Tag Archive | "Erlich"

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

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

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.

Posted in NewsComments Off

A New World Order:  The Year That Was 2008

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

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.

Read the full story

Posted in EditorialComments Off

Tags: , , , , , ,

Murray Demounts Djokovic In Cincinnati Final


After terminating Rafael Nadal’s 32 match winning streak to get into the finals, world number 3 Novak Djokovic seemed to be destined to take the title at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. Yet, no one clued in Great Britain’s Andy Murray on that part of the script. After beating Djokovic for the first time last week in Toronto, Murray was poised to demonstrate that he could give an encore performance. The Brit dismantled his Serbian rival 7-6, 7-6 to earn his first ATP masters’ shield.

After getting off the blocks in a positive light, Djokovic’s serve started to trouble him in the fifth game. Despite two double faults and break point, Novak escaped to get to 3-2. In the seventh game, Djokovic again faced break points which he dismissed. For his part, Murray’s service games were uncomplicated, not facing a single break point. Moreover, Murray did not lament his lost opportunities while an exasperated Djokovic had numerous one sided heated exchanges with his coach. A 71 minute first set was decided by a tiebreak and 31 unforced errors by Djokovic helped Murray to prevail.

Turning a new leaf, Djokovic held comfortably in the second set’s opening game. Then, Novak attacked Andy’s serve to attain break points which he banked to lead 2-1. But, the shift in the tides was momentary. Novak’s shaky serve deserted him and with consecutive double faults, Murray eventually leveled the set at 2-2. Subsequently at 3-4, Djokovic missed a makeable smash which handed Murray the break and the chance to serve for the title. Down 3-5, Novak had a drop shot bounce off the net to land for a winner, swatted away four championship point and broke Andy for another lifeline. The set was settled by a tiebreak. After a seesaw of points, Murray produced a delicious crosscourt backhand down the line winner in an interminable rally to get to 5-4. On the next point, Djokovic double faulted giving Murray match point which he then converted. The Bryan brothers, who have been struggling this year, won the doubles trophy in a compelling three set match over Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 4-6, 7-6, 10-7.

Belief is everything. The combination of an ineffective serve and the inability to connect on his favorite shot, the backhand down the line, caused Djokovic’s undoing in the finals. Murray’s return of serve was key in the match. By winning, Murray improves his ranking to number 6. With so many players peaking at this stage, it’s difficult to say who will claim Olympic gold or for that matter the U.S. Open trophy.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

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

This Week On Grass On The ATP And WTA Tours


At the Ordina Open in the Netherlands, a combined ladies and gentlemen event, Spaniard David Ferrer, seeded number one, defeated Frenchman Marc Gicquel in the finals 6-4, 6-2 in order to win his first grass court title.

The second seed and world number nine, Frenchman Richard Gasquet, was eliminated by Gicquel in the second round. Other prominent players who fell include Ivan Ljubicic in the second round, Guillermo Canas in the semifinals and Mario Ancic in the quarterfinals. All was not lost for Ancic though who teamed up with Austrian Jurgen Melzer in the doubles. These two surprised the second seed Leander Paes/Mahesh Bhupathi in the finals, winning the trophy 7-6, 6-3.

On the women’s side, Danira Safina, the third seed, who has been on a dream ride the last few months, was shocked in the finals by 30-year-old Thai qualifier Tamarine Tanasugarn 5-7, 3-6. Safina beat the number one seed Elena Dementieva in the semifinals. For second seed Anna Chakvetadze the headaches continue this year; Alona Bondarenko stopped her in the quarterfinals.

Tanasugarn had to do it the hard way, but this was the most productive week of her career. After playing two matches to get into the main draw, Tamarine defeated last week’s titlist on grass Kateryna Bondarenko, then Ashley Harkelroad in the second round, hometown sweetheart Michaella Krajicek in the quarterfinals and got rid of the other Bondarenko sister, Alona, in the semifinals. Krajicek gave the locals something to cheer for regardless by winning the doubles with partner Marina Erakovic 6-3, 6-2.

At the Slazenger Open in Nottingham England, Ivo Karlovic successfully defended his title by beating Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7, 7-6. The higher seeds at this tournament were from the top twenty in the world. The well-known doubles teams of Jonathan Erlich/ Andy Ram seeded number one lost in the first round. In the finals, Bruno Soares/Kevin Ullyett prevailed over Jeff Coetzee/Jamie Murray 6-2, 7-6.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

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

So Nice to Be On Grass: Federer Claims Fifth Title in Halle


After the fiasco in the finals of the French Open last week, Roger Federer was probably relieved to be back on grass. The world number one extended his winning streak on that surface to 59 by beating hometown boy, Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 6-4 at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

With the crowd in his corner, Kohlschreiber was inspired and played well. In the first set, the German kept up with Federer and actually had the opportunity to go up a break in the third game. Unfortunately for him, Federer served his way out of trouble. Federer’s variety, his most potent asset, proved overwhelming for Kohlschreiber. Eventually, Roger got the upper hand in the first set with a break 5-3. With a strong service game, Roger closed out the set.

Early on in the second set, Federer had a few chances to break. Yet, the German found a way to pull through. While serving at 3-3, Kohlschreiber once again lost his way which allowed Federer to take the lead 4-3. Nevertheless, with the spectators urging him on after a double fault, the German extended the match to 4-5. In the end, with a powerful service game, Federer closed out the match to secure the championship.

With his atrocious record against top ten competitors 8-18, Kohlschreiber beating James Blake, the second seed, in the semifinals was a surprise. Federer appeared in tip-top shape throughout the tournament with straight sets victories over every opponent he faced. Hopefully, this title will heal some of Federer’s latest wounds and help him regain the confidence he has been lacking the last few months. With Nadal’s first title on grass in Artois coming also today, the gauntlet has been thrown. Should these two meet in the finals at Wimbledon, Nadal may have the psychological edge and that may be the deciding factor in the match.

On the doubles side, after Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram, the number one seed, lost in the second round, the draw opened up. The finals came down to the number four seeds, Leander Paes /Lukas Dhouly and the unseeded team of Mikhail Youzhny /Mischa Zverev. The latter prevailed in the three sets.

Posted in NewsComments (0)


Facebook

Twitter

Archives