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France Ousts Defending Champion Spain to Reach Davis Cup Semifinals

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France Ousts Defending Champion Spain to Reach Davis Cup Semifinals


The year was 1923 the last time France carried a Davis Cup tie against Spain.  Today, the Frenchmen rectified that situation as Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra defeated Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 6-1,6-2, 6-7,7-6 to secure the crucial third point.  In so doing, France advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2004.

Yesterday in the city of Clermont-Ferrand, on a hardcourt stadium with over 6,000 rowdy fans, Gael Monfils set the tone of the quarterfinals with a 7-6,6-2,4-6,5-7,6-4 win over David Ferrer.  Ahead two sets to none, Monfils took a detour which permitted Ferrer to force the match into a fifth set.  After getting the early break, Monfils wiped out a break point to maintain a 5-2 advantage.  But, with Monfils serving at 5-3, Ferrer climbed back into the set.  However, after dropping serve, Monfils broke to give France the first rubber.

The second rubber was a battle of lefthanders, Llodra versus Verdasco.  For Llodra, the world number 10 presented a daunting challenge.  Nevertheless, by utilizing his serve supremely, Llodra defeated Verdasco 6-7,6-4,6-3,7-6.  After Llodra failed to capitalize on two set points, Verdasco prevailed in a first set tiebreaker.  Still, Llodra blocked out his previous misfortunes to break Verdasco in the initial game of the second set.  That was all the Frenchman needed to square the match.  The second set, Llodra again captured a sole break to carry that set.  After Llodra obtained the break early on in the fourth, Verdasco was able to manufacture his first break point of the match.  Nonetheless, Llodra managed to turn the Spaniard away.  Yet, in the sixth game, Verdasco procured a second break point opportunity and converted.  Ultimately, the set was settled in a tiebreaker in France’s favor.  With Llodra’s first triumph in singles in Davis Cup play, France was one victory away from a semifinal berth.

Today, following an easy hold by Llodra, Lopez started his game with a double fault.  Later, with a backhand mid-court winner, Llodra gave France double break point.  When Verdasco’s backhand volley found the bottom of the net, France secured the break.  The next game, courtesy of a forehand error by Benneteau, Spain had break point.  However, Benneteau served well enough to force the Spaniards into mistakes and extend France’s lead to 3-0 in the first set.  With Lopez serving, after a good backhand return by Llodra, Verdasco dumped a forehand volley into the net to hand France double break point.  When Benneteau connected on a forehand return winner, France stretched its advantage to 5-1. Shortly thereafter, Benneteau closed out the set.

With a forehand up the line return winner, Benneteau brought France to break point.  When Verdasco netted another forehand, France broke to open the second set.  With a love game, Llodra consolidated for 2-0.  Comfortable games by both teams kept the Spaniards just one game behind.  However, serving at 2-4, Lopez committed two consecutive double faults to stare at double break point.  After saving the initial, Lopez sent a forehand volley into the net.  As a result, France took the game and later with a forehand volley winner by Llodra sealed the second set.

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25

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2010 Sony Ericsson Open Preview for Thursday March 25


The women take center stage on Day 2 at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open.  Top seed Svetlana Kuznetsova headlines the day session.  Other notable names in action include Ana Ivanovic, Nadia Petrova, Flavia Pennetta, Na Li, Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli.  Kim Clijsters will take to the court in doubles partnering with fellow countrywoman Kirsten Flipkens.  The night session will be headlined by Venus Williams who will face Sorana Cirstea.

On the men’s side, Andreas Seppi, Juan Ignacio Chela, Nicolas Massu, Kevin Anderson and Americans Ryan Sweeting and Rajeev Ram will be in action. In the night session, Mardy Fish will take on Leonardo Mayer.

Here is the complete order of play for Thursday :

STADIUM start 11:00 am
E Makarova (RUS) vs [6] A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
[25] A Ivanovic (SRB) vs [Q] P Parmentier (FRA) – WTA
[LL] N Lapentti (ECU) vs P Starace (ITA) – ATP
[1] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 7:00 PM
[3] V Williams (USA) vs S Cirstea (ROU) – WTA
M Fish (USA) vs L Mayer (ARG) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
H Zeballos (ARG) vs A Seppi (ITA) – ATP
P Lorenzi (ITA) vs J Chela (ARG) – ATP
P Petzschner (GER) vs [Q] R Sweeting (USA) – ATP
[Q] M Ilhan (TUR) vs P Cuevas (URU) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [LL] M Daniel (BRA) – ATP

COURT 1 start 10:00 am
[WC] P Martic (CRO) vs [18] A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
K Date Krumm (JPN) vs [16] N Petrova (RUS) – WTA
[19] D Hantuchova (SVK) vs P Schnyder (SUI) – WTA
[10] F Pennetta (ITA) vs A Petkovic (GER) – WTA
[3] N Petrova (RUS) / S Stosur (AUS) vs S Errani (ITA) / S Peer (ISR) – WTA

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
V Hanescu (ROU) vs A Falla (COL) – ATP
E Korolev (KAZ) vs D Sela (ISR) – ATP

Not Before 1:30 PM
[12] Y Wickmayer (BEL) vs I Benesova (CZE) or [Q] E Baltacha (GBR) – WTA
R Ram (USA) vs T de Bakker (NED) – ATP

Not Before 5:00 PM
[WC] Y Wickmayer (BEL) / V Zvonareva (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA

COURT 3 start 10:00 am
Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs [23] S Lisicki (GER) – WTA
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [13] M Bartoli (FRA) – WTA
[WC] K Clijsters (BEL) / K Flipkens (BEL) vs S Borwell (GBR) / R Kops-Jones (USA) – WTA
T Bacsinszky (SUI) or [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) vs [8] N Li (CHN) – WTA
A Amanmuradova (UZB) / D Kustova (BLR) vs Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) – WTA

COURT 6 start 10:00 am
L Lacko (SVK) vs M Berrer (GER) – ATP
F Fognini (ITA) vs [Q] Y Lu (TPE) – ATP
[Q] N Massu (CHI) vs F Serra (FRA) – ATP
R Vinci (ITA) vs [30] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA

COURT 7 start 10:00 am
O Govortsova (BLR) / A Kudryavtseva (RUS) vs T Poutchek (BLR) / A Rosolska (POL) – WTA
[31] A Wozniak (CAN) vs P Hercog (SLO) – WTA
[WC] A Molik (AUS) vs [27] A Szavay (HUN) – WTA
[21] A Bondarenko (UKR) vs G Dulko (ARG) – WTA
[5] A Kleybanova (RUS) / F Schiavone (ITA) vs I Benesova (CZE) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA

COURT 8 start 10:00 am
P Luczak (AUS) vs O Hernandez (ESP) – ATP
[Q] K Anderson (RSA) vs [Q] R Mello (BRA) – ATP
S Robert (FRA) vs A Beck (GER) – ATP
A Hlavackova (CZE) / L Hradecka (CZE) vs [2] N Llagostera Vives (ESP) / M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
K Jans (POL) / V Uhlirova (CZE) vs [7] C Chuang (TPE) / S Hsieh (TPE) – WTA

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Federer and Tsonga Aid In Preserving Their Countries’ World Group Standing For 2010

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Federer and Tsonga Aid In Preserving Their Countries’ World Group Standing For 2010


img_0942This weekend, the world group playoffs sorted out which eight nations would be eligible to compete against the seeded teams for the coveted Davis cup in 2010.  Team Switzerland, headed by world number one Roger Federer, defeated Italy while France’s workhorse turned out to be Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Battling the Netherlands, Tsonga was instrumental in three out of four victories.

Besides Federer, the Swiss had top 30 singles player Stanislas Wawrinka to rely on.  As a packed Italian house looked on Friday, Wawrinka defeated Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in the initial rubber.  Later, Federer took care of Simone Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.  With its top singles players sitting out the doubles Saturday, Switzerland had its lead narrowed by Italy’s win.  However on Sunday, unfazed by a rain delay, Federer beat Potito Starace 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 to secure his country’s crack at the cup next year.

In the Netherlands, after countryman Gael Monfils lost the opening match against Thiemo De Bakker; Tsonga  prevailed 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 over Jesse Huta Galung to level the contest. Then, Saturday, Tsonga joined forces with Michael Llodra to eclipse team Netherlands 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.  Sunday, Tsonga avenged Monfils’ failure with a 7-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 win over De Bakker.  Although that victory was enough to seal France’s spot in the world group, Jeremy Chardy capped the day by carrying the last rubber.

Serbia playing at home against Uzbekistan had more than enough fire power despite the absence of Novak Djokovic.  With only one singles player in the top 100, Uzbekistan tried its best, but had no answer to the combo of Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic and Ilia Bozoljac. Serbia won all five matches.

On Friday, India taking on South Africa in the latter’s backyard build a 2-0 lead courtesy of victories by Smoved Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna. Subsequently, Saturday, Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie got South Africa on the board by carrying the doubles.  Yet, Sunday, after Rik De Voest went ahead two sets to zero, Devvarman stormed back taking the next three sets to maintain India’s world group status.

After Andreas Vinciguerra down 6-7, 6-7 had to retire against Romanian Victor Hanescu, the Swedish crowd was uplifted as Robin Soderling defeated Victor Crivoi 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 to put that nation on level footing. The following day, Soderling paired with Robert Lindstedt to beat Horia Tecau and Hanescu  6-1, 7-6, 7-6.  The following afternoon in the all important fourth match, Soderling crushed Hanescu 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 to prevent Sweden, a perennial fixture in the world group, from being relegated.

Shortly after the euphoria of Marcos Daniel’s win over Ecuadorian Giovanni Lapentti, the Brazilian crowd was brought back to earth as brother Nicolas Lapentti defeated Thomaz Bellucci 7-6, 6-4, 7-5. On Saturday the Lapentti siblings inflicted further misery by prevailing in five sets match over Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa.  With Ecuador leading 2-1, in Sunday’s reverse rubber, Daniel down two sets to none, pushed Nicolas Lapentti to a fifth set.  Yet, the hometown crowd was brought to despair as Lapentti carried the match 6-4,6-4,1-6,2-6,8-6 thereby eliminating Brazil from the world group.

The most compelling group matches were Belgium vs. Ukraine and Chile vs. Austria with both requiring a decisive fifth rubber.  After Belgium’s Christophe Rochus and Steve Darcis gave their side a 2-0 advantage on Friday, Saturday in doubles, Sergei Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Xavier Malisse and Oliver Rochus 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 to keep Ukraine in the game.  Furthermore, on Sunday, Stakhovsky denied Malisse by claiming the fourth rubber 6-3, 3-6, 0-6, 6-1, 6-3.  But, Belgium’s setback was temporary. In the fifth rubber, Darcis strong armed Bubka 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.

A continent away, Chile found itself in the same position as Belgium.   After Nicolas Massu and Paul Capdeville won their matches on Friday.  Austrians Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer kept their nation in the fold by beating Massu and Capdeville in doubles.  Moreover, the Chilean crowd had its anxiety heighten as Melzer won the fourth rubber 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 5-7,6-4 over Capdeville. However, later that day, Massu defeated Stefan Koubek 6-4,4-6,6-4,7-6 to grab the ultimate world group spot.

The victors will square off next year against Spain, the Czech Republic, the U.S., Russia, Argentina, Croatia, Israel and Germany, the top eight seeds in that order. The placement for the world group playoff winners will be released Wednesday.

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