Tag Archive | "Cilic"

Spain Bounces Israel , Czech Republic Outlives Croatia in Davis Cup Semis

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Spain Bounces Israel , Czech Republic Outlives Croatia in Davis Cup Semis


img_97281With Spain’s best players, Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco, out of commission due to abdominal muscle injuries, the defending Davis Cup champion had to rely on an alternate squad to bat in the semifinals against Israel.  Unfortunately for first time semifinalist Israel, the tandem of David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez showed no cracks.

Spurred on by their home crowd as well as cheerleaders Nadal and Verdasco, the Spaniards gave an A+ performance. As a result, by Saturday, Spain had carried all three rubbers to safely move on to the finals for the second straight year. Although with the clay Israel was at a conspicuous disadvantage, it still put up an admirable fight. On Friday, Ferrer got his team off to a great start with a 6-1,6-4,6-3 victory over Harel Levy.  Subsequently, Israel’s best singles offering Dudi Sela battled Juan Carlos Ferrero. Despite Sela’s valiant effort, with a far more competitive rubber than the score reflected, Sela could not keep up with the former French Open champion.  Ferrero prevailed 6-4,6-2,6-0.

On Saturday, with Spain ahead two matches to none, the 2008 Australian doubles champion and renowned Israeli pair Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich represented Israel’s best opportunity to keep its remarkable run alive.  The Israelis encountered a wall as Robredo & Lopez, who seldom play as a unit, came up victorious 7-6,6-7,6-4,6-2.  With neither team able to capitalize on break point chances, the first set was captured by Spain in a tiebreaker.  However, the Israelis quickly reversed that momentum  in the second set when Lopez double faulted at 0-40 giving them a 1-0 edge.  After Israel consolidated, Robredo saved three break points to maintain a one game deficit at 1-2.  With Israel serving for the set at 4-5, Erlich committed a myriad of volley errors which allowed Spain to get back on serve. Following Robredo’s love service game for 6-5, Israel up 40-15 needed Ram’s sensational volleying skills to efface a break point and eventually get into a tiebreaker.  Shortly after, a backhand volley error by Erlich permitted the Spaniards to build a 4-1 lead.  Yet, this resilient Israeli pair saved five set points and equalized the match when Robredo’s forehand volley sailed long.

In the third set, Spain converted triple break point, then broke Israel a second time for 3-0 with some spectacular forehands by Robredo. Although Erlich and Ram closed the gap slightly by breaking, the insurance break was just the cushion the Spaniard required to claim the set. Only weeks removed from right elbow surgery, Erlich couldn’t contend with the blows from the Spanish side.  Serving at 1 all in the fourth, a low backhand return by Lopez forced Erlich to volley up resulting in break point. Furthermore, at this critical stage, pain in the elbow caused Erlich to request an injury time out. Soon, back at service line, Erlich surrendered his serve.  After consolidating, the Spaniards broke again to extend their lead to 4-1. A few games later, at love, Lopez punched his nation’s passage into the finals.

Today, as ordained by the rules, the remaining rubbers took place. In the initial one, Ferrer defeated Ram 6-3,6-1.  Israel avoided a shutout as Levy carried the second match 7-5, 6-2 over Lopez. Despite this outcome, the Israelis will look back on 2009 with fondness and great pride. Prior to being derailed by Spain, Israel registered victories over powerhouses Sweden and Russia.

Spain will battle Czech Republic, the latter makes it’s first appearance in the finals since 1980.  At that time, the territory was in one piece and called Czechoslovakia.  The Czechs also secured their entry into the final round on Saturday after winning all three rubbers. On Friday, Radek Stepanek tranquilized a hostile Croatian crowd, stared down 78 aces and took one minute shy of 6 hours before edging out Ivo Karlovic 6-7,7-6,7-6,6-7,16-14. On the heel of one of the longest matches in Davis Cup history, Tomas Berdych, not wanting to be outdone by his countryman, took down Marin Cilic 6-3,6-3,3-6,4-6,6-3 after 3hours and  48 minutes. Still with plenty of reserve, Berdych and Stepanek teamed up on Saturday in what must have seemed like a practice session to beat Lovro Zvoko and Cilic 6-1,6-3,6-4.  So today’s action featured two dead rubbers. Czech Jan Hajek defeated Roko Karnusic 7-6,6-4.  The home audience did not leave empty handed as Zvoko prevailed over Lukas Dlouhy 6-3, 6-4.

The finals will be decided in December with Spain hosting the Czechs Republic.  Although both teams performed well on clay this weekend, the Spaniards with the best clay players around, even with Nadal sidelined, will be hard to be.  Therefore, it will take a formidable performance by the Czechs to prevent Spain from capturing it’s fourth cup this decade.

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MiamiTennis News Live From Legg Mason Classic

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MiamiTennis News Live From Legg Mason Classic


img_0942MiamiTennisNews.com is expanding its live tennis coverage by providing coverage from this year’s Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.

From August 1st through 9th, we will be on site at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park providing live updates from this ATP 500 tournament.   Headliners include defending champion and world number 6  Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, former champion and world number 5  Andy Roddick as well as 2008 Australian finalist and world number 7  Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Other key names scheduled are this year’s French Open finalist Swede Robin Soderling,  top 20 players such as Frenchman Gael Monfils, Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, Czech Radek Stepanek and Croatian Marin Cilic.  A host of top 50 men will also be fighting for this title such as former winner German Tommy Haas, big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic and former major champion Australian Lleyton Hewitt.  Besides Roddick,  Americans James Blake, Mardy Fish, Sam Querrey and John Isner will be present.

Stay tuned to MiamiTennisNews.com thru the coming weeks for all your U.S. Open series needs. For additional info on the Legg Mason tournament click here or go to www.leggmasontennisclassic.com

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal

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Croatia Expels U.S. In Davis Cup Quarterfinal


img_0642The Davis Cup quarterfinal was the focus this weekend as the U.S. played Croatia in Europe.  In the fourth rubber today, with America’s back against the wall, James Blake tried to maintain his undefeated record vis-à-vis 20 year-old, Marin Cilic.  However, Blake came up short against the talented youngster, as Cilic prevailed 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 sending Croatia to the semifinals.

After Blake was unable to take the lead in spite of numerous break point opportunities in the first set, Cilic broke when the American’s forehand went long in the first set for a 5-3 edge.  Then, with a love game, the Croatian carried the first set.  In the second set, after holding serve, with a forehand up the line winner, Blake managed a break point. But, that evaporated when James dumped a backhand down the line into the net.  With excellent serves, Cilic held.  At 2 all, after Blake failed to convert on a game point, Cilic made a service return winner for break point.  Subsequently, Cilic capitalized with a Blake double fault to go ahead 4-2.  Soon afterward, Cilic broke a second time to take a two set lead.

After comfortably holding serve to open the third, with a forehand up the line winner, Cilic arrived at break point. The Croatian scored when the American’s backhand hit the net and sailed long.  Immediately, with a couple of backhand winners, Blake broke back for 1-2.  Always under the knife, Blake faced several break points and dismissed them including five in the eighth game.  Perhaps a little obfuscated, Cilic committed a forehand error to give Blake a break point; the latter grabbed the edge when the former’s forehand went long.  James won the third and forced a fourth set.

On his first break point chance in the fourth, thanks to a backhand error by his rival, Cilic converted to take a 2-0 lead.  Then, the Croat consolidated with a love game. Never in danger on serve, with a crosscourt forehand winner, Marin broke James once more to secure the set and Croatia’s semifinal berth.

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros

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A Resume of Week One At Roland Garros


img_9890-version-2The initial week of the French Open has been filled with thrilling victories as well as agonizing losses. Here is a targeted recap of what’s gone on so far and a preview of week two.

The women and men’s number one seed breezed through their matches. Surrendering only four games in three matches, Dinara Safina faces Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai in the round of 16. Despite a partisan crowd, Safina should have no problems. After a slow start in her opening match, defending champion Ana Ivanovic, also in Safina’s section of the draw, has gotten better with each round. Reigning Sony Ericsson Open champion, Victoria Azarenka is up next for Ivanovic. Undoubtedly, this will be Ana’s biggest challenge to date. Rafael Nadal continues to make mince meat of his opponents. Lleyton Hewitt, a former world number one, won only five games in their third round meeting. Nadal takes on Swede Robin Soderling in the round of 16. Although Soderling beat clay court expert David Ferrer in the prior round, it’s hard to contemplate his having any success against Nadal. Another Spaniard making waves in France is Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco has prevailed in three in all his matches and will play Russian Nikolay Davydenko. The victor of that match will have the unenviable task of trying to go through Nadal to get to the semifinals.

Roger Federer and Serena Williams, the number two seed, have had a tougher time, yet advanced to week two. Federer’s next obstacle will be German Tommy Haas and Serena’s Canadian Alesksandra Wozniak. Andy Roddick, the only American male standing, has made it past the third round for the first time. Roddick has dismissed his rivals in impressive fashion. However, Frenchman Gael Monfils, a semifinalist last year, will be Roddick’s upcoming puzzle. Should Roddick jump through that hurdle, he could meet Federer in the quarterfinals. Brit Andy Murray is another one who hasn’t sailed through. Although Croatian Marin Cilic may be a test for the Brit, with Gilles Simon out, Murray’s place in the semifinals is almost a certainty where he is likely to battle Nadal.

Saturday saw the departure of the number four seeds as Novak Djokovic fell to German Philip Kohlschreiber while Australian Samantha Stosur stopped Elena Dementieva. Along with Kohlschreiber, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro make their debut into the round of 16. The latter two will play each other for a quarterfinal spot. With Djokovic out, for these three men as well as Spaniard Tommy Roberdo, it’s a great opportunity to reach the semifinal where Roddick or Federer may be waiting.

Jelena Jankovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova have quietly taken care of business. Kuznetsova’s next match will be tougher as she squares off against crafty Polish youngster Agnieszka Radwanska. Jankovic should have an easy pass with Romanian Sorana Cristea. Jankovic is in the golden position of avoiding a top ten seed until the semifinal where she could collide with either Serena or Svetlana. Another lucky one is former world number one now ranked 102, Maria Sharapova. Despite fumbling through, Sharapova is in the round of 16 where she will take on Na Li. Hungarian Agnes Szavay foiled Sharapova’s possible quarterfinal encounter with Venus Williams. Szavay thrashed Venus in the third round. In only her second tournament back from shoulder surgery, Sharapova has a real chance of getting to the semifinals.

Seeded fifth, Venus and Serena are alive in doubles and could impact with the number one seed Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the quarters. The top five women and men’s doubles teams are still in the mix. But, in mixed doubles, the number two seed, Cara Black and Leander Paes, was defeated in the second round.

Having set a new record for most consecutive wins at the French, can Nadal stay undefeated and seal the deal with a fifth consecutive trophy? Or will Federer finally obtain the only major that has eluded him? Will Murray, Jankovic or Safina join the elite club of major winners? Can Tsonga or Monfils make France’s dream a reality by celebrating their first major in their home country? Will Serena claim her second French title? The reply to these burning questions will come shortly.

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USA Cleans Switzerland’s Clock In The First Round Of The Davis Cup


In Davis Cup play, Andy Roddick has been unflappable. Today, America’s ace in the hole hammered Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth rubber 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to book his team’s place in the quarterfinals. Moreover, Roddick becomes second only to John McEnroe on the U.S. all-time Davis Cup winning list.

With Swiss cowbells ringing, Wawrinka won the first game with a forehand volley. Thereafter, things got sticky pretty fast for the Swiss. In two subsequent service games, Wawrinka went down love-30 and also faced a break point. Still, with a few unforced errors by Roddick, Wawrinka held serve. However, it was just a matter of time before Stanislas had to pay the piper. The debt came due in the seventh game. When Wawrinka missed a crosscourt backhand, Roddick got his second break point. Then, with a little luck, Roddick’s stroke skidded off the line, leading to a backhand error from Wawrinka and the break advantage. With his overpowering serve, Roddick grabbed the set.

The initial game of the second set was a replay of the first. Again, Wawrinka held serve for 1-0 with a forehand crosscourt volley winner. But, after Roddick cruised through his service game, Wawrinka was in dire straights afresh. With a backhand down the line winner and a volley error by his adversary, Andy had double break point. When Stanislas misconnected on an overhead, Roddick jumped ahead 2-1. The Swiss was irate, slamming his racket to the ground because he felt that the ball bounced twice on the American’s previous stroke. Except, there was no conclusive evidence that this was the case. In fact, Andy appeared to have trapped the ball. Thus, Wawrinka’s and the Swiss team’s protest fell on deaf ears. With Roddick able to neutralize Wawrinka’s masterful stroke, the backhand, and with the Swiss forced to sure up his least comfortable shot, the forehand; one break was enough for Roddick to capture the second set.

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Australian Open Heating Up


Along with the summer temperatures, the action on court is scorching at the first major of the year. Let’s review the key developments of the initial week and try to predict what could unfold the last days at the Australian Open.

The unexpected casualties in the preliminary rounds were Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams, the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively. Venus was shocked in the second round by Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro after having the match on her racket.  Suarez Navarro, a quarterfinalist at last year’s French Open, is now in the round of 16. Ivanovic, the 2008 finalist, was eliminated in the third round by 19 year-old Russian Alisa Kleybanova.  This was not a great surprise.  Since winning the French Open, Ivanovic has yet to make it past the third round at a major. Agnieszka Radwaska, the ninth seed, fell in the first round, beaten by Kateryna Bondarenko. The biggest upset on the men’s section was David Nalbandian, the tenth seed, going down in the second round to Yen-Hsun Lu ranked 61.

As we enter the meat and potatoes part of the tournament, the top four men remain on track to collide in the semifinals. With the exception of Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray have looked extremely sharp. Of the two Americans left, Andy Roddick, the seventh seed, may represent the biggest headache pending on Djokovic’s side of the draw. Roddick’s recent weight lost and coaching change appear to be paying dividends. Andy has dispatched his opponents expeditiously, so an upset could be brewing. James Blake, the ninth seed, has played very well. However, Blake will meet last year’s finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the round of 16. Vanquishing Tsonga may be too tall an assignment for the American. Nadal will face Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 finalist. Gonzalez may not have much left in the tank after his high quality, over four hour long, five setter against Frenchman Richard Gasquet. Federer will battle Tomas Berdych. Should Roger advance, waiting will be either Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic, two tough customers. The French are assured of having at least one man in the quarterfinals with Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils playing one another next. With the leftover field competing so well, the odds maker may need to reshuffle their numbers. The favorite may have to be Nadal, Federer and Murray in that order.

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Cilic Ices Native Son To Carry Chennai Open


With the encouragement of hundreds of delirious supporters, Indian wildcard Somdev Devvarman took on Croatian Marin Cilic in the finals of the Chennai Open. Somdev, a 23 year-old former NCAA champion ranked 202, proved quite a handful for the younger number 3 seed. Nevertheless, Cilic cooled off his opponent to prevail in straight sets 6-4, 7-6.

Ripping a forehand crosscourt for winner, Cilic finished an unadventurous game to open the match. Conversely, with a backhand crosscourt error, Somdev faced his first break point. However, with steeliness in the long rallies and deep penetrating groundstrokes, Devvarman conquered the wave. Then, Somdev turned the tables on Marin, connecting on a forehand pass and backhand up the line winners for triple break point. With his overpowering serve, the Croatian bullied his way out of trouble for 3-2. But, Cilic went down again double break point in his next service game when Devvarman thrusted one of his rocket like serves back to force an error from him. Yet, with crosscourt winners on the forehand and backhand, Marin once more pulled out the game for 4-3. With Devvarman serving at 4-5, the Indian picked the most inauspicious moment to bring out the dropshot. Using his long strides, Cilic reached the ball and put it away for a forehand winner. Shortly after, Devvarman terminated the set with a double fault.

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A New World Order:  The Year That Was 2008

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A New World Order: The Year That Was 2008


img_3045Fascinating is the word in a nutshell that perhaps best describes this past season. With 2009 looming, the time has come to reminisce as to why 2008 was such a quintessential year for the ATP.

The abundance of talent littering the tour foretold of a possible shake up as the year began, threatening Roger Federer’s supremacy. All dynasties have gone through a period of decline; perhaps, for Federer, 2008 will be viewed as such. In Australia, Federer faced two foes, mononucleosis and Serb Novak Djokovic. Unable to vanquish either, Roger succumbed in the semifinals. For Federer, this calendar had many ebbs and few flows with a spanking by Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the French final, a gut wrenching loss in the Wimbledon final in five sets, a much desired gold medal at the Olympics, but in doubles. Roger regained a bit of respect by capturing his fifth consecutive U.S. Open. But, for the first time since the dawning of the Federer era, Roger failed to grab a single masters’ shield. In 2008, not only did the Swiss have to get acclimated to the fact that Wimbledon was no longer his playpen, he also lost his grip on the number one ranking.

What a year for Nadal! Undoubtedly talent is an important part of success, yet hard work cannot be discounted. As the season started, the smart bet would have been on Djokovic yanking the top spot from Federer. Nevertheless, Roger’s clay nemesis, after more than two years of serving as best man, finally moved up to number one. After crushing defeats in the quarterfinals in Australia and finals at the Sony Ericsson, Nadal had a surreal clay run with one solitary loss. Moreover, Rafa won his fourth consecutive French Open and the crown jewel, his first Wimbledon trophy.  He was the first man in over twenty years with this dual combination. The ultimate feather in Rafa’s cap was getting Olympic singles gold. An arduous and lengthy schedule put the breaks to Nadal’s play with tendonitis stopping him from participating in the year-end tournament and the Davis cup finals. Regardless, Nadal could not have scripted this year any better.

In many respects, Djokovic had an up and down ride. After hoisting the Australian and Indian Wells trophies, the world number three had a reality check. Nadal unwilling to relinquish his hold on number two, schooled Djokovic when the two met in Rome and Paris. His confidence slightly dented, Novak was a non-factor mid-year with an early exit at Wimbledon. However, Djokovic finished strongly by winning the year-end tournament in Shanghai.

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Youth Rules: Teenagers Cilic and Wozniacki Capture Title at Pilot Pen


Danish Caroline Wozniacki at 18 years old defeated top seed Russian Anna Chakvetadze 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 while 19 year-old Croation Marin Cilic took care of last year’s finalist American Mardy Fish to take the Pilot Pen tournament 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Wozniacki got off to a poor start and was outplayed in the first set. Moreover, the Danish teen went down a break after the first game of the second set. But Caroline matured in a hurry, cutting down on her mistakes and grinding it out to win the second set. Despite being the more experienced competitor, Chakvetadze who had been 7-0 in finals, was left in the dust with Wozniacki easily carrying the third set to win the trophy. This tier II tournament is Wozniacki’s biggest title so far and her second of the year. Caroline will crack into the top twenty with her ranking going from 22 to 18.

On the men’s side, Fish donated a break to Cilic in the first game and this was the only difference needed for the Croatian to take the initial set. Throughout the first set, Fish had issues with his string tension. After that problem was resolved, Mardy’s serve, his principal weapon, which had been shaky, began to find its target. In the second set, Fish who made no inroads on Cilic’s service game got the early break and the lead 2-0. Thereafter, the players remained on serve until Fish served for the set at 5-3. With a multitude of inane unforced errors, including hitting a ball that was going out, Mardy lost his serve. But Fish grabbed the momentum right back breaking Cilic to win the set.

Extended into a decisive third set, the first few games were a seesaw of breaks until Cilic held to consolidate at 4-2. From that point on, Fish’s game deteriorated and Cilic capitalized with a second break. The Croatian teenager then closed out the match with a strong service game to secure his first ATP title. For a young player, Cilic’s game is versatile. Marin hits with power from the baseline and has a strong backhand while his volleying skills are steady. Cilic’s ranking of 31 will also improve with this victory.

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