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Rafter Captures Champions Title Over McEnroe

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Rafter Captures Champions Title Over McEnroe


img_9844The finals of the ATP Champions Tour were contested Tuesday night at the Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center between Australian Patrick Rafter and American tennis legend John McEnroe. The meeting between the two former majors winners was expected to be a display of serve and volley, both delivered. Rafter prevailed over McEnroe 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-1) in two highly competitive sets.

Although the ATP Champions Tour has been in existence since 1997, the four day event in Delray marked the Champions Tour’s inaugural stop on U.S. soil. McEnroe qualified for the finals by going undefeated in Group A (3-0) highlighted by wins over Mats Wilander and Andres Gomez. Despite losing to Ronald Agenor, in Group B, Rafter advanced by beating Aaron Krickstein and Pat Cash.

Rafter was favored in the final in light of his age. However, McEnroe held his own in the match. The difference was Rafter’s ability to raise his game level in the tiebreakers. McEnroe would later concede during the trophy ceremony that Rafter was “too good.” Also, McEnroe jokingly said that Rafter is “younger, faster, and better-looking than me.” The win places Rafter at the top of the rankings of The Champions Tour. The Champions tour moves next to Zurich on March 9.

Turning to the ATP Tour’s main draw, top seed Tommy Haas was upset on Monday night by Teimuraz Gabashvilli in straight sets. Despite dropping a set to Nicolas Lapentti, Evgeny Korolev, last year’s finalist, advanced. Mardy Fish, the 2009 champion, moved on when Christophe Rochus retired at 3 all in the third set. Second seed Ivo Karlovic ousted Philipp Petzschner while Kie Nishikori, 2008 champion, fell to third seed Benjamin Becker .

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Carpe Diem:  Baghdatis Seizes Stockholm Open Trophy

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Carpe Diem: Baghdatis Seizes Stockholm Open Trophy


img_8640With top seed Robyn Soderling’s withdrawal from the semifinals due to an elbow problem, Marcos Baghdatis was gifted a berth in the finals at the Stockholm Open.  The Cypriot now ranked 66th took full advantage of Soderling’s generosity in holding off Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-1, 7-5 to carry his first ATP title since Zagreb in 2007.

Since reaching the Australian Open final in 2006, Baghdatis’career has hit multiple bumps. The Cypriot’s ranking plummeted to 151 in July of this year after reaching a high of 8 in 2006. Of late, Baghdatis has been dabbling on the challenger circuit where he’s won a couple of tourneys. Currently 87th in the world, Rochus has also been longing for a title, his last was in 2006. Regardless of the adversary, for the Belgian, this was going to be a formidable task after a three set semifinal zapped a great deal of his energy.

After each player successfully held in his opening game, Rochus troubled Baghdatis by taking him to four deuces. But, with an ace and a forehand up the line winner, Marcos stayed on serve at 2-1. Perhaps a little fatigued, at 40-15, Rochus committed two double faults for deuce.  Now with a forehand winner, Baghdatis had his initial break point.  However, with a decent serve, Rochus got an error in reply for deuce.  Ultimately, with two backhand errors from Olivier, Marcos secured the break on his third try.  After easily consolidating, with a backhand down the line winner, Baghdatis had another break chance. Later on, Baghdatis capitalized stretching his lead to 5-1.  With a solid service game, Baghdatis put the set to rest.

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