Argentina was a clear favorite before the Davis Cup final against Spain, because of many reasons. First of all, Spanish No. 1 in the world, Rafael Nadal had to withdraw from the final due to injury, moreover the two best currently Argentinian players, David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro had been very successful autumn, playing indoor tournaments (Davis Cup final in 2008, was also played indoor, in Mar del Plata), finally Argentina hasn’t lost on the home soil for 10 years.
In the first rubber on Friday, as anticipated, David Nalbandian without problems overcame 6-3 6-2 6-3 David Ferrer who has been out of form for a few months. Nalbandian lost his serve twice but from first to the last point of the match dictating the conditions on the court. “I don’t think it was one of my best matches, but I played very well” said Nalbandian.
Feliciano Lopez leveled the tie, after 4-6 7-6 7-6 6-3 win over Juan Martin del Potro. The young Argentinian served 25 aces (the most in career so far), didn’t lose a service game in the first three sets but couldn’t prevail in the tie-breaks which lost 2-7 and 4-7, despite 4:2 up in the second one. Lopez has won 12 tie-breaks in a row, and it’s the best result this year (Andy Roddick is a record holder in this category, since last year with 18 cosecutive wins in the tie-breaks). “When I won the second tiebreak, I had a great injection of hope,” said Lopez. “In the last set, he didn’t look 100 per cent fit” – at 2:3 down in the fourth set, Del Potro started to stagger because of a strain in his thigh. After medical time-out lost his serve and it was crucial point not only for that match but for the whole Davis Cup final.
Argentinian doubles is the weakest link in the team, but David Nalbanian and Agustin Calleri were very close on Satrurday to lead 2-1 in sets against duo Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco who are very experienced in tigh Davis Cup matches, and are dangerous for the best doubles teams in the world. At 1-1 in sets, the Spaniards had wasted set point on Verdasco’s serve at 5:1, and later found themselves at 1:5 down in the tie-break! Nalbandian served a double fault in that moment, began to argue with the chair umpire, and completely lost the concetration. The Spaniards won another 5 points what gave them the set and the fourth set easily, albeit they wasted double match point on Verdasco’s serve in the 7th game. Final score: 5-7 7-5 7-6 6-3 for the left-handed Spaniards.
In the first rubber on Sunday, team captains, Alberto Mancini (Argentina) and Emilio Sanchez (Spain) decided to change nominal players. Jose Acasuso had to replace injured Juan Martin del Potro and Fernando Verdasco replaced David Ferrer.
“When Ferrer found out he was not playing, he took it well,” said Sanchez. “He immediately offered his support to Fernando which helped him come out on court.”
It was just second encounter of these two players but first indoor. After dropping the first set 3-6, Acasuso won second and third set, despite losing his service games twice in both sets, to give the hope for the loud Argentinian spctators. Unfortunately for them, “Chucho” lost his serve at 2:3 down in the fourth set. In the next game the Argentinian had double break point but wasted chances, his last in the match. After the end of the fourth set, Acasuso took a medical time-out because of abdominal strain. Fifth set was one-sided, Verdasco quickly raced to a 4:0 lead and converted third match point with his best stroke – forehand down the line to win almost four-hour match 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-3 6-1.
“I was more relaxed after the fourth set,” said Verdasco who fulfilled his childhood dream of winning Davis Cup for Spain. “I understood we needed tactics to win the match and I realised that he was tired so I took advantage of making him run.”
Acasuso as the first player in history has lost twice decisive rubber in Davis Cup final, two years ago he was beaten by Marat Safin the the fifth rubber of the final between Russian and Argentina in Moscow. In turn, Fernando Verdasco has been 25th player in the Open Era who won decisive rubber in Davis Cup final, only four players have won that final match twice (Stan Smith, John McEnroe, Pat Cash and Mark Phiippoussis).
Spain has won Davis Cup for the third time in six final appearances (lost finals in 1965, 1967 and 2003, losing to Australia on all three occasions), has triumphed every four years with different squad in the finals on each occasion since lifting the trophy for the first time in 2000 with victory on clay in Barcelona over Australia (Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa played in singles, Alex Corretja, Juan Balcells in doubles); it defeated the USA on its favored clay in Seville in 2004 (Rafael Nadal, Carlos Moya in singles, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Tommy Robredo in doubles). In 2008 beside Ferrer, Verdasco and Lopez, Marcel Granollers (a substitute of Nadal) was the fourth member of the winning team.
Spain d. Argentina 3-1 at Mar del Plata, Argentina: Hard (Indoor)
David Ferrer (ESP) l. David Nalbandian (ARG) 3-6 2-6 3-6
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(4) 6-3
Feliciano Lopez/Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Agustin Calleri/David Nalbandian (ARG) 5-7 7-5 7-6(5) 6-3
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Jose Acasuso (ARG) 6-3 6-7(3) 4-6 6-3 6-1
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) vs. David Nalbandian (ARG) Not Played
Dmitry Tursunov beat Karol Beck 6-4 6-3 to win the IPP Open in Helsinki, Finland
Caroline Wozniacki won the Nordea Danish Open, beating Sofia Arvidsson 6-2 6-1 in Odense, Denmark
Jim Courier beat Stefan Edberg 6-3 6-4 to win the Legends “Rock” Dubai Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
David Nalbandian (Argentina) beat David Ferrer (Spain) 6-3 6-2 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (Spain) beat Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (4) 6-3
Feliciana Lopez and Fernando Verdasco (Spain) beat Agustin Calleri and David Nalbandian (Argentina) 5-7 7-5 7-6 (5) 6-3
Fernando Verdasco (Spain) beat Jose Acasuso (Argentina) 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 6-3 6-1
“It’s the most exciting victory of my life. Playing for my country, against the best players, it’s a dream.” – Fernando Verdasco, after winning the clinching point to give Spain its third Davis Cup title.
“I was prepared for the match, but Verdasco played very well in the fourth and fifth sets. He started serving better and deserves a lot of credit for this win.” – Jose Acasuso, after losing decisive match to Fernando Verdasco
“When you lose such an important player like Juan Martin, it opens a big hole in the team. After that, things got complicated for us.” – Alberto Mancini, Argentina Davis Cup captain.
“I have to remember Rafael Nadal because we played the Davis Cup final thanks to him.” -Verdasco, honoring the man who won two singles matches in the semifinals against the United States.
“Nadal gave us several victories, and thanks to him we are here. But the players who are here are the ones who deserve all the credit now.” – Emilio Sanchez Vicario, Spain’s Davis Cup captain.
“This is a great finish to a great year. Dubai is a fantastic place for me, and for all the players, to end up the season.” – Jim Courier.
“We get our grounds back and then we can decide what we do with it and be in charge of our own destiny, while it secures investment in British tennis for the next 40 years until 2053.” – Tim Phillips, on Wimbledon paying USD $83 million to gain total control of the All England Club.
“Carole and I first met when we were both 12 years old and remained lifelong friends. More than any other person, Carole worked tirelessly behind the scenes to be the driving force and influential leader of Fed Cup, the international women’s tennis team competition.” – Billie Jean King, about Carole Graebner, who died at the age of 65.
SPAIN SI SI
So what if the world’s number one player, Rafael Nadal, is missing. Spain still won its third Davis Cup by besting Argentina 3-1 in the best-of-five international competition. The winning point came on the first “reverse singles” when Fernando Verdasco outlasted Jose Acasuso 6-3 6-7 (3) 4-6 6-3 6-1 before a boisterous crowd in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. It was a battle of replacements as Verdasco had replaced David Ferrer for Spain and Acasuso was a replacement for the injured Juan Martin de Potro. Feliciano Lopez had rallied to give Spain its first point by upsetting del Potro 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (4) 6-3, then teamed with Verdasco to win the doubles, besting Agustin Calleri and David Nalbandian 5-7 7-5 7-6 (5) 6-3. It was the first time Spain had won a Davis Cup title on the road. Playing on home courts, Spain beat Australia in 2000 and the United States in 2004.
For Jose Acasuso, losing the decisive match to give Spain the Davis Cup title was doubly devastating. The Argentine became the first man to lose two decisive five-set matches in Davis Cup finals, having also lost to Marat Safin in five sets in 2006 as Russia beat Argentina for the title. In the fourth set of the match against Spain, the trainer came onto court to work on Acasuso’s abdominal strain. “There was a lot of sadness in the locker room after the loss,” Acasuso said, “and the fact that three of the four of us lost to Russia two years ago means that the pain was double.”
STRAIGHT TO JAIL
Jimmy Connors was arrested at a University of California Santa Barbara basketball game when he refused to move on after being instructed to do so by police officers. An eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion, Connors refused to leave an area near the entrance of the Thunderdome following a confrontation, according to police. The tennis great was arrested at the beginning of the game and was taken to the Santa Barbara County jail where he was booked and released.
SUCCESS AT HOME
Caroline Wozniacki’s return home ended in triumph. Denmark’s top player won the Nordea Danish Open by defeating Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-1. “I played incredibly stable and pushed her around the court, just as I had planned,” Wozniacki said. “Therefore, she never really got started. So I win the fight, and since it was on my home ground, I am obviously more than happy.” Ranked 12th in the world, Wozniacki was the highest ranked player ever to play an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s Circuit event. It was the first USD $100,000 women’s tournament played in Denmark.
STEFANKI ON BOARD
Andy Roddick has a new coach. The former world number one player announced on his website that he has hired Larry Stefanki, who has previously coached John McEnroe, Marcelo Rios, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Tim Henman and Fernando Gonzalez. Under Stefani’s guidance, both Rios and Kafelnikov reached the world number one ranking. Roddick has been without a coach since splitting from Jimmy Connors.
SEEKING OWN DESTINY
Wimbledon is buying back its own club. Organizers of the grass court Grand Slam tournament will pay USD $83 million to regain total control of the All England Club, buying back the 50 percent it gave away in 1934. The money will be paid to Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association after the existing agreement expires. Under the 40-year deal, the All England Club will keep 10 percent of the profits instead of giving it all to the LTA, the governing body of British tennis. This year’s tournament generated a profit of USD $39 million.
SPOTLIGHT ON VILAS
Guillermo Vilas is this year’s recipient of the Davis Cup Award of Excellence. The International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) presented the award to Vilas during the Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina in Mar del Plata, Argentina. ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti presented the award to Vilas with past award recipients Neale Fraser (2001), Pierre Darmon (2002) and Manolo Santana (2004) in attendance. Vilas holds the Argentinean Davis Cup record for most total wins (57), most singles wins (45), most doubles wins (12), most ties played (29), most years played (14) and best doubles team, with Jose-Luis Clerc. Born in Mar del Plata in 1952, the left-hander is credited with being the first Argentine to win a Grand Slam tournament singles (Roland Garros in 1977) and the first Argentine to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1991). He also won the last US Open to be played at Forest Hills in 1977.
Jim Courier closed out the 2008 Outback Champions Series season in style by capturing the Emirates NBD The Legends “Rock” Dubai Championships. Courier beat Stefan Edberg 6-3, 6-4 to win his fourth tournament title of the year on the tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. He also won titles this year in Grand Cayman, Charlotte and Dallas, was finished the 2008 Outback Champions Series as its number one player in the Stanford Champions Rankings. Counting his Stanford Financial Group bonus, Courier won USD $404,000 in prize money this year.
STARS OF OLD
BlackRock Tour of Champions stars John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg joined up with Roger Federer and James Blake for a series of exhibition matches in Macao, China. Federer bested Blake 6-4 6-4 and Borg edged McEnroe in a one-set clash 7-6 before the two Americans teamed up to beat Borg and Federer 10-7 in a single Champions’ Tiebreak.
Julia Parker Goyer, a Duke University graduate and tennis player, was among 32 Americans chosen as a Rhodes Scholar. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Goyer graduated with a psychology major and neuroscience minor in May 2007. She will pursue a masters of science in comparative and international education at Oxford University in England. After making trips to Vietnam and Belize in 2007, Goyer founded the Coach for College program, which sends student-athletes to teach middle schoolers in rural areas of developing countries.
Carole Caldwell Graebner, who won doubles titles at the US and Australian Championships in the 1960s, is dead. She was 65. The top-ranked doubles player in the United States in 1963, Graebner teamed with Nancy Richey to win the 1965 US Championships, now the US Open, and the 1966 Australian Championships, now the Australian Open. She reached the US Championships women’s singles final in 1964, losing to Brazil’s Maria Bueno. Graebner was a member of the inaugural 1963 US Fed Cup team, and played college tennis alongside Billie Jean King at California State University at Los Angeles. She later served as United States Tennis Association (USTA) chair of the Fed Cup committee, and was a vice president of Tennis Week magazine and a radio and television commentator. She is survived by a daughter, Cameron Graebner Mark; a son, Clark Edward Graebner Jr.; and four grandchildren.
Helsinki: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Eric Butorac and Lovro Zovko 6-7 (2) 7-6 (7) 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Odense: Sarah Borwell and Courtney Nagle beat Gabriela Chmelinova and Mervana Jugic-Salkic 6-4 6-4
SITES TO SURF
WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com
Born in Moscow but representating Germany, Mischa Zverev advanced to his first career ATP Tour semifinal (6th quarterfinal’s attempt) in dramatic fashion. Zverev was losing to Vicotr Troicki 1:5 in the third set but managed to win 6 consecutive games, attacking at the net almost at every opportunity. The German saved two match points with service winners at 1:5 and was 4 times two points away from defeat at 4:5 on Troicki’s serve.
The other Moscow-born player Marat Safin ousted the defending champion Nikolay Davydenko 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 after 2 hours 28 minutes. Davydenko was serving to win the first set at 6:5 and was two points away from taking the set in the tie-break. Decisive break in the third set came in the 5th game when Davydenko lost his serve despite 40-0 up.
Top-seeded David Nalbandian and two-time Stockholm finalist Jarkko Nieminen have each won their matches against Spanish opponents, dropping just 5 games. Nieminen had very promising start of the year but since Australian Open hasn’t won 3 matches in a tournament.
Mario Ancic withdrew prior to the match against Kei Nishikori due to acute bronchitis. Ancic has been health problems from the beginning of the week.
Robin Soderling served 13 aces in straight sets victory over Rainer Schuettler.
Former Vienna’s champion Feliciano Lopez disappointed local fans beating Jurgen Melzer 4-6 6-3 6-4. Lopez had only two break points in the match and converted both of them.
Philipp Kohlschreiber playing his first tournament since US Open, advanced to the semifinal after easy win over Fernando Verdasco. Kohlschreiber during the week has dropped only 9 games (4 in the 1st round, 5 against Verdadco). Kohlschreiber’s countryman Petzschner reached first ATP semifinal after 6-4 6-2 over Carlos Moya in the late match.
Moscow – Quarterfinals
(7)Marat Safin (RUS) d. (1)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4
Michael Zverev (GER) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-4 3-6 7-5 – 2 M.P.
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (4)Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3 2-0 ret.
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) d. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 6-2
Stockholm – Quarterfinals
(1)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (7)Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-4 6-1
(3)Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Oscar Hernandez 6-1 6-4
(4)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (5)Rainer Schuettler (GER) 6-2 7-5
(WC)Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. (2)Mario Ancic (CRO) w/o
Vienna – Quarterfinals
(q)Philipp Petzschner (GER) d. Carlos Moya (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. (5)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-2 6-3
(8)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. (2)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) 6-3 7-6(2)
Moscow champion from year 2005, Igor Andreev lost his second round match against Jeremy Chardy despite comfortable leading 6-3 5:2 (40-30). 21 year-old Frenchman has reached second quarterfinal this year.
Also tight match won another Frenchman (Moscow champion 2002, last year’s finalist) Paul-Henri Mathieu who needed 2 hours 48 minutes to beat Dudi Sela 6-7(3) 7-5 7-6(0).
The tournament has been dominated by the French and Russian players. Beside mentioned two players from France a place in the last eight booked their compatriot Fabrice Santoro and three players from Russia (Davydenko, Safin and Kunitsyn). Russian number 1 Nikolay Davydenko smashed Guilermo Garcia-Lopez in just 55 minutes and almost secured himself a spot in year-ending Masters Cup.
David Nalbandian finished Pim-Pim’s comeback on ATP circuit with surprisingly easy win 6-3 6-2. The match was equaled till 3:3 in the first set with a little optical advantage of the Swede who had 30-0 on Nalbandian’s serve twice. Since the 7th game of the first set Nalbandian overwhelmed his opponent breaking his huge serve three times.
Two Spaniards, clay-court specialists, Albert Montanes and Oscar Hernandez have reached indoor’s quarterfinal for the first time in career. They both lost easily first set to win without bigger problems two another sets.
One of the promising stars, 18 year-old Kei Nishikori of Japan, was two points away from losing his match against veteran Dominik Hrbaty at 4:5 in the third set. In the previous game the Japanese had triple break point. “I just concentrated on keeping my serve,” Nishikori said. “I’m glad that I did not go down after failing to break his serve from 0-40. The next game was difficult.” Hrbaty, former no. 12 in the world (now rank. 396) hasn’t reached an ATP quarterfinal from one and a half year.
Ernests Gulbis proved once again that has big potential to play on a very high level but has problems with concentration in the most important moments as well. Young Latvian wasted 5 match poins in the tie-break (6:4, 7:6, 9:8, 11:10) of the second set against Fernando Gonzalez. Gulbis has already lost four matches this year being one or two points away from vicotry (against Davydenko, Nalbandian, Acasuso and Gonzalez).
Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the match against Philipp Kohlschreiber. It wasn’t a surprising decision in view of Del Potro’s previous tough match which was preceded by long flight from Tokyo where Del Potro had played a final last Sunday. Tired Argentinian has officially withdrew due to injury of his right big toe.
Moscow – Second Round
(1)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-1 6-1
(7)Marat Safin (RUS) d. Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-4 0-6 6-2
Michael Zverev (GER) d. Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 6-2 2-6 6-1
Viktor Troicki (SRB) vs (8)Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (q)Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4
(4)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) d. Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-7(3) 7-5 7-6(0)
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) d. Robby Ginepri (USA) 6-4 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. (2)Igor Andreev (RUS) 3-6 7-5 6-4 – 1 M.P.
Stockholm – Second Round
(1)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. (WC)Joachim Johansson (SWE) 6-3 6-2
(7)Albert Montanes (ESP) d. (q)George Bastl (SUI) 1-6 6-3 6-2
(3)Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Arnaud Clement (FRA) 6-4 6-7(5) 6-2
Oscar Hernandez (ESP) d. (6)Jose Acasuso (ARG) 2-6 6-3 6-4
(5)Rainer Schuettler (GER) d. Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) 7-6(6) 6-3
(4)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. (LL)Juan Monaco (ARG) 6-3 6-3
(WC)Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) 6-1 1-6 7-5
(2)Mario Ancic (CRO) d. Steve Darcis (BEL) 7-6(4) 6-4
Vienna – Second Round
(q)Philipp Petzschner (GER) d. (q)Jan Hernych (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Carlos Moya (ESP) d. Eduardo Schwank (ARG) 6-2 6-3
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 7-6(4) 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. (LL)Santiago Giraldo (COL) 7-6(5) 6-3
(5)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Guillermo Canas (ARG) 6-1 6-2
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. (3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) w/o
(8)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-4 6-3
(2)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 4-6 7-6(11) 6-1 – 5 M.P.
Marat Safin has notched 400th win in professional career beating 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4 Noam Okun of Israel. Safin places on 8th position among active players who have won the most matches in ATP Tour. Safin ended the match in bizarre fashion thinking that broke Okun’s serve to lead 6:5 in the third. He had gone to his chair before realised that won the match.
Nikolay Davydenko has extended the number of consecutive wins in Moscow to 11, after a routine win (6-1 7-5) over Florent Serra. Two-time defending champion Davydenko lost only one set in those 11 matches (against Safin two years ago in the final).
The biggest surprise of the first round was made by Uzbek Denis Istomin overcoming 7-6(2) 6-3 Mickael Llodra. It was Istomin’s first ATP win since Australian Open. Apart from Aussie Open, Istomin had won earlier matches only on lower levels and in Davis Cup.
The first round produced mixing emotions for the home crowd. After 17 years on the Tour the last singles match in professional career played Jonas Bjorkman. The Swede who debuted in Stockholm in 1992, lost in straight sets (2-6 4-6) to “lucky loser” Juan Monaco.”I felt I could have played a lot better than I did because I was playing well during practice during the last weeks.” said Bjorkman who will play in doubles till the end of the regular season.
On the other hand fellow Swede – Joachim “Pim-Pim” Johansson dignified with a win his comeback to ATP circuit after 12 months’ break. Johansson beat Nicolas Mahut 7-5 7-6(5) serving 20 aces at 75% of 1st serves in. “I didn’t feel anything on my shoulder” said 26 year-old Pim-Pim who officialy retired from professional sport at the beginning of 2008.
Juan Acasuso has won for the second time in 2008 a match from extremely difficult position. The Argentinian who beat Gulbis in Toronto being 1:5 in the deciding set, this time overcome a qualifier from Germany – Matthias Bachinger 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(4) despite match point down at 2:5 in the third set.
In contrary to Joachim Johansson, Stefan Koubek hadn’t a promising comeback to ATP after 6 months injury-break. The Austrian lost 1-6 2-6 to 10 years younger “lucky loser” Santiago Giraldo. It was Giraldo’s first ATP match at the European indoor. After the match Koubek said he wants to play as many matches as possible to the end of the season and rebuild his form on the practice sessions in off-season in December.
Feliciano Lopez has won first ATP match after losing 6 in a row, beating in two tie-breaks Agustin Calleri.
Stanislas Wawrinka and Gilles Simon, Masters Cup contenders, have cutted down chances to qualify to Shanghai. Both players lost in the first round 6-7(5) in the third set (Wawrinka lost to qualifier Petzschner, Simon to Schwank).
Their stumble creates Shanghai hopes for Fernando Gonzalez. The Chilean, 11th in the ATP Race revenged Simone Bolelli for bitter Wimbledon’s loss beating the Italian 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2. They have met each other 4 times and 9 out of 13 sets have finished in the tie-breaks (Gonzalez leads 3-1 in Head to head; Bolelli leads 5-4 in the tie-breaks).
The revelation of the last couple of months – Juan Martin del Potro was struggling in two tie-break sets with unkown Austrian “wild card” Martin Fisher (No. 219). Del Potro saved set point in the first set tie-break (at 6:7) and was two points away from losing the second tie-break when Fisher was serving at 5:4. It was first indoor match for the Argentinian this year.
Moscow – First round
(1)Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) d. Florent Serra (FRA) 6-1 7-5
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d. Nicolas Devilder (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Julien Benneteau (FRA) d. (q)Harel Levy (ISR) 6-4 6-3
(7)Marat Safin (RUS) d. (q)Noam Okun (ISR) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4
Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) d. (3)Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 7-5 4-6 7-6(1)
Michael Zverev (GER) d. Denis Gremelmayr (GER) 6-3 7-6(7)
Viktor Troicki (SRB) d. (WC)Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 6-1 6-3
(8)Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. (WC)Alexandre Koudriavtsev (RUS) 4-6 6-3 7-6(6)
(q)Denis Istomin (UZB) d. (6)Michael Llodra (FRA) 7-6(2) 6-3
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (WC)Yuri Schukin (KAZ) 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4
Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Victor Hanescu (ROU) 6-3 3-6 6-2
(4)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) d. Sergey Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-3 6-2
Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) d. (LL)Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-1 4-6 6-1
Robby Ginepri (USA) d. (q)Jiri Vanek (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. Potito Starace (ITA) 3-6 6-1 6-4
(2)Igor Andreev (RUS) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 2-0 ret.
Stockholm – First round
(1)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. Bobby Reynolds (USA) 6-1 6-1
(WC)Joachim Johansson (SWE) d. Nicolas Mahut (FRA) 7-5 7-6(5)
(q)George Bastl (SUI) d. (q)Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 7-6(6) 3-6 7-6(4)
(7)Albert Montanes (ESP) d. Thomas Johansson (SWE) 6-3 4-6 6-3
(3)Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5
Arnaud Clement (FRA) d. (q)Bjorn Rehnquist (SWE) 6-2 6-1
Oscar Hernandez (ESP) d. Ivo Minar (CZE) 6-4 6-3
(6)Jose Acasuso (ARG) d. (q)Matthias Bachinger (GER) 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(4) – saved 1 M.P.
(5)Rainer Schuettler (GER) d. Chris Guccione (AUS) 6-0 6-3
Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) d. Ivan Navarro-Pastor (ESP) 3-6 7-6(7) 7-5
(LL)Juan Monaco (ARG) d. (WC)Jonas Bjorkman (SWE) 6-2 6-4
(4)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Benjamin Becker (GER) 7-5 6-3
(WC)Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. (8)Marcel Granollers (ESP) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) d. Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-2 6-1
Steve Darcis (BEL) vs Christophe Rochus (BEL) 2-6 6-3 6-3
(2)Mario Ancic (CRO) d. Olivier Rochus (BEL) 7-6(6) 6-2
Vienna – First Round
(q)Philipp Petzschner (GER) d. (1)Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 6-7(5) 6-2 7-6(5)
(q)Jan Hernych (CZE) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 4-6 6-4 7-6(5)
Carlos Moya (ESP) d. Michael Berrer (GER) 7-6(5) 7-6(6)
Eduardo Schwank (ARG) d. (7)Gilles Simon (FRA) 4-6 7-5 7-6(5)
Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) d. (4)Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-4 7-6(4)
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) 7-6(3) 6-3
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) d. Agustin Calleri (ARG) 7-6(2) 7-6(4)
(LL)Santiago Giraldo (COL) d. (WC)Stefan Koubek (AUT) 6-1 6-2
(5)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. (q)Victor Crivoi (ROU) 6-4 6-4
Guillermo Canas (ARG) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-6(2) 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Marc Gicquel (FRA) 6-2 6-2
(3)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) vs (WC)Martin Fischer (AUT) 7-6(7) 7-6(5)
(8)Gael Monfils (FRA) vs (WC)Alexander Peya (AUT) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. (q)Pavel Snobel (CZE) 6-4 6-2
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Filippo Volandri (ITA) 6-2 6-3
(2)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) vs Simone Bolelli (ITA) 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2
It was 35 years ago Saturday that perhaps the most famous single tennis match in the history of the sport was held in Houston, Texas when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the famed “Battle of the Sexes.” The following are events that happened this week in tennis history as documented in my soon-to-be-released book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com).
1973 – In perhaps the most socially significant event in the history of tennis and sports history, 29-year-old Billie Jean King defeats 55-year-old Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in 2 hours, 4minutes to win the “Battle of the Sexes” played at the Houston Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The match is played in a circus-like atmosphere in front of a world record crowd of 30,492 fans and millions in front of televisions around the world. “She was too good,” says Riggs, the 1939 Wimbledon champion, following the match. “She played too well. She was playing well within herself and I couldn’t get the most out of my game. It was over too quickly.” Writes Neil Amdur of the New York Times, “King struck a proud blow for herself and women around the world.”
1988 – The sport of tennis returns to official status as an Olympic sport for the first time since 1924 as the tennis competition opens at the Seoul Games. Wimbledon champion Stefan Edberg, the winner of the gold medal in men’s singles at the 1984 demonstration in Los Angeles, plays the first match on stadium court, defeating Austria’s Horst Skoff 7-6, 6-2, 6-3. Says Edberg of tennis being part of the Olympics, “I don’t really know whether we should be here in tennis, but it is worth giving it a chance. It needs some time. In the 1920s, there weren’t that many countries competing in the Olympics. Now, here, all the top players aren’t competing so that hurts it a little bit. Plus, we have all the Grand Slam events we play in, and those are the most important right now to us. But this is only played every four years, so there’s nothing wrong with trying it.”
1977 – Ilie Nastase is upset in the round of the Grand Prix tournament in Paris by Frenchman Georges Goven, who uses a double-strung “spaghetti” racquet to post the 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory. The spaghetti-strung racquet provides added speed and lift to shots. “That’s the first time I’ve played against someone using one of those things,” says Nastase of the spaghetti-strung racquet.
2000 – Just one week after being crowned U.S. Open champion, No. 1 seeded Marat Safin of Russia, bows out in the first round of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, losing to Fabrice Santoro of France 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. Safin takes the court barely 24 hours after arriving in Sydney from Uzbekistan, where Safin won the President’s Cup in Tashkent.
1969 – Stan Smith and Bob Lutz give the United States an insurmountable 3-0 lead over Romania, clinching the Davis Cup title, defeating Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac 8-6, 6-1, 11-9 in Cleveland, Ohio.
1997 – Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge defeat Pete Sampras and Todd Martin 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4 to cut the U.S. lead over Australia to 2-1 in the Davis Cup semifinals in Washington, D.C. Sampras is so angry at the loss that he refuses to attend the post-match press conference, causing the International Tennis Federation to fine the U.S. team $1,000. “I really didn’t have anything to say. I really didn’t,” Sampras says the next day. “I was getting a rubdown, and the key thing was to recover, because I played back-to-back matches. It was more important to get ready for an early match, an 11 o’clock match. It is early for me.”
1997 – World No. 1 Pete Sampras defeats reigning U.S. Open champion and No. 3-ranked Patrick Rafter 6-7 (8), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 to clinch the 4-1 victory for the United States over Australia in the Davis Cup semifinal in Washington, D.C. Says Sampras of the satisfying win over the man who took the U.S. Open title he held since 1995, “I couldn’t play any better. I did everything that I could do very well. I served and returned well. If I can play at that level and that intensity, I feel like I am going to be pretty tough to beat.” Sampras never faces a break point on the afternoon and gives up only 18 points on his serve over four sets. Says Rafter, “Pete served too well today. I played Pete a lot of times before and I’ve always had at least one chance to break him. But today I couldn’t read his serve and just didn’t pick the ball up. He was too good for me on the day.” After Sampras and Michael Chang win opening day singles matches over Mark Philippoussis and Rafter, respectively, Australia cuts the U.S. lead to 2-1 in the doubles contest, defeating Sampras and Todd Martin 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-4. Sampras is so angry at the doubles loss that he refuses to attend the post-match press conference, causing the International Tennis Federation to fine the U.S. team $1,000. “I really didn’t have anything to say. I really didn’t,” Sampras says after his win over Rafter of skipping his media session after the doubles loss the previous day. “I was getting a rubdown, and the key thing was to recover, because I played back-to-back matches. It was more important to get ready for an early match, an 11 o’clock match. It is early for me.”
2000 – Venus Williams defeats Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and then pairs with younger sister Serena in the pair’s Olympic doubles debut, defeating Canada’s Vanessa Webb and Sonya Jeyaseelan 6-3, 6-1 in the first round. In between matches, Venus meets with Janette Howard, the wife of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and trades pins with The Right Honorable Hage Geingob, the Prime Minister of the African nation of Namibia.
2003 – Agustin Calleri of Argentina, substituting for teammate Mariano Zabaleta, connects on an incredible 109 winners in just three sets in beating reigning French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 to level Argentina even with Spain in the Davis Cup semifinal in Malaga, Spain. Carlos Moya beats Gaston Gaudio in the fifth and decisive rubber of the tie 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 to elevate Spain to the final.
1988 – Called a “David-and-Goliath tennis match” by Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times, 19-year-old Clement N’Goran of the Ivory Coast, ranked No. 827 in the world, falls to Britain’s Andrew Castle, ranked No. 142, 6-7, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Olympic tennis competition.
Last week on the challenger circuit, clay-court specialists prevailed in the biggest red dirt events on the men’s and women’s side, while we also got a sneak peek of coming attractions for Wimbledon at the first grass court tune-up of the year.
The $150,000 challenger in Prostejov, Czech Republic, has always attracted a strong field and this year was no exception. Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic is ranked among the world’s top 15 and all the seeded players were ranked in the top 100. In the end, Agustin Calleri of Argentina used his clay court prowess to overwhelm Martin Vasallo-Arguello of Spain 6-0, 6-3. The win propels Calleri back among into the top 50 in the rankings.
Daniel Kollerer of Austria, known as “Crazy Dani” on the ATP Tour, has attracted an infamous reputation for his bad attitude on the court and was even suspended from playing ATP tournaments for six months. He’s finally starting to become known for his tennis, winning his first title of the year at the $50,000 challenger in Furth, Germany, with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. This result takes some of the sting out of Giraldo’s Roland Garros performance, where he had match points to qualify for the main draw before losing to Frederico Gil of Portugal.
The $50,000 challenger in Surbiton, Great Britain, featured a top 20 entry in Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, but he withdrew from his second round match with an injury. Frank Dancevic of Canada, always a dangerous threat on the grass with his serve, won a hard fought 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 contest over Kevin Anderson of South Africa. Both Dancevic and Anderson are competing at the ATP tour event in London this week.
In other results on the men’s side, Michael Yani of the United States came through qualifying to win the $50,000 challenger in Yuba City, California, while Frederico Gil of Portugal won the $35,000 challenger in Sassuolo, Italy.
On the women’s side, Tathiana Garbin of Italy delighted the home crowd by winning the $75,000 event in Rome, Italy, rallying from being an early break in the final set to defeat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-4, 4-6 7-6. This tournament also snapped a four-match losing streak for Garbin and a six-match losing streak for Meusburger.
At the $50,000 challenger in Surbiton, United Kingdom, Marina Erakovic of New Zealand continued her strong form by defeating Anne Keothavong of Great Britain 6-4, 6-2. Erakovic, who gave Jelena Jankovic a tough match in the second round of Roland Garros, could truly break through at Wimbledon on a surface which is tailor made for her game. Despite the loss, Keothavong has much to be proud about, becoming the first British woman to crack the world’s top 100 since Samantha Smith in 1999.
After coming close twice this year, Patricia Mayr of Austria finally broke through and won her first title at the $25,000 event in Grado, Italy, narrowly beating Jasmina Tincic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6. Mayr is now on track to compete in her first ever Grand Slam qualifying event at the US Open this summer. We could be hearing more from Tincic in the future though; this was only the fifth professional event she has ever played in.
Marseille, France hosts the top event on the women’s side this week as Martina Muller of Germany leads the way at the $75,000 event held there. Yvonne Meusburger of Austria is the top seed at the $75,000 event in Zlin, Czech Republic, Lauren Albanese of the United States leads the way at the $25,000 challenger in El Paso, Texas, and Ana Vrljic of Croatia takes top billing at the $25,000 challenger in Campobasso, Italy.
On the men’s side, Adrian Cruciat of Romania is the top seed at the $50,000 challenger in Sofia, Bulgaria. Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia is the top seed at the $35,000 event in Milan, Italy, while Eric Prodon of France leads the way at the $35,000 challenger in Kosice, Slovakia.
Luis Horna (left) and Agustin Calleri squared off at last week’s Copa Telmex in Buenos AIres.
Horna, in Reebok, put on a simple silver necklace, while Calleri, in Diadora, had on a wristband with thick, monochrome vertical stripes.
(BTW, Calleri beat Horna 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.)