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Davydenko Tames Del Potro At Year End Final

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Davydenko Tames Del Potro At Year End Final


img_4089At the ultimate showdown of the ATP World Tour Finals, Juan Martin Del Potro, reigning U.S. Open champ and world number 5, and Nikolay Davydenko vied for the season’s last prestigious prize.  Davydenko unraveled Del Potro’s game 6-3, 6-4 to snatch the trophy.

Only 5 feet 10 inches and 154 pounds, Davydenko bullied 6 feet 6 inches and 184 pounds Del Potro all day long.  With his foot speed , the Russian had Del Potro on a string, dismissing the Argentine’s powerful ground strokes.  Following uneventful games, with Del Potro serving at 1-2 and 40-30, Davydenko ripped a forehand crosscourt winner for deuce.  Later on, after Del Potro had a foot fault called on an ace at deuce, he misfired on a forehand to give Davydenko his second break point.  When Del Potro netted a backhand on a neutral point, Davydenko had the break.  Conspicuously rattled by the prior call, Del Potro produced a rash of errors allowing Davydenko to easily consolidate for 4-1.  Subsequent to a comfortable game, Del Potro had his initial break point when Davydenko double faulted.  However, the Russian kept his composure, striking a beautiful forehand up the line winner for deuce.  Davydenko went on to secure the game for 5-2.  At love his next service game, Davydenko closed out the first set.

Incredibly, in the first set, Davydenko struck 12 winners and 6 unforced errors while Del Potro had 10 and 11 respectively.  Nikolay dictated play by pushing Juan Martin behind the baseline and taking the ball early.  Even Del Potro’s serve proved meek; once the ball was in play Davydenko had him scrambling from sideline to sideline. At 2 all, a forehand dumped into the net gave Davydenko his first break chance of the set.  However, with a couple of T serves, Del Potro recovered to take a slender lead at 3-2.  The next game, after setting up the point with a perfect serve, Davydenko mucked up the forehand up the line to give Del Potro an opening.  But, with an ace, Davydenko erased the break point and got to deuce.  Still, Del Potro received another opportunity when Davydenko’s backhand crosscourt landed long.  By handling a high forehand volley, Davydenko wiped out that break point. Despite the hardships, Davydenko guarded serve for 3 all.  Since Davydenko controlled the majority of the rallies, in truth, Del Potro was hanging on by a thread.  With Del Potro serving at 4 a piece, Davydenko converted a backhand crosscourt winner, sent a forehand winner up the line and replicated a forehand crosscourt winner to arrive at triple break point.  When Del Potro’s forehand up the line sailed wide, Davydenko found himself one game from the championship.  After starting with an ace, the Russian forced Del Potro into a backhand miscue and with another ace obtained double match point.  Davydenko wrapped up the trophy when Del Potro tracked down his overhead but dumped the stroke into the net.

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Nestor and Zimonjic Defend Wimbledon Title By Toppling Bryan Brothers While Williams Sisters Also Repeat

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Nestor and Zimonjic Defend Wimbledon Title By Toppling Bryan Brothers While Williams Sisters Also Repeat


img_9036As the top men doubles team squared off in the Wimbledon final, second seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic defeated number one seeds Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 to maintain their title. Moreover, after Serena Williams secured her eleventh major, she partnered with sister Venus to defeat Australians Rennae Stubbs and Samantha Stosur 7-6, 6-4 for their fourth Wimbledon doubles title.

After Bob Bryan put away a volley to hold at love, Zimonjic made short work on his serve to equalize things at 1 all. This was the pattern in the first set, with neither team getting close to deuce. Thus, the tiebreaker was called upon. With Mike double faulting, the opposition got up a mini-break for 3-1. However, when Zimonjic’s backhand volley sailed long, the teams were leveled at 5 all. After Zimonjic put away an overhead for set point, Mike’s volley found the bottom of the net giving the second seeds the lead.

Second set was a duplicate of the first as neither team could dent the other’s service game. The tiebreaker was required anew. This time with excellent volleying for winners, the Bryan brothers carried the set.

In the third set with Mike serving, a Bryan missed volley gave their rival their first break point of the match. Still, with a couple of service return errors, the Bryans held. Despite hairier games from both sides, neither team buckled. Another tiebreaker was in order. After Zimonjic and Nestor jumped ahead on the first point with a mini-break, the Bryans were unable to recover. The defending champions took a two set to one advantage. After Zimonjic held to start the fourth, his forehand return winner denied Bob game point. Subsequently, with two errors by the Bryans, the opposition edged in front 2-0. The next game with Nestor serving, a forehand down the line winner by Mike gave the Bryans double break point. But with three successive aces, Nestor scratched out any opportunity the Bryans had of closing the gap. With Zimonjic serving for the championship at 5-3, a couple of double faults gave the Bryans hope. However, with a couple of aces, Zimonjic clamped the door giving the second seed their second consecutive title.

A similar story was replayed as Serena and Venus took on the Australians. After break point chances were wasted, the first set was settled by a tiebreaker. With a topspin lob winner by Serena, the Williams built a substantial lead at 4-1. Then, with a volley winner, Venus sealed the set.

To open the second set, Stosur double faulted and with a backhand crosscourt winner from Venus, the Aussies faced love-30. Still, by forcing volleying errors, Stosur pulled out the game. With Stubbs serving at 1 all, with a forehand volley winner from Venus and a Stosur overhead going wide, the Americans erased double game point. Subsequently, Venus and Serena earned three break points which were erased by superb volleying from their counterparts. Nevertheless, there was a sense that the Americans were getting the upper hand. In the seventh game, Venus cranked with a forehand volley winner for 0-15. Afterwards, some crucial errors by the Aussies and a double fault gave the Americans break point. Serena capitalized by converting a backhand volley winner. Then, Venus consolidated by holding serve for 5-3. With Stosur saving match point, Serena was called upon to wrap up the championship. On the third match point, Serena produced an ace. This was the culmination of a fortnight dominated by the Williams’ whereby they even eliminated the top doubles team of Liezel Huber and Cara Black in the semifinals.

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal

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2009 Wimbledon Draw Is Out: Regrettably So Is Nadal


img_9986-version-3Hours after the Wimbledon committee revealed the singles’ draws, turmoil ripped through the men and women side demonstrating that no player is a shoe in for the championship.

After losing his second exhibition match, Rafael Nadal, the top seed and reigning champion, withdrew due to knee tendonitis. That afternoon, female number one and top seed, Dinara Safina’s recovery after her meltdown in Paris was dealt a major setback. Safina was ousted in the semifinals by Tamarine Tanasugarn ranked 47th in a grass court warm-up tournament. Last year, Tanasurgan defeated Safina in the finals at this event.

Now, fifth ranked Juan Martin Del Potro replaced Nadal at the top half of the draw. Although Del Potro has been improving rapidly, more seasoned grass players such as Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt or first round opponent Arnaud Clement could be an obstruction. In addition, Del Potro could face Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. The extent of Roddick’s ankle injury will determine how much of a factor he will be. With a manageable draw, the prospect of Andy Murray becoming the first Brit since 1936 to raise the Wimbledon trophy looks promising. But, Murray may see Roddick or Del Potro in the semifinals. Despite Roger Federer’s multiple championships at the All England Club, with such a competitive field, other than experience, Federer has no distinct advantage. In the bottom section, Federer may need to go through the same stubborn rivals he battled in Paris to get to the quarterfinals. There, Federer could square off against Fernando Verdasco or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, both hungry competitors. Similarly to Murray, Novak Djokovic, Federer’s potential match-up in the semifinals, appears to have an easy path on paper. Yet, Tommy Haas who beat Djokovic in the finals at Halle could represent a roadblock.

Safina’s chance at redemption against Svetlana Kuznetsova may take place in the quarterfinals. Although with defending champion Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic as possible semifinals opponents, Safina could be in the midst of a perpetuating nightmare. Venus’ performance the first couple of matches will determine whether she can prevail for a sixth time at Wimbledon. Serena Williams’ chance to avenge her Sony Ericsson lost to Victoria Azarenka could come in the quarters. However, Azarenka may need to knock off former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 before getting to Serena. With Vera Zvonareva slowly getting back from injury and Elena Dementieva’s dismal play the last few months, for players such as Dominika Cibulkova, Aleksandra Wozniak or Alize Cornet, the door is wide open to reach at least the quarters.

The Williams sisters will do double duty at a major again. Defending champion and seeded fourth, Venus and Serena will attempt to win their fourth Wimbledon doubles title. 2008 men’s doubles champion Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, the second seed, will attempt to repeat and wrestle the number one spot away from Mike and Bob Bryan.

Ambiguity reigns at Wimbledon this year. On both the female and male side, it is truly anybody’s trophy. First serve comes this Monday.

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Double Trouble: Bryan Brothers and Williams Sisters Come Out On Top In Australia


KnowlesIn the men’s doubles in Melbourne, the second seed, Mike and Bob Bryan, beat Mark Knowles and Mahesh Bhupathi, the third seed, 2-6, 7-5, 6-0 to win their third Australian Open title.

Knowles and Bhupathi dominated the first set, breaking at love to take a double break lead. Throughout the second set, Mark and Mahesh had multiple break chances, but failed to seize any, as the Bryans held firm. As Knowles served to send the set into a tiebreak, he double faulted and missed an easy volley to give the Bryans double set point. When Bhupathi tracked down a spectacular lob from his opponent and dumped the next stroke into the net, the Bryans equalized the match.

In the third set, the Bryans shifted to a higher gear. After holding serve, Mike and Bob had double break point and converted with a lob for a winner. On cruise control, the Bryans broke at love to secure the ultimate set and the championship. World number one, Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic were upset in the second round by Oliver Marach and Lukasz Kubot. That team then fell in the quarterfinals, ousted by Bhupathi and Knowles.

A day earlier, Venus and Serena Williams took the women’s doubles title by defeating Ai Sugiyama and Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3. After trailing in the first set 3-0, the Williams’ won six consecutive games to seal the first set. The second set was very competitive with the teams trading breaks back and forth. Finally, in the eight game, the Williams’ captured the lead and never relinquished it. A holder of the other three major titles in doubles, Sugiyama was denied the completion of the career doubles slam. Sugiyama and Hantuchova, seeded ninth, knocked out the number one seed, Liezel Huber and Cara Black, in the quarterfinals. In a reversal of last year’s Wimbledon, the siblings took both titles. However, this time, it was Serena holding up the singles trophy. Moreover, Venus deserves a great deal of praise for sticking around and playing so well after losing in the second round in singles.

The mixed doubles winner has yet to be decided as Sania Mirza and Bhupathi will play against Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram.

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Nalbandian Holds Off Nieminen To Capture Australian Warm-Up Tournament


In the finals of the Medibank International in Sydney, Argentine David Nalbandian fought off Finn Jarkko Nieminen to claim his tenth career title 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

After dismissing two break points in his opening service game, Nalbandian used his trademark backhand to set up the points and effortlessly win his next service games. With Nieminen on deck at 2-3, Nalbandian made a forehand down the line winner and caused his opponent to overshoot for triple break point. Later, with a forehand winner, Nalbandian jumped ahead 4-2. With a high percentage of first serve and by perpetually changing the ball’s direction, David took the set in 35 minutes.

To start the second set, with a backhand error, Jarkko went down break point. Subsequently, Nieminen netted a forehand to trail 0-1. The Argentine consolidated the break with a backhand volley winner. Although Nalbandian outplayed his rival in every department, for example using the combination of a lob volley and dropshot to win a point, with the minor adjustment of hugging the baseline as the set progressed, Nieminen stayed within striking distance. As Nalbandian served for the match at 5-4, he committed two forehand errors on deep returns by Nieminen to face triple break point. The Finn capitalized when the Argentine’s money stroke, the backhand down the line, went long. Thereafter, Nalbandian erased three break points to send the set to a tiebreak. Initially, neither player could hold serve. After Nieminen took a 2-1 mini-break advantage with a backhand down the line winner, he flirted too closely to the line and gave it back. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Nalbandian went ahead 3-2. But, he also forfeited his lead on the following point. At 9 all, Nalbandian elected not to play a ball he assumed would go long; the ball curled in for a winner giving Jarkko a mini-break. With a good serve, Jarkko wrestled an error and the set from David.

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A New World Order:  The Year That Was 2008

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A New World Order: The Year That Was 2008


img_3045Fascinating is the word in a nutshell that perhaps best describes this past season. With 2009 looming, the time has come to reminisce as to why 2008 was such a quintessential year for the ATP.

The abundance of talent littering the tour foretold of a possible shake up as the year began, threatening Roger Federer’s supremacy. All dynasties have gone through a period of decline; perhaps, for Federer, 2008 will be viewed as such. In Australia, Federer faced two foes, mononucleosis and Serb Novak Djokovic. Unable to vanquish either, Roger succumbed in the semifinals. For Federer, this calendar had many ebbs and few flows with a spanking by Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the French final, a gut wrenching loss in the Wimbledon final in five sets, a much desired gold medal at the Olympics, but in doubles. Roger regained a bit of respect by capturing his fifth consecutive U.S. Open. But, for the first time since the dawning of the Federer era, Roger failed to grab a single masters’ shield. In 2008, not only did the Swiss have to get acclimated to the fact that Wimbledon was no longer his playpen, he also lost his grip on the number one ranking.

What a year for Nadal! Undoubtedly talent is an important part of success, yet hard work cannot be discounted. As the season started, the smart bet would have been on Djokovic yanking the top spot from Federer. Nevertheless, Roger’s clay nemesis, after more than two years of serving as best man, finally moved up to number one. After crushing defeats in the quarterfinals in Australia and finals at the Sony Ericsson, Nadal had a surreal clay run with one solitary loss. Moreover, Rafa won his fourth consecutive French Open and the crown jewel, his first Wimbledon trophy.  He was the first man in over twenty years with this dual combination. The ultimate feather in Rafa’s cap was getting Olympic singles gold. An arduous and lengthy schedule put the breaks to Nadal’s play with tendonitis stopping him from participating in the year-end tournament and the Davis cup finals. Regardless, Nadal could not have scripted this year any better.

In many respects, Djokovic had an up and down ride. After hoisting the Australian and Indian Wells trophies, the world number three had a reality check. Nadal unwilling to relinquish his hold on number two, schooled Djokovic when the two met in Rome and Paris. His confidence slightly dented, Novak was a non-factor mid-year with an early exit at Wimbledon. However, Djokovic finished strongly by winning the year-end tournament in Shanghai.

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Nadal Knocks Out Kiefer To Take Rogers Cup In Toronto


As expected, the finals at the Rogers Cup between Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Kiefer did not turn out to be much of a contest with Nadal winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.

After keeping close the first couple of games, Kiefer surrendered his serve for Nadal to take a 4-2 lead. Then in trying to stay in the first set, Kiefer made a bevy of unforced errors then double faulted to give Rafa the set.

The pivotal game in the second set came at 2-2; with Nadal serving, Kiefer finally earned a break point. But, an overhit went on to erase that chance. Yet, Nicolas obtained another break chance. With a good drop shot, Kiefer drew Rafa in the forecourt, but the Spaniard had all the answers producing an even more spectacular stroke of his own to get back to deuce. After six deuces and dismissing a third break point, Nadal secured his serve. Demoralized after taking 30-0 lead, Kiefer threw in two double faults to be broken the very next game. Thereafter, Rafa pressed on the accelerator and broke Kiefer to close out the match.

Last year’s finalist, Roger Federer was defeated in the second round, his first match since Wimbledon, by Gilles Simon. Simon made it to the semifinals where he fell to Kiefer. Andy Murray eliminated Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, in the quarterfinals. In doubles news, Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor beat the Bryan brothers 6-2, 4-6, 10-6 in front of the latter’s home country.

With this title, Nadal edges even closer to the number one spot. So far, Roger Federer has been a non-factor this hard court season. The playground shift to Cincinnati this week where Federer is the defending champion. All eyes will be on Rafa to see whether he will wrestle the number one ranking away from Roger.

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A Man For All Surfaces? Nadal Wins First Title on Grass


One week after his triumph at the French Open, Rafael Nadal, the two time Wimbledon finalist, defeated Novak Djokovic in a grueling match to win his first grass court title at the Artois Championships 7-6, 7-5.

After surviving a break point in the opening game, Djokovic broke Nadal at love to take a 3-0 lead. With his aggressive play, Djokovic had the chance to take a 4-0 lead, but Nadal fought off multiple breaks points to get on the scoreboard 3-1. In the next game, Djokovic paid the price when a net court gave Nadal the point and the players went back on serve. With his advantage gone, Djokovic showed his displeasure by banging his racket. With Nadal beautifully using angles and constructing points that allowed him to get to net, Rafa was getting under Djokovic’s skin. Appropriately, the first set was decided by a tiebreak. After leading by one mini-break or at even several times, Djokovic had a set point at 6-5 when Nadal made an error. But, thanks to a long rally which knocked Djokovic to the ground, Nadal saved the set 6-6. On the next point, despite a great serve by Djokovic, Nadal had an even better reply. This led to Rafa’s first set point which was all he needed to things up.

Djokovic got off to an inauspicious start in the second set and was broken at love. After dismissing a break point on his serve, Nadal extended his lead 2-0. After being down 15-40, Djokovic battled back to get on the board 2-1. Finally, in the sixth game, Djokovic had a break opportunity and converted 3-3. Nadal had double break point in the eight game; but lady luck smiled on Novak. First, with a bad bounce then, with Rafa losing his footing, Novak held his serve.

Djokovic built on that momentum by breaking Nadal at love with some spectacular shots 5-4. Thus, it appeared that a decisive third set would be played. As Djokovic served for the set, Nadal produced a terrific defensive lob in a rally to ultimately earn a break point. After getting to deuce a couple of times, Nadal’s persistence paid dividend and he leveled the set at 5-5. After easily holding his own, Nadal pressured Djokovic’s serve with shots such as a forehand down the line for a winner. When Novak misfired on a volley, Nadal arrived at match point. On the subsequent play, Nadal lured Djokovic to the net with a drop volley and put away the winner to prevail in the tournament.

In doubles, after defeating the Bryan brothers, the number one seed, in the quarterfinals, Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa faced the second seed, Daniel Nestor/ Nenad Zimonjic, in the finals. Team Nestor/ Zimonjic won the title in straights sets 6-4, 7-6.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal survived a barrage of aces, 35, from Ivo Karlovic to advance by winning a third set tiebreak. In the semifinals, Rafa had a fairly routine win over defending champion Andy Roddick. On the other hand, Djokovic’s path was less sinuous with his dismissal of Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals and a thumping victory over David Nalbandian in the semifinals, the latter won one game. If this match is a preview of what’s in store for Wimbledon, those two weeks will be quite exciting.

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