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Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro Headline 2011 Delray Beach ITC

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Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro Headline 2011 Delray Beach ITC



The field of competitors scheduled to appear at the 2011 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in February has shaped up to be the strongest in the tournament’s history.

The draw is headlined by former US Open Champions Juan Martin del Potro (2009) and Andy Roddick (2003). Joining Del Potro and Roddick are past Delray Beach ITC champions Marty Fish, James Blake, Kei Nishikori, Xavier Malisse, and Ricardo Mello.

The tournament will also host a stop of the ATP Champions Tour event with John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Todd Martin and Mark Philippoussis scheduled to play.

Here is the official press release from the tournament :

DELRAY BEACH, FL (January 20, 2011) – Former Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ITC) champions Xavier Malisse, Kei Nishikori and Ricardo Mello, along with 2010 runnerup Ivo Karlovic and 2007/2008 runnerup James Blake have signed up to play in the ITC’s 19th annual ATP World Tour event from February 21-27 at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center.

Also committing to the draw: 2009 world No. 12 Radek Stepanek and Janko Tipsaravic, who played a hero’s role in leading Serbia to the 2010 Davis Cup title.

The group joins a pair of US Open Champions - Andy Roddick (2003) and Juan Martin del Potro (2009) – as well as current Top 20 players Mardy Fish and John Isner - in giving the ITC arguably its best draw in history.

“We can’t wait to see how this one plays out,” said tournament director Mark Baron, who has added a 2011 Porsche 911 Carrera to the $500,000 pool of prize money.  “Our group of stars stands out,  but the depth of talent in this draw and guys who have had great results is very impressive.”

Malisse, the winningest player in ITC history, reached the Chenai final earlier this month. The 31-year-old is a three-time champion (2 singles titles, 1 doubles title) and has reached three other singles finals at the ITC.

Nishikori’s incredible run in 2008 as an 18-year-old made him Delray Beach’s youngest champion, and Mello will long be known for winning the 2004 title following one of South Florida’s four hurricanes that season.

Karlovic enjoyed an exciting run to the ITC final last year that included a tournament-record 89 aces, while Blake, with an 11-5 record in this tournament, received a wildcard to play this year.

Stepanek has played in 11 career ATP World Tour finals – winning four – and was the Delray Beach doubles champion in 2004. Tipsaravic owns an impressive record vs. Top 10 players, and his win in the decisive 5t rubber in last year’s Davis Cup semifinal propelled Croatia to the final.

The tournament’s ATP Champions Tour event, featuring John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Pat Cash, Todd Martinand Mark Philippoussis, will kick off the Delray Beach ITC on Friday, February 18 at the Tennis Center. Fans buying tickets on Monday and Tuesday, February 21 and 22, will see both ATP World Tour and ATP Champions matches.

Baron also announced a ‘blockbuster’ Tuesday evening session that will include Roddick’s opening match in addition to the ATP Champions Tour final. The world No. 8 is expected to be the top seed in the ITC’s ATP World Tour event.

Individual session tickets range in price from $15 for grandstand seats to $85 for box seats, while a wide variety of tournament packages are available from $200 to $490. A limited number of ON-COURT “Best Seats in the House” remain, and there are unique “Fan Experiences” also available for purchase.

Here is Delray Beach’s 2011 draw: Kevin Anderson (RSA), Igor Andreev (RUS), Benjamin Becker (GER), Julien Benneteau (FRA), Richard Berankis (LTU), James Blake (USA), Dustin Brown (GER), Brian Dabul (ARG), Juan Martin del Potro (ARG), Ivan Dodig (CRO), Mardy Fish (USA), Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS), John Isner (USA), Xavier Malisse (BEL), Adrian Mannarino (FRA), Ricardo Mello (BFA), Kei Nishikori (JPN), Bjorn Phau (GER), Michal Przysienzny (POL), Andy Roddick (USA), Rainer Schuettler (GER), Florent Serra (FRA), Radek Stepanek (CZE), Janko Tipsarevic (SRB); Balance of 32-player field will be filled by 4 qualifiers, 2 special exempts (at ATP discretion) & 1 wildcard.

Visit the Delray Beach ITC website www.YellowTennisBall.com to purchase tickets. For more information, please call 561-330-6000.

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A Recap of the 2010 AEGON Masters Tennis

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A Recap of the 2010 AEGON Masters Tennis


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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch

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Goran Ivanisevic Sets Up another Wimbledon 2001 Rematch


By beating Greg Rusedski in the quarterfinal stage at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall yesterday, Goran Ivanisevic set up yet another mouth-watering Wimbledon rematch at the Aegon Masters event.  Today, the popular Croatian will face Aussie Pat Rafter in the semifinals, a rematch of their epic 2001nWimbledon final.   The latter was  a turning point in Ivanisevic’s career which he now believes ‘saved his life’.

Ivanisevic continued to crush the Brit contingent by beating Rusedski 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in a frenzied exchange of aces and saving set points in both sets.  This was a familiar moment in their rivalry which dates back to 1994.  Rusedski said: “I’ve only beaten him once on tour. Goran for me is always a challenge.”

In the post match press conference, I was eager to know whether Ivanisevic had changed his game at all to suit the new slower courts and technology of the rackets.  He said: “I don’t mind to stay back but still I always like to serve my aces and go for the big shots.”

The Croatian is doing a great job of reminding tennis fans of why he was such a great asset to the tour with his attacking all-or-nothing style of play at the Royal Albert Hall.  A rare glimpse of tennis as it was played in the 90s juxtaposed with the recent Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London’s contrasting O2 Arena where Rafael Nadal and company punished each other with long baselines rallies and formidable topspin.

Ivanisevic said: “You can’t serve and volley in tennis now. The courts are too slow. The top ten guys, I don’t want to mention any names, but a lot of them haven’t got a clue how to volley. They don’t come to the net enough. You have to come in on the right ball. The guys are so quick.”

Another player providing an exhibition of exquisite approach play is none other than Britain’s, Tim Henman.   He defeated ATP Champions Tour Rankings leader, Thomas Enqvist 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 to reach the semifinal stage of his first competitive tournament since his retirement three years ago.  “It’s always a pleasure to play at home,” said Henman. “This is my first event on the Champions Tour and there’s no better way to start than at the Royal Albert Hall with a crowd like this.”

Henman looked remarkably sharp against Enqvist in his quarterfinal yesterday.   But,unusually, Henman had to ask the patriotic British crowd to start cheering for him, as the “silence” was making him nervous.  The chant ‘c’mon Tim’ is so ingrained into the British collective consciousness, that some even say it when Andy Murray is on court, such is his enduring appeal.

It’s all set for Tim and Goran to meet for a second time in the final on Sunday, unless Pat Rafter or Champions Tour veteran, Todd Martin can produce something special today.  Rafter said: “Goran’s serve is ridiculous and so hard to return. I’ll probably come dressed in cricket gear and see what happens!”

Follow Melina Harris’ coverage for MiamiTennisNews on twitter under the username @thetenniswriter

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009

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ATP’s Rollercoaster Ride in 2009


img_2928From Rafael Nadal winning his first hardcourt major in Australia, to Roger Federer completing the career grand slam, to the emergence of a new major star Juan Martin Del Potro at the U.S. Open, 2009 was a year replete with ups and downs on the men’s tour.  Here’s a flashback.

At the Australian Open final, despite a marathon semifinal match, Nadal had adequate reserves to stare down Federer in another five setter.  With that victory, Nadal seemed well positioned to achieve the calendar grand slam.  After sweeping every clay court tournament, Nadal was halted at the Madrid Masters by Federer days prior to the French Open. For many analysts, fatigue may have been deserving of an assist as Federer defeated Nadal in straight sets to capture his initial title of 2009. As such, Nadal was still considered the outright favorite for a fifth consecutive French trophy.

While everyone may have discounted Robin Soderling in the fourth round at the French Open, the Swede who played a contentious match with Nadal at Wimbledon in 2007 had visions of victory dancing in his head.  Soderling upstaged the best clay player in circulation, handing Nadal his first defeat at Roland Garros.  Soderling rode this euphoric wave all the way to his first final at a major where he was ultimately stopped by Federer. In addition, Soderling was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open.  At his initial ATP World Tour Finals, Soderling was a semifinalist and with that result jumped to a career best ranking of 8th after commencing 2008 at 17.

Melbourne was the site where Fernando Verdasco at last  lived up to his talent.  After surprising Andy Murray the hottest player on tour in the fourth round, Verdasco was involved in a dogfight in the semifinals with countryman Nadal.  Hands down, the best match of the tournament and one of the most scintillating of the year, the two Spaniards went toe to toe for over five hours.  Although Nadal was triumphant, Verdasco’s run in Australia galvanized him the rest of the year.  Verdasco reached the quarters at the U.S. Open and was instrumental in Davis Cup play. Verdasco participated in his first ATP World Tour Finals and ended 2009 at number 9.

After an horrendous start to the season, Federer’s year turned around after beating Nadal in Madrid in May. After avoiding a sleuth of pitfalls to get to the French Open final, Federer grabbed the elusive brass ring and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors.  With a knee injury placing Wimbledon defending champ Nadal out of action, the impossibility of a Federer-Nadal duel could have been deflating for the championships.  To the contrary, Andy Roddick stepped up to the plate and in facing Federer, the two had a final to rival last year’s epic.  Federer had to out ace Roddick, required 95 minutes and 30 games in the fifth set before coming away with the victory and a record setting 15 majors.  In July, Federer supplanted Nadal at the top of the ATP’s ranking list.  Brimming with confidence, Federer appeared unstoppable and was a shoe-in for a sixth consecutive  title in New York.

At the U.S. Open, Federer battled Del Potro in the final.  With this being the latter’s maiden major final, jitters were more likely than not to play a pivotal role.  In spite of his youth, Del Potro demonstrated that he is a quick study.  After a devastating lost to Federer in the French semifinals, down two sets to one, Del Potro carried a tiebreaker and showed up Federer in the fifth set to capture his initial major. Del Potro closed 2009 as the world’s fifth best player and is a definite threat to take over the top spot in 2010.

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