baghdatis eventually consolidated for 3-1.  By inciting a few unforced errors from Malisse, Baghdatis captured a second break and later shut down the set with a love game.

The first two games of the second set, Baghdatis had two break points; Malisse handled the pressure to stay in front 2-1.  Following a couple of easy holds, Malisse connected on a forehand down the line winner for break point.  But, by sending a backhand outside the field of play, Malisse wasted that opportunity.  As Baghdatis shifted his movement in an attempt to track down the ball, he twisted his left ankle slightly.

With Baghdatis on the ground, play was interrupted and the trainer dispatched. Genuinely concerned for his opponent, Malisse quickly crossed the net and brought Baghdatis a bag of ice to apply.  After the ankle was attended to, play resumed and Baghdatis held for 4 all.  Subsequently, Malisse rebounded from love 30 to keep his nose in front 5-4.  Later, following a loose forehand by Malisse, Baghdatis connected on a forehand crosscourt pass for break point.  With another mistake by Malisse, Baghdatis claimed a 6-5 lead.  Yet, serving for the match, Baghdatis was bitten by the error bug.  Therefore, the set moved on to a tiebreaker.  At that stage, Baghdatis justified his 11-3 tiebreaker record.  In baiting Malisse into two miscues, the Cypriot raced to a 5-1 advantage.  Then, on his fourth match point, Baghdatis succeeded to punctuate the match.

In reference to his noble act, Malisse cited in the post match briefing:  “I know he has been injured for a while . . .you don’t want [the ankle to] be more inflamed. . . You don’t want to win a match in that way”.

MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  You got the equalizer in the second set, what went wrong in the tiebreaker?
Malisse:  At 3-1, I hit a good forehand but it clipped the tape.  He served well the whole tiebreaker . . . I kept [going] for my shots . .  At 6-4, it’s a little different because he feels he has to win the point because it’s on his serve . . . I made a couple of mistakes, but if you are going to hit your shot, you are going to miss a couple.  Too bad, it’s in a tiebreaker.

Q.  Despite the result today, it’s been a good week for you.  What are the positives you take away?
Malisse:  I’ve played good matches, so I can’t really complain . . . I gave it my all and beat a lot of good players in the top 20.  I lost today, but I fought hard . . . You can’t win everything . . . But the positive is that my ranking [will go] up to almost 50 . . . The pressure is off now, I can play freely.   My confidence is really high  . . I’m a bit tired, but we will see how Toronto goes after some days of rest.

In assessing his performance, Baghdatis surmised that the key to his victory was “playing smart” and coming up with “the perfect game” plan.  Essentially, Baghdatis said:  “I played the right point at the right time . . .not opening the court on his forehand and not giving him any angles”.  On the ankle, Baghdatis’ comment was “I twisted it a bit . . . I feel ok now and hope that it won’t be bad tomorrow”.

In the second semifinal, Nalbadian clashed with Cilic.  The last time these two tangoed, it was in the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup in 2006 and Nalbandian was the victor.  Needless to say, with 21 year old Cilic now ranked 13th, Nalbadian was facing a different player.

In the first game, Cilic took advantage of multiple errors by Nalbadian and broke.  However, Nalbandian also pressured the Croatian into miscues to promptly level the set at 1 all.  Nalbandian then held at love for 2-1.  After getting to double break point with a backhand down the line winner, Cilic failed to capitalize on Nalbandian’s second serves.  Thus, the Argentine inched ahead 3-2.  With Cilic netting a forehand, Nalbandian earned his third break point of the sixth game.  Nalbandian converted when Cilic made his third forehand error in that game.  In his three previous matches, Cilic had only been broken twice, dismissing 12 of 14 break points.  After consolidating with a love game for 5-2, Nalbandian bagged another break to polish the first set in just 36 minutes.

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Final Four at the Legg Mason Classic: Malisse, Baghdatis, Nalbandian and Cilic

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Final Four at the Legg Mason Classic: Malisse, Baghdatis, Nalbandian and Cilic


The customary Washington heat returned today melting down two of the top remaining seeds.  In the first match of the afternoon, Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist and number one seed, was booted by Xavier Malisse 6-4,3-6, 6-2.  The same fortune befell Fernando Verdasco, the third seed.  The Spaniard was ushered out by Marcos Baghdatis 7-6,6-4.

In the evening session, David Nalbandian bested Gilles Simon, the 13th seed, 3-6,6-2, 6-3.  At number four, Marin Cilic is the highest surviving seed. Cilic toppled Janko Tipsarevic 7-6,6-4.

Having split their prior two encounters in 2006, for both Malisse and Berdych it was case of getting reacquainted.  Malisse drew first blood by capitalizing on his second break point chance in the third game.  The Belgian went on to readily consolidate for 3-1.  Down love-30 in the fifth game,  Berdych worked his way back to game point.  However, with Berdych failing to convert on eight game points, Malisse seized a second break and 5-2 lead.  Although Berdych narrowed the arrears to a single break, with the insurance edge Malisse managed to wrap up the set.

Unable to break in the second game, Berdych was gifted a double fault on double break point by Malisse for 5-4.  The Czech secured the following game to force a third set.  After opening the fourth game with a double fault, Berdych compounded it with a series of unforced miscues.  As a result, Malisse inched ahead 4-3.  With Berdych misfiring on three consecutive backhands, Malisse increased his lead to 5-3.  For good measure, Malisse broke Berdych one last time to earn his first semifinal berth in Washington.

After the match, Berdych expressed his discontentment with playing his third round on a non-show court and being scheduled first today after getting to his hotel late this morning.  At the preceding conference, Berdych alluded to jet lag being an issue, the early match he felt added to his wretched play in the first set.  Nevertheless, Berdych acknowledged that Malisse merited the win because he performed well.

For his part, Malisse commented that the key to his victory was his ability to return.  Malisse remarked that the third set was near perfect tennis from his end.

In the second singles, Verdasco had three break opportunities in the opening game.  Baghdatis survived the challenge and went on to break for 2-1.  Yet, Verdasco quickly got back on serve by manufacturing a break of his own.  Ultimately, the set was decided by a tiebreaker.  Courtesy of three double faults by Verdasco, Baghdatis built a 5-2 advantage.  As another Verdasco forehand traveled out of play, Baghdatis bagged the first set.

After Verdasco held to carry the initial game of the second set, Baghdatis netted a backhand giving the Spaniard triple break point.  However, Baghdatis once again disappointed his rival.  The next game, a disenchanted Verdasco dropped his serve.  Although Verdasco immediately equalized the set at 2 all, the errors became uncontrollable leading to further breaks.  When Verdasco’s forehand pass sailed long, Baghdatis had double break point.  With Verdasco flubbing a backhand down the line, Baghdatis secured a 5-3 lead which was the difference in the match.

MiamiTennisNews asked:
Q.  This was your first meeting with Baghdatis, was his game different than expected?
Verdasco:  No . . . I did not play [well].  It was very windy . . .so it was tough to play for both of us . . . [Too] many double faults [because of ] the changing direction of the wind . . . The bounce of the court was sometimes [irregular] . . . The conditions were not easy.

MiamiTennisNews was curious about Verdasco’s racket conundrum.
Q.  Earlier in the year you experimented with a different brand and you’ve since switched back.  What’s the reason?
Verdasco:  Before [the season started] I tried Yonex and I was suppose to play in Australia with it.  But, [the manufacturer] did not [fabricate] the racket the way I wanted.  So, I was told to play with my old racket in Australia . . . In San Jose and Memphis, I played with the Yonex racket.  On clay in Acapulco, I [noticed] it was not the racket I want . . . After Acapulco, the [team] spoke to Dunlop to see if it can make the [equipment that suits] my game. Dunlop worked on it for a few months, that’s why I played the clay and grass seasons with a black racket.  It’s still an [evolving process], trying to find the perfect racket.  It’s never easy like changing clothes or sunglasses because it’s such an [integral] part of the game.

Q.  Any plans to defend your title at the Pilot Pen?
Verdasco: I will just be playing the two Masters and the [major].  Last year I won New Haven, it was great and I enjoyed it . . . The people really treated me well . .  . But, last year, when I got to the U.S. Open, I had a micro-tear in my abs and lost in the first round  because of too many matches in a row.  I don’t want that to happen this year because I want to do well in [New York].

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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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France Ousts Defending Champion Spain to Reach Davis Cup Semifinals

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France Ousts Defending Champion Spain to Reach Davis Cup Semifinals


The year was 1923 the last time France carried a Davis Cup tie against Spain.  Today, the Frenchmen rectified that situation as Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra defeated Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 6-1,6-2, 6-7,7-6 to secure the crucial third point.  In so doing, France advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2004.

Yesterday in the city of Clermont-Ferrand, on a hardcourt stadium with over 6,000 rowdy fans, Gael Monfils set the tone of the quarterfinals with a 7-6,6-2,4-6,5-7,6-4 win over David Ferrer.  Ahead two sets to none, Monfils took a detour which permitted Ferrer to force the match into a fifth set.  After getting the early break, Monfils wiped out a break point to maintain a 5-2 advantage.  But, with Monfils serving at 5-3, Ferrer climbed back into the set.  However, after dropping serve, Monfils broke to give France the first rubber.

The second rubber was a battle of lefthanders, Llodra versus Verdasco.  For Llodra, the world number 10 presented a daunting challenge.  Nevertheless, by utilizing his serve supremely, Llodra defeated Verdasco 6-7,6-4,6-3,7-6.  After Llodra failed to capitalize on two set points, Verdasco prevailed in a first set tiebreaker.  Still, Llodra blocked out his previous misfortunes to break Verdasco in the initial game of the second set.  That was all the Frenchman needed to square the match.  The second set, Llodra again captured a sole break to carry that set.  After Llodra obtained the break early on in the fourth, Verdasco was able to manufacture his first break point of the match.  Nonetheless, Llodra managed to turn the Spaniard away.  Yet, in the sixth game, Verdasco procured a second break point opportunity and converted.  Ultimately, the set was settled in a tiebreaker in France’s favor.  With Llodra’s first triumph in singles in Davis Cup play, France was one victory away from a semifinal berth.

Today, following an easy hold by Llodra, Lopez started his game with a double fault.  Later, with a backhand mid-court winner, Llodra gave France double break point.  When Verdasco’s backhand volley found the bottom of the net, France secured the break.  The next game, courtesy of a forehand error by Benneteau, Spain had break point.  However, Benneteau served well enough to force the Spaniards into mistakes and extend France’s lead to 3-0 in the first set.  With Lopez serving, after a good backhand return by Llodra, Verdasco dumped a forehand volley into the net to hand France double break point.  When Benneteau connected on a forehand return winner, France stretched its advantage to 5-1. Shortly thereafter, Benneteau closed out the set.

With a forehand up the line return winner, Benneteau brought France to break point.  When Verdasco netted another forehand, France broke to open the second set.  With a love game, Llodra consolidated for 2-0.  Comfortable games by both teams kept the Spaniards just one game behind.  However, serving at 2-4, Lopez committed two consecutive double faults to stare at double break point.  After saving the initial, Lopez sent a forehand volley into the net.  As a result, France took the game and later with a forehand volley winner by Llodra sealed the second set.

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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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Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer

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Wimbledon Draw Presents a Challenge for Both Nadal and Federer


As the defending Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer has been given the top seed despite relinquishing the number one ranking to Rafael Nadal earlier this month.  Federer will attempt to capture his seventh crown to equalize Pete Sampras’ record at the All England Club. After injury prevented him from defending his 2008 title, a salubrious Nadal is seeking his second back to back French Open and Wimbledon trophies.  However, each man’s section is filled with rivals capable of tripping him prior to the finals.  Here’s a look at the draw.

After his historic string of consecutive semifinals was broken at the French Open, Federer had his tight grip on the title in Halle loosen by Lleyton Hewitt. Since prevailing in Australia, Federer has fallen to multiple adversaries whom he has owned and has yet to claim another title.  In light of Federer’s vulnerability, it’s perhaps Andy Roddick’s opportunity to avenge his three previous Wimbledon final defeats by knocking Federer out in the semifinals.  Beforehand though, Federer could have stiff competition in the round of 16 from French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer and in the quarterfinals from either Thomas Berdych or Nikolay Davydenko.  But, with the latter just rejoining the tour after nursing an injury for several months, he may be less of a factor.

Roddick may have some trouble of his own to contend with.  The American could see Marin Cilic or Phillip Kohlschreiber in the round of 16.  Kohlschreiber, the 29th seed, has taken down a few big names in his career which makes him dangerous.  In the quarterfinals, Roddick is projected to meet Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic has a tricky first round match against Oliver Rochus to whom he loss in Miami.  In addition, Djokovic has a potential fourth round encounter with Hewitt.  Djokovic’s game has been suffering of late which means that Hewitt has a good shot at reaching the quarterfinals in which case Roddick would be the outright favorite.

In the bottom half of the draw, Nadal could battle big server John Isner in the fourth round.  Isner has a game which translates well to grass and could bother the Spaniard. Then, the world number one has a possible clash with French Open finalist Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals.  Considering their contentious five set, two day third round encounter in 2007 and with the evolution of Soderling’s game if these two collide, it will be an intriguing match.

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title


Although the field at the Aegon Championships had four top ten players, none of them survived to Sunday.  In the final, two unexpected Americans fought it out for the venerable trophy. Sam Querrey, the sole surviving seed, beat Mardy Fish 7-6, 7-5 to pocket his third ATP title of the year.

In the first all American final at Queen’s Club since 1994, the serve was king.  After Fish had no trouble holding serve, Querrey double faulted and made two errors to go down love-40.  However, with three aces in the game, Querrey held in his first game.  The points were fast and rallies few, neither player got a look at another break point. Subsequent to Querrey maintaining serve despite two double faults, the set went to a tiebreaker.  Fish gave Querrey a mini-break to open the breaker by committing an error.  Later though, Querrey gifted his opponent a double fault erasing his advantage leading to 3 all.  Down the road, Fish netted a neutral backhand to hand Querrey another mini-break for 5-3.  With a compendium of mistakes by Fish, Querrey capture the next two points and the set.

Following a love hold to commence the second set, Querrey flubbed two forehands to face 0-30 his second time.  Yet, by calling on his strong serve, Querrey bagged the game for 2-1.  Fish finally found an entrance.  With two mistakes by Querrey and a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Fish was rewarded with two break points. This time as Querrey’s forehand down the line sailed long, Fish captured a 3-2 edge.  Later, Fish wrapped up his game with an ace to consolidate for 4-2.  But, serving for the set, Fish produced a series of unforced errors which cost him the game and leveled the set at 5 all. After Querrey guarded serve to inch ahead 6-5, Fish failed to put the ball in the field of play leading to triple break point. When Fish dumped his volley into the net on the second championship point, Querrey claimed the title.

In the post match interview, Querrey admitted that it’s difficult to battle “a buddy” especially since the two share the same coach.  After surrendering his serve two times in a row after serving spectacularly most of the match, Fish conceded “I am not sure what just happened”.  Fish stated that knowing the history of the tournament, it was one he had dreamed of winning. Nevertheless, Fish congratulated his friend on the victory.  In terms of Wimbledon, Querrey stated “I [will] go out there and do my best”.

Now, Querrey has three title this year on three different surfaces.  Querrey’s ranking of 23rd  will improve modestly.  After this great run, Fish’s ranking, which had dropped to 90, will get a much needed boost.

It was a strange week at the first grass court tune ups.  Defending champion Andy Murray was ousted in the third round by Fish.  That same day, world number one Rafael Nadal was booted in quarterfinals by Feliciano Lopez.  In the third round, four time champion Andy Roddick was stunned by Dudi Sela and Novak Djokovic was bounced by Xavier Malisse. Seeds Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic also lost early on.

In Halle at the Gerry Weber Open, the other grass court event, Lleyton Hewitt halted Roger Federer from obtaining his sixth title.  Hewitt defeated Federer 3-6,7-6,6-4 his first victory after 15 consecutive knock downs.  With so much disarray, hopefully, it’s not a snap shot of  what is to come at Wimbledon.

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Federer and Nadal on Track for Showdown in the Finals

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Federer and Nadal on Track for Showdown in the Finals


The first week of play has come to a conclusion at the French Open.  While Andy Murray, the fourth seed, going out in the fourth round to Tomas Berdych was a shock.  The biggest eye popper was David Ferrer, the ninth seed, a definite threat to Rafael Nadal in the bottom half, being ousted in the third round in three sets by Jurgen Melzer.  With both Roger Federer and Nadal methodically working through their sections, the possibility of a final between these two is very much alive.

Despite stumbling at times, Federer, the defending champion, has pulled through all four matches in straight sets.  Robyn Soderling, the 2009 finalist, has played steady ball.  Soderling had no difficulty with Albert Montanes in the third round nor Marin Cilic in the fourth round.  Now, Soderling faces Federer in the quarterfinals and will get the opportunity to seek revenge for last year’s defeat.  Although Federer has an ATP 12-0 record against him, Soderling prevailed in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi this January.  Therefore, Soderling will not be intimidated.

The French will have to wait for their homegrown champion yet another year.  In the first round, Richard Gasquet went down to Murray in a thrilling five setter. Then, in the second round, Gael Monfils was sent packing in a marathon two day drama.  Lastly, in the fourth round, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was compelled to retire against Mikhail Youzhny due to a back injury.  Youzhny battles Berdych as the other quarterfinalist in the top half of the draw.

In the bottom half, after outlasting Mardy Fish in a five set brawl, Ivan Ljubicic could not withstand another assault from 22 year old Thomaz Bellucci.  Yet, in reaching the fourth round for the first time at a major, Bellucci’s prize is Nadal.

At the start of the tournament, Americans with authentic possibilities were likely Andy Roddick, John Isner and Sam Querrey.  The greatest hope was for Isner and Querrey, the latter had prevailed over the former in the finals in Serbia.  With no prior clay court competition, for Roddick, it was going to be an uphill battle to make it deep into the draw.  In the third round, Roddick was outplayed by qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili and went out in straight sets.  Similarly, in the third round, Berdych expedited Isner.  Still, there is a Stars and Stripes bearer into the second week, he is Bobby Ginepri ranked 98th.  After beating Querrey in the first round, Ginepri outfoxed former champion Juan Carlos Ferrero in the third round.  In the fourth round, Ginepri battles Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic has not been performing at his peak, needing four sets in the first round against Evgeny Korolev, had a tough second round match versus Kei Nishikori and another four setter against Victor Hanescu.  If that pattern continues, Ginepri has a good shot at an upset.

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Preview of the Men’s French Open Draw 2010

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Preview of the Men’s French Open Draw 2010


On Sunday, the 2010 French Open gets underway.  Before the first ball is struck at Roland Garros, here’s a taste of how the proceedings may unravel on the gentlemen’s side.

Since 2006, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer had made it a habit of contesting for the trophy on the final Sunday. Last year, Robin Soderling interrupted that cycle by ousting Nadal in the fourth round.  After descending a wee bit in the rankings, with a record three Masters clay court titles, Nadal returned to his familiar spot at number two this week.  Therefore, this sets up the possibility of a final featuring defending champion Federer and his old nemesis Nadal.

By far, Nadal has been the best clay court player this season.  As such, it’s almost a given penciling his name as a finalist.  In examining the draw, Nadal, the top seed in the bottom section, appears to have a green line through the round of 16.  In the quarterfinals, the Spaniard could see slight resistance from fellow countrymen Fernando Versdasco and Nicolas Almagro.  The latter in particular competed well against Nadal in Madrid.  Still, Nadal should pull through.

Also in the bottom half are Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic, potential semifinal adversaries for Nadal.  Last year, Roddick had a career best showing in Paris by reaching the round of 16.  In the first round, Roddick takes on veteran Jarkko Nieminen, then, a possible third round match with Juan Monaco.  Hence, the American may say his goodbyes to Paris early. Assuming Roddick advances to the quarters, he could face the second best performer on clay this year, David Ferrer.  Considering that Roddick has not competed since the Sony Ericsson Open and with clay being his least successful surface, it hard to imagine Roddick progressing to the second week.

Despite a clay title and two other finals, Djokovic went down in the third round in 2009.  This year, Djokovic withdrew early in Serbia and his best result was the semifinals in Monte-Carlo. Consequently, for Djokovic, resting may be a blessing.  On the other hand, it could be a curse, not allowing the Serb to be clay fit.  With former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero potentially as a third round opponent and Ferrer in the quarterfinals, the third seed could have his hands full before getting a crack at Nadal.

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