Tag Archive | "Monfils"

Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend?  Australian Open Preview

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Can Nadal Make it Four in a Row or Will Federer Defend? Australian Open Preview


1969 was the year when Rod Laver accomplished the calendar grand slam for the second time.  Laver had done so previously in 1962.  At the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal will attempt to become the first person to hold all four majors simultaneously, although not in the same calendar year.  Like Nadal, Roger Federer has won three majors in a single year on multiple occasions, but never held all four.  With a historic sixteen majors, Federer, the defending champion, will be one of the competitors trying to halt Nadal from revising  the tennis annals.  Indeed, if the Australian Open draw holds up, Nadal’s route to his second title is fraught with red flags.

After seemingly comfortable initial two rounds, Nadal may see Marin Cilic in the round of 16.  Despite disappointing results the remainder of 2010 after a semifinal placement in Melbourne, for Cilic knowing that he’s gone that far at this major can be an inspiration.  Moreover, the only time these two met in 2009, Cilic was the victor. In the quarterfinals, Nadal also has a few pesky potential opponents to look forward to: Mikhail Youzhny, David Ferrer and David Nalbandian.  On any given day, these men can be a real thorn on any individual’s side.

The second part of the top half of the draw has Robin Soderling and Andy Murray as the top seeds.  Either player could clash with Nadal in the semifinals.  Soderling appears to have a favorable trek until the round of 16 where he will possibly collide with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2007 Australian Open finalist and 2010 semifinalist.  On the other hand, 2010 finalist Murray may get Juan Martin Del Potro, Marcos Baghdatis or Jurgen Melzer.  Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, and Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, would be a contest for anyone.  Whether it’s Murray, Soderling or Tsonga in the semis, Nadal will have to his hands occupied in order to reach his second Australian Open final.

To say Federer is hungry for the title is an understatement considering the implications if Nadal prevails. Could Mardy Fish or Sam Querrey trouble the defending champion in the round of 16?  Possibly.  However, with Federer’s four titles out of five his last five tournaments, it’s unlikely anyone will down him early on. Both Gael Monfils and Stanislas Wawrinka have a win over Federer, but are a combined 2-11.  Therefore, it’s inconceivable that either Monfils or Wawrinka will upend Federer in the quarterfinals.  Once again, Andy Roddick may find himself in the position of needing to go through Federer to advance to the semifinals.  Despite Roddick’s 2-20 against Federer, he is the most formidable rival who can actually put a crimp in Federer’s style.

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010

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Nothing but Nadal in 2010


No room for dispute, 2010 was a banner year for Rafael Nadal.  The Spaniard captured three majors, regained the world number one ranking and completed the career grand slam.  As such, Nadal’s domination left no ambiguity as to who was the most outstanding player in 2010.  With the year at a close, here’s a snapshot of the stories which caught the headlines this foregone season.

After a slow start, Nadal found his footing on clay with his first calendar title at the Monte-Carlo Masters.  Subsequent to banking titles at the Masters in Rome and Madrid, Nadal culminated his clay campaign with his fifth big prize at Roland Garros.  At Wimbledon, the Spaniard defended his 2008 title to seize his second major at the All England Club.  Finally, at U.S. Open, with troublesome obstacles removed from his half of the draw,  Nadal reached his first final in New York.  Nadal stared down a strong challenge from Novak Djokovic to hoist his first U.S. Open trophy.  With a total of seven titles, Nadal topped his peers in 2010.

For Roger Federer, this year was a mixed bag.  After grabbing his sixteenth major in Australia, Federer had a fourth round loss at the Sony Ericsson Open to Tomas Berdych which sent him into a tailspin.  As defending champion at the French Open, Federer was beaten in the quarterfinals by Robin Soderling which ended an unprecedented streak of twenty-three consecutive semifinals at the majors.  Furthermore, defending champ Federer was ousted in the quarterfinals by Berdych at Wimbledon.  In fact, Federer’s ranking dropped to number three, his lowest since November 2003.  Yet, with his second title of the season at the Cincinnati Masters, Federer seemed again on the right road.  However, Federer failed to take advantage of match points in the U.S. Open semifinals against Djokovic and went down in flames.  After the New York fiasco, Federer resurfaced with a fresh coach, Paul Annacone, and won three of four finals including the ATP World Tour finals where he toppled Nadal.

The Australian Open appeared a turning point for Andy Murray.  Easily handled in the final by Federer, Murray could do nothing right with the racket for a while. Eventually at Wimbledon, Murray advanced to the semifinals only to be disappointed by Nadal.  With the defense of his title at the Rogers Cup, Murray seemed to be back.  But, another setback occurred at the U.S. Open where Murray was stunned in the third round by Stanislas Wawrinka.  In besting Federer in the Shanghai Masters final, Murray looked to be heading for a strong finish.  Yet, at the ATP World Tour Finals, Murray took another  downturn.  This was emblematic of the Scot’s tumultuous year which included a rupture with coach Miles Maclagan, a brief ceding of the world number four spot to Soderling and only two titles.

With solely two titles and a U.S. Open final appearance, Djokovic had a so-so year.  The Serb even ascended to number two for a bit, but finished at number three.  While individual success was sparse, Djokovic led his country to its first Davis Cup title.  Along with countryman Viktor Troicki, Djokovic mounted a brilliant comeback to stop France from a tenth trophy.

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Djokovic and Troicki Battle Back to Give Serbia its First Davis Cup Title

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Djokovic and Troicki Battle Back to Give Serbia its First Davis Cup Title


Coming into today’s rubbers with a 1-2 deficit, Serbia faced a monumental challenge in trying to win its first ever Davis Cup title.  Yet, with an inspired performance from Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki, disappointment would not be in the cards.  Backed by a raucous home crowd, the Serbs carried both singles matches against France to claim their initial Davis Cup title.

On Friday, Gael Monfils put France in the driver’s seat with a 6-1,7-6,6-0 victory over Janko Tipsarevic.  Subsequently though, Djokovic dispatched a pesky Gilles Simon 6-3,6-1,7-5 to square the ties at one all.

On Saturday, Nenad Zimonjic and Troicki blew a two set to love advantage as Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement roared back to triumph 3-6,6-7,6-4,7-5,6-4.

With France ahead 2-1 and only three prior nations overcoming a doubles loss to take the Davis Cup, it was a near certainty that the Frenchmen would prevail.  France could almost taste its tenth title, its first time since 2001.

In the opening rubber this afternoon, Djokovic took on Monfils.  With his steady play, Djokovic quashed Monfils 6-2, 6-2,6-4 to push a decisive tie.

Picking style over substance, Monfils attempted an ill advised shot at 30-0 which proved unsuccessful.  A series of errors followed to give Djokovic his initial break and a 3-1 lead.  After a forehand up the line winner for break point, Monfils committed another mistake.  Eventually, Djokovic expanded his advantage to 4-1 and broke a second time to wrap up the first set.

Despite a better start to the second set, serving at 2-3, Monfils made three consecutive miscues to go down love-40.  When the Frenchman sent another backhand down the line long, Djokovic secured the break and consolidated for 5-2.  With great defense, Djokovic obtained triple break/ set point.  When Monfils’ slice forehand found the net, Djokovic pocketed the second set.

A Monfils double fault handed Djokovic a break point to commence the third set.  Next, a called double fault which would have given Serbia the break was overturned by a Monfils challenge.  Two more break points ensued, but, Monfils held serve for 1 all.  Then, the Frenchman turned the tables on Djokovic, breaking for a 2-1 edge.  France appeared revived.  However, unable to escape his nature, in selecting bad shots, Monfils saw his advantage go up in smokes.  Later though, Monfils provoked a forehand mistake from Djokovic to get double break point and by crushing a forehand winner up the line, Monfils converted for 4-3.  Still, Djokovic promptly redeemed himself to level the set.  After a comfortable game for 5-4, on a Monfils double fault, Djokovic arrived at double match point.  With Monfils netting a backhand, Djokovic gave the thousands in the arena what they had hoped for, a fifth rubber.

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Soderling Scuttles Monfils in Paris for First Masters Shield

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Soderling Scuttles Monfils in Paris for First Masters Shield


Robin Soderling added his name to the list of distinguished Swedes to succeed at the BNP Paribas Masters.  Soderling sailed past denizen Gael Monfils 6-1, 7-6 to earn his first Masters 1000 shield and the biggest title of his career.

A packed house was buzzing as the players took the court with the fans overwhelming in Monfils’ corner.  After his spectacular win over Roger Federer in the semifinals, whereby Monfils salvaged five match points, his derailing of Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and also erasing two match points in the third round against Fernando Verdasco, the crowd was hoping Monfils could dazzle it one last time and hoist the trophy.  However, Soderling proved uncooperative.  Following easy holds by both players the initial three games, Monfils made a spate of errors to gift Soderling triple break point.  Then, Monfils misfired on a volley after Soderling reached his ill advised dropshot giving the Swede a 3-1 lead.  With Monfils sending an overhead wide, Soderling consolidated for 4-1.  Ahead 40-15, Monfils was at deuce subsequent to a backhand mistake and a forehand crosscourt winner by Soderling. When the Frenchman netted a forehand, Soderling arrived at break point.  By striking a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Soderling had a double break edge and promptly wrapped up the first set in 26 minutes.

After a comfortable service game, Monfils looked ready to turn the tide.  Yet, Soderling refused to let the public nor his opponent into the match.  Despite a dismal first serve percentage in the second set, with Monfils’ returns landing short, Soderling continued to attack and cruised on serve.  As neither player could fabricate a break point, the second set went to a tiebreaker.  Troubled by the backhand all day, Monfils flubbed another one long to hand Soderling the first point.  With a couple more strokes traveling long, Soderling built up a 3-1 advantage.  Then, as a result of a return winner, a call overturned by a challenge, Soderling had a 5-1 cushion.  Consequently, with another return muffed by Monfils, Soderling accumulated multiple champion points.  The Swede only required one, converting with a forehand volley winner.

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Nadal Levels Monfils in Tokyo for Seventh Title of the Season

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Nadal Levels Monfils in Tokyo for Seventh Title of the Season


Rafael Nadal added another trophy to his cabinet today.  The world number one manhandled fifth seed Gael Monfils 6-1,7-5 to collect his first prize at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

Following a comfortable opening game, Nadal put the Frenchman on his heels and broke.  Subsequently, with an easy game, Nadal consolidated for a 3-0 lead.  As Monfils’ racket bled mistake upon mistake, Nadal closed out the initial set in just 25 minutes.

As a defensive player, Monfils would have a great shot at victory by camping out in the backcourt against any other opponent.  However, when it comes to Nadal, any strategy which involves overpowering the Spaniard from the baseline is not only risky, but usually a losing one.  Therefore, Monfils altered his game plan slightly resulting in a competitive second set.

By varying his serve, Monfils held without difficulty to start the set.  Still, the issue for Monfils was finding a way to rattle Nadal’s serve.  Serving at 2 all, with two winners from Nadal, Monfils got himself into a tight spot at love-30.  Yet, with a sensational pick-up on a low volley and good serves, Monfils stayed in front for 3-2.  Monfils’ best opportunity at manufacturing a break point arrived when Nadal double faulted for 30 all.  But, the Frenchman failed to pressure the Spaniard so the set was equalized at 4 a piece.  After falling behind love-30 again, Monfils managed to rescue the game and remained ahead at 5-4.  Nadal is quite stingy in handing get out of jail free cards, thus, eventually Monfils would have to pay for his miscues.  Serving at 5 all, Monfils misfired on a forehand down the line and had the ball go under his racket on an attempted volley.  Next, Nadal connected on a forehand winner up the line for double break point.  As Monfils approached the net, Nadal flicked a forehand return winner up the line to bank the break and secured a 6-5 advantage.  Later, on his first champion point, Nadal watched Monfils’ return sail long and celebrated yet another title.

In accepting the runner-up trophy, Monfils congratulated Nadal on being the better performer.  Despite the result today, the Frenchman was positive in saying “it was a great tournament . . . and I love to come here”.  Turning to his coach, he stated “not a win, but maybe next time”.  Indeed a productive week for Monfils; he took out second seed Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals.  Countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also rejoined the tour at this tournament but suffered a first round defeat.

A stupendous championship for Nadal who salvaged two match points in the semifinals against Victor Troicki.  Nadal wished Monfils the best of fortunes for the rest of the year, particularly in Davis Cup final, France plays Serbia.  His debut event in Tokyo, Nadal has been overrun by fans wherever he shows up and the world number one was appreciative commenting “the crowds are fantastic . . . it was my first visit, but certainly not my last”.  The champion even ended with a couple of words in Japanese to express his gratitude.  From Japan, the ATP travels to Shanghai for a Masters’ 1000 series event.

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Federer and Nadal in Awesome Form Going into the Second Week at the U.S. Open

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Federer and Nadal in Awesome Form Going into the Second Week at the U.S. Open


The initial week at the U.S. Open is complete and the men’s field has been scaled down to sixteen players.  Two names missing from the roll call are Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.  These two touted favorites were upset early on. Here’s a summary of the past seven days and an analysis of what could unfold the next few rounds.

While Rafael Nadal barely passed his pre-tournament exams in Toronto and Cincinnati, in his first three matches at the Open, the Spaniard gets an A plus.  Despite being tested, with a beefed up first serve to the tune of 130 miles per hour at times, Nadal has dispatched each adversary in three sets.  In the fourth round, Nadal will face compatriot Feliciano Lopez.  With Nadal’s 5-2 record against his fellow citizen, Lopez is likely the subsequent sacrificial lamb.

After surviving a five set tussle in the first round against Fabio Fognini ranked 86th, Fernando Verdasco is in the round of 16 and will take on David Ferrer, the tenth seed.  Although Verdasco has a 6-4 edge in their encounters, Ferrer prevailed at their last meeting on clay and at their only battle on hardcourt in 2004.  David Nalbandian, one of the few players who could have troubled Nadal, was easily given his marching orders by Verdasco in the third round.

Also in the top section of the draw, seventh seed Tomas Berdych was surprised in the first round by Michael Llodra.  However, the jaw dropper came today with  Murray, the 2008 finalist and fourth seed, dismissed by Stanislas Wawrinka in the third round. The Swiss advanced for the third occasion to the fourth round in New York.   Wawrinka will meet Sam Querrey for a spot in the quarterfinals.  Consequently, for Querrey, this is the ideal scenario to book his maiden quarterfinal berth at a major.

The Spaniards have ruled and Tommy Robredo made sure to partake in the round of 16 festivities. With John Isner beaten by Mikhail Youzhny in the third round, Robredo and the Russian will fight for a place in the quarterfinals.

Another American  propelled into the limelight this week was eighteen year old Ryan Harrison.  After coming through three rounds of qualifying, Harrison stunned Ivan Ljubicic, the fifteenth seed, in the first round.  Furthermore, Harrison was one point from a win in a fifth set tiebreaker in the second round.  Harrison became the first American teen to vanquish a top twenty player at a major since Roddick in 2001 also at this event.

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Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong

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Week One at Wimbledon: Federer and Nadal with a pulse, barely! Murray and Soderling Looking Strong


As customary, the middle Sunday at Wimbledon serves as a no play holiday which is a welcomed respite.  No words can fully underscore the uniqueness of the events that transpire this week.  From a seemingly never ending first round match, to the champions of the last two years limping their way into the last 16, to the Queen making a rare appearance, to a scandal involving Victor Hanescu.  Here’s a homage to the initial six days and a take on what’s ahead.

The French are known for their flare and Nicolas Mahut is undoubtedly part of the establishment.  In the second round of qualifying, Mahut outlasted his opponent 24-22 in the third set to advance.  Then, Mahut went five sets to make it into the main draw. In the first round of the main draw, Mahut faced John Isner. On Tuesday, the match was interrupted due to darkness after the two split four sets.  When the players returned on Wednesday, the night ended with a 59-59 draw in the fifth. Even the scoreboard was exhausted, crashing when the score got to 40+.  On Thursday, the match concluded when Isner hit two consecutive winners to break Mahut and grab a 70-68 victory.

The encounter which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, shattered all previous records and redefined the meaning of marathon match. The fifth set alone spanned 8 hours and 11 minutes.  However, despite a full day’s rest, Isner could not recuperate.  The next round, Thiemo De Bakker, who won his prior round 16-14, dismissed a depleted Isner in just 1hour 14 minutes.  For Isner, the physical consequences may reverberate for months.

While defending champion Roger Federer did not go to such extremes, it was a struggle to survive nevertheless.  Federer was nearly a spectator as 60th ranked Alejandro Falla forced Federer to climb out of a two sets to love deficit, even serving for the match.  With a bit of “luck” as Federer put it, he moved on.  The Swiss’ second round was also tough as qualifier Ilijac Bozoljac prevailed in the second set tiebreaker. Federer carried the match by capturing the fourth set tiebreaker.  The third round, Federer played close to flawlessly against Arnaud Clement.

Rafael Nadal also willed himself to advance.  After a routine initial round, Nadal required five sets the second and third round against Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschener respectively.  More importantly, Nadal had a flare up of his niggling knee problem and was treated for elbow issue.

Following a five setter with Oliver Rochus, Novak Djokovic thumped his next opponents Taylor Dent and Albert Montanes in the subsequent rounds.  British hopeful Andy Murray has been efficient, booting his counterparts in straight sets.  Even the Queen’s first appearance at Wimbledon since 1977 did not distract her subject as Murray dispatched Jarkko Nieminen in the second round.

After an uncomplicated primary round, Andy Roddick was rattled a bit by Michael Llodra and Philipp Kohlschreiber the next rounds, pushed to four sets by each.  Roddick has friendly company into the second week as Sam Querrey secured a fourth round berth after a five set tussle with Xavier Malisse.

Unsurprisingly, his second tournament back from injury, Nikolay Davydenko fell in the second round.  Shocking though was Fernando Verdasco, the 8th seed, Marin Cilic, the 11th seed, Marcos Baghdatis, the 24th seed, and Stanislas Wawrinka, the 20th seed, all exiting their first day out.

Robin Soderling, the 6th seed, has been on cue this week.  The Swede has sailed through his matches, duration under two hours.  His first event since his back injury, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performance has been mixed.  In the second round, Tsonga went five sets after having a two sets to none lead against Alexandr Dolgopolov.  Yet, the following round, Tsonga cruised against qualifier Tobias Kamke.

This tournament has seen a revival of the French veterans.  Paul-Henri Mathieu knocked out 13th seed Mikhail Youzhny and De Bakker in the second and third round respectively to earn a spot in the final 16 at a major for the first time since 2008.  Also, Julien Benneteau is into the second week after surviving two five set matches.

Conversely, Gael Monfils had his fortnight cut short by Lleyton Hewitt in the third round.  Monfils was no match for Hewitt who recently beat Federer in Halle. The Aussie is grooving on grass despite two hip surgeries.

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title

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Querrey Blocks Fish for Queen’s Club Title


Although the field at the Aegon Championships had four top ten players, none of them survived to Sunday.  In the final, two unexpected Americans fought it out for the venerable trophy. Sam Querrey, the sole surviving seed, beat Mardy Fish 7-6, 7-5 to pocket his third ATP title of the year.

In the first all American final at Queen’s Club since 1994, the serve was king.  After Fish had no trouble holding serve, Querrey double faulted and made two errors to go down love-40.  However, with three aces in the game, Querrey held in his first game.  The points were fast and rallies few, neither player got a look at another break point. Subsequent to Querrey maintaining serve despite two double faults, the set went to a tiebreaker.  Fish gave Querrey a mini-break to open the breaker by committing an error.  Later though, Querrey gifted his opponent a double fault erasing his advantage leading to 3 all.  Down the road, Fish netted a neutral backhand to hand Querrey another mini-break for 5-3.  With a compendium of mistakes by Fish, Querrey capture the next two points and the set.

Following a love hold to commence the second set, Querrey flubbed two forehands to face 0-30 his second time.  Yet, by calling on his strong serve, Querrey bagged the game for 2-1.  Fish finally found an entrance.  With two mistakes by Querrey and a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner, Fish was rewarded with two break points. This time as Querrey’s forehand down the line sailed long, Fish captured a 3-2 edge.  Later, Fish wrapped up his game with an ace to consolidate for 4-2.  But, serving for the set, Fish produced a series of unforced errors which cost him the game and leveled the set at 5 all. After Querrey guarded serve to inch ahead 6-5, Fish failed to put the ball in the field of play leading to triple break point. When Fish dumped his volley into the net on the second championship point, Querrey claimed the title.

In the post match interview, Querrey admitted that it’s difficult to battle “a buddy” especially since the two share the same coach.  After surrendering his serve two times in a row after serving spectacularly most of the match, Fish conceded “I am not sure what just happened”.  Fish stated that knowing the history of the tournament, it was one he had dreamed of winning. Nevertheless, Fish congratulated his friend on the victory.  In terms of Wimbledon, Querrey stated “I [will] go out there and do my best”.

Now, Querrey has three title this year on three different surfaces.  Querrey’s ranking of 23rd  will improve modestly.  After this great run, Fish’s ranking, which had dropped to 90, will get a much needed boost.

It was a strange week at the first grass court tune ups.  Defending champion Andy Murray was ousted in the third round by Fish.  That same day, world number one Rafael Nadal was booted in quarterfinals by Feliciano Lopez.  In the third round, four time champion Andy Roddick was stunned by Dudi Sela and Novak Djokovic was bounced by Xavier Malisse. Seeds Gael Monfils and Marin Cilic also lost early on.

In Halle at the Gerry Weber Open, the other grass court event, Lleyton Hewitt halted Roger Federer from obtaining his sixth title.  Hewitt defeated Federer 3-6,7-6,6-4 his first victory after 15 consecutive knock downs.  With so much disarray, hopefully, it’s not a snap shot of  what is to come at Wimbledon.

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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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