hiccup

Elena Dementieva Returns…And Wins

By Luís Santos

Games, Set and Match, Dementieva. These were the final words of Elena’s first match since Roland Garros where she was forced to retire due to a calf injury. She missed the entire grasscourt season including Wimbledon and was staging her comeback at Stanford drawing veteran Kimiko Date Krumm.

It was a bitter ending to what could have been her first Grand Slam title after the likes of Henin, Serena Williams and other direct rivals were all sent packing early on. But injury would slow Dementieva down and force her to retire during the second set.

But fresh of 8 weeks of rest and world traveling to visit friends and family, Dementieva is back on track, back to training and as fit as ever, ready to shake the rust off and flourish in one of her favorite parts of the season – the US Open Series, which she won last year.

Her first hurdle came in the shape of Kimiko Date Krumm, a time capsule of tennis so to speak, a player blasted away from the 90s and a complete headache to another Russian – Dinara Safina. Safina has gone 0-2 since Date returned including a loss in the first round of Stanford. Dementieva was not fazed though and after a first set hiccup, she regrouped and won 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Elena now awaits the winner of the match between Maria Sharapova and Olga Govortsova in hopes of fighting for a semifinal spot.
Let’s hope Elena can make a revival of the tennis that saw her claim the Series last year and fortunately go one tournament better this year – the US Open.

Karlovic stuns Monfils in Cincinnati; Ljubicic, Ferrer, Safin advance

Croatian serving machine Ivo Karlovic smashed 21 aces en route to dismissing No. 13 seed Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), in two hours and 10 minutes on Monday afternoon to advance to the second round at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.
Karlovic, who defeated No. 1 Roger Federer last year in Cincinnati, was very strong on his service games throughout, even hitting five aces in the final set tiebreaker.

Karlovic won 64 of 74 first serve points, 56 percent of second serve points and was able to save all five break points he faced on his serve. The 6-foot-10 Croatian was consistently smashing serves in the 130 M.P.H. range.
Despite losing, Monfils also had a good serving outing, winning 57 of 74 first serve points, 62 percent of second serve points, but had a hiccup in the third game of the opening set when the 30-year-old Karlovic broke serve.

Karlovic, who improved to 2-1 against Monfils, next faces Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who rallied to defeat German Mischa Zverev, 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-3, in two hours and 25 minutes.

In other action, fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic hammered 19 aces past Frenchman Florent Serra to advance to the second round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, victory. It was Ljubicic’s third straight win over Serra.

After a slow start to his Cincinnati title campaign, Ljubicic managed to get his consistency back and was able to break serve twice and win 76 percent of first serve points and 71 percent of second serve points en route to setting up a second round clash with No. 4 seed Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has a 2-1 edge in career matches with Ljubicic, most recently beating him in straight sets in the quarterfinals in Madrid.

Former Top 5 player David Ferrer of Spain breezed past Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 39 minutes. Ferrer improved to 4-2 against the Swiss, winning the last three meetings.

The Spaniard, currently ranked No. 19, dropped only six points on his first serve, while breaking Wawrinka’s serve on four of 11 opportunities. Wawrinka, who teamed with Roger Federer to win a doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, struggled on serve throughout, making only 47 percent of his first serves. Ferrer, a two-time quarterfinalist in Cincinnati, earned his 37th victory of the season, which includes reaching the finals earlier this year in Barcelona and Dubai. The Spaniard next faces No. 14 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who cruised past Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 6-4, in 72 minutes. The head-to-head between Ferrer and Cilic is tied 1-1, with Ferrer winning most recently in Miami in three sets.

In the late match, unseeded Marat Safin of Russia beat American Robby Ginepri, 7-5, 7-6(2), in one hour and 26 minutes. Safin, who announced that this will be his last season on the ATP World Tour, smashed 13 aces and just four double faults, while breaking Ginepri’s serve twice on six opportunities. Safin now levels the series 2-2 with Ginepri with his victory.

Other scores from Monday in Cincinnati
No. 9 Gilles Simon def. Wayne Odesnik, 6-3, 6-2
Jeremy Chardy def. No. 15 Tommy Robredo, 6-3, 7-5
No. 16 Radek Stepanek def. Victor Troicki, 7-6(2), 1-0 ret. Injury
Sam Querrey def. Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-3, 6-4
Igor Andreev def. Nicolas Kiefer, 6-1, 7-5
Benjamin Becker def. Martin Vassallo Arguello, 6-3, 6-3
Nicolas Almagro def. Dudi Sela, 6-4, 1-0 ret. Injury
Jose Acasuso def. Lukas Kubot, 6-4, 6-3

Safina Breezes Past Pennetta In Cincinnati; Jankovic Saves Four Match Points

World No. 1 Dinara Safina cruised into her eighth final of 2009 with a convincing win over No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy, 6-2, 6-0, in 56 minutes on Saturday afternoon at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati. With the victory, Safina snapped Pennetta’s career-best 15 match winning streak that started several weeks ago during her title run in Palermo, followed by winning the championship last week in Los Angeles.

“I think she was playing very great, very good,” said Pennetta following her defeat.

From start to finish, Safina showed she was in complete control, placing her shots perfectly and being very steady on serve.

“I was feeling very good and confident,” said Safina, who has won titles this season in Rome, Madrid and Portoroz. “I think it was a good performance by my side.”

Pennetta, who knocked Venus Williams earlier in the week, looked exhausted and not at 100 percent with her fitness due to the fact that she has played 11 matches in the last two weeks and the Cincinnati temperatures were in the 90 degree range.

“I was a little bit tired, of course, but I didn’t lose for that,” said Pennetta, who will crack the Top 10 on Monday, becoming the first Italian to accomplish that feat.

Safina hit three aces and five double faults, while winning 23 of 29 first serve points. The Italian had a bad serving performance, hitting three doubles faults and winning just 10 of 22 first serve points and 4 of 21 second serve points. Safina broke Pennetta’s serve on six of seven opportunities, while Pennetta only broke serve once.

In a thrilling night session match that determined Safina’s opponent for the championship match, No. 5 seed Jelena Jankovic edged past No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(6), in two hours and 46 minutes.

The match was filled with drama throughout, as Jankovic pulled out the opening set by winning in a tiebreak before having a slight hiccup, as Dementieva won the set at love in convincing fashion.

“Second set I got so tired,” said Jankovic, who will be trying to win her second title of the year, having already won in Marbella, Spain.

The third set kept fans on the edge of their seats, as Jankovic jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. After Dementieva broke serve in the sixth game of the final set to level the match at 3-all, no player would hold their serve the rest of the match.

“There was so many ups and down throughout the match,” said Jankovic, who reached No. 1 in the rankings in 2008.

The Serbian held three match points on her serve at 5-4, 40-love, allowing Dementieva to even the match at 5-all. Dementieva immediately had her serve broken before she would break Jankovic’s serve for a second straight time, as the Serbian tried to win the match out on her serve.

Dementieva quickly got ahead 6-2 in the final set tiebreak but could not convert on any of the four match points. Jankovic tensely closed out the match on her serve and jumped up in excitement.

“I just gave everything I had,” said Jankovic, who improves to 7-3 lifetime against Dementieva.

Jankovic hit three aces and eight double faults compared to four aces and 17 double faults by Dementieva. Jankovic broke serve on six occasions, while Dementieva broke Jankovic’s serve nine times.

The championship match between Safina and Jankovic will begin at 4pm and will be televised on ESPN2. Safina leads the series 3-2, winning the last two times on hard courts last summer in Los Angeles and at the Beijing Olympics.

Azarenka, Ivanovic soar into second round in Cincinnati

In their first appearances at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and No. 11 Ana Ivanovic advanced to the second round.

Azarenka, who has won three singles titles this season, held off Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-6(2), in the opening match of the tournament. Ivanovic, a former world No. 1, rallied from a first set hiccup to bounce American qualifier Melanie Oudin, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, in 88 minutes.

The 20-year-old Belarusian was solid throughout the one hour and 29-minute match, committing only 15 unforced errors compared to 36 by Kanepi. Azarenka won 75 percent of first serve points, while breaking serve on three of seven occasions. Azarenka has now won both meetings against Kanepi and will next face Russian Anna Chakvetadze, who defeated Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 6-3.

After looking like another early round exit was in store for the former Roland Garros champion, Ivanovic quickly turned things around as the 17-year-old Oudin began to fade.

Ivanovic struggled a great deal with her ball toss, hitting six double faults, but insisted afterwards that she has had more pace on her serve and her shoulder problems are gone. The 21-year-old Serb was very consistent from the baseline in the final two sets, breaking serve five times.

Play was suspended in the third set due to heavy thunderstorms with Ivanovic leading 4-1. But after play resumed following a lengthy delay, Ivanovic lost just three points en route to victory.

Ivanovic next faces Melinda Czink of Hungary, who defeated Alize Cornet, 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic has won all three previous meetings against Czink, winning most recently at Wimbledon in 2007.