Tag Archive | "Stepanek"

Chardy and Veterans Advance at the Sony Open

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Chardy and Veterans Advance at the Sony Open

IMG_6027_ChardyMiami, FL Ricky Dimon
The first day of main-draw action in men’s singles at the 2014 Sony Open saw Jeremy Chardy outlast Juan Monaco in a thriller on Stadium court. Chardy prevailed 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(5) after two hours and 38 minutes to set up a second-round date with second-seeded Novak Djokovic.

It almost ended prior to a final-set tiebreaker, when the 48th-ranked Frenchman forced Monaco into a 15-40 situation at 4-5. Monaco saved the first match point with a serve-forehand combination and Chardy netted a backhand on his second opportunity. Two holds later, a ‘breaker had to decide the outcome. The Argentine fought off one more match point at 4-6, but Chardy finally got the job done at 6-5 thanks to an overhead smash.

Miami’s Stadium crowd was treated to another tense three-setter during the night session. Amidst a lively atmosphere, Marcos Baghdatis recovered from a dismal opening set and from two breaks down in the third to overcome Santiago Giraldo 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 51 minutes. Giraldo served for the match at both 5-2 and 5-4, but the Colombian failed on both occasions and he ultimately lost six straight games to Baghdatis to seal his fate.

It was just Baghdatis’ fourth victory of the season. The struggling Cypriot will next go up against Philipp Kohlschreiber on Friday.

Giraldo was not the only Colombian action on Wednesday. Whereas not a single American man took the court (six are scheduled for Thursday on the other side of the draw), three Colombians contested their openers. Alejandro Falla lost to Marinko Matosevic 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6) and Alejandro Gonzalez took care of Malek Jaziri 7-6(9), 6-1.

The Grandstand featured a pair of stellar individual performances. Red-hot and fast-rising Dominic Thiem powered past recent Irving Challenger champion Lukas Rosol 7-6(6), 6-4. The 20-year-old Austrian, who qualified for the main draw for his fifth successful tournament qualification already this season, won 86 percent of his first-serve points. At the other end of the career spectrum, 35-year-old Radek Stepanek donated fewer games than any other man in a 6-3, 6-0 rout of Daniel Brands. Stepanek required a mere 57 minutes to book a spot alongside Andreas Seppi in the round of 64.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @RD_Tennistalk by clicking here.

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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday

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Sharapova and Radwanska to Decide Sony Ericsson Open Title on Saturday

The ladies Sony Ericsson Open final will be contested between the world number two and four. Maria Sharapova will have to fend off Agnieszka Radwanska in order to claim her first title at this tournament.

Radwanska, a maiden finalist in Miami, has been in great form the last twelve months. The Pole has already pocketed a big title in Dubai and is at a career high in the rankings.

Previously, Sharapova had reached three finals at Sony Ericsson Open in 2005, 2006 and 2011. Moreover, Sharapova is seeking her initial title of the year after being stopped by world number one Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
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Djokovic Battles for Semifinal Slot, Sharapova Seeks Another Final at Sony Ericsson Open

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Djokovic Battles for Semifinal Slot, Sharapova Seeks Another Final at Sony Ericsson Open

The first match on stadium court at the Sony Ericsson Open has world number two Maria Sharapova and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki fighting for a berth in the final.

After reaching her maiden semifinal in Miami, Wozniacki will attempt to advance to her initial final of the season. Subsequent to her enormous victory in the quarterfinals over Serena Williams, the 21 year old will not be deterred by the challenge.

A runner up three times including 2011, Sharapova has been to the final on every occasion that she’s progressed past the fourth round at this event. It’s the initial encounter between these two this year. Sharapova has a slim advantage in their head to head of 3-2.
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Nadal Cements Berth in Fourth Round at Sony Ericsson Open

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Nadal Cements Berth in Fourth Round at Sony Ericsson Open

In a day session which progressed into the evening, Rafael Nadal prevailed over Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-2 and improved his mark to 6-0 versus the Czech.

Despite the score, Stepanek was not a comfortable put away for Nadal using everything in his bag of tricks to disrupt the Spaniard. At one all in the first set, Stepanek forced Nadal to overcome break point in order to hold.

After failing to build on a 15-30 advantage on his rival’s serve, Stepanek was broken when Nadal connected on a forehand crosscourt pass for a winner. Next, Nadal consolidated for 5-2. Then, Nadal broke Stepanek a second time to bed the opening set.

Following a hold where he wiped out break point, Nadal converted to secure the break. In spite of Stepanek fighting, Nadal went on to stretch his lead to 3-0.
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Sunday’s Matchups at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open

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Sunday’s Matchups at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open

Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov open up play on Stadium Court on Sunday at the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. Following that matchup, Venus Williams hopes to build off her upset of Petra Kvitova and move on to the fourth round when she takes on Aleksandra Wozniak.

Other notable day session matches include Rafael Nadal versus Radek Stepanek on Stadium Court and Andy Murray versus Milos Raonic on the Grandstand.

In the night session, defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Victoria Azarenka is looking to extend her 25 match winning streak in 2012 when she faces off with Heather Watson. John Isner versus Florian Mayer will close out the evening session.

Here is today’s complete order of play :

Sunday, March 25, 2012

STADIUM Start 11:00 am

[7] Tomas Berdych (CZE) v Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) ATP

Not Before 1:00 PM
[WC] Venus Williams (USA) v [WC] Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[20] Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) v [15] Ana Ivanovic (SRB) WTA
[25] Radek Stepanek (CZE) v [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP

Starting at 7:30 PM
[1] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v [WC] Heather Watson (GBR) WTA

Not Before 9:30 PM
[19] Florian Mayer (GER) v [10] John Isner (USA) ATP

GRANDSTAND Start 11:00 am

[18] Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) v [9] Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) ATP
[13] Gilles Simon (FRA) v [22] Jurgen Melzer (AUT) ATP
[26] Milos Raonic (CAN) v [4] Andy Murray (GBR) ATP
Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) v [5] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) WTA

Not Before 5:00 PM
[1] Bob Bryan (USA)/Mike Bryan (USA) v
Marcelo Melo (BRA)/Juan Monaco (ARG) ATP

COURT 1 Start 11:00 am

Simona Halep (ROU) v [7] Marion Bartoli (FRA) WTA
[WC] Garbine Muguruza Blanco (ESP) v [24] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) WTA
[6] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v [32] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) ATP
[16] Kei Nishikori (JPN) v Lukas Rosol (CZE) ATP

Not Before 6:00 PM
Oliver Marach (AUT)/Alexander Peya (AUT) v
[2] Max Mirnyi (BLR)/Daniel Nestor (CAN) ATP

COURT 2 Start 11:00 am

Jie Zheng (CHN) v [16] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) WTA
David Marrero (ESP)/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v
Feliciano Lopez (ESP)/Marc Lopez (ESP) ATP
Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) v [22] Maria Kirilenko (RUS) WTA
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)/Jie Zheng (CHN) v
Eva Birnerova (CZE)/Klaudia Jans-Ignacik (POL) WTA
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (PAK)/Jean-Julien Rojer (NED) v
Daniele Bracciali (ITA)/Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) ATP

COURT 3 Start 12:00 noon

[6] Sara Errani (ITA)/Roberta Vinci (ITA) v
[WC] Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER)/Petra Martic (CRO) WTA

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Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

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Stepanek Thwarts Monfils for Title in Washington

For the second day in a row, rain disrupted the proceedings at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. But this afternoon, even that was insufficient for top seed and wildcard Gael Monfils to prevail. Unseeded Radek Stepanek bested Monfils 6-4,6-4 to win this ATP 500 tournament, the biggest prize of his career.

With a record of 5-2 against Stepanek, Monfils seemed in good stead to become the first Frenchman to triumph in the nation’s capital since Arnaud Clement beat Andy Murray in 2006.

For his part, Stepanek was on a quest to end his nation’s 29 year drought at this venue. Petr Korda, Stepanek’s coach, was the last victorious Czech in 1992.

The preamble to a disastrous afternoon for Monfils came in his initial service game. Monfils had two successive double faults despite holding.

Subsequent to guarding serve, Stepanek struck a backhand crosscourt winner for break point. When Monfils dumped a forehand into the net, Stepanek took a 2-1 lead.

In trying to consolidate, Stepanek went down 0-30. However, Monfils obliged with a sleuth of errors to allow the Czech to consolidate for a 3-1 advantage.

Later with Stepanek serving, the skies opened up and a thunderous downpour followed. Once Stepanek returned and completed the game for 4-2, showers came anew.

When play resumed, Monfils appeared more willing to fight and comfortably maintained serve. Yet despite Stepanek’s horrendous 30 percent first serve, Monfils could not capitalize on his second serve.

With Monfils stuck ten feet beyond the baseline and his returns falling short, an aggressive Stepanek proficient at volleying thrived at the net. Consequently, Stepanek easily bedded the first set.

For Monfils, the following set was a duplicate of the previous one. With a backhand volley winner, Stepanek had break point in the initial game. With Monfils’ forehand crosscourt pass finding the net, Stepanek converted.

Next, with an emphatic love game punctuated by his maiden ace, Stepanek raced to a 2-0 lead.

At times, Monfils uncorked his frustration on his racket. The crowd did it’s utmost to lift the Frenchman, however, without success. Despite losing solely two points his subsequent four service games, Monfils could not fabricate a single break point.

Stepanek’s first serve percentage picked up slightly this set at 46, winning 12 out of 12 points. With Monfils’ return not clearing the net, Stepanek had triple championship points.

When Monfils flubbed a backhand, Stepanek claimed his first title since San Jose in 2009. He also became the second oldest titlist. Jimmy Connors hoisted the trophy in 1988 at age 35.

With yesterday’s semifinals completed in the wee hours of the morning, Monfils did not go to sleep until four. Thus, the Frenchman felt the lack of rest made him “a fraction of a step slower. . . [so I] caught the returns late”.

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Monfils Skirts by Isner for a Place in the D.C. Final

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Monfils Skirts by Isner for a Place in the D.C. Final

Although this semifinal was scheduled for Saturday night, it’s conclusion came after one in the morning Sunday. Following a couple of shower intermissions, top seed Gael Monfils edged local favorite John Isner 6-4,3-6,7-6 to reach his initial final at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic.

Four years ago, Isner surprisingly advanced to the final in Washington. Along the way, in their first encounter, Isner prevailed over Monfils, a top 50 player, in a thrilling semifinal third set tiebreaker.

Tonight, subsequent to Isner carrying the opening game, Monfils’ turn was halted by rain. Ultimately when play resumed, the points went along quickly.

After Monfils erased a break point to hold, Isner’s did the same with a 135 mph serve. Despite further difficulties, Isner maintained serve for 3-2.

Later though, when Isner misfired on a forehand, Monfils had his second break point of the ninth game. The Frenchman converted courtesy of an errant forehand by Isner to ascend 5-4. Soon, with a strong service game, Monfils closed out the first set.

Isner and Monfils had tussled five times prior, with each meeting decided by a third set. Apparently, Monfils did not feel like deviating from the script.

By hitting a forehand wide, Monfils handed Isner double break point. The Frenchman compounded that mistake with a ill advised dropshot to gift the break. Promptly with a love game, Isner consolidated for a 3-0 lead.

In the fifth game, a dreadful incident occurred whereby one of Isner’s serving bullets struck a spectator in the eye. After the injured person was attended to and a horrified Isner gathered himself, play resumed.

With Isner leading 5-2, another rain stoppage came. With Monfils incapable of a break point, Isner captured the second set.

At 3-2 in the decisive set, Monfils forced Isner into a forehand mistake for break point. By taking out his big gun, Isner salvaged the game to level the set at 3 all.

The next time Isner served, Monfils was again at 0-30. Yet, he could not fabricate a break point. However, ahead 5-4, Monfils arrived at his first match point when Isner committed a forehand error.

But with a crisp volley, Isner got to deuce. A second match point by Monfils was dismissed with a second serve ace. Not certain of the umpire’s call, Monfils challenged. With the review system malfunctioning, the call stood. Monfils shrugged it off; the two even exchanged a knuckle high five.

Eventually, the tiebreaker settled the winner. As each competitor guarded serve, Isner thumped an ace to get to his first match point. Monfils replicated to square the breaker at 6 a piece.

Then, with a courageous lob winner, Monfils secured his third match point. When Isner dumped his forehand into the net. Monfils booked a place in the final of a U.S. tournament for the first time.

It’s conspicuous that these two share a mutual respect as they embraced at the net. Monfils said as much after the match “I have great respect for John. I like his mentality and it’s always a pleasure for me to play him”.

Monfils expressed that he was relieved to finish the match. During the breaks, he had his coach to distract him and did not get too anxious.

With the momentum after the first set, Monfils lost his way early on in the second. MiamiTennisNews.com asked him to evaluate that part of the match “he played two solid points and I played two fancy shots”.

Monfils admitted that his judgment was flawed “instead of the dropshot, I could have hit another forehand . . . because from the baseline I’m a bit stronger than him. I did not play with my weapon. Once you lose serve against John, you know it’s three sets”.

Although it’s less than twenty-four hours before the final, Monfils stated that fatigue will not be a factor. The shear adrenaline from being in his first final of the season will squelch any physical or mental tiredness.

Isner was attempting to reach his third consecutive final after bagging the title in Newport and runner up status in Atlanta. Isner was also glad to resolve the semifinal tonight. Now, he can move on to his next stop, the Rogers Cup.

In tomorrow’s final, Monfils will collide with Radek Stepanek. They last clashed in Hamburg a few weeks ago with Monfils victorious.

Monfils is at a career high ranking of seven while Stepanek is world number 54. Although Monfils has been a finalist the last two years at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris, his three ATP titles have been at the 250 level.

Both men have a losing mark in finals with Monfils at 3-10 and Stepanek 4-7. However, Monfils has a 5-2 record over his opponent. For both men it will be their maiden ATP 500 trophy.

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Baghdatis Sent Packing, Young Into First ATP Semifinal

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Baghdatis Sent Packing, Young Into First ATP Semifinal

Last year, Marcos Baghdatis was the runner up at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. Today, in the quarterfinals, the seventh seed and 2006 Australian Open finalist was cut down by Donald Young 6-3,7-6.

Although this was their first meeting, with the success he’s had this week, Young was not intimidated by his opponent’s credentials. Young took advantage of Baghdatis’ dismal serving, 39 percent first serve, and converted the only break point donated early on in the opening set.

However, the second game of the next set, on triple break point, Baghdatis connected with a winner. With Young dumping a return in the net, Baghdatis raced to a 3-0 lead.

After finally holding serve, Young broke his adversary to get back on serve. Later, with Baghdatis’ forehand sailing long, Young secured double break point. With Baghdatis’ forehand crosscourt traveling wide, Young was at 4-3.

Yet, by gifting a double fault and with a miscue on a backhand, Young faced triple break point. When the American’s backhand up the line found the net, the players were back on equal footing.

As a result of a backhand volley winner, Baghdatis had two chances to break and capture the second set. But with his backhand return and volley off their mark, Young was at deuce. One more break point had to be wiped out before Young could send the set into a tiebreaker.

The initial point went to Young as Baghdatis flubbed a forehand up the line. Subsequent to erasing Young’s mini-break advantage, Baghadtis double faulted.

Eventually, the Cypriot squared the tiebreaker at 4 all. But when Baghdatis fumbled a backhand volley, Young was two points from the win.

With a spectacular overhead winner and backhand error from his rival, Young clinched his first ATP semifinal spot.

Baghdatis admitted that he was somewhat tired this afternoon after playing two matches yesterday which went the distance. The Cypriot felt that his energy level was low. The fact that Young kept him on the move was not helpful.

With his serve inconsistent and Young “ playing smart”, Baghdatis said even if it had gone to a third set, he is not sure that his experience would have carried him through.

In reference to Young’s future in the game, Baghdatis stated that he’s “very talented, but it’s a tough world out there. . . [He] has to keep working hard and fight the way he did today. If he does. . . .he will have a bright future”.

After the match, Young expressed that it’s thrilling to find himself in his first ATP semifinal particularly with victories over “the quality players. . . I’m very excited and hopefully I can keep moving forward”.

Subsequent to obtaining the crucial break for 4-3 in the second set and dumping his serve at love, Young stayed focused. MiamiTennisNews.com inquired whether his current success is attributable to his mentally maturing.

Young replied “for sure. Before, that would have set me off. But, [now], I try to look at the positive. . . Even though he broke back, I was actually still ahead . . .and could still close it out in two”.

As far as his goal for the remainder of the year when asked by MiamiTennisNews.com, Young set the bar at breaking into the top fifty. For him, that would define a successful year.

Next up for Young will be Radek Stepanek. Again, he will be clashing for the first time with a veteran. Young expressed “I’ve seen him play quite a bit and I don’t know what it will feel like on the court”. Nevertheless, Young opined that he will continue to do what he has been doing and hopes that will get him to his maiden ATP final.

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Federer On Cruise Control at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Federer On Cruise Control at the Sony Ericsson Open

Despite a 10-2 record against his second round counterpart, Roger Federer is acutely aware that Radek Stepanek can be a dangerous player. However, from the outset, Federer was in full control of the match. Federer vanquished Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 to move on to the third round at the Sony Ericsson Open.

At love, Federer broke to go ahead 4-3. Federer sustained the cushion all the way through to seal the first set.

His first time out serving in the second set, Federer stared at break point in the second game. Yet, the world number three wiped that out in a hurry. Subsequently, Federer obtained the break in the third game.

Thereafter, Federer was supreme breaking Stepanek one last time as he served to extend the match.

Federer has been a fixture on the tour for over a decade. It seems every time he steps on court there’s another record he is equalizing or shattering. With the victory this afternoon, Federer knotted Pete Sampras with 762 wins.

Federer was asked his thoughts on this new feat “It’s nice tying Pete, but he could have played for many more years. He could still win some matches on tour now if he wanted to. . . It’s a funny stat, but it shows how long I have been around already, how much I’ve won, all around the world and all the different surfaces. . . over 10, 12 solid seasons. I’ve never missed big chunks of seasons. That’s how you end up with so many wins, I guess.”

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Delray Beach Draw Displays Potential for an Exciting Final

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Delray Beach Draw Displays Potential for an Exciting Final

As usual, Delray Beach will be the ATP’s first stop in South Florida.  This year, the field is more spectacular than ever with 2003 U.S. Open title holder Andy Roddick and 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro gracing fans with their appearance.  Moreover, former champions Marty Fish, Kei Nishikori, Xavier Malisse and Ricardo Mello will also take part in the festivities.  The draw has been announced, here’ a closer look as to how this thrilling week may unfold.

Roddick, the top seed, may have to face Janko Tipsarevic for the second consecutive week.  This time, Roddick would battle Tipsarevic or 2010 finalist Ivo Karlovic for a spot in the semifinals.

Third seed and wildcard entry Sam Querrey may be another threat to Roddick’s quest to the final.  However, prior to a potential date with Roddick, Querrey may have to overcome either Nishikori, Russian Igor Andreev or the always dangerous Benjamin Becker in the quarterfinals.

In the bottom section, 2009 titlist Fish is the second seed.  Veteran Rainer Schuettler could present a grave challenge for Fish in the second round.  Then, in the quarterfinals, Fish could contend with Radek Stepanek.

Also, in Fish’s part of the draw are John Isner and Del Potro.  These latter two just clashed in Memphis and could see each other again in the second round.  American teenager Ryan Harrison has a terrific opportunity to get to the quarterfinals.  But, in that round, Isner or Del Potro may await him.  Consequently, Fish, Del Potro, Stepanek and Isner appear the ones with the truest chance to advance to the final.

While the likelihood of an all American final exist, Roddick vs. Isner or Roddick vs. Fish, there are plenty of potential spoilers.  Since returning from his wrist injury, Memphis seems to be a turning point for Del Potro.  The Argentine looks to have regained some of the form and confidence which propelled him to the top ten.  As a result, it would not be surprising to see two former U.S. Open champions Del Potro and Roddick duke it out for the ITC title.

Click here for a complete look at the draw as it appears on the ITC tournament website.

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