abn amro world tennis tournament

Rotterdam Results and Exclusive Photos: Federer and Del Potro Setup Dream Final

by Lisa-Marie Burrows

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam – Big serving Argentine Juan Martín Del Potro took to court with one mission on his mind – booking a place into the final. The 6ft 6” Del Potro was one of three top ten men in the semifinals and recorded his third victory over Tomas Berdych in four meetings 6-3, 6-1.

After a thunderous 6-0, 6-1 quarterfinal performance against Viktor Troicki, Del Potro proved he was in no mood to mess around once again.  He took on second seed Tomas Berdych on Saturday afternoon and ignited his outstanding performance once again.

The first set saw Del Potro break the Czech in his opening service game after a slow start from the world No.7 and the third seed did not look back.  He did not face a break point against his own serve and continued to unleash his heavy forehand during exchanged rallies.

During the ninth game, Berdych was serving to stay in the set at 3-5 and after executing a backhand into the tramlines and an untimely foot fault the Czech faced another three break points and ultimately lost the set 3-6.

The second set delivered another outstanding performance from the resurgent Argentine as he timed his shots with perfection.  The Czech looked bewildered as he found no replies to the belligerence of shots and booming forehands and only managed to take one game in the entire set before losing to Del Potro 1-6.

During the press conference, the Argentine was understandably pleased with his performance and happy to reach the final on his debut at the tournament:

“I played almost perfect today. I was focused all of the time. I was focused with my forehands and I think that was the key of the match.”

Is he at his very best Grand Slam winning level yet? Not quite, but he’s not far away. “I am improving match by match. I played better than yesterday and should play better tomorrow.” 

Tomorrow will bring a very difficult task for the former US Open champion as he faces 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer after his tough three set defeat over unseeded Nikolay Davydenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

It was the Russian who took first blood in the opening set after playing some sublime rallies.  Davydenko ran faster than a cheetah and punched the ball harder than a boxer to continuously pull Federer from one side of the court to the other.  The Russian refused to play high percentage tennis as he struck the ball exquisitely on the rise whilst gunning for the lines.

His patience was rewarded in the ninth game after striking a forehand at the feet of Federer and subsequently broke at 5-4.

After a long service game Davydenko’s nerves of steel refused to bow down to Federer and his cheering army of fans as he eventually took the set 6-4 after a mistimed Federer forehand sailed out of the court.

With the crowd stunned into silence, Davydenko’s game continued to progress and once again he put his wheels into motion and broke the world No.3 in the third game after Federer’s usually reliable forehand was struck wide into the tramlines.  The atmosphere around the court intensified and the crowd murmured in speculation at the possibility of Federer losing.

Speculation and concern did not last long after a sloppy sixth game from the Russian and a change of tactics from Federer.  He began to attack the net and mix up the pace of the game by adding in beautifully timed drop shots and lobs.  The variation of play and supportive applause from the crowd spurred the former world No.1 to break back and the wheels fell off the game of the Russian as he received attention to his right leg.  He was broken a further time in the eighth game before losing the set 3-6.

In the third set both players had opportunities to break and faced break point pressure during their service games.  The spark that had ignited at the start of the first set appeared to be diminishing for Davydenko as he failed to convert three break point opportunities and during the next game was 0-40 in his service game.

To the delight of the crowd, Federer broke in the ninth game and comfortably served out the match at 6-4.

“I struggled sometimes with my timing but still thought I was right in the match.  It was a fun match to play, but it was tough. I hope it is a big match for me in 2012 because these are the kind of matches that sometimes you show to yourself that if you have confidence the next thing you know, you could win the title tomorrow.”

The exhilarating semifinals will bring a rematch of the 2009 US Open match between Roger Federer and Juan Martín Del Potro, which saw the Argentine win his first Grand Slam of his career and hope that he can find the same form to beat the crowd favourite once again on Sunday.

Lisa-Marie Burrows is in Rotterdam covering the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament as media. You can follow her on Twitter @TennisNewsViews

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Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes all the semifinals action, both on-court and the press conferences.

(All photos © Rick Gleijm)

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ATP Rotterdam Day One Roundup & Photos: Lopez, Gasquet, Mathieu, Dolgopolov

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day one action.

Three top players were surprised to find themselves on the losing end of their first-round matches.

  • Paul-Henri Mathieu came to Rotterdam as a wildcard into the qualifying draw only to find himself in the second round of the main draw, after stunning Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
  • Jesse Huta Galung dispensed of former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(6), 6-3.
  • Sixth-seed Alexandr Dolgopolov also saw his time in Rotterdam come to a premature end as he was defeated by Lukasz Kubot 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
  • Richard Gasquet also came through in three sets beating Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

For a full recap of Roger Federer‘s and Juan Martin Del Potro‘s press conferences from earlier today, go here.

Full Tuesday schedule below.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] R De Voest (RSA) vs A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] I Sijsling (NED) vs J Nieminen (FIN)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[7] V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] T de Bakker (NED)
F Cermak (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs J Del Potro (ARG) / P Petzschner (GER)

Not Before 7:30 PM
R Haase (NED) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
M Youzhny (RUS) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / D Norman (BEL) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND)

Not Before 3:30 PM
[8] M Granollers (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)

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ATP Rotterdam: Federer Sets the Record Straight; Del Potro’s Thoughts on His Comeback

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam — It has been a busy opening day at the tournament in Rotterdam and there has been as much going on off court as well as on. Juan Martín Del Potro and Roger Federer both participated in packed press conferences during the afternoon where the players shared their thoughts and enthusiasm for the tournament and discussed their current concerns.

Juan Martín Del Potro is relishing the opportunity to make his mark this week. During the press conference, the Argentine opened up about his coming to terms with his injuries and his hopes for 2012.

“I’m feeling ok after a tough Australian Open and my first goal is to play healthy the whole season. Playing this sport is magnificent for me.  It’s a long road [to complete recovery] but I’m trying to do that.”

The former US Open champion was then asked about how he felt during his year out due to his wrist injury and with a sad look of reflection in his eyes, he spoke honestly about his feelings:

“It was horrible [not being able to play]. Most of the time I was at home watching the tournaments on TV and I was thinking I should be there. It has been a long road and I’m still trying to do that [recover].

Roger Federer discussed the controversial comments that he reportedly made in a press interview after Switzerland lost against the United States, stating that his doubles partner Stan Wawrinka played “bad.” His French translation into English was misconstrued and left out the word “not” before “bad” and Federer was determined to set the record straight:

“Yeah I had to weather the press. The things I said were taken the wrong way about Stan. I would never say something like that or blame him. I telephoned Stan just to make sure there was no misunderstanding.”

Not long after his press conference had finished Roger Federer tried to appease the disappointed contingency that were hoping to see him in action on the opening day by having an open practice session on Centre Court with Del Potro, as the Swiss maestro is not in action until Wednesday against Mahut.

His day did not end there. Federer continued with his interaction by participating in an autograph session for his loyal followers giving them a chance to meet their hero.  The Federer fans were enjoying having him there for the first time since he won the tournament in 2005 and his participation in such events is gratefully received by all who admire one of the greatest players of all time.

(All photos courtesy of the author)

Around The Corner: Life After The Davis Cup

With the opening round of the Davis Cup wrapping up on Sunday, the ATP World Tour will now shift back into form with three tournaments in Rotterdam, San Jose and Sao Paulo. Here’s a closer look at the draws from all three events and some analysis on who stands the best chance of making it to the final weekend.

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament

The largest of the three being played this week, the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament is a level 500 event. An indoor hard-court event, Roger Federer will be looking for the surface to bring him some much needed success. A disastrous Davis Cup showing at home on clay has left Federer clearly confused about the status of his game. Rather than admit he played poorly, Federer instead shifted the blame onto country-man Stan Wawrinka. It was a rare moment of bad judgement from Federer. He opens with Nicolas Mahut from France and then could potentially face a dangerous opponent in Mikhail Youzhny who won the title recently in Zagreb.

The always tricky Alexandr Dolgopolov is also in the same quarter as Federer. The two have only played once, with Federer winning in Basel two years ago. Dolgopolov has come a long way since then and with the way Roger played this past week, you’d have to think this could be a great QF match.

Richard Gasquet, Feliciano Lopez and former top-ten presence Nikolay Davydenko are in the following quarter of the draw. I’d give a well-rested Gasquet (he did not travel to Canada for Davis Cup) the best shot of emerging here.

Juan Martin Del Potro is the third seed and should be able to navigate his way through the third quarter of the draw. He opens against Michael Llodra of France who has to get all the way from Vancouver, Canada to Rotterdam in the next twenty-four hours.

At the bottom of the draw is second seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who has had some success lately with a big win in Montpellier over Gael Monfils. Berdych had a very solid 2011 where he won one event and reached eight tournament semi-finals and seven tournament quarter-finals. He is really starting to find that consistency that will make him a mainstay in the top-ten. A meeting in the second round with Marcos Baghdatis looms, but otherwise Berdych should be able to set-up a semi-final encounter with Del Potro that would be highly entertaining.

Regardless of the results, the tournament is guaranteed a new winner this year as Robin Soderling is not yet healthy enough to defend the title which he has held for the past two years. I’m gonna give the nod to Berdych in this one and I have a feeling that Federer’s recent troubles might continue with an early exit this week.

Brasil Open 2012

Played on clay, the Brasil Open attracts some of the usual dirt-ballers one might expect to see. Nicolas Almagro is the defending champion and also won this event in 2008. He has played some pretty decent ball on hard-courts so far this year so we’ll see if that continues on his favourite surface. Almagro is seeded first and gets a bye into the second round. His quarter is pretty sparse which should help him get his clay-court wheels going.

Fernando Verdasco is the third seed and has a nice section in his quarter as well. Take a look at veteran Fernando Gonzalez from Chile if possible as he has already announced his retirement to take place in Miami this coming March. Injuries have really taken away Gonzo’s physical and mental endurance but hopefully he has a little magic left in him before he says goodbye.

In the bottom-half of the draw, aging Juan Carlos Ferrero the eighth seed and Thomaz Bellucci the fourth seed will likely fight it out for a spot in the quarter, while the bottom quarter is the most interesting with David Nalbandian who is unseeded, Albert Montanes and second seeded Gilles Simon.

Almagro gets my vote of confidence to take this one based on his clay-court prowess and success at this venue in previous years.

SAP Open

A year ago the ATP World Tour took notice of fast-rising Canadian sensation Milos Raonic when he won his first-ever event here in San Jose. Unfortunately for Canadian tennis fans, a repeat will be very difficult to achieve for several reasons.

Firstly, Raonic was forced to pull-out of the Davis Cup tie against France on Sunday with pain in his knee that had been already taped throughout the event. Will he even be healthy enough to play in San Jose?

Beyond the injury debate, Milos has a tough draw that sets him up with first-seeded Gael Monfils in a possible semi-final match-up. He will also have to contend with having the entire draw gunning for him as the defending champ. Coming into an event as the title-holder is quite different from what he experienced a year ago.

In the bottom-half things will be pretty wide-open with Andy Roddick returning from an injury he suffered at the Australian Open and occupying the second seed. Who knows what kind of game the former American No. 1 will bring with him but his lack of match play will hinder his changes.

Underachieving Sam Querrey, aging Radek Stepanek and vet Julien Benneteau round-out the bottom half in terms of potential contenders. I’d look for one of them rather than Roddick to make their way to the finals against Monfils who appears to be over the knee problems that he was dealing with upon his arrival to Canada for the Davis Cup.

ATP Rotterdam Day Two Qualifying with Paul-Henri Mathieu

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day two qualifying matches highlighting Paul-Henri Mathieu, Simon Greul, Thomas Schoorel and Rik De Voest.

Earlier in the day, Matthias Bachinger defeated Dusan Lojda 7-6(1), 6-3, while Karol Beck came from a one-set deficit to beat Jan Hajek 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu then defeated Thomas Schoorel 6-1, 6-4, and Rik De Voest overcame Simon Greul 7-5, 7-6(4).

The four winners will all try to make their presence known in the main draw beginning tomorrow as Mathieu is set to take on fourth-seeded Feliciano Lopez. Full Monday schedule is below.

SCHEDULE – MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY, 2012

CENTRE COURT start 12:30 pm
F Cipolla (ITA) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[4] F Lopez (ESP) vs [Q] P Mathieu (FRA)

Not Before 7:30 PM
[WC] J Huta Galung (NED) vs I Ljubicic (CRO)
L Kubot (POL) vs [6] A Dolgopolov (UKR)

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