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Finals Gallery: Del Potro Overcomes Benneteau and a Bloody Nose to Win 14th Career Title

Juan Martin del Potro defeats Julien Benneteau

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 17, 2013)Juan Martin del Potro came out the victor at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament today, earning his 14th career title by defeating Julien Benneteau, 7-6(2), 6-3.

“I cannot believe I’ve won”, stated the Argentine in his final press conference. “I’m so happy. Before I came to Rotterdam, I saw all the big names on the participants list. I did not dare to think that I would leave with the title, but I’ve played well from the first round. And that was really necessary.”

As the first set went to a tiebreak, both players had their chance, but experience won over as Del Potro kept his cool to seal the first set. “It cost me so much energy to keep up,” stated Benneteau. “In almost all of my service games Del Potro got break points. Given the intensity of the game it was very difficult to stay fresh. In the tie-break I gave away some points too easy.”

Del Potro also paid respect to the Frechman’s game and perseverance: ”Julien was giving me a hard time. He had an excellent game plan, played every point aggressive and continued fighting until the end. He made me do a lot of running and I don’t like that. Benneteau earned to play this final.”

In the doubles final, the team of Robert Lindstedt and Nenad Zimonjic overcame crowd favorites Thiemo De Bakker and Jesse Huta Galung, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.

“It’s always great to win your first title [as a team],” stated Zimonjic. “This is our fourth tournament of the year and we were definitely struggling. The beginning of the week was really tough and we were lucky at times. We managed to play better and better.”

(Full gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

Gallery: Del Potro and Benneteau to Meet for First Time in Rotterdam Final

Juan Martin del Potro vs Julien Benneteau

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 16, 2013) — After not dropping a set or a service game all week, Juan Martin del Potro once again finds himself in the finals in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament after overcoming Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-4, in the semifinals.

“I played a really good match today – maybe the best match of the week against Dimitrov,” stated Del Potro during his post-match press conference. “I only broke twice in the match and that was the key, for sure … I’m feeling well, serving well … [but] I need to play better [tomorrow] than today for sure.”

Like his thoughts earlier in the week about a resurgent Ernest Gulbis, Del Potro also admiringly commented on Dimitrov’s game: “I can see him become number one in the future.”

In the other singles’ semifinals of the day, Julien Benneteau continued his surprise run to the finals by defeating fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon, 6-5, 7-6(2).

Benneateau is 0-7 in finals while Del Potro is going for his fourteenth career title, but it will be the the two player’s first meeting on Tour.

“Against a top ten player like Del Potro I’ve got nothing to lose,” Benneteau admitted. “Rotterdam is a nice place for my first tournament win.”

(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

Gallery: Benneteau Stuns Federer; Del Potro and Dimitrov Advance to Semis

Juan Martin del Potro presser

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 15, 2013) — While one player notched his 200th career win, the other notched his 200th career loss — but the order is not what you might expect, as world No. 39 Julien Benneteau shocked Roger Federer to reach the semifinals with an 80 minute 6-3, 7-5 win.

“Benneteau deserved to win”, Federer admitted. “He played strong and created more chances than I did.” This is not something you expect of the Swiss’ game, but all champions have off days no matter their degree of preparation. Federer continued: “I had a fine preparation, but that’s no guarantee for success. It is unfortunate for the people who hoped to see me play on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, I’m now going to South Africa to promote my foundation. Hopefully I will meet Nelson Mandela.”

But that’s not a bad way to spend one’s weekend either.

In other singles’ news, world No. 41 Grigor Dimitrov dispatched of his good friend and doubles partner Marcos Baghdatis, 7-6(4), 6-7(0), 6-3 and not without a few insane runs, slides and falls by the young Bulgarian.

As Baghdatis’ final ball went long, the 21-year-old celebrated his victory by jumping over the net and warmly embracing the Cypriot.

“That was the last bit of energy I got left in me “, Dimitrov joked afterward. “Fortunately, I didn’t hurt myself. I’m tired after this tough fight as it’s always difficult to play against a good friend.”

Dimitrov will next face Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals who defeated Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets. The other semifinal will pit Benneteau against fellow countryman Gilles Simon who progressed through when Martin Klizan retired due to cramping.

(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

Gallery: Del Potro Defeats Monfils as Gulbis Overcomes Haase; Baghdatis/Dimitrov Falter

Gael Monfils loses to Juan Martin Del Potro

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 12, 2013) — Last year’s finalist Juan Martin del Potro was among the winners on Tuesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The Argentine dispatched of Frenchman Gael Monfils in 71 minutes, never having really been tested in his 6-3, 6-4 win.

Del Potro will next take on qualifier Ernests Gulbis who handed Robin Haase his fourth straight first round defeat in Rotterdam, winning 6-2, 6-1 in only 50 minutes.

During his on-court interview Gulbis apologized to the audience for defeating the country’s highest-ranked player: “Sorry Holland. Too bad for the spectators that I defeated a Dutchman.”

In doubles’ action, the team of Marcos Baghdatis and Grigor Dimitrov lost to last week’s Zagreb titlists Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek, 7-6(4), 6-1, while the French tandem of Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet defeated the tournament No. 2 seed Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Other singles players through to the first round include wildcard Thiemo DeBakker (when Mikhail Youzhny retired), Julien Benneteau, and Jarkko Nieminen.

(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

Roger Federer at Rotterdam Opening Ceremony; Tsonga, Mathieu Ousted

Roger Federer at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament Opening Ceremony

ROTTERDAM (Feb. 11, 2013) — World No. 2 Roger Federer and Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer took part in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament opening ceremony in Rotterdam today. All suited and dressed up, the two hit some balls on court amid pyrotechnics on center court.

Earlier in the day, defending champion Federer paid a visit to the media for a pre-tournament press conference. “I feel at home in Rotterdam. This is one of the best indoor tournaments in the world with a very strong field and always lots of spectators.” Later in the day he joked about hoping to “win some match this week,” before having a hit with David Goffin and congratulating Benoit Paire on reaching the final in Montpellier last week.

In first round match play, No. 3 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was frustrated by and eventually lost in three sets to wildcard Igor Sijsling, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4.

“I’m very happy”, said Sijsling after the match. “This is perhaps my best victory ever. To beat a top-10 player in my own country in front of such an audience. Thank you all.”

In similar fashion, Martin Klizan also took out Paul Henri Mathieu, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. ”I’m very happy with this victory,” beamed Klizan. “It was a tough first round fight. It was fun with many spectators in the stands. I hope I can keep this level.”

(Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.)

Federer’s Conquest of Del Potro Complete in Rotterdam Final

Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro Rotterdam Final 2012

The hot ticket in Rotterdam today featured a showdown at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament between two grand slam champions, Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro. While the Argentinean forced a good battle in the second set, his slow start in the first set to go down 0-5, cost him the match.

After only one hour and 26 minutes, and after saving all seven break points he faced, Federer prevailed, 6-1, 6-4.

“He couldn’t pull the trigger the way he wanted to,” stated Federer. “Just like yesterday, I had a good mindset. I really believed I was going to make it difficult for him, especially on the break points. I know the second set could have been a whole lot different.”

Federer even alluded to the slight shift in momentum between the first and second set. “In the first set, I was rock solid. I played great from start to finish. In the second set, it got tighter. I’m happy I was able to sneak it out.”

Although this is a great win for Federer in terms of his long-standing tradition to win titles and for his confidence, there is one aspect of his game that faltered severely, his serve. Federer’s serve has never been the strongest or the fastest on the men’s tour, but it’s been consistent for the most part. Today, however, Federer served only 49% for the match. 49%! From a champion holding 16 grand slams and 71 titles, how is this even possible? Perhaps it was the pressure of winning his first title of the season, or the anticipation of re-inventing himself as a top threat. But, what if Del Potro was in Federer’s head ever before the two stepped a foot on court?

Sure, the scoreline of this match might not let us believe it, but Del Potro shot down Federer’s dream of winning six US Open titles in a row back in 2009, when the Argentine came from behind to beat the Swiss. Why couldn’t Del Potro mess with Federer’s head and do it again on a smaller stage today? During the US Open final, Federer was dumbstruck as Del Potro powered forehands out of reach, but today, he expected (and was prepared for) a battle.

Could that really be all that there is between a winner and a true champion, fear and expectation that the other player may actually beat you? Sound off in the comments.

Also, watch Federer talk about what his 71st career title, and second in Rotterdam, means to him below, and check out photos from today’s final that photographer Rick Gleijm captured.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFbhnKbWq5c

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

Roger Federer Rotterdam Semifinals 2012

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)

Rotterdam: Federer, Del Potro Win, Boris Becker Talks to Press

Boris Becker Rotterdam Press

by Lisa-Marie Burrows

ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam – All systems were go yesterday at the Rotterdam tournament. With “oohs” and “aahs” echoing around the large arena, the crowd were treated to four exciting quarterfinal matches, which saw Berdych, Del Potro, Federer and Davydenko all make it through to the semi final stages.

First up was the cool as ice Tomas Berdych who beat Italian Andreas Seppi in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.  After playing only three games against an injured Marcos Baghdatis (who retired due to experiencing problems with his calf muscle in the previous round), the tall Czech looked as fresh as a cucumber and ready for action.

It was all plain sailing for the second seed who comfortably took the first set 6-3 and broke again early in the second set with roaring topspin backhands that pushed Seppi back off the baseline onto his back foot.

A slight lapse in concentration by Berdych allowed Seppi back into the set after breaking during the fourth game, but at 3-3 the T-Berd regained his composure and consequentially broke again, before taking the second set 6-4.

The second match involved world No.10 Juan Martín Del Potro who floored Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-0, 6-1 in his quarterfinal appearance. Throughout the first set, the Argentine hit very few unforced errors and did not allow Troicki into the set, bagelling him 6-0.

The second set served up much of the same as Troicki only managed to steal one game and had no answer to the power play of the third seed.  Del Potro looked well adjusted to the slow speed and low bounces of the court and had adapted his game with prowess accordingly.  Del Potro sailed through to the semis and has booked a mouth-watering contest with secondseed Tomas Berdych on Saturday.

Despite leading the head-to-head 2-1, Del Potro played down his chances against the Czech in his press conference:

“I think he could be the favourite. He has the better ranking.”

The opening evening match drew in full capacity crowds to watch world No.3 Roger Federer take centre stage against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.  There was very little between them as they traded powerful rallies and after two close sets, Federer booked his place into the semi finals with a tight 7-5, 7-6 (1) victory.

Nieminen demonstrated how comfortable he was to go toe to toe against the 16-time Grand Slam champion and did not succumb to Federer’s steely determination until the eleventh game of the match.  The champion of the Apia International in Sydney found himself squandering a 40-0 game to being break point down after firing untimely unforced errors. The Finn hit a backhand long and Federer readily accepted the break before serving it out 7-5.

The second set remained equally close, as Nieminen did not appear disheartened after the disappointment of a close first set. The crowd watched in amazement after a Federer unforced error such as the expectation for the Swiss to weave his magic and win every point.

They did not have to wait long as the top seed spun his web and snatched the victory comfortably in the second set tiebreak after a flurry of perfectly executed cross court forehands proved to be unassailable for the 30 year old Finn.  To the delight of the crowd, Federer rallied through to the semi finals 7-5, 7-6 (1).

During the press conference, Federer gave full credit to Nieminen for his aggressive performance:

“You have to give Jarkko credit too, he played aggressive on both the forehands and backhands. He took every second serve of mine on the rise.”

The final quarterfinal match of the day involved Russian Nikolay Davydenko who caused an upset by beating fifth seed Richard Gasquet in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

The first set was all swings and roundabouts as it was the Frenchman who had the early break at the start, but fought back only to be broken again as Gasquet served to take the opening set 5-3.  Astonishing groundstrokes from the Russian prevent the fifth seed from securing the set and surprisingly it was the unseeded Russian who took the first set 7-5.

Davydenko continued his surge during the second set and broke Gasquet a further two times before wrapping up proceedings 6-3.  He will now face top seed Roger Federer in the semifinals on Saturday.

Quarterfinals day was also busy for another legend – Boris “I was quite a famous guy too” Becker. He arrived at the arena on Friday and greeted the centre court crowd after he held a jovial press conference with the media during his promotion of Mercedes Benz, a company he has been sponsored by for over 15 years.  During the conference, the tennis legend joked about pop stars in tennis and discussed one of the greatest debates rattling the lockers: the schedule.

“Tournaments like Rotterdam they need the top guys like Federer, they need Del Potro. What’s the perfect calendar? There is never going to be the perfect calendar.”

In a modern Tour that is plagued with scheduling issues Becker believes that Roger Federer has remained a positive, dominant force:

“The question about Roger is ‘is he ever going to get back to world No.1?’ I don’t think that should be the main focus.  I think we are all happy that we have him around. Whether he is No.2 or No.3 in the world, that doesn’t matter. “

But what we all know what really matters to Roger at this moment – winning this tournament and fulfilling what he came to do.

 

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

Rotterdam Behind-the-Scenes Look; Exclusive Photos of Federer, Berdych, Del Potro

DelP_s-r16_005m

The seeds had no trouble advancing to the quarterfinals of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam today, as Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro, Viktor Troicki and Richard Gasquet all dispatched of their opponents, and Roger Federer was involved in an entertaining exhibition match for fans.

Second seed Berdych advanced to the next round after only 19 minutes on court as Marcos Baghdatis was forced to retire due to a left foot injury.

Del Potro had to overcome not only his opponent in another battle, but a slightly bloody nose near the beginning that required a medical timeout. He eventually prevailed over qualifier Karol Beck 6-4, 7-5.

“He played so fast and hits with such a low bounce, I really had to keep up,” said Del Potro of Beck. “It was tough. But I focused in the last game on trying to get an ace. I got one and I’m just glad that I’m through.”

Frenchman Richard Gasquet, seeded fifth, continued his steady progress at his second tournament appearance by defeating Alex Bogomolov, 6-3 6-2, while Andreas Seppi dispatched German Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-4 6-2. Viktor Troicki also defeated wildcard Jesse Huta Galung, 7-6(2), 6-3, but not before the match’s second game lasted a brutal 17 minutes.

Finally, what was supposed to be only a super tiebreaker between Roger Federer and Igor Sijsling turned out into an all-out battle, but with plenty of smiles from both players. Federer was given a place in the quarterfinals after his second-round opponent Mikhail Youzhny had to withdraw the day previously. Federer finally prevailed 6-7(2), 6-4, 11-9.

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 not only day three action, but a behind-the-scenes look at Ahoy Rotterdam, the indoor arena the tournament is held in.

(All photos © Rick Gleijm)

Rotterdam Results & Exclusive Photos: Federer, Del Potro, Baghdatis

Bagh_s-r32_015

It was a thrilling day in Rotterdam as the top three seeds, including Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro all claimed a spot in the second round of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, including a first ever win for del Potro at this event – but not without some drama.

Top seed Roger Federer picked up where he left off seven years ago, as the 2005 champion won 13 of the last 14 points with his win over Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, 6-4, 6-4. Federer’s expected second round opponent Mikhail Youzhny withdrew with a foot problem sending the Swiss straight into the quarterfinals on Friday against Jarkko Nieminen, who beat Lukasz Kubot earlier in the day.

“Any win is a good win,” stated Federer. “Frankly I’m glad to be in the quarterfinals. It’s always tough to make the change from clay but after losing my last two singles matches [for Davis Cup], a win is great.”

For more exclusive Roger Federer content on his top three grand slam wins, mental strength, his toughest opponent, and thoughts on retirement, go here.

Second seed Tomas Berdych also had a routine win over fellow Czech countryman Lukas Rosol, 6-4, 6-2. Berdych also didn’t shy away from admitting it was “a tough transition from Davis Cup. Our court was much faster with lower bounce. I didn’t really have much time to train, but I coped with it pretty well. I was able to find my rhythm quite fast and was able to play my game.”

Juan Martin del Potro struggled to close out the second set in a tiebreaker and was forced to win in three, against 2008 champion Michael Llodra, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4. ”I was really nervous, especially in the last game, so it was nice”, Del Potro said durin his interview. He underlined that he was very pleased to be in Rotterdam and to see so many people coming out to support him.

Cheerful Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis (looking surprisingly great in Adidas’ lastest fireball orange and blue kits, below) defeated qualifier Matthias Bachinger, 7-6(2), 6-2.

Nikolay Davydenko was also take to three sets before overcoming the “comeback kid” Paul-Henri Mathieu who had received a wildcard into the qualifying. After two-and-a-half hours of play into the evening hours, Davydenko prevailed, 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-1.

But another qualifier, Karol Beck, made a commotion as he took out Philipp Petzschner, 7-6(3), 6-3.

Alex Bogomolov, Jr. won when Sergiy Stakhovsky was forced to retire.

In doubles action, top seed Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor were ousted by Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, while  the tandem of Richard Gasquet and Ivan Ljubicic  were defeated, as was the duo of Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen.

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 three action, and the Davydenko-Mathieu match was shot with a 200mm f/2 lens Canon Nederland provided to our photographe Rick for the match. The photos are of the highest quality. Thank you, Canon!

(All photos © Rick Gleijm)

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