Tag Archive | "Zimonjic"

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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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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