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Archive for the ‘titlists’ Category

Played For and Got.

Posted by gauloises1 on March 21, 2011

Much to be said about tonight’s final between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and indeed their respective semi-final victories over JMDP and Federer at Indian Wells. Unfortunately it’s late here and I have been beaten into submission by blueberry vodka this weekend, but I will say this …

Is there any doubt that Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world right now? He is 18-0 in ATP matches since the start of the season, he has just beaten Federer to reclaim the world no. 2 ranking, and in beating Nadal 46 63 62 today for the Indian Wells trophy, he has become just the third player to twice beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament. And unlike Nalbandian and Davydenko, the other two members of that little club, the man has two Grand Slam titles. No other player has had a run like this in the Fedal era.

Today’s match was a strange one. Neither player was quite at their best and inevitably, Nadal’s kerplosion midway through the second set will garner a lot of attention. But you can’t consider it in isolation from the man on the other side of the net, and Djokovic simply kept getting better and better. In a battle of wills, it was Nadal who blinked and Djokovic who bore down relentlessly. How cool is that?

It won’t last, because form is evanescent, because the body and mind can only give so much, because there is Nadal to contend with and clay season is approaching fast. But right now, Djokovic is supreme.

It’s fun. 

Posted in indian wells, novak djokovic, titlists | Tagged: | 12 Comments »

Djokovic, Zvonareva Winning in the Gulf

Posted by gauloises1 on February 28, 2011

Novak Djokovic d. Roger Federer, 63 63

You can’t spell “hat-trick” without “ha”.

Late to the party, I know, but what can we say except that Djokovic was outstanding in the final, and after a less than stellar route there, absolutely dismantled Federer? I don’t think Federer was on top form, but I really don’t think the match was about him. From the beginning, Djokovic was all over him with the return, that lethal forehand of death, and kept putting the ball in fairly impossible positions. No wonder Federer butchered a couple of shots. That’s Djokovic’s third Dubai title, and he’s now been unbeaten for fifteen matches. You may, you know, worship him.

Vera Zvonareva d. Caroline Wozniacki, 64 64

Pretty impressive for Vera Zvonareva in Doha, who hasn’t won a trophy in … ages, and beat Wozniacki 64 64 in a straightforward final. Wozniacki has had a good two weeks, picking up the Dubai title and beating a couple of former bugbears in Jankovic, Peer and Bartoli, so she was a bit fatigued and reportedly ill, but Zvonareva’s game had more than a little to do with a petulant final performance, so well done to the world no. 3.

Posted in doha, dubai, novak djokovic, titlists, vera zvonareva | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

And Nobody Died.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 28, 2011

Congratulations to Gisela Dulko and David Ferrer, who took home the trophies in Acapulco this weekend.

I have to say, I did not call Gisela standing there with that trophy as she’s been uninspiring in singles recently, but maybe that Australian Open win (and no. 1 ranking) in doubles with Flavia Pennetta, although presumably that’s not the new love that Clijsters was referring to. She beat sixth seed Arantxa Parra-Santonja 63 76(5) in the final.

As for the men’s side, I’m absolutely gutted that I missed David Ferrer’s final against Nicolas Almagro (it was on at like five in the morning!). Almagro was going for the Golden Swing sweep, having already won in Santiago and Buenos Aires, while Ferru was the defending champion and it appears to have been kind of a classic:

If you didn’t watch that, Ferru won 76(4) 67(2) 62, and he was pretty happy about it.

That’s a 500 and a Grand Slam semifinal and it’s still February. Or as I’m now thinking of it, Ferruary.

Anyway, they also looked cute in hats.

 

 

Posted in acapulco, david ferrer, gisela dulko, titlists | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dead Man Winning.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 28, 2011

Juan Martin del Potro d. Janko Tipsarevic, 64 64

I can’t. Stop. Smiling.

JMDP won. He won. I’m just … there is sunshine in my heart right now and kittens gambolling along my veins, drowning in all the wine. It’s how they would have wanted to go.

Ahem. So that was a pretty terrible match. This wasn’t the JMDP we saw crushing Mardy Fish last night. He came out flat and lifeless, barely moving, and dropped his second service game to give Tispsarevic the break for 3-1. Both he and Davin had been talking before the match about how tired he was, making semifinals and then a final three weeks on the trot, which might have been it; equally, he had played all his matches in Delray Beach at night and I thought the different conditions in the heat might have been responsible. Or he could have been nervous. Whatever, this was genuinely-lethargic JMDP as opposed to that’s-just-what-he-looks-like JMDP (the way you can tell is that the former misses, a lot).

It was crushing; Tipsarevic had the lead at 4-1 and there looked like absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t run with it. I was mentally composing an agonised post-mortem which spoke defensively about the difference between winning a final and winning any other match, and publicly appealed to the tennis gods for just a little bit of luck to get him over the hump. Of course, the luck in question was already operating, because he was playing Tipsarevic. He flaked to drop his serve, JMDP dredged up the occasional big serve from the very depths of his being, and Tipsy just couldn’t get himself back into it.

JMDP said in his post-match interview that he was ‘completely tired’ and added that although Tipsarevic was the better player, he was a little bit luckier at key moments. That’s more or less how it felt. If JMDP was flat in the first set, he was frankly two-dimensional in the second. I have never seen him push the ball around like that; he couldn’t get any timing on it, was rolling in his serves and generally looking about to die on the court even when he was a set and a break down. Yet Tipsy couldn’t get his feet under him and Delpo kept – maddeningly – doing just enough to stay ahead. It was just about the most agonising, brain-dead tennis you can imagine.

 

But who cares? It doesn’t have to be pretty. A win is a win is a win, and when JMDP watched Tipsy’s ball out, dropped his racquet and lifted his arms in the air, no-one was thinking about how he got there. We were thinking about where he’s been; missing an entire season of tennis, sitting at home instead of defending his US Open title, dropping out into the hinterlands of the far 400s. Just in case we’d forgotten, he kissed his right wrist multiple times while acknowledging the applause of the crowd. I’d kiss it too. And, you know, carry on from there.

A word for our gallant loser though. Seriously, the fact that a player like Tipsarevic – who, as I tweeted in an attempt to pre-empt my own probable bitterness, has given tennis fans hours of entertainment and some of the most memorable matches of the last few years on the biggest stages – doesn’t have an ATP title, even a 250, just underlines how tough it is to perform in a final. There is no way he won’t get one before he retires. It just wasn’t his day today.

But it was Delpo’s. It should put him back in the top 85, and there will be (and already is) a lot of talk about what a ‘statement’ this is to the rest of the tour. I don’t care about that right now. He won. He won a final. He’s holding a trophy. He’s a champion again.

… Yeah. I’ll be crying.

(You can see video here of JMDP giving a victory speech in Spanish (thanks to everyone who tweeted and translated it for me) – reportedly he’s thanking the spectators for enduring the heat, the little kids in the crowd who supported him, the faithful Franco and Martiniano, and his friends and family back home.)

Posted in delray beach, janko tipsarevic, juan martin del potro, titlists | Tagged: , | 8 Comments »

The Week In Winners: Memphis Edition

Posted by gauloises1 on February 21, 2011

OK, I was putting this off, but I’m knackered and off early in the morning and I just can’t wait for more photos to come through right now.

Ladies first: it was a sad ending to an exceptional tournament for Rebecca Marino when she was forced to retire, trailing by a set, in the final due to an abdominal injury she sustained during the semi-final. The young Canadian and female Delpo was in tears on the court, but comported herself fairly well and gave a very nice, mature press conference that you can see here. So congratulations to Magdalena Rybarikova, who clearly decided to have one of her somewhat rare good weeks and certainly deserved the title.

 But let’s talk about tonight’s final between Milos Raonic and Andy Roddick, shall we? Actually, I don’t know if I can because I’m very tired and still buzzing too much from the match to be articulate about it. It’s easy, looking at the score (two tiebreaks and 75 in the third) that this was your basic big-serving contest coming down to a few clutch points here and there. And although the latter is true, it was such a fun match. Roddick, who was clearly suffering from a cold, followed on where he left off against Delpo, deciding to match Raonic in the neck-or-nothing (to paraphrase Georgette Heyer) department, and Raonic handled the entire match magnificently. Not for a moment did he look overawed by the occasion or, come to that, the second-best player even when he was trailing. Roddick said during the trophy presentation that he was outplayed for two and a half hours and just ‘hung in there’, and while that’s a little too self-deprecating, it also gives an accurate flavour of the match.

But then sometimes all you need to do is hang in there and seize your opportunity when it presents itself. Raonic after being down a break in the third set broke back, held fairly easily, pressed but was unable to get anywhere on Roddick’s serve, and looked as if he was on his way to holding serve at 5-6. A couple of errors and it was 30-40. And then … this happened.

(There’s a better quality version here, but I couldn’t embed it.)

That, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best balls-out death-or-glory match-point shots you will ever see. Let’s not pretend Raonic didn’t play that point well. His cross-court backhand volley was brilliantly executed and could – should – have been a winner. Roddick had no business getting to that ball, still less hitting it back for a winner. And yet.

I said after the match that if I was Raonic, I would be feeling gypped. And I would. But I would also learn a big lesson from this: that sometimes you just have to say ‘too good’, and one amazing shot from your opponent doesn’t mean you didn’t play some fantastic tennis. He did, he really did – and then had the gall to be adorable in the trophy presentation, saying (I’m paraphrasing) “at least I’ll be in one of the most-watched YouTube points of all time. I’ll be on the wrong side of the court, but at least my name will be in the description.” Be un-won over, I dare you.

But the day belonged to Roddick. It was his fiftieth final, his thirtieth title, and had to be one of the best points he’d played in his career. It was also funny in a poignant sort of way to see him cram his hat back on his head afterwards, as if to hide his receding hairline. (It’s OK, Andy. You still have an amazing bum.)

 

 Roddick referred to himself as an “old guy” when he was congratulating Raonic afterwards, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it’s difficult to deny that he probably only has a handful of opportunities left to thrill the tennis-watching public at large like that. I was so glad to be watching. Thanks for a great match.

NB: Not to spoil the moment, but I’m away for a couple of days, so blogging may be light.

Posted in andy roddick, magdalena rybarikova, memphis, milos raonic, rebecca marino, titlists | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Week In Winners Of Tournaments I Sort Of Ignored.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 21, 2011

Congratulations to Nicolas Almagro and Lourdes Dominguez Lino, who picked up South American clay titles this week.

This was Dominguez-Lino’s second WTA title, her first also coming in Bogota in 2006. That’s a long time to keep plugging away, so well done to her. She caught a break in the semis when Petra Martic withdrew due to gastroenteritis, but she did well to beat Mathilde Johansson in three sets after Johansson beat Suarez Navarro. Big congratulations to her.

As for Almagro, thanks to the rain falling in BA this week, he had to defeat Acasuso (who still plays tennis, apparently) and Robredo back to back yesterday before taking on Juan Ignacio Chela and beating him 63 36 64 tonight. So well done there. He joins Soderling in the circle of those winning back-to-back titles this week.

Posted in bogota, buonos aires, lourdes dominguez lino, nicolas almagro, titlists | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Consolidation.

Posted by gauloises1 on February 20, 2011

Rising a spot in the rankings isn’t any good unless you’re going to sink your teeth into it and make it yours. Enter Caroline Wozniacki and Robin Soderling.

What I like about Wozniacki is that she wants to be no. 1. She’s only ever reached the third round in this tournament before, but with the ranking on the line, she not only beat the woman who beat her last year, but recorded back-to-back victories over Jankovic and Kuznetsova, beating the latter 61 63 in a composed and assertive performance which showed her terrier-like mentality as the weapon it is. Due respect.

Kuznetsova was pretty disappointing, I thought; a great tournament and a collapse in the final. But she still looks on course to do something big this year, if you ask me. Wimbledon champion 2011?

Speaking of doing big things, Robin Soderling further justified his claim to the world no. 4 spot by winning his second title in two weeks at the Open 13 in Marseilles, beating Marin Cilic 67(8) 63 63. It was far from his best match, but what was very impressive was the way that he dug deep, battled himself and his own demons and got through it with a resounding win. That’s his third title in 2011, and if anybody out there still thinks he’s a one-trick pony, then I don’t know who you’re watching. I think he looks more like a major contender than he ever has before.

As for skinny love there, it wasn’t his best but it was so far from his worst. One woeful game in the third set was pretty much all it came down to, and he showed a lot of heart and confidence that’s been missing for the last year or so. He called it a “good start” in his post-match interview and said that he hoped to build on it in Indian Wells and Miami. I’ll drink to that.

Posted in caroline wozniacki, dubai, marin cilic, marseilles, robin soderling, titlists | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Milos Raonic: Going To Happen

Posted by gauloises1 on February 15, 2011

Or in fact already happening, as the Canadian is up to 59 in the rankings after defeating Fernando Verdasco 76(6) 76(5) to take the San Jose title at the weekend.

I’ve got to confess I didn’t see this match. Well, I saw some of it – it started at 3 a.m. and I wanted right up until the point that Milos went something like 0-6 down in the first set tiebreak, at which point I assumed (with what I feel was some justification) that Verdasco would close out the tiebreak and use that boost to win in straights. How he didn’t, I’m not quite sure.

But he took it well.

But I’m assuming that Raonic carried on playing the way that he did for the first twelve games – mahoosive serving, confident aggression and a total lack of fear. The hype will now officially be out of control, given that he comes from a country with only slightly more top-flight players than Great Britain (and no Andy Murray), and while his talent is unquestioned, he’s been on a ridiculous run in 2011 and it remains to be seen what kind of consistency he has once that white-hot adrenaline has worn off. So the jury’s out – but it has plenty to deliberate upon.

Go Milos.

Posted in fernando verdasco, milos raonic, san jose, titlists | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

The Week In ATP Winners: Soderling Repeats Rotterdam, Almagro Is Awkward

Posted by gauloises1 on February 13, 2011

Rotterdam

After last week’s first-time titlists, it’s a bit repeato on the ATP tour this week. Robin Soderling successfully defended a title for the first time in his career, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 63 36 63 in the final. Oddly, it was Philipp Kohlschreiber who pushed him the hardest all week. But with Djokovic withdrawing and Murray losing in the first round to Baghdatis, it always looked like being Soderling’s week.

Costa do Saiupe

Nicolas Almagro won his second Brasil Open title at a tournament which I … didn’t watch. So I will merely post these mildly amusing photos from the trophy ceremony.

 

It was another solid week for Alexandr Dolgopolov – FYI, I absolutely refuse to call him either the ATP-sanctioned “The Dog” or the popular “Dolly”, sue me – getting to a final. I’m not quite sold on his long-term potential (future top 10, really?) but keeping up the momentum of Australia is a really good sign. I like watching him a lot and I hope he stays healthy.

And so the ‘Golden Swing’ (that just reminds me of a particularly upsetting sex-based episode of geriatric comedy Waiting For God) creaks on to Buenos Aires …

Posted in alexandr dolgopolov, costa do saiupe, jo-wilfried tsonga, nicolas almagro, robin soderling, rotterdam, titlists | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Week In WTA Winners: Kvitova Pounds Clijsters, Hantuchova Wins In Thailand

Posted by gauloises1 on February 13, 2011

Paris

Give it up for Petra Kvitova, taking her second WTA title of 2011 at the Premier Paris Open tournament, beating Kim Clijsters 64 63 in the final.  She had two exceptionally tough matches against Barbora Zahlalova Strycova and Yanina Wickmayer before cruising against Mattek-Sands, and Clijsters never looked like winning. The pace and depth of Petra’s shots – and serve – are so unbeatable when she’s on, and she’s had a stellar start to the year; if she can keep it up – or at least avoid a string of first round losses such as that which followed her semi-final appearance at Wimbledon last year – she’ll be in the top 10 soon, although clay isn’t her best surface.

And she’s so cute.

It wasn’t a particularly bad week for Clijsters either, as her run to the final puts her back at no. 1 from tomorrow, displacing Caroline Wozniacki. However, they’d better hold off on the trophy presentation for now, as Wozniacki could potentially take back the top spot in Dubai. Congratulations to Kim nevertheless, who did win the last two Slams and is at the top for the first time since 2006.

But we all know hanging about with Momo is the real prize.

Pattaya City

A big week for Daniela Hantuchova in Thailand, taking her fourth career title and her first since Linz in 2007. Ana Ivanovic – having split up with yet another coach, this time Antonio van Grichen – disappointed against Roberta Vinci and Kirilenko lost an absolute screamer in the second round against Galina Voskoboeva, but Hantuchova still had to contend with Kimiko Date-Krumm, who had beaten her in all three of their previous meetings, and queen of Pattaya Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals before absolutely crushing Sara Errani in the final.

Plato invented the plate.

Posted in amelie mauresmo, daniela hantuchova, kim clijsters, paris, pattaya city, petra kvitova, sara errani, titlists | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »