Tag Archive | "Gasquet"

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Quiet Simon Prevails In Indianapolis


The French and Russian red, white and blue stripes were flying high in Indy as France’s Gilles Simon and Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov met in the finals at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. Although ranked 25th in the world and seeded second at this tournament, Simon’s career has flown under the radar compared to countrymen Richard Gasquet or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. By beating the defending champion Tursunov in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, perhaps Simon will make tennis fans take notice on this continent.

The finals can best be summed up as Simon being opportunistic with his break point chances while Tursunov allowed the myriad of break point opportunities he had fall to the waste side. On a few occasions, Simon had his back against the wall, down triple or double break point; yet, he came up with the goods to hold his serve. Despite the Russian’s noticeable advantage with a powerful serve and blazing groundstrokes, it was the Frenchman with the beguiling frame who came out on top in most of the long rallies in a match primarily played from the baseline. Simon needed just one break in each set to prevail.

Despite this event being loaded with Americans, their progress was stopped at the semifinals with James Blake, the top seed, falling to Tursunov and Sam Querrey eliminated by Simon, with the Frenchmen saving 16 break points. The big test for Simon will come this week at the Rogers Cup where he will face Roger Federer in the second round should he win his opening match. With Federer returning to the circuit after his heartbreaking lost to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, this will be a test for both players.

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Life After Wimbledon: The Latest News from The ATP and WTA


In case you were wondering, after two amazing weeks of play at the All England Club, tennis does go on. Although several of the top players are taking a well-deserved rest, here are the most recent results from the women and men’s tours.

In Stuggart Germany, a clay court event, 19-year-old Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro beat second seed Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-5 in the finals at Mercedes Cup in order to win his first ATP title. Along with a nice paycheck, Del Potro received a spanking new Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 convertible. Ah tennis, nice work if you can get it! Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament because of a right knee problem suffered during his grueling fortnight at Wimbledon.

Two other tournaments were taking place in Europe, also on clay. At the Allianz Suisse Open in Gstaad, Romanian Victor Hanescu defeated Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4 in the finals. Hanescu prevailed over top seed and favorite son Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka in the semifinals. In Sweden, Spaniard Tommy Robredo disposed of Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-1 to claim the title at the Catella Swedish Open in Bastad; Tommy’s first trophy this year. Robredo eliminated defending champion and number one seed David Ferrer in the semifinals.

Grass was the surface in play at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island. Second seed Fabrice Santoro vanquished over wildcard finalist Prakash Amritraj 6-3, 7-5 to win his second consecutive title. Americans Mardy Fish and John Isner took the doubles prize.

For the women, it was back to the clay and a week of first for the eventual winners. At the Gaz de France, a tier III tournament in Budapest Hungary, France’s Alize Cornet, seeded second, defeated Slovenia’s Andreja Klepac 7-6, 6-3 to seize her first WTA title. Klepac ousted local sensation and number one seed, Agnes Szavay, in the second round on her way to the finals. Later in the day, Cornet along with partner Janette Husarova of Slovakia went on to take the doubles title. At the Internazionali Femminili Di Tennis in Palermo Italy, a tier IV event, Italian Sara Errani became a first time titlist on the WTA tour. Errani advanced after countrywoman and top seed Flavia Pennetta retired in the semifinals. In the finals, Errani squashed Ukrainian Mariya Koryttseva 6-2, 6-3. Like Cornet, Errani also captured the doubles trophy with teammate Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain.

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Wimbledon 2008: A Preview Of The Singles’ Draw


Once again, the Wimbledon seeding committee has upset the apple cart by utilizing its prerogative of not formulating the draw according to rankings. It is the only major that does not always abide by the rankings.

Thus, on the gentlemen’s side, Richard Gasquet currently the world number nine has been seeded ahead of James Blake ranked number eight. This is far from a minor detail. Gasquet’s semifinal finish last year probably influenced that decision, but his performance so far this year has been disastrous. For Blake, the implications are huge. Instead of meeting Andy Roddick seeded sixth in the semifinals, the two could potentially clash in the round of 16.

Marcos Baghdatis also reaped the fruits of his quarterfinal showing last year. Now ranked 25, Baghdatis is seeded tenth. Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka, world number ten, in spite of his excellent season has been bumped to the number thirteen slot. Otherwise, the top seven players were seeded as expected.

For world number one Roger Federer, the road to the finals is paved with stones. In the first round, Federer faces former top ten player, Dominik Hrbaty. From there, things get more complex with Lleyton Hewitt, Fernando Gonzalez and possibly Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. For Rafael Nadal, it is harder to isolate potential pitfalls. Nadal recently beat Roddick on grass who is also on his side of the draw. Perhaps if Blake makes it to the semifinals, this may be problematic for Nadal considering that Blake leads him 3-2 in their head to head but they’ve always met on hardcourt.

The ladies’ seeding followed the rankings. Analyzing the top half of the draw, Ana Ivanovic and Serena Williams should technically make it to the semifinals. For Ivanovic, speed bumps could include Patty Schnyder, Nicole Vaidosova and Agnes Szavay. On the other hand, Svetlana Kuznetsova or Agnieszka Radwanska may prevent Serena from getting to her projected engagement with Ivanovic. Defending champion Venus Williams’ journey to the trophy will be tough with Jelena Jankovic, Vera Zvonerava or Flavia Pennetta standing in her way in the quarterfinals. While Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina or Elena Dementieva may be semifinal obstacles for Venus. Similarly for Sharapova, her side of the draw is stacked with fellow Russians such Safina, Dementieva or Petrova who may stop her from advancing.

So, there is a lot to contemplate as we look ahead to next couple of weeks. On the women’s side, the draw appears wide open. Past major champions may have the edge because of their experience. With the gentlemen, considering that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic with their talent have distanced themselves so much from the rest of the field, it is hard to foresee another player as having even a marginal shot at the trophy. The question to be answered is whether this will be Federer’s sixth consecutive title or whether Nadal or Djokovic will manage to snatch it from Federer’s grasp.

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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.

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USA Advances To The Semifinals In Davis Cup


The spotlight this weekend was on the Davis Cup as titleholder, the United States, confronted France in the quarterfinals in Winston, North Carolina. With a highly spirited crowd cheering him on, Andy Roddick took on Michael Llodra in the opening match on Friday. This turned out to be a close contest with Llodra being broken only once the entire match. Tie breaks determined the outcome of the second and third sets, allowing Roddick to prevail in three sets 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.

Round two featured James Blake versus Paul-Henri Mathieu. After splitting the first two sets, Blake won the third and looked to be in control of the match. But, Mathieu sprung back, winning the fourth. Considering Blake’s abysmal record in 5 set matches, US Captain Patrick McEnroe would have been justified in being alarmed. As the decisive set began, the likelihood of a lost loomed larger as France nosed out in front 2-1. Blake broke back to equalize things at 2-2. After that, things remained even until the 9th game when Mathieu converted a break point in a game in which he made an awesome down the line forehand. While serving for the match, Mathieu reacquainted himself with first serves, something which was absent throughout this set and went up 40-15. To his credit, Blake did not panic. On the next point which could have been the last, Blake used his speed to maintain himself in the match. Then, a couple of unforced errors by France leveled the set. After holding his own serve, Blake broke Mathieu to take the match and give the US a 2-0 lead 7-6, 6-7,6-3,3-6, 7-5.

The next round of competition on Saturday had the Bryan brothers playing against the 2007 Wimbledon doubles champion, Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra. After a tight first set which was decided in a tiebreak in the Americans’ favor, the French stepped up their game. The strategy of taking Clement out of his comfort zone and requiring him to come up with volleys and forehand shots, which are his weakness, at first paid off. But mid-second set, the more practice the Frenchman got, the better he became at executing these demanding shots. Furthermore, Llodra’s serve once again was on the mark picking up where he left off the previous day. Undeterred, the combination of all the aforementioned elements gave the Frenchmen the match and sustained the expectation that they could progress on to the next round 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

On Sunday, France’s Mathieu faced Andy Roddick in the initial match. Mathieu, probably still in shock from the prior day’s result, offered no resistance. Roddick slammed the door on France, smoothly winning in three sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. A final obligatory match took place between Blake and Richard Gasquet in which the former was victorious. A perplexing question remained as to why Gasquet, as the top ranked player on the French squad, did not square off against Roddick instead. Thus, in September, the Americans will play the Spaniards in the semifinals in Spain; the latter eliminated Germany on German soil. The other semifinal will have Russia opposing Argentina. The Russians needed the home court advantage to eke out the win against the Czech Republic, while Argentina slid through against Sweden.

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A Round Up of the First Week At Sony Ericsson Open 2008 (Part I)


March 26 marked the start of the Sony Ericsson Open. Here is, depending on your perspective, the highlights or lowlights of the week one of the tournament.

The qualifying rounds are deserving of a few lines since three South Floridians were vying for a place in the main draw. Miami native, Ahsha Rolle, lost to Russian Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets in the first round. After her nice run at the 2007 U.S. Open, the bar was set higher for Asha this season. Thus far, 2008 has not been kind to this hometown girl. 15-year-old wildcard, Sloane Stephens, a talented junior from Boca Raton, was also eliminated in the first round. While former University of Miami tennis standout and Plantation raised, Audra Cohen, also a wildcard entry had the best result. Cohen, a former number one collegiate player, made it to the second round of qualifying before falling to Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk in three arduous sets.

Moving on to the main draw, one news worthy item was that Maria Sharapova, the reigning Australian Open champion, pulled out of the field due to injury. With the customary first round bye for the top seeds, the action got underway in earnest on Friday with second round matches. Top seed, Justine Henin, coasted through her match against Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4. 6-2. Defending champion, Serena Williams easily put away her opponent 6-2, 6-1 while big sister Venus had a tougher time with Poland’s Marta Domachowska but pulled through in two sets. Jelena Jankovic scratched out a victory over Swede Sofia Arvidsson. This match ran into the wee hours of the morning with Jankovic coming back to win in a third set tie-breaker 6-7. 6-2, 7-6. On the gentlemen’s side, James Blake, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, all proceeded to the third round despite testy matches with problematic challengers.

The most astonishing outcome in the second round was defending champion Novak Djokovic’s dismissal in three sets by qualifier, Kevin Anderson. This lanky South African with the big serve is a former college star. A few weeks ago, he posted his best result making it to the 2008 Tennis Channel Open final where he lost in a tight three setter to American Sam Querrey after beating John Isner and Robby Ginepri. Coincidentally, Mardy Fish, the runner-up at last week’s Pacific Life Open to Djokovic was shown no clemency in the first round by Frenchman Arnaud Clement. He was sent packing in straight sets 3-6, 3-6. Perhaps for both players, stamina was an issue.

Other important second round results included the 9th seed Marion Bartoli of France, the 2007 Wimbledon finalist, going down 3-6, 1-6 to Danish Caroline Wozniacki, an up-and-coming 17 year old. #15 Agnes Szavay and #12 Nicole Vaidisova were also defeated. Neither Richard Gasquet, seeded 6 , nor David Nalbandian, seeded 7, could stave off the assault by their respective opponents, Dmitry Tursunov and Xavier Malisse, thus, for them it was an early exit. Andy Murray seeded 13th also failed to graduate with Mario Ancic stopping his progression 2-6, 6-2,6-7, ditto with David Ferrer seeded 5th as he ran into former Australian Open champion, Thomas Johansson.

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The Mighty Have Fallen: Federer, Nadal Ousted


For the first time since the 2005 Australian Open, where Marat Safin was victorious, a major’s trophy will be engraved with a name other than that of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. The projected clash between these two in the Australian final was unceremoniously interrupted by two of the game’s young tikes, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

If Federer is not one with the tennis gods, he is certainly their favorite son. He has been a constant at the last ten major’s final. From the opening rounds, Federer, the world’s number one, appeared a little out of sort and off his game. In the third round, he needed five sets, since he converted only 5 of 21 break point chances, to fight off a stubborn opponent, Janko Tipsarevic 6-7,7-6,5-7,6-1,10-8. In the Round of 16, Thomas Berdych also proved to be a tough competitor even though Federer escaped with a straights set win 6-4,7-6,6-3. Against James Blake in the quarterfinals, again Federer advanced in straight sets, but it was obvious that Blake had the answers to some of Federer’s shots that were troublesome in the past. Blake broke Federer’s serve a few times, resulting in a far closer match 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 than the latter would have preferred.

Where his colleagues had failed, Djokovic succeeded, beating Federer in the semifinals. The two played in the finals at last year’s U.S Open where Djokovic lost in straight sets; clearly, the moment was overwhelming for the young player. But in Australia, after being initially irritated by his poor play and unsatisfied with his racket tension, (Djokovic switched his gear several times), Novak settled down and broke Federer as he served to secure the first set. From that point on, the dynamics of the match changed as Djokovic continually applied pressure on Roger’s serve and guarded his own. Djokovic, ranked third, was on fire the entire tournament. In fact, up to then, he had won all his matches in straight sets including against Lleyton Hewitt ranked 19 and David Ferrer ranked 5. Overall, Djokovic just looked a few steps faster than Federer, even “borrowing” shots from his opponent’s arsenal. In short, Djokovic made the normally extraordinary play of the world’s number one appear ordinary with a straights set win 7-5,6-3, 7-6. Thus, Djokovic will be making his second consecutive major final appearance.


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Top Ten Matches Of 2007


As 2007 draws to a close, the staff at MiamiTennisBlog.com would like to pay tribute to what we feel were the preeminent matches of the year. On the men’s side, the picks have been limited to five setters because undoubtedly, they were the most compelling.

#10 Maria Sharapova versus Justine Henin, Finals WTA Championships

After making the cut once Venus Williams pulled out due to injury, Maria whose serve had been affected all year by a shoulder problem, appeared to have regained her past championship form impressively dismissing higher ranked opponents to reach the finals. In a hotly contested match lasting 3-hours and 24-minute, Sharapova demonstrated she had “game” by winning the first set 7-5 and pushing Henin in the second set prior to loosing it 7-5. The contest came down to a final third set which was fiercely disputed, but Henin prevailed 6-3.

#9 Serena Williams Versus Justine Henin, Wimbledon Quarterfinals

After the drama of the previous round where she won despite a calf injury, Serena continued to battle against her archrival, Henin, taking the match to an ultimate set after loosing the first. Regrettably, Serena was not a 100-percent physically and went down 6-3 in the third. For her courage and effort, we must tip our hat to Serena.

#8 Robin Soderling versus Rafael Nadal, Third Round Wimbledon

Here are just a few reasons why this was a memorable match: 1) bad weather resulted in play spanning the course of four days. 2) Theatrics were the order of the day, when Robin decided that Rafa’s habit of constantly picking at his shorts between points was worthy of mimicry. And 3) this ended up being a five set marathon with great shots being made from both ends of the court. Nadal’s experience and physical strength were keys in aiding him to come out on top 7-5 in the fifth. It is doubtful that Robin and Rafa will be going out for drinks anytime soon.

#7 Carlos Moya versus Tim Henman, First Round Wimbledon

In his farewell Wimbledon match, Tiger Tim had fans atop “Henman Hill” on pins and needles with another five set nail-biter. The last set was dead even at 5-5 when play was suspended due to lightning. When Henman returned, he electrified the crowd with sensational shots and won 13-11 in the fifth. Sadly, the joy of his British compatriots would be short-lived as in the second round Henman would be defeated by another Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez. Anxious for a home grown champion since 1936, the Brits will have to wait at least another year.

#6 Andy Roddick versus Richard Gasquet, Quarterfinals Wimbledon

As the higher ranked player and with his previous grand slam experience, Roddick had all the elements in his favor to proceed to the next round. He was leading two sets to love and with Gasquet having never previously come back from such a deficit; Andy’s fate appeared to be sealed. But destiny took a wrong turn as Gasquet found the means to work his way back into the match with spectacular backhand passes and eventually walked away with the upset, winning 8-6 in the fifth. A dazed and confused Roddick probably had nightmares for days following that one.

#5 Maria Sharapova versus Serena Williams Finals Australian Open

Subsequent to an injury-filled year which resulted in her ranking plummeting to 81, it would not have been shocking for a visibly out-of-shape Serena to lose in the initial rounds of the tournament. Williams proved all the naysayers wrong when she reached the finals where she dominated the proceedings against Sharapova, who at the time was the second seed, and earned her third Australian trophy. In so doing, Serena placed the rest of the field on notice that she was back at the top of her game.

#4 Daniela Hantuchova versus Serena Williams, Fourth Round Wimbledon

After winning the opening set easily, Serena found herself battling in the second. While serving to extend that set into a tiebreaker, Serena literally went down when she began to experience pain in her calf muscle; speculation was that she was struck by a case of severe calf spasm. Once play resumed after a medical time out, a grimacing, teary-eyed Williams was unable to generate much power on her shots causing her to forfeit the second set. With her movement gravely hampered, Williams’ prayers for a reprieve were answered by a two-hour rain delay during which she received additional treatment for her problem. Guts, shear determination, and a befuddled Daniela, who was conspicuously uneasy with having to beat up on a wounded opponent, helped Serena pull out a 6-2 win in the third set. Therefore, for your die-hard attitude Serena Williams, we at HialeahTennis.com salute you.

#3 Justine Henin versus Marion Bartoli, Semifinals Wimbledon

You would think that having James Bond 007 (a.k.a. Pierce Brosnan) in the stands would make one nervous. Such a dapper and debonair presence in most cases might be a distraction, apparently not in the case of Marion Bartoli, to her he was a source of inspiration. Seeded 18th , Bartoli of France probably believed that she had no more than an outside chance to win against Henin, the world’s number one. After losing the first set 6-1, Bartoli should probably have discarded the idea of an “outside chance”. Yet, Marion stated that when she saw Brosnan, her favorite actor, in the stands she realized that she could not continue with such an embarrassing display. Bartoli started to perform better, propelling her to win the second set. On the other hand, Henin surprised by the turn of events essentially became unglued. Henin’s level of play took a nosedive. Shots which for her were usually a surety were converted into errors leading to her dismissal in the third set 6-1; Henin’s quest of obtaining her first Wimbledon trophy will have to be postponed yet another year.

#2 Roger Federer versus Andy Roddick, Quarterfinals U.S. Open & Ranek Stepanek versus Novak Djokovic, Second Round U.S. Open

Tied for second place are these two matches on hardcourt for the quality of the shots although only one went the distance. Roddick could not have performed any better; his serve was phenomenal while his groundstrokes were dead on. Yet, Federer decked out in his Darth Vader evening attire had the force with him. The first two sets were decided by tiebreakers with Federer coming up with some surreal passing shots while Roddick tried all within his powers to stave off the assault. After loosing the first two sets, Andy was a broken man and fell in the third set 6-2. This match was reminiscent of his play at Wimbledon 2004, where as Andy stated he “threw everything at Roger but the kitchen sink” and still could not get the victory. So maybe next time, Andy will need to remember to bring the kitchen sink.

In what turned out to be a spectator’s dream for an opening round contest at a major, this five set thriller was jam packed with first class shot making from both Stepanek and Djokovic. This 4-hour and 44-minute marathon fittingly ended with a fifth set tiebreaker where Djokovic prevailed, the initial step towards his punching his ticket to his first grand slam finals.

#1 Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal, Finals Wimbledon

The hallowed grounds of tennis’ premiere tournament were the setting for this epic battle between these top-ranked contenders. For the first time since capturing the number one ranking several years ago, Federer was at risk of being displaced by Nadal. The match started out with Roger pulling ahead in a tough first set tiebreaker. In the second set, Roger had the chance to place further distance between himself and his opponent, but Rafael picked up his level of play and equalized the match. The third set was also a fiercely contested affair which saw Federer come out on top once more in a tiebreak. At that point, one thought that Federer would put the pedal to the metal and run away with the trophy, but much to Federer’s dislike, Nadal had more to say. Throughout the course of the match, Federer took exception with some of the calls that the electronic line monitor was making; repeatedly his challenges were proven wrong. A normally cool and composed player (let’s face it, the guy appears to hardly sweats on court), Federer almost went, ballistic, at one point asking the umpire to turn off what he felt was a faulty machine. Clearly, the tension was getting to Roger. A factor which probably contributed to his losing the fourth set 6-2. For the first time at his favorite grand slam, Roger would need to go to a fifth set to win. When Rafa took an injury time out, a rattled Federer was able to regroup and regain his composure; this permitted him to find his rhythm in the ultimate set where he broke Nadal twice to capture his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.

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