Tag Archive | "Connors"

Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington


For the second day in a row, rain disrupted the proceedings at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. But this afternoon, even that was insufficient for top seed and wildcard Gael Monfils to prevail. Unseeded Radek Stepanek bested Monfils 6-4,6-4 to win this ATP 500 tournament, the biggest prize of his career.

With a record of 5-2 against Stepanek, Monfils seemed in good stead to become the first Frenchman to triumph in the nation’s capital since Arnaud Clement beat Andy Murray in 2006.

For his part, Stepanek was on a quest to end his nation’s 29 year drought at this venue. Petr Korda, Stepanek’s coach, was the last victorious Czech in 1992.

The preamble to a disastrous afternoon for Monfils came in his initial service game. Monfils had two successive double faults despite holding.

Subsequent to guarding serve, Stepanek struck a backhand crosscourt winner for break point. When Monfils dumped a forehand into the net, Stepanek took a 2-1 lead.

In trying to consolidate, Stepanek went down 0-30. However, Monfils obliged with a sleuth of errors to allow the Czech to consolidate for a 3-1 advantage.

Later with Stepanek serving, the skies opened up and a thunderous downpour followed. Once Stepanek returned and completed the game for 4-2, showers came anew.

When play resumed, Monfils appeared more willing to fight and comfortably maintained serve. Yet despite Stepanek’s horrendous 30 percent first serve, Monfils could not capitalize on his second serve.

With Monfils stuck ten feet beyond the baseline and his returns falling short, an aggressive Stepanek proficient at volleying thrived at the net. Consequently, Stepanek easily bedded the first set.

For Monfils, the following set was a duplicate of the previous one. With a backhand volley winner, Stepanek had break point in the initial game. With Monfils’ forehand crosscourt pass finding the net, Stepanek converted.

Next, with an emphatic love game punctuated by his maiden ace, Stepanek raced to a 2-0 lead.

At times, Monfils uncorked his frustration on his racket. The crowd did it’s utmost to lift the Frenchman, however, without success. Despite losing solely two points his subsequent four service games, Monfils could not fabricate a single break point.

Stepanek’s first serve percentage picked up slightly this set at 46, winning 12 out of 12 points. With Monfils’ return not clearing the net, Stepanek had triple championship points.

When Monfils flubbed a backhand, Stepanek claimed his first title since San Jose in 2009. He also became the second oldest titlist. Jimmy Connors hoisted the trophy in 1988 at age 35.

With yesterday’s semifinals completed in the wee hours of the morning, Monfils did not go to sleep until four. Thus, the Frenchman felt the lack of rest made him “a fraction of a step slower. . . [so I] caught the returns late”.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Nadal Shuts Out Berdych for a Second Wimbledon Prize

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nadal Shuts Out Berdych for a Second Wimbledon Prize


The list of competitors who have successfully prevailed their initial outing in the finals at a major is brief.  Today, Tomas Berdych was hoping to add his name to that distinguished roll of honor.  To do so, the Czech would have to overcome his biggest hurdle these two weeks, 2008 Wimbledon champion and world number one, Rafael Nadal.  Nadal dispatched newcomer Berdych 6-3,7-5,6-4 to capture his second back to back French Open and Wimbledon trophies.  With a total of eight majors, Nadal moves up to fifth in the record books besides Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi.

Berdych’s track to the finals was dramatic.  In the quarterfinals, the Czech defeated six time champion Roger Federer.  Moreover, Berdych halted Federer’s seven straight Wimbledon final streak.  Subsequently, in the semifinals, Berdych ousted Novak Djokovic, the world number 3, and became the first player from his nation since Lendl in 1987 to reach the finals at the All England Club.

With injury barring him from the defense of his title last year, Nadal had his knees come into the picture the earlier rounds.  But, in the quarterfinals and semifinals against Robin Soderling and Andy Murray respectively, Nadal had no issues.  Thus, the Spaniard appeared fit to battle.  Although Berdych and Nadal are the same age, their careers have had divergent paths.  Nadal holds 40 titles and has a 8-2 mark in finals of majors.  On the other hand,  Berdych’s overall record in finals is 5-5.

Berdych coolly carried the opening game at love while Nadal duplicated with four easy points.  Later in the first set, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Berdych held at 15 to stay in front 3-2.  However, after mildly pushing Nadal on serve, Berdych committed two quick unforced errors.  Then, with a forehand up the winner, Nadal arrived at triple break point.  With Berdych unable to locate a first serve the entire game, Nadal punished another second serve with a backhand crosscourt shot leading to another miscue by Berdych and the break.  Previously, Berdych had surrendered only two points on his serve.  Promptly with a forehand crosscourt winner, Nadal consolidated at love for 5-3.  After Berdych misfired on another forehand resulting in double break point, Nadal teed off on an abysmal second serve to get the error and claim the first set.

Still, in the second set, Berdych had his chances.  With two double faults and Nadal’s forehand floundering, Berdych had three opportunities to break in the first game.  With Berdych failing to capitalize on second serves, Nadal maintained serve.  Despite being denied, Berdych held with a love game.  Although Nadal committed a few uncharacteristic mistakes, he never allowed Berdych back in.  With Nadal ahead 4-3, at 40-30, Berdych connected on a backhand volley winner to level the set.  After readily keeping pace with comfortable games, Berdych produced a rash of errors as he served to send the set to a tiebreaker.  As a result, Nadal had triple break point.  In a mirror image of the first set, with a forehand error by Berdych, Nadal broke to take a two set advantage.

Read the full story

Posted in NewsComments (0)


Facebook

Twitter

Archives