masters title

MADRID FINALS PICTORIAL: NADAL BEATS FEDERER IN MADRID

You ever feel like you’re dreaming and then wake up and realize it wasn’t actually a dream. I imagine that that’s how it felt when Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer and broke the Agassi record of 17 titles on clay and actually getting 18.

Nadal made history  winning his 18th Masters title by beating number 1 in the world Roger Federer in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

I read Lisa’s blog entry and she was elated with Rafa’s victory. Ofcourse, if I were a big a fan as she is of Rafa then I would be over the moon with this double victory. Setting a record that you know won’t be broken for the next few decades. I can’t imagine how that feels. Nor can I imagine to get one over my archnemesis.

The Madrid Open is a good test for Roland Garros next week I reckon and Rafael Nadal proved that he is once more a favorite for the Roland Garros title.

Did you know that, if Rafael Nadal wins at Roland Garros, Roger Federer will have to reach the semifinals to hold on to the No. 1 ranking

For now these photos I think will do fine.

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LOOKING AT THE SONY ERICSSON OPEN IN MIAMI

With the dust settling on yet another fantastic Indian Wells event Ivan Ljubicic will slowly be coming to terms with his first record-breaking ATP Masters title and I bet that smile hasn’t faded one inch on those rugged, ageing lips.

Almost as soon as one showcase finishes, another is set to begin: such is the modern game of tennis.

Miami is the stage this time around as the Masters makes its way across North America before leaping over the Atlantic to Europe.

Featuring 16 of the world’s top 20 players it promises to be as vivacious and tantalizing as its western brother just gone and all eyes will be on the big stories of the last two weeks.

Can Andy Murray build on his 2009 victory? Will R-Fed be looking to banish the ghosts of Marcos Baghdatis? Will Rafa finally return to the form we know he can so breathtakingly produce? Can Ljubicic become only the seventh player since Jim Courier to win these two titles back-to-back? Now that would really be turning back the clock for the Croatian freight-train.

The four quarters of the draw make your mouth simply gush water as you cast your eyes through each one.

Starting with the first, we see that the potential of a Federer-Cilic quarter final is on the cards. Holy smokes! Having only met once before on the hard courts of Paris in 2008 Federer holds the advantage. Yet two years has seen the young Croat grow in stature to match his vast frame and his performances Down Under in January certainly make this no easy feat for the greatest player of all time.

And who would write off Marcos Baghdatis after his exploits over the past two weeks? He seems to revel in being the underdog, the unknown. Perhaps people talking up his chances once more may be detrimental. Or maybe I’m being a little hard on a guy whose career has been tragically ravaged by injury.

Should he make it that far and overcome the likes of Cilic, Fernando Verdasco, Jurgen Melzer and Juan Ignacio Chela then Victor Hanescu could meet Federer again in that quarter final.

In the second quarter, third seed Andy Murray will begin his defense by facing the winner of Mardy Fish and Leonardo Mayer. Certainly not an easy ride, such is the strength of the men’s draw these days. Overcoming that he could face Lukas Lacko, Michael Berrer or the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Stanlislas Wawrinka, Nicolas Almagro, Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Gonzalez and Murray’s Indian Wells conqueror Robin Soderling also provide exciting prospects for a quarter final berth.

Rafa and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga head a very talented third quarter which also includes American of the moment John Isner and returning Argentinean wildcard David Nalbandian.

A possible third round match between Isner and Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero is on the cards with the pair never having met before. Ferrero has arguably had the better start to 2010 with two titles and a record of 15/4 but many will be excited by the battle of strength vs. panache.

The final quarter gives us a possible fourth round Ljubicic-Andy Roddick rematch but A-Rod must first overcome possible encounters with Igor Andreev and no. 32 seed Julien Benneteau. Ljubicic may also face Spaniard Tommy Robredo in round three.

Brazilian Thomaz Belluci is looking to build on his impressive start to 2010 at Miami but could face a tough second round encounter with James Blake before the prospect of Novak Djokovic in round three.

Argh! I’m shaking with excitement already. So, being a betting man, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is, my neck on the block. Predictions time!

Quarter Finals:

Roger Federer v Marin Cilic

Andy Murray v Juan Monaco

John Isner v Rafael Nadal

Tommy Robredo v Novak Djokovic

Semi Finals:

Roger Federer v Andy Murray

John Isner v Novak Djokovic

Final:

Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic

But then, how many predictions have I got wrong this year? OK, so I’ll make a safer one: Miami is going to be damn good! And with Sky Sports broadcasting so much of the Masters Series in to British homes this year I canny wait for Saturday. Bring it on!

Federer Wins 61st Title To Overtake Agassi

Roger Federer is back in top-of-the-world form heading into the U.S. Open.

The Swiss star played up to his No. 1 ranking Sunday, beating Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5 for the Cincinnati Masters title and plenty of confidence heading into the Open, which he has won each of the last five years.

Federer’s win Sunday gave him a 61st career title, which, according to the book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, moved him ahead of Andre Agassi into seventh place alone for most men’s singles titles won in a career. He is now one tournament title shy of equaling Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas, who each won 62 titles, and jumping into tie for sixth place all-time. He is five tournament titles shy of overtaking Pete Sampras and his 64 titles and moving into fourth place by himself. Jimmy Connors holds the record with 109 singles titles, followed by Ivan Lendl with 94 and John McEnroe with 77.

Federer’s goal in Cincinnati was to work off the rust from a brief layoff during his stellar season. He won his first French Open championship and an epic Wimbledon match against Andy Roddick for his record 15th Grand Slam title, then took time off to become the father of twin daughters.

He dominated at the outset against Djokovic, who hadn’t dropped a set all week. Federer breezed through the opening set, but encountered more resistance in the second, having to save a set point as he served at 4-5 down.

But it was saved with a fine service and in the next game he broke Djokovic for the fourth time in the match.

Federer duly served out the match to love, claiming his third Cincinnati title as his Serbian opponent netted a return after one hour and 30 minutes.

Joked Djokovic after the match in the trophy ceremony, “The closest I was about to get to the first place trophy was now…Unfortunately. I was born in the wrong era.”

Federer will seek his sixth straight US Open title in New York, starting August 31.