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Andy Murray Headlines Inaugural Miami Tennis Cup

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Andy Murray Headlines Inaugural Miami Tennis Cup



The inaugural Miami Tennis Cup will take place November 30th through December 2nd at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida. The Crandon Park Tennis Center also plays host to one of the most popular tennis events on the ATP and WTA calendar, the Sony Open Tennis.

The Miami Tennis Cup will feature a “Super Six” format of current and former top ranked players from the ATP tour. Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion and Olympic gold medalist, will headline the event. Murray will be joined by Andy Roddick, John Isner, Nicolás Almagro, Alejandro Falla and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Here is the official press release for the event that includes the tournament schedule and ticket information :

FIRST ANNUAL MIAMI TENNIS CUP HONORS US OPEN CHAMPION AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST, ANDY MURRAY, AND PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE CAREER OF LEGENDARY SPORTS ICON, ANDY RODDICK

Inaugural U.S. tournament features “Super Six” of the world’s top ranked players

Stadium Court at Crandon Park Tennis Center to receive unique color transformation

Miami, FL – Argentina’s Group NOS, one of South America’s leading producers of brand-immersive experiences in the sports and entertainment industry, has announced the first annual Miami Tennis Cup, taking place November 30th through December 2nd, 2012, at the prestigious Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, Florida.

The highly anticipated competition is the first of its kind to launch in the U.S. and receives its inauguration in South Florida, featuring six of today’s top ranked ATP professionals, including an exclusive appearance by U.S. Open Champion and British Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray, and French Open Champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world number one player from Spain. The tournament will also be a tribute to the iconic career of Florida resident, Andy Roddick, who will also be participating as part of his homecoming farewell tour. The “Super Six” clash of the titans will play in a double-elimination, round robin tournament format that will also feature ATP heavyweights Nicolás Almagro (ESP), Alejandro Falla (COL) and top ranked American, John Isner. All matches played throughout the three-day tournament will take place on the stadium court at Crandon Park and will be broadcast LIVE by ESPN3. More than 7,000 spectators are expected to attend each day.

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Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

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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”.

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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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Federer Tipped Over by Berdych, Venus Saunters Into Semis

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Federer Tipped Over by Berdych, Venus Saunters Into Semis


Nearly a year, Madrid May 2009, has elapsed since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal butted heads in an ATP final.  Fans were hopeful that Federer and Nadal would rekindle their rivalry at the Sony Ericsson Open.  That possibility was dashed in the fourth round as Tomas Berdych beat Federer 6-4,6-7,7-6.

Federer had been fumbling his way through the tournament.  Still, the wish was that the world number one’s luck would not run out.  Subsequent to Berdych and Federer’s first meeting at the 2004 Athens Olympics where the former prevailed, the latter has claimed their next eight bouts.  At the 2009 Australian Open, Berdych carried the first two sets, but still went down in flames.  Perhaps that performance bolstered Berdych’s morale leading him to believe that his fortune could be better in a best of three sets contest.

After a double fault gave Federer a break point, the world number one broke to open the match, then consolidated for 2-1.  In a game where Federer donated a double fault, Berdych got two chances to break.  On his second opportunity, Berdych knotted the set at 3 all.  Down the road as Federer served to push the set to a tiebreaker, at love-40, he double faulted to gift Berdych the set.

From the opening game of the second set, Federer applied pressure, but failed to convert on four break point opportunities.  The same story was repeated in the 7th and 9th games.  Finally in a tiebreaker, Federer captured the second set.

In the third set, after breaking, Berdych stretched his advantage to 3-1. However, serving at 4-3,  Berdych double faulted on double break point to equalize things at 4 all.  With no break point the rest of the way, a tiebreaker settled the set.  Post saving match point at 6-7, Berdych won the next three points to seal the victory and quarterfinal spot.

Fernando Verdasco, Berdych’s quarterfinal opponent, is probably relieved not to see Federer against whom he has a 4-0 lifetime mark.  Verdasco triumphed over the 7th seed, Marin Cilic, 6-4,7-6.

In the round of 16, Nadal clashed with countryman David Ferrer.  After the two exchanged early service breaks and neither manufactured another break point, the set went to a tiebreaker.  In the latter stages, Nadal finally strung together two consecutive points to claim it.  In the second set, Nadal went up by a break.  However, again, Ferrer crawled back to 4 all.  With Ferrer serving to tie the set at 5 all, Nadal gained the upper hand and penned his name into the quarterfinals .  Nadal takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  Earlier in the day, Tsonga sent Juan Carlos Ferrero home in straight sets 6-2,6-2.

Also into the quarterfinals are Andy Roddick and Nicolas Almagro.  Roddick defeated Benjamin Becker 7-6,6-3.  Almagro prevailed over Thomaz Bellucci in three sets.  These two will do battle in the next round.

Unfortunately for Mardy Fish, a sciatic nerve injury caused him to pull out of his match against Mikhail Youzhny.  Fish was on the losing end 1-6,0-1 when he retired.  Youzhny has Robin Soderling as his quarterfinal adversary.  Soderling dismissed Fernando Gonzalez in three sets 6-0,6-7,6-2.

After fighting off Daniela Hantuchova tooth and nail to advance to the quarterfinals, Williams eased her way to the semifinals with a 6-3,6-1 win over Agnieszka Radwanska. Williams secured a break for 2-1 on Radwanska’s opening game.  Promptly though, Radwanska squared the set at 2 a piece.  Then, with back to back double faults, Radwanska went down 15-30, Williams won the next two points for a 5-4 lead.   With an easy game, Williams closed out the first set.  The second set, Williams once more took Radwanska’s first service game.  By allowing Radwanska only one game the entire set, Williams walked into the semis.

Venus meets Marion Bartoli.  Bartoli defeated Yanina Wickmayer 6-4,7-5 to advance to her first semifinal in Miami.

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Nadal Averts the Upset, Roddick Swiftly Through

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Nadal Averts the Upset, Roddick Swiftly Through


In the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open, Rafael Nadal was severely tested by David Nalbandian.  Still, Nadal booked his passage into the round of 16 with a 6-7,6-2,6-2 victory. Andy Roddick breezed through, beating Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2,6-1 to advance.

After Nadal secured the early break at 2-1, Nalbandian knotted the first set at 3 when Nadal double faulted on break point.  From that point on, these two guarded serve.  In the tiebreaker, Nadal dumped a backhand into the net to give Nalbandian a 2-1 mini-break lead.  Later, Nadal leveled things at 4 all.  Nalbandian erased a set point by Nadal, then, on his third set point captured the set when Nadal missed a forehand up the line.

Although Nadal began the second set with a couple of errors, he held serve.  After wiping out a break point by Nalbandian, Nadal converted on a break point courtesy of his rival’s miscue.  With a love game, Nadal consolidated for 5-2.  Subsequently, the next game, Nadal broke a second time to close out the set.

After a love hold, Nalbandian faced break point his second time out in third set.  Nadal went on to grab the break for 3-1.  Again, with a love hold, Nadal moved ahead 4-1.  Following an easy game for 2-4, Nalbandian tried to make a charge, but failed.  Nadal extended his lead to 5-2.  Then, at triple break/match point, with a forehand up the line winner, Nadal finished off the match.

Next up for Nadal is fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.  The 15th seed defeated Ivo Karlovic 7-6,6-3.  After his smooth entrance into the round of 16, Roddick has another potential easy adversary in Benjamin Becker.  Becker prevailed over 18th seed Tommy Robredo 1-6,6-4,7-6.

After his glorious victory over Novak Djokovic, Oliver Rochus was brought down to earth by Thomaz Bellucci.  Bellucci stopped Rochus, winning 6-3,6-4. In the succeeding round, Bellluci battles Nicolas Almagro.  Almagro fought off Jeremy Chardy 6-2,6-7,6-3.

Juan Carlos Ferrero downed American John Isner 6-2,3-6,6-3.  The upcoming challenge for Ferrero is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The Frenchman ousted Phillip Kohlschreiber in straight sets 6-2,7-5.

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Nadal, Clijsters and Henin On the Schedule Sunday At 2010 SEO

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Nadal, Clijsters and Henin On the Schedule Sunday At 2010 SEO


The Sony Ericsson Open’s fifth session offers a plethora of fascinating matches.  The ATP begins its third round action with the bottom half of the draw which includes Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick playing. Conversely, the women’s bottom half which comprises players such as Jelena Jankovic, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin finishes off its third round.

First up on stadium court are Kim Clijsters and Shahar Peer.  At their only meeting in Sydney in 2007, Clijsters had a straight sets victory.  A quarterfinalist at the 2007 U.S. and Australian Open, Peer’s game has evolved over the three years. Therefore, this has the promise of an intriguing match.  After the ladies, Rafael Nadal and David Nalbandian take center stage. Since coming back from hip surgery in 2009 and an abdominal tear this January, earlier this month, Nalbandian carried his country to a quarterfinal berth in Davis Cup. Although Nalbandian is now ranked 161st , with his having a winning record against Nadal, the Spaniard will be on his toes.

Later on stadium court, Maria Kirilenko collides with Caroline Wozniacki. The latter is 4-0 versus the former; they last met two weeks ago also in the third round at Indian Wells. The afternoon session terminates with Andy Roddick facing Sergiy Stakhovsky.  On his way to capturing the St Petersburg Open last year, Stakhovsky defeated former world number one, Marat Safin.  Although this is their initial showdown, Roddick could be tested.

On the grandstand, Henin battles Dominika Cibulkova.  A first encounter for both ladies, it will interesting to see which one stands tall after the match.  Victoria Azarenka meets Lucie Safarova.  The defending champion has a perfect 3-0 record against Safarova. Another first time meeting is John Isner versus Juan Carlos Ferrero.  On the outer courts, Sam Stosur and Vera Zvonareva both square off versus opponents against whom they have unblemished records.

At night, Jankovic clashes against Elena Vesnina.  Jankovic owns her rival 4-0 in their head to head series. That’s followed by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Phillip Kohlschreiber.  These players have split their prior two matches.

Here is Sunday’s full schedule :

SUNDAY, MARCH 28

STADIUM start 11:00 am
[14] K Clijsters (BEL) vs [17] S Peer (ISR) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[32] M Kirilenko (RUS) vs [2] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
[6] A Roddick (USA) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[7] J Jankovic (SRB) vs [28] E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

Not Before 8:30 PM
[8] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [28] P Kohlschreiber (GER) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am

[33] N Almagro (ESP) vs J Chardy (FRA) – ATP
[27] T Bellucci (BRA) vs O Rochus (BEL) – ATP
[WC] J Henin (BEL) vs [26] D Cibulkova (SVK) – WTA
L Safarova (CZE) vs [4] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[17] J Isner (USA) vs [12] J Ferrero (ESP) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
N Grandin (RSA) / A Spears (USA) vs Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA
M Llodra (FRA) / A Ram (ISR) vs F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – ATP
[15] F Schiavone (ITA) vs [22] A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
[1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs P Cuevas (URU) / F Gonzalez (CHI) – ATP
[6] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / Z Yan (CHN) or M Kirilenko (RUS) / A Radwanska (POL) vs [WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) – WTA

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
V Razzano (FRA) vs [9] S Stosur (AUS) – WTA
S Errani (ITA) vs [11] V Zvonareva (RUS) – WTA
[15] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [24] I Karlovic (CRO) – ATP
[18] T Robredo (ESP) vs B Becker (GER) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] R Harrison (USA) / N Lapentti (ECU) vs E Butorac (USA) / R Ram (USA) – ATP

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
J Coin (FRA) / V King (USA) vs K Jans (POL) / V Uhlirova (CZE) – WTA
J Melzer (AUT) / P Petzschner (GER) vs [6] S Aspelin (SWE) / P Hanley (AUS) – ATP
I Andreev (RUS) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs M Fish (USA) / M Knowles (BAH) – ATP
[3] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs R Hutchins (GBR) / J Kerr (AUS) – ATP

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
[7] F Cermak (CZE) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs R Lindstedt (SWE) / H Tecau (ROU) – ATP
S Huss (AUS) / W Moodie (RSA) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / M Mirnyi (BLR) – ATP
G Dulko (ARG) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [2] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs O Govortsova (BLR) / A Kudryavtseva (RUS) – WTA

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Djokovic Done In By Rochus, Wozniacki Worms Through

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Djokovic Done In By Rochus, Wozniacki Worms Through


Whilst rain had been forecasted in Miami at the Sony Ericsson Open on Friday, what was unexpected was Novak Djokovic’s second round departure.  Olivier Rochus ousted the world number two 6-2,6-7,6-4.  Simultaneously on court 1, Caroline Wozniacki, the women’s number two, was on the verge of an early exit herself.  However, Wozniacki survived against Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6,6-3,6-4.

Rochus broke in the opening game.  After consolidating, Olivier placed a beautiful backhand down the line winner to set up triple break point.  Rochus converted a second break when Djokovic’s backhand sailed long.  After erasing a break point and extending his lead to 5-1, Rochus closed out the set his next time out.

In the second set, Rochus again obtained triple break point and with a backhand down the line winner took a 3-2 lead.  But, Djokovic got back on even terms promptly breaking the next game.  The set went to a tiebreaker where Rochus got ahead early on.  Yet, Djokovic weathered the storm and stole the set.

The decisive set, after holding serve, Rochus was gifted a double fault by Djokovic and broke for 2-1.  Then, by donating to his opponent a couple of errors, Rochus lost his edge. Soon though, Rochus worked his way to double break point and capitalized when Djokovic’s forehand traveled long. Later on, Rochus fought off a break point and stretched his advantage to 4-1.  After failing to secure the insurance break, serving at 5-3, Rochus committed a string of errors allowing Djokovic to stay in the match.  Still, with miscues by Djokovic, Rochus manufactured break point/match point.  Olivier pocketed the match when another Novak forehand went astray.

After the match, MiamiTennisNews inquired:
Q.  Were you having problems breathing on the court?  Looked like the conditions were a little bit heavy out there.
DJOKOVIC:  Yeah, it was a bit humid, but, you know, he was making me run a lot so points were really long.  That was exhausting.

Q.  You’ve been playing a lot of tennis.  Are you thinking of maybe rescheduling for the clay season?
DJOKOVIC:  I don’t know.  I will have more time now I guess to rest and prepare well for clay.

On to the ladies, after dropping the first set to Pironkova, Wozniacki was behind in the second set.  The world number two battled back and captured the break for 5-3.  Subsequently, Wozniacki held to push the match to a third set.

In the ultimate set, Pironkova got a break early on and consolidated for 3-0.  After finally getting on the board, Wozniacki earned triple break point and converted.  Later at 3 all, Wozniacki took a go ahead break for 4-3.  However, Pironkova fought back to 4 a piece.  But, a resilient Wozniacki manufactured another break point and put herself in front 5-4 when Pironkova’s forehand up the line sailed long.  Then, on her third match point, as a forehand from Pironkova landed wide, Wozniacki punched her ticket into the third round.

With the rain backlog, Kim Clijsters’ match originally scheduled on stadium court was bounced to an outer court.  Regardless, for Clijsters, it turned out to be a practice session with a 6-1,6-1 thumping of Petra Kvitova.  Like Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva put on a clinic against Melanie Oudin 6-1, 6-2. Maria Kirilenko crawled out of a 5-2 deficit in the third set against Melinda Czink to pilfer the match in the tiebreaker.  After losing the first set, Lucie Safarova seized the second set tiebreaker then rolled over Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6.7-6,6-2.  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the 22nd seed, continues to impress; the youngster beat Tamira Paszek  7-6,4-6,6-3 for a third round berth.   Before the rain came, Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, had a 6-3,6-2 victory over Alexandra Dulgheru. Jelena Jankovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Elena Vesnina and Shahar Peer were straight sets winners.  Samatha Stosur was pushed to a third set by Carla Suarez Navarro and made it through.

Elena Dementieva, the 5th seed, suffered her 11th defeat to Justine Henin 6-3,6-2. Alisa Kleybanova, the 24th seed, fell to Sara Errani 6-4,7-5 while Jie Zheng, seeded 20th, was upset by Virginie Razzano in straight sets.  For Alize Cornet, it was another disappointing tournament with an early ousting, this time by Francesca Schiavone.  Schiavone prevailed 6-3,6-2.  After being on the road six weeks and some heartbreaking losses, Cornet’s 2010 record is now 6-9.

MiamiTennisNews wanted to know about Cornet’s state of mind:

Q. You look physically tired, are you also mentally tired?
CORNET:  Maybe a little, it’s already many weeks that I’m away from home.  I have not cut back in terms of training and I am someone who trains a lot usually. I rarely give myself time off, days of rest. I am becoming cognizant that I should take resting a little more seriously and from time to time award myself a day off. However, I think it’s difficult with long stretches of tournaments as such.

Djokovic was followed on stadium court by Rafael Nadal.  In no time, Nadal dispatched Taylor Dent 6-4,6-3.  Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had a no drama night with straight set wins over their opponents Igor Andreev and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez respectively.  Ivan Ljubicic, the champion at Indian Wells last week, was forced to retire against Benjamin Becker after carrying the first set and the first game in the second due to a back injury.  It was a tough day for the American males with Sam Querrey and James Blake going down after winning their first sets to Jeremy Chardy and Thomas Bellucci respectively. But, John Isner avoided the upset with a 7-6,2-6,7-6 victory over Michael Russell.  David Nalbandian, Ivo Karlovic, Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Nicolas Almagro and Phillip Kohlschreiber advanced.

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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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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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