third game

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

Jelena Jankovic upends Dinara Safina to win Cincinnati title

Former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia knocked off current world No. 1 Dinara Safina of Russia, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and 25 minutes to claim the championship on Sunday afternoon at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.

Despite having played late into the evening last night during her semifinal victory over No. 4 Elena Dementieva, Jankovic looked very fresh from start to finish in the extremely hot temperatures.

“When I did the interview before the match, Pam Shriver asked me how I felt today after such a tough one last night. I said I wanted to believe I wasn’t tired, that I’m fresh and ready to play,” said Jankovic, who has now won two titles this season, winning the Marbella title on clay in April. “I was feeling sore this morning, but when I went on the court I felt fine. I’m really pleased I was able to play well and beat the No.1 player in the world. This is very good for my confidence going into Toronto and the US Open.”

Both players served very well, but it was Jankovic who was able to come up with crucial service breaks of Safina’s serve. Jankovic, who earned her first career win over a reigning No. 1, broke serve once in the third game of the opening set and followed it up by breaking serve three times in the second set. The 24-year-old Serbian won 30 of 39 first serve points and 50 percent of points on her second serve. Safina wasn’t as steady, winning just 22 of 37 first points and 36 percent of points on her second serve. Jankovic hit three aces and three double faults compared to five aces and seven double faults by Safina.

“I’m really pleased that I was able to play well today and beat the No. 1 player in the world, and yesterday beat Elena Dementieva,” said Jankovic, who earned her 11th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title. “I got quite a few good wins under my belt this week, which is very good for my confidence coming into Toronto, and especially US Open.”

The Russian had won both previous meetings all played last season on hard courts, but Jankovic was more consistent throughout. When Safina fired a shot long beyond the baseline to give the Serbian the title, Jankovic put her hands on face in excitement. Jankovic was immediately rushed off the court to the opposite side of the Lindner Family Tennis Center to have an interview at the ESPN desk with Cliff Drysdale, Mary Jo Fernandez and Pam Shriver.

In the post-match press conference, Jankovic praised her father for the victory after being asked if her coach contributed to the title run.

“My dad contributed a lot to this,” said Jankovic, a finalist at last year’s US Open.

Both Jankovic and Safina will play next week at the Rogers Cup in Toronto before taking a week off to prepare for the US Open in New York.

The Robbie Koenig Blog: Can Anyone Beat Rafa In Paris?

Anyway, the clay court season thus far, one word….” NADAL”….the kid is from another planet!!! Mentally and physically, on this surface, he’s the greatest I’ve ever seen, and probably the best of all time…and he’s only just 23 (in a few days)!!!

For me, what makes him so good are a few things. Firstly, his ability to “compartmentalize” his thoughts. He NEVER gets ahead of himself. He only focuses on the present. He only ever talks about his next opponent, never who he might meet later in the draw and potential match-ups down the line, thereby giving respect to each guy he faces and taking nothing for granted. And on the match court, its more of the same. He rarely lets the previous point affect the next one and he has this ability to play each point like there was none before, or none to follow.
Secondly, he loves the battle more than anyone! It’s the “process” of winning that seems to consume all his effort and he constantly rewards himself with a “Vamos,” sometimes as early as the second or third game, if he’s had a tough hold. And coupled with the joy he takes out of each victory, again often early on in a tournament, is so refreshing and just goes to show how much he enjoys the “small” victories. Let’s face it, anyone can enjoy the big or classic wins!

From a physical point of view, his movement is “two days on horseback” ahead of his peers.(Must be said, Djokovic has been impressive with his challenge). I’m sure good genes help, given the athletic ability of his uncles, it obviously runs in the family. His footwork is the key to his shot-making, both in attacking and defending. It’s so easy to get a little slow with your feet when attacking because you generally got time on the ball, but Rafa never lets his intensity wane, and always makes sure he’s perfectly setup to pull the trigger!!!

Can anyone beat him in Paris? Not unless they cut off his left arm…and even then, he’s pretty damn good with the right one as we all know! The problem for the chasing pack is doing it over five sets. The semifinal against Djokovic in Madrid was an epic, but remember that was at altitude, quick clay courts and best-of-three sets and the Serb still couldn’t get the W!!! I can’t see him hanging with Rafa over five sets. I think Murray can hang with him over five sets, but he doesn’t move well enough on this stuff. Firstly, he’s gotta get far enough to meet Nadal, and secondly, I can’t see him handle the Spaniard, because Rafa will out-maneuver him over the distance. Hard court, different story, it just shows how important movement is at the highest level, and clay is unique in that regard!

What about Roger? I can’t see it happen. I don’t read much into the Madrid win for the obvious reasons already discussed. Wimby and the US Open are his best bets to bag another major, but even those are gonna be a lot tougher than previous years.

Djokovic is the main challenger, no question – the results don’t lie! Hopefully he and Nadal are in separate sections of the draw. That would be my preferred final.

Watchout for: Stan Wawrinka, Juan Monaco, Fernando Gonzalez, Fernando Verdasco and Marin Cilic

Hope you all looking foward to Rafa being challenged at Rolland Garros as much as I am.